Exhibition Inquisition

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

Posts Tagged ‘painting

Chapter 3 (Part 3): Alice Walton & Crystal Bridges

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I’m Alice Walton, bitch.”[i] – Alice Walton, 2007

“There is a lot that horses and art share in common.” (Not sorry for the lack of context.)

“There is a lot that horses and art share in common.”

Alice Walton is the youngest daughter of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart.  She was raised in Bentonville, Arkansas—also the location of the first Wal-Mart, and where Wal-Mart corporate headquarters is located.  In the past decade Walton has been on a shopping spree of American art, from colonial to contemporary.[ii]  The spree was fueled by her philanthropic project, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (she chose the name), also in Bentonville, a city with a population of 35,000.  The cost for the project is unknown, but art blogger Lee Rosenbaum (CultureGrrl) investigated the museum’s 990s and revealed that between 2005 and 2010, the museum spent $508.57 million in “expenses for charitable activities”[iii]—an intentionally vague category.  These activities most like are the acquisition of art but also the design and construction of the museum by architect Moshe Safdie.

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Paris: Life and Luxury

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Getty Center

Oh how the rich suffer!

NOTICE: This is the last week to see Paris: Life and Luxury, at the Getty Center. I’ve seen it twice, and am going back a third time this weekend.  There is a lot to see; there is also a lot to read, lots of walltext, and a lot of it is hilarious.  Beginning with the intro walltext, which explains why most people are unfamiliar with French decorative art from this period:

Largely unfamiliar and underappreciated today, over shadowed as they are by the tumultuous social and political events of the French revolution of 1789.

Oh my god, this stuff is so underappreciated! Who doesn’t love Rococo?  If an 18th century French peasant saw all the wealth/golden filth in this exhibition, the Revolution would have happened a WHOLE lot sooner.  Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Exhibitions

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LACMA

LACMA’s near acre of new exhibition space, the Resnick Pavilion, means LACMA has a lot of exhibitions to program.  And they seem up to the task.  After the three inaugural shows (Olmec, Fashion, and Eye for the Sensual), LACMA has managed to keep the Resnick Pavilion at full capacity.  There are three shows currently in the space: David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy, Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts, and LACMA’s ticketed blockbuster: Tim Burton.  The shows keep with Michael Govan’s strategy for offering unrelated coinciding shows in the Resnick Pavilion.

Across from the Resnick Pavilion, is Renzo Piano’s other LACMA building, BCAM; it too has been kept full. The top floor is still stocked with Broadworks, the second floor is being deinstalled from the recent permanent collection show Human Nature, and the ground floor just had one of the massive Serra sculptures deinstalled, to make room for a new Burden work, which is going to be AWESOME.

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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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Carlos Cruz-Diez: Color in Space and Time

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Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

A tranchromie, you say?—I’ll take five!

While in Houston, I scampered around town looking at as much art as I could with my favorite museum pal Margarete.  This included going to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  I always enjoy seeing how encyclopedic museums display their collections, Pre-Columbian collections in particular.  Coming from LA, I’m now accustomed to LACMA’s Jorge-Pardo-designed galleries.  The Pre-Columbian galleries at the MFAH are fairly standard, but contain hoards of gold.  This is because the Spanish conquistador, Alfredo Glassello bequeathed his Aztec and Incan booty to the MFAH. Not really, but an oil man and MFAH trustee, Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., did.  “As a life-long collector of Asian, Pre-Columbian, and African art, he donated his excellent and extensive collections to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. These works, primarily of precious gold, are without parallel.”  This would explain the gold rooms, one of Pre-Columbian artifacts, and on the other side of the building, a hall of golden African objects. Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Marketing: Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France

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Art Institute of Chicago

If you’re like me, you already check out your reflection in the huge windows of ground floor lobbies in downtown.  Don’t lie; it’s impossible not to when faced with such large expanses of glass.  The Art Institute’s marketing campaign for its current temporary exhibition, show Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France only makes things worse (or better).  Better.  Museums in Chicago love a creative marketing campaign (see previous post on The Horse at the Field).

Look at yourself, just look at yourself!

Why this campaign is better than the Horse campaign: The campaign uses artwork in the exhibition.  Both Jean Bourdichon’s Louis XII Kneeling in Prayer (1498/99) and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Madonna of the Yarnwinder are used.  (The latter is the clear superstar of the show.)  The marketing campaign pairs these paintings with large, silver, reflective material, on which are printed crowns and scepters.  The idea is to look into these mirrors and picture yourself as a King or Queen, or as a Madonna…

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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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