A Paradigm of Colors

A review of the fascinating world of art and its makers

Houston has to give ’em back now

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Apparently, antiquities from Greece get stolen a lot and sold to gallery curators or influential philanthropists. Then Greece finds them and wants them back. Just a few days ago, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA agreed to give back two ancient artifacts they acquired in the 70’s. The LA Times says that in recent years, the Getty has had some arguments with Greece and Italy over looted artifacts. And in fact, former Getty curator Marion True was accused of purchasing illegally excavated items. Come on, don’t tell me that she really thought they were legit?

Really, I had no idea they were stolen, Judge…

Dominique de Menil, founder of the Menil Collection in Houston, Tx,  handled things a little differently when she was approached about buying some 13th century Greek frescoes says Houston Culturemap. She did a little research like any responsible person would and found that they had indeed been stolen. She contacted authorities in Cyprus and eventually went on to acquire and restore the frescoes simply out of the goodness of her heart and the huge sums of money in her bank account. According to Artinfo, this won her a 20-year loan of the works.  So of course, she had her son build her a chapel and she put them in there for everyone to enjoy.

Byzantine Chapel. Photo by Hester and Hardaway. source: houston culturemap

Byzantine Chapel. Photo by Hester and Hardaway. source: houston culturemap

And now, 20 years later, the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus wants them back. In February,  the only example of such 13th century frescoes in America will leave Houston, and the Menil Collection’s Byzantine Fresco Chapel will stand empty.

Lysi Apse restored. Photo by Hester and Hardaway. source: artinfo.

Lysi dome fresco restored.Photo by Hester and Hardaway. source: artinfo

Byzantine Chapel. Photo by Smiley Pool. source: houston chronicle

The original chapel in Lysi, Cyprus. Photo by Laurence Morrocco. source: houston culturemap.


Written by jenniferloftis

September 26, 2011 at 7:57 am

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