Sunday, February 23, 2014


Durer's Hare

March 14 - June 29, 2014

200 masterpieces from the collection of the Albertina are shown together, presented in the context of the life-story and passion for art-collecting of its founders, Prince Albert of Saxony and Archduchess Marie Christine.  The exhibition brings together the highlights of the Albertina holdings, from Michelangelo through Rembrandt and Rubens to Caspar David Friedrich, supplemented by loans from throughout the world. 

The Albertina is one of the great museums of the world, housed in the magnificent Albertina Palace. Their website is exceptional, offering images of much of the extraordinary collection. 


Among the wonderous things to see at the Albertina is the relatively new Batliner Collection. Just seven years ago, one of Europe’s greatest private collections of classical modern art came to the Albertina from the Rita and Herbert Batliner Foundation in Liechtenstein.

The collection of international modern art spans the most fascinating chapters from more than 130 years of art history: French Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, German Expressionism, Fauvism and the Russian avant-garde from1905-35, to contemporary.  It includes works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri Matisse, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Alberto Giacometti, Marc Chagall, Francis Bacon, Rothko, Anselm Kiefer and Gerhard Richter., There are 40 pieces of Picasso’s oeuvre, including ten paintings and numerous drawings and one-of-a-kind ceramics

Friday, February 21, 2014

Just Opened: Eight Notable Exhibits


Eight newly-opened exhibits that may be of interest:

In The U.S.:
New Haven, CT  /   Feb 15 – May 11, 2014
Fame and Friendship: Pope, Roubiliac, and the Portrait Bust in Eighteenth-Century Britain 
At the Yale Center for British Art:  Paintings, sculptures, and materials that convey Alexander Pope’s celebrity status, highlighted by a series of eight busts by Louis François Roubiliac (1702-1762), the leading sculptor of the period.

New Haven, CT  /  Through March 28, 2014 
Reliable Tension, or: How to Win a Conversation About Jasper Johns
At the Yale School of Art: exploring Jasper Johns’ impact on contemporary artists. 

New York, NY  /  Feb 19 – May 18, 2014
Golden Visions of Densatil: A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery
At the Asia Society, the first exhibition to explore the history, iconography, and extraordinary artistic production associated with the central Tibetan Buddhist monastery that was destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution.
Cleveland, OH  /  February 16 - May 11, 2014
Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum
At the Cleveland Museum of Art, fifty-five works of modern Japanese art from the late 19th and 20th centuries, in a range of media including painting, sculpture, tapestry, ceramics and calligraphy


 20 February - 18 May 2014 
Court and Craft: A Masterpiece from Northern Iraq
At the Courtauld Gallery, the first-ever exhibition of art from the Islamic world at the Courtauld. 

LONDON  /  9 February - 11 May, 2014 
Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance

At the National Gallery: paintings, drawings and prints by artists such as Hans Holbein the Younger, Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach the Elder – examining the striking changes in the ways these works were perceived in their time, in the recent past, and how they are viewed today. 

BASEL  /  February 16 – May 25, 2014 
The Surprised Masks: James Ensor
KunstmuseumBasel:Paintings and drawings from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp and Swiss collections 

MOSCOW  /  February 21 – April 6, 2014
Playing the Circus: The Image of Circus in Russian XX-XXI Century Art 

At the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA) A catalogue in Russian and English “is planned for printing by the opening date of the exhibition” (we can only hope that it’s ready!) 

Avoid disappointment in BELGIUM … note that The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp is closed for renovations for several years.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Demise of the Corcoran Gallery

My fond memory of time spent in Washington DC’s Corcoran Gallery  becomes more precious today, learning of the venerable institution’s imminent take-over by the National Gallery of Art. I loved wandering the stately Beaux-Arts galleries, absorbing the masterfully executed 19th century American landscapes in the collection. There was a lot of other work on display, but none of it spoke to me the way the stunning landscapes did ... works by the likes of Albert Bierstadt, Jasper Cropsey, Sanford Gifford, Martin JohnsonHeade and Frederic Edwin Church.  

I especially love Church’s spectacular panoramic Niagara Falls. (I have a small framed reproduction of Niagara Falls, but it comes nowhere near the impact of the 8’-long original!)    

The Corcoran’s world-renowned collection of American art dating from 1718 to 1945 began as the private holdings of William Wilson Corcoran. His initial collection of landscape paintings, genre scenes, portraits, and sculptures has grown to encompass over 500 paintings, 200 sculptures, and 2,400 works on paper. Key 20th-century acquisitions were made beginning in 1907, with the advent of the Corcoran’s Biennial. The collection’s particular strengths include Hudson River School painting, American Impressionism, and early 20th-century realism. 

The Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott says of the decision: “Everything that was darkly whispered about the Corcoran’s board over the past few years has come to pass: After decades of erratic and often incompetent leadership, it has seen the institution through to its demise. They will hand over the art to the National Gallery, which will take the pick of the lot and then distribute the rest through some program yet to be announced.” 

The museum has been grappling with deficits for years. As a private institution, it has been among the few galleries in DC to charge an entry fee, hampering its ability to attract visitors. The debt load is huge, the endowment has shrunk, and the 19th century premises are in need of about $100 million worth of renovation and repairs. 

While there are positives associated with the proposal, it is sad that one of the great 19th-century collections will be dismantled. Although the best work will stay in Washington,  a significant portion will be distributed to art institutions around the country. The Corcoran collection consists of 17,000 works of art valued at $2 billion.  

Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery, described the Corcoran building as having “arguably the most beautiful galleries of any museum in the United States.” He said that the National Gallery needs additional space, and the plan provides the Corcoran site for presenting exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. 

Besides the National Gallery, the deal includes George Washington University, which will take over 124-year-old Corcoran College of Art + Design.  The boards of the three institutions are expected to approve the proposal in April.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Just Opened: Five Notable Exhibits

I've just learned of five newly-opened exhibits that may be of interest:

In The U.S.:

Portland, OR
Venice: The Golden Age of Art and Music
at the Portland Art Museum    (Feb 15 – May 11)

San Francisco, CA
Modern Nature: Georgia O'Keeffe and Lake George
at the de Young    (Feb 15 – May 11)
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL   
Performing Images: Opera in Chinese Visual Culture
at the Smart Museum of Art    (Feb 13–June 1)

A Collective Invention: Photographs at Play  
at the Morgan’s new Department of Photography    (February 14–May 18)

In Europe: 

Madrid, Spain  
Pontormo Drawings
at the Fundacion MAPFRE  Feb 12 -  May 11

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Another Way to be a Hero ...

This week marks the 39th anniversary of a theft at Amherst College's Mead Art Museum

On the night of February 8, 1975, in response to an anonymous tip received at Massachusetts State Police Barracks in Northampton, Amherst College Police made an alarming discovery: tracking footprints still visible through the new snow, they found a museum window broken, and the room within littered with empty picture frames. Museum staff quickly realized that three Dutch canvases had been removed from the frames and stolen: Hendrick (Cornelisz.) van Vliet's The Interior of the New Church, Delft, Pieter Lastman's St. John the Baptist, and Jan Baptist Lambrechts's Interior with Figures Smoking and Drinking

The trail of the stolen paintings soon turned cold . The Mead registered the lost artworks with the Art Dealers Association of America, to alert prospective vendors of their criminal provenance, and Amherst College overhauled the museum's security program and addressed vulnerabilities in the facility. Insurance compensation allowed the college to acquire a "replacement" painting by Van Vliet, Interior of the Nieuwe Kerk, Delft, in 1982. 
Years later, in January 1989, there was a breakthrough in the investigation: during an undercover drug sting in Illinois, police recovered the paintings by Van Vliet and Lastman, which were being offered as collateral in a drug deal. More information appeared in the 2009 best-seller The Art of the Heist: Confessions of a Master Thief, in which the author, Myles J. Connor, Jr., took credit for the Mead heist, describing it as an impulsive change-of-mind, one he made after coming to the Amherst area with plans to rob a bank. 

In the absence of new leads on the whereabouts of the Lambrechts, Mead's Head of Security Heath Cummings set to work scouring museum files and college archives, and conferring with colleagues and experts to assemble as much information as possible on the case. In collaboration with the FBI, the Mead is redoubling its efforts to solve the crime, saying that members of the public have the chance to play an heroic role.  

"I've been researching this case for several years," Cummings said, "trying to clarify the details that have been lost with time. After collecting and reviewing old files, news articles and witness recollection on a nearly forty-year-old case, it is safe to say we have learned all we can about the theft, enough to officially reopen the investigation. Our goal is to discover the fate of the Lambrechts painting, and bring it back home to Amherst College. The prospect of putting it back on display with the other two paintings that were recovered in 1989 is a very exciting one."

The Mead is working with the FBI's Art Crime Team to locate and recover the painting. As part of that effort, the painting has been listed in the National Stolen Art File. Anyone with any information relating to the theft, or to the location of the painting, should contact the FBI at 617-742-5533, or online at

Who can predict the next lead in the case? Mead officials say, "Perhaps someone reading this announcement holds the clue to solving the Mead's decades-long mystery."  YOU could be a hero!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Miro, Miro, On The Wall ...

In 2008, when the government of Portugal nationalized the BPN Bank it inherited a huge debt as well as a large collection of paintings by Catalan artist Joan Miro.  Now Portugal wants to sell the 85 Miro paintings, valued at more than 36 million euros.   

"It is important to sell these works to reduce the inherited debt of BPN which is more than four billion euro," said Secretary of State for Culture Jorge Barreto Xavier. Although the Portuguese government is strapped for cash these days, this seems to me like a drop in the bucket. I wonder if they are being short-sighted, giving up such a notable collection. 

Apparently there is a contingent in Portugal who also question the wisdom of the sale.  

Although a Portuguese court yesterday rejected a request from the opposition Socialist party for the sale to be halted, hours before the first batch of the paintings was due to go up for sale, Christie's cancelled the auction, saying, “While the recent injunction to stop the sale was not granted, the legal uncertainties created by this ongoing dispute mean that we are not able to safely offer the works for sale.”

It’ll be interesting to see where this ends up … the Joan Miros dispersed, many absorbed into private collections? Or, gracing the walls of one of Lisbon’s art museums?  Or how about a travelling special exhibit of the 85 works while the matter is being endlessly debated?   

Femmes et oiseaux, an oil on canvas painted on 3 January 1968, illustrates one of the most enduring and characteristic themes in Joan Miró’s oeuvre: women and birds. Estimate: £4-7 million.

More Information:[/url]
Copyright ©

Above: Femmes et oiseaux, an oil on canvas, 1968, illustrates a characteristic theme in Joan Miró’s oeuvre: women and birds. Christie's estimate: £4-7 million.

Femmes et oiseaux, an oil on canvas painted on 3 January 1968, illustrates one of the most enduring and characteristic themes in Joan Miró’s oeuvre: women and birds. Estimate: £4-7 million.

More Information:[/url]
Copyright ©

Monday, February 03, 2014

Odilon Redon Exhibit in Basel, Switzerland

The work of Odilon Redon (b. 1840 Bordeaux, d. 1916 Paris) can be roughly divided into two long phases: the “black period” of his early work and the “polychrome period” of his later years.

From about 1870 to 1890 Redon created a considerable number of dark drawings in charcoal, known as Noirs. These depictions of ghostly apparitions and fantastic creatures express his fascination with occult, eerie, and enigmatic phenomena. 

Personally, I’ve never much liked his early work. 

However, Redon's re-evaluation of color in 1889-90 marked a turning point in his career … and in my ability to appreciate his art.

Redon was active at the turn of  the 19th to 20th century, in the nascent years of modernism. One of the main protagonists of French Symbolism, Redon purposely turned away from the “superficial” imitation of nature practiced by the Impressionists. Sculptor Aristide Maillol noted that, “Redon did a great deal for young artists. He showed them the way.” Many artists of the post-impressionist generation saw Redon as a model.

He became known as a sumptuous colourist; Henri Matisse was influenced by Redon’s expressive palette, a fact which we see manifested in Matisse’s own paintings. He was held in high esteen by contemporaries like Cézanne and Gauguin. 

In the famous bouquets of the late phase, brilliant-hued flowers of various sorts are loosely arranged into rich bunches, springing from the vase in a joyous eruption of color and form. Redon transformed proliferating blossoms into a virtual homage to painting: “Art”, Redon once said,” is like a flower which opens freely, outside of all rules....”   

It is these bouquets that I think of when I think of Redon Odilon.  

February 2 - May 18, 2014
Fondation Bayeler, Basel, Switzerland   
Paintings, pastels, drawings, and lithographs borrowed from major museums and private collections worldwide
The exhibition concentrates on Redon’s significance as a forerunner of classical modernism and highlights the avant-garde aspect of his art.