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The Guardian

Aug 12 2017
The 20 photographs of the week

Protests in Nairobi, wildfires in Europe, the World Athletics Championships and airstrikes in Syria – the news of the week captured by the world’s best photojournalists

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The Guardian

Aug 11 2017
‘When a man is tired of Milton Keynes, he is tired of life’ says my dad

Richard Macer grew up in the much-maligned new town. As they both turn 50, he returns home with camera in hand …

My family moved into our house on an estate in Milton Keynes in 1978. I remember being somewhat embarrassed by my home in those early days because it was one of the first estates that had houses that actually looked like houses. My friends would come round to play Subbuteo and admire my traditional pitched roof and red brick walls enclosed with wood cladding. Some of them lived in dwellings with flat roofs and walls of perforated steel.

If you assume that we are products of the places we grow up in, then you will understand why I approached making a film about my hometown with trepidation. Milton Keynes has long been one of the most stigmatised places in the country: boring, concrete, soulless.

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The New York Times

Aug 11 2017
Stolen de Kooning Resurfaces More Than 30 Years Later
A painting that was stolen from the University of Arizona Museum of Art more than 30 years ago resurfaced in an antiques store — and was returned.
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The New York Times

Aug 11 2017
Treats, Jewelry and AstroTurf: Scenes From an Art Show for Dogs
Scenes from the decadent opening reception of "Dogumenta," an art show for dogs.
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The Guardian

Aug 11 2017
Natsiaa 2017: the breadth and beauty of contemporary Indigenous art – in pictures

Natsiaa 2017: the ever-changing face of Indigenous Australian art

In their 34th year, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art awards have delivered a broad, diverse and surprising survey of Indigenous art.

This year’s exhibition of 65 finalists is a celebration of innovation, collaboration and the ever-changing relationship between traditional and contemporary Indigenous art, with the main prize, the $50,000 Telstra art award, going to the winner of the inaugural multimedia category: a collaboration between Anangu artists Frank Young, his grandson Anwar Young and his niece Unrupa Rhonda.

‘This award will open [pathways] up to everyone in the APY region,’ Young said in Darwin on Thursday. ‘It’s really important for young people ... It’s important for all APY communities to know that this work can be different.’

The NATSIAA 2017 exhibition is being held at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin until 26 November. Here is a selection of the finalists

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The Art Newspaper

Aug 11 2017
Sequins, Spandex and sculpture
Monica Bill Barnes dancers demonstrate the finer points of the Museum Workout at the Met (Photo: Mallory Lynn; courtesy of Monica Bill Barnes & Company)
The best art moves its viewers. But while it may raise the hair on the back of your neck or even bring tears to your eyes, it rarely makes you want to squat. Nevertheless squattingas well as jumping, marching and stretchingis exactly what a group of visitors found themselves doing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art recently. A crowd of about a dozen art lovers in stretch pants and sports bras gathered at 9am, before the museum opened to the public, to take part in the Museum Workoutan exercise tour organised by Monica Bill Barnes & Company, a group known to bring dance where it does not belong. Two of their dancers, donning sequin dresses and sneakers, turned on Stayin Alive and off we marched through the gallery.

Our first stop was Antonio Canovas statue of Perseuswho has exceptional marble abs, I suddenly noticedholding the severed head of Medusa. We jumping-jacked and arm-raised our way on through the galleries of medieval armour, Melanesia and European sculpture to the American wing, where we squatted before John Singer Sargents elegant Madame X. Occasionally the music would pause, seemingly at random, and the voice of writer and illustrator Maira Kalman, who collaborated with Monica Bill Barnes on the project, would come on to recount charming anecdotal non-sequiturs, like how she sometimes wears shoes that are three sizes too bigher Buddhist shoesin order to slow her down in life (because were all going to die anyway). Or how she likes to go to the hardware store after visiting a museum because the ladders are just as beautiful as art.

Forty-five minutes later, we laid on the floor of the skylit Charles Engelhard Court in front of Augustus Saint-Gaudens bronze Diana. Ridiculed in her day for her immodest nudity, Diana now proudly aimed her bow and arrow into the sunlight of the Met, reminding us how important the body has always been in art museums.
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artforum.com

Aug 11 2017
PASSAGES: Edit deAk (1950–2017)
Brian Belott on Edit deAk (1950–2017)
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artforum.com

Aug 11 2017
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artforum.com

Aug 11 2017
SLANT: Travel Logged
Ariana Reines on her summer travels
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artforum.com

Aug 11 2017
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The New York Times

Aug 11 2017
Vietnamese Art Has Never Been More Popular. But the Market Is Full of Fakes.
Prices have topped $1 million, but national museums and major auction houses have promoted works later said to be fraudulent.
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The Guardian

Aug 11 2017
Tom Phillips: two skulls, 50,000 postcards and a book that took 50 years to finish

He’s now in his 80s but the man who painted Beckett, illustrated Hell and made art out of beard trimmings, is still fired up. As his half-backwards opera Irma returns, we join the great experimentalist for a boozy lunch of artisanal bubble and squeak

One day 51 years ago, Tom Phillips strolled from his home in Peckham, south London, with his friend, the American painter Ron Kitaj. His idea was to buy a secondhand book at random and work on it for the rest of his life as an art project. Whatever book Phillips found, he would draw, paint and collage over its pages. The result would be a found text with a new story, a creative betrayal of the original. “Betrayal is too strong a word,” the 80-year-old painter, poet and composer corrects me as we drink tea at his kitchen table. “I envisaged myself climbing on someone else’s shoulders to make myself taller.”

The book he bought for threepence at a nearby junk shop was the 1892 romantic potboiler A Human Document by forgotten Victorian novelist William Hurrell Mallock. Oh come on, I say to Phillips. It wasn’t really random. What if you’d picked up An Introduction to Macroeconomics? “I might have put it back and chosen something else.”

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The New York Times

Aug 11 2017
Arlene Gottfried, Photographer Who Found the Extraordinary in the Ordinary, Dies at 66
She roamed the streets of New York, camera in hand, finding opportunity at every corner.
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The Guardian

Aug 11 2017
Beach balls in Budapest and a giant Van Gogh: the best photos from around the world

A selection of today’s best images, including a Berber horse fair, an Australian rodeo and a paper boat race

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artforum.com

Aug 11 2017
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The Guardian

Aug 11 2017
Martin Roth obituary
Director who put the Victoria and Albert Museum on the world stage

During his five years as director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Martin Roth put the London institution on the international stage, travelling tirelessly as its “ambassador”. His resignation last September – greeted with widespread surprise – was prompted to a significant extent by his disappointment at Britain’s referendum decision the previous June to leave the EU.

Full of his usual energy, he left London with ambitious plans to become more involved in global issues. However, only a few weeks later he was diagnosed with cancer, from which he has died, aged 62.

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The New York Times

Aug 11 2017
Editta Sherman Gets Her Due at the New-York Historical Society
“The Duchess of Carnegie Hall” focuses on the work of a woman who was a rarity in the male-dominated world of portrait photography.
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The Guardian

Aug 11 2017
‘Notting Hill carnival was for the community – and the kids – in those days’

Sharon Holmen-Reddi takes part in the carnival, 1976

I’d been going to carnival since I was on my grandad’s shoulders. This was my first and only time in the parade; I was about eight years old and we’d not long moved into Lancaster West – one of the big new blocks, right next to Grenfell Tower.

Growing up, carnival was the highlight of my year. I remember the excitement of waiting for it to start up; hearing the floats from a distance, the sound getting louder and louder until you were drenched in colour and sound and people smiling and dancing. You got lost in the happiness. Carnival was for the community – and the kids – in those days. People were poor but they were happy and it was an excuse for a big party.

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The Guardian

Aug 11 2017
Whale brains, flying robots and Cindy Sherman the selfie queen – the week in art

The Natural History Museum journeys to the bottom of the sea, Caravaggio dazzles in Edinburgh and Sherman reveals some distorted self portraits on her Instagram account – all in your weekly dispatch

Whales: Beneath the Surface

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The Guardian

Aug 11 2017
Quentin Blake’s The Photo: life’s disappointments in microcosm

Roald Dahl’s collaborator sums up the stereotypes of travelling in his inimitable style, but he also sets our imaginations to work

Thanks to his work with Roald Dahl, the illustrations of Quentin Blake are so well known that it’s easy to take them for granted. We all recognise the scratchy, loose, improvised lines and the good-natured mood. Yet his work’s range can be surprising.

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The Guardian

Aug 11 2017
Cézanne unmasked: the shattering portraits that blew Picasso and the Paris avant garde away

He painted his wife without lips. He painted his friend with a spinal deformity. And he painted himself as a ghost in a top hat. Paul Cézanne’s unflinching portraits, coming to Britain this autumn, didn’t just astonish Picasso and his disciples. They changed art for ever

In Paris at the dawn of the 20th century, a generation of young artists changed everything. They visited the dusty yet magical galleries of the Ethnography Museum in the rambling Trocadéro and some started their own collections of African masks. This fascination with non-European art helped them break with hundreds of years of tradition. Pablo Picasso completed a portrait of his friend Gertrude Stein by giving her a mask instead of a face. He then painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon with its wildly cavorting masked prostitutes. Modern art was born in those bold years, in a glamorous atmosphere of absinthe, drugs (Picasso and his friends dabbled in opium) and sex in the red light district of Montmartre.

There is just one problem with this exhilarating story of the birth of modern art. It is not true.

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The Art Newspaper

Aug 11 2017
Construction boss Jack Kirkland’s collection gets Sheffield outing
Bridget Riley, Red Overture (2012) (Image: © Bridget Riley 2017)
While much of construction boss Jack Kirklands collection has been loaned for international exhibitions, 13 out of the 14 works going on show at the Graves Gallery in Sheffield next month have never been exhibited in the UK before. 

The exhibition (2 September-2 December) has been organised by Going Public, an initiative launched in 2015 by Museums Sheffield to foster collaboration between major international collectors and regional museums. It follows a show of the London-based philanthropist Valeria Napoleone's all-female art collection last year. 

The selection on display mirrors Kirklands expansive tastes. They include Minimalist sculptures by Carl Andre and Donald Judd, geometrically abstract paintings by Anni Albers and Bridget Riley and  photographs by Lewis Baltz. 


Kirkland, who is a director of the Bowmer & Kirkland construction group, first started buying art around 20 years ago, purchasing a work by the US conceptual sculptor Tom Friedman. While rich in American modernism and Latin American contemporary art, his collection also includes Hellenistic bronzes, a Carracci portrait and an Egyptian faience baboon. 

Kirklands sizeable collection of interwar European photography is promised to the Tate, where he is a member of the international council. He is also the chairman of Nottingham Contemporary and a trustee of the Bridget Riley Art Foundation.

For Kirkland, Sheffield is a city close to his heart. My late mum was from there and of course I am very proud of the building work Bowmer & Kirkland have done and are doing in the city, he says. One thing I have noticed when putting this display together is how much of the work I collect relates in one way or another to construction. Maybe the apple doesnt fall far from the tree. 
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The Guardian

Aug 11 2017
Soul of a Nation and Raphael: this week’s best UK exhibitions

The Tate excels itself with an incredibly rich study of black American art, while the Ashmolean will transform how you think about the Italian genius

Hilarious and provocative conjunctions of word and image make Davis a powerful feminist artist. Her arresting videos include a surreal remix of a 1960s documentary about the sculptor Barbara Hepworth. The pretentious narration is undermined by images of the banality and boredom of housework and suburban life. Intelligent, enjoyable stuff.
Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, to 8 October

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The Art Newspaper

Aug 11 2017
Thomas Hart Benton’s naval gazing
Thomas Hart Benton, Cut the Line (1944) (Image courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.)
The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Naval Station Norfolk with an exhibition of works by the American Regionalist artist Thomas Hart Benton, who was stationed at the base at the end of the First World War and referred to this time as a turning point in his development as an artist, says the Chryslers curator of exhibitions, Seth Feman. Before [the First World War], he had been experimenting in abstract styles largely by looking to the latest works coming from Europe, Feman says. While making sketches as a draftsman in the Navy, Benton committed himself to American subjects and began developing his unique representational style.

The show, Thomas Hart Benton and the Navy (until 24 September), features works in the Navy Art Collection that Benton made during the Second World War, when he was an artist-correspondent in the US Navy, including oil paintings, watercolours and pen and ink drawings. The two groups show scenes from inside the USS Dorado submarine (which was later downed off Panama in October 1943), and the journey of a Landing Ship, Tank and its crew, from construction in Pittsburg to deployment from New Orleans. Some works are packed with muscular action, while others depict lively, playful scenes, such as a pre-deployment evening at a New Orleans bar, or quieter moments like enjoying a cup of coffee. Bentons patriotic works show an array of everyday peopleAfrican American crewmen, women shipbuilders, and civilians including kids and the elderlyall coming together in support of U.S. victory, Feman says.
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The Guardian

Aug 10 2017
Love Island! LGBTQ Japan – in pictures

A trans pop idol, an intersex married couple, a lesbian lord of drag robots … Michel Delsol’s intimate photos capture a Japan we seldom see

Edges of the Rainbow: LGBTQ Japan is available from The New Press

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The Art Newspaper

Aug 10 2017
Winter Whiteout is coming—to Madison Square Park with art installation
Erwin Redl's installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2005 (Photo: Ira Lippke)
As daylight grows shorter this winter, Madison Square Parks central Oval Lawn will be blanketed by a small blizzard of incandescent light when the Austrian-born artist Erwin Redl installs his public art work Whiteout (16 November-15 April 2018). Commissioned by the parks non-profit group Mad Sq Arts, the installation will be made up of hundreds of white spheres embedded with LED lights and suspended from steel poles. The projects aims to evoke the phenomenon of a whiteout that, in nature, disorients the viewer by compromising our perception, Redl told The Art Newspaper.

The installation will stretch across around one-third of the lawn, which is closed during the autumn and winter months, and will be visible from the pathways of the park. The swaying spheres, arranged 46 inches apart and 2 feet off the ground in a grid of squares, will sway in the wind as well as dim and glow in a programmed pattern, to create abstract animations, Redl says. The artist is known for his encompassing light works and lit up the faade of the Whitney Museum of American Arts Breuer building for its 2002 Whitney Biennial. The most important parameter of all my installations is site specificitythis project creates a new hybrid reality for this urban setting, Redl says.
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The New York Times

Aug 10 2017
Art Review: Glenn Ligon Rethinks the Color Line in the Show ‘Blue Black’
The exhibition, at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, draws together artists who put race on a spectrum of meanings that runs from polemical to personal and poetic.
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The Art Newspaper

Aug 10 2017
Visions of 18th-century France: how the Goncourt brothers taught America about Rococo
Noël Nicolas Coypel, The Abduction of Europa (1726-1727). (Courtesy The Philadelphia Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY)
In May, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, opened the exhibition America Collects 18th-Century French Painting (until 20 August). The show, which includes 68 pictures, looks at the cross-Atlantic fashion for diverse styles of French painting, including works by artists as unalike as the Rococo painter Antoine Watteau and the Neo-classicist Jacques-Louis David. In this excerpt from the catalogue, which is available through the museum, the show's curator, Yuriko Jackall, outlines how the French brothers Edmond and Jules de Goncourt sparked a taste for the Rococo in America.


I do not feel an interest in any pencil but that of [Jacques-Louis] David. Thomas Jefferson

Do not buy the most beautiful in the world, but build around you a world of beauty. Ren Gimpel

Reasons for collecting differ vastly; so do the objects that are desired. Eighteenth-century French painting has maintained a more or less constant presence in America since Thomas Jefferson wrote home in 1787 about seeing The Death of Socrates (1787) by David (a superb one it is), the Antiquities of France series by Hubert Robert (among the foremost), and assorted portraits by lisabeth Vige Le Brun (much approved) at the public salon exhibition. Nearly 30 years later, Joseph Bonaparte, elder brother of Napoleon, arrived on American shores bearing 18th-century French paintings of the finest qualityand when he finally returned home in 1839, he left Nol Nicolas Coypels The Abduction of Europa (1726-27) as a parting gift to his friend General Thomas Cadwalader. Perhaps Bonapartes solemn addendum to his otherwise affectionate farewell letter (P.S. The Rape of Europa is one of the best paintings by Coypel, of the French school of the last century) belies a certain unease concerning his American friends ability to recognise valuable art. It also suggests a benevolent awareness of the possibilities of reinterpretation, misunderstanding and attribution of new meaning that inevitably affect French cultural icons set loose in the New World.

American connoisseurship has grown in leaps and bounds since the early 19th century. Yet, as Bonaparte might have predicted, in this country of 50 diverse and geographically separate states, the reasons and motivations underlying American taste for 18th-century French painting have become as varied as the art itself. In 1897, the aristocratic aesthete Robert de Montesquiou-Fezenac, sometime literary model for Marcel Proust and Joris-Karl Huysmans, deemed the Rococo style capricious. This adjective could just as easily apply to the entire century, shifting as it does between a curving decorative aesthetic and a sober, clean one, between the playful and visually brilliant and the intentionally edifying and morally uplifting. In short, interested American viewers may find as many 18th-century Frances as they wish within the French 18th century. Each grouping of paintings in this exhibition proposes a different facet or vision of the period. Taken as a whole, they capture some sense of its variety and innate contradiction.

If Americans conjured up multiple visions of 18th-century France, this essay attempts to account for what they might have come looking for in the first place. Some may have sought out the souvenir with its commemorative power, others the immersive possibilities of the decorative, still others the campiness of the masquerade. These approaches to collecting have perhaps provided continuity, even as the object of desire has changed, again and again.

The Brothers Goncourt

Not long after Jefferson praised Davids clean lines and sober aesthetic, his compatriots at home embraced a different vision of 18th-century France: a sumptuous place made up of gilding and porcelain, finely woven tapestries and paintings in sparkling shades of lemon yellow, delicate greens and blues and vibrant pinks. This France existed under the sign of the Rococo, the style of decoration and painting that privileged asymmetry and sinuosity. Stylish and conspicuously material, this imagined nation was dominated interchangeably by a trio of impossibly elegant and fashionable celebrities, all queens or very nearly so. There was Marie-Antoinette whose poignant yearning for normalcy in the midst of the constraints of court life resulted in a fantasy dairy equipped with milk pails manufactured in Svres porcelain. There was the vivacious, extravagant Mme du Barry who rose from humble origins to catch Louis XVs roving eye. And there was the refined marquise de Pompadour, the most prominent favorite of Louis XV, whose discernment ensured her place as godmother and queen of the Rococo.

The authors of this phrase, Edmond de Goncourt (18221896) and his younger brother Jules (18301870), were journalists, diarists and prolific historians of 18th-century art. In the late 19th century, they were largely responsible for fashioning this seductive vision of a Rococo France. Forged over the course of numerous articles on individual artists, an exhaustive book on 18th-century French art and biographies devoted to each of the aforementioned Rococo queens, their imagined France originated with the death of Louis XIV in 1715 and ended in 1793 with the execution of Marie-Antoinette. Their passionate defense of the artists of this period, coupled with an equally firm rejection of the Davidian aesthetic, helped to revive the flagging reputations of the poetic Antoine Watteau and the sensual Franois Boucher for Frenchmen and Americans alike.

The France of the Goncourts was, of course, a lost world, and it was also largely a fantasy one. The children of a bourgeois army officer and an aristocratic mother whose father had been guillotined during the Terror of 17931794, the brothers felt a profound attachment to the Rococos treasures and the glittering society that had enjoyed them and a corresponding repugnance for their own contemporary era. Their degree of commitment to the French 18th century is palpable in their personal correspondence, which they peppered with references to their favored era. On one occasion, Edmond advised Gustave Flaubert on the best place to procure authentic 18th-century clothing; on another, he wrote excitedly of his discovery, in the Encyclopdie, of Louis XIVs allergies to hair powder.

To a certain extent, the brothers brought their dream to life in the course of decorating and documenting their home, a little htel particulier at 53, boulevard Montmorency in Auteuil (now Pariss 16th arrondissement), purchased two years before Juless death in 1870. Edmonds two-volume guide to this residence, La Maison dun artiste, was published the following year. Describing the rooms one by one, he relates that the petit salon housed the brothers 600 drawings by the likes of Watteau, Jean-Baptiste Oudry and Jean-Baptiste Greuze. The grand salon was rich in furniture upholstered in Beauvais tapestries as well as a paired commode and secrtaire bearing the mark of Marie-Antoinette; in the study was a trove of books and original documents relating to the 18th century. The steady flow of period French works of art, all rigorously selected and cataloged, were punctuated by groupings of the Asian objects increasingly en vogue.

Structured as a series of unrelated physical descriptions of works of art and commentary on their individual histories, the book brings Edmonds careful attention to discrete objects into sharp relief. His approach is all the more striking as 18th-century art was still underrepresented in public museums. The brothers had therefore charted personal avenues of access. They refined their formidable connoisseurship through study of works owned privately by like-minded collectors such as Louis La Caze, whose major bequest to the Louvre of 1869 included Watteaus Pierrot (Gilles) (around 1718-19). They were lenders to the landmark exhibition Tableaux et dessins de lcole franaise, principalement du XVIIIe sicle, tires de collections damateurs, organized by the dealer Martinet on the boulevard des Italiens, with a catalogue by their friend, the art critic Philippe Burty. (The latter was, incidentally, to become the owner in around 1874 of Jean-Simon Chardins Glass of Water and Coffeepot from around 1761.)

As the brothers proudly stated, their own numerous purchases had been ferreted out in antiquary shops and at the stalls of the bouquinistes lining the Seine. Eighteenth-century items were unpopular and cheap: drawings by the likes of Watteau could be had for next to nothing. Snatched from dealers dust heaps, these objects were acquired with passion Edmond described collecting as a substitute for romantic loveas precious souvenirs of a time that had been inexorably swept away by the revolution.

In this sense La Maison dun artiste, like all of the Goncourts writings, is not simply an inventory of treasured possessions, but a clear demonstration of the combined emotive power of these objects. An autobiography and collector-decorators manifesto in one, it describes living day by day alongside the 18th century. In Edmonds bedroom, shown in a photograph of 1883, vases in celadon porcelain that had once belonged to the marquise de Pompadour stood on either side of the chimney and other 18th-century objects filled the room. Surrounded by these precious items, he could imagine awakening not in his own unlovely time, but, like a sleeping beauty, in that longed-for era that had been the object of the studies and the loves of his life.

The Goncourts in America

It has been sold,the furniture of Versailles, the magnificent furniture of embroidered blue silk, ornamented with flowers and peacock feathers, and with black ribbons fringed with silk. It has been sold. The words by the Goncourt brothers are reproduced in an article by French ethnographer lie Reclus that credits them with the revival of interest in the subtle and delicate qualities of the 18th century. What is surprising is that the citation in its English translation appeared as early as 1878 in the American journal Atlantic Monthly, some 20 years before the Goncourts were cited in Emilia Dilkes widely circulated French Painters of the XVIIIth Century (1899) and several decades before the first appearance of their book-length studies in translation.

Following this appraisal in a leading literary magazine, the Goncourts clearly acquired a measure of recognition in the American press to a degree that scholars have not fully recognized. A piece in Art Amateur, the 19th-century monthly journal devoted to the cultivation of art in the household, roundly celebrated their personal taste and scholarly expertise. In 1894, a series of lengthy and flattering obituaries commemorated Edmonds death. By the early 20th century, they seem to have become fairly well-known literary figures because museums began to accession their likenesses in bronze and print form while references to their scholarly contributions appeared with greater frequency. In his presentation of 29 paintings from J. Pierpont Morgans collection on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1913, Bryson Burroughs, the curator who would later champion the purchase of Davids The Death of Socrates, refers knowledgeably to the Goncourts writings on the pastel artist Maurice Quentin de La Tour. By 1923, the recently created Frick Art Reference Library had acquired a complete set of their books.

Simultaneously, mentions of their work migrated into the private sphere. In 1905, Matilda Gay, socialite, diarist, and spouse of the Paris-based American painter Walter Gay, wrote that the Goncourts made the 18th century and Japanese art the fashion, by their books. By 1916, Henry Huntington, an assiduous collector of 18th-century French art under the deft guidance of the dealer Joseph Duveen, owned a copy of LArt du XVIIIe sicle; an inventory established in 1920 of Henry Clay Fricks personal library at 1 East 70th Street, lists a copy of La femme au dix-huitime sicle.

The Souvenir: Collecting Celebrity

One such reference to the Goncourts appears in a book review published in 1898 in the Citizen the journal of Philadelphias American Society for the Extension of University Teachingby the British-born migr Henry Morse Stephens, then professor of history at Cornell University. Before launching into his primary subject, a critique of a recent book on Marie-Antoinettes demise, Stephens describes the ongoing fascination for the French queen. In particular, he focuses upon a peak of interest during the Second Empire led by the Empress Eugnie, who was seized with a veritable passion to avidly collect and display memorabilia of her predecessor, fanning the flames of a culte of Marie-Antoinette in the process.

The meaning-laden objects that Stephens describes were identified in more general terms by the literary critic Susan Stewart, who gives them a namesouvenirs and a definition: secondhand or substitute traces of past experiences that cannot be repeated or recaptured. This framework certainly resonates with the activities described in La Maison dun artiste. It can also be applied to American collecting of 18th-century works of art with a certain type of background.

Yuriko Jackall is the curator of America Collects 18th-Century French Painting and assistant curator, department of French paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC


America Collects 18th-Century French Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, until 20 August
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The Art Newspaper

Aug 10 2017
São Paulo’s dealers team up to organise a homegrown art fair
In its first foray into Brazil, Alexander and Bonin gallery will show Jonathas de Andrade's O espirito das águas 7 / The water spirits 7 (2017) (Photo: courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York)
The latest addition to the South American art circuit, Semana de Arte (14-20 August) is both an art fair and a multidisciplinary initiative. Taking over venues throughout So Paulo, the event includes architectural tours, film screenings, dance and theatre performances, as well as a three-day art fair at the citys Hotel Unique. Its an ambitious endeavour in light of the countrys ongoing corruption scandals and political turmoil, but dealers are optimistic that the timing of the fair, the veteran figures behind it, and the international interest in Brazilian art will make for a successful first outing.

Most Latin American collectors are home and not traveling now, kids are in school, and winter is mild and dry, says the fairs co-founder and dealer Thiago Gomide, adding that Brazilians are accustomed to political turmoil and that interest rates in the country are dropping. The idea is that this becomes a strong Latin American art fair, not national or global, but regional. The veteran So Paulo gallerist Luisa Strina, who worked with Gomide, Emilio Kalil, and Ricardo Sardenberg to organise the event, adds that: Its much more interesting to have a small curated fair than those big fairs which are exhausting for collectors.

Local galleries are understandably opting to show established artists with proven markets. Works from the 1970s and 80s by Antonio Dias, who is also the subject of a series of talks at the fair, are on offer at Galeria Nara Roesler ranging in price from $30,000 to $950,000. At Mendes Wood DM, historical monochromes by the Milanese painter Dadamaino share space with the So Paulo-based Paulo Monteiros minimalist sculptures, while a wall drawing from the 1990s by Los Carpinteros occupies the booth of Fortes DAloia & Gabriel.

Among the handful of international galleries participating in the invitation-only fair are the New York-based Alexander and Bonin and Luhring Augustine, both making their first foray into Brazil despite longstanding relationships with artists and collectors there. The former is presenting a two-person display with new photographs by Jonathas de Andradestills from his O Peixe (The Fish) video which was recently shown at the New Museumpriced at $7,500 to $9,000, and sculptures by Mona Hatoum on offer for $70,000 to $140,000. Mona had a big exhibition at the Pinakotheke a few years ago and theres a large audience for her work in So Paulo, says the gallerist Carolyn Alexander.

Luhring Augustine, meanwhile, is collaborating with So Paulos Galeria Milan and the Turin-based Galleria Franco Noero to present a booth dedicated to the late Brazilian sculptor and performance artist Tungathe first contemporary artist to show his work at the Louvrewith pieces ranging from $25,000 to $300,000.

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The Art Newspaper

Aug 10 2017
Lime, sand and animal hair: on 18th-century British interiors
Giuseppe Artari’s 1720s ceiling of the Marble Hall at Clandon Park in Surrey (destroyed by a fire in 2015)
The decorative arts have so often been sidelined by art historiansespecially architectural historiansbut Christine Caseys revelatory book, Making Magnificence: Architects, Stuccatori and the 18th-Century Interior, underscores how subjects such as plasterwork lie at the heart of many important European aesthetic and architectural achievements. Casey is the associate professor in architectural history at Trinity College Dublin. She has produced a compelling study, which is essential reading for any student of 18th-century architecture and interiors.

In the early part of the century, men who had worked on the Palazzo Reale in Turin and the Upper Belvedere in Vienna brought sculptural stuccowork of the highest quality to the interiors of great country houses in the British Isles, giving them theatrical and artistic confidence. These houses included Houghton Hall, Ragley Hall, Barnsley Park and Wentworth Castle in England, and Carton, Castletown and Russborough in Ireland.

Astonishingly, most of this work was executed by a mere handful of itinerant stuccatori from the Italian-speaking Ticino region of Switzerland, who brought wide experience and a pan-European decorative tradition with them to the British Isles. Their skill in the rhetorical stagecraft of European ecclesiastical decoration and of cosmopolitan Rgence taste provided the framing and decoration of the interiors of the potentially ponderous and austere Neo-Palladian architecture then fashionable in England.

One late 18th-century account of the stuccowork in the Schloss Sder in Lower Saxony succinctly described the artistic skills of the stuccatori: to work in plaster is to give this malleable material form, to add variety and richness to extensive surfaces, to lend ornament to interior architecture, to offer the eye a thousand pleasant diversions, to achieve with light speed what is slow and painstaking in marble, wood and other sculpture.

But other factors also encouraged their popularity: stucco was considerably cheaper than painted decoration. As Casey notes, the sums paid for whole ceilings in the British Isles would not secure a half-length portrait by a fashionable painter. Stuccowork also found its place, and its moment, in the emerging classicising taste for stone-like interiors and allantica ceiling ornament to which it added movement and grace. The sheer virtuosity, self-evident artistic confidence, knowledge and skills of the stuccatori impressed itself on both architects and patrons.

Caseys lucid and incisive book provides an excellent account of the European context for this work, explaining the industry of stucco making, the training and distinctive skills of the stuccatori. She also deftly explores the relationship between stucco decoration and the architecture it served, as well as the creative relationship between architects and stuccatori. Seven stuccatori dominate the story in the British Isles: Giovanni Battista Bagutti (around 1681-1755) who worked at Castle Howard from 1709 to 1710 and later at Mereworth Castle; Giuseppe Artari (around 1690-1771), active at Houghton Hall and Clandon Park; Francesco Vassalli (1701-71) admired for his work at Shugborough and Wentworth Castle; Giuseppe Cortese (1704-79) who worked at Gilling Castle, Lytham Hall and Newburgh Priory; and the Lafranchini brothers, Paolo, Filippo and Pietro, who dominated such work in Ireland (at Carton, Castletown, Russborough and many important Dublin interiors). They had all served long apprenticeships in an intensely hierarchical trade, assisting skilled craftsmen and receiving an essential training in design and modelling. Indeed, it was their skill at disegno (used for preliminary drawings, tender drawings and presentation drawings) that especially demonstrated their supremacy over native craftsmen in Britain and Ireland. They sometimes took a risk by being too grand with their clients, though: the Conollys of Castletown were excessively diverted by Franchinis impertinence. Terracotta models were also used to present proposals to clients. These skills were closely guarded and they did not seem to pass down the techniques of sculptural modelling to their local assistants.

The itinerant stuccatori made considerable use of engravings (works by artists such as the Carraccis, Pietro da Cortona and Simon Vouet). For example, the Lafranchinis used Vouets personifications of the cardinal virtues in two different schemes in Dublin houses: one executed in around 1738 and the other in around 1756. Smaller sculptural elements of the decorative schemes might be cast on benches, but larger-scale figurative work was normally modelled in situ on armatures (usually of brick, or timber for larger scale and high level). The principal stuccatori did the modelling work in situ, while assistant quadratori worked on the ribs and compartments of the walls and ceilings.

Major British commissions of the 1720s were on the grandest scale. At Houghton Hall in Norfolk, Artari collaborated with William Kent on the great masterpiece of the double-height stone hall, and the fluid quality of the dancing putti of the halls frieze is strong evidence of this stuccatores direct influence on Kents intensification of ornament to this great interior. At Clandon Park in Surrey, Artari worked on the marble hall, the ceiling of which was so tragically destroyed by fire in 2015.

Here, as Casey observes, he and the architect Leoni successfully modulated Seicento illusionism to the exigencies of classicising Neo-Palladian taste without the rich planar complexity and decorative exuberance of the ceiling, the Marble Hall would have been austere, if not dull in its effect.

Later in the century, the transformative stuccowork of these itinerant artist-craftsmen became unfashionable, and was indeed positively disliked in the 19th century, partly for its overt sensualitycontinuing proof, perhaps, of the effectiveness of the stuccatoris modelling skills. But their work still populates and elevates many of the finest houses and must also be understood in a wider European context. As Casey observes: From the meagre materials of lime, gypsum, sand, water and animal hair, a band of provincial craftsmen of varying vintage and skill crafted interiors in Britain and Ireland of sumptuous plasticity and powerful performative effect. Their contribution was, as she observes, a vital counterpoint to the restraint of Palladian taste.

Jeremy Musson is an author, lecturer, historic buildings consultant and trustee of the Country Houses Foundation. His books include Up and Down Stairs (2009), English Country House Interiors (2011) and The Drawing Room (2014). His book Robert Adam: Country House Design, Decoration and the Art of Elegance, recently published, will be reviewed in a future edition of The Art Newspaper


Making Magnificence: Architects, Stuccatori and the 18th-Century Interior


Christine Casey


Yale University Press, 328pp, 50 (hb)
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