September 22nd, 2011

1. The dethroned pair.

As is already known, the king of the forthcoming blockbuster exhibition at the National Gallery in London (“Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan”, from 9 November 2011 to 5 February 2012) will be “Salvator Mundi”, an oil on panel discovered and attributed to the master in a not-so-long process, begun in 2005 in the shop of the New York dealer Robert Simon, and finished only recently. A study entitled “The Lost Christ of Leonardo” is rumoured to be published by Yale University Press late this December.  For an interesting account of the whole story, see the press note issued on behalf of Mr Simon. However, if this painting had not been included in the show, then the crown would have been shared by a pair: the National Gallery’s Virgin of the Rocks and the Louvre’s version of the same subject. For a good introduction on the matter, I would suggest the exercise carried out by curator Luke Syson, asked by artinfo to tell the differences between the two paintings.


2. The rising of the online official catalogue.

The same National Gallery continues publishing its new series of catalogues of its entire collection. But from time to time, it offers some of the new entries in advance ofthe corresponding volume, by posting them on its website. In doing this, the NG is following a new trend in the museum world, whose most radical expression is to be found in the Fundació Gala – Salvador Dalí in Figueres. This institution is sharing online, in a work-in-progress basis, every single entry of the catalogue raisonné it is currently compiling of Dalí’s paintings, which includes works owned by others than the Foundation.


3. Cassirer’s legend is becoming history.

Swiss Nimbus has published the first volume of the history of the legendary Cassirer Kunstsalon, which was established in Berlin from 1898 to 1933 and became a powerhouse for Impressionism and Post-Impressionism paintings (Kunstsalon Cassirer. Die Ausstellungen 1898-1905 , 1078 pages in two books, for 98 € from the publisher’s website). The four-volume venture plans to publish a new volume every autumn up to 2014. The editors in chief are the co-owners of the publishing house, publisher Bernard Echter and gallerist Walter Feilchenfeldt. Their aim is to provide not only an historical account, but also a complete catalogue of all the works traded by the firm. Among the featured works is Pissarro’s Rue Saint Honoré, 1897, now in the Thyssen-Bornemizsa Museum in Madrid. This is the only work in a Spanish public institution affected by a restitution legal dispute – between Cassirer’s heirs and Spain. For an account of the case by the “Commission for Art Recovery” (Cassirer’s representatives), go to his website.


4. Quid pro quo.

In a type of funding deal that is becoming increasingly popular in Spain, the Catalan savings bank “La Caixa” will exhibit nearly 100 of Goya’s works in its “CaixaFòrum” space in Barcelona, from March 15 to June 24, 2012. It is the first fruit of La Caixa’s renewed support, worth 2.5 million € over the next four years, for El Arte de Educar (“The Art of Educating”), a school-orientated education programme first launched in 2009. According to press reports, the exhibition, under the enigmatic name  “Goya: Luces y Sombras”  (“Goya: Lights and Shadows”) will focus on comparing Goya’s commissioned works against the master’s self-initiated outputs, and Goya’s “La Maja vestida” (“The Clothed Maja”) will be its star. It will come with the guarantee provided by the curatorship of two leading scholars from the Prado’s ranks:  Manuela Mena, Chief Curator for 17th century Paintings and Goya, and José Manuel Matilla, Director of the Drawings and Prints Department. See the short but attractive piece by Carmen del Vando Blanco in the online version of Il Giornale dell’Arte, with a further warning on Goya’s paintings in the church of the Aula Dei Charterhouse in Zaragoza.


5. The extraordinary career of Dr. James Cuno.

Director of the Harvard University Art Museums and Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard (1991-2003); Director and Professor of the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London (2002-2004); Director of the Art Institute of Chicago (2004-2011); Dr. James Cuno took his new job last August as President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles. Besides that, keen readers of “Whose Muse? Art Museums and Public Trust(Princenton University Press, 2003), edited by Dr. Cuno, will be happy to learn about his upcoming Museums Matter: In Praise of the Encyclopaedic Museum”, (University of Chicago Press, by December this year).


6. Why tearing down a poster is not that fair.

This beautifully long video from the Art Institute Chicago’s blog showcases the French-born artist Alexis Petroff unveiling the hard work behind the humble and noble art of stencilled posters.


7. Brass birds do fly away from their fences.

Sorry, but we could resist this story about a double-headed Imperial eagle flying in 2007 over the Nevsky Prospect and nesting in a nearby courtyard, aptly renamed “The Bird’s Yard”. The embellishment was returned in May this year to its original place at the top of one of The Hermitage’s fences.


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