For Collectors of the Fine and Decorative Arts

Features From Previous Issues

Symphonies of Color

Seminal advances in abstract art aren’t usually thought of as coming from Americans, especially in the early modernist period, when the avant-garde of Europe was busy revolutionizing the visual vocabulary that had held sway for hundreds of years. Nonetheless, in 1913 Stanton Macdonald-Wright and Morgan Russell, two young American expatriates in Paris, created a technique and style they called Synchromism, which represents a major step in the direction of nonobjective painting. Continue reading

Monuments to the Obscure

One might imagine that at this late date there are no more discoveries to be made in the art world, or at least no discoveries outside the realm of what the trade likes to call “emerging artists.” And yet some more or less forgotten artists continue to emerge from the obscurity into which they have been cast by prejudice or by happenstance. In this issue, we consider a few of these. Continue reading

From the Editor: Ancestral Voices

By art-world tradition, the last week in January is Americana week in New York, when the auction houses hold dedicated sales of antique furniture, silver and various forms of vernacular art. The American Antiques Show, benefiting the American Folk Art Museum, takes place at the same time, as does the Winter Antiques Show, not limited to American material but rich in it nonetheless. Continue reading

Exhibitions: Down to a Science

Virtually everyone is familiar with the phrase, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” Now The Walters Art Museum and the Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute at Johns Hopkins University, both in Baltimore, are collaborating to determine what people like, and ultimately, why they like it. Continue reading

From the Editor: The Search for Authenticity

Sometimes hindsight isn’t 20–20, but that might not be a bad thing. In this issue, our columnist Jonathan Lopez writes about the academic painter James Tissot (see page 46), who is not much discussed nowadays. No matter. As Lopez shows, some of Tissot’s works, at least, provide an excellent case study of the ways in which, try as we might, we cannot recreate the past. Continue reading

Books: Winter’s Tales

Books are among the most inexhaustible of presents; long after the New Year they remain to give pleasure till next December and beyond. That is especially true of art books, and Art & Antiques’ editors have picked some choice volumes to delight and inform the collector and curious reader. Continue reading

From the Editor: Fifty Years Ago—and Tomorrow

As 2009 comes to a close (and not a moment too soon, for many in the art world), we are being asked, from several quarters, to cast our minds back 50 years to 1959. That’s not for nostalgic reasons, but in order to understand where we are today. According to author Fred Kaplan, 1959 was “the year everything changed.” Continue reading

Collecting: Made in the Shade

Mezzotint allows artists to portray the world in all its many shades of gray. The printmaking technique, invented in 1642, renders the infinite subtleties of the tones that lie between black and white in a manner ideal for reproducing oil paintings. “Most reproductive techniques until then relied on line,” says Sheila O’Connell, assistant keeper of prints and drawings at the British Museum. “Mezzotint allows smoother transitions between line and shade.” Continue reading

Books: Magical Realism

This book is about Giambattista Tiepolo, the superbly energetic Venetian master of frescoed ceilings and inheritor of the mantle of Paolo Veronese. But it’s also about serpents, symbols, sacrifices, Persian magi, Chaldean oracles and ritual magic. None of which should surprise anyone who is familiar with the delightfully subversive scholarship and essayistic verve of Roberto Calasso, the Italian book publisher (his firm, Adelphi Edizioni, is headquartered in Milan) and writer on a wide variety of cultural subjects. Continue reading

Books: A Kleptocrat’s Collection

The great complexities of provenance research are little known to those outside the profession. Claimants of looted art, lawyers, judges and most journalists, unaware of the difficulties, often think that the exact history of a work of art is easily found. In her extraordinary book on the paintings collection of Hermann Goering, Nancy H. Yeide, chief of provenance research at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., makes clear that that is not the case. Continue reading

The Visionary

In 1930, at the age of 37, Charles Burchfield was given a one-man exhibition by the Museum of Modern Art. While by no means indifferent to the honor and in no way dissatisfied with the way his work was presented, the artist didn’t trouble himself to make the trip from his home in Buffalo, N.Y., to attend his own show. To MoMA director Alfred H. Barr Jr., he wrote, somewhat sheepishly, “I wish I had been able to come to the exhibit, but found it was impossible just now.” Continue reading

Inner Strengths

This past June and July, a very interesting thing took place in the London salesrooms of Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The results for Old Master paintings surpassed those for contemporary art, and they came surprisingly close to those for Impressionist and modern art. To market watchers, this topsy-turvy state of affairs signaled a shift in art-world priorities in the wake of the global economic crisis. Continue reading

Financial Report: The Pawnbroker

If the art of business has revolutionized the business of art in the past decade, Tony Barreiro and Ray Parker Gaylord are firmly in the vanguard. The San Francisco-based company ArtLoan, which they founded in 2004, lends money against the value of art collections owned by individuals and galleries. Continue reading

In a Nutshell: One for the Road

The impulse to personalize a car is almost as old as the car itself. Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, an English aristocrat, is credited with inventing the hood ornament, also known as the mascot, when he affixed a statue of St. Christopher to his 1899 Daimler. Continue reading

Books: Hucksters and Housekeepers

The defining moment in the career of James Rorimer, the sixth director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, fell on Nov. 9, 1965, when a blackout shut down the northeastern United States. With a loaded gun in hand, Rorimer patrolled his museum from dusk until dawn. He was, in the words of one associate, “a housekeeper extraordinaire,” an administrator safeguarding the past against an uncertain future. Continue reading