Posts in Art Education

Art Afloat: All Hands On-Deck!

April 2nd, 2019 Posted by Art Education, Art Market, Art News, Education, Media Buzz 0 comments on “Art Afloat: All Hands On-Deck!”

This year Arius has the pleasure of joining a fascinating line up of speakers at ACREW Insights in Monaco, taking place on April 9th. The one-day event will focus on the management of rare and precious art onboard superyachts, and the implications of moving art across borders.

Art is, and will forever be, an integral part of personalizing a space. To the captains and crew of superyachts, it’ll be no surprise when owners of multi-million-dollar artworks want to bring them aboard to enjoy while relaxing at sea. Without a doubt, the art housed on superyachts is venerated, valuable and irreplaceable – but, it’s not typically something the crew will know how to look after.

Incidents regarding spiraling champagne corks heading towards a Picasso, or a bowl of cereal being thrown at a Basquiat, have made owners more aware of the implications of installing art onboard. Leading Art Historian and Conservator, Pandora Mather-Lees explains [1] "Now that the rich are increasingly bringing their art collections onboard their yachts, it's vital that captains and crew know how to care for these pieces."

Mather-Lees is leading this year’s ACREW Insights event, which will address themes including safety, conservation and the risk of prosecution when it comes to bringing a piece of art on board. In the lead up to event, we’ve taken a deeper dive into the biggest risks of installing art on superyachts and how we can prevent art from losing economic, cultural or aesthetic value.

Is Art on Superyachts a Conservation Nightmare?

An art collection onboard a superyacht is often worth more than the vessel itself – plus, it will most likely be financially and culturally appreciating. The question that comes mind… “is a yacht the best place to display artworks?”

Marine environments are quite harsh. Lighting, proper installation, and climate controls are all factors that owners must take into consideration when they want to bring their collection onboard. Just as on land, any piece of art needs to be protected from sunlight, humidity, and temperature fluctuations.

Insurers require the same conditions and requirements for displaying fine art in yachts, as they do for museums. Plus, we can’t simply hang a painting onboard; it must be installed properly so the artwork does not shift when sailing through six-meter waves.

While most superyachts have sophisticated climate control systems, when it comes to caring for artwork, at least a basic level of art conservation education is crucial for the crew to understand the specific environmental needs for fine art.

 

 

Legend-02-GQ-10May17_b

Photo by Fraser from the UK edititon of GQ Magazine

Better to be Safe Than Sorry, With Crew Training and Museum-Quality Reproductions.

In addition to making sure the general environment is safe for artwork, Pandora Mather-Lees recalls some incidents where clients have come to her with some cases that are quite peculiar. On one occasion, Mather-Lees was called for a restoration case when a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting was victim to a bowl of cornflakes.

She states in an interview with The Guardian[2]: “The owners’ kids had thrown their cornflakes at it over breakfast on his yacht because they thought it was scary.” The damage did not just end there, as the crew had made matters worse by wiping the grainy mess off the painting. The crew did not think much of the painting, Mather-Lees stating that the crew thought it was “just some painting,” they had no idea it was worth millions.

It is understandable that the crew did not know the painting was worth a substantial price tag as their training is primarily focused on the safety and operation of the vessel.

Realizing the need to help captains and crew care for art as well as they can care for the superyacht owner, Mather-Lees is offering courses that provide basic training and advice. In addition to this, Arius is offering owners the opportunity to prevent any harm by producing high-fidelity textured reproductions – which can be displayed anywhere in the world while the original is displayed in a gallery or safely stored.

Iris close up comparison 1

Side by side comparison of Van Gogh's "Iris" (left) and our Verus brand museum-quality reproduction of "Iris" (right) from the National Gallery of Canada collection

Crossing Borders and the Risk of Prosecution and Confiscation

While in theory, a superyacht could meet the stringent requirements to be a suitable place to store art, there is still the headache of art crossing borders. The risk of prosecution is an area that ACREW Insights will be addressing in detail; clarifying the context of new National Heritage laws and adopting best practices and processes for travel with art.

There is an eminent risk of art being seized by Customs if proper measures are not taken during transportation of the valuable artwork from one jurisdiction to another. However, the risk of prosecution or confiscation remains a very grey area since rules and regulations vary across the globe and even from port to port.

In 2015, French customs in Corsica seized Picasso’s Head of a Young Woman from Spanish billionaire, Jaime Botín’s yacht. Botín argued that the yacht was sailing under the British flag and was under UK’s jurisdiction, but this argument did not sway the court in Spain, which deemed the Picasso’s work as a national treasure of Spain.[3]

Restitution-Picasso-Douane-française-guardia-civil-4-1024x614

Members of the French and Spanish Police with the seized Picasso, Head of a Young Woman (1906). Courtesy Douane Fraçaise (Artnet News)

How Can Arius Help? 

While the incidents that we’ve highlighted might have been impossible to predict, hindsight is always 20-20. We believe our technology can help superyacht owners and Captains prevent disaster and eradicate the complications of insurance, conservation and travelling with art onboard.

Insurance Brokers even suggest that owners obtain reproductions of their valued artwork and store the original in a secure, climate-controlled facility. With our world-leading 3D scanning system we can safely digitize and reproduce paintings, ensuring the geometry and colour of every brushstroke is captured and printed.  

Arius’ textured prints take on the aura of the originals and can be displayed on any wall in the world, while the original remains safely tucked away from harm.

Arius3D Scanning System

Van Gogh's "Iris" undergoing scanning process in the Arius 3D Scanning System 


Footnotes 

Photo credit for featured image to Alexander Mils on Pexels

[1] Business Insider: Billionaire yacht owners are desperately seeking advice to protect their priceless art from flying champagne corks and corn-flake stains,  https://www.businessinsider.my/yacht-owners-hire-guide-to-protect-art-collection-from-champagne-corks-2019-2/

[2] The Guardian: Mind my Picasso… superyacht owners struggle to protect art, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/feb/02/cornflakes-on-the-basquiat-perils-of-superyacht-art

[3] The Art Newspaper https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/are-super-yachts-the-best-places-to-keep-your-art-collection

3D Scanning & Digitization – Uncovering New Possibilities for Art Conservation

August 25th, 2018 Posted by Art Education, Art News, Behind the Scenes, For Art Lovers 0 comments on “3D Scanning & Digitization – Uncovering New Possibilities for Art Conservation”

As technology progresses, science continuously gets integrated into the profession of conservation. Historic paintings are subjected to a variety of conservation efforts; however, it always begins with an examination. At Arius, our 3D scanning technology maps the colour and geometry of a painting to unveil data hidden to the naked eye – without ever contacting the surface.

La Mer Agitee - Monet

The National Research Council Canada (NRC) developed the foundations of our technology, which was used at The Louvre to scan the Mona Lisa, before being adopted by Arius Technology in 2015.

Developing a close relationship with the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, has allowed Arius engineers to refine and perfect our technology by working with conservation experts such as Stephen Gritt. Gritt is the Director of Conservation and Technical Research at the Gallery, where he has been fortunate enough to work on restoring a number of paintings, including pieces by the great master, Claude Monet. Inspired by Gritt’s philosophy, Arius understands that the job of a conservationist is to do “the minimum to get the painting to talk in its own voice again.”

3D scanning for art conservation allows us to uncover data that can examine details finer than anything a human eye could spot; more specifically, finer than one-tenth of a human hair. By inspecting the surface of the painting first through digital models, restorers have the opportunity to complete a detailed restoration plan, and even prototypes of the results, before beginning the physical process.

Our technology also has the potential for conservators to reach further back into the past and experiment within the digital file, turning back time by restoring original pigments and allowing the artist’s original brushstrokes to sing once again.

Discover more as we talk to Stephen Gritt about how we digitally restored a Monet masterpiece:

The World’s Most Mysterious Stolen Art Stories

July 30th, 2018 Posted by Art Education, Art News, For Art Lovers 0 comments on “The World’s Most Mysterious Stolen Art Stories”

What makes the perfect art heist? Does it involve stealing multiple pieces, or just one? Maybe it means shutting down the security system or even a distraction tactic such as a smoke bomb? To each art thief, the answer is different, but the result is the same.

Throughout history, dozens of artworks have been stolen from galleries, museum collections, homes, and even from artists’ studios. It is believed that many paintings have been sneakily replaced with fake copies and based on previous crimes it has proven difficult for investigators to solve cases of missing masterpieces. To be more precise, only 5 to 10 percent of stolen artwork is recovered; and we’re not talking about small pieces – we mean priceless pieces of art that are guarded by the most elite security teams and software.

So, if you’re wondering how art thieves somehow manage to get away with this devasting, yet skillful act, don’t worry, you are not alone. We have researched the world’s most successful art theft stories (at least, from the perspective of the thief) that will definitely leave you questioning how they got away with it.

“Le Pigeon aux petit pois”, Pablo Picasso

Le Pigeon aux petit pois
Source: Artsy

In May of 2010, Picasso’s “Le Pigeon aux petit pois” was stolen from the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris alongside five other works. Alone, the Picasso painting is estimated to be worth €20 Million and dates back to 1911. Authorities remain confused and frustrated eight years later as the painting is yet to be recovered. The mystery continues to build as not only were the paintings carefully removed from their frames, but the act also is believed to have been conducted by a sole individual. And this wasn’t the first Picasso to be pocketed. To this date, Picasso holds the top spot for having the most paintings stolen over time.

“The Concert”, Johannes Vermeer

The Concert By Vermeer
Source: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

On March 18, 1990, two thieves stole a total of 13 works from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. One of the pieces was a Vermeer masterpiece, which was created mid-career, “The Concert”. Estimated to worth anywhere upwards of $200 million, the painting holds the record for most valuable unrecovered stolen work of art. The thieves dressed as Boston Police officers and sported fake mustaches. Within a few minutes of entering the museum, the fake officers claimed they had a warrant and arrested the museum guards. The theft was conducted by amateurs; however, it is said to be the largest art heist in history.

“View of Auvers-Sur-Oise”, Paul Cézanne

he View of Auvers-sur-Oise painting by Cézanne
Source: Art Market Monitor

Painted by Cézanne between 1879 and 1882, “View of Auvers-Sur-Oise” depicts a small town near Versailles where the artist lived for a brief period of time. This painting is important to art history as it captures a transitionary period from Cézanne’s earlier days to more mature work.

The theft, occurring in 1991 at an Oxford museum, was conducted by a professional burglar who smashed a skylight, lowered himself down with a rope, and created a smokescreen to hide from the security cameras. This act was carefully planned to occur on New Years eve, allowing the burglar to easily blend into the crowd once exiting the museum. 27 years later, the painting is estimated to be worth €3 million and is yet to be recovered

“Charing Cross Bridge, London”, Claude Monet

Charing Cross Bridge, London by Monet
Source: The New York Times

Monet’s “Charing Cross Bridge” is a famous series depicting the bridge at various times of the day, from different viewpoints. In 2012, one of the pieces from the series was stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam and is valued at an undisclosed sum. Using speed as their main tactic, the group entered through the back exit of the gallery, grabbed the paintings, and fled, all within two minutes. A group of Romanian thieves was arrested a year later and one of which said the painting was burned in his Mom’s oven. However, there is not enough evidence to prove this claim and therefore the painting is still considered to be missing.

“Femme Devant Une Fenêtre Ouverte, Dite La Fiancée”, Paul Gauguin

Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte, dite la Fiancée, Gauguin
Source: Smithsonian Mag

Also stolen in 2012 from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, this Gauguin painting is considered both unique and rare. While the painting’s value remains undisclosed, the museum has said it is worth “a considerable amount of money”. Despite this, it appears the museum may have acted negligently as the painting was not equipped with an alarm. A statement was released claiming the thieves mother destroyed the painting in her oven, however the media later retracted this.

“Portrait of a Young Man”, Raphael

Portrait of A Young Man, Raphael
Source: Daily Art Magazine

Disappearing in 1945, “Portrait of a Young Man” is considered to be the most important piece of missing art since World War II. The $100 million piece was one of many snatched by the Nazis in Poland and depicts a confident and well-dressed young man. While there is controversy surrounding the piece, it is believed that the young man is Raphael himself. In 2012, a false report was published claiming the painting has been discovered but was quickly removed.

“The Storm on the Sea of Galilee”, Rembrandt

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Rembrant
Source: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Nearly three decades after thieves stole Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” from the Boston Museum, investigators are still on the hunt to find the missing painting. The Dutch master’s iconic seascape was stolen alongside 12 other treasures, including Vermeer’s “The Concert”.  The privately funded reward was set at $5 million for years and unexpectedly doubled in May of 2017 to reignite a sense of urgency. However, the reward has since expired, and the pieces remained unrecovered.

“Poppy Flowers”, Vincent Van Gogh

Poppy Flowers, Van Gogh
Source: Artnet News

One of Van Gogh’s later works, “Poppy Flowers” was created just three years before the artist’s death. Despite being relatively small in size, the painting is estimated to hold a value of $50 million. No wonder the demand over this painting is so high as it wasn’t just stolen once, but twice! The first theft occurred in 1997 at the Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo, Egypt and was recovered 10 years later. Then, in 2010 the painting was stolen again from the same location where it is believed to have been an inside job. On that day, only 7 of the 43 cameras worked in the museum and no alarm was triggered. To retrieve the painting, the thief moved a couch and cut the painting from its frame triggering zero alarms; not to mention it was broad daylight at the time and the museum only had 10 visitors that day!

Although shocking, this is just the tip of the art crime iceberg. More than 50,000 pieces of artwork are stolen each year from museums and galleries around the world. Police officers and art owners invest time and money into the recovery of art, especially as there are welfare costs from the disappearance of a stolen piece. This is because art is considered a public good, meaning one person’s enjoyment of an art piece does not diminish another’s. History has proven it is not impossible to steal artwork, however, doing so removes the opportunity for art to be shared among the masses. In an effort to make art more accessible, Arius’ has developed cutting-edge technology that allows for the re-creation of museum-quality masterpieces, while original pieces can safely remain in storage facilities. Get in touch to find out more about our Art Collector Services.