Art Lovers discussion

Art Lovers News Corner > February 2011

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Egypt's Treasures: Assessing the Damage

Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi
Discovery News

Concern about Egypt’s priceless antiquities continues to grow, and Egyptologists around the world are issuing high-alert statements about the risk of Egyptian antiquities being smuggled abroad.

“It would be a wonderful gesture if people who are in the antiquity business do not buy any Egyptian artifact at the moment, particularly if they look Old Kingdom antiquities or if they appear to come from the Memphite Necropolis of the New Kingdom,” Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, told Discovery News in a phone interview from Cairo.

According to Ikram, a leading expert on animal mummies, the Egyptian National Museum is safe at the moment, thanks to the Egyptian people who have bravely defended their national treasures.

“The people and the army are united and helping one another. The people are doing astonishing things, taking responsibility for the maintenance of the areas themselves,” Ikram said.

Meanwhile, holding together on social networks, the Egyptologist’s community is trying to assess the damage at the Egyptian National Museum by scrutinizing the footage shot just after looters broke into the building on Friday.

Watching the footage, experts have been able to produce a map of the museum rooms where looting and vandalism took place, showing that the attack occurred on three sides.

Egypt's Tombs, Temples Under Siege

According to a faxed statement by Zahi Hawass, who on Monday has been appointed Minister of State Antiquities in the new government named by President Hosni Mubarak, 13 Late Period cases where smashed, and several antiquities were thrown on the floor.

“Then the criminals went to the King Tutankhamun galleries. Thank God they opened only one case! The criminals found a statue of the king on a panther, broke it, and threw it on the floor,” Hawass said.

He added that all of the antiquities that were damaged can be restored.

Some experts fear that the Late Period cases mentioned by Hawass, and not shown in the footage, could belong to the collection of precious jewels and gold known as the Treasure of Tanis.

“So far it’s only speculation. As for the items shown in the footage, some objects are very difficult to identify because of the poor quality of the images combined with the fact that they don't appear to be ‘unique’ objects,” Margaret Maitland, a doctoral candidate in Egyptology at the University of Oxford, told Discovery.

In her blog, Maitland has identified several damaged objects, including a large wooden boat from the tomb of Meseti at Asyut.
Interview with Dr. Ikram

Dating to approximately 2000 B.C., the over 4,000-year-old artifact is one of the largest model boats in existence.

“A figure shown in the footage, kneeling and armless, also appears to be from the model boat. Other objects appear to be a smashed shabti figurine, a bronze statuette of the Apis bull, a travertine calcite (alabaster) vessel, faience jewelry, and a faience hippo figurine from Lisht,” Maitland said.

Much mystery remains around the beheaded mummies.

Tut Family Mummies Damaged in Riots?

Speculation has arisen that they could belong to Yuya and Tjuya, which recent DNA tests identified as King Tut's great-grandparents.

“These were the only two mummies that were easily accessible. However, I have not been able to see the damaged mummies, so I can’t make any statement at the moment,” Ikram said.

Speculation about King Tut’s great-grandparents losing their heads in the Egyptian revolution abounded because of the the gilded, open-work cartonnage case shown on the museum floor on Al Jazeera footage.

“We know that it belonged to Tjuya,” said Maitland.

But according to Egyptologist Aidan Dodson at the University of Bristol, U.K., the gold mummy-cover was not actually on Tjuya’s body any more, and both mummies were inside their coffins.

“A picture of a damaged mummy, with a her head lying on the floor and bones scattered around, is circulating on the internet, but identification is difficult, although it's unlikely it belongs to Tjuya,” Maitland said.

According to Swiss anatomist and paleopathologist Frank Rühli, the mummy's violation is intolerable from an ethical point of view.

“The damage also appear to be very serious," Rühli, head of the Swiss Mummy Project at the University of Zurich and one of the world's top mummy experts, told Discovery News.

message 2: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Antiquities Chief Says Sites Are Largely Secure

by Kate Taylor
New York Times

A vast majority of Egypt’s museums and archaeological sites are secure and have not been looted, Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s chief antiquities official, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. He also rejected comparisons between the current situation in Egypt and scenes of chaos and discord that resulted in the destruction of artifacts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“People are asking me, ‘Do you think Egypt will be like Afghanistan?’ ” he said. “And I say, ‘No, Egyptians are different — they love me because I protect antiquities.’ ”

Soldiers secured the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on Monday. Last week, would-be looters broke in and damaged some items.

Mr. Hawass, who has never been shy about promoting his work, described two episodes of looting that he said took place Friday night.

At the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, thieves looking for gold broke 70 objects, including two sculptures of Tutankhamen, and took two skulls from a research lab before being stopped as they were leaving the museum. Mr. Hawass said that they had first been caught by civilians, who fought the thieves until soldiers arrived and detained them. He said that the damaged objects could all be restored.

In the second episode, he said, armed Bedouins looted a storage site on the Sinai Peninsula, where objects were being stored for a future museum, and took six boxes. But Mr. Hawass said that after he made statements on television and radio demanding the objects’ return and warning the thieves that they would not be able to sell them, 288 objects were left in the street on Tuesday morning and recovered by the police. He said he would not know until a review was completed how many objects in all had been taken.

In Saqqara, site of the oldest pyramid in Egypt and a number of important tombs, padlocks on the tombs were broken but nothing was taken, Mr. Hawass said. He said that other sites, including the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, the pyramids of Giza, and all of Egypt’s other museums were safe, and credited not only the army but also average Egyptians, who he said had helped guards protect cultural sites.

“They stood with sticks” along with guards and antiquities inspectors, he said. “They stood in front of outlaws, and they stopped any theft.”

As Egypt’s chief archaeologist, Mr. Hawass has made the return of Egypt’s cultural patrimony his priority. He has called on Germany, for instance, to return the bust of Nefertiti that is in the Neues Museum in Berlin, and on Britain to return the Rosetta Stone.

Mr. Hawass, whose previous title was chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Culture, was promoted on Monday to a position in the cabinet of President Hosni Mubarak as minister of antiquities. He said that the government had responded to protesters’ demands and that now people should be patient.

“They should give us the opportunity to change things, and if nothing happens they can march again,” he said. “But you can’t bring in a new president now, in this time. We need Mubarak to stay and make the transition.”

message 3: by Monica (new)

Monica | 909 comments I had a wonderful trip to Port Said, Cairo and several of the main Egyptian sights, winding up in Alexandria. Our guide was brilliant. I'm only sad I was not able to tape him in the Egyptian museum in Cairo. Mubarak does not get it. If any country needs democracy, Egypt is one!

message 4: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Dispute Derails Art Loans From Russia

The New York Times

Several paintings from Gauguin’s Tahitian period will probably be missing from a major exhibition of his work at the National Gallery of Art in Washington when it opens this month, as will a canvas in that museum’s coming show on the Venetian painter Canaletto and his rivals. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art a small but important exhibition of Cézanne’s famous card player paintings, opening next week, will almost surely be short one.

“The Reception of the French Ambassador Jacques-Vincent Languet, Comte de Gergy, at the Doge’s Palace,” by Canaletto, is one of the works that is subject to the ban on loans.

These and other probable absences from blockbuster shows this year stem from an obscure legal dispute that has turned into a full-scale diplomatic feud between the United States and Russia.

State-run Russian museums, including the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, are canceling long-scheduled loans to American institutions in response to a decision by an American judge in a case involving Jewish religious documents held by Russia.

The ban is highly unusual. For decades international loans have been the lifeblood of large and lucrative shows, and exchanges between American and Russian institutions have been common. The Met alone has borrowed works from Russian institutions for about 40 shows since 1990. But now, like the National Gallery, it is scrambling to fill holes in heavily promoted exhibitions.

“The Smoker” (1890-92) by Cézanne, a painting that was to be lent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a new show.

“We are all caught up in a political situation that is not of our making,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director of the Met.

Diplomats in Washington and Moscow have been seeking to negotiate an agreement to pave the way for the loans but have so far been unsuccessful.

The legal dispute centers on the so-called Schneerson Library, a collection of 12,000 books and 50,000 religious documents assembled by the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement over two centuries prior to World War II, and kept since in Russia.

For decades the Chabad organization, which is based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has been trying to regain possession of the library, saying that it was illegally held by the Soviet authorities after the war.

In 1991 a court in Moscow ordered the library turned over to the Chabad organization; the Soviet Union then collapsed, and the judgment was set aside by the Russian authorities. The Russian government now says it wants to preserve the library for Russian Jews and scholars.

In recent years the organization has taken its case to court in the United States, and on July 30, 2010, Royce C. Lamberth, a federal judge of the United States District Court in Washington, ruled in favor of the Chabad organization, ordering Russia to turn over all Schneerson documents held at the Russian State Library, the Russian State Military Archive and elsewhere.

Russian officials, saying that an American court had no jurisdiction, had refused to participate in the proceedings. And after Judge Lamberth’s decision, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced it as a violation of international law. The ministry said an American court had no right to get involved in a case concerning Russian assets on Russian soil.

Russian cultural officials reacted more slowly, but by autumn they began warning Russia’s state-controlled museums that any artwork lent to the United States was at risk of being seized by the American authorities to force Russia to abide by the decision.

In an interview on Monday a lawyer for the Chabad organization confirmed that it might ask a court to confiscate art from Russia as a kind of legal hostage.

American diplomats have sought in recent weeks to convince the Russian government that under American law art from Russian museums on loan in the United States was immune from seizure. But Russian officials have remained unconvinced and say they want more legal assurances before the loans resume.

The dispute seems to have touched a nerve in Moscow, where the authorities have been highly sensitive since Soviet times to what they perceive as meddling in their internal affairs by other governments.

“This collection in the Russian Library has never left the borders of Russia,” the culture minister, Aleksandr Avdeyev, said in January on the Echo of Moscow radio station. “It is located here legally, and we are the owners.”

“We have undertaken all the judicial requirements to explain to the court and to the American community group that the issue, my friends, is international law, rather than domestic American law,” Mr. Avdeyev said. “Under international law there is state jurisdiction, and if you want to sue, fine, sue us on Russian territory.”

David Siefkin, a spokesman for the United States Embassy in Moscow, said American diplomats believed that an arrangement could be worked out to allow for the art exchanges.


message 5: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Gehry's $875 Million Tower Ripples Over Lower Manhattan: James S. Russell

By James S. Russell

The exterior of 8 Spruce Street. The building was designed by Frank Gehry. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

At 8 Spruce Street, just east of City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan, I stared up at a 76-story wall of stainless-steel panels and bay windows that rippled and curled like a zipper run amok.

No mysterious force sideswiped the walls. Los Angeles Architect Frank Gehry, 81, designed the 903-unit rental apartment building that way. At 870 feet, it is by a nose New York’s tallest residential building.

The lobby of 8 Spruce Street in New York. The building was designed by Frank Gehry. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

Developer Forest City Ratner Cos., notorious for the controversial Atlantic Yards megaproject (where Gehry was once the architect), will start signing leases this month on the first completed apartments. The topmost apartments won’t be ready until 2012.

In contrast to the dumb, boxy towers clad in murky glass that have defaced New York City’s skyline during the past decade, Gehry has produced a gawky beauty that captures the open-ended energy of the city. It fascinates rather than ravishes.

An apartment at 8 Spruce Street. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

I moved a good distance back, gazing at that glittering rumpled surface from the Brooklyn Bridge. In the stretched wedding-cake profile I see a bit of Rockefeller Center romance struggling to get out. Gehry slims the tower so that it frames the surroundings rather than obliterating them.

The building is most powerful close up, where its draping creases evoke veins pulsing beneath the smooth surface -- a cockeyed echo of nearby 19th-century facades covered with pistoning columns and muscular cornice brackets. The surface has a willful strangeness in the mold of the Barcelona mystic Antoni Gaudi.

An apartment at 8 Spruce Street. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

School of Blandness

The tower rises from a chunky new five-story orange-brick public elementary school of utter blandness that deserved more architectural energy. It will open next fall.

The school was part of a complex development deal orchestrated by the New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Gehry designed and Forest City Ratner built the shell of the school. The architect Swanke Hayden Connell is fitting out the $65 million interior. The great height is thanks to air rights sold by the adjacent Downtown Hospital.

The tower was financed when markets were crashing and at one time it looked as if it would rise only 38 stories. Its $875 million cost benefited from $204 million in government-backed post-9/11 Liberty Bonds.

I had feared the building’s great size would cast the surrounding streets into gloom. Yet a recent late-afternoon visit revealed that the reflective surface and deep setbacks draw light in. Two small tree-shaded plazas will bring patches of desperately needed greenery.

A bedroom with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge is shown at 8 Spruce Street. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

Bay Windows

Though the rippling exterior suggests apartments laid out in lava-lamp blobs, you mostly get a familiar functionality. (Gehry’s firm laid out the units, which is both fortunate and a rarity. Almost every developer hires from a triumvirate of specialist local firms that favor inexplicable mazelike plans or highway-hotel dreariness.)

The rippled and curved exterior of 8 Spruce Street. The building is designed by Frank Gehry. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg
8 Spruce Street

The plans, ranging from studios (lower floors start at $2,600 monthly) to two-bedroom units (from $5,895), are unpretentiously appointed and gracious if not spacious. The exterior curves scallop the rooms, which loosens them up pleasingly. Some of the large glass expanses kink in and some kink out to form bay windows, one of the great architectural inventions almost never used in New York.

There’s plenty of city on view: the Gothic extravagance of the Woolworth Building, the gold-statued grandeur of the Municipal Building, an assortment of East River bridges, and your choice of Lower Manhattan or Midtown skylines.

No Balcony

The high units are more generous but you won’t find the hanger-sized living rooms and pools set into outdoor terraces of late-boom condos. You won’t even get a balcony. Prices at this level have yet to be set but $15,000 isn’t unlikely.

Self-appointed style cops decry Gehry’s fanciful architecture as the gaudy emblem of the last decade’s excess. Yet nothing about this tower is gratuitous. It shows how to put a very large building into a heavily built-up city.

An apartment at 8 Spruce Street in New York. Developer Forest City Ratner Cos. will start signing leases this month on the first completed apartments. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

message 6: by Monica (new)

Monica | 909 comments Carol Vogel and James Russell, thank you.

In response to message # 3, I'm happy Mubarak has stepped down and my wish is that Egypt will become less of a third world country.

message 7: by Heather (last edited Feb 18, 2011 05:43AM) (new)

Heather | 4 comments Cézanne's Card Players
Art with a quietly subversive message.

By Christopher Benfey
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

When this version of Paul Cézanne's The Card Players was first exhibited in Paris in 1910, four years after the artist's death, it was an immediate popular success. It's easy to see why. The roughhewn Provencal table and the clay pipes hanging on the wall convey a serene mood of rural simplicity. The lavish folds of the golden curtain, hoisted as though the quietly absorbed players are actors on a stage, and the lush blue smock right below it (no one paints blue like Cézanne), add a luxuriant opulence reminiscent of Venetian masters like Titian. But sophisticated artists and writers looking closely at Cézanne's paintings a hundred years ago saw something more in such pictures than nostalgia for country life—much more.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 112 comments Found this article interesting - Caravaggio was quite the bad boy!

message 9: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Thanks, Susanna! That article really sheds some more light on exactly what kind of person Caravaggio really was. He tried to hide behind his talent, I guess, hoping he would get a pardon. Would he hope that because he had just done a portrait of the Pope? Thirty-eight years old is fairly young for his life and of course, career, to end. But it sounds like he had it coming!

message 10: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Banksy has already won, as Oscar tip causes prices to soar

Jack Malvern
The Australian

A selection of Banksy's latest work in and around Los Angeles. Pictures: Source: The Australian

BANKSY'S plan to attend the Oscar ceremony in disguise was vetoed by the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but the British graffiti artist may take solace in the knowledge that his nomination has added hundreds of thousands of pounds to the value of his work.

The Bristol-born graffitist, whose real name is thought to be Robin Gunningham, has been on a publicity drive since he was nominated for Best Documentary Feature for his film Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Works in his irreverent style have appeared recently across Los Angeles. They include a boy with a machinegun firing crayons in a field of flowers, a drunk Mickey Mouse holding a cocktail and wrapping his arm around a model on a billboard on Sunset Boulevard and the cartoon character, Charlie Brown, with a cigarette hanging from his mouth.

The works impressed the Los Angeles Times, which opined that he was a welcome addition to the usual Oscar buzz. "If Academy officials are worried that Banksy might do something bizarre on Oscar night, our advice is not only to get over that but to invite him back next year as a presenter," the newspaper declared.

In the month since the nominations were announced, Banksy's art has already shown signs of a price bump. Analysis provided by the art-price monitor, artnet, of the ten most recent sales of Banksy works shows that prices were on average 25 per cent higher than the highest estimate put on the work by auction houses.

Sotheby's in London sold Banksy's Heavy Weaponry, an image of an elephant with a rocket on its back, for pounds 82,250 last week after giving it an upper estimate of pounds 18,000. The auction record for any of his works is a much larger piece entitled Keep it Spotless, a Damien Hirst spot painting defaced with the image of a chamber maid apparently lifting up the bottom of the canvas, which sold for dollars 1.87million at Sotheby's New York in February 2008.

The artist had his first brush with Hollywood in 2006 when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie expressed an interest in his work, but art experts believe that the Oscar coverage combined with canny control of the supply of his work will cause prices to rise again.

There is a catch, however, for owners of Banksy works. They are worth little without a certificate of authenticity, but Pest Control, which describes itself as the "handling agency" for Banksy's work, has refused to give certificates for works that it says were "not originally intended for resale", including street art and gifts.

Simon Todd, a consultant for artnet, said that Pest Control did not have a consistent policy for authenticating work. Pest Control, which is run by the art dealer Holly Cushing, has rejected some works as being "test sprays" but has authenticated others.

"If they like you, or they're feeling nice, then they will authenticate," Mr Todd said. "It is not in Pest Control's interests to authenticate more Banksy works because prices will go down."Jo Brooks, who handles Banksy's public relations, did not respond to inquiries about Pest Control.

The Times

back to top