Prints and paintings by Zao Wou-ki
M+, Hong Kong
M+ museum has received 12 prints and paintings by the Chinese-French Modern master Zao Wou-ki from his stepdaughter Sin-May Roy Zao. Three pieces feature in the current exhibition Individuals, Networks, Expressions (until 5 February 2023, though closed until further notice due to Covid-19 restrictions). The gift “underpins M+’s already significant holdings of ink art” and expands its representation of post-war abstraction by “integrating Chinese aesthetics with European medium and language”, says Pauline Yao, the museum’s lead curator of visual art. Dating from 1945 to 2005, the works span Zao’s career and include Open Air Theatre (1945) and Piazza Siena (1951), two early oil paintings exhibited in the artist’s 1996 retrospective at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The gift also honours Zao’s personal connection to Hong Kong: it was there that he met and married Roy Zao’s mother, the actress May Zao, in 1958.
Giovanni Ambrogio Miseroni’s 17th-century cameo of Venus and Cupid
Musée du Louvre, Paris
More than 5,600 donors participated in the Louvre’s €1m crowdfunding campaign to buy this early 17th-century agate cameo of Venus and Cupid. The largest known cameo carved by the renowned Miseroni family of hardstone craftsmen, it formed the lid of a shell-shaped agate cup owned by Cardinal Mazarin and then King Louis XIV of France. This was confiscated during the French Revolution and, in 1796, the first Republican government gave it to a creditor as payment in kind. The cup resurfaced without its cover at a Paris auction in 1968, when it was acquired by the Louvre. The two pieces will be reunited at the museum this spring after the cameo’s €2.6m acquisition, which was also supported by the Société des Amis du Louvre, the luxury brand Cartier and the dental pharmaceutical company Septodont.
Remedios Varo’s Tailleur pour Dames (1957)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
This Surrealist painting by the Spanish artist Remedios Varo evokes themes synonymous with her Boschian work, from sacred geometry to the occult. Created at the height of her career, Tailleur pour Dames is a rare large-scale example among the fewer than 200 oil paintings she made. Varo described the depiction of a tailor’s showroom in psychological terms: “The client, who is looking at the models, splits into two other persons because she does not know which model to choose, and her somewhat transparent doubles represent her doubts.” The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston deaccessioned three paintings to purchase the work: Charles Sheeler’s On a Shaker Theme (1956) was sold privately, while Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu Trees VII (1953) and A Sunflower from Maggie (1937) will go to auction at Christie’s New York in May (est $700,000-$1m and $6m-$8m respectively).