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message 1: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 5439 comments New Book Asks Who's Greater ~ Michelangelo or Leonardo?

LONDON (REUTERS).- A new book focuses on a 16th century competition that set out to discover who was the better artist -- Michelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci, and says the outcome profoundly influenced the Renaissance titans' legacies. Jonathan Jones, a British art critic who has been a Turner Prize judge, said the contest was familiar to art historians but to his knowledge had not been treated as the subject for a book. "The Lost Battles: Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Artistic Duel that Defined the Renaissance," published by Simon & Schuster," hits stores on Thursday and describes a dramatic and defining moment in art history.

The decision by Florence officials that Michelangelo was the victor helped launch the younger artist's career and set him on a path to glory with key commissions in Rome. Leonardo, meanwhile, was sidelined despite having a more established reputation, and ended up in the French court, which would have been looked down upon by Italy's art patrons.

"You are not left in much doubt that it was a competition," Jones said in a telephone interview. "The Florentine Renaissance was obsessed with competition."

And so, at the turn of the 16th century, the Florentine government commissioned the artists to produce rival battle frescos -- Leonardo's "Battle of Anghiari" and Michelangelo's "Battle of Cascina" -- for a hall in the civic palace. Neither painting was completed and both are lost, although they survive partially through engravings and sketches. But Jones is in little doubt Michelangelo emerged from the contest with his reputation enhanced while Leonardo suffered a setback.

By presenting Michelangelo as a genius who was working on a great battle painting, the Florentine state helped him secure an even more important commission, the Sistine Chapel, Jones said. While the two-year contest that ended in 1506 cast Leonardo as the loser, Jones believes history has been kinder to him

"It was a very important thing that he had trashed Leonardo in this competition and was seen as the greatest artist in history," Jones added. "That was because he had this competition and had won it.

"Yet Leonardo, who was arguably the most famous of them all, doesn't get any of those commissions (to rebuild Rome). He was seen as not delivering in the contest."

History Is Kinder to Leonardo

Jones argues that the fiercely competitive atmosphere of Renaissance art helped spur it to ever greater heights, even if it did damage some careers while helping to launch others. He also believes that had Leonardo's battle picture been championed in the same way as that of his rival, the history of Italian art may have taken a darker, more disturbing turn.

"It (the lost battle picture) probably was his masterpiece and was almost like the antithesis of the Renaissance," he said. "If he (Leonardo) had been the model for the artist, over the next 200-300 years a lot of things might have been different."

"I've changed my mind so many times in writing this book," Jones said, asked who he thought was the greater of the two.

"These were both incomparable geniuses. There is no question that Michelangelo did win, but Leonardo has won historically, just about.

"Michelangelo has been consistently revered, but since Leonardo's notebooks started to be edited and translated and popularized in the 19th century, and we get a sense of Leonardo as a scientist and not just an artist, Leonardo has probably pipped Michelangelo to the post.

"Leonardo, in my heart, ultimately wins."
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

message 2: by Monica (new)

Monica | 928 comments The Morgan Library & Museum
Rome After Raphael
January 22 through May 9

Featuring more than eighty works drawn almost exclusively from the Morgan's exceptional collection of Italian drawings, Rome After Raphael illuminates artistic production in Rome from the Renaissance to the beginning of the Baroque—from approximately 1500 to 1600. The exhibition, the first in New York to focus solely on Roman Renaissance and Mannerist drawings, takes Raphael's art as its starting point and ends with the dawn of a new era, as seen in the innovations of Annibale Carracci.

The show includes striking examples by great masters of the period, including Raphael, Michelangelo, and Parmigianino, among others. Also on exhibit are Giulio Clovio's sumptuous Farnese hours, the Codex Mellon—an architectural treatise on important Roman sites and projects, including Raphael's design for St. Peter's—and a magnificent gilt binding. Having recently undergone a thorough investigation of its technique and media, the Morgan's Raphael school painting, The Holy Family, will be on view as well.

Numerous drawings in the exhibition are related to Roman projects and commissions, including elaborate schemes for fresco decorations of city palaces and rural villas, funerary chapels and altarpieces, and tapestry designs and views of newly discovered antiquities. The exhibition opens a window on the past to afford us a glimpse of the artistic sensibility and lavish patronage of the period.

Online exhibition

Selected images


message 3: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 5439 comments That is so neat, Monica! Looking through the exhibitions, though there were several if not all that I appreciate, I especially like this one by Pellegrino Tibaldi:

Pellegrino Tibaldi (Puria di Valsolda 1527–1596 Milan)
Two Seated Barbarian Captives
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, and white gouache, over black chalk

It is hard to believe that it isn't a statue! The shadowing and detail is incredible!

message 4: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1211 comments Thanks Monica. I love this place and my favorite artworks are works on paper. Time for a day trip into the city!

message 5: by Monica (new)

Monica | 928 comments Luv you guys! Take a trip! I go all over the world for Mannerism!

Carol, if you come to the city Saturday we can see the Bronzino show, too!!! I'm meeting my friend on the steps of the Met at 11 am!!!

Heather, that's cool you figured out how to post Tibaldi's thumbnail! Go girl!!!

message 6: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1211 comments Thank you for the invite! I would really love that, but this weekend is Easter --

My 4 sisters-in-law & I make everything from scratch-- family recipes. etc. My husband has a big family, I have my parents here & then there's all the "kids" (18-28yrs). Everyone comes hungry. It's basically a whole day of seeing everyone interspersed with eating. (We start with brunch.) We are blessed that we both have our parents and all the "kids" are able to come & that everyone has a great time. (The kids still play soccer in the backyard!)

So I begin the marathon of food preparation this afternoon with baking . . .

*** I don't think I will get to the exhibit until mid April.

message 7: by Monica (new)

Monica | 928 comments Sounds like a great weekend Yummy yummy!

message 8: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 5439 comments

The Ambivalence of the Concrete
26 March - 27 June 2010

There are many reasons to honour Gerhard Rühm. His eightieth birthday is only one of them – the fact that he presented MUMOK with a generous gift of a number of his works from the 1950s and 1960s is another which is at least as important.

However, the most essential reason remains Rühm’s work which he developed right from the beginning in a multitude of discrete mediums as well as, and above all, as an endeavour that is consistently transmedial.
Starting from music–he is a trained pianist–via poetry to visual art, his oeuvre covers a remarkable spectrum right up to the present day.

The exhibition presents examples from Rühm’s early works which came into being in the context of the 'Wiener Gruppe' and contrasts them with those from later periods. In the process it underlines one aspect in particular that runs through the whole: the concern with the elementary, the concrete, the factual. For instance, in 'ihrer Fixierung auf Aussagen enthoben [relieved of her fixation on statements:]' the instrument of language is used as material or the pictures of silhouettes understood as factually accurate. However Rühm operates with these in a way that makes their ambivalences of meaning, as well as the potential ‘tipping over’ of possible readings into the apparently illogical, evident.

Curator: Eva Badura-Triska

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 111 comments What is MUMOK? That's a museum abbreviation I'm not familiar with.

message 10: by Heather, Moderator (last edited Apr 02, 2010 05:26PM) (new)

Heather | 5439 comments I had never heard of it before I read this article. It looks like it is a German museum?
Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien

message 11: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 5439 comments

NEW YORK (REUTERS).- For the French, it may always remind them of delicious escargot, but for most everyone else the @ symbol has come to embody the age of the Internet and its constantly evolving language. In honor of the little squiggly's potency, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York announced on Monday that it had added the @ symbol to its architecture and design collection, citing its "design power." The symbol's association with the Internet dates back to 1971 when the @ symbol appeared in the first email ever, sent by engineer Ray Tomlinson.

The @ symbol, currently used every day by millions around the world in email addresses, text messages and on, is thought to be ancient, the museum said, possibly dating back to the sixth century.

Because the symbol is not a concrete thing but an abstract idea, it has changed meaning many times in the course of its existence.

Calling it a "design act," the museum celebrated the @ sign's multiplicity of meanings, from symbolizing a dog for Russians and a cat to Finns, to becoming ubiquitous in modern email exchanges.

"The @ symbol is now part of the very fabric of life all over the world," said Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design, in a blog posted Monday on the museum's website.

"It has truly become a way of expressing society's changing technological and social relationships, expressing new forms of behavior and interaction in a new world," he said.

By adding the symbol to its collection, the museum called the move an acquisition, but the museum does not obtain ownership of the symbol -- which remains in the public realm.

"It is a momentous, elating acquisition that makes us all proud," said Antonelli, celebrating the move as a daring feat because it shows that "physical possession of an object as a requirement for an acquisition is no longer necessary."

(Reporting by Basil Katz; editing by Christine Kearney and Todd Eastham)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 111 comments Louvre Tops List of Most Visited Museums

The Louvre in Paris topped the art museum attendance numbers for 2009, with 8.5 million visitors.

Home to nearly 35,000 objects -- and a McDonalds -- the museum houses three of the most sought after art pieces: the "Mona Lisa," the "Venus de Milo," and the "Winged Victory of Samothrace."

The British Museum in London came in second with around 5.6 million visitors, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art had 4.9 million guests walk through its doors.

Although these museums normally stand proud at the top the list, other institutions with new wings have seen boosts in numbers. This includes the Art Institute of Chicago, who unveiled a Modern Wing last May and saw 450,000 more visitors.

Most Visited Art Museums in 2009

• Louvre, Paris 8.5 million
• British Museum, London 5.6 million
• Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 4.9 million
• National Gallery, London 4.8 million
• Tate Modern, London 4.7 million
• National Gallery of Art, Washington DC 4.6 million
• Centre Pompidou, Paris 3.5 million
• Musee d'Orsay, Paris 3 million
• Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid 2.8 million
• National Museum of Korea, Seoul 2.7 million

Source: The Art Newspaper

The numbers were released by the Art Newspaper, a British publication who has surveyed art museum attendance figures for 15 years.

The most visited exhibitions were also surveyed, with Japan claiming the top four slots. Tokyo National Museum's "Ashura" exhibition attracted 15,960 people per day, just ahead of Nara National Museum's "61st Annual Exhibition of Shoso-in Treasures," with 14,965 attendees per day.

"As in 2008, the average visitor-per-day statistics from Japan are staggering," said the Art Newspaper.

Further down the list are French shows, with Musee Quai Branly's "2nd Photoquai Biennale" bringing in 7,868 people per day, and Grand Palais' "Picasso and the Masters" and Centre Pompidou's "Kandinsky" attracting 7,270 and 6,553 guests a day respectively.

According to the Art Newspaper, New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a strength that is "unrivalled." In 2009, seven of the top 16 shows came from the museum. Joan Miro attracted 6,299 visitors a day, and Pipilotti Rist's "Pour Your Body Out (7345 Cubic Meters) pulled the same number of visitors.

Thanks to a street artist named Banksy, the City Museum and Art Gallery in Bristol joined the list of top-ranked exhibitions for the first time. "Banksy vs Bristol Museum," an exhibit where the illusive graffiti artist mixed over 100 of his own works amongst the museum's collection, brought in almost 4,000 visitors a day.

message 13: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 5439 comments wow! Thanks for the stats, Susanna! Very interesting.

message 14: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 5439 comments

NEW YORK (REUTERS).- One of the most valuable private art collections ever offered at auction, led by an $80 million Picasso, will be sold in May in a sign that the art market might soon flirt with the record levels seen before the financial crisis struck in 2008. The sale of more than 50 works at Christie's from the estate of Mrs. Sidney Brody, a Los Angeles philanthropist who died in November, is conservatively estimated to sell for more than $150 million. It is one of two prestigious collections being handled by Christie's. The other collection includes 100 works owned by late best-selling writer and director, Michael Crichton.

"This is one of the more remarkable collections of its kind in this country," Christopher Burge, Christie's International honorary chairman said as the works went on public display.

The star of the Brodys' modern art collection, most of which was assembled during the 1950s, is Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust," a pristine, vibrant large-scale portrait of Picasso's mistress, Marie-Therese Walter from 1932.

Pablo Picasso - "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust", 1932. Estimate $70 - $90 million Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010It was the couple's first Picasso, acquired directly from his dealer in 1951 for $19,800. It has not been seen publicly in nearly 50 years.

Christie's estimates the work will sell for about $70 million to $90 million, which would achieve one of the top prices for art at auction. Picasso's "Boy with a Pipe" sold for $104.1 million in 2004 and "Dora Maar with Cat" fetched just over $95 million in 2006.

The art world was electrified in February when a Giacometti bronze "Walking Man, I" soared to $104.3 million and rekindled hopes that prices for rarely available, top-quality works of art could potentially reach stratospheric levels.

Giacometti's "Grande tete de Diego," estimated at $25 million to $35 million, and a Matisse nude expected to sell for up to $30 million, are other highlights.

The centerpiece of the Crichton collection is one of Jasper Johns seminal "Flag" works, created from 1960 to 1966, which the best-selling author of "Jurassic Park" and creator of the hit television series "ER" acquired from the artist in 1973. He kept it in his bedroom until his death in 2008.

Crichton did not consider himself a serious collector, once writing, "I just bought images that I enjoyed looking at."

But Brett Gorvy, Christie's Americas deputy chairman, said he was "very, very knowledgeable as a collector," if extremely private and low-key about it.

Crichton was also close friends with Jasper Johns, and the iconic "Flag," one of the artist's few works to be auctioned in the past decade, is "emblematic of their relationship," Gorvy said.

Estimated at $10 million to $15 million, Christie's said it was priced conservatively in view of a still-recalibrating market. An earlier Johns flag reportedly sold for around $110 million on the private market.

The Crichton collection, which also features works by Picasso, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtensteins, is expected to sell for $50 million to $75 million, although competition for such prestigious private collections often sends prices far above expectations.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 111 comments Heather wrote: "wow! Thanks for the stats, Susanna! Very interesting."

Yeah, I was impressed not that the Louvre won, but at the margin of victory.

message 16: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 5439 comments Van Gogh painting reproduced using breakfast cereal

SMITHFIELD, UT (AP).- High school students in northern Utah have completed a 6,400-square-foot replica of Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night" out of breakfast cereal. Sky View High School teacher Doyle Geddes led more than 150 students on the project, which used two tons of colorful Malt-O-Meal spread across the gymnasium floor. The project took about a week and was completed Saturday. Crews spread a plastic sheet on the floor, then created a grid to outline the painting's famous design. Each space was assigned a color to correspond with the painting and filled with cereal.

Geddes says he wanted to find a way to better connect students with art.

The replica was taken apart later Saturday. The cereal was given to a farmer to feed pigs.

The students called their cereal art . . "Crunchy, Crunchy Night "

Information from: The Herald Journal,

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

message 17: by A. (new)

A. (almas) | 240 comments Heather wrote: "Van Gogh painting reproduced using breakfast cereal

SMITHFIELD, UT (AP).- High school students in northern Utah have completed a 6,400-square-foot replica of Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night" o..."

That must have been a wonderful project...I wonder what the students had to say.

Now I know what to do with the old dry cereal I have :)

message 18: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 5439 comments Another Painter in O’Keeffe Territory

Published: April 7, 2010
SANTA FE, N.M. — When the painter Susan Rothenberg moved to New Mexico from New York City in 1990 at the age of 45, she didn’t give a lot of thought to the parallels between herself and Georgia O’Keeffe, another woman who gained fame in New York and began spending a lot of time here at around the same age.

“We’re completely different people,” Ms. Rothenberg recently said of herself and O’Keeffe, who died at 98 in 1986. “The energy is very different.”

Like many prominent New York artists of the 1970s and ’80s, Ms. Rothenberg said, she never felt a connection to the gigantic, curvaceous flowers and floating animal skulls that made O’Keeffe one of the most popular female artists of the 20th century.


message 19: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 5439 comments New York Suit vs. Google Seeks Damages for Pictures of Art

NEW YORK, NY (AP).- Groups representing photographers and artists on Wednesday accused Internet search leader Google of copyright infringement in a lawsuit that mirrors complaints book publishers and authors have made for years about the company's attempt to create the world's largest digital library. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, seeks up to $150,000 in damages for each of tens of thousands of photographs, illustrations and graphic works that it said were copied, stored and electronically displayed without permission from copyright holders.

"Google is engaging in massive copyright infringement," claimed the lawsuit, which said Google "will continue its brazen acts of willful copyright infringement" unless stopped by the court.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc. is confident its Google Books project is compliant with U.S. and international copyright law, company spokesman Gabriel Stricker said in a statement.

"Google Books is an historic effort to make all of the knowledge contained within the world's books searchable online," the statement said. "It exposes readers to information they might not otherwise see, and it provides authors and publishers with a new way to be found."

The lawsuit adds a new wrinkle to the dispute over whether Google should be allowed to preside over and profit from the world's largest digital library. A judge in Manhattan has not ruled whether to accept a $125 million settlement of a 5-year-old lawsuit groups representing authors and publishers brought against the company.

The deal would let Google include in its library so-called orphan works — out-of-print books whose writers' could not be located — and the works of other authors who decline to opt-out of the agreement after learning about it.

The U.S. Department of Justice has said the settlement might violate antitrust laws. The deal is opposed by some Google rivals, consumer watchdogs, academic experts, literary agents and even foreign governments.

A lawyer for Google has said fewer than 10 million books of 174 million books in the world would be affected by the settlement; about half the 10 million books were out of print.

The new lawsuit said Google has scanned more than 12 million books and may eventually scan the rest of the 174 million books, along with periodicals. It said Google's plans will diminish the value of pictures and art in the books, causing the photographers and artists to lose profits and opportunities and have their reputations damaged.

The lawsuit's plaintiffs include the American Society of Media Photographers Inc., with more than 7,000 members; the Graphic Artists Guild; the Picture Archive Council of America Inc.; the North American Nature Photography Association and the Professional Photographers of America, which has more than 20,000 members in 54 countries.

message 20: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 5439 comments Sotheby's New York Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art May 5th
Written by Jasper Klugman

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s spring Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York on 5 May 2010 presents a superb offering of works by a range of artists including Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Feininger, and Modigliani. Many come from esteemed private collections and estates and are fresh to the market. Prior to the auction, works from both the Evening and Day Sales will be exhibited at Sotheby’s New York galleries beginning 30 April 2010. Highlights will also be exhibited at Sotheby’s London 15-16 and 19-20 April.

Modern Women
Representations of female beauty feature prominently among the sale highlights. Pablo Picasso’s Femme au Grand Chapeau, Buste, 1965, (est. $8/12 million)* is inspired by Jacqueline Roque, the last love of his life, who he married in 1961. Though Jacqueline never posed formally as her husband’s model, her essence permeates his later work. The love that Picasso felt for his wife is reflected in the passionate vitality and excitement radiating from the work. The present picture belonged to the collector Patricia Kennedy Lawford (1924-2006), the sixth of nine children of Joseph and Rose Kennedy and sister to President John F. Kennedy. Mrs. Lawford visited Picasso at his studio in the late 1960s and was immediately captivated by the present work. She arranged to purchase the picture through Picasso’s dealer, and it remained in her collection until her death.

Kees Van Dongen’s Jeune Fille au Chapeau Fleuri, painted 1907-09, will also be featured (est. $4.5/6.5 million). As is characteristic of his best Fauvist work, van Dongen makes use of sharp tonal shifts, such as the bright clusters of flowers that contrast beautifully against her stark wardrobe. Femme au Chapeau de Roses, circa 1910-1911, (est. $2/3 million) is a further striking example of Kees van Dongen’s early work. The plunging lace neckline of the sitter’s black dress and the flowers garnishing her wide-brimmed hat exemplify the daring stylization for which the artist was renowned. His elegant portraits became coveted status symbols among the grandes dames of Paris.

Amedeo Modigliani’s beautiful Jeanne Hébuterne au Collier has not appeared at auction in nearly 70 years (est. $8/12 million). Painted in 1916-17 at the beginning of their relationship, the work is believed to be the very first portrait of Modigliani’s future wife and muse, Jeanne Hébuterne. By the time he started depicting Jeanne, the artist had developed his mature style, and his portraits of her from the last three years of his life are among his greatest masterpieces, including the world record ($31.4 million) achieved by Sotheby’s New York in 2004. Modigliani’s portraits of Jeanne are rich with emotional and psychological content; here he balances with rich, thick impasto with soft tones, underscoring the tenderness and passion he felt for the sitter.

Other Highlights
The Evening Sale will also feature Henri Matisse’s spectacular Bouquet pour le 14 Juillet 1919, the artist’s emotional celebration of the first Bastille Day following World War I (est. $18/25 million). This work also heralds the fresh and colorful style that would define Matisse’s career from 1919 onward, and signals the artist’s renewed sense of optimism following one of the most troubling periods of his career. The large and ambitious masterpiece (45 1/2 x 35 in, 116 x 89 cm) was presented by the artist to his dealers Bernheim-Jeune shortly after its completion and it remained in Bernheim’s family collection until it was sold at auction in France in the early 1980s. At that time, the picture achieved a record price, and since then, it has been in the same private collection for over a quarter of a century.

Painted in 1890, Claude Monet’s Effet de printemps à Giverny (est. $10/15 million) is a work of superlative quality, representing the pinnacle of the artist’s Impressionist style. The picture exemplifies the artist’s life-long commitment to painting en plein air, exploring the effects of weather conditions and light at different times of the day on the surrounding landscape. Though discreetly painted in the present work, stacks of grain would become the subject of one of Monet’s best-known series over the following years. His series paintings – culminating in the seminal water lilies series – are now among the most celebrated works of Impressionist art, and are often considered the finest compositions of the artist’s oeuvre.

Expressionist Power
Among the Expressionist highlights is Lyonel Feininger’s spectacular Der rote Geiger (The Red Fiddler) of 1934, which comes directly from the collection of the family of the artist (est. $5/7 million). In Der rote Geiger, Feininger revisits a subject he first depicted over two decades earlier. His return to the subject of the fiddler is not surprising: Feininger was the son of a concert violinist and was an able player himself. Painted in Germany on the brink of the defining crisis of the 20th century, Der rote Geiger is more than a depiction of the artist’s passion for music. For the artist, the character is a symbol of defiance and resilience in the face of crushing opposition. This picture marks the first time the fiddler appeared in Feininger’s oils, and it is also the only oil painting completed by the artist outside of his studio while visiting the Baltic village of Deep during his summer holidays in the 1930s Wassily Kandinsky’s Vertiefte Regung (Deepened Impulse) (est. $4.5/6.5 million) has been in private hands for over seventy years. Vertiefte Regung is Kandinsky’s resonant meditation on the celestial beauty of circles. Painted in 1928 while he taught at the Bauhaus design school in Dessau, the picture embodies the aesthetic theories Kandinsky promoted to his students. Circles dominated his most meaningful compositions during this key period of his career. The appearance of Vertiefte Regung (Deepened Impulse) on the market in New York is timely given the recent landmark Kandinsky retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Defining Form
The Evening Sale also contains great examples of sculpture. An exceptionally rare lifetime cast of perhaps the most celebrated sculpture of all time, Auguste Rodin’s Le Penseur (conceived 1880-81) (est. $4/6 million), will also be offered. Created in the same scale as his original clay model, this bronze bears a beautifully modulated patina that was probably applied by the artist’s preferred patineur, Jean-François Limet. A cast of the same size, date and foundry is in the Musée Rodin, Paris.

In Tête de Femme (est. $1.8/2.5 million), Picasso applies one of his signature line drawings of his wife Jacqueline’s facial features to a three-dimensional image by rendering it on a piece of cut and folded sheet metal. By 1961 when he executed the present work, Picasso had become skillful and comfortable with soldering and manipulating metals, and his limits with the medium knew no bounds.

Isamu Noguchi’s sensual Undine (Nadja) (est. $600/900,000) is one of the first figural sculptures by the American artist, who is known primarily for his post-war abstractions. The present sculpture is the only bronze to have been made from Noguchi’s original 1926 plaster form, which has since been destroyed. One of a kind, this unique bronze has been largely unknown for nearly a century and sheds new light on the young sculptor’s talents in the months before beginning his apprenticeship with Constantin Brancusi at the end of the 1920s

Surrealist Masters
Dalí’s windswept landscape of distant figures on a desolate beach in Spectre du Soir sur la Plage (est. $4/6 million) conveys a vulnerability and menacing solitude that characterizes the artist’s moist poignant compositions. The setting is the beach at Rosas on the Costa Brava, where Dalí spent many summers as a child. Painted in 1935 during the most important period of his career, the present work exemplifies the artist’s genius for representing the potency of people, places and events long forgotten.

Joan Miró’s impressive Personnages dans un Paysage, 1973 (est. $3/4 million), painted in the last decade of the artist’s life, is an exceptional example of abstraction at its most daring. Although no figurative elements of a traditional landscape are visible, the artist only evokes the properties of this genre though the mossy green, sky blue and sunny yellow of his palette. This extraordinarily colorful composition remained in Miró’s collection until the end of his life and was kept by his heirs. As was the case for most of these late works, the artist competed the picture in his studio in Palma de Mallorca, where the warm Mediterranean sunlight and invigorating sea air enlivened his desire to paint bold and exuberant oils.

message 21: by Monica (last edited Apr 15, 2010 07:55AM) (new)

Monica | 928 comments Thinking of the @ sign in Heather's post #11,
here's another sign at 59th Street.

message 22: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1291 comments A new kind of web-based collections catalog is now currently being developed by The Art Institute of Chicago.

message 23: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1211 comments Ruth wrote: "A new kind of web-based collections catalog is now currently being developed by The Art Institute of Chicago."

Thanks Ruth -- many American artists that I do not know . . .

message 24: by Monica (new)

Monica | 928 comments Hi Ruth,

Ditto from me.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 111 comments King Tut is back in New York: . Not at the Met, this time, but at the Discovery Times Square Exposition.

message 26: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1211 comments ‘Degenerate Art’ Database Shows 21,000 Works Seized by Nazis
By Catherine Hickley

April 21 (Bloomberg) -- Berlin’s Free University will today go live with an Internet database documenting the fate of more than 21,000 artworks condemned as “degenerate” by the Nazis and seized from German museums in 1937.

The Web site, the result of eight years of research by art historians at the university, includes works by Franz Marc, Emil Nolde, Otto Dix, Marc Chagall, Max Beckmann, Wassily Kandinsky and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. It gives details of the museums they were seized from and their current location, in cases where it is known and where the work wasn’t destroyed.

“We are hoping that this will yield more information about the fate of some of the art, perhaps from private collections and archives,” Meike Hoffmann, one of the scholars involved in the project, told a news conference in Berlin yesterday. “We also want to draw attention to and document the wonderful collections of modern art the German museums had in the 1930s.”

As well as looting hundreds of thousands of artworks from private Jewish collectors, the Nazis seized thousands of modern works from German museums. Their aim was to rid the museums of art they saw as contrary to Aryan ideals, and instead promote regime-approved artists such as the sculptor Arno Breker.

In 1937, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels staged the exhibition “Degenerate Art,” which first opened in Munich, where it attracted more than 2 million people before moving on to other German and Austrian cities. Paintings were hung crowded together, some with no frames, alongside racist slogans denigrating the artists for “insulting German womanhood” and revealing “sick minds.”

Restitution Claims

The museums who owned the art before World War II have no legal recourse to claim the works because a Nazi law allowing their seizure without compensation has never been repealed. Still, some works in the database were owned by private collectors who had loaned them to museums and whose heirs are still trying to get them restituted.

One such example is Paul Klee’s “Sumpflegende” (Swamp Legend), which was seized from Hanover’s Provinzialmuseum. The mayor of Munich, which acquired the painting in 1982, has until now refused to return it to the heirs of the prewar owner, Sophie Lissitzky-Kueppers.

Andreas Hueneke, the founder of the Free University project, began researching the fate of “degenerate” artworks almost 40 years ago from the files of Goebbels’s Propaganda Ministry. Yet only the first part of the inventory of seized works was available, covering museums from Aachen to Greifswald. The second part -- Hagen to Zwickau -- resurfaced only in the late 1990s in London, where a complete inventory had been bequeathed to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The Free University plans to open an English version of the Web site in the coming weeks.
The site’s address is:

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 111 comments Very interesting. Thanks for posting that one.

message 28: by Monica (new)

Monica | 928 comments The English part of the site isn't working so it's lost on me.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 111 comments I interpreted "plans to open" as they plan on an English-version site but haven't finished it quite yet.

message 30: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1211 comments Tate Modern is celebrating it's 10th birthday!

Director Nicholas Serota answered questions from the "art world" and then asked their readers the following question:

If you were a work of art, which one would you be and why?

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Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1211 comments Duchamp Outperforms at Christie’s Prints Sale
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Marcel Duchamp's "Boite-en-valise" (Series G) earned $92,000, beating its $50–70,000 high estimate.

By Andrew Russeth
NEW YORK— Casts, collections, and lithographs by Marcel Duchamp ran away with Christie’s two-day prints and multiples auction earlier this week, with seven out of eight of the conceptual master's works on offer being snatched up above their high estimates in the $8.06 million sale. The overall sale, which also featured important prints by Munch and Picasso, notched up a respectable 87 percent sell-through rate.

But the pieces by the highly influential "readymade" artist were by far the auction's stars. "There was an interesting selection of Duchamp's work, and that generated some momentum," Tudor Davies, vice president of Christie's New York print department, told ARTINFO. "We saw some bidders that we hadn't seen in years."

The highest-estimated work on offer was a late edition of Duchamp’s de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy — more commonly known as the Boîte-en-Valise (“The Box in a Valise”) — which contains 80 replicas of works from throughout his career. Completed after his death by his widow Teeny Duchamp, the box, one of 300 made, had been expected to earn $50–70,000 but ended up commanding $92,500.

An edition of the artist’s Boîte verte (“The green box”) sold for $35,000 (with the buyer’s premium), exceeding its $15–25,000 estimate. Numbered 21 out of an edition of 300, the work contains 94 notes for his unfinished masterpiece, The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), which is in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Some lesser works within Duchamp's oeuvre also fetched strong figures in the sale, with two editions of his 1964 Bouche-Evier (Sink Stopper) — cast from the drain of his bath in Cadaqués, Spain — selling well, a silver version (est. $3,000-5,000) earning $10,000 and a bronze one (est. $2,500-3,500) drawing $9,000.

A set of 12 Rotoreliefs, six double-sided lithographs that generate optical illusions when spinning, also performed well — despite a catalogue note that mentioned “occasional stains and scuffs” — bringing in $25,000 on an estimate of $15–20,000.

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Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1211 comments FUN WITH FEATHERS AND BONES
"DEAD OR ALIVE" opens at the Museum of Arts and Design, NYC

Kate MccGwire’s “Discharge,” made of feathers.

By Karen Rosenberg/ New York Times
Published: April 29, 2010

Combine some of the materials in “Dead or Alive” at the Museum of Arts and Design, and you’d have a potent witch’s brew. A single piece by Tessa Farmer, for instance, makes use of a ram skull, a mummified frog and bat, bladderwort, hedgehog spikes, weasel skulls, a spider web and sections of a wasp’s nest. (Another sinister-sounding substance, volcanic ash, delayed the piece’s installation; it will be up by Tuesday.)

Yet the show is more playful than macabre. In essence “Dead or Alive” updates the wunderkammer, the encyclopedic curiosity cabinet that dates from the 16th century, for lovers of contemporary art and design.

Instead of insects under glass, you’ll see Fabian Peña’s collages of cockroach-wing fragments. And in lieu of taxidermied birds, there’s Susie MacMurray’s cave of rooster feathers. As for botanical specimens, Xu Bing’s landscape “drawing” — actually an arrangement of dried leaves and flowers behind a translucent screen — is a more than passable substitute.

Among the other materials on view are mouse skeletons, silkworm cocoons, kelp, emu feathers and fast-food chicken bones. This being the Museum of Arts and Design, however, few works have the visceral, stomach-turning presence of, say, the cow bones scrubbed clean by Marina Abramovic or Damien Hirst’s vitrines of rotting animals.

There is a work by Mr. Hirst in the show, one of his butterfly paintings: a gorgeous but tame arrangement of blue wings, evoking stained glass. Most of the artists in “Dead or Alive” use organic matter in safe and conventional ways.

One convention that’s normally tiresome is the obsessive gathering and reworking of small objects into a large, often abstract form. Yet in “Dead or Alive” this practice results in some stunning design objects. An overhead light fixture by Ango Design clusters some 12,000 silkworm cocoons on a wire matrix; the silk filaments diffuse the light beautifully. Just as delicate and labor-intensive are the dandelion puffs glued, seed by seed, to LED lights (by the team of Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta).

The same detail-oriented approach works well in a section of wearable art, by Nick Cave, Sanford Biggers and Maria Fernanda Cardoso. Mr. Cave’s “Soundsuits,” hooded garments designed to make a ruckus as the user moves, are well known; the example here is covered with twigs and looks something like a woolly mammoth coat. But the standout is Ms. Cardoso, a Colombian-born artist who works in Australia and makes delicate capes out of emu feathers on fiberglass netting.

Other works succeed because the artists don’t let the original source of the materials dictate the art’s form. Claire Morgan arranges bluebottle flies in the form of a grid, rather than a swarm, by stringing them on lengths of transparent thread. And Kate MccGwire shapes pigeon feathers into a giant arc that creates the illusion of spouting water.

A division between hunters and gatherers starts to emerge, one that’s further detailed in a catalog essay by the museum’s chief curator, David Revere McFadden. Some of the gatherers actually use edible materials: the shellacked anchovies in Tracy Heneberger’s “Moon”; the herbs and spices in Helen Altman’s fragrant “Spice Skulls.”

Lucia Madriz’s “Gold Fever,” a bit of agitprop made of rice, beans and corn kernels, bears the message “Modified Seed/Contaminated Food.” Meanwhile Tanja Smeets’s ceiling installation of red lentils suspended in knotted pantyhose doesn’t seem to have much to say about consumption; it does suggest that Ms. Smeets has been looking, maybe too closely, at the work of Ernesto Neto.

Notable hunters include Tim Hawkinson, who fashions a prehistoric tool or weapon by joining concave pieces of eggshell, and Christy Rupp, who assembles skeletons of extinct birds from enough fast-food chicken bones to have fed a football team.

It’s harder to envision Shen Shaomin’s “Sagittarius,” which combines human and animal bones, in a natural history museum. Likewise Billie Grace Lynn’s “Mad Cow Motorcycle,” a bovine skeleton attached to a motorized bicycle frame. (It comes with a helmet designed to look like upside-down udders.) In an accompanying video the artist rides the bike around the streets of Miami, stopping to talk to naturally inquisitive passers-by.

Organized by a team of museum staff members — Mr. McFadden, the curator Lowery Sims and the assistant curator Elizabeth Edwards Kirrane — “Dead or Alive” has more depth than some of the museum’s previous group shows. The artists come from all over the world, and only a handful are big names on the level of Mr. Hirst or Mr. Hawkinson.

And while the art is made of things that are no longer living, the show is certainly lively. Almost everything in it will arouse some kind of curiosity, whether material, scientific or historic. The 16th-century wunderkammer, it seems, is an excellent model for a 21st-century art and design museum.

“Dead or Alive” continues through Oct. 24 at the Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle; (212) 299-7777,

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Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1211 comments MEDIEVAL REMNANTS OF THE JEWS IN SPAIN

Uneasy Communion at the museum of Biblical Art includes “St. Helena Interrogating Judas,” painted during the Inquisition.

By Ken Johnson /New York Times

Trick question: What world-changing event happened in 1492 involving Queen Isabella of Spain? If you answered, “The Jews were expelled from Spain by edict of the queen and her husband, Ferdinand II,” you probably have an uncommonly high history I.Q. You probably also know that Isabella and Ferdinand had started the Spanish Inquisition 14 years earlier in an effort to ferret out Jews who had ostensibly converted to Christianity but continued to practice Judaism in secret.

These events are telling historical markers in the background of an exhibition at the Museum of Biblical Art, near Lincoln Center, addressing a topic that was not explored much — or even widely thought to exist — until about 20 years ago: Jewish participation in the Spanish visual arts in the two centuries prior to the expulsion.

Organized by Vivian B. Mann, director of the master’s program in Jewish art at the Graduate School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, “Uneasy Communion: Jews, Christians and the Altarpieces of Medieval Spain” represents a momentous turn in scholarly thought about Spanish art, and it sheds light on a fascinating chapter in the history of the Jewish diaspora.

Though it’s not a blockbuster, there are some impressive works among the 32 objects on view. They range from a near-mural-scale assemblage of panels — called a retablo — depicting in detail scenes from the life of the Virgin by Pere Espalargues to a paperback-book-size illuminated manuscript version of “Guide for the Perplexed” by the Jewish philosopher Maimonides.

The exhibition’s purpose is historical rather than aesthetic, however. Its contents are offered mainly as evidence of Jewish contributions to Spanish art and, more broadly, for what they tell us about Jewish life in general in late medieval Spain.

It is a complicated topic, and you cannot fully appreciate the show without reading the catalog essays. For starters, the historian Thomas F. Glick explains that contrary to popular belief, Jews were not isolated from the rest of society and beholden only to Talmudic law. The situation that prevailed has been called “la convivencia” — a multicultural, more or less peaceful commingling of Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Jews lived in separate communities, but there were many Jewish converts to Christianity (“conversos”), and there was a great deal of interaction between Jews and the larger community along legal, economic, scholarly, scientific and artistic lines. There were pogroms and other terrible acts of prejudice against Jews, but anti-Semitism was precipitated partly because Jews seemed to their persecutors to be disproportionately successful in their dealings with the Christian world.

While nothing in the exhibition has been attributed to a known Jewish artist, Ms. Mann points out in her essay that contracts between patrons and artists prove that Jewish artists produced works for Christian as well as Jewish consumption. Evident awareness of particular Judaic customs in some paintings in the show, she contends, suggests that practicing Jews or conversos probably were involved in the workshops that produced them. For example, an early-15th-century painting by an unknown artist illustrating the boy Jesus impressing the doctors in a synagogue accurately represents what the interior of a medieval synagogue looked like. (On the other hand, there were Christians who took a more-than-casual interest in Jewish culture, so it is hard to say what such visual evidence really demonstrates beyond appearances.)

The dark side is visible in many paintings too. A large, extraordinarily dramatic panel painting called “St. Helena Interrogating Judas,” by Miguel Jiménez and Martín Bernat around 1485-87, just a few years before the expulsion, depicts a legendary scene in which St. Helen questions a kneeling and weeping Jewish man who is believed to know where the true cross of Jesus is buried. This supposedly happened a thousand years earlier, but the luxurious clothing styles of St. Helen and others who crowd the picture are contemporary; the unfortunate detainee wears a dark cloak as per governmental regulations of the time. Ms. Mann notes that this updating of an old legend would have been understood as an allusion to the Inquisition.

If parsing old paintings for signs of Jewish life sounds a little pedantic, then you must read the catalog essay by Marcus B. Burke, the curator of paintings, drawings and metalwork at the Hispanic Society of America in New York. Mr. Burke writes that awareness of Jewish contributions to Spanish culture was suppressed until recently by deeply persistent anti-Semitism.

In the 20th century the officially Roman Catholic Franco regime discouraged interest in Spain’s Jewish heritage. (In fact, the Edict of Expulsion was not formally revoked until 1968.) Coincidentally, the Modernist approach to art history demanded a connoisseurial focus on style and form without regard for the sorts of social and political aspects that art historians today commonly study. Conventional wisdom even up to the early 1980s was that Jews had no consequential influence on Christian painting in medieval Spain.

The “sea change,” notes Mr. Burke, came in 1992 when the Jewish Museum mounted “Convivencia” at the New-York Historical Society, an exhibition for which Ms. Mann was a curator, that explored Jewish contributions to all the arts in medieval Spain. Now, he observes, papers on Jewish topics are regularly delivered at conferences on medieval Spanish art.

As researchers continue to uncover evidence of Jewish involvement in Spanish culture and society, we may pause to consider one of those huge, historical what-ifs: Suppose the Inquisition had fizzled, and the 200,000 Jews who were expelled from Spain and its territories had been allowed to remain and prosper?

“Uneasy Communion: Jews, Christians and the Altarpieces of Medieval Spain” is on view through May 30 at the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway, at 61st Street; (212) 408-1500;

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Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1211 comments ART REVIEW: OAKLAND MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA
After a $58-million renovation, the museum demonstrates that the
Northern v. Southern California divide lives on.

by Christopher Knight/Los Angeles Times

When the Oakland Museum of California unveiled its sprawling and distinctive new building for art, history and natural sciences 41 years ago -- a terraced, walled-garden structure that became an instant national landmark -- a review in The Times opened with this observation: "The '60s saw Los Angeles firmly established as California's art capital." The review made the point that although L.A. had the most challenging new art, institutionally, the Bay Area was on a roll. Though true, the comment also implied the long-standing rivalry between the state's northern and southern precincts.

Closed 28 months ago for a $58-million renovation and reinstallation, the museum reopens its art and history galleries Saturday. (The reconditioned natural sciences galleries are scheduled to open in 2012.) A nice touch: In keeping with its 1969 genesis as a "museum for the people," the public debut precedes the high-ticket patron gala by a week.

And that north-south divide? It remains much in evidence today.

Although painting, sculpture, photography, video and other art from around the state is installed throughout most of the 30,000-square feet of newly refurbished permanent collection galleries, the museum's location seems an inescapable guiding principle. For art, it's the Oakland Museum of Mostly Northern California, Plus Some Detours Down South.

Thomas Hill's great painting, "Yosemite Valley" (1876) dominates the first room, its monumental size matching that of the dewy, light-filled natural void depicted in the famous landscape. It was painted for the main parlor of San Francisco's luxurious, then-new Palace Hotel. Destroyed in the fire following the 1906 quake, the hotel was reputed to be the largest of its kind in the world. So the big painting, building and landscape together spoke of Gold Rush-driven abundance.

Nearby, Barry McGee's lively wall-size mural is ruled by a skewed, syncopated, multicolored checkerboard-pattern, dotted with drawn faces and caricatures. It juxtaposes the low-down energy of contemporary urban street art to Hill's romantic vision of natural paradise, as contemplated from the comfort of a gilded settee. The long arc of the state's cultural shift from idealized rural splendor to the rough-and-tumble of cosmopolitan city life is neatly encompassed by strong works from a 19th century British American artist and a current Chinese American artist -- both San Franciscans.

The collection has some long-standing strengths. Nineteenth century painting is one. The important Dorothea Lange archive, encompassing some 25,000 negatives and 6,000 photographic prints -- not least "Migrant Mother," her iconic 1936 image of Depression-era strength and despair -- is another.

So is Bay Area Figurative painting of the 1950s -- especially David Park, Elmer Bischoff and Joan Brown -- and abstractions by Mark Rothko, Sonia Gechtoff, Frank Lobdell and others. These provide welcome context for six fine paintings and five works on paper by Richard Diebenkorn, encompassing virtually every figurative and abstract style in which he worked between 1949 and 1978. But John McLaughlin, whose 1950s hard-edge abstractions are L.A.'s (and arguably California's) first major Modernist paintings, is missing in action.

The collection is installed thematically, with just a very loose chronology. Main selections along a central spine focus on California and its "People," "Landscape" and "Creativity." Think people, places and things.

Exactly what is meant by "creativity" isn't clear in an art museum context, though, since surely it applies throughout. Here it's attached to the early 20th century American Craftsman movement and late 20th century studio crafts -- ceramics, glass, woodworking, etc. -- with a nearby nod to 1960s Finish Fetish art. (John McCracken's luscious 1967 slab of lacquered lavender color, "Love in Italian," leans nonchalantly against a wall, the sexiest work in the building; a cigarette would dangle from its lips, if it had them.) "Creativity" would benefit from updating with the functional aesthetics of such top-notch, current artists as Jim Isermann, Jorge Pardo, Pae White and Andrea Zittel.

Sub-themes such as the Gold Rush and the counterculture, plus temporary exhibition spaces, branch off at the sides. For the inaugural, the most compelling is a small show of 14 works on paper and one small tempera self-portrait by Miné Okubo (1912-2001), a Japanese American artist born in Riverside who worked with muralist Diego Rivera at the Golden Gate International Exposition. The Japanese internment after Pearl Harbor ended all that.

The selection of Okubo's work shows her skillful, youthful experiments in Cubism; Rivera's profound influence, in her simultaneously modern and ancient 1940 self-portrait; and, after internment, her stark, sometimes melancholic documentation of routine life in the camps. In a marvelous bit of installation design, trenchant quotations are printed on opposing walls.

"I am not bitter," says Okubo, who moved to New York after the war. "I hope that things can be learned from this tragic episode, for I believe it could happen again."

Opposite is this claim: "The President's authority to detain enemy combatants, including U.S. citizens, is based on his constitutional authority as Commander in Chief." It's signed by John C. Yoo, Bush administration deputy assistant attorney general, and refers to the Guantanamo prison camp. In a grimly ironic twist, Yoo now teaches at UC Berkeley, the school from which Okubo graduated with a master's degree in 1936.

This sort of subtle, questioning installation packs a visceral punch. The museum has attempted to introduce similarly pointed interactivity throughout, but it doesn't always work.

A self-portrait sketching station that transmits your handiwork to a video screen among museum portraits is gimmicky. Easy chairs facing a terrific Albert Bierstadt Yosemite landscape is a welcome place to sit (happily, there is lots of seating in the galleries), but the set-up recalls a home theater; the effect is heightened by stereo headphones, which I had to remove when a soothing voice suggested I take a deep breath, exhale slowly and sink into the painting's glow.

The toughest problem is the same one the museum has always faced: Rather than rooms, architect Kevin Roche originally designed a huge, open-plan space, which can be subdivided by temporary, free-standing walls. Flexibility was a 1960s mantra. But most of the art, whether an 1851 easel painting of a rosy-cheeked fire captain by William Smith Jewett, a muscular 1950s ceramic vessel by Peter Voulkos or Depression-era automotive photographs of a Hollywood drive-in diner by John Gutmann or Golden Gate bridge-workers by Peter Stackpole, were meant to be looked at inside discrete spaces. The vast, subdivided interior often feels chopped up and cluttered, distracting from intimate art encounters.

Roche's awkward concrete walls have been covered with drywall, sometimes with punches of color, which helps. So do two new galleries enclosed from what used to be outdoor sculpture patios, adding 4,800-square-feet of welcome indoor space. (San Francisco's Mark Cavagnero and Associates was the project architect.) Lighted from clerestory windows, these handsome rooms -- conventional post-1960s galleries -- offer considerable promise.

Photos: Joan Brown, "Portrait of Carolyn Singer," 1971, enamel on Masonite; Robert Arneson, "Wolf Head," 1989, bronze bust of Jackson Pollock on wood plinth; Trevor Paglen, "Nine Reconnaissance Satellites Over Sonora Pass," 2008, time-lapse photograph, Credit: Terry Carroll; Facade of the Oakland Museum of California with a new, stainless steel entry canopy by Mark Cavagnero and Associates, Credit: Tim Griffith; Refurbished galleries inside the 1969 Kevin Roche building, Credit: Tim Griffith.

message 35: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 5439 comments Cleaners Paint Over Priceless Graffiti Stencil of a Rat by Banksy

CANBERRA (REUTERS).- An Australian council is rueing a decision to send street cleaners into a Melbourne lane after they painted over a priceless stencil of a rat by the celebrated British graffiti artist Banksy. Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley last week sent a clean-up team into Hosier Lane, renowned internationally for its colorful street art, to clean up garbage in the graffiti-lined passage after local residents complained. In 2008, a London wall bearing one of his stencils was said to have sold on eBay for almost $500,000.

But the request went awry when the cleaners painted over a Banksy stencil of a rat hanging underneath a parachute and adorning the wall of an old council building. "Unfortunately the contractors were not made aware by us that that was an important piece. It is the nature of graffiti art. It's very vulnerable to other people's work," Council chief executive Kathy Alexander told local radio.

The reclusive Banksy, who is regarded as one of the world's top street artists, painted several stencils in Melbourne during a 2003 visit. His satirical and distinctive art is often directed at anti-war, cultural and anti-capitalist themes.

Banksy in 2005 painted nine images on Israel's West Bank barrier, including a ladder going over the wall and an image of children breaking through to a tropical island.

It is not the first time Banksy's art has been fouled in Melbourne. Vandals created another outcry in 2008 when they poured paint over the artist's stencil of a diver in an old-fashioned helmet and wearing a trenchcoat.

That work was afterwards protected by a sheet of clear perspex, although vandals struck again and poured silver paint behind the barrier, tagging it with the words "Banksy woz ere."

Alexander said the city council would rush through retrospective permits to protect other famous or significant artworks in Australia's second-largest city.

"In hindsight, we should have acted sooner to formally approve and protect all known Banksy works," she said.

(Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

message 36: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1211 comments ALL THE PICASSOS IN THE CUPBOARD
There are some knockouts in this show, but it reveals how stodgy and lopsided the Met’s Picasso collection is.

When in doubt, haul the Picassos out. There have already been several such haulings-out this year, and now comes the biggest of all, “Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” a display of nearly every scrap in the Met’s scrappy Picasso collection: 34 paintings, 58 drawings, a dozen sculptures and ceramics, along with 200 of the museum’s 400 prints.

In terms of logistics, homegrown is great. Low overhead. No frets about loans held up by volcanoes. Even fairly ambitious shows can be short-order jobs. This one was just a year in the planning, which is nothing in museum time.

Also, the instant availability of all the art allows for concentrated study. And the show’s curators — Gary Tinterow and Susan Alyson Stein of the Met’s department of 19th-century, Modern and contemporary art — took full advantage of this with a sweeping conservation campaign. Virtually every Picasso piece was given the equivalent of a complete physical, and the exams revealed fascinating things, detailed in the catalog: preparatory drawing, underpainting, compositional rethinking and material recycling invisible to the unassisted eye.

The problem is the collection itself, which, despite some knockout items, is stodgy and almost bizarrely lopsided.

The Met has a history of dragging its feet with new art. It began acquiring Picasso only late in the game, and even then it didn’t come up with the idea on its own. Out of the blue in 1947 Gertrude Stein got the ball rolling when she gave the museum its first Picasso, the portrait he had painted of her in Paris between 1905 and 1906.

What arrived thereafter, again largely as gifts, tended to be conservative. While the Museum of Modern Art was wolfing down audacious helpings of Cubism, the Met was content with a tasting menu of early Blue Period, Rose Period and neo-Classical fare. But at least it got good stuff in these areas. So the show, arranged chronologically, begins with some flair. It also introduces the basic metabolism of the career that would follow: tame high polish, followed by brain-rattling innovation, followed by a retreat to safety before the next revolution.

Picasso was well aware of his immense talent. He knew that he was equipped to be, and at some level longed to be, Ingres all over again; his hand and his eye were that fine, his love of the past that strong. But if there really is some stray molecule in the brain that produces a chronic rebel, he had it. So he spent a lifetime deliberately not being Ingres, or Cézanne, or Praxiteles, all the while casting a loving eye in their direction.

In 1900, at the age of 19 in Barcelona, he’s already a restless wizard of forms and lines, evident in a set of tiny ink portraits he did of artist friends. Most of the likenesses verge on caricature, though one sitter has a dark, brooding masher’s allure: it’s a self-portrait. Picasso, even in youth, wasn’t the cool dreamboat type. He was a jumpy 5-foot-4 blast furnace. Even during downtime the pilot light was on high.

But there was hardly any downtime. By 1901 he was in Madrid, then in Paris, adding pinches of Goya to Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec and his other gods of the moment. This wasn’t a happy time. Girlfriends came and went. A friend committed suicide. Money was scarce. The future looked bleak. He was reduced to painting pornography on commission, or that’s one possible explanation for the painting called “Erotic Scene,” which came to the Met in 1982 but has not been shown till now and for good reason. It’s lousy.

Still, it’s a product of what is now an exceptionally popular phase in his work, the Blue Period, which lasted from 1901 to 1904, when his own just-scraping-by existence made him responsive to the plight of the poor. Beggars, laborers and prostitutes, famished and bent over as if under crushing weight, were his subjects. His version of social realism was, of course, Romantic and unspecific. With their subaqueous palette, these paintings seem to luxuriate in a kind of cosmic depression, the way we do in adolescence, when we’re living on caffeine, dreams and nerves. “Seated Harlequin,” painted when Picasso was 20, catches the mood. The androgynous, pensive theatrical figure sitting alone in a cafe, could be the artist himself.

Although Picasso began to replace blue with pink and beggars with clowns, the air of melancholy persisted until the summer of 1906 when, with his lover Fernande Olivier, he left Paris for a stay in the Spanish Pyrenees. His color changed again, to earthen browns and grays. His figures, now often nude, bulked up but with the kind of carved, compartmentalized naturalism that would lead to the Stein portrait and beyond it to Cubism.

Cubism was his mold-shattering rebel moment, and a collaborative one, shared with Georges Braque. The leap it represented, however assiduously trained for, is given to few artists to make. It basically redefined Western concepts of space, time, art, beauty, high, low, good, bad — the works. Too bad that it’s exactly at this point that the Met’s Picasso collection starts to break down, and the show to lose steam.

This is not to say there aren’t wonderful things; there are, from the 1910 charcoal drawing called “Standing Female Nude,” with its near-abstract stack of brackets and shelves, to the radically anti-virtuosic newsprint collages of 1912. Yet this intense, difficult moment of invention, when Picasso was fighting every grandstanding, people-pleasing instinct in him, is disconcertingly underrepresented at the Met and outweighed by the backward-looking neo-Classical work that he churned out after World War I.

“Standing Female Nude,” a 1910 charcoal drawing by Picasso.

A familiar example, “Woman in White,” got some press in the 1990s after scholars proposed that its sitter was not, as assumed, Picasso’s Russian wife, Olga Khokhlova, but the free-spirited American Sara Murphy. Intrigue! Hidden passions! An affair? The story of Picasso’s art and the explanation for what makes it tick is often told in terms of the women in his life. And although this simplistic approach has long since grown tired, it’s the one we are invited to pursue at the Met.

So we move from a 1927 portrait of the jealous, jilted Olga as an enormous screaming mouth, to another, from 1932, of the teenage Marie-Thérèse Walter as a slumberous, pinheaded blimp, to a third, dated 1939, of Dora Maar — “the only one of Picasso’s lovers who was his match in mind and temperament,” according to the catalog — as a grinning, pulled-apart doll. By contrast, Stein remains, in her portrait, recognizably, monumentally herself, possibly because Picasso — who had a hard time with the picture — couldn’t turn her into an extension of his own ego.

“Dora Maar in an Armchair,” 1939.

To his credit he was fully conscious of that ego and able to call the shots on it in a myriad of direct or oblique self-portraits, as heartthrob, harlequin, minotaur, big-deal artist, classical god and, in the years before his death in 1973, pint-size musketeer. Most of these characters turn up in the show’s final room, a salon-style hanging of prints as exhausting to take in as it must have been to install.

Massed together, the prints give a fair idea of why this artist is the awesome and exasperating presence he is and why his work can look exhaustibly inventive from one perspective and like occupational therapy from another. From the Met’s prints you can grasp both views, but from its Picasso collection as a whole, so off-kilter and mild, no.

In the long run the museum is doing a smart thing by going public with its deficiencies. The results make for a disappointing exhibition, but they also serve as an open call to collectors to pony up with gifts, fill in those blanks, be another Gertrude Stein. If the ploy works, maybe the next time the museum hauls out its Picassos, it will have not just a popular hit, which this show is sure to be, but also a great event.

“Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art” remains on view through Aug. 1 at the Met;

(By Holland Cotter/The New York Times)

message 37: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) I have got to say that Picasso truly had some colorful artwork, even when he was in his Blue phases, there is something so captivating to the eye whenever I see some of his works, although before he went to his last pieces, some of his earlier works were good as well, that is what I am learning from being in this group. You all are amazing with your wealth of knowledge, and it is almost like taking an adult ed class for me. Thanks.

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