Art Buzz February 14, 2012: Two valuable Persian pieces dating from the Roman Empire stolen from Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

ART & ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY NEWS

MUSEUM NEWS

Two valuable pieces stolen from Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Source: Montreal Gazette, 2-14-12

AXA ART, an art-led insurance company, is offering a substantial reward for the safe recovery of two small-scale archaeological fragments -- an Assyrian low relief and a marble head dating from the Roman Empire -- that were stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts  in the fall of 2011.AXA ART, an art-led insurance company, is offering a substantial reward for the safe recovery of two small-scale archaeological fragments — an Assyrian low relief and a marble head dating from the Roman Empire — that were stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in the fall of 2011.

Photograph by: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

A thief snatched two archaeological pieces worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts last October during opening hours, steps from security guards.

The theft is only the second heist in the MMFA’s 152-year history and the incident is testing the facility’s policy of not encasing many of its items as well as the decades-long bond of trust it has with visitors – now numbering 500,000 a year.

A Persian sandstone bas-relief and a marble head dating from the Roman Empire were taken from the Mediterranean archeological exhibit room on the first floor of the Hornstein Pavilion on or about Oct. 26. The theft wasn’t made public until now so as not to compromise the investigation, the MMFA said.

Montreal police said Tuesday the investigation is continuing. One suspect – believed to be in his 30s and 5-feet, 7-inches tall – can be seen wandering the museum halls in surveillance video.

The Persian piece – donated to the MMFA by Cleveland Morgan in 1950 – is worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Mark Dalrymple, representing AXA Art, a global insurance company insuring the items for the Montreal museum.

The second piece – on loan since 2003 from the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec – is worth “tens of thousands,” Dalrymple said.

“We’re interested in seeing if anybody could possibly recognize this man and point the finger at him and help the police,” he said about the security video.

The insurance company is offering a “substantial” reward for the return of the stolen objects and a $10,000 reward for anyone who can identify the suspect.

Danielle Champagne, a spokesperson for the MMFA, said security has been tightened in some areas of the museum since the theft.

But the museum does not plan any major changes to its policy of keeping many of its objects in open-air displays – anchored or attached, but not in cases – “so people get a better sense of the texture of the objects.

“We are blessed to live in a country where people are generally honest and we’ve had very few problems,” she added.

The only other theft at the museum was in 1972, when 18 paintings were stolen, including a Rembrandt. Only one of the paintings was recovered.

Cecily Hilsdale, a professor of art history at McGill University, said the Persian object’s theft is “huge” news in the art world.

The piece was part of the Apadana, a grand audience hall in Persepolis, the ancient city centre of the Persian empire.

The object is well-known, she added. Anyone purchasing it would lprobably want to know where it came from.

Anyone with information about the theft is urged to call police at 1-800-659-4264 or the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts at 1-855-471-1800.

Advertisements

Art Buzz February 14, 2012: David L. Craven: University of New Mexico mourns professor, historian

ART & ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY NEWS

ART HISTORY NEWS

UNM mourns professor, historian

Source: New Mexico Daily Lobo, 2-14-12

Distinguished professor of art history Dr. David L. Craven, 60, died Saturday from an apparent heart attack while playing tennis, his family said.

Craven became a professor at UNM in 1993 and was the fine arts department chair for two years. He published 10 books and more than 150 articles in scholarly journals.

A memo­r­ial ser­vice is planned for Craven on Fri­day at 2 p.m. at UNM’s Alumni Chapel.

Nancy Treviso, an administrator in the art and art history department, said the department has lost a unique professor.

“He was a wonderful chair and a wonderful mentor and teacher and he will be missed in this department,” she said. “Someone with that caliber of knowledge, we can’t replace him.”

Craven received his distinguished professor title in 2007 while at UNM. He was fluent in four languages and traveled the world giving speeches at more than 100 universities.

Kirsten Buick, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor and chair at the art and art history department, said Craven was known around the world for his work in the art history field.

“David was a man of let­ters and a cham­pion for social causes, beloved by all who knew him for his keen intel­lect, gen­uine sense of compas­sion and desire to help oth­ers,” Buick told UNM Today. “He was rec­og­nized by his peers as one of the most informed and inci­sive art his­to­ri­ans in the world.”

Theresa Avila, a graduate student at UNM, said she studied under Craven for the past 10 years and is shocked by the loss.

“I’m devastated; as a professor I considered him to be generous and supportive and he is irreplaceable,” she said. “The fact that this happened, I don’t think anybody anticipated or prepared for it.”

Avila will be graduating in May with a doctorate in art history specializing in Mexican art, and said she plans to finish her degree as a tribute to Craven.

“I am going to try and work towards (graduating) in his honor,” she said. “I am just really sad he won’t be able to see me reach our goal.”