curiousartarticles

Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2009 at 2:59 pm

The National Gallery of Art in London is organizing a curious exhibition, open from June 30 to september 12, 2010. It’s entitled “Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries” and will feature fakes, remakes, and copies of old master paintings which have fooled the experts like the National Gallery of Art in London.

National Gallery of Art London

National Gallery of Art London

Rather than focus an exhibit on the true beauty, skill, and innovation of the artists of a certain time period, this will focus on the art of forgery.  For example, The National Gallery bought a work in 1923 which they thought was a 15th-century group portrait of the family of Federico Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino.  It was believed to be Piero della Francesca‘s art, as described in the article National Gallery pays tribute to the masters of deception

Piero della Francesca, Duke of Urbino Portrait

Piero della Francesca, Duke of Urbino Portrait

It is said these works on display were deliberately made to deceive – the initial creation was one of deception.

The current director of the Gallery Nicholas Penny says “I wish we had more fakes [in the collection]. You only get good at spotting them by seeing them.”  But there’s something about using the already meager museum budgets to buy ‘fakes’ rather than to expand in true masterpieces that makes me shiver. Mistakes already cost a lot of time and money, for instance if a museum buys one thinking it’s an original and not a mistake so is seeking them out really a right approach? This is a peculiar way to approach an innovative exhibition and what in the end that means for viewers and educating on artworks.

I guess it’s also a way for museums to use what they already have in their collections and try to recuperate some of the losses incurred by acquiring these fakes once in the past. It’s smart because I’d be curious to see what a mistake vs the original looks like and if there really is that significant of a difference.

The art of faking it: gallery puts forgeries on show indicates “Likewise, in 1845 “A Man with a Skull” was bought as a Hans Holbein the Younger piece, although its authorship was disputed. Modern analysis of the wood panel support has since proved that it postdates Holbein’s death.” It will be a good exhibition displaying the museum’s human mistakes and recoveries. No one is perfect, and the museum is defintitely putting themselves out there- who else might own up?

Hans Holbein the Younger, The Ambassadors

Hans Holbein the Younger, The Ambassadors

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Sharon Core Recreates Wayne Thiebaud

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2009 at 7:25 pm
Sharon Core

Sharon Core

Continuing with the issue of appropriation and how much of art can be essentially ‘borrowed’ or ‘influenced’, I came across the tension between Wayne Thiebaud and Sharon Core.

Wayne Thiebaud produces luscious and delicious looking paintings of carefully arranged and decorated cakes, sweets, tarts, in pale colors. These paintings are amazing because you just want to stare at the beautiful cake displays, potentially get your hands on one of the slices – it reminds me of my childhood – my eyes would literally increase in size as I saw cakes like these. That’s probably what Thiebaud is trying to get at- please those eyes and tempt them with the pictures!

Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud

Sharon Core, an artist and photographer herself decides to recreate the imagined Thiebaud paintings. She creates a still life of the cakes and pies by baking them, tilting them at the appropriate angle, and then taking a photograph of the set up! The tease of the Thiebaud paintings has been erased and created in a tangible form, and then a snapshot has been taken again reminding us of its illusion! This is such a strange mind play transition from the realms of imagination, to reality, to creation, then to photographic interpretation. A review of the Sharon Core Thiebauds Exhibition can be found on the New York Times.

This exhibition occurred in 2004 at the Bellwether Gallery in Brooklyn, Williamsburg

OCMA Deaccessioning controversy

In Uncategorized on July 8, 2009 at 3:49 pm

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Brodsky Bill and its effect on deaccessioning collections. In a similar case, The Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) is causing a stir by being trapped in what the LA Times blog calls the “deaccessioning merry-go-round.”

Here’s what happened: OCMA recently sold 18 of its early 20th century paintings to a private seller, claiming that the paintings “no longer fit OCMA’s focus” because in 2003, the museum shifted focus to art created after 1950. The museum also announced that no other works will be sold despite still owning many substantial Californian works of art before 1950. This inconsistency raises many questions. Why were the 18 paintings sold, and what really is the museum’s standard?

Agnes Pelton's 1929 painting, The Guide, still a part of OCMA's collection

Agnes Pelton's 1929 painting, The Guide, still a part of OCMA's collection

The LA Times describes the “deaccessioning merry-go-round” that involved another controversial sale of 29 Paul Outerbridge’sphotographs back in the 1990s that caused the merger of Laguna Art Museum and Newport Harbor Art Museum with OCMA, after which the museum changed its focus. So what will become of the money from the sale and the paintings that don’t fit the museum’s focus? Stay tuned.

Disney’s shady ways

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2009 at 4:44 pm

While browsing through the streets of New York, my friends and I stumbled into the Disney Store on fifth avenue. Yes, we’re all grown-ups, but I think everyone can relate to a feeling of nostalgia that envelops you as you are greeted by familiar toon characters. Mickey and Minnie for sure, the Disney Princesses, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Lion King…the list goes on. So I was intrigued when I came across an article exposing Disney’s shady ways. Despite its lovable, timeless characters, Disney never had a squeaky clean image as a result of complains by former Disney producers. But because Disney is such a massive empire, allegations of plagiarism would never hold in court even though there are pretty damning evidence of similarities. A broader issue is how to distinguish between inspiration and plagiarism. As the article noted, there are cultural differences as to the definition of plagiarism, and artists copy others all the time. What is plagiarism in art?

The most notable case of “inspiration” is featured in The Lion King. The movie was produced in 1994 after much hype. Though it didn’t take long before people noticed keen similarities between the newly produced movie and Osamu Tezuka’s 1965 cartoon series, Kimba the White Lion. The similarity doesn’t just stop at the names (Simba v. Kimba) and the choice of animal. This website compares remarkably similar screenshots of both works. The story, side-characters, and even the style of the movie (serious plot lines interrupted by happy song-and-dance numbers) seem to mirror the Japanese series.

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Simba

Kimba, the white lion

Kimba, the white lion

All those similarities can be passed as inspiration if only Disney would admit that they took a look at Tezuka’s work. Disney, however, has stated that they had no knowledge of Tezuka or his work. Tezuka never took Disney to court because of “his misplaced love for the company.” Since the artist passed away, there is virtually nothing that can be done about this case of plagiarism.

Scene from The Lion King

Scene from The Lion King

Scene from Tezuka's series

Scene from Tezuka's series

Disney apparently never rid of its copying ways, however. A few years ago, a French author claimed that Disney had copied from his Pierrot Le Poisson Clown to create the beloved Nemo. The case was taken to court, though considering the lack of hype, the French author either lost the case or settled out of court. Read about the story on MSNBC.

It is essential to keep giant companies such as Disney in check. Though artistic integrity is at stake, everything seems to become muddled by the politics of power and money. Ultimately, the responsibility is handed to the audience; get over the initial disappointment that the creators of our childhood friends aren’t as heroic and inspirational as we hoped to be, and always look with an objective eye. There’s always more to the story.