Stolen Rotterdam Matisse and Gauguin Paintings Recovered In Romania

Three Rominian nationals have been arrested in Romania over the £162m art theft from the Kunsthal Museum, Rotterdam, last October. The major art theft closed the museum for an extended period. It is known that 7 paintings, including a Picasso, a Matisse, 2 Monets a Gauguin and a portrait by Lucian Freud were taken in the break-in. Last year was the museum’s twentieth anniversary and as a result, it was presenting a valuable collection entitled ‘Avant-Gardes’, comprising works from the Triton Foundation. This exhibition marked the very first public showing of the carefully and lovingly assembled Triton Collection. Over the last twenty years, this private goup of works had developed into one with an international reputation with pieces spanning from From Picasso to Lucian Freud. The collection comprises representative works by the most important and influential artists of the late nineteenth century to the present day.

In close collaboration with the Triton Foundation, over a hundred and fifty works of international top quality were selected from over one hundred different artists from the vanguard, avant-garde and Western art movements. Works can be seen by great innovators such as Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondriaan and Yves Klein, as well as other avant-gardists who departed from the prevailing artistic rules adhered to by their predecessors and went on to experiment with new forms of expression. These artists include George Braque, Francis Picabia, Willem de Kooning, Elsworth Kelly, Frank Stella and many others. Enhanced with works by great masters such as Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh, the Avant-Gardes exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of developments in modern art.

The exhibition covered works from almost every significant art movement, from Impressionist work by Monet to the Expressionism of Max Beckmann and the Cubist imagery of Juan Gris. Work can also be seen by artists from lesser known movements such as Les Nabis, which included Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard, and by the Russian Constructivists Wassily Kandinsky and El Lissitsky. Visual associations and unusual combinations of paintings, drawings and images featuring similarities in style, material or character serve as the leitmotif of this exhibition. Such combinations allow the exhibition to illustrate the unlimited scope and expressiveness of visual art across time. Examples include a modest selection of works by Gauguin, Bonnard and Hans Bellmer, a surprising combination of pieces by Emil Nolde and Alex Katz, and the odd but appealing couple that Andy Warhol and Marc Quinn make.

According to reports by the Romanian television station Antena1 two paintings one by Matisse and one by Gauguin were found during the arrests, which took place Tuesday night. “So far we only know that three men from Tulcea have been arrested in Bucharest. Two of the stolen paintings were found in the home of one of the suspects,” said Antena1. It is not known whether either of the paintings were damaged.

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