Stolen Picasso and Mondrian Paintings Recovered – George Osborne Appointed Chair British Museum – Phyllida Barlow To Unveil New Work At Highgate Cemetery

A painting donated to the  Athens National Gallery by Pablo Picasso in 1949, stolen nine years ago has been recovered. Police in the Greek capital said, on Monday, Picasso’s Woman’s Head had been found along with a 1905 painting of a windmill by the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian.

The paintings were stolen, during an early morning raid along with another artwork, during a heist at the Athens National Gallery in 2012. The thieves triggered the gallery security alarms as a ploy to get the guards to switch the alarm off, which allowed them to take the paintings.

The artwork’s frames were removed and left behind while the works evaded return for nearly a decade. Police officials reported that a Greek man had been arrested after the art was hidden in a ravine outside the city. Greek police recently made a statement that they believed the art was still in the country.

Portrait of a Woman by Pablo Picasso was a late cubist style painting valued at over 15m GBP. The artist said the gift, painted before WW2, was honoured the country’s resistance to Nazi Germany.




George Osborne Appointed Chair British Museum

The Board of Trustees of the British Museum has announced the appointment of the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, as their Chair. He is currently a Partner at Robey Warshaw and Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and was until recently Editor of the Evening Standard newspaper. The Board approved the appointment unanimously.

Osborne presided over unprecedented cuts to the arts sector during his Ministerial tenure. The vacancy follows Sir Richard Lambert’s decision to step down. Lambert was Editor of the Financial Times from 1991–2001, a member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee from 2003–06, and Director General of the CBI from 2006–11. He served as Chancellor of Warwick University from 2008–16 and is also Chairman of Bloomsbury Publishing.

George Osborne said, “I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the team at the British Museum – and so honoured to have had the opportunity to apply for this role, and to have been chosen by the Trustees to become their Chair. All my life I have loved the British Museum. To my mind, it is quite simply the greatest Museum in the world. It’s a place that brings cultures together and tells the story of our common humanity. Richard Lambert will be a tough act to follow, but I look forward to working with Hartwig and the impressive team he leads at the Museum. I hope to bring my experience, energy and passion to this incredibly exciting role.”

Founded in 1753, the British Museum was the first national public Museum in the world. The collection tells the stories of cultures around the globe, from the dawn of human history, over two million years ago, to the present. Objects range from the earliest tools made by humans and treasures from the ancient world to more recent acquisitions from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and Europe, as well as the national collections of prints and drawings and coins and medals. In addition to work in London, the Museum takes part in an extensive programme of loans, tours and collaborative work, both across the UK and throughout the world.

Phyllida Barlow To Unveil New Work At Highgate Cemetery 

Phyllida Barlow To Unveil New Work At Highgate Cemetery 

Highgate Cemetery in north London has announced a new sculpture installation by Phyllida Barlow. Act will be 5.6 metres tall, five metres deep and seven metres wide. Barlow told the Guardian, “It’s a stage that includes a “tower of fabric wrapped poles” and takes its cues from the grand setting of the cemetery and the Victorian obsession with honouring the dead”.

“It’s responding to our relationship to cemeteries and this Victorian idea of death as something monumental that needs monuments to honour it in this very correct, profound way,” she said. “I suppose I’ve taken the theatrical aspect of that to create a kind of stage.”

Barlow – who is known for her large-scale, sprawling works, which found their largest audience when she represented the UK at the 2017 Venice Biennale – said Act “echoes” her pavilion work in that it questions whether work like hers belongs in certain places. “I hope it looks in a way very fake,” she explained to Lanre Bakare Guardian Arts and culture correspondent.

“I’m interested in fakery and pretend I like the theatrical issues that that raises, but also slightly misplaced concerning the more intentional objects, such as the mausoleums that Highgate is so famous for.”

Act was initially commissioned by Studio Voltaire in 2019 for Nunhead Cemetery. The original version of the sculpture was deemed too small to sit in the Highgate Cemetery space, which is in the open-air courtyard of the West Cemetery, so Barlow scaled the workup, adding an extra three metres in size.

“It’s a complicated site because it’s Grade I-listed, even though we’re not doing anything permanent,” said Voltaire’s artistic director, Joe Scotland. “It was really important that we worked with a structural engineer just to ensure that everyone is safe, and it is not going to be blowing down on anyone.”

Her Venice Pavilion installation (May 2017) was well received by the international art community and has impacted positively on her career. Now in her mid-seventies, Barlow was awarded a Damehood in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List.

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