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On The Road: The Maine Art Museum Trail

If you ever have the opportunity, drive the Maine Art Museum Trail. Did you even know there was a MAMT? Or that it includes eight institutions around the state, from the Ogunquit Museum of American Art in the south to the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor? Truth is, it should be better known. This summer, the museums are trying with a special exhibition called "Directors' Cut" at the Portland Museum of Art; for it, each museum director was given a certain amount of space to fill and each chose works for that space. What results is … [Read more...]

The Broad Museum Answers Back

Several days ago, I asked here if any other art museums in the U.S. were spending as much money buying art as the Crystal Bridges Museum. I had added up the announced purchases over the past year or so by Crystal Bridges and it came to more than $150 million. I could think of only the Broad, which hasn't opened yet, as a contender. This morning, I received an email from the Broad announcing "more than 50 new artworks added to the Broad collection in anticipation of the September 20 opening." But I still think CB is spending more. That's … [Read more...]

Crystal Bridges Makes A Few Announcments

When it come to art purchases, there could  be a "Crystal Bridges" watch--it seems to me that the museum in Bentonville built largely with Alice Walton's and the Walton Family Foundation's money is spending more money buying art than another other U.S. museum currently open to the public. For a short item in tomorrow's New York Times that is now online (and is a better, longer version than what will be in the print version), I disclose five more big purchases: two sculptures (including Quarantania, at left) and two paintings by Louise … [Read more...]

Crystal Bridges Reshuffles PostWar Galleries With 2014 Acquisitions

The postwar and contemporary art galleries at the Crystal Bridges Museum have always been the weakest part of the collection, but steadily the museum has been filling out the collection. Sixteen acquisitions in this category, all made in 2014, were announced on Friday--I broke the news Thursday evening in a small item in The New York Times (scroll down; it's the last of four items)--valued at about $20 million. The works include Robert Rauschenberg's The Tower and three paintings and two works on paper by Helen Frankenthaler, including Seven … [Read more...]

Buyer of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi Identified–UPDATED

Along with, supposedly, the final price tag. He is Russian billionaire Dmitri Rybolovlev and he is said to have bought the painting for $127 million. When I last left this subject, in November, 2013, I said that the painting has been sold to a private collector in Europe.  In March, 2014, the New York Times picked up the sale and put the price tag at around $75- to $80 million. Now a lawsuit filed in Monaco says that Rybolovlev bought the work in May 2103, through Swiss dealer and free-port king Yves Bouvier. Rybolovlev is suing Bouvier, … [Read more...]

The Story Behind LACMA’s Saudi Partnership

Press releases often provoke more questions than they answer. That was certainly the case when one from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art issued one on Jan. 6 about its new collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. It said that LACMA and the Center: are pleased to announce that the Center will exhibit more than 130 highlights of Islamic art from LACMA’s renowned collection on the occasion of the Center’s opening. The installation will include works of art from an area extending from southern Spain to … [Read more...]

Merry Christmas…

I'll be away celebrating Christmas for a few days. Here's my Christmas greeting to you this year: Francesco di Giorgio Martini's The Nativity, With God the Father Surounded by Angels and Cherubim, which is jointly owned by the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Museum. And there's a story behind this joint ownership, provided to me by my friend Paul Jeromack, who also suggested the painting when I went looking for a nativity to share. It seems the painting was sawed into two pieces in the 19th century--the NGA owned the top … [Read more...]

Freer-Sackler Digitization Project: A Modest Suggestion

The other day, the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian announced that it had digitized its entire collection and was putting it all online for all to see and use--with more than 90 percent of the images in high-definition resolution and without copyright restrictions for noncommercial uses--as of Jan. 1, 2015. This is good news, and I applaud the initiative. But another sentence in the press release stopped me: “The vast majority of the 40,000 artworks have never before been seen by the public…” Now, I know full well that many … [Read more...]

Happy Thanksgiving, Courtesy of The Bruce

The Bruce Museum sent a seasonal greeting yesterday that I'd like to share. It's Frans Snyder's Still Life with Fruit, Dead Game, Vegetables, a live Monkey, Squirrel and Cat (c. 1635). It's on view now there, as part of Northern Baroque Splendor: The HOHENBUCHAU COLLECTION from: LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vienna.  Well, part of it is, anyway, through Apr. 12, 2015. Thereafter, the exhibit will travel to the Cincinnati Art Museum. Here's the BG, drawn from the press release: The Hohenbuchau Collection was gathered by Otto … [Read more...]

Two “Transformative” Gifts That Actually Are

Two lucky museums made big announcements this week--"transformative" gifts of art. And these do seem to fit that bill, no exaggeration. In Los Angeles, a reclusive billionaire named A. Jerrold Perenchio said he would bequest "the most significant works of his collection to LACMA’s planned new building for its permanent collection." The trove includes "at least" 47 art works, including some by Degas, Monet, Bonnard, Manet (at left), Picasso and Pissarro. They would go into the new buildings, designed by Peter Zumthor, planned by LACMA … [Read more...]

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