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Crystal Bridges Reshuffles PostWar Galleries With 2014 Acquisitions

Sobel-Hiroshima

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

SalvatorMundi

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

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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…

Cappella_Sassetti_Adoration_of_the_Shepherds

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

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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

FSnyders

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

Manet

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...]

It’s A Masterpiece!

MexicanScreen-Hunt-detail

Yes, I wrote another Masterpiece column for The Wall Street Journal, which published in Saturday's paper, headlined Folding Culture and Politics Into Art. Can you guess what it is? I've already mentioned it here, in 2012. I was enamored of the object, a folding screen made in Mexico at the turn of the 18th century, from the first I heard of it, when it was acquired by the Brooklyn Museum.* And when I saw it last year in Behind Closed Doors: Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492–1898 there, I wasn't disappointed. What's more, the screen has … [Read more...]

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...]

A Question to Nobelist Kandel Reveals A Big Gap At the Met

Munter_BlueMountain

Last week, I was honored to sit opposite Nobel-prize winner/neuropsychiatrist Eric Kandel at a small dinner. Kandel, seeking to understand how memory works, figured it out by studying its physiological basis in the cells of sea slugs. For that, he won the Nobel in 2000. More recently, he has turned some of his attention to art. In 2012, he published The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present. Kandel and his wife, Denise, go to museums a lot. "I would say art is our … [Read more...]

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