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Once More Into the Storerooms >> Discoveries!

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Now it's the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh's turn to find fantastic art works in its storerooms, as many other museums have done. Among the newly discovered pieces: a hand-painted enamel bowl with roundels of butterflies from the Yongzheng period, a “bizarre googly-eyed dragon bowl” and cinnabar lacquer panel (below right) from the Qianlong period, a ritual bronze from the Western Zhou period, a Gupta period Buddha head (at left), a gilded bronze Thai Buddha head and a Bamana Boli figure. Many are going into a reinstallation of the … [Read more...]

The Perelman-Gagosian Brawl

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You may not be avid readers of the business section of The New York Times, so you may have missed an article in Sunday's paper headlined The Feud That's Shaking Gallery Walls. In it, Ron Perelman says, "Art is such a beautiful thing. But it’s been sullied by an ugly business. It needs to be fixed.” Do you find it strange that a man who's been buying and selling art for a very long time suddenly decides he's had enough or that he was had? After all, he willingly entered into the transaction he has now gone to court to protest. Here's the … [Read more...]

Detroit Institute Addresses Compensation Complaints

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A short time ago, the Detroit Institute of Arts responded to the criticism that has kept it in the news for the wrong reasons this week--and threatened to undermine support for the millage tax that provides $23 million on operating support each year. Board chair Edward Gargaro signed the statement, which said that "unfortunately misunderstandings have occurred." Indeed. In a key paragraph, Gargaro promised to discuss the matter the public officials threatened to repeal the millage: We will continue to provide our community with exceptional … [Read more...]

At The Philbrook: Retrospective For A No-Longer-Needed Exhibition

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This Sunday, the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa opens what I think should be a fascinating show: IMPACT: The Philbrook Indian Annual. It's a retrospective on the competition the Philbrook held for 33 years, from 1946 to 1979, open to Native American artists. The museum says that Over the years nearly 1,000 artists from 200 Native American communities entered almost 4,000 works of art for judging, exhibition, awards, and sale. The Philbrook Indian Annual played a pivotal role in the definition of twentieth-century Native American fine art … [Read more...]

Five Questions For Leonard Lauder As The Met Reveals His Cubist Collection

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So this week the art world and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's* members are getting a first look at the Leonard Lauder Cubist collection--assembled over the past 40 years. The masterpieces and seminal works he has purchased amount to the best private Cubist collection in existence, by design:  He always has a museum gift in mind as he collects. When I spoke with him in 2012, he said: "Many people collect to possess. I collect to preserve, and no sooner do I have a collection put together than I am looking for a home for it in a public … [Read more...]

Mistake at DIA: A Pay-Raise Ruckus And A Solution

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In the last two years or so, I've often praised the Detroit Institute of Arts for conducting itself in the right way--with respect to passing the millage and in how it has handled itself during the city's bankruptcy. Now, though, it has made a major mistake--in terms of optics if not substance. And it may cost the museum big, in terms of local support. Some local legislators are threatening to take action. According to several reports, the board handed out big raises to the top two execs in 2012: Director Graham Beal received a 13% raise … [Read more...]

Mystery Solved: The Man Who Bought The Rothschild Prayerbook

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Though I was hoping, last January, that the Getty Museum had purchased the marvelous Rothschild Prayerbook when it came up for auction at Christie's, no press release ever emerged from Brentwood, so I had long since figured that it had disappeared into a private collection and wouldn't be seen for some time. I was wrong. The 150-page prayerbook, you'll recall, is a lavishly illuminated medieval Book of Hours, and at the time of its sale was considered to be the most important illuminated manuscript in private hands. It had been commissioned … [Read more...]

ArtPrize: The People And the Jury Pick Same Winner

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In a remarkable development, the Grand, No. 1 ArtPrize--the open, two-track competition in Grand Rapids--went to the same artist: Anila Quayyum Agha's entry was chosen by both the public and a jury of art experts. Her piece, called Intersections, uses light to project Islamic imagery in shadows.  Or as she wrote: ...the geometrical patterning in Islamic sacred spaces, associated with certitude is explored in a way that reveals it fluidity. The viewer is invited to confront the contradictory nature of all intersections, while simultaneously … [Read more...]

A Participatory Exhibit I Can Applaud (I Think)

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Contrary to some belief out there, I'm not against all participatory, experiential activities in art museums. (I don't believe museums should be as quiet as cathedrals, either, but that's another post.) Here's a participartory program that sounds, in advance, without my being there, like a good one. It's at the Freer-Sackler Galleries* in Washington: in conjunction with the opening on Saturday of Unearthing Arabia: The Archaeological Adventures of Wendell Phillips and "International Archaeology Day" on Oct. 18, the museum has scheduled a … [Read more...]

Anselm Kiefer Talks About Beauty In Art

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I'd wager that most people don't think of "beauty" when they think of the art of Anselm Kiefer. So when Janne Siren, the director of the Alrbight-Knox Art Gallery, and I met last week, I was surprised by the catalogue he gave me for the Kiefer exhibition that, alas, closed there on Sunday. It was titled Beyond Landscape, and here's part of its description: Anselm Kiefer: Beyond Landscape explores the interplay of history, identity, and landscape in the work of one of the most important artists of our time. Several major works by Kiefer … [Read more...]

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