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11/28/2009

Top ART News: Week In Review | Nov. 22 - Nov. 29

Intrigued Art Collector Discovers Galileo's Relics | ROME (11/22/09) — Relics taken from the "Father of Modern Science," Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), have been rediscovered and will go on display sometime next spring.  Experts have examined the provenance of three items - two fingers and a tooth - found inside an 18th-century container and determined the specimens indeed belonged to Galileo... More >
 
Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall to Play Nude Diana in Titian Painting | EDINBURGH (11/23/09) — Actress Kim Cattrall, best known for her role as Samantha Jones on Sex and the City, announced that she will pose nude once again in the name of art. This is the second time the English-born Cattrall has volunteered her body to raise funds to keep classic Renaissance paintings on display in the U.K... More >
 
Study Shows Artists Remain Inspired Despite Recession Challenges | NEW YORK, NY (11/24/09) — The results of an art survey, released Tuesday, indicate that despite being hit hard by the economic recession, artists remain optimistic about their importance in society. In fact, 89% of those who participated in the Artists and Economic Recession Survey believe they play a special role in helping strengthen their communities during these tough times. 75% of those polled believe that overall this is an inspiring time to be in an artistic profession... More >
 
Giant Finger Painting Sets World Record | HONG KONG (11/27/09) — As American children were celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday, around 3,300 students were setting a Guinness World Record in China. The children created a giant finger painting carrying the anti-drug slogan, "Not Now, Not Ever, Say No to Drugs"... More >

Surreal or Cubist? The Science of Objective Art Classification | KYOTO (11/28/09) — Have you ever wondered which characteristics of a painting classify it as a certain artistic genre? How do we know a Picasso piece conforms to the properties of Cubism, and what makes Dali art Surreal? Placing artwork into its proper genre is a pretty subjective task, but researchers in Japan are working to make the work of art historians a bit more scientific... More >

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Surreal or Cubist? The Science of Objective Art Classification

Salvador Dali, Portrait of Picasso
KYOTO — Have you ever wondered which characteristics of a painting classify it as a certain artistic genre? How do we know a Picasso piece conforms to the properties of Cubism, and what makes Dali art Surreal? Placing artwork into its proper genre is a pretty subjective task, but researchers in Japan are working to make the work of art historians a bit more scientific.

A study at Japan's ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories, led by Yukiyasu Kamitani, examined the patterns in brain activity of twelve students who were shown works of art by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Using an MRI, scientists identified certain brain patterns generated by the students that were unique to each artist. Students were then shown another set of paintings by the same artists.

Both sets of brain patterns were fed into a computer program to determine whether the first set of data could be used as a basis in identifying the genre of paintings viewed in the second set. The results: the program was correct 83% of the time among the six students who were art majors and 62% of the time among the others. The study indicates that the human brain has "abstract codes" for different artistic styles, codes which could soon be used to revolutionize art classification into a more objective process.
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Read More - Brain Scanner Can Tell a Dali from a Picasso | New Scientist
[Image: Salvador Dali, "Portrait of Picasso" (1947)]
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11/27/2009

Giant Finger Painting Sets World Record

Chinese students, finger painting, Guinness World Record
HONG KONG — As American children were celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday, around 3,300 students were setting a Guinness World Record in China. The children created a giant finger painting carrying the anti-drug slogan, "Not Now, Not Ever, Say No to Drugs."

Measuring nearly 23,000 square feet, the oversized painting is part of a series of large-scale anti-drug publicity and education activities launched by the Western Police District, the Narcotics Division and the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN).

The kids received a Guinness World Record Certificate and made a pledge to continue their commitment to fighting drug abuse. The finger painting will be reproduced as banners and displayed at all immigration checkpoints, public amenities, non-governmental organizations and schools.
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[Photo: Children surround their Guinness World Record setting anti-drug finger painting, courtesy Xinhuanet]

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11/24/2009

Study Shows Artists Remain Inspired Despite Recession Challenges

Artists and Economic Recession Survey, Andy Warhol, Dollar Signs
NEW YORK, NY — The results of an art survey, released Tuesday, indicate that despite being hit hard by the economic recession, artists remain optimistic about their importance in society. In fact, 89% of those who participated in the Artists and Economic Recession Survey believe they play a special role in helping strengthen their communities during these tough times. 75% of those polled believe that overall this is an inspiring time to be in an artistic profession.

The online survey, conducted by Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) from July 20 to August 17, 2009, polled 5,380 American artists, designers, writers, architects and musicians of diverse ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds and geographic locations. The study sought to find out how the recession is affecting the over 2 million artists currently living and working in the United States. 

Those surveyed indicated that the worst effect of the recession is decreased sales and/or having to charge lower rates for their works. Neither of those points is really shocking, but on a positive note, many of the artists are finding personally rewarding opportunities, regardless of hardships. 40% of the artists reported being able to spend more time on their artwork and one-third are able to experiment creatively and collaborate more with others.

Following are some other notable statistics from the survey:
  • two-thirds of the artists hold at least one job in addition to creating art;
  • two-thirds earned salaries less than $40,000 in 2008, 51% reported a decrease in income in 2009;
  • 40% said they do not have adequate health care;
  • 55% have personal websites and 43% use social media to promote their works;
  • 70% use the internet to conduct research and learn about other artists, while 23% sell their works online.
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Read More - Select Findings from the Artists and Economic Recession Survey | LINC
[Image: Andy Warhol, Dollar Signs (1982)]

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11/23/2009

Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall to Play Nude Diana in Titian Painting

Kim Cattrall, National Gallery, Titian, Diana painting
EDINBURGH — Actress Kim Cattrall, best known for her role as Samantha Jones on Sex and the City, announced that she will pose nude once again in the name of art. This is the second time the English-born Cattrall has volunteered her body to raise funds to keep classic Renaissance paintings on display in the U.K.

In 2008, Cattrall played Diana (goddess of the hunt) for a recreation of the Titian painting Diana and Actaon. Although the work was on display at the National Gallery in London, the painting's owner, the Duke of Sutherland, threatened to sell the work on the open market. The successful campaign raised the $83 million necessary to keep the piece in Britain.

This time, Cattrall will pose naked for Titian's Diana and Callisto. The masterpiece portrays the moment in which Diana discovers that her maid Callisto has become pregnant by Jupiter. The painting is in the collection of the National Gallery in Edinburgh, but the Scottish government has refused to pay for the piece to stay there.

The man-eating character Samantha Jones is known for openly embracing her sexuality and the 53-year-old Cattrall is certainly not shy about it either. "Kim is committed to do whatever she can to keep the second Titian on public view," a representative for the actress said.

Note: Sex and the City 2 is scheduled to hit theaters in May 2010.
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[Photo: Kim Cattrall in a recreation of Titian's Diana and Actaon painted in 2008]

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11/22/2009

Intrigued Art Collector Discovers Galileo's Relics

Galileo Galileo, relics, art collector
ROME — Relics taken from the "Father of Modern Science," Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), have been rediscovered and will go on display sometime next spring.  Experts have examined the provenance of three items - two fingers and a tooth - found inside an 18th-century container and determined the specimens indeed belonged to Galileo.

Three fingers, a tooth and vertebra were removed from Galileo's corpse in 1737, as his remains were being moved to their final resting place in Florence's Santa Croce Basilica. While the vertebra and one finger were recovered and moved to the University of Padua and the Museum of the History of Science in Florence, respectively, the other two fingers and tooth were thought to be lost forever.

An Italian marquis was initially in possession of the three relics and passed them down to subsequent generations of his family. But after 1905, all traces of the items had disappeared. That is, until an intrigued art collector recently purchased a mysterious wooden case at auction and had the contents examined.

The wooden container was topped with Galileo's bust and held an 18th-century glass-blown vase inside of it. The tooth, thumb and middle finger from the scientist's right hand were inside the vase.
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[Photo: Finger attributed to Galileo Galilei, courtesy AP Photo/Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze/ho]

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11/21/2009

Top ART News: Week In Review | Nov. 15 - Nov. 22

A-List Goes GaGa Over 30 Years of MOCA | LOS ANGELES (11/15/09) — A-Listers from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, to Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, to Christina Ricci, Jessica Alba, Kate Beckinsale, James Franco and Pierce Brosnan, were among the 1,000 guests at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles on Saturday night. The MOCA threw a huge gala in celebration of its thirtieth anniversary and the grand opening of its new fine art exhibition MOCA's First Thirty Years. A performance starring Lady Gaga and the Bolshoi Ballet were highlights of the evening... More >
 
Artist's Michael Jackson Mosaic Wins World Record | TIRANA, ALBANIA (11/16/09) — He's already done it three times before, using 500,000 nails, 1 million toothpicks and 300,000 corks, respectively, but this time around record-breaking artist Saimir Strati has created the world's largest mosaic using paintbrushes. Strati, an Albanian artist, used 230,000 black and brown paintbrushes to create a gigantic portrait of the late pop icon Michael Jackson... More >
 
Tim Burton's Surreal Debut at the MoMA | NEW YORK, NY (11/18/09) — Beetlejuice... Beetlejuice... Beetlejuice! A major retrospective opening to the public on Sunday will give fans of blockbuster movies like Pee-wee's Big Adventure, BeetlejuiceCharlie and the Chocolate Factory, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas a unique opportunity to step into the surreal world of Tim Burton. The Museum of Modern Art has compiled over 700 examples of sketchbooks, concept art, drawings, paintings, photographs, and a selection of amateur films for a new exhibit simply entitled, Tim Burton... More >
 
Size DOES Matter: Shaq Scores a Job as an Art Curator | NEW YORK, NY (11/18/09) — Sometimes bigger IS better, at least according to basketball legend and current Cleveland Cavalier Shaquille O'Neal. The 320-pound, 7'1" NBA athlete is taking off his size-22 gym shoes and stepping into the world of fine art. Shaq has scored himself a new job as curator of the Size DOES Matter exhibit opening at the FLAG Art Foundation in February... More >
 
Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009), Artist and Wife of Christo | NEW YORK (11/19/09) — The orange-headed artist known simply as Jeanne-Claude died from complications of a brain aneurysm on Wednesday night; she was 74. As the wife and muse of well-known artist, Christo, the pair traveled the world creating large scale "wrapped" installations, the most famous of which was The Gates of Central Park (2005)... More >

PINTA Latin American Contemporary Art Fair Sails Into NYC | CHELSEA, NY (11/20/09) — A unique celebration of modern and contemporary art movements - abstract, concrete, neo-concrete, kinetic and conceptual art - had its official opening reception on Thursday evening. Artists, collectors and museum representatives from around the world have arrived in New York for the third annual PINTA; the only contemporary art fair in the United States featuring works exclusively by Latin American artists... More >
 
The Pope Receives a Creative Audience at the Sistine Chapel | VATICAN CITY (11/21/09) — The magnificent Renaissance frescoes of the great Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and Botticelli provided the backdrop for a pontifical address to art world heavyweights on Saturday. Pope Benedict received roughly 250 creatives, including painters, sculptors, architects, musicians, poets and film directors, at the Sistine Chapel (not your typical conference room/banquet hall), where he spoke to the crowd about bridging the gap between the art world and religion... More >

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The Pope Receives a Creative Audience at the Sistine Chapel

Pope Benedict, Sistine Chapel, Vatican

VATICAN CITY — The magnificent Renaissance frescoes of the great Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and Botticelli provided the backdrop for a pontifical address to art world heavyweights on Saturday. Pope Benedict received roughly 250 creatives, including painters, sculptors, architects, musicians, poets and film directors, at the Sistine Chapel (not your typical conference room/banquet hall), where he spoke to the crowd about bridging the gap between the art world and religion.

Though the Vatican invited roughly 500 artistic leaders of varying religious, political and stylistic allegiances, only about half accepted the invitation. Opera star Andrea Bocelli, film director F. Murray Abraham and architect Zaha Hadid (whose acclaimed MAXXI museum of contemporary art opened in Rome last weekend) were among those in the audience.

The Pope began his address by explaining, "At this gathering I wish to express and renew the Church’s friendship with the world of art." He said that in the present time of social and economic hardship, when all hope seems to be lost, it is beauty which can restore the human spirit.

"[...]the experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it from darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful," Pope Benedict said. "Beauty, whether that of the natural universe or that expressed in art, precisely because it opens up and broadens the horizons of human awareness, pointing us beyond ourselves, bringing us face to face with the abyss of Infinity, can become a path towards the transcendent, towards the ultimate Mystery, towards God."

Pope Benedict ended by appealing to his audience, whom he called "the custodians of beauty," asking them to use their talent "to speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement." He told them to be grateful for their gifts, and said, "Through your art, you yourselves are to be heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity!"

The Vatican is expected to have its own pavilion at the next Venice Biennale art exhibition in 2011, perhaps a sign that the establishment is finally willing to embrace the world of modern art.
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Read More - Full Text of the Pope’s Address
[Photo: Pope Benedict XVI greets more than 250 leading figures from the world of arts in the Sistine Chapel on Saturday. Courtesy Osservatore Romano/Associated Press]

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11/20/2009

PINTA Latin American Contemporary Art Fair Sails Into NYC

PINTA, modern art, contemporary art, art fair
CHELSEA, NY — A unique celebration of modern and contemporary art movements - abstract, concrete, neo-concrete, kinetic and conceptual art - had its official opening reception on Thursday evening. Artists, collectors and museum representatives from around the world have arrived in New York for the third annual PINTA; the only contemporary art fair in the United States featuring works exclusively by Latin American artists.

"There is an increased interest in Latin American art from the rest of the world, and now is the time to take advantage of it," explained PINTA's Vice President, Alejandro Zaia.

Museums, artists and 60 galleries from 13 countries are represented at this year's show, taking place in Chelsea's Metropolitan Pavilion. The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Britain's Tate Modern museum, the Harvard Art Museum, the Latin American Art Museum in Buenos Aires (MALBA) and the Tamayo Museum in Mexico will be participating.

PINTA London is slated to take place June 3-6, 2010.
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PINTA (November 19-22, 2009) | Website
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[Photo: Manuel Pailos. Constructivo, 1962.]

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11/19/2009

Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009), Artist and Wife of Christo

"We want to create works of art of joy and beauty, which we will build because we believe it will be beautiful. Like every artist, every true artist, we create them for us." ~Jeanne-Claude

Jeanne-Claude, Christo, artists
NEW YORK — The orange-headed artist known simply as Jeanne-Claude died from complications of a brain aneurysm on Wednesday night; she was 74. As the wife and muse of well-known artist, Christo, the pair traveled the world creating large scale "wrapped" installations, the most famous of which was The Gates of Central Park (2005).

Jeanne-Claude was born in Casablanca, Morocco on June 13, 1935 (coincidentally also Christo's date of birth). The couple met in Paris in 1958 and eventually moved to Manhattan, where they've lived for the past 45 years.

Jeanne-Claude and Christo have spent the last 51 years collaborating on various art projects, often called environmental art. Though the "final" results are temporary, the installations require numerous preparatory drawings, collages, scale models and lithographs, the sale of which has solely provided their financial support. The "green" couple has conscientiously recycled the miles of fabric and other materials used in the creation for each of their undertakings.

Perhaps the most legendary Jeanne-Claude/Christo collaboration was The Gates, viewed by five-million people. Twenty-three miles of footpaths in Central Park were filled with 7,503 frames covered by saffron drapes; the project ultimately injected over $250 million into the local economy. The duo's other installations include The Umbrellas (1990), in which 1,760 yellow umbrellas were set up in California while 1,340 blue umbrellas were simultaneously installed in Japan, and the 1995 wrapping of the Reichstag building in Berlin.

Christo's family said he is deeply saddened by his wife's death and remains "committed to honor the promise they made to each other many years ago: that the art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude would continue."

Jeanne-Claude, Christo, The Gates

Jeanne-Claude, Christo, The Umbrellas

Jeanne-Claude, Christo, Reichstag
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[Photos: Jeanne-Claude and Christo in front of The Gates | The Gates, New York (2005) | The Umbrellas, Japan (1991) | Reichstag, Berlin (1995)]

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11/18/2009

Size DOES Matter: Shaq Scores a Job as an Art Curator

Size DOES Matter, Shaquille O'Neal, FLAG Art Foundation

NEW YORK, NY — Sometimes bigger IS better, at least according to basketball legend and current Cleveland Cavalier Shaquille O'Neal. The 320-pound, 7'1" NBA athlete is taking off his size-22 gym shoes and stepping into the world of fine art. Shaq has scored himself a new job as curator of the Size DOES Matter exhibit opening at the FLAG Art Foundation in February.

“As a curator, I have a responsibility to the artists, who are my 'teammates.' We all have to make each other look good - no different than what I do on the court," Shaq said in an interview.

Size DOES Matter will explore how scale affects the perception of contemporary art and includes pieces whose size is a key component of their composition, whether giant or microscopic. Fifty-two artworks by thirty-nine artists, including Chuck Close, Jeff Koons and Ron Mueck, were hand-selected by Shaq for the exhibit.

“It was a little harder than I thought it would be," Shaq explained. "When you think about what each of the artists put into their work, what they are expressing and want to share with the world, you feel bad about having to narrow it down."

The exhibit will be accompanied by a comprehensive catalog of images and an essay by controversial (recall his semi-fictional memoir A Million Little Pieces - Oprah's Book Club Selection scandal), bestselling author James Frey.

“This won’t be like another nice show at MoMA or the Met," Frey said. “Getting Shaq, one of the largest people in the world, to curate a show about scale is really fun. He does a lot of things that are unconventional for a guy of his stature."
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Size DOES Matter (February 19 - May 27, 2010)
FLAG Art Foundation | Website
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[Photo: Ron Mueck's Big Man (2000) is on loan from the Hirshhorn Museum for the Size DOES Matter exhibit.]

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Tim Burton's Surreal Debut at the MoMA

Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, Tim Burton
NEW YORK, NY — Beetlejuice... Beetlejuice... Beetlejuice! A major retrospective opening to the public on Sunday will give fans of blockbuster movies like Pee-wee's Big Adventure, BeetlejuiceCharlie and the Chocolate Factory, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas a unique opportunity to step into the surreal world of Tim Burton. The Museum of Modern Art has compiled over 700 examples of sketchbooks, concept art, drawings, paintings, photographs, and a selection of amateur films for a new exhibit simply entitled, Tim Burton.

On Tuesday night, actress Helena Bonham Carter (Burton's wife), actor Johnny Depp (aka The Mad Hatter in Burton's upcoming film Alice in Wonderland), composer Danny Elfman and actor Danny DeVito were among the many stars at the MoMA for a gala-preview of the new exhibit. Guests walked through a giant monster's mouth with sharp teeth and a long red carpet tongue to enter the main galleries where the master of macabre's artwork is on display.
 
Although widely-recognized as a successful Hollywood director, many don't realize Tim Burton's talent as an artist, illustrator, photographer, and writer. "I wasn't a very verbal teenager and I communicated a lot to other people and myself with little drawings. It was always a form of communication and exploration for me,'' Burton said about his artwork.

In the following behind-the-scenes video, montages of artwork from the exhibit are displayed as Burton discusses his artistic career:



And here is a 30-second, really cute promo released by the MoMA to promote the Tim Burton exhibit:


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Tim Burton (November 22, 2009 - April 26, 2010)
Museum of Modern Art, New York | Website
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11/16/2009

Artist's Michael Jackson Mosaic Wins World Record

World Guiness Record, Michael Jackson portrait

TIRANA, ALBANIA — He's already done it three times before, using 500,000 nails, 1 million toothpicks and 300,000 corks, respectively, but this time around record-breaking artist Saimir Strati has created the world's largest mosaic using paintbrushes. Strati, an Albanian artist, used 230,000 black and brown paintbrushes to create a gigantic portrait of the late pop icon Michael Jackson.

The dedicated Strati labored for sixteen hours a day, all while listening to the sounds of his inspiration and muse - Michael Jackson. "All the time I was being guided by his music and made a silent deal with him to help me find the secrets of his great singing," Strati said in an interview.

Crowds cheered Friday as Strati presented his artwork to Guinness World Record judges in Tirana's main Skanderbeg square. "I have measured the mosaic and this is a new Guinness World Record," Guinness adjudicator Andrea Banfi announced to the crowd. The paintbrush mosaic measures approximately 33 x 8.5 feet and was placed on the side of a truck so it could be shared with townspeople throughout Albania.
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Read More - Albanian Makes Record Michael Jackson Mosaic | Reuters
[Photo: Saimir Strati poses with his mosaic of Michael Jackson, courtesy Reuters]
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11/15/2009

A-List Goes GaGa Over 30 Years of MOCA

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Brad Pitt, Angelina JolieLOS ANGELES — A-Listers from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, to Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, to Christina Ricci, Jessica Alba, Kate Beckinsale, James Franco and Pierce Brosnan, were among the 1,000 guests at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles on Saturday night. The MOCA threw a huge gala in celebration of its thirtieth anniversary and the grand opening of its new fine art exhibition MOCA's First Thirty Years. A performance starring Lady Gaga and the Bolshoi Ballet were highlights of the evening.

Celebrities wandered among the more than 500 artworks by Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Jeff Koons and Jean-Michel Basquiat, selected from MOCA's vast inventory of 6,000 works, one of the world's top collections of post-World War II art. Other exhibit highlights include Ed Ruscha's Chocolate Room made of chocolate on paper and smelling like chocolate (yum!), and an all-white and neon room by Doug Wheeler (shoe-removal required for entry).

The museum almost didn't reach this 30-year milestone due to severe financial difficulties. "We were among the first institutions to be hit very hard and very early and we are among the first to be saved in this process," said MOCA chief curator Paul Schimmel. Thanks to a  generous $30 million donation from Eli Broad, a renowned modern art collector and philanthropist, the MOCA's iconic collection was spared. "This is the biggest turnaround of any art institution, whether it is performing arts or the visual arts, if you think of all that has happened in the last year," Broad said.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
MOCA ♥ YOU
MOCA's First Thirty Years is split between two venues: 1940-80 at the MOCA Grand Avenue downtown and 1980-Now at the The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA nearby. Admission is free to the public now until November 20.
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MOCA's First Thirty Years (Nov. 15, 2009 - May 3, 2010) | Website
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[Photo: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt browse Lichtenstein gallery at the MOCA, courtesy Getty images]

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11/14/2009

Top ART News: Week In Review | Nov. 8 - Nov. 15

Visiting the Louvre - There's an App for That! | PARIS (11/08/09) — Not only is there an App for just about everything, there's just about everything in the Louvre museum Carrousel shopping center. Thus, on Saturday, Apple opened its first retail store in France (the 277th in ten countries), underneath the Tuileries garden and great glass pyramid in the Louvre... More >

Oxford's Ashmolean Museum Reopens After 10 Months and $100 Million | OXFORD, ENGLAND (11/08/09) — After 10-months and an almost $100 million renovation, Oxford's Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology reopened to the public on Saturday. The world's first university museum, the Ashmolean has added 39 new galleries, including four temporary exhibition galleries, a new education center and state-of-the art conservation studios... More >

MoMA Designs a Bauhaus Retrospective | NEW YORK, NY (11/09/09) — From architecture, industrial design, textiles and furniture, to graphics, painting and sculpture, the 20th century art movement known as the Bauhaus continues to influence our modern world (all one has to do browse the latest IKEA catalog for examples). In its first major exhibition dedicated to the Bauhaus since 1938, the Museum of Modern Art is celebrating the extraordinary artists, architects and designers of the avant-garde school... More >

Extreme Makeover: King Tut's Tomb Edition | CAIRO (11/10/09) — Disturbing brown spots are forming on the walls in the famous tomb of Egypt's most popular pharaoh, King Tutankhamen (better known as King Tut). The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) are embarking on a new preservation project aimed at assessing the damage. On Tuesday, the two entities announced a new 5-year partnership in which they will work together to analyze and conserve the ancient burial site... More >

Bidding War Over '200 One Dollar Bills' Ends at $43.76 Million | NEW YORK, NY (11/11/09) — The art market may still be suffering, but a successful contemporary art auction on Wednesday night indicates a rebound is  on the horizon. A surprise bidding war between five potential buyers broke out when Sotheby's brought Andy Warhol's 200 One Dollar Bills (1962) up to the auction block... More >

Ciao MAXXI! Contemporary Art Museum Opens in Italy | ROME, ITALY (11/13/09) — The vision most of us see when we think of a museum in Italy is a Renaissance or Baroque-style palace or cathedral, a Medici-commissioned structure, with classical columns, frescoes on the ceiling and gilding as far as the eye can see. The National Museum of the XXI Century Arts (or MAXXI for short) opening Saturday in Rome hopes to change that perception... More >

Munch Art Heist Was Well-Planned, Oslo Police Say | OSLO, NORWAY(11/13/09)  — Perhaps it's the miserable, tortuous scenes in the artwork of Edvard Munch that makes it attractive to the criminal element. The Symbolist painter's most famous agony-laden image, The Scream, was stolen on the same day as the opening ceremony of the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. In 2004, another version of The Scream and the Madonna were both taken from Oslo's Munch Museum. And on Thursday, a man smashed the window of the Nyborg Kunst art gallery in Oslo and snatched Edvard Munch's Historien... More >

Mona Lisa's Eyebrows Were Tweezed and 24 Other Startling Revelations | MANCHESTER, ENGLAND (11/14/09) — What's behind Mona Lisa's mysterious gaze? Art historians and scholars have been trying to answer that question for centuries. No one will ever know for sure, but scientists have discovered answers to other questions about Leonardo da Vinci's famous gal. Da Vinci - The Genius, a new exhibit at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), presents a comprehensive exploration behind the genius of the Italian Renaissance master... More >

Manolo Blahniks Under $70? Only at the RCA Secret Sale! | LONDON (11/14/09) — Pssst... the Royal College of Art has a secret. It's selling artwork by some of the world's most renowned artists for just under $70. And if you register in time, you can get in on this exclusive sale. Now in it's 16th year, RCA Secret is an annual contemporary art exhibition and sale which offers original postcard-sized artworks, made and donated by professional artists, designers, illustrators and postgraduate art students... More >
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Manolo Blahniks Under $70? Only at the RCA Secret Sale!

LONDON — Pssst... the Royal College of Art has a secret. It's selling artwork by some of the world's most renowned artists for just under $70. And if you register in time, you can get in on this exclusive sale.

Now in it's 16th year, RCA Secret is an annual contemporary art exhibition and sale which offers original postcard-sized artworks, made and donated by professional artists, designers, illustrators and postgraduate art students. More than 800 artists have donated over 2,000 postcards this year. Each postcard is signed only on the back, so buyers won’t know if they got the Yoko Ono, Manolo Blahnik or Gerhard Richter until after they've made their purchase.

To take your chances in the one-way "Secret Santa" art sale, register online now through November 17. The postcards are on view at the RCA or at www.rca.ac.uk/secret and will be sold in a huge one-day sale on November 21.

RCA Secret 2009 (Nov. 13 - 21, 2009) | Website
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Mona Lisa's Eyebrows Were Tweezed and 24 Other Startling Revelations

Marcel Ducamp, L.H.O.O.Q., Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND — What's behind Mona Lisa's mysterious gaze? Art historians and scholars have been trying to answer that question for centuries. No one will ever know for sure, but scientists have discovered answers to other questions about Leonardo da Vinci's famous gal. Da Vinci - The Genius, a new exhibit at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), presents a comprehensive exploration behind the genius of the Italian Renaissance master.

Opening Saturday, Da Vinci - The Genius offers over 200 objects, including large scale interactive reproductions of Leonardo's machines, a presentation about the life and times of the artist, 3-D animations of his famous Vitruvian Man, The Last Supper, and Mona Lisa.

A special section of the exhibit, The Secrets of Mona Lisa, presents the findings of Pascal Cott, a French scientific engineer and fine art photographer who was granted unprecedented access to the iconic painting. Under strict security and supervision,  Cott was able to examine the painting in the Louvre Museum, outside of the protective glass enclosure, even removed from the frame. He used a 240-million pixel camera which allowed him to see through the top paint surface to the layers below. Cott claims the Mona Lisa looked "totally different" when it was originally painted 500 years ago.

Twenty-five of the scientist's discoveries are revealed in the museum's new exhibit, some of which are:
  • Mona Lisa's smile, glance and face were all wider;
  • Her skin was not as yellow;
  • The sky was not brownish-yellow, but blue;
  • She was holding a blanket in her right hand;
  • One of her left fingers was never completely finished;
  • And most startling...Mona Lisa had eyebrows, eyelashes, and probably even a mustache!
Somewhere in the world Marcel Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q. is smiling.

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Da Vinci - The Genius (Nov. 14, 2009 - June 13, 2010)
Museum of Science and Industry, UK | Website
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[Photo: Marcel Duchamp. L.H.O.O.Q. (detail), 1919.]

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11/13/2009

Munch Art Heist Was Well-Planned, Oslo Police Say

Edvuard Munch, Historien, stolen painting

OSLO, NORWAY — Perhaps it's the miserable, tortuous scenes in the artwork of Edvard Munch that makes it attractive to the criminal element. The Symbolist painter's most famous agony-laden image, The Scream, was stolen on the same day as the opening ceremony of the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. In 2004, another version of The Scream and the Madonna were both taken from Oslo's Munch Museum. And on Thursday, a man smashed the window of the Nyborg Kunst art gallery in Oslo and snatched Edvard Munch's Historien.

Historien (Norwegian for history), is a rare lithograph, measuring approximately 2x3 ft and estimated to be worth $355,000. Though several copies of the work exist, the stolen piece was hand-embellished by Edvard Munch, making it unique and quite valuable.

Norway's most popular artist, Edvard Munch was a major influence on the development of the early twentieth-century's Expressionist movement. Rather than depicting physical reality in his art, Munch concentrated on illustrating raw emotions like fear, misery and death.

Authorities have already recovered the thief's vehicle, reported stolen 10 days prior to the Munch heist. "This leads us to believe it was a well planned robbery," said John Roger Lund, head of the organized crime unit for Oslo police.

The artworks stolen in 1994 and 2004 were later recovered. Police are hoping for a similar outcome in this case.
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[Photo: A version of Edvard Munch's Historien, 1912-1913.]

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Ciao MAXXI! Contemporary Art Museum Opens in Italy

National Museum of the XXI Century Arts, MAXXI, contemporary art

ROME, ITALY — The vision most of us see when we think of a museum in Italy is a Renaissance or Baroque-style palace or cathedral, a Medici-commissioned structure, with classical columns, frescoes on the ceiling and gilding as far as the eye can see. The National Museum of the XXI Century Arts (or MAXXI for short) opening Saturday in Rome hopes to change that perception.

The MAXXI, a $223 million museum built in a residential area of the city, was created to promote 21st century art and architecture. The museum's collection includes works by contemporary artists like Ed Ruscha, Anish Kapoor, William Kentridge, Gerard Richter and Andy Warhol. The building is located on a 312,000 square foot campus which includes an auditorium, library, media library, study rooms, laboratories, a bookshop, cafe and spaces for live events and commercial activities.

"The walls of the MAXXI create major streams and minor streams," explained Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid, who designed the modern museum. "The major streams are the galleries and the minor streams are the connections and the bridges." Hadid was the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize (2004) and her other designs include the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio (1998) and the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Germany (2005). "I see MAXXI as an immersive urban environment for the exchange of ideas, feeding the cultural vitality of the city," she said.

This weekend, the MAXXI will open for just two-days, providing an "architectural preview" before the grand opening scheduled for February 2010.
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Read More - Italy Opens a New Contemporary Arts Museum | AP
[Photo: MAXXI exterior, via MAXXI Flickr page]

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11/11/2009

Bidding War Over '200 One Dollar Bills' Ends at $43.76 Million

Andy Warhol, 200 One Dollar Bills, Sotheby's contemporary art auction
NEW YORK, NY — The art market may still be suffering, but a successful contemporary art auction on Wednesday night indicates a rebound is  on the horizon. A surprise bidding war between five potential buyers broke out when Sotheby's brought Andy Warhol's 200 One Dollar Bills (1962) up to the auction block.

The 7 1/2-foot wide silkscreen painting of 200 life-size dollar bills in black, white and gray tones, sold for $43.76 million - more than three times its $12 million estimate. The painting sold to an undisclosed phone bidder, who paid the second-highest price at auction for a work by the Pop artist.

"Bidding was very deep tonight," said Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's contemporary art director. "The desire to have great things will make [collectors] step up and pay more than $40 million."

The late Warhol's artwork is certainly enjoying 15 minutes of fame this week. On Tuesday evening, another Warhol silkscreen, a portrait of Michael Jackson, also beat estimates; it sold for $812,500 at a Christie's auction.
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Read More - Warhol Fetches $43.7 Million at Auction | New York Times
[Photo: Andy Warhol. Two Hundred One Dollar Bills, 1962.]

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11/10/2009

Extreme Makeover: King Tut's Tomb Edition

CAIRO — Disturbing brown spots are forming on the walls in the famous tomb of Egypt's most popular pharaoh, King Tutankhamen (better known as King Tut). The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) are embarking on a new preservation project aimed at assessing the damage. On Tuesday, the two entities announced a new 5-year partnership in which they will work together to analyze and conserve the ancient burial site.

King Tut's tomb, located in the Valley of Kings, was discovered in 1922 by English archaeologist Howard Carter. The excavation was financed by the wealthy Lord Carnarvon, whose death shortly thereafter sparked rumors of a "Mummy's Curse" being unleashed. There was also speculation that the pharaoh may have been murdered. Both presumptions have since been dismissed.

The elaborate murals decorating the walls surrounding the 3,000-year-old sarcophagus are in danger of deteriorating further if not properly preserved. The mummy's thousands of annual visitors are thought to be a possible factor contributing to the degradation.

"I am happy that Getty will look at the tomb and preserve its beautiful scenes," SCA Secretary General Zahi Hawass said. "I am even more thrilled to invite the GCI to restore his tomb and return the glory of the boy king."
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Read More - New Preservation Project for King Tut Tomb in Egypt | EarthTimes
[Photo: A sarcophagus of King Tutankhamen]
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11/09/2009

MoMA Designs a Bauhaus Retrospective

Museum of Modern Art, Bauhaus art exhibit
NEW YORK, NY — From architecture, industrial design, textiles and furniture, to graphics, painting and sculpture, the 20th century art movement known as the Bauhaus continues to influence our modern world (all one has to do browse the latest IKEA catalog for examples). In its first major exhibition dedicated to the Bauhaus since 1938, the Museum of Modern Art is celebrating the extraordinary artists, architects and designers of the avant-garde school.

The Bauhaus school was founded in 1919 and existed in three German cities: Weimar (1919-1925), Dessau (1925-1932) and Berlin (1932-1933), under three different architect-directors: Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The school was closed by the Nazi regime in 1933.

The Bauhaus aesthetic declared that there should be no distinction between form and function; art should meet the needs of society. The works are characterized by sleek simplicity, often incorporating industrial materials like wood and tubular steel, shaped by clean edges and geometric lines. The design isn't comfy, cozy per se, but it can certainly add sophisticated style to a room.

On Sunday, Workshops for Modernity: Bauhaus 1919-1933 opened at the MoMA; a retrospective exhibit featuring over 400 works by famed artists including Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer and Josef Albers.

“The content of the exhibit is as much student work as masters’ work…it is a portrait of a school," said Barry Bergdoll, co-curator and The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA. "[The Bauhaus school] believed that if you combined modern design and practicality and utility, the public would be converted,” Bergdoll said.
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Workshops for Modernity: Bauhaus 1919-1933 (Nov. 8, 2009 - Jan. 5, 2010)
Museum of Modern Art | Website
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[Photos: Top Left - Marcel Breuer. Nesting Tables (B9), 1924-26. | Top Right - Christian Dell. Wine pitcher, 1922. | Bottom - Vasily Kandinsky. Designs for wall-paintings for the Juryfreie Kunstschau (detail), 1922.]
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11/08/2009

Oxford's Ashmolean Museum Reopens After 10 Months and $100 Million

Ashmolean Museum of Art and ArchaeologyOXFORD, ENGLAND — After 10-months and an almost $100 million renovation, Oxford's Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology reopened to the public on Saturday. The world's first university museum, the Ashmolean has added 39 new galleries, including four temporary exhibition galleries, a new education center and state-of-the art conservation studios.

Rick Mather Architects was responsible for the redesign and realizing the museum's new display strategy called "Crossing Cultures Crossing Time"; it is based on the idea that the civilizations which shaped our modern societies developed as part of an interrelated world culture, rather than in isolation.

The Ashmolean collection includes rare Islamic, Indian, Chinese and Japanese objects, archaeological specimens and fine art. The museum has one of the best collections of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, majolica pottery and English silver. Other objects of note include T.E. Lawrence's Arab dress, an entire Japanese tea house, a lantern used by Guy Fawkes and and a hawking glove used by Henry VIII.

Nicholas Barber, Chairman of the Ashmolean, commented, “Renowned for our collections, the Ashmolean has always held a strong position on the cultural map. But now, with a magnificent new building and inspiring displays, the Museum has been transformed into one of the world’s great cultural jewels.”
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[Photo: A newly renovated exhibit gallery inside the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology]
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Visiting the Louvre - There's an App for That!

Louvre Museum, Apple store

PARIS — Not only is there an App for just about everything, there's just about everything in the Louvre museum Carrousel shopping center. Thus, on Saturday, Apple opened its first retail store in France (the 277th in ten countries), underneath the Tuileries garden and great glass pyramid in the Louvre.

In addition to upscale shops and a gourmet food court - at least until the McDonald's arrives in December - the new Apple store will be competing with Microsoft's Windows 7 Cafe which opened there just two weeks ago.

Louvre Museum, iPhone, iPod, Apple
Along with a horde of museum guests, dozens of employees sporting bright red shirts printed with the Apple logo did a countdown en français to the opening of the store's doors. The classy two-story Apple store will offer Macs, iPods and iPhones.

If you can't get to Paris, you can always download the newly launched Louvre App - free for iPhone and iPod touch users. The Louvre App allows virtual guests to wander the galleries of the magnificent Louvre museum and browse a selection of fine art accompanied by commentaries, close-ups, details and video. The App also provides practical information about the museum such as hours, maps and services.


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Read More - Big Macs to Join Mona Lisa at the Louvre | Reuters 
[Photos: Top - Apple store at the Louvre Museum | Right - Detail of Louvre App]
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11/07/2009

Top ART News: Week In Review | Nov. 1 - Nov. 8

91-Year-Old Carves Her Win in Stone at Sculpture By the Sea | More >

Art Experts Discover Caravaggio's Bacchus Isn't Drinking Alone | More >

Obama Names Hollywood Actors, Musicians to Arts Panel | More >

Make It Work! Project Runway at the Getty Museum | More >

Artissima 16 Brings Contemporary Art to Torino | More >

Right-Wing Flails Over Obamas' Return of Controversial Painting | More > 

Le Cirque du Pompidou Is Coming to Town | More >

East Side Gallery Murals Restored 20 Years After Berlin Wall Falls | More >

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East Side Gallery Murals Restored 20 Years After Berlin Wall Falls

East Side Gallery, Berlin Wall

"Many small people, 
who in many small places, 
do many small things, 
can alter the face of the world."

BERLIN — There's a three-quarter mile stretch of concrete in Berlin that has become an international memorial for freedom. The east side of the Berlin Wall is adorned with approximately 100 colorful murals painted by artists from all over the world. Originally painted in 1990 to brighten the bleak, gray facade, the so-called East Side Gallery, is the largest open-air gallery in the world; it has been newly restored in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (Nov. 9, 1989).

"Every (artist) had his own perceptions on the fall of the wall," Mayor Klaus Wowereit said at an inauguration ceremony. "I think this international nature, these different points of view and this variety are a secret of the success of this great open-air exhibition."

Over the last two decades, the East Side Gallery has faced its share of damage from the elements, graffiti and looters. But throughout the past year, a majority of the original artists have returned to repaint their previous works. "Twenty years after the fall of the wall, the East Side Gallery stands for democracy and human rights," said Kani Alavi, head of the East Side Gallery Artists' Association.

On November 9, Germany will hold a "Festival of Freedom" during which 1,000 giant foam dominoes will symbolically be toppled along the route of the wall, culminating in a display of fireworks.


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[Photo: Left - Dmitri Vrubel. Painting #25. Right - Thierry Noir. Painting #62.]

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11/06/2009

Le Cirque du Pompidou Is Coming to Town

Pompidou Center, art circus
PARIS — Move over Ringling Brothers, the "Pompidou Mobile" is coming to town! But there's no need to buy tickets - this circus will be free. And instead of a ringleader, animals and clowns, there will be a curator and fine art masterpieces.

Provided it can raise the estimated $4.43 million necessary, starting in late 2010, France's Pompidou Center will hit "la rue" with 10-15 paintings from its permanent collection. Picassos, Matisses and Calders will be displayed in a 10,700-sq. foot high-tech canvas-like structure being designed by architect Patrick Bouchain. Every few months the big top will pick up, clear out and move to a different French town, concentrating on rural regions and poor, crime-ridden suburbs. "It's about bringing art to the people to awaken their desire to go toward the art," the Pompidou's president, Alain Seban, said in a statement.

Museums collections travel all over the world for special exhibitions at other museums, that's nothing new. But bringing modern art to less fortunate areas, setting up a makeshift museum in a field or parking lot, and charging no entry fee - that's a pretty great concept.

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Read More — Art Under the Big Top: The Roving Pompidou | AP
[Photo: The Stravinsky Fountain outside the Centre Pompidou]
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11/05/2009

Right-Wing Flails Over Obamas' Return of Controversial Painting

Obama White House, Alma Thomas Watusi (Hard Edge), Henri Matisse The Snail

WASHINGTON D.C. — In early October, the White House released a list of 45 works of art chosen to adorn the walls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but just when it seemed the Obamas' taste in fine art couldn't be any more scrutinized, the dissension continues. A certain painting on the list - originally slated to hang in the First Lady's Office in the East Wing - has since been returned to the Hirshhorn Museum. As to why it was returned, therein lies the controversy.

Alma Thomas' 1963 painting entitled Watusi (Hard Edge) looks remarkably similar to Henri Matisse's The Snail, painted ten years prior. Rotate The Snail [shown above right] 90 degrees counterlockwise, use a cooler color palette and - ta da! Watusi [shown above left] emerges.

Imitation is certainly nothing new in the art world, in fact, for centuries artists have perfected their craft by more or less copying the masters who came before. Similarly, musicians remix songs and filmmakers remake movies. In this case, the two works are so blatantly similar that it would be hard to argue Thomas was doing anything but paying homage to Matisse. Of course, that didn't stop certain conservative bloggers from flailing accusations, saying the Obamas were either ignorant as to the vagrant plagiarism, or excusing it because Expressionist painter Thomas was an African-American. But a simpler, more reasonable explanation came from Mrs. Obama's deputy press secretary, Semonti Stephens: “This piece just didn’t fit right in the room. There’s no other reason. It really has nothing to do with the work itself.”

Alma Thomas was the first African American woman to have a solo exhibit at the Whitney Museum. Her painting Sky Light (1973) continues to hang in the Obama family's private quarters.

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Read More - The Obamas Return a Painting | Time.com
[Photo: Left - Alma Thomas. Watusi (Hard Edge), 1963. | Right - Henri Matisse. The Snail, 1953.]
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