Van Gogh's Wrestlers Unearthed by X-Ray, "Video Games" Score for Smithsonian, and More Must-Read Art News

Van Gogh's Wrestlers Unearthed by X-Ray, "Video Games" Score for Smithsonian, and More Must-Read Art News
The hidden wrestlers discovered in Van Gogh's "Still life with meadow flowers and roses"
(Courtesy Kroeller Mueller Museum)

– Fleshy Van Gogh Rediscovered: In one of Vincent van Gogh's famous letters, he describes a work-in-progress depicting two half-nude male wrestlers. No such painting was known to exist — until now. The lost wrestlers have been discovered underneath the paint of a Van Gogh still life acquired in 1974 by the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Holland. Thought to have been "uncharacteristically exuberant," the still life had been deattributed to Van Gogh in 2003 and removed from public view completely. The discovery of the hidden wrestlers, made possible by recent advances in x-ray technology, now confirms its authenticity, while offering unique insight into the great Post-Impressionist's working method. [Independent]

– People Like Video Games: Who could have guessed that fans would pack a museum to do exactly what they already do in their own living rooms? Crowds have been turning out for the Smithsonian's "The Art of Video Games" exhibition, which opened on Friday (see our interview with curator Chris Melisinoshere). Over 7,000 visitors attended the museum on Saturday, some waiting up to an hour in line (and a few dressed in costume as their favorite characters), turning it into one of the five busiest days for the museum since it reopened in 2004. [WaPo]

 French Monument Employees Plan Strike: The 1,300 workers employed by France's Centre des Monuments Nationaux (National Monuments Center) — which manages the operations of some 100 historical sites and monuments around the country, like Paris's Arc de Triomphe — are planning a nationwide strike on March 22, citing the "profound demotivation" of its "overburdened" workforce. [Le Monde]

 Forstmann Collection Comes to Sotheby's: The auction house will present the entire collection of the late financier and philanthropist Theodore Frostmann — some 50 items estimated at $75 million — in a series of spring sales. The pieces include a Picasso portrait of Dora Maar valued between $20 and $30 million and a record-setting portrait by Chaïm Soutine (est. $10-15 million). [WSJ]

– The Case of the Missing Monet: A battle over the whereabouts of Monet's "Torrent de la Creuse" has pitted two prominent French families — the embattled Wildenstein art-dealing family and the Heilbronns, who run the Galeries Lafayette department store chain — against one another. The painting was looted from the Heilbronn family by the Gestapo in 1941, but they have reason to suspect the Wildensteins might know more about its fate than they are letting on. [NYT

– Chinese Farmer Jailed for Forbidden City Theft: A 27-year-old man has been sentenced to 13 years in jail for stealing works of art and jewels from the Forbidden City. Shi Baikui broke into the ancient imperial palace last May and bagged nine valuable pieces, a theft he described to the court as a "spur-of-the-moment" act. Six items have been recovered but three pieces, worth an estimated $23,800, are still missing. [AFPAP]

– Censorship in Kuwait: Officers closed down an exhibition of the work of artist Shurooq Amin at Al M Gallery in Kuwait just three hours into the opening after deeming the show "inappropriate," "pornographic," and "anti-Islamic." Most of the 17 pieces, which explore the taboo underworld of the Gulf, were already sold. They are currently tucked away to avoid confiscation. [FT]

– IBM Lends the Louvre a Hand: The American tech giant and the world-famous Parisian museum have begun a multi-year partnership for an undisclosed sum that will see IBM giving the Louvre its "Smarter Buildings" makeover, optimizing every aspect of its operations to make it greener. "If you listen to a building in a holistic manner, there are many opportunities for improvements," said IBM VP David Bartlett. [Technaute]

– 20x200's Business Plan: In a profile of Jen Bekman, the founder of online print seller 20x200, Forbes offers some insight into her business model. The site fronts all costs to produce the artwork it sells, and splits the proceeds with artists 50-50 after deducting production costs. Bekman says she expects to generate revenues of over $7 million in 2012. [Forbes

– More Details Palais de Tokyo Expansion: The Paris contemporary art center, currently celebrating its tenth anniversary, will reopen with amply expanded gallery space on April 12. Following 10 months of construction that will see it nearly tripling its gallery space over four floors, the Palais de Tokyo will host the politically-charged group exhibition the Paris Triennale, just in time for the country's presidential elections. Unfortunately, the exhibition title "The Ungovernables" was already taken. [NYT]

– Britain's Crown Jewels Shine Anew: A fresh display of the crown jewels, with restored footage of the Queen's coronation and improved lighting, will open later this month to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee. Held in the Tower of London since 1303, the crown jewels have been publically exhibited since 1994, and attract around 2.5 million visitors a year. [Telegraph]



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