Monday, September 02, 2013

Photos Summer 2013

 
4th of July 2013
Washington Monument
 
 
National Geographic



Night Sky Patagonia
 
 
 
 
Crocodile Serengeti
 
 

Ghadames, Libya

Photograph by George Steinmetz, National Geographic
Tight clusters of traditional mud-brick-and-palm houses have stood for centuries in Ghadames, a pre-Roman oasis town in the Sahara. Rooftop walkways allowed women to move freely, concealed from men’s view.
 
 
 
 

My Word Summer 2013

It has been a great summer with Roadshow traveling to eight cities and with the opportunity of finding some very interesting pieces. As you will see after the segments air beginning in January 2014, our experience on the road continues to be unpredictable. This summer a number of us tried to take advantage of these locations by visiting local attractions. The highlights include the museums in Boise Idaho, the Nottoway Plantation south of Baton Rouge, the Virginia Museum of Art in Richmond, and certainly the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City. We have shared some of the photos along the way thanks to our new social media expert Jessica Tomberlin, who is also now regularly contributing to the blog.

As the summer ends Kim and I continue to be involved with some great appraisal assignments both for public institutions and private clients. We were delighted to help Lark and Erica Mason of Igavel.com appraise the collection at the McClung Museum in Knoxville. We also just completed an appraisal of the 242 pieces of Lega art from the Fowler Museum and Jay Last bound for an exhibition at Quai Branly in Paris.

My apologies for not reporting on the results of the June auctions, but here is the link for these posted on Tribal Art magazine: http://www.tribalartmagazine.com/en/a_la_une/evenement/resultats_des_ventes_publiques.html

You will also hear in the near future of some major finds over the summer of objects that will be on the market very soon. We are also very excited about a million dollar plus appraisal in Knoxville TN which will be seen after January 2014 on Roadshow's season 18. Host Mark Wahlberg and I  had a great time shooting this segment.

Like many small businesses we continue to wonder what the continuing economic challenges will hold for the art market. The Fall sales will be revealing.

The Maurer Margolis neckrest collection will be seen at Bonhams in New York this November.

On a more positive note Barbara and I will finally be in New England to see the Fall foliage in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. We will be posting fun photos on Twitter and Facebook.

When we return we will offer an abbreviated Newsletter to preview the sales and things that will be offered this Fall in the gallery.

JB

Technology in the Art and Auction World Summer 2013

We have discussed extensively the many changes taking place in the art and auction world as a consequence of changing technology. When most of the pundits are lamenting a soft middle and lower market, Christies online push is worth noting.

1. NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announced Summer Jewels, their first ever online-only sale of jewelry including over 100 lots from contemporary jewelers with price points accessible to a wide range of collectors. This glittering array of ear pendants, necklaces, bracelets, cufflinks and more is highlighted by up and coming designers Lily Gabriella Elia and Olivia Wildenstein with vibrant pieces from the eponymous label of Marina Bulgari, Marina B. The sale will open for bidding Wednesday, July 17th and run through Friday, July 26th and is accessible via www.christies.com/summerjewels.

François Curiel, Chairman of Christie’s Jewelry Department, commented: “This inaugural online-only sale of Summer Jewels is an exciting new venture for us at Christie’s. After a historic spring season of auction sales, we are pleased to offer collectors a new way to collect jewelry with Christie’s and to introduce a specially-curated array of designs by some of the young shining stars working within the jewelry world today.”

Brazilian born designer Lily Gabriella Elia offers her namesake collection, Lily Gabriella, which features gold of all colors often combined with precious and semi-precious gemstones. Elia draws influences from fine art to modern architecture producing contemporary designs using traditional methods. Highlights consist of a diamond pendant necklace (estimate: $4,000 – 5,000), an 18K white gold and diamond ring inspired by Elia’s South American heritage (estimate: $2,800 – 3,800) and an amethyst, diamond and gold necklace (estimate: $3,500 – 4,500).

Keemee designer Olivia Wildenstein developed her eye for accessories after an internship with Oscar de la Renta thus leading to her creation of gem-set jewelry. Wildenstein's creations are comprised of rounded and organic jewels worked in 18K gold, diamonds and cultured pearls. Top selects comprise of a citrine and diamond ‘Bonbon’ ring (estimate: $1,000 – 1,500), a garnet and diamond ‘Bonbon’ ring (estimate: $1,000 – 1,500), and a pair of cultured pearl and diamond “Coeurs Enlacés” ear pendants (estimate: $6,000 – 8,000).

2. Just google any of these apps for more info to insytall on your smart phone or ipad.
1.Leonardo da Vinci's the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum, ParisPhoto © Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
The Louvre app is a visual delight and features over 100 of the Museum's beloved masterpieces such as the famous Mona Lisa.
With each artwork, several close-up photographic details and a brief text are included. An interior map also shows where the artwork is installed, thus making your museum visit a breeze.
The photographs of the artwork and its details are visually stunning. If you only can choose one museum app, then the Louvre app is a must-have.
2. The British Museum, London
The British Museum app includes photos and descriptions of important works in its collection. Audio clips describe the Museum's 10 key works such as the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Sculptures, the Mexican Mosaics and the Benin Bronzes.
In addition, maps highlight places to visit in the area of the Museum, making this app a useful tool for visiting London.
Besides being useful for tourists, the app is educational as it contains details such as being able to read the hieroglyphics of the Rosetta Stone.
3. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
the State Heritage MuseumPhoto by Sean Gallup/Getty Images
The State Hermitage Museum app will give you a virtual sense of being inside the museum and looking at the art in the individual galleries.
The app provides virtual and thematic tours, and educational courses. Highlights include in-depth info (both visual and text) about the artwork of da Vinci and Rembrandt.
4. Uffizi Gallery, Florence
The Uffizi Gallery app will take you on a virtual tour of its famous galleries.
The app also highlights the collection's important works such as Giotto’s Madonna Enthroned, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Leonardo’s Annunciation, Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch and Caravaggio's Medusa.
5. National Gallery, London
The National Gallery in London's app includes brief data on approximately 250 works, while going into high-res details on selected artworks. Also video, audio, and searching by theme are included.
6. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
The Rijksmuseum app provides detailed texts and high-resolution imagery of its classic art such as works by Vermeer and Rembrandt. Besides the Dutch Masters, the Museum's collection includes a wide variety of traditional, and spiritual Asian art.
7. Museum of Modern Art, NYC
(c) Getty Images
The Museum of Modern Art app gets rave reviews from users. The app contains multimedia tours, audio and video podcasts, plus detailed information about the Museum's artworks and exhibitions.
8. National Palace Museum, Taipei
The National Palace Museum app contains high-res imagery of its impressive collection of ancient and traditional Chinese art and culture. However, the app is in Chinese, so if you do not understand the language, you can at least enjoy the photographs.

What we all our waiting for is a Yelp type of app that will constantly download calendar information on the types of art events and exhibitions that we are interested in attending. We all hate filing all the mailers and calendars and then trying remember where and it is happening. The data is out there with Twitter and Facebook, so its just a matter of time before we get this.. JB



Auction World Summer 2013

1. NEW YORK, NY.- On November 15, 2013, Sotheby’s will present The Collection of Allan Stone: African, Oceanic and Indonesian Art - Volume One from the famous collections of the legendary New York art dealer. A second sale of equal size will be held in November 2014: The Collection of Allan Stone: African, Pre-Columbian, and Native American Art - Volume Two. The collection is the most significant African and Oceanic Art collection to be offered in New York since the Helena Rubinstein auction in 1966. Many of the works offered have been featured extensively in museum exhibitions and important publications; most recently a small selection from the collection was the subject of the critically-acclaimed exhibition Power Incarnate: Allan Stone’s Collection of Sculpture from the Congo in 2011. Among the highlights is an exceptional group of Songye Power Figures and Kongo Nail Power Figures from the Democratic Republic of the Congo – two of the most iconic genres of African Art. The collection, over 300 works in all, also features particularly important selections of art from Nigeria, Cameroon, and Mali. Overall the collection is estimated to fetch in excess of $20 million. Highlights from the sale will be on exhibition at Sotheby’s Paris during Parcours des Mondes from 10-14 September, and the entire Volume One sale will be on view

Allan Stone (1932-2006) started collecting African and Oceanic art while still a student in the early 1960s. Stone spearheaded the movement of postwar art galleries featuring African and Oceanic artworks within the context of their contemporary art exhibitions. Already in the early years of his gallery career, he sought affinities between African and Oceanic Art and avant-garde Western artists. He juxtaposed paintings by artists such as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, and John Graham with highly expressive African power figures from the Congolese Songye and Kongo peoples. Like the works by de Kooning and Kline, and also the sculptures of John Chamberlain, these sculptures in his personal collection are manifestations of an artistic vision that seeks to feature expressive energy through powerful accumulations of mixed media.

Stone acquired the pieces to be offered over more than 40 years, purchasing from auction houses as well as the foremost dealers in the field. He became one of the most important collectors of his generation, and was a frequent bidder at early Parke-Bernet auctions in the 1960s. Stone also bought from all the leading galleries at the time, including John J. Klejman, New York; Merton D. Simpson, New York; Henri Kamer, Paris; Alain de Monbrison, Paris; Hélène and Philippe Leloup, Paris.

The upcoming auctions of African, Oceanic, Indonesian, Pre-Columbian and Native American Art follow three Contemporary Art auctions of works from the collection of Allan Stone held in 2011, all of which exceeded their pre-sale high estimates, bringing over $68 million and setting numerous artists records.

Heinrich Schweizer, Senior Vice President and Head of the African and Oceanic Art Department in New York commented: “Allan Stone’s collection of African, Oceanic, Indonesian, Pre-Columbian, and Native American Art represents the essence of his unique artistic vision. His deep understanding of the aesthetics of artists from primary cultures is mirrored by his visionary focus on the many postwar artists whose careers were made at the Allan Stone Gallery through the 1960s and 70s. Preserved in a time capsule for nearly 50 years, and highlighted in "The Collector: Allan Stone's Life in Art" (a film created by his youngest daughter Olympia Stone), the Stone Collection was created at a moment in time when Nelson Rockefeller and Dominique de Menil assembled their equally legendary collections, which are today housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Menil Collection in Houston. The Collection of Allan Stone is the last of these three historic collections to remain in private hands, and no other collection of comparable quality and depth has ever come to the market in the United States.”

Jean Fritts, Senior Director and International Chairman of the African and Oceanic Art Department in London, adds: “This auction is a historic event, right in line with other landmark auctions in the field such as the Helena Rubinstein Collection sold at Sotheby’s in New York in 1966 and the Pierre and Claude Vérité Collection sold in Paris in 2006, both of which shaped the taste of entire generations of collectors. Allan Stone was a taste-maker and a visionary, and the longawaited sale of his collection presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for private collectors and institutions around the world.”

The Allan Stone Collection is most well-known for its strong holdings of Songye Power Figures and Kongo Nail Power Figures, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is indeed the largest private collection in the world of these extremely rare works. Stone bought his first Songye Power Figure in the sale of the collection of Helena Rubinstein at Sotheby Parke-Bernet in 1966, and subsequently added over 40 more to his collection. Carved of wood in human or animal form, these sculptures were used in traditional central African ritual practice to harness spiritual forces for aid, protection, healing, or revenge. Sacred materials chosen for their mystical or metaphorical significance are applied or inserted into the figures, which thereby accumulated power; not unlike the accumulative sculptures by Joseph Cornell and the action paintings by Jackson Pollock. Several large-scale Songye figures in the collection feature particularly remarkable assemblages of materials, including the famous Songye Four-Horned Figure which was the centerpiece of the seminal exhibition Africa: the Art of a Continent held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1996. Similarly, the Kongo Nail Power Figures bristle with nails, spikes, blades, and other metal implements inserted into their surfaces over the course of their long history of ritual use, attesting to their many successes.

A particularly remarkable aspect of the collection is the original condition of the artworks. Unlike other early collectors who removed ritual material from the sculptures, Stone left the works untouched, and today the works in his collection often retain their original oily or crusty ritually-applied surfaces and rich arrays of various attachments.


in New York from 9-14 November, 2013.

Stolen Art Summer 2013



1. Stolen Books
Book thefts and recovery: How the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers Use Stolen-
book.org
Posted: 24 Aug 2013 12:00 AM PDT
by A. M. C. Knutsson
Reporting and retracing stolen books might to the uninitiated seem like an herculean mission, with vast edition runs and reproductions it can seem impossible to identify a stolen copy even if it would re-emerge on the market. However, as with most objects years of love and use have set their marks also on these once indistinguishable edition copies and the people involved with the books can often recognize ‘their’ copy at a glance. Here we shall consider the leading stolen book database stolen-book.org, which works with the venerable task of reuniting books with their owners.
Stolen-book.org is the largest specialized stolen book database currently in existence and most dealers and major auction houses rely on their email alerts in order to keep up with stolen printed material and manuscripts. There are some smaller, national lost-book databases but with their limited scope and their haphazard maintenance they do not pose a considerable competition to stolen-book.org.
Stolen-book.org was instigated as part of the main ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers) website in 2010 when that website was redesigned and the older version of stolen-book was restructured. This worldwide database covers maps and documents as well as full books. It builds on information submitted by ILAB affiliates, currently over 1850 members all over the globe. Members can submit information on stolen books through a private section on the site. A basic template is provided, which included sections for specifics of binding, ex libris or provenance characteristics. The editor reviews the submitted forms and frequently updates the database, either daily or several times a day. Usually an email is issued to all affiliates a few minutes after a new stolen book posting informing of newly conducted thefts.
Public access to Stolen-book.org is free access for basic details of stolen goods. However, the bookseller’s section, which contains more in-depth information, requires a login and is available only to affiliates.
In addition to bookseller’s loss reports, Stolen-book.org includes thefts from public libraries and other book and document holding institutions.
Last November ILAB was invited to the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) security conference with the aim to strengthen ties between institutional libraries and to make librarians realize that the main motive behind library thefts is to make a monetary profit. Therefore, quick co-operation and interchange of information between libraries and law-enforcement agencies through ILAB and stolen-book.org would improve chances of fast returns of stolen property.
With Special thanks to Gonzalo Fernandez Pontes, ILAB Security Chair, for supplying the information about Stolen-book.org.

2. This is a fascinating interview that is part of the discussion we have had in the Newsletter about provenance and the law.

Optical Due Diligence: Art Loss Register Claims To Vet Ancient Art. Does it?

Thirty years ago, a Getty antiquities curator coined the phrase "optical due diligence" -- creating the appearance of caution while continuing to buying suspect antiquities.
Today, that continues to be the favored approach for much of the art world. Museums, auction houses, private collectors and dealers all claim to vet ancient art to make certain it was not illegally excavated. Yet we keep learning that the vetting process failed to prevent the acquisition of recently looted art.

A key facilitator of this fiction is the Art Loss Register, a for-profit registry based in London. ALR charges nearly $100 for a search of its files, touted as "the world's largest database of stolen art." In return, a client receives a certificate stating "at the date that the search was made the item had not been registered as stolen." Sadly, that caveat-laden certificate has become the coin of the realm for due diligence in the art world.
As we
revealed recently, the certificate offered no protection to the National Gallery of Australia, which purchased a stolen bronze Shiva after receiving an ALR search certificate from antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor:
The NGA was merely the latest to learn that, when it comes to antiquities at least, ALR certificates are not worth the paper they're printed on. David Gill recently
noted that the ALR claims to protect buyers, but appears to have provided certificates for the Christies sale of antiquities that have since been tied to known loot dealers Giacamo Medici, Robin Symes and Gianfranco Becchina.
Tom Flynn recently wrote that the ALR "is not a force for good," adding that "a virtual market monopoly in Due Diligence provision is not good for the art market." He cited this example of ALR's shady dealings outside the area of antiquities:
In 2008, it was revealed that the company had been approached by a Kent art dealer, Michael Marks, who was seeking to conduct Due Diligence on a painting by the Indian Modernist artist Francis Newton Souza, which Mr Marks was hoping to buy. Marks was told by ALR chairman Julian Radcliffe that the painting was not on the ALR's database of stolen art. It was.
In the court judgment issued by Justice Tugenhadt, it emerged that: "After Mr Marks had paid the search fee, he spoke to Mr Radcliffe. It is common ground that Mr Radcliffe told Mr Marks that if Mr Marks were to buy the Paintings, he, Mr Radcliffe, had a client who was interested in buying them from Mr Marks. Mr Marks asked Mr Radcliffe whether there was a problem with good title, and Mr Radcliffe said that there was not. It is common ground, and Mr Radcliffe accepts, that he misled Mr Marks."
Given this history, we were curious why the ALR continues to issue certificates for ancient art -- and why the art world continues to accept them as evidence of anything. In June, Jason contacted ALR founder Julian Radcliffe for his views on the issue. Here are excerpts from our conversation:
Jason Felch: Why does ALR provide search certificates for ancient art when there is obviously no documented theft when most antiquities are looted?




Julian Radcliffe: We are aware of the fact that our certifications are waved in the air saying, 'Look what a good boy we are.' We don’t like that. Ten years ago, the police and Carabinieri came to us and said, 'Your certifications are being abused by bad guys who are waving them around as proof of clear title.' We all know illegal excavations are not in the database. So 10 years ago we said, we’ll stop giving any certifications for antiquities, a difficult area. Then, when we had a further meeting [with law enforcement], they said the certifications are quite useful to police, as they give an audit trail. And if dealers don’t ask you [for one], it's of great interest because that's evidence they’re trying to suppress the fact. So we continued to issue them, at the request of law enforcement.
JF: Who, specifically, asked you to continue providing certificates for antiquities?
JR: I won't say. And the Carabinieri would deny it if asked, of course.
JF: In 2007, Subhash Kapoor provided no provenance for the Shiva when asking ALR to search its database. Does ALR require provenance today?
JR: We are now insisting they give us some provenance....Where appropriate we try to check the provenance they give us through the British Museum and have made important discoveries. We are not going to be able to detect everything, particularly forged provenance.
JF: When did you start requiring provenance? And what amount of provenance do you require to run a search?
JR: In the last few months. We had a meeting with an auction house this morning, saying that they must give us more provenance…We require the generic information on the current holder and the date that the holder got it. We need a starting point if the certification is challenged later. You told us this was held by a dealer in Paris. If challenged, we would then ask, What’s the name of the dealer? So we can then make the dealer, through a court order, reveal who the parties were. The trouble is very often some of these items genuinely don’t have a full provenance. There are a lot of items out in the market that might have been exported legally, but nobody knows.
JF: So your "provenance" policy doesn't even require the name of a previous owner until a piece is challenged. Why not require provenance going back to the 1970 UNESCO accord?
JR: I’d love to do that but they [the dealers] would make it up. What I would like to do is to get the source countries and archaeological community to recognize the fact that the antiquities trade would not go away. It continues. One of the problems is that minimalist architectural design favors antiquities and there’s a great demand from interior decorators. The market isn’t going to collapse. So we’ve got to regulate and police it. Reintroduce partage to make the legitimate market and the illicit market very clear. At least we’ve got a clear policy.
JF: Is ALR profitable?
JR: We haven’t made a profit for 10 years. I’ve invested 1 million pounds. I’ve made enough money in other companies that I don’t’ have to worry about it not making additional money. It’s been very hard to get clients to pay. Over half of our income comes from searching people, under half from recovery fees for insurance. Some 40 percent of our income is from recovery. In antiquities we get no recovery fees. The victims can’t pay. It’s a really bad area for us. The rest is from search fees. Half of that comes from auction houses and the other from dealers, museums, collectors, etc. That corresponds to roughly to 50% of the art market.
JF: Who are your biggest clients?
JR: Our clients include all the major auction houses. A few auction houses won’t search, but Bonhams, Christies and Sotheby’s all use us. It's no secret that a number of them would like more help from us in this antiquities market. The antiquity dealers have been more inclined to search than dealers in other items.
JF: The NGA's Shiva is unusual for an antiquity because it had been documented before it was stolen. A year or so after Kapoor received an ALR certificate for the stolen Shiva, Indian authorities posted online images of it with details of the theft. Yet ALR did not make the connection. Why not? Does ALR search past certificates to see if new information has surfaced?
JR: We go around those sites and take items...We employ 25 people in India doing back office searching. A number have worked in the Indian cultural heritage department. But the big issue is with IT: We have a database of 300,00 - 400,000 stolen items to search against the 2.5 million searches we've done in the past. If we search against all those previous searches, it slows down the search too much. And we couldn't digitize the old searches, not back to 1991.
JF: How many certificates did ALR provide to Subhash Kapoor over the years?
JR: We're looking into it.
Later via email Radcliffe added, "We are passing on your request for the number of certificates to the law enforcement to whom we gave all the information and will revert when we hear from them."
No word since.
 

3. GENEVA (AFP).- Swiss authorities said Friday they had returned a pre-Columbian ceramic jug to Peru after police caught someone trying to sell it over the Internet.

The Geneva public prosecutor's office said it had returned the small, two-handled jug dating from the pre-Columbian Chancay period between the 12th and 15th centuries to the Peruvian embassy in Bern.

"It is priceless," Sophie Bernard, a spokeswoman for the office, told AFP. (Editor's Note: Actually this is probably less than 24" in height and under $500 - JB)
Federal Swiss police had discovered last year that a man born in 1981 and living in Geneva was trying to sell the archaeological artifact over the Internet using a pseudonym, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The beige jug with its dark-lined motif had likely been found during "illegal excavations carried out in the valleys of Chillon, Chancay or Huara", to the north of Lima, it said.

The person who tried to sell the archaeological treasure would face charges for handling stolen goods and violating a law prohibiting the transfer of cultural objects, it added.

He could face up to five years behind bars, Bernard said.

 

Art World Legal Issues Summer 2013

Issues on Clear Title of Artwork
Paul Klein
Posted: July 14, 2010 04:14 PM
1. CHICAGO -  Chicago Huff Post dated September 1, 2013 -Whenever we buy a work of art, we wrestle with its value and price before we make the purchase. But in short order we disengage from the monetary issues, often not looking at the financial asset we have.
One of the most overlooked financial complications of collecting, or even buying art, is whether or not we actually own the piece we've acquired. Tainted provenance -- or even worse -- is a real problem in the art world.
Part of the art world's appeal is attributable to the free spirited, unregulated, highly-volatile megabucks that whirl within it and the buyers and sellers who love the art -- and the action. Which of course means it is rife with dealers under pressure, incapable of keeping their word (think Larry Salendar), dealers who are fully reputable and don't know they are selling "dirty" goods (think artwork stolen by the Nazis and now back on the market), as well as crooks. (I know several former disreputable dealers who "went away" and are now back and are, as far as I can tell, still engaged in shady practices.)
What we are talking about are art crimes, which constitutes the third largest category of crime in the world.
The good news is that we, as collectors, have tools at our disposal to protect ourselves. Recent court decisions have returned works of art to former owners even after the statute of limitations has expired.
The Internet offers databases that allow the cross-referencing of art auctions and databases of stolen artworks -- tools that make it easier for theft victims to mount court challenges.
The ownership history of artworks has become an increasingly sensitive issue for collectors and the folks they buy from. Just because you paid for it does not mean you own it. Collectors who don't proceed with due diligence can put their art at risk, especially if they sell the artwork to someone else.
Of the 300,000 or so stolen, missing or looted artworks listed in the Art Loss Register, an international database, more than 15% were created after 1945 - that's 45,000 works of art, created since WWII that are out there in the world, that if acquired by one of us would make our life miserable.
In the decades I was an art dealer there was more than one occasion where a client made a layaway purchase, made the payments and never ever picked up the artwork, and as far as I knew flat out disappeared. Who owns that art? (I'm still storing some six years after closing.) Or what about important artists who consign work to a gallery and then forget about it? (Do you really think all artists have fastidious records?) The question is: Who owns this treasure? What if a dealer sells you a drawing by a major living artist who was never paid, who died, and over time the $10,000 purchase becomes worth a quarter of a million and the artist's heir, now in college, decides to track all of Mom or Dad's sales, and your piece is undocumented? (I see some variation of this almost weekly.) What if an heir does their homework and decides to track down the missing art and knocks on your door? Of course you are innocent(?), but what are you going to do, and what is the impact on you? Or what if the art you acquire was not a victim of shoddy record-keeping, but was actually stolen? Add the wrinkle that the reputable gallery you bought it from didn't even know. What does this mean to you?
For a collector who has acquired a work of art, having the right to ownership disputed can come as both an emotional and financial shock. Even if the collector has secured a warranty of clear legal title from the seller at the time of purchase, he may not be able to rely on it, says Lawrence Shindell, the CEO of ARIS Corp. The upstream seller may no longer be in business, for instance, or may not have assets to stand behind the prior warranty, or may be hard to pursue if he is located in a foreign country where the warranty is hard to enforce.
Meanwhile, if the collector has become a seller of the work and hasn't sought a third-party risk transfer solution, i.e. title insurance, and if the upstream seller isn't around to recover money from, the collector himself can become liable to his or her downstream buyer if the ownership of the work is successfully challenged and the buyer then loses his money. The buyer can then sue the collector for damages, including the price he paid for the work -- as well as possible appreciation -- and for his legal expenses.
The Chubb Insurance Group has coverage that reimburses legal fees up to $100,000 incurred in a title dispute for scheduled works of art. Unfortunately, this benefit does not extend to the actual value of the work if the owner is required by the courts to forfeit the piece. Courts in the U.S. will generally "balance the equities," meaning that the due diligence the buyer performed to avoid possession of stolen art will be measured against the steps the former owner made to recover the art. Nonetheless, the burden of discovery will usually weigh more heavily on the purchaser, who, it is assumed, has the sophistication and resources to authenticate the history of a purchase.
"If you wind up on the losing side of an ownership challenge," says Jonathan Ziss, a partner at the law firm of Margolis Edelstein and a founder of Art Title Advisors, "the result can be perfectly awful: the loss of a valuable asset, the destruction of an estate plan and the loss of a charitable donation or bequest tax deduction, perhaps years after the time for filing an amended [tax] return has timed out."
Fortunately, there are resources available to help collectors with their investigations into an artwork's provenance. In their understandable enthusiasm to acquire beautiful works of art, collectors should not lose sight of this sometimes challenging, but fundamental imperative.
Rebecca Woan, of Chartwell Insurance Services in Chicago contributed portions of this article.
Paul Klein works with The Briddge Group, the art succession planning firm and writes and speaks frequently on the subject.

Detroit Bankruptcy Update

 

1. Detroit: Detroit Free Press Art museums treat estimated values of their art like state secrets. In fact, major museums such as the Detroit Institute of Arts don’t even know precisely what all of their art is worth.
That is about to change in Detroit.
When officials from the New York-based Christie’s auction house finish formally appraising city-owned works at the DIA this fall, the results will open an unprecedented public window into the market value of thousands of artworks at a top American museum. The enormity of the final tally, which is expected to be in the billions, promises to add urgency to the debate over whether the city should sell art to help pay its bills in municipal bankruptcy.
The Free Press has learned previously undisclosed details of Christie’s contract with the city, including that up to 3,500 works could be appraised. Among those are 300 on view as part of the permanent display, including iconic works by van Gogh, Matisse, Rembrandt, Bruegel and others.
■ Related: The DIA's priceless art: What some of their most valuable pieces could be worth
Christie’s will only appraise works bought directly by the city that are unencumbered by donated funds or other covenants that cloud clear legal title, said Bill Nowling, spokesman for Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr. The appraisal will unfold in phases. Officials will start with the art on view before evaluating art in storage with an estimated market value of $50,000 or more and, finally, art in storage presumed to be worth less than $50,000.
Christie’s final report will include itemized appraisals for art worth at least $50,000; an aggregate value will be given for work worth less. Nowling said the contract does not give preferential consideration to Christie’s to handle a sale of art down the road. “That’s a different discussion — if we even get there,” he said.
■ Rochelle Riley: Detroit's firefighters to get help they need under plan taking shape
■ The truth about Detroit: Big check did go uncashed — but it wasn't for $1 million
A typical formal appraisal considers detailed research into a work’s quality, historical importance, condition, provenance, comparable sales at public auction and typically hush-hush private transactions between dealers and collectors. A spokesman for Christie’s, one of the world’s two leading fine-art auction houses along with Sotheby’s, said that the precise number of works appraised will be decided with input from the DIA. An initial meeting between officials at the DIA and Christie’s isn’t expected until after Labor Day. Final results are due in October or November. The city is paying Christie’s a $200,000 fee.
Determining art's value
Some museum supporters are concerned that the details of the appraisal, which will be made public as part of court filings, could increase public pressure to sell works to help satisfy the city’s creditors. The list of DIA works and their eye-popping values is certain to make headlines far beyond the art world.
“This is like the weighing of souls,” said Maxwell Anderson, director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “This is biblical stuff, not the approximations that insurance companies look for. It’s extremely problematic for all museums, because it alters the public’s perception of artworks from being ciphers of public heritage of transcendent value, to objects for sale to pay other people’s debts.”
Orr hired Christie’s to evaluate DIA art as part of the city’s responsibility in federal court to provide a detailed accounting of all city assets. The possible sale of art has been one of the most controversial aspects of Detroit’s financial crisis.
The big mystery of the unfolding saga is just how much the art is worth. The Free Press consulted art dealers and auction records to estimate the market value of 38 key works at about $2.5 billion, with individual pieces such as Matisse’s “The Window” at $150 million and van Gogh’s “Self Portrait” at $60 million.
■ Susan Tompor: Detroit woes could clip counties, cities and school districts in bond market

2.DETROIT, MICH.- The Detroit Institute of Arts, steward of a priceless art collection that has been threatened by recent statements by the City of Detroit’s Emergency Manager and creditors, announced today that it will not file an objection to the City’s eligibility for relief under chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code. The deadline for objections is today. The DIA cited several reasons for its decision.
The DIA recognizes the City’s severe financial distress and its need for the protection and powers of the bankruptcy court to help in the Emergency Manager’s efforts to rebuild and revitalize Detroit. As it has previously stated, the DIA applauds the Emergency Manager’s efforts, wishes him success and continues to encourage him not to undercut those goals by jeopardizing Detroit’s most important cultural institution and the economic, educational and other significant benefits it brings to the city and the region.
“We support Kevyn Orr’s goal of rebuilding the City through strengthening of the City’s institutions and governance,” said Eugene A. Gargaro, chairman of the DIA board of directors. “We know the museum plays a critical role in anchoring the Midtown neighborhood and the City’s burgeoning arts community, and we stand ready to leverage that role in the rebirth of Detroit. In addition, the DIA is recognized as an important asset of the entire region, as was demonstrated last August when voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties approved a nationally acclaimed regional millage to support
The DIA reiterated that it has not been involved in any pre-bankruptcy negotiations with the Emergency Manager, one of the bankruptcy eligibility issues identified by the court. The DIA also noted the court’s limited powers in a chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy case, which focus primarily on the adjustment of the City’s debts, not the rationalization of its property, which is the sole responsibility of the Emergency Manager, who remains subject to Michigan law. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has ruled that Michigan law prohibits the sale of the DIA’s collection to pay the City’s creditors.
Finally, the bankruptcy and Detroit’s financial distress should not affect the museum. The museum and the collection are held by Detroit in a trust for the benefit of all of the people of Michigan. They are not City property that can be sold or monetized and should not be involved in the City’s efforts to reach agreement with its creditors. Museum operations are completely independent of the City budget and no City funds are involved in the operation of the museum. Repeated statements that “everything is on the table” and the Emergency Manager’s retention of Christie’s auction house to appraise the DIA collection further complicate and confuse an already complex proceeding.
DIA Director, Graham W.J. Beal, said, “We remain committed to our position that the Detroit Institute of Arts and the City of Detroit hold the DIA’s collection in trust for the public, and we stand by our charge to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of all Michigan residents.”

                       3. Earlier in the summer BLOUIN ArtInfo published the following article on Christies and the Detroit appraisal..
 
museum operations.”
 
multimillion-dollar treasures are worth.

Christie’s Appalling “Vulture” Behavior
When a company goes bankrupt, a certain kind of investor comes out of the woodwork trying to make a killing: if they buy assets at distressed prices, really cheap, they can often wait a few years
and resell at a very big profit. They are called vulture investors.
I’ve been thinking about the term ever since I read the article headlined Detroit’s Creditors Eye Its Art Collection in the July 20 New York Times, which of course is about the people who would like to sell the art collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts so they can collect on money owed to them by the city. I’ve been thinking about it, not just because of Detroit’s creditors, but rather because of Christie’s, the auction house. The article had this passage:
About a month ago, the institute’s officials were contacted by Christie’s auction house, which asked for an inventory of works and asked if appraisers could visit to assess the collection. It is unclear whether such a visit took place and whether it was creditors or someone else who enlisted Christie’s to begin an appraisal. (Mr. Nowling said that the emergency manager’s office did not do so, and Christie’s declined to comment.)
All I can think of is, shame on Christie’s. Sure, business is business, but let’s remember here that it is NOT the Detroit Institute of Arts that has mismanaged the city and led to the bankruptcy. As far as I can tell, the DIA has husbanded it resources very well and acted responsibly over the last several years.
Is Christie’s so hard up that it will take any business, no matter how reprehensible? That’s sad. Of course Christie’s is positioning itself for the sale, should it be ordered. But if I were a collector wanting to sell, I would not patronize Christie’s because of this. I certainly would not go there if I were a museum director. If wanting to buy, yes, I know collectors have to go with whoever has the “material.”
BTW, I applaud the behavior of the Detroit Institute during this crisis. It just keeps going about its business, trying not to get distracted, keeping its head down and not making matters worse. On Monday, I received this in a press release:
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) will examine and digitally photograph 13 full-scale drawings, known as cartoons, created by Diego Rivera in his preparation for painting the DIA’s internationally renowned Detroit Industry murals. The drawings have not been looked at in more than 30 years, and have never been digitally photographed. The project will take place from July 22 to Aug. 2 and is made possible by a grant from Bank of America’s Art Conservation Project. The grant will also fund any necessary conservation work on the delicate drawings.
ETC. Some of us are “liking’ the DIA on Facebook in a show of support. As of now, it has 231,851 fans – versus 223,00 in mid-June.

Comings and Goings in the Art World Summer 2013

 1. DALLAS, TX.- Kimberly L. Jones has been appointed The Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of the Arts of the Americas at the Dallas Museum of Art, it was announced today by Maxwell L. Anderson, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. Dr. Jones will begin work in Dallas on September 16, 2013.
Dr. Jones comes to the DMA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was curator of the Art and Art History Collection, the cultural collections manager at the Texas Memorial Museum, and a lecturer on art and art history. She has also served as a lecturer at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. Dr. Jones has extensive knowledge of pre-Columbian art and architecture, having conducted archaeological fieldwork and laboratory analysis in Peru over the past ten years. She received her bachelor of arts, with honors, in history; a master of arts in Latin American Studies; and her doctorate of philosophy in art and art history from the University of Texas at Austin.
“I am pleased to welcome Kimberly Jones to the Dallas Museum of Art and to add her to our curatorial team,” Anderson said. “Her education and experience make her well-suited to cultivate and showcase the DMA’s important collection of ancient American art, including pre-Columbian works from across Latin America, which are of international significance.”
Dr. Jones has contributed to various publications, including serving as co-editor and author of the introduction for The Art and Archaeology of the Moche: An Ancient Andean Society of the Peruvian North Coast, and contributing to the University of Texas Collections Book. She has served as a lecturer of both survey and specialized courses in Andean and Mesoamerican art and archaeology since obtaining her Ph.D. in 2010. Dr. Jones has also been an active part of archaeological field work projects in northern Peru since 2003. 
“It is an honor and delight to have the opportunity to join such a dynamic and engaging staff at the Dallas Museum of Art,” said Kimberly Jones. “I genuinely look forward to being part of the vibrant community within and around this time-honored Dallas institution.”  
Dr. Jones succeeds Carol Robbins, who in 2012 retired after forty-seven years of service to the DMA. At the Museum, Dr. Jones will work closely with the DMA’s curatorial staff, conduct research on the arts of ancient America collection of more than 3,400 works of art, make acquisitions, and collaborate on installations of the collection in galleries throughout the Museum. 
Ancient American Art
The DMA’s collection of ancient American art spans 3,000 years and represents twelve countries. Highlights include ceramics from the southwestern United States; ceramics and stone sculpture from Mexico and Guatemala; gold from Panama, Colombia, and Peru; and textiles and ceramics from Peru.  


2. SAINT LOUIS, MO.- Jason T. Busch will join the Saint Louis Art Museum as deputy director for curatorial affairs and museum programs, overseeing its curatorial, exhibitions and collections, and education and public programs divisions, the Museum announced today. He assumes his duties in October.
Busch, 38, currently is chief curator and the Alan G. and Jane A. Lehman Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. In that role, Busch curates the Carnegie’s decorative arts and design collections, as well as oversees its curatorial, conservation, registration, and art preparation and installation departments. 
Busch will take a leadership position at the Museum at a transformative moment. The Saint Louis Art Museum last month opened its Sir David Chipperfield-designed East Building, an expansion that improves visitor amenities and increases public space by about 30 percent.
“I am honored to join the Saint Louis Art Museum as the institution embarks upon an auspicious chapter in its history with the opening of the acclaimed East Building,” Busch said. “The depth and
Museum Director Brent R. Benjamin said Busch’s appointment was the result of an international search.
“I am confident that, after years of expansion planning and construction, Jason’s leadership will help the Museum make the most of its new campus by sharpening our mission-driven focus of offering great art and educational opportunities to the people of St. Louis and the world.” Benjamin said.
Prior to joining the Carnegie, Busch was associate curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where he helped oversee its architecture, design, decorative arts, craft and sculpture collections. He also served as assistant curator of American decorative arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn.
Busch has lectured and published extensively, and has organized numerous installations and exhibitions, notably Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851-1939, which currently is on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Fittingly, Busch will work at a campus that includes the Cass Gilbert-designed Main Building, originally built as the Palace of Fine Arts for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition.
While in Minneapolis, he organized Currents of Change: Art and Life Along the Mississippi River, 1850-1861, an exhibition that featured several important loans from the Saint Louis Art Museum, including The Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley. Busch also was the project director for the installation of the Grand Salon from the Hotel Gaillard de La Bouëxière (Paris, about 1735), which included the supervision of nearly two years of conservation work undertaken in France and the solicitation of some $700,000 in private and foundation funds in support of the project. Coincidentally, the Minneapolis room originates in the same Parisian mansion as the Saint Louis Art Museum’s Cabinet, which is installed on Level 1 of the Main Building. 
Busch holds an undergraduate degree in American Studies from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he graduated magna cum laude. He holds both his graduate degree and a certificate in Museum Studies from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. Busch recently completed the fellowship program of the Center for Curatorial Leadership in New York City.
                      
breadth of the collection, as well as the high level of talent and scholarship of museum staff, is indeed impressive. I look forward to working with my colleagues in further shaping national and international collaborations, developing new audiences, and enhancing the reputation of one of America's greatest comprehensive art museums.”

3. LOUISVILLE, KY.- The Board of Trustees of the Speed Art Museum announced today that Ghislain d’Humières has been appointed as the new Director of the Museum. D’Humières, who is currently serving as the Director of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, succeeds Charles Venable, who served as Director from 2007 to 2012. D’Humières will assume his role at the Speed on September 3, 2013.

During his six-year tenure at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, d’Humières has doubled attendance, led a successful $15 million capital campaign and spearheaded the development and management of the Museum’s new 20,000 square-foot Stuart wing, which doubled the Museum’s exhibition space. D’Humières also created a privately funded program to implement new educational and outreach initiatives which included underprivileged visitors. He supervised more than 40 exhibitions and oversaw the production of numerous exhibition catalogs and museum publications while also expanding the Museum’s educational programs and collaborations with other museums, communities and national and international organizations.

“Ghislain has a proven track record of success as a director, curator and fundraiser at leading museums across the country,” said Allan Latts, Chair of the Speed Art Museum’s Board of Trustees. “His essential role in the opening and logistical organization of the $320 million, 290,000 square foot de Young project at the Fine Art Museum of San Francisco, was one of many contributing factors leading to the search committee’s decision to hire Ghislain. He also initiated innovative partnerships with the University of Oklahoma and its stakeholders that broadened the Museum’s reach throughout the community, which speaks to his understanding of the collective impact these relationships play in the overall development of a community.”

“I am honored and thrilled to have been selected as the incoming Director of the Speed Art Museum,” d’Humières said. “With its outstanding collection spanning more than 6,000 years of history, and a new multi-phase master plan now underway, the Speed is establishing itself as a major player in the national and international art world, and is charting the course for museums for the future. I look forward to working with the Board of Trustees, the staff, the people of Louisville and the state of Kentucky to continue the Speed’s role as a leader in the museum field.”

Todd Lowe, Chair of the Speed’s search committee, said, “Ghislain is a seasoned museum executive who was a natural choice to lead the Speed into its exciting next phase. He brings experience as an international leader and scholar with a vision for the future role that the Speed will play in our community. We are thrilled to welcome Ghislain to Louisville and look forward to the Museum’s continued growth under his leadership.”

Ghislain’s 11 years of for-profit and private sector work at Sotheby’s and Christie’s have instilled a strong approach to business management and fiscal responsibility. Additionally, his expertise in 18th and 19th century decorative European arts, as well as his international connections, especially in Europe, South America and Asia, will serve as an asset to the Speed as staff begins to plan future exhibitions and new acquisitions. During his tenure at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, d’Humières also expanded his experience in Western and Native American art and emphasized the importance of contemporary art and new media.

A compassionate leader, d’Humières spent a year as a volunteer for the Association Casa Alianza helping homeless children in Guatemala, performing educational, research and fundraising activities, prior to his work at the Fine Art Museum in San Francisco. Upon his return, he created a foundation to continue supporting Guatemalan children.

A native of France, d’Humières holds a DEA in History and License of Art History from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne, and a Master of History from the University of Paris X Nanterre. D’Humières speaks fluent French, English and Spanish.

Art Exhibitions Summer 2013

1. LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Los Angeles County Museum of Art presents Shaping Power: Luba (July 7, 2013–January 5, 2014 )

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Mary (Polly) Nooter Roberts, Consulting Curator for African Art, LACMA, and Professor of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, in collaboration with co-curator, Dr. Anne-Marie Bouttiaux, Head of the Ethnography Division, RMCA. In December 2011, Dr. Roberts was appointed to launch a program and establish a dedicated gallery for the arts of Africa at LACMA.

"As a museum of all cultures and all eras, I am proud to see a permanent space for the display of African art at LACMA," says Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. Since coming to LACMA last year, Polly Roberts has done an extraordinary job in building a foundation for our African art program. This is a new phase in a bold and important initiative for our collection."

Dr. Polly Roberts comments, “It is an honor to assist LACMA in the creation of a permanent and prominent presence for the arts of Africa at the museum. I am delighted to open LACMA’s new African gallery with Luba arts, which have been the focus of my scholarly research and curatorial work for over twenty years. Not only do these works represent the virtuosity of Central African artists, but they offer insight into a rich and complex African culture. Shaping Power presents exciting opportunities to teach about African history, while bringing greater visibility to African arts in Southern California. The elegance and cultural significance of these classical works demonstrates LACMA’s commitment to a program of aesthetic and intellectual magnitude to celebrate Africa’s great artistic legacies.”

Shaping Power conveys the beauty and complexity of Luba art and culture and presents one of Africa’s remarkable sculptural and philosophical traditions. While many Luba works appear to have utilitarian purposes, they are symbolic objects, imbued with spiritual attributes and esoteric knowledge. As treasures of kings, chiefs, titleholders, and diviners, they also served as emissaries to create affiliations extending the realm. Wide emulation of Luba aesthetics and political rituals further enlarged their reach. These same objects were and continue to be memory devices, encoding the histories and precepts of Luba kingship.

Royal emblems were vital to the formation and expansion of the Luba Kingdom, a highly influential central African state that has flourished for the past several centuries in what is now Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sculpted thrones, magnificent scepters, and commemorative figures all played significant roles in shaping the powers of a sophisticated African royal culture.

Exhibition Organization
The exhibition is organized thematically and explores the roles of sculpture in the investiture rites of a ruler, emphasizing how the works serve to transform an ordinary man into a sacred king; why Luba emblems depict women, and how the guardian spirits of Luba kingship are attracted to female figures that embellish the insignia of male officeholders; how commemorative works from neighboring groups reflect the widely influential aesthetics and precepts of Luba royal practice; and how certain objects possess powers of healing and transformation.

As the most emblematic of Luba royal arts, two caryatid stools are the first objects in the exhibition. The works are supported by kneeling female figures and once served as the thrones of kings. The stools provide a glimpse into the complex gendering of authority in Luba culture, for kings are represented by the women who surround, uphold, and empower them. As a Luba proverb states, “Men are chiefs in the daytime, but women are chiefs at night.” Dr. Mutombo Nkulu-Nsenga, a professor of Religious Studies at Cal State University Northridge and a member of a Luba royal family, states in a video near the entrance of the exhibition, “The king’s role is to protect the people, to ensure human flourishing, and to serve the spirit. At the center of this is life, and women are the ones giving life. The foundation of kingship is the women.”

Next, visitors encounter a mask so acclaimed that it has become the logo of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium. This work of art, which has never been lent to any institution before, may allude to the cultural hero who introduced political practices to Luba people—that is, the etiquette and precepts of royal bearing. The mask combines a supremely regal human face and the inward gaze of a divine being with a coiffure that suggests buffalo horns conveying stealth and strength.

Shaping Power also features a finely rendered bowstand that served as a powerful receptacle of royal authority, a virtuoso investiture bowl called kiteya and supported by two figures, and an ethereal water-pipe graced by a serene female figure. Several works on display are by identifiable master hands. These include a kneeling bowl-bearing female figure by the celebrated artist known as the Buli Master, whose honorific name Ngongo ya Chintu means “Father of Sculpted Things” and whose workshop was the first identified in Africa by art historians. Two jewel-like headrests by the so-called Master of the Cascade Headdress are also on view, and were used as wooden pillows by high-ranking persons to protect elaborate hairstyles for which the Luba were celebrated. A memory board, or lukasa, on loan from a private collection, is made from wood and covered with beads. The Luba describe memory as a string of beads documenting events, people, and places. This device is a library of Luba historical knowledge, encoding memories of the past to retell in the present. The colors and configurations of its beads prompt recitations of Luba royal precepts by court historians called “men of memory.”

To complement these historical Luba works, a contemporary installation entitled Congo: Shadow of the Shadow (2005) by Aimé Mpane has been borrowed from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art. A male figure formed from 4,652 matchsticks expresses the paradoxes of human fragility and strength as light plays against shadow, substance against ethereality. There results a gripping commentary on how power was re-shaped during and since the years of Belgian colonial rule in the Congo.

Shaping Power is presented in LACMA’s newly renovated African gallery in the museum’s Hammer Building. The dedicated space is next to the Egyptian gallery, fostering understanding of the relationships between sub-Saharan Africa and ancient Egypt as part of the shared continent of Africa.

African Art at LACMA
LACMA’s growing collection contains approximately 200 works, including masks, figures, textiles, furniture, and body adornments from across the continent. The African art gallery will feature rotating temporary displays for the first years of its existence representing the dynamic spectrum of African artistic production from historical to contemporary arts. Works of art from the permanent collection will be featured in forthcoming installations, as will African textiles from LACMA’s Department of Costume and Textiles. The museum also has the beginnings of a collection of important contemporary arts of Africa, including works by El Anatsui, William Kentridge, Julie Mehretu, Zwelethu Mthethwa, and Magdalene Odundo.              

Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa, the first exhibition to inaugurate LACMA’s new African art gallery and related educational programming. Shaping Power explores the artistic traditions and emblems of power from the Luba Kingdom, one of the most influential in Central African history. Coorganized with the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in Belgium, a selection of rare and outstanding sculptures from the Luba people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are on view. Objects include figurative thrones, elegant scepters, royal cups, intricately carved headrests, and ancestral figures, rarely seen in the United States and on view for the first time in Los Angeles.

2. LONDON.- "Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia"17 October 2013 – 23 March 2014.  For centuries Europeans were dazzled by the legend of a lost city of gold in South

In ancient Colombia gold was used to fashion some of the most visually dramatic and sophisticated works of art found anywhere in the Americas before European contact. This exhibition will feature over 300 exquisite objects drawn from the Museo del Oro in Bogotá, one of the best and most extensive collections of Pre-Hispanic gold in the world, as well as from the British Museum’s own unique collections. Through these exceptional objects the exhibition will explore the complex network of societies in ancient Colombia – a hidden world of distinct and vibrant cultures spanning 1600 BC to AD 1700 – with particular focus on the Muisca, Quimbaya, Calima, Tairona, Tolima and Zenú chiefdoms. This important but little understood subject will be explored in this unique exhibition following on from shows in Room 35 such as Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind, Grayson Perry: Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World and Kingdom of Ife: sculptures from West Africa in shining a light on world cultures through their craftsmanship.

Although gold was not valued as currency in pre-Hispanic Colombia, it had great symbolic meaning. It was one way the elite could publicly assert their rank and semi-divine status, both in life and in death. The remarkable objects displayed across the exhibition reveal glimpses of these cultures’ spiritual lives including engagement with animal spirits though the use of gold objects, music, dancing, sunlight and hallucinogenic substances that all lead to a physical and spiritual transformation enabling communication with the supernatural. Animal iconography is used to express this transformation in powerful pieces demonstrating a wide range of imaginative works of art, showcasing avian pectorals, necklaces with feline claws or representations of men transforming into

The exhibition will further explore the sophisticated gold working techniques, including the use of tumbaga, an alloy composed of gold and copper, used in the crafting the most spectacular masterworks of ancient Colombia. Extraordinary poporos (lime powder containers) showcase the technical skills achieved both in the casting and hammering techniques of metals by ancient Colombian artists. Other fascinating objects will include an exceptional painted Muisca textile and one of the few San Agustín stone sculptures held outside Colombia. Those, together with spectacular large scale gold masks and other materials were part of the objects that accompanied funerary rituals in ancient Colombia.

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum said “Ancient Colombia has long represented a great fascination to the outside world and yet there is very little understood about these unique and varied cultures. As part of the Museum’s series of exhibitions that shine a light on little known and complex ancient societies this exhibition will give our visitors a glimpse into these fascinating cultures of pre-hispanic South America and a chance to explore the legend of El Dorado through these stunning objects.”
spectacular bats though the use of profuse body adornment.
America. The truth behind this myth is even more fascinating. El Dorado – literally “the golden one” – actually refers to the ritual that took place at Lake Guatavita, near modern Bogotá. The newly elected leader, covered in powdered gold, dived into the lake and emerged as the new chief of the Muisca people who lived in the central highlands of present-day Colombia's Eastern Range. This stunning exhibition, sponsored by Bank Julius Baer, will display some of the fascinating objects excavated from the lake in the early 20th century including ceramics and stone necklaces.







3. PARIS.- An art expert, dealer and collector, Charles Ratton (1897-1986) had a profound impact on the history of artistic taste and played a significant role in increasing awareness of "primitive" art in the world. The musée du quai Branly is presenting the first exhibition examining the career of this great historic figure in the art market, a major promoter of primitive art whose activity and passion played a significant role in the acceptance of "primitive" objects as works of art.

His sensitivity and scholarship, forged through his activity as a dealer in objects from the "Hautes époques" (Middle Ages and Renaissance period) led Charles Ratton to take an interest in African court arts – Dahomey, Ashanti, Grassfields – then in the ancient objects of Oceania and the Americas, and – unusually for the period – in objects of Eskimo art.

More than 200 works (representing ancient, Asiatic and primitive arts, but also avant-garde works)

"The unknown arts, that's to say those of Pre-Colombian America, Africa and Oceania, began to interest him enormously. He realised that these arts that we inaccurately term 'primitive' obey the same laws and are deserving of the same esteem as the classical arts and those of Asia, the latter being known and appreciated themselves for scarcely forty years. He decided to devote himself entirely to them." ---Charles Ratton about himself.

The universe of Charles Ratton – between curiosity and scholarship
A native of Mâcon, Charles Ratton studied at the École du Louvre in Paris before the First World War interrupted his studies for four years. He was initially interested in the Middle Ages, and then more broadly in what was then termed the "Hautes époques". Introduced to Africa by encounters with the "mode nègre" launched by the Cubists, in the 1920s he expanded his curiosity to the Americas and Oceania.

The first space in the exhibition, designed as a cabinet of curiosities, reconstructs Charles Ratton's office with the works and furniture which is still preserved in the Ladrière collection. This reconstruction also presents photographs of Charles Ratton, his family and friends, together with his notes and sketches, which provide evidence of his extremely precise method of working.

This introduction also provides the opportunity to re-examine the situation of the "negro" arts in 1920, the roles played by Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Guillaume, the artists André Derain, Georges Braque etc. and the links that united Charles Ratton with the Surrealist movement of the 1920s.

An assemblage of works from a variety of periods – Antiquity, the Middle Ages – and provenances – the Far East, Africa, Oceania and the Americas – bear witness to his curiosity and scholarship.

The surrealist dealer and activity in the United States
Established at 76 Rue de Rennes, followed by 39 Rue Laffitte and, from the end of the 1920s until his death, at 14 Rue de Marignan, on 19 March 1927 Charles Ratton obtained authorisation to exercise the profession of antique dealer using his home as his gallery. He also acted as a valuer for the Hôtel Drouot auction house from 1931. He distinguished himself very rapidly through his continuous activity as a defender – even as a propagandist – for the arts then termed "primitive" of Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania.

He became established as the learned connoisseur of disregarded and poorly understood cultures by creating for himself the status of scholarly art dealer. In this way, he developed a network of purchasers and lenders in which wealthy amateurs rubbed shoulders with impoverished avant-garde artists and Surrealist poets. Charles Ratton very quickly understood that he must act on an international level, establishing himself in the United States and employing all modern means of communication such as the press, photography and film.

The exhibition is based on the numerous exhibitions and sales in which he participated.  The dates of the exhibition are 25 June to 22 September 2013.
and documents from the period illustrate the travels of this hugely enthusiastic art dealer throughout France and the United States, evoking also his friendships with the Surrealist artists André Breton and Paul Eluard, his photographic collaborations with Man Ray, his major role with Jean Dubuffet in the definition of Outsider Art and his links with the great collectors of his time.

Through the evocation of art dealer and collector Charles Ratton, the exhibition pays tribute to the eye of an expert who left his mark on the history of the perception of “primitive” art by promoting objects that deviated from the ruling taste of the moment for “Negro” art: his activity as a dealer of “Haute Epoque” objects probably explains his distinctive approach to the arts of Africa and Oceania characterized by a particular sensitivity to court arts (Dahomey, Ashanti, Grassfields), antiques (for Oceania and the Americas) or atypical pieces (Eskimo art). His closeness to museum circles and his scientfic curiosity, evidenced in the abundant archives he left behind, helped enhance his expertise.


Through his work as an expert and the exhibitions he organised, he participated in the shift of status of works of art from Africa and Oceania: from “objects of anthropological study” to “works of art” in the 1930s, on to “masterpieces” in the 1960s, in France and in the United States. Exploring his relationship with surrealist artists (André Breton, Paul Eluard), Jean Dubuffet and with photography, whether “documentary” or artistic (Man Ray), also allows the visitor to better understand this movement towards art and history.

4. ST. PAUL, MINN.- The Science Museum of Minnesota hosts the world premiere of Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed, a brand-new, original exhibition that sheds light on this mysterious and majestic culture and its remarkable achievements.

The ancient Maya have captured our imaginations since news of the discovery of ruined cities in the jungles of Central America was published in 1839. Extensive research has uncovered a culture with a sophisticated worldview that, during its Classic period (250-900 AD), rivaled any civilization in Europe. During this period, the Maya built elaborate cities without the use of the wheel, communicated using a sophisticated written language, measured time accurately with detailed calendar systems, and had an advanced understanding of astronomy and agriculture.

At 15,000 square feet, Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed is the largest exhibition about the ancient Maya ever to be displayed in the United States. It uses a combination of never-before-seen artifacts, hands-on activities, and immersive environments – including re-creations of an underworld cave, the starry night sky, and a vibrantly-colored mural room – to explore the rise and eventual decline of this fascinating culture’s ancient cities.

Maya is designed to give visitors a glimpse at a cross-section of Maya life – from divine kings who ruled powerful cities to the artisans and laborers who formed the backbone of Maya society. Visitors can also get a close look at the scientific work being carried out at key Maya sites across Central America to understand exactly how we know what we know of the once-hidden ancient Maya culture.

Highlights of Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed include:

• more than 300 authentic artifacts, including spectacular examples of Maya artistry made by masters of their craft, along with objects from everyday life. Examples include an inkpot made out of a seashell from Cahal Pech, a Maya site in Belize, which still retains the dried pigment colors, hundreds of years after active use; a full assemblage from the tomb of Great Scrolled Skull in Belize that contains a jade mosaic mask, numerous vessels and figurines, and more.

•dozens of hands-on activities that dig into Maya life during the Classic period. Visitors have a chance to decipher glyphs, build corbeled arches, explore tombs, investigate the Maya understanding of math and astronomy, and more.

• several replica large-scale carved monuments, or stelae, that were erected in the great plazas of Maya cities. Their inscriptions have given scholars valuable insight into ancient Maya history – from royal succession to political conflicts and great battles.

• an exploration of Maya architecture – from its awe-inspiring temples to the simple homes of the common people. Visitors can see a huge re-created portion of a famous frieze, or richly ornamented exterior wall portion, from the El Castillo pyramid in Xunantunich, a Maya civic ceremonial center.

They’ll wonder at its size and detail, and then watch as we use modern technology to make the ancient frieze’s vivid colors emerge once again to their original vibrancy.

• a re-creation of the elaborate royal tomb of the Great Scrolled Skull in Santa Rita Corozal, a Maya site in Belize. Visitors can see the full tomb assemblage, which features jade, jewels, pottery and more, and explore the fascinating story that the artifacts tell us about the politics and economics of this Maya city.

• an examination of the concepts of ritual and human sacrifice that allowed the Maya to transcend the earthly world and speak with the gods of the underworld. Visitors can see the concepts of death and rebirth – concepts that were essential to the Maya – arise again and again throughout the exhibition. artdaily.org


Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed is at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul through January 5, 2014.


            

Pre-Columbian Discoveries Summer 2013

LIMA (AFP).- The discovery in Peru of another tomb belonging to a pre-Hispanic priestess, the eighth in more than two decades, confirms that powerful women ruled this region 1,200 years ago, archeologists said. The remains of the woman from the Moche -- or Mochica -- civilization were discovered in late July in an area called La Libertad in the country's northern Chepan province. It is one of several finds in this region that have amazed scientists. In 2006, researchers came across the famous "Lady of Cao" -- who died about 1,700 years ago and is seen as one of the first female rulers in Peru. "This find makes it clear that women didn't just run rituals in this area but governed here and were queens of Mochica society," project director Luis Jaime Castillo told AFP. "It is the eighth priestess to be discovered," he added. "Our excavations have only turned up tombs with women, never men." The priestess was in an "impressive 1,200-year-old burial chamber" the archeologist said, pointing out that the ... More http://artdaily.com/news/64547/Evidence-shows-that-powerful-women-ruled-1-200-years-ago-in-northern-Peru#.UiOSWEwo5GE
2. GUATEMALA CITY.- AFP PHOTO/ Holmul Archaeological Project.

Archaeologists have struck upon a “once in a lifetime” find, an incredibly well-preserved 26-by-8-feet frieze buried beneath a temple in Holmul, a jungle-filled pre-Columbian research site in northeastern Guatemala, the BBC reports. The sculpture depicts rulers and the gods, some decorated with jade.
The sculpture is believed to depict the crowning of a new Mayan leader in about AD590.
It also bears an inscription made up of 30 glyphs, which was deciphered by Harvard University expert Alex Tokovinine.
The inscription says that the carving was commissioned by the ruler of a nearby city-state, Ajwosaj ChanK’inich.
The frieze was buried beneath a large pyramid, which was constructed over it around 200 years later. Though the pyramid obscured the great work of art below, it likely contributed to the frieze’s preservation since it was protect from the elements and, perhaps, from looters. Indeed, the archeological team behind the discovery came across the frieze while exploring an area broken into by looters.
National Geographic elaborates on the finding and how it fits in to the larger Mayan history:
The central figure’s name is the only readable one: Och Chan Yopaat, meaning “the storm god enters the sky.”
Estrada-Belli and his team speculate that Och Chan Yopaat may have been the leader that the Naranjo king, Ajwosaj, established as the ruler of Holmul after wresting the city back from the Tikal dynasty.
Archeologists report in a press release that they hope the other hieroglyphs, once translated, will shed light on the “game of alliances” that different Mayan kingdoms were engaged in during this time period.


Read more: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2013/08/archaeologist-found-this-huge-beautiful-mayan-frieze-completely-intact-in-guatemala/#ixzz2dfr9eWdu
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3. MEXICO CITY.- Anomalies that correspond to a pair of 2 and 3 meter [6.56 and 9.84 feet] cavities detected by a georadar in the front part of the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque, and the corroboration that the Pakal II crypt doesn’t rest over original rock, signal that this funerary chamber was not the starting point of this celebrated Mayan construction, as it’s discoverer (archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier) suggested.

Such conjecture derives of the preliminary results obtained by the use of geophysical techniques thatNational Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the National Council of Science and Technology and the National Center of National Investigation (CNRS) of France.

The engineers Jose Ortega Ramirez and Luis Angel Villa Alvarado, from the Geophysics Laboratory of INAH, as well as Ph.D Maksim Bano and Ph.D Pascal Sailhac from CNRS, where transferred to this archaeological zone located in the north of Chiapas, in order to further their studies.

Discovered more than 60 years ago by archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier, the crypt of K’inich

In the Temple of Inscriptions they have alternated the use of the Georadar for Surface Penetration with the Electrical Resistance Tomography. The engineer Luis Angel Villa Alvarado, technician of the Geophysical Laboratory in INAH explained that the effects of the tomography are similar to those of an electrocardiogram of the human body.

At the same time, Ph.D Maksim Bano, who has collaborated with archaeological projects in diverse parts of the world, said that their participation in one of the most important cities of Mayan culture is not limited to knowing the physical aspects of the subsoil of the Temple of Inscriptions, but also “the secrets that the funerary chamber could hold for such a character as Pakal”.

The purpose, based on the information obtained by the georadar and the tomography of the electrical resistance, is to develop a project of exploration, expressed the archaeologist Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruz, responsible of the archaeological work in Palenque.

“It’s true that there is a theory revolving around an access to the tomb of Pakal II by the frontal part of the building, but this will not stop being mere speculation until a more formal archaeological work is done in the exterior, and supported in technology based on geophysical prospection”. 

3. MEXICO CITY.- The 19 steles found in the ancient Mayan city of Chactun, recently discovered in the southeast of Campeche, will allow archaeologists to collect new data about the ancient inhabitants of this region, located north of the River Bec, of which we know little about. The archaeologist and epigraphist Octavio Esparza Olguin signaled that epigraphic registries are not abundant in this region, which is why the pieces found are of such importance.

The expert in epigraphy, who is part of the expedition endorsed by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), and who advanced deep into the Biosphere Reserve of Calakmul, explained that from the pieces found at the site, three are in a good state of conservation, and seven still allow the observation of hieroglyphic writing, although its conservation state is so precarious that events and precise dates are difficult to appreciate. Another nine remain severely eroded.

Esparza Olguien said that it’s exceptional that Stele 1 still has stucco remains, because this material is rarely conserved in tropical weather after so long. The piece gives name to the place, since it makes reference to a “Red Stone” or “Big Stone”, which was set up by a character named K’ihnich B’ahlam, in the year 751 AD.

Octavio Esparza, from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said that many of the pieces found at the site –which flourished in the Late Classic period (600 through 900 AD)– were reused some time later. “The majority of the fragments were placed in the ball courts and the plazas in the West and Southeast”.

The epigraphist mentioned that Stele 14 is a clear example of how this site was used by later
civilizations, since it was buried and a wall was attached to its front, which prevents archaeologists from seeing the character clearly, although a long calendar date corresponding to 731 AD and part of a lunar cycle can be distinguished.

They also found remains of late offerings in some monuments, such as the case of Stele 1, where it was possible to rescue some ceramic censers that were deposited towards the end of the Late Classic period or beginning the Posclassic period (900 through 1200 AD). “Many of these pieces –added the expert– where placed by people who were on a pilgrimage as an act of respect, although they probably didn’t understand the meaning of the hieroglyphic texts”.