When art meets the artful

When art meets the artful
This week’s art news focuses on vastly different themes and styles, ranging from the masters of the Renaissance period to recent modern expressionists.

Giulano Ruffini, a 71 year old Frenchman claims that he owned Old Master paintings that were sold for millions by dealers and auction houses in London, Paris, New York and Milan. Having been discovered to be forgeries, Ruffini says that at no stage did he authenticate these works. According to him, he had works by a whole galaxy of artists, including Jan or Pieter Brueghel, Corregio, Van Dyke, Parmigianino and others. All the paintings were put on sale, after being authenticated by experts and were even exhibited in museums across the globe.

One of the paintings, a portrait of an unknown man, was reported as a newly-discovered art work by Franz Hals and sold privately for $10m to an art collector in Seattle. Sotheby’s has now refunded the money after a technical analysis, found the painting to be a forgery. Another painting is Venus with a Veil (1531) attributed to Lucas Cranach, was found at an exhibition in the south of France in March this year and seized on suspicion of forgery. A painting of St Jerome sold for $842.500 at Sotheby’s New York in 2012, is also under investigation.

A long-running legal case is currently on in Paris involving the French-American art-dealing Wildenstein family and Caravaggio’s Lute Player. Eight defendants including Guy Wildenstein, president of the New York art business are charged with tax evasion and money laundering, amounting to at least ¤550m. One of the charges in the case is that Guy and his brother Alec moved valuable paintings from New York to Switzerland following the death of their father Daniel Wildenstein in Paris in 2001 to avoid inheritance tax.

Museums in Britain are working hard to add to their collections. Tate acquired the Portrait of an Unknown Woman (1650-55) painted by British painter Joan Carlile, which was discovered in a country auction. The purchase is part of Tate’s new focus on acquiring works by female artists for its collection. After undergoing conservation, the portrait will be on display next April.

The National Gallery has been keen to acquire Jacopo Pontormo’s painting, Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap (1530), which had been sold to an American buyer. Pontormo is considered one of the great portraitists of the 16th century and most of his works remain in Italy. The gallery needed to raise just over £30m and have come to a private agreement with the UK government for a grant to cover their shortfall of £19m.

We now move on to African American art. Mark Bradford, a highly regarded African American abstract artist based in Los Angeles, has been chosen to represent USA at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Bradford has a number of solo exhibitions and innumerable group shows to his credit in USA and other countries, since 2001. Among his most admired solo exhibitions was organised by Saachi in London in 2003, bringing him many fans and rave reviews. Besides using paint on canvas, Bradford is known to use a variety of materials, plywood, paper and remnants of posters in layers to reveal colours and embedded images, in a style that could be referred to as a cross between contemporary expressionism and street art. Working in both paint and collage, his abstract paintings and installations incorporate elements from his daily life. Asked about his theme for the Biennale, Bradford confirmed that the work would certainly touch on the political and social context in which he works.


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