Canadian Art News Roundup–June

Canadian Retiree to Claim Nazi-Stolen Art

Since they passed a restitution law in 1998, the Austrian government has been returning paintings stolen by the Nazis to descendants of the rightful owners. In all, about 10,000 paintings are back in the hands of the families they belong to.

An earlier Klimt painting, Unterach Manor and Lock Chamber on the Attersee Lake, c.1908



An Austrian museum has announced that it will be returning Gustav Klimt’s 1915 painting “Litzlberg am Attersee” worth in excess of 20 million euros or $29 million Canadian dollars to a descendant of the previous Jewish owner, Georges Jorisch. The painting had belonged to his grandmother Amalie Redlich, according to the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art, and was seized by the Gestapo some time after she was deported in 1941 and later killed.

The painting ended up in various Salzburg museums after being purchased by a local art collector. It is now owned by the local assembly of Salzburg province, who would love to keep the painting, and will likely attempt a negotiation with sole heir Jorsich, who is retired at 83, and lives in Montreal.

The most famous of the paintings restored to previous owners was also a Gustav Klimt, the 1907 Adele Bloch-Bauer portrait. It was returned to the heirs after a lengthy legal battle in 2006.

Picasso work loaned to West Bank goes on display

Picasso’s 1943 “Buste de Femme,” valued at $7 million, has been loaned to a Palestinian academy after two years of difficulties. The academy in Ramallah requested the piece in the beginning of 2010, and that is normally routine and only takes six months or so to coordinate. It is on loan from a museum in Eindhoven, Holland.

Another Painting around the same period--Bull Skull, Fruit, Pitcher, 1939 by Pablo Picasso

Because of the difficulties in the area, however, nothing is really easy or normal in that area; political complications are simply a fact of life. Organizers talked of Israeli checkpoints along the route, and lack of reliable transportation for an artwork of this type. In the end, the painting was flown to Tel Aviv from Amsterdam, where an Israeli security agency was charged with keeping it safe and delivering it to the academy. Uprisings postponed the delivery past the intended display date.

The school has made the painting the centerpiece of its “Picasso In Palestine” exhibit, and it is the most prestigious and valuable piece of art ever displayed in the West Bank. It’s a 100 by 80 cm oil work on canvas in the master painter’s cubist style. The Palestinian academy are taking this opportunity to introduce classic works to the people in the area, and they also hope that this will encourage other museums and galleries to lend artwork to places in the West Bank.

Tom Thomson’s “Early Snow, Algonquin Park” Returns Home, but Fails to Sell

The value of art and paintings are decided by authenticity and how rare the piece is– making Tom Thomson’s 1916 oil sketch “Early Snow, Algonquin Park” very valuable indeed. Even though the sketch is only about eight by ten inches, it is estimated to be worth $450,000 to $650,000, reportedly causing quite a stir with border crossing guards when it was returned to Canada. Early Snow, Algonquin Park

Sotheby’s offered the sketch for sale in their May 26th Important Canadian Art Auction in Toronto, but the bidding stalled at $425,000. It is rumored to have sold later to a buyer who chooses to remain anonymous for $425,000. On the back is a note from A.Y. Jackson, one of the Group of Seven painters and friend of Tom Thomson’s before his early death in 1917.

For the past 53 years, the Thomson sketch has been hanging in a bungalow in a Pittsburgh sailing community, having been purchased from the Laing Gallery in 1958 for $1,000. Linda Rodeck of Sotheby’s drove down to retrieve it herself and was amused by the excitement of the border guards at Fort Erie over the diminutive sketch and its very large value.

David Silcox, president of Sotheby’s, wrote a book about Tom Thomson together with Harold Town. He says few knew about the painting’s existence, since it had gone to the states so long ago; he further speculates that Thomson may have gifted it to a friend.

Fellini Exhibit at TIFF Bell Lightbox explores Celebrity, Paparazzi, and Obsession

Long before spoiled celebrities like Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen dominated the news, there was Swedish blonde bombshell Anita Ekberg. She shocked people with her ‘way beyond sexy for 1960’ behavior and had the press hounding her and following her every move. More importantly, she caught the eye of Federico Fellini and he cast her as the star in La Dolce Vita, catapulting her to fame instantly. Rome in the late 1950s and early 1960s was the cheapest place in the world to make films, so it attracted many celebrities. In fact, it was ‘Hollywood on the Tiber’ and American and European stars shocked everyone’s sensibilities with their raucus behavior, all of it captured on film by paparazzi-style celebrity photos.

Federico Fellini and Anita Ekberg

The collaboration between the two is one subject explored in Fellini: Spectacular Obsessions, that is running through September 18th at TIFF. This Fellini exhibit was jam packed when it opened in Paris; it has also been well-received in other cities on the tour like Madrid, Moscow, Barcelona, and Bologna. For North America, it has been modified to focus more on the work that audiences on the continent will be familiar with, and has left out some things like Fellini’s TV work in Italy and France.

TIFF Director Noah Cowan feels that “All the great art cinema of the post-war period is becoming less well known here [and] there’s a certain militancy we feel about reminding people of the importance of these films and filmmakers.”


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