The US. District Court for the District of Columbia recently denied a preliminary injunction seeking the reinstallation of a controversial “anti-police” painting at the U.S Capitol complex.

David Pulphus, a student artist from Missouri’s First Congressional District, and William Lacy Clay, the congressional representative for that district, filed a lawsuit claiming that their First Amendment rights to free speech were infringed upon when the Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers, removed Pulphus’s painting from a display of student art.

Pulphus’s painting was selected to represent Clay’s congressional district in the 2016 Congressional Art Competition, and was hung in the Cannon Tunnel in the U.S. Capitol complex in June 2016 with the other winning artwork.  The painting was removed several months later by the Architect of the Capitol (who oversees the competition), after receiving several complaints that the painting was “anti-police.”

The Court prefaced its opinion stating that “[a]lthough the Court is sympathetic to plaintiffs given the treatment afforded Pulphus’s art, under controlling authority this case involves government speech, and hence plaintiffs have no First Amendment rights at stake.”

Read the Court’s opinion here.

The “Fearless Girl” was created by sculptor Kristen Visbal and erected in Bowling Green in honor of International Women’s Day in March.  The statue has become wildly popular.  Although set to be removed next week, it will remain in place until early 2018.  However, not everyone is supportive of the artwork.

Fearless Girl Statue by Kristen Visbal New York City
Photo by Anthony Quintano, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license (unaltered)

“Fearless Girl” defiantly faces Wall Street’s famous “Charging Bull” statue, which was created by sculptor Arturo Di Modica, who copyrighted and trademarked his creation.  Di Modica believes “Fearless Girl” subverts the meaning of his artwork, and his lawyers have accused the company that commissioned the statue of improperly commercializing D. Modica’s bull in violation of the copyright.

Read more here and here.

The New York Times recently reported that its readers are divided on the issue of whether the original intent of the artwork should be able to stand over time and how much public art is protected.  Read the article and NYT’s readers’ comments here.

 

In recent art news, the New York Times ran a story on this week’s opening of the “Mummies” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  In the exhibition, more than a dozen specimens are on display, some of which have not been on public view in more than 100 years since the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  The new exhibition explores how and why two ancient civilizations, ancient Egypt and pre-Columbian Peru, separated by a distance of about 7,500 miles, practiced mummification.

One of the mummies known as Mummy No. 30007 or the “Gilded Lady” did not assume her name by accident – her coffin is intricately decorated with linen, has a golden headdress and facial features, and possesses an air of divinity.

She’s so well preserved that she looks exactly how the people of her time hoped she would appear for eternity.”  To modern scientists, however, it is what they do not see that is just as intriguing, that is “[w]ho was this ancient woman, and what did she look like when she was alive?”

The icon of today’s mummy investigations is the CT scanner, which provides archaeologists with an inside view of the millenniums-old specimens without damaging them.  This is in stark contrast to just a century ago when scientists would typically unwrap their finds or specimens often harming them in the process.

The Gilded Lady was never unwrapped as archaeologists instead used state of the art CT scanning to create a 3-D print of her skull that helped a forensic artist with the reconstruction of her features.  Scientists were even able to determine her potential cause of death from tuberculosis about 2,000 years ago, and age (in her 40s) dating back to Roman-era Egypt.

The exhibition was organized by David Hurst Thomas, curator of North American archaeology, and John J. Flynn, a curator of fossil mammals, both at the American Museum of Natural History.  The exhibition is scheduled to run through January 7, 2018.

For an overview of the exhibition, see “Unraveling the Mystery of Who Lies Beneath the Cloth” published by the New York Times on March 23, 2017 and the American Museum of Natural History website.

 

Support of living artists can be rare.

Everyone knows the cliché “starving artist.”

However, things are about to change across the pond.  Last week, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, announced a new program designed to fund artist’s studio space through the financing of a special trust.  The trust known as the Creative Land Trust has been established through public and private dollars to keep artistic talent in the city of London and to avoid artist flight due to astronomical housing costs.

Somerset House Studio, a mixed used historic building along the Strand, is the first to reap the rewards.

This is an encouraging step in ensuring that there is continued investment in the arts. Large American cities like Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco among others should take notice and strive to make similar investments.

In recent art world news, over 100 modern masterpieces from the art collection of Russian industrialist Sergei Shchukin will be on display at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris in a landmark exhibition running from October 22, 2016 through February 20, 2017.  The exhibition entitled “Icons of Modern Art.  The Shchukin Collection” reunites nearly half of the 275 works that once were on display in Shchukin’s Moscow mansion, which opened as a museum in 1908.

The collection was integrated into the State Museum of Modern Western Art after nationalization by the Bolsheviks in 1918.  Stalin ultimately shut down the museum as “ideologically inadequate” in the mid-20th century and considered Shchukin’s art collection “bourgeois”.  The industrialist’s works were eventually divided between the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, where they languished in storage rooms for decades until the 1970s.

Shchukin’s desire for then-radical works by such artists as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso was said to have rivaled that of the Stein family.  The industrialist forged relationships with leading dealers and artists at the time on his frequent trips to Paris between the late 19th century and the early 20th century.

Anne Baldassari, former director of the Musée Picasso in Paris and organizer of the exhibition at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, says that the Shchukin collection is “one of the great pioneering collections that has never received a comprehensive presentation” and “[a]ll curators working on the Modern period dream about staging a Shchukin exhibition.”

The exhibition was reported to have been made possible in part by “political will” after decades of dissension between Shchukin’s descendants and the Russian state.

“A selection of works by Kazimir Malevich, Aleksandr Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin, among others, traces the collection’s impact on the emerging Russian avant-garde.”  According to Baldassari, “[p]ictures often went from Picasso’s and Matisse’s studios to Moscow—no one had seen them in Paris.  [This was] Modern art as it was happening, when the paint was still fresh.”

To view select highlights of the exhibition, see The Modern Art Stalin Did Not Want Russians To See published online by The Art Newspaper on October 19, 2016.

In recent international art world news, it has been recently reported that the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has recently attributed a questioned work, “River Landscape With Figures” (1625-30), among other works, to the highly respected Dutch 17th-century artist, Hercules Segers.  The landscape painting had been attributed for many years to Segers, but it had been discredited in the 1970s by a leading Segers scholar who was uncertain of the authenticity of the work.

New research has led the Dutch national museum to conclude that the work should be attributed to Segers.  Over the past two years, the Rijksmuseum has conducted and examined technical studies on about 100 known and questioned Segers works from around the world.

Henry Pettifer, who is Head of the Old Master Paintings Department at Christie’s in London, has said that the authentication “could add value” to the work, but it is difficult to predict the amount as Seger’s works “so rarely appear at auction, and because there’s so much controversy about attribution.”

Segers is regarded as one of the Dutch Golden Age’s “most experimental and mysterious artists, who was admired by and influenced Rembrandt, among others.”

The museum will be presenting the Segers work among a number of paintings, impressions and prints in a large-scale retrospective entitled “Hercules Segers” running from October 7, 2016 to January 8, 2017.  The exhibition will then move to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where it will open on February 13, 2017 as “The Mysterious Landscapes of Hercules Segers.”

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.

 

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.

MAP-lincoln-financial-mural-MASTER

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

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.