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French lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber may have been unable to stop the sale of artifacts belonging to Arizona’s Hopi tribe, but he did gift one object back to the indigenous group. Servan-Schreiber worked pro bono to halt an auction of 70 Hopi masks at Paris’ Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou auction house but was ultimately unsuccessful. The auction garnered $1.2 million despite the legal feud and opposition from people such as Robert Redford.

Amidst allegations of misconduct, the French auction house maintained that the artifacts had been acquired legally from a French collector. However, the Hopis asserted that the masks were ritual and spiritual objects, not meant for selling as art objects.

Servan-Schreiber bought an object known as a “Katsinam” for $9,000. He told the New York Times that, “It is my way of telling the Hopi that we only lost a battle and not the war.” Relatives of the French singer Jules Dassin also acquired a Katsinam at the auction and plan to return it to the Hopis later this year.

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The Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA recently received its most considerable gift of American paintings since its founding in 1955 and is holding an exhibition to celebrate the major acquisition. George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci presents eight landscapes by the influential American painter George Inness (1825-1894) dating from 1880 to 1894. The works will appear alongside two Inness paintings collected by the Clarks themselves. The show will highlight Inness’ later work when he moved away from his signature plein-air style towards a more conceptual aesthetic that relied on the use of light and shadow.

The Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg significantly influenced Inness and inspired the artist to look at nature through a more spiritual lens. Inness moved away from straightforward depictions of the natural world towards a style that blended realism with a sense of otherworldliness. Inness achieved this through color, composition and painterly techniques that involved the gentle blurring of natural forms.

Highlights from the exhibition include Sunrise in the Woods, The Road to the Village, and Green Landscape. George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci will be on view through September 8, 2013.

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