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Russian collecting couple arrested in Belgium

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Ghent Museum of Fine Arts courtesy Wikicommons

Russian collecting couple, Igor and Olga Toporovsky, have been arrested in Belgium on suspicion of fraud and money laundering according to our sister publication, The Art Newspaper Russia (no charges have yet been brought).

The pair are linked to a show of Russian avant-garde works held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent in 2017 (Russian Modernism 1910-30), which sparked controversy after doubts were raised about the authenticity of some of the pieces featured.

More than 20 works were loaned to the Ghent show from the Dieleghem Foundation established by Igor Toporovsky, who is now based in Brussels. The couples lawyer, Brussels-based Sébastien Watelet, tells The Art Newspaper: “My clients will react after New Years Eve.”

The lawyer Geert Lenssens says he brought the criminal complaint of behalf of his clients. The Art Newspaper understands that Lenssens represents a group of international art dealers and collectors based in the US, UK and Europe.

“The Toporovskys were arrested early last month by the Belgian federal police after a criminal complaint deposited 18 months ago by our clients. Both are held in custody; the criminal court prolonged their arrest for one month on Friday 20 December,” Lenssens says. It is unclear if both are still in custody.

In January 2018, an open letter from a group of scholars and dealers criticised the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent. The signatories, which included the dealer, James Butterwick, stated: “Among the exhibited artworks weRead More – Source

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A neuroscientist’s view: how Bacon’s paintings shake up the nervous system

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Some scientists suggest that Bacons device of distorting faces and bodies, as in Pope No. 2 (1960), produces neural, as well as aesthetic, shocks © The Estate of Francis Bacon

For some 20 years now, a subfield of the neurosciences called neuroaesthetics has been investigating the neurobiological under-pinnings of human art behaviour. Using brain scanners to probe neural activity while people experience works of art, this research effort has predominantly pursued two central questions: how does the brain come to like or dislike objects it encounters, and how does it represent art objects perceptually, cognitively and emotionally?

While these and other questions of interest to neuroaesthetics are primarily motivated by a desire to understand the peculiarities of the human nervous system, it is worth asking what a neuroscience of art behaviour contributes to our understanding of art. The main answer is that neuroaesthetics helps broaden our conception of art from a specific kind of object to something humans do.

Art is one of the most profound ways humans use to manipulate their surrounding physical world. We use art to craft social structure, modulating human interaction through images, dance, music and storytelling. Engaging with art helps us voluntarily to regulate the physiological state of the body, influencing mood, thinking, autonomic arousal and motor activity. Neuroasthetics ultimately hopes to explain what aspects of our nervous system make this suite of behavioural traits possible—what makes Homo sapiens compulsive art creators and users.

A recently published book, Bacon and the Mind: Art, Neuroscience and Psychology, collects five essays on the oeuvre of Francis Bacon, one of which is by a neuro-art historian, and one of which is by two experimental neuroscientists. All five essays take as their starting point an interest in advancing our understanding of what Bacons paintings tried to do and convey. All rely on traditional methods of interpretation in order to identify significant themes, ideas, images, or formal devices in Bacons work that need explication. What, then, does “neuroscience and psychology” bring to the table?

Bacon attempted to project onto the canvas experiences that formed an “assault” on his nervous system in such a way that the resulting images themselves would impart a shock to the viewer

There are probably two ways neuroscience can be used to inform interpretation of an artists work. One is by helping to illuminate ideas in the work of artists concerned with issues associated with mind and brain. Bacon and the Mind suggests that such issues played an important role in Bacons work. All five essays make the point that Bacons paintings can be seen as an intermediate between Bacons own “nervous system” and that of the viewer. More specifically, Bacon attempted to project onto the canvas experiences that formed an “assault” on his nervous system in such a way that the resulting images themselves would impart a shock to the viewer. The authors trace well-known “wounds” in Bacons life—his childhood, his sexuality, George Dyers death—and analyse how they are transformed into visual devices that conjure unease, surprise and alarm in the viewer as well, including Bacons trademark distortions of faces and bodies.

The book makes the interesting observation that Bacon himself acknowledged this centrality of interaction between painting and mind in his work. He famously said that he sought to represent an inner state in his paintings, calling them “patterns of ones nervous system”. Yet, while these observations establish mind and the brain as important topics in Bacons oeuvre, none of the authors provide any neuroscientific evidence for why these issues so preoccupied Bacon, nor why he chose to paint them in the way he did. Any of the theories they advance – even John Onianss speculative attempt to root Bacons obsessions in how his brain was moulded by childhood experiences – could just as easily have been presented without recourse to any technical understanding of how the brain works.

The second way neuroscience can possibly assist our understanding of meaning-construction in works of art is to provide evidence that viewers are in fact susceptible to a hypothesised effect. All the authors claim that the central impact of Bacons paintings consists in their ability to shock the viewers nervous system, but only the chapter by Semir Zeki and Tomohiro Ishizu makes an attempt to explain how and why Bacons paintings are able to exert this power. Zeki and Ishizu describe how the brains visual system is conditioned by evolution to engage visual stimuli in specific ways. Specifically, the visual system contains dedicated neural systems for recognising bodies and faces. Because these systems have evolved to elicit robust responses to stereotypical stimulus properties that represent human bodies and faces, any distortion to such a stimulus will perturb their way of woRead More – Source

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Is the art trade ready for new EU law calling for tough action on “dirty money”?

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The art market is being specifically targeted for the first time in overhauled anti-money laundering regulations © Marco Verch

When the UK enforces the EUs Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) on 10 January, for the first time, many art and antique dealers will have to comply with stringent obligations designed to combat financial crime and terrorist funding.

This latest iteration of the directive will directly target the art market and high value goods, cryptocurrencies and pre-paid cards, all partially in a bid to prevent terrorism financing. To this end, it focuses on high-risk third countries and politically exposed persons. The UK has been a leader in pressing for this upgrade, but it affects all EU member states, which are obliged to transpose it into national law by 10 January 2020.

Germany proposes upgrading its Anti-Money Laundering Act and the German Banking Act by gold-plating the directive to regulate cryptocurrencies more stringently. The German Association of Art Dealers and Galleries (BVDG) is lobbying against the “extremely strong and hard to fulfil” new regulations, saying that dealers are “overwhelmed with excessive documentation duties and reporting obligations”.

Also, in October the EU proposed the creation of a central authority to oversee anti-money laundering enforcement, but some member states believe this is unnecessary. Instead they say the European Banking Authority should use its existing powers more effectively.

The UK governments consultation into its 5AMLD closed in June but it has yet to publish its response or the text of the proposed UK regulations. The directive will result in sweeping regulatory changes to the art market, yet there is scant information about its key aspects. There has been talk of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), which will regulate the regime, delaying enforcement, but 5AMLD is an EU Directive that the UK government must transpose into UK law and there is no provision for delaying enforcement. Government announcements are unlikely in the run-up to the general election and, with enforcement due soon afterwards, those in the art market must plan how to comply now with limited guidance.

Onerous obligations[hhmc]

Those caught by these provisions–described as “obliged persons”—have little time to update their systems and processes. They include:

• people “trading or acting as intermediaries in the trade of works of art, including when this is carried out by art galleries and auction houses, where the value of the transaction or a series of linked transactions amounts to €10,000 or more; and

• people “storing, trading or acting as intermediaries in the trade of works of art when this is carried out by free ports, where the value of the transaction or a series of linked transactions amounts to €10,000 or more”.

But legal definitions of a number of key words and phrases in these statements—such as “acting as intermediaries” and “works of art”—remain unclear.

While information is limited, in the overwhelming majority of cases, “trading” (broadly described, including where acting as an intermediary) in “art” (again, broadly understood) amounting to over €10,000 will be caught. An “intermediary” will include anyone who has a financial interest in the transaction—even those paid to transport or store art.

Professions such as solicitors and accountants that have been subject to anti-money laundering regulations for years might be able to assist with compliance. Alternatively, some providers are developing digital 5AMLD solutions for the art market, typically utilising a smartphone app for use on the move.

In addition to registering with HMRC, each business must appoint a Money Laundering Reporting Officer, responsible for receiving suspicious activity reports for that business and for making onward reports to the National Crime Agency in appropriate cases.

Businesses and individuals that fail to comply with the regulations risk prosecution under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. One defence is to show that staff have undergone appropriate training. Businesses should make such training compulsory—and repeat it annually.

Many fear that the nature of art transactions makes complyiRead More – Source

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the art news paper

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The Mets British galleries are radically reimagined for museum’s 150th anniversary

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A pair of Christopher Dresser (1872- 80) earthenware vases are among the 700 works going on show in March The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Arts renovated British galleries, opening on 2 March, will be quite different from the very first installation dating from 1910-15. The only surviving archival photograph reveals that 14 objects were then displayed in the corner of one of the three rooms, but since then all the pieces have been sold, except for the mid-18th-century ceramics on the mantelpiece.

Unlike most European museums, many US institutions periodically deaccession in order to upgrade. Wolf Burchard, the lead curator for the British galleries, says the museum seeks to develop the quality and scope of its collection: “This occasionally includes the thoughtful deaccessioning of objects, usually works that are duplicates or are lesser quality… All funds received from deaccessioned works are used for the purchase of other works.”

The 1915 photograph (below) shows the room named after the politician and lawyer John Cadwalader, who left a major bequest of Chippendale furniture. The only pieces now remaining at the Met are a pair of porcelain candelabras, which will be shown in the refurbished British galleries, and three Chelsea vases with covers (in storage).

The renovated suite of ten galleries will cover 1500 to 1900, providing a chronological narrative of the development of British design. There will be 700 works on show, including furniture, ceramics, silver, tapestries, sculpture and a small selection of paintings. The suite also includes three 18th-century interiors moved from Kirtlington Park (Oxfordshire), Croome Court (Worcestershire) and Lansdowne House (London).

Many of the objects are new acquisitions, particularly 19th-century works that were bought for the new display, including pieces designed by Christopher Dresser and Augustus Pugin.

The Mets collection of British decorative arts is the most important outside the UK. A museum spokeswoman says the opening of the British galleries will Read More – Source

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the art news paper

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Is the art trade ready for new EU law calling for tough action on “dirty money”?

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The art market is being specifically targeted for the first time in overhauled anti-money laundering regulations © Marco Verch

When the UK enforces the EUs Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) on 10 January, for the first time, many art and antique dealers will have to comply with stringent obligations designed to combat financial crime and terrorist funding.

This latest iteration of the directive will directly target the art market and high value goods, cryptocurrencies and pre-paid cards, all partially in a bid to prevent terrorism financing. To this end, it focuses on high-risk third countries and politically exposed persons. The UK has been a leader in pressing for this upgrade, but it affects all EU member states, which are obliged to transpose it into national law by 10 January 2020.

Germany proposes upgrading its Anti-Money Laundering Act and the German Banking Act by gold-plating the directive to regulate cryptocurrencies more stringently. The German Association of Art Dealers and Galleries (BVDG) is lobbying against the “extremely strong and hard to fulfil” new regulations, saying that dealers are “overwhelmed with excessive documentation duties and reporting obligations”.

Also, in October the EU proposed the creation of a central authority to oversee anti-money laundering enforcement, but some member states believe this is unnecessary. Instead they say the European Banking Authority should use its existing powers more effectively.

The UK governments consultation into its 5AMLD closed in June but it has yet to publish its response or the text of the proposed UK regulations. The directive will result in sweeping regulatory changes to the art market, yet there is scant information about its key aspects. There has been talk of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), which will regulate the regime, delaying enforcement, but 5AMLD is an EU Directive that the UK government must transpose into UK law and there is no provision for delaying enforcement. Government announcements are unlikely in the run-up to the general election and, with enforcement due soon afterwards, those in the art market must plan how to comply now with limited guidance.

Onerous obligations[hhmc]

Those caught by these provisions–described as “obliged persons”—have little time to update their systems and processes. They include:

• people “trading or acting as intermediaries in the trade of works of art, including when this is carried out by art galleries and auction houses, where the value of the transaction or a series of linked transactions amounts to €10,000 or more; and

• people “storing, trading or acting as intermediaries in the trade of works of art when this is carried out by free ports, where the value of the transaction or a series of linked transactions amounts to €10,000 or more”.

But legal definitions of a number of key words and phrases in these statements—such as “acting as intermediaries” and “works of art”—remain unclear.

While information is limited, in the overwhelming majority of cases, “trading” (broadly described, including where acting as an intermediary) in “art” (again, broadly understood) amounting to over €10,000 will be caught. An “intermediary” will include anyone who has a financial interest in the transaction—even those paid to transport or store art.

Professions such as solicitors and accountants that have been subject to anti-money laundering regulations for years might be able to assist with compliance. Alternatively, some providers are developing digital 5AMLD solutions for the art market, typically utilising a smartphone app for use on the move.

In addition to registering with HMRC, each business must appoint a Money Laundering Reporting Officer, responsible for receiving suspicious activity reports for that business and for making onward reports to the National Crime Agency in appropriate cases.

Businesses and individuals that fail to comply with the regulations risk prosecution under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. One defence is to show that staff have undergone appropriate training. Businesses should make such training compulsory—and repeat it annually.

Many fear that the nature of art transactions makes complyiRead More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

the art news paper

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[contfnewc]

Angry early works from Grayson Perry’s “pre-therapy” years reunited for Bath show

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Whore of Essex (1986) courtesy Holburne Museum

Before he became a National Treasure and his pots were put behind glass cases in swanky galleries selling popular merchandise, Grayson Perry was an angry young man, channelling the subculture of Margaret Thatchers Britain into wry, funny and powerful ceramics. Around 70 works from the “pre-therapy years”—as he has termed the period—have been reunited for the first time at The Holburne Museum in Bath thanks to a public call-out. More than 150 works, including Whore of Essex (around 1986), were given for the exhibition by “collectors, enthusiasts and friends”, according to the curator Catrin Jones. The show covers the period from when Perry left art college in 1982 until his first major gallery exhibition with Anthony dOffay in 1994. Despite the urgency and anger displayed in many of the works, the subject matter is often ambiguous, subtle and less on-the-nose than much of his more recent work. There are early versions of Perrys signature motifs—motorbikes, transvestites, idealised women, Essex landscapes—as well as his frank use of text, such as on a pot from 1988. “Its getting harder to be cynical, when so many […] millions are poor and homeless, rainforests disappear,” he declares, “but Im alright jack, it makes great subject matter and lends one credRead More – Source

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Oh no he isn’t—artist turns into “panto” horse to highlight absurdity of UK political situation

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Roland Carline will transform into a panto horse courtesy the artist

Welsh artist Roland Carline says that he plans to modify his exhibition on show at the Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, University of London (until 12 January) in light of the Conservative partys landslide victory in the UK general election on 12 December. Carline will walk around the space in a horse costume controlled by levers which, he says, highlights the “pantomime” aspect of Boris Johnsons victory (the Prime Minister secured a majority of 80 seats in Parliament earlier this month).

The artist, a graduate of the Royal Academy schools in London, is presenting four live works at the Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, University of London (until 12 January), in collaboration with local community groups such as Meet Me at the Albany, an arts club for people aged over 60.

“I dressed as the horse before when President Trump was elected in 2016. I was hoping that the UK would not jump on the Read More – Source

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Queer icon Tom of Finland’s homoerotic drawings come to London

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The artist Tom of Finland will receive an exhibition in March 2020 at the House of Illustration in London—the first major solo show in the UK dedicated to the late Finnish pioneer.

Tom of Finland (aka Touko Valio Laaksonen) is best known for his highly homoerotic depictions of hyper-masculine men decked out in biker leather gear, which inspired a generation of gay men with their bulging muscles and jutting jawlines.

The upcoming exhibition will explore how Tom of Finland circumnavigated legal restrictions before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Finland in 1971. For instance, by drawing scenes of men fighting as a way of showing physical contact between the well-endowed figures depicted.

The show's curator Olivia Ahmad, who is bringing together around 40 works dating from 1961 to 1988, says that Toms work was “significant for both gay culture and pop culture”.

Several previously unseen works will come from the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles. “Something were working on with the foundation is representing how versatile Tom was as an artist, and so as well as showing the kind of monochromatic works in pencil that have become his signatureRead More – Source

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the art news paper

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Queer icon Tom of Finland’s homoerotic drawings come to London

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The artist Tom of Finland will receive an exhibition in March 2020 at the House of Illustration in London—the first major solo show in the UK dedicated to the late Finnish pioneer.

Tom of Finland (aka Touko Valio Laaksonen) is best known for his highly homoerotic depictions of hyper-masculine men decked out in biker leather gear, which inspired a generation of gay men with their bulging muscles and jutting jawlines.

The upcoming exhibition will explore how Tom of Finland circumnavigated legal restrictions before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Finland in 1971. For instance, by drawing scenes of men fighting as a way of showing physical contact between the well-endowed figures depicted.

The show's curator Olivia Ahmad, who is bringing together around 40 works dating from 1961 to 1988, says that Toms work was “significant for both gay culture and pop culture”.

Several previously unseen works will come from the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles. “Something were working on with the foundation is representing how versatile Tom was as an artist, and so as well as showing the kind of monochromatic works in pencil that have become his signatureRead More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

the art news paper

[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Queer icon Tom of Finland’s homoerotic drawings come to London

0

The artist Tom of Finland will receive an exhibition in March 2020 at the House of Illustration in London—the first major solo show in the UK dedicated to the late Finnish pioneer.

Tom of Finland (aka Touko Valio Laaksonen) is best known for his highly homoerotic depictions of hyper-masculine men decked out in biker leather gear, which inspired a generation of gay men with their bulging muscles and jutting jawlines.

The upcoming exhibition will explore how Tom of Finland circumnavigated legal restrictions before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Finland in 1971. For instance, by drawing scenes of men fighting as a way of showing physical contact between the well-endowed figures depicted.

The show's curator Olivia Ahmad, who is bringing together around 40 works dating from 1961 to 1988, says that Toms work was “significant for both gay culture and pop culture”.

Several previously unseen works will come from the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles. “Something were working on with the foundation is representing how versatile Tom was as an artist, and so as well as showing the kind of monochromatic works in pencil that have become his signatureRead More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

the art news paper

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