Austrian art historian doubts ‘Van Gogh’ is real

A supposed Van Gogh painting that turned up in Spain last week should be treated with suspicion, an Austrian art expert has said.

Austrian art historian doubts 'Van Gogh' is real
A different Van Gogh from the same period as the 'new discovery'. Photo: Wikimedia

The painting turned up in the safe of an alleged tax fraudster in Spain, when Spanish officials opened one of his safe-deposit boxes, as reported in The Local Spain last week

Reports said that the painting was last examined by the Art History Institute of Vienna University, but Dr. Friedrich Polleroß, head of the archives at the Institute, denies this and expressed doubt about the alleged authenticity of the painting.

The painting has three seals on the back. The first one is stamped April 8, 1944, at the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands, dating back to Nazi occupation of the country.

The second seal indicates that the painting was taken from the Rijksmuseum to the Museum der Schöne Künste in Berlin. And the last seal – dated April 10, 1975 – suggests that it belongs to Vienna's Art History Institute.

But Dr. Polleroß told The Local that Vienna University did not use a system of stamping art work, and that he believes the seal is a fake. 

He added that "there was no report in our archives relating to such a painting, by Van Gogh or any other artist". He also has no records of seeing such a painting in Vienna's Art History Museum, he added. 

An additional red flag is that Vienna University already received an inquiry about this painting from the Criminal Police of Berlin in November 2013, suggesting that the full story is as yet untold.

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London Tube gets covered-up versions of Schiele nudes after it deems the originals too racy

As the art world plans to celebrate the centenary of Austrian expressionist painter Egon Schiele's death, some of his nudes have been dubbed too racy to show in their full glory, not least in the London underground.

London Tube gets covered-up versions of Schiele nudes after it deems the originals too racy
Photo: Christian Lendl/Vienna Tourist Board/AFP
Austrian museums will next year host a series of exhibitions and events to mark the centenary of his passing but time has apparently not dimmed some of the prudish attitudes prevalent in his lifetime regarding his rawest works, Vienna Tourist Board director Norbert Kettner told AFP.
Two of his works — “Seated Male Nude (Self-Portrait),” from 1910, and his 1914 work “Girl With Orange Stockings,” appear with their genitals covered over after Transport for London found the uncensored originals beyond the pale.
Advertising hoardings in Germany have similarly covered the offending parts, even though the works were deliberately selected as “we wanted to raise a discussion and the theme of nudity seemed pertinent,” Kettner told AFP.
“The campaign was ready but when we came up with the first visuals we had several reactions of 'that won't do; regulations won't allow us to show genitalia,'” he explained after the London Tube and a German airport both complained.
“We had the green light for a very large format and, the day before they went up, agreement was withdrawn as an ethics committee felt (full nude versions) wouldn't be acceptable for an airport public” or patrons of London's underground trains.
The Viennese tourist office quickly revamped the pictures, covering up the offending organs and adding on the blotted out section the slogan, “SORRY, 100 years old but still too daring today.”
They have also added the hashtag #ToArtItsFreedom in London – a play on the “To every age its art. To every art its freedom” inscribed on the entrance of the Vienna Secession building housing the union of Austrian artists movement.
Kettner revealed that a Viennese display did not share the artistic-sexual qualms of the British or the Germans and had approved a “non-censored” version.
The prolific Schiele, born in 1890 and who died of Spanish flu aged 28, was not always popular in his homeland where some, notably in conservative circles, took a dim view of his vision of tortured eroticism.
Nonetheless, a retrospective of his work will see a number of exhibitions highlight his talents as well as those of his first mentor and Secession co-founder Gustav Klimt.