Join Freeman’s every other Friday for a round-up of the latest news and notable events in the art & auction world. (Consider it your weekend reading.)
- On December 3, 1998, the Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art were signed into agreement. A product of the Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets, the Principles are a non-binding, 11-point accord between 44 governments and 13 NGOs to “assist in resolving issues relating to Nazi-confiscated art.” Twenty years later, it’s still a work in progress, with several countries “slow to address” restitution.
- But it’s not just art looted by the Nazis that is the focus of recent restitution efforts. French President Emmanuel Macron pledged last November to repatriate African artworks and cultural heritage treasures, and a report issued last week estimated that “up to 90% of African art is outside the continent, including statues, thrones and manuscripts,” with 70,000 items of Sub-Sarahan art at one single Paris museum.
- Banksy is back in the news, and this time it isn’t a stunt: A Belgian court seized nearly 60 works (worth over $15 million) by the notorious street artist from a Brussels exhibition, after questions about ownership headed for a court hearing in January.
- The venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art will spend $70 million on a renovation of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, which houses some 40,000 square feet of its Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas galleries. The museum has selected the architectural firm wHY, with work to begin in 2020.
- Missed the Magic of Handwriting exhibition at the Morgan Library earlier this season? The exhibition featured just a sampling of the more than 100,000 items in the largest collection of manuscripts and autograph letters, owned and collected over several decades by Pedro Corrêa do Lago. This month, art book publisher Taschen will publish a 460-page volume of much of do Lago’s collection, spanning 900 years of handwriting.
- X-ray photography is revealing some…startling secrets, buried under paint by Netherlandish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The project, “Inside Bruegel,” was developed with the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.