Imagine being a French farmer, plowing your field near a village named Berthouville in rural Normandy; it’s 1830. And you hit something, stop and discover the first items in a trove that grew to 90 silver and gilt-silver statuettes and vessels dating to the 3rd century and before.
Real Clear Arts
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Financial salvation for the Detroit Institute of Arts, and perhaps even the Grand Bargain in Detroit, which was part of the emergence from bankruptcy deal approved by the court on Friday, was almost jeopardized a few weeks ago: that’s when a political ruckus emerged over the pay packages in the last years for Graham Beal, the DIA’s director, and Annmarie Erickson, his deputy.
All in all, I thought the lead article in last Sunday’s NYTimes special section on the visual arts–Museums Morph Digitally–was good (it was written by my friend, Steve Lohr), though I wasn’t crazy about the line that “ museum curators and administrators …talk of …the importance of a social media strategy and a “digital first” mind-set.” Maybe digital is second, but surely not first, except perhaps to promote their actual collections.
Now it’s the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh’s turn to find fantastic art works in its storerooms, as many other museums have done. Among the newly discovered pieces: a hand-painted enamel bowl with roundels of butterflies from the Yongzheng period, a “bizarre googly-eyed dragon bowl” and cinnabar lacquer panel (below right) from the Qianlong period, a ritual bronze from the Western Zhou period, a Gupta period Buddha head (at left), a gilded bronze Thai Buddha head and a Bamana Boli figure.
So this week the art world and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s* members are getting a first look at the Leonard Lauder Cubist collection–assembled over the past 40 years. The masterpieces and seminal works he has purchased amount to the best private Cubist collection in existence, by design: He always has a museum gift in mind as he collects. When I spoke with him in 2012, he said: “Many people collect to possess. I collect to preserve, and no sooner do I have a collection put together than I am looking for a home for it in a public institution.”
In the last two years or so, I’ve often praised the Detroit Institute of Arts for conducting itself in the right way–with respect to passing the millage and in how it has handled itself during the city’s bankruptcy. Now, though, it has made a major mistake–in terms of optics if not substance.
Contrary to some belief out there, I’m not against all participatory, experiential activities in art museums. (I don’t believe museums should be as quiet as cathedrals, either, but that’s another post.) Here’s a participartory program that sounds, in advance, without my being there, like a good one.
I’d wager that most people don’t think of “beauty” when they think of the art of Anselm Kiefer. So when Janne Siren, the director of the Alrbight-Knox Art Gallery, and I met last week, I was surprised by the catalogue he gave me for the Kiefer exhibition that, alas, closed there on Sunday. It was titled Beyond Landscape, and here’s part of its description: (more…)