Thursday, July 21, 2011

I have the perfect decanter...

BEVERLY HILLS, CA.- A case of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1982, Pauillac, brought $50,788 to lead the day in the joint Heritage Auctions and Greg Martin Auctions $2.7+ million June 16 Signature® Wine Auction, held at the company’s Beverly Hills offices and simulcast live to Hong Kong. “Good results across the board,” said Frank Martell, Heritage’s Director of Fine and Rare Wine. “Collectors responded to this wonderful grouping of wines and with enthusiastic bids on both sides of the Pacific.”

All told, more than 260 bidders vied for 768 total lots, translating into a 96% sell-through rate by total value.

Following the top lot was a fine 11-bottle lot of Chateau Petrus 2000, Pomerol, which showed considerable spirit at a $46,555 final price realized, while a case of late release Musigny 1949, Leroy , realized $35,850.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2000 , Pauillac saw an impressive run in the auction, providing fully four of the top 10 lots in the auction, starting with a case of the vintage that realized $31,070 with another two cases following that one at $29,875, respectively. The final Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2000 in the grouping was 24 half bottles, which realized $23,900.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pinacotheque de Paris Announces Alberto Giacometti and the Etruscans Exhibition

Figurine, 1958, bronze, 63 x 11,5 x 19,5 cm. Collection Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul de Vence. Photo: Claude Germain © Succession Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris 2011.

PARIS.- It is the most eventful exhibition of the fall, an exhibition that the specialists and art lovers of Giacometti, have been expecting for over fifty years. Giacometti’s attraction to the primitive figure was present very early on in the artist’s oeuvre. Etruscan art, which he first of all discovered in the Louvre, in the archeological department, where he went regularly, then during the exhibition on the Etruscans in 1955 in Paris, was, however, to produce in the artist a very meaningful turmoil, and made up one of the essential keys to the understanding of his best known and most powerful form of creation. The exhibition will be on view from September 16, 2011 through January 8, 2012 at the Pinacothèque de Paris.

No exhibition on the Etruscans has been shown in Paris since 1955. But it was precisely that show which enabled Giacometti to discover that extraordinary civilization, based on the economy of a seafaring people; a people of pirates according to the Greeks who regarded them as their chief rivals. That still strange and mysterious civilization was one of the most brilliant before Rome.

The Etruscans devised an outstanding art form, exceptional in its quality, richness and beauty, chiefly made up sculpted sarcophagi and of powerful warrior figures. They also developed a kind of very slender sculpted figure. It was such a shock for Giacometti that he wanted to go further in his quest and in his understanding of that people and its art.

For Giacometti the next step was to go to the Etruscans’ own land, in Tuscany. The journey to the centre of that world seems to have led him to Florence, to the archeological Museum, and then later on, to Vol¬terra, a city in Etruria, close to Pisa. There he discovered the emblematic figure of the Etruscan world, L’Ombre du soir (The Evening’s shadow). That work – that had not travelled to Paris in 1955 and which has never left Italy – is the Etruscans’ Mona Lisa. There exists a less striking version in the Louvre, that Giacometti already knew about for several years, but the one in Volterra provided a real shock for him.

A willowy figure, fine, powerful, mysterious, sensual, soulful and with an outstanding magnetic force, the Ombre du soir was a revelation. The artist was left speechless before that unique piece.

His work was totally overwhelmed: in order to prolong that discovery, Giacometti drew, painted and sculpted with reference to the Ombre du soir. None of the artist’s most famous figures, from the series of Femme de Venise to that of the Homme qui marche can be imagined, conceived without reference to the Ombre du soir.

It is that outstanding confrontation – which provides a new reading of Giacometti’s oeuvre – that the Pinacothèque de Paris is showing for the first time in Paris. The Ombre du soir shall be accompanied by more than one hundred and fifty Etruscan objects, exhibited alongside a unique group of about thirty sculptures, among the most famous by Giacometti.

The Collections of the Pinacothèque de Paris
« The Museum must not become a graveyard. » That sentence by Malraux is important because it expresses a fear which, unfortunately, has not been disavowed for years all over the world and not just in France.

Through that quote there exists a basic question, that of the work’s future once it has left the collector’s walls to enter the museum. Personally, for years now, I have never ceased to question myself as to the reason why the work of art dies, loses its life as soon as it is sanctuarized. Being lucky enough to see them in the collectors’ homes and being amazed by their splendor, I can never understand how, the moment I come across them years later in museums, they have lost that magic, that aura we find in the homes of those who loved them for so many years. Is that the fear Malraux wished to express, he who – an enlightened art lover – knew the collectors so well and was for a long time at the head of the French museums as Minister for Culture?

If we go back to the beginning, to the very essence of the work, to its initial function, we inevitably return to what the museum was in the very beginning: the curiosity cabinet. The place where the collected objects were stored and exhibited, i.e. the private museum put at the disposal of a chosen un public.

The idea was to renew to-day with everything the museum has lost of its essence and of its meaning, but this time by offering the secrets of the art lover’s cabinet to all our visitors. Transversality, as I often describe it, allows us to explain that all the artists from all times, of every culture and of all origins, make up a community out of the ordinary, but whose methods of thinking, of reflection and of approach are the same. The museum-sanctuary seems to have forgotten, by its ency¬clopedic approach, its chief role: to bring the works to life, gathered together and exchange a dialogue beyond the frontiers and periods, because, finally, they are all saying the same thing. They speak of beauty, of references, of convergences and of histories, and, above all, they summon up everything we hold in common. Thus you will notice that Tintoretto, Van Dyck, Reynolds or Bonnard represent the “worthies” in the same manner, be he French in the 19th century, Italian in the 16th, Flemish in the 17th or English in the 18th centuries. You will also note that Van Gogh painted interiors in the same fashion as Peter de Hooch or Delvaux, that Léger thought about and composed his still-lives in the same way that Heda painted a Vanity, that Brueghel, Daumier or Teniers had the same approach to popular festivities, and that landscapes by Hobbema or Courbet are constructed along the same lines. That Primitivism and the central placing of the body is the same from Rembrandt until Duchamp.

Marc Restellini, director of the Pinacothèque de Paris, provides us with his reflections on the part the museum must play at the heart of the city and of its period. Les Collections in the Pinacothèque are proof of his conclusions : about one hundred works, from the Primal Arts to the Moderns, gaze at each other, have a dialogue and query the pertinence of classification, of schools and of chapels, grouped together in thematic rooms: still-lives, Nativities, landscapes. The visitor is free to think about art in his own way: at the entrance to each room, a quote attracts his attention: « The private or religious feast, on the village square or in front of the cathedral; community living has always fascinated artists throughout the ages»; then it is up to the visitor to discover the correspondence between Utrillo’s La Cathédrale de Reims, La Danse de Mariage by Brueghel and Modigliani’s Hancka Zborowska . These paintings have come from all over the world, and they take over the spaces for various lengths of time; because Les Collections are not fixed, the deposit will increase and will live in accordance with the various and unusual hangings.

Crater with little columns. End 4th– early 3d century BC, terra cotta. Volterra, Etruscan museum Guarnacci © Photo : Arrigo Coppitz.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

John Lennon/Bob Dylan Owned and Played Gibson Guitar Expected to Bring $200,000+

A 1967 Gibson J-160E Sunburst acoustic-electric guitar bought by John Lennon and later gifted by Lennon to Bob Dylan is expected to bring $200,000+ as the undisputed centerpiece of Heritage Auctions July 29 Signature® Music & Entertainment Auction.

Lennon played and wrote songs on this beautiful Gibson during the period of the famous Beatles retreat with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India, possibly even taking this guitar with him on the journey - one of the most tumultuous and creative periods in the band's history, which resulted in 1968's The White Album, one of the greatest albums ever made. Lennon later gave to Bob Dylan, who wrote, recorded and toured with the guitar himself.

"It's a cliché to say it, of course, but if this amazing guitar could only talk," said Margaret Barrett, Director of Music & Entertainment Auctions at Heritage. "What an incredible amount of Rock n' Roll history it has witnessed, having been owned, played and beloved by, arguably, the two most important rock musicians of the 20th century."

Lennon bought this instrument new in 1967, a model he was particularly fond of, in the months before the untimely overdose death of original Beatles manager Brian Epstein. The spring of 1968 found the Beatles - and possibly this guitar - in Rishikesh, India taking a transcendental meditation course from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. For John, it was a way to "get away from everything." Though they were supposed to spend most of their time in meditation, John and Paul spent many of their afternoons writing songs.

"Regardless of what I was supposed to be doing," Lennon would recall, "I did write some of my best songs there."

This new music became the nucleus of one of the greatest albums of all time, The Beatles, better known as The White Album, released in late November, 1968.

A month or so later, around Christmas, Lennon gifted this J-160E to one of his musical idols, Bob Dylan, who took over stewardship of it for a number of years, keeping it at his New York home, writing songs on it, touring with it and using it in the recording studio during the late 1960s and early 1970s. This was the period in which Dylan released such major works as Nashville Skyline, Planet Waves and Blood on the Tracks, making it easy to assume that this guitar figured prominently in the Dylan's writing process of those seminal recordings.

"A few years after Lennon's tragic death in 1980," said Barrett, "Dylan's superstitions about owning this guitar led him to gift it to his friend, famed guitarist and guitar technician César Diáz, a legend in his own right. To the best of our knowledge, it's never been offered before at public auction."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Presents George Herms: Xenophilia

George Herms, Xenophilia, 2011, collage, 22 x 28 in., courtesy of the artist, © George Herms. Photo: Brian Forrest.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- George Herms: Xenophilia (Love of the Unknown) presents the work of legendary West Coast assemblage artist George Herms alongside the work of a younger generation of Los Angeles and New York artists, which is bringing new energy to the assemblage tradition. The exhibition features works from a circle of friends Herms found in Florence, as well as artists introduced to him by the exhibition curator, Neville Wakefield, including Rita Ackermann, Kathryn Andrews, Lizzi Bougatsos, Robert Branaman, Dan Colen, Leo Fitzpatrick, Elliott Hundley, Hanna Liden, Nate Lowman, Ari Marcopoulos, Ryan McGinley, Melodie Mousset, Jack Pierson, Amanda Ross-Ho, Sterling Ruby, Agathe Snow, Ryan Trecartin, Kaari Upson, and Aaron Young. The exhibition is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) from July 10th through October 2nd, 2011.

Ever since he first started exhibiting in Los Angeles in the late 1950s, George Herms has been a central figure in the development of so-called West Coast aesthetic. Influenced by a beat generation more attuned to the musical nuance of the everyday than the modernist requiem to order, Herms's commitment to counterculture is expressed through his use of impoverished materials and his rejection of compositional devices in favor of loose associations of materials and ideas. The resulting assemblages blur the boundaries between art and life to make of each the other. Herms salvages elements from the trash heap of popular culture, combining them with words and phrases to create final entities that are neither pure thought, nor pure object—they are both prop and proposition. At times, Herms has been associated with landmarks of the developing L.A. art scene—Wallace Berman and Semina, Walter Hopps and the Ferus Gallery, Dennis Hopper and the film culture of Easy Rider—but his art has refused any singular identification. An advocate of all things free—spirit, material, and love—Herms is the spiritual godfather to an art of the unknown, forging something out of nothing, which continues to be a driving compulsion of artists today.

In 2008, Herms was invited to Florence by designer Adam Kimmel who was being celebrated by the fashion event organizer Pitti Imagine. It was there that he got to know and hang out with a generation of New York–based artists, including Lizzi Bougatsos, Dan Colen, Nate Lowman, Ryan McGinley, and Rita Ackermann, along with artists from a somewhat older generation, namely Ari Marcopoulos, and Jack Pierson. Herms’s predilection for privileging the found over the made and for using the raw materials around him as the stuff of his art immediately dovetailed with the raw, unfiltered, and anti-art-establishment tendencies of a group that came of age when ever-higher production values corresponded with auction records and spiritual bankruptcy. Like the open dialogue that fueled the Semina collaborations of Berman, Herms, Hopper, Edward Kienholz, and others, this is a group for whom the free trade of ideas and art blurs the boundaries, not just of authorship, but also of distinctions between art and the everyday.

George Herms: Xenophilia: (Love of the Unknown) embraces these tendencies. Exploring the notion of assemblage from both material and conceptual viewpoints, the exhibition displays Herms’s signature junk art of the past six decades and recent collages alongside the work of a group of much younger artists from both coasts. The presentation merges the New York School, which emerged out of the first decade of this century, with artists from a similar generation who are living and working in Herms’s hometown of Los Angeles. The opportunity to reconsider not just the centrality of Herms's role but also the spiritual and material legacy of his improvisational aesthetic is offered out of the chaos.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Norton Simon Museum Presents Vermeer's "Woman with a Lute," on Loan from the Metropolitan

Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–75), Woman with a Lute, ca. 1662–63. Oil on canvas.

PASADENA, CA.- The Norton Simon Museum presents the rare loan of Johannes Vermeer’s “Woman with a Lute,” ca. 1662–63, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. One of about 36 known works by the Dutch master, five of which make their home at the Metropolitan Museum, the painting will be on view from July 8 through Sept. 26, 2011, providing audiences with the extraordinary opportunity to see a work by Vermeer on the West Coast. Its presentation at the Norton Simon Museum marks the painting’s first appearance in California.

The loan of “Woman with a Lute” comes as part of an agreement with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which borrowed the Simon’s Raphael painting “Madonna and Child with Book,” 1502–03, for the 2006 exhibition “Raphael at the Metropolitan: The Colonna Altarpiece.” In return, the Norton Simon Museum was given the opportunity to host this remarkable painting.

“We are delighted to welcome Vermeer’s ‘Woman with a Lute’ to Southern California,” says Norton Simon Museum President Walter W. Timoshuk. “Vermeer’s works are housed in museums in Europe and the Northeastern United States exclusively, thus the painting’s installation at the Norton Simon Museum presents a unique and riveting art-viewing experience to our visitors.”

“Woman with a Lute” will be installed in the Norton Simon Museum’s 17th-century Dutch gallery, alongside the Museum’s significant collection of Rembrandt portraits and other genre paintings. During the three-month installation, the Museum will present a series of free public programs centered on the special loan. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The Painting
Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675) is one of the world’s most venerated artists, yet he left behind only a few dozen paintings and no drawings or prints. One of Vermeer’s beloved “Pearl Pictures,” “Woman with a Lute” evokes expectation, longing, and perhaps even mindful restraint or temperance, all in a mere 20 x 18 inches. Objects familiar to viewers of Vermeer’s work, such as the remarkable pearl drop earring that catches the sunlight, the chair with lion-headed finials, the map of Europe and the yellow jacket trimmed in ermine, are carefully and precisely staged in this quiet interior scene. There is no doubt that the musician is the focal point here, and the large map, the imposing profiles of the lions’ heads and the signature-blue curtains on the leaded window all frame her face, and especially her eyes. Vermeer’s muted tones and gauze-like shadows capture a moment where we can imagine the music stopping long enough for this young woman to tune her instrument and perhaps catch the first glimpse of the object of her desire. The sheet music and the viola da gamba in the middle foreground hint at a pending duet, as does her look of longing and desire. The map of Europe, however, studded with sailing ships, may be a subtle suggestion that her wait, and the duet itself, may be somewhat delayed.

“Woman with a Lute” was in the collection of railroad developer Collis Potter Huntington, who bequeathed it and numerous other paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His second wife, Arabella, and her son, Archer, were both given life interest in the painting, but it was passed to the Metropolitan Museum in 1925, the year after Arabella’s death. Other paintings from a collection that she herself assembled now reside at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, which was erected by Arabella’s later husband, Henry Huntington, the nephew of Collis Potter.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

San Diego Museum of Art Presents Great Spanish Masters from the Pérez Simón Collection

Salvador Dalí, The Ascension of Christ, 1958. Oil on canvas. Pérez Simón Collection.

SAN DIEGO, CA.- The San Diego Museum of Art is the only U.S. museum to show From El Greco to Dalí: Great Spanish Masters from the Pérez Simón Collection. This spectacular survey of Spanish art from the 16th century to the 1970s features 64 works drawn from one of the world’s finest private collections, on view from July 9 to November 6, 2011. From the golden age of Charles V and on through the modern period, this exhibition showcases such acclaimed masters of the Spanish school as El Greco, Ribera, Murillo, Goya, Sorolla, Picasso, Dalí and Miró.

Spanning five centuries, this selection of works by some of the world’s most celebrated artists illustrates a splendid chapter in the history of Spanish art. Visitors to the exhibition are also invited to discover dazzling artists little-known in the U.S., such as the Romantic Manuel Barrón y Carrillo, or the Modernist Romero de Torres.

This exhibition proposes new perspectives on the story of Spanish art, considered both thematically and historically. An outstanding selection of old master paintings underscore the importance of religious piety and royal patronage from the 16th to the 18th century, including Jusepe de Ribera’s sensational Saint Jerome, Bartolomé Murillo’s sublime Immaculate Conception, and Francisco de Goya’s masterful Doña María Teresa de Vallabriga y Rozas. The struggle between tradition and modernity is considered from the late-18th to the 20th century, featuring six works by Salvador Dalí, among them his monumental Ascension of Christ, and the diptych Gala’s Christ, painted for his wife and muse in 1978. Monuments of painting, the masterpieces assembled for this exhibition are also a testament to a preeminent collector’s enduring passion.

A native of Asturias, Spain, Juan Antonio Pérez Simón has made Mexico City his home. It is also home to his collection, begun in the 1970s, which now ranks among the greatest in the world. From El Greco to Dalí: Great Spanish Masters from the Pérez Simón Collection, a choice selection from the outstanding works that comprise this stellar collection,premiered in Paris, at the Musée Jacquemart-André, before traveling to the Musée national des beaux-arts in Québec City.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Exhibition of Photographs from the Legendary Mexican Suitcase at Les Rencontres d'Arles

Robert Capa, (Exiled Republicans being marched down the beach to an internment camp, Le Barcarès, France), March 1939. Negative. © International Center of Photography / Magnum. Collection International Center of Photography.

ARLES.- The legendary Mexican Suitcase containing Robert Capa’s Spanish Civil War negatives, considered lost since 1939, has recently been rediscovered and is exhibited here for the first time. The Suitcase is in fact three small boxes containing nearly 4,500 negatives, not only by Capa but also by his fellow photojournalists Chim (David Seymour) and Gerda Taro. These negatives span the course of the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), through Chim’s in-depth coverage in 1936-37, Taro’s intrepid documentation until her death in battle in July 1937, and Capa’s incisive reportage until the last months of the conflict. Additionally, there are several rolls of film by Fred Stein showing mainly portraits of Taro, which after her death became inextricably linked to images of the war itself. Between 1936 and 1940, the negatives were passed from hand to hand for safekeeping, and ended up in Mexico City, where they resurfaced in 2007.

The Spanish Civil War broke out on July 19, 1936. In the broadest terms, the war was a military coup, led by General Francisco Franco and instigated to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Spanish Republic, a coalition of leftists and centrists. From its inception, the civil war aroused the passions of those who saw Franco’s actions as the front line of a rising tide of fascism across Europe, as he received material support from Germany and Italy. Many leftist intellectuals and artists were committed to the antifascist struggle, and they provided vivid images and texts in support of the Republican cause for the international press.

The Mexican Suitcase negatives constitute an extraordinary window onto the vast output of these three photographers during this period: portraits, battle sequences, and the harrowing effects of the war on civilians. While some of this work was known through vintage prints and reproductions, the Mexican Suitcase negatives, seen here as enlarged modern contact sheets, show us for the first time the order in which the images were shot, as well as images that have never been seen before. This material not only provides a uniquely rich view of the Spanish Civil War, a conflict that changed the course of European history, but also demonstrates how the work of three photojournalists laid the foundation for modern war photography.

Gerda Taro, (Crowd at the gate of the morgue after the air raid, Valencia), May 1937. Negative. © International Center of Photography. Collection International Center of Photography.