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Between 1938 and his death in 1956, G. David Thompson, a steel tycoon and passionate art collector made a number of sizable donations to his alma mater, Peru High School in Indiana. Thompson’s generous gifts were in honor of his art teacher, John Whittenberger, who inspired the former troublemaker to change and his ways and helped set him on the path that led to his eventual success.

Thompson graduated from Peru High School in 1913 and established his own investment banking company in Pittsburgh during the Great Depression. By 1945, he was at the helm of four steel companies in the city. With ample funds, Thompson became a fervent art collector, often buying works by unknown artists who went on to become quite established. His multi-million dollar collection included works by Paul Klee (1879-1940), Georges Braque (1882-1963), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Jackson Pollack (1912-1956), Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), and Edgar Degas (1834-1917).

While Thompson made a number of donations to major museums, he ultimately gifted 75 paintings and prints, one sculpture, and 54 pieces of oriental pottery to Peru High School. The exhibition Hidden Treasures: The John Whittenberger Collection of G. David Thompson at Peru High School at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art features a portion of the dozens of works Thompson sent to Whittenberger. Works on view include pieces by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), and Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Hidden Treasures is on view through February 24, 2013.  

Published in News
Friday, 28 December 2012 13:22

French Museums Report Record Attendance in 2012

The Louvre, Centre Pompidou, and Musee d’Orsay all reported record attendance numbers for 2012. Recent expansions, newly unveiled renovations, and impressive exhibitions are responsible for beckoning troves of visitors from across the world to the Parisian institutions.

The Louvre, which is the most-visited museum in the world, summons bigger crowds each year. 2012 marked the largest attendance figures ever recorded for the institution with nearly 10 million visitors this year. Expanded Islamic art galleries and a spate of well-received temporary exhibitions were of particular interest to visitors. In fact, they helped boost attendance 29-percent from 2011. Exhibition highlights at the Louvre in 2012 included a show devoted to Thomas Cole (1801-1848) and the birth of American Landscape painting, the presentation of Leonardo da Vinci’s (1452-1519) masterwork, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, and an exhibition of Raphael’s (1483-1520) later works, which he produced in Rome.

The Centre Pompidou, which specialized in modern and contemporary art, welcomed over 3.8 million visitors in 2012, a 6-percent increase from 2011. The Centre Pompidou held three major retrospectives this year, which helped raise visitor numbers. An exhibition devoted to Henri Matisse (1869-1954) titled Matisse, Paires et séries brought 495,000 visitors; a Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) retrospective brought 425,000; and a show of Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí’s (1904-1989) works has seen approximately 6,700 visitors per day since it opened on November 21.

After attendance figures declined from 2008 to 2010, it appears that the Impressionist institution, the Musée d’Orsay, has bounced back with 3.6 million visitors this year. A 15-percent increase from last year, the boosted attendance numbers were likely the result of the reopening of renovated gallery spaces and a major Edgar Degas (1834-1917) exhibition, which brought 480,000 visitors. The current exhibition, Impressionism and Fashion, is expected to see 500,000 guests before closing on January 21, 2013.

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The Art Institute of Chicago is sending almost 100 European modern art masterpieces to the Kimbell Art Museum in For Worth, Texas. Part of a four-month traveling exhibition, the show at the Kimbell is slated to open on October 6, 2013 and run through February 16, 2014.

Renowned for its collection of modern European art, the Art Institute of Chicago will loan its works to the Kimbell while their own galleries undergo renovations. The Kimbell is the only museum to host the Art Institute’s traveling exhibition.

The show will include sculptures and paintings by Juan Gris (1887-1927), Georges Braque (1882-1963), Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), Paul Klee (1879-1940), Joan Miró (1893-1983), and Marc Chagall (1887-1985). Two major highlights of the show are Henri Matisse’s (1869-1954) Bathers by a River (1909-10) and Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) Old Guitarist (1903).

The Kimbell hosted an exhibition of Impressionist works from the Art Institute of Chicago back in 2008. The show was one of the best regarded in the Kimbell’s history.

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One of the most significant artists of the 20th century, Henri Matisse (1869–1954) is best known for his use of color and fluid, innovative forms. A leading figure in modern art, the French artist defined the Fauvist movement, but defied classification. The works of Nicolas Poussin, Édouard Manet, Auguste Rodin, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin inspired Matisse and he communed with groundbreaking artists such as Camille Pissarro, André Derain, and Gertrude Stein.

 The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition Matisse: In Search of Painting opens on December 4 and explores the evolution of Matisse as a painter. Matisse worked rigorously, often painting the same scene and subject over and over again to gauge his own progress and compare various techniques, a process he developed during his academic training.

In Search of Painting features just 49 vibrant canvases but spans Matisse’s entire career. Organized by Rebecca Rabinow, a curator of modern and contemporary art, the exhibition places the works in pairs and groups by subject to illustrate Matisse’s methodical process. In the 1930s, Matisse began having photographs taken at various stages of each painting to document their evolution. Three of the finished canvases along with their accompanying photographs will also be on view. The juxtaposition illustrates Matisse’s own self-awareness and the arduous process that led to each finished canvas.

Matisse: In Search of Painting will be on view through March 17, 2013.

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Designed by Renzo Piano, the museum that houses the collection of John de Menil and Dominique de Menil opened to the public 25 years ago. A sold-out gala is being held tonight, November 29, to celebrate. The fete has raised $2.2 million, exceeding its $1.5 million goal. This is only the third gala held by the Menil Collection as the institution already boasts an endowment of approximately $200 million thanks to support from the board, donors, and corporate sponsors.

The theme of the night will be “Celebration in Blue,” a tribute to Yves Klein, an important figure in post-war European art and a personal friend of the Menils. Among the 700 guests will be Pablo Picasso’s grandson, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, philanthropist Agnes Gund, president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art, and hedge fund chief John D. Arnold.

A silent auction will also be held at the gala. The 31 lots include works by Ed Ruscha, Olafur Eliasson, and Richard Serra. Proceeds will support operations and exhibitions. The museum plans to expand their contemporary art collection and hope to build the Menil Drawing Institute to house and exhibit modern and contemporary works.

The free museum features over 15,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, and rare books from the 20th century, all of which were once part of the Menils extensive private art holdings. Included in the impressive collection are works by Paul Cezanne, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollack.

Published in News
Friday, 02 November 2012 18:00

Pair Pleads Guilty to Selling Stolen Matisse

Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman of Miami and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo of Mexico City have pled guilty to selling a stolen Henri Matisse painting on Miami’s black market. The duo admitted to FBI agents that they knew the $3 million painting, Odalisque in Red Pants (1925), had been stolen before making a deal to sell it to an undercover officer who was part of a sting operation. The pair was arrested after the sale was made.

The painting has been missing from Venezuela’s Sofia Imber Contemporary Art Museum since approximately 2002 when it was swapped for a fake. Some speculate the switch went unnoticed for years. Even though Interpol, the FBI, and police in France and Spain have investigated the case, the details of the theft remain a mystery. However, Guzman and Lazo said in court that they were told museum employees hung the forgery in place of the original.

Although the painting has been recovered, it has not been returned to Venezuela. Guzman faces 10 years in prison for conspiracy to transport and sell stolen property, while Lazo faces five years. The pair is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

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Major paintings by such artists as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Henri Matisse were stolen from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal Museum on Tuesday. The thieves, who ransacked the museum in the early hours of the morning made off with seven works that may total hundreds of millions of dollars.

The heist is the largest in years for the Netherlands and includes Picasso’s Tete d’Arlequin, Matisse’s La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune, Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London, Gauguin’s Femme devant une fenetre ouverte, dite la Fiancee, Meyer de Haan’s Autoportrait, and Lucian Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed.

The works belong to The Triton Collection, a private collection that is being shown to the public for the first time ever as part of the Museum’s 20th anniversary celebration. The Triton Collection was assembled over a twenty-year period and includes 150 works of modern art spanning from the 19th century to the present day.

The Kunsthal’s alarm went off at 3AM and Rotterdam police have secured evidence from the scene. The police are speaking with potential witnesses and investigators are looking into the security camera footage.

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.

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