BY Frieze News Desk in News | 09 JUL 19

Rijksmuseum’s Operation Night Watch Goes Public

In further news: British Museum to help return looted Buddhist heads from Afghanistan; Pace closes Beijing outpost

BY Frieze News Desk in News | 09 JUL 19

Operation Night Watch, 2019. Courtesy: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum has begun its live restoration of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. A glass chamber – designed by the French architect Michel Wilmotte – has been constructed, within which experts are working on the famed 1642 masterpiece. The public can watch the process live, and the work will also be streamed online. Dubbed ‘Operation Night Watch’, the project is the most comprehensive research project on the Rembrandt painting undertaken in history, the museum says. Changes in the surface of the painting – bleached in parts – now require analysis through a full body scan, exploring the different paint layers to help inform the conservation work.

The Leipzig Annual Exhibition dropped artist Axel Krause over his support for the far-right party Alternative for Germany. Last August, Leipzig’s Galerie Kleindienst dropped Krause (with whom it had a longstanding relationship) from its roster over a series of anti-immigration comments the artist made on Facebook. This year’s Leipzig Annual Exhibition came under fire when Krause was selected as one of the 37 artists to be shown, the Art Newspaper reports. The exhibition managers later excluded him, then momentarily cancelled the show entirely, before opening on 12 June without Krause. Organizers cited the artist’s recent Facebook post in which he described himself as ‘degenerate’ (suggesting a comparison to artists banned by the Nazis) as the reason for exclusion.

The British Museum in London is to help return ancient artefacts looted in Afghanistan and Iraq. The pieces include fourth-century Buddhist terracotta heads, most likely removed by the Taliban, and later found in wooden crates at Heathrow after a flight from Peshawar. The pieces were then sent to the British Museum to to be analysed and conserved. St John Simpson, a senior curator at the British Museum, told the Guardian that the Gandharan sculptures were likely the victim of Taliban iconoclasm in early 2001.

In gallery news: Taka Ishii Gallery now represents Leonor Antunes; Timothy Taylor gallery has added Annie Morris to its roster; and Pace has closed its outpost in Beijing’s 798 art district – founder Arne Glimcher told Artnews: ‘It’s impossible to do business in mainland China right now and it has been for a while […] The last straw is Trump’s duty on Chinese artists coming in to this country and Xi Jinping’s duty on Americans coming in to China.’