Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rembrandt masterpiece unseen for 40yrs to be sold

LONDON (Reuters) - Christie's will offer for sale what it calls a Rembrandt "masterpiece" in December, and expects to fetch up to 25 million pounds ($41 million) in what would be an auction record for the artist.

The painting, titled "Portrait of a man, half-length, with his arms akimbo," was painted in 1658 and has been unseen in public for nearly 40 years.

The catalouge at Christies notes:

Rembrandt's Portrait of a Man, painted in 1658, was first documented in 1847 at an exhibition at the British Institution, but it did not receive any critical attention until after its sale in London more than eighty years later. The art historian Tancred Borenius, writing in The Burlington Magazine shortly after the sale, hailed the portrait as 'undoubtedly one of the most notable additions made for a long time to the list of Rembrandt's extant works', remarking on its 'absolutely perfect condition', its 'simplified and effective, monumental character' and the 'extraordinarily constructive power of the master's brushwork'. His view was echoed a few months later in the same publication by the Rembrandt scholar Wilhelm R. Valentiner, who considered it as 'the largest and most impressive among the rediscovered paintings ... quite in the style of the monumental self-portrait executed by Rembrandt in 1658' (New York, The Frick Collection; see fig.1); and, in America, The Antiquarian deemed it 'one of the great artist's masterpieces'. The portrait was subsequently recorded by Bredius (1935), Bauch (1966) and Gerson (1968), and its place within the Rembrandt canon was assured. Nevertheless, having remained hidden from public view and unavailable to scholars since 1970, the Portrait of a Man has been largely ignored in more recent literature on the artist and it remains relatively unknown today.

The last time it was sold at auction was in 1930 when it fetched 18,500 pounds, or today's equivalent of nearly six million pounds.

"We look forward to welcoming international collectors and institutions from around the world to what will be a landmark auction in the history of the European art market on December 8 at Christie's in London," said Richard Knight, co-head of Old Masters and 19th century art.

With a pre-sale estimate of 18-25 million pounds, one of the most valuable paintings to come to auction for some time will be seen as a key barometer of the strength of the art market, which has contracted sharply during the financial crisis.

The work will go on public display from December 4-8. The work has been displayed in the past:

  • London, British Institution, 1847, no. 45, as 'A Dutch Admiral'.
  • New York, Masterpieces of Art, May-October 1939, no. 304.
  • Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum, Frans Hals, Rembrandt, 18 November-31 December 1947, no. XXVIII.
  • Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, Rembrandt and his Pupils, 16 November-30 December 1956, no. 29.
  • Wisconsin, Milwaukee Art Institute, An Inaugural Exhibition, 12 September-20 October 1957, no. 17.
  • New York, Gallery of Modern Art (Huntington Hartford Museum), 23 August-9 September 1964.
  • Chicago, The Art Institute; Minnesota, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts; Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years - An Exhibition of Rembrandt and His Followers, 25 October 1969-5 April 1970, no. 13.

The Path of the painting:

Soon after the painting was sold at auction in 1930, it was acquired privately by George Huntington Hartford II, an art collector and heir to a large fortune. Heir to The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company = A&P Supermarkets. At 21, Hunt inherited a fortune—"the greatest fortune on Earth"; Net worth US $ 2.6 billion (pre-1975). He died on May 19, 2008 at age 97.

Side note: A&P Supermarket, which at one point had 16,000 stores in the US and was the largest retail empire in the world. When his uncles died they had no heirs so he inherited their fortune. The money also went to the John A. Hartford Foundation, which had $800 million as of 2007. In the 1950s A&P was the world's largest grocer and, next to General Motors, sold more goods than any other company in the world. The A&P in 2007 had revenue of 6.9 Billion. In 1950 Time Magazine wrote the A&P had sales of 2.7 billion. Time magazine wrote in November 13, 1950 issue that "the familiar red-front A & P store is the real melting pot of the community, patronized by the boss's wife and the baker's daughter, the priest and the policeman. To foreigners A & P's vast supermarkets are among the wonders of the age; to the U.S. middle class, they are one of the direct roads to solvency. "Going to the A & P" is almost an American tribal rite."

The picture was not displayed at Hartford's own museum called The Gallery of Modern Art at 2 Columbus Circle which Hartford had built to showcase his great art collection, including Impressionists, pre-Raphaelites, and Surrealists notably Salvador Dali. (Hartford commissions Salvador Dali to paint a painting called The Discovery of America by Chrisopher Columbus for the opening.)

His art collection consisted of Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Manet, Rembrandt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Turner and Degas among others. The Museum opened in 1964. The project proved unpopular and he abandoned it after only a few years.

The Portrait of a Man, which Hartford considered 'the greatest Rembrandt portrait I have ever seen' .

Side note: Edward Durell Stone (March 9, 1902 - August 6, 1978)

The architect of 2 Columbus Circle was Edward Durell Stone (1902-78), who studied at Harvard and MIT, set up shop in New York, and was responsible for the original Museum of Modern Art.* In the 1950s, Stone broke with orthodox International Style Modernism and produced a series of buildings that incorporated ornamental screens, decorative motifs, and rich materials. Like Wright's late work, Stone's iconoclastic buildings made him an architectural renegade. Clients liked his work, however, and provided him with a steady of flow of prominent commissions, including the Florida State Capitol, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. 2 Columbus Circle, which was originally the Gallery of Modern Art, built for the millionaire Huntington Hartford, was classic Stone: a vertical Venetian palazzo supported on delicate scalloped columns with a white-marble facade perforated by scores of tiny portholes.By 2004, the idiosyncratic building on Columbus Circle had become an integral part of New York's urban landscape, which is why there was such an outcry when the Museum of Arts and Design announced that it planned to destroy Stone's facade as part of its renovation."

"An unspoken sentiment underpins the historic-preservation movement: the widely held conviction that it is worth saving old buildings from demolition because whatever will replace them is likely to be not as good. It's hardly a lofty ideal, but it is the result of too many lost masterpieces: H.H. Richardson's Marshall Field's store, Charles McKim's Pennsylvania Station, Frank Lloyd Wright's Larkin Building." (

Hard to believe, with prominent voices protesting- the building was `remodelled':

Columbia Uni. Ownership of the Painting:

The Portrait of a Man, was donated in 1958 to Columbia University. According to a file in the Frick Collection Archives, the picture was intended for ultimate sale to support research in the Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons. Such a spectacularly generous gesture was not uncommon for Hartford. The portrait was displayed in the president's office until students occupied it during a demonstration in 1968, after which the picture went into storage for safekeeping. It is interesting to note that the riots at Columbia University, that lasted almost one week, initially had no police intervention.

"The Administration did not call in the police on Tuesday afternoon; nor on Tuesday night when the Hamilton Hall protest turned into a community sleep-in; nor on Wednesday morning to clear Low Library of a handful of student occupiers who didn't take to the windows (among them Mark Rudd) at the sight of police entering the building to retrieve a Rembrandt painting from the President's office. Why not? Students of all ideological stripes concluded that the Administration was persisting in the strategy operative throughout the previous year, to "avoid confrontation at all costs." The effect of this inaction was to anger anti-protest students to the point where they talked openly of clearing the buildings themselves."

Eventually the police were called in by the University to deal with the protesters on Day 8 of the protest- "1000 police clear 800 occupiers and another 200 bystanders on steps from five University buildings; 500 spectators on campus; the transactions 2+ hours in the doing. 712 arrests/ 150 plus injuries/372 police brutality complaints."

The police were well aware on that Tuesday that the colledge was under seige by some of the students - but the Rembrant painting was of higher concern for the administration. Six years later the painting was quietly sold to raise money for the university’s endowment fund.

It was last seen in public at the exhibition Rembrandt After 300 Years at The Detroit Institute of Arts in 1970.

The buyer was the New York dealer Harold Diamond who paid an undisclosed sum reported to have been in excess of $1 million. It was acquired in the same year by the present owner.

Hard Times for Rembrandt

In 1658, when the work was painted, Dutch master Rembrandt was forced to sell his house in Amsterdam and move to a smaller studio, having been declared bankrupt two years earlier.

Only one other painting by the artist dated from 1658 is known to exist: "Self-portrait" in the Frick Museum in New York.

According to Christie's, the auction record for a Rembrandt is 19.8 million pounds (then $29 million) set at Christie's in London in 2000.

More notes from Christies on the picture:

Rembrandt's Portrait of a Man, painted in 1658, was first documented in 1847 at an exhibition at the British Institution, but it did not receive any critical attention until after its sale in London more than eighty years later. The art historian Tancred Borenius, writing in The Burlington Magazine shortly after the sale, hailed the portrait as 'undoubtedly one of the most notable additions made for a long time to the list of Rembrandt's extant works', remarking on its 'absolutely perfect condition', its 'simplified and effective, monumental character' and the 'extraordinarily constructive power of the master's brushwork'.

His view was echoed a few months later in the same publication by the Rembrandt scholar Wilhelm R. Valentiner, who considered it as 'the largest and most impressive among the rediscovered paintings ... quite in the style of the monumental self-portrait executed by Rembrandt in 1658' (New York, The Frick Collection; see fig.1); and, in America, The Antiquarian deemed it 'one of the great artist's masterpieces'. The portrait was subsequently recorded by Bredius (1935), Bauch (1966) and Gerson (1968), and its place within the Rembrandt canon was assured.

Nevertheless, having remained hidden from public view and unavailable to scholars since 1970, the Portrait of a Man has been largely ignored in more recent literature on the artist and it remains relatively unknown today.

Having thus far evaded the intense scrutiny of modern Rembrandt research, the Portrait of a Man has recently been subjected to extensive scientific analysis for the first time, the findings of which are included in this entry. Furthermore, the picture has been examined by Professor Ernst van de Wetering, chairman of the Rembrandt Research Project, who had never before had the opportunity to examine it in person. His unequivocal endorsement of Rembrandt's authorship re-asserts this picture's standing as one of the artist's most striking late portraits, painted during one of his most inventive artistic phases and yet, at the same time, one of the most turbulent periods in his personal life. Admiring particularly the manner of Rembrandt's execution and his mastery his mastery of light, Van de Wetering summarised thus:

'One of the most striking qualities of this painting throughout is the remarkably intelligent and sensitive dealing with delicate light effects and the dosage of the light. It would take a long analytical argument to provide insight into all these finesses. Judged after my long experience with Rembrandt, this painting is in that respect one of Rembrandt's masterpieces'. (Private correspondence, May 2009).

The late 1650s were extremely difficult years for Rembrandt, despite the enormous success and fame he had achieved in the 1630s and 1640s. His revenue had declined considerably in the 1640s due to the lack of demand for portrait commissions or, as is more likely, his refusal to accept them.

He started to refocus on portraiture in the mid-1650s, presumably in an effort to boost his income, and some of the most celebrated of all his male portraits originate from this time, including Nicolaes Bruynigh, dated 1652 (Kassel, Gemäldegalerie), and Jan Six (Amsterdam, Six Foundation) and Floris Soop (New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), both painted in 1654.

However, after years of financial mismanagement and overspending, Rembrandt was declared bankrupt in 1656. His extensive art collection - one of the main causes of his insolvency - was gradually auctioned off in the years 1656 to 1658 and in February 1658 he was finally forced to sell his house in the Sint Anthonisbreestraat, where he had lived and worked since 1639, and move across Amsterdam to a smaller rented property in the Jordaan.

Beset by this upheaval, it is not surprising that Rembrandt's output in the late 1650s was relatively limited. Only two other dated works from 1658 are known: a small mythological scene, Philemon and Baucis (Washington, National Gallery of Art), and the magnificent Self-Portrait (New York, The Frick Collection-see below), in which Rembrandt shows himself at his most magisterial despite the enormous strain he was under.

Valentiner notes that at this time the artist hardly ever received portrait commissions (1956, loc. cit.), and it is true that with the exception of Catherina Hooghsaet (Catrina Hooghsaet was fifty when she sat for her portrait, the same age as the artist, Rembrandt.), who sat to Rembrandt in 1657 for the picture now at Penrhyn Castle, there is no other commissioned portrait extant from the years 1657 to 1659.

Given Rembrandt's financial position he would no doubt have welcomed more commissions. However, it seems probable that the majority of prospective patrons were put off by his increasingly expressive style of painting in a period when aesthetic taste now favoured smoothness and elegance.

Comparison with the Penrhyn picture shows just how far removed the present work is from the constraints of a formal commission, raising the question as to whether the sitter actually charged Rembrandt with painting it or whether he was chosen by the artist as a model for picturesque reasons. Irrespective of the nature of the commission, the model's highly individualized features and the direct manner of the execution indicate that he was painted from life. The man's identity is unknown. He was described simply as A Dutch Admiral when the picture was first recorded at the British Institution exhibition of 1847, a title that alluded to his commanding presence but has no seventeenth-century foundation.

In 1956 Valentiner suggested he might be the lawyer Louis Craeyers, based on the fact that Craeyers was named as guardian to the artist's son Titus on 4 April 1658, but there is nothing in the picture to suggest the man is a lawyer and this idea has not gained any support (loc. cit.). The sitter is in his prime, perhaps in his mid-thirties, solidly built, with undeniably handsome, patrician looks. Van de Wetering sees him probably as a visitor to Amsterdam, perhaps of Mediterranean origin. His clothes appear to have little to do with contemporary fashion, suggesting to Marieke de Winkel that they belong with the sort of fanciful, antique costumes that Rembrandt used for his history pieces and in many of his self-portraits (verbal communication). The hat is of the type worn so often by Rembrandt himself to heighten the 'antique' effect of his portraits, while the round-necked chemise and the short, open doublet with a sash around the waist, recall the costumes worn by sitters in Venetian cinquecento portraiture. This use of historical costume evokes a timeless quality that, as De Winkel has demonstrated in relation to the self-portraits, was linked to Rembrandt's ambition to cast himself and his art within the tradition of the great Old Masters of the past - of Dürer, Raphael and Titian (see M. de Winkel, 'Costumes in Rembrandt's Self Portraits', in the exhibition catalogue, Rembrandt by Himself, London, National Gallery; and The Hague, Mauritshuis, June 1999-January 2000, pp. 60-74).

Rembrandt's interest in Italian art is well documented. The unquestionably Italian character of the Portrait of a Man was first mentioned by Borenius who drew attention to its relationship with Raphael's Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (Paris, Musée du Louvre; ),

a picture that Rembrandt saw at the time of its auction in Amsterdam in 1639: 'I hope it is not fanciful to find in the picture a reminiscence of the rise and fall of the quiet and monumental silhouette of Castiglione' (T. Borenius, op. cit., p. 54). Rembrandt made a pen and ink drawing of the Raphael there and then (Vienna, Albertina; see fig. 3) and his use of it for the self-portraits of 1639 (in etching) and 1640 (London, The National Gallery) gives an idea of the considerable impact Raphael's masterpiece had on him. If the spirit of the Castiglione portrait can indeed be felt in the present work, and the connection seems anything but fanciful, the influence of Titian can be felt in equal measure.

In the second half of the 1650s Rembrandt's interest in Titian appeared to reach new heights and most of his single figure pictures from these years have at one time or another elicited comparison with the Venetian master: for example, Flora (circa 1654; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Hendrickje Stoffels (circa 1654-9; London, The National Gallery); Woman at an open door (circa 1656-7; Berlin, Gemäldegalerie), Titus (circa 1657, London, The Wallace Collection); and the 1658 Self-Portrait (New York, The Frick Collection).

The frontal pose adopted by the present figure echoes that often found in Titian's portraiture and John Maxon, former Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, pointed to its affinities with the 1558 Portrait of Fabrizio Salvaresio (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum; see fig. 4), a picture formerly in the collection of Archduke Leopold in Brussels that Rembrandt could have seen through plates for David Teniers' Theatrum Pictorium, released in proof form in 1658 (see catalogue of the exhibition, Rembrandt after Three Hundred Years, 1969-1970, p. 38, no. 13). It is not only the composition of this portrait and character of the sitter that strike the viewer as Titianesque, but also the manner of its painting. The strong use of light, the earthen palette with crimson highlights and, above all, the vigorous, broad application of paint, all speak of Titian's late style.

The powerful impact this picture makes on the viewer owes much to the frontal pose adopted by the sitter and his defiant air. He stands before the artist with an unflinching gaze, hands on hips, chest out, in a display of commanding self-assurance. The pose, as first pointed out by Valentiner (1930, op. cit., p. 260), also recalls that used by the artist himself a few years earlier for one of his most assertive self-portraits (1652; Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum; see fig. 5), for which there is a closely related drawing showing the artist in full-length (Amsterdam, Museum het Rembrandthuis). The figure's right hand, which is clenched and in shadow in the Vienna picture, is here given prominence, with the fingers extended, in a manner that further enhances the forceful nature of the pose. The rapid, sketch-like rendering of the hand is a bravura display of painting that offers a contrast to the minutely observed details of the face.

The effect of the sitter's grandeur is heightened by the monumental way in which he fills the picture space and the inventive use of light, which defines the form of the figure and the space around it. The play of light became an ongoing preoccupation for Rembrandt in the 1650s and here, as in the Vienna picture, he chose to light the figure almost directly from the left side. 'Such deliberations are typical for Rembrandt', Van de Wetering observes, where in this case 'the choice seems to have had to do with the most refined solutions as to the lighting of the figure'. However, where in the Vienna picture the entire right side of the figure is cast into shadow, the torso is here turned slightly to the right, enabling the light to catch the back of the left arm, thereby giving more definition to the shape of the body and lending an added sense of dynamism to the composition as a whole.

x-radiograph of the picture

Rembrandt clearly contended with other factors in resolving the overall design of the composition. Comparison with the x-radiograph of the picture reveals that several changes were made in the course of painting (see fig. 6). For instance, adjustments were made to the shape of the beret, the outline of the left shoulder and right arm. A condition report on the painting, prepared by R.M.S. Shepherd Associates, notes that 'the radiograph shows areas of paint which were later covered as the composition evolved. Rembrandt established some things early on in the course of executing this work, leaving areas reserved for certain features, whilst modifying others to refine the end result. The x-radiograph shows no uncertainty or lack of clarity; only definite changes of particular features' (condition report available on request). The x-radiograph suggested to Van de Wetering that the canvas may be trimmed at the lower and left edges although the losses may only be slight.

By 1658 Rembrandt's execution had become increasingly bold and complex. In the Portrait of a Man he achieved infinitely subtle effects of light, colour and texture by the use of continuously varied combinations of paint, made up from just a few pigments, that were applied layer upon layer until he was satisfied with the result. This elaborate paint structure is manifest both in the face, which is observed with remarkable sensitivity, and also in the doublet, where sweeping brushstrokes have been used to render its form. Van de Wetering takes the view that 'the looseness of this brushwork, in part seemingly governed by chance, is typical of the late Rembrandt. It is at the same time characterized by a specific [to Rembrandt] mixture of freedom and control'.

This new expressive style of painting was out of step with the contemporary taste for elegance and refinement and must have left Rembrandt in a strangely isolated position within the Amsterdam artistic community. No doubt he also suffered from the perception that his 'rough' painting style and his reversal in fortune went hand in hand. Nevertheless, apparently undaunted by popular taste, Rembrandt continued to paint in an uncompromising manner that would become increasingly radical in his output from the 1660s. In the face of his mounting difficulties and his apparent fall from grace, the Portrait of a Man stands as a defiant statement of Rembrandt's genius as a portraitist.

The top price at auction for an old master picture was 49.5 million pounds ($77 million) for "The Massacre of the Innocents" by Peter Paul Rubens set at Sotheby's in London in 2002.

The auction will also feature Saint John the Evangelist by Domenico Zampieri, called Il Domenichino (1581-1641), one of the most important Baroque paintings to be presented at auction in a generation, which will be presented for sale for the first time in over 100 years at Christie’s in December (estimate: £7 million to £10 million).

Most probably painted for Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani or his younger brother, Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani (1564-1637), the picture was first recorded in 1621 as part of their collection in Rome. The Giustinianis were among the most important Italian art collectors of the 17th century, and the picture was one of the most significant of their collection which also included no fewer than 15 works by Caravaggio. Its importance led it to be included in most 18th century guide books and it was engraved by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Measuring almost 2.5 metres by 2 metres, it is a reinterpretation of the artist’s pendentive fresco of Saint John the Evangelist in Sant’Andrea della Valle, Rome. Apparently painted soon afterwards (circa 1627-29), it displays a sculptural character which would go on to define the artist’s most celebrated masterpieces; the frescoes in the chapel of Saint Januarius in the Cathedral at Naples.

Domenico Zampieri, called Il Domenichino (1581-1641), was one of the most important Italian artists of the 17th century. By the 18th century he enjoyed an enormous reputation and his masterpiece:

Last Communion of St. Jerome in the Vatican was considered to be one of the greatest pictures ever painted, second only to Raphael.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Finding Frida Kahlo, A collection of fakes - or the real deal?

Real or fake? A treasure trove of works that may possibly been done by Frida Kahlo is disputed by her decedents.

Frida Kahlos or Frauds?

Carlos Noyola, the art and antiques dealer who acquired the collection, says he has proved that it is. There are 1,200 items, worth a fortune if they were Kahlo’s, everything from stuffed hummingbirds, like the one she wears as a necklace in a 1940 self-portrait, to a small notebook of private thoughts and sexually explicit drawings.

In fact, when all was said and done, the trove included 16 small oil paintings, 23 watercolors and pastels, 59 notebook pages (diary entries, recipes, etc.), 73 anatomical studies (some dated prior to Kahlo's disfiguring 1925 trolley accident), 128 pencil and crayon drawings, 129 illustrated prose-poems, and 230 letters to Carlos Pellicer, the Modernist poet and Frida's close confidant, many adorned with sketches -- skulls, insects, lizards, birds.

Mostly it's ephemera, like a small box holding 11 taxidermy hummingbirds. There are pistols, such as an ornate 1870 Remington; a tricolor Mexican flag, its central white panel altered to celebrate Leon Trotsky ("Troski") and the Communist Party, to which Kahlo and Rivera belonged; hotel bills; photographs; receipts for sales of Rivera paintings; an embroidered huipil, a traditional Mayan blouse; an intimate diary, with one entry expressing Frida's intense (and unrequited) erotic attraction to lesbian ranchera singer Chavela Vargas; a French medical text on amputation, painted over with blood-red pigments; and more.

The Kahlo cache is said to have been stored for 50 years in two wooden chests, a metal trunk, a wooden box and a battered suitcase. The forthcoming book, honest in its uncertainty about authenticity, tells a spare but reasonable history of ownership -- first given by the dying artist to sculptor Abraham Jimenez Lopez, a friend of Kahlo and Rivera's, in 1954, and then sold by him to attorney Manuel Marcue in 1979 -- as well as the Noyolas' initial efforts at verification.

But the publication by Princeton Architectural Press of a glossy art book in the United States about the trove has mobilized a diverse group of experts in Mexico, the United States and Europe who say that the objects are fake. Last week the Mexican government trust that controls the copyright to Kahlo’s work filed a criminal complaint against Mr. Noyola, a measure aimed at investigating the works. The trust is also investigating legal recourse in the United States to halt sale of the books.

he book, “Finding Frida Kahlo,” scheduled for publication on Nov. 1 but already available on Amazon (they already have used copies for sale) and elsewhere, contains lavish illustrations of many items in the collection.

Beginning in 2004, the couple said, they bought the items from a reclusive Mexico City lawyer, who told them that he had acquired them from a woodcarver who had made frames for Kahlo. She trusted him so much that she gave the woodcarver several suitcases and boxes full of her most intimate possessions. The Noyolas tracked down a photograph of the woodcarver, Abraham Jiménez López, which appears in the book.

They had the works authenticated by Ruth Alvarado, Rivera’s granddaughter, who died two years ago. They also consulted three artists who studied and worked with Kahlo and Rivera in the 1940s. One of them, Arturo García Bustos, signed numerous certificates of authentication for the works. Mr. García Bustos said that he recognized Kahlo’s hand in the work. “I observed, I knew the maestra’s personality,” he said, using the Spanish term of respect for a teacher and also an artist. “I see it reflected in the works of the collection.”

The Noyolas also hired a handwriting expert recognized by Mexican courts and an expert in chemical analysis who works with the government’s National Institute of Fine Arts. Both presented evidence to suggest that the trove could be real.

But such arguments do nothing to sway critics like Hilda Trujillo Soto, adjunct director at the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City. “The title and the text trick people who buy the book in good faith thinking that it’s about Frida,” she said. “The publisher is taking a cynical attitude. They are disseminating Frida Kahlo fakes.”

Katharine Myers, publicity director of Princeton Architectural Press, said that the publisher would continue to sell the book because it clearly states that the objects are still under study.

Authenticating art is by its nature subjective, the result of years of experience. One of the foremost Kahlo scholars, Salomon Grimberg, a co-author of Kahlo’s catalogue raisonné and the author of several studies on Kahlo, said he believed the collection was fake. Seeing the originals of the letters, he said, is unnecessary. “I know the handwriting. The content of these letters is not accurate. It has nothing to do with what she thought.”

The New York Times article is here: It has a small multi-media show with some examples of the questioned work compared to authentic work.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

David Lynch's Twisted Art - The Daily Beast

The acclaimed director talks to Peter Owen Nelson about his new show of surrealist paintings and mixed media assemblages. Plus, VIEW OUR GALLERY.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Update: Updated: "Obama Hope" artist Separd Fairey pleads Guilty

Shepard Fairey, Obama's

The street artist Shepard Fairey, creator of the Obama "Hope" poster, has cut a deal with Boston prosecutors. In February Boston police arrested Fairey as he was on his way to DJ at a party to mark the opening of his big show at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, which runs through Aug. 16. He was later hit with multiple charges of vandalism, though many of them were subsequently dropped for lack of evidence. There didn't seem to be much to prove that it was Fairey who had pasted up the Fairey stickers that constituted the offending acts in those charges, since those stickers are available to anybody over the Internet.

But Fairey has now pleaded guilty to three of the charges, been sentenced to probation and agreed to pay $2000 to a graffiti removal group. In exchange prosecutors have agreed to drop 11 remaining charges.

Fairey will be headed back to the Boston ICA on July 31 to DJ at a replay of that party he never got to attend, but tickets are already sold out.

"Obama Hope" artist Separd Fairey Arrested"

Obama 'Hope' poster artist arrested in Boston

Shepard Fairey, the controversial street artist riding a roller coaster of publicity with his red, white, and blue posters of President Barack Obama, was arrested last night on his way to DJ an event kicking off his exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Fairey, a 38-year-old known for his countercultural style, was arrested on two outstanding warrants and was being held at a police station, according to a police official with knowledge of the arrest who requested anonymity.

Police could not describe the nature of the outstanding warrants last night, but said they were based in Massachusetts.

Fairey has been arrested at least 14 times, he has told the Globe.

The artist was arrested at about 9:15 p.m. as he was about to enter a sold-out dance event at the Institute of Contemporary Art on Northern Avenue, known as "Experiment Night." The event is geared toward a younger-age crowd, with techno-style music, and more than 750 people were waiting for him, some of whom had bought tickets for the event on Craigslist for as much as $500.

Fairey was supposed to appear as a guest DJ for the kickoff of his exhibit, Supply and Demand, which will run through Aug. 16. He was scheduled to go on stage at about 10:30 p.m., and an hour later organizers reported to the crowd that he was arrested.

"We're very disappointed," said Paul Bessire, deputy director of the Institute of Contemporary Art.

"Shepard Fairey is a wonderful artist who created some positive work and we were very pleased to present his work here and around the city. We feel he is an influential artist."

Fairey, a street artist, graphic designer, and political activist, is best known for his "Obey Giant" campaign of stickers, stencils, and posters in the early 1990s.

Most recently, he has achieved fame with the red, white, and blue posters of Obama, emblazoned with the words "Hope," "Progress," and "Change."

The president used the posters during his campaign, and one of the displays in Fairey's exhibit includes a typed letter from Obama that read: "I am privileged to be a part of your art work and proud to have your support."

Fairey was recently seen with Mayor Thomas M. Menino in an event to promote his show, and banners raised at City Hall also announce the exhibit.

At the same time, however, anti-graffiti activists complained that a street artist was going to be the subject of a museum show.

But Bessire said, "We feel he is an influential artist. We were just very pleased and felt fortunate to show his work."

The arrest of Fairey -- who cites linguistic theorist Noam Chomsky with a poster that reads, "I lived with the system and took no offence/until Chomsky lent me the necessary sense" -- helped maintain his counterculture reputation.

"I wouldn't say it's cool he was arrested, but I think it shows he has integrity," said Bill Galligan, a graphic designer. Some in the crowd last night speculated the incident may have been a publicity stunt.

Ginny Delany, a 27-year-old graduate student from Cambridge, said, "It makes him even more of a hero to me.

"The fact that he is arrested for his art shows that it is meaningful tohim and he cares about what he is doing."

David Rosen, a 19-year-old from Allston, said last night that he was disappointed with the arrest, but "I understand that his art requires him to take risks."

Christopher Muther of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company


Shepard Fairey once outlaw Artist now in National Gallery

Iconic Obama Artwork Finds a Home

January 18, 2009 2:12 PM

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:

The iconic image of President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign is now on display permanently at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The original painting, by Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey, was unveiled yesterday –- and now hangs in the “New Arrivals” section for the many visitors in the district during inauguration to see.


Fairey’s red, white and blue portrait collage with Obama’s face over the word “hope” was reprinted in mass quantities, donning campaign shirts, posters, hats, buttons and stickers throughout the campaign.

The painting was a gift to the Portrait Gallery of Tony and Heather Podesta.

This weekend’s inauguration festivities are bringing Obama fans to the museum in droves. Museum staffers say crowd control has been an issue in the less-than-24 hours the artwork has been on display. They have set up a black rope in the middle of the aisle, creating two lines to view the picture. Police officers hustle viewers to move quickly after snapping a quick picture.


After being hung in a temporary gallery within the museum the portrait will find a home in the permanent display.

-- Sunlen Miller

Connecting the Pieces of Grant Wood's Corn Mural

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa - An arts group is hoping to raise $120,000 to buy the remnants of a mural painted on a hotel wall by Grant Wood in 1927 that was cut to pieces nearly four decades ago and to put it back together.

Recent discovery of part of the border of that mural was found above a dropped ceiling. The border contained the painted refrain, “where the tall corn grows,”.

The group hope to make the mural the centerpiece of an art center planned for the Bluffs. Ideally, they'd like that art center to be in the mural's original home at Bluffs Towers.

The odd history:

In 1926, hotel magnate Eugene Eppley (April 8, 1884-October 14, 1958), also known as Gene, was a hotel magnate Eppley is credited with single-handedly building one of the most successful hotel empires, by the 1950s the largest privately owned hotel chain in the United States. At its peak in the 1950s, the Eppley Hotel Company owned 22 hotels in six states. Eppley sold the company to Sheraton Hotels in 1956 for $30 million. (1)) hired Wood to paint four murals for the dining rooms of his hotels in Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.

Three of the murals were `corn murals' (one in each hotel). They were painted to fill the room. The corn murals were supposed to make viewers feel as if they were sitting in an Iowa field with tall stalks of corn, rolling hills and barns dotting the horizon.The mural is a typical example of the kinds of landscape visible in the surrounding countryside.

"Wood was painting what he longed for, an agrarian paradise where the land took care of her own before the machine came to torment her; further, this was an America without urban centers and thus free of the social complexities of mass unemployment, crowded conditions, factories and industry." (2)

Wood's murals from the hotels in Sioux City and Cedar Rapids ended up in the Sioux City Art Center and the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. But in 1970, owners of the Bluff Towers in Council Bluffs invited the public to cut away parts of their Wood mural and take them home.

Wood's technique in painting this mural was subtractive -- his assistant Carl Eybers would put a thin layer of paint on a prepared section of the canvas, and Wood would then wipe away from that paint to create the corn stalks, buildings and other imagery visible. The murals are faded today both because of this subtractive technique. The Canvas was then glued to the wall. (3)

The corn room mural mural for the Martin Hotel in Sioux City has been
kept whole, and a conservation process saved the mural, but damage has dimmed the imagery and shifted his colors towards golden-brown. That mural can be seen at the The Sioux City Art Center.

Grant Wood (1891-1942) born in Iowa has an international reputation. His best-known painting, American Gothic (1930) (at the Art Institute of Chicago), has become an iconic image of rural America. Wood spent the majority of his art career living and working in Cedar Rapids. He was the head of the Iowa section of the Public Works of Art Project which ran from 1933-1934.

Wood was the most prominent artist in the Regionalist art movement in the 1930s, and he remained a proponent of its approach to art for the remainder of his career. This movement was a democratic art accessible to everyone and reflecting local, rather than imported from Europe or elsewhere, interests and traditions. The ideas Regionalism describe are connected to the immediate, local audience for the art.(4)

Wood's canvases also came with the bonus of a recognizable subject, one that was bucolic and idyllic, that provided instant uplift and gratification. (5)

Grant Wood's Corn Room Mural is historically important because it shows that Wood was developing the ideas and approaches that would become Regionalism several years before he produced his first clearly-Regionalist works and achieved critical success with his invention: Woman with Plants (1929)

and American Gothic (1930). Both these paintings have their origins in the specific landscape of the Midwest, but fuse their local subjects with formal concerns drawn from seventeenth-century Dutch painting. Wood's concerns with landscape, visible in the Corn Room Mural, remain a constant reference point for his Regionalist works: it appears as the background to Woman with Plants and in the famous house seen behind the couple in American Gothic. The central imagery in one of the main panels -- conical piles of harvested corn -- reappears in his later work, notably as the central focus of his lithograph, January (1937), in the painting Iowa Cornfield (1941), and in his last known work, an oil sketch from 1941 called Iowa Landscape.(6)
Grant Woods Iowa Cornfield 1941(Iowa Cornfield 1941)

Can you help?
The Bluffs Arts Council is encouraging anyone with pieces of Grant Wood's corn mural to contact the organization at (712) 328-4992.

The council also is accepting donations for the project. Send them to Bluffs Arts Council, City Hall, 209 Pearl, Council Bluffs, IA 51503.

Paul Grant (follower of Basho)


Refrenced also:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Canadian Artsist:: Christopher Cann

Part of my series: Contemporary artist from around the world.

I saw this work on an on-line competition called Art & Design. I was struck by the flowing element similar to early Japaneses painting. I was also struck by the pureness of the simple wood, something I used to do.

You can see more of his work on his website

The artist contact is currently living in the Yukon. (Northern Canada) Best way to get a hold of him is via e-mail

Artist statement

I do what I do because I have an itch that needs to be scratched. If I am not creating, I feel like I have forgotten something - and it nags at me until I fulfill its need. It’s the same feeling you get when you leave the house, and get to where it is you were going and are not sure if you turned the stove off or not. I enjoy painting, but am ultimately compelled to do it, as it needs to be done. I hope one day to satisfy the itch and not need to scratch so often - but I know this will never happen. So I think by creating work I am happy with on a semi regular basis will keep the crabs at bay.

I learned how to paint through experimentation. Art school was a whole lot of dead ends for me. I was so turned off by the whole experience I finished as quickly as I could and went traveling. During these travels, I discovered that I am art. I am the subject of the most important documentary I will ever see. When I realized this, I saw that we are all in the same boat. I started to paint caricatures of everyday situations in my life, and before long these paintings took over the majority of what I chose to paint. Although I do quick gestures of my ideas, most decisions are made while I am sitting painting the image. My process is spontaneous and intuitive. Besides the gestures, they are mostly done from memory, and the way the situation that I am conveying made me feel.

I am currently painting on wooden panels. This allows me to use the natural patterns in the wood grain as part of the image. I often use the wood grain itself as a jumping off point. I also use a dremel to engrave images back into the wood panel, or use it to uncover layers underneath the paint; producing a flowing pin stripe effect. I am still painting with a stylized cartoon technique that I initiated in art school, which is inspired by Japanese animation, and graffiti. I use bold black out lines with varying weights. I feel that cartoons speak to the viewer’s inner child. By doing this, I hope to make my images accessible. I am no longer forcing myself to fill the entire panel with paint. Where my past work has not had much focus, my current body of work is a collection of moments that take place in my everyday life. Spontaneous ideas, everyday occurrences and daydreams are all a part of what motivates me to create. Although my inspirations are broad, my body of work is now focused. It reads like a photo album with an underling narrative which ultimately tells the story of the painter. Looking at another person’s photo album without context can make it difficult to make a connection. On the other hand, I think we can all relate to the collecting of special moments in ones life, as all of our lives are a series of these moments. I am trying to capture these moments on the panel when they are fresh. The hardest part is being aware of when they are happening and opening myself to experience them fully. To grow as a painter, I have to grow as a human being, by experiencing life and making mistakes. I hope by continuing to paint and producing images that are unique and accessible I will make a connection with the viewer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, other prominent women unveil bust of Sojourner Truth

Sojourner_Truth photo by Paul Grant (follower of Basho)

- It's Equal Pay Day -- designed to call attention to women's lower earning power -- and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama will mark it by speaking in succession at an the unveiling of a Capitol Visitor Center bust of women's rights crusader Sojourner Truth.

The $3.2 million bust makes history as the first memorial bust of a black woman to be placed in the Capitol. The project was spearheaded by the National Congress of Black Women, Inc., and took nearly 10 years to complete.

Sojourner Truth (1797 – November 26, 1883) was the self-given name, from 1843, of Isabella Baumfree, an American slave, abolitionist, and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York. Her best-known speech, Ain't I a Woman?, was delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Damien Hirst : Requiem, major retrospective in Kiev

Notorious British provocateur Damien Hirst is opening the largest single show of his career at the Pinchuk Art Center in downtown Kiev. Damien Hirst

"I always thought museums were for dead artists and I was afraid of that," said Hirst, who decided to mount his exhibit in the Ukraine because he believes audiences there are new to contemporary art. "I hope it will make people think."

Hirst, perhaps the most famous current living artist, sold his work at auction last year at Sotheby's for nearly US$200-million. Whatever it is that attracts art buyers to his fish skeletons, dead sharks and bewjeweled skulls will soon be making its way to Kiev.

The PinchukArtCentre (Kyiv, Ukraine) is pleased to announce Requiem, a major retrospective of over 100 works dating from 1990 to 2008, by Damien Hirst. Requiem opens on 25th April and continues through 20th September 2009.

"Art's about invention and we are all desperately trying to invent a better future, and to learn from the past." (Damien Hirst, in conversation with Eckhard Schneider)

In his work over the last two decades, Hirst has continually produced paintings, sculptures and drawings that radically and directly address our shared quest for life in the face of inevitable death. Through an exploration of beauty and decay, love and desire, science and religion, history and art, Hirst has created some of the most conceptually profound and challenging artworks of our time.

 Hirst “Charity.” 2002-2003

“Charity.” 2002-2003

Requiem brings together many of the artist's most celebrated works. Ranging from early iconic sculptures such as A Thousand Years, 1990 and Away from the Flock, 1994 to more recent works like the monumental butterfly triptych, Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven, 2007 as well as Death Explained, 2007, a sculpture of a shark cut in half in formaldehyde, the exhibition shows the extraordinary breadth of Hirst's artistic enterprise.

Since the start of his career, Hirst has pushed the boundaries of art and what it means to be an artist. Requiem bears witness to a bold new direction in his work by showing for the first time a series of skull paintings he created between 2006 and 2008. In works such as Floating Skull, 2006, The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth, 2008 and Men Shall Know Nothing, 2008, Hirst returns to the solitary practice of painting and confronts, in very personal terms, the darkness that lies at the heart of human nature and experience.

The impulses driving Damien Hirst’s work stem from dilemmas inherent in human life: ‘I am aware of mental contradictions in everything, like: I am going to die and I want to live for ever. I can’t escape the fact and I can’t let go of the desire’. The materials he uses often shock, but he says he ‘uses shock almost as a formal element . not so much to thrust his work in the public eye . but rather to make aspects of life and death visible’. (Tate Britain.)“The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.” 1991

“The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.” 1991

Victor Pinchuk: "This exhibition is of great significance but what is most important for me is that the opportunity to see Hirst's new body of work occurs first in Kyiv. Damien's exhibition in Kyiv symbolises the reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship between contemporary Ukrainian culture and that of the rest of the world. They share a common ground."

Eckhard Schneider, General Manager of the PinchukArtCentre: "With this fundamental retrospective including a cycle of new paintings the PinchukArtCentre gives an important international contribution to the debate surrounding one of the leading artists of our time."

Requiem is made possible by the loaning of key works from private collections. The exhibition was curated by Eckhard Schneider and developed in close cooperation with Damien Hirst and Victor Pinchuk. In hosting a major retrospective of one of the most important artists working today, the PinchukArtCentre is testament to the Ukraine's ongoing cultural development. --

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Amedeo Modigliani Comprehensive Retrospective Exhibition (with video)

Amedeo Modigliani
The `last bohemian of Paris' Amedeo Modigliani shows up in a major show in Bonn Germany 17 April – 30 August 2009.

Amedeo Modigliani was one of the most important artists of the 20th century. His works have long since gained iconic status in our collective pictorial memory. The Art and Exhibition Hall is holding a comprehensive retrospective exhibition to pay tribute to this outstanding artist, who died tragically young at the age of only 35. Born in Italy in 1884, Modigliani was a painter, draughtsman and sculptor. With the exception of a handful of landscapes, his creative energy was entirely devoted to portraits and nudes.

Modigliani_seated_nude Leon_Bakst_by_Amadeo_Modigliani Modigliani_girl_in_Apron

Modigliani's paintings are deeply rooted in Italian art history, drawing particularly on the formal languages of the Renaissance and Mannerism. These he combined with elements from Expressionism, Cubism and Symbolism as well as African sculpture, whose perceived primitivism and iconic presence equally fascinated many other avant-garde artists of his day. While Modigliani's work cannot be easily classified as belonging to any contemporary styles such as Cubism or Fauvism, it bears eloquent testimony to the restlessness and exuberance of an artist only too aware of his own vulnerability and mortality, and who needed the euphoria of intoxication to live and work. Even today, Modigliani’s idiosyncratic, at times melancholy portraits have lost none of their power to captivate the viewer. The exhibition is structured biographically, reflecting the decisive turning points of his life. The Art and Exhibition Hall hopes to present a representative selection of paintings,drawings and sculptures from 1900 to 1919, giving a vivid impression of the oeuvre of this exceptional artist

Sad: Artist and art-car sculptor Tom Kennedy Drowned

Artist and activist Tom Kennedy, known internationally for his work in "art car sculpturing" drowned about 2 p.m. Sunday April 19th, 2009 at Ocean Beach California.

The Bay Area artist was a pioneer in the art-car movement who built the Topsy-Turvy Bus for ice cream czar Ben Cohen and Ripper the Friendly Shark for himself.

Mr. Kennedy, who was 48, was pulled from the surf just south of the Cliff House.

The cause of death was not released Monday, but friends wrote on that he had been body surfing and was hit by a large wave, and a companion pulled him to shore.

Rescue crews rushed him to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, according to officials at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Mr. Kennedy's art cars were vehicles that have been turned into rolling works of original art - they look a lot different from ordinary, factory-designed cars.

Harrod Blank, a veteran of the art-car movement, said Mr. Kennedy's works "were, ironically, inspired by the sea - his famous art-car, Ripper the Friendly Shark, was one, and there was Fishbait, an angelfish bicycle, the Sharkbite bicycle, the Dolphin Car and the Whale."

Cobbling up cars that looked like sharks and upside-down buses was hardly in the offing 20 years ago, when Mr. Kennedy was living in Houston and plying the corporate trade.

"Tom worked at the Houston Chronicle" in circulation sales, Blank said, "and he did the typical things - buy a house, get married, get a good job, the whole traditional lifestyle. Then he went to a Houston drowned about 2 p.m. Sunday at Ocean Beach parade. After seeing the effect these rolling sculptures had on people, he decided he wanted to make an art car and join that group of people. He made Ripper the Friendly Shark.

"It suspends your disbelief. It's a car, but all you see on the highway is a giant shark. It's something you're not used to seeing on a highway."

Mr. Kennedy left the Houston Chronicle and began devoting every waking hour to his new and different life as an art-car sculptor, aided by his wife and collaborator, Haideen Anderson.

Mr. Kennedy did art cars for public exhibits and also for individual clients, such as Cohen of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The Cohen bus was a rolling protest against military spending. Mr. Kennedy built more than 30 art cars in all, and his art-car career and life can be seen at his Web site:

Mr. Kennedy also did special cars, like the Whale, for the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, a place where he felt there was enough room to stretch.

"I told him about Burning Man," Blank said, "and that opened the doors to his creativity. It was a venue where he could make large-scale sculptures and blow fire.

"He was kind of a renegade," Blank added. "He would drive Ripper like a shark, zigzagging around. He celebrated that a lot - he wanted to live, and he lived by that principle."

He received his bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of Houston and then spent a couple of years studying at the university's School of Sculpture.

He will have a part in an upcoming documentary see )“He hit the road hard,” said California car artist and filmmaker Harrold Blank. “He called himself an ambassador of good will.”

Blank’s documentary, Automorphisis, which features Kennedy, will be screened this weekend at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival.

“We thought this would be a celebration,” Blank said. “Now I guess it will be a memorialization.”

Among Kennedy’s early creations were the eye-shaped vehicle that shot Twinkies from a cannon and the Mack the Fin Mobile.

The Topsy Turvy bus — a school bus with a second upside down bus welded to its top — alluded to military expenditures made at the expense of education and health programs.

A truck bearing a large missile and accompanied by a bevy of female attendants made numerous appearances during the past presidential election.

Mr. Kennedy is survived by his wife.

Sad: Vandals deface historical and sacred site

rock art at UbirrThis is a picture of the rock art at Ubirr

Sacred Aboriginal sites, including rock art at Uluru and rock faces in Kakadu have been defaced by acts of graffiti in several locations.
In the heritage-listed Kakadu National Park two rock faces were damaged with graffiti.

No rock art in the park –among the oldest in the world- had been impacted, according to Shannon Murray from the Kakadu visitor services team.

There have been three graffiti incidents but none had defaced the rock art.
However, vandals had left scratchings of graffiti on Ubirr lookout, which is one of the most sacred sites in the national park.

The Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr is tens of thousands of years old, Ms Murray said. A Parks Australia spokeswoman was unable to confirm reports that traditional owners were incensed about the vandals’ acts. Ms Murray said that local Aboriginal people expect visitors to treat their land with respect.

Earlier this year vandals also damaged rock art at Uluru in central Australia, causing thousands of dollars worth of repairs.

People who deface any surface in a commonwealth park face fines of up to $2,500.

Berlin Wall renovation -Artist re-painting

Berlin Wall
"The concrete has been scrubbed, the graffiti removed, the metal de-rusted and now Thierry Noir, the first artist to paint on the Berlin Wall, is set to start all over again.

"We need to restore it to protect it for future generations," Noir said. "The wall will never be a thing of beauty, and nor should it. Too many people died because of it. It is there to remind a future generation of what happened."

Noir, who says he personally painted about three miles of the wall with his trademark figures, has devoted years to tracking down lumps taken by people as mementos or sold by dealers. "I found two big blocks being used as urinals in a Las Vegas casino. It's disgusting. The wall is a work of art and a historical monument."

The artists - from 21 different countries - who painted the wall 20 years ago have been painstakingly traced and paid to return to Berlin to re-create their works once the wall, badly damaged by years of vandalism, exhaust fumes, harsh weather and souvenir hunters, has been resurfaced."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Outsider Art Show opening in April in Chicago

Culprits, Innocents and Outsiders
Heartland Visions

April 29- August 29, 2009

Opening Reception: Wednesday, April 29, 5-8pm

Self-taught and outsider art is a worldwide phenomenon, and America’s Heartland boasts some of the most distinct, recognized and collected artists in this genre, as well as some whose talents are not so known. This exhibition will feature art by the venerable William Hawkins (1895-1990) and Elijah Pierce (1892-1984), plus works by lesser-known artists Mary Borkowski (1916-2008), Mary Frances Merrill (1920-1999), David Pond (1940-2001), Ernest “Popeye” Reed (1919-1985) and Morris Ben Newman (1883-1980).

Kissing Couple by Elijah Pierce
Inspired by his own Ohio roots and accounts of the 1986 exhibition, 1 + 3 from Ohio, curator Kevin Cole culled several stellar Midwest public and private collections to produce an exhibition worthy of an audience. Self-taught art, although a global phenomenon, embodies the Midwestern and American attitude of self-reliance and the “go your own way” mentality. Culprits, Innocents and Outsiders: Heartland Visions highlights Self-Taught Midwesterners, including Merrill, Borkowski, Newman and Pond whose work has never been exhibited in Illinois.

Notable or newly exhibited, the work of these artist reflect a creative spirit and expression that is very often moving and poignant, impressive and worldly, sometimes humorous and always personal. Revealed are values such as: love, self reliance, independence, self awareness, and a strong work ethic, expressed through such subjects as family, religion, personal tragedy, current and political events, America’s heritage, and nature. Simply put, they present the Midwestern and American experience without a filter. It is the raw presentation of people compelled to create using whatever means and materials necessary and the independent spirit of a region exemplified by the artists who call it home.

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