With the long days of summer coming to an end next month, ArtNews recently published a very informative and timely guide online as a preview of the fall season’s major exhibitions and biennials around the world that I thought would be of particular interest to our blog readers.

The ArtNews online guide includes both a national section and an international section covering the period from September through December of this year.

To access the ArtNews guide, see Fall Preview:  Museum Shows and Biennials Around the World.


Further to our post below regarding the trial over the authenticity of a painting alleged to have been made by the Scottish painter Peter Doig, some interesting notes regarding the waning days of the trial were captured by artnet.  Among them:

* The lawyers and the Judge differed as to the pronunciation of Doig’s name;

* During cross-examination, the attorney representing the plaintiffs asked whether the work in question was a painted by “Captain Butterknife.”

* The question of whether Doig was incarcerated at Thunder Bay as alleged by the plaintiffs appeared to have been left unanswered.

The final verdict is expected to be given orally in the coming weeks.

Read more here.

By Daniel Schnapp.

The New York Times recently reported that actor Alec Baldwin contends he was betrayed by a gallery owner and artist, whom he thought had made his dream come true.  Baldwin has long admired a 1996 painting by Ross Bleckner titled “Sea and Mirror.”   He even carried an image of the painting in his wallet.  So when a gallery owner reported that she could deliver the painting to Baldwin, he paid the $190,000 and hung the painting in his Manhattan office.

A few months later, Baldwin discovered there was something off about the painting—the “new” smell, the colors.  Baldwin now contends that the gallery owner sent him a copy of the painting, and tried to pass it off as the original.

Counsel for the gallery owner denies any wrongdoing by his client.  He reported that Baldwin was advised that he was going to receive a different version of “Sea and Mirror” painted by Bleckner.  Baldwin denies ever being told that he was receiving a copy.

Read the full story here.


The Ross Bleckner “Sea and Mirror” at Alec Baldwin’s Manhattan office.

Credit Santiago Mejia/The New York Times

The esteemed Association of Art Museum Directors (“AAMD”) recently published its Guidelines for the Use of Copyrighted Materials and Works of Art by Art Museums (the “Guidelines”) on June 1, 2016.

As set forth in the Introduction of the Guidelines, nearly all aspects of museum operations, from the display of works of art (i.e., works of the visual arts in any media subject to copyright in the United States) to the dissemination of archival material, from the creation of exhibition catalogues to the use of online collections, are encompassed by the possession, ownership and use of copyrighted materials and works of art in art museums.

While art museums must be mindful of the rights of creators of, and copyright holders in, materials and works of art, museums rely on the right to use copyrighted materials and works of art in appropriate instances and under conditions that are well recognized.  Of course, not only do museums use copyrighted materials and works of art, but they also create such materials and commission such works.  Museums should (and the AAMD believes they do) understand and expect their copyrighted materials and works of art to be subject to the same fair use by third parties.

In today’s constantly changing technological world and legal landscape, the AAMD recognizes that art museums seek guidance as to how they can fulfill their missions of acquiring, preserving, studying and interpreting works of art held for public benefit, while respecting the rights of authors, artists and copyright holders.  The AAMD believes that any such guidance should “acknowledge the right to use copyrighted materials and works of art without undue restriction or limitation, so long as such uses are legally and ethically sound.”

The Guidelines fulfill a need to “inform the field about appropriate and normative practices in the use of copyrighted materials and works of art and the application of fair use in the context of various museum activities.”  The AAMD encourages each museum to develop its own written policy and procedures regarding the use of copyrighted materials and works of art as the Guidelines are intended to only generally inform and assist member museums.

Following the Introduction, the Guidelines begin with a discussion of “fair use” under the United States copyright laws, introduce “special considerations” (i.e., attribution, partial images, website terms of use, contract limitations, and courtesy clearance) that are related to the legal test for fair use and should be considered when museums are using copyrighted materials and works of art, and lastly include “specific examples” that address various museum activities for guidance in the fair use analysis, such as online collections, publications (e.g., exhibition catalogues, scholarly articles, blogs, educational materials, collection handbooks, museum brochures, and other).  The Guidelines include an Annex at the end of the document on fair use and an analysis of the four factors to be considered when determining whether the use of copyrighted materials and works of art is fair use under the United States copyright laws.

To review the Guidelines in their entirety, see Guidelines for the Use of Copyrighted Materials and Works of Art by Art Museums published online by the AAMD.

Through community support and collaboration with internationally renowned artists, the Mural Arts Program has celebrated more than 30 years of participatory public artmaking.

In 1984, the Mural Arts Program was established as part of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network.  At that time, Artist Jane Golden reached out to graffiti taggers in an effort to redirect their talents into constructive public art projects.  In 1997, the Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates was established as a private nonprofit to advise and support the Mural Arts Program.

Learn more here.


Legacy by Josh Sarantitis and Eric Okdeh.  Photo by Jack Ramsadale.

This week’s blog post is a nice mix of science and art, which are two of my favorite subject areas.  An exciting discovery by a team of researchers at the Australian Synchrotron led to the recovery of an underlying portrait hidden upside down below Edgar Degas’s painting, “Portrait of a Woman”, which hangs in the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia.

Since the 1920s, the oil paints in Degas’s portrait of the anonymous woman in “Portrait of a Woman” (c. 1876-1880) have been gradually fading over time, revealing a possible hidden portrait underneath.

Up until now, previous attempts to capture the underlying image hidden in “Portrait of a Woman” using conventional X-ray and infrared techniques have only showed a shadowy outline of another woman.

To achieve a high-resolution image of the underlying portrait, the researchers used a synchrotron, which is a type of particle accelerator.  As sources of extremely high-energy light, synchrotrons work by directing such light (a million times brighter than the sun) into an X-ray beam (one tenth the diameter of a human hair).  At the Australian Synchrotron, the researchers used this intense X-ray beam to scan Degas’s painting via a method known as “X-ray fluorescence” (“XRF”).  Using this method, the painting is analyzed literally point by point by a unique detector in order to identify the chemical signatures of the various paint elements on a fine scale.

The team of researchers viewed an elemental map of the underlying hidden portrait as it emerged on a computer monitor over a 30-hour period.  The hidden portrait is believed to be of model Emma Dobigny, who Degas had a special fondness for as suggested by old letters from Degas.

The researchers’ work was not over just yet.  Following the synchrotron scan, the researchers had months of data interpretation ahead having been left with a terabyte of X-ray data and a black-and-white map of the underlying portrait. During this time, the researchers wrote software so that different metal elements known to be present in different paint colors could be converted into a plausible color reconstruction of the painting.

In addition to the revealing of a lost painting, this project also provides key information about Degas’s painting techniques, which could be helpful in the identification of forgeries.  This recent project using XRF technology essentially provides an entirely new level of information about Degas’s artistic process.

In case you may be wondering, it was common practice for artists at the time to paint over old canvasses.

For images of the color reconstruction of the lost painting using XRF technology see Finding Degas’s Lost Portrait With a Particle Accelerator published by the New York Times on August 4, 2016.

For detailed information on the researchers’ work see A Hidden Portrait By Edgar Degas published on nature.com on August 4, 2016.


With mid-summer in full swing, the New York Times recently published a critical guide to current exhibitions and installations in the New York area that I would like to share with our blog readers.  The featured museums and galleries are in Manhattan unless otherwise indicated.  The New York Times also features complete reviews of recent art shows as well as a searchable guide to these and many other art shows.  Hope all of our blog readers are enjoying their summer!


The highly anticipated “The Keeper” exhibition opens at the New Museum in New York City on Wednesday, July 20, 2016.  The summer exhibition is installed throughout four floors of the museum and is dedicated to the “act of preserving objects, artworks, and images, and to the passions that inspire this undertaking.”

According to the New Museum’s Exhibitions webpage, as a “reflection on the impulse to save both the most precious and the apparently valueless, [the exhibition] will bring together a variety of imaginary museums, personal collections, and unusual assemblages, revealing the devotion with which artists, collectors, scholars, and hoarders have created sanctuaries for endangered images and artifacts.”

The focus of the exhibition will be Ydessa Hendeles’ Partners (The Teddy Bear Project) (2002), which comprises a vast display of over 3,000 family album photographs of people posing with teddy bears as well as vitrines of antique teddy bears.  In Hendeles’ project, the teddy bear serves as a “metaphor for the consolatory power of artworks and images and underscores the symbiotic relationship that ties people to their objects of affection.”

In a summary of the upcoming exhibition on its webpage, the New Museum explains “[t]hrough a series of studies and portraits that spans the twentieth century, ‘The Keeper’ will tell the stories of various individuals through the objects they chose to safeguard, exposing the diverse motivations that inspired them to endow both great and mundane things with exceptional significance.”

“The Keeper” is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, the museum’s artistic director, and his team of curators, and will run through September 25, 2016.


On the heels of a shocking report last month that artworks stolen from Holocaust victims were returned to Nazis and their families after World War II, the Bavarian Parliament art committee, Kunstausschuss, has demanded an accounting from government officials on the extent of the system to resell art to Nazi families and a count of the total number of looted artworks that remain in government possession that could be returned to the rightful heirs.

The findings were released by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, a London-based non-profit that researched the archives for certain rightful heirs and made critical discoveries.  Among other information released, in some instances, artworks were sold at significantly lowered prices to the families of Nazi officials instead of being restituted to the rightful heirs.  In other instances, the artworks were kept by the state of Bavaria.  The study reveals that state-owned museums in Munich profited from art looted by the Nazis at least until the 1990s.

In a statement, the Commission’s co-chair Anne Webber said:  “The investigation must include clarification of the provenance of the artworks so that the rightful owners of any works that were looted can be identified and assured of restitution or compensatory justice.”  Webber further added that the Bavarian government “must also ensure that all documents from the State Paintings Collection and other relevant government bodies are published and made fully accessible.”

The Commission had also announced the immediate resolution of the restitution claim that had initially led to the larger investigative probe.  The Commission’s investigation was prompted after the rightful heirs of collectors Gottlieb and Mathilde Kraus, who were trying to recover about 160 artworks stolen from the Krauses, had sufficient reason to believe that some of their paintings would be in the state-owned museum in Munich.

According to the report, “[r]ecords show they were handed over to Bavaria by the US in 1952 for purpose of restitution” and “[t]o their shock, they found they had instead been given by the Bavarian State in the early 1960s to Henriette Hoffmann-von Schirach, daughter of Hitler’s close friend and photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, and wife of the notorious ‘Gauleiter’ [Hitler’s district governor] of Vienna, Baldur von Schirach.”

For further information about how this murky chapter of history came to light and the government investigation, see Bavarian Parliament Will Investigate Claims that Looted Art Was Returned to Nazis and Nazi Art Loot Returned … to Nazis.


Scottish artist Peter Doig claims he didn’t paint the painting depicted below, and now he is forced to prove it at trial.  The New York Times recently reported on this strange case of art authentication, involving Doig’s disavowal of the painting and alleged mistaken identity.  Read full article here.



The owner of the painting is a former corrections officer who alleges that in 1975 he purchased the painting from Doig, who was incarcerated at a Canadian detention facility at that time.  Doig denies having ever been near the detention facility, or ever being incarcerated. The lawsuit is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.