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3.9.04

More Art in Europe

An article (What's on at Europe's Museums, August 16) from Deutsche Welle (in English) gives a short blurb on a show called Kunst der Weimarer Republik (Art in the Weimar Republic), at the Neues Museum Weimar, in Germany (until October 24). The selection of works includes examples of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Beckmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Otto Natel, and the one who caught my attention, Otto Dix.

More recently, the same column (What's on at Europe's Museums, August 23) mentioned a show called Animals and Art, at the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterloo, the Netherlands (from September 4, 2004, to January 16, 2005):

an eclectic mix of work showing artists' relationships with animals over the past five centuries. Whilst Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) saw animals as God's creations and drew them as close to nature as possible, Odilon Redon depicted them as imaginary creatures and Carel Visser made collages from animal materials. The exhibition includes seven graphics from the famous series "Los Caprichos" by Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) and cows in traditional Dutch landscapes by Wouter van Troostwijk (1782-1810).
There are also works by Joseph Teixeira de Mattos, but sadly there's next to nothing on the museum's Web site. Also of interest is Nine Points of the Law, a group exhibition from the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (New Society for Visual Art) gallery in Berlin (until October 3).

In an article (Unique Roman collection to be restored to view, September 2) for The Guardian, John Hooper reports on news in the Italian press, that the Torlonia marbles may be coming out of private storage. The Torlonia family has kept the 600 classical Roman statues and tombs, including some 100 portraits of imperial family members, in a basement in Rome for 40 years. The Minister of Culture has stated that the family has signed a deal with a bank to bring the collection to public display on the Via del Corso:
It was not clear whether the foundation had agreed to buy the collection or fund its exhibition under a more complex deal. But any deal would represent the biggest victory so far in a campaign by Silvio Berlusconi's government to secure greater private sector involvement in the arts. The re-emergence of the Torlonia marbles would also end decades of exasperation for students and lovers of art. Many efforts have been made to get the collection put back on display, but without success. The latest attempt was reported to involve Mr Berlusconi himself. The prime minister, who is Italy's richest man, was said to have offered €130m (£88m) to return it to public view. The marbles once filled what a distinguished critic, the late Federico Zeri, called "the most important private museum of ancient sculpture in the world." The collection was begun in 1810 by Giovanni Torlonia and expanded by his son Alessandro.

Many of the works were unearthed on the family's estates. More than 50 were found around what is now the Leonardo da Vinci international airport at Fiumicino. The Torlonia's treasures disappeared from public view in the early 1960s when the family turned the exhibition building into a block of flats. Many of the works ended up in the basement. Others were sent to Torlonia-owned properties around Rome. Connoisseurs were appalled, and became more so when the family was reported to have demanded huge sums to part with the hidden masterpieces. In the late 70s a critic called for the marbles to be confiscated by the state. By the early 90s the family was ready to hand them over, but only in as part of a deal which included building an underground car park in a beautiful area of central Rome, a scheme blocked by environmentalists.
Here is one of the marble reliefs from the Torlonia collection. Bruce Johnston's article (Roman statues back on show, September 2) in The Telegraph says the new museum will be in the Palazzo Sciarra. The only reason that the works have not been sold off one by one at auction was a law passed by the Italian government, declaring that the collection was part of the Italian cultural patrimony.

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