The Art and Antique Scene in the U.S. March 2011

1. LOS ANGELES (REUTERS).- Street artist Banksy's first film "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is up for an Oscar -- and it seems the subversive Briton may be waging an unorthodox awards campaign on the walls and billboards of Los Angeles.

Several examples of graffiti bearing the hallmarks of Banksy's style and humor have turned up in areas of the city in recent days, including a Charlie Brown figure apparently bent on arson, and a cocktail-swigging Mickey Mouse.
The Mickey Mouse graffiti, first spotted on Wednesday, featured a lascivious Mickey grabbing the breast of a model and appears on a billboard opposite the Directors Guild of America offices near Hollywood's Sunset Strip. The billboard was taken down late on Wednesday.
Other pieces noted by bloggers and graffiti artists in recent days include a giant Oscar-like gold figure wearing a hoodie and standing on a red carpet being guarded by "Star Wars" style troopers, and a young boy brandishing a machine gun loaded with colorful crayons.
Representatives of the elusive artist, whose identity is unknown in public, could not immediately be reached for comment. Banksy is thought to be based in the southwestern English city of Bristol. He first drew attention in the early 1990s, and his street art pieces now sell for huge sums.

2. INDIANAPOLIS, IN. (Artdaily.org ) - The most extensive exhibition ever mounted of Thornton Dial’s painting and sculpture premiered at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, on view from February 25, 2011, to May 15, 2011. Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial highlights the artist’s significant contribution to the field of American art and show how Dial’s work speaks to the most pressing issues of our time—including the War in Iraq, 9/11, and social issues like racism and homelessness. The exhibition presents 70 of Dial’s large-scale paintings, drawings and found-object sculptures spanning twenty years of his artistic career—including 25 works on view for the first time.
Thornton Dial’s work draws inspiration from the rich expressive traditions of the black South. With no formal art education, Dial developed a truly distinctive and original style. Influenced by African American yard shows, Dial’s work incorporates salvaged objects—from plastic grave flowers and children’s toys to carpet scraps and animal skeletons—to create highly charged assemblages that tackle a wide range of social and political subjects. His art touches on topics ranging from the dilemmas of labor and the abuse of the natural environment to meditations on significant recent political and cultural moments—with a particular focus on the struggles of historically marginalized groups such as women, the rural poor, and the impoverished underclass. Born out of decades of the artist’s own struggle as a working-class black man, Dial’s work also explores the history of racial oppression in America, from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement and into the post-modern era.
3. Washington DC - Museum Security Network - Stolen History – NYTimes.com - Posted: 25 Feb 2011 01:43 PM PST Stolen History – NYTimes.com. Last month, the National Archives banned an amateur historian who did what should have been unthinkable: He doctored the date on a valuable Lincoln document. Now the archives has found that it has a more widespread problem, with underhanded “scholars” and sneak thieves making off with American treasures to sell on the black market to [...]

4. Is Sitting Bull's Headdress at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)?
It was on view in February .. briefly. This stunning artifact is certainly rare and valuable. It has been identified as a Sioux headdress dated to c. 1875, but did it ever belong to Sitting Bull (c.1831-1890), the legendary Lakota chief who defeated the U. S. Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of Little Big Horn? While in exile in Saskatchewan, Sitting Bull is said to have given his headdress to his friend Major James Walsh, the Northwest Mounted Policeman. Walsh gave it to his friend Sir William Van Horne, who in turn donated it to the ROM around 1914. Arni Brownstone, a specialist of Native American Ethnography and Culture, has found numerous written references supporting this collection history. However, none of these documents cite their source of information. For this reason, and because one should be particularly skeptical about attributions to famed individuals like Sitting Bull, the headdress may still hold a secret.



5. NEW YORK, NY.- As New York’s Winter Antiques Show came to the end of its ten-day run, 21 to 30 January 2011, Canadian dealer Donald Ellis Gallery reported record sales. Not only did Ellis establish a new record for any Native American item twice, when he sold two extraordinary Eskimo masks from the estate of the Surrealist artist Enrico Donati (1909-2008), his sales at the Show of US$8.4 million exceeded the record total for any auction in this field. Each year Donald Ellis publishes a scholarly catalogue in conjunction with the fair and, in addition to the 36 works sold at the Show, he sold 9 other objects immediately prior to it for around US$1.3 million.
The Donati Fifth Avenue mask was the first of the two record masks to sell, breaking the record at a price in excess of US$2.1 million, and then this record was also broken when the Donati Studio mask sold for in excess of US$2.5 million. Yup’ik Eskimo masks are possibly the highest form of expression of Native American art and profoundly influenced the Surrealist artists who had escaped Paris in the Second World War and settled in New York. André Breton, Max Ernst, Roberto Matta, Wolfgang Paalan and Donati, among others, all owned significant examples and were the first to recognise them as exceptionally refined works of art. These two Donati masks have been requested for the forthcoming exhibition The Colour of My Dreams: Surrealism and Revolution in Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery from 28 May to 2 October 2011.
Donald Ellis said: “The market seems to have turned incredibly positive. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to handle the extraordinary works of art from the Donati estate. Their sale helped us achieve over the past two weeks a dollar figure that has almost doubled any previous fair or gallery exhibition we have curated.” Donald Ellis’ sale of 45 works of art from the catalogue and at the fair for a total of US$9.7 million considerably exceeds the record total for an auction of American Indian Art of US$7,030,600 (57 lots) for the famed Dundas Collection in October 2006, (US$6 million of which was paid by Donald Ellis on behalf of the Thomson family and a small group of Canadian collectors, philanthropists and institutions).  Artdaily.org

6. ATLANTA, GA.- The High Museum of Art will continue its collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA), with the exclusive presentation of the major exhibition “Picasso to Warhol: Twelve Modern Masters” beginning October 2011. This exhibition will present approximately 100 works of art created by 12 of the most iconic artists from the 20th century: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Constantin Brancusi, Piet Mondrian, Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp, Giorgio De Chirico, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. “Picasso to Warhol” will be one of the largest concentrations of modern art masterpieces to ever be exhibited in the southeastern United States. Co-organized by the High Museum of Art and MoMA, the exhibition will be on view only in Atlanta from October 15, 2011, through April 29 .(Artdaily.org)

7. New York City - Museum for African Art Press Release:
Elsie McCabe Thompson, president, the Museum for African Art, today announced that the Museum has received a major contribution of $3 million from the Ford Foundation. The grant supports the final stage of
construction of the Museum's new building, which is located on Fifth Avenue at 110th Street and has been designed by the New York City-based Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP. In recognition of the Foundation's generosity, the Museum will name the lobby of the building—which opens in fall 2011—the "Ford Foundation Lobby." With its contribution, the Foundation joins other generous private donors to the Museum, including David Rockefeller, John Tishman, and the Walt Disney Company, among others, and brings to $76 million the total raised for the $90 million project.