With the stroke of Gov. Deval Patrick’s pen a few weeks ago, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art got the go-ahead to realize the nearly 30-year-old dream of transforming a 19th century, 26-building, 16-acre factory complex into a destination arts center that would also help revive the economy of North Adams, Mass.
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Many people love going behind the scenes — and many art museums now offer some sort of occasion or event to do so. Next week, if you’re in Washington, the Freer-Sackler will let us all in on the installation of Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, who is representing her country at the Venice Biennale next year.
Wow! Last week I had a look at the first digital-only publication of the Museum of Modern Art,* and I can really see — even after only a short time of experimentation — how much digital technology can do for art books.
Many in the art world have been anticipating the opening on Sept. 21 of the collection of Harry and Mary Margaret Anderson at Stanford — even from afar. In 2011, the couple donated 121 works of contemporary art, filled with paintings by the likes of Pollock, Diebenkorn, Rothko Elsworth Kelly, de Kooning, Joan Mitchell (Begin Again IV at left), and Elizabeth Murray, to name a few, to Stanford on the condition that it build galleries to house them. Stanford is offering timed tickets, starting in mid-August — but they are free.
Everyone has been very worried about the state of cultural heritage properties in Syria during this civil war. There have been irregular reports but they all suggest that Old Aleppo, the Krak des Chevaliers, many medieval Christian cemeteries and dozens of archaeological sites and museums have been damaged — or, as a new release from an organization trying to do something put it, “subjected to extensive raiding and looting.”
The thunderstorms that hit the New York area last Wednesday and Thursday evening destroyed my plans for a week away, so I ended up spending the Fourth of July in town instead of about 1,500 miles away in Texas.
Some cases never go away. Two years ago, The Saint Louis Art Museum won a court battle in its case to keep the 3,200-year-old mummy mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer, when a federal court judge ruled that it should remain in its collection — a ruling that “chastises the U.S. attorney’s office for trying to seize the ancient relic through civil forfeiture proceedings.” The quote is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Today’s sad sale at Christie’s in London, where Isabella and the Pot of Basil, which was being deaccessioned by the Delaware Art Museum, failed to raise much money — just $4.24 on the hammer, versus a low estimate of $8.4 million (and we don’t know if Christie’s waived the commission or not) — begs another look at the situation there.