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Orazio Gentileschi's Danaë (1621) will arrive at Sotheby's New York this January with an estimate of $25 to $35 million. The 17th-century painting provides a lens to reflect on just how far the Old Masters market has come in the past few decades.

The painting, which has an extensive exhibition history, including shows at the Getty, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Yale University, also has an interesting past in terms of provenance.

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015 11:05

Late Works by J.M.W. Turner Go on View at the Getty

There's a moment in "Mr. Turner," the captivating Mike Leigh movie about the last years in the life of audacious British painter J.M.W. Turner, when the artist is having a heated discussion at the same time that he's busily painting a picture. Concentration ricochets back and forth between canvas and conversation, like a furious ping-pong game.

Turner (Timothy Spall), agitated and sputtering, suddenly turns and spits on the canvas, rubbing the saliva into fresh, wet paint with his thumb. Without skipping a beat, he resumes with brush and palette knife.

"Mr. Turner" is the most convincing cinematic portrayal of an artist since "Basquiat" nearly 20 years ago. Leigh, like the earlier film's director, artist Julian Schnabel, understands that when it comes to making worthwhile art, the only workable attitude is: Do whatever it takes.

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An exhibition with the formidable title "Spectacular Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist" opened this week at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The show comes to us from the Prado Museum in Madrid by way of the Getty in Los Angeles. It consists of four huge 17th-century tapestries along with the small (very small by comparison) paintings by Rubens that served as their designs, plus assorted other things that I'll mention later. Houston is the last stop before everything is shipped back to the owners, mostly in Madrid, perhaps never to travel again, almost certainly not all together.

The tapestries, only four of a full series that numbers 20, are from Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales (Convent of the Barefoot Royals) in Madrid, and they are indeed spectacular, as the title says -- large enough to cover walls many people high, woven by some of the finest tapestry factories of their day and of a quality seldom equaled.

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Curators across the Americas are collaborating on an unprecedented scale with exhibitions being co-organized by museums from Buenos Aires to Toronto, not just in Southern California where museums in Los Angeles have been working with South American partners on the Getty-funded Pacific Standard Time 2 shows for 2017.

In New York, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is due to open “Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980” in March (until 12 July). Sixty years ago the first MoMA survey of the Modern architecture of South America was organized by one US-born curator.

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The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles will return a terracotta head depicting the Greek god Hades to Sicily. The museum has been working with Italian officials for two years to decide whether or not the artifact should be returned. The Getty purchased the terracotta head from New York collector Maurice Tempelsman for $530,000 in 1985. Tempelsman had originally acquired the piece from the disgraced antiquities dealer Robin Symes.

Officials determined that the terracotta head was originally located in Sicily at a sanctuary site for the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The piece’s provenance was discovered by comparing the head to four terracotta fragments found near the famous and highly looted archaeological site Morgantina in Sicily. It soon came to light that the head was illegally excavated from Morgantina in the early 1970s.

The Getty entered into an agreement with Italy’s Ministry of Culture in 2007 after a long legal battle regarding looted works and the museum’s former curator, Marion True. The Getty now has connections in various parts of Italy to facilitate cultural exchange and has been working closely with Sicilian officials since 2010.

The head of Hades will be on view at the Getty Villa as part of the exhibition The Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone at Morgantina through January 21, 2013. The work will then join the Getty-organized traveling exhibition Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome before being placed in Sicily’s Museo Archeologico.

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Harald Szeemann, the famed Swiss art curator, left behind a trove of documents, books and correspondence when he died in 2005. His personal archive, which cut a scholarly swath through much of 20th century Western art, will have a new home at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, starting in September.

The Getty said Tuesday that it has acquired Szeemann's extensive archive, which consists of more than 1,000 boxes of research and includes correspondence with numerous artists. During his career, he championed many and varied artists, including Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly and Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

In addition, his personal library of approximately 28,000 volumes will also reside at the Getty.

Altogether, Szeemann's archive and library will be the largest acquisition in the Getty Research Institute's history. Thomas Gaehtgens, director of the institute, said in an interview that the acquisition is a purchase, not a donation. He declined to reveal how much the Getty paid.

Published in News
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 01:40

Getty Says No Deal With Italy for Statue

An Italian government official on Monday offered to end a long legal fight with the J. Paul Getty Museum by proposing shared custody of a 2,300-year-old bronze statue known as "Victorious Youth."

Italy claims the Getty procured the statue from illicit art dealers, which museum officials deny. Now, however, the governor of Italy's Marche Region—near where the statue was found—is trying both to resolve the matter and boost his home's profile among American tourists by proposing a "cultural exchange" between the Getty and his region.

"We have not come to declare war on the Getty," Gov. Gian Mario Spacca said at a hotel here Monday. "We are here to try to resolve the dispute in a way that will benefit this great museum, the people of Italy and, most important, art lovers around the world."

Getty officials said the object wasn't up for discussion because of the legal process. An Italian judge is expected to issue a decision in a few weeks.

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