Museum News June/July 2011

1. WALTHAM. The sad saga of Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum, whose collection university trustees had voted to sell in 2009, ended today when the university announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed by museum supporters and the promise to keep the museum open without putting any of its art up for sale.
“The Rose remains open, and it has an important role to play in the life of Brandeis,” Fred Lawrence, the university’s president, told The Art Newspaper. “There are no plans to sell art.” Further, he added, the lawsuit, brought by four Rose board members and donors to prohibit any sales in Suffolk Probate and Family Court in Boston, was terminated, and the Massachusetts Attorney General has closed the case.
Lawrence declined to rule out another option that has been considered, however, that the Rose might raise money by “renting out” part of its collection. “We’re exploring options, but I’m focused on the 50th anniversary of the Rose this year, with planning traveling exhibitions, and with bringing supporters back to the museum,” he said.
The Rose was threatened with closure in January 2009, when Brandeis’s board of trustees voted to help alleviate the university’s deep financial troubles by selling art from the Rose’s collection, whose 7,000-plus works include seminal pieces by Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, Matthew Barney, Cindy Sherman, and Richard Serra, among others. It has been valued at more than $350 million. Making matters worse, the board’s decision was sprung without warning on Michael Rush, then the Rose's director, and the museum’s board — who fought the move publicly and vociferously. Within months, Rush’s contract was not renewed and he has not been replaced.
2. SAN ANTONIO, TX.- The San Antonio Museum of Art announces the acquisition of a rare and extremely important Tibetan painting, Buddha Amitabha in Western Paradise.
According to John Johnston, the Coates-Cowden-Brown Curator of Asian Art, “This is the finest Tibetan painting in our collection and one of the best paintings of its type in America.”
The thangka, or scroll painting, dates to circa 1700 and features vivid pigments and gold painted on cotton. The thangka depicts a celebratory scene of Buddha Amitabha seated in meditative pose and resting on a lotus supported by a peacock throne. Around Amitabha are elaborate scenes featuring over one hundred figures in attendance to the Buddha. The painting is unusually large for a thangka, as most scenes of this size and detail are featured on wall paintings rather than scroll paintings.
Buddha Amitabha in Western Paradise was purchased with funds provided by the Bessie Timon Asian Art Acquisition Fund, and is currently on display on the second floor of the Museum’s Lenora and Walter F. Brown Asian Art Wing.
The San Antonio Museum of Art is housed in the historic Lone Star Brewery along the celebrated new Museum Reach section of the beautiful San Antonio River Walk. SAMA’s collection contains more than 25,000 works of art representing over 5,000 years of history and cultures from around the world. SAMA conducts more than 500 guided tours annually and provides approximately 200 educational programs each year. Programs include lectures, concerts, films, children’s workshops, scholarly symposia, family art activities, and special exhibitions .
http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=49052&b=Tibetan%20painting,%20Buddha%20Amitabha
3. SAN FRANCISCO, CA (AP).- The case of a stolen Picasso has been cracked — and police say it was a New Jersey man who walked into the gallery in downtown San Francisco, snatched the drawing and fled in a taxi.
Police arrested Mark Lugo, 31, of Hoboken, N.J., on Wednesday at an apartment in Napa, and found the artwork stripped from its frame. The 1965 pencil-on-paper drawing — titled "Tete de Femme" — was purchased at a spring auction in New York. It's worth about a quarter of a million dollars.
"I've had some sleepless nights," said Rowland Weinstein, who owns the Weinstein Gallery. "I feel very, very lucky and very relieved that the Picasso wasn't harmed and will be returned back safely."
Weinstein said he planned to upgrade the street-level art gallery's surveillance system. The drawing was displayed under guard at a news conference at the police station on Thursday.
Lugo faces burglary, grand theft and drug charges and is being held on $5 million bail. He has been in town since July 4 and was visiting friends, said Police Chief Greg Suhr.
Lugo's arrest comes a day after surveillance video released from a nearby restaurant showed a man matching his description walking by with a piece of framed artwork covered by a newspaper under his arm.
Suhr said the footage played a key role in the arrest.
http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=48900&b=picasso%20theft

4. VANCOUVER, BC.- It is said that when Surrealist André Breton first saw an indigenous mask from the Pacific Northwest , he called it “more surreal than the Surrealists.” During the 1930s and 40s, Breton and many of his Surrealist colleagues were intrigued and became avid collectors of this art and, in some cases, visitors to British Columbia and Alaska. For the first time in an exhibition, The Colour of My Dreams: The Surrealist Revolution in Art brings to light the Surrealists’ fascination with First Nations art.
The Surrealists’ passion for Pacific Northwest First Nations art began in New York , where many artists fled as Europe slid from the First World War into fascism and a new conflict. Surrealists were drawn to the ‘authentic’ quality, inventiveness of form and visual brilliance of First Nations art. Some of the movement’s members collected, wrote about and even exhibited their own work alongside First Nations art from British Columbia and Alaska . To Breton, the turn toward so-called primitive art and thought was a necessary response to the “great social and moral crisis” of the era. Breton and other Surrealists saw Europe and the West more broadly as a failed society, where the triumph of rationalism brought conflagration and vast human suffering. The Surrealists – including Max Ernst, Enrico Donati, Kurt Seligmann and Wolfgang Paalen – saw something in the Aboriginal art of the Pacific Northwest which they felt held the secret to revolutionizing what they viewed as the depleted Western imagination. Said Breton in 1946, “today, it’s above all the visual art of the red man that lets us accede to a new system of knowledge and relations.”
The Colour of My Dreams includes a spectacular Kwakwaka’wakw headdress from Alert Bay, British Columbia, which once belonged to Breton; five Yup’ik masks from Alaska, formerly of the collection of artist Enrico Donati; and many other remarkable works – all displayed near the masterworks of the Surrealists who collected them.
5.  PARIS.- With more than 160 exceptional items, most of which have never left their country of origin, this exhibition offers the opportunity to discover the Guatemalan Maya, one of the major civilizations that shaped the history of pre-Columbian America. In an attempt to promote the protection of the Guatemalan national heritage, the exhibition highlights the latest significant archaeological discoveries on several recently studied sites – such as El Mirador, which heads the list of the five sites selected to be nominated for UNESCO World Heritage site status. This latest research enables the presentation of a broader and more complex concept of Maya civilization; one which describes the great variety and the development of its social organization, architectural forms and artistic styles. Painted ceramics, stelae, finely carved stones, funerary elements, architectural remains and ornaments, all presented in chronological order, provide a complete ... More

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