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Art & Antiques

Art & Antiques February 2020

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

11 min
the romantic

When he was still a teenager, Norman Bluhm was Mies van der Rohe’s youngest student at the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago. Bluhm had graduated from high school early, and his family had encouraged him to enroll at Armour so he could become an architect like his father. One day in class, he grew dissatisfied with a rendering he was working on and started drawing little nudes dancing around the building. The Bauhaus master looked over and asked, “What are you doing here, Herr Bluhm?” The future artist replied, “Oh, I’m ruining a drawing. So I just thought I would draw a few nudes dancing around enjoying themselves.” Mies said, “When we are going to draw nudes, I will tell you when to draw nudes.” Mies never got the…

13 min
disruptive design

If the origin story of “Radical: Italian Design 1965–1985, The Dennis Freedman Collection,” an exhibition opening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on February 14, were a light-hearted comedy, a dinner honoring Italian design luminary Ettore Sottsass would supply the meet-cute. It was at such a dinner at New York’s Friedman Benda Gallery in September 2015 that Dennis Freedman and Cindi Strauss, our protagonists, were introduced. Freedman, the former creative director of W magazine and Barneys New York, has been passionately assembling one of the best collections of Italian Radical Design in the world since the late ’90s. Strauss, the Sara and Bill Morgan curator of decorative arts, craft, and design at the MFAH, grew up around Italian design and its Radical counterpart and has been slowly amassing an…

7 min
meissen man

PORCELAIN, WHILE as commonplace as the kitchen cabinet to us, was a source of admiration and amazement to Europeans in centuries past. Ever since Marco Polo brought the first porcelain objects from China in the 13th century, Westerners wondered how the glowing whiteness and purity of the ceramic substance was achieved and tried unsuccessfully to replicate it. The elusive formula was dubbed the arcanum, a Latin word connoting a sacred mystery. Finally, in 1708, a German alchemist and chemist, Johann Friedrich Böttger, came up with a formula for porcelain using the mineral kaolin which yielded the long-desired consistency and look. Böttger’s patron, Augustus the Strong—Elector of Saxony and later King of Poland—wanted above all to own and hide the arcanum, to safeguard it from the 18th-century equivalent of corporate espionage.…

9 min
the writing on the wall

WE ARE LUCKY to be living in a time of great energy and innovation in the museum world, when it seems that every season brings at least one exhibition that offers not just worthwhile artworks but a bold attempt to rewrite art history, to uncover lost or long-ignored works and tease out hidden strands of influence. This month, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York presents a particularly ambitious effort in this vein, “Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945” (February 17–May 17). The show, organized by Whitney curator Barbara Haskell, assistant curator Marcela Guerrero, senior curatorial assistant Sarah Humphreville, and Alana Hernandez, features over 200 works by some 60 artists, Mexican and American, to support the argument that Mexican muralism had a profound and not fully…

2 min
giovanni di paolo, saint clare rescuing the shipwrecked, tempera and gold on panel

GIOVANNI DI PAOLO, one of the leading painters of quattrocento Siena, based the work seen here on Thomas of Celeno’s life of Saint Clare, a hagiography of Saint Francis’ companion written at the request of Pope Alexander IV in 1257. The painting, with its tumultuous sea and radiant sun, more than doubled its high estimate and set a new world auction record for the artist at the Old Masters Evening Sale at Christie’s London in December. It toppled the previous record of $885,750, set at Sotheby’s in 2001, and became the top lot of the sale, which achieved ?24,218,000 ($31,362,310). The subject of Saint Clare was not a unique one for Giovanni di Paolo. The auction house sold its companion panel, The Investiture of Saint Clare—the earliest in a series of…

7 min
south pacific

THE LARGEST AND most complete exhibition ever presented on the art of Fiji—and the first major show in the U.S. about the Melanesian island culture—is now on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific” presents over 280 objects, many loaned from around the world, including the Fiji Museum, the British Museum, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Cambridge), the Smithsonian, and private collections, to tell the story of a uniquely creative and resourceful culture that remains too little known even among tribal-art enthusiasts. The exhibition originated at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich, England, where it was curated by Steven Hooper, Karen Jacobs, and Katrina Igglesden and ran from October 2016 through February 2017. However, its origins actually go back some 40 years,…