Saturday, January 23, 2010

Quick Takes - January 2010

1. DALLAS, TX.- The second annual Dallas Art Fair presented by Veuve Clicquot will return to the city on Friday, February 5 through Sunday, February 7, 2010. A preview Gala will be held on Thursday evening, February 4, From mid-morning to early evening over the three days of the fair, visitors may visit and purchase art from renowned art dealers and experts from across the United States and Great Britain. Celebrating modern and contemporary art, the 2010 Dallas Art Fair will showcase paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints and photographs from post war artists represented by more than 50 prominent art dealers. . Located at the Fashion Industry Gallery (f.i.g.), within walking distance of world-class cultural institutions of the Dallas Arts District including the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Meyerson Symphony Center and the newly-opened AT&T Performing Arts Center, this event will again draw established and aspiring art collectors and enthusiasts from throughout the Southwest. “The positive response the galleries had to participating in and being part of the first Dallas Art Fair was underlined by their cultivation of new patrons,” said Chris Byrne, co-founder of the Dallas Art Fair and noted art dealer. “Testimony to the success is the great number of returning galleries along with spectacular new additions. Dallas is a vibrant cultural center and important galleries want to be a part of the burgeoning art community here.” Along with co-founder and Brook Partners CEO John Sughrue, Byrne envisioned giving those attending the 2009 fair an experience usually found at Art Basel Miami or London’s Frieze Art Fair. Over 5,500 people attended the inaugural Dallas Art Fair event. “I was delighted that the community embraced the Dallas Art Fair as much as they did. It was a defining moment in the Dallas art scene and we are confident that the 2010 event will be an even greater success. The Dallas Arts District has become an international cultural destination due to the excitement and support Dallas has given us and cultural centers such as the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center and the AT&T Performing Arts Center,” said John Sughrue. The Dallas Art Fair will once again host an art-centric Symposium Series, with scheduled presentations on Saturday and Sunday. The two-day event, “Finding Frida,” will bring together an international panel of experts to debate the authenticity of the Noyola collection of approximately 1,200 drawings, journals, letters, paintings and other items whose owners maintain they are handmade by Frida Kahlo, but which others have denounced as fakes. The panel also will present an overview of the methods and challenges of authenticating newly discovered art works. Admission to each symposium is included with the purchase of a Dallas Art Fair ticket.

2. HONG KONG.- Christie’s announced today that it will continue developing its business in Asia by strengthening its senior management lineup. To enhance the business-getting capability of our Chairman’s offices in Asia, Fran├žois Curiel, currently Chairman of Christie’s Europe and France as well as International Head of the Jewellery Department, has been appointed as President, Asia and will relocate to Hong Kong at the end of January to fulfil this role and continue his leading role in the Jewellery Department. Andrew Foster, previously President, Asia, has been promoted to International Managing

3. NEW YORK, NY.- Beginning in April 2010, Sotheby’s New York will have the privilege of offering the James S. Copley Library, an astonishing survey in original manuscripts of American history and worldwide literary, artistic and scientific achievement. The core of the collection is its remarkable range of handwritten letters, documents, and other manuscripts which trace this history of America from the earliest incursions of Jesuit missionaries into California through the archive of letters sent by General Eisenhower to his wife from the battlefields of Europe. The depth and breadth of the library is astounding, reflecting the interest and passions of an inspired collector and newspaper publisher along with a dedicated curator who together sought the finest works available. Assembled primarily during the 1960s and 70s, a ‘Golden Age’ for manuscript collecting, the Library numbers approximately 2,000 works on paper.

4. LONDON.- This spring, the British Museum will explore the artistic traditions which flourished at Ife in central Nigeria, West. "Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa" (4th March - 6th June 2010) will tell the story of the legendary city of Ife through some of the most refined and beautiful sculptures ever to be found in Africa, created between the 12th and 15th centuries.
5. LONDON, - The Cyrus Cylinder, often regarded as the world's first declaration of human rights (Photo courtesy the British Museum)
The British Museum’s (BM) loan of the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran has been delayed, because of a major discovery in London. Part of Cyrus the Great’s text has been found on two fragments of inscribed clay tablets.
The first fragment was identified on 31 December by Wilfred Lambert, a retired professor from Birmingham University, who was going through some of the 130,000 tablets at the museum. Although it had been seen by earlier scholars, no one had linked the text to the Cyrus Cylinder.
BM curator Irving Finkel later found a second fragment which had once been part of the same tablet. Both fragments (slightly smaller than matchboxes) had been excavated by a BM team in 1879 at Dailem, south of Babylon, in what was then the Ottoman Empire (and now Iraq). Two years later the fragments were accessioned into the BM’s collection.

Picture of the Month January 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On January 18, 2010 Ray Wielgus died in his home in Tucson. Long time friends Jim and DeAnn Cook, Ron Perry, Carolyn Leigh, Scott Clark and Tom Senkerik were with him in his final hours. To say that this was the passing of a giant in the world of tribal art would not do justice to a man who was both passionate and continued to contribute to our knowledge of this art field for almost 55 years. Although Ray might not have been as well known, this is the passing of a man with the stature of a Gordon Ekholm, Junius Bird, or Roy Sieber. As he put together this extraordinary coillection, there is no doubt that Ray Wielgus was in the right place at the right time. He traded openly with museums constantly upgrading his collection by having a better eye and more knowledge of what he was doing. He bought some masterpieces for under a $1,000 which was inexpensive even then. But he knew that. As a frugal man his trifecta was a great piece with great collection history for a very reasonable price. Obviously we all aspire to this, but he made it look easy.

In 1960 in his own words Ray described his collecting philosophy as the following: “My aim in collecting is not to amass a great number of pieces, but to acquire a small group of objects that combine three admittedly intangible characteristics: esthetic excellence, ethnographic or archaeological importance and that quality perhaps best described by the adjective "right."
Esthetic excellence means for me that the piece is outstanding as art irrespective of type or time. Naturally this is an expression of personal taste and, as such, is bound up with the taste of one's time.
I do not profess to scholarship and acknowledge my debt to specialists who, personally and through their publications, have educated me to estimate the cultural importance
of a work.
For a piece to be right it should, except in rare instances, be unimproved by cleaning, restoration or techniques of preservation. Further it should be traditional in style and content, a product of the mainstream of a culture uninfluenced by alien civilizations. Perhaps this quality is most easily recognized in its absence, for whenever the arts have become the battleground of cultural values in conflict there is a resultant indecisiveness of character, a loss of esthetic strength, a weakening of artistic purpose.
The collection is in a process of continual modification; I do not feel irrevocably committed to any particular piece. Each work is open to reevaluation; it must constantly prove itself and be proved.” [Museum of Primitive Art 1960, 7].

For the past ten years it has been a great honor to work with Ray Wielgus as his appraiser for the tribal art collection. We have come full circle after my first visit in the late 1970’s when Ray sat me down in his home in Tucson and began peppering me with questions about authentication and identification of his objects. I remember specifically as he thrust his great Tongan ivory figure into my hand, he demanded an immediate and precise attribution. I sputtered and floundered like a dying walrus and offered something pathetic like.. Eskimo. He leered at me and said that I would never be any good if I didn’t know the basics. I was fascinated, inspired, and horrified all at once thinking that I was standing in the middle of a Volkswagon showroom and had misidentified a beetle. But I did the research and quickly learned how rare the Tonga ivory really is. I took great joy years later watching him torture Bill Mercer in exactly the same way.

When you lose someone special it is always a loss suffered on many levels. I have lost a very good friend; however, I have also lost a mentor, a father, a professional colleague, a client, and a man who significantly impacted my career. I will from time to time bring Ray back in the Newsletter and blog. There will be no service in Tucson. I expect Indiana University, which will be the home of Ray’s tribal collection, will have a memorial.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Google - Changing Your Life Now and in the Future

Historically, the art world has been a bit behind the curve on the latest and greatest in technology. We have advanced past the blinking time indicator on the VHS tape players and we can for the most part use our cell phones. But do we really understand some of these services around us that we use daily and pretty much take for granted. let me get your attention. A year ago this next Friday.. January 22, 2009 Google announced that their fourth quarter revenues were 5.7 billion dollars . This was an 18% increase over the previous fourth quarter. And believe me with what they have planned for you, this is just the beginning.
"Using complicated algorithms similar to those used to fuel what is arguably the world’s most sophisticated web browser, Google has unveiled Google Books. Like Google’s other services, Google Books provides a simple, intuitive interface built around the user’s needs. Google has made its name on being the web browser of choice for just about everyone. Many turn to Google for e-mail (Gmail), driving directions (Google Maps), news (Google News]), social interaction (Orkut), streaming video (YouTube), and even cell phone service (the T-Mobile G1, powered by a Google Operating System). Google’s new hat is not only that of a librarian; Google wants to be the largest, most comprehensive digital library in the world. This is right in accord with Google’s mission: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Matthew Detiveaux on Illicit Cultural Property.
For this news junky who is also a bit curious about everything this is about as good as it gets. For those of us who may be challenged by this technology you just need to jump in and try it. Don't worry about what you think you can't do... just try it. I heartily recommend doing away with manuals and paying for one-on-one instruction. Repetition is about the best form of education you can get with new technology.
Once you get past the mental obstacles you will be amazed at the freedom that this knowledge gives you by exploring the internet with all the tools Google offers. You curious whether a dealer or gallery has a solid history, just Google it and sit back. In this time if you are dealing with someone who doesn't come up on the internet, I would certainly be curious. Wondering whether the talking heads are telling you the truth about a politician, go on Google's You Tube and watch the video yourself and make up your own mind. Wondering about that Chinese jade find on the Roadshow in Raleigh last summer, Google it and you will have an address you can click on that will bring up the segment, who did it, how much it was appraised for, and the final selling price. Maybe you live in Des Moines and you want to find the closest place that sells gluten free organic products. Just Google it.
This is a unique time. And quite frankly I can't calculate how much time I would waste without the help of Google and Amazon. Twenty years ago when I started my tribal art database that enabled me to find auction comparables for my appraisal business, I was motivated by a promise I made to myself. If I was going to waste my time, I was going to do it on my terms and not someone else's. Whether it is 1990 or 2010, this still motivates me today.

Channeling Other Worlds Exhibition

The exhibition will be online at