Published: February 26, 2002
Trade News from around the World
A stolen Marc Chagall painting worth $1 million was returned February 21 to The Jewish Museum, New York City, after turning up in a mailroom in Kansas, reports the Associated Press. “Study for ‘Over Vitebsk'” was authenticated last week by Bella Meyer, a granddaughter of the artist and a leading authority on his work. “We are really thrilled to have this back,” museum director Joan Rosenbaum said. The 1914 painting, depicting an old man floating over a village with a walking stick and beggar’s sack, was discovered missing from a wall at the museum on the morning of June 8. A cocktail reception had been held at the museum the previous night. The painting, a practice work for a larger, similar piece called “Over Vitebsk,” was on loan at the museum from a private collection in Russia. A group calling itself the International Committee for Art and Peace later said the painting would be returned only after the Israelis and Palestinians made peace. The FBI said it had no knowledge of such an organization and had not heard from it since.
The Jewish Museum could use a little good news, as AP’s Tara Burghart writes that a group of Holocaust survivors have threatened to boycott the museum’s upcoming exhibit of Holocaust-related art that features a depiction of a concentration camp built from Lego blocks. “Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art,” is scheduled to open at the museum on March 17. Its catalogue has already been released, generating plenty of debate and outrage. Besides the Lego artwork, the show includes a piece in which an artist has inserted a picture of himself – holding a can of Diet Coke – into a photo of concentration camp survivors. “It is a disgrace to the memories of the victims of the Holocaust and insulting to the survivors,” said Sam Bloch, senior vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. The group’s leadership conference, made of about 70 representatives from Holocaust survivor groups around the country, unanimously passed a resolution February 17 calling for museum to cancel the exhibit, Bloch said. If the exhibit is not canceled, the resolution calls for synagogues, churches, schools, Jewish and civic organizations and individuals to boycott the museum while the exhibit is on display, Bloch said. In interviews with The Associated Press last month, the museum’s curator and director said that the exhibit is complex and challenging and that the show’s 13 artists raise new issues about the Holocaust and Nazi Germany.
French luxury goods group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Paris, France, said February 18 it will reduce its stake in Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg to 27.5 percent, leaving majority control of the international auction house in the hands of the company’s principals, Simon de Pury and Daniella Luxembourg. According to AP, LVMH, which paid $115 million for Phillips in 1999, explained its decision to pull out of the business as “logical and practical” given its expansion in the past three years to become the number 3 company in its field. The French company, which is believed to have invested $250 million in its loss-making unit, said the sale of Phillips “has been provided for in the group’s 2001 accounts” and will have no impact on LVMH’s operating profit in 2002. LVMH would gain from the sale, since Phillips doesn’t fit with LVMH’s core business, according to analysts at Dutch banking group ABN Amro.
On February 17, a 37-foot statue of Lady Liberty that has stood on a rooftop for a century was hauled to its new home at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, reports Stephanie Gaskell of the Associated Press. The Athena Group, owner of the statue and Liberty Warehouse where it stood, donated the artwork to the museum in honor of the police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers killed September 11. It will be featured in the museum’s sculpture garden. Crowds gathered on the street below as a crane lifted the historic statue from the roof of the eight-story building. Some residents said they were sad to see the bluish woman in rust-tinged robes go. The statue is roughly the same size as a copy of the Statue of Liberty that stands in Paris. The original Statue of Liberty, 152 feet tall, was a gift from France to the United States commemorating liberty and friendship.
Jonathan Horn Boyd, the Fort Washington, Penn., antiques dealer who specialized in American country and formal furniture and accessories, passed away on February 24 after a long illness. He was 38. Jonathan Boyd shared his shop with his sister, Priscilla Boyd Angelos. Well known in antique circles as an accomplished collector and authority of fine American Period furniture, Jonathan had an extensive inventory of books that he used as research tools to supplement his vast expertise. The Irvin and Dolores Boyd Meetinghouse Antiques shop was opened in 1959. Jonathan’s parents, Irvin and Dolores Boyd, ran the business from their property in Fort Washington until 1987, when Jonathan and Priscilla bought it from their parents. The established foundation and the family transition were highly respected in the antiques community. As a result, Meetinghouse Antiques continued to flourish. Both the inventory and show schedule grew, fast becoming one of the most prominent on the East Coast. In addition to the shop, Jonathan and his sister participated in numerous shows throughout the country. During these shows, Jonathan often lectured about a variety of topics. He was also a friend to his colleagues offering guidance as well as a helping hand in the packing and delivery of their wares. R. Scudder Smith, publisher and editor of Antiques and The Arts Weekly, noted that “We have known the Boyd family and Meetinghouse Antiques for a great many years and one of the pleasures of attending the shows in which they participated in was visiting their booth. Irvin and Dolores always had time to talk, and we got to know their children as they became more and more involved in the trade. As the years passed, the Boyd seniors attended fewer shows and the responsibility of show business fell upon the children, a task at which they excelled. Priscilla was the front line, always smiling, while Jonathan was a bit more reserved. He was forever proud of the Meetinghouse Antiques booth and what it had to offer. He displayed endless knowledge of their merchandise and his sincerity won visitors over rapidly into good clients, and more importantly, into good friends. It was impossible not to like Jonathan Boyd and his passing has extinguished one of the bright young stars of the antiques business.”
Peter Voulkos, 78, a Montana native who gave life to the art of ceramic sculpture, died February 16 of an apparent heart attack, reports the Associated Press. Voulkos died in Bowling Green, Ohio, where he had just finished teaching a workshop, according to the Los Angeles Times. He lived in Oakland, Calif. Voulkos established the Otis Clay movement, the first art movement of national importance to come out of Los Angeles. Some of the artists who emerged from the movement included Paul Soldner, Mac McCloud, Billy Al Bengston, Michael Frimkess, John Mason, Jerry Rothman and Kenneth Price. In a 1999 interview with the Times, Price, Voulkos’ leading protege, called him “the most important person in clay of the Twentieth Century.”
The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation has announced $700,000 in awards to 35 artists who are winners of the foundation’s 2001 biannual competition. The awards, given in the media of painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, crafts and video, honor artists whose work shows serious promise but who have not yet received widespread critical or commercial recognition. The recipients were chosen from more than 425 nominees proposed by the foundation’s trustees, previous award winners and a group of artists, critics and museum professionals from throughout the country. Each winner received a $20,000 grant from The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, which is one of the largest single sources of grants to individual artists. The recipients of the most recent awards are: John Bankston, Suzanne Bocanegra, Nina Bovasso, Marco Brambilla, Christopher Broughton, Francis Cape, Nick Cave, Robert Chambers, Michael A. Cummings, Lisa Corinne Davis, Tara Donovan, Jenny Dubnau, Keith Edmier, Rico Gatson, Diana Guerrero-Maciá, Evan Holloway, Sedrick E. Huckaby, Margie Hughto, Steven Hull, Sergei Isupov, Brad Kahlhamer, Nina Katch-adourian, Karen LaMonte, Mikki S. Lee, Julie Mehretu, A. Laurie Palmer, Sheila Pepe, Mauro Restiffe, Margo Sawyer, Michelle Segre, Sondra Sherman, Jean Shin, Marc Trujillo, Judyth van Amringe and Tetsuya Yamada.
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