Recent links of note:
“An Academic Is Fired Over a Medieval Painting of the Prophet Muhammad”
Christiane Gruber, New Lines Magazine
In December, Minnesota’s Hamline University, responding to what it termed as an “Islamophobic incident,” joined the growing list of institutions that unduly limit the speech of their faculty when it fired an unidentified professor for showing students medieval paintings that visually depict the prophet Muhammad. “Hamline has privileged an ultraconservative Muslim view,” writes Christiane Gruber, favoring the “age-old Western cliche that Muslims are banned from viewing images of the prophet.” Gruber, who first broke the story for New Lines Magazine and is herself a professor of Islamic art at the University of Michigan, explains that the art comes from an Islamic context that understood depictions of the prophet to be devotional, not blasphemous. In no way, then, can the showing of this art be accurately understood as Islamophobic. In a recent development, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression has filed a formal complaint with Hamline’s accreditor.
“When is a Vermeer not a Vermeer? Reputations on the line over authenticity of artwork”
Jennifer Rankin, The Guardian
In October of 2022, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., controversially re-attributed one of its purported Vermeers, Girl with a Flute (ca. 1669–75), to the artist’s studio, not Vermeer himself. The great painter of the Dutch Golden Age died at the age of forty-three in 1675, before Girl with a Flute was completed. Though potentially begun by Vermeer, Girl with a Flute was finished by his associates, argues the National Gallery. Jennifer Rankin for The Guardian reports that several artistic techniques used in the painting’s composition appeared inconsistent with the rest of the artist’s oeuvre. Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, which is hosting the world’s largest Vermeer show to date this February, wholeheartedly disagrees with the National Gallery’s findings. This institutional battle provides an exciting backdrop for the upcoming exhibition, which will include the disputed painting.
“Louvre will begin limiting daily visitor numbers by one third to create ‘more pleasurable viewing experience’”
Vincent Noce, The Art Newspaper
The Louvre director Laurence des Cars recently announced the museum’s decision to limit the number of daily visitors to thirty thousand, reports Vincent Noce for The Art Newspaper (the pre-COVID number was forty-five thousand). For those tourists who crowd the halls of the Denon wing—where that most famous of paintings hangs—this plan is a welcome one. According to des Cars, up to 60 percent of the Louvre’s visitors are first-timers, most of whom flock directly to the Mona Lisa. The rest of the museum, littered with overlooked treasures and artwork from across civilizations, will likely be even emptier than it already is. Art and history enthusiasts, though dismayed by the lack of attention given to these other galleries, will appreciate the extra viewing space and the preservation benefits of welcoming fewer tourists.