Monday, November 16, 2009

Better Bolt Your Doors in the UK

Whenever I think of art robbers, I always think of the classic vision of men dressed in all black with a black face mask climbing into a house through a window and running away with a huge painting. However, art theft is a serious subject and has always been on the rise. I always wondered, where does the art go? You would only steal something worth alot, and you certainly wouldn't put a stolen Picasso up in your living room. Unless, all of your friends are art robbers as well. The whole topic is saddening, especially when art theft occurs in museums. Not only is the museum robbed of its collection, but all of the individuals that enjoy the artworks when they visit are robbed as well.

So where is art theft on the rise? Funny you should ask because there is an industry group called The Art Loss Register that tracks reported stolen items and registers artworks to their owners. According to their reports, the U.K. is home to more thefts than any other country in the world. Since 1976, 53,709 works have been stolen in the UK. Rounding out the top five are the US, France, Italy and Germany.

These rankings are based solely on quality, not quantity. For example, Norway doesn't rank highly on the list, but Edvard Munch's The Scream is considered one of the decade's most expensive works stolen.

An interesting point made was the absence of many Asian countries from the list. ALR suggested this is do to the decision of art collectors and museums not to report thefts. Some museums are reluctant to report thefts as it may infer there are holes in their security systems.

Regardless of who ranks where, art theft has not slowed. So keep your enemies close, and your portraits even closer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2,000 lbs of Ribs? Count Me In.

Before I articulate to you the ridiculous, over-the-top extent to which Performa 09 opened a couple of weeks ago with a food event, let me remind you about one of the upcoming "foodie" events at the Biggs Museum....

If you haven't bought your tickets yet to Artful Dining this Friday, shame on you. If you don't decide to join us, that only leaves more Nage leftover goodness and PortoVino Groovy Italian Wine to enjoy after all the diners have left. So hop to it, chop chop.

I thought a three-course meal and an abundance of fine Italian wine on a Friday night in the Museum galleries was "Artful Dining", but I think Performa 09 has got us beat. They seem to have completely redefined the concept of Artful Dining. Performa is a biennial three-week visual performance arts festival held in Manhattan dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the 21st century.

Jennifer Rubell, daughter of two art collectors, designed a "food event" party/benefit to open the 2009 fesitval at the X Initiative in Chelsea. Her interactive culinary experience was based on the book of Genesis in the Bible. Over 600 guests, including Mario Batali, roamed the three floors taken over by the party beginning with with the option to choose from 3,600 drinking glasses, representing the "beautiful fragility" of the Garden of Eden. After passing a pyramid of unshelled peanuts, guests moved to the 2nd floor for a hit of protein at a station holding over 2,000 lbs of ribs being soaked with honey falling from the ceiling. No need to worry about those sticky fingers, plenty of wet-naps were provided.

Dessert was obviously not neglected as the final course . Fallen apple trees were scattered throughout the floor and seven pedestals were topped with chocolate bunnies similar to Jeff Koon's stainless steels version. Hammers were provided to everyone to smash the illusion to the expulsion from Eden.

If the photos aren't enough of a visual for you to imagine the wildness of this event, the New York Times did a great video of the event. I forwarded the ribs photo to the Director, possibility for the 2010 Biggs Museum Gala.... maybe we'll have 1500 lbs of buffalo wings at next year's event.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Obama Says,"Let's hear it for Hollywood."

You'd think Obama had just put down last week's issue of People Magazine when he chose the 25 appointees/members for the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities yesterday. I kid. I kid.

The new committee members represent some of Hollywood's finest to old-school cultural leaders. Some of the more famous names include actors Sarah Jessica Parker, Edward Norton, Forest Whitaker and Alfre Woodard, "Vogue" editor Anna Wintour, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, theater director George C. Wolfe and architect Thom Mayne.

What are these fine arts representatives charged with? This committee, established in 1982, works with organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities to encourage partnerships between the public and private sector on cultural projects. The committee also seeks to initiate and support cultural programs, according to its official website.

Vice President Joe Biden will install the 25 new members today. The newbies will be led by First lady Michelle Obama as the honorary chairwoman and film producer George Stevens Jr. and theater producer Margo Lion had already been named as its co-chairs.

With all this talk of health-care reform these days, little has been said in the media on what Obama plans to do for the arts during his tenure as president. During his campaign he made a few hints.

-Reinvest in arts education. Woo hoo for more public/private partnerships between schools and arts organizations!

- Financially support the NEA

-Send more American artists abroad

-Attract foreign talent
- To provide affordable health care and tax fairness to artists. Did you know when artists make charitable contributions of their work, they are only reimbursed for supplies, not their time? So not fair.

Seems like Anna and SJP have some work on their hands. I'm anxious to see what they can do for culture and arts in the United States. Until then, congrats!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lehman Bro's Art is Going, Going, Sold!

It feels like it was yesterday in September 2008 when the hard crash that put us in a recession occured. Lehman Brother's was just one of the many financial institutes that did not escape the realms of bankruptcy. Still today, they owe their creditors about $250 billion, ouch. So how to raise some cash quickly? Auction off your office artwork. A sale at Freeman's Auction House yesterday raised over $1.35 million from the sales of 283 modern artworks. Every piece up for sale had an owner by the end of the day. $1.35 million was quite impressive as it doubled the original estimate for this part of the collection ($760,800).

All of these artworks used to line the office hallways of Lehman Bros. in New York, Delaware and Boston. Around 2,000 collectors, former Lehman staff and art novices keen to pick up a bit of banking history had signed up to bid at the auction. An estimated 400 people bid in person with the rest taking part over the telephone or online.

Lehman Bro.'s will unload another collection of 650 pieces on December 6 at Freeman's once again. This money raised will also go towards repayment to Lehman creditors. A third auction is scheduled in February 2010.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

I've gone from not partaking in any Halloween festivities last year, to two parties and two different costumes this year. I hope I'll be able to keep my characters straight! Anyway you celebrate, Halloween is a creative and artful day. Acting...transforming into a different person, or at times an inanimate object. and a hot glue gun can work wonders for novice costume makers. Dance and sing...who doesn't 'boo'gey down on Halloween? Culinary Arts...I contribute to 25% of the world's consumption of candy corn.

I hope you all have an artfully fantastic Halloween. To kick off the weekend, I googled Best Costume Ever. And this is what I got. P.S. You HAVE to watch it until the end! Amazing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not Your Average Neckwear...

I have to admit, from what I recall seeing Michael Phelps donned with all of those Olympic Medals at the 2008 Beijing games, I wasn't paying too much attention to the medals if you know what I mean. But our neighbor Vancouver has caught my attention: they just unveiled the designs of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games medals. They're awesome.

The process took over two years, beginning in December 2007 with over 48 proposals from Canadian and internationally-run design firms. Before I go on to explain the awesomeness that is the design, I'd like to mention these are the heaviest medals ever made for the Olympic games, weighing in at a record 500-576 grams. And they're made from recycled electronics, so your old HP could be hanging on the neck of the next Michelle Kwan.

Hunt, a Vancouver-based artist of Komoyue and Tlingit heritage, chose the orca and the raven as motifs for the Olympic and Paralympic medals respectively, representing important attributes in Canadian Aboriginal history. The Paralympians symbol, the rave, is often associated with transformation and healing abilities and represents determination, creativity and wisdom. The Ocra is often associated with the attributes of strength, dignity and teamwork. The sleek and powerful black and white whales are common to travel in pods through the waters off Canada’s West Coast, but are also found in all the world’s oceans.

Each medal will be struck nine times (this is just one of 30 steps in the fabrication process) to achieve a distinctive look. The medals are undulating and wavy (representing Canada's mountains, sea and snow) rather than flat, a first in the Games history.

The Royal Canadian Mint has been charged with making all 1014 medals for the games. Their web-site offers an interactive tour and video, so you can see how they're made.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Usual Mona Lisa Suspects

There's been some talk recently about whether or not Ms. Lisa is actually smiling in DaVinci's Mona Lisa portrait. And according to the Institute of Neuroscience in Alicante, Spain, it's in our heads to decide. But anyways, onto a more important topic....what if the Mona Lisa wasn't acutally "gasp!" Mona Lisa? The horror!

According to Roberto Zapperi, the painting (which is actually referred to as La Giocondo) does not depict Lisa del Giocondo, the wide of the welathy Florentine merchant for whom the painting was reportedly commissioned. Roberto says the woman in the painting is Pacifica (awesome name, right?) Brandani, on of Julien de Medicis' many lovers.

What gives Roberto the idea that Pacifica is the woman in the portrait? He discovered written minutes from a meeting between da Vinci and Cardinal Louis d'Aragon. daVinci presented the Cardinal with three paintings; including the Mona Lisa, which was allegedly a portrait of Brandani commissioned by de Medicis. This leads me to wonder, if Julien de Medicis commissioned the portrait, then why didn't he own it? Well, Brandani died shortly after she had an illegitimate child with her lover. There's your explanation.

Roberto thinks its unfortunate that experts have known for many years about Brandani's identity, but choose to ignore it and favor Vasari's 1550 version of the events, which posits that the image is of Lisa del Giocondo, who “did not even know Julien de M├ędicis,” according to Zapperi.

This obviously hasn't stopped the crowds from coming in droves to the Louvre to see the woman every single day. Speaking of daVinci, the Biggs staff is having a video web conference with some of the staff members of the Leonardo daVinci Museum today to begin working on a new project. I think some very exciting times are ahead for us. Stay tuned.