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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.
Nineteen people have been arrested around the country in an operation involving 26 police forces in connection with a spate of thefts of artefacts worth millions from museums and auction houses.
The 17 men and two women were held in dawn raids involving hundreds of police around England and Northern Ireland. The operation, which follows a pan-European investigation, also involved officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
The arrests were connected to six thefts over a four-month period last year: three at Durham Museum and the others at a Norwich museum, the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge and at Gorringes auction house in Lewes, East Sussex. Items stolen included Chinese antiquities worth more than £15m and a rhinoceros horn.
Five men aged between 20 and 54 and two women, 28 and 54, were arrested in London, four men aged 24 to 56 were held in Cambridgeshire, and two, aged 28 and 46, in Essex. A 60-year-old man was arrested in Sussex, a 32-year-old man was arrested in the West Midlands and a 67-year-old man was arrested in Nottingham. Three men have been arrested in Northern Ireland.
Cambridgeshire police, leading the operation, said all of those arrested were being held on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle, except the 54-year-old woman who was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender.
Chief Constable Mick Creedon, the lead officer for serious organised crime at the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “The series of burglaries last year had a profound effect on museums and similar institutions and we are committed to bringing all those who were involved in the conspiracy to justice.
Munich’s standing as one of Germany’s major cultural centres has been consolidated this month with the reopening of the city’s renovated Lenbachhaus Museum. Dating from 1891, the building originally served as a studio and villa for the artist Franz von Lenbach and was gradually extended over the last century to become one of Bavaria’s most important galleries; it regularly drew an audience of 280,000 people per year, with its ‘Blue Rider’ collection of early twentieth-century Expressionist paintings among its best known works.
Having outgrown its origins, the building has just completed a four-year renovation plan overseen by Lord Norman Foster’s Foster + Partners architectural firm. As part of the project, the gallery’s original buildings have been restored and a new wing has been added to house Lenbachhaus’s growing art collection.
The newest space is composed of a series of small galleries which display the ‘Blue Rider’ collection, with the more intimate rooms intended to replicate the domestic scale of their original setting in villa Lenbach.
It was news last fall when the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston announced a five-year partnership with Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah and his wife, Sheikha Hussah Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah, of Kuwait — through which the al-Sabahs would send parts of their collection for long-term viewing in Houston. They want their treasures seen around the world, as a means of expanding the view people have of Muslims to include its culture. Given so many political ties in Texas (the Sheikha visited George H.W. Bush last week), and with its oil companies, it was natural for the family to choose the MFAH (though having Mahrukh Tarapor, formerly with the Metropolitan Museum and now senior adviser for international initiatives to the MFAH, must have helped).
So the other night, the MHAF unveiled its entry in the Islamic race: a gallery filled with about 70 objects on loan from the al-Sabahs. It can’t compare in volume with the Met’s newish Islamic wing, which attracted more than 1 million visitors in not much more than a year, or with the Louvre’s new wing for Islamic art — topped by that golden “flying carpet” — but still. Apparently what the Kuwaitis sent is choice. The museum’s description:
Among the highlights showcased in this display are spectacular Mughal jewelry, illuminated manuscripts, exquisite ceramics, and intricately decorated ceiling panels. More than 60 examples from the 8th to 18th centuries are on view, made in the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. The collection also includes carpets, glass and metalwork, paintings, architectural fragments, scientific instruments, and works on paper.
Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts
Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum is due to fully reopen on Sunday 23 September after eight years’ of work. The original 1895 building of the Modern and contemporary art museum has been refurbished and an extension added that overlooks the city’s Museumplein.
The new building, which was delayed partly because structural problems emerged during its construction, has been designed by Amsterdam-based Benthem Crouwel Architects. There are three main elements to the new building: a large glassed entrance, which opens onto Museumplein, upper-level temporary exhibition galleries in a structure nicknamed “The Bathtub” and a basement with a substantial display area for the permanent collection. Most of the €127m project has been funded by Amsterdam’s city council.
The inaugural exhibition, “Beyond Imagination”, is a show of work by emerging Amsterdam artists (23 September-11 November). A Mike Kelley retrospective follows (15 December-1 April 2013). The show of the late US artist, who died earlier this year, will go on to the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MoMA PS1 in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
The Art Newspaper
For the Philadelphia tourism industry, the consummation devoutly to be wished has arrived at last.
The reopening of the Rodin Museum last weekend, its original character sensitively restored, completes the longed-for “museum mile” along the Parkway that tourism promoters hope will prove to be an irresistible magnet for the culturally motivated.
The Rodin, the new museum of the Barnes Foundation next door, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art a few blocks west certainly create a destination worth a special journey, as the Michelin guides would put it.
The question now is whether this new synergy will benefit all three museums, particularly the Rodin. Despite the French sculptor’s exalted reputation, it doesn’t attract nearly as many visitors as its counterpart in Paris, which draws about 700,000 annually. (The Philadelphia Rodin Museum’s biggest year since 1996 was 2002, when 63,523 people came. Average annual attendance during the decade beginning 2001 was 51,123.)