Archive | November, 2007

The Antiquities Auctions and the Guennol Goddess

It is upon us, the fall/winter antiquity auctions, Sotheby’s and Christies in New York, the first week of December. There are two antiquity auctions each year, one in summer, the second in early December. This past summer saw the sale of items from the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, NY, which had the spectacular Artemis which went for so much money.(See my old post “Out with the old, in with the New”) This upcoming auction has another star, the Guennol Goddess, which has been on loan for decades to the Brooklyn Museum, but the owners have decided to sell it now. Statuette of lioness goddess, Elamite, ca. 3000 B.C. Magnesite or crystaline limestone, Height: 3 1/4 inches.  This monumental miniature statue depicts a mysterious goddess in the form of a lioness, with drilled holes which may have been fitted with tufts of fur for tail, mane and ornaments. Very little is known about the figure, it was purchased in the early 20th Century in Baghdad, and then handled by Joseph Brummer, the venerable dealer of […]

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Chicest things I saw this week

I think this will be a regular feature of my blog, selecting the piece, whether a work of art, jewelry or other object that most impressed me in the past week. Living in Hudson is great because of the window shopping, the quality of what is up here is often quit surprising and wonderful. There are more sophisticated dealers on Warren Street then I remember there being in the past and the level has gone up a lot. So have the prices, which some people who remember Hudson from the past complain about, but what they don’t mention is that the material on offer is so good, and with the advent of the Internet, everyone everywhere knows what everything is worth; there are no bargains anymore. Because the cost of maintaining a shop is so much less in Hudson, dealers do price their items better than they would in the city. So this week it is two modern pieces of furniture. Lucite and bronze coffee table by Pierre Giraudon, ca. 1970’s. window of GRIS, 614 […]

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Vassar Loeb Art Center

View of the galleries of the Loeb Art Center looking towards the Egyptian red granite head. After visiting the Hessel Museum at Bard, I headed South to visit the very fine small museum at Vassar, the full name of which is: The Francis Lehman Loeb Art Center. I have been there before but not for a long while, so a visit was overdue. It has a small diverse collection, with some very nice Hudson River Paintings, a few antiquities, and old masters. They have visiting exhibitions, the current one was “Saul Steinberg: Illuminations”, a touring exhibition. Finding the college and museum was not difficult although the directions tell you to look for a stone arch that serves as the entrance, and what is in fact there is a large Gothic revival building with a tiny pointed arch road entrance going through it, so I missed it. The museum is just inside that entrance. The entrance is through a beautiful glass, steel and wood tunnel that leads you back into the building housing the museum. The […]

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The Hessell Museum at Bard

view of the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College I need to get out of Hudson at least one day a week, so either I go to the City, or take a day trip in the region. This week it was an afternoon outing to down to Poughkeepsie to see The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar. As I was driving south on Rt. 9G, I realized I would pass by Bard and that I had not seen the latest show at their museum, the Center for Curatorial Studies, Hessel Museum of Art. I had seen the first installation of the collection, this fall they reinstalled it with a different part of the very large collection, and had an exhibition of an artist who I did not know before, Keith Edmier. First let me briefly talk about the Marieluise Hessel Collection. Last year what was exhibited was a wide range of contemporary art, much of which I was not familiar with. This year they brought out another group from the collection which they […]

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Gallery shows in Hudson, NY

Since I live here, in Hudson, I thought I should make some mention of what is going on in the art scene in my own town. It actually has blossomed in the years I have lived here, with a number of quite good and interesting galleries now open. I will only mention a few here, with more to come in future posts. Tony Thompson painting at Carrie Haddad titled, Kensett, clearly meant to evoke or inspired by the wonderful paintings by the artist of that name, one of the leading practitioners of the Hudson River School. Tony Thompson is well known to those of us who live here in Hudson, he has been here for quite a few years now, so I follow his work partly as a friend, but also I actually like his paintings. He has very good technique, and here he employs it in an odd way, doing a double image, one right side up, the other upside down. Between the two is a heavy application of oil paint to forming a […]

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The Shark at the Metropolitan Museum

The Met does not allow photography of the Shark, so I got this from Raw art Weblog, and think the blogger probably did what I had hoped to do but did not dare, just take a photo discreetly. He did dare, so I will use his photo, the best one I could find easily that shows the tank before the windows. This is not news, Damien Hirst’s infamous shark in formaldehyde is now on view at the Met and has been for about a month now. I went to see it on my day of going through the museum as I have heard about it for years, and while I have seen other works by Damien Hirst, had never this iconic piece. Pretentiously titled, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, it is a shark suspended in a beautifully built tank of blue green formaldehyde. It is important, whether one likes it or not, because of the impact it has had on the art world, and the tremendous attention it received […]

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the new Wrightsman Galleries at the Met

On my tour I took a quick spin through the newly redone Wrightsman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum. I have always loved these rooms, and the new re installation is subtle and beautiful, at a quick glance nothing has changed, but be in them for a few minutes and you see the changes. First, they are even more dimly lit than before, but clever spots shed light just where you need it to see particular objects or details in the rooms. However, as I gazed upon the white and gold rococo room, I was struck by how real the candles looked. First and most important the quality of light was identical to natural candles and then unnervingly, with a gust of air, the flames moved, identically to the way real candle flames do. I was a little startled, and was wondering how they got away with real candle flames, after all this is a museum, when closer examination of a torchere close to me revealed that these are the cleverest and best simulated candles I […]

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Chicest thing I saw last week

I saw this in the window of a jewelry store on Madison Avenue in the 70’s, between 77th and 78th St. I think it is called Edith Weber and Associates Jewelry. If I have it wrong, I apologize. I have always enjoyed their windows since they carry antique jewelry of great quality, sometimes with intaglios which are ancient or inspired by the antique. This pair of earrings caught my eye. What a conceit, magnificent large mine cut diamonds with gold covers in the shape of globes which themselves are beautiful, with engraving and even a little diamonds set in them. The covers were intended to hide the magnificent large diamonds, so that a lady could travel discreetly without attracting too much attention, and then when she arrived at her destination, pop off the covers to reveal them. How fabulous is that? Truly classy objects.

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the Metropolitan Museum of Art Highlights

The next day I did my usual pilgrimage to the Metropolitan Museum. There are several really great shows there; Tapestry of the Baroque, Eternal Ancestors (African sculpture), and three panels from the Gates of Paradise by Ghiberti, and a small exquisite show of Egyptian bronze statuettes titled, Gifts for the Gods. There are several other great shows at the Met, but most of them, such as the Age of Rembrandt and a collection of Abstract Expressionist paintings, are not of such interest to me, and such art already has so many fans being hugely popular. The tapestry exhibition is a follow up to a wonderful show they did in 2002, Tapestry in the Renaissance, which made quite an impact on me. I had never really considered tapestries, and this exhibition made the point that they were the non plus ultra of their time, the absolutely top expression of wealth, taking years and many hands to create, being made of the most expensive materials available, and because of their huge size, having a great impact upon […]

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Chelsea, Tuesday November 6th

I just took an overnight trip to the City, and started on Tuesday afternoon with a quick tour of Chelsea. I don’t try to see everything, I cannot sustain the interest, or the feet that long, so I hit the obvious galleries, mostly sticking to easy to get into ones on the ground floor. This fortunately includes the best galleries, so is an easy way to keep tabs on what is happening in the art world in a general way. While my first post might lead the reader to conclude that I hate the contemporary art world, this is not true. I actually am enjoying contemporary art more than I used to, I think in large part due to the fact that the art has changed in the thirty years I have been looking at it. Craft, skill, consummate and obsessive attention to detail seem to be in style again, in a range of materials and styles. Concept is still important but is no longer the only thing; the object at hand also compels the […]

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Out with the old, in with the new

This is my first post, and allows me a chance to vent on an issue that I think is emblematic of what is wrong with the art world, namely the sale of the core collections of the Albright Knox Museum in Buffalo, NY. Anyone with an interest in art must know about this sale already, it received a fair amount of publicity, and the controversy was well covered by the art section of the New York Times, and I am sure other venues. However, even so, the magnitude of the sale does deserve even more comment and coverage. The sales themselves have been over for awhile now, but the implications and lessons to be gleaned remain important. First to review some of the highlights of the collection and sale from the least prominent to most. This is a personal selection, there were many works of art sold, and others might select other pieces to highlight the travesty of this sale. First, a rather beautiful Gandharan head of a bodhisatva, underlife sized and well preserved, but […]

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