Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Panting for art

We haven’t had a really good protest outside an art museum in NZ for ages. It's hard to imagine Te Papa showing a statue of the Virgin in a condom nowadays or the City Gallery fronting up with a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition, but in Caracas, Venezuela protest has reached giddy heights sparked by the saga of the Matisse painting Odalisque in Red Trousers.
Around 12 years ago the painting was stolen from the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art with the thieves replacing it with a shonky version they'd knocked up. The switch went undiscovered for who knows how long but came to light as the museum struggled to find works by Jasper Johns, Henry Moore and Lucian Freud. Some commentators think there may be up to 365 works missing (which puts the 20 that Te Papa were having trouble finding a few years ago into perspective). 
And the troubles in Caracas aren't over. The Matisse Odalisque has been found by the FBI but they are being slow, very slow, to return it (oh, oh, they are now starting to think that this one might be another fake). Losing patience a group of women have done what any sensible art protestors would do and gathered outside the museum just wearing red harem pants. More here if you want it.
Image: Top protestors at the Caracas museum and bottom the recovered painting