Category: Exhibitions

Manet at the Musee D'Orsay

April 5 2011

Image of Manet at the Musee D'Orsay

Picture: AFP

Manet - the Man who Invented Modern Art, opened today at the Musee D'Orsay in Paris. 140 works, including 84 paintings, closes July 3rd. Richard Dorment gives it 4 stars, and even a video. 

Worth jumping on the Eurostar.

Happy Birthday, Mr President

April 5 2011

Image of Happy Birthday, Mr President

A painting by Gerrit van Honthorst that belonged to James Madison has been restored in time to hang back in its original place in his home, Montpelier, in time for the 4th President's 260th birthday. More here.

Better glaze that Gauguin...

April 4 2011

Image of Better glaze that Gauguin...

Picture: BBC

A picture by Gauguin on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington has been attacked during an exhibition.

Susan Burns pounded Two Tahitian Women and tried to rip it from a gallery wall on Friday, officials said. The 1899 painting, which depicts two women's bare breasts, was behind a plastic cover and was unharmed. She was charged with attempted theft and destruction of property and is being held pending a mental evaluation.

Re-joining Monet's Water Lilies

April 4 2011

Image of Re-joining Monet's Water Lilies

Picture: Kansas City Star

One of Monet's Water Lily triptychs has been reunited for the first time in thirty years at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas. The three individual panels belong to the St. Louis Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Nelson-Atkins. More here

Turning Deaccessioning into Art

April 1 2011

Image of Turning Deaccessioning into Art

Next month, I shall be taking part in a conference at the National Gallery on whether major galleries should begin deaccessioning. However, one gallery has jumped the gun: Tate has announced a collaboration with a Turner Prize contender to create an interactive deaccessioning exhibit.

Store/Sell/Destroy No.4 promises to take Michael Landy’s Art Bin concept to a whole new level. A number of low-value, damaged, and less popular paintings will be deaccessioned and shredded, and rewoven into a giant quilt. The stuffing will be made of pulped frames. 

The artist, Korean performance interpretive specialist Ei Pri Fuh, will then sleep under the quilt for the duration of the exhibition. In order to make the installation participative, both Fuh and Tate are hoping that the quilt will be large enough to allow visitors to sleep under it too, subject to a health and safety assessment.

Fuh’s agent said;

Store/Sell/Destroy No.4 will be a commentary on accessioning, deaccessioning and reaccessioning through the creation of a temporal cacophony of orchestrated multi-linear collisions between spatially and historically remote works, set within a rich inheritance of reductive aesthetics. 

Fuh said:

I hope it will be warm.

At the end of the exhibition, the quilt will be sold to benefit Tate’s acquisition fund. 

Update 2.4.11: This was a joke.

That Picasso - too expensive?

March 28 2011

Image of That Picasso - too expensive?

Picture: Tate

The Guardian's Jonathan Jones isn't sure if the The World's Most Expensive Painting (which I mentioned earlier) is really worth the money. Now that it's on display at Tate Modern, Jones asks: it worth the money?

To my surprise, the answer is no. It comes as a surprise because I love Picasso. If money was just numbers (and in the world of high finance and art sales, perhaps it is just numbers), I would not blink at any price quoted for one of his paintings. But this is not la-la land. It is a troubled world with a troubled economy, and the blame for the problem, all sides agree, has something to do with bubbles, credit gorges, fantasy economics. And yet, ever more impossible prices are being paid for paintings.

For now, this Picasso is all about its price tag, and the display at Tate Modern is poisoned if you know its damned value.

I think I agree. However, I see that Jones has changed his tune since this reductionist rant when it was sold at auction in 2010:

The sale of Picasso's 1932 painting Nude, Green Leaves and Bust for a new world record price of £70m is a tragedy. Unless it turns out that the anonymous purchaser is a public museum – almost certainly not the case – what has happened here is a theft of world culture, art history and beauty from we, the people, by the super-rich. One of the last great surprises of 20th-century art has come and gone, photographed in the sale room on its journey from one private collection to another. If it appears in exhibitions in the future that will be the result of curators fawning to some billionaire for a peep at what, in reality, should be the cultural property of us all.

Jones is evidently a man of good taste, and doubtless has some nice art of his own. But I bet he wouldn't like it if I walked into his living room, nicked a painting off the wall, and said 'this belongs to the people!' 

British Museum Shakespeare Exhibition in 2012

March 21 2011

Image of British Museum Shakespeare Exhibition in 2012

Picture: National Portrait Gallery

The British Museum is to hold a major Shakespeare exhibition in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad. There are few details at the moment, but I'm most interested in which portrait of him they will exhibit.

Above is the National Portrait Gallery's 'Chandos portrait' of Shakespeare - which for me is the best example. Quite a few newspapers, books and magazines these days illustrate the 'Cobbe portrait' which was recently proclaimed 'the only surviving portrait of William Shakespeare painted from life'. Alas, it is most definitely not him

PS - if you're really keen on the idea of the Shakespeare exhibition, you can apply here to be a project curator - £22,907 p.a. Entries close 1st April. 

Five Star Watteau

March 15 2011

Image of Five Star Watteau

Picture: Royal Academy. Detail of Nude Man Kneeling, c.1715/16, Louvre.

The Royal Academy's new exhibition of Watteau's drawings has been given five stars by Alastair Sooke in the Daily Telegraph.

The RA has a selection of the drawings in high-res here

Museum of London new exhibition

March 14 2011

Image of Museum of London new exhibition

Picture: Museum of London. Detail from 'Buy a Rat or a Mouse Trap?' by Rowlandson.

This looks like it's worth a visit; a new exhibition at the Museum of London of rarely seen paintings, drawings and prints showing how London's poor were depicted from the 17th to the 19th century. Exhibition curator Francis Marshall said;

'The Museum of London’s extensive art collection contains many items which are rarely displayed for conservation reasons.  This show offers the chance to see some of our gems: delicate watercolours and prints depicting gritty London subject matter.'

Entry is free, and the show runs from 25th March to 31st July 2011.

More Caravaggio in Rome

March 11 2011

Image of More Caravaggio in Rome

If you're a Caravaggio fan, it's a good time to go to Rome. Not only is there the exhibition of Caravaggio documents in the State Archives, but now a new exhibition at the Museo Diocesano brings together sixty masterpieces by Caravaggio and his contemporaries. It opens today, until 3rd July.

Unsettling sculpture of the week

March 9 2011

Image of Unsettling sculpture of the week

Meet Petra, a life-size sculpture of a female German riot officer. Petra is squatting and urinating. The piece has caused a stir in Germany, but has also won a prestigious prize from the Lienneman Foundation. Its creator, Marcel Walldorf, said;

'The public response has been overwhelmingly positive, and I don't understand why people are attacking Petra. She even contains a special mechanism by which a liquid can be made to flow out of her genitals. But to avoid damaging the gallery's floor, I have substituted a puddle of simulated urine made from gelatine for this exhibition.' 

Important Turners donated to Abbotsford

March 9 2011

Image of Important Turners donated to Abbotsford

Picture: Art Fund. Left, Abbotsford, right, Newark Castle. 

Two watercolours by JMW Turner have been donated to Abbotsford, Walter Scott's home. They were painted in 1831 to illustrate the 1833 edition of Scott's poems. The donor, Phoebe Barrow, chose to donate them through the Art Fund so that they were safeguarded in perpetuity - a smart move in this world of increasing deaccessions. More here

Chardin at the Prado

March 4 2011

Image of Chardin at the Prado

Picture: The Louvre

The Prado has an excellent micro-site for their new Chardin exhibition (ends 29th May). You can zoom into the paintings in great detail while listening to commentary in English. There is also a charming video with Pierre Rosenberg, Deputy Director of the Louvre. Worth a click.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the museum...

March 4 2011

Image of Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the museum...

Tate Modern will host a Hirst retrospective in 2012 as part of its plans for the Cultural Olympiad.

National Gallery Podcast

March 3 2011

Image of National Gallery Podcast

This month's National Gallery podcast is worth a listen. Susan Foister and co discuss the new Gossart exhibition and also the zippy Google Art Project, which features Holbein's Ambassadors in super high-res.  

A new Mabuse?

March 2 2011

Image of A new Mabuse?

A reader has kindly sent me this image, which is an old photo of a painting stolen from a Croatian monastery in 1972. The Madonna and Child was believed by the Franciscan monks of Dubrovnik to be by Mabuse, or Jan Gossart, the star of the National Gallery's new show.

Of course, it is impossible to tell at this distance, but the painting is certainly Mabuse/Gossart/Gossaert-like. The composition is similar to that seen in the c.1520 Mauritshuis/Rijksmuseum Virgin and Child with the Veil, which is no.10 in Maryan Ainsworth's splendid new monograph.

The features and drapery in the Dubrovnik picture seem rather hard, and the pattern was quite widely copied. Nonetheless, it is worth a closer look - so if you know where it is, pray tell...  [More Below]

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Gainsborough goes to China

February 28 2011

Image of Gainsborough goes to China

Is this a first? Gainsborough's 'The Marsham Children' will go on display in Beijing as part of 'Art of the Enlightenment' from 2nd April 2011 to 31st March 2012. The exhibition will be in the National Museum of China, and is made up of loans from a trio of German museums. Exhibition website here

All Hail Maryan Ainsworth

February 26 2011

Image of All Hail Maryan Ainsworth

Of the many positive reviews of the excellent ‘Jan Gossaert’s Renaissance’ at the National Gallery (Guardian, Telegraph, Independent), none mention the driving force behind the show, Met Museum curator Maryan Ainsworth. I am in awe of what she has achieved. [More below]

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The Return of the Double Hang

February 21 2011

Image of The Return of the Double Hang

As an art dealer I'm always extolling the virtues of a double hang - more space to fill.

But I'm delighted to see that the National Gallery is increasingly double hanging in some of their larger rooms. The pictures on the top row are not of the first rank, but the overall effect is so much more exciting than the sparsely hung rooms of old. More please, and congratulations to whoever decided on the new approach. 

More on Caravaggio

February 21 2011


Here's a short video of the new Caravaggio exhibition, in which you can see the freshly restored portrait of Pope Paul V.

Some of the new facts on Caravaggio are:

  • He was born 29th September 1571 in Milan (not the nearby town of Caravaggio).
  • He arrived in Rome at the age of 25 (not 20, as previously thought).
  • The fight in which Caravaggio famously killed a man seems to have been planed in advance, and was probably over a gambling debt.
  • He died in a hospital at Porto Ercole in July 1610 (not on a beach).

You can download the full documentation at the bottom of this page (in Italian).

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