Art News and Headlines October 28 2010

Honus Wagner

As the World Series rages on, The School Sisters of Notre Dame in Baltimore are about to receive a little divine love from the Holy Grail of Baseball Cards. A newly discovered T206 Honus Wagner card, left to the convent by the brother of a member of the order when he passed away, will be auctioned off on November 4th in Dallas as part of Heritage Auctions’ Signature Sports Memorabilia event. The card is estimated to bring in over $100,000. New T206 Wagner cards turn up about as often as bottles of 1921 Dom Perignon, Action Comics #1 or a diamond as big as your fist. Although the condition of the card is far from pristine, its arrival has sparked the interest of collectors worldwide. It came, presented simply in plastic, with a note that read: “Although damaged, the value of this baseball card should increase exponentially throughout the 21th century!”

Soon scheduled for auction comes another exciting collector’s item: Christie’s announced that an exceptionally rare Darth Vader costume will lead the auction of Popular Culture: Film and Entertainment at South Kensington on November 25th. One of the most recognizable and infamous characters in the history of film, Darth Vader played a central role in the story of Star Wars, the epic film series made by George Lucas. The main components of this costume, including the helmet and mask, are considered to have been production-made for The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980. Neil Roberts, Head of the Popular Culture department at Christie’s, noted,“Darth Vader is defined by his costume which has made him one of the most recognized characters from the history of film. Christie’s have sold some incredible relics from popular culture in the past from Dorothy’s red slippers from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to a dress made for Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’; arguably the Darth Vader costume is the most iconic of all.”

Velazquez King Philip IV of Spain

Research conducted during the conservation and study of a royal portrait depicting King Philip IV of Spain, painted by Velázquez, has uncovered details related to the work’s intent and unusual public debut. The conservation project took place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the museum’s former curatorial fellow Pablo Pérez d’Ors began researching the painting’s history. During his research, d’Ors discovered that the painting was intended to cast the militaristic Philip in a humble and forgiving light, very unusual of similar commissioned portraits of monarchs in the 1600’s. This research coupled with the picture’s cleaning offers considerable insight into the portrait. “What is very visible now that was not visible before is how superbly constructed the picture is—the speed and virtuosity with which Velázquez paints, the shifts he makes to create a more dynamic picture,” said chief curator Colin Bailey.

A cartoon depicting the Danish royal family taking part in an orgy has led to the cancellation of a retrospective of works by satirical Danish artist duo Surrend. “These people just want to attract attention, nothing else,” said Thomas Bloch Ravn, the director of Den Gamle By in Aarhus. “It turned out that I cannot trust them and therefore I decided it’s better not to collaborate with them.” The show was due to open a week ago in the Danish Poster Museum, part of Den Gamle By. Some are pointing to this cancellation as unfair censorship, but most agree that the cartoon is grossly insulting for the sake of shock. Surrend is well known for their fake posters and advertisements, having previously displayed posters in public showing decapitated Danish royalty next to a guillotine.

Opening this weekend, California’s SFMOMA presents “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century.” The first large-scale retrospective of the artist’s work to be presented in the U.S. in over three decades, “The Modern Century” features some 300 prints from Cartier-Bresson’s professional career from 1929 to 1989, with an emphasis on the years 1932 through 1973. The exhibition explores a fresh understanding of the artist, with many of the prints on view never before presented to the public. Cartier-Bresson (1908–2004) is celebrated as one of the most accomplished and original figures in the history of photography. His inventive work of the 1930s helped define the creative potential of modern photography, including paving the way for the rise of photojournalism. With an extraordinary ability to capture images of life on the run, his work became synonymous with the “decisive moment.” The exhibit will be on view through January 30, 2011.

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.

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