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The talk of the continent



 



Contemporary art and migration: Sadika Keskes’ tribute to victims of the sea

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 08:57:48 +0100

, – Tunisian artist Sadika Keskes, with her latest performance on 1 October in Tunis, wanted to "restore dignity" to the thousands of migrants who died as they tried to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life, and reminds Europe of its tradition of hospitality. See more.



United Kingdom: ‘Racist’ Banksy artwork destroyed ahead of election

Fri, 03 Oct 2014 12:08:44 +0100

Officials in the town of Clacton-on-Sea in south-east England have destroyed a satirical mural by street artist Banksy ahead of a 9 October by-election "triggered by the decision of local Conservative MP, Douglas Carswell, to defect to the the [Eurosceptic and anti-immigration] UK Independence Party (Ukip)", writes The Guardian.

The artwork showed a group of grey pigeons holding signs reading “migrants not welcome” and “go back to Africa” in the direction of a smaller, colourful bird. Town officials said they painted over the work after receiving a sole complaint it was “offensive and racist”.

For Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones, the incident reflects the climate ahead of the by-election

an imminent electoral contest between the Conservatives and Ukip inevitably puts immigration high on the agenda […]. If this picture scared anyone it must be because the pigeons’ views are just too close to real opinions in the air – the satire is so accurate that it can be mistaken for reality.




Artworks recovered in Germany: Colours of a painful past

Fri, 15 Nov 2013 16:31:36 +0100

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich – The 1,400 paintings snatched away from their owners by the Nazis and found in the Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt are not only a great artistic discovery. The story of the son of an art collector during the Nazi era is once again raising the question of Germany's relationship to its past. See more.



Poland: ‘Our antiques disappear in the EU’

Fri, 06 Sep 2013 11:49:51 +0100

The lack of borders within the EU’s Schengen area has its dark side as “Polish national masterpieces disappear without a trace,” laments Rzeczpospolita.

“Since WW II, Poland has been robbed of thousands of works of art which may never return,” reveals an art expert quoted by the daily.

According to a recent data, in the last 20 years more than 8,500 Polish works of art were stolen or smuggled out of the country.




Romania: The barbarians are among us

Fri, 09 Aug 2013 16:51:09 +0100

România libera, Bucharest – Already stigmatised for the theft of copper cables, will Romanians also earn themselves a reputation for destroying art and inept police work? The trial of the suspected Kunsthal Museum robbers, due to start on August 13, reveals the gap between the most backward parts of Romania and a still distrustful western Europe. See more.



Marseille: A museum for Mediterranean culture

Fri, 02 Aug 2013 12:02:22 +0100

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich – The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, opened in June, sets out to highlight the culture of a region whose cultural and political identity is not always easy to define. See more.



Romania: ‘DIICOT’s monstrous blunder’

Thu, 18 Jul 2013 13:18:47 +0100

“Prosecutors [from the Directorate for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT)] missed recovering the masterpieces stolen in the Netherlands,” writes Jurnalul Naţional

The daily is highly critical of the DIICOT’s investigation, which prioritised the drive to catch the criminals — who were charged on July 15, 2013 — instead of the search to find the seven paintings, which were stolen from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum in October 2012. They include works by Matisse, Picasso, Monet, Gauguin, Meyer de Haan and Lucian Freud with a total art-market value estimated to be in the region of €200m, points out the daily.

On March 8, the mother of one of the thieves burned the paintings, in an effort to destroy evidence of the crime allegedly committed by her son, who is currently in custody along with his accomplices. For the Romanian daily her initiative has brought about —

… the greatest loss of art and world heritage caused by a deliberate act. No irreparable action of this kind has occurred since World War II.




Portugal: ‘Government under construction’

Thu, 04 Jul 2013 11:08:58 +0100

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho of the Social Democratic Party and Paulo Portas, the outgoing foreign minister and leader of the Democratic and Social Centre – People's Party, met on July 3 to hammer out a deal to keep the coalition government together. A further meeting will take place on July 4.

Meanwhile, government sources told the i that the coalition will remain united, avoiding the possibility of calling early elections. Coelho will meet President Aníbal Cavaco Silva later on July 4 to outline the results of these meetings.

The political crisis stemming from this week’s resignation of the finance and foreign ministers, triggered a 5.3 per cent drop in the stock market – the largest fall since 2010 – and a rise in interest rates on 10-year debt, which hit 8 per cent.




Clothing production: ‘H&M and Zara promise cleaner clothes’

Tue, 14 May 2013 11:45:28 +0100

The Swedish company H&M and the Spanish group Inditex, which owns Zara, “are to sign a legally binding building and fire safety agreement” for factories producing their clothing in Bangladesh, reports De Morgen.

The initiative has come three weeks after the collapse of a building in Dhaka, which resulted in the death of 1,100 people.

The daily notes that marketing experts believe the “move by the garment makers has mainly been motivated by pressure from consumers and public opinion, and fears that their reputations may be compromised.”




Iceland: Renewal through architecture

Tue, 07 May 2013 12:48:42 +0100

Público, Lisbon – Completed just as the financial bubble burst, the Harpa concert hall symbolises the recovery of Iceland following years of gloom. Just one of the reasons why it was awarded the 2013 Mies van der Rohe European Architecture Prize. See more.



Design: The runaway architecture of the ECB

Fri, 26 Apr 2013 15:18:08 +0100

Der Spiegel, Hamburg – For the new building of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Vienna architect Wolf D. Prix sought inspiration in the fast-paced game of FC Barcelona. From two twisted, avant-garde office towers, the European Central Bank will soon be steering Europe through the crisis. See more.



Debate: Of Germany – and of misunderstandings

Wed, 24 Apr 2013 12:38:15 +0100

Le Monde, Paris – To celebrate 50 years of Franco-German friendship, Paris's Louvre Museum is presenting a major retrospective of German painting. The problem is that some – on the other side of the Rhine – say it suggests that Nazism was an inevitable result of German culture. See more.



Belgium: Brussels enjoys an artistic awakening

Thu, 18 Apr 2013 16:25:15 +0100

NRC Handelsblad, Amsterdam – Brussels seems to be all the rage for contemporary art galleries. Less expensive, less saturated, and blessed with a new cultural dynamism, the town is in the midst of an artistic boom. But not everyone is convinced it will last. See more.



Netherlands: ‘Rembrandt is back in its place’

Fri, 05 Apr 2013 09:21:13 +0100

The Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum, reopens on April 13 after a 10-year renovation.

“Nearly everything has changed except for the setting of its famous painting,” The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn, notes the daily.

The museum has been partially closed since 2003 for restoration work meant to take only four years.

The project ran into unexpected difficulties, varying from problems with asbestos to soaring budgets and resistance from cyclists about the closure of a “bike tunnel” under the museum, which all contributed to its delayed reopening. The renovations cost almost €375m.




Poland: Katowice mining the past

Fri, 07 Dec 2012 15:54:39 +0100

New Eastern Europe, Cracow – How does a city reinvent itself and build a new identity on a lost industrial past? By betting on culture and architecture to attract tourists. This Silesian city is following Bilbao’s footsteps and will open a rejuvenated museum in January. See more.



Photography : Their Europe is ours too

Fri, 21 Sep 2012 15:39:58 +0100

Público, Lisbon – What is our Europe like? How do we see it? How do we experience it? We all live in the same space, but without seeing it in the same way: an observation demonstrated by the works on show at the European Photo Exhibition Award, which is set to run until 18 November at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Paris. See more.



Contemporary art: Paintbrush factory brightens Cluj-Napoca

Fri, 04 May 2012 12:00:27 +0100

România libera, Bucharest – Located in a former factory in Cluj, the Transylvanian capital, a contemporary art centre managed by several galleries and artists' collectives is trying to break into the European art scene. See more.



Hungary: Orbán makes an exhibition of himself

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 16:02:48 +0100

SME, Bratislava – Asserting national values is central to the political project of the Hungarian PM. Since the start of the year, fifteen paintings, specially commissioned for an exhibition in the Castle of Buda, have been putting this ambition on show. See more.



Greece: Athens Biennale, the crisis as art

Mon, 28 Nov 2011 14:30:35 +0100

Expressen, Stockholm – In a country destabilised by the crisis, the 3rd Athens Biennale contemporary art festival has been largely overlooked. However, a Swedish journalist argues that the exhibition offers an opportunity to appreciate the urgency of the moment. See more.



Ideas: Never mind the cave paintings, here’s the Sex Pistols

Fri, 25 Nov 2011 16:00:47 +0100

The Guardian, London – Is the graffiti left by the 1970’s punk band in London as worthy of humanity as prehistoric cave art? A British archeologist believes so, seeing on these walls the end of faith in "human progress" initiated by our ancestors. See more.



Czech Republic: Instant repatriation for national artworks

Wed, 01 Jun 2011 11:28:32 +0100

“State repatriates artworks amid ownership fears,” headlines Lidové noviny. On 31 May, following the seizure of several paintings by authorities in France and Austria, the Minister for Culture has decided to repatriate artworks on loan to foreign galeries, mainly located in Vienna and Paris. The application to have the paintings seized was filed by a Czech-Swiss businessman who, in the wake of the most protracted commercial case in the history of the Czech Republic, obtained a ruling that the government should pay him more than 8 billion crowns (€326 million). The businessman is the owner of Diag Human, a company that was awarded damages on the foot of complaint about unfair competition for a blood plasma processing deal — a judgement that is still under appeal. “It is in the state’s interest to sort out this case as quickly as possible, because the sum involved, which is subject to moratory interest, is increasing every day,” remarks the Prague daily.




Museums: Antwerp bets on the MAS

Fri, 20 May 2011 15:29:44 +0100

De Morgen, Brussels – Inaugurated on 17 May, Antwerp’s new metropolitan museum has become a talking point for its architecture. But will it, as its designers have hoped, bring lasting change to the Flemish city? Planner and columnist Filip Canfyn is not convinced. See more.



Contemporary art: Fundamentalists attack Christ artwork

Mon, 18 Apr 2011 11:32:42 +0100

“Whackos hammer Piss Christ,” [headlines](http:// http://next.liberation.fr/culture/01012332337-tirs-croises-en-avignon)[Libération](http:// http://next.liberation.fr/culture/01012332337-tirs-croises-en-avignon), in the wake of the destruction of a photograph showing a plastic crucifix submerged in urine by Andres Serrano. The attack, which was perpetrated by fundamentalist Catholics using hammers and screwdrivers, took place in the Avignon Museum of Contemporary Art. “Notwithstanding its provocative title, Piss Christ is not a trashy piece of work but a beautiful red and gold photograph,” remarks the daily — a view not shared by the archbishop of Avignon, His Grace Jean-Pierre Cattenoz who, a few weeks ago, called for this “rubbish” to be removed.” On 16 April, a crowd of 500 people took part in a Front National protest in front of the museum to demand that the work be taken down. Piss Christ, which was produced in the 1980s, has already been the target of a number of attacks by Neo-Nazis: most recently in Sweden in 2007.




Urbanism: Digging deep for a better life

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 16:16:27 +0100

Polityka, Warsaw – From the eastern Baltic to the western straits, Scandinavians are building everything underground: roads, tunnels, and even huge shopping malls. Polish weekly Polityka reports. See more.



A city in Europe: Nostalgia for Bucharest's golden age

Wed, 13 Apr 2011 15:12:33 +0100

Dilema Veche, Bucharest – Nicknamed "Little Paris", the Romanian capital is getting a little uglier every day, carved up by building sites that are as mammoth as they are meaningless. But some parts of the town have retained their charm, and it wouldn’t take much to give the city a human face. The architect Teodor Frolu reports. See more.



Architecture: Souto de Moura wins Pritzker Prize

Tue, 29 Mar 2011 12:03:51 +0100

"Portuguese architecture’s triumph", exults Público, honouring the Oporto architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, winner of 2011 Pritzker Prize – architecture’s highest distinction. The first Portuguese architect to garner the prize since Álvaro Siza in 1992. The jury acclaimed Souto de Moura's work for its "apparent formal simplicity" that "weaves together complex references to the characteristics of the region, landscape, site, and wider architectural history". Having narrowly missed out on the Mies van der Rohe European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture for Braga Stadium, Souto Moura is also known Monastery of Santa Maria do Bouro, Porto`s underground and Casa das Histórias that houses the painter Paula Rego's collection.




Cities: Gated communities, German style

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 12:16:15 +0100

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich – Rich man, poor man: as the wealth gap widens in Berlin, the well-heeled are fencing themselves in. They feel safe in their gated communities – if only it weren’t for the neighbours…. The envy. And the protest. See more.



European of the week: The riddle of Princess Hijab

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 10:56:53 +0100

The Guardian, London – In the midst of heated debates about national identity and burqa bans, French graffiti artist Princess Hijab’s ad-busting interventions on Paris metro fashion ads now have a worldwide audience. But who is she? And does it matter if she’s not even a she? See more.



Exhibitions: Art - the bigger the better

Wed, 20 Oct 2010 13:08:46 +0100

De Standaard, Brussels – An immense inflatable mannequin, thousands of empty cans, a 17-metre high tower: several of the works currently on display in Belgium point to the trend for gigantism in contemporary art. See more.



Counterfeiting: Fake is absolutely fabulous

Fri, 03 Sep 2010 09:35:32 +0100

The Daily Telegraph, London – A new European Union-funded report has declared that buying counterfeited designer goods can benefit consumers and the companies whose brands are being ripped off. See more.



Crime: The art thieves stalking Europe

Fri, 27 Aug 2010 11:00:45 +0100

International New York Times, Paris – The vulnerability of museums and high-end art owners to costly thefts has been a whispered concern in France for years, but two events here are forcing the issue into the open. See more.



Art world: Ego-seums are coming to Europe

Thu, 24 Jun 2010 15:28:37 +0100

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurt – A rift is emerging in the European art scene: as public establishments languish under budget cuts, private museums are booming. But the latter are generally showcases for self-serving oligarchs, warns the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Museums, places where our society portrays and projects itself, may be becoming an endangered species. See more.



Exhibition: From east to west, art remains political

Fri, 18 Jun 2010 13:52:34 +0100

Dilema Veche, Bucharest – In Paris the "Les Promesses du Passé" (Promises of the past) exhibition examines the development of artistic creation and the continuing ambition to change the world in a Europe marked by the Iron Curtain and the East-West divide. See more.



France: Modern art goes to the provinces

Tue, 11 May 2010 12:10:56 +0100

Tomorrow's inauguration of the Centre Pompidou-Metz in eastern France will mark "the first ever decentralisation of a major cultural institution in France," reports La Croix*. At the same time, the move will not have a negative impact on the accessibility of art in the French capital, because, as the daily notes, "the new facility will provide a venue for the exhibition in the provinces of the vast modern art collections maintained by the over-burdened Centre Georges* Pompidou in Paris, which is currently forced to keep large numbers of works in storage." For Le Monde, the new museum "strikes a note of optimism for France's cultural industry, which is beset by funding troubles." With a forecasted 200,000 visits per year, the centre in Metz "will put paid to the idea that prestigious works of art should only be kept in capital cities," adds La Croix. The inaugural exhibition Masterpieces?(from 12 May to 25 October), which Le Monde hails as "an inspiration for a critique of museums and a rereading of history" will feature 800 works of modern art, including 700 on loan from the Centre Georges Pompidou.




European of the Week: Antonio Presti, anti-Mafia patron of the arts

Fri, 23 Apr 2010 15:51:18 +0100

El País, Madrid – For 30 years this Sicilian entrepreneur has been lavishing the bulk of his fortune on artistic projects. Defying convention, corruption and the Cosa Nostra, he seeks to "help people respect their patch” and “rediscover their identity" through art. See more.



Photography: Quest for Europe’s natural treasures

Thu, 15 Apr 2010 14:22:23 +0100

De Morgen, Brussels – For over a year, 69 photographers were sent out on “The Great Quest” for Europe’s flora and fauna. The object of project Wild Wonders of Europe: to reveal the continent’s biodiversity to the world. See more.



Architecture: Scaling down on starchitects

Tue, 06 Apr 2010 16:22:12 +0100

Trouw, Amsterdam – The days of ostentatious architecture by star architects are at an end. Under the influence of the economic crisis, budgets have been pared down and vast projects have been set aside to be replaced by more modest buildings. A positive change, which will force architects to seek solutions to problems that they themselves have helped to create, argues director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi), Ole Bouman. See more.



Denmark: Ni Hao Little Mermaid

Fri, 26 Mar 2010 14:05:20 +0100

The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen's most visited monument, is set to leave her rock facing the port of Copenhagen for a trip to Shanghai, where she will grace the Danish pavilion at Expo 2010. On the occasion of her departure, Politiken reminds its readers that the city's, and indeed the country's, most famous symbol, began life as a character in the eponymous story by Hans Christian Andersen — a fact that no one has bothered to communicate to conservative Economy and Business Affairs Minister Brian Mikkelsen, who believes that the likeness of the love-lorn sea nymph will "tell the story of our welfare state and Danish industry in Shanghai." As the centre-left daily explains, the tale of the Little Mermaid makes no mention of Denmark or Danes. Her fame is due to the fact that she was selected as a national symbol by the Danish tourist board, which wanted to present Denmark as the homeland of fairy tales.




Netherlands: Peter Stuyvesant artwork makes a packet

Tue, 09 Mar 2010 13:42:22 +0100

On 8 March, 163 works of modern art by artists such as Appel, Corneille, Santomaso and Morellet – which used to grace the walls of the Peter Stuyvesant cigarette factory in Zevenaar – were sold at auction in Amsterdam, reports the front page of De Volkskrant. The sale, organized by Sotheby’s, made 13.5 million euros – a record for modern art in the Netherlands. The star of the show was the painting Dinosaurierei (dinosaur egg) by German artist Martin Kippenberger, which fetched a price of more than a million euros including commission. The collection was of such high quality that "on its own, it could have constituted a good basis for an art museum focusing on works from the latter half of the 20th century," points out Dirk Limburg in his cultural blog on the NRC Handelsblad website. The journalist regretfully adds that it included 25 masterpieces that he would have loved "to see and see again on repeated visits to modern art museums."




A town in Europe: The Ruhr - from coal to culture

Fri, 05 Mar 2010 11:53:47 +0100

Der Spiegel, Hamburg – The Ruhr region has seen the rise and fall of the coal industry in the space of 170 years. Now, during its stint as 2010 European Capital of Culture, it aims to complete its modernisation process. But its cities are running out of funds, reports Der Spiegel. See more.



Communication: Europe doesn't have to look cheesy

Tue, 02 Feb 2010 17:21:59 +0100

NRC Handelsblad, Amsterdam – Brussels is the source of numerous poorly designed communications. On the Internet, and in brochures and logos, European institutions appear to be incapable of showing any imagination. A Dutch journalist makes the case for making more frequent calls to creative professionals, with interesting results. See more.



Internet: Fine art of virtual museums

Fri, 29 Jan 2010 14:30:27 +0100

De Volkskrant, Amsterdam – The success of the Tate Britain website has shown how the Internet can promote collections and stored works in major museums and attract a new generation of visitors. See more.



European of the Week: Eric Cantona : striker universalis

Tue, 26 Jan 2010 11:34:07 +0100

Le Monde, Paris – Having played himself in Ken Loach's Looking for Eric, the former star of Manchester United is now preparing to take on a leading role in a major Parisian theatre production. Le Monde presents a portrait of a legendary footballer who has found a new career as a sensitive and committed artist. See more.



Denmark: Muhammad caricaturist for Haiti

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 12:28:42 +0100

Danish public television channel TV2 has asked cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, author of the controversial Muhammad caricatures in 2005, to produce a drawing to be auctioned off for the benefit of child victims of the earthquake in Haiti. But the plan nearly aborted, recounts Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, when the online auction house Lauritz.com refused to sell the work. Lauritz.com, which justified its refusal in the interest of staff security – Westergaard has in fact narrowly escaped several assassination attempts –, has been widely criticised, even by the Danish government. Now the drawing has finally been put on the market by the Draupner gallery, which has been working with Westergaard for many years. The highest bid to date comes to 75,000 Danish crowns (€10,000).




Netherlands: Rebuilding the forbidden city

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:48:40 +0100

De Volkskrant, Amsterdam – On the immense site of what was once the "Philips forbidden city," work is underway to build a new neighbourhood. The development plan, the largest of its kind in the Netherlands, will bring new life to a town that has always identified itself with the electronics group. See more.



United Kingdom: Private city – keep out

Mon, 21 Dec 2009 10:01:50 +0100

The Guardian, London – In the name of urban regeneration, entire swathes of cities like London and Liverpool are now under private ownership and policed by private security firms. Writing in the Guardian, Anna Minton reports on a new Britain where seemingly innocuous activities such as eating or taking photographs are now forbidden. See more.



United Kingdom: Bobbies confiscate your holiday snaps

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 14:17:35 +0100

Like the sunset at London’s St Paul’s cathedral? Whatever you do, don’t take your camera out. The Independent’s front page leads with reports that amateur and professional photographers are increasingly stopped by police as “terrorists on a reconnaissance mission”. Victims have included two Austrian tourists snapping a London bus station, and even renowned photojournalist Martin Parr, “taking pictures of revellers in Liverpool.” This follows publication of Lord Carlile’s review of the 2000 Terrorism act, Section 44 of which provides, not without controversy, that areas can be designated as “stop-and-search” zones based on their likelihood of being a terrorist target. Speaking to the London daily, Lord Carlile has expressed concern about over-zealous policing. Meanwhile, an amateur was recently pulled up in Brighton for taking photographs “of Christmas lights on his way to work”.




Czech Republic: Giving the Velvet Revolution the finger

Mon, 23 Nov 2009 13:36:24 +0100

The people of Prague who turned out to leave candles commemorating the end of the Communist regime hardly saw anything but the flickering flames. But the bronze plaque on “National Avenue” to commemorate the 1989 Velvet Revolution had undergone a sea change shortly after the official ceremonies this past 17 November. The outstretched fingers symbolising the people’s victory were now hemmed in on either side by other hands to put November 1989 in an historical continuum: on the left, Hitler salutes in memory of the Nazi occupation of November 1939; on the right, hands “giving the finger” to 1989 twenty years later.

On the website of Czech weekly Týden, Roman Týc, a member of the Ztohoven artists collective and the sculptor of this bronze entitled “There’s nothing to celebrate” explains: “Czechs threw up their arms during German occupation, and they’re still doing it today. The gesture of victory in ’89 doesn’t seem apposite any more, and even the ex-prime minister Mirek Topolánek [he did it in parliament] and Karel Gott [pop singer who never abjured the Communist regime] have given the finger in public.” In the meantime the police have put two old dish-cloths on the offending hands.

*Photo: *Karel Šanda/Tyden.cz**




After "89: Wall comes down in Big Apple

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 12:06:56 +0100

“The ‘autumn of nations’, as the 1989 revolutions have been nicknamed, that led to the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, is the subject of a huge festival in New York,” reports Cotidianul. Organised by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in association with various European cultural organisations, “Performing Revolution in Central and Eastern Europe”, or PerfRevolution for short, kicked off on 6 November to run to 20 March 2010. Artists have been invited from a number of ex-communist countries, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Poland, ex-Yugoslavia, Romania and Hungary. The focus, adds the Romanian daily, is on ways in which the performing arts tried, and sometimes succeeded, in circumventing communist censorship.




Fashion: High-tech and ethically right-on

Fri, 06 Nov 2009 15:38:30 +0100

Cafebabel.com, Paris – In 2030, we may well be wearing clothes that offer a new level of physical well-being by adapting to the ambient temperature, and at the same time, respect our political convictions. Cafebabel.com reports on a heady blend of technology and ideology. See more.