20th Century

Picasso in the Prado

July 22 2021

Image of Picasso in the Prado

Picture: elpais.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I've spotted this rather interesting article (via. @Boro_RR on Twitter) concerning the historic and continuing controversy surrounding the inclusion of a portrait by Picasso into the collection of the Prado Museum in Madrid. After a donation made in 2004, the hang raised a great commotion due to the fact the museum's rules said that no post-1881 works could enter the collection of the museum. The rules were bent somewhat and the painting was hung alongside works by the likes of Velázquez and El Greco (pictured). The museum's current director Miguel Falomir has continued to support the painting's inclusion in the museum's collection.

Another Mona Lisa Copy Soars...

July 8 2021

Image of Another Mona Lisa Copy Soars...

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Another copy of the Mona Lisa, probably barely one hundred years old, soared past its estimate in the Sotheby's day sale today. The picture, c.1900, realised £378,000 (inc. fees) over its £8k - £12k estimate.

This price seems like madness, especially compared to this genuinely beautiful seventeenth century copy of a Leonardo in the Louvre that made £94,500 (inc. fees) in the same sale.

As it happens, a reader has been in touch with a screen shot of the same copy of the Mona Lisa which was up for sale on Ebay in January 2021 which sold for over £2,000:

Update - Apologies for missing this, it seems that this copy that sold on Ebay was the very same one in the Sotheby's sale. A reader has pointed out the corresponding imperfections visible on the backs of both canvases.

Dutch Government to initiate 'grand inquiry' into WWII Restitution

June 29 2021

Image of Dutch Government to initiate 'grand inquiry' into WWII Restitution

Picture: Artnews.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Artnews.com have published an article on reports that the Dutch Government will be initiating a 'grand inquiry' into the restitution of Nazi-looted art. This process will attempt to reassess looted works of art in the Netherland Art Property Collection and will renew efforts to find owners.

According to the article:

Many commentators began alleging that the committee was prioritizing the state over claimants. In 2020, lawyer Jacob Kohnstamm issued a report that found that the Dutch Restitution Committee needed to be “more empathic” and recommended that it abolish its “balance of interests” methods, which allow the committee to give weight to the national interests as well as the interests of the claimants. Two members of the committee, including its chairman, resigned after the report was issued.

Alice Cooper to Sell Warhol he had 'Forgotten About'

May 14 2021

Video: Fox

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a curious news story that the Rockstar Alice Cooper is selling an Andy Warhol print that he had 'forgotten about'. It was purchased for Cooper by a former girlfriend during the 1970s for $2,500. Little Electric Chair will be auctioned off carrying an estimate of $2.5m - $4.5m.

Dylan Thomas's Last Portrait Acquired

May 14 2021

Image of Dylan Thomas's Last Portrait Acquired

Picture: westerntelegraph.co.uk

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The last portrait made of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) has been acquired by the Carmarthenshire County Council. The work, painted in September 1953, was purchased for £15,000 with contributions from Art Fund and the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the National Lottery.

To quote the news report linked above:

The council's executive board member for culture, sport and tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said: “We are absolutely delighted to be bringing this painting back to where Dylan Thomas spent his last years. It will take pride of place in the new gallery at Carmarthenshire Museum later this year for everyone to enjoy.” 

The painting will be professionally conserved before going on display in a new gallery at Carmarthenshire Museum from September. It will then go on tour to the Dylan Thomas Boathouse and other venues in the region before returning to Carmarthenshire.

Music Video in the Hermitage

May 13 2021

Video: Till Lindemann

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg has become the backdrop for the German singer and Rammstein frontman Till Lindemann's latest release. The video accompanies a version of the post-war Russian song entitled Любимый город (Beloved Town), a piece that became particularly associated with the city after the Siege of Leningrad, and was released on the eve of Victory Day.

Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky published a press release explaining that the collaboration was a part of a new project with the aim of strengthening cultural ties between Russia and Germany. The video is actually set in several rooms designed by the German architect Leo von Klenze (1784-1864), rooms which house some of the museum's most treasured old master paintings.

Picasso's Guernica Recreated in Chocolate

May 5 2021

Video: Telemadrid

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Confectioners in Spain have been busy creating an enormous copy of Pablo Picasso's 1937 masterpiece Guernica. The recreation was produced to mark the 85th anniversary of of the bombing that inspired the work.

Although 1,102 pounds of chocolate was used to make this copy Lorena Gomez, president of the Basque Federation of Sweet Artisan Gastronomy, has answered the question we all want to know:

It cannot be eaten, as it has suffered a lot of temperature change and is gathering dust.

Why do Picassos from 1917 Crack?

April 22 2021

Image of Why do Picassos from 1917 Crack?

Picture: The Art Newspaper

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper have published an interesting article exploring why Picasso's works from 1917 have deteriorated much quicker than other works from this period. The article uses data collected from a study by ProMeSa, a three-year research project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. In particular, the project has been interested in a selection of works inspired by dancers and made while Picasso was working at a friend's studio in Barcelona during the year 1917.

According to the article:

Picasso used a canvas with a tighter weave for Hombre sentado (pictured), coating it with a thicker ground layer of animal glue, researchers found. Both factors meant larger internal stresses formed when the paintings were exposed to fluctuating humidity, while chemical reactions between certain pigments and binding media sparked chemical reactions that caused paints to degrade. As a result, the paints gradually cracked when stresses built...

More Works from American Museums at Auction

April 20 2021

Image of More Works from American Museums at Auction

Picture: artnet.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Artnet.com have published an interesting article on news that more American Museums are selling valuable paintings at auction this season.

This includes the New-York Historical Society, the city's oldest museum, who have decided to auction off Childe Hassam's Flags on 57th Street, Winter 1918 (1918) at Sotheby's carrying an estimate of $12m - $18m. They're not alone however, as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Newark Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum will all be offering works for sale this season. The article suggests that the ongoing virus crisis is to blame, and that the majority of works are in the American category.

The article ends with this quote from the art lawyer Nicholas O'Donnell who said:

If you view the collection as a revenue source, will you keep managing a nonprofit institution as carefully as you should? If, in the back of your mind, you know that if things don’t work out, you can make up the difference here and there by selling a painting?

Henry Scott Tuke at the Watts Gallery

April 16 2021

Image of Henry Scott Tuke at the Watts Gallery

Picture: The Watts Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Watts Gallery in Surrey have announced more details about their upcoming exhibition on the late Victorian / Edwardian artist Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929). The show is due to run from 7th June - 12th September 2021.

According to the exhibition blurb:

Henry Scott Tuke explores the complexities that surround the life and art of this British painter, famed for his depictions of sun, sea, and bathing during a late Victorian and Edwardian golden age. Tackling questions of artistic influence, art practice and a varied reception history, the exhibition brings together some of Tuke's most significant works.  Having spent his early years studying at the Slade School of Art, Tuke first discovered the appeal of painting en plein air on his travels in Italy and France. On his return to Britain in the 1880s, like many of his generation, Tuke was drawn to Cornwall. He initially headed to Newlyn, while the emerging artists' colony was still in its infancy, before settling in Falmouth. Using both beach and boat as his studio, Tuke built his early reputation with ambitious sombre-coloured scenes of Cornish seafaring. He even converted an old French brigantine, the Julie of Nantes, into a colossal 60-foot floating studio. It was aboard this vessel that Tuke painted his most ambitious seafaring subject, All Hands to the Pumps! (Tate). 

Today – as in his lifetime – Tuke is best known for his distinctive depictions of nude male youths swimming, messing about in boats and sunbathing on Cornish beaches. Influenced by the colour and technique of the European avant-garde, Tuke strove to capture the chromatic effects of sunlight on skin, becoming a leading figure in the resurgence of the male nude in British art.

The exhibition will also be accompanied by the release of new major book on the artist by Yale University Press.

Raphael Inspired work by Dalí Remerges

April 6 2021

Image of Raphael Inspired work by Dalí Remerges

Picture: El Pais

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here is a rather curious story that has emerged over the past few days.

A painting by Salvador Dalí has rememerged after being in a private collection since the 1950s. The 1958 work entitled Madonna Cosmic was clearly inspired by Raphael's The Sistine Madonna in Dresden. It is being put up for sale by the heirs of its previous owner who have decided to offer the painting for private sale via a website. The site contains contains three testimonies in a section entitled 'What the Experts Say' along with other information about the work's provenance. No estimate has been supplied.

Royal Academy of Dance Acquires Portrait

March 29 2021

Image of Royal Academy of Dance Acquires Portrait

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian have published a story on news that the Royal Academy of Dance in London have acquired a portrait of Tamara Karsavina, a key dancer behind a revolution in ballet during the twentieth century. The painting by Jacques-Émile Blanche had come up for sale at Christie's last year and was spotted by one of the academy's supporters and former dancers Anya Linden. Fortunately, Linden managed to co-ordinate a fundraising effort amongst wealthy donors and purchased the portrait for the institution.

Breaking the Mould - Touring Exhibition

March 18 2021

Image of Breaking the Mould - Touring Exhibition

Picture: The Arts Council

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Arts Council have organised a special touring exhibition this year entitled Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945

According to the exhibition blurb:

This major new touring exhibition challenges the male-dominated narratives of post-war British sculpture by presenting a diverse and significant range of ambitious work by women. Offering a radical recalibration, Breaking the Mould  not only celebrates the strengths of sculpture made by women but also seeks to guard against the threat of slipping out of view. Through this deliberately restorative act, the exhibition seeks to inspire future generations, supporting the maxim ‘if she can see it she can be it’. 

Breaking the Mould represents the work of over forty-five sculptors including Barbara Hepworth, Elisabeth Frink, Kim Lim, Cornelia Parker, Veronica Ryan, Rachel Whiteread and Anthea Hamilton.

The exhibition will first open on 21st May 2021 at the Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and will then tour to New Art Gallery Walsall, Djanogly Art Gallery, The Levinsky Gallery at the University of Plymouth, Nottingham Lakeside Arts and Ferens Art Gallery, Hull.

Lecture Series on Frederico Zeri's Museums

March 12 2021

Image of Lecture Series on Frederico Zeri's Museums

Picture: Fondazione Zeri

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Fondazione Zeri are hosting another very interesting set of free online lectures dedicated to collections of Italian paintings which had previously been edited by the Italian art historian Frederico Zeri (1921-1998). Collections featured within the series include the Galleria Spada in Rome, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Mason Perkins Collection of Assisi, the Saibene Collection in Milan, The Gallery of the Palazzo Cini in Venice and the Pallavicini Gallery in Rome.

This lecture series, broadcast in Italian between March and May, are free to join on Zoom and on Facebook.

Alice Ravenel Huger Smith Exhibition

March 5 2021

Image of Alice Ravenel Huger Smith Exhibition

Picture: Middleton Place National Historic Landmark and the Edmondston-Alston House

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News has reached me from the US of a special exhibitions celebrating the American artist Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (1876-1958). These exhibitions opened on 1st March 2021 and will be held at Middleton Place National Historic Landmark and the Edmondston-Alston House in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The show has been accompanied by the publishing of a new book on Alice's art entitled Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Charleston Renaissance Artist.

Picasso Exporter Looses Appeal

March 3 2021

Image of Picasso Exporter Looses Appeal

Picture: artnet.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The ex-banker Jamie Botin, who attempted to illegally export a Picasso from Spain in 2012-3, has had his second appeal rejected by the Spanish courts.

Botin acquired Head of a Young Woman (1906) in 1977. Subsequently, the Spanish State decided to declare the work a national treasure when he tried to sell the painting through Christie's in 2012. The work was eventually confiscated from his yacht by the Spanish authorities in Corsica in 2015, who had stipulated that the painting may not leave the country.

Due to this latest ruling the former vice president of Santander will now have to serve 18 months in prison and pay a €91.7m fine. Ouch.

Newly Discovered Augustus John Drawing Offered in Yorkshire

March 3 2021

Image of Newly Discovered Augustus John Drawing Offered in Yorkshire

Picture: Tennants

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The auction house Tennants in Yorkshire will be offering a newly discovered drawing by Augustus John in their upcoming March sale. The unrecorded drawing of John's mistress and muse Dorelia was uncovered in a private collection. It will be sold on 20th March 2021 with an estimate of £7,000 - £10,000.

Update - The drawing made £16,000 (hammer price).

Rediscovered Painting by Carl Moll Breaks Record

February 25 2021

Video: Freeman's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A recently rediscovered painting by the Viennese Secessionist Carl Moll (1861-1945) has broken the previous record for the artist at auction. White Interior (1905) had featured in several important exhibitions at the beginning of the century, and was even exhibited alongside Gustav Klimt's The Kiss. The work brought in a record breaking $4.75m over its $300k - $500k estimate at Freeman's in Philadelphia.

Stolen Art in Franco's Spain

February 23 2021

Image of Stolen Art in Franco's Spain

Picture: LaSexta

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Spanish media outlet LaSexta have run a short video piece detailing stories of artworks looted after Franco's victory during the Spanish Civil War. The article and video (available in Spanish only) details the tales of several families whose artworks have yet to be returned to them. Several heirs have been pursuing their claims in the Spanish courts, including after works by the likes of Goya, Morales and El Greco.

Christie's to Sell Churchill's Only Wartime Painting

February 2 2021

Image of Christie's to Sell Churchill's Only Wartime Painting

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Following on from the ongoing developments regarding the rise of Sir Winston Churchill's prices at auction, Christie's has announced that it will be offering his only wartime painting at auction on 1st March 2021. Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque was completed in January 1943 during the Casablanca Conference. He is believed to have captured the scene for Franklin D. Roosevelt, with whom he had met during this visit. The work, sold from the Jolie Family Collection, will carry an estimate of £1,500,000 - £2,500,000.

Update - I've just spotted from another article that the Jolie Collection mentioned was in fact the one created by the film star Angelina Jolie. Surprising, to say the least!

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