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Public Art: The Video And The Cathedral

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They're excited in San Antonio about a new video installation in their town called The Saga by a French artist named Xavier de Richemont. (How do I know? The Visit San Antonio website calls it a "world class video art installation.")  I thought I'd write briefly about it here because the piece is cast onto the facade of the 18th century San Fernando Cathedral, which is the seat of the archdiocese of San Antonio and a working church. The Saga has nothing to do with religion, though -- it's about the city's history, "the historical … [Read more...]

Delaware Deaccession Strategy: Sell Just Two Works?

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The London auction offering William Holman Hunt's Isabella and the Pot of Basil  from the Delaware Art Museum is a month away (June 17) but the catalogue is set to be released only on Monday. It's pretty clear why: the museum wanted to sell it privately, but Christie's couldn't come up with a buyer who would pay the required price. The painting carries an estimate of £5 to £8 million, or $8.4 to $13.4 million at today's exchange rates, according to an article in the Wilmington News Journal.  It adds that the catalogue for the Victorian, … [Read more...]

Keep The Pre-Raphaelite, Sell Contemporary Art, Expert Says

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While inveighing against the Delaware Art Museum's planned deacccession of William Holman Hunt's Isabella and the Pot of Basil at Christie's in London next month,  Pre-Raphaelite expert Mark Samuels Lasner (below) brought up a very touchy subject: why not sell undistingished contemporary artworks instead? Lasner, who according to USA Today is "a senior research fellow at the University of Delaware Library and an expert on Victorian literature and art," called the planned sale "sacrilege." "Isabella and the Pot of Basil is "an … [Read more...]

The Word Is Out From Delaware Art Museum

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The first painting that Delaware Art Museum trustees have chosen to deaccession is not, as many expected, Winslow Homer's Milking Time. Rather, they've chosen a pre-Raphaelite painting by William Holman Hunt, Isabella and the Pot of Basil.  Christie's has placed it in its June 17 London sale of Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art. But the catalogue is not yet online and the estimate has not been disclosed. Going against traditional museum ethics rules -- and some say without exploring all other options -- the museum … [Read more...]

174 LACMA Donors = $4.1 Million + 10 Varied Acquisitions

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This past weekend, collectors associated with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art set a record at their 29th annual Collectors Committee fundraiser -- contributing more than $4.1 million and deciding to buy 10 quite diverse works of art. Among the artworks: Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres’ Odalisque (below right); contemporary works by Roni Horn, Chinese artist Feng Mengbo and Iranian artist Mitra Tabrizian; an 18th-century Virgin of Guadalupe by Antonio de Torres; a pair of 9th century Japanese lions (below left) and a print -- Taureau et … [Read more...]

Can You Discern What Is A Caravaggio And What Isn’t?

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If experts can't agree, I probably can't tell (though I might have an opinion). Nonetheless, in this age of crowd-sourcing virtually everything that can be crowd-sourced, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is asking its visitors to answer that question. Since Apr. 12, the museum has presented a small exhibit of four paintings by the artist in Visiting Masterpieces: Caravaggio and Connoisseurship. Two, Fortune Teller (c 1594–95) and Fra Antonio Martelli, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Malta (c 1608), are accepted as by the master -- though … [Read more...]

Is That A Rembrandt In The Closet? Yes.

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More discoveries in the storeroom, and this time it's a Rembrandt. Yes, the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha has been told that a painting in its collection for 72 years, acquired as a Rembrandt but downgraded to School of Rembrandt -- and relegated to storage -- is in fact by the master after all. At least in the view of Rembrandt scholar Ernst van de Wetering, who says the work is “Portrait of Dirck van Os." No date was given in the Omaha World-Herald, which published the news today. Here's the backstory: In 1942 the museum purchased “Portrait … [Read more...]

San Francisco Museums Land A Great Gift

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There are at least three notable aspects of the gift announced the other day by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: the Thomas W. Weisel Family has donated about 200 objects of Native American art to the museum. They were amassed over three decades by Weisel, an investment banker who profited mightily as a pioneer of the tech industry in Silicon Valley. It's a good match for the FAMSF. The gift includes works that span nearly a thousand years, "from 11th century Mimbres ceramics to 19th century works," according to the press release … [Read more...]

Friendship Outs: Giant Gift Of Marin Watercolors Goes To…

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Not a museum in Maine, where he painted for much of his last 40 years. Not a museum in New York, the center of the U.S. art world, or in Los Angeles, the west coast hub. Or New Jersey, Marin's birthplace. No, Norma B. Marin, the artist's daughter-in-law, recently donated nearly 300 watercolors, drawings and sketchbooks to the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, according to the Kennebec Journal. ...Norma Marin’s gift to the Arkansas Arts Center was neither random nor the result of a falling out with Maine’s cultural institutions, as some … [Read more...]

Picasso Museum: Reopening With What?

Picasso museum in Paris prepares for reopening

"It beggars belief that some urgent "conservation" necessity should have struck all of these modern works at the same time...." That's Michael Daley, the conservation watchdog, opining on the reopening of the Picasso Museum in Paris, which is set for June. When it does readmit the public to the building -- an operation of "restoration, renovation and extension" that began in 2009 and "was far more extensive than the preceding work in terms of both objectives and cost -- it will be completely restructured (pictured at right), raised to new … [Read more...]

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