Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Art News, January 2013

By Charles Kessler

Screenshot from the iPad app, Paris 3-D Saga.
  • The New York Times reports on Paris 3-D Saga, an iPad app that's an interactive 3-D, virtual-reality illustration of two thousand years of Parisian development. (Warning: at 696 MB, it will take up a lot of room on your iPad.) Similar 3-D virtual tours in the form of websites already exist for Rome in 320 CE and the pyramids at Gaza
  • According to Laura Gilbert’s invaluable website, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is in the process of redesigning, re-hanging and expanding (by about 20%) their European painting galleries. You can view a couple of before and after photos on her site. 
  • Laura Gilbert also reported that Sotheby’s and the artist Cady Noland recently won an important court case. According to Gilbert, the New York State Supreme Court ruled that if a work is damaged, an artist can stop a sale. This is due to the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) which gives artists the “moral right” to prevent the alteration of their art by third parties. 
  • VARA is generally a pretty good law. On the other hand, The Art Newspaper reported independent curator Magdalena Dabrowski claimed “Richard Serra threatened to withdraw one of his works from the collection of Eli and Edythe Broad if he was not allowed to rework the drawing.” Serra refused to re-date the work and wouldn’t even include both dates, claiming VARA gave him that right. In an earlier post I referred to Serra as a pompous jerk. There is now additional evidence — as if any were needed.
  • I wrote about the backs of sculptures here and here. Now The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, has organized an exhibition, Backstories (until April 21st), about the backs of 30 paintings from their collection. To quote from the exhibition website: “… the works of art tell their little-known 'backstories' and reveal the ways they were made, the way they have been cared for by collectors, and the many changes they have survived.” The back of this painting by Constable, for example, has layers of oil sketches. Constable ended up painting Willy Lott's House on the other side and in a horizontal format. 
John Constable, Willy Lott's House (recto), c. 1812–13; Landscape Sketches with Trees and Church Tower (verso), c. 1811–13, Oil on canvas, 13 3/4 x 17 1/8 inches (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton).
  • ArtInfo reports the Vatican has finally published its large database of the art and artifacts of Italian churches. The website contains an astounding 3.5 million objects from 63,773 churches, and it's still not complete — art and artifacts from churches in Florence and Naples have yet to be catalogued. The Vatican promised the database will be regularly updated.
Finally, in spite of the recession, there's a huge amount of development happening in Chelsea, and I believe this illustrates the economic impact of the arts. Some people attribute it to the High Line, but it's probably the other way around. If it weren’t for the arts making the area desirable, they probably would not have been able to raise the millions needed to develop the High Line. On the other hand, it also makes it more difficult for the smaller galleries to survive.
View from the High Line of some construction on 28th Street in Chelsea.
View from the High Line of new residential buildings in Chelsea.

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