“Do They Know It's Christmas?” and Swiss museum accepts "Nazi art"
This week in art history we take a look at the seminal festive fundraiser that inspired one of Sir Peter Blake's most iconic covers, as well as the acceptance with "sorrow" of a collection of artworks bequeathed by a hoarder of pieces looted from Jews by the Nazis.
Blake paints another chapter in pop history
The Dartford, Kent native Sir Peter Blake may be known for many great artistic feats, from his involvement in the pop art movement to his co-creation of the instantly recognisable sleeve design for the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but even in 1984, he was far from done with designing momentous record covers.
That was shown by his memorable art for the single sleeve of Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas, November 25 being the date on which a supergroup consisting of such stars as Bob Geldof, Midge Ure, Bono, Sting and Boy George gathered in a Notting Hill studio to record a song that raised millions for the Ethiopian famine relief effort.
Sombre decision by Swiss museum to accept part of Nazi art collection
When, in 2014, Cornelius Gurlitt bequeathed hundreds of artworks he had been hoarding as the son of Adolf Hitler's art dealer to Bern Art Museum in Switzerland, the museum's president Christoph Schaeublin reluctantly agreed to accept.
Admitting that the decision had been "the most difficult" of his professional life, Schaeublin claimed, "the foundation council's decision was anything but easy and there certainly weren't emotions of triumph", which he said "would be entirely inappropriate considering the historic burden weighing heavily on this art collection."
The hoard, which included works by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Emil Nolde, Marc Chagall and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, was revealed two years before the younger Gurlitt's death, his father - Hildebrand - having dealt in works the Nazis had seized from the Jews or declared "degenerate" and subsequently taken out of German museums.
However, the museum - mindful of accusations of profiting from Nazi crimes if it accepted the entire bequest - announced it would not permit pieces suspected of being looted into its collection - these 500 pieces instead being left in Germany so their rightful owners could be identified.
The more than 1,200 artworks in the entire hoard were seized by the Bavarian authorities from Mr Gurlitt's flat as part of a tax evasion probe in early 2012.