an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise

Zurbarán In The News!


Since 2012, when TEFAF celebrated its 25th anniversary, the Maastricht art fair has been awarding grants toward the conservation of objects held by museums that have attended the fair in that year. The other day, TEFAF announced the 2104 grants: the €50,000 annual amount from the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund will be split between two early paintings by Francisco de Zurbaran. One, St. Serapion (1628) [at right], is owned by the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Ct.; the other, Saint Francis of Assisi in Meditation (c. 1630-1635) [below], is in … [Read more...]

Detroit: Someone There Is Listening


Remember the political ruckus over the pay packages in the last years for Graham Beal, director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, and Annmarie Erickson, his deputy? Local politicians threatened to repeal the millage tax, which is supporting operations at the DIA for the next ten years, because of it. Even though I thought that the pair probably deserved the raises and bonuses as disclosed, I agreed that the optics of them--at the particular time, with the Grand Bargain hanging in the balance--had to be fixed. And I recommended a way … [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...]

“National Gallery” — The Film


Oddly, so soon after I wrote here about "Mr. Turner," the British film about J.W.M. Turner, I just learned about a British documentary called "National Gallery" about that august London institution. It, too, was shown at last spring's Cannes Film Festival and it's on view in New York City from today through Nov. 18. It's at the Film Forum, which describes it like this" London’s National itself portrayed as a brilliant work of art in this, Frederick Wiseman’s 39th documentary and counting. Wiseman listens raptly as a panoply of … [Read more...]

Don’t Miss This Exhibition! (Installation Pictures Included)


In tomorrow's Wall Street Journal, I review an absolutely wonderful exhibition called Grandes Maestros: Great Masters of Iberoamerican Folk Art at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. It's a massive, mesmerizing show that I visited last week--but which I had seen once before, by accident, in Mexico City. I tell that story, very briefly, in my review, headlined A New Perspective on an Overlooked Art Form: A global journey ends in an exhibition that takes folk art seriously. My review begins--like the exhibit--with the three clay … [Read more...]

Burgeoning Florida Arts Corridor Gets Another Museum


The Tampa-St. Petersburg area is getting another art museum, courtesy of Tom James, chairman of the brokerage firm Raymond James, son of its founder and chairman of the nearby Dali Museum. The other day, James, who is 72 and still active at the firm, said he would commit up to $75 million to build a museum that will house his collection--a number he calculated based on the new, $40 million Dali, which opened in 2011--plus $30 million to endow it. James reportedly owns about 2,500 works of art; he has been buying since he was a student at … [Read more...]

Hirshhorn: Ageism At It Worst

Hirshhorn Museum

Some things in the museum world are truly shocking, and what happened this summer at the Hirshhorn Museum--which is now just coming to light--is truly a shame. The museum, it seems, decided it no longer needed its docents. Why? Because they're generally older women, and they "are for the most part being replaced with younger volunteers who are interested in museum careers," according to an article in the Oct. 30 Washington Post. The article continued: Hirshhorn officials say the change was needed to keep up with the times. Visitors don’t … [Read more...]

It’s A Masterpiece!


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...]

Early Word On “Mr. Turner”–Movie, Good; Art, Bad

2014, MR. TURNER

Not too long ago, I was in a movie theater when up came a preview for a film called "Mr. Turner," which would be J.M.W. Tuner to RCA readers. I checked it out and discovered that it was set to open today (Oct. 31) in Britain (after being shown at at Cannes) and in the U.S. on Dec. 19. Early word: it's good. The movie focuses on the last 25 years of Turner's life, up until his death in 1851. Rated R, it's described this way: Profoundly affected by the death of his father, loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted and occasionally exploits … [Read more...]

Museums “Adapt To the Digital Age” But…


All in all, I thought the lead article in Sunday's NYTimes special section on the visual arts--Museums Morph Digitally--was good (it was written by my friend, Steve Lohr), though I wasn't crazy about the line that " museum curators and administrators of ...the importance of a social media strategy and a “digital first” mind-set." Maybe digital is second, but surely not first, except perhaps to promote their actual collections. Plus, the whole article did not once use the word "selfie," a bane of museums, imho. Except at the … [Read more...]

an ArtsJournal blog