Showing posts with label Detroit Institute of Arts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Detroit Institute of Arts. Show all posts

December 4, 2013

Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - , No comments

DIA evaluation of $2 billion includes only 'works bought directly with city funds' -- Detroit Free Press

Last summer Christie's evaluated the artworks of the Detroit Institute of Arts as part of a city bankruptcy filing; now "Orr says DIA masterpieces worth less than thought," writes Mark Stryker for the Detroit Free Press
The 459 most valuable masterpieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts have a fair-market value of less than $2 billion, Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr said Tuesday. That figure is significantly below most predictions for the value of the art, which many observers expected to reach at least several billion dollars — perhaps as much as $8 billion. A figure less than $2 billion is likely to inflame the passions of bondholders, unions and other creditors who see DIA masterpieces as a prime source for recovering the billions they are owed by the city. It also increases the chances that a court battle over the fate of the DIA will become even more contentious as Orr prepares his plan of adjustment to restructure city finances. On another front, the lower-than-expected estimate could make it easier for Orr to justify his push to extract roughly $500 million in revenue from the DIA to help restructure the city. A high Christie’s estimate had been widely expected to increase pressure on Orr to demand even more from the DIA. “I do think it gives creditors more ammunition,” said Nicholas O’Donnell, a Boston-based attorney who specializes in art-related law. 
In May, the Free Press consulted art dealers and auction records to estimate the market value of 38 big-ticket works at the DIA. The tally was $2.5 billion. Included in those works were six paintings bought by the city between 1922 and 1930 that also were evaluated by Christie’s. The newspaper’s estimate for those works was more than $500 million, including price tags between $50 million and $150 million for Matisse’s “The Window,” Bruegel’s “The Wedding Dance” and Van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait.” So how could 459 works add up to less than $2 billion? Part of the answer could be that many of the DIA’s most valuable works — including those by Caravaggio, Ruisdael, Van Gogh, De Kooning, Giacometti, Cezanne and others — were not evaluated because they were either donated to the museum or bought with funds other than city dollars. Though every piece of art at the DIA is owned by the city regardless of how it was acquired, Orr decided to evaluate only works bought directly with city funds to avoid messier legal entanglements of donated works and expedite the evaluation process. The DIA owns roughly 65,000 works.

February 20, 2011

The Detroit Institute of Arts Posts #6 Video on YouTube for "Fakes, Forgeries and Mysteries" about a painting by Frans Pourbus the Younger

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin
(Right: Photo of Wimpole Hall in 1880)

The Detroit Institute of Arts posted its 6th video on Youtube of the series "Fakes, Forgeries and Mysteries." The director of DIA, Graham W. J. Beal, tells of how the museum recognized the beauty and workmanship of a 17th century painting, cleaned it up in the conservation lab, and then had it identified by the Louvre's former director Pierre Rosenberg who told the DIA officials, "I didn't know you had a Franz Pourbus". You can watch the video here.

Pierre Rosenberg, the director of the Louvre between 1994 and 2001, specialized in 17th and 18th century paintings.

Frans Pourbus the Younger (Netherlandish, 1569-1622) painted "A Man" in 1621 when the artist was 52 years old and a year before his death a year later in Paris. The oil on canvas is 31 7/2 x 25 7/8 inches (81.0 x 657.7 cm) and was a gift to the DIA by James E. Scripps. The painting had formerly been owned by the Earl of Hardwicke at Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire and sold at auction on June 30, 1888 To G. Smith. A year later, it was given by Mr. Scripps to the Detroit Museum of Arts.

James Edmund Scripps, the American publisher and philanthropist, founded The Detroit News and was the brother of Ellen Browning Scripps who founded Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla and Scripps College in Claremont, CA.

February 14, 2011

DIA's "Fakes, Forgeries and Mysteries" Podcasts about Painting Attributed to Claude Monet

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

The Detroit Institute of Arts released its fifth podcast on YouTube, "Hello to Tewkesbury Road" to augment the exhibit, "Fakes, Forgeries, and Mysteries."

Dr. Salvador Salort-Pons, Associate Curator of European Paintings, narrates the story of the painting, "Three Figures Resting Under a Tree," once attributed to Claude Monet. The painting came into the collection at the DIA in 2004 and for this exhibit, the museum decided to look further into the authenticity and provenance of the work. First, Dr. Salort-Pons explains, they conducted a technical analysis of the materials used such as the pigments, the canvas, and the stretcher and found the materials to be consistent with those Monet would have used in 1871, the date attached to the signature on the front of the painting.

The style of the painting did not look like an Impressionist painting by Monet but his signature was on the front and the back of the painting but it is dated from a period when Monet not an Impressionist painter. "He was still young and profiling his artistic personality," Dr. Salort-Pons explains.

They looked at the back of the painting to try to find more information about it, Dr. Salort-Pons continues, and discovered a stamp that said it had been exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Arts in Pittsburgh. He asked them if they had displayed Monet's "Three Figures Sitting Under a Tree" in the past but they did not find any evidence in their records.

On the back of the painting, they found the number "83707" which they recognized from an art dealer in New York where they traveled and found a card file with the history of ownership of this painting which had been sold by the Parisian dealer Goupil & Cie in the beginning of the 20th century then sold as a painting by Monet in 1947. The card file identified the title of the painting as "Tewkesbury Road."

With this new information, he went through the exhibition files at The Carnegie Museum of Art and found a photo of the painting from an exhibition in 1910 but the artist's signature on the painting was of Sir Alfred East. Apparently, between 1910 and 1947, someone had removed East's signature, forged Monet's signature, and fabricated the provenance. The forger knew in 1871 Monet was in England, the location of Tewkesbury Road. This painting is not by Monet but Sir Alfred East and Dr. Salvort-Pons tells the story of how an art researcher's hopes are challenging while investigating a piece of art.

February 6, 2011

The Detroit Institute of Arts' exhibit, "Fakes, Forgeries, and Mysteries", Posts Videos on YouTube to Augment Its Painting and Sculpture Exhibit

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

The Detroit Institute of Arts' "Fakes, Forgeries, and Mysteries" spotlights museum assets of questionable authenticity and provenance. The ARCA blog gives you links to the exhibition's videos on YouTube, the media coverage, and an interview with the show's curator.

The museum posts riveting weekly videos on YouTube elaborating on work behind the exhibition. In the first video, DIA’s Director Graham W. J. Beal introduces the exhibit’s curator, Associate Curator of European Paintings Salvador Salort-Pons, who he says has special archival research skills, and the museum’s science lab -- one of the few in the country -- run by a research scientist who provides information about materials used in art.

In the second video, “Portrait of a Young Woman” discusses a painting brought into the collection in 1936 that was once exhibited in a Leonardo da Vinci exhibit and when recently examined by x-ray was shown to have pigments of zinc and chromium which were not available until the 19th century.

The third video, "Rembrandt's Son", shows the analysis of “Titus,” a 19th century Rembrandt forgery who’s canvas weave seen through x-ray showed a 19th century manufactured quality.

The fourth video is about "The Head of a King", once considered an ancient artifact and now clearly re-labeled as a 20th century copy.

In CNN’s online article by Laura Allsop, "Spot the fake: The art world's pricey problem with forgery," Noah Charney, ARCA’s founder and President, explains that forgers are frustrated or thwarted artists:
"Most of them that we know of were initially trying to be artists themselves, their original creative works were dismissed at some point in the early part of their career."
"So the primary motivation for most art forgers really is sort of passive-aggressive revenge, with financial motivation taking a very much secondary role," he continued.
While most forgers are artists, he said, some are art conservators too, so they are skilled at getting around the scientific techniques used to verify an artwork. And not only do they produce counterfeit artworks; they can also produce convincing counterfeit documents verifying their bogus works. With these skills, forgers and forgeries can sometimes go undetected for years, making it difficult to say whether or not the numbers of forgeries are rising.
The New York Times reported in an article by Eve M. Kahn, “Keeping It Real: A Show Made of Fakes”, when the exhibit opened with examples of the institution's misattributions:
“An English country-road scene with a fake Monet signature is now known to be the work of the landscape painter Alfred East. A granite head of an Egyptian king has turned out to be a Berlin carver’s 1920s handiwork. An ebony table thought to have belonged to the Medicis is actually an 1840s Florentine copy.”
Writer Emily Sharpe reviews the exhibit for The Art Newspaper and reports on how art- historical research solved the "mystery" of the misattributed Monet.

On her blog, Real Clear Arts, for the Art Journal, columnist Judith H. Dobrzynski reviews the exhibit from afar, provides insightful commentary and links to local coverage of the exhibit.

The Seattle Times provides coverage of the exhibit by David Runk of the Associated Press in the article "Detroit museum exhibit to examine fakes, forgeries" which discusses the history of "Still Life with Carnations" once hoped to be a painting by Vincent van Gogh.

Via email, curator Dr. Salvador Salort-Pons responded to a few questions posed by the ARCA blog.
ARCA blog: Dr. Salort-Pons, the director of DIA said in the first video that you have special archival research skills. Could you elaborate on the kind of work you do in authenticating or discrediting these artworks?
Dr. Salort-Pons: More than authenticate or discredit a work of art, a curator tries to understand its true nature. We attempt to answer questions such as: What is it? When and how it was created? Who did it? What does it represent? Why is it important in an art historical context? Who owned it in the past? In the process of answering these questions and others we may find new information that reveal that the work we are investigating is not what we thought it was 50 or 100 years ago. I am continuously updating and revising the information about the DIA’s painting collection. It is part of my job.

There are, in my opinion, at least three approaches (curator, conservator and scientist) when we investigate a work of art. The curator’s approach includes two types of work: 1. The art historical research, which is the work performed in archives and libraries and it is oriented to find historical and scholarly documentation related to the artwork. 2. The connoisseurship research, which is based on the curators experience in looking at works of art especially in the flesh but also through photographs. It is, many times, an intuitive approach and it requires some degree of a natural sensibility and a trained eye. In short, a work of art speaks to a connoisseur in terms of style, authorship, authenticity, et cetera. The other two approaches relate to the work of conservators and scientists. They perform different tests on the artwork in order to understand its physical characteristics, construction, and elemental composition of materials among other things. When researching a work of art in depth the inputs of the curator, conservator and scientist are equally important.
ARCA blog: This exhibit shows the museum audience the process of research and authentication. In the past some museums have hidden fakes and forgeries, or misattributions, in storage and refused to elaborate about the process. What kind of response have you received from curators at other institutions?
Dr. Salort-Pons: The response has been highly positive from my colleagues. In the past there was some concern that the discovery and publication of a forgery in a collection might damage the reputation of a museum. As one of my colleagues emailed me recently “Times have changed, and we are all more enlightened about these things now”. Just look back into history and see that the great accomplishments in any field have been achieved through intelligent hard-work that involved good decisions but also some errors. Nobody can dispute that the DIA possesses one of the best art collections in North America and that it is a world-class museum. Yes, after 125 of acquiring art extremely well we transparently acknowledge that we have made some mistakes and that it is part of the process of the DIA’s successful collecting history. Our fakes and forgeries -- some of them connected to fascinating stories -- are just a microscopic fraction of the overall museum’s holdings. The DIA’s worldwide known masterpieces are permanently installed in the galleries.
ARCA blog: Do you think this exhibit has any kind of influence on the type of paintings that might be donated by supporters? Have you or your museum been concerned about any kind of resistance from contributors?
Dr. Salort-Pons: I would answer “no” to both questions. Some of our forgeries are quite sophisticated and came to the DIA when technologies and art historical knowledge were not as advanced as they are today. The DIA is a highly professional institution that includes a group of outstanding curators, conservators and scientists. We have the art historical expertise, and we are equipped with one of the best conservation labs in the country. Furthermore, our collection committee follow clear and strict guidelines that guarantee, among other things, that any artwork accessioned is of high quality and of interest for the DIA as well as, of course, authentic. I believe that supporters and contributors of our museum are aware of this. Fakes, Forgeries and Mysteries is a good example of how competent the DIA's staff is and that our museum is a top institution in terms research and technology.
Detroit Institute of Arts' exhibit, Fakes, Forgeries, and Mysteries, is open through April 10, 2011. It's an excellent reason to visit Detroit. However, a friend of mine recently visited the museum and said, after reading about the exhibit, that she would like to return to see Fakes, Forgeries and Mysteries but admitted that in numerous trips to the DIA over two months, she found the main collection so interesting that she hadn't left time for the special exhibits. So it seems that Dr. Salort-Pons is correct, an exhibit in the museum admitting to the uncertainty in the art market won't diminish museum revenues.