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Chinese art from the Guizhou province in southwest China is on display at San Ildefonso museum in Mexico City. Artists hope that this exhibit, entitled “Masterpieces,” will help bridge the cultural gap between China and Mexico. The works are from the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) and feature more than 151 folk art pieces, including masks, sculptures and paintings. This exhibition will run through February 19th, 2017.

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The remarkable Barbier-Mueller Collection of Pre-Columbian Art will be up for sale at Sotheby’s Paris on March 22 and 23, 2013. Comprised of approximately 300 works from Mexico, Central America, and South America and worth around $26 million, the Barbier-Mueller collection is the most important grouping of its kind ever offered at auction.

Swiss collector Josef Mueller (1887-1977) started building his collection after acquiring major works by Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918) and Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) in Paris during the early 20th century. Mueller went on to develop an affinity for important works of Pre-Columbian art. The collection was later honed and expanded to include African art, Oceanic art, and Cycladic art by Mueller’s daughter, Monique, and her husband, Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller.

The works offered at Sotheby’s span the historical cultures that dominated the period from 1200BC to 1500AC and include objects in wood and stone, ceramics, textiles, and ritual items. Highlights from the collection include a Chupicuaro ceramic statue from 500-100BC that is expected to sell for approximately $2.6 million; a Maya ceramic head that Mueller purchased from the film director John Huston estimated to bring $200,000-$325,000; and an Aztec stone figure of a water goddess from 1300-1500 expected to garner over $650,000.  

The Barbier-Mueller Collection of Pre-Columbian Art is on view at Sotheby’s until March 21, 2013.

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Wednesday, 09 January 2013 19:05

Picasso Vandal Surrenders

On June 13, 2012 a vandal spray-painted a stencil of a bullfighter killing a bull and the word “conquista” (Spanish for conquer) on Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) Woman in a Red Armchair (1929). Officials named Houston-resident Uriel Landeros, 22, the assailant but were unable to locate him until he surrendered to authorities on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at the border of the United States and Mexico.

The vandalism incident took place at Houston’s Menil Collection and was caught on a cellphone video taken by a fellow museum patron. Landeros, an artist himself, claims that his act of defacement was meant to send a message promoting revolution and change. He was later charged with criminal mischief and felony graffiti, which prompted Landeros to flee the country. Officials believe he has been hiding out in Mexico since June.

Woman in a Red Armchair, which is valued at several million dollars, has since been restored.

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Starting January 7, 2013, Antiques Roadshow will kick-off its 17th season with three episodes filmed in Corpus Christi, Texas. While the series has a reputation for revealing hidden treasures to unassuming owners, the lost Diego Rivera painting that appears in the upcoming season is truly a rare find.

Earlier this year, Rue Ferguson inherited a painting bought by his great-grandparents in Mexico in 1920. He assumed it was worth some money, but when he took the piece to Antiques Roadshow during their stay in Corpus Christi, he was dumbfounded when he heard the painting was valued at $800,000 to $1 million.

Created by Rivera, one of the foremost Mexican painters of the 20th century, in 1904 when he was only a teenager, El Albani spent decades out of the public eye. While it is recorded in Rivera’s personal archive, the artist’s family could never locate the painting as it was hanging in Ferguson’s great-grandparents home. For nearly 30 years after Ferguson’s parents inherited the painting, they believed it to be a fake and kept it in storage. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that Ferguson’s father discovered the painting to be authentic and took it to be restored. The family donated the work to the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, TX but Ferguson asked for the painting back when he learned it was no longer on public display.

After visiting Antiques Roadshow and learning just how important a work El Abani is, Ferguson decided to look for a museum that specializes in Rivera’s work and/or Latin American art to house the historic painting.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) returned more than 4,000 pieces of looted cultural artifacts to the Mexican government. A repatriation ceremony was held on October 25 at the Consulate of Mexico in El Paso, Texas. The items were recovered in El Paso, Phoenix, Chicago, Denver, San Diego, San Antonio, Fort Stockton, Texas, and Kalispell, Montana. Many of the artifacts that were found in Texas traced to a 2008 theft from a museum in Mexico. Five pre-Columbian statues, over 4,000 pre-Columbian artifacts, and 26 pieces of pre-Columbian pottery were returned to the people of Mexico.

The repatriation that took place on Thursday is one of the largest that has taken place between the two countries. Many of the items returned date from before European explorers landed in North America. The items will be taken to the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City where they will be studied, cataloged, and distributed to museums across Mexico.

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