Cosas de España/Galiza
Per the Voz de Galicia, we’re now in our 8th Covid wave. But who’s really counting? Even if there are more hospital beds occupied by Covid patients than back in January.
I don’t want to worry anyone – especially those down South concerned about rising temperatures – but UNESCO says that the chances of a tsunami wave greater than 1m high occurring in the Med in the next 30 years is ‘close to 100%’.
Meanwhile, something else more immediate to worry about . . . Here’s The Guardian on our looming drought
HT to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for the news that the LaSexta TV channel is is showing a documentary on Los Borbones. You can see it on their player here but it seems you’ll have to pay to do this..
Probably free to view are Spain’s ‘small and sometimes frankly bizarre collections dotted across the country’. Some details of these can be found below.
Police down South have uncovered the first examples of underwater drones being used to bring drugs into Spain. It’s reported that the gang responsible has suppled logistical help to clients in Italy, France and Denmark, as well as to criminals in Catalonia, the Costa del Sol, the Campo de Gibraltar, and in Ceuta. I suspect some folk here in Galicia will feel rather jealous and/or put out at not being included in the client list.
Just a random fact which might explain some of my daily experiences – The Guardia Civil arrest an average of 23 people a day in Pontevedra for driving under the influence of alcohol or [stronger] drugs.
From a government site – a statement which no one in the world would contest: One of the issues that generate most doubts and questions when travelling to Portugal by car is how to pay the highway and freeway tolls. Here’s a page to help you with this, albeit in Spanish – designed to give you an understanding of Portugal’s ‘dual system’ and so ‘avoid surprises in the form of fines’.
Good question: Can even Boris ‘the greased piglet’ wriggle out of this? – a reference to last night’s resignation of 2 senior ministers over his inability to conduct government properly, competently and seriously.
Surely not. He has to resign.
And yet. . . There are certain things he shares with Trump. . . The PM is stuck in a time warp of self-delusion. . . So might yet have to be run through by his party with the sword on which he refuses to fall.
Quote of the Day
For someone who once declared his intention to become ‘world king’, Boris Johnson has sadly proved nothing more than a great pretender. Camilla Tominey, The Times
Quote of the Last Century
The (by now) famous comment of Johnson’s Classics master at Eton: I think he honestly believes that it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception, one who should be free of the network of obligations that binds everyone else.
Finally . . .
If you’ve ever wondered how and why massive fraud is regularly perpetrated in the art world, the 2nd article below is for you.
Plea for advice . . . . For at least 2 weeks, inserting a link into my text has resulted in an annoying ‘page jump’. This stopped yesterday but has returned today. If there’s any WordPress blogger out there who knows how to avoid this, I’d appreciate advice in the Comments below.
For new readers: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.
1. Here are ten of the most unusual and fascinating museums to seek out if you are travelling off the beaten track: The Olive News
The Potty Museum
Unveiled in 2006 by Jose Maria del Arco Ortíz, this museum is home to over 1,320 different chamber pots, ranging from the 13th to 20th century that were donated by the public and collected by Ortíz himself. Ortíz sadly passed away in 2011, however the town has continued his legacy. If you find yourself in Salamanca’s Ciudad Rodrigo, it’s worth spending a penny.
Museum of Erotic Sculpture
Although this is an outdoor sculpture park this collection of erotic sculptures certainly merits a place on the list. Located throughout the Can Ginebreda woods in Girona, the collection began in 1975 and was sculpted by Xicu Cabanyes. Cabanyes utilises many different materials in order to create his pieces from concrete and stone to recycled objects and scrap metal. His pieces that often prompt a giggle from passers-by, actually hold many deeper meanings. The sculptures act as a celebration of life, connecting intimacy with nature and also incorporating religious symbolism.
Museum of Salt and Pepper Shakers
From just a single pepper mill, Andrea Ludden grew her collection to what it is today, with over 20,000 pairs of eclectic salt and pepper shakers. Ludden has organised shakers dependent on theme and colour and it’s crazy to see the variety of different pieces from replicas of the beatles to antique pieces from the 1800’s. Head inland from the Costa Blanca to the hilltown of El Castel de Guadalest in Alicante, to visit the collection and spice up your life!
Micromundi Museum of Miniatures
Besalú in La Garrotxa (Girona province in Catalunya) is home to this collection, inaugurated in 2007 by artist and jeweller Lluís Carreras. The museum displays over 5,000 pieces of miniature artwork, with many pieces having to be viewed through a microscope. Some pieces to note are an ant holding an umbrella whilst walking a tightrope and pinocchio and his maker in a peanut shell but there are many more. The collection is very diverse as it receives donations from many different artists.
Museum of Funeral Carriages
Opened in Barcelona in the 1970’s by Cristóbal Torra. This seemingly morbid museum displays 19 pieces from the 18th century to the 1950’s including: 13 horse-drawn hearses, 6 accompanying cars and 3 motor hearses. Visitors can marvel at the intricate carriages and take a glimpse into the history of funerals past.
The Chocolate Museum
Kept in what used to be Barcelona’s Sant Agustí monastery is this museum for the sweet-toothed among us. It explores the history and evolution of chocolate since its discovery in the 15th century by conquistadors. There are also many detailed chocolate sculptures of famous people, characters and buildings to feast your eyes upon.
The Torture Museum
Although there are indeed many torture museums all over the world, this one found in Cantabria’s Santillana del Mar, focuses on methods used during the Spanish inquisition. There are over 50 gruesome torture instruments on display, from guillotines to iron maidens and chastity belts. [I’ve actually seen this one]
The Witches Museum
As home to one of the largest known witch trials in history, it is natural that the town of Zugarramurdi in Navarra is also the location of this museum. The museum remembers the 53 victims who were sent to the stake and prison during the trials and explores the history of the myths and folklore surrounding witchcraft.
Generations of melon farmers belong to Madrid’s Villaconejos and the fruity museum sprouted here acts as an exploration of the history of the area, honouring the fruit itself and its growers. The municipality even hosts its own melon festival in autumn!
Hash, Marijuana and Hemp Museum
After the success of his Amsterdam site, Ben Dronkers opened up a second collection in 2012 in Barcelona. Located in The Palau Mornau, a Modernista Palace – the collection houses over 9,000 pieces of paraphernalia and exhibitions depicting the history of marijuana and smoking culture.
2. How the art world keeps falling for fakes. Will a disputed Hirst be the latest in a long line of swindles, asks Laura Freeman, The Times
Caveat emptor. Whether it’s a Botticelli, a Braque or a Banksy: buyer beware. That painting on which you’ve staked your pension might not be worth the canvas on which it’s been painted. The enduring success of the BBC’s Fake or Fortune? — 9 series so far — shows just how much we love a lost masterpiece . . . and how much more we love a good fraud.
Damien Hirst, famous for his sharks in tanks, his diamond skulls, his spots and butterflies, is the latest artist to find himself at the centre of a dispute over authenticity. In 2004 the novelist Ken Follett, author of The Pillars of the Earth, bought what he believed to be a Hirst print from the auction house Sotheby’s. Follett paid £4,940 for Valium, a spotted, spiralling print. A genuine Valium would be worth £23,000 today, but Follett has threatened legal action against Sotheby’s after being advised that the print he bought there was a fake and is worth nothing. Sotheby’s has rebutted the claims and insisted that its “due diligence” had established that the print was a genuine work. It insists that Science Ltd, the Hirst company that authenticates his works, is standing by the attribution.
How do other fakers, charlatans, shameless rip-off artists get away with it? They’re good, for a start. Take your berets off to these often thwarted artists who’ve turned to copies out of pique or greed. They’re canny and they know the market. The best will come up with not just a picture, but a paper trail: provenance, proofs, sworn affidavits and faded receipts.
Perhaps the bigger question is: how do the connoisseurs, the collectors, the experts called in to cast their critical eye let themselves be duped? Even the keenest eye can be tricked. Let’s call it “the will to believe”. Sad to think there are only 37 surviving Vermeers; irresistible to hope there are more. Then there’s the allure of “the sleeper”: the Gainsborough in the garret, the Canaletto in the cellar. Sometimes when a Picasso turns up in a hayloft, it’s simply too appealing not to be true.
Five famous fakes
Han van Meegeren — Johannes Vermeer
The Dutch faker Han van Meegeren was a technically accomplished artist, but derivative and old hat and the critics couldn’t get behind his stale, pale stuff. Painting on period canvases to give his pictures authentic “age crackle”, he began imitating the old masters of the Dutch Golden Age such as Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer, treating his paintings with rust and rotting leaves for a convincing 17th-century effect. He pulled the wool over the eyes of collectors as distinguished as Andrew Mellon, Joseph Duveen and Heinrich Thyssen. There’s no fool like a rich fool. Most famously, he conned Hermann Goering, who bought a newly minted Vermeer masterpiece, Christ and the Adulteress. Van Meegeren was eventually sentenced to a year in prison for forgery. He died of a heart attack one day into his sentence.
Piero Ottorino Martino Pedrazzini et al — Amedeo Modigliani
With a hint of The Godfather and a twist of The Italian Job, the story of the Modigliani mobsters is crying out for a film. In 2017 a retrospective exhibition of the Livorno-born artist Amedeo Modigliani was flooded with contested works. A sceptical collector and critic, Carlo Pepi, tipped off the police who seized 21 paintings — 15 of which were attributed to Modigliani. Since then, the carabinieri have named a number of complicit collectors and dealers including Piero Ottorino Martino Pedrazzini, who owned and loaned one of the suspect paintings. In 2018 Modigliani’s Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) sold for $157.2 million at Sotheby’s New York. Is it any wonder the artist and his almond-eyed nudes appealed to the art mafiosi?
Shaun Greenhalgh — LS Lowry
The painter of Salford factories and football fields, chimney stacks and matchstick men is among the most faked painters in the business. Shaun Greenhalgh made nearly £1 million over 17 years selling phoney Lowry paintings — among other forgeries — to collectors before being sentenced to 4 years and 8 months in prison. He also tried his hand at Roman antiquities, a Paul Gauguin and a Leonardo da Vinci. The incorrigible Greenhalgh gang — Shaun and his elderly parents, George and Olive — also mocked up an Egyptian monument, “the Amarna Princess”, in the garden shed using tools from B&Q. In 2003 the Bolton Museum bought it for £439,767.
Pei-Shen Qian — Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko
Pollock and Rothko were both striking originals — but that doesn’t make them inimitable. In the late 1980s Pei-Shen Qian, a Chinese maths professor living in Queens, New York, fooled the Manhattan art world with Pollocks and Rothkos he’d painted for fun. Don’t blame the painter in this case, blame the dealers who were only too ready to accept these “new” works. The Netflix series Made You Look asked if the gallerists were complicit — or just stupid.
Anonymous NFT faker — Banksy
Barely got your head around NFTs (a work of digital art identified by a unique line of computer code)? Now for FNFTs — fake non-fungible tokens. Last August an unknown hacker infiltrated the website of the street artist Banksy to sell a “Banksy NFT” to a British collector known as Pranksy for $336,000, paid for with the cryptocurrency ethereum. (No, I don’t understand either.) Under pressure of media attention, the hacker returned the money, while a spokesman for Banksy pointed out that the artist had never created any NFT artworks. Caveat idiotic emptor, indeed.