Showing posts with label museums. Show all posts
Showing posts with label museums. Show all posts

November 23, 2013

WSJ: "German Museums Under Pressure to Put Collections Online"

Mary M. Lane and Harriet Torry write in the Wall Street Journal Nov. 22 in "German Museums Under Pressure to Put Collections Online":
BERLIN—German museums are coming under growing international pressure to provide digital access to their full collections, in the wake of the discovery of a suspected plundered art trove in Munich that authorities kept secret for nearly two years. Under international norms adopted in Washington in 1998, German museums are obligated to go through their collections for works that may have been looted by the Nazis. But the museums have balked at going a step further and digitizing their collections to allow independent searches, citing budget restrictions and a lack of staff. That reluctance has for years been a source of tension within the art world, with critics alleging other motives. "They don't want to let people see what they have because they know if they put it online they'll get claims and possibly lose major paintings," Ronald Lauder, a billionaire art collector and president of the World Jewish Congress, said in an interview.
Ronald Lauder is the founder of New York City's Neue Gallerie, home to Gustav Klimt's "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer", a work recovered after it was stolen by the Nazis.

August 6, 2013

Christie's evaluation of art collection at Detroit Institute of Art is part of applying for bankruptcy, according to the city's emergency manager

van Gogh's Self-Portrait, DIA
Christie's auction house's evaluation of the art collection at the Detroit Institute of Art is part of the process of Detroit's eligibility for a municipal bankruptcy, the city's emergency manager Kevin Orr explained in a press release ("Christie's auction house hired to appraise city-owned pieces in Detroit Institute of Art," Associated Press for The Washington Post, August 6, 2013)
There has never been, nor is there now, any plan to sell art,” Orr said in a news release. “This valuation, as well as the valuation of other city assets ... is a step the city must take to reach resolutions with its creditors and secure a viable, strong future for Detroit and its residents.” 
The DIA told The Associated Press in a statement Monday afternoon that it would cooperate in Christie’s appraisal process, but pointed to a formal opinion by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette that said city-owned DIA pieces can’t be sold in a bankruptcy proceeding. He said in June that the artwork is held in a charitable trust for Michigan residents.
Diego River's fresco Detroit Industry
Founded in 1885, the DIA has more than 100 galleries in 658,000 feet and displays an art collection that features Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry fresco cycle (Gift by Edsel B. Ford) and Vincent van Gogh's Self-Portrait, "the first van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum collection" purchased by the Reinhardt Galleries for the DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts, website). Here's a list of favorite pieces in the collection selected by the DIA staff. The museum owns five paintings by van Gogh. In addition to the four-wall fresco by Diego Rivera, the DIA also has a portrait of Edsel B. Ford by the 20th century Mexican muralist.

June 17, 2013

Amsterdam Diary: "Van Gogh at Work" rebukes myth of solitary impulsive genius with the story of a disciplined artist influenced by his peers

Crowd at Van Gogh's Potato Eaters Sunday afternoon
AMSTERDAM, Sunday - This weekend the Van Gogh Museum attracted the same high-density crowd through its doors as the nearby Rijksmuseum. After a nine-month closure, the museum re-opened with "Van Gogh at Work", an educational exhibit focusing on Vincent Van Gogh's disciplined training to be a painter, independently studying drawing and color. It's a theme once confined to the subterranean level of the VGM in the exhibit on Vincent's drawings, but is now extended throughout four levels of gallery space.

Early paintings at the Van Gogh Museum differ in style (darker in color and theme) from those works in museums ( in California or Paris lighter more popular works later sold in the secondary market), serving as a reminder that Vincent sold only one painting and traded a few others; his family donated a huge collection which makes up the majority of the Van Gogh Museum's collection.

"Van Gogh at Work" puts the evolving styles of the artist into context as Vincent learned how to use materials and developed his style, evolving from an academic painter to a modern artist beginning at the age of 27:
In the 19th century, artists normally learned their trade by taking lessons at an academy or in a well-known artist's studio. They were taught by the traditional method, drawing from plaster copies of ancient sculptures and from nude models. Van Gogh, too, took lessons of this kind, although never for very long: no more than eight months in total. In 1880 he studied at the academy in Brussels and in 1881 in Anton Mauve's studio in the Hague; in 1885 at the academy in Antwerp, and in 1886 in the atelier of the painter Fernand Carmon in Paris. In the end, Van Gogh learned his craft mainly by spending countless hours at home copying drawings and paintings. He chose subjects of all kinds, from plaster models of the kind used at the art academy to a worn-out pair of shoes.
The exhibit includes paintings of a 'worn-out pair of shoes', black chalk drawings of a seated girl and another of a seated male nude, and his pencil drawing of a standing nude woman.

As a struggling artist, Vincent returned to live with his parents and worked in a shed behind the parsonage.
Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863),
Apollo Slays Python, is a preliminary
study for his painting ceiling at the Louvre.
In Nuenen, Van Gogh read books about colour theory. He learned about complementary colours (red and green, yellow and purple, blue and organge), which contrast and thereby heighten each other's effect. Yet this did not lead him to use brighter colours right away. Instead, he mixed complementary colours into his dark earth tones. It was only later, in Paris, that he saw paintings with powerful colour effects and gradually began to appreciate the potential of colour. Eugène Delacroix became his chief model. Other major influences included Neo-Impressionists such as Seurat and Signac. They used dots and short brushstrokes to set up contrasts between complementary colours, creating bright, colourful paintings. Van Gogh incorporated these diverse influences into his own personal style. This opened the way to the expressive works for which his is well known, in which colour plays the leading role.
In addition to the famous two-month living arrangement with Paul Gauguin in Arles (for which occasion he painted the series of sunflower pictures), Vincent had other relationships with painters, including Emile Bernard (1868-1941). Vincent asked Gauguin and Bernard for their self-portraits in a trade, and those paintings are on display (with each of them showing the other in the background).

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Les Misérables
 (Self-portrait with portrait of Bernard)

Repeatedly in the exhibit, conservators site examples of paint analysis, such as the 'grains of sand and bits of grass and leaves' 'discovered in the paint layers of some of his works' that indicate the artist worked outside on some canvases (Van Gogh at Work Highlights, page 6). Research showed that Vincent re-used materials -- x-ray photographs and pigment analysis showed that the artist painted over pictures to save money on purchasing new canvases (as it was he often felt guilty for purchasing supplies on the limited funds his brother Theo sent him, according to Vincent's letters).

Metal Detectors at the VGM

The Van Gogh Museum uses metal detectors to screen visitors (the Rijksmuseum does not); all restrooms are located in the basement of the four-story building (the Rijksmuseums places toilettes in pairs on each floor); and the cafeteria and large seating area accommodates crowds quickly (lunch at the cafe at the Rijksmuseum can take an hour). But both museums give the option for female security guards to wear scarves instead of ties (just saying).

Discussion of security can be summed up by a comment from another security museum official:
As you may know, we never speak about our security in public. But in general, I can tell you that one of the main challenges for every museum is to create the optimum balance between protecting the collection and offering the best hospitality for all visitors.
And with free Wi-Fi, the Van Gogh Museum also encourages visitors to promote the institute through social media.

The exhibit ended with 'probably' the last known painting by Vincent Van Gogh, Tree Roots, 1890: "He did not complete it: the top is almost finished, but the lower half had not yet been worked out in detail."

Vincent Van Gogh, Tree Roots, 1890
The exhibit is a result of the research project 'Van Gogh's Studio Practice', initiated in 2005 by the Van Gogh Museum, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and Shell Netherlands. A symposium on the subject is scheduled for June 24-26, 2013.

May 30, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013 - ,,, No comments

Getty Perspectives: James Cuno and Pico Iyer Discussed Travel and Museums above the fray

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCAblog Editor

Visitors taking the tram up the hill to the Getty Center now listen to a recording by James Cuno, President and CEO of the Getty Trust, welcoming them to visit the galleries and the gardens. Tuesday evening, Cuno, now into his third year at The Getty, joined writer Pico Iyer onstage to discuss travel and museums as part of the Getty Perspectives series.

Iyer, author of a book on his reflections on Graham Greene in The Man Within My Head, was introduced to the audience as someone who "defies classification", as a "resident of LAX", and an essayist on subjects including museums. Cuno, introduced as a man "who has a lot to say about museums" and author of Museums Matter, has spent two years at the Getty emphasizing "critical thinking and integrating digital initiatives".

Cuno spoke with Iyer about his book on Greene; Iyer blaming Greene's intense influence on himself to altitude sickness in La Paz, Bolivia, and a touch of cocoa tea. "I only trust those things you can't explain," Iyer said. In recommending Greene's "The Quiet American" as "still the book to read", describing Greene as the "patron saint of the foreigner alone drifting between uncertainties" and claimed that "travel gives you a privacy you can't get at home."

Travel, like museums, they discussed, can help people understand other parts of the world.

"Museums hold out the promise that museums can introduce people to the complexity of the world," Cuno said, "And open us to tolerance."

Cuno, author of the controversial Who Owns Antiquity?, spoke of the diversity of museum visitors, pointing out that 220 million people live in countries not their own, that a city such as Chicago has a large Greek community that can view objects from Greece in local museums.

"I am very skeptical of governments making claims on individual identities," Cuno said. "My view is that people don't come from governments. Art is not made for a nation. I am suspicious of governments staking claims on a legacy they wish to identify with for grandeur."

Pico noted that when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan that they destroyed what belongs to us all.

"We're responsible for what is within our jurisdiction," Cuno said. "The Taliban felt that these objects put their cultural identity at risk."

Pico Iyer described the Getty as the sanctuary next to the rush-hour freeway: "Taking us out of the fray and bringing us back to our better selves."