International News Digest

JANUARY 10

Huma Yusuf reported in the New York Times that the fate of administrators at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, is up in the air. Legal proceedings were initiated against the best arts school in the country after its contemporary arts journal published reproductions of “homoerotic paintings by Muhammad Ali depicting clerics alongside seminude young boys.” Jamaat ud Dawa, the charity wing for the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, demanded an apology and retraction of the journal, and school administrators complied. Yet they will still potentially face blasphemy charges. “Those accused of blasphemy in Pakistan often fall victim to public violence before they can defend themselves in court,” wrote Yusuf. “In November, a mob torched the Farooqi Girls’ High School in Lahore after a teacher assigned homework that allegedly contained derogatory references to the prophet Muhammad.”

Valérie Duponchelle wrote in Le Figaro that “father of Japanese photography” Shomei Tomatsu has passed away. Tomatsu has been the subject of many retrospectives, including “Skin of the Nation,” which appeared at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and made stops at the Japan Society and the National Gallery of Canada. The recipient of many awards, Tomatsu also authored seventeen books. Wrote Duponchelle, “With his gaze gentle but explicit, seeing through understatements and quirky compositions, the . . . master of black and white has become the symbol of modernity.”

Die Zeit took a look at the reconstruction of Joseph Beuys’s studio in the Museum Kurhaus Kleve’s west wing. Beuys had maintained a studio between 1957 and 1964 in Kleve, not far from the museum. The new space reveals much about the artist’s life, and exhibits a number of works that have never been displayed before. The exhibition has been supplemented by generous donations made by his widow and two children, such as drawings, a series of plaster models and casting templates for sculpture, Beuys’s Pieta, 1951, and his installation from the German Pavilion at the 1976 Venice Biennale. The addition to the museum will increase the space to 32,000 square feet––an expansive renovation for a museum in a town with no more than 50,000 residents.

According to Der Spiegel, Swedish artist Carl Michael von Hausswolf has claimed that he mixed ashes he collected from a 1989 visit to the Majdanek concentration camp into one of his works. Currently under investigation by the public prosecutor in Lublin, Poland, he could face up to eight years in prison if the story is true. The work in question is a watercolor that, as recently as December, was exhibited at Bryder Gallery in Lund, Sweden. However, due to vehement protests from the Jewish community and the Swedish community at large, the show was forced to abruptly close down. With only media reports and no evidence to date that von Hausswolf’s claims are true, the Polish authorities will assess whether or not the artist should be charged with “disturbing the peace of the dead.”