International News Digest

DECEMBER 21

The new Pas-de-Calais location of the Louvre’s satellite museum, Louvre-Lens, opened to the public on December 12. Its architecture, designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA, cost nearly two hundred million dollars, and was constructed to be fully integrated into its landscape design, which was conceived by Catherine Mosbach. The new building features five rectangular segments, reports Le Monde. The function of the space is different from that of the original Louvre. While it doesn’t have its own collection, there will be a great entrance hall, workshop rooms, and a fully exposed storage facility viewable from the entrance. Henri Loyrette, who recently announced that he will be stepping down from his position as director of the Louvre, spoke to Le Monde about the purpose and unique qualities of the new space. He stated, “A great characteristic of the Louvre is that it was a palace before it was a museum, even though the great halls built in the Second Empire were designed to display painting. The Louvre-Lens is a museum, a transversal museum, meaning that it will give us the option to show works that in Paris would be separated in different departments.” As to the possible pitfalls of the new space, Loyrette said, “In my eyes there are two ways it could fail: if the Louvre’s habitual visitors feel it’s not a place for them, and if the people who visit Louvre-Lens think they can skip the Louvre.”

Eighty-four-year-old artist Otto Piene has received the Max Beckmann award from the city of Frankfurt, reports Der Standard. The German Piene is a sculptor who founded the influential German art movement, Zero Group, with Heinz Mack. The Max Beckmann prize honors artists in the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, and drawing, and comes with a cash award of $50,000. Previous winners include Arnulf Rainer, Willem de Kooning, Bruce Nauman, Richard Hamilton, and Barbara Klemm.

Prosecutors are no longer pursuing corruption and embezzlement charges against former Kunsthalle Wien director Gerald Matt. Matt was accused of offering Austrian citizenship to foreigners who made significant donations to the kunsthalle. Der Standard reports that the Attorney’s Office for Economics and Corruption (WKStA) has abandoned its proceedings against Matt, as well as kunsthalle officials Thomas Hšusle, Siegfried Menz, and Bettina Leidl. Explained the prosecutors, “Taking into consideration all the results of the investigation, we could not find a conscious abuse of power based on an intent to harm.” It has been noted that the statute of limitations had expired on a large part of the alleged embezzlement, which could therefore not be investigated. The Green Party’s cultural spokesman Wolfgang Zinggl told Der Standard he was “surprised” at the closing of the investigation. He noted, “When a contract allows for the private use of public money, one has to question the contract, for one, and also the public authorities handing out money that accept such a contract.”

Meanwhile, Der Spiegel reports that workers have uncovered six murals by German painter Otto Dix during the process of renovating the artist’s former home in Southern German city of Hemmenhofen. The paintings were discovered behind a large bookcase in the cellar, which was used as a library. The Stuttgart Kunstmuseum operates the house, and officials from the museum surmised that Dix produced the works for the Mardi Gras celebration of 1966.