Volume 18, Number 2 .... May 1996


Susana Zubiate, Column Editor

"The Betrayal of the Russian Avant-Garde"

by Konstantin Akinsha, Grigorii Kozlov, and Sylvia Hochfield in ARTnews, February 1996, pp.102-115.

Interviews with art historians, conservators, collectors, and dealers reveal that thousands of Russian Avant-Garde works have entered the western market in the past thirty years. The degree of infiltration into museums, galleries and private collections has been severe enough to distort our understanding of many great artists. Inaccessibility to Russian collections and archives, few technical studies, lack of documentation, and falsified records have led to the acceptance of these works into the market. This article points to the need for inter-disciplinary cooperation in establishing a solid body of knowledge on the Russian Avant-Garde.

"Dam Deferred"

in ARTnews, February 1996, p.69.

The newly elected Socialist party in Portugal has canceled the construction of a dam in the Côa River valley. The proposed dam had garnered international criticism when it was reported that it would flood a ten mile span of the river valley where 12 clusters of petroglyphs, considered to be one of Europe's most important rock-art sites, are situated. The Portuguese taxpayers will be footing the $150 million bill for work that had been done prior to the cancellation of the project.

"Science and the Arts"

special edition of Scientific American, 1996.

"A collection of works exploring the interrelationship of science and art."

This special edition of Scientific American is a compilation of previously published, art-related articles that date from as far back as 1958. It includes: The Creative Process by J. Bronowski; The Art of Boris Artzybasheff by Domenic J. Iacono; A Technology of Kinetic Art by George Rickey; Escher's Metaphors by Doris Schattschneider; Projective Geometry by Morris Kline; The Visual Image by E.H. Gombrich; The Dance of the Solids by John Updike; The Physics of Violins by Carleen Maley Hutchins; The Restoration of Medieval Stained Glass by Gorrfried Frenzel; and Art,Illusion and the Visual System by Margaret S. Livingstone.

"The Messiest Subject Alive"

by Judd Tully in ARTnews, Dec. 1995, p.112-118.

"Posthumous sculpture casts have multiplied as the demand for important artworks has dramatically increased. The problem is that we can't always be sure the sculptor would have liked what happened to his work after his death."

Issues such as artist's intent, aesthetic quality, identification, lack of information about the origins of a cast, and "legitimacy" of posthumous casting of sculpture are discussed. Tully brings this "messy" topic to light with case histories based on the works of Rodin, Brancusi, Giacomettti, Degas, and de Kooning.

"Flag Sculpture Slashed"

by Nancy Princenthalin Art in America, March 1996, p.27.

Cases of "harassment against the arts" are said to be on the increase. One of the latest assaults was on Donald Lipski's American Flag Ball #3 which was torn to shreds while on display on the grounds of C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. Lipski "remains eager for the piece to be seen as a 'visual representation of intolerance' and believes that the sculpture is currently more powerful than ever".

"Glass Action"

in ARTnews, December 1995, p. 59.

After being kept behind reinforced glass for years, Guernica, which depicts "the horrors of the Basque town of that name during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39" will go on display at the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art without the protective shield. The museum director Jose Guirao believes that Guernica should not be displayed with the protective glass because none of the other paintings in the museum is protected in the same way.

"Returned and Restored"

in ARTnews, February 1996, p.69.

One hundred seventy of one hundred seventy-three artworks damaged in the 1993 explosion at the Uffizi have been restored. The restoration work was funded by a $1.3 million relief grant from the Italian government and included the help of 25 restoration laboratories.

"Japanese Outpost for Boston Museum"

in ARTnews, February 1996, p.21.

After lengthy negotiations, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts will be establishing a satellite museum in Nagoya, Japan. The sum of four $5 million payments, $1 million a year for 20 years, and $180,000 for each of 44 exhibitions will be paid to the BMFA which has been operating at a deficit for the past two years.

"A Monk's Tale"

in ARTnews, December 1995, p.60.

Twenty-six prints by Albrecht Dürer from the collection of a Benedictine monastery in Lambach, Austria have been stolen. The prints were replaced by poor quality fakes which were discovered when the custodian of the Lambach Monastery's books, manuscripts, and prints took one of the forgeries to an expert for advice on its restoration.

"New Painting Surfaces for a New Age"

by Lucas in American Artist, February 1995, p.52.

A discussion of contemporary supports and painting materials by an artist, chemical engineer (and even a lawyer), who's writing a book entitled Fine Art for the Next Millennium: A New Renaissance in Paintings and Painting Support. He reports his use of Alcubond Polycarbonate/ ABS, Ultraboard/ Polystyrene, Lexan, and flexible PVC for supports "with satisfactory results." He may have unraveled why Chroma Acrylics' claims that their Archival Oils will out-perform any other oil paint and are compatible with acrylic underpainting and gesso.

Zora Sweet Pinney

"Raising Alexandria"

by George Howe Colt in Life, April 1996, pp. 70-73.

Last October a number of artifacts were retrieved from the waters of Alexandria Bay. The trove included: a "sphinx embellished with hieroglyphics; the massive torso of a Greek king in Pharaoh's garb; and the delicately carved 12-ton torso of a goddess-queen that once stood some 40 feet tall". However, some of the most remarkable objects were 40 ton granite blocks which appear to have come from the Pharos of Alexandria, the first lighthouse in history and one of the seven wonders of the world. The trove includes more than 2,000 relics that were scattered over a five acre site, 10 to 25 feet under water. A portion of the objects have been retrieved and the rest will be left in situ where the city is studying plans to make the site into an underwater archaeological park.

"Investigating Miracles, Italian-Style"

by James Randi in Scientific American, Feb. 1996, p. 136.

James Randi, magician author and lecturer, casts a skeptical eye on the many reports of weaping statues and miscellaneous miracles embraced by the Italian media and public.

An exception: Luigi Garlaschelli, of the organic chemistry dept. of the U. of Pavia, who with colleague Franco Ramaccini works with the Italian Committee for the Investigation of the Paranormal to provide rational explanations for supposed miracles.

"Garalschelli has demonstrated that almost any ceramic or plaster figure can be prepared to exude mock tears or blood by drilling a tiny hole in the top of the head, injecting a liquid and then scratching away a thin line of glaze below the eyes. More simply, a hollow plaster figure can be filled with a liquid, then drained. The porous material retains some fluid, and tearlike drops will begin to flow from the eyes while a pool of liquid gathers about the base (an attendant condition that is often described."

"In the Heat of the Rose"

by Bill Berkson in Art in America, March, 1996, pp. 69-73, 110-111.

A description of the history of the monumental work by Jay DeFeo created over an eight year period, 1958-66 in oil and mixed media, measuring 129"h by 92"w by 8" thick. The artist continued to work on the piece despite repeated attempts by curators, such as Walter Hopps, to have it exhibited. It was finally "finished" when the artist lost her lease and the work had to be moved. The actual moving was the subject of a film by Bruce Conner.

The recent conservation treatment, facilitated by acquisition of the piece by the Whitney, by Niccolo Caldararo, Tony Rockwell, and Anne Rosenthal, is chronicled in all its hair-raising complexity.

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