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The National Geographic Society is well known for its collection of photographs chronicling scientific exhibitions, explorations, archaeology, wildlife, and various cultures of the world. With 11.5 million photos and original illustrations in its collection, National Geographic will bring a small selection from the archive to Christie’s December auction. There will be 240 pieces spanning from the late 1800s to the present including photographs as well as paintings by artists such as Andrew and N.C. Wyeth. The National Geographic Collection: The Art of Exploration is expected to bring about $3 million on December 6. This marks the first time any of the institution’s collection has been sold.

While many of the works have never before been published or exhibited, a number of them are well known including Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl that has a pre-sale estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. Other works include a 1969 illustration entitled A Blue Globe Hanging in Space–The Earth as Seen From the Moon by Charles Bittinger, a photo of a diver with an octopus taken by Jacques Cousteau, and The Duel on the Beach, a painting by N.C. Wyeth.

All proceeds from the auction will be put towards the promotion and preservation of the National Geographic archive as well as the young photographers, artists, and explorers who will guide the institution into the future.

Published in News
Thursday, 18 October 2012 16:27

Getty Institute Buys Knoedler Gallery Archive

165 years ago, the Knoedler Gallery opened its doors in New York and went on to help create some of the country’s most celebrated collections including those of Paul Mellon, Henry Clay Frick, and Robert Sterling Clark. Throughout the years, top-notch works by artists such as van Gogh, Manet, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Louise Bourgeois, and Willem de Kooning passed through the gallery. When the Soviet government sold hundreds of paintings from the State Hermitage Museum in Leningrad in the 1930s, they chose to work with Knoedler to sell paintings by masters like Rembrandt, Raphael, and Velazquez.

Knoedler’s exemplary past is often forgotten as the gallery’s present has been mired in lawsuits and accusations that the company’s former president, Ann Freedman, was in the business of selling fakes. Last year, Knoedler Gallery closed its doors for good.

This week, Los Angeles’ Getty Research Institute announced that it had bought the Knoedler Gallery archive. Spanning from around 1850 to 1971, the archive includes stock books, sales books, a photo archive and files of correspondence, including letters from artists and collectors, some with illustrations. The Getty was interested in Knoedler’s archive because it offers an expansive glimpse into the history of collecting and the art market in the United States and Europe from the mid-19th century to modern times.

The archive was purchased from Knoedler’s owner, Michael Hammer, for an undisclosed amount. Meticulously preserved, the archive will be available to scholars and digitized for online research after the Getty catalogues and conserves it all.

Published in News
Thursday, 18 October 2012 13:16

$8 Million Miro Sells at FIAC

The International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) starts today in Paris and runs through Sunday, October 21. One of the largest forums for contemporary artists, galleries, and dealers, the FIAC encompasses a number of events across the city at the Grand Palais, the Louvre Museum, the Tuileries Gardens, and various other locations.

The Grand Palais portion of the FIAC is held on two floors and features 182 dealers of modern and contemporary art from around the world. Last night’s preview, which is considered a litmus test of the art market’s strength, hosted a number of notable sales. Joan Miro’s Surrealist abstract Peinture (Le Cheval de Cirque) (1927) was sold by Helly Nahmad Gallery (New York) for $8 million and Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attese (1967–68) was sold by Paris’ Tornabuoni Arte for $2.36 million.

A number of high-profile collectors were in attendance including French billionaires Francois Pinault and Bernard Arnault, U.S. collector Alberto Mugrabi, and Turkish collector, Omer Koc. If the preview is any indication of the how the fair will proceed, it should be any exciting next few days in Paris.

Published in News
Saturday, 06 October 2012 20:08

Fine Art Now Available at Costco

Six years ago wholesale powerhouse, Costco, stopped selling fine art amid allegations that two Picasso drawings sold on their online store were fakes. The company recently decided to give the venture another go adding “Fine Art” as a category in their “Home & Décor” section. Nestled between “Bathroom,” “Bedding,” and “Kitchen & Dining,” the foray into the art market seems to be going well. In the past two weeks or so, 8 out of the 10 have sold including a framed screen print by Andy Warhol for $1,450 and a framed lithograph by Henri Matisse for $1,000.

The works are supplied by Greg Moors, an art dealer based in San Francisco who provided Costco with art when they first launched the department in 2003. Driven by the notion of financially accessible art, Moors dismissed the peculiarity of a discount warehouse store selling fine art. In fact, this practice is not exclusive to Costco. Between 1962 and 1971, Sears sold over 50,000 works by such artists as Picasso, Rembrandt, Chagall, and Whistler as part of the Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art. Customers could even buy works on layaway.

Although he did not supply the store with the questionable Picassos, Moors is very careful about what is available via Costco. Most of the works are unsigned to avoid questions about the signatures’ authenticity. He is also attempting to sell the works of more living artists and is avoiding artists who are known to have a proliferation of fakes circulating in the art market.

Published in News

The Museum of Craft and Folk Art (MOCFA) will be closing its doors on December 1, 2012, the date marking the institution’s thirtieth anniversary. Founded in 1982 by craft artist and well-known sculptor, Gertrud Parker, MOCFA is the only folk art museum in Northern California.

After three decades, the Museum’s overseers felt that their mission, to bring recognition and legitimacy to craft and folk art in the contemporary art arena, had been achieved. The poor climate for smaller art institutions was undoubtedly a contributing factor.

Although the art market and leading museums now embraces contemporary artists who borrow from craft traditions, the innovative and daring venues that helped these artists get there are suffering. For instance, this past summer amid financial troubles, the American Folk Art Museum in New York was forced to sell its building on 53rd Street to the Museum of Modern Art and move to a smaller venue.

The MOCFA has exhibited hundreds of artists and significant local and national craft and folk art collections over the years. The Museum is devoted to collaborating with artists on commissions of new work as well as promoting artist-led projects and public programs. MOCFA has worked ardently to provide a place for makers and artists to come together and create, discuss, and learn. The Museum’s final exhibition, Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers, will be on view from now until December 1.

Published in News
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 03:45

Collectors and artists flock to upstate New York

The trend for renovating derelict buildings in Hudson, New York, continues apace, with two art collectors in the process of converting an old school, dating to the 1920s, into an arts centre.

The collectors, Steven Johnson and Walter Sudol, have bought the building from the city for around $300,000. “It will ultimately become an art foundation. We are building a 500-person auditorium as well as around ten spaces, each around 1,500 sq. ft, that will be used as galleries,” said Johnson. The centre, The Second Ward, is named after the school, and is due to open in 2013.

The programme is still “rather unstructured at this point”, said Johnson, who sees the space as a venue for local and established artists. “We’ve talked loosely with artist friends like Christian Marclay about doing projects, but there are no set plans yet. We want the auditorium to become a venue for local artists—there’s a real film and music scene in town already,” added Johnson, who aims to make admission free.

The centre will also provide storage for the couple’s collection which comprises several hundred works by around 40 artists such as Wade Guyton, Gabriel Orozco, Nancy Spero, Raymond Pettibon and Wolfgang Tillmans. Curators and artists will be invited to curate shows from the pair’s holdings, although Johnson said that, “we don’t want this to just be about our collection.”

Published in News
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