Art News – weekly round-up

  • 28 March 2014

Dazzling centenary commemorations, Tate's 'looted' Constable and progress in the Save Van Dyck campaign – we round up the top art stories of the week.

John Constable, Beaching a Boat, Brighton 1824 Photo: TATE GALLERY

John Constable, Beaching a Boat, Brighton 1824

Centenary programme set to dazzle

The first 26 cultural commissions in the First World War centenary programme were announced yesterday by the director Jenny Waldman, with projects ranging from music and art commissions to theatre and literary events. The Guardian reported on Letter to an Unknown Soldier, a project that asks people to write their own correspondence to the letter-reading statue in Paddington station. The Daily Mail revealed plans to recreate the spectacularly camouflaged ‘dazzle ships’, whose optically confusing paint jobs prevented submarine attacks.

Tate to return 'looted' Constable

Tate has been ordered to return a valuable Constable painting (Beaching a Boat, Brighton) and criticised for failing to adequately research its background after it emerged the work was looted during the Second World War. According to the Independent, the Spoliation Advisory Panel – set up to scrutinise claims over works in public collections that were potentially looted during the Nazi era – released a report recommending that the gallery return the painting.

Save Van Dyck campaign update

Van Dyck’s last self-portrait is likely to remain in Britain after its billionaire buyer James Stunt agreed to withdraw his offer on realising the public’s ‘passion’ for the work. Anita Singh at the Telegraph writes, ‘the seller has now agreed to drop the asking price to £10m, giving the National Portrait Gallery fresh hope that it can raise sufficient funds.’

Art returns to the heart of the Beeb

The BBC is to boost its coverage of the arts in what its director general calls its ‘strongest commitment to the arts in a generation’. Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota and National Theatre director Sir Nicholas Hytner are among leading arts figures appointed to key consultation roles. The BBC will also broadcast a sequel to its classic documentary series Civilisation, the 1969 TV landmark by art historian Kenneth Clark. Clips from the original series can be viewed on the Times website.

And finally...

An installation called Laser Cat is an enormous feline that curates artworks and beams them out of its eyes. It was designed by Hungry Castle and commissioned by ADC for the Festival of Art + Craft in Advertising and Design. Jonathan Jones is both baffled and intrigued by the idea, and muses about art and technology in his latest blog post.