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Detroit Institute of Art’s Collection at Risk

DIA building

 

Auguste Rodin’s sculpture ‘The Thinker’ is shown outside the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Tuesday, July 10, 2012. / Paul Sancya/Associated Press [source]

 

City finances are really bad in Detroit and a once-sacred cow is now looking like cheeseburgers in an ongoing downturn economy.  This has led to an unprecedented area of inquiry about ownership of and leveraging as assets valuable historical works in the Detroit Institute of Art’s collection:

The possible forced sale of some of the DIA’s greatest treasures — including some of the world’s most famous paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, and scores of other masterpieces, is sending shock waves through the museum world.

“There would be hue and cry the likes of which you’ve never heard,” said Ford Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums in Washington, D.C. “The museum should be a rallying point for the rebirth of Detroit and not a source of funds.”

Museums are not required by federal accounting rules to list their collections as assets. However, at the request of the Free Press, art dealers in New York and metro Detroit reviewed a list of 38 of the greatest masterpieces owned by the museum and estimated a market value of at least $2.5 billion with pieces such as Bruegel’s “The Wedding Dance,” van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait” and Matisse’s “The Window” all carrying estimates of between $100 million and $150 million each.

The estimates amount to educated guesses, however, because works of such historical value and quality hardly ever come on the market.

Even by considering selling off artwork, Orr, the DIA and the city are entering uncharted territory. Art law experts said that they were unaware of any precedents of a city being forced to sell works in a municipal bankruptcy.

Read the whole article at:

http://www.freep.com/article/20130523/NEWS01/305230154/DIA-Kevyn-Orr-Detroit-bankruptcy-art

Categories: Art History

Picasso’s “Rinsed Print”

 

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Jacqueline by Pablo Picasso, linocut, 1959

 

I love the simple but brilliant technical execution of this piece.  The image has a nice smoky bluish color most like the above photograph.  Referred to in the museum exhibition as a “rinsed print”, the steps are wonderfully simple.  The uncut block was printed onto the page in a solid filed of black.  Then the lines were cut for the drawing; the lines of the portrait were cut into the same block which was inked in a layer of transparent white and printed onto the solid black field.  The black had a bluish tinge, which resulted in the final colour of the print.

The ease of this technique is that there is less cutting of the block.  You only have to actually cut the lines away that you want to show as a positive, instead of doing the reverse and cutting away all of the negative space to expose the lines of the image.  You have to print the page twice to make this work but the effect of the more transparent, glaze-like second ink is visually interesting.

 

Picasso-Jacqueline-1959-detail

 

 

Related: Matisse Monoprints

Categories: Art History, Printmaking

Anna Pavlova with Jack

Anna Pavlova with Jack

This studio portrait of ballet dancer Anna Pavlova shows her with a pet swan named Jack.  She left behind so many wonderful images and dance photographs; this one is fitting for Pavlova who had danced portraying a swan so many times.  This plate is from Anna Pavlova: In Art & Life [1932] by spouse Victor Dandré and he indicated Jack as her favorite swan.  There are many warm stories of the couple’s pets and the dancer’s love of nature and animals.

The book is laid out in sections detailing her career, impact on dance, personal life, tours, charitable works and final hours.  It’s a bit heart wrenching in its loving tribute as Dandré took to writing it after her death in 1931.  He meshes what had to have been a lifetime of notes and records as her manager with his personal recollections in such an engrossing manner.  What I know about dance would not fill a thimble but I do love a good biography.

Charles M. Schulz Mail Art

February 20, 2013 1 comment

I went the the Charles M. Schulz “Peanuts” exhibit at the Museum of Science & Industry.  A wall graphic showed a cartoon he had drawn on a piece of mail and a page from his sketchbook from his service during WWII.  I wish they had shown more!  I was sure to take pictures:

 

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Charles-Schulz-sketchbook

Categories: Art History, Mail Art

The Coffee House by Alson Skinner Clark

February 15, 2013 Leave a comment

I took some photographs and close up shots of this painting of Chicago, which is just perfect to enjoy this time of year.  The artist captured the effects of the weather wonderfully.  It hangs in a less frequented corner of the American collection snuggled in with the Craftsman and Prairie style works.

 

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The Coffee House by Alson Skinner Clark [1876-1949] oil on canvas, 38″ x 30″ [96.5 x 76.2 cm], winter 1905-1906

From the museum catalog:

In The Coffee House, Alson Skinner Clark painted Chicago on a winter day, with ice floating down the river and the city’s skyscrapers looming through smoke and fog. The State Street bridge, with its characteristic curving ironwork, draws the viewer’s eye into the picture. Clark’s scene is in the tradition of the urban realism of the French Impressionists, recalling such pictures as Claude Monet’s Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare (1877; Art Institute of Chicago). Like Monet, Clarke sought to suggest both the ephemeral nature of fog and smoke and the atmosphere’s effect upon the forms of the city.

 

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Andy Warhol Portrait

January 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Warhol Polaroid

 

This is a great old photograph.  I do wish it was a Polaroid as well.  I recently found a package of many years old Polaroid instant film like this in a bodega near my apartment for $10; the expiration date was 1999.  I wonder if the film would even work after all this time.  Earlier in the week, I was talking to a older gentleman who has the chance to buy a Warhol silkscreen on paper.  It was from the Coca-Cola series, and he said he had reservations at the time about buying it for $50.  I asked if he’s kicking himself now and he could only just shake his head.

Categories: Art History, Photography

Book Excerpt

January 19, 2013 Leave a comment

The artist differs from the ordinary person partly by his ability to make what he sees a public object, but chiefly in the range and depth of vision itself.  The first depends upon technical training and competence, but this simply as a matter of skill is far from qualifying any one for the production of authentic works of art.  A work of art is a creation, and the creation is not accomplished in the act of embodying in a material object what is already in the artist’s mind, but in the act of insight into the objective world by virtue of which it assumes form and order.  Hence the artist is primarily the discoverer, just as the scientist is; the scientist discovers abstract symbols which may be used for purposes of calculation and prediction; the artist, the qualities of thing which heighten their human significance.  What these qualities are depends upon the individual artist and the medium in which he works.  The comic, the pathetic, the ironic, the sublime, and the tragic are aspects of experience which can best be expressed by the writer, since they appear fully only in situations which develop in time, and a picture, though its perception takes time, obviously cannot depict a course of events.  The painter is not debarred from the use of such values, since he can show manifestations of them in the visible world -the satire of Goya or Daumier, the natural majesty of Claude le Lorrain, the religious mysticism of El Greco, the human poignancy of Rembrandt are obvious instances- but the qualities which lie most immediately in his province are those more directly apprehended by sight.  Color, line, light, mass -these things, as immediately experienced, are illuminated for us by the painter.  Upon them he focuses the funded experience which, richer in him than in the ordinary man, enables him to single out whatever is moving or significant, and set it in the context of relations needed to reveal its intrinsic nature.  The revelation of significance is what constitutes the expression of the artist, and the fact that it is a revelation, not merely a game or indulgence in the make-believe, appears from the dissatisfaction we feel when the object set before us turns out to be illusory of fraudulent.  Expressive form in other words, always involves the perception of something real.

- The Art in Painting by Albert C. Barnes, copyright 1925, third edition 1937

Categories: Art History, Uncategorized

The Horse Fair by Rosa Bonheur

January 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Rosa Bonheur The Horse Fair

 

The Horse Fair by Rosa Bonheur, oil on canvas, 96 1/4″ x 199 1/2″, 1853.

If you ever get to visit the Met in NYC, find this amazing painting.  Rosa Bonheur [1822-1899] was a French painter known for her animal art.  She had shown her work in two Salons and was awarded the Legion of Honor but was more popular in the United Kingdom than in France.  The scale and details of this work are just amazing; it takes up a wall and takes you right to the scene being shown.

Categories: Art History

Portrait Bust of a Woman

December 10, 2012 Leave a comment

If only the Romans had carved the names of everyone into everything like the Egyptians did, we might know whose portrait this is.  Perhaps they put to much faith into the portraits being carefully handed down throughout their family lineage.  They never saw those Visigoths coming.  This piece has been returned to display at the Museum of the Art Institute Chicago and photographing it at night came out particularly good.  I photographed both sides and the front to show all the detail in the hair.

 

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Portrait Bust of a Woman, Roman, A.D. 140-50, marble.

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Roman-Bust-140-AD-03

Categories: Art History, Sculpture

Resting by Antonio Mancini

November 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Resting by Antonio Mancini [Italian], oil on canvas, c. 1887, 23 5/8 x 39 3/8 [60.9 x 100 cm] [source]

This painting at the Museum of the Art Institute in Chicago is one of the strangest Impressionist pieces.  The paint is so thick and rough on the canvas, the texture is thick and built up, yet the picture has a woman, soft bedding and glass containers.  The paint has to be at last an inch thick in some areas, maybe more.  It has to be the thickest, most heavily textured application of paint of any Impressionist piece.  At least it seems like it to me.  The contrast in person of the rough texture versus the soft subject is really strange.  I took some close up photos to better show the thick impasto.  The above image from the museum website does not capture the density of the paint.  Yet from a distance the optical blending is marvelous and the coarse texture subsides and is subordinate to the image.

Categories: Art History, Uncategorized
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