Art News Headlines: February 19, 2011

The Kiss, Gustav Klimt

The popular online art gallery recently published its official Top 10 list of most romantic oil paintings for Valentine’s Day 2011. Topping the chart is Gustav Klimt’s sensual masterpiece The Kiss. Other artists that made the list include Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh. Over 3,000,000 page views to’s romantic gallery were tracked. David Sasson, founder and president of, commented “[Klimt’s] distinctive style remains extremely popular, which is evidenced by the fact that The Kiss was named the most romantic oil painting of the year and was our third best-selling oil painting in 2010.”

Egypt said it would reopen historical sites to tourism on Sunday as it sought to revive a key industry shattered in the turmoil that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Archaeologists were cheered by the recovery of the most important artifact stolen from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, a rare statue of King Tut’s father. A 16-year-old protester found the statue of the Pharaoh Akhenaten next to a garbage can and his family returned it, the antiquities ministry said. The statue is considered to be extremely important because it is one of the few surviving depictions of Akhenaten, who built the city of Amarna and introduced an early form of monotheism, doing away with the worship of the chief god, Amun. The king ruled for nearly two decades, and after his death ancient Egyptians went back to worshipping Amun, destroying images and statues of Akhenaten.

Jasper Johns

Last Tuesday President Obama presented 13 exceptional individuals with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Among them was Jasper Johns, the first studio artist to receive the award since Alexander Calder in 1977. “It has been noted that Jasper Johns’ work, playing off familiar images, has transfixed people around the world,” said Obama at the ceremony, which took place in the East Room of the White House. The President went on to remark, “As [Johns] said, ‘I assumed that everything would lead to complete failure, but I decided that it didn’t matter—that would be my life.’ We are richer as a society because it was. And Jasper, you’ve turned out fine.” Other recipients of the 2010 Medal of Freedom include musician Yo-Yo Ma and poet Maya Angelou.

Controversial artist Tracey Emin announces the arrival of a show in collaboration with the late French artist Louise Bourgeois. Bourgeois, who died last May, is credited as the founder of confessional art, a school to which Emin is devotee. The 98-year-old Bourgeois sent a series of gouache paintings to Emin last year to change in any way she liked to mark the friendship between the two. “I could do whatever I wanted, I was completely free,” Emin said. “Do Not Abandon Me” opened in London yesterday at Hauser & Wirth Colnaghi Gallery and will run through March 12.

Art lovers will get rare glimpses of Caravaggio‘s often violent life in an exhibit in Rome, combining centuries-old documents from archives as well as paintings, including a portrait last seen in public 100 years ago. Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, a church with a courtyard designed by Baroque artist Borromini and later home to Italy’s state archives, hosts the show through May 15. Curators told reporters at a news conference Thursday that one document on display features a drawing done by a judge of a sword and dagger seized from Caravaggio, who was arrested for carrying weapons without proof of permit. Also plucked from the archives is a document of a lawsuit by another painter against the often-ill tempered Caravaggio, who lived from 1573 until 1610. The artist is celebrated for his innovative use of chiaroscuro, a technique in which illuminated figures dramatically stand out against dark backgrounds.

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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