Art News Headlines: December 6, 2010

Damien Hirst, For the Love of God

Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull, For the Love of God, 2007, is on display at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence for five months. A ticket to see the skull, which also includes entry to the palace museum, costs €10. Organizers are hoping for 230,000 visitors to see the bedazzled bone. For the Love of God, which is covered in 8,601 diamonds, was first shown at White Cube in June 2007 with a £50m price tag. The piece will remain on view through May 2011. Following its unveiling in London the work has been on display only once—at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in late 2008. A proposed tour with stops at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the British Museum in London, and venues in the Far East was cancelled because costs were too high.

In what could result in one of the most interesting lawsuits over art ownership in decades, the estate of Pablo Picasso has filed suit against a retired French electrician and his wife after they recently came forward with 271 previously unknown works by the artist. It is a staggering number, especially considering the Picasso family has no reason to believe the superstar artist would bequeath that many pieces to any one person without telling anyone. The estate is claiming illegal receipt of the works—a fancy way of saying they were stolen. Pierre Le Guennec, 71, worked as Picasso’s personal electrician for some time, and insists that the artwork was given to him personally in a bundle one day without any explanation. The trove of paintings includes nine cubist pieces and one watercolor from Picasso’s blue period. These pieces alone would have made the home of this retired electrician one of the greatest repositories of Picasso in the world, even rivaling the Met with its impressive collection of 300 such works.

Norman Rockwell, The Homecoming Marine (1945)

Beloved American illustrator Norman Rockwell is receiving his first major British exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery later this month. Rockwell was a constant presence in American life throughout much of the 20th century, painting with “soft humor” and depicting the delightful everyday scenes of American life pre-Vietnam. This new show throws Rockwell into the limelight on the other side of the pond for a change—and as such, critics are revealing a lesser-known side of the artist. “You paint your happiness,” Rockwell’s psychoanalyst once told him, “but you don’t live it”. The artist struggled with depression for much of his life and was married three times. He once admitted that he painted things not as they are but “as I would like them to be”. Regardless of his back-story or domestic troubles, America’s favorite illustrator continues to enchant. The exhibit will run through March 2011 and will feature all 322 covers created for The Saturday Evening Post, as well as other illustrations, providing a comprehensive look at the artist’s career.

In other art news, a rare Edgar Degas painting that was stolen 37 years ago and recently rediscovered before an auction in New York will be returned to the French government, U.S. officials announced Thursday. The return of the rare 19th century work, entitled Laundry Woman with a Toothache, “reflects our commitment to ensure the return of stolen artwork and cultural patrimony,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in a statement. In 1961, the Louvre lent the painting to the Malraux Museum in Normandy. In late 1973, a still-unknown thief pulled it off the museum wall and slipped away. Earlier this year, Sotheby’s featured the painting in the catalog for a sale of impressionist art. A Malraux employee spotted the listing and notified Sotheby’s, which immediately pulled it from the auction. The buyer was purportedly shocked, but agreed to return the piece to its rightful owner.

The National Gallery of Modern Art India presents an exhibition of works by world-renowned artist Anish Kapoor in Delhi and Mumbai. Kapoor’s unique style and Indian heritage have combined to make him one of the most engaging and distinctive artists in the world. The exhibition will be the first ever showcase of his work in the country of his birth. The exhibition has been organized over two sites in New Delhi and Mumbai and is the largest and most ambitious exhibition project ever to be developed on Kapoor’s work. Each exhibit site focuses on a different strand of Kapoor’s practice, with each show complementing the other to form an overall picture of the diversity and energy within his oeuvre. This very exciting exhibition will coincide with the India Art Summit, which runs for three days in January, and attracts approximately 40,000 visitors annually.

Laura Lawson paints when writer’s block strikes and writes when painter’s block strikes. She has studied fine art at LCAD and is pursuing a degree in journalism. Recently diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, she strives to bring hope to those without vision through her blog. She is currently working on her first book about coping with vision loss.

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