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Second-Rate Or “One Of The Greatest Ever”?

Veronese's Martyrdom of Saint George

The artist in question is about to get an exhibition at the National Gallery (yes, I'm still inspired by goings-on in London) -- and he is Veronese. Apparently, when the NG bought Veronese's The Family of Darius before Alexander (below right) in 1857, it was accused of squandering money on "a second-rate specimen of a second-rate artist." Of course, we don't think of Veronese as second-rate today, though -- and I hate to say this, as I love his work -- he came off in third place a few years back, when the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston gave … [Read more...]

What Have Leonardo, Aggie Gund, Sopheap Pich, Etc. Got In Common? News

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I rarely do this, but  several smallish but interesting things have happened in the museum world recently, so I've collected them in one post. From the Frick Collection, three pieces of news: Director Ian Wardropper has lured one of the Metropolitan Museum's* biggest stars, Xavior Salomon, several blocks south on Fifth Avenue to serve as chief curator; he'd been a curator in the European paintings department, "a prototypical and brilliant curator/scholar," as one source who knows him well told me, and formerly chief curator at the … [Read more...]

Another Curator Leaves Indianapolis; It’s Worrisome

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When I last wrote here about the Indianapolis Museum of Art, it was looking quite troubled. That was March. Now it's worse; IMA seems to be hemorrhaging people. Hyperallergic, reporting more departures in the contemporary art department, got this quote from Sarah Green, the Curator of Contemporary Art, who just quit: "I don’t believe in [Director Charles] Venable’s mission for the IMA, and our visions don’t align." It would be one thing if Green were the only one departing for that reason, but Hyperallergic reports, the reason for most if … [Read more...]

Solidarity With Detroit

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It's just a gesture, but it is nevertheless an excellent one: Today, the Association of Art Museum Curators announced that they will hold their next annual meeting in Detroit. At least one day of programs in the three-day conference will take place at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Said Emily Ballew Neff (at right), President of the AAMC and curator of American painting and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: We have watched the situation in Detroit and at the DIA very closely this year. We believe that moving our conference to the … [Read more...]

Textiles: No Longer In The Backroom

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Museums have increasingly shown fashion exhibitions in recent years, often in efforts to draw crowds and to attract a new kind of visitors. Now textiles are coming out of the storerooms far more often, too, I think -- though I don't have statistics to prove that. Exhibit A, of course, was SPUN: Adventures in Textiles at the Denver Art Museum, which I wrote about here, and which ends Sept. 22. (From afar, I've heard SPUN has been a great success for the museum, but I haven't checked in lately. See some of the Native American textiles that are … [Read more...]

Nicholas Penny Speaks Out Against Overseas Lending

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Many museums, from the Louvre to the Barnes Foundation to the Modern, have send parts of their collections on the road, at least in part to earn some money. The city of Glasgow in Scotland had such plans for the Burrell Collection, whose 8,000 works of art were given to the city under a 1944 deed of gift -- one that prohibits its exhibition overseas. But, last January, with the 30-year-old building that displays the collection in need of repair, "estimated to cost millions of pounds," according to The Herald Scotland, trustees decided to go … [Read more...]

How The Asia Society Museum is Evolving

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I'm still away, but the news never stops. Actually, I finished an article on Melissa Chiu's vision for the Asia Society Museum before I left the U.S., and it was published in today's Wall Street Journal. Headlined A Society Evolves, it is pegged to the opening this weekend of an exhibition on art created in Iran between 1950 and the 1970s, while the Shah was in control. He allowed, surprisingly, relative freedom in the arts. I am looking forward to seeing the show; so far I've looked only at the catalog. But my article is broader than that, … [Read more...]

The Berlin Saga: A New Proposal Keeps The Old Masters Where They Are

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It has been more than a year since the Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage  set off a furor by deciding to mothball, for at least several years and possibly indefinitely, about half of the Old Master paintings now on view at the Berlin Gemaldegalerie. The other half would go to the Bode Museum, necessitating the storage of about half the Old Master sculpture on view there. This was all in the name of making space to display a 20th century art collection of uncertain importance, a condition of the donors, Ulla and Heiner … [Read more...]

Cleveland’s Unprecedented Misfortune

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The euphoria at the Cleveland Museum of Art regarding its new purchase of Henry Bone's enamel-on-copper copy of Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne for less than half a million was, alas, overshadowed today by the cancellation of its upcoming exhibition, Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome, which is currently at the Getty. It is, and was to be, a blockbuster. Take a look at the check list -- some 145 antiquities, including the phiale pictured here. Now Cleveland has a huge hole in its schedule, beginning Sept. 29 -- not very far from … [Read more...]

A Visit To The Bridgestone Museum Gets Me Thinking

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The Bridgestone Museum of Art is the only museum I visited in Tokyo with a big Western art collection. You may remember it from its mention in a number of art-world stories in the 1980s, the heydays of Japanese buying here. Among its smart purchases then was Picasso's Saltimbanque Seated with Arms Crossed, from 1923, bought at Sotheby's in 1980 for $3 million, which is about $8.2 million in today's money. Quite a bargain -- it's a wonderful picture. Have a look here. Bridgestone has focused mainly on 19th Century French art, though it … [Read more...]

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