Arts and Culture Headlines: June 4, 2010


René Magritte, Les barricades mystérieuses (Estimate: £3,000,000 – £4,000,000)

In what is being hailed as the most valuable art auction in history, yesterday the auction house Christie’s proved that the art market is on the upswing by announcing major paintings to be auctioned off later this month. Among the works are Pablo Picasso’s Portrait of Angel Fernández de Soto (The Absinthe Drinker), exemplifying a prime example of the artist’s Blue Period, and Claude Monet’s Nympheas. Each are estimated to raise around £30m and £40m. The Monet painting is one of his nine Nympheas works from the famed 1909 exhibition at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris, which largely contributed to his international acclaim. Among other works for sale are paintings by Gustav Klimt, Henri Matisse, René Magritt, and Vincent van Gogh.

In New York this week, an interactive new public art project called “The Key to the City” has begun and will be held until Labor Day. The artist Paul Ramirez Jones has created a master key that unlocks hidden museum rooms, bakeries, gardens, and even the official master bedroom of the city mayor Michael Bloomberg. Tens of thousands of these keys are being distributed, playing up the tradition of recognizing dignitaries with a key to the city. The project “will provide New Yorkers with a new way to experience some of our cultural organizations, city landmarks and small businesses,” the mayor said in a statement. Jones urges the public to bestow the keys upon friends or loved ones to recognize their accomplishments.

Also in New York City this month, on June 15th the Bonhams 20th Century Decorative Arts Department will present one of the largest groups of Contemporary Glass to come to auction in recent years. This auction will offer almost sixty glass works, representing a wide selection of artists from the pantheon of contemporary glass making, including Tom Patti, Dale Chihuly, John Lewis, Marvin Lipofsky, and William Morris. Pieces from Dale Chihuly’s Blanket, Basket, Seaform, and Macchia series will be offered, as well as floor lamps and valuable bronze pieces.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City has just announced a new installation for fall called Abstract Expressionist New York, a major exhibition following the evolution of Abstract Expressionism from its auspicious beginnings in the 1940’s to its seasoned maturity in the 1960’s. The pieces in the exhibition will come entirely from the MoMA’s own immense collection of Abstract Expressionist paintings, the largest collection of its kind in the world. The exhibition will feature approximately 300 different works of art from artists such as including Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and Mark Rothko. Abstract Expressionist New York will run from October 3, 2010 to April 25, 2011.

At the recent premiere of the 17th BMW Art Car Jeff Koons unveiled and signed his car in front of 300 international VIP guests in the Centre Pompidou in Paris, one of the world’s most prestigious cultural institutions for modern and contemporary art. It is the same place where Roy Lichtenstein first presented and signed his Art Car back in 1977. As part of his creative process, Koons collected images of racecars, related graphics, vibrant colors, speed, and explosions. The resulting artwork of bright colors conceived is reminiscent of power, motion, and bursting energy.

Art dealer Richard Gray, who has galleries in Chicago and New York, is donating a substantial portion of his collection consisting primarily of old master drawings to public museums, many of which have yet to be announced. Nine promised gifts to the Art Institute of Chicago will be officially issued at the opening of its exhibition “Gray Collection: Seven Centuries of Master Drawings” which will run from September 24, 2010 to January 2, 2011. The Ohio based entrepreneur’s collection includes work by Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet and Pablo Picasso. In addition, Gray’s gallery has sold to more than 50 museums, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum.

Laura Lawson paints when writer’s block strikes and writes when painter’s block strikes. She has studied fine art at LCAD and is pursuing a degree in journalism. Recently diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, she strives to bring hope to those without vision through her blog. She is currently working on her first book about coping with vision loss.