Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Story of an Art Exhibition

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2009 at 8:50 pm

How does an art exhibition come together? What is the timeline, the journey, of each work that you see at an art exhibit? Unless the art museum has an extensive collection of works in storage (many do, but those museums with smaller budgets may have a hard time keeping up the extensive costs of storage) the museum will have to go on a world treasure hunt of artworks to put on loan for the art exhibition.

The Guardian recently published an article where curators reveal the art world’s secret merry-go-round when it comes to putting together an art exhibition. 

This article shadows the upcoming October 2009 exhibition curated by Anna Jackson (Head of the Asian Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum London) entitled “Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts.” 



Procession of Raja Ram Singh II of Kota and his son at Kota

The idea for the exhibition was introduced more than two years ago and set off to India in February 2008 to investigate the royal collections.

Most of the work involves negotiating, as no real money transactions are made; instead it requires a lot of trust, convincing, and paperwork. Essentially this means convincing the person, institution, and collection owners of a certain work of art the benefits of having an artwork on loan at an exhibition. Typically the argument is that to expose an artwork helps to identify works of art, put them in context, see the significance of the artist’s craft as a cultural product, and that in the future if you lend, you may also be a borrower from the museum.

It seems like Anna Jackson’s visit to India was a unique one: “As word of the visit spread, she and a colleague gained access to previously unknown collections and made several trips, viewing hundreds of pieces, to select the final 50 – thrones, jewel-encrusted swords, even a Rolls-Royce ordered by the Crown Prince of Mewar in 1927.”

Before transportation, condition reports have to be made locally to ensure the artworks don’t undergo any significant changes during transportation and exhibition. 

Then, the museum has to deal with transport and travel of these precious items coming sometimes from all over the world (not just India) since the royal collections could be in the hands of the India diaspora as well. For instance, the  “Patiala necklace, a ceremonial item commissioned by the Maharaja of Patalia in 1928 from the French jewellers Cartier, is housed in a high-security vault. Originally containing 2,930 diamonds (including the infamous, golf-ball size, yellow De Beers diamond), the necklace has been stolen, smuggled, sold and restored, long before it was ever entrusted to the V&A”


Patiala Necklace

Patiala Necklace


The global art transport is left to services like Crozier Fine Arts, ARTEX, and Crown Fine Arts



The increase in these ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions is largely due to the international and global art scene. Individuals and collections worldwide are increasingly loaning their works to museums, plus technological improvements in temperature controlled trucks and improved crating have made transport more manageable and accessible to these borrowers and receivers of artworks.  

However, in the increasingly competitive world, the museum has to always try and outdo its last show, and so reaching from the far ends of the world for a fantastic exhibition puts a lot of pressure and work on the art curator. As Crozier puts it, this exhibition industry is largely based on “who’s got what and wants what” – knowing this can be a very important asset to facilitate the organization of mind-blowing art exhibits.

I can’t wait for October to come along and see all this hard work on display!

Top Ten Bizarre Artworks

In Uncategorized on August 18, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Art is weird, artists are strange, but we love them anyway right? Well someone has still managed to compile a list of the top ten most bizarre artworks ever created.  Below is a random sampling of some picks off the list – what do you think?

Number 1 on the list is the infamous Damien Hirst with The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living:

Shark Damie Hirst

Number Two is My Bed by Tracey Emin where she recreated her own unmade dirty bed with used condoms and blood-stained underwear for the public to observe:

My Bed- Tracey Emin

Number Four is “Dolls” by Hans Bellmer who is best known for the life-sized pubescent female dolls he produced in the mid-1930s:

Dolls by Hans Bellmer

Number Seven is “Janet” by Clare Shenstone who made portraits out of cloth, gouache, oil, pastel, and pencil to create these portraits. They were first noticed and admired by Francis Bacon at her Royal College of Art degree show:

Janet by Clare Shenstone

Curious Art Information Website

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Today I’m going to focus on a useful information tool which I think I’m going to use for more curious art articles!

It’s called and it has all these neat applications on art news, events, venues, and articles. For instance, they have this featured section where they show articles on different arts topics, all taken from different news sources such as the Brooklyn Rail, AP, New York Times, Arts newspaper, and more. Today there was this really cool article talking about Michelangelo’s first painting, done when he was 13 years old, how awesome is that…

Michelangelos First Painting

Michelangelos First Painting

I would compare it to a one stop and shop location for art news, articles, and events, it’s one place you can go to and know all the information from the web will be there available for searches on art topics, artist information, and even upcoming or ongoing art events in your area.

I also signed up for a profile, it’s free so why not? You can customize your profile to your art interests from the time period, to specific artist, to your location in the world, and everyday on top of the general featured articles and events, it will give you information relevant to your preferences- how convenient, I absolutely love it.

Here’s a video with more information about what mutualart is about

What to Look for in Art

In Uncategorized on August 3, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Today the writer Michael Kimmelman, for the New York Times, wrote an article that brought some clarity to a behavior I had always observed when visiting art museums and galleries. Why and how do people look at art and what do they see?

Most often this is what I observe – people walking at the speed of light past artworks, giving a work a glance, and most curious of all, posing, taking a picture with a work of art they either admire, connect with, or know is famous.

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa

As we can see there’s a difference between stopping and actually looking at art (what a museum is supposed to be about and their primary purpose of existence) as we can see in exhibit A and people visiting an art museum as in Exhibit B.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

The article continues by noticing that it’s rare to actually find people who stop and observe and really look at the artwork.  An artist may go and see what the work looks like up close, how do the brush strokes fall on the canvas, how are the color transitions, what kind of edges are created, how does the light move across the painting or what does the texture of the sculpture look like or how does the sculpture interact with its space and surroundings? However, this isn’t enough I think for a complete experience.

An art historian might have a completely different perspective and purpose when looking at art. They could tell you who created the artwork, what kind of life they had, what was the social setting like and what kinds of ideas were bein thought about in aesthetics at the time. They might comment on the clothing, the physical features of the people, the symbols, the novelties from a chronological perspective.

The beauty of going to an art museum is that there is something for everyone. And no matter how many times you’ve seen something, you will always get a different experience if you go see the same work a few years later – probably because you have matured, you understand more, or are at a different point in your life and connect to somethng in a different way. The point is that the possiblities of viewing are endless.

The article Many Stop to Snap but Few Stay to Focus describes “Visiting museums has always been about self-improvement. Partly we seem to go to them to find something we already recognize, something that gives us our bearings: think of the scrum of tourists invariably gathered around the Mona Lisa.”

I once saw at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC several drawings by Sandra Gamarra, a Peruvian contemporary artist who focused on the people visiting art in museums as interesting characters and subjects to comment about (especially art students). Her drawings entitled The New Worshipers are suggesting that the typical museum goer views the art with a reverence equivalent to a God like presence.

Sandra Gamarra- The New Worshippers

Sandra Gamarra- The New Worshippers

An article in the L Magazine describes these as “poignant critical statements about the holiness of fine art, and the church-like quality of a museum, thus following in a tradition so central to appropriation art. But if every angle of appropriation fits in to this relatively small museum space, then nothing really fits in very well. The curator’s all-inclusive approach to technique and concept doesn’t serve the format: an hour-long museum visit. The downside of this show’s abundance of powerful imagery is the resulting extra wide through line that demands every viewer see above and between the frames.”