Judith H. Dobrzynski
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture

Judith H. Dobrzynski's Real Clear Arts

Portland’s Masterworks: Looking Back And Forward

Last Saturday, the Portland Art Museum in Oregon opened a new “Masterworks” exhibition, of El Greco’s Holy Family With Saint Mary Magdalen, which is being lent by the Cleveland Museum of Art. It’s the fifth show in this series, and I love the idea of borrowing and focusing attention on one artwork. The El Greco “Masterworks” was preceded by Raphael’s La Velata, Thomas Moran’s Shoshone Falls, Titian’s La Bella and Francis Bacon’s recording-breaking triptych, Three Studies of Lucian Freud.

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More on That Indy Admission Fee

The reaction in Indianapolis to the museum’s decision to go from free general admission to an $18 general admission has been very instructive. I’ve been watching local comments, and–not statistics, just my impression–the tally is overwhelming against. Again, the opposition is not necessarily against all museum admissions, it’s opposed to the gigantic jump and the way it was announced. Some commenters continue to blast Charles Venable for saying nothing since the press release was issued.

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Restoration Scandal At Chartres Cathedral

Who was it that said one look at Chartres Cathedral turned him into an art historian? Or art-lover for life? Henry Adams? Bernard Berenson? I can’t remember, but it was probably more than one person. Kenneth Clark called it “one of the two most beautiful covered spaces in the world” (Hagia Sophia in Istanbul being the other).

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Indianapolis Museum Stirs Up A Hornet’s Nest

What the Indianapolis Art Museum did Friday has to fall into the category of major PR blunder. In a press release headlined “IMA announces new campus enhancement plan to improve visitor experience and financial sustainability,” it sneaked in the fact–in the ninth paragraph, no less–that: Continue Reading

No Other Word For It: Fundraising Failure

The Phillips Collection crowdsourcing effort, an attempt to raise $45,000 in a month to support a website abut Jacob Lawrence, has failed miserably. When the drive ended on Dec. 10, only $2,988–a mere 7 percent of the goal–had been pledged. And that took 41 supporters, for an average contribution of about $73.

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Menil Repurposes Sacred Space For Contemporary Art

When the Byzantine Fresco Chapel at the Menil Collection in Houston opened in 1997, it displayed a group of 13th-century Greek Orthodox frescoes. But after restoration of the works, which the Menil had rescued from looters for the Church of Cyprus, the museum returned the frescoes to Cyprus as a donation when the agreed loan expired in 2012.

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Boston’s Arts Czar–Real Or Window Dressing?

This fall, Boston’s relatively new (Jan. 2014) mayor, Martin J. Walsh, appointed a cabinet-level arts czar: Julie Burros, who has been director of cultural planning in Chicago for nearly 15 years, where she helped develop a cultural plan for the Windy City. Many in the arts there were thrilled. Talking with the Boston Globe, ArtsBoston executive director Catherine Peterson said: “I think it is a potential game changer for the city. It embeds somebody who reports directly to the mayor, so the arts are not just at the center of what goes on in our museums and theaters, but at the center of life in the city.”

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What To Make of The Turner Record?

While much of the art world was in Miami Beach last Wednesday, Sotheby’s in London sold a J.M.W. Turner for a record $47. 4 million, or £30.3 million, including the premium, against a presale estimate of $24.1- to $32.1 million. That’s huge!

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Spalding Takes On Art’s “Self-Congratulatory In-Group”

I suppose I first became aware of Julian Spalding, the British art museum director, when I went to Glasgow some years ago and visited Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. I hated it, and I blamed Spalding, who was then the director of art galleries for Glasgow. Kelvingrove’s collections–which include Dali’s  Christ of St John of the Cross, Rembrandt’s A Man in Armour, and works by van Gogh and Monet, among other things–had been reinstalled for maximum tourist appeal, in themed galleries with dumbed-down labels. The lobby was like a playground for kids, who were running around, and the noise level was very high. Forget about a sanctuary; Kelvingrove was like a noisy New York City restaurant that required shouting for communication.

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Guggenheim Helsinki Finalists Announced

The word from Helsinki is, I think, good. After reviewing 1,715 submissions, the architecture jury for the proposed Gugggenheim Helsinki museum has chosen six finalists–and even they don’t know whose design goes with which name. The names are not the usual suspects (hooray!): Continue Reading