Sunday, October 16, 2011

Five Modern Masterpieces Said Destroyed

It has been reported that paintings by Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, Matisse and Leger stolen from the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in May 2010, and valued at about $134 million, may have been dumped in a garbage bin and destroyed with the rest of that day's trash, according to testimony from one of three suspects in the theft, a 34-year-old watch repairman, reported the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche about the ongoing investigation.

Other suspects include a Serb called "Spiderman" who is accused of lifting the five paintings from the walls of the museum and then loading them in his car nearby. An alarm system failed and three night guards on duty didn't notice the theft, according to the museum.

The third suspect is an antique shop owner, who says he didn't order the theft, but he did give the paintings to the watch repairman who supposedly threw them away.

Among the missing artworks is Fernand Leger's "Still Life With Candlestick," Picasso's "Dove With Green Peas," Matisse's "Pastoral," Braque's "The Olive Tree Near Estaque," and Modigliani's "Woman With a Fan."

Pastoral, 1906, Henri Matisse

Olive Tree near l'Estaque, 1906, Georges Braque

Still Life with Candlestick, 1922, Fernand Leger

Dove with Green Peas, 1911, Pablo Picasso

Woman with Fan, 1919, Amedeo Modigliani

This is so heartbreaking.  In order to combat such devastation, nations ought to change their criminal codes in order to punish such destruction of stolen artworks more severely.

This also shows the vulnerability of visual art.  A literary work once written and published, can still be bring back even if all the published editions were destroyed, as long as the manuscript exists, or at long as one copy escaped destruction, such as booking burnings flaring up in human histories in all corner of the earth.

The advent of ebooks perhaps would make the preservation of written literature easier.  However, we should not rely on this solely.

I dread for those several seconds when all power lines on earth are knocked out by an interference from the sun or outer space.  If that happens, god knows how many invaluable works, not just art works, would be irretrievably destroyed.

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