Exhibition Inquisition

The stuff you look at, but don't see.

Posts Tagged ‘auction

Girl with a Pearl Earring – Exhibition Website

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de Young Museum

I have not seen this exhibition (because I have neither renewed my FAMSF membership, nor managed to convince the bitchy membership counter boys to let me in for free), so I’m just going to judge the exhibition website for the de Young’s latest touring celebrity, Girl With a Pearl Earring.

Girl with the Pearl Earring_de Young_Website_Wink

Lazy eye, or unfortunate screengrab?

That’s right, SHE WINKS.  Oh this is painful.  Vermeer’s iconic masterpiece (reduced to a not-even-clever gif) and other treasures from the Mauritshuis are currently touring the globe (or parts of it) while the Dutch museum undergoes extensive renovations.  Good for the Mauritshuis for making some buckets of ducats while closed, but one wonders how much the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco are shelling out for the traveling show. Read the rest of this entry »

Balenciaga and Spain

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De Young Museum

Hamish Bowles, Editor at Large, curator, and cape-wearer.

On my most recent visit home to San Francisco, I had a museum day with my mom.   My mom was insistent we see the Hamish-Bowles-curated Balenciaga and Spain at the De Young Museum.  My mom had already seen it (bought the catalogue), and had been raving to me about its unconventional display.  The clothes are integrated into a background of paintings (one by Miro, a reproduction of Velazquez’s Las Meninas), photographs of the Spanish landscape and matadors; sometimes lively flamenco music accompanies the designs.  I wanted to glean something from the exhibition to point out to my mom that she might not have noticed.  This came from the object labels.  Each label included the requisite materials, date, lending organization, and donor.  However, in some cases an additional “worn by” line was added.

Who were some of the women wearing Cristobal Balenciaga’s bolero jackets and flamenco-inspired gowns?

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Lucas Cranach’s Adam and Eve

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Restitution Issue: Norton Simon Museum

Adam and Eve, painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder in c. 1530, are a pair of panel paintings currently on view in Pasadena, at the Norton Simon Museum.  There hasn’t been an update on the painted pair since October, but the ownership of the Adam and Eve remains an unresolved dispute.  Marei Von Saher is the daughter-in-law of Jacques Goudstikker, a previous owner of the Adam and Eve.  During the 1940s, Goudstikker fled Holland and was forced to sell the panels to the Nazis under duress.  The issue of restitution would seem clear if this case was that simple.  A questionable, century-long provenance and a legal tangle both complicate the case.  Let’s explore.

Adam and Eve have hung at the Norton Simon since 1977.

Norton Simon bought the Cranach panels from George Stroganoff-Scherbatoff , a Russian, in 1971.  Stroganoff-Scherbatoff was the heir of an aristocratic family who claimed to have owned the paintings prior to 1917.  Stroganoff-Scherbatoff received/bought the paintings from the Dutch Government in a restitution agreement in 1966.  The Dutch Government was restituted the paintings (remember Goudstikker fled Holland during WWII) after WWII.  The Nazis forced Goudstikker to sell them in the 1940s.  Goudstikker had bought the paintings from the Soviet government at an auction in 1931.  The Russian government had confiscated Adam and Eve from the family of Stroganoff-Scherbatoff prior to 1917.  Seems like a resolved case of restitution: Russian heir gets stolen paintings back and then sells them to a collector (Norton Simon).

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