International News Digest

The New York Times' Doreen Carvajal took a recent look at the delays plaguing the ongoing renovation of the Picasso Museum in France. The renovation began in 2009; since then, the museum has had to repeatedly postpone its planned reopening date; construction costs in the meanwhile have doubled to nearly $70 million. Carvajal notes that critics are pointing fingers at museum president Anne Baldassari, with various French headlines auguring the museum’s pending “implosion” and “nervous breakdown.” In the process, the museum’s chief executive and five other staff members left in 2012, and reportedly complained about Baldassari’s leadership style.

Baldassari and her defenders, however, point out that she led the museum through an era of financial crisis and cultural funding cuts, even managing to raise $41 million for the renovation. And Baldassari suspects that her accusers wouldn’t be judging her so harshly if she were a man: “A woman in my position has to prove herself every day. There is always suspicion and controversy, and that’s difficult. The criticism of me is a reflection of general sexism.”

In a happier turn of events, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe has officially unveiled six prized artifacts that were recently recovered in Germany after being stolen from the gallery seven years ago, according to Yeukai Karengezeka in The Herald. In search of the pieces—which include four Shona headrests and two Tanzanian masks—the museum went so far as to engage the help of the Museum Security Network; Lilian Chaonwa, the gallery’s collections manager, then discovered the works for sale on the Internet.

The artifacts were offered by a Polish national who claimed that his father had acquired them while working in the country during the Rhodesian era. Citing the pomp that’s surrounded the unveiling of the returned works, executive director Doreen Sibanda said that the National Gallery “wants to [increase] awareness of how important these treasures are to the entire nation and how they should be safeguarded by local citizens.”

South Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is opening the doors to its new branch in Cheongju, a city about eighty-five miles south of Seoul. According to the Yonhap News Agency, the new three-story building, which has been under construction over the past two years, “boasts far better accessibility for Seoul citizens than the main branch in Gwacheon and is far bigger than the Deoksu gallery.” The museum will inaugurate its new outpost with a special exhibition featuring paintings, sculptures, photos, and new-media works by around fifty Korean contemporary artists.

Hats off to Julião Sarmento, who’s been named this year’s winner of the Casino da Póvoa art prize, according to Público. Sarmento will receive over $40,000, and his work will be exhibited at the Árvore gallery and featured in a monograph with contributions by critic Nuno Crespo. The Casino da Póvoa will also acquire a painting by the artist. The Museu de Serralves gave Sarmento a retrospective earlier this year, and he represented Portugal at the Forty-sixth Venice Biennale.