Glyn Hughes

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Berlin to return painting

to Jewish family


A 1913 PAINTING by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner depicting a lively Berlin street scene will be returned to heirs of the Jewish family that was forced to hand it over to the Nazis before World War II, the state government said.

Kirchner's oil painting ''Berliner Strassenszene'' has hung in the Bruecke Museum in the German capital since 1980. It will remain in the museum until it is returned to heirs of the family that originally owned it, Berlin's State Ministry for Culture said in a statement.

No details of the restitution, including the identity of the original owners, or the heirs, were to be released, the statement said.

Experts estimate the painting's value at over 10m euros\.

Bernd Schultz, a modern art expert for the Berlin-based auction house Villa Grisebach, said he considers the painting to be one of the most outstanding in Kirchner's series of street scenes.

Kirchner, born in 1880 in the western German town of Aschaffenburg, was one of the most creative artists of ''Die Bruecke,'' or “The Bridge”, a group of German painters that he co-founded in 1905.

The painting ''Berliner Strassenszene,'' which depicts a woman in red within an urban crowd dressed in blue, is characterised by its vibrant colours.

In 1933, the painting was taken to Switzerland by its Jewish owners as part of an art collection, where it was exhibited in Basel and Zurich, the ministry said.

Three years later, the Jewish owners sent seven paintings, including Kirchner's ''Berliner Strassenszene,'' to the Art Association of Cologne. An art collector then bought the paintings, but it is uncertain whether the Jewish owners ever saw any of this money, the ministry said.

After World War II, the new owners donated the painting to the Staedel museum in Frankfurt. It was then acquired by the state of Berlin in 1980, ''in good faith,'' the ministry said.

In his later career Kirchner became an internationally successful painter. After the Nazis seized power, they confiscated 639 of his paintings from museums and, in despair, he took his own life in 1938.

Heirs challenge ruling


THE descendants of one of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt's models are challenging an arbitration ruling that his painting of their great-grandmother does not have to be returned to them, a newspaper reported last week.

The great-grandchildren of Amalie Zuckerkandl are appealing the arbitration panel's decision that the portrait should not be returned to them because it did not represent a case of illegal gain by the Nazis, Der Standard reported, citing the family's lawyer Alfred Noll.

The lawyer was not immediately available to comment on the report.

The newspaper said that the family was forced to sell the painting because it needed money to buy Zuckerkandl's daughter a certificate required by the Nazis. Citing Noll, the newspaper said the Nazis would not allow her husband to work, without providing details.

Vienna art dealer Vita Kuenstler bought the painting and donated it to the Austrian Gallery Belvedere in 1988.

In its May ruling, the panel found the family's financial problems were not due to Nazi persecution and that Zuckerkandl's daughter later had the means to buy back the painting, Der Standard quoted the lawyer as saying.

Austria has returned hundreds of works to their rightful owners or heirs - most of them Jewish - under a 1998 culture property restitution law.

Museums disagree with

Nazi art survey


Despite a survey showing that many US museums have not yet researched claims of stolen Nazi-era art, two museum organisations say that most looted art has been identified.

''We don't think there are a lot more,'' Mimi Gaudieri, executive director of the American Association of Museum Directors, said.

''Most of the museums have been working diligently on researching these works with a gap in provenance and, in most cases, have been able to fill the gaps.''

The works include a painting of Mary and Jesus by Lucas Cranach the Elder from the North Carolina Museum of Art, a Matisse painting from the Seattle Art Museum and a 17th-century Dutch painting from the Denver Art Museum.

The Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany reported Tuesday that 118 out of 332 museums, or 35%, have not reported on their progress to determine whether their collections contain works that might have been stolen during the Holocaust.

Among museums that did meet a July 10 deadline, 33% provided incomplete information, the organisation said.

Gaudieri, whose association represents 170 museum directors, said that some of the museums that did not respond do not own collections dating back to World War II or before, and others are too small to devote a significant part of their budget to researching Nazi-era art.

The New York-based Claims Conference was established after World War II to help Holocaust survivors and their relatives reclaim property.

In 1998, the Claims Conference asked US museums to research ''covered objects,'' defined as artwork created before 1946 that changed ownership after the Nazis came to power, possibly in Europe.

The museum directors' group issued guidelines in 1998, urging museums to dedicate resources and personnel to find such art.

The Claims Conference, with the US government and others, provided initial funding for the creation of the American Association of Museums' Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal, a search engine covering tens of thousands of museum objects that might have been looted.

The Internet Portal also strongly disagrees with the Claims Conference survey, saying that the survey was too broad and some museums have no works that could have been stolen by Nazis because their collections contain art created after 1946.

Of the museums surveyed, 20 reported that they faced a claim against them, from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Art Institute of Chicago to Washington's National Gallery of Art.

The survey, conducted in cooperation with the World Jewish Restitution Organisation, found that only a third of the museums had a separate budget for researching provenance (the history of an artwork's ownership), only a tenth employed a full-time researcher and at least a third said they did not conduct such research.

Besides art in museum collections, an unknown number of Nazi-looted works may still be privately owned, said Gaudieri and Gideon Taylor, executive vice president of the Claims Conference. They both said that other works are in the hands of foreign museums and owners.

Natural phenomena drive listening gallery at museum


When the next big earthquake hits, John Luther Adams jokes, he'll be running into the University of Alaska Museum of the North while everyone else runs out.

He won't be able to resist hearing music the quake generates in the provocative gallery he designed, The Place Where You Go to Listen.

What nature left quiet, Adams has assigned sound. The 53-year-old avant-garde composer gave digital notes to natural phenomena such as earthquakes, the aurora borealis and the Moon, then let their movements dictate the composition in a never-ending chamber music performance. He calls it tuning the world.

"It's a self-contained world of sound and light that is directly connected to the real world," Adams says.

"My job was to map that world, tune it, set it in motion and trust the forces of nature to provide the moment-to-moment music and atmosphere in the space."

The space is all is white, except for five coated glass panels wide, lighted by colours that change with the position of the sun. Data feeds from five seismic stations north and south of Fairbanks send readings of earthquake activity to a computer that translates them into sound.


Likewise, magnetometers from Kaktovik on the Arctic coast to Gakona in the Alaska Range send in live readings of disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field, which on dark nights, are reflected as the aurora borealis.

Sky conditions and the position of the sun and moon add to the concert. Sound pours through 14 speakers in the walls and ceiling.

Under bright skies a few days after summer solstice, the glass panels glowed yellow across the top and a deep blue along the bottom. As might be expected with nearly 22 hours of daylight, the sun sound dominated, high and bright, like fairies gabbing.

Rumbling below, tied to feeds from the seismic stations, were dark, foreboding rumblings of what Adams calls "earth drums." The Moon - a soloist in the composition - was just a sliver. Likewise, aurora activity was minimal, leaving those two voices out of the sound landscape except to the keenest ear.

The moon showed up a few days later, almost reedy, like a child blowing on an empty Coke bottle. It took the edge off the bright sun sound, like putting on a pair of sunglasses on a radiant day.

To the first-time visitor, it can be just so much noise.

But people who linger may detect subtle changes, feeling the sounds pulsate, picking out voices in the choir.

The juxtaposition of sounds is a mix of audacious, unearthly tones that baffles anyone expecting a traditional melody.


Adams is used to causing such sensations. His compositions have been described as mesmerising, abrasive or unsettling - and if nothing else, challenging.

His album, "The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies," a 70-minute piece for a percussion soloist, includes eight minutes of crashing cymbals and an entire movement written for an air-raid siren. As planning began for a $42m museum expansion, director Aldona Jonaitis wanted something that appealed to the ear. She credits Adams for the concept.

Adams said it was her idea. "She asked me for a quiet, contemplative space within this busy, vibrant museum," he says.

"I thought this was a great opportunity to have a sound experience that communicated the sense of place in Alaska, which is what the whole museum is about," Jonaitis says.

That part was easy for Adams, who has looked for inspiration from the landscape, birds, Yukon river and Native Alaskans.

He likes to say he's not interested in telling stories or painting pictures with music, but evoking the experience of visiting a special place.

"I want music to be a kind of wilderness, and I want to get hopelessly lost in it," he says. "Some of the moments when I've felt most alive, most aware, have been times when I've been out, miles and miles from roads, in the middle of all that expanse." Just as the wilderness doesn't come with directions, Adams provides minimal explanation.

"I could have used natural sounds," he says. "I could have been much more illustrative and given the sounds much higher profiles and made the thing much more active than it is, but that isn't what I wanted to do. This is about extending our awareness."

Adams lets the elements control the music's pacing. The sound changes on real time. Many visitors walk out with the comment, "

It doesn't change." The gallery has no way to let them hear how the room might sound on winter solstice with northern lights shimmering above. If you want to hear that, you have to come back in December.

"This piece requires, and I hope, seduces and invites, the listener to become a participant and to find her own way into this and have her own experience inside this work," Adams says.

Adams didn't so much compose the music as unleash it.

"Every time I walk in that door I'm as surprised as anyone," he says.

"I can't predict the actual moment-to-moment atmosphere and texture and coloration of the moment." The music is tied to natural phenomenon but there's little natural about the digital sound.

Jonaitis said the room will ring true to Alaskans who have experienced the aurora, the midnight sun or a storm sweeping in from the Alaska Range.

"There's nothing like it in the world," she says.

 27April2006   Art by Glyn Hughes - Cyprus weekly news paper           web creator  and updater V.P.Vasuhan -     @  redindian001   - Art work shop paris