The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, March 30, 2023

In a Roman tomb, 'dead nails' reveal an occult practice

An undated photo provided by the Sagalassos Archaeological Research project, KU Leuven, of a primary cremation site, right, covered with bricks, and two middle imperial individual tombs, left, at the necropolis near the Sagalassos Roman ruins in southwestern Turkey. Archaeologists recently excavated an unusual set of 41 broken, talismanic “dead” nails at this cremation site, meaning that they were believed to possess occult powers. (The Sagalassos Archaeological Research project, KU Leuven)

by Franz Lidz

NEW YORK, NY.- When it came to the treatment of diseases, the ancient Romans had no shortage of magical remedies, several of which involved iron nails. To cure epilepsy, first-century historian Pliny the Elder advised driving a nail into the ground at the spot where the afflicted person’s head lay at the start of the seizure. The Romans hammered nails into doors to avert plagues and pounded coffin nails into thresholds to keep nightmares at bay. Nails from tombs and crucifixions were sometimes even worn around the neck as talismans against fevers, malaria and evil spells. Recently, archaeologists excavated an unusual set of talismanic nails from a mountaintop necropolis on the outskirts of Sagalassos in southwestern Turkey. In an early Roman imperial tomb, 41 broken nails were found scattered among the cremated remains of an adult male who had lived in the second century A.D. and was buried in situ. Twenty-five of the nails were headless and deliberately bent at right angles; the others were com ... More

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In the Basque region of Spain: Art, culture and a puppy that blooms   With sales nearing $130M, Asia Week New York returns with robust sales, enthusiastic crowds   Guido Reni is now the subject of a major exhibition at the Museo del Prado

The Guggenheim Bilbao museum, with a floral sculpture by Jeff Koons in Bilbao, Spain, March 2023. (Emilio Parra Doiztua/The New York Times)

by Andrew Ferren

BILBAO.- It’s not every beach stroll that leads to a modernist masterpiece, let alone one set in the sea amid crashing waves. After a bracing walk along the esplanade beside Ondarreta Beach in San Sebastián, Spain, I coaxed my family to keep going until we arrived at the western edge of La Concha Bay. There, anchored into the rocks and bashed by waves, was t 20th-century Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillida’s “El Peine del Viento” (the Comb of the Wind): three 9-ton, rust-covered sculptures. They resembled monumental claws or talons reaching out, trying to connect — a potent symbol of Basque endurance over the centuries. It was also a sign to my husband and 11-year-old twins, Freddie and Frida, that we would be spending the weekend ... More

The vase is from the Sui - Early Tang Dynasty (6th - 7th c. AD, China). The origin of the shape is from Persian silver wares, and this piece is notable for its slender, elegant form. 25.6cm high. The bowl is an excellent example of “Jun-yao” ware from the Baofeng Kilns in Henan Province (19.2cm dia.) Courtesy: Zetterquist Galleries.

NEW YORK, NY.- Ending their 9-day run on March 24th, the 14th edition of Asia Week New York returned with the energy and exuberance of pre-pandemic years with twenty-six galleries and six auction houses reporting sales that collectively rang up an impressive $131,267,504 in sales. At press time, this figure includes 22 out of 26 galleries reporting and 5 out of 6 auction houses–Bonhams, Christie’s, Doyle, Heritage, and Sotheby’s. iGavelAuctions had three sales, one of which closed on March 21st with the other two ending on March 30th and April 18th, respectively. Said Dessa Goddard chairman of Asia Week New York: “This March, increasing levels of international travel by scholars ... More

Image of the exhibition galleries Guido Reni. Photo © Museo Nacional del Prado.

MADRID.- The Museo Nacional del Prado and Fundación BBVA are presenting Guido Reni, an exhibition curated by David García Cueto, Head of the Department of Italian and French Painting up to 1800 at the Prado. It brings together nearly 100 works loaned from 40 cultural institutions around the world with the aim of drawing attention to the fundamental contribution made by this Bolognese master to the configuration of the aesthetic universe of the European Baroque. The exhibition pays full attention to the most recent art-historical research and places a particular focus on Reni’s connections with Spain, evident in royal and aristocratic collecting there and in the influence of the painter’s successful models on key artists of the so-called Spanish Golden Age. Shown together in the exhibition for the first time are the Prado’s version of Hippomenes and Atalanta and the one from Capodimonte; Saint Sebastian ... More

Plan B for fixing Penn Station would wrap Madison Square Garden in glass   Emily Fisher Landau, theft victim turned art patron, dies at 102   Rafael Soriano: The Artist as Mystic opens at Casa de América in Madrid

Outside of Madison Square Garden in New York, Jan. 11, 2023. (Gili Benita/The New York Times.)

NEW YORK, NY.- A year and a half after Gov. Kathy Hochul championed a plan to help fund the renovation of Pennsylvania Station by allowing the construction of up to 10 towers around the transit hub, that proposal has been mothballed, and an alternate project has emerged as a possible front-runner to replace it. The proposal from a subsidiary of the Italian firm ASTM Group calls for the construction of a rectangular glass station around Madison Square Garden. The Garden would be covered in aluminum and steel, and two new light-filled train halls would replace the notoriously cramped and dark station — all of which could be completed by 2030, the firm has said. With the initial plan all but dead and developers now scrambling to fill the void, key legislators and civic leaders say the ASTM proposal is one they are now seriously considering. The plan has piqued their interest ... More

The art collector and patron Emily Fisher Landau sits in front of Fernand Leger's "Etude pour Les Constructeurs" ("Study for Les Constructeurs"), 1951, in the dining room of her home, in Manhattan on Jan. 31, 2002. (Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times)

NEW YORK, NY.- Emily Fisher Landau, a New Yorker who used a Lloyd’s insurance settlement from a spectacular jewel heist in her apartment to fund what would become one of America’s premier collections of contemporary art, died Monday in Palm Beach, Florida. She was 102. Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Candia Fisher. From 1991 to 2017, Landau opened her collection of 1,200 artworks to the public in the Fisher Landau Center for Art, a repurposed former factory in Long Island City, Queens. In 2010, she pledged almost 400 works, then worth between $50 million and $75 million, to the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she had long been a trustee. Landau’s trajectory into the art world began unexpectedly on a spring ... More

Rafael Soriano, Torso en Gris, 1991 60 X 50.

MADRID.- Cuban American painter Rafael Soriano (1920–2015) was an acclaimed master of geometric abstraction and a global figure in the twentieth-century art world; his work resonated with international artists of Latin American origin like Roberto Matta, Rufino Tamayo, and Wifredo Lam. As a result of the Revolution in Cuba, in 1962 Soriano immigrated to the United States. An unprecedented examination of his life’s work, this exhibition focuses on the multiple influences that nurtured a style where, in his words, “the intimate and the cosmic converge.” Featuring twenty-nine painting and pastels from the Rafael Soriano Family Collection and private collections, The Artist as Mystic begins with Soriano’s works in the Cuban geometric abstract style. It then moves to his transitional, experimental paintings from the 1960s and 1970s reminiscent of surrealist biomorphism. The exhibition concludes with luminous, ... More

Big museums survey natural history troves   Jagger rules the soundwaves at Bonhams' British Cool. sale in London   Phillips presents Dorothea Lange: The Family Collection, Part Two

Scientists examining plants stored at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington. The museum participated in a new inventory of 1.1 billion objects at 73 natural history museums in 28 countries. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution via The New York Times)

by Carl Zimmer

NEW YORK, NY.- Dozens of the world’s largest natural history museums last week revealed a survey of everything in their collections. The global inventory is made up of 1.1 billion objects that range from dinosaur skulls to pollen grains to mosquitoes. The survey’s organizers, who described the effort in the journal Science, said they hoped the survey would help museums join forces to answer pressing questions, such as how quickly species are becoming extinct and how climate change is altering the natural world. “It gives us intelligence now to start thinking about things that museums can do together that we wouldn’t have conceived of before,” said Kirk Johnson, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History ... More

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) Mick Jagger, from Mick Jagger Portfolio, 1975 (Printed by Alexander Heinrici, New York, published by Seabird Editions, London, with their blindstamp) Estimates: 60,000 - 80,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- There were impressive results at Bonhams’ British. Cool. at New Bond Street today (Wednesday 29 March). Mick Jagger from Mick Jagger Portfolio by Andy Warhol was the top lot of the sale, achieving £151,500 against a pre-sale estimate of £60,000-80,000. The 252-lot sale made a total of £938,900. Carolin von Massenbach, Co-Head of Sale, added: “From Banksy prints to Dame Vivienne Westwood fashion pieces, British. Cool. offered items from the peak of Britain’s contemporary cultural legacy. Demonstrating the spread of British influence across the Atlantic, as well as Mick Jagger’s enduring sense of cool, we are thrilled that Mick Jagger, from Mick Jagger Portfolio by Andy Warhol in particular achieved such an impressive result – more than double its pre-sale estimate.” Janet Hardie, Bonhams Co-Head of Sale, commented: “With an array of art, prints, fashion, photographs ... More

Dorothea Lange, White Angel Breadline, San Francisco. Image courtesy Phillips.

NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips announced the second session of Dorothea Lange: The Family Collection, a trove of 50 photographs coming directly from the descendants of this seminal American photographer. This sale follows Phillips’ first offering from the Family Collection offered in October 2022. Part Two will be open for bidding from 29 March to 5 April. The sale features some of Lange’s most indelible images from her multi-decade career in photography, as well as many images which will be new to collectors. All were in the photographer’s collection at the time of her death, passed along to her descendants, and represent the entirety of her career, from the first socially conscious images she made outside her portrait studio in San Francisco, through her work for the Farm Security Administration during the Depression, to her post-war documentary projects, much of it done in the company of her husband and collaborator Paul Taylor. Born in ... More

He bid $190 million for the Flatiron Building, then didn't pay up   Dubravka Ugresic, Who wrote of dislocation and exile, dies at 73   Wright Brothers' airplane factory is badly damaged in fire

Jeff Gural, whose family firm, GFP Real Estate, owns and manages more than 50 office buildings in New York, in East Rutherford, N.J., Oct. 15, 2014. Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

by Corey Kilgannon

NEW YORK, NY.- The small auction held last week outside a Manhattan courthouse — 11 bidders holding white paddles gathered around a plastic folding table — seemed like the last-resort liquidation of some foreclosed house or deserted suburban office park. But the property being sold on the courthouse steps was different. It was the world-famous Flatiron Building, which became subject of a court-mandated sale after irreconcilable differences among its five owners stalled its renovation and muddied its future. The building has remained almost completely vacant for four years, ever since its longtime tenant, Macmillan Publishers, which occupied all its office floors, moved out in 2019. The situation was not helped by the pandemic, which imploded the office space market, leaving the building’s future in limbo. Now the sale meant to right ... More

She was acclaimed in Yugoslavia. But when that country fell apart, she refused to embrace the nationalism of the newly formed Croatia and was vilified as a result.

NEW YORK, NY.- Dubravka Ugresic, a novelist and essayist who, after her native Yugoslavia broke apart in the early 1990s, found herself ostracized in the new country of Croatia for refusing to embrace its aggressive nationalism and spent the rest of her life abroad, died on March 17 in Amsterdam. She was 73. Petar Milat, her principal editor and publisher in Croatia, confirmed the death. Her family did not disclose a cause. “Ugresic’s writings, both in fiction and nonfiction, are a unique blend of wittiness and compassion,” Milat said by email. “Her passing has resounded strongly in all countries of the former Yugoslavia, where Ugresic was regarded a chief intellectual voice, equipped by an exemplary ethical rigor.” In the 1980s Ugresic was being hailed as one of Yugoslavia’s best up-and-coming novelists, especially with the release of “Fording the Stream of Consciousness,” which won ... More

A life size cutout of the Wright Brothers hangs in the front door at the original Wright Brothers Factory in Dayton, Ohio, Nov. 30, 2016. (Ty Wright/The New York Times)

NEW YORK, NY.- A fire that broke out at a building complex in Dayton, Ohio, on Sunday damaged a factory founded by Wilbur and Orville Wright, the brothers who were the first people to successfully fly an airplane. The fire throws into doubt the future of the factory, where the brothers built planes starting in the 1910s. It became part of the National Park Service’s group of aviation-related sites in Dayton in 2009. The factory is a monument not just to the brothers and their consequential invention but to the role of leading industrialists of the day in giving birth to the age of commercial aviation. The factory was built shortly after Wilbur Wright visited New York in 1909 and “got buttonholed by the Vanderbilts, the Colliers, J.P. Morgan, folks like that,” said Dean Alexander, who was the park service superintendent in Dayton when the site was added. “The first thing they paid for was building that factory,” ... More

Color alone is both form and subject. Robert Delaunay

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Jane Lombard Gallery now representing Eva Struble
NEW YORK, NY.- Jane Lombard Gallery announced the representation of San Diego-based artist Eva Struble. Having previously shown with the gallery as Lombard Freid Projects, Struble will return to the roster with a continued interest in landscape painting, as well as a new exploration of textile processes. Motivated by the dynamism of the landscape, Struble investigates what is altered by humans, reclaimed by nature, and the result of their symbiotic interaction. Recent projects include a solo exhibition at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla, California, and commissions with the Google Campus in San Diego, California, and the Palo Alto Public Art Commission in Palo Alto, California. She was recently awarded a residency at Saiko Neon outside of Tokyo, Japan. The gallery will ... More

Important Polenov work makes £1.5M at Bonhams 19th Century Art sale
LONDON.- 'There were also women looking from afar off' an important oil on canvas by Vasilii Dmitrievich Polenov (Russian, 1844-1927) sold for £1,542,300 at Bonhams’ 19th Century and British Impressionist Art sale today (Wednesday 29 March) at New Bond Street, London. The work had a pre-sale estimate of £500,000 - 700,000. The 73-lot sale made a total of £3,678,100 with 70% sold by lot and 99% sold by value. Daria Khristova, Bonhams Specialist, commented: “There were also women looking from afar off was part of the series of paintings entitled The Life of Christ, completed by Polenov in late 1890 and early 1900s, which he considered to be his life’s work. Referred to by his contemporaries as the ‘Knight of beauty’, it is no wonder that this work excited collectors and we are absolutely delighted it achieved such a fantastic price.” Charles ... More

Morris Arboretum & Gardens celebrates 90 years with new name
PHILADELPHIA, PA .- The Morris Arboretum is marking 90 years as a public garden with a new name—Morris Arboretum & Gardens. The new name harkens back to the original Compton owners, John and Lydia Morris, and their shared vision of a public garden where spectacular trees live in harmony with colorful, beautiful gardens. The Morris Arboretum & Gardens opened to the public on June 4, 1933. “As we stand on the cusp of our second century, our role as a research institution and a place for joy and healing has never been more critical,” said F. Otto Haas Executive Director Bill Cullina. “Lydia Morris gifted the Arboretum to the University of Pennsylvania so it could become a place for botanical research, horticultural education and public engagement. With the expansion of our research program, educational opportunities for children, ... More

An 'obsession' with Philip Glass inspires a director's memory play
NEW YORK, NY.- The first piece of theater that Phelim McDermott made after college, decades ago, used music by Philip Glass. And directing productions of three of Glass’ operas has brought McDermott — and Improbable, the theater company he helped found in 1996 — glowing reviews and sold-out houses. So it’s not surprising that McDermott’s “Tao of Glass,” which arrives at NYU Skirball on Thursday, is a loving tribute to his long relationship — what, in an interview, he called “my obsession” — with Glass’ seemingly repetitive yet constantly transforming music. “Philip’s music has been like this river that’s gone through my creative life,” McDermott said on a video call from London, where he was completing rehearsals for a revival of his juggling-heavy production of Glass’ “Akhnaten” at English National Opera. “It connects me to a part of myself ... More

Bill Zehme, author with a knack for humanizing the famous, dies at 64
NEW YORK, NY.- Bill Zehme, whose biographies and magazine profiles humanized the celebrities he described as “intimate strangers” — the “shy, succinct” Johnny Carson; the “blank” Warren Beatty; Frank Sinatra, whose “battle cry” was “fun with everything, and I mean fun!” — died on Sunday in Chicago. He was 64. His partner, Jennifer Engstrom, said the cause was colorectal cancer. Zehme’s biography of Sinatra, “The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin’” (1997), was a bestseller. He also shared the author credit on bestselling memoirs by Regis Philbin (“I’m Only One Man!” in 1995 and “Who Wants to Be Me?” in 2000) and Jay Leno (“Leading With My Chin” in 1996). His other books included “Intimate Strangers: Comic Profiles and Indiscretions of the Very Famous” (2002), “Lost in the Funhouse: The ... More

Noonans sell Part One of the Frank Goon Collection
SINGAPORE.- The sale of the first of three parts of legendary Frank Goon Reference Collection of British Malayan Banknotes – one of the greatest collections of all time - was sold for a hammer price of S$2,297,070 (more than £1.4 million) by London’s specialist auctioneers’ Noonans in their first auction in Singapore on Saturday, March 25, 2023. This part of the Frank Goon Collection, comprising some 250 lots, covered banknotes of Malaya, The Straits Settlements, Sarawak, British North Borneo, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei. “Without doubt, this the finest collection of its type in existence today” says Noonans’ Senior Specialist Barnaby Faull of the Banknotes Department, “we are looking forward to selling the rest of the collection in the coming couple of years.” Among the highlights of the first auction was a replacement ... More

Community steps up to support local charity
CARLISLE.- The charity, like many, have been feeling the squeeze of the cost-of-living-crisis and found that the running cost of their accessible art programmes was increasing. After asking for help on social media, Prism Arts were staggered by the response. Quickly calls and emails began flooding in from members of the community offering the charity their spare art materials. Donations have included a crate of spray cans, printmaking materials, easels, paints and other creative supplies from individuals across Cumbria. A Prism Artist said of the donations: “This is amazing. Thank you so much everyone.” Katie Lock, Visual Arts Lead at Prism Arts, commented: ‘I’d like to say a big thank you for the generosity from the local community. Something as simple as a pack of coloured paper can make a big difference in what we are able to do. With ... More

Exhibition puts Eamon Ore-Giron's early figurative works in dialogue with his recent works in abstraction
AUSTIN, TX.- The Contemporary Austin is presenting an exhibition of paintings from the last twenty years by groundbreaking multidisciplinary artist Eamon Ore-Giron. On view at the Jones Center on Congress Avenue from March 3 to August 20, 2023, Competing with Lightning / Rivalizando con el relámpago examines the trajectory of Ore-Giron’s paintings, and explores the complex layering of identities, histories, and artistic legacies that have influenced his art. Featuring works created between 1998 and 2021, Eamon Ore-Giron: Competing with Lightning / Rivalizando con el relámpago puts the artist’s early figurative works in dialogue with his recent works in abstraction that place both painting traditions within a broader and more complicated history of form in the Americas. The show culminates with six new paintings from the artist’s Infinite ... More

Ann Wilson, last survivor of an influential art scene, dies at 91
NEW YORK, NY.- Ann Wilson, a painter who rose to prominence among the art luminaries who clustered in an industrial stretch of lower Manhattan in the late 1950s, creating an eruption of art between the peak of abstract expressionism and the burst of pop art, died on March 11 at her home in Valatie, New York, in Columbia County. She was 91. Her death was confirmed by her daughter Ara Wilson. Ann Wilson was the last surviving member of the influential Coenties Slip group, which also included Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin and Robert Indiana. The group flourished in a bruised, brawny area near the East River in the days of decline after its industrial heyday a century before. “During the 18th and 19th centuries, this was the heart of New York,” New York Times art critic Holland Cotter wrote in a 1993 retrospective of the storied Coenties Slip art ... More

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On a day like today, Italian painter and architect Raphael was born
March 28, 1483. Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (March 28 or April 6, 1483 - April 6, 1520), known as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form, ease of composition, and visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period. In this image: Raphael, Self-Portrait, 1506 (detail) © Galleria degli Uffizi Florenz, Gabinetto Fotografico delle Gallerie degli Uffizi.

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