Trade News from around the World
A promised $38 million donation to the Smithsonian Institution was suddenly withdrawn on February 4, forcing the cancellation of a planned new exhibit, writes AP’s Michael W. Kahn. The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation had pledged the money in May to establish “The Spirit of America” show. Scheduled to open in 2004, it was to feature the lives of 75 to 100 prominent Americans. The announcement was made in a statement issued February 4 by Smithsonian National Museum of American History acting director Marc Pachter, who is in London and could not be reached. It did not give a reason for the decision. “You would have to talk to the donor about that, what their reasons are,” said Smithsonian spokesman David Umansky. He said the Smithsonian was notified by letter. Neither Reynolds nor her foundation could immediately be reached. Umansky said the museum has already received some of the money, but he did not know how much. The Smithsonian has long had a policy that puts the museum – and not the sponsors – in charge of the exhibits. In his statement, Pachter said the project “was being developed in strict accordance with Smithsonian standards.”
Sotheby’s said February 4 it had paid an undisclosed sum to a millionaire’s estate to settle a dispute over its failure to recognize a missing masterpiece the man kept in a shed. The work by Seventeenth Century French painter Nicolas Poussin was attributed by Sotheby’s to Italian artist Pietro Testa and valued at $14,000 to $21,000. It eventually sold for more than $6 million. The out-of-court settlement, ending a two-and-a-half year dispute with the estate of a British pig-swill magnate, was reached late last week, the auction house told the Associated Press. Executors of the estate of Ernest Onians, from Needham Market in southeast England, alleged that the auction house failed to recognize the painting among some 500 hoarded by Onians. The executor sought $6.3 million for alleged negligence. Sotheby’s had described the painting in its catalogue for an auction in 1995 as “The Sack of Carthage” by Testa. Leading art historian Sir Denis Mahon became suspicious about its true provenance and told a London gallery to acquire it at any cost. It sold for $220,000. When the work was cleaned and restored, experts at the Louvre in Paris identified it as the missing Poussin masterpiece “The Destruction and Sack of the Temple of Jerusalem.” In 1998, philanthropist Sir Jacob Rothschild and the Rothschild Foundation paid $6.3 million for the picture and gave it to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where it now hangs.
First Lady Laura Bush did her part to boost New York’s sagging tourism industry on February 6, taking in the American Folk Art Museum and a restaurant with the state’s first lady, Libby Pataki, writes AP’s Katherine Roth. “I want to encourage New Yorkers and people from all around the country to come see the [museum] in their new building,” Bush told reporters as she and Pataki arrived at the museum’s new location in midtown, near the Museum of Modern Art. She said she’d chosen the museum because “I’m particularly interested in folk art and I want to see their new building,” and noted later that one of the architects, Tod Williams, is a friend of the architect who designed the Bush’s ranch home in Texas. “I do collect a little bit of folk art, mainly sort of what you call Mexican tourist pottery,” she said before touring “American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum.” She was joined by Pataki, Esmerian, who donated the extensive collection of New England folk art from the Eighteenth, Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, museum director Gerard C. Wertkin and Cristyne L. Nicholas, president and CEO of NYC& Co., the city’s tourism marketing organization.
The Denver Art Museum will have more than a new wing to offer in 2005, reports Robert Weller of the Associated Press. An investment banking family has donated a collection of 213 contemporary works that was sought by museums in London and Los Angeles. “I cannot describe the enthusiasm, delight and relief that something like this has happened at the Denver Art Museum,” said Dianne Vanderlip, curator of modern and contemporary art for the museum. The donation from Kent and Vicki Logan includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, electronic-based works and drawings. They are the creations of established artists from the 1980s, and a cross-section of young and emerging international artists from more than 10 countries. The Tate Museum in London and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art were among several that sought the collection. Most of the artwork is figurative and deals with contemporary social issues. “The Denver Art Museum’s outstanding reputation and extraordinary vision for the future, as well as the respect Vicki and I have for curator Dianne Vanderlip, convinced us that Denver was a perfect fit for this portion of our collection,” said Kent Logan, who retired from the San Francisco-based Montgomery Securities in 1999. “This donation is an investment in the community, one that we hope will make a significant impact on the cultural opportunities in this part of the country.” The gift includes works by Bruce Nauman, James Rosenquist, Antony Gormley and Francesco Clemente, as well as sought-after young artists Damien Hirst, Roxy Paine, Richard Patterson and Cecily Brown. Works by Jack Pierson, a conceptual artist-photographer, and Michael Klein, a French digital photographer, are included.
“Backing away from another major initiative of his predecessor,” writes Diane Cardwell and David M. Herszenhorn of The New York Times, “Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg acknowledged [February 7] that he was reconsidering a controversial plan to move the Museum of the City of New York from East Harlem to the lavishly renovated Tweed Courthouse in Lower Manhattan.” Bloomberg pointed to a number of problems a move might cause, such as cost, and the possibility that the courthouse could not house a museum.
Edith Gilson of Cupboards & Roses, Sheffield, Mass., is now president of the Berkshire County (Mass.) Antiques and Art Dealers Association (BCAADA). Stepping down from that post after five years is David Weiss. Gilson will head the 55-member consortium of antiques dealers, plus a few recently vetted art dealers, located in Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut.
Melissa G. Post has been selected curator for the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, Charlotte, N.C. She succeeds Mary Douglas, now serving as curator for the Southern Highlands Craft Guild in Asheville, N.C. Post has ten years of progressively responsible experience in the field of the fine and decorative arts, craft and design. She has served as assistant curator, Twentieth Century Glass, for The Corning Museum of Glass; director of The Rachael Collection, a contemporary glass gallery in Aspen, Colo.; gallery manager for Historical Design, Inc, a gallery dedicated to Twentieth Century decorative arts and design in New York City; and in positions with antiques, appraisal and auction firms.
The Victorian Society in America/Education Committee announces that Ian Cox has been appointed director of the London Summer School Program in Nineteenth Century Studies. This year’s program, the 28th Annual Session, will be held in London July 13-27.
The Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Me., exceeded all revenue and attendance goals during the months of October 2001 through January 2002. The success is attributed by the museum to the two concurrent exhibitions “Marguerite and William Zorach: Harmonies & Contrasts” (November 8, 2001 – January 6, 2002) and “Dahov Ipcar: Seven Decades of Creativity” (October 6, 2001-January 27, 2002), along with the exhibition “Ladder Company 3 FDNY: Photographic Portraits by Jack Montgomery” (December 8-30, 2001).
The Association of Art & Antique Dealers, London, England, has revamped its website. The site, to be found on www.lapada.co.uk or www.lapada.info, currently receives more than half a million hits per year. A key new feature is the addition of a link to MultiMap.com, which will pinpoint a UK dealer’s precise location Overseas members are shown on a world map. Other improvements include direct links to members’ own websites and current and back issues of LAPADA’s News & Views magazine available in pdf format.