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A California couple has gifted the Minneapolis Institute of Arts a collection of Japanese Art worth $25 million. The gift is one of the largest in the museum’s history and includes around 1,700 objects such as paintings, sculptures, ceramics, woodblock prints, and bamboo baskets and spans more than 1,000 years. Together with a pending bequest of 500 Japanese objects from a New York-based collector, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts will become one of the most comprehensive venues for viewing Japanese Art.

The donors, Libby and Bill Clark, have been acquainted with the museum’s director, Kaywin Feldman, since the mid-1990s when she ran an art museum in Fresno, CA. The Clarks had set up a small museum and study center devoted to Japanese art at their home in central California. Bill Clark’s love of Japanese culture was sparked during tours of Japan while serving in the U.S. Navy. He began collecting seriously in the 1970s and launched the nonprofit Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in 1995. The Clarks often loaned works from their collection to art museums and helped organize traveling exhibitions. In addition to the Clarks’ gift, the MIA is purchasing other works from their collection using $5 million from a special endowment for art purchases.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has been devoted to showcasing Japanese Art since it opened in 1915. Currently, 15 galleries are devoted to its collection of 50,000 Japanese art objects. The exhibition, The Audacious Eye, will present a portion of the Clarks’ gift and will be on view from October 6, 2013 to January 12, 2014.

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Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) Woman in an Armchair (Eva) (1913), which was recently gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art by philanthropist and cosmetics mogul, Leonard A. Lauder, is currently on view in the institution’s Lila Acheson Wing for modern and contemporary art. The painting will exhibited for three months as part of a preview of Lauder’s monumental bequest to the museum.

Lauder’s gift, which is said to be worth at least $1 billion, includes 78 Cubist paintings, drawings, and sculptures and will significantly improve the Met’s 20th century holdings. The gift includes 33 works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), 17 by Georges Braque (1882-1963), 14 by Juan Gris (1887-1927), and 14 by Fernand Léger (1881-1955). The entire Lauder collection will be exhibited at the Met during the fall of 2014.

Woman in an Armchair (Eva) is one of Picasso’s most arresting paintings. A portrait of his mistress, Eva Gouel, the work epitomizes the Cubists’ rejection of the traditional interpretations of space, time, and perspective. The highly eroticized masterpiece was lauded by the founding father of Surrealism, André Breton (1896-1966), in his groundbreaking text Surrealism and Painting (1928).   

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When the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art closes on June 2, 2013 for three years worth of renovations and an expansion, the institution will send some of its treasured holdings away. 23 masterpieces by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) won’t have far to travel as they will be exhibited at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco’s museum of European paintings and sculpture.

The Matisse works headed to the Legion of Honor include 16 paintings, 4 sculptures, and 3 works on paper, which will hang in one of the museum’s ground-floor galleries alongside two paintings already in the Legion’s collection. The only Matisse painting that will remain off view is Femme au Chapeau (1905) as the terms of its bequest by philanthropist Elise S. Haas state that the painting cannot travel.

Although details are still vague, the Legion of Honor will host two relevant shows while exhibiting the Matisse works – one will be a retrospective of Matisse’s older contemporary, Anders Zorn (1860-1920), and the other will be a survey of French paintings on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

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In 2010, the UK’s National Trust was given five paintings from the estate of the late Edna, Lady Samuel of Wych Cross, the widow of Harold, Lord Samuel of Wych Cross, a property developer, philanthropist, and prominent art collector. Among the bequest was a portrait of an ornately dressed man believed to be a relatively unremarkable 17th century painting. Although the work bears a signature and date reading “Rembrandt 1635,” experts believed it to be a later copy or the work of one of the Dutch master’s pupils.

The painting, which spent nearly two years in storage, has just been identified as an authentic Rembrandt (1606-1669) self-portrait worth over $30 million. The painting hadn’t been examined since 1968 and recent X-ray analysis along with newly found circumstantial evidence from the Rembrandt Research Project indicates that the work is in fact genuine.

The self-portrait is the only Rembrandt in the National Trust’s collection of 13,500 paintings and will remain on view at Buckland Abbey through the end of tourist season. Once it is taken off view the painting will be undergo a thorough cleaning and further technical analysis. Experts will perform dendrochronology to date the beech panel the work is painted on, the paint will be analyzed, and the painting will be x-rayed again to check for under-drawings.

David Taylor, the National Trust’s curator of paintings and sculpture, expects to have a final confirmation on the painting by early next year.       

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The London branches of Sotheby’s and Bonhams will join forces with the Cologne-based auction house, Lempertz, to sell off works from the late Gustav Rau’s (1922-2002) vast collection. Rau, a well-known art collector and philanthropist, passed away suddenly in 2002, leaving his remarkable collection to Unicef’s German branch. Rau’s holdings, which include many Old Master and Impressionist paintings and sculptures, were estimated to be worth around $600 million at the time of the bequest.

While Unicef has sold a number of Rau’s works to fund ongoing projects over the years, this is the first time a significant portion of the collection has come up for sale. The auction, which is planned to take place this summer, will feature works by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), El Greco (1541-1614), and Claude Monet (1840-1926) among many others. The works are all in pristine condition as Rau either left his collection in storage or offered them to museums for exhibition purposes rather than hanging them in his own home.

All proceeds from the sales will benefit children’s causes, specifically in emerging countries. Rau, who spent much of his life working as a doctor in Africa, was a champion of clean drinking water initiatives and better vaccination practices in developing areas. Unicef plans to use a large portion of the funds to finish a children’s hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that Rau founded before his death.      

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Thursday, 28 February 2013 14:08

Corcoran Gallery to Auction Rugs at Sotheby’s

On June 5, 2013 the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. will auction 25 rugs from its William A. Clark Collection at Sotheby’s New York. The rugs, which are from the 16th and 17th centuries, are estimated to bring as much as $9.6 million.

The rugs were part of a bequest from William Clark (1839-1925), a Montana-based billionaire entrepreneur-turned-senator, to the Corcoran in 1925. The gift was comprised of 200 paintings and drawings and a number of other works, including the rugs.

The Corcoran will use the proceeds from the sale to support future acquisitions that will better fit the institution’s focus on American and contemporary art. While the Corcoran has endured recent financial troubles, the money will not be used for operating expenses in keeping with its deaccession policy.

Highlights from the Corcoran sale include the Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet, which is expected to garner between $5 million and $7 million. An unknown Persian artist created the rug during the first half of the 17th century possibly for the shah. The rarely exhibited Sickle-Leaf is one of the most iconic and important carpets to appear at auction. Another rug known as the Lafoes Carpet, which measures 44 feet long, is expected to bring between $800,000 and $1.2 million.  

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Upon her death on January 7, 2013 at the age of 91, Ada Louise Huxtable (1921-2013), a pioneering architecture critic, writer and historian, left her entire estate and her archives to the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. The bequest also included an apartment in New York City, a house in Marblehead, MA, and the archives of Huxtable’s husband, industrial designer, Garth Huxtable (1911-1989).  Huxtable served as the architecture critic for the New York Times from 1963 to 1982 (she was the first full-time architecture critic at an American newspaper) and as a writer for the Wall Street Journal.

The Huxtable Archives, which include notes, correspondence, research files, manuscripts, drawings, and photography, will become part of the Getty’s Special Collections holdings. Huxtable, a proponent of historic preservation, will have her own groundbreaking work conserved for the benefit of the public and the field of architecture thanks to her partnership with the Getty.

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After recent financial struggles, the American Folk Art Museum received a hefty gift from David L. Davies, a former trustee and noted folk art collector who passed away in March, and his partner Jack Weeden. The $1 million bequest came as a welcome surprise after the recent hardships the museum has endured.

In July of 2011 the Folk Art Museum was forced to sell their 53rd Street home to the Museum of Modern Art in order to pay back a nearly $32 million debt related to a bond payment. In addition to vacating their flagship location, the museum's director, Maria Ann Conelli, resigned and the museum canceled a highly anticipated exhibition in Venice. The museum was in need of the good news.

Now located in a smaller building in Lincoln Center, the Folk Art Museum will use the money to establish the David Davies and Jack Weeden Fund for Exhibitions. Davies, a trustee of the museum for two decades, also donated a number of artworks to its collection including Morris Hirshfield's The Artist and His Model (1945). Hopefully the positive news signals fruitful times to come for the Folk Art Museum.

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