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The Portland Museum of Art in Maine presents Shangaa: Art of Tanzania. The first major exhibition in the United States to focus on the traditional arts of Tanzania, Shangaa includes 165 objects on loan from private and public collections throughout the U.S. and Europe. While most of the works are sculptural in nature, styles range from expressionistic to abstract to refined.

“Shangaa” means “to amaze” in Swahili and that is the intent of the exhibition. Curated by Tanzanian art specialist Dr. Gary van Wyk, Shangaa includes works ranging in date from the 19th century through today. The exhibition illustrates how Tanzanian culture uses art to channel energy, mark the passage into adulthood, and celebrate life among many other things.

Shangaa: Art of Tanzania will be on view through August 25, 2013.

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A multimillion-dollar art collection built by poet T.S. Eliot’s widow, Valerie, will be sold at Christie’s London on November 20, 2013. The collection includes works by Francis Bacon (1909-1992), Lucian Freud (1922-2011), and J.M.W. Turner (1775-19851). Ms. Eliot, who passed away in November at the age of 86, amassed her collection using royalties from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music Cats, which was based on her husband’s whimsical poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Ms. Eliot’s collection, which resided in the London home she shared with her husband, is expected to garner around $7.6 million.

Highlights from the collection include drawings and watercolors by 18th and 19th century British artists including Turner, Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), and John Constable (1776-1837); a sculpture by Henry Moore (1898-1986); and a lush landscape titled The Cathedral, Hackwood Park by Winston Churchill (1874-1965). There will also be portrait miniatures from the 16th through the 19th centuries, furniture, and jewelry for sale.

Proceeds from the Christie’s auction will benefit the Old Possum’s Practical Trust, an arts charity created by Ms. Eliot.

Published in News
Thursday, 30 May 2013 18:18

Strike Sweeps UK Museums and Galleries

Unhappiness over jobs, pay, and pensions has led workers at numerous museums, galleries, and heritage sites across the UK to go on strike. The walkout has affected some of the country’s biggest art institutions including the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and Tate Liverpool. The National Portrait Gallery released a statement apologizing to patrons and explaining that it was “necessary for some gallery rooms to be closed” due to the strike.

Walkouts are expected to continue through the weekend. Employees of the Natural History Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum are expected to participate in the strike but the institutions will remain open to the public. Workers at national heritage sites, including Stonehenge, are planning to take action on Sunday, June 2, 2013.

The nationwide strike is part of a three-month campaign over an ongoing dispute about workers’ rights. The PCS union, the largest civil service union in the UK, is planning a national strike to take place at the end of June.

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While many museums post photos of their illustrious collections online, the images are not for public use. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is about to change all of that. The institution, which focuses on the art and history of the Netherlands, is allowing visitors to download high-resolution images off of their website at no cost. They’re even going so far as to encourage patrons to copy, alter, and share the images.

The Rijksmuseum, whose collection includes works by Rembrandt (1606-1669), Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), has already made 125,000 images available through Rijksstudio, an interactive section of their website. Officials aim to add 40,000 images per year until the entire collection, which is comprised of 1 million artworks, is available to the public. The decision to make all of the museum’s images public stems from the notion that they are a public institution, making the art and objects in their collection communal property. The proliferation of the Internet has also made image policing extremely difficult and officials would rather the public use high-quality images instead of poor reproductions.

Rijkstudio has seen over 2.17 million visitors since going live in October 2012 and approximately 200,000 people have downloaded images.

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A painting by renowned Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) will be the highlight of Masterpiece London, which takes place at the Royal Hospital Chelsea from June 27 through July 3, 2013. Now in its fourth year, the show presents the finest art, antiques, and design from across the globe.

While works ranging from furniture, jewelry, and books to classic cars, watches, and whiskey will be offered, there is one particular artwork generating tons of pre-show buzz. Geoffrey Diner, a Washington, D.C.-based art dealer, will present Roy Lichtenstein’s Puzzle Portrait (1978), which has not been seen in public in 30 years and has never appeared at auction. Similar paintings are part of the Guggenheim Museum’s and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collections in New York. Puzzle Portrait is expected to garner around $10 million.    

Diner has revealed little about the painting’s provenance other than the fact that it was sold in 1984 to “a prominent American collection.” Diner purchased the painting privately last year and the change of ownership still has not been registered in the Lichtenstein Foundation archives. The identity of the previous owners will be revealed to the buyer upon acquisition of the painting. The future buyer will also be given the personal correspondence between them and the artist from the original transaction.

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In February 2013, the Fred L. Emerson Foundation and the Seward House Museum in Auburn, New York announced that they would sell a significant painting by the English-born American artist and founder of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole (1801-1848). The sale of the work, titled Portage Falls on the Genesee (1839) is intended to benefit the institution, which opened to the public in 1955 and became a registered National Historic Landmark in 1964.

Portage Falls was given to the American politician William H. Seward while he was the governor of New York prior to the Civil War. Seward went on to serve as Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson and was a dominant figure in the Republican Party during its formative years. After his death in the 1950s, his home and its contents, which included 15,000 items including books, furniture, and works of art, were donated to the Fred L. Emerson Foundation. The Foundation opened the Seward Museum in 1951 and it became a fully independent, not-for-profit institution in 2009; the Cole painting was retained by the foundation.

The work, which depicts what is now Letchworth State Park in western New York, has been on view at the Seward Museum for 170 years and not everyone is pleased with the Foundation’s decision to sell it. A group known as the Seward Legacy Preservation, which formed in April 2013, includes descendants of Seward, and is poised to fight to restore the painting to its former place in the Seward House.

Seward’s great-great-grandson, Ray Messenger, also voiced his opposition to the sale. Although he served as the president of the Seward House’s board until 2009, Messenger was shocked by the decision. On Tuesday, May 7, 2013, Messenger asked a judge to make him the administrator of Seward’s estate, the initial step in filing a lawsuit to block the sale.

Portage Falls, which measures roughly 7 feet by 5 feet, was said to be worth around $20 million dollars in 2007. If the painting is sold, the Foundation and the Seward Museum plan on splitting the profit. The painting is currently being kept in a secure storage location.

Published in News
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 18:29

Christie’s Takes on Mainland China

On Tuesday, April 9, 2013, Christie’s announced that they have been granted a license allowing them to hold independent auctions in Mainland China, making them the first international auction house to do so. The company’s inaugural sale will be held autumn 2013 in Shanghai. Christie’s has been building its relationship with China since 1994 when the auction house set up a representative office in Shanghai.

China’s art market continues to grow at a rapid pace, making it an ideal location for international auction houses. The sale of art and antiques in China garnered $13.7 billion in 2012, making it the second largest market in the world behind the United States. The country’s strong buyer base has been active in Christie’s global auction centers in New York, London, Hong Kong, and Paris. In fact, the number of clients from Mainland China bidding at Christie’s international auctions has doubled since 2008. Christie’s presence in Shanghai will allow the auction house to sell directly to China’s growing number of wealthy buyers.  

China’s auction market is currently dominated by the country’s own Beijing Poly International and China Guardian. Sotheby’s joined forces with the state-owned Beijing GeHua Cultural Development Group last year to hold auctions in China. Sotheby’s own 80% of its venture with Beijing Gehua.

Christie’s recently granted license, which is good for the next 30 years, allows the auction house to hold sales anywhere in China, but prohibits the company from selling anything created before 1949. Christie’s plans to sell wine, jewelry, watches, contemporary Chinese paintings, and international modern paintings starting this fall.

Published in News
Thursday, 14 March 2013 14:30

U.S. Regains Top Art Market Standing

China’s art market experienced a substantial boom in 2011, bumping the United States out of its top spot and ultimately becoming the world’s principal market for art and antiques. In 2012, amid the uncertain global economy, China’s growth began to slow and its art and antiques market shrank by almost a quarter. This deceleration allowed the U.S. to regain its title as the world’s most significant art market.

The power shift was announced as part of the highly anticipated TEFAF Art Market Report compiled by Dr. Clare McAndrew. McAndrew, a cultural economist who specializes in the fine and decorative art market, is the founder of Arts Economics, a company commissioned by The European Fine Art Foundation to provide a yearly analysis of the worldwide art market. The report coincides with the beginning of TEFAF Maastricht, the Foundation’s annual art fair, which begins March 15, 2013 in the Netherlands and runs through March 24, 2013.

Slowing economic growth and a lack of high quality, high priced items on the market are to blame for China’s slip to the second most influential art market. While auction sales dropped by 30% in China, U.S. sale figures were up 5% to $18.4 billion. In 2012, buyers opted to minimize financial risk by buying works by well-known artists at the top end of the market with Post-War and Contemporary art performing the strongest.

Dr. McAndrew will present her findings at the TEFAF Art Symposium on Friday, March 15, 2013 in Maastricht.

Published in News
Monday, 11 February 2013 15:51

American Artist, Richard Artschwager, Dies at 89

Genre-defying painter, sculptor, and illustrator, Richard Artschwager (1923-2013), died February 9, 2013 in Albany, NY. He was 89.

Artschwager, who was often linked to the Pop Art movement, Conceptual Art, and Minimalism, resisted classification through his clever genre mixing. His most well known sculpture, Table with Pink Tablecloth (1964) is an amalgamation of Pop Art and Minimalism and consists of a box finished in colored Formica, creating the illusion of a wooden table draped in a pink tablecloth. Artschwager often used household forms in his work including chairs, tables, and doors. In his paintings, Artschwager often painted black and white copies of found photographs and then outfitted them with outlandish frames made of painted wood, Formica or polished metal.

Artschwager was born in 1926 in Washington, D.C. and went on to study at Cornell University. In 1944, before he could finish his degree, he was drafted into the Army and sent to Europe. Upon returning to the United States after World War II, Artschwager completed his degree and decided to pursue a career in art. He moved to New York City and began taking classes at the Studio School of the painter Amédée Ozenfant, one of the founders of Purism. With a growing family and bills to pay, Artschwager took a break from making art to start a furniture-making business. After a fire destroyed his workshop, Artschwager returned to making art, developed his defining style, and was taken on by the Leo Castelli Gallery, which represented him for 30 years.

A few days prior to Artschwager’s death, the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan closed a major career retrospective of his work. It was the second of its kind to be organized by the museum.    

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A Grand Tour: Trade Winds of Influence
16th Annual Charleston Art & Antiques Forum
March 13–17, 2013
Old Courtroom, 23 Chalmers Street, Charleston, S.C.
For information visit www.CharlestonAntiquesForum.org
or call 800.926.2520

The forum will bring together an impressive group of speakers from the US and Europe who will demonstrate the influence of the Grand Tours of the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries on the architecture, furniture, silver, art, and gardens of Americans and Europeans alike. Dame Rosalind Savill, Director Emeritus of the Wallace Collection, London, England, will deliver the keynote address, focusing on her experience with French decorative arts. The mission of the Charleston Art & Antiques  Forum is to present the best fine and decorative arts scholarship, and to benefit arts education and preservation. Sponsors of the 2013 Forum are Charlton Hall Auctions, PDI, and the Florence Museum.

10th Annual Charleston Antiques Show
March 22–24, 2013; preview March 21
Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain Street, Charleston, S.C.
66th Annual Spring Festival of Houses and Gardens
March 21–April 20, 2013
For information visit www.historiccharleston.org or call 843.723.1623

Inspired by the rich historical, architectural, and cultural heritage of Charleston, the 10th annual Charleston Antiques Show is a premier destination for collectors and enthusiasts who enjoy seeing and learning about incorporating antiques into modern-day décor. Attendees will find English, European, and American period furnishings, decorative arts, and fine art, architectural elements, garden furniture, vintage jewelry, and silver. In addition to attending the show, visitors can sign up for special events such as a luncheon lecture with the award-winning classical architect Gil Schafer, behind-the-scenes tours with experts, and study tours. While in Charleston, enjoy walking tours through the city’s historic district showcasing Charleston’s distinctive architecture, history, and gardens during the 66th Annual Festival of Houses and Gardens and experience the intimate charm and elegance found within private gardens and historic homes.

 

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