Art News Headlines: October 9, 2010

escapeintolife jasper johns

Jasper Johns

The Museum of Modern Art in New York has enough gems in its permanent collection to currently showcase two stellar installations simultaneously: “Abstract Expressionist New York”, and just-opened “On To Pop”. In the mid-fifties, when Abstract Expressionism was considered to be the most prestigious art movement to date, then 25-year-old Jasper Johns painted an American flag using collage and wax techniques. His painterly method used on the piece was a perfect transition from Abstract Expressionism into Pop Art, a movement hailing everyday, nondescript objects as worth reproducing. This same flag is prominently featured in “On To Pop”, as is Andy Warhol’s Gold Marilyn Monroe, and Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl, among many others. By the late 1960’s, Pop Art had largely eclipsed Abstract Expressionism’s prominence in New York—today we have the luxury of comparing the two side-by-side.

Normally, art thefts provoke international intrigue and notoriety, occupying the limelight in cultural news. Not so with a recent theft from the Malmo Art Museum in Sweden. When police recently recovered three stolen paintings including Three Friends by Edvard Munch, museum officials were “shocked” and said they didn’t even notice the paintings were missing. Police were able to trace the paintings back to the museum via labels on the back of the canvases, but the museum had not reported the pieces stolen. Museum head Goran Christenson was at a loss for words to explain the observational lapse, and mentioned in an interview that security procedures would be reviewed. The paintings had recently been removed from the museum’s permanent exhibition and placed in storage.

A woman recently took a crowbar to “The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals,” an exhibition at the Loveland Museum/Gallery in Denver, destroying the controversial installation by artist Enrique Chagoya. Some say the image depicted Jesus Christ in a sexual act—Chagoya claims that the lithograph was a commentary on global accusations of child abuse committed by priests in the Catholic Church. 56-year-old Kathleen Folden apparently screamed, “How can you desecrate my Lord?” before breaking into the plexiglass case and tearing up the print before officials stopped and arrested her. Prior to Folden’s crowbar incident, many had protested the exhibit, referring to the image of Christ as pornographic. “It’s sad and upsetting,” Chagoya said Wednesday. “I’ve never had this kind of violent reaction to my art. Violence doesn’t resolve anything.”

Craven Museum in Skipton, North Yorkshire, is currently scrambling to construct a new room dedicated to housing its most recent acquisition: a rare copy of William Shakespeare’s first folio of works. The priceless compilation, almost 400 years old, was recently confirmed as one of only 49 surviving first folios in Britain. It contains all of the renowned Bard’s work except his comedies. Most experts consider Shakespeare’s first folio as the most important book in the English language—needless to say, curators at the Museum are overjoyed to have a copy in their possession. The collection had sat in a safe for decades, after it was purchased in the early years of the last century by mill baron John Wilkinson and then handed over to the museum by his daughter.

Michelangelo is thought to have created over 20,000 drawings in his lifetime—of these, only 500 are known to survive today. Over 100 pieces were unveiled earlier this week at a new Michelangelo exhibit at The Albertina Museum in Vienna, the largest exhibit paying homage to the master in over 20 years. The show’s ink-and-paper drawings are varied and represent many stages of the artist’s career, including sketches used for the Sistine Chapel. “The Drawings of a Genius” is compiled from donations from Florence’s Uffizi, the British Museum, the Louvre, as well as private collections in Europe and the United States. In a press conference, exhibition curator Achim Gnann stated that the artist destroyed many of his drawings at the end of his life “so that they would not fall into the hands of others.” Fortunately for us, Michelangelo saved some truly priceless scribbles, on view through January 9.

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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