November 13, 2013 10:37 am
Last week Germany’s Focus magazine broke the news that a trove of art, looted by people working for the Nazi Party, had been recovered in a Munich apartment. The collection included more than 1,400 works of art from greats such as Picasso, with the value of the whole collection estimated to be somewhere above $1 billion. Now, some of those works are starting to trickle online to the website LostArt.de.
LostArt.de, says the Guardian, is a site intended to help people, largely Jewish people who had lost their art to the Nazis to blackmail or theft, reconnect with their lost treasures.
So far, of the 1,406 pieces of art recovered in Munich, says the Canadian Press, 25 have made their way online, including works by Picasso and Chagall, with more set to follow.
But the interest of people around the world in the Munich haul means that the site has been buckling under the load. The Guardian:
“No one was expecting such a storm of demand,” said a culture ministry spokesman after visitors had difficulties accessing the site. “The server was overwhelmed by the massive demand. The only thing to do is wait.”
A month ago we didn’t even know some of these works existed—surely we can wait a little longer.
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November 7, 2013 11:46 am
If you spend any time paying attention to the science of climate change, you become familiar with the simulations that are the bread and butter of this field. These climate models try to recreate the climate of the past and to predict the future, and they’re highly complex attempts to build the world in a computer. It’s easy to forget that, behind the code and the non-linear equations, are people—like Tufa Dinku, above, a climate modeler from Columbia University who is a strong advocate for improving Africa’s access to up-to-date climate measurements.
To help give real faces to the climate scientists and modelers that spend their days refining our representations of the world, two Columbia University science communicators, Rebecca Fowler and Francesco Fiondella, created the Climate Models calendar, a high-fashion photo series that uses climate modelers as models.
Aside from reminding everyone that there actually are humans dedicating their lives to designing and building all of these climate models, Fiondella says that he also wants to help break down stereotypes, to show that scientists aren’t just people, they’re sexy people, too.
*This story has been updated to reflect that white Jordan Matter helped come up with the Climate Models idea and consulted on the project, Charlie Naebeck was the one taking the photos.
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November 7, 2013 10:43 am
While caring for both of her aging parents, Philadelphia-based photographer Isa Leshko made a conscious decision not to photograph her family. But about a year later, while visiting a friend’s farm, she found herself drawn to an elderly horse. Since then, she has captured dozens of animals in their winter years, including farm animals, horses and dogs. Some of them are factory farm rescues; others beloved pets. Many of the animals passed away shortly after Leshko photographed them. She writes:
I am creating these photographs in order to take an unflinching look at aging and mortality. My maternal grandmother had dementia during her later years, and now my mom has it. I am scared of developing Alzheimer’s disease and I get nervous whenever I lose my keys or forget a person’s name. Photographing geriatric animals enables me to immerse myself in my fear of growing old. I have come to realize that these images are self-portraits. Or at the very least, they are manifestations of my fears and hopes about what I will be like when I am old.
Although Leshko says the project originally began as a form of self-therapy, it evolved into “Elderly Animals,” a traveling photography exhibition that has generated hundreds of emails and letters from viewers, detailing their own experience caring for an elderly animal or looking after an aging parent. Leshko’s photographs are on display in San Francisco from November 7 until January 11, and she will also be exhibiting them in Miami in December.
And here’s a short video by Walley Films depicting how Leshko captures the animals’ essence, and what those subjects mean to her:
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November 4, 2013 10:50 am
The Nazi Party hated modern art. “Whole movements,” says the German Historical Institute, were dubbed “degenerate art,” including “Expressionism, Impressionism, Dada, New Objectivity, Surrealism, Cubism, and Fauvism, among others.” Famous artists, including many German artists, were denounced by the state and their work deemed “incompatible with [Nazi] ideology or propaganda.” In the run up to World War II, masterpieces were rounded up, stolen or taken as blackmail from Jewish-German collectors.
Now, decades later, authorities have just recovered some 1,500 pieces of “degenerate art” from an apartment in Munich, says the Guardian. These are masterpieces from artists such as Picasso and Matisse. The haul, the authorities say, is worth more than a billion dollars.
The art had been in the possession of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of Hildebrand Gurlitt. The Guardian:
Hildebrand Gurlitt, who had been a museum director in Zwickau until Hitler came to power, lost his post because he was half Jewish, but was later commissioned by the Nazis to sell works abroad. The discovered loot may show that Gurlitt in fact collected many of the artworks himself and managed to keep them throughout the war.
After the war, allied troops designated Gurlitt a victim of Nazi crimes. He reportedly said he had helped many Jewish Germans to fund their flight into exile, and that his entire art collection had been destroyed in the bombing of Dresden.
But the art was not destroyed—it was hiding in the younger Gurlitt’s Munich apartment, buried “among stacks of rotting groceries.” Cornelius Gurlitt is now in his 70s. The art was first flagged in 2011 by customs officials, says Reuters, but the story didn’t break until now.
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October 29, 2013 3:12 pm
Archeologists in London just turned up an 1,800-year old Roman statue of an eagle devouring a serpent. Researchers at the Museum of London call the statue “pristine,” “startling” and “exceptional,” the Guardian reports, and hail the artwork as one of the best preserved examples of Romano-British works ever found.
The sculpture turned up in a tomb excavation site in London, the Guardian says, and when the team first saw it, it was in such great shape that they suspected it was a much more recent Victorian garden decoration that somehow got buried and preserved. Upon careful examination, however, it turned out to be an original Roman relic, carved in Britain out of local limestone in the first century AD.
During Roman times, eagles signified both the empire’s strength and served as a typical funeral decoration, the Guardian says, while the snake, in this case, probably represents evil being triumphed over. This particular statue was installed in an aristocratic tomb during the Romans’ height of power in Britain.
It is believed to have stood on an imposing mausoleum, on the roadside edge of the eastern cemetery just outside the city walls. The road was once lined with the monuments of the wealthiest citizens, like the Via Appia outside Rome.
Scattered animal bones and pottery nearby suggest funeral feasts or that family members revisited the tomb to dine with the spirits of their dead.
Eventually, the original tomb was destroyed, but the eagle statue was set aside in a nearby ditch where, purely out of luck, it was covered by mud and preserved for centuries awaiting discovery. The statue was unearthed just a month ago, but it will be on display at the Museum of London for the next six months.
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