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Art in the News

Meijer Gardens dedicates 'Iron Tree' sculpture by Ai Weiwei


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Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 21 April 2015 08:54


Ai Wiewei, 'Iron Tree.' Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park image.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) – A large iron sculpture by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei that's designed to prompt thoughts about how different people and cultures come together was dedicated Monday at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in western Michigan.

An event to dedicate Iron Tree as part of events marking Meijer Gardens' 20th anniversary.

Made of 99 iron pieces, the sculpture looks like a tree without leaves, but oversize stainless steel bolts that hold it together give it a mechanical appearance.

The artist's work is well-known internationally, but he isn't allowed to travel outside China. He spent nearly three months in prison in China in 2011 and last year directed the transformation of the former island prison of Alcatraz into a tribute to the world's political prisoners.

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Online: http://www.meijergardens.org

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-20-15 1158GMT

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 09:03
 

Ai Weiwei's bronze zodiac animals set for Wyoming display

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Written by MEAD GRUVER, Associated Press   
Monday, 20 April 2015 09:46


Ai Weiwei, 'Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads,' 2010, gold-plated bronze, auctioned in February 2015 by Phillips in London. Image courtesy of Phillips

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming has abundant wildlife but nothing quite like this: A dozen animal heads, each weighing 800 pounds, are headed for display at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole.

The heads representing the creatures of the traditional Chinese zodiac -- rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig -- will arrive by tractor-trailer in a few weeks. A crane will hoist them into place atop concrete pads poured specially for the exhibition. From May 9 to Oct. 11, visitors will be able to take in Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads along the museum's sculpture trail.

"This is unprecedented in terms of how much work we're putting into installation for a temporary installation,'' said Jane Lavino, the museum's curator of education.

Ai is among China's best-known contemporary artists. He played a key role in designing the "Bird's Nest'' Beijing National Stadium ahead of the 2008 Olympics. He's also well known as a critic of the Chinese government. Chinese authorities in recent years have shut down his blog, destroyed his studio and jailed him for almost three months. He has been prohibited from traveling abroad.

"We're actually very curious what kind of response we'll get,'' said museum President James McNutt. "There's been a great influx of Chinese tourists to Jackson Hole in the last year or so, and we expect quite a few this summer. We don't really have any way to gauge, though, how many of those people are likely to be familiar with his work.''

Following exhibition in Chicago, Los Angeles, London and other cities worldwide, the zodiac animals will be displayed in a natural setting for the first time. The Gros Ventre Range to the east will be their backdrop at the museum near the National Elk Refuge a couple miles north of Jackson.

A group of large zodiac animals displayed in China more than 150 years ago provided the inspiration for Ai's work. In 1860, during the Second Opium War, French and British troops looted the originals from the Old Summer Palace in the Garden of Perfect Brightness in Beijing. The fate of at least five of the original animal heads remains unknown.

Museum curator Adam Duncan Harris said he first encountered Ai's zodiac animals when they were on display in Washington, D.C., a few years ago. He set about applying to have the piece displayed at the National Museum of Wildlife Art and succeeded this year.

The museum has plenty of experience handling large pieces, including a small herd of larger-than-life bronze bison weighing more than 3,000 pounds each. "It's not difficult when you have the right tools and the right people with the right experience,'' Harris said.

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Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This information may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Last Updated on Monday, 20 April 2015 09:56
 

Barnes and Violette de Mazia Foundation merge programs

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Written by Museum PR   
Monday, 20 April 2015 09:32


Young Professionals Night is one of many events promoted by the Barnes Foundation as part of its art education program. Photo by Darryl Moran, provided by the Barnes Foundation

PHILA., Pa. - Joseph Neubauer, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Barnes Foundation, and Jerome Bogutz, Esq., President and member of the Board of Directors of the Violette de Mazia Foundation, are pleased to announce that the Violette de Mazia Foundation has been granted permission by the Montgomery County Orphan’s Court to affiliate its art appreciation education programs with the Barnes Foundation.

The Barnes-de Mazia Education Program will be based at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. As part of the affiliation, the Violette de Mazia Foundation will transfer approximately $8 million to the Barnes Foundation to create the Barnes-de Mazia Education Endowment Fund, dedicated to supporting and expanding education programs at the Barnes Foundation, including scholarships, an annual Violette de Mazia Lecture, and a fellowship for a scholar to research the theories, writings, and teaching practices of Albert C. Barnes, Violette de Mazia, and John Dewey. In addition, the archives of the Violette de Mazia Foundation will be added to the archives of the Barnes Foundation.

“Perpetuating the educational programs developed by Albert C. Barnes, Violette de Mazia, and John Dewey has always been at the heart of the mission of the Violette de Mazia Foundation,” said Mr. Bogutz. “Uniting our programs and housing them at the Barnes will expand their reach and secure their future as well as ensure permanent recognition for the important role Violette de Mazia played in education at the Barnes Foundation,” he said.

The Barnes-de Mazia courses provide extraordinary access to the masterpieces in the Barnes Foundation. Students study art and aesthetics in rigorous programs based on the teachings of Albert C. Barnes, Violette de Mazia, and John Dewey, which encourage students to read art as an artist does and to study its formal elements. This method of teaching students the language of art makes art accessible wherever it is encountered.

“The Barnes Foundation and the Violette de Mazia Foundation share a commitment to art appreciation and aesthetics, as well as to maintaining structured multi-year education programs based on those methods jointly developed by Albert C. Barnes, Violette de Mazia and John Dewey,” said Mr. Neubauer. “The unification of the education programs of the Barnes Foundation and the Violette de Mazia Foundation will lead to an expansion of educational programming at the Barnes, and help to advance its mission through robust programming and outreach.”

In its first joint program, the annual Violette de Mazia Lecture will be inaugurated at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia on Sunday, April 26, from 2-3 pm. The lecture features Richard Wattenmaker, a widely recognized authority on late 19th- and early 20th-century modern art, as well as a former student of Violette de Mazia, and a former instructor at the Barnes Foundation. Wattenmaker will discuss the artist Chaim Soutine. Tickets are free. Registration is required online, or by calling 215-278-7200.  Barnes-de Mazia courses will begin in the autumn of 2015.

Visit the Barnes Foundation online at www.barnesfoundation.org.

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Last Updated on Monday, 20 April 2015 09:51
 

Yamasaki-designed conference center gets landmark status

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 17 April 2015 13:16


McGregor Center, Wayne State University in Detroit. Image by Andrew Jameson. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

DETROIT (AP) - A conference center on the campus of Wayne State University that was designed by renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki has been designated as a national historic landmark.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis on Wednesday made the announcement about the McGregor Memorial Conference Center as well as landmark designations for several sites in other parts of the country.

Completed in 1958, the center's design represents a turning point in Yamasaki's career. The two-story building overlooks a reflecting pond and sculpture garden. Yamasaki also is known for his design of the original World Trade Center towers.

The National Historic Landmarks Program is administered by the National Park Service. With designation as a landmark, sites are eligible for technical preservation advice.

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Online: http://busops.wayne.edu/mcgregor.php

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-16-15 1020GMT



McGregor Center atrium. Image by Goldnpuppy. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 April 2015 13:37
 

UK's NPG features Charles I's 'forgotten painter' Cornelius Johnson

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Written by Art Gallery PR   
Friday, 10 April 2015 15:03
Charles II by Cornelius Johnson, 1639; James II by Cornelius Johnson, 1639; Mary, Princess of Orange by Cornelius Johnson, 1639. All portraits © National Portrait Gallery, London

LONDON - The first ever display of works by the 17th-century artist Cornelius Johnson, forgotten court painter to Charles I, will open at the National Portrait Gallery on April 15, 2015. "Cornelius Johnson: Charles I’s Forgotten Painter" (April 15 - September 13, 2015) will include four rarely seen portraits of royal children, all from the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection, to tell the story of one of Britain’s most successful and prolific artists.

The portraits of Charles I’s three royal children the future Charles II, the future James II, and Mary, later Princess of Orange-Nassau and are poignant reminders of their tumultuous lives (partly spent in exile), while the fourth, of Mary’s son William, was painted when the boy’s position was in jeopardy. Largely neglected by both British and Dutch art historians, Johnson had the bad luck to be overshadowed as a court painter by Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), who settled in London in 1632 to work for Charles I, and then to have his own British career curtailed by the British Civil Wars.

Having been trained in the Netherlands, and having painted Charles I and the elite of the period, many of whom were soon to be engulfed in the Civil Wars, Johnson was a chronicler of a doomed generation, on the edge of war. At the age of 50, after civil war had broken out, Johnson emigrated to the Netherlands, where he re-invented himself as a Dutch portraitist, and succeeded against the odds in the tough Dutch art market, dying there a prosperous man.

Johnson is particularly admired for his skillful rendering of his sitters’ rich lace collars and sumptuous textiles and dress. He seems frequently to have been commissioned to paint children. He is also thought to be the first English-born artist to sign and date his paintings as a matter of course, something he probably learned from his training in the Netherlands.

Johnson worked in every scale, from the group-portrait (including his largest surviving English painting, The Capel Family, in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery and also included in the new display) to the tiny miniature.

The Gallery’s display will contain eight painted portraits and six prints, from the National Portrait Gallery’s primary and archive collections, most of them rarely seen, and three paintings from Tate which have never been previously displayed together.

This will be the first show ever on this artist’s work and it will be accompanied by a publication, Cornelius Johnson, which will be the first book solely focused on Johnson and contains much new research on his life and career.

Karen Hearn, the curator of "Cornelius Johnson: Charles I’s Forgotten Painter," says: "Cornelius Johnson’s portraits are not grand Baroque constructs. On the contrary, they have a delicacy, a dignity and a humanity that speak directly to present-day viewers. Although he has been for so long in the shadows of art history, it seems that, with the Gallery’s display and the accompanying publication, at last Cornelius Johnson’s time has come."

Learn more about the exhibition online at npg.org.uk.

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Last Updated on Friday, 17 April 2015 13:20
 

Monet sees star rise again at New York auctions

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Written by AFP Wire Service   
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 08:21
Claude Monet, 'Nymphéas,' signed Claude Monet and dated 1905 (lower left). Oil on canvas. 31½ by 38½ in. (80 by 98 cm). Painted in 1905. Est. $30/45 million. Image courtesy of Sotheby's

NEW YORK (AFP) - Oil paintings by impressionist master Claude Monet are expected to be stars of the spring auction season in New York, where Sotheby's believes they could fetch as much as $110 million.

One of the paintings is part of the famous "Nymphéas" (Water Lilies) series the French artist painted at Giverny. Forecast to sell for an estimated $30-45 million, this work has been held by a collector since 1955, and has not been seen in public since 1945.

The six Monet works have been in private collections and are expected to generate a lot of enthusiasm on the auction block at evening sales.

The other works are "Le Palais Ducal" painted in 1908 in Venice; it is expected to fetch $15-20 million; "Bassin aux nymphéas, les rosiers" from $18-25 million; and "Le Chemin d'Epinay, effet de neige" (1875). It is expected to sell for $6-8 million.

In addition, "La Seine à Vétheuil" (1901), is expected to bring in $6-8 million; it has been in private hands since 1955 and has not been sold at auction. And "Au Val Saint-Nicolas près Dieppe, matin" (1897), could fetch $3-4 million, the auction house said.

These six works by the impressionist will be shown in London April 10-14, before returning to New York where they will be on view through May 1.

Auctioneers Christie's, meanwhile, announced Monday it would sell a Monet work --  "Le parlement, soleil couchant" -- for an expected $35-45 million on May 11 in New York.

The record for a single Monet was set in June 2008 when Christie's in London sold "Le bassin des Nymphéas" for $80.1 million.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 April 2015 10:04
 

Only in Texas: Dallas developer to build 77-space garage at his home

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Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 06 April 2015 10:34
Aerial view of Harlan Crow's Preston Road mansion in Dallas. Image courtesy of Bing

DALLAS (AP) - Real estate investor Harlan Crow is trying to ease concerns of his neighbors in the wealthy Dallas enclave of Highland Park about construction of a 77-space underground garage on his estate.

Crow, 65, CEO of Dallas-based Crow Holdings, says the $5.1 million project is intended for guests to a large library at his family's home and for those attending other functions at his estate like political fundraisers who would have to park on the streets.

Neighbors worry about the intrusion of buses and tour groups that could ensue if Crow turns the 8-acre estate, now zoned as a single-family dwelling, into a museum.

"It's hard for me to see how a 77-space parking garage can be construed as a single-residence use," Michael Lewis, who lives next door, told The Dallas Morning News.

Property records show the site has an eight-bedroom home, a greenhouse, a swimming pool and two unattached servants' quarters.

Two years ago the 65-year-old CEO tried to get "historical collection" added to the zoning definition for his home, then dropped the proposal amid similar opposition from neighbors.

"I'm afraid they're going to open it up to more people," another neighbor, Laura Williamson, said. "Accommodating the cars he has is a good idea, but it's going to enable him to have larger groups."

The Harlan Crow Library is in a wing of Crow's mansion. It holds thousands of rare books, manuscripts and artwork related to American politics, science and literature and employs a full- and part-time librarian. The property also includes a sculpture garden.

"I have what I hope is a very fine collection of manuscripts and books pertaining to American history," Crow said. "And to the extent that I can share that with people from the area in a way that is educational and enjoyable, then I feel like I've done a good thing. And that has been and continues to be what I want to do."

He said the parking area will be more convenient for guests and neighbors.

"And other than that, I see no impact on the whole matter," he said.

Crow said he's had "a good couple of years" and can afford the project, which he sees also being used by his three children for sports activities on rainy days.

Williamson said she's been in the library, enjoyed the visit and found it beautiful. "It's simply in the wrong place," she said.

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Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This information may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Last Updated on Monday, 06 April 2015 11:08
 

Gazan duped into selling Banksy artwork for $180

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Written by MAI YAGHI   
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 10:32
The Banksy artwork on the door of a destroyed home in Gaza shows the Greek goddess Niobe weeping. Image courtesy of banksy.co.uk

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – A work by world-renowned graffiti artist Banksy has been sold for less than $200 in war-ravaged Gaza, where a homeless family says they were "tricked" into parting with the valuable collector's item.

At the end of February, the artist, who chooses to remain anonymous, released an online video showing three works he painted on walls of homes in the Gaza Strip destroyed in Israeli air strikes.
 Barely a month later in the impoverished Palestinian enclave, one of them changed hands for 700 shekels ($180) – a trifle for the work of an artist who can raise more than $1 million at arts auctions.

The graffiti shows Greek goddess Niobe weeping on the metal doorway, which was all that remained standing of the Hamduna family home.

Rabieh Hamduna, 33, told AFP how he was approached by a young man who gave his name as "Bilal Khaled" claiming to be a news agency photographer and journalist.
 "He said it was his agency that had painted the graffiti on the door and other doors, and that they now wanted to recover them," Hamduna said.

"He gave me 700 shekels and went off with the door."

Hamduna said: "He tricked me. I didn't know the graffiti was valuable. My house was destroyed and now I have to pay rent. I need the money and so I agreed to sell the door."

Hamduna said he wants the art back – not to sell it, but to put it on display.
"

I want to exhibit it so that the whole world sees our suffering, like the artist wanted when he painted it."

Palestinian activists on social media have launched a campaign against Bilal Khaled, identifying him as a freelance journalist who has worked for a Turkish news agency.

'We don't remain neutral'

They accuse him of having stolen "public property" which rightly belonged to the people of Gaza who were caught up in a devastating war with Israel last July and August.
 Khaled responded on his Facebook page that the Hamduna family had helped him dislodge and carry away the door.

He wanted to save the door in case the home was rebuilt and would exhibit it at international events to raise awareness of the plight of Gaza, Khaled said, adding that he had contacted Banksy.

The artist's online video was titled "Make this the year YOU discover a new destination."

It purports to show him traveling to Gaza by commercial flight and then through smuggling tunnels – possibly beneath the Egyptian border.

Banksy's works were seen as a damning critique of Israel's bombardment of Gaza as it fought against the Strip's Islamist rulers, destroying or damaging more than 100,000 homes and killing nearly 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

The murals also include a giant cat painted on the last remaining wall of a Gaza home playing with a ball of twisted metal.

The two-minute film shows children playing next to the cat mural and entire
neighborhoods razed during the war.

It fades out on a wall inscription apparently written by Banksy.

"If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful – we don't remain neutral," it reads in English.

The artist posted pictures of the works on his website.

Banksy is believed to have started out as a graffiti artist in London, although his identity remains shrouded in secrecy.

His murals have been chiseled out of walls and sold for large sums in the past.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 April 2015 10:57
 

Georgian architecture, hot springs among gems in Bath

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Written by TERRY TANG
, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 09:50
The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Bath, commonly known as Bath Abbey. Photo by David Iliff. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

BATH, England (AP) - Yes, there really is a natural hot spring beneath the city of Bath, but soaking in the above-ground sights and sounds will leave you plenty relaxed. With its Georgian brick buildings and lush green hills, almost everywhere in Bath feels like a living postcard. With landmarks from Roman and medieval times, you may feel you've landed back in time, but the juxtaposition of stately terraced houses and people hustling about on smartphones brings you out of that fantasy.

Bath somehow weaves together threads of small-town life with cosmopolitan sophistication. It has galleries, museums and theaters. It's a college town anchored by the University of Bath. And it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Even on a mere day trip from London, just 90 minutes away by train, Bath bubbles over with charm.

BATH ABBEY

A majestic landmark in the center of town, Bath Abbey is the third place of worship to occupy this site in 1,200 years. The first church, built in 757, was replaced by a cathedral soon after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. That one gave way in the 15th century to the abbey that's there today.

Walk inside and eye the vaulted ceiling and stunning stained glass windows showing 56 scenes from Christ's life. A floor plaque marks Queen Elizabeth II's 1973 visit. Tours of the church tower are available; it's just 212 steps to the top.

ROMAN BATHS

You might say the Romans were the first in Western Europe to come up with the spa weekend. The Roman Baths date back to the year 70, with a sprawling pool of natural, hot spring water called the Great Bath located below street level. You can see the steam swirling from a terrace on the street above. People dressed in period clothing - such as a Roman soldier or stone mason - stand in the archways. The complex includes several underground spaces and displays. The self-guided audio tour, which includes commentary from writer Bill Bryson, thoroughly explains how the citizens of Aquae Sulis (the Roman name given to Bath) socialized, worked and worshipped. At the end of the tour, visitors can sample some of that rejuvenating water.

JANE AUSTEN CENTER

Novelist Jane Austen lived with family in Bath between 1801 and 1806. Avid readers of Austen's work know that Bath was a prominent setting in two of her books, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. But even fans only familiar with the movie adaptations will geek out inside the Jane Austen Center. The three-story building on Gay Street has a permanent exhibit and tea room. The experience reaches delightfully Austentatious levels with employees clad in period clothing giving brief orientations on the novelist.

The exhibit offers two floors of clothes, knickknacks and anecdotes about what daily life would have been like for Austen in Bath. You can end your wandering with afternoon tea in the third-floor Regency Tea Room, where a portrait of Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy looms over patrons. If you are an Austen lover, good luck holding back in the gift shop where merchandise includes items branded with "I heart Mr. Darcy." The center also helps stage several events such the annual Jane Austen Festival in September. For 10 days, hundreds of visitors overtake the city for Austen-themed readings, workshops and, of course, a ball.

ROYAL CRESCENT

This half-moon formation of Georgian townhouses is one of Bath's most famous architectural masterpieces, an arc-shaped cluster of buildings set behind a green field. The first home, No. 1 Royal Crescent, where former Parliament member Henry Sanford lived in the late 1700s, is also a museum. Rooms are furnished in 18th century style, with a glimpse of the upstairs-downstairs lifestyle of the era (think Downton Abbey but 150 years earlier). Rooms to see include the scullery, parlor and gentleman's retreat. Don't miss the servants' hall, where you can see a replica of a dog wheel where a running canine actually powered a cooking spit.

WALKING THE CANAL

Every alley off the cobblestoned streets seems to be lined with adorable shop windows. But to truly appreciate the villages and fields that surround Bath, a stroll along the canal is the way to go.

You can access the path from Sydney Gardens in the town center. In a 30-minute walk, you'll see flower-filled backyards and stretches of bright green grass, all perfectly reflected in the still water, as locals jog by and walk their dogs. There are even sheep nibbling off in the fields. And it doesn't hurt that you will pass a pub or two along the way.

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If You Go... BATH, ENGLAND: http://visitbath.co.uk/ . About 90 minutes by train from London. Top attractions include Bath Abbey, Roman Baths, Jane Austen Centre, Royal Crescent Georgian townhouses and scenic canal. Visitor information center, 011-44-844-847-5257, located next to Bath Abbey, open Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sundays 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

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Follow Terry Tang on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ttangAP

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP-WF-03-30-15 1428GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
A turn of the 20th century photochrom of the Roman Baths in Bath, England. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 April 2015 10:27
 

Renovation of lumber building might draw artists to Covington, Ky.

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Written by SCOTT WARTMAN, The Kentucky Enquirer   
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 09:27
Main Strasse in the historic district of Covington, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. Photo by Greg Hume. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Will artists move in droves to Covington's west side? The renovation of a vacant lumber building on 12th Street starting in June could spark the long-stalled wave of artists that many have talked about for years.

And many hope a good mix of residents will follow.

Expect a lot of activity on 12th Street/Martin Luther King Boulevard on the city's west side this year. Two large vacant buildings will get rehabbed — the former Hellmann Lumber building and former Flannery Paint building.

Some of the wrought-iron fencing stolen in front of homes will get replaced. Homes for artists will get built. And community art projects will be seen throughout the west side.

“For me personally having been around for a long time, I'm excited we're able to fulfill some of the promises made decades ago,” said Tom DiBello, executive director of community development organization Center for Great Neighborhoods (CGN).

CGN will use a $1.45 million grant from the Kresge Foundation over the next three years to try to transform the west side neighborhood into a haven for artists and welcoming area for the general public.

“We're hoping it's an area where there can be a lot of arts-related businesses, but we also want it to be a place where that barrier between artists and non-artists is broken down,” said Sarah Allan, director of creative placemaking for CGN. “That it's not like it's just an art district, it's more, 'Hey, there's a lot of creative stuff happening and I can be creative, too.’”

The renovation of the Hellmann Lumber building into a community arts center will anchor Covington's west side, DiBello said. It's one of the biggest buildings on the block, behind the vacant Bavarian Brewery.

CGN has raised a sizable portion of the $2.4 million needed to renovate the 130-year-old, two-story lumber building and hopes to start construction in June.

By early 2016, CGN hopes to move its headquarters into Hellmann Lumber and have most of the building devoted to arts and community space.

The Kresge Foundation has given $500,000 to the renovation of the building. The rest will come from donors, tax credits and other investments.

The Carnegie arts center became the first organization to sign a letter of intent to lease studio space. They will move a woodworking studio in there. All artists that move into the space will have to open their shops to the public to show people how they ply their trade, Allan said. In return, CGN would give them forgivable loans on equipment, such as printing presses or whatever the artists need.

“I do think the development of that building and our being in there will imply that there are people coming and going, that there's foot traffic and that it's a destination,” DiBello said.

The sound of an arts district might make some in Covington skeptical. The city has tried to start arts districts before along Pike Street and Madison only to see the efforts fizzle. But with the help of $1.45 million from the Kresge Foundation, many feel this is different.

First off, it's not driven by local government, said sculptor and west side resident David Rice. Community organizers and residents are in charge of this, he said.

Thanks to the Kresge Foundation, CGN gave Rice $5,000 to build a sundial in the west side of the city. CGN will be giving out many similar grants over the next few years with the grant money in addition to $250 micro-grants for residents to carry out ideas that help the community.

“I think this is different because I don't think the city will get involved in this so much,” Rice said. “When government gets involved, sometimes things don't flower. I think of the Center (for Great Neighborhoods) as more of a grassroots institution. That's how real art movements get started. It's just the residents and sort of a grassroots kind of thing.”

The grant will be used on the west side over the next three years to spur a variety of artistic and community endeavors. CGN will use the money to replace some of the antique wrought-iron fences stolen two months ago along 12th Street. Homeowners along this stretch woke up one morning to find the fences and gates pulled from their front yards.

CGN will choose six homes to replace the fences. Homes in the west side will also get a facelift. CGN will pick properties to get grants for facade improvements, including paint and trim. They will choose the homes based on what will have the most impact on the neighborhood. This year they'll give six properties along 12th Street about $10,000 each to improve the facades. People in the west side will also be able to purchase later this year from CGN “icons” to put on their homes to indicate their passions, skills or professions.

For instance, a baker will be able to buy a pretzel icon or a carpenter could buy a saw and hammer icon. The grant also will help CGN buy and build properties in the area to market to artists as residences and workspace, similar to the Shotgun Row homes built on Orchard Street just off 12th Street.

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-03-28-15 1527GMT

Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 March 2015 10:00
 

Curve appeal: Round is 'in' at NY home design show

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Written by KIM COOK, Associated Press   
Thursday, 26 March 2015 12:58
Semi-circular sectional sofa attributed to Milo Baughman. Sold to a LiveAuctioneers bidder on Nov. 30, 2013 in a sale conducted by Palm Beach Modern Auctions, W. Palm Beach, Florida. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Palm Beach Modern Auctions. NEW YORK (AP) - Curves have been all over the fashion and celebrity magazines, and are finding their way into design and décor too.

"They're sensuous and inviting,'' New York designer Barry Goralnick said at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show, held here last weekend (March 19-22). "Curved sofas that bring people closer together; rounded dining tables that are easier for conversation; round cocktail tables that are cozy and forgiving to shins. Arcs, circles, boat shapes -- all kinds of curves.''

Examples of the trend included Matt Hutton's walnut or cherry coffee table, a group of connecting circles. The Portland, Maine, furniture designer calls the table, which is available in three sizes, "Crop Circles.'' (www.studio24b.com )

Aaron Scott Gibson, a New York furniture and lighting designer who hails from Oregon, blends his affection for Pacific Northwest topography with an interest in geometry and the engineered form.

His curvy, oiled-oak pendant lamp somehow managed to evoke a tree burl and a ship's propeller; at once organic and mechanical. The same was true of a round table lamp crafted of layers of bleached wood circles, with cutouts to reveal the light beneath.

A sleek circle of glass was perched on a sinuous wood base that looked like a weathered, waxed whale vertebra, and the juxtaposition made for a piece that was as much sculpture as furniture. (www.aaronscottdesign.com )

Justin Teilhet, a ceramicist from Yellow Springs, Ohio, showed an arresting collection of porcelain objets d'art. Concentric circles formed vessels that were glazed in gunmetal and given 24-karat-gold-leaf interiors. The pieces were simple and dynamic. (www.jteilhetporcelain.com )

Hubbardton Forge's Flux pendant was a studied tangle of LED-lit aluminum bands that created a cool, contemporary fixture. (www.hubbardtonforge.com )

Spin Ceramics showed Chinese designer Qi Qiong Qiong's elegant Mobius Strip porcelain vase, with multiple apertures for flowers and an unglazed finish that showed off the interplay between the soft contours and crisp edges. (www.spinceramics.com )

Canadian Kino Guerin manipulates panels of walnut, wenge, cherry or zebrawood veneer into curled and knotted ribbons that become art, shelves or tables.

"To get this overall effect, the panel must be bent as if this had been done naturally. It must reflect equilibrium between the curve and the straight line, between exuberance and purity,'' the Montreal-based designer said. (www.kinoguerin.com )

Designer Alexa Hampton is also a proponent of mixing curves with linear shapes. She created a relaxed and pretty "Library'' space for show guests that incorporated voluptuous ceramic table lamps, inviting round tables and comfy chairs with curved arms.

"Shape and silhouette are always major considerations when designing an interior,'' she said. "Much like any essential duality -- yin and yang, hard and soft, masculine and feminine -- when a room has straight and curvy elements, the result is more complete and, therefore, more successful. ''Straight lines are a given in any room, she said: think walls, windows, table legs.

"But curves should always be added as well,'' she added. "In architecture, the circle is the strongest shape.''

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Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This information may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 March 2015 13:38
 

Minnesota museum gets Washington crossing Delaware painting

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Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 09:25
'Washington Crossing the Delaware' is an 1851 oil-on-canvas painting by the German American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze (1816-1868). It commemorates Gen. George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River on the night of Dec. 25–26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. Image courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsWINONA, Minn. (AP) – One of two surviving versions of the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware has a new home at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona.

The famed 1851 painting depicting George Washington was recently acquired by the museum's founders from a private collector, who had loaned it to the White House for the past 35 years. Another larger version is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The Winona Daily News reports the painting was unveiled at a private event Sunday, and that it was set to go on display when the museum about 120 miles southeast of Minneapolis opened Tuesday.

“It looks just terrific,” museum co-founder Mary Burrichter told the Star Tribune. “We had people crying in the audience last night when we unveiled it. People were gasping and didn't know what to say.”

The painting now in Winona measures more than 3 feet tall and nearly 6 feet wide, smaller than the one in New York that's roughly 12-by-21 feet. The works show Washington standing in a rowboat as it traverses the icy Delaware River, in a surprise attack during the American Revolution.

German-born artist Emanuel Leutze, who grew up in the U.S., painted the works in part to move Germans to rebel against their rulers. A third version of the painting was destroyed by British bombs at a German museum in 1942.

Burrichter and New York-based art dealer John Driscoll, who arranged the purchase, declined to tell the Star Tribune what the Washington painting cost.

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum was founded by Burrichter and her husband Bob Kierlin, who founded Winona-based company Fastenal, valued at $15 billion. The museum with water-themed works opened in 2006 and has about 1,400 paintings, including ones by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Georgia O'Keeffe.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 10:26
 

Mississippi celebrating trio of women artists

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Written by SHERRY LUCAS, The Clarion-Ledger   
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 08:54
Eudora Welty portrait at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Three major artists in the literary and visual arts – author and photographer Eudora Welty, poet, novelist and scholar Margaret Walker and artist Marie Hull – are in the spotlight this year, with major events and exhibitions to propel fresh perspectives and new eyes on their works and legacies.

Welty (1909-2001) and Walker (1915-1998) were close in age, while Hull (1890-1980) was just barely a generation older. Jackson native Welty spent her life here, while Alabama-born Walker moved here in 1949 to join Jackson State's faculty (by then using her married name, Alexander). Marie Atkinson, born in Summit, came to Jackson for Belhaven College and made her home here, marrying Jackson architect Emmett Hull.

This year will see the yearlong Margaret Walker Centennial anchored at Jackson State University, the 12-week Welty Biennial starting in April at the Mississippi Museum of Art and nearby venues, and “Bright Fields: The Mastery of Marie Hull,” Sept. 26 to Jan. 3 at the art museum.

A new book, Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald, by Welty scholar Suzanne Marrs is due out in July.

Belhaven University has named a Marie Hull Society for the Arts after its famed alumna – a cultural project to support fine arts programs, including a retrospective exhibition of Hull's art – with different works – in summer 2016, and accompanying catalog/book.

“This Is My Century: 2015 Margaret Walker Centennial” marks what would have been Walker's 100th birthday. Walker used Alexander as a professor of English at Jackson State for 30 years, but used her maiden name for her poetry, novel and essays.

“We're trying to lift her into the national consciousness,” said Robert Luckett, director of the Margaret Walker Center. “In Mississippi's great literary tradition, she seems to be the one who's always kind of left out when we talk about Faulkner and Tennessee Williams and Eudora Welty and Richard Wright and all these other great writers, past and present.”

Centennial events continue with the Oxford Conference for the Book in late March, a Creative Arts Festival with a keynote by poet Nikky Finney and dedication of a Toni Morrison Bench by the Road, the “Mississippi Jubilee: From Slavery to Freedom” symposium, plus a photography exhibition by Doris Derby, all in April. It culminates in July with a Jubilee Picnic and a world-class gala with a new musical work by New York composer and pianist Randy Klein, For My People, as its centerpiece – Walker's poetry put to music for piano, a vocalist and a chorale.

Walker was 16 when her first poem, I Want to Write, was published in the NAACP's magazine The Crisis.

“From that point on, she found herself immersed in the 20th century black arts movement,” Luckett said. “She knew everybody,” from her close relationship with mentor Richard Wright at the Southside Writers Group in Chicago (after graduation from Northwestern University) to her roommate at the University of Iowa, artist Elizabeth Catlett.

Her master's thesis in the famed University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop was her celebrated poem For My People. Fame found her when, in 1942, it won the major national Yale Series of Younger Poets prize, awarded to a black woman for the first time. She was 27.

She met Firnist Alexander while teaching in North Carolina, married and by 1949, the family moved to Jackson for her job in Jackson State's English department. Those choices, as well as time and place, factor into her lack of greater acclaim, Luckett said.

While at Jackson State, Walker returned to Iowa to finish her doctorate and her dissertation was her greatest novel, Jubilee, published in 1966.

Works by Welty and Hull put an artist's eye on Mississippi's racial divide.

Medgar Evers' assassination fueled the only work Welty wrote in anger, Where Is the Voice Coming From? a powerful piece written from the assassin's perspective to reveal the nature of the murderer that appeared in The New Yorker in 1963.

It also marks the first literary intersection of Welty and Walker, whose later poem Micah in honor of Evers was among her poems equating civil rights leaders and martyrs with biblical prophets in Prophets for a New Day, said writer and scholar Carolyn J. Brown, author of biographies on Welty and Walker.

Hull's 1936 painting of an African-American man who'd been born into slavery is direct, honest and titled An American Citizen and subtitled with his full name, Portrait of John Wesley Washington At Age 94. Bruce Levingston, curator of the Mississippi Museum of Art's Hull exhibition this fall, said, “In a quiet, profound way, she was making a statement ... restoring dignity to a man who deserved it all along.”

The Welty Biennial, starting April 10, is a fine arts festival that stretches across multiple disciplines as it celebrates Welty as a visionary American – author, photographer, witness and reporter of Mississippi to the world. Its theme of “Classical Mississippi” pegs the classical Greek heritage, from the architecture around her hometown to the constellations in the sky that fired her imagination.

Events involve Davis Planetarium, New Stage Theatre, the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and Millsaps College, and the Mississippi Museum of Art. Eudora Welty House and schoolchildren citywide are on the calendar, as well as Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis in an adaptation of Welty's short story Asphodel.

Brown found many similarities between Welty's and Walker's lives and careers in her research.

Both were born into families with a high priority on education, were early readers and won early recognition for their writings.

“Both credit moving away from the South for helping them develop as writers,” Brown said.

Walker's race made it harder for her to get published, and money was a key motivator that drove her to positions that had the best salary.

“She didn't have financial security until the Jackson State job,” Brown said.

Welty had connections, too, with Hull, who lived nearby in the Belhaven neighborhood.

“The story goes that Marie Hull helped Eudora and her mother design the walkway that leads up to the Welty House,” said Mary Alice Welty White, the author's niece.

As a young girl, Welty took painting lessons from Hull.

Hull's husband, prominent architect Emmett Hull, was supportive. They stood up, particularly during the WPA, for opportunities for Mississippi artists. After he died in 1957, her creativity exploded in the 1960s, a “fantastic final burst ... in which she painted some of her greatest paintings, including the beautiful Bright Fields and Pink Lady and Ruins, “an abstract painting in Levingston's collection thought to be influenced by the Ruins of Windsor and Welty's photograph of it.

In researching Hull, Levingston was struck by “her absolutely indomitable determination to become an independent, working artist.”

“This was not a hobby for her. This was not just a career, but this was a way of life. It was the way she looked at things. She remains one of the greatest artists this state has ever produced; one of the country's most important voices in regionalist painting,” he said.

___

Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
Eudora Welty portrait at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Marie Atkinson Hull (American/Mississippi, 1890-1980), 'Cuenca Hillside,' watercolor on paper. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Neal Auction Co.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 09:30
 

Meadows Foundation pledges $45M to SMU school of arts, museum

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Written by Outside Media Source   
Monday, 23 March 2015 10:57
The renowned SMU Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, Texas DALLAS – The Meadows Foundation, Inc. has pledged $45 million to SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and the Meadows Museum, the largest single gift in SMU history. With this commitment, The Meadows Foundation has provided more than $100 million to the University since 1995.

“SMU has enjoyed a long and productive partnership with The Meadows Foundation, one initiated by Algur H. Meadows himself through the endowment of the Meadows School and the creation of the Meadows Museum,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The resulting collaboration has enhanced the lives of thousands of students, faculty and members of the local, regional and international communities. This year, as we celebrate both the 50th anniversary of the Meadows Museum and the centennial of SMU’s opening, we are honored to accept a gift that will continue this extraordinary partnership.”

The $45 million gift, the largest in The Meadows Foundation’s history, includes $25 million to support goals and programs at the Meadows Museum, which houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain. The gift designates $13 million for exhibitions, education programs and initiatives; $6 million for acquisitions; and $6 million for an acquisition challenge grant. In addition, the gift will help the Museum expand relationships with international cultural institutions and enhance its reputation as the center for Spanish art in the United States.

The Meadows Foundation gift also designates $20 million to the Meadows School of the Arts to support its goal to lead the nation in arts education. The funding will be used to attract and retain top faculty and students, create and maintain innovative programs of national importance and provide enhanced studio, gallery and state-of-the-art classroom spaces. The gift designates $12 million for facility enhancements, including a $10 million challenge grant, and $8 million for student and faculty recruitment and retention, as well as new strategic initiatives.

“Algur H. Meadows’ vision of an innovative school of the arts and a museum of international distinction has been realized in the Meadows School of the Arts and Meadows Museum,” said Linda P. Evans, chairman and CEO of The Meadows Foundation. “This historic gift recognizes their remarkable transformations over the past two decades, as well as the talented leadership in place at SMU. It also serves as a strategic investment in the dynamic futures of the Meadows School of the Arts and the Meadows Museum, serving diverse audiences around the globe.”

The Meadows Foundation is a private philanthropic institution established in 1948 by Algur H. Meadows and his wife, Virginia, to benefit the people of Texas. Since its inception, the Foundation has disbursed more than $700 million in grants and direct charitable expenditures to more than 7,000 Texas institutions and agencies. The Meadows Foundation’s primary areas of giving are arts and culture, civic and public affairs, education, health, and human services, in addition to initiatives focused on the environment, mental health and public education.

The Meadows School of the Arts was named in 1969 in honor of Algur H. Meadows, its primary benefactor. The School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in advertising, art, art history, arts management, communication studies, creative computation, dance, film and media arts, journalism, music and theatre. As a comprehensive educational institution, the Meadows School of the Arts seeks to prepare students to meet the demands and opportunities of professional careers. A leader in developing innovative outreach and community engagement programs, the School challenges its students to make a difference locally and globally by developing connections between art and entrepreneurship.

The Meadows School of the Arts also is a convener for the arts in North Texas, serving as a catalyst for new collaborations and providing critical industry research.

“This generous gift will help the Meadows School to maintain and continue its historic journey as a national model for arts education,” said Sam Holland, the Algur H. Meadows dean of the Meadows School of the Arts. “We are honored to reflect Algur Meadows’ legacy with a School that continues to create and maintain important programs and initiatives in the arts.”

In 1962 Dallas businessman and philanthropist Algur H. Meadows donated funds to establish a museum at SMU to house his private collection of Spanish paintings. The Meadows Museum in Owen Arts Center opened to the public in 1965. With a $20 million gift from The Meadows Foundation in 1998, its largest gift at that time, a new museum building was constructed on campus to provide an appropriate home for the internationally acclaimed and growing Spanish art collection. Important international relationships formed since then include the 2010 partnership with the Museo Nacional del Prado of Madrid, enabling loans of important paintings, jointly organized exhibitions and international fellowships for pre- and post-doctoral scholars specializing in Spanish art. Funds from The Meadows Foundation also have made possible the continued acquisition of masterpieces such as Portrait of Mariano Goya, the Artist’s Grandson, by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. Today the Museum is home to works ranging from the 10th to 21st centuries.

In 2015 the Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a series of exhibitions, publications, special events and educational programs that will attract international attention and visitors. Special golden anniversary exhibitions include “The Abelló Collection: A Modern Taste for European Masters” (April 18-August 2, 2015), consisting of approximately 100 works from the 15th to the 21st centuries; and “Treasures from the House of Alba: 500 Years of Art and Collecting” (September 4, 2015-January 3, 2016), with more than 100 European works, including paintings and tapestries, as well as manuscripts of Christopher Columbus. Both exhibitions are private Spanish collections that have never before been seen in the United States. Planning for this landmark year has been made possible by a 2013 grant from The Meadows Foundation.

“The exhibitions and events planned for the Museum’s golden anniversary will showcase the Museum’s international influence and academic and cultural leadership as we begin our next 50 years,” said Mark A. Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum and Centennial Chair in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. “As we celebrate the important role the Meadows Museum plays as an educational and cultural leader, we also honor the pivotal role the Meadows family and Foundation have played in the creation and incredible growth of the Museum.”

The Meadows Foundation gift counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign. To date, the campaign has raised more than $942 million in gifts and pledges to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. The campaign coincides with SMU’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.

Visit SMU Meadows School of the Arts at https://www.smu.edu/meadows .

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
The renowned SMU Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, Texas
Last Updated on Monday, 23 March 2015 11:07
 

Record crowds view Grayson Perry artwork at London gallery

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Written by Museum PR   
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 10:45
‘Jesus Army Money Box,’ 2013. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Grayson Perry LONDON –A record quarter of a million visitors came to see new works by artist Grayson Perry at the National Portrait Gallery in a free display. In total, 850,000 visitors to the National Portrait Gallery are thought to have seen at least one new work by the artist as part of a gallery-wide display and trail.

The new portraits were created during the making of his Channel 4 series Grayson Perry: Who Are You? which started broadcasting on Oct. 22.

Starting close to the entrance in the Gallery’s Main Hall and then interspersed throughout the 19th and 20th century collections, the free display and trail, focused on the theme of identity, and opened on Oct. 23.

It is the most viewed temporary display in the gallery’s history but was part of a popular autumn season which also included the free displays The Real Tudors and Snowdon: A Life in View together with the exhibitions Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and His Legacy and Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014.

The success contributed to the 2,062,502 total visitor figure for 2014 just announced by Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, the gallery’s second best year, and its third consecutive year with over 2 million visitors.

Pim Baxter, acting director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: “Grayson’s display had a considerable impact on the gallery. It was clear from the number of visitors that thousands of people were enjoying his work on a daily basis, and that the display drew them to parts of the gallery that they might not otherwise have explored.”

Perry’s new portraits – which included a major tapestry, sculptures and pots – were of individuals, families and groups who were all trying to define who they were in modern Britain.

The Channel 4 programs followed the artist as he spent time with people who were at a crossroads or crisis in their own identity, and created works that tried to capture each of them in a single, revealing image.

These included politician Chris Huhne, a young female-to-male transsexual, a couple living with Alzheimers, a young Muslim convert and X-Factor and Celebrity Big Brother contestant Rylan Clark.

Winner of the 2003 Turner prize, Perry is one of Britain's best-known contemporary artists. He works with traditional media; ceramics, cast iron, bronze, printmaking and tapestry and is interested in how each historic category of object accrues over time’s intellectual and emotional baggage.

Perry is a great chronicler of contemporary life, drawing viewers in with beauty, wit, affecting sentiment and nostalgia as well as fear and anger. His hard-hitting and exquisitely crafted works reference his own childhood and life as a transvestite while also engaging with wider social issues from class and politics to sex and religion.

Perry has had major solo exhibitions nationally and internationally including the critically acclaimed Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum. His monumental suite of tapestries The Vanity of Small Differences, which were inspired by his BAFTA winning Channel 4 series: In the Best Possible Taste, are currently on a national and international tour led by the Arts Council Collection and British Council. In June 2013 he was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honors List. Grayson Perry is represented by Victoria Miro Gallery, London.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
‘Jesus Army Money Box,’ 2013. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Grayson Perry ‘The Ashford Hijab,’ 2014. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Grayson Perry
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 11:00
 

Rarely seen Jack Smith abstract paintings displayed at UK's NPG

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Written by Art Gallery PR   
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 08:16
Portrait of a Composer I by Jack Smith, 1987 Private Collection ©The Estate of Jack Smith. Courtesy of Flowers Gallery

LONDON - A selection of rarely seen abstract paintings by the important British artist Jack Smith has gone on show at the National Portrait Gallery, London, in the Gallery’s first display to focus on entirely non-figurative portraits, it was announced today.

Jack Smith: Abstract Portraits (March 18 - Aug. 31,  2015) is the latest display at the National Portrait Gallery to focus on unconventional approaches to portraiture and will be the first time that the Gallery has shown a selection of paintings which exclude any obvious human features.

Included in this display of unusual and striking portraits, organized in partnership with Flowers Gallery, will be two large paintings of the renowned composers Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Colin Matthews, who have been represented by Smith solely through a combination of bold, contrasting colours, abstract shapes and strong lines.

Rather than depicting the physical appearances of Birtwistle and Matthews, Smith used his own interpretation of the composers’ music to convey a sense of identity in each of the portraits. He explained, ‘their music is who they are, really... So I had to find forms and language that would tell me something about their music’. Speaking of Birtwistle’s portrait, he described it as a ‘diagram’ of the ‘experience or sensation’ that his music provoked.

The portraits were painted by Smith after he was commissioned to design the sets and costumes for Ballet Rambert’s production of Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum with music composed by Birtwistle in 1986, and the Royal Ballet’s Pursuit with music by Matthews in 1987. Both ballets were choreographed by Ashley Page, whose portrait by Smith will also be included in the display.

Jack Smith: Abstract Portraits is the latest display in the Gallery’s series of Interventions, a programme of special twentieth century displays that focuses on unconventional approaches to portraiture by important, internationally recognised artists. Since 2006, the displays in this series have featured artists who have explored alternative means of representing a sitter, including Francis Bacon, Anthony Caro and Andy Warhol.

Paul Moorhouse, Curator of Twentieth Century Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: "This display of Jack Smith’s abstract portraits is a first for the National Portrait Gallery as Smith’s paintings dispense with human appearance entirely. These paintings take the Gallery’s Interventions series one step further, not only presenting an unconventional approach to portraiture but, in this case, raising a provocative question: is a person’s appearance a necessary constituent of portraiture or are there are other ways of evoking a human presence?"

Jack Smith (1928–2011) first attained recognition as a key member of the "Kitchen Sink' school in the 1950s, a label applied by the critic David Sylvester to the group of artists who first started working in the powerful urban realist style that dominated painting in Britain during that period. Smith first exhibited at Helen Lessore's celebrated Beaux Arts Gallery in London in 1953 and he showed at the Venice Biennale in 1956, the year in which he won first prize at the Liverpool John Moores exhibition. He was given his first solo retrospective at the Whitechapel in 1959, the youngest artist to achieve this. Subsequently influenced by American abstract painting, Smith’s work changed course during the 1960s and a second solo exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery followed in 1971, by which time his work had become almost entirely abstract. Smith’s subsequent career has been celebrated for his completely non-figurative work, which he continued until his death in 2011.

For further information, please visit npg.org.uk .

For further information about Flowers Gallery, please visit flowersgallery.com .

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Portrait of C.M. Composer by Jack Smith, 1987 Private Collection ©The Estate of Jack Smith. Courtesy of Flowers Gallery
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 08:26
 
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