Many things happened last week in the world of Spanish and Latin American visual culture.
London’s Sir John Soane Museum announced a new series of annual lectures and prizes intended to raise the profile of architects, artists and writers who broadened society’s understanding of architecture and the built environment. The inaugural lecture, scheduled for November 1 at the Royal Institution in London, will be delivered by Rafael Moneo, designer of the Prado’s Jeronimos Extension, which opened in 2007. As reported by The Art Newspaper, Moneo will be awarded the Soane Medal, a copy of the medal presented in 1835 to Sir John Soane by “the Architects of England”, in recognition of his “essential services to architecture”.
On 21 July The Art Newspaper reported that Spanish Police recovered three paintings by Francis Bacon stolen from the private collection of Bacon’s acquaintance José Capelo in Madrid in 2015. A tip-off from the Art Loss Register enabled the recovery, which follows the arrest of ten people associated with the robbery in the past two years. Bacon portrayed Capelo in a work of 1987 now owned by the Swiss Galerie Gmurzynska and in one of his last paintings, the 1991 Triptych now at the MOMA.
A less positive news comes from US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The daughter of Brazilian artist Lygia Pape, whose monographic exhibition A Multitude of Forms closed yesterday at Met Breuer, has sued LG Electronics, several retailers and Getty Images Korea for copyright infringement. According to the complainants, LG Electronics approached the Pape estate (Projeto Lygia Pape) to license her work Ttéia (2003), which they wished to use as default wallpaper and packaging for their new phone K20 V. Pape’s estate refused LG’s request, citing the artist’s life-long resistance to the commercialisation of her work. Nevertheless, LG persevered in their use of the image, using a too-close unauthorized derivation of the work on the phone’s wallpaper and packaging. As a result, Pape’s daughter has asked the Court to recall the packaging, advertising, and other materials that contain the infringing image, including the phone itself if necessary. As noted by the plantiffs’ lawyer John Cahill, ‘This is an extreme, perhaps unique, case in which a multinational corporation—fully aware that it was doing wrong—abused a work of fine art in the service of the profit motive.’ A positive resolution of the case may ensure better protection for artists’ rights in the future.
To end on a lighter note, Dalí’s famously exuberant mustache is still in perfect shape, almost 30 years after the artist’s passing. The information was reported by Narcís Bardalet, the embalmer who took care of the Surrealist’s body after his death in 1989, following the exhumation of Dalí’s corpse last week. Ordered by a Spanish Court, the exhumation will enable a DNA examination to determine whether María Pilar Abel Martínez is an illegitimate daughter of the artist, as she claims since 2007.