Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Art World's Weekly Roundup

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House.
Art Round-Up for The Week of September 9th, 2007
By Alex Starace

Man Turning on the Light by Francis Bacon.
Accidents can happen. It’s the clean-up that’s important. For example, in 1969 Francis Bacon’s squalor-filled studio burned to the ground – he needed a new place to work. The Royal College of Art in London offered a space, asking only that in repayment the famed artist donate one of his paintings to the college.

Now, nearly forty years later, the RCA is reaping the benefits of its Good Samaritan role. The college is planning on auctioning off the painting in question, Study for the Human Body: Man Turning on the Light, for an estimated $18.25 million.

Even though Bacon has been deceased for fifteen years, there is no controversy about the sale – in the 1980s, when the RCA first considered selling the work, Bacon gave his full approval, provided the funds help the college. And they will: the RCA is planning to use the money to help build a new campus at Battersea. [The Guardian]
Francis Bacon in one of his notoriously filthy studios.
American Express is giving $1 million dollars for historic preservation in Chicago. The donation is part of an intriguing, American Idol-ish marketing campaign.

In an effort to raise awareness of the Windy City’s many architectural gems as well as to raise AmEx’s profile, Chicagoans will get an opportunity to vote online for their favorite historic sites.

The winning vote getter will have its preservation project funded, though most projects in the contest cost under $1 million – there may be money left over for runners’-up projects. Before voting began this fall, the National Trust for Historic Houses winnowed the field to twenty-five worthy landmarks in and around metro Chicago. The NTHH’s selections include The International Museum of Surgical Science, The Grosse Point Lighthouse, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House. Voting continues through October 10th. [The Chicago Tribune]
International Museum of Surgical Science and Grosse Point Lighthouse.
The controversy-embroiled Barnes Foundation is moving forward with its plan to relocate to Philadelphia. Last week, the city’s mayor, John F. Street, and the Foundation agreed in principle to a long-term lease at a site along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that’s currently occupied by a juvenile detention center.

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien at work on a project.
A few days later, the Barnes Foundation announced that the New York-based husband-wife duo of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien will design the new building. The architects, who designed the American Folk Art Museum in Manhattan, face their biggest challenge yet: they are contractually obligated to re-create as closely as possible the feeling of the late Dr. Barnes’s Merion, Pennsylvania, home – the original site of the Foundation and its spectacular collection of Renoirs, Cezannes, Matisses and Picassos.

But, even while they honor the integrity of the original suburban site, they are expected to add a tasteful urban flare to the new location. Since the controversy of the relocation is ongoing, a date for groundbreaking has not yet been set: opponents of the Foundation’s move have already filed a petition with Montgomery County to have this latest bit of progress rescinded. [CentreDaily.com] & [The New York Times]


A Figure Pendant (an example of pre-Columbian art).
Christie’s in New York has decided to discontinue its sale of pre-Columbian art. There is some speculation that the auction house made the decision after pressure from a joint effort by the Peruvian and U.S. governments to stop the looting of antiquities from the Andes.

However, according to The Art Newspaper, Christie’s insists that the discontinuation is purely a business decision. At its last pre-Columbian auction, the house netted $915,000, but only two-thirds of the lots sold. [The Art Newspaper]

The Museum of Arts and Design has hired Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims as a full-time curator, reports Carol Vogel of The New York Times. Dr. Sims was a long-time curator at the Met before becoming president and executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem. She is not replacing anyone in her new position – the Museum of Arts and Design is adding staff in anticipation of next year’s move to a bigger, purpose-built location on Columbus Circle. [The New York Times]

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