French anti-Semites attack ‘degenerate’ art

This video from France says about itself:

7 September 2015

Vandals have damaged British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor’s ‘queen’s vagina’ installation at the Palace of Versailles near Paris. The graffiti appeared on Sunday and is the second such attack on the sculpture in three months. A series of sentences, some of which were anti-Semitic, were painted on Kapoor’s 60-metre steel and rock abstract sculpture

One of the slogans daubed by the vandals was: ‘A Versailles le Christ est roy’ [In Versailles, Christ is king; archaic spelling]. This alludes to nostalgia to the seventeenth-eighteenth century fanatically Roman Catholic absolute monarchy. And it alludes to twentieth century fascist slogans. In Spain, the Guerilleros de Cristo Rey, the Warriors of Christ the King, were a pro-dictator Franco terrorist group. In Belgium, nazi leader Léon Degrelle called his party, in Latin, ‘Christus Rex’, abbreviated to ‘Rex’.

After Adolf Hitler’s attacks on ‘degenerate’ art … after the recent Swedish neo-nazi attacks on ‘degenerate’ art … now, France.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Anish Kapoor’s ‘queen’s vagina’ vandals and the rise of cultural fascism in France

The ‘abominable’ antisemitic slogans graffitied on Kapoor’s sculpture linked to peak in support for the far-right Front National

Anish Kapoor’s ‘queen’s vagina’ sculpture vandalised again

Kim Willsher

Tuesday 8 September 2015 10.44 BST

Even before Anish Kapoor’s installation at the Château de Versailles was vandalised this weekend for the second time there were concerns that France was in the grip of a wave of “cultural fascism”.

The contemporary work – officially called Dirty Corner but nicknamed the queen’s vagina – had already been defaced this June and was cleaned. This weekend it was daubed with antisemitic slogans, which Kapoor has said will remain on the work as a witness to hatred.

The perpetrators may be, as everyone agrees, a minority in a country that places a high value on cultural and artistic expression, as epitomised by the French l’exception culturelle, but the recent targets have been high profile.

Last October, vandals deflated a American sculptor Paul McCarthy’s massive sex toy-shaped sculpture at Place Vendôme, the epicenter of Parisian luxury. The damaged work was removed.

The vandalism is reminiscent of attacks on Daniel Buren’s black-and-white striped columns, Les Deux Plateaux, which were controversial when they were installed at the Palais Royal in 1985. They have since become part of the Paris cultural landscape, but when they were installed, antisemitic slogans including “Out Socialist Jewish columns” were pasted over walls around the site. Then Socialist Party culture minister, Jack Lang, was accused of supporting “Jewish art”.

Fabrice Bousteau, editor-in-chief of Beaux Arts magazine and a commissioner of contemporary art exhibitions, said that each time a contemporary work was vandalised it could be linked to peaks in support for the far-right Front National (FN) in France. “We saw this vandalism at the end of the 80s with Daniel Buren’s columns in the Palais Royal. These were also the object of antisemitic inscriptions … Buren was shocked, saying it was the first time he had seen such inscriptions since the second world war,” Bousteau told the Guardian.

“There is a minor faction of the French population that is fascist about culture and especially about what it considers to be degenerate art. Most French people are respectful of contemporary art, but these people see it as an expression of France’s degeneration.

“Anish Kapoor has said he will keep the inscriptions, and in the sense that his work is a sociological statement, he is right to do so.”

Bousteau added: “The Palais Royal, Place Vendôme, the Château de Versailles: these are symbolic places in the French republic. The vandals reject contemporary art, which they see as a loss of values. Listen to the FN and you realise its only view of culture centres on the conservation of heritage.

“And each time the vandalism is against a contemporary work in a symbolic place open to the public. It doesn’t happen in a museum.”

Kapoor’s giant steel and rock sculpture, on display in the Versailles gardens facing the palace and measuring 200 feet long and 33 feet high, is a huge funnel, which the 61-year-old artist has admitted is “very sexual”. Shortly after it was unveiled in June, it was splattered with yellow paint. This was subsequently cleaned off.

This week, French president François Hollande condemned the latest attack and the antisemitic slogans sprayed on the sculpture as “hateful”. Culture minister Fleur Pellerin said she was “angry and shocked”.

“This nauseating act constitutes a further step towards obscurantism. Art can stimulate debate, even shock, but should never be subject to destruction,” Pellerin said.

Bousteau added: “What is even more abhorrent about this vandalism is that the Château de Versailles was, at the time it was built, a contemporary experiment.”

“I’m very happy with the government’s reaction to this. As the minister said it is cultural fascism, and she is exactly right. It ties in with images we have seen recently of Daesch’s destruction of heritage in Syria. It’s a war of images.”

In June, the magazine InRocks wrote: “These attacks have nothing to do with aesthetic disagreements; they are part of a long political strategy by the extreme right in France. For a long time, the Front National and its satellites (the family associations, the newspaper Minute, various websites …) have made contemporary art their chosen target. This strategy is wide and varied and uses a large range of actions: complaints and legal actions, public protests, diatribes, caricatures and, finally, vandalism.”

Catherine Pégard, president of the Palace of Versailles, said she was “scandalised” by those who had defaced a work of art by a great international artist with “the most abominable references”. …

2014: The town fountain at Hayange, in Moselle, created by Alain Mila and featuring a rock and an egg-shaped form, was painted blue on the orders of the Front National mayor.

Ancient Egyptian sculpture acquired by Dutch museum

Newly aquired sculpture from the age of Pharaoh Amenhotep III

Translated from the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, the Netherlands:

The Egyptian collection of the Museum of Antiquities has recently been supplemented by a series of objects from the former collection of HC Jelgersma (1897-1982), a psychiatrist who studied Egyptology in his spare time. The most striking object of this is a small statue from the time of Amenhotep III (1391-1353 BC), the father of the famous Pharaoh Akhenaten. It is a thirteen centimeters tall head of a statue that has stood in an Egyptian temple.

Figurine with features of Amenhotep III

The sculpture has the characteristic features of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, but the wig with vertical strands indicates that the head does not represent the pharaoh himself, but a god with the facial features of the monarch. Amenhotep III had hundreds of these idols made for many temples in the country.

Rise and fall of the sun cult

The statue is made of red quartzite, a type of stone that was popular in this period of Egyptian history. Probably the colour was associated with the rising sun. That suited the cult of the sun as almighty god, which was booming at this time and culminated during the reign of Akhenaten. On the forehead was originally the head of a cobra, a symbol of power, worn both by gods and kings.

September 2, 2015

Cecil the lion bronze statue planned

Entrance to Hwange National Park in Zibabwe, where the Cecil the lion statue is planned

From Nehanda Radio in Zimbabwe:

Cecil the lion bronze statue planned

Aug 7, 2015

Cecil the lion, whose death at the hands of hunters in Zimbabwe prompted worldwide outrage, may be commemorated by a bronze statue at the entrance to the park where he lived.

A conservation group has announced it wants to erect a life-sized statue of Cecil at Hwange National Park.

Cecil was shot in July by US dentist Walter Palmer. Zimbabwe is seeking his extradition.

The death made headlines around the world, and sent Mr Palmer into hiding.

Cecil was killed outside Hwange park using a bow and arrow. Mr Palmer says he thought the hunt was legal but two Zimbabwean men have been arrested over the killing.

Cheryl Rodrigues of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said people had already offered donations for the sculpture – the cost of which has not yet been confirmed.

She said: “Cecil was such an icon and it’s created such a fuss everywhere we thought it would be nice to do it.”

The group has commissioned John Binda of Birds for Africa to make the statue and said it would be an “excellent reminder to all who visit the park”.

Mr Binda, a metal sculptor for 24 years, said he was “a little bit thunderstruck” to be asked and when his wife Debbie found out she nearly fell over.

“There’s a hell of a lot of pressure,” he said.

He called Cecil’s death “crazy, stupid” and down to “sheer greed”, but added: “We are going to have to be detached from the emotion and get on with the job.”

His previous work includes statues of a pride of lions at a private game lodge in South Africa.

Oxford University had been studying Cecil for lion conservation and Mr Binda said he was hoping researchers could tell him how much the lion weighed and his dimensions to make the sculpture as realistic as possible.

Mrs Rodrigues said it was not clear whether a permit would be needed from the park for the statue to be placed at the entrance.

But some have criticised the plan, telling the organisation on their Facebook page that it would be more beneficial to use the money to counter corruption and improve conservation.

This is not the only legacy project afoot for the 13-year-old animal renowned for being friendly towards visitors.

Earlier this week the conservation group’s chairman Johnny Rodrigues suggested Cecil’s head be mounted in a glass case.

Meanwhile, China, which has been criticised for fuelling the trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn, announced on Thursday it was pledging £1m ($2m) for equipment to curb poaching in Zimbabwe.

John Binda interview on this, in German: here.

Big game left to live has a lifetime economic value that can go into the millions: here.

Idaho Hunter Sabrina Corgatelli Uses Bible Verses to Defend Killing of Innocent Animals: here.

Stolen Rodin sculpture found after 24 years

Rodin's Young Girl With Serpent

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Rare Rodin sculpture stolen during $1 million Beverly Hills heist recovered in London

Young Girl With Serpent has been missing for 24 years

Matilda Battersby

Thursday 09 July 2015

A rare Auguste Rodin sculpture stolen nearly 25 years ago as part of a $1 million Beverly Hills art heist has been recovered after it turned up in London.

The 1991 theft was facilitated by the “trusted” housekeeper of a Los Angeles art collector who, after bragging about his employer’s wealth a local bar, was paid $5,000 by art thieves to give them copies of his house keys.

The bronze statue, titled Young Girl With Serpent, by French sculptor Rodin, is believed to be worth around $100,000.

A number of other valuable artworks, including an important early sketch of Rodin’s most famous work, The Kiss, and another sculpture, The Eternal Spring, were also taken and remain missing and total assets taken were valued at more than a million dollars at the time.

The thieves had considerable access to the Beverly Hills property while its owner was away at another residence for several weeks and used the copied key to rob it over several visits.

The unnamed Beverly Hills art collector, who is now in her Eighties, described returning to her house after the burglary to find it looking “as though it had been hit by an earthquake”.

The housekeeper had skipped town and a warrant was issued for his arrest by the Beverly Hills Police Department.

A six month manhunt followed after which the housekeeper was located and arrested in Miami, Florida while sunbathing next to a hotel pool.

The collector is said to be “delighted” at the recovery of the statue which turned up at Christie’s auction house in New York and was transferred to London for sale in 2011 having being missing for more than two decades.

Christie’s were alerted to the fact that the sculpture was stolen and “assisted all involved parties during the investigation” according to Chris Marinello, CEO of Art Recovery International.

There was a four year deadlock in negotiations between lawyers for the possessor of the artwork who offered it to Christie’s and the Beverly Hills victim, but following intervention by Marinello the work has now been released unconditionally back to her.

The housekeeper claimed to know nothing of the artwork’s whereabouts after his arrest and later attempted to contact the family where he’d worked as “a trusted member of staff” to apologise.

He served time for his role in the theft in the US and was later extradited to prison in Switzerland over an unrelated crime.

Marinello credits the resolution of this case to one particular officer from Beverly Hills Police Department, Detective Michael Corren, who kept the case open for 24 years – even after he had retired.

“Detective Corren was very impressive in the way he pursued the case. He was kind of like Moby Dick and the White Whale,” Marinello told The Independent.

“The police department tracked down the caretaker in Florida by the swimming pool and got an arrest and Corren pursued it to solve it. It’s rare that you get an officer today who is so single-minded.”

The victim has asked Art Recovery International to continue pursuing the other lost artworks.

However, it seems there is quite a market for stolen Rodins on the black market and also fears that thieves might melt the statues down. “Sadly, many of these bronze items are sold for scrap, as horrific as that may sound,” Marinello said previously.

Rodin’s The Thinker was stolen and damaged along with six other bronze statues from the garden of the Singer Laren Museum, Netherlands in 2007. It was recovered two days later “pretty worse for wear” and had to undergo considerable and expensive restoration.

A nude bronze of French novelist Honore de Balzac was stolen from the Israel Museum while it was undergoing renovation in 2011 – one of a series of four studies that Rodin cast for a monument to Balzac on display in Paris – and has yet to be recovered.

In 2012 portrait in bronze of Rodin by his artist lover Camille Claudel worth a reported £800,000 was recovered in the truck of an antique dealer 13 years after it was taken from the Guéret art and archaeology museum in France.

Young Girl With Serpent will be consigned for sale later this year as part of a deal between the victim and her insurance company.

Manchester, England, only one statue of a woman

This video from England, recorded in 2001, says about itself:

Unveiling Statue Of Victoria At Manchester

Lord Roberts with civic dignitaries unveils statue of Queen Victoria after making short speech.

By Bernadette Hyland:

Feminist monument or progress standing still

Tuesday 23rd June 2015

BERNADETTE HYLAND explores a bid to redress gender imbalance in Manchester’s statues by memorialising a famous woman

ANDREW SIMCOCK, Labour councillor for the leafy, affluent suburb of East Didsbury in Manchester, has instigated a campaign to try to rebalance the male-female ratio of public statues in the city. Of its 17 statues, only one is of a woman — Queen Victoria.

He says: “Like many people I was unaware that there were no statues dedicated to women in the city centre, and it seemed to me to be an injustice that should be righted.” Simcock has got Manchester City Council to support his idea and a shortlist of 20 women has been drawn up.

He is asking the public to donate to the campaign and stresses that no public money will be used. Simcock has paid for an advertising agency to promote the campaign and has embarked on a nationwide bike ride to raise money for the statue.

Estimated costs range from £120,000 to £500,000.

The Queen Victoria statue has a long history as a meeting place for political events in Manchester. In 1908 the Suffragettes were trying to get women to go to London for a huge procession, so they used the statue to advertise the meeting with a card displaying the Women’s Social and Political Union motto and a placard with details of a meeting the following evening.

A crowd gathered, the police arrived and ordered the removal of the placards. The event got in all the papers and gave the Suffragettes the publicity they needed.

So who are the 20 women on the shortlist? Well, as you would expect, the Pankhursts are there: Emmeline, Sylvia and Christabel. But there are also grassroots activists including socialist Hannah Mitchell, suffragist Lydia Becker and trade unionists Mary Quaile and Esther Roper.

Prominent politicians including Labour education minister Ellen Wilkinson, Shena Simon and Margaret Ashton appear alongside the odd Tory, such as Katherine Ollerenshaw, who was a councillor and adviser to Margaret Thatcher.

Others range from Louise Da-Cocodia, a nurse and activist in the Afro-Caribbean community, to Sunny Lowry, who was the first woman to swim the English Channel.

Across the north-west (and maybe beyond) new public statues have been dominated by entertainers. Morecambe’s statue of local boy Eric Morecambe is one of the most popular places for tourists to visit. Liverpool has Ken Dodd and Labour MP Bessie Braddock together, which might be a political comment, while north-west council Rochdale is putting up a statue to singer and actress Gracie Fields, a woman dubbed by a local Labour councillor as the Madonna of her era. Shouldn’t it be the other way round?

Underneath the overhyped 24/7 image, Manchester is a city facing major challenges because of government cuts as well as the choices made about where those cuts should be made by the Labour Council. Only 46 per cent of Mancunians voted in the general election, which is a sign of the increasing division between the people and the political system.

Manchester is the fifth most deprived area in Britain, and walking around the city, the increasing levels of poverty are obvious in the deteriorating state of its public places, as well as the way in which some groups of people, including the homeless, are taking their campaigns literally to the streets.

What do Mancunians think about having a new statue of a woman? Over 100 people turned up to the launch and Simcock believes the Womanchester Statue project “has struck a chord with people in Manchester.”

Annette Wright, president of Manchester Trades Council, hopes the debate will inspire new activists to get involved in local politics. “As the shortlist clearly illustrates, women have played a major role in campaigning, protesting and organising in the trade union movement in Manchester. We have a long way to go to give them all the recognition they deserve.

“By building the union movement in the present day, making sure women play a full role in this and remembering the women who played such significant roles in the past, we can start to go some way to addressing this. We can learn a great deal and be inspired by the examples of labour movement pioneers.”

Local historian Alison Ronan is a supporter of Margaret Ashton to win. “It seems to me that it is important that the statue represents a woman who was committed to Manchester and its citizens.”

Ashton was the first female councillor for Manchester (a Liberal), a committed pacifist and internationalist and campaigner for women’s and workers’ rights, including the vote.

Manchester NUJ activist Rachel Broady is more cynical, particularly about the whole role of statues: “It would be great if the list of women helps create a debate and reminds people of Manchester’s radical history rather than repeat the same, often limited, story of the Suffragettes. Ultimately, though, I think funding education — in schools and beyond — about our radical past, and the men and women involved, would be of more value than one more statue for the pigeons to sit on.”

Project worker and activist in the Mary Quaile Club Ciara Sullivan is also not impressed about either the statue or the fact that it is going be paid for by the public: “I think that makes it much worse. That makes it feel like a distraction to divert attention from areas still needing fixing and funding and using historical achievements as a diversion.”

It is now a question of whether the good people of Manchester will cough up the tens of thousands to pay for the statue and then vote for the woman whose legacy it will honour.

For further details see

Greek, or Roman, sculpture exhibition in London

This video from the British Museum in London, England is about their exhibition Defining beauty: the body in ancient Greek art.

By Michal Boncza in England:

Some sincerest forms of flattery

Thursday 4th June 2015

Many of the works in an exhibition of ancient Greek sculpture are Roman copies. MICHAL BONCZA explains why

Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art
British Museum, London WC1

HUGELY impressive as it is, this exhibition doesn’t exactly do what it says on the tin.

Many of the large-scale statues on display are in fact Roman replicas produced for a growing internal art market following the cultural pillage carried out by imperial armies conquering Greece in 146 BC.

Millennia later, our very own Lord Elgin engaged in a similar act of vandalism when he looted treasures from the Parthenon in Athens.

Back in Roman times, the bronze originals were often lost or simply melted down for the value of the metal and only a handful of full-sized original Greek statues survive.

Yet there is enough jaw-dropping craftsmanship in evidence here to help understand the impact the Greeks have had over the last 2,500 years, particularly since the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, in Europe and the Western world.

An example is Leon Golub’s Colossal Torso II, shown at the Serpentine gallery recently and the Michaelangelo painting of Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in the Vatican.

They were executed 500 years apart but both were inspired by the same formidable marble figure of Ilisos, the Athenian river god from the west pediment of the Parthenon designed by Phidias.

The Greek sculptors often laboured under the largely misguided concept that a body beautiful will house a corresponding spirit or indeed personality.

Thus, like all excessively idealistic aesthetic canons the sculptures — particularly the Roman marble copies — tend, at times, to schematise or falsify anatomy. This is certainly evident when comparing the Discobolus by Miron or the Westmacott Youth to the partial but still breathtaking magnificence of the Belvedere Torso which, although also a copy, is beautiful in its own right.

The illustrated amphoras intrigue, both for the sculptural qualities inherent in their manufacture and the masterly single-outline rendition of mythological as well as everyday scenes and ornaments, with the ochre background contrasting with the black of the shapes.

Among the myriad of mythical creatures are the usual quarrelsome centaurs kicking the proverbial out of humans and winged gate-keeping sphinxes with rat-like tails.

Smaller items, most of them Greek original pieces, delight.

There’s the 4,500-year-old minimalist marble figurine Woman from the Cyclades and the delightful Running Spartan Girl in a traditional short dress baring one of her breasts.

The one-foot tall and extraordinarily intricate figure of Zeus, the familiar marble figurine of Socrates or the exquisitely balanced statuette of Aphrodite standing on one leg to adjust her sandal are exquisite too.

Yet there’s a jarring absence of historic or social contextualisation, which means that fascinating as this art is a vacuum surrounds important areas of reference such as the sources of patronage or records of the political, scientific and economic realities of the time.

And the activities of Lord Elgin certainly cast a long shadow over the exhibition — not one Greek museum has lent items from their collections to it.

Runs until July 5, box office: