Art News Headlines: July 24, 2011

Lucian Freud, New Yorker,(2006)

Phenomenal British portrait painter Lucian Freud died on Wednesday following a brief illness at the age of 88. Mr. Freud, grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, was born in Berlin but spent the majority of his life in the United Kingdom. London continued to be where the artist’s career slowly began to unravel, especially with the formation of “The School of London,” a loose group of figurative artists, including his close colleague Francis Bacon, who all practiced more traditional approaches to painting even while abstract art dominated the world. Mr. Freud is remembered primarily for his portraits: stark and unforgivingly true to character, the revealing and often nude paintings of his friends and intimates were generally painted using thick layers and planes of neutral colors. Many of his portraits bore into the viewer with searching eyes and the subjects appear to be more naked than nude. To the artist and Freud biographer Lawrence Gowing, the artist once said, “For me the paint is the person.” The artist painted up until the day he died—his passing truly marks the end of an era.

Buckingham Palace is expecting a record 650,000 curious visitors this summer to catch a glimpse of the now-iconic wedding dress Kate Middleton wore during her royal wedding to Prince William in April. The famous dress was designed by Sarah Burton in memory of the late Alexander McQueen. The design was kept top secret with only a few people connected to Kate and Burton able to see the dress before it went public on the big day. The frock was given resounding praise from fashion critics around the world, as well as the hundreds of millions of viewers across the globe watching the wedding on TV. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to flock to see the dress, largely because of the peaked interest in British royalty among Americans, especially since the royal couple’s recent tour to North America.

Pablo Picasso, Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race), (1922), gouache on plywood

San Franciscans like myself are currently enjoying a major retrospective of Pablo Picasso at the de Young Museum, but soon it will be Canada’s turn. In 2012, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) will present a major survey of masterworks by the most inventive and influential artist of the 20th century, Mr. Picasso himself. “Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris” features over 150 highlights from the Musée’s unparalleled collection, including paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. The exhibition will be on view at the AGO for just 17 weeks, from April 28 through August 26, 2012. The collection of the Musée National Picasso, Paris comprises more than 5,000 works that Picasso kept for himself and his family over the course of his career, ranging from informal sketchbooks to iconic masterpieces. The exhibit is touring the world while the Musée undergoes a multi-year renovation, scheduled for completion in 2012. Take your time, Musée National Picasso!

A giant new sculpture of Marilyn Monroe was unveiled last week in downtown Chicago. As dozens of people watched Friday, July 15th, a 26-foot-tall sculpture of Monroe in her famous pose from the film “The Seven Year Itch” was unveiled on the windy city’s Magnificent Mile. In the film, a draft catches Monroe’s dress as she passes over a subway grate—this scene has become iconic, perhaps the actress’ most famous moment onscreen. Chicago has a history of public art displays, including a herd of fiberglass cows that lined Michigan Avenue some years back. The plaza where Monroe will be stationed until next spring was the home a few years ago to another Johnson sculpture: the equally iconic, though far less glamorous, farmer and his spinster daughter from Grant Wood’s American Gothic.

The White House recently added a Norman Rockwell oil painting to its repertoire—none other than The Problem We All Live With, a painting depicting a young African American girl being escorted by Federal Marshals to William Frantz Public School as its first African American student, thereby signaling the beginning of the integration of the local public school system. Ruby Bridges, the student depicted in the painting, recently was able to visit with President Obama and representatives of the Norman Rockwell Museum to discuss the painting, which became an icon in the civil rights era. The piece will be on display in the West Wing of the White House outside of the Oval Office until October 31st. Another Rockwell painting depicting the Statue of Liberty donated to the White House by Steven Spielberg in 1994 hangs in the same room.

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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