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Rocks not so solid on the Met's face

Nairy Baghramian stands in front of one of her sculptures installed in the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York on Sept. 6, 2023. There are some offers an artist cannot refuse — and first among them is the Met’s annual Facade Commission, now in its fourth iteration. This year belongs to Baghramian, an Iranian-born artist who came to Berlin at 14 as a refugee. (Amir Hamja/The New York Times)

by Roberta Smith

NEW YORK, NY.- There are some offers an artist cannot refuse — and first among them is the annual Facade Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, now in its fourth iteration. Unless you’re someone who doesn’t mind the prospect of being forever haunted by what-ifs, you gird your loins and accept the assignment, which is to create sculpture for display in one of the most visible and challenging spots in the New York art world — that is, the four domed niches embedded in the Neoclassical facade of the Met’s main entrance on Fifth Avenue. Each niche frames a plinth and is in turn framed by a pair of robust columns two stories high. The viselike setting is spatially difficult yet culturally rich in opportunities to comment on the treasure house — with its power, prestige, human vanity and folly — just beyond. So you accept and hope your response to the site is commensurate with your achievement. This tends not to happen. The three artists chosen thus far — Wang ... More

The Best Photos of the Day

A spectacular marble cube rises at Ground Zero   Apollo Art Auctions presents exceptional antiquities, ancient art and militaria, Sept. 24   'Holy cow, we found an X-Wing.' Bidding starts at $400,000.

The view from the entrance to the elevated lobby of the new Perelman Performing Arts Center looking back down toward the street and through Perelman’s thin marble curtain wall in Lower Manhattan in New York. (George Etheredge/The New York Times)

by Michael Kimmelman

NEW YORK, NY.- The new Perelman Performing Arts Center is the most glamorous civic building to land in New York in years. The official ribbon cutting was Wednesday. You may have noticed the building under construction if you were near the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan during the past year or so. A floating, translucent marble cube, it nestles at the foot of One World Trade Center, just eight stories high, a runt in a herd of mega-tall commercial skyscrapers but impossible to miss. The $500 million, 129,000-square-foot project arrives at a moment, and in a New York, very different from the one in which it was conceived two decades ago. Back then, the city was all-consumed by grief and fear, its economy in free-fall, ground zero still a smoldering grave site. We were reminded just this week of the toll when the names of the ... More

Circa 1st century BC-1st century AD Roman bronze Montefortino helmet. Bulbous domed bowl, small crest knob, narrow neck guard, fastening clasps for cheek-guards. Depicted in numerous reference books and Christie’s London 2002 catalog for The Axel Guttmann Collection of Ancient Arms and Armour, Pt. I. Estimate: £10,000 -£15,000 ($12,490-$18,735)

LONDON.- Discerning collectors of antiquities, ancient art and material culture know the Apollo Art Auctions name stands for uncompromising quality and authenticity. Their next fully curated event, an Ancient Art, Antiquities and Militaria Auction, will take place on Sunday, September 24 and features a wealth of exquisite and well-provenanced works spanning most of recorded history and chronicling many of the world’s most fascinating civilizations. The London firm, headed by Dr Ivan Bonchev (PhD, University of Oxford), conducts its business from a tastefully appointed showroom and gallery in Central London and presents its premier auction selections to an international clientele through LiveAuctioneers’ online-bidding platform. Throughout the ages, artists have been drawn to forms, whether of humans, ... More

After a Hollywood visual effects artist died last year, friends found a rare model of the Rebel Alliance starfighter from the original “Star Wars” movie in his garage.

by Michael Levenson

NEW YORK, NY.- When Greg Jein, an Oscar-nominated visual effects artist, died last year at age 76, he left behind thousands of props, miniatures, costumes and other possessions in two houses, two garages and two storage units in Los Angeles. Among his many belongings, he had a lace hairpiece worn by William Shatner as Captain Kirk in the original “Star Trek” television series; a nearly 7-foot-long Martian rocket ship from the 1952 movie serial “Zombies of the Stratosphere,” featuring a young Leonard Nimoy; and Batman’s yellow utility belt from the 1960s television show, starring Adam West. Going through the collection after Jein died in May 2022 “was like a treasure hunt because Greg knew where things were, but it was not organized,” said his cousin, Jerry Chang. “As you moved a stack of books away, you’d go, ‘Oh, my god, I recognize ... More

Withstanding the passage of time, but not the shaking of the Earth   AstaGuru to offer a diverse collection of works by leading contemporary artists   Tate appoints two new curators specialising in ecology and First Nations and Indigenous Art

The historic Great Mosque of Tinmel, extensively damaged by the earthquake, in the High Atlas Mountains village of Tinmel, Morocco, Sept. 15, 2023. (Nariman El-Mofty/The New York Times)

by Vivian Yee and Aida Alami

MARRAKECH.- A team of archaeologists, historians and engineers had nearly finished a monthslong restoration of the Tinmel Mosque, a 1,000-year-old jewel of Moorish architecture set deep in the mountains of Morocco, when a powerful earthquake barreled through the area a week ago. By the time it was over, the intricate domes and graceful arches, first built by the dynasty that conquered parts of Spain as well as North Africa in the 12th century, had crumbled. Tinmel was “a reflection of an extraordinary civilization, the apogee of this civilization,” said Abdallah Fili, an archaeologist and professor at the University of El Jadida who was leading the restoration. “It was a beautiful project. Unfortunately, fate ... More

Anish Kapoor, UNTITLED, 54.7 x 54.7 x 13.8 in (138.9 x 138.9 x 35.1 cm). Lacquered bronze mirror, 2013. Estimate: INR 3,32,00,000 – 4,98,00,000 / $ 400,000 - 600,000.

MUMBAI.- AstaGuru will present the next edition of its ‘Present Future’ Contemporary Art Auction with an eclectic assortment of artworks by leading contemporary artists, including Anish Kapoor, Bharti Kher, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, Nataraj Sharma, Valay Shende, Suryakant Lokhande, Ranbir Singh Kaleka, Surendran Nair, Bose Krishnamachari, N.S. Harsha, Jagannath Panda, Mithu Sen, Baiju Parthan, Chittrovanu Mazumdar, T.V. Santhosh, Jayashree Chakravarty, Sheila Makhijani, G R Iranna, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Sudhir Patwardhan, among others. The finely curated catalogue with over 100 works in diverse styles, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, and mixed media art, perfectly represents the prevalent art trends and gives an insight into the future of contemporary ... More

Marleen Boschen (photo: Dominique Russell, 2023)

LONDON.- Tate announced the appointment of two new curators as part of its ongoing strategy to explore new perspectives on global art histories. Marleen Boschen has been appointed the institution’s first Adjunct Curator dedicated to art and ecology – a position that will develop narratives around ecological issues and further Tate’s commitment to climate justice. Kimberley Moulton will take on the role of Adjunct Curator specialising in First Nations and Indigenous Art, continuing the innovative research and scholarship undertaken in this field. Beginning in September 2023, both positions will sit within the Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational, which helps to challenge and revise dominant art histories by highlighting the global exchanges of artists and ideas. Integrated within Tate Modern’s curatorial team, the Centre contributes to exhibitions, displays, acquisitions and events across Tate’s four galleries a ... More

Requiem by Chris Ofili unveiled at Tate Britain   The Dutch Golden Age comes to Bonhams with an important single-owner collection   National Air and Space Museum receives over $11 million from National Science Foundation

Chris Ofili, Requiem, 2023 (detail) commissioned for Tate Britain’s north staircase © Chris Ofili. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Thierry Bal.

LONDON.- A major new site-specific work by Chris Ofili was unveiled at Tate Britain. Spanning three walls, Requiem pays tribute to fellow artist Khadija Saye and remembers the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire. It offers a poetic reflection on loss, spirituality and transformation. Chris Ofili met Khadija Saye in May 2017 when they were both exhibiting work in Venice. One month later, Saye died in the Grenfell Tower fire. Memories of their meeting had a profound impact on Ofili, which helped him find a path to create the mural Requiem. The finished work opens to the public today following private viewings for Saye’s family and the Grenfell community earlier this month. Requiem is a journey through an imagined landscape of giant skies with vast horizons and flowing water, unfolding in three chapters. The left-hand wall depicts a bowing figure representing a prophet or witness. He holds the burning tower as though conducting a ceremony of ... More

A pair of Louis XV ormolu mounted Chinese 'Clair de Lune' celadon glazed porcelain garniture vases (1678-1735). Estimate £50,000 – 80,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- An exceptional single-owner collection of furniture, silver, ceramics, and clocks, as well as an extensive library, all belonging to the late Dutch connoisseur-collector Cornelis Paulus van Pauwvliet, will come to Bonhams New Bond Street on Tuesday 21 November. Charlie Thomas, Bonhams UK Group Director of House Sales and Private and Iconic Collections, Furniture and Works of Art, commented, “This exceptional private collection represents the very best of Dutch and French Fine and Decorative Works of Art. Diligently assembled by Cornelis Paulus van Pauwvliet over a 50-year period and housed in his Amsterdam home, a stone’s throw from the Rijksmuseum, the works in this sale showcase the evolution of Dutch taste from the 17th century to the late 19th century.” The influence of the French style on Dutch interiors, following the arrival of the Huguenots from France to the Netherlands in the 1600s, ... More

Artist's rendering depicts the new Discovering Our Universe Gallery featuring lenses at the center to augment the starry sky and the Bruce Telescope at rear.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has received over $11 million from the U.S. National Science Foundation to support the creation of the new “National Science Foundation Discovering Our Universe” exhibition. The exhibition will illuminate how the development of new and more precise tools transformed humankind’s understanding of the origin, content and fate of the universe. It is anticipated to open in 2026 and is part of the museum’s ongoing transformation of its galleries at its flagship building in Washington, D.C. “We are very appreciative of the National Science Foundation’s generous support of the transformed ‘Discovering Our Universe’ exhibition,” said Chris Browne, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the museum. “NSF was one of the original supporters of the museum’s prior version of this exhibition, the ‘Explore the Universe’ gallery, whic ... More

Jann Wenner defends his legacy, and his generation's   When the wig is a character: Backstage at Jocelyn Bioh's new play   In 'The Refuge Plays,' Nicole Ari Parker comes home

Jann Wenner, a co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, at home in Montauk, N.Y. on Aug. 22, 2022. (Dana Scruggs/The New York Times)

by David Marchese

NEW YORK, NY.- In 2019, Jann Wenner officially left Rolling Stone, the magazine he co-founded in 1967, but he hasn’t left it behind. Since stepping away from the iconic publication, where I briefly worked as an online editor a decade ago, Wenner, 77, has written two books rooted in his time there. The first, a hefty, dishy memoir called “Like a Rolling Stone,” was a bestseller after it was published last year. The second, “The Masters,” which will be published Sept. 26, consists of interviews that Wenner conducted during his Rolling Stone years with rock legends including Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Bono and others, as well as a new interview with Bruce Springsteen. Those interviews — lengthy, deeply informed, insightful — are the kinds of pieces that helped Rolling Stone earn the reputation it held for so long as the music publication. Under Wenner’s guidance, the magazine also developed a reputation as a source ... More

The actress Kalyne Coleman, who plays three characters in “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding,” at a fitting for one of her wigs, called Strawberry Knotless Afro-Pop Bob, in New York, Aug. 31, 2023. The styles in “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding,” in previews on Broadway, require a wig designer, several braiders, some synthetic hair and lots of patience. (Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times)

NEW YORK, NY.- Known for her amusing scripts and plaited hairstyles, Jocelyn Bioh can count only three times when she was without braids. “There’s a real freedom in getting your braids done,” she said. “Then you don’t have to worry about your hair for the next few weeks.” The playwright’s lifelong commitment to interwoven hairdos inspired “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding,” a Broadway comedy about a day in the life of a hair braiding salon. It’s most likely the first Broadway play to shine a spotlight on Black women’s hair, and what it takes to style it. Set in central Harlem, around 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue (where many of these salons are clustered), “Jaja’s” presents a spirited group of West African hair stylists as their designs take shape and they juggle the uncertainties and perplexities ... More

Nicole Ari Parker in New York, Aug. 23, 2023. Parker returns to the stage after a decade away as a woman living off the grid in Nathan Alan Davis’s “The Refuge Plays.” (Victor Llorente/The New York Times)

NEW YORK, NY.- On the Max series “And Just Like That … ,” Nicole Ari Parker plays the elegant documentarian Lisa Todd Wexley. New York audiences will soon see her in another guise, as a great-grandmother living off the grid in Southern Illinois. Her go-to accessory? An ax. This is Early, the woman at the center of Nathan Alan Davis’ “The Refuge Plays,” directed by Patricia McGregor and produced by Roundabout Theater Company in association with New York Theater Workshop. “What the theater gives me,” Parker said, “is the feeling that I’m using everything.” At a recent rehearsal, she had bounded onto the stage in a pink jumpsuit and makeup that aged her several decades. At the start of the first play, Early is in her 80s. The subsequent plays revert her to her 40s, then her 20s. This is Parker’s first stage role since she played Blanche DuBois on Broadway a decade ago, and previews begin Saturday. Asked in a warmup exercise how she felt, Parker ... More

More News
'Sea Chantey' night at the bar: A rowdy, joyous ritual for lxandlubbers
ESSEX, CONN .- From the darkness of a tavern in Essex, the first lines of the maritime folk song “Old Maui” cut through the bar chatter: “It’s a damn tough life full of toil and strife we whalermen undergo/ And we don’t give a damn when the day is done how hard the winds did blow.” When it came time for the chorus, almost everyone joined in. “Rolling down to Old Maui, rolling down to Old Maui,” they sang. “We’re homeward bound from the Arctic ground, rolling down to Old Maui.” The centuries-old harmonies overlapped, swelling to the corners of the original ceiling. Dozens of patrons stomped on the uneven wooden floorboards as they sang, sloshing Guinness over the rims of their pint glasses. “It just gets the cobwebs out of your soul,” said Kitsie Reeves, 68, a former flight attendant who has loved sea music for decades. “It’s like a porthole into the past.” ... More

The Rabbi whisperer: A playwright helps sermon writers find their voice
NEW YORK, NY.- Football players have the Super Bowl. Actors have the Oscars. For rabbis, it’s Rosh Hashana. The Jewish New Year is a time of reflection and celebration. But for clergy, who preach to pews swelled with once-a-year attendees, it is a high-pressure moment: All eyes are on them to come up with the pitch-perfect sermon that will keep congregants inspired, engaged — and awake. That is why rabbis from New York, Texas and beyond have been known to place a call for an unlikely source of backup: a former advertising executive from New York City. Call her the Rabbi Whisperer. Over the past eight years, Michele Lowe has emerged as a resource for dozens of rabbis, becoming — to her surprise — something like a college-essay coach for the rabbinate. Via word-of-mouth, her contact information has been passed ... More

Echoing federal theater project, 18 towns plan simultaneous events
NEW YORK, NYX.- One night in the fall of 1936, with fascism rising in Europe, theaters in 18 cities and towns across the United States staged productions of the dystopian play, “It Can’t Happen Here,” under the auspices of the Federal Theater Project, which was created to provide Depression-era artists with work. Now, inspired by that moment, organizations in 18 American cities and towns are planning a contemporary version of that endeavor: On a single day next summer, they will each present a participatory arts project responding to a more hopeful prompt, “No Place Like Home,” from the “Wizard of Oz.” Given the atomization of American culture, the communities will not present a single show — in fact, many of them are not staging shows at all — but they will each come up with ways to express something that connects notions ... More

The most reprinted cartoon in 'New Yorker' history barks up Heritage's Illustration Art event in October
DALLAS, TX.- Google the phrase: "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." There will be no shortage of search results, beginning with the extensive Wikipedia entry cataloging the creation of Peter Steiner's ubiquitous New Yorker cartoon in 1993, its numerous uses throughout pop culture over the past three decades, and its myriad meanings and interpretations since Steiner first put pen to paper. You will also find several news stories about Steiner's cartoon — featuring, natch, two dogs sitting at a computer — among them a 2000 New York Times piece headlined "Cartoon Captures Spirit of the Internet" and a 2013 Washington Post anniversary commemoration noting that "as iconic Internet cartoon turns 20, creator Peter Steiner knows the joke rings as relevant as ever." If you didn't see the cartoon in the July 5, 1993, issue ... More

Coin collection stashed in Boston garage nears $1 million at Heritage Auctions
DALLAS, TX.- A collection that had been tucked away for decades in a garage in Boston sparked a frenzy of competitive bidding for an assortment of fresh-to-market coins, lifting Heritage's The Boston Collection US Coins Showcase Auction to $987,789 September 11. The collection included boxes that were postmarked as early as 1942, including correspondence from the U.S. Mint, that remained unopened until this auction. "The collection was put together in the 1940s, '50s and '60s by the grandfathers of the consignors, who discovered it in a garage," says Sam Foose, Senior Consignment Director at Heritage Auctions. "Much of the material in this collection has never been offered at auction before, and the aggressive bidding underscored the significance of this collection. Among the highlights in the auction were boxes of Proof sets. A box of 25 unopened mint-sealed Proof ... More

Beatrix Potter, Alberto Vargas and Gil Elvgren lead Heritage's Oct. 6 Illustration Art Auction
DALLAS, TX.- It won't surprise fans of illustration that the largest collection of Beatrix Potter's work resides with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and that when one of Potter's drawings does manage to find its way to auction, it tends to sell for above its estimate. Potter, the grande dame of children's book illustration, took the world by storm in 1902 with the release of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and her reputation as the most significant artist in this beloved category holds strong to this day. She was a prolific albeit discriminating producer, and it's a rare day that one of her original drawings becomes available to the determined collector. How about three drawings? The three illustrations from Potter's There was an Old Woman Who lived in a Shoe, circa 1917, are ink and watercolor on paper and encompass all the coziness and wit of ... More

3 actors, 1 unshakable bond
NEW YORK, NY.- What promises to be the most passionate love story of the new Broadway season is a tale of three people. Like many triangles, this one involves jealousy, guilt, misunderstanding, recrimination and betrayal. As is usually the case with such affairs, it begins in ecstasy and ends in tragedy. (You could also say it begins in tragedy and ends in ecstasy, but more on that later.) One big difference, though, between this triangle and the more classic variety: Sex is not part of the equation for its leading lovers. What propels the highs and lows of “Merrily We Roll Along,” the 1981 Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical that begins performances this month at the Hudson Theater, is friendship. But for the stars of this first Broadway revival — Jonathan Groff, Lindsay Mendez and Daniel Radcliffe — embodying the implosion of that ... More

Smithsonian American Art Museum releases 10 new digital comics
WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonian American Art Museum has published 10 new digital comics, each celebrating a woman artist represented in the museum’s permanent collection. The trailblazing artists featured in the 2023 set of the series “Drawn to Art: Tales of Inspiring Women Artists” are Laura Aguilar, Tanya Aguiñiga, Emma Amos, Chitra Ganesh, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Miriam Schapiro, Lilly Martin Spencer, Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke/Crow) and Consuelo Jimenez Underwood. This latest group of comics marks the third installment of the museum’s online series since launching in 2021. “Seeing the stories of women artists made central in this creative project from the nation’s preeminent museum of American art gives girls and women a chance to see themselves represented and to draw inspiration ... More

Latinas make breaking news in Smithsonian Spanish-language TV exhibition
WASHINGTON, DC.- Television is powerful, and millions of Americans see their community in Spanish-language TV. “¡De última hora! Latinas Report Breaking News,” is a bilingual exhibit that opened Sept.15 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. It showcases the work of Latina journalists and how they wrote the first draft of history for major U.S. events for the Spanish-language communities they report on and for. Working in the fast-paced, ever-changing environment of broadcast news, these journalists became powerful advocates for their communities and report the breaking news that is de última hora. The relationship between Spanish-language TV and American history is explored in the exhibition through the collective experience of seven journalists as examples of the ways Latinas have reported on historic ... More

CIA discloses identity of second spy involved in 'Argo' operation
NEW YORK, NY.- In the midst of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, the CIA began what came to be noted as one of the spy agency’s most successful publicly known operations: the rescue of six American diplomats who had escaped the overrun U.S. Embassy — using a fake movie as the cover story. “Argo,” the real-life 2012 movie about the CIA’s fake movie, portrayed a single CIA officer, Tony Mendez, played by Ben Affleck, sneaking into Tehran to rescue the American diplomats in a daring operation. But in reality, the agency sent two officers into Tehran. For the first time Thursday, the CIA is releasing the identity of that second officer, Ed Johnson, in the season finale of its new podcast, “The Langley Files.” Johnson, a linguist, accompanied Mendez, a master of disguise and forgery, on the flight to Tehran to cajole the diplomats into adopting ... More

Luc Tuymans | PROGRAM

On a day like today, Dutch realist painter Anton Mauve was born
September 18, 1838. Anthonij (Anton) Rudolf Mauve (18 September 1838, Zaandam, North Holland - 5 February 1888, Arnhem) was a Dutch realist painter who was a leading member of the Hague School. He signed his paintings 'A. Mauve' or with a monogrammed 'A.M.'. A master colorist, he was a very significant early influence on his cousin-in-law Vincent van Gogh. In this image: Morning Ride on the Beach (1876), oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum.

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