Tuesday, December 4, 2012


By Charles Kessler

Art News:
The Doria Panel - copy of Leonardo's Battle of Anghiari.
  • The BBC reports Italy's art-theft police have located a 400-year-old copy of a lost Leonardo da Vinci fresco -  the Battle of Anghiari.
  • The New York Times reports that the next Whitney Biennial will be organized by three curators, and each will be given their own floor of the Whitney.  Good move — the curators won't need to compromise on the selection of the art, and they won't have to cope with another curator's art when they're installing the show. The 2014 Whitney Biennial curators are: Stuart Comer, the film curator at the Tate Modern in London; Anthony Elms, an associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia; and Michelle Grabner, a professor and the chairwoman of the painting and drawing department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 
  • Damien Hirst: Jumping the Shark, an article by Andrew Rice on how Hirst has ruined his art market, is getting a lot of attention — maybe because people hope it's true. "For all his celebrity, Hirst’s stock in the art market has experienced a stunning deflation. According to data compiled by the firm Artnet, Hirst works acquired during his commercial peak, between 2005 and 2008, have since resold at an average loss of 30 percent." To put things in perspective though, the last painting of his that sold at auction went for $1.3 million — a 50 percent decline from its peak, but still ....
  • The Getty Museum has developed what might be the first digital scholarly museum catalog — not a print catalog that's been put online, but a catalog developed from the beginning to be digital. And a nifty one it is. It's Ancient Carved Ambers in the J. Paul Getty Museumand The Iris, the Getty Museum's blog, has a post on how it was done, and how it's different from a print catalog. 
Exhibitions I haven't seen (yet):
Three paintings of Laurette by Matisse (image taken from the New York Times website). 
Roberta Smith gave a glowing review to the Met’s Matisse: In Search of True Painting (open to the public today through March 17th). I found it inspiring that after writing art criticism for almost forty years, she can still be wildly excited about an art exhibition: "... one of the most thrillingly instructive exhibitions about this painter, or painting in general, that you may ever see." (There aren’t any photos of the exhibition on the Met’s website, but the Times has some good ones here.)

Another show I'm looking forward to is the Morgan's Fantasy and Invention: Rosso Fiorentino and Sixteenth-Century Florentine Drawing (until February 3rd).
Rosso Fiorentino, Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1520, oil on panel, 25 x 16 ¾ inches (The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Photo © The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore).
I guess Mannerist art isn't all that popular, at least it isn't shown very often, but I love it — and this should be a good opportunity to see twenty paintings and drawings by Andrea del Sarto, Jacopo Pontormo, Giorgio Vasari and other Florentine Mannerists.

I hadn't been to Williamsburg in more than a year, so last Saturday I thought I'd check on what's happening with the galleries there. Well, not much unfortunately. About three quarters of the galleries listed on WagMap, the main listing website for Brooklyn exhibitions, are no longer in business; and half of the rest (six galleries) were closed when they were supposed to be open (including Pierogi's large space, The Boiler). With the possible exception of Yoon Lee's exhibition in Pierogi's smaller space on N. 9th Street, I wasn't impressed with the shows I did see. So unless things pick up, go to Williamsburg for the restaurants, nightlife and shopping, not for the art.

Recommended reading:
  • Bach’s Music, Back Then and Right Now by pianist Jeremy Denk in The New Republic is a book review of Reinventing Bach by Paul Elie. It's an incisive analysis and appreciation of Bach's music. Here's a sample paragraph:
ONE GREAT advantage Bach has over Beethoven is counterpoint. Late in life Beethoven obsessed over Bach, working at counterpoint and fugue feverishly—as if to purify himself, to escape from the heroic sonata forms that he had brought to their apex. In a “song without words” by Mendelssohn or a nocturne by Chopin, you usually have the opposite of counterpoint: a melody over repeated chords or a texture of arpeggios—that is, filler, something to make the chords last some time while the melody melodizes. There is a hierarchical distinction between foreground and background, between the prominent main voice and the backup band. But in “true counterpoint” no voice is the lapdog of a melody; each voice lives independently. For us humble listeners, whose lives are filled with filler, this seems like an unattainable miracle: everything counts.

1 comment:

Kyle Gallup said...

Charles, the Matisse show is stunning and very, very well curated. Smith's review tells it like it is. Matisse never fails to remind me of why I'm a painter.

While you're at the Met don't miss the show, "African Art,New York and the Avant-Garde." For me, it put into clearer and deeper perspective how the early modernists were looking at and incorporating this work into their own.