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Rothschild Prayerbook Squeezes Out A New Record, Sort Of


It was just by a sliver. This afternoon at Christie's, when the Rothschild Prayerbook came up for sale, the final price including the premium was $13.605 million. Last time, in 1999, it fetched $13.379 million. Considering that the book was sold in London last time, and therefore in pounds sterling, not dollars as today, the price could be construed as lower now. In pounds sterling, the price last time was £8,581,500 and today it was £8,215,583. I was watching only online, so I could not tell who was bidding -- the buyer was the phone, … [Read more...]

Asking A Lot From Visual Art


Perhaps you read -- yesterday in The Wall Street Journal and today in The New York Times -- about JR's project at the New York City Ballet. The French artist who goes by JR is known for his provocative, open-air photographic installations, and the Ballet commissioned a work from him for the Koch theater as part of The Art Series, which employs visual arts as a way to connect to new audiences. The Art Series is in its second year, and it makes perfect sense since, as Karen Girty, the Ballet's senior director of marketing and media, told the WSJ, … [Read more...]

Don’t Regret Missing “Civilisation” — Not Anymore


I never saw Civilisation. But I -- and you -- can easily access it now on a free website, along with 492 other documentaries about art, and hundreds more about science, history, war, Britain, America and so on. The site is called DocuWatch, and I have no idea how new or old it is. It was called to my attention today by a Facebook friend, and -- considering the snow that is paralyzing much of the Northeast corridor and some other parts of the country, it seemed like to perfect time to share it with RCA readers. Maybe you'll have Wednesday … [Read more...]

Have A Merry, Merry Christmas


At this time of the year, when I take a few days off to celebrate Christmas with my family, I like to leave a painting that captures the moment. This year, it is Botticelli's Mystic Nativity, 1500c. 1475, which is in the collection of the National Gallery, London.* I wish all my readers a very happy Christmastime. * Please see comments below -- I got my Botticelli's mixed up! … [Read more...]

Art Institute of Chicago’s Newest Treasure — UPDATED


In New York, the Neopolitan Christmas tree and creche at the Metropolitan Museum is a tradition: people love it; many visit annually. (I am one of them.) This year, the Art Institute of Chicago announced that it has acquired its own similar treasure; it's on view until Jan. 8. Here's how the press release put it: A thrilling new acquisition will be unveiled this holiday season: a mid-18th-century Neapolitan crèche. One of the very few and finest examples of such a work outside of Naples, the crèche is an intricate Nativity scene that reflects … [Read more...]

The Ai Weiwei – Olafur Eliasson Collaboration — UPDATED


Speaking of collaborative art, today I had time to check in on the Internet art project started by the ever-enterprising Ai Weiwei in collaboration with Olafur Eliasson. It was "released" in late November in an announcement from Friends of Ai Weiwei. It's called The Moon -- with a URL too cute to hide behind a link: The "premise" of the project is based on a massive digital sphere which, when launched, was "stark white canvas." Users, AKA the public, are supposed to register, log in and make their own … [Read more...]

That $142.4 Million Bacon Is Going To Portland!

On loan, of course -- not for keeps. Three Studies of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon will go on view at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon on Dec. 21 as part of its Masterworks series. This is a great coup for Brian Ferriso, the PAM director, who's been a big proponent of one-work exhibitions (as have I). According to Ferriso, "As soon as the triptych sold, I asked my chief curator [Bruce Guenther] to see if he could identify the buyer, which he did and subsequently asked to show it.  We have worked with and borrowed from this lender in the … [Read more...]

What’s The Best Public Sculpture I Know? Easy


Public sculpture is certainly having a moment in the sun - maybe years in the sun. Just in the last few weeks, the Nasher Sculpture Center has opened Nasher Xchange, the Seattle Art Museum announced that it had received the 46-foot-tall "Echo," by Jaume Plensa as a gift from American art collector Barney A. Ebsworth, the Public Art Fund in New York said it would erect "a playful new commission by Olaf Breuning entitled Clouds," which will be installed at the southeast entrance to Central Park this spring, and the Madison Square Park … [Read more...]

Murillo Discovered In “A Dark Corner”

St. John with the Lamb by Bartolome Esteban Murillo

It happened again, and we have a new -- or rediscovered -- Murillo, thanks to a chance visit by Salvador Salort-Pons, the executive director of Collection Strategies and Information and curator of European paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts to a historic home called Meadow Brook Hall. Once owned by "the automotive aristocracy's most remarkable women, Matilda Dodge Wilson," Meadow Brook is in Rochester Hills, Mi. Salort-Pons was at Meadow Brook Hall last February, lecturing, "when a painting in a dark corner of the room caught his … [Read more...]

Japanese Baskets: Charmers!


On a night when Christie's broke the price record for a work of art sold at auction, with Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucien Freud fetching a hammer price of $127 million a short time ago ($142.4 million, with fees), I'm going in the opposite direction -- to some low-priced works of art being showcased in an exhibition that opened today at the Museum of Fine Art, Boston. Fired Earth, Woven Bamboo features contemporary Japanese ceramics and basket. It's a smallish show, one gallery with selections from a 90-piece collection given to the … [Read more...]

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