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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Government art collection: What the minister saw

BBC Radio 4's What the Minister Saw
By Giles Edwards Producer

New cabinet ministers face many crucial decisions when they start their job.

Appointing key staff and deciding on priorities for the department are usually top of the list.

But within their first few weeks, they will also be asked to make another, much more personal decisions - about what art to hang on their office walls.

Ministers have access to the vaults of the Government Art Collection.

They can choose from beautiful and valuable works from 16th Century portraits of Elizabeth I to contemporary works by Howard Hodgkin and Grayson Perry.

But before they become ministers, many do not even know about this perk of high office: Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne had no idea.

But their choices can be immensely revealing and in BBC Radio 4's What the Minister Saw we speak to Mr Huhne and two other cabinet ministers about their choices - and what their taste in art says about them.

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth I hangs in Ken Clarke's office

'Rather marvellous'

Ministers' private offices are their inner sanctums, and what they choose to hang there can say a great deal about them, their personal preferences and how they see themselves.

Chris Huhne has among the most up-to-date taste in government.

Everything on his walls is modern, and some works are quite strikingly abstract.

Some have seen it as a political statement, but he does not.

"This building has recently been re-vamped and it's very white, very bare walls," he says, "and I thought actually it needed a bit of colour, and therefore modernist painting would be exactly what would be required to liven the place up a bit… I don't think it says anything about me."

But he does find the works he has chosen therapeutic, and makes a strong case for the importance of art.

"It gives me a great pleasure actually to see these pictures when I come in in the morning, and they are, I think, rather marvellous. I think that it's a good idea to have an environment where you can think and do things, and I think that art does help in that sense because it is one of the most distinguishing features of any society is its art."

'Difficult problem'

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is, in many ways, the polar opposite of Chris Huhne.

As a member of every Conservative administration since 1974, he is deeply experienced in government.

His office is dominated by two Tudor portraits - of Elizabeth I and of her chief adviser, Lord Burghley.

Chris Huhne thinks modernist art 'adds a bit of colour' to his office

These pictures convey power and authority: What might they say to a visitor to Mr Clarke's office?

"Not that I'm reproducing the slightly dictatorial nature of Elizabethan government, I trust," he jokes.

"I really do think Queen Elizabeth was one of our most spectacularly successful monarchs. She was totally dependent on Burghley her Lord Treasurer for most of the time.

"He was a man of affairs, he was a man of government, a man of business and actually he was damn good at it."

It is hard not to be struck by the implicit comparisons there - perhaps Burghley is someone to look up to?

Ken Clarke laughs again.

"It's a marvellous thought that when I'm facing a difficult problem I gaze in front of my desk and think 'now what would Lord Burghley have done', but I don't think what Lord Burghley would have done would go down with the House of Commons, so I have to live in modern politics and admire a bit of history on the wall."

Departmental heroes

For International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, office walls are an opportunity to push the work of his department.

Among the pieces on display are paintings of Disraeli, Pitt the Elder and the Duke of Wellington. It looks like Mr Mitchell might be a political junkie, but he demurs.

"These are the pictures which I selected, which mean something to me and which I think mean something to the mission which is behind all the work that the department for international development is doing."

He explains that in the 19th Century Disraeli, who he reveres, pointed out the gap between the rich and the poor in Britain, and says that that remains relevant for the work of his department in dealing with poverty around the world.

But then he points to a picture immediately above Disraeli, of another nineteenth century prime minister, one who is not normally a fixture on the walls of Conservative ministers.

"We've coalitionised the office because above Disraeli is a photograph of a very austere Gladstone, who of course was the champion of free trade, something which is incredibly important if the poorest parts of the world are to lift themselves out of poverty," he explains.

It seems art can serve any number of different political purposes.

message 2: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments I think art can definitely determine one's personality not only in higher offices of authority, but on the walls of the general public as well.

This article pinpoints certain individuals and speaks of their taste in art relating to their professions or their lifestyle. What does other people's choice of art say to you? What does your own choice in art reveal about yourself?

message 3: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments What hangs on my walls is pretty eclectic.

message 4: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments I have many paintings up but only one I purchased. (The others are by my daughter and I.) So the art on our walls indicates a lack of finances (in order to purchase paintings we desire) and not being able to sell our own work!

message 5: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments MoMA Presents ' Color Chart: Reinventing Color ~ 1950 to Today '

NEW YORK CITY - The first major MoMA exhibition devoted to this pivotal transformation, Color Chart will feature some 90 works of art—including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, digital art, videos, and films—by 44 artists, primarily ranging in date from the 1950s to the present. Several site-specific installations and commissions for the exhibition will be installed in the sixth-floor galleries and the Museum’s lobby. The exhibition, which is organized by Ann Temkin, The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Curator of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, is on view from March 2 through May 12, 2008, in The Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Gallery, sixth floor, and other locations in the Museum.

Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today takes as its point of departure the commercial color chart, an item that openly attests to the status of paint as mass-produced and standardized. Midway through the twentieth century, long-held convictions regarding the spiritual aspects and scientific properties of color gave way to an acceptance and embrace of color as a commercial product. At the same time, many artists rejected traditional artistic pedagogy about the relationships between colors and instead adopted aesthetic approaches that relied on chance, readymade sources, or arbitrary systems.

Color Chart opens with Tu m’ (1918), Marcel Duchamp’s final painting, which features a cascade of lozenge-shaped color samples inspired by a paint manufacturer’s catalog. In the few years before he painted this work, Duchamp had broken ground with his invention of the readymade; with Tu m’, he set the stage for the interpretation of color itself as readymade. This notion would become a widespread artistic preoccupation three decades later.

The exhibition examines two separate but related meanings of readymade color: color as store-bought rather than hand-mixed, divorced from an artist’s subjective taste or decisions; and color found and appropriated from everyday life—fluorescent bulbs, car color, or computer color, for example. Says Ms. Temkin, “The color chart sensibility that began to spread among artists in the middle of the twentieth century was very much tied to a rhetoric that favored the democratization of the realm of fine art. The reference point for these artists was to be ordinary life, industrial or consumer culture, rather than a transcendent realm apart. They positioned themselves and their work not as an elite fraternity but as a part of the real world—as exemplified by the blunt utilitarianism of the housepainter’s color chart.”

Color Chart unites works by artists rarely considered together in the canon of contemporary art, bringing them into dialogue through provocative and revelatory juxtapositions. The exhibition includes pivotal masterpieces by such internationally renowned artists as Gerhard Richter, whose 31-foot-long Ten Large Color Panels (1966–71/72), never before exhibited in the United States, will be on view. Color Chart also explores lesser-known dimensions of the work of great artists such as Andy Warhol, John Chamberlain, and Sherrie Levine. Finally, the exhibition introduces American audiences to work by artists who have remained unfamiliar in the United States despite great success in Europe, such as Giulio Paolini, André Cadere, and François Morellet.

Damien Hirst’s spot painting, John, John (1988), is painted directly onto a wall, in keeping with Hirst’s original conception for this series of works. Daniel Buren has created silk vests in five different colors of his signature stripes to be worn by the Museum’s security guards. Works by Niele Toroni, Sol LeWitt, and Lawrence Weiner are all being newly created or recreated for this exhibition. ZOBOP! (2006) by Jim Lambie, a multicolor floor installation made of vinyl tape, will be on view in the Museum’s Agnes Gund Garden Lobby.

message 6: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments I really love the colors of Sol LeWitt:

But I also appreciate the color that past artists brought to the table. Like Matisse...

The Red Room (Harmony in Red)
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Still Life with Flowers
114 x 87 cm.
Museum Flokway, Essen

The Riverbank
146 x 11 cm.
OffentlicheKunstewmmlung, Basel

message 7: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Can't afford a Picasso? How about owning a piece of one?
Heidi N Moore, New York Times

As the prices of major artworks zoom, niche money managers are developing 'art funds' with the hope that their underlying works of art — and shares — will appreciate in value. And art experts are nervous as these funds bear similarities to asset-backed securities and derivatives that got such a
bad name in the financial crisis.

Last year, auctions set records. Bidders paid $106.5 million for a Picasso, $104.3 million for a Giacometti, $89.5 million for a Qianlong vase and $11.5 million for a rare Audubon book.

Financial firms are looking to capitalise on that interest, and claim returns can run as high 20%.

The field, with $300 million in assets, is small but growing. In Paris, the Art Exchange has plans to publicly list at least six pieces and sell shares to investors. The Russian asset management firm Leader — controlled by close associates of Vladimir V. Putin — created two art-related investments. Last summer, Russia passed regulations to allow art to be turned into securities, the second to do so after India.

The idea is simple: a few big investors put up money to help a money manager buy paintings. Smaller investors buy ownership units, whose values are tied to the underlying art. For the privilege, they pay fees.

When investors want to cash out, they have to trade the stakes — just as early owners of Facebook have sold some shares on secondary exchanges.

The idea could spread beyond high net-worth individuals with an appetite for risk. A case in point: art research firm Skate's recently offered an iPad application for art enthusiasts to research their favorite pieces.

message 8: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Elusive Forger, Giving but Never Stealing

by Randy Kennedy

A painting Mark A. Landis donated to Hilliard University Art Museum as a Charles Courtney Curran.

His real name is Mark A. Landis, and he is a lifelong painter and former gallery owner. But when he paid a visit to the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum in Lafayette, La., last September, he seemed more like a character sprung from a Southern Gothic novel.

He arrived in a big red Cadillac and introduced himself as Father Arthur Scott. Mark Tullos Jr., the museum’s director, remembers that he was dressed “in black slacks, a black jacket, a black shirt with the clerical collar and he was wearing a Jesuit pin on his lapel.” Partly because he was a man of the cloth and partly because he was bearing a generous gift — a small painting by the American Impressionist Charles Courtney Curran, which he said he wanted to donate in memory of his mother, a Lafayette native — it was difficult not to take him at his word, Mr. Tullos said.

The painting, unframed and wrapped in cellophane, looked like the real thing, with a faded label on the verso from a long-defunct gallery in Manhattan. Father Scott offered to pay for a good frame and hinted that more paintings and perhaps some money might come the museum’s way from his family. But when the Hilliard’s director of development chatted with Father Scott about the church and his acquaintances in deeply Roman Catholic southern Louisiana, the man grew nervous. “He said, ‘Well, I travel a lot,’ ” Mr. Tullos recalled. “ ‘I go and solve problems for the church.’ ”

Mr. Landis

Mr. Landis — often under his own name, though more recently as Father Scott or as a collector named Steven Gardiner — has indeed done a lot of traveling over the past two decades, but not for the church. He has been one of the most prolific forgers American museums have encountered in years, writing, calling and presenting himself at their doors, where he tells well-concocted stories about his family’s collection and donates small, expertly faked works, sometimes in honor of nonexistent relatives.

Unlike most forgers, he does not seem to be in it for the money, but for a kind of satisfaction at seeing his works accepted as authentic. He takes nothing more in return for them than an occasional lunch or a few tchotchkes from the gift shop. He turns down tax write-off forms, and it’s unclear whether he has broken any laws. But his activities have nonetheless cost museums, which have had to pay for analysis of the works, for research to figure out if more of his fakes are hiding in their collections and for legal advice. (The Hilliard said it discovered the forgery within hours, using a microscope to find a printed template beneath the paint.)

In the weeks since an article in The Art Newspaper first revealed the scope of the forgeries, museums and their lawyers have been trying to locate Mr. Landis, who was never easy to find in the first place because he often provided bogus addresses and phone numbers. But now he seems to have disappeared altogether. His last known attempt to pass off a forgery occurred in mid-November, when he presented himself, again as Father Arthur Scott, at the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, bearing a French Academic drawing.

“It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever come across,” said Matthew Leininger, the director of museum services at the Cincinnati Art Museum, who first met Mr. Landis in 2007 when Mr. Leininger was the registrar at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and Mr. Landis offered to donate several works under his own name.

In the years since, Mr. Leininger has appointed himself as a kind of Javert to Mr. Landis’s Valjean. He maintains a database of all known contacts with Mr. Landis, sightings of him and works he has copied. (He tends to favor lesser-known artists but occasionally tries his hand at a Picasso, a Watteau or a Daumier.) Mr. Leininger circulates by e-mail a picture taken of Mr. Landis in 2008 by the Louisiana State University Museum of Art, and he uses a dry-erase marker to update a laminated map in his office.

The first donation Mr. Leininger has been able to find was to the New Orleans Museum of Art in 1987. He has charted Mr. Landis’s travels to 19 states and his contacts, either in person or by phone or letter, with more than 40 museums since then, including large institutions like the National Portrait Gallery in Washington and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Not all of the museums have accepted Mr. Landis’s donations, but many have, and some have displayed them as authentic works. While some examine donations as a matter of course, others did so only after growing suspicious of Mr. Landis. The St. Louis University Museum of Art still lists his donations on its Web site but describes them as in the “manner of” Stanislas Lepine and Paul Signac, not as works by the artists.


message 9: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments Curiouser and curiouser.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 112 comments Very interesting!

message 11: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments When Pictures Leap to Other Screens

by Edward Rothstein
New York Times

Museum of the Moving Image: Gregory Barsamian’s “Feral Fount,” a moving sculpture whose pieces become an animation under stroboscopic lighting, is part of the permanent exhibition “Behind the Screen.”

“Why have a Museum of the Moving Image at all?” is the question that readily comes to mind before visiting the new, improved, expanded incarnation of this venerable institution in Astoria, Queens, which reopens its doors on Saturday after a $67 million face-lift that might even put Hollywood cosmeticians to shame.

Yes, the fact that the Marx Brothers’ antics and Rudolph Valentino’s gaze were committed to celluloid by Paramount Pictures in this building makes a certain claim on cinematic attention. And yes, the museum’s screenings have given it much cachet with cinéastes. And sure, the making and marketing of movies are enterprises that in their importance and engrossing details deserve the kind of full-scale treatment they get here. But that would make it a museum of cinema — a very different thing.

Why “moving image”? Why keep enlarging that subject the way the museum’s founding director, Rochelle Slovin, did in opening the institution in 1988, stirring television, video games, video artwork and digital imaging into the mix?

And with this latest expansion of the museum’s size to nearly 100,000 square feet, its doubling of classroom facilities to host 60,000 students a year, its new 68-seat screening room and 267-seat theater (which during the next six weeks of celebrations will present newly restored film classics and contemporary movies), the institution’s wide-angle view is even more fully embraced. The museum, housed in a building owned by the city, which supplied nearly $55 million of the renovation costs, also has large public ambitions for its vision.

“Augmented Sculpture” by Pablo Valbuena, one of six installations in “Real Virtuality.”

You can get some sense of why the “moving image” might be a revealing subject if you begin your explorations on the third floor, mounting the stairs that the architect Thomas Leeser has clad in a cool white that, like most of the new surfaces, seems to invoke the unbounded possibilities of screens and projector beams. You arrive in an enormous, darkened gallery devoted to a temporary exhibition, “Real Virtuality.”

It contains just six installations described as “experiments in art and interactive technology.” In “Realtime Unreal,” created by Thomas Soetens and Kora Van den Bulcke of Workspace Unlimited, an enormous, brilliantly lighted screen divides the space, displaying images of rooms in the museum.

Kora Van den Bulcke walks around her exhibit “RealTime UnReal.”

Everything is familiar: you have just passed through those galleries. But everything is also slightly skewed. Move toward the screen, and things become stranger still. Sensors and a network of computers transform the screen image, based on where you stand and how you move. You maneuver within an ever-shifting space.

You can explore, manipulate and experiment while trying to get some sense of that world’s lineaments, the real and unreal intermingling. As you walk around the screen, the room swoops and collapses, melting into a different gallery on the screen’s other side, as if you had passed through a warp in space.

Spectators watch on the sidelines and wait, their ghostly images appearing in the distant reaches of the screen image. You seem to be inside an alternative multidimensional world. You are supposed to wear 3-D glasses; they had not yet arrived when I visited, but the conception is so strong, I was immersed in it.

Martha Colburn’s “Dolls and Dictators.”

This “hybrid space” must have been a guiding light for the show’s curator, Carl Goodman, who will succeed Ms. Slovin as director after she retires in February. And it gives a glimpse of how the institution might evolve. The show’s subject, we learn, is not “virtual reality” — the notion that you could become an actor in an artificial space — but something more intricate, an intermingling of the real and virtual: “real virtuality.”

In “Into the Forest,” by OpenEnded Group, you wear 3-D glasses and watch yourself in a dreamlike woods of slow-moving figures. Bill Viola’s installation “The Night Journey” is a slow-motion screen sojourn guided by a video-game controller, meant to suggest a spiritual journey. And reality also becomes strangely unreal in Pablo Valbuena’s “Augmented Sculpture” as geometrically precise light beams pass over an array of rectangular structures, darkness and illumination transforming our sense of space.

There really is a thrill to these experiments. You are amazed at the technology while being entranced by the effects. The video game’s hectic pace turns contemplative. And you begin to understand the museum’s preoccupation.

A still image can seem fairly commonplace; that is how the world has been portrayed for millenniums. But it is also artificial; stillness is rarely discerned in daily life. Moving images, though the familiar substance of experience, have only been created in recent centuries. They seem more real than still images, but are more artificial in themselves, even unsettling; they resemble experience but seem divorced from it, even supplanting it. And while a still image proclaims permanence, a moving image is evanescent. Whatever the medium, it also has unusual power to affect perceptions and inspire amazement.

When entering the 15,000-square-foot permanent exhibition in the museum’s older section, called “Behind the Screen” and devoted to the history of the moving image (a show reworked by its original designer, A C Hocek Architecture), keep that feeling in mind. It can’t be that different from the one 19th-century viewers must have had looking at the antique spinning contraptions on display here that first brought still images to life. The names evoke arcane, ancient mysteries: the thaumatrope, the phenakistoscope, the zoetrope. Pass down a corridor of pioneering 20th-century movie and television equipment with another roster of plump names (orthicon, Plumbicon, iconoscope), and you begin to see how strange and demanding the creation of a moving image is.

Fifteen interactive displays allow exploration of that still-evolving project. In one, you wear headphones and watch, say, Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like It Hot,” or Jack Black in “School of Rock.” Computer screens coach you as you dub your voice over the star’s, whimsically upsetting the familiar. In another display you can select a scene from “Vertigo” and replace Bernard Herrmann’s urgent score with something by Bizet.

The lesson, again and again, is how much artifice and calculation goes into realism. You see a life-size dummy of Linda Blair, used to portray her rotating head in “The Exorcist.” And in much of the exhibition’s second part (where things can devolve into fanzine material) you see the makeup trays that help freeze the moving image into something more enduring: the star. Elizabeth Taylor’s wig from “Cleopatra” is here; so is Meryl Streep’s from “Sophie’s Choice.” Winona Ryder’s injured (prosthetic) legs from “Black Swan” are displayed; so is Dustin Hoffman’s aged arm from “Little Big Man.”

And then there are scores of souvenirs and tie-ins, a “Howdy Doody Show” game, a Grace Kelly coloring book, a Batman lunchbox — still-image reminders of the moving-image experience. You can even walk into a terrific mock-Egyptian movie palace, created for the museum in 1988 by Red Grooms and Lysiane Luong, and watch vintage serials.

Some displays will interest only fans, and there are larger issues the museum could have addressed: examining how television transformed the movies (and vice versa), or exploring how video games transformed both, or showing the kinds of political power moving images have wielded. That subject is reserved for the museum’s Web exhibition, “The Living Room Candidate,” which explores the television commercials of presidential campaigns since 1952.

The museum also never really integrates its cinematic entrancements with other video enterprises. A split literally divides the building, the video art in the new, the core historical exhibition in the old; you can almost feel the architectural boundaries as you move between them. And the museum’s high-profile tributes to film stars over the years rely on the very glamour being disassembled in some displays.

But the pleasures are considerable. Since the institution’s founding Ms. Slovin has managed to preserve it from political pressures, academic posing and commercial interests; the result is sober, playful, stimulating, informative. And with its new space and exhibition, it is also clear that the museum’s long-term ambition is to avoid becoming a static or still image of its subject. It may shift focus; it could be hard to pin down. But if it manages to amaze and unsettle as well, it will continue to live up to its name.

message 12: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Jeff Koons bites back at 'copies' of balloon dog

By Guy Adams in Los Angeles
The Independent

[image error]
Jeff Koons with his work Balloon Dog

How much is that doggy in the window? If it's a shiny sculpture by the artist Jeff Koons, then they start at $7,000 [£4,400]; if it's a plastic bookend produced by Toronto manufacturer Imm-Living and sold in a San Francisco art gallery you're looking at a mere $30 [£19]. And therein lies a snowballing legal dispute.

Lawyers representing Koons filed cease-and-desist letters against the two firms before Christmas, claiming that their cheap bookends, which come in the shape of the dogs traditionally made from balloons by children's entertainers, were illegal copies of the pop artist's famous sculptures.

News of the lawsuit sparked a mixture of outrage and mirth. Outrage because the intellectual property claim means that Koons is trying to claim copyright over every balloon dog; and mirth because it smacks of hypocrisy.

Koons is, after all, one of the art world's most famous creative magpies (he has been sued for copyright violation four times, losing three of the cases). Almost all of his most famous work reappropriates items that were originally designed by someone else, such as inflatable toys, porcelain ornaments and gaudy greetings cards.

The owners of the San Francisco gallery, Park Life, have duly hit back at the expensive legal team assembled by Koons, filing their own, somewhat surreal, lawsuit in federal court this week. It seeks a summary judgement stating that it is impossible for anyone to copyright the canine shape.

"As virtually any clown can attest, no one owns the idea of making a balloon dog, and the shape created by twisting a balloon into a dog-like form is part of the public domain," says Park Life's counter-lawsuit. It notes that there are important differences between the bookends and the sculptures. For instance, theirs come only in matt colours; his are always shiny.

message 13: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Art dealers enjoyed 'one of the greatest years ever' in 2010

Ben Hoyle
The Australian

A man stands between Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (right) and Matisse's Nu au coussin bleu before they were auctions bey Christie's in April.

ANDY Warhol once remarked that he liked "money on the wall".

"Say you were going to buy a $200,000 painting," he said. "I think you should take that money, tie it up and hang it on the wall. Then, when someone visited you, the first thing they would see is the money on the wall."

Warhol's satirical notion of art as showstopping status symbol may just have reached a new peak, however, to judge by the record-breaking picture of last year's art market that emerged yesterday.

While economies crashed and governments slashed spending, an unprecedented number of incredibly wealthy people all over the world were effectively taking Warhol at his word. What they actually hung on their walls and stood in their rooms were Picassos, Modiglianis and Giacomettis but, at the mind-bending prices that they paid for them, the effect was almost the same as if they had displayed a bunch of dollar bills, or more pertinently a bunch of Chinese yuan.

Their spending spree meant that Christie's, the world's largest auction house, announced yesterday sales of £3.3 billion ($5.3bn) last year, a jump of 53 per cent on its 2009 performance and the highest total in the company's 245-year history.

Its chief rival, Sotheby's, will not announce its results until next month but its auction total, not including private sales, is $US4.3 billion ($4.33bn), a full $US2 billion more than last year.

Bill Ruprecht, president and chief executive officer of Sotheby's, called it an "outstanding year" and celebrated "the largest year-to-year increase ever for any auction house".

Steven P. Murphy, his opposite number at Christie's International, said that it was "one of the greatest years ever for Christie's and the art market".

Beneath the two behemoths, Bonhams, which does not declare its results, trumpeted its best year since 2000, and two Chinese auction houses threatened to usurp its third-place ranking in the global pecking order.

It is an extraordinary turnaround from the gloom that flooded the art market in late 2008 and 2009, when the supply of masterpieces for sale came close to drying up altogether.

Thierry Ehrmann, the chief executive of the data organisation Artprice, said last year that in 2009 "the art market narrowly avoided a complete meltdown". But vendors regained confidence as it became clear that there was an undiminished number of tycoons who would rather invest in art than in stocks or currency.

The rebound began at the end of 2009 but caught fire in London last February when a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti, the Swiss artist, set a new world record for a work of art at auction, selling for more than £65 million at Sotheby's. Three months later Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust broke the record when it fetched $US106 million at Christie's in New York. The major sales at the end of the year were also strong and both auction houses are optimistic that their London sales of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art next month can continue the upward trend.

Their confidence is based on the growing geographical diversity of high-rolling collectors, notably the Chinese, who have become leading players at all levels of the market in the past two years.

Sales of Asian art are now the third biggest category in Christie's portfolio (at £569.6 million), and Chinese collectors' appetite for their cultural heritage is being felt at auction houses across the country, most notably at Bainbridge's in Ruislip, northwest London, where a Chinese vase sold for £43 million in November. And with the expansion of Chinese buying into other areas, Hong Kong has become the centre of the world fine wine market.

Jussi Pylkkanen, the president of Christie's Europe, said last night that Chinese collectors "are coming to the market with a new sensibility and a slightly different taste but with really deep pockets. The Chinese have already changed the market for Picasso and Monet by adding competition."

message 14: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Here's another one I found interesting...

Man (In This Case, Picasso) Paints Dog

The New York Times

A plate depicting the photographer David Douglas Duncan’s dog Lump, as painted by Picasso.

When forgotten Picassos aren’t turning up in the most unlikely places, they’re depicting the most unlikely subjects. A piece of dinnerware he painted on and gave to the photojournalist David Douglas Duncan, which Mr. Duncan has donated to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, may not compare to the cache of nearly 300 works that a French electrician says he was given by Picasso’s second wife. But the plate is noteworthy for what it depicts: a dachshund named Lump, owned by Mr. Duncan in the 1950s.

The Harry Ransom Center said on Wednesday that the plate was decorated by Picasso for Mr. Duncan at Picasso’s Villa La Californie in Cannes, France, on April 19, 1957 (and provided photographs of Picasso at work to corroborate the story). Mr. Duncan brought Lump to Picasso’s villa, and over lunch Picasso asked if the dog had ever had his own plate. When Mr. Duncan said no, Picasso picked up a nearby brush and proceeded to paint Lump on the plate Picasso had been eating from.

Picasso in the process of immortalizing a dog on his lunch plate.

The plate will be displayed at the Harry Ransom Center starting Tuesday as part of its exhibition “Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century.” The center said that similar plates bearing Picasso’s handiwork had sold for up to $90,000, though it has no plans to sell its latest donation.

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