Art News Headlines: August 28, 2011


Rembrandt, The Judgment, pen and ink, (1665), 10 x 6 in

 A small Rembrandt sketch valued at $250,000 that was stolen last weekend from a luxury hotel in posh Marina del Rey, California, has been recovered, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced this week. In a statement, officials say they got a tip that led officers to “the Judgment,” in the city of Encino. The sketch was found at a San Fernando Valley church, authorities say, about 20 miles from the hotel lobby from which it had been stolen. The church’s name wasn’t released. No suspects were in custody. The small 17th century sketch was snatched over the weekend from a private art display at a posh hotel while a curator was momentarily distracted by someone who seemed interested in buying another piece. The recovered sketch is currently being studied to determine it’s legitimacy but officials have no doubt it is indeed the stolen artwork.

Art history classes just got a lot more enjoyable. Broadcast on PBS, the illuminating nine-part documentary series, “Art of the Western World”, is set to debut on DVD on September 27, 2011. Historian Michael Wood (Legacy, The Story of India) hosts this fascinating overview of painting, sculpture, and architecture, from ancient Greece to the postmodern era. Four years in the making and filmed at over 150 locations in 8 countries, this eye-opening tour takes viewers through 2,500 years of Western art travels from sun-bleached temples to soaring cathedrals, palaces to villas, and galleries to gardens. Complemented by close-up views of masterpieces, walks through important buildings, and informative commentary by historians and scholars, the DVD 3-volume set also includes a 20-page viewer’s guide and biographies of major artists. The set is priced at $59.99.

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Monkeys, oil on masonite, (1943), 16 x 12 in

In other art news, Pallant House Gallery presents “Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Masterpieces from the Gelman Collection”. This major touring exhibition, which is in Chichester for its only UK showing, brings together the iconic paintings of Latin artist Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera, the two central figures of Mexican Modernism, for the first time in the United Kingdom.  Their work speaks of a fierce loyalty to and pride for Mexico, the ideals of the 1910 revolution, and a commitment to the conditions of the common man. Rivera is a socialist hero, famous for his large-scale political murals depicting workers and class struggle. Kahlo is a feminist icon, whose self-portraits present a challenging view of the female role and address emotional issues of love, pain and heartbreak. Few other artists have captured the fascination of the world as these two. The exhibition includes key images by Kahlo such as Self Portrait with Monkeys, and Self Portrait as a Tehuana and the major work by Rivera, Calla Lily Vendors (all 1943).

Though the cause of death for Egypt’s most powerful female ruler, Queen Hatshepsut, may never be fully known, researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany think it’s a possibility she may have accidentally poisoned herself. In a flask that researchers previously assumed was perfume was recently analyzed as once having contained a lotion probably used to relieve skin diseases like eczema—a skin condition that is known to have run in Hatshepsut’s family. They also found that the flask contained benzopyrene, a highly carcinogenic substance, which is like a “cancer-causing tar” and is also found in cigarette smoke. The researchers spent two years studying the dried-out contents of the flask, which is part of the university‘s Egyptian Museum’s collection and bears an inscription saying it belonged to Hatshepsut. “If one imagines that the queen had a chronic skin disease and the ointment gave her short-term relief, then she may have exposed herself to a major risk over the course of a few years,” Helmut Wiedenfeld of the university’s pharmaceutical institute said in a statement.

We typically think of the word remix as it applies to music, not art. German artist Georg Baselitz is redefining this concept with his new exhibit “Baselitz Re-Mixed Kunstforeningen” at the GL STRAND gallery in Copenhagen. Baselitz, commonly thought of as one of the most prominent visual artists of his generation, has filled this exhibit with paintings modeled after his own works from previous decades, taking a fresh look at them with newer ideas and different colors. Simultaneously, he quotes the works of other artists, re-paints them, and thus makes the subjects his own: they are his painterly comments on others’ work. These artists include Edvard Munch, Andy Warhol and Sigmar Polke—artists whom Baselitz appreciates greatly. “Baselitz Re-mixed Kunstforeningen” spans three stories of the gallery and is considered to be an extension of the work the artist exhibited at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in 2005.

video via Christies Fine Art Auctions

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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