Art News Headlines: October 19, 2011

Installation view of the exhibition at the  Museo Picasso Málaga

In conjunction with his recent birthday on October 10, Spain’s Museo Picasso Málaga presents “Alberto Giacometti, A Retrospective,” an exhibition that precisely reflects the different stages in the career of one of the outstanding artists of the last century. Giacometti’s work is crucial to understanding the development of the avant-gardes and the subsequent evolution of contemporary art, while as an artist he nevertheless defies classification. This project challenges the conventional reductionist view of Giacometti’s work, offering a more in-depth look at his life and artistic process. The sculptor stripped down traditional genres such as the portrait and still life, baring the most meager minimalistic forms for which he is so well remembered. In addition to sculpture, the exhibit shows a remarkable collection of Giacometti’s prints and drawings. The retrospective will be on view through February 5, 2012, and is the first exhibit celebrating the artist’s oeuvre seen in Spain in over 20 years.

We all know the story of Vincent Van Gogh: reclusive, one-eared, and a right artistic genius, spinning starry nights and bedroom corners onto canvas like no one else. One of the most famous artists who ever lived, he didn’t sell a painting once during his 37 years of life, cut short by his own hand. Or was it? The art world is buzzing about a new theory proposed by Pulitzer prize-winning authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith in their new biography, “Van Gogh, The Life.” They say that Van Gogh did not shoot himself, like he claimed on his deathbed, but instead covered up the act to protect the two American boys who taunted him and eventually shot him—presumably on accident. Leo Jansen, curator of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, isn’t convinced. He commented that the biography is a “great book,” but has doubts about the authors’ theory of Van Gogh’s death in 1890.

Vermeer, The Art of Painting, (c. 1666-73), oil on canvas, 130 x 110 cm

Opening earlier this month and on view through January 15, 2012, the UK’s Mellon Gallery welcomes “Vermeer’s Women: Secrets and Silence,” an exhibition chronicling the intimate beauty of Vermeer’s exquisite scenes of Dutch 17th-century women in their homes. The crowned jewel of this exhibit is none other than The Lacemaker—one of the Musée du Louvre’s most famous works—rarely seen outside Paris and now on loan to the UK for the first time. Joining this painting are dozens of other works from the Dutch ‘Golden Age’, which allow the viewer inside the private world of the women of the time. The paintings demonstrate leisurely pastimes such as writing letters, reading, or making music. Featuring works from museums and private collections in the UK, Europe and the USA, many of which have never been on public display in Britain, this Cambridge showing will be the only chance to see these masterpieces brought together in one exhibition.

In other art news, the Nahmad family is one of the most powerful art-dealing dynasties to have emerged in recent decades. Forbes now values the family’s wealth at $3 billion, although this may be an underestimate. Nevertheless, and despite their conspicuous front-row bidding at auctions worldwide, they have kept a low profile regarding the extent of their private collection. Now the Monaco-based family, who have amassed more than 3,000 works ranging from impressionism to surrealism, are about to “come out”. Highlights of their collection will go on show in October at the Kunsthaus in Zürich—including masterpieces by Renoir, Monet, Seurat, Malevich, Kandinsky, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Miró, Ernst and Dalí. The works have never been seen together before. Among the works owned by the Nahmad family are an impressive collection of Picasso paintings—a couple hundred or so in total, considered to be the most important private collection outside the Picasso family.

Pablo Picasso, Guernica, (1937), oil on canvas, 349 x 776 cm

Despite the high attendance at the Guggenheim as of late, museum officials decided they needed to reel a few more visitors in, and they most certainly will succeed next year at the opening of a just-announced Picasso exhibit—this time, only displaying the Modernist’s works in black and white. Carmen Giménez, the museum’s curator of 20th-century art and a Picasso scholar, has been preparing for “Picasso Black and White” for years. She’s a seasoned Picasso curator too, having shown “Picasso and the Age of Iron,” in 1993, and “Spanish Painting From El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth and History,” in 2006-7. In a time when Picasso exhibits are popping up all over the globe, she commented, “Most people associate Picasso’s black-and-white works with the war years, but he was actually experimenting with black and white as early as 1905 and never stopped.” The show will fill the Guggenheim’s Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda and include about 100 paintings, sculptures and drawings, chronologically charting Picasso’s career.

3D exploration of Picasso’s Guernica

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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