Posts Tagged ‘Gauguin’

Thyssen Art Elevator Hits Spanish Buffers

At last! Spain begins to question the quality of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, what the taxpayers might have got for their money and the wisdom of paying yet more money for ‘Tita’s Collection’. These were all things we have been publicly questioning for the last three years. So why has it taken so long? Without wishing to sound cynical, could it be a result of the credit crunch? While Spain was flooded with Euros, nobody wanted to see the King naked.

Today’s critic, Dr Juan Jose Junquera, is a Professor of Art History at Complutense University in Madrid, and as such could hardly claim to be a stranger to the collection. Perhaps the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation Board, particularly Sir Norman Rosenthal, will now be obliged to make a comment, though with Rosenthal’s wife still working at the Prado, he could of course be accused of a conflict of interest.

The following is a translation of the Spanish original from today’s ABC newspaper.

No wonder Tita is busy preparing Villa Favorita in Lugano for re-occupancy. This feature looks to me like the Culture Ministry’s way of say ‘No’ to any further deals with Tita and if this one hits the buffers, Malaga looks ever less likely.

“After reading Carmen Cervera’s declarations in ABC on Sunday 3 January, I’ve had the following thoughts: I’m not doubting the generosity of her offer to loan the Thyssen Collection, but I’m asking myself of how much interest it actually is to the Spanish taxpayers. We still don’t know which paintings will stay in Spain once the current cession agreement concerning the collection of her late husband, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, ends, which was a question raised in its day by the then Director of the Prado, Professor Perez Sanchez, and to which there still hasn’t been a reply. In the meantime, the Prado lacks good quality Dutch paintings, such as Franz Hals, gaps which the Dutch Masters of the Thyssen Collection cannot fill. Is it really advisable to spend the few Euros that the Culture Minisry has available in order to rent a Gauguin escorted by paintings of somewhat dubious quality and authenticity on a background of nineteenth century artists whose works already gather dust in the storage rooms of both the Prado and provincial museums? Nobody doubts the commercial acumen of Baroness Thyssen; but what we mustn’t do is buy a lift for a bungalow without discussing the matter in public.”

ABC Y SUS LECTORES,  Domingo , 10-01-10

……..«La atenta lectura de las declaraciones de doña Carmen Cervera en ABC del domingo 3 de enero me sugiere unas reflexiones -dice JUAN JOSÉ JUNQUERA, catedrático de Historia del Arte de la Universidad Complutense-. No es que dude de la generosidad de su oferta de alquiler de la colección Thyssen, pero me pregunto hasta qué punto éste interesa a los contibuyentes españoles. Aún no sabemos cuáles son los cuadros que quedarán en España cuando acabe el convenio vigente de cesión de la colección de su difunto marido, el barón Thyssen-Bornemisza, pregunta que formuló en su día el que era director del Prado, profesor Pérez Sánchez y que aún no tiene respuesta. Mientras, el Prado carece de holandeses de calidad como Franz Hals, huecos que no cubren los maestros holandeses de la Colección Thyssen. ¿Realmente interesa gastar los poco euros de que dispone Cultura en alquilar un Gauguin escoltado por cuadros bien de dudosa calidad o autenticidad, bien de segundones decimonónicos cuyas obras decansan en los depósitos del Prado y de los museos de provincias? Nadie duda de las cualidades comerciales de la baronesa viuda Thyssen; lo que no debemos hacer es, sin discutirlo públicamente, comprar un ascensor para un chalet de planta baja……..».

One of Tita's ten 'Gauguins (?)', which could become the subject of her forthcoming 'cleansing' operation (see ABC newspaper on 03.01.2010).

"'The Crucifixion', attributed to a painter from the circle of Sir Anthony van Dyck, which Heini purchased from Sotheby's at the 1995 sale of the Bentinck-Thyssen Collection for only £17,000 and immediately re-attributed to the Master himself" (from: 'The Thyssen Art Macabre' / 'La Historia Secreta de los Thyssen')

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ThyssenArt Argentina

The Argentinean actor, director and professor of drama, Ernesto Beltran Meza, writes on his blog (following a recent article in El Mundo):

La “guerra de los Thyssen” pone en alerta al mundo del arte

Las “Lágrimas de Eros” atraen estos días a miles de personas al Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza de Madrid. La exposición, un recorrido por el erotismo en la historia del arte, es todo un éxito. Lo que pocos visitantes saben es que detrás de la fachada del Palacio de Villahermosa, el edificio neoclásico que alberga a la pinacoteca, se libra una dura batalla por el legado de la familia que da nombre a una de las colecciones de arte más importantes del mundo. Esta batalla, que ya ha llegado a los tribunales, sí que ha hecho correr lágrimas, pero de ira y dolor, además de poner en peligro el futuro de ese patrimonio cultural.

Por un lado está Carmen “Tita” Cervera, ex “Miss España” y viuda del barón Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, un acaudalado industrial y mecenas de nacionalidad suiza y origen húngaro-alemán que en 1992 vendió al Estado español su impresionante colección de 800 obras de arte por 400 millones de euros.

Por el otro está Borja, 29 años, el hijo de Carmen, fruto de una relación anterior a su matrimonio con el barón. Éste lo acogió como un hijo más y le dio su apellido. El joven afirma haber descubierto que es cobeneficiario de la colección de arte de su madre, compuesta por alrededor de 1.000 obras. Las piezas están valoradas nada menos en 800 millones de euros.

Cervera, que a sus 66 años es vicepresidenta del patronato de la Fundación Thyssen, demandó a su hijo ante tribunales, acusándolos de revelación de secretos y sustracción de documentos. Mientras que Borja reclama dinero, su madre intenta preservar su colección. Ésta incluye piezas fundamentales del arte moderno, además de importantes obras de Courbet, Corot, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Renoir, Degas, Gauguin, Braque, Matisse, entre otros.

So, I blogged him:

‘Dear Ernesto

Please forgive my writing to you in English, but my Spanish is not good enough.

I don’t mean to piss on your parade and it might sound to some as if I’m on a mission of hatred. I’m not. I got to know Heini and Tita Thyssen very well and liked them both (Tita is thought by many to be round the bend and a pain in the bum, but nonetheless, I like her).

Please don’t perpetuate stereotypical Thyssen myths. Heini’s forebears, and in particular his fortune, came from Germany. It was created by Old August Thyssen and thousands of dedicated, hard-working coal and steel workers. Switzerland and Hungary were merely conveniences.

While Heini’s collection is very impressive, it isn’t all it is said to be. Many art experts know that it contains many forgeries and paintings of a questionable provenance. It is also rather directionless, with no central theme and even where works are by genuine masters, they are mostly second-rate examples of their work.

The money for the collection, apart from that made by Old August, also includes profits from two world wars and the Thyssens’ involvement with the Nazi Party. It is not a background that gives any reason for pride.

The Thyssens have never been art ‘patrons’. They bought art; they did not pay artists to create it. They used art as a tax-efficient investment and a means of cloaking their past.

As far as Tita’s collection is concerned, while I admire the fact she has a personal taste, hers cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as great art, and is certainly not worth, particularly in today’s climate, 800 million Euros, especially not to the Spanish, who have already paid for one Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. They need two Thyssen-Bornemisza Collections like a hole in the head.

However, if you disagree with anything I say, there is always the option of your country renting Tita’s collection. I’m sure she would be delighted.’

Ernesto’s Blog has been going since 1987!


Ernesto Beltran Meza, ACTOR, DIRECTOR y PROFESOR DE TEATRO, egresado de Escuela Teatro La Plata, dependiente de DGCyE Pcia Bs As y PROFESOR DE ARTE EN TEATRO (Complementación Curricular de Grado) IUNA BUENOS AIRES -

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