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Saturday, 26 February 2011 05:27

Sotheby's will offer a large Venetian view of the Rialto Bridge painted by Francesco Guardi valued at around 20 million pounds ($30 million).

The auctioneer called the work "one of the greatest masterpieces of Venetian view painting ever executed." It will go under the hammer in London on July 6.

It is one of four works painted by Guardi on such a grand scale, all executed at around the same time in the late 1760s.

Saturday, 26 February 2011 05:26

The Brooklyn Museum in New York has completed an extensive renovation of its Great Hall which will be unveiled on 4 March 2011, marking the first phase of the transformative project.

The project, which is the initial phase of a major redesign of the first floor, marks the most transformative change to the floor ever since it was first constructed. The renovated space has been redesigned by Ennead Architects, defined by a dense grid of classical columns and 24-foot-high ceilings.

The initial phase of renovation features the expansive, two-storey-high colonnaded space with its original coffered glass-block ceiling. The room originally served as a space to house museum's holdings of pre-Columbian, Native American, and Oceanic art. Designed to form the core of a series of galleries, the space now features four freestanding walls, which define a central gallery. The renovation has also created a new South Gallery, restoring to public use an area previously used for back-of-house functions.

The new freestanding walls allow for the display of art while concealing climate-control systems within. Their crisp, diagonal edges facilitate and reinforce movement from the Lobby into the Great Hall. The central gallery features a new terrazzo floor. The entire gallery volume has been technically upgraded to become a state-of-the-art museum environment, complete with new sprinkler and lighting systems.

The lighting, designed by the Renfro Design Group, features a flexible track system integrated into the historic coffered ceiling, with LED lighting in the central bay. Natural light filters down to the Great Hall through glass-block ceiling, which forms the floor of the Beaux-Arts Court.

Saturday, 26 February 2011 05:21

It took P.T. Barnum years to overcome the loss of his wealth and first mansion, the Iranistan, in 1856.

The tragedies did nothing to deter the showman, though, who went on to bigger and better things, including the creation of his famous traveling circus and the construction of three more mansions.

Now, more than 150 years later, Kathy Maher, curator of the Barnum Museum, is hoping for a similar, albeit, quicker, rebirth of the 120-year-old national landmark after the extensive damage caused by a tornado that tore through the city last June.

Maher announced on Friday the hiring of Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, of New York, to restore the museum, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

SHCA's previous restoration projects include the Statue of Liberty and the West Virginia State Capitol Complex.

Funding for the $250,000 assessment project was provided by numerous organizations, including the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, the Fairfield County Community Foundation, the People's United Community Foundation and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011 01:21

NEW YORK CITY – Is America going to the dogs? Yes, judging by the surging popularity of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, whose legion of Facebook fans jumped to nearly 70,000 after judges named Hickory, a Scottish deerhound, the 2011 Best of Show on February 15.
The award capped a week when breeders, owners and lovers of dogs descended on Manhattan, crowding into Madison Square Garden and mingling at the dog-friendly Barkfest charity brunch on February 13, where treats and water bowls were on the menu.
Barkfest is jointly organized by the American Kennel Club and Bonhams, the international auction house whose Dogs in Show & Field sale on February 16 grossed roughly $800,000 including premium on 217 lots. The sale was 70 percent sold, said its organizer, Bonhams fine-arts expert Alan Fausel.
Terriers have taken the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show’s top award 45 times since 1907, more than twice as often as any other group. Judges have yet to throw a bone to two of America’s most popular breeds, the Labrador retriever and the golden retriever.
Does the dog world’s most prestigious prize influence the market for dog painting?
Not much, says William Secord, adding that show results do affect the public’s choice of pets. The leading dealer in antique and contemporary dog painting and portraiture recently opened “Canine Masters,” on view through March 26, at his 52 East 76th Street gallery in New York.  Secord skipped this year’s Palm Beach art and antiques shows to exhibit at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, where he meets prospective clients by the thousands.
Secord underbid Bonhams’ top lot, a 1912 oil on canvas portrait of the black Labrador Peter of Faskally and his mate, Dungavel Jet, by English-born artist Maud Earl (1864-1943). The father of 32 field trial champions, Peter of Faskally was the original bloodline for all chocolate Labs. A Scottish collector bought the painting for $103,700 including premium.
“Eight of our top ten lots were paintings of field dogs,” said Fausel, identifying the current demand for images of hunting animals. Collectors also look for exceptional paintings of champion purebreds by well-known artists. Genre scenes of pets, often depicted in cozy interiors, form the third and least robust part of the market. 
Sold for $6,222, a silver Tiffany & Co. bowl presented to the 1979 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show champion topped fifty lots of dogiana, including cameos, cufflinks, collars and trophies.
Not that Bonhams has the “macho market” all to itself. Coeur D’Alene, which bills itself as the nation’s largest auctioneer of Western and sporting painting, hosts its annual blockbuster sale in Reno, Nv., in late July.
On the East Coast, Copley Fine Arts also handles paintings of sporting dogs. “We’ve had great success with English setters, pointers and Springer spaniels,” says Copley chairman Stephen O’Brien, Jr., who does well with canvases by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, Percival Leonard Rosseau and Edmund H. Osthaus. For its July 21-22 auction in Plymouth, Ma., Copley Fine Arts has secured a first-rate Aiden Lassell Ripley painting of two Springer spaniels and pheasant hunters. The work is expected to bring upwards of $200,000.
Hickory began her championship year with morning television appearances followed by a steak lunch at Sardi’s, the Manhattan theater district watering hole.
Sporting-arts enthusiasts were off to quail country for the February 24-27 Thomasville Antiques Show in Thomasville, Ga., home to some of the nation’s most spectacular hunting plantations. William Secord Gallery, Carswell Rush Berlin, Malchione Sporting Antiques and Red Fox Fine Art are listed among the fair’s thirty exhibitors. Guest lecturers will include designers Carolyn Roehm and Richard Keith Langham, along with ex-Sotheby’s vice chairman William W. Stahl, Jr., a foxhunter and conservationist with family ties to the area.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 04:32

FEB 19, 2011  – MAY 15, 2011
NewMarket, Altria Group, and Center Gallery

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts proudly announces a landmark exhibition in honor of its 75th anniversary, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris. VMFA is the only East Coast venue for the exhibition’s seven-city international tour. The exhibition, which will be on view from February 19 through May 15, 2011, is co-organized by the Musée National Picasso, Paris and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Tickets are available now.

Drawn from the collection of the Musée National Picasso in Paris, the largest and most significant repository of the artist’s work in the world, this exhibition represents works produced during every major artistic period of Pablo Picasso’s eight-decade career. It includes 176 works from Picasso’s personal collection – art that he kept for himself with the purpose of shaping his own legacy. Altria Group is the presenting sponsor for the exhibition.

“By bringing this major international exhibition to the Commonwealth, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is celebrating its 75th anniversary year in a significant way, by presenting a remarkable gift to all Virginians and Americans,” states Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia. “I encourage all our citizens and those outside the Commonwealth to come visit Virginia's museum and enjoy the Picasso exhibition. Virginia is a wonderful destination for so many experiences, including world-class art.”

“This exhibition is without a doubt a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the American public,” says Alex Nyerges, director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. “An exhibition this monumental is extremely rare, especially one that spans the entire career of a figure who many consider the most influential, innovative, and creative artist of the 20th century.”

In addition to showcasing some of Picasso’s most outstanding works, the exhibition tells a compelling story about the development of the artist’s career, his artistic inspirations, and his profound impact on modern art.

The unique opportunity to exhibit Picasso’s work at this time is possible because the Musée Picasso National in Paris is closed for renovations until 2012, allowing for a global tour of this full-scale survey to travel for the first and possibly only time.

“We are extremely proud to be partnering with VMFA to bring such a significant art exhibition to our Richmond headquarters community,” said Marty Barrington, executive vice president, Altria Group, and VMFA trustee. “With the Picasso exhibition, VMFA continues to realize its vision of world-class quality that will make Richmond a leading destination for fine art in the United States. Altria is pleased to support this exhibition, which will enrich our Richmond community in many ways.”

About the Art
Renowned worldwide, the collection from the Musée National Picasso, Paris is unique because it represents the pieces that Picasso set aside for his own personal collection. Acting almost as a curator for his art, Picasso kept some of his most iconic pieces from each phase of his work, including the Blue Period, Rose Period, Cubism, the return to Classicism, Surrealism, and his later work.

The exhibition will showcase moments and art that defined Picasso’s early career, including a deathbed portrait of the artist’s close friend Carlos Casagemas. His friend’s suicide partially influenced Picasso’s famed Blue Period, defined by somber paintings in shades of blue and green. Celestina (The Woman with One-Eye) (1904), a masterpiece from the Blue Period, will be featured in the exhibition.

Friends, lovers, and artists who influenced Picasso play a seminal role in the exhibition. Portraits of his mistresses, such as Reading (1932) and Portrait of Dora Maar (1937), feature his muses in various emotional states ranging from regal composure to inconsolable despair. Works ranging from studies for his early groundbreaking Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), to some of the last works of his career show his connection to, and often competition with, other notable artists from his past and present such as Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Paul Cézanne, and Diego Velázquez. The exhibition includes examples of almost every medium in which Picasso worked –oil on canvas and panel, cast bronze, carved wood, assemblages of found materials, watercolors, drawings in pastel, charcoal, pencil, and ink; various printmaking techniques, and illustrated books.

While Picasso contributed to and even inspired countless movements, he and Braques co-invented an entirely new movement: Cubism. Focused on fragmentation, shifting planes, and skewed perspectives, Cubism revolved around the deconstruction and reconstruction of figures and objects on two-dimensional surfaces or in space with new materials. The exhibition includes classical examples of Analytic Cubism, such as the famous Parisian landmark Le Sacré-Coeur (1909-1910), and several paintings of figures with musical instruments where the subjects are torqued and faceted almost beyond recognition.

About the Artist
Born in the southern Spanish city of Málaga in 1881, Pablo Picasso’s towering reputation spanned a long and productive career that began at a young age. After studying art in Barcelona—where he entered the School of Fine Arts at age thirteen—and Madrid, he first traveled to Paris in 1900, the city whose art and culture would greatly influence him and where he would first make his mark. By the time of his death in 1973 he had created an astounding 50,000 works in many different artistic mediums.

Picasso frequently shifted from one stylistic mode to another, moving through various forms of expression to match his protean vision and resist being constrained by any single style or movement. His exploration of different theories and techniques led to art that was inspired by Classicism, Surrealism, and African art, among other sources.

Involved in almost every artistic movement during his lifetime, he is recognized as one of the most powerful and creative forces of the 20th century. Never one to rest on his laurels, Picasso was constantly reinventing himself and searching for new sources of inspiration, both from the modern age and from the work of past artists and artworks. This exhibition offers an unprecedented opportunity to understand the depth and breadth of Picasso’s genius. His revolutionary artistic achievements brought him universal praise and fame, and his art continues to inspire viewers as well as artists in a range of creative fields.


Wednesday, 16 February 2011 04:18

A pile of porcelain sunflower seeds, an Andy Warhol painting of Marilyn Monroe and a Gerhard Richter abstract sold last night at a London auction that was interrupted by a protest at U.K. government cuts.

Sotheby’s evening sale of contemporary art, which raised 44.4 million pounds ($72 million) with fees, briefly stalled when more than 10 activists from the Arts Against Cuts group unfurled a red banner reading “Orgy of the Rich’’ and threw photocopied 50-pound notes at onlookers.

The disruption didn’t stop spending by the world’s rich art collectors. Auction sales of contemporary works are recovering after the financial crisis wiped as much as 50 percent off the value of some pieces.

“There are new buyers in the market,’’ London-based dealer Stephen Friedman said. “There was a lot of bidding from Russia and Asia, some not very discriminating. Tonight did include some good pieces. Overall, demand was strong.’’

The sale began with a pile of Ai Weiwei hand-painted seeds of the same type that the Chinese artist has used to cover the floor of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The 100-kilogram mound sold to one of three telephone bidders for 349,250 pounds, almost tripling the high estimate of 120,000 pounds.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 04:12

One of the many enjoyable things about some of Paul Cézanne's paintings is that they seem unfinished. They are manifestly slowly made, yet patches of bare canvas show through oil paint; the painted backgrounds don't quite meet the edge of the frame. Two series, the card players and the smokers, are the focus of a new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that echoes some of the diligent and determined yet unconcernedly incomplete attributes of a good Cézanne.

In the first of three rooms are several dozen etchings, engravings and paintings from the museum's prints and drawings and European paintings collections. While we may think of modern card players as gamblers-aleatory and ludic, rowdy or drunken-and smokers as just plain unhealthy, these compositions present smoking and card playing as philosophic activities. The curators display images of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish card players, and their 18th- and 19th-century French associates, as prototypes of a genre that focuses on the introspective nature of these pursuits. Perhaps the closest to Cézanne in tone are Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin's solitary card players.

In the second room are 15 Cézanne paintings and drawings of card players, single figures and groups of two and four. What is notable is what is not present. The large Barnes Collection Card Players (1890-92) is not on display. Neither is Cézanne's largest two-person card-player painting. (Life-size black-and-white photographs stand in for these.) Instead, seven paintings and oil studies and several drawings, which the scholarship behind this exhibition has established were made prior to the absent largest compositions, are on view. Because the payoff of the final composition is missing, the show becomes about the process.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 04:07

Russia’s Federal Security Service said it found artworks by Pablo Picasso and Rembrandt and documents for offshore companies belonging to self-exiled investor Boris Berezovsky in a raid on an illegal gambling operation in Moscow.

The paintings, worth more than $5 million, and documents were found in the main office of a building in central Moscow that was once used by Berezovsky, said the FSB, as the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB is known, on its website.

The crime syndicate that operated out of building No. 40 on Novokuznetskaya Ulitsa was able to earn as much as $10 million a month in part because of the “support” it received from senior law enforcement officials in the Moscow region, including a first deputy prosecutor, the FSB said. The building also houses the Triumph art gallery.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 03:48

In its purest form, watercolour consists of pigment mixed with water and water-soluble gum binder. Light, liquescent and quick drying, watercolour is so easy to handle that children can paint with it, but those same properties make it a fiendishly difficult medium to master.

One advantage of watercolour is that it enables artists to paint much more quickly than is possible in oils. It is good at capturing transient effects of light, atmosphere and weather and an efficient means of describing things that fade, change colour or won’t stand still for long, such as botanical specimens or animals. Easily transportable, it is popular with travellers, landscape painters, and naturalists — in fact any artist who works in the open air.

The downside is that if you make a mistake in watercolour you can’t correct it, because to apply one layer of transparent colour over another would be to destroy the translucency that is the very essence of the medium.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 03:44

Walking the halls of one of the world's great art museums, it's easy to regard familiar classic paintings as eternal and unchanging. But this is not the case. Paintings are a mix not only of color but of chemistry-and chemistry changes. In some of Vincent van Gogh's works, the striking, sunny yellows have faded and turned brownish, robbing the Dutch master's art of some of its trademark intensity. So a European team of scientists decided to find out exactly what was happening on those canvases.
Using sophisticated X-ray machines, they discovered the chemical reaction to blame - one never before observed in paint. Ironically, van Gogh's decision to use a lighter shade of yellow paint mixed with white is responsible for the unintended darkening, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Vincent loved yellow. In particular, he loved chrome yellow, a 19th century invention that shone brighter than previously available hues of paint. Art preservationists have known that the lead-based paint fades under intense sunlight, so they've done what they can to keep van Goghs and similar works out of intense light. What's curious about his paintings, however, is that some yellows have faded while others have not.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 03:28

Since Leslie and Leigh Keno became household names appraising antique furniture on the popular PBS series "Antiques Roadshow," you'd be forgiven for presuming their own line of furniture, Keno Bros., would pay homage to Duncan Phyfe, Chippendale and the like. Instead, the line they introduced at the International Furniture Markets last year is a stunningly beautiful collection of sleek, polished, modern profiles crafted by Theodore Alexander.

"It's all sculptural, really. We see these pieces as very sculptural," said Leigh.

The maple and hand-woven cane Slope chair, which appears to be carved from one piece, is a perfect example of this quality; the arms and legs form a continuous curve.

"It was our vision to make a comfortable chair that is alive and organic," Leigh said.

The Kenos, whose collection will appear in showrooms this month, have taken their extensive furniture expertise and applied it to their own pieces. The brothers also host "Collect This! With The Keno Brothers" on MSN. Leigh owns and operates Keno Auctions in New York, and Leslie is director of American furniture and decorative arts at Sotheby's auction house.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011 16:38

WILLIAMSBURG, VA. – The wealthy collectors who have been a fixture at the Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum since its founding 63 years ago no longer arrive with a chauffeur and a lady’s maid. They do still check in at the Colonial Williamsburg Inn, built in 1937 to the refined standards of its patron, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who made an art of Southern hospitality.
The Inn and adjacent Lodge is where participants in the February 20-24 Antiques Forum will rest up from a vigorous week of lectures, demonstrations, optional excursions and, yes, partying.  In addition to dozens of private gatherings at the Fat Canary, Blue Talon Bistro and other popular restaurants near William & Mary College, participants will high-tail it to two of the best parties of the year, one in nearby Yorktown, Va., and other on Colonial Williamsburg’s campus.
Bidding Adieu to Period Designs
On Wednesday, February 23, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., everyone with wheels will head to Yorktown, Va., for a farewell party for Period Designs. Owners Robert Hunter and Michelle Erickson are shuttering their 401 Main Street shop after 16 years. They are looking for another location nearby.
The marvel is that Rob and Michelle have time for a shop at all. A professional archaeologist and dealer in American and European antique pottery and porcelain, Rob edits the Chipstone Foundation journal, Ceramics in America and is scheduled to speak at the Antiques Forum on February 23. Hunter is a member of the team that organized “Art in Clay: Masterworks of North Carolina Earthenware,” opening at Old Salem Museums & Gardens in Winston-Salem, N.C., on March 22.
A ceramist, Michelle is known for her sharply comic social commentary, deep historical knowledge and imaginative reuse of motifs and techniques rooted in 17th and 18th century English ceramics.
“ Michelle has a remarkable business and benefits from an open shop, but she also needs studio space,” says Hunter. The couple, who rented their historic Yorktown quarters from the National Park Service, also want a venue for events and open houses.
“We plan a more aggressive web presence in the interim,” says Erickson. A solo show of her work, “Tradition & Modernity: The Ceramic Art of Michelle Erickson,” closed January 9 at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, Va.
Period Designs is discounting prices on some objects during its final week. The shop will be open February 19-27, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For details, call 757-886-9482 or go to
Bourgeault’s BBQ
Tables fill up quickly at Ronald Bourgeault’s annual barbeque, this year planned for Tuesday evening, 6:30 to 9 pm on February 22, at the 1740s Shield’s Tavern at 422 East Duke of Gloucester Street, three blocks from the Inn.
“We’ve been hosting this party for ten years,” says Bourgeault, president of Northeast Auctions in Portsmouth, N.H. “In the beginning, we chartered a bus and took everyone to Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Q.  One year, Colonial Williamsburg’s president Colin G. Campbell and his wife, Nancy, said, ‘Why don’t you have your party at one of our taverns?’ We’ve been on campus ever since.”
Get Smart
This is not to imply that the Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum is all play and no work. On the contrary, this year’s symposium, “Decorative Arts Forensics: How We Know What We Know,” is packed with useful information for curators and collectors. Ever wonder how to authenticate a map? Determine if a print is genuine? Vet a chest of drawers? Colonial Williamsburg has a program for that, plus others providing tips on cutting-edge research techniques in our digitally savvy age.
For details, call 1-800-603-0948 or go to
Write to Laura at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Saturday, 12 February 2011 04:10

The American Folk Art Museum won’t sell its collection to pay interest on $31.9 million it borrowed to construct a new building, after defaulting on payments in July 2009, the institution’s director said.

The museum, down the block from the Museum of Modern Art, will sell art only “to purchase for the collection,” Executive Director Maria Ann Conelli said in an interview, adding that she expects to have a balanced budget for the fiscal year ending June 30. “We’ve been hitting our target every single month.”

The Manhattan institution has missed a total of $3.7 million in payments to a debt service fund for the new premises, a Jan. 5 filing to bondholders said. Total missed payments are up by about $2 million in the past year -- averaging $7,700 each weekday.

Acclaimed exhibits -- such as “Women Only: Folk Art by Female Hands” featuring paintings, drawings and quilts -- failed to attract the attendance and revenue levels projected in 2000. Last month’s filing said the museum doesn’t expect to make payments into the fund “for the foreseeable future.”

Saturday, 12 February 2011 04:06

ARCOmadrid kicks off this year's European season of top contemporary art fairs in the Spanish capital Wednesday.

Until Feb. 20, around 190 international galleries from Europe, Americas and Asia will show painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video and prints created by established artists and promising newcomers. Each year, the fair spotlights a different country and this year the honor goes to Russia, which will feature eight galleries. Another emphasis will be on Latin America, with 14 galleries in a special section exhibiting artists from across the region.

Elsewhere, it will be a full week of contemporary art auctions in London beginning Tuesday at Sotheby's (Feb. 15-16) followed by Christie's (Feb. 16-17) and Phillips de Pury (Feb. 17-18).

Up for sale will be a diverse range of works by blue-chip names such as Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter and David Hockney, as well as newcomers.

Saturday, 12 February 2011 04:01

A record Salvador Dali painting and a triptych by Francis Bacon last night boosted a sell-out auction at Sotheby’s London as collectors snapped up 20th-century art from a private collection.

The sale raised 93.5 million pounds ($150.5 million), led by the Bacon portrait’s 23 million pounds. The Dali became the most expensive Surrealist lot sold at auction, with its 13.5 million-pound price stirring interest in the Spanish artist and breaking the record for his work, set 24 hours earlier at Christie’s International.

Art buyers are continuing to invest in trophies, and this sale was admired for its quality levels, said dealers. Sotheby’s declined to identify the seller, who had acquired the material from dealers and auctions from the 1960s to the 1990s. The pieces had belonged to the Geneva collector George Kostalitz, who died last year, said dealers with knowledge of the matter.

“Single-owner collections carry enormous cachet,’’ London- based dealer Offer Waterman said in an interview. “The guy had good taste and a lot of things made beyond expectations. The market is good for great works.’’

Saturday, 12 February 2011 03:58

As Thomas P. Campbell begins his third year at the helm of the cultural ocean liner known as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he hears fewer comparisons between himself and his illustrious predecessor Philippe de Montebello, who served as director for 31 years.

But the game of “Would Philippe Have ...?” remains irresistible at times, as it was in December, when Mr. Campbell seemed to be everywhere at Art Basel Miami Beach, the contemporary-art bacchanal that Mr. de Montebello virtually ignored. Or when Mr. Campbell, at a recent lunch with reporters, referred to the Met’s show of renowned guitars as a “teenager’s wet dream.” (The description, though probably apt, was next to impossible to imagine coming out of Mr. de Montebello’s mouth.)

The difference was certainly evident in a recent interview in the director’s office, where Mr. de Montebello used to preside with baronial aplomb behind his desk. Mr. Campbell instead pulled up a chair around a conference table and talked with boyish enthusiasm not just about art but also about the kinds of things that increasingly accompany it in 21st-century museums. The Met has created its first app, to accompany the guitar show. It is embarking on the daunting task of wiring its huge building for Wi-Fi, he said, so that patrons will eventually be able to read and watch videos about art museumwide on their phones and tablet computers. And it is venturing as never before into the rapidly evolving field of what museum administrators call “visitor engagement”: a social science aimed at trying to reach every patron, from the first-timer to the seasoned scholar.

Saturday, 12 February 2011 03:52

Two national art associations said on Friday they are “alarmed” by a proposal to force University of Iowa to sell the Jackson Pollock 'Mural' painting, and say it could threaten UI’s accreditation.

The Association of Art Museum Directors and the American Association of Museums have vowed the support to “help prevent this permanent and irredeemable loss.”

“The (associations) are alarmed to learn of the recent proposal to sell the Jackson Pollock painting 'Mural' to underwrite costs at The University of Iowa,” the two organizations said in a joint statement. “Such a sale would violate a fundamental ethical principle of the museum field, one which all accredited museums are bound to respect: that an accessioned work of art may not be treated as a disposable financial asset.”

Friday, 11 February 2011 02:19

The Brooklyn Museum is preparing to give about 5,000 pre-Columbian artifacts in its collection to Costa Rica as part of a housekeeping move to trim its vast holdings.

The museum will initially give the National Museum of Costa Rica 983 ceramic vessels and figurines that were legally acquired by American railroad magnate and banana exporter Minor C. Keith in the late 1800s. It eventually will transfer the other 4,000 objects from the Keith collection, curator Nancy Rosoff said Thursday.

The New York museum will retain about 10 percent of the collection, including some of the more valuable objects, such as gold and jade figurines and pendants, Rosoff said.

The Central American nation has never claimed ownership to the works.

Costa Rica's Culture Minister, Manuel Obregon, said that its state regulatory agency, the National Insurance Institute, will pay for the packing and transportation costs of the first shipment, estimated at $59,000. Rosoff said that shipment may go out as early as next month.

Friday, 11 February 2011 02:10

One of the world's great museums resembled a military camp on Thursday, with soldiers patrolling behind its wrought iron gates and armoured vehicles parked nearby. Inside, workers with white coats and latex gloves delicately handled artifacts that were damaged in the chaos sweeping Egypt.

The country's priceless trove of antiquities has emerged mostly unscathed from the unrest so far, but tourism, a pillar of the Egyptian economy, has not. Tens of thousands of foreigners have fled Egypt, many on evacuation flights organized by their governments, draining a key source of employment and foreign currency.

Egypt's most famous tourist attraction, the Pyramids of Giza, reopened to tourists on Wednesday after a 12-day closure. But few came to visit. The heavily guarded and shuttered Egyptian Museum in Cairo is next to Tahrir Square, a protest encampment that draws hundreds of thousands of people on some days.

"We will open the museum after the strike is finished. I don't know when the strike is finished," said Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass, referring to the upheaval. "I need things to go back to normal."

Friday, 11 February 2011 02:08

Russian buyers went on a shopping spree at a London auction last night that raised 84.9 million pounds ($136.6 million).

Collectors from the former Soviet Union bid a total of more than 20 million pounds for works by 20th-century artists such as Pierre Bonnard and Rene Magritte at Christie’s International.

“It’s shopping,” Guy Jennings, partner in the London- based dealership Theobald Jennings, said in an interview. “These are colorful works that will look good in a house in the Cote d’Azur. This market is driven by Western-based Russians and new European money. The rise in commodity prices has made a difference to them.”

Trophy-quality Impressionist and modern pieces are in demand after making up 7 out of the 10 priciest lots at auction last year. Some collectors have been helped by higher commodity values, with the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index up 34 percent in the last year.