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Banksy’s Naples Madonna placed under protection

British street artist Banksy's only known surviving work in Italy - a Naples mural entitled "Madonna with a pistol" - has been placed under a protective cover in the hope of preserving it.

Banksy's Naples Madonna placed under protection
A graffito by Bansky has been placed under a protective cover. Photo: Salvatore Vastano/AFP

The work, possibly a comment on the city's reputation as a bastion of both devout Catholicism and gun crime, is an image of the Madonna with a pistol in a luminous aureola above her head. It has proved a popular attraction for tourists visiting the city.
   
The move to ensure it cannot be destroyed follows a campaign by Banksy fan Alessandro Bello, who had collected 16,500 signatures with a petition calling on the local council to protect the work.
   
Bello was quoted Wednesday as telling local media the protective screen had not been the work of the authorities.
   
“It seems it was not the council but a private individual that did it, but the important thing is the work is now protected,” he said.
   
Another Naples work by Banksy, a Bernini-inspired depiction of a female saint in a state of ecstasy with McDonald's fries and a coke on her lap, was covered in graffiti in 2010.
   
Numerous Banksy works around the world have been vandalized or painted over by rivals of the mysterious artist although this has become rarer as awareness of the value of his works has spread.

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Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.

mata-mua_gauguin-madrid

In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.

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