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Art History

February 12, 2015 | Posted by | No Comments

Gauguin Breaks Record Sale

via BBC: The Gauguin painting has been on public display for decades

Via BBC: A painting of two Tahitian girls by the French artist Paul Gauguin has been sold for $300 million, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold.

Nafea Faa Ipoipo, or When Will You Marry?, was painted in 1892 and had been owned by a Swiss collector. Unconfirmed reports suggest it was sold to a museum in Qatar. The small oil-rich state paid the previous highest price for a painting, a work by Paul Cezanne which sold for a reported $240 million.

Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud fetched $135 million in November 2013 – The triptych is considered one of Bacon’s greatest masterpieces. It sold after six minutes of fierce bidding, according to auction house Christie’s.

Before its sale, the Gauguin artwork had been owned by Rudolf Staechelin, a collector from Basel. For decades it had been on loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel but Mr Staechelin decided to sell the painting after a disagreement with the museum, US media report.

Mr. Staechelin told the New York Times he would not divulge the identity of the buyer and it was not immediately clear where the sale had taken place. However the paper, which first reported the sale, quoted sources saying the painting had been sold to Qatari buyers.

Edvard Munch, The Scream – Perhaps one of the world’s most famous images, The Scream went on sale in May 2012, sparking a 12-minute bidding war. By the end, the privately-owned pastel, one of four in a series by the Norwegian, had been sold for $112 million.


Officials in Qatar have not yet confirmed the purchase. The sheikhdom’s royal family has in recent years spent vast amounts of money on Western art. Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed Al-Thani, a former minister of culture who died last year, lavished more than $1 billion of the country’s money on artworks. Qatar sponsored a 2012 Damien Hirst retrospective in the UK which later moved to the country’s capital Doha, and has invested large sums of money financing museums of Islamic and modern Arab art.

January 20, 2015 | Posted by | No Comments

What Are We Doing For Others?

Martin Luther King, Jr., flanked by some of his principal lieutenants: from left to right, Andrew Young, who later became a congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, and mayor of Atlanta; Ralph Abernathy, King’s closest adviser; and John Lewis, who is now a congressman. Photograph by Steve Schapiro.

According to Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” This question was posed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The organization also states, “On MLK Day, Americans across the country come together for a day of service, picking up the baton handed to us by past generations and carrying forward their efforts. As one people, we show that when ordinary citizens come together to participate in the democracy we love, justice will not be denied. So make the commitment to serve your community throughout the year – and make MLK Day a day on, not a day off.”

People assemble to watch the march pass through Montgomery. This photograph is one of several unpublished images that Schapiro, who covered the third Selma march for Life, recently rediscovered. Photograph by Steve Schapiro.

Years ago, some great photographers captured Americans coming together during difficult times – fighting for the rights of generations to come. Photographers like Steve Schapiro and Gordon Parks whose work is shown here, documented our nation progressing towards a greater equality.

Participants in the march take a break. Photography by Steven Schapiro.

Depicting the march from Selma-to-Montgomery, AL in March 1965, the nonviolent discipline of the marchers became such a resonant chapter in the black freedom struggle that Barack Obama, in 2007, went to Selma to speak in the early years of his Presidency. The march is also the focal point of the Oscar nominated film, Selma.

Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile, Alabama, 1956. Photography by Gordon Parks.

Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956. Photograph by Gordon Parks.

Works by Gordon Parks are currently on display at Atlanta’s High Museum in an exhibit called Gordon Parks: Segregation Story. The exhibit runs through June 7, 2015.

January 15, 2015 | Posted by | No Comments

Homage To Paris

In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France, many people across the globe are coming together in support of the French people affected by this tragedy. Paris is an historic cultural center of the world, particularly in the Arts. Many great artists have come from Paris, and the city continues to inspire artists today. Below find a selection of works that pay homage to the City of Light and of Love.

The Pont des Arts is a pedestrian bridge in Paris that crosses the River Seine. Pont des Arts is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Paris.

Pont des Arts by Fikry Botros $420 on

Rue Chappe is a street located in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. It is named after the French engineer who invented the first telegraph: Claude Chappe.

Rue Chappe, Paris by Keith Gerling $700 on

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognizable structures in France. It was built in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair and named after its designer, the engineer Gustave Eiffel.

Eiffel Tower by Jacquelyn Sloane Siklos $97 on

Notre Dame is a Catholic cathedral that stands on the Cite Island in the Seine River. The many famous gargoyles on the roof serve as drainpipes. Each grotesque figure has a passageway inside that carries rainwater from the roof and out through the gargoyle’s mouth.

Gargoyle Atop Notre Dame by James Conley $370 on

Lilies are the flower of France and the inspiration for the ‘fleur-de-lis’ symbol.

Purple Lilies by Frank DeSantis $530 on

Woman Following Newspaper Blowing In Paris Wind by Warren Keating $550 on

That’s The Way It Is by Kevin Brewerton $2,255 on

November 11, 2014 | Posted by | No Comments

How Old Is The Oldest Artwork?

A handprint found in Indonesia and believed to be at least 39,900 years old Photo: Kinez Riza via Nature

Reported by Alexander Forbes,

A group of cave paintings discovered on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia was created at least 40,000 years ago, reports the journal Nature in its October 8 edition. That likely makes the paintings the oldest artworks ever to be discovered.

The oldest of the newly-dated cave paintings is a silhouette of a hand, which appears to have been created by blowing red pigment over a hand placed against the cave wall’s surface. Using uranium decay dating, the Indonesian research team working on the project determined that the 10 millimeters or so of calcite grown on top of the painting was at least 39,900 years old. The finding suggests that the painting underneath is therefore slightly older.

Cave paintings on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi were found more than 50 years ago, but until now the dates of origin were not known. The art shown here has not been dated, but is stylistically similar to other art in the area now found to be around 40,000 years old. PHOTOGRAPH BY MAXIME AUBERT, GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY, AUSTRALIA

The researchers were also able to successfully date a painting of two animals, thought to be a species of “pig-deer.” The work is estimated to be at least 35,400–35,700 years old. If accurate, the dating would make the painting the earliest known surviving figurative representation made by humans.

Aside from the discovery’s intrigue from an archeological and scientific standpoint, it is also yet another blow to the view that art and culture, and the more advance cognitive capacity of the early Homo sapiens who produced it, was a European invention. Many Eurocentrist—and indeed some factions within the European political extreme-right—have held up discoveries of 35,000–40,000-year-old cave paintings in Spain’s El Castillo cave and France’s Chauvet cave as evidence of Europe’s cultural primacy.


“It allows us to move away from the view that Europe was special,” Australian archeologist and leader of the team Maxime Aubert told Nature. “There was some idea that early Europeans were more aware of themselves and their surroundings. Now we can say that’s not true.”

At the very least, the findings suggest that humans developed abstract cognitive abilities at approximately the same time worldwide. The El Castillo painting of a red disk dates to 40,800 years ago. The Chauvet painting of a rhinoceros dates to approximately 35,000 years ago.

The oldest dated hand stencil in the world (upper right) and possibly the oldest figurative depiction in cave art—a female babirusa (a hoglike animal also called a pig-deer)—were found in Leang Timpuseng cave in Sulawesi, an island east of Borneo. NGM ART. SOURCE: M. AUBERT, ET AL., 2014, NATURE.

Other archeologists suggest that the paintings point towards the existence of such abilities before our distant ancestors dispersed from Africa. That means many older cave paintings may still await discovery. “We can expect future discoveries of depictions of human hands, figurative art, and other forms of image-making dating to the earliest period of the global dispersal of our species,” Aubert’s team told the New York Times.

“Compared with Europe, Asia has seen little fieldwork, and new finds will keep on challenging what we think we know about human evolution,” added researcher Wil Roebroecks when speaking to the AFP.

Maxime Aubert, right, and a team member work inside one of the limestone caves on Sulawesi where ancient cave art was found. PHOTOGRAPH BY KINEZ RIZA

The newly-dated Indonesian cave paintings’ existence has been known for over 50 years. However, researchers had done little further work to date them as they believed the region’s climate would have already caused anything over 10,000 years old to vanish.

May 13, 2014 | Posted by | No Comments

Swiss Museum Inherits Looted WWII Art

Cornelius Gurlitt photo: CBS NEWS

Reported by CBS/AP: A Swiss museum has announced that it has been named the “unrestricted and unfettered sole heir” of a German art collector who, two years ago, was found hoarding more than 1,000 missing artworks in his Munich apartment. Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive 81-year-old son of one of Hitler’s favorite art dealers, died Tuesday. His collection of long-hidden artworks set off an uproar over the fate of art looted by the Nazis.

The Museum of Fine Arts Bern in Switzerland announced they were contacted by Gurlitt’s lawyer, Christoph Edel, and told the news. The museum expressed their shock in a written statement, saying “at no time” did Gurlitt have “any connection” to the museum.

“At the same time, (we) do not wish to conceal the fact that this magnificent bequest brings with it a considerable burden of responsibility and a wealth of questions of the most difficult and sensitive kind, and questions in particular of a legal and ethical nature,” it said in a statement.

All of the art in the collection was acquired by Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius’s father. He was a leading art dealer chosen by Hitler to sell the art, most of which was stolen from the walls of museums, or from Jewish-owned galleries and collectors.

As Morley Safer reported in a 60 Minutes story last month (embedded below), German authorities stumbled upon Gurlitt’s collection in 2012 and what they found was astonishing: works by artists such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Max Beckmann – the largest cache of missing art found since World War II. Once the art was seized by authorities in February 2012, a legal battle ensued over who really owns the art.

In April, Gurlitt agreed to cooperate with authorities and return any artwork proven to be stolen to their rightful owners. So far, no artworks from the collection have been returned. Chris Marinello, a lawyer for the heirs of art dealer Paul Rosenberg who have claimed ownership of a painting by Matisse found in Gurlitt’s apartment, is buoyed by Wednesday’s announcement. Before Cornelius Gurlitt’s death, his lawyers said it was his intent to return the painting by Matisse to Paul Rosenberg’s family. Marinello believes that deal will be honored and the Rosenberg family expects the painting, now worth an estimated $20 million, to be returned soon. Marinello says, “Let’s hope German authorities will expedite this process to make up for two years of missteps since the hoard was first discovered.”

Of Gurlitt’s bequest to The Museum of Fine Arts in Bern, Marninello went on to say, “Under no circumstances should this collection be known as the Gurlitt collection. It was assembled only due to the persecution and horrors of the Holocaust.”



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