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Saturday, 05 March 2011 04:37

NEW YORK CITY – A recent Thursday saw me racing around Manhattan. Receptions at the Union League Club and Hirschl & Adler Galleries followed a lunch at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel to launch the Spring Show NYC, the latest venture of the Art and Antique Dealers League of America. After a rugged winter, could spring be in the air?
The Spring Show NYC
With baby boomers beginning to retire, 60 prominent dealers in art and antiques are looking to counter one of the industry’s most ominous trends: aging collectors.  An innovative new fair organized by the Art and Antique Dealers League of America may be just the thing to wash away the gray. The Spring Show NYC is set for April 28 to May 2 at New York’s Park Avenue Armory.
“We’re reaching out,” said League president Clinton Howell, describing the fresh presentation that is specifically aimed at younger audiences.
“We want to attract a new generation of collectors,” added the show’s producer, Michael Franks, a dmg world media alum who also mounts the SOFA contemporary design shows in New York, Chicago and Santa Fe. The back-to-back Spring Show NYC and SOFA New York, which closes on April 17 at the Park Avenue Armory, are sharing some of their production costs, a smart move for both ventures. Scandinavian design authority Lars Bolander is advising on the look of the Spring Show NYC, so expect the installation to be anything but stodgy.
The League has put together an outstanding exhibitors’ list. Some of the headliners are Kentshire Galleries, Hyde Park Antiques, Philip Colleck, Ltd., Alfred Bullard, Foster-Gwin, Carlton Hobbs, Schiller & Bodo, Thomas Colville, Robert Simon, Abby M. Taylor, Jack Kilgore, Hill-Stone Inc., Douglas Dawson, Kevin Conru, Arthur Guy Kaplan, Leo Kaplan, Ltd., Jeff R. Bridgman and Peter Pap Oriental Rugs.
The League is working with the edgy New York Observer to reach 50,000 subscribers with a magazine-style catalogue. It is also partnering with nearly a dozen youth-oriented patrons groups, from the American Friends of the Louvre’s Young Patrons Circle and the Metropolitan Opera’s Young Associates to Christie’s and Bard Graduate Center alumni.
Tycoons-in-training Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are honorary co-chairs of Arts Night Out, the show’s Young Collectors Night on Friday, April 29. The event is sponsored by Antiques and Fine Art magazine, Doyle New York and Absolut vodka. Online vendor is hosting the April 27 preview party benefitting ASPCA.
Just to keep things hopping, the lively lecture series will feature Derek Ostergard on French design of the interwar years, Tim Knox on architecture for animals, Ruth Peltason on jewelry, Mario Buatta on decorating with antiques and Robert Thurman – yes, Uma’s dad - on Buddhist art.
Hirschl & Adler’s New Galleries
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, a standard bearer for American fine and decorative arts now approaching its sixtieth year, has moved from its townhouse galleries on East 70th Street to the historic Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue in the heart of midtown Manhattan.
We recently caught up with Elizabeth Feld, Hirschl & Adler’s managing director, from the floor of the Armory Show at New York’s Pier 92, where the gallery’s contemporary division was exhibiting through March 6.
“We’re in love,” Feld said of the firm’s new quarters. “The space is very contemporary and gives us the freedom to mount museum-like displays.”
On February 24, Hirschl & Adler had a soft opening in the Crown Building for contemporary artist John Moore, a painter of urban and industrial views.  An inaugural exhibition, “Masterworks: The Best of Hirschl & Adler,” opens on May 5.
“The show will include examples of the best from every area that we specialize in, from the eighteenth century to the present,” said Feld.
Woodbury’s Next Auction
Best known for fine Federal furniture, Woodbury, Ct., dealer Thomas Schwenke briefly escaped Litchfield County’s lingering snow to host a festive reception at the Union League Club on 37th Street.
The gathering provided a sneak preview of Woodbury Auction’s second anniversary sale of antiques and fine art, planned for Saturday, May 21.
Schwenke launched Woodbury Auction as an adjunct to his main business in 2009 in Woodbury, known as the antiques capital of Connecticut.
“The reception provided a venue for our clients to get together.  We have customers who still don’t know that we’ve started an auction house,” Schwenke explained.
Consignments for the May 21 sale, which features three collections plus estate material, are being accepted through April 15. To date, highlights include a New Jersey tall clock by Aaron Lane, a Baltimore Hepplewhite card table and a Charleston Pembroke table.
Write to Laura at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thursday, 03 March 2011 03:39

From Thursday, March 3, to Sunday, March 6, 2011, iPhone-toting visitors to Pulse, SCOPE, VOLTA NY, Fountain, and Moving Image will experience the New York art fairs in a new way thanks to a “next-gen” mobile technology that recognizes artworks.

The art fair visitor equipped with the Collectrium mobile app will be able to point her iPhone at any registered artwork exhibited at the fair and:

-instantly receive extensive information on the artist and the piece;
-add the artwork to “My Collection” favorites;
-share with friends via Facebook, Twitter and email;
-contact the gallery about the artwork.

So, now, no more scribbled notes on postcards and flyers: after exploring the art fairs with the Collectrium iPhone app, the collector can leave with a browsable list of her favorite artworks at the fairs, complete with detailed information on each work, artist, and exhibiting gallery. Even if the collector snaps an unidentified artwork, she can easily enter the information and personal notes about the piece. She will have created her own virtual gallery and catalogue.

“This is a social art management system, part of the next generation of tools for appreciating art,“ says Boris Pevzner, the former Silicon Valley entrepreneur who founded Collectrium. “Our app makes the experience of visiting an art fair more interactive for the art lover—enhancing the on-site visit, while also allowing visitors to take the fair home with them.”

Pevzner concludes: “We’ve created a bridge between the physical and virtual art worlds by bringing the power of online technology to that live moment of discovery.”

In addition to using the Collectrium iPhone app to automatically identify artworks, visitors to the participating fairs will:

-browse the entire art show catalogue on their iPhone;
-enter images, details and personal notes about works of art not registered in the system;
-view all the programming and scheduling information about the fairs.

Furthermore, the visitors who store their own private collections on the web using Collectrium will have access to their artworks through the same mobile app, alongside the artworks exhibited at the art fairs.

“Collectrium’s image recognition capability is absolutely unique. It’s one reason I see them as the leader in the new breed of mobile and social applications for the art world,” said Alexis Hubshman, Founder and President of the SCOPE Art Fair.

Thursday, 03 March 2011 03:30

London’s February series of evening contemporary-art auctions raised 56.2 percent more than last year, boosted by works by Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol, and phone bidding from a widening range of international clients.

The auctions at Sotheby’s, Christie’s International and Phillips de Pury & Co. raised 155.1 million pounds ($251 million), up from 99.3 million pounds last year, according to Bloomberg News calculations.

“There’s a feeling among investment-driven collectors that art has been tested and it’s passed,” Anders Petterson, founder of the London-based research company ArtTactic, said. “People have been surprised how quickly the market has recovered and how blue-chip works have held their value.”

Dealers said the sales were helped by Russian and Asian buyers and the sale of the 43.7 million-pounds of contemporary works from a private collection. These boosted the Sotheby’s total to 88.3 million pounds. Christie’s raised 61.4 million pounds, the most for a contemporary-art auction in the U.K. capital since July 2008, as New York dealer Larry Gagosian paid 10.8 million pounds for a Warhol self portrait. Two years earlier, during the financial crisis, the auction house’s entire sale raised 8.4 million pounds. Phillips added 5.4 million pounds to the tally.

Thursday, 03 March 2011 03:18

Following a 3-year face lift, China's National Museum reopened on Tuesday in Beijing. As part of the extensive renovations, the museum now stands at over 2 million square feet with 49 rooms, according to Xinhua News.

The museum now holds some 1 million cultural relics, and has an 800-seat theater, and a 300-seat conference room, according to

Thursday, 03 March 2011 03:16

Modern and contemporary art lovers are invited to see the Armory Show, which is open to the public from tomorrow through the weekend.
The art show is considered one of the top international art fairs, highlighting works from the 20th and 21st centuries.

This year, 274 galleries from 31 countries are taking part.

"I would just walk around and look, look, look and ask questions,” said Armory Show Executive Director Katelijne De Backer.

Works are on display inside Pier 92 and Pier 94 on 55th Street on the West Side. Pier 94 is devoted to contemporary art work that comes fresh out of artist studios. Pier 92 is the "modern" section of the show, where you will find art from masters like Pablo Picasso, Giorgio Morandi, and Giorgio de Chirico.

Thursday, 03 March 2011 03:13

As promised, following our run-down earlier this morning of the bigger art fairs hanging up their wares on New York City walls this Armory Week, let's take a look at the smaller, more manageable (and often free) art fairs at which you could also spend you week.

Verge Art Brooklyn: Finally, an Armory Week fair in Brooklyn! Not only that, but totally free Thursday through Sunday, too. Every vacant commercial space in Dumbo, it seems, is being optioned for Art Brooklyn, which will have its main exhibitor space at 81 Front Street, with a survey of Brooklyn artists curated by James Kalm on the second floor of 111 Front Street (alongside all those galleries' ongoing exhibitions), and artists' projects at 55 Washington Street and 20 Jay Street.

Independent: This collaboration between Chelsea gallerist Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook of London gallery Hotel first took over the former Dia building at 548 West 22nd Street last year, and it was definitely the highlight of Armory Week. The sophomore Independent runs Thursday through Sunday and it's free again, with an expanded roster of almost 50 international galleries and non-profits presenting site-specific installations by their artists. Another difference this year is that that parts of the massive building have been sliced up into smaller galleries, so there probably won't be that awesome ground-floor lounge with the Rirkrit Tiravanija ping pong table. But maybe they'll open up the stunning roof deck again.

Thursday, 03 March 2011 03:11

As New York's Armory Arts week kicks off, the art world is playing something of a manic game of "Where's Waldo?" Or, rather, "Where's Kehinde?"  In a mass migration of talent, more than 50 artists have jumped ship to new galleries over the past two years, creating a very different art scene than the one that existed before the recession.

Whether it's for production money, a bigger cut of sales or more wall space, or due to the closing of galleries like Deitch Projects, Bellwether and Goff + Rosenthal, and the downsizing of other's stables (Andrea Rosen, Zach Feuer), the resulting moves represent the biggest reshuffling of the art-world since the market crashed in the early 1990s, according to several art dealers and artists. "During times of economic strain, there's always a lot of free-radical movement going on," said art adviser Todd Levin of the Levin Art Group, as some dealers and artists turn "skittish"— and make tracks.

Winners and losers in the broad shake-up? Paul Kasmin, who's showing William Copley at the Art Dealers Association of America fair this week, a recent "get" from David Nolan Gallery, has gone on something of a raiding spree—of rival Marlborough in particular. Mary Boone has recently snagged three artists from other galleries, including cult painter Peter Saul, to add to a stable that includes Terence Koh and Eric Fischl. David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth have also beefed up their rosters at the expense of smaller players.

Thursday, 03 March 2011 03:06

This week, fine art meets flash as five sculptures by high-profile artists land in Times Square, a public art exhibition connected to the arts trade show Armory Arts Week.

On Tuesday morning after the unveiling, tourists and native New Yorkers alike wandered among the statues, ranging from a voluptuous ten-foot ceramic woman from the late sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle to the 24 sheep made of paper by Brooklyn artist Kyu Seok Oh.

Thursday, 03 March 2011 03:02

Jack Warner crumpled into a chair Thursday morning at the art museum in north Tuscaloosa that bears his family name. On the floor in front of the aging patriarch lay a masterpiece being packed into a custom-built crate.

The painting, “Progress (The Advance of Civilization)” by Asher Durand, was headed to New York City. Warner doesn't know who owns it now.

“This is the heart of the collection,” said Susan Austin, Warner's wife and executive director of the Westervelt-Warner Museum of Art.

More than 2,000 pieces of fine art amassed by Warner, 94, over the past four decades comprise one of the finest collections of early American art anywhere, experts say. Warner and his wife believe many of the collection's most important works will be sold this year.

They don't know how many pieces will go, nor do they know which ones. The Westervelt Co., a family-owned enterprise controlled by Warner's son, Jon, intends to raise an undisclosed amount of money through the sale of art that Jack Warner acquired with his family's fortune.

Wednesday, 02 March 2011 04:52

Auction house Sotheby's on Monday reported that its net income climbed 31 percent as revenue from its auctions of art and other valuables jumped.

For the quarter that ended Dec. 31, Sotheby's earned $96.2 million, or $1.38 per share, compared with $73.6 million, or $1.09 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2009.

According to estimates from FactSet, analysts were expecting $1.32 per share, on average. These estimates generally exclude one-time items.

Revenue rose to $318 million from $218 million a year earlier. Auction and related revenue rose 47 percent to $310.8 million. Sotheby's said its sales were strong around the world.

Wednesday, 02 March 2011 04:47

Billionaire Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, gives a sneak peek tonight at his new Soumaya Museum in Mexico City, representing one of his biggest gifts to the art and museum worlds.

The gleaming, aluminum-plated structure, which cost an estimated $34 million, will be free to visitors. The Carlos Slim Foundation will underwrite all of the museum’s expenses, including maintenance and the cost of mounting exhibitions.

“There will be no specific budget of a certain amount,” said Slim, worth an estimated $69.5 billion, in a recent interview at Bloomberg News’s New York headquarters. “There will be no limits. We will decide what needs to be done at the museum and just do it.”

The museum was designed by Slim’s son-in-law, architect Fernando Romero, 39, who apprenticed under Pritzker Prize winner and urbanist Rem Koolhaas. The 150-foot-tall building is named after Soumaya Domit, Slim’s wife, who died of kidney failure in 1999.

The Soumaya, which opens to the public on March 28, will display some works from Slim’s 66,000-piece collection. It includes works by Mexican masters such as Diego Rivera, Spanish masters Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, 15th-century European masters and the second-largest private collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures outside of France.

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:38

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Everything's coming up Warhol this spring at Indiana University, with films, events and an IU Art Museum exhibition devoted to contemporary art and pop culture icon Andy Warhol.

More than 150 photographs by Warhol (1928-1987) will be displayed in "Shot By Warhol," opening March 5 (Saturday) at the IU Art Museum in the Special Exhibitions Gallery on the first floor. The exhibition will remain on display through May 8.

Drawn from the IU Art Museum's recent gift of more than 150 photographs from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts' Photographic Legacy Program, the exhibition will examine the way Warhol's black-and-white photographs reflected his personal experiences and how his color Polaroids shaped the way others wanted to be portrayed during their "15 minutes of fame." (Warhol famously once said, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.")

On March 4 (Friday), Associate Professor of Art History Richard Meyer of the University of Southern California will present a lecture titled "A Reason to Get Up in the Morning" in Fine Arts Building Room 015 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Meyer considers Warhol's photographic practice as a poetics of everyday life -- when everyday consists of discotheques and dinner parties, flea markets and friends on the phone. Rather than invest in the idea of the single, perfectly composed image, Warhol created an almost continuous stream of pictures, many of which were never published or exhibited during his lifetime. This talk considers Warhol's photographic practice as a visual analogue to his diaries, which will be quoted extensively. The title is drawn from Warhol's statement that "I take my camera everywhere. Having a few rolls of film to develop gives me a good reason to get up in the morning."

After Meyer's talk, IU Cinema will show a 90-minute selection of short 16mm films from Andy Warhol and other "underground" contributors March 4 (Friday) at 6:30 p.m. The films draw upon prints from the university's David Bradley Collection at the Lilly Library and the Kinsey Institute. Nan Brewer, the IU Art Museum's Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Works on Paper, will give a guided tour of the exhibition at 2 p.m. on March 6 (Sunday).

"Warhol was a kind of cultural sponge," said Brewer, organizing curator of the exhibition. "He absorbed inspiration from popular culture, as well as from the art of his contemporaries."

Warhol Happenings

The museum also is hosting a series of free, Thursday evening "Warhol Happenings" in March, all from 8-10 p.m. These events are co-sponsored by the Lucienne M. Glaubinger Endowed Fund for the Curator of Works on Paper and the IU Art Museum's Arc Fund.

  • Warhol Happening I, "Music Night," March 10, Thomas T. Solley Atrium. Local indie band Tammar will play both experimental originals and Velvet Underground cover songs.

  • Warhol Happening II, "Movie Night," March 24, Special Exhibitions Gallery. The Ryder Film Series is co-sponsoring a screening of the 1996 independent film I Shot Andy Warhol (Rated R) written and directed by Mary Harron. The film stars Lili Taylor ("Six Feet Under") as the radical feminist Valerie Solanas who attempted to kill Warhol in 1968 and Jared Harris ("Mad Men") as Warhol.

  • Warhol Happening III, "Factory Night," March 31, Thomas T. Solley Atrium. Attendees will be able to "get their Andy on" by sampling a variety of pop culture snacks, dancing to the music mix of DJ White Light, and glimpsing Warhol's world through a tour of the special Warhol exhibition. "Factory Night" will feature an Andy Warhol Look-Alike Contest (all are welcome), and everyone is encouraged to dress in their retro best, and bring a can of soup to donate to the Community Kitchen of Monroe County.

Known for his reserved nature, Warhol was a keen observer of life, frequently seen off to one side of a social scene -- whether at his famous silver-lined Factory or at a charity event -- watching, often through the lens of a camera. He also was an obsessive collector of objects, people and even of artistic styles. When asked in a 1985 interview if he looked at the work of other photographers, Warhol simply replied, "I try to copy them."

Warhol saved bits of ephemera from his daily activities, stuffing items into boxes he called "time capsules." Starting in the mid-1970s, he began using a 35 mm still camera as his primary means of interacting with and recording his surroundings. Although Warhol grew up around photography -- his older brother, John Warhola (Andy dropped the "a" for his own last name), operated a photo shop in his hometown of Pittsburgh -- it wasn't until the 1970s that he fully embraced the medium as a means of personal expression. He began taking color Polaroids to capture imagery for his portrait commissions. Like the preparatory drawings of traditional portrait painters, these studies served as referential tools rather than as artworks in their own right.

When he picked up an easy-to-use Minox 35EL camera in 1976, Warhol began a love affair with black-and-white photography that would last until his untimely death at age 58. His camera became a constant companion, as familiar a part of his ensemble as his trademark silver wig. He strove to document every moment of his life, creating a remarkable visual diary. Warhol produced a body of more than 150,000 black-and-white negatives and 66,000 prints, including thousands of Polaroids.

For more information on the IU Art Museum, see

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:33

Around 1610, Dutch artist Hendrick Avercamp painted an exquisitely detailed winter scene of children and adults skating, ice-fishing and playing a game called "colf" on a frozen waterway, punctuated by three leafless trees beneath a leaden sky.

Believed to have been deaf and mute, Avercamp filled "Winter Landscape Near a Village" with utterly ordinary activities that still speak to viewers five centuries later: A child tugs an adult across the ice. Three men in tall hats and a woman with a high hairdo observe the scene. A man huddles in an outhouse fashioned from an upturned boat. A pair of boots dry on a fencepost.

Revealing beauty in the familiar, that winter landscape is just one of several wonderful surprises displayed in "Golden: Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection," a stunning new exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.

Visitors entering the show will find a container holding several magnifying glasses to help them better appreciate the details and fine craftsmanship in the paintings.

Chief Curator Lynda R. Hartigan said the artists in "Golden" created "stories so rich in composition we are compelled to look closely."

While their European predecessors had focused largely on portraits and religious paintings, 17th century Dutch and Flemish artists created human and natural landscapes that helped their viewers make sense of their own dramatically changing world.

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:30

The booming Chinese economy has launched a global treasure hunt by Chinese antique collectors eager to reclaim cultural assets lost over the centuries and the search is leading many searching for the best preserved artifacts and most lucrative deals to Japan.

At a time when cash-strapped Japanese collectors are cutting down on big antique buys, Chinese groups are snatching up long-lost treasures, once presented as gifts to Japanese nobles. Meanwhile, Japanese tour guides are cashing in on the booming trade by organizing antique auction tours for Chinese eager to buy.

On a recent Monday night, the Antique Mall in Tokyo's ritzy Ginza district looked like the site of a scavenger hunt hours before a Chinese auction was set to begin. Dozens of collectors filed into the smoke-filled room armed with magnifying glasses in one hand, a flash light in the other. Each trolled through display cases, carefully examining vases, statues, and scrolls before taking a seat in anticipation of bidding.

"Our expanding economy has helped drive the antique market," said Chang, an antique dealer from Shanghai who refused to give his full name, saying full disclosure would affect the prices his antiques sold for. "Artwork is really starting to become lucrative in China again."

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:00

The Friends of the Barnes Foundation announced this afternoon that an attorney representing the group has filed a petition with Montgomery County Orphan’s Court Judge Stanley R. Ott, asking him to reopen his 2004 decision to permit the gallery in Merion to move its priceless art collection to a new facility in Philadelphia.

In a Jan. 2 “Barnes Day” protest across Latch’s Lane from the gates of the Barnes Foundation grounds, the attorney, Samuel C. Stretton of West Chester, said he had been retained by the Friends group and would soon file a petition seeking examination of information that he said was not available to Ott during the course of hearings in 2003 and 2004.

“Barnes Day” marked the 139th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, the pharmaceutical magnate who had the Paul Cret-designed gallery built in 1929 to house his collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, and who had wished it to remain intact in Merion.

Ott’s decision permitted the foundation to expand its board of trustees and move the art to a location on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in a new building to be supported by contributions by several leading Philadelphia philanthropies. The foundation had argued that the institution was no longer financially viable in Merion.

Monday, 28 February 2011 22:47

Louis Comfort Tiffany had been dead for 24 years and his art had long since fallen out of favor when a fire destroyed Laurelton Hall, his extravagant Long Island estate, in 1957. In reporting the fire, The New York Times did not even mention that Tiffany was an artist and designer, only that he was a member of the Tiffany jewelry family.

The 84-room house had been sold and abandoned, its furnishings auctioned off, its glorious stained glass windows and other permanent fixtures left behind and forgotten. At auction, Tiffany’s collection of other artists’ work had brought more attention than his own lamps, vases and other art glass.

Although the family no longer owned the property, Tiffany’s daughter wrote a letter to a Winter Park couple, Hugh and Jeanette McKean, who were fans of Tiffany and had put on a small exhibit of of his works, suggesting they try to salvage a stained glass window from the burned-out ruins.

That letter launched the McKeans on an extraordinary 30-year mission to salvage some of Tiffany’s most important works. And it would lead to the establishment of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, a small, privately endowed museum near Orlando that today houses the most comprehensive collection of Tiffany’s work.

Monday, 28 February 2011 22:43

new exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is taking a fresh look at the influence that Paris had on Marc Chagall and his fellow modernists from 1910 to 1920.

The show, "Paris Through the Window: Marc Chagall and His Circle," opens Tuesday. It is being presented in conjunction with an international arts festival in Philadelphia that opens in April.

The exhibition "represents the Museum's contribution to this festival and will focus on the powerful influence that Paris had on Chagall and his contemporaries," museum director Timothy Rub said.

The show, located in the museum's Perelman annex, includes roughly 40 paintings and sculptures culled mainly from the museum's own collection but reconfigured in a new way. Other featured artists include Chaim Soutine, Amedeo Modigliani and Jacques Lipschitz.

Curator Michael Taylor said the show will provide visitors with "a unique opportunity to reconsider the cross-fertilization that took place" when Chagall and his contemporaries lived and worked in Paris.

Monday, 28 February 2011 22:39

The rows of black-and-white photographs, each slightly different, feel like a slow-motion film: two men boxing, a horse and rider galloping, a cockatoo in flight.

Eadweard Muybridge’s groundbreaking work is the focus of “Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change,” which opened Saturday at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The fascinating exhibition, which originated at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., includes more than 300 objects created from 1857 to 1893.

“Before Muybridge, you could not stop motion with a camera,” says Philip Brookman, chief curator at the Corcoran. “He developed a new technology that completely changed how we see the world.”

Although he was born in England, Muybridge spent much of his career as a photographer in San Francisco. The show includes striking panoramic views of The City as well as prints of the construction of City Hall.

Monday, 28 February 2011 22:27

"Paul Gauguin: Maker of Myth" focuses on narrative, self-mythologizing and other literary and psychological aspects of the post-impressionist master. The curators of the National Gallery exhibition have focused on recurring themes and visual elements that give Gauguin's art an underlying sense of narrative, even if his paintings and sculptures don't tell explicit stories. These are some of the basic visual icons that visitors to the exhibition will encounter.

Horse and rider

In two of the exhibition's most powerful, and enigmatic, paintings, figures of a horse and rider are seen through an open window. In one case, he is arriving; in the other, departing. Does he have a relation - benign or predatory - to the women depicted in these canvasses? Or does he depict a general sense of a journey, or a movement through time, connecting the stationary figures to a larger sense of time and destiny?

Monday, 28 February 2011 22:22

The life of Paul Gauguin, dimly remembered from a bad art-appreciation class, used to go this way: Well-off stockbroker abandons wife and children to devote himself to art; decries the increasing vacuity of his impressionist forefathers; rebels against bourgeois society; leaves Paris for places warm and exotic; and eventually makes his way to Tahiti, where he discovers the primitive, reinvents himself and produces paintings of lush sensuality filled with the enticing forms of native women.

When the National Gallery teamed up with museums in Chicago and Paris more than 20 years ago to mount a monumental exhibition of works by Gauguin, it was precisely that understanding of the pioneering post-impressionist that they sought to undermine. The blockbuster 1988 exhibition, according to its organizers, aimed to stress "his production as an artist rather than the exotic, troubled and fascinating life that has attained almost mythological proportions and is better left to biography and film."

Today, with a new Gauguin exhibition opening at the National Gallery on Sunday, taste and scholarship have changed. Subtitled "Maker of Myth," the current Gauguin show is not so large or comprehensive as the one seen in 1988. Rather, it is focused on many of the things that would have been held in bad odor two decades ago: biographical tales, narrative elements and the relation between the artist and the places and people he painted.

Perhaps the old Gauguin myth did deserve a wooden stake through the heart if anyone still believed it two decades ago. Most of it was piffle and what was true - he abandoned his wife and family and slept with underage native girls - was not very flattering to Gauguin. Close attention to Gauguin's writing, including letters not published until long after his death in 1903, revealed many of the swashbuckling elements of his life story were part of a carefully calculated PR campaign, a reinvention of himself as part "savage" in an effort to create a brand for his work, which wasn't selling as well as he had hoped and had diverged from impressionism long before he made his way to places where the weather was warm and the sex plentiful.