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The Netherlands and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum intend to buy two rare works by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, repatriating the 1634 masterpieces after more than a century of ownership by France’s Rothschild family.

Each buyer plans to pay 80 million euros ($90 million), according to the Ministry of Culture. About 50 million euros of the Dutch state’s portion is going to come from dividends paid out from the state’s ownership of companies including ABN Amro Group NV.

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While many museums post photos of their illustrious collections online, the images are not for public use. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is about to change all of that. The institution, which focuses on the art and history of the Netherlands, is allowing visitors to download high-resolution images off of their website at no cost. They’re even going so far as to encourage patrons to copy, alter, and share the images.

The Rijksmuseum, whose collection includes works by Rembrandt (1606-1669), Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), has already made 125,000 images available through Rijksstudio, an interactive section of their website. Officials aim to add 40,000 images per year until the entire collection, which is comprised of 1 million artworks, is available to the public. The decision to make all of the museum’s images public stems from the notion that they are a public institution, making the art and objects in their collection communal property. The proliferation of the Internet has also made image policing extremely difficult and officials would rather the public use high-quality images instead of poor reproductions.

Rijkstudio has seen over 2.17 million visitors since going live in October 2012 and approximately 200,000 people have downloaded images.

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Wednesday, 23 January 2013 14:18

Arrests Made in Dutch Art Heist

Romanian authorities have arrested three suspects relating to an art heist at the Kunsthal museum in the Netherlands. The robbery, which occurred October 16, 2012 at around 3AM, was the biggest art theft in two decades in the Netherlands. The stolen works include masterpieces by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), and Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) and are believed to be worth between $66 million and $266 million. The paintings have not yet been recovered.

While little is being revealed about the arrests or the suspects, it has been reported that three men are being detained for 29 days at the request of prosecutors from the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism. The suspects’ involvement is still being explored, but officials believe the stolen works might be hidden in an undisclosed location in Romania.

The seven stolen paintings, which are part of the private Triton Foundation collection, include Picasso’s Harlequin Head (1971); Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London (1901); Matisse’s Reading Girl in White and Yellow (1919); Gauguin’s Girl in Front of Open Window (1898); Meyer de Haan’s (1852-1895) Self Portrait (circa 1890); and Lucian Freud’s (1922-2011) Woman with Eyes Closed (2002). The Triton collection, which was assembled over the course of 20 years, includes more than 150 works of modern art ranging from the 19th century to the present day and spans a number of important art movements.

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On a recent visit to the Andy Warhol Foundation in New York, gallerist Daniel Blau was allowed a glimpse of rare, early drawings by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) that had remained out of public view for over 20 years. The 300 drawings, which were completed in the 1950s, will be published for the first time next week.

The drawings stand in sharp contrast to Warhol’s highly recognizable pop art works and reveal a lesser-known side of the artist as a talented draughtsman. The works will be published in a book edited by Blau and are currently being exhibited at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark (on view through February 21, 2013). After another exhibition in The Netherlands, the drawings will be put up for sale, surely a welcomed addition to the highly sought after Warhol works currently on the market.

Blau has a longstanding relationship with the Andy Warhol Foundation and organized his first show of the artist’s work in 1995. He has held a number of Warhol shows since then. From Silverpoint to Silver Screen, Warhol: The 1950s Drawings, which is being published by Hirmer, will be available on January 28, 2013.  

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Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy opened on Sunday at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The exhibition is devoted to the Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1517-1610) one of the most historically influential artists, best known for his use of lighting as well as his sensitivity to the physical and emotional state of his subjects.

The show at LACMA will feature an unprecedented eight works by Carvaggio himself. Fifty additional paintings will explore his influence on painters from France, Spain, and the Netherlands including Georges de La Tour, Gerrit van Honthorst, Velazquez, and Simon Vouet. The exhibition will be on view through February 10, 2013.

Bodies and Shadows was co-organized by LACMA, the Musee Fabree, the Musee des Augustins, and the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art. All four museums are members of the consortium the French Regional American Museum Exchange. The exhibition will travel to the Wadsworth Athenaeum after LACMA from March 8, 2013 through June 15, 2013.

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The victim of a devastating art heist that took place last Friday, the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam claims their security system is not to blame. The Museum’s director Emily Ansenk shot down allegations that a rear emergency door had been left open. However, police are investigating whether or not there was someone in the museum after hours that could have opened the door for the thieves, as there were no signs of forced entry.

After robbers swiped seven artworks including paintings by Picasso, Matisse, and Monet, the Kunsthal became the subject of intense scrutiny. The Museum admitted to Dutch police that there were no security guards on duty when the robbery occurred. An external security firm was the first to respond when the Museum’s alarm went off. Museum officials claim that their security system, which relies solely on alarms and security cameras, is state-of-the-art.

Late on Friday, police released three grainy surveillance photos of the burglars exiting the Museum out of a back door. While their faces were not visible, police hope that the bags the thieves were carrying are recognizable. Police proceeded to post leaflets around the neighborhood, asking potential witnesses to step forward.

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Friday, 12 October 2012 19:49

Frieze Masters Enjoys Serious Sales

The inaugural Frieze Masters fair is already drawing comparisons to TEFAF Maastricht, the pinnacle of Old Masters fairs that takes place annually in the Netherlands. Featured alongside the contemporary art world staple, the Frieze Art Fair, Frieze Masters has been watching the sales add up.

Highlights include a Louise Bourgeois bronze, Avenza Revisted (1968–69), that was sold by New York’s Cheim & Reid gallery for $1.5 million, Bruce Nauman’s installation, Parallax Shell (1971), along with the drawing for it, which was sold by Sperone Westwater (New York) for $2–3 million, and Pablo Picasso’s Homme et Femme au Bouquet (197) which brought in around $9 million during the fair’s preview thanks to Wan de Weghe Fine Art (New York).

Concluding on October 14, Frieze Master still has plenty of time to keep the sales coming.

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Thursday, 11 October 2012 18:41

An Entire van Gogh Exhibition Built by Loans

When Timothy J. Standring, curator of painting and sculpture at the Denver Art Museum, suggested an exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s work, it was quite a risk, mainly because the museum doesn’t own a single work by van Gogh. In addition, the Denver Art Museum’s strength lies in American Indian, pre-Columbian, and Spanish Colonial Art – not ideal holdings when attempting to swap works with European painting departments.

On October 21, six years after the thought first popped into Standring’s head, Becoming van Gogh will open to the public at the Denver Museum. The show will be comprised of 68 paintings and drawings by van Gogh and about another 20 works by artists he studied under.

A true labor of love, Standring traveled to 39 cities in Europe, at least 30 in North America, and another two in South America to do research, meet with scholars, view works, and negotiate with owners. Co-curated by Louis van Tilborgh, the exhibition evolved as the duo delved deeper into their research. Inspired by James Shapiro’s A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599, Standring wanted to capture the period when van Gogh became van Gogh. At first he thought a show of 30 oils and drawings done between 1887 and 1888 would be sufficient, but as his research progressed, Standring decided to explore van Gogh’s work from 1886–1888, the artist’s years in Paris.

Standring proceeded to make a checklist of all the works he wished to acquire. He made connections with curators at other museums, phoned friends and collectors. As he continued, the need for more works became apparent. Standring wanted to include early works from van Gogh’s time in the Netherlands and his later years in Provence. After countless phone calls, letters, negotiations, meetings, and planning, the exhibition came to fruition. Becoming van Gogh will be on view through January 20, 2013.

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