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The Museo del Prado in Spain is missing 885 artworks, down from 926 in 2008, El País reported. A recent investigation carried out by the country’s Tribunal de Cuentas, or Court of Auditors, found that the losses were likely decades-old but nonetheless reflected inadequate infrastructure for tracking the collections. A spokesperson for the museum downplayed the situation, telling the paper that many works had been lost over the years to fires and even armed conflict, but without proof of destruction or loss the records for these works remain.
The audit was compelled by the regulatory law governing the Prado, which calls for “monitoring the integrity and security of the museum’s collections and funds.” As part of the audit, the government agency queried 82 Spanish institutions responsible for 1,789 Prado-owned works held in the country but outside of the museum itself (a total of 3,206 works are held internationally). Of this group, 65% of the works were satisfactorily confirmed by 53 institutions; discrepancies and other irregularities in the records provided by 25 museums were further observed.
Woman’s Kimono with Abstract Hemp-Leaf Pattern (Japan, early Shōwa period, c. 1935), silk plain weave, stencil-printed warp and weft (heiyō-gasuri meisen), Costume Council Fund (Photo: © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA)
Many of us, when we picture kimono, envision the traditional Japanese garment covered in similarly traditional images: blossoming floral motifs, soaring or leaping animals, mountain peaks and cresting seascapes in Ukiyo-e style. But cross-cultural exchange between Japan and the West started in earnest during the Meiji period (1868–1912), causing the spread of different technologies and styles in both directions. By the time the Shōwa period rolled around in 1926, Japanese kimono looked quite different than they once had, with patterns that that were far more abstract and modern.
Opening on Saturday, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) exhibition Kimono for a Modern Age surveys this period of Japanese fashion innovation. The show presents 30 never-before-seen kimono from LACMA’s permanent collection. All date to the first half of the 20th century — chronology you might guess just by looking at the garments, which show a strong affinity with modern art of the period.
On June 27 the Mauritshuis reopens in The Hague after two years of ambitious refurbishment and extension. And — I mean that as a sincere compliment to the director, architects, and staff — it’s almost exactly the same as it was before the 30 million euro reconstruction work was begun. But perhaps I’d better explain why that’s such a good thing.
The Mauritshuis is the perfect gallery of 17th-century Dutch painting. Perhaps on a crass masterpiece count it somewhat lags behind the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam — though even there one could argue the point. Among its Rembrandt roster is the grisly “Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Nicolaes Tulp,” 1652, a group portrait of early surgeons, boldly investigating where more squeamish cultures hesitated to look: beneath the waxy skin of the cadaver of a deceased thief named Aris Kindt.
Art and dance have had a close relationship, from the Modernist flowerings of the Ballet Russes to the downtown scene in 1970s New York. But they have remained largely distinct disciplines until recently. However, choreographers’ work is increasingly being incorporated into museum and gallery programmes, and as integral works rather than interruptions from a distinct artform. Art Basel brings some of the leading figures in dance together for The Artist as Choreographer, Friday’s Conversation, chaired by Hans Ulrich Obrist and featuring the choreographic artists Alexandra Bachzetsis, Xavier Le Roy and Isabel Lewis.
The background to this phenomenon is the two disciplines’ mutual interest in expanding definitions of what art and dance might be, and in bringing art and everyday life into a closer relationship. Bachzetsis’s work is emblematic of this shift. She has recently devised works for Documenta 13 and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and will appear in the BMW Tate Live event at Tate Modern, London, in October. She is interested in how different spaces—the theatre, the museum, the gallery, online space—“condition both the human body and the contemporary status of performance practice”, she says.
The Art Newspaper
If only Britain had a place like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. This great compendium of art and culture on the edge of Central Park is about to rebuild its modern wing – in other words, to improve on what is already an unrivalled cocktail of past and present. Meanwhile it has just launched so much of its collection for free download that its website temporarily crashed under the pressure of public excitement.
No other great museum has the Metropolitan’s range. Its name is appropriate for it turns the whole world, across all time, into one buzzing city. You can stroll from an Egyptian temple to a Renaissance studiolo, from a roomful of Rembrandts to an encounter with Jackson Pollock.
American critics have so far been deeply cynical about the renovation, and about its “spotty” collection of modern art – which just goes to show that people don’t know when they are well off. From a British point of view, the idea of a museum where you can immerse yourself in Rembrandt then be blown away by Jackson Pollock’s majestic Autumn Rhythm sounds like some delirious artistic utopia. New Yorkers have the luxury of sniping at their local museum: I just feel envious of them.
Britain’s leading museums are not exactly failing – they’re crowded – but they are trapped in the 19th-century mindset of their creators. The scars of an archaic civil service mentality define each like a government department with a rigorously specified area of responsibility. The British Museum does not collect European paintings. The National Gallery does not display Egyptian mummies, or modern art beyond early Picasso. Only the V&A has a little bit of the Met’s truly encyclopedic spirit.
Scissors, paper, pins – these were all it took for Matisse, in the last years of his life, often bedridden and feeling he was living on borrowed time, to create the works that now fill a suite of galleries at Tate Modern. What a joyous and fascinating exhibition this is. I eat it with my eyes and never feel sated.
Ravishing, filled with light and decoration, exuberance and a kind of violence, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs is about more than just pleasure. It charts not simply the consummation of the artist’s long career but a kind of self-usurpation. In his last years, Matisse went beyond himself.
As well as the works themselves, there is film footage of the artist and his assistants at work, swatches of the hand-painted papers he used, and a wealth of photographic and other material to broaden our understanding.
The world’s most popular museums have widely differing attitudes towards visitors taking photographs. The current situation is confusing for visitors because of different policies taken by museums, even those in the same city. Although most now permit photography for personal use in their permanent collections, it can lead to “camera-rage”: tension between those looking at and photographing art.
Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum reintroduced its ban on personal photography in January because of the friction it caused. Last May, for the first time, it allowed personal photography, since growing numbers of visitors wanted and expected to be able to take photos. However, the museum attracts 1.4 million visitors a year (88% tourists) and its relatively confined space means that it is always crowded.
Permitting photography led to constant tension between those who wanted a clear view for their camera and those who wished to look at the paintings. Many also insisted on photographing their companion or themselves in front of a picture. This led to numerous complaints from other visitors.
A few works hung with the museum’s permanent collection are loans, most of which should not be photographed. When the National Gallery in London lent Sunflowers, 1888, last year, there was a “no photography” symbol on the label. But visitors either failed to see the symbol or chose to ignore it, and gallery staff could do a limited amount to prevent them.
Now the Van Gogh Museum only allows pictures to be taken in areas where there is no art, such as the central atrium.
The Art Newspaper
“The building is a real tour de force,” said Julia Peyton-Jones, the co-director of London’s Serpentine Gallery, of the new Museo Jumex in Mexico City. “David Chipperfield has created an oasis of calm and stillness which nestles in a challenging environment in the centre.”
The inauguration of Mexico City’s newest museum, Museo Jumex, was celebrated on Saturday, 16 November by thousands of VIP guests that included a veritable Who’s Who of the art world. Reactions from international figures have been overwhelmingly positive.
The museum’s new home, a blocky travertine marble building designed by the British architect David Chipperfield, stands right beside the odd, anvil-shaped Soumaya museum, founded by Carlos Slim Helú, the world’s richest man. Jumex is entirely financed by Fundación Jumex, created by Eugenio López Alonso, the heir to a fruit juice and food canning fortune and a major collector of contemporary art with holdings of some 2,700 works.
The Art Newspaper
Getting to the Janet Cardiff installation at The Cloisters was like a modern-day quest for some kind of Holy Grail, which in the end seemed appropriate. After my phone died at the 191st St. subway stop—leaving me with no guide through the unfamiliar paths of Fort Tryon Park—and after circling the labyrinthine rooms and hallways that make up The Cloister’s architecture, I finally found The Forty Part Motet, Cardiff’s sound installation.
For the 11-minute score, Cardiff reworked the Tudor-era composition Spem in Alium Nunquam Habui (In No Other Is My Hope) (1573) by Thomas Tallis. The piece, originally intended for recital in churches and cathedrals, logically suits the religious iconography of The Cloisters, while also mirroring the compound’s collaged nature. Constructed in reference to no singular structure, the Cloisters function as an ensemble of many historical precedents. In the Fuentidueña Chapel, Catalan frescos of the Virgin and Child as well as the Adoration of the Magi cover the walls, and a life-size wooden crucifix hangs at the foot of the 12-century apse. The installation of The Forty Part Motet bridges both centuries and geographic borders.
Filmmaker George Lucas’ plan for a Beaux Arts-style art museum for the Bay Area is under the scrutiny of the public this week through the Presidio Trust, which will determine whether his dream of a museum where the digital arts meet the history of illustration will be there or if he’ll relocate it to Chicago. That last spiteful move is in response to the conflict he’s already had in trying to get through the Presidio Trust for his museum, for which he’s up for giving $700 million of his own funds. As he told the New York Times: “They made us jump through hoops to explain why a museum was worth having. [...] I thought a museum was a concept that people already bought into about 200 years ago. They’re having us do as much work as we can hoping that we will give up.”
Whether or not the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum makes it through the drama, it’s one of several American art museums on the horizon.