Previous Posts: January 2018

Brexit and the art market (ctd.)

January 15 2018

Image of Brexit and the art market (ctd.)


Immediately after the Brexit referendum result, AHN predicted that the cheaper pound would help boost art exports from the UK, as buyers took advantage of the newly discounted art on sale in Britain. But I didn't expect that art exports would rise so dramatically that they would have an effect on the UK's trade deficit. In the last quarter, overseas art buyers bought an extra £500m worth of art in the UK. The Times reports:

Foreign art collectors came to Britain’s rescue in the three months to November by spending an extra £500 million in auction rooms, helping to pare back the ballooning trade deficit.

The Office for National Statistics said that the deficit had narrowed by £1.2 billion to £6.1 billion over the period, once oil and “erratic” items such as ships, aircraft and non-monetary gold were excluded, with just under half of the improvement down to higher art exports.

The trade deficit reflects the country’s ability to pay its way in the world, measuring how much more Britain imports that it exports. A wide deficit is linked with a risk of currency collapse.

All of this is good for those doing the deals in the UK - auction houses and dealers, at least in the short term. But it's not so good for British heritage. How much of this extra £500m will be accounted for by works of national pre-eminence? I don't know, but I should imagine there will be a proportional rise in export licence applications.

'A Stitch in Time'

January 15 2018

Video: BBC

There's a new series on the BBC looking at fashion in art, called a 'Stitch in Time'. More here

An early Leonardo discovery in the US?

January 10 2018

Image of An early Leonardo discovery in the US?

Picture: Worcester Art Gallery

Judith H. Dobrzynski of The Art Newspaper reports that a small panel at Worcester Art Gallery (above) might be an early work by Leonardo da Vinci. It is thought to be very close to another early work in The Louvre:

The museum will display the work with another predella panel, the Annunciation (around 1475-78), from the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Both have been attributed mostly to Lorenzo di Credi. Drawing on research by Rita Albertson, WAM’s chief conservator; Laurence Kanter, the chief curator of Yale University Art Gallery, and Bruno Mottin, the senior curator of the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, the exhibition will argue that Leonardo was the main author of both paintings.

The panels were part of an altarpiece for the Duomo of Pistoia in Tuscany; documents show that Andrea del Verrocchio received the commission around 1475. Leonardo and Lorenzo were members of Verrocchio’s workshop in Florence at the time. X-ray studies on the Worcester panel confirm previous theories that two artists worked on it, Albertson says, arguing that underdrawings betray the hand of Leonardo. The painting also presents light effects, details such as eyelashes and wrinkles, and a naturalistic landscape consistent with the master, she says. Mottin’s analysis of the Louvre’s work tallied with Albertson’s conclusions.

More at the site of Worcester Art Gallery here

Fakes, fakes everywhere? (ctd.)

January 10 2018

Video: Palazzo Ducale, Genoa

Last year, an exhibition of works by Modigliani was put on with great fanfare at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice. Alas, all but one of them were (as the Telegraph reports) fake, and the exhibition was closed down.

I suspect most of you can tell from the exhibition video above that the pictures are not only fake, but are really bad fakes. How did they ever slip through the net?

The Telegraph adds:

Three people are now under investigation for the alleged fakes, including Rudy Chiappini, the curator of the art exhibition, and Joseph Guttmann, a Hungarian art dealer who owns 11 of the works.

You can see a video of Chiappini saying the works are not fake here.

Always nteresting to see what other exhibitions people have been involved with.

Carlo Pedretti (1928-2018)

January 10 2018

Image of Carlo Pedretti (1928-2018)

Picture: Ansa

The art historian Carlo Pedretti (above left), hailed by Kenneth Clark as 'the greatest' Leonardo scholar of his time, has died. He started writing on Leonardo in 1944. More here

New UK arts minister

January 9 2018

Here in the UK, the Prime Minister has been re-shuffling the Cabinet, or at least attempting to; the main person she wanted to move, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, refused to budge. Further down the ministerial ladder, the Arts Minister, John Glen, has been moved to the Treasury. Which was not entirely convenient for me, as I was due to meet him tomorrow, to discuss museum image fees. 

The new Arts Minister is now Michael Ellis. As the former minister Ed Vaizey says (on Twitter):

Congratulations Michael. Great guy. Though third arts Minister in less than 18 months not so good...

There is also a new Secretary of State for Culture, Matt Hancock.

Zurburan in the US

January 8 2018

Video: Meadows Museum

The Auckland Castle Zurburans are on tour in the US. Their next stop will be at the Frick in New York (which doesn't allow children in) from 31st Jan to 22nd April. More here.

Until recently they've been at the Meadows Museum in Dallas, which made the above, excellent video (which I've only just seen - sorry).

Study this, win £10k!

January 8 2018

Image of Study this, win £10k!

Picture: Royal Collection

The Burlington Magazine have launched a new £10,000 prize for the study of French 18th Century fine and decorative art. From the January editorial:

Initiated and funded by Richard Mansell-Jones,  a trustee of The Burlington Magazine Foundation, the scholarship  offers £10,000 to a student based anywhere in the world  who has embarked or is about to embark on an M.A. or Ph.D. or is undertaking research in a post-doctoral or independent  capacity. The deadline for applications is 1st March 2018, and the successful candidate will be chosen in April by a selection panel chaired by Christoph Vogtherr, Director of the Hamburger Kunsthalle and former Director of the Wallace Collection, London.

Nudity! Call the cops!

January 8 2018

Image of Nudity! Call the cops!

Picture: via Art Net News

In Utah, an art teacher was sacked, and the police called, after a class of sixth graders (11 to 12 year olds) were shown images of artworks which featured nudity. Sarah Cascone of ArtNet News has the story:

The four nude works, by artists Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Amedeo Modigliani, Francois Boucher, and Agnolo Bronzino, were part of a set of postcards that depicted 100 art-historical works, reproduced by Phaidon and called the Art Box. It had been purchased as a teaching tool by the school some years ago, before Rueda was hired [...]

some parents complained of “classroom pornography” and, within days, Rueda was suspended and then asked to resign. He refused, and was promptly fired.

But not to worry, Utah parents - the offending images have been shredded:

An anonymous complaint from a parent also brought the Cache County Sheriff’s Office to the scene. At the school, principal Jeni Buist was found destroying the pictures of nude works from the Art Box and other publications in the school library.

“She said she was putting the postcards and paintings in the shredder at the request of the school district so they wouldn’t be distributed again,” sheriff Chad Jensen told the Journal. “We got some of the pictures and showed them to the County Attorney’s Office, and they said these wouldn’t meet the definition of pornography. They declined to file charges.”

The Counter-Reformation had nothing on this.

Christie's New York Old Master drawings

January 8 2018

Video: Christie's

Here's drawing specialist Furio Rinaldi on some highlights from Christie's 30th January sale of Old Master drawings. Catalogue here

Sotheby's New York Old Master sales

January 8 2018

Video: Sotheby's

Sotheby's New York Old Master catalogues are online; with many wonderful things available to see. I'll write more about what's on offer soon. But here is the Evening sale, here is the Day sale, and here is the special catalogue for the collection of Otto Naumann, the Obi-Wan of the Old Master dealers, who is retiring from the business. 

UK export bar on £26.2m Guardi

January 8 2018

Image of UK export bar on £26.2m Guardi

Picture: Christie's

The UK government has placed a temporary export bar on the Guardi painting of the Rialto Bridge sold at Christie's last July for £26.2m. I suspect it's unlikely that any UK institution will want to raise the funds to keep it here, but you never know.

More here

Museum image fees (ctd.)

January 8 2018

Image of Museum image fees (ctd.)

Picture: British Museum

I'm looking forward to meeting John Glen MP, the arts minister, later this week to discuss museum image fees. One of the things we'll be focusing on is the way so many UK museums define 'academic' so tightly that nothing academic can in fact qualify for a free or discounted image. For example, here is the British Museum explicitly defining academic publications as 'commercial'.

The sad thing is, the British Museum used to be one of the most generous at giving free images to scholars.

Michelangelo's Royal Collection drawings

January 8 2018

Video: BBC

Here's a 'web exclusive' from Andrew Graham-Dixon's new Royal Collection series, looking at three presentation drawings by Michelangelo.

Update - the BBC's embed link doesn't seem to be working. You can see the clip here.

Royal Collection season on the BBC

January 8 2018

Video: BBC

Much to look forward to as the BBC explores the Royal Collection this year. More here

New entry fees at the Met

January 8 2018

Image of New entry fees at the Met

Picture: Met

Robin Pegrobin at the New York Times reports:

For the first time in half a century, visitors to the world’s largest cultural institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will have to pay a mandatory admission fee of $25 if they do not live in New York State under a new policy that begins March 1, the museum announced on Thursday.

The Met says this is after a 'sharp decline' in the number of people willing to pay the 'suggested' donation of $25. But (given how difficult it is to actually get through the various barriers and guards without actually paying something) I suspect it may be more to do with the questionable financial management of the last few years. 

Guffwatch - Italian edition

January 4 2018

Image of Guffwatch - Italian edition

Picture: Gallery Luca Tommasi

A reader has sent in the below label from an exhibition in Milan of the work of American artist Peter Schuyff. It may be that something has been lost - or rather, gained - from the Italian translation. But I think you'll agree it's a prime example of art guff. 

By way of a contrast, I found a good quote from Schuyff himself, describing his paintings:

A woman telephoned me and asked me, “What are your paintings about?” And I said, “Don’t worry about that now. Just be thankful they are there.” I thought about that afterwards, and that really describes to me how my paintings are about nothing. How they deal with the problem of nothing.

This reminds me of my favourite art historical quote, by Turner on Ruskin:

He sees more in my pictures than I ever intended.

This should be carved in stone over the doorways of art history departments.

Stolen de Kooning returns to US museum (ctd).

January 4 2018

Image of Stolen de Kooning returns to US museum (ctd).

Picture: Silver City Sun News

It looks like the stolen $160m de Kooning abstract that was recently returned to the University of Arizona was stolen by a retired schoolteacher and his wife, who were simply de Kooning fans. Woman Ochre was stolen in 1985 by a couple who distracted a security guard on Thanksgiving Day - and was never seen until it was taken to an antiques store in 2017. The house in which the picture was found belonged to Rita and Jerome Alters, and there is much evidence to connect them to the theft. It turns out - according to the Silver City Sun News - that the painting used to hang behind the bedroom door (above), and seems to have been there since 1985:

Circumstantial evidence continues to pop up as this case proceeds with time. A search of the home quickly showed that the Alters like de Kooning, as several replica pieces were hanging throughout the home. 

The master bedroom window were the painting was found was blacked out. The de Kooning hung behind the bedroom door, concealed unless the door was closed. There was also a huge screw on the bottom of the wall where the painting was mounted so the door couldn't accidentally hit the painting when it was opened. 

A local Cliff artist said she had done a painting for the Alters and it was them on top of some horses in the Himalayas. When she went to the home to take a photo of it, she went into the bedroom where the painting was hanging. On her way out, she noticed the de Kooning on the wall and asked about it. She said the Alters didn't want to talk about the painting. 

Who's not on ArtUK?

January 4 2018

Video: ArtUK

On his always interesting blog, the RA boss Charles Saumarez Smith notes that King's College Cambridge has refused to participate in the ArtUK project. It's one of only three institutions in the whole of the UK that are not on ArtUK. One of the others is the Royal Collection, which makes up for it by having its own excellent website. Anyone know, who is the third?

Meanwhile, ArtUK is producing a series of videos for teachers, showing how the site can be used as a teaching aid. Above is one for English teachers. 

The art market in 2018

January 3 2018

Image of The art market in 2018

Picture: TAN

In The Art Newspaper, Georgina Adam makes her predictions for what lies ahead this year for the art market. She sees the sale of the Salvator Mundi having a significant effect, both in Old Masters and the use of guarantees.

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