Art News Headlines: March 19, 2011
Israeli archaeologists presented a newly uncovered 1,500-year-old church in the Judean hills on Wednesday, including an unusually well-preserved mosaic floor with images of lions, foxes, fish and peacocks. The Byzantine church located southwest of Jerusalem, excavated over the last two months, will be visible only for another week before archaeologists cover it again with soil for its own protection. The small basilica with an exquisitely decorated floor was active between the fifth and seventh centuries A.D., said the dig’s leader, Amir Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority. He said the floor was “one of the most beautiful mosaics to be uncovered in Israel in recent years.” Stone steps lead down from the floor of church to hidden tunnels as well as a small burial cave, which scholars suggest might have been venerated as the burial place of the Old Testament prophet Zechariah.
The Virgin and Child with Repentant Sinners has been sitting in the basement of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid for many years—until recently it was deemed to be an actual Van Dyck painting instead of a copy as previously assumed. Painted in 1965, the work was included in the 1964 inventory of the Academy as “an old copy of Van Dyck.” Once the painting was cleaned and restored, the authenticity of the painting has been confirmed. The piece depicts the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus in her arms watched by Mary Magdalene, King David, and the Prodigal Son—an example of the Catholic emphasis placed on penance. The high quality of the work, in addition to attached documents, led restorers and Academy experts to conclude the authenticity of the piece. The painting is part of the exhibition “Echoes of Van Dyck,” which opens in Spain on April 1.
A museum volunteer has unearthed what the Smithsonian Institution believes to be the first—and perhaps only—color photographs of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire that nearly leveled the city. The six never-published images were snapped by photography innovator Frederick Eugene Ives several months after the April 1906 “Great Quake,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Most were taken from the roof of the hotel where Ives stayed during an October 1906 visit. They were stowed amid other items donated by Ives’ son, Herbert, and discovered in 2009 by National Museum of American History volunteer Anthony Brooks while he was cataloguing the collection. Although hand-colored photographs of the quake’s destruction have surfaced before, Ives’ work is probably the only true color documentary evidence.
One of the most highly acclaimed and internationally successful artists working today is the focus of a new display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art coming this spring. ARTIST ROOMS: Jeff Koons brings together a selection of 18 major works charting the American artist’s career from the early 1980s until 2003. The works on display will be taken from ARTIST ROOMS, a collection of modern and contemporary art held by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland for the nation. Among the highlights of ARTIST ROOMS: Jeff Koons, going on view today, will be key examples from some of the artist’s most important and iconic series of works, including The New and Made in Heaven. The most recent work in the display, Caterpillar Chains (2003), revives the artist’s interest in inflatable toys, which was a prominent feature in some of his earlier work.
You may be familiar with Joan Miró’s spiraled and colorful paintings, but less acquainted with his sculptural works. The Maillol Museum in Paris has decided this should change, opening for the first time in almost forty years an exhibition focusing on the sculptures and ceramic pieces that Miró created. The museum has gathered 101 sculptures in total, along with 22 ceramics, 19 works on paper and one painting. The works on display mostly come from the outstanding collection of the Foundation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght. This exhibition celebrating the lesser known works of Miró mirrors similar exhibitions seen of Picasso’s sculptures, who is also more thought of as a painter.
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.