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Art & Antiques

Art & Antiques June 2020

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The Art of Excellence. Art & Antiques is tailored to readers who are actively involved in the international art market. Our editorial policy places special emphasis on the interests of the serious art aficionado—a collector whose passion is acquiring and living with art, antiques and high-end collectibles.

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United States
Art & Antiques Worldwide Media, LLC
10 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
the primacy of painting

AFTER SOME seven hundred years during which painting was the master medium in Western art, culminating in a 50-year period in which it fundamentally transformed that art, it became fashionable to claim that painting was “dead,” or at least no longer relevant. Photography, video, installations, and the multitude of possibilities that go under the name of multimedia seemed to be getting all the attention and drawing all the energy. However, rumors of painting’s death have been greatly exaggerated. For viewers, paintings remain persuasive not only because of their optical qualities but because of the awareness that they were made by hand, and for artists, the project of making images by hand remains perennially seductive. In this issue of Art & Antiques, we have two occasions—at least—to reflect on the allure and…

2 min.
keep your head

The city-state of Corinth developed the most popularly used helmet of Archaic and early Classical-period Greece. By the late 7th century B.C. and into the 6th century, it was the ideal choice for warriors in combat. As we so often see today, it was sleekness, optimized functionality, and ease of production that led to a superior design. The example seen here puts the design’s advantages on display. Wrought from a single piece of bronze, the helmet is stronger than earlier examples, which were made of two halves welded together. This advance in craftsmanship made the helmet easier to produce while also giving it a sleekness a present-day viewer might liken to modernist sculpture. The overall shape of the helmet was also improved, with a peaked dart or curvature under the ear area…

2 min.
cameo appearance

In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder describes the origin of painting: the daughter of a Corinthian potter traced the outline of her lover’s shadow on the wall before he goes to battle. “The Origin of Painting,” which is also referred to as the “Maid of Corinth” or the myth of Fielea and Ariston, became a favorite motif of artists and a prevailing image of Romantic Classicism. George Woodall, a British glass artist who along with his brother Thomas elevated the ancient art of cameo glass to its zenith in the 19th century, was likely made familiar with the motif through a print of a Giovanni Battista Cipriani painting by Louis Charles Ruotte the Elder (an example of which is in the British Museum). Woodall would portray “The Origin of Painting” several…

18 min.
in perspective

Block Buster BETWEEN 1962 and 1991, Francis Bacon created 28 largeformat triptychs. In 1981, he painted Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus. The Norwegian collector Hans Rasmus Astrup acquired the triptych in 1984 from Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., London, and the private museum he founded, the Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo, has housed it since 1993. This season, Sotheby’s offers the triptych at an estimate in excess of $60 million. The sale is not only this work’s auction debut, but it’s also the first time since 2014 that one of Bacon’s large-format triptychs has appeared at auction. In fact, it’s only the sixth of the large-format triptychs to come on the block, period. Sotheby’s contemporary art sales will also feature property from the Collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson. The…

6 min.
word power

IN DISCUSSING the work of the Ethiopian-born artist Wosene Worke Kosrof, the phrase “visual language” can be taken literally. Kosrof’s most important body of work consists of paintings in which the characters used to write Ethiopia’s Amharic language are the central graphic element. Cohabiting on the canvas with simple geometric forms and fields of color, the Amharic characters create a dynamic, logicchallenging, visually fascinating abstraction. The abstraction is deepened by the fact that the characters—technically not letters but syllabic signs—are indeterminate and generally don’t spell out actual words. Kosrof, who has lived in the U.S. for over 40 years—first in Washington, D.C., and then in Berkeley, Calif.—has observed that non-Ethiopian viewers may have an advantage over native speakers when it comes to experiencing his work. Those who know Amharic may believe,…

9 min.
the great mother

IN CÉLINE Sciamma’s 2019 film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Marianne, a woman painter, travels to a manor on a remote island in Brittany to paint the portrait of Héloïse, a young aristocrat. The portrait is to be sent to the Milanese nobleman to whom Héloïse is betrothed. It is the 1770s, and Marianne has inherited a successful painting practice from her father—a boon for a woman artist of any period. In France in the 18th century, there was a limit on the number of women who could be admitted to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, and they were excluded from life drawing classes (Marianne addresses this by noting she paints nudes in secret). But a number of female painters excelled by painting portraits of well-to-do women…