Tag: Art

Dutch Committee Advises Government to Return Looted Art to Former Colonies

You may recall the early scene in Black Panther, in which Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger organizes a heist (or, depending on your point of view, repatriation) of art from a Western museum. This is in no way a new debate, but a change in attitude at some of the world’s great exhibition spaces may indeed be coming.

An advisory committee has just delivered a report to the Dutch government one year in the making, according to The New York Times. It recommends the return of artwork to the Netherlands’s former colonies in Indonesia, Surniame and the Caribbean. Should the Dutch government follow the guidelines, it would mean an investigative body will look at an object’s provenance when requests are made, and create a publicly accessible national database of all the colonial collections in Dutch museums.

This follows the spirit of something begun in France in 2018, but has seen, in actuality, very little movement. The Times reports that only 27 restitutions have been announced, and only one object, a traditional sword from Senegal, has been returned to a former French colony. The sluggish action in France has led to a Congolese activist named Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza making something of a Black Panther-esque move at a Paris museum in June. (He’d carried out similar actions at museums in Marseille and Amsterdam.) Diyabanza is currently on trial.

But The Netherlands, which, through the centuries, has enjoyed a reputation of being among the more tolerant of European economic powers, may work more quickly than France. There are, of course, complications like what to do about artwork taken from the colonies of neighboring countries (those decisions will be made on “the basis of reasonableness and fairness,” committee chair Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You said) and how to engage in dialogue with what would be the recipient nations.

“It would almost be neocolonial to presume to know what’s good for Indonesia or Suriname,” Stijn Schoonderwoerd, director of the Netherlands’s National Museum of World Cultures

Last year, Amsterdam’s Hermitage Museum cancelled its use of the term “Golden Age” to refer to Dutch 17th century advancements in art and science, citing that it obscured its economic entanglement with the transatlantic slave trade.

“Every generation and every person must be able to form his or her own story about history,” the museum’s 17th century curator Tom Van der Molen said. “The dialogue about that needs space, the name ‘Golden Age’ limits that space.”

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Return Looted Art to Former Colonies, Dutch Committee Tells Government

The Netherlands should return looted art to its former colonies: That’s the official recommendation of an advisory committee to the Dutch government.

After a year of research, including interviews with people in former Dutch colonies such as Indonesia, Suriname and several Caribbean islands, the committee released its report in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

The lawyer and human rights activist Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, who led the committee, said in an interview that the government should acknowledge the injustices of colonialism and be willing to return objects without conditions if it can be proven that they were acquired involuntarily, and if their countries of origin ask for them.

The report calls for the creation of a body of experts to investigate objects’ provenance when requests are made, and a publicly accessible national database of all the colonial collections in Dutch museums.

Credit…Gero Breloer/Deutsche Presse Agentur, via Associated Press

The decision on whether to return an object, however, would ultimately rest with Dutch government.

Ingrid van Engelshoven, the Dutch minister of education, culture and science, who commissioned the report, said in an emailed statement that it offered “clear starting points for a new way to handle colonial collections.” She said she would present draft legislation based on the advice in early 2021.

The Netherlands owns hundreds of thousands of objects that were acquired during the country’s colonial history. But the exact number is unknown.

Creating a database and researching the background of all these objects would be a huge undertaking, said Jos van Beurden, an independent researcher who has specialized in restitution since the 1990s.

“The principle is fantastic,” he said. “But I’m worried about the execution.”

A similar report commissioned by the French government shows that the path from ideas to action can be a long and winding one. After a high-profile 2017 speech in which President Emmanuel Macron promised to return much of Africa’s heritage, the report he commissioned from two academics said that items brought to French museums without the permission of their counties of origin should be returned, if they were requested.

On Tuesday, France’s National Assembly passed a bill that would allow the official restitution of those 27 items, including 26 which would be returned to Benin, within the next year. The bill now has to be considered by the French Senate.

Bénédicte Savoy, one of the authors the French report, said in an interview that the bill, which was passed unanimously, proved that France now positively welcomed the restitution debate. Tuesday’s vote would set a useful precedent for future restitutions, she added.

“Perhaps the steps are small, but it seems to me that they are symbolically big,” she said.

Ms. Savoy said that the Dutch report was the “logical continuation” of the Netherlands’ longtime constructive dialogue with its former colonies regarding potential restitutions. “It seems to me that the debate is

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Portsmouth Historical Society’s online art auction ends Oct. 7 – News – seacoastonline.com

PORTSMOUTH — Only days remain to bid on more than 100 works by regional artists in the Portsmouth Historical Society’s “Jubilee” art auction that ends at 6 p.m. Oct. 7.

Half the proceeds support Discover Portsmouth and the John Paul Jones House Museum while the other half goes directly to 50 contributing artists. The online auction offers an array of paintings, many featuring familiar scenes, plus handcrafted jewelry, sculpture, woodworking and clothing.

“Buyers take home a treasured original new work of art while supporting its talented creator and the city’s 100-year-old historical society,” said PHS Executive Director Brian LeMay.

This year’s fall auction lets bidders join via a special online platform. BiddingForGood is a charitable e-commerce company designed to connect fundraisers, cause-conscious shoppers and socially responsible businesses. A desktop or laptop computer is the best way to view the gallery.

Art lovers can reach the auction via the PHS website, PortsmouthHistory.org. Bidding instructions are included. Each item has an opening bid minimum, description of the artwork and added details about the artist. The auction software also features a “Buy Now” button for those who can’t wait to own a favorite item.

“We’ve already had three exciting buy-out sales,” said development associate Joyce Tucker, who prepared the auction with Beth Jefferson and the 2020 Jubilee Committee. Tucker said the buy-out bidders purchased a pair of handcrafted silver and pearl earrings, an intricate piece of woven art titled African Necklace, and a colorful woven cotton rug named Splash of Color. Tucker said buyers who wish to see specific works “up close and personal” may email her at [email protected] or call (603) 570-2492 for a private viewing.

“Art, culture and history define Portsmouth,” LeMay said, “and this year both our artist community and our local nonprofits have been hit hard financially by the pandemic.”

This year’s exhibition, “Threads 2020,” highlights an array of contemporary and historical hand-sewn quilts in three galleries on two floors of Discover Portsmouth. Two giant “Community Quilts” created from swatches made by society fans during the ongoing pandemic have recently gone on display.

Despite hard times and social distancing, welcome center visitors have been blown away by “Threads,” according to Discover Center staff and volunteers. The 2020 exhibition – including George Washington’s bedspread and a stunning 1876 Centennial Quilt loaned by New Hampshire resident and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns – continues through Nov. 9.

“It’s been a very tough year for corporate sponsorships, particularly from small, local businesses, which have traditionally been our bread-and-butter,” said exhibition manager Meredith Affleck. “That’s why our Jubilee auction, donations, new memberships and museum shop sales are so important. Despite it all, we’re extremely proud of the work we’ve accomplished and the wonderful response from the community.”

“The art of today becomes the exhibition inspiration for tomorrow,” said PHS development director Judy Loto. “Portsmouth simply would not be Portsmouth without its arts community. And this is a perfect chance to own a piece of it.”

“Threads: A Community Quilt for 2020” is open at

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Art society gears up for exhibition

Dannevirke Art Society members are hard at work preparing for their 60th exhibition, which opens next week in the Home Industries Hall at the Dannevirke Showgrounds.

Billed as the society’s Diamond Exhibition, the opening on Friday, October 9, will be a celebration of the group’s formation 60 years ago and an evening of glitz and glamour.

Secretary Judy Giddens said those attending the opening are welcome to dress up for the occasion.

Entries for this year’s exhibition, which will run until Sunday, October 18, are moderate, possibly because there was earlier uncertainty as to whether the exhibition would go ahead because of Covid-19 lockdown.

The exhibition will feature a special display of work by its life members, many of whom are still active, and they will have the option of offering their work for sale.

The highly sought after Dannevirke Art Society Rosebowl will again be keenly contested.

Another category is for the Heather Foote Trophy for artists with fewer than four years’ experience.

There are also awards for best in show and people’s choice. Judge of the artwork this year is Waipukurau artist Susan Higginson.

Photography has been a part of the exhibition for the past two years. The work was judged for the first time last year and the winner was presented with a cup donated by Woodville’s Lindauer Studio. This cup will again be at stake.

Judging this year will be by professional photographer Bruce Hutton of Woodville.

Last year a children’s colouring competition was introduced and this will feature again.

There is plenty of opportunity for visitors to the exhibition to buy artwork.

The cash and carry section offers small paintings that can be taken away as soon as they are sold, whereas other work remains on show until the exhibition ends.

There is also a silent auction of previously shown works.

There is also a lucky ticket draw for a painting by Giddens, who has been an art society member for 50 years.

Art society president Joan Alding says the exhibition is generally well supported, often with a busload of art lovers arriving from Hawke’s Bay.

Invitations have been sent out to other art societies.

Dannevirke Woodturners will again be displaying and selling their work at the exhibition.

The exhibition officially opens on Friday October 9 at 5.30pm. There is a door charge of $5.

The exhibition will be open to the public each day from 10am until 4pm, with a late night on Wednesday until 7pm. It will close on Sunday October 18 at 3pm.

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