International News Digest

NOVEMBER 14

Fallout continues after German officials several weeks ago revealed the existence of a cache of Nazi-looted art that includes significant works by Picasso, Renoir, and Matisse. Der Spiegel published a letter by Cornelius Gurlitt (whose art-dealer father amassed the collection) asking the paper to “leave the name Gurlitt out of your pages”—and expressing concern that the family’s reputation would become synonymous with Nazi-era dealings. Die Welt, meanwhile, reported that the government has now promised to release a full list of all the trove’s artworks. And the Stuttgarter Zeitung noted that Gurlitt has a brother residing in Kornwestheim who has now also turned in a trove of art to the police. Art historians are now reviewing the twenty-two works handed over by Gurlitt's sibling, whose name has yet to be revealed.

In India, the foundation stone for Kolkata’s Museum of Modern Art has been laid, according to India Blooms. Situated in New Town, Rajarhat, the project is being built to a tune of nearly $80 million dollars, and is funded by a public-private partnership model. Its board of trustees includes industrialists and artists, as well as nominees representing the West Bengal government and India’s national government. "KMOMA is a child now. Today is the beginning,” said the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. “Kolkata is the cultural capital of the world. Our golden days are returning.”

India’s not the only country inaugurating a new site for contemporary art: The nation of Benin now has its first contemporary art center, according to RFI. The institution, which occupies the Villa Ajavon in Ouidah, opens its doors with an exhibition featuring thirteen artists of the African continent. As RFI noted, the museum’s debut was a symbol of the country’s move “into the future.”

Political art in Russia has taken a new gruesome turn: According to The Guardian’s Shaun Walker, artist Pyotr Pavlensky stripped off his scrotum and nailed it to Moscow’s Red Square this past Sunday, in protest against Russia’s descent into a “police state.” Pavlensky timed his protest to coincide with Police Day. It’s not the first time Pavlensky has included self-mutilation in his art: He sewed his lips together to protest the jail sentences doled out to members of punk band Pussy Riot. Russian theater director Kirill Serebrennikov called Pavlensky’s performance a “powerful gesture of absolute despair.” But the government wasn’t so pleased. After being given basic treatment for his injuries at a hospital, Pavlensky was taken to a police station. He faces jail time of fifteen days.

Red Square might not seem all too appealing these days, in light of Pavlensky’s gesture, but Russian officials are looking to “project a new image of Moscow and Russia to the world” via a new park just fifteen minutes away from the square. ArchDaily reports that the thirteen-acre Zaryadye Park, formerly the site of Hotel Russia, will be designed by the New York–based Diller Scofidio and Renfro. Archinect notes that the firm’s design is inspired by “principles of wild urbanism, where people and plants coexist in the same area.” The park will feature four typical Russian ecosystems: tundra, steppe, forest, and marsh.