February 3, 2021

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription

In this issue:

Police discovers stolen Salvator Mundi in Naples apartment
Jamaican Sculptor: Atlanta’s Martin Luther King Statue “A Dream Come True”
Steve Walters, artist and screen printer at Screwball Press 
Tennessee Williams: The Painter and the Playwright
Art teachers get creative with at-home projects for students
Bellingham Urban Sketchers Capture the City of Subdued Excitement, One Sketch at a Time
Meet YInMn, the First New Shade of Blue in Two Centuries
Mona Lisa is alone but still smiling
Angelina Jolie sells painting Churchill gave as gift to FDR
Golden Artist Colors Launches New ‘SoFlat’ Matte Acrylics



Police discovers stolen Salvator Mundi in Naples apartment
The copy of Leonardo's $450m painting was taken from the Museum of San Domenico Maggiore last year

A 16th-century copy of Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi that was stolen from a basilica museum in Naples has been recovered by Italian police.

Thought to be executed by a student of the Renaissance master, the painting was found during a police search in an apartment around 7km from the Museum of San Domenico Maggiore. The owner of the property, reported to be 36-years-old by Agenzia Italia, has been taken into police custody under suspicion of receiving stolen goods.

The work is modelled off Leonardo's famous Salvator Mundi (around 1500), which since its record breaking $450m sale in 2017 has been the subject of intense media speculation surrounding its mysterious whereabouts, disputed attribution and fraught loan arrangements.

The Naples version, dated to around 1508-13, is one of just three (including Leonardo's painting) that are closely replicated in a 1650 engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar. There are around 20 extant copies of the Salvator Mundi attributed to the school of Leonardo.

While the museum states that the "most convincing" theory of its painter's identity points to Leonardo's student Girolamo Alibrandi, the Leonardo restoration expert Dianne Modestini believes the work could be by another pupil—his "little devil" lover Salaì.

Neither theory discounts Leonardo's own contribution to the work.

It was brought to Naples from Rome by Giovanni Antonio Muscettola, an envoy and advisor to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V and was given to the museum's Hall of Liturgical Objects situated within a convent with an adjoining basilica, according to the museum's website.

The work recently returned back to the Italian capital, having been exhibited at the Villa Farnesina for the 2019 exhibition Leonardo in Rome: Influences and Legacy, where it was restored during a technical study. While some Italian press have reported the police as stating the work to have been stolen two years ago, the museum has said that the work was in its possession in January 2020, when the Rome exhibition closed.

The Museum of San Domenico Maggiore did not respond for comment at time of this article's publication. The Art Newspaper


Jamaican Sculptor: Atlanta’s Martin Luther King Statue “A Dream Come True”

Ahead of Martin Luther King Jr Day 2021, the City of Atlanta has unveiled the new statue of the civil rights activist, created by Jamaican-born artist Basil Watson.

The 12-foot-tall bronze sculpture, titled ‘Hope Moving Forward’, was unveiled on January 14 during a small ceremony attended by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and other city officials.

The statue stands at the intersection of Northside Drive and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive across from Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Basil Watson, the renowned Jamaican sculptor who created the statue, said it was a “dream come true” when he was chosen by the City of Atlanta to create a larger-than-life statue.

“You start your career dreaming of possibly doing something significant that impacts the world but you never really think about what it can be or if it can really happen. This is like a dream come true because it not only affects my world. I think this will have an impact on the world in general,” Watson shared.

He was chosen from a pool of 80 talented artists for the project. The statue took two years to complete and features Dr King releasing a dove. Watson said the work is a representation of his concept of MLK.

“It was an evolution in terms of my concept of what Martin Luther King represents and the key message that he wanted to present to the world,” Watson said.

While many Jamaican-Americans in Georgia are being introduced to Watson’s work for the first time, those living on the island know his statues well. He is the hands behind several major statues, including monuments of sprinters Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Merlene Ottey, Herb McKenley, Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown, all at the National Stadium.

Last year, his monument of Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverley was unveiled in Gordon Town, St Andrew. Another statue of Usain Bolt, to be erected his hometown of Falmouth, Trelawny, later this year, was also done by Watson.

A long-time resident of Georgia, Watson plans to return to Jamaica where he will open an art academy to assist young Jamaican artists.

Watson was awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) in 2016 by the Jamaican government for his contributions to Jamaican art and culture. St. Kitts & Nevis Observer


Steve Walters, artist and screen printer at Screwball Press
“I named my business Screwball Press with no thought that I’d still be working at this 30 years later. . . . I didn’t want the name to suggest that I knew what I was doing.”

Steve Walters, 57, is a Chicago artist and screen printer. In 1991 he founded Screwball Press, which he still runs today; it's come to be recognized as a pioneering and influential local institution in the business of screen-printed rock posters. He creates original art for bands and venues and does production printing for other artists' projects. This past fall he opened Burgoo, a shop and gallery space in Rogers Park.

As told to Salem Collo-Julin

I drove down to Atlanta this week to pick up my daughter, and then I'll bring her back next Tuesday. She's going to college there. I think all of her classes this semester were online. I think she's been tested for COVID like four or five times over the semester.

I grew up in the suburbs, Hinsdale, and then went to college in Iowa City. I hung out in Iowa for a year after I graduated and I worked, because I still had a lot of friends there and didn't have any solid plans. It was the George Bush Sr. years, and there weren't really a lot of jobs out there, especially for someone who studied sociology.

I played bass a little bit in some bands, but I wasn't very good. I got a set of drums at an auction in Iowa City, and I was a drummer for a little while. And then I was a DJ at the college radio station. Music has always been a big part of my life, but I'm not a great musician.

I didn't study art at school. I always kind of messed around with it—I mean, it's in the family. My grandfather was an artist. He painted his own stuff, and his job was doing illustrations for magazines and catalogs and stuff like that.

I moved to Chicago after Iowa in 1986. At one point, I was working at a grocery store down by the Wiener's Circle and I got laid off. I got unemployment, so I spent some time messing around with art supplies. I made some of my first art for bands then—I had some friends in bands that were coming through town. At that time, you'd see all xeroxed black-and-white flyers, so I wanted to make flyers in color, to make my flyers more noticeable. I would do the xerox stuff and then I'd go back and paint on them.

Eventually I started doing some linoleum block prints, and my friend Scott Rutherford wanted me to do 2,000 covers for his magazine Speed Kills. Halfway through that I realized it was going to take me, like, 12 years. So I went and bought a screen-printing kit at the art store, learned how to do it to finish the covers, and then just kind of stuck with screen printing.

I hadn't known a lot about screen printing before that, but then I got a part-time job at a T-shirt place. I did some album sleeves during this time for Ajax Records using the T-shirt screen-printing presses at my job after hours, as artists do.

When I was starting out, computer programs for this kind of design were pretty primitive and prohibitively expensive. And at this point I still don't really know what I'm doing with the computer. I still work a lot by hand, and I've gotten better and faster. But I do use a computer for typesetting and a few other things.

There were a lot of good shows going on then. Red Red Meat was a big band for me. I don't know what I'd be doing now without the encouragement of the people at the Lounge Ax back then. I loved most of the bands that they booked there. I met the Coctails and got to see their practice loft, and they were doing letterpress stuff there and making all their own merch—so that was really inspirational for me.

I named my business Screwball Press with no thought that I'd still be working at this 30 years later. The name was based on a few things, like screwball comedies from the 1930s and Warner Brothers cartoons. I didn't want the name to suggest that I knew what I was doing. It's that whole Generation X thing where everyone was mocking the establishment. Other people I knew had their own record labels, and the sense was, "See? If I can do this, anyone can do this!"

I started teaching screen printing to other people as part of the business when I started having kids, and the business was in our living space so I could stay at home and watch the kids. I had friends who were designers and wanted to hire me to print posters, and I didn't always have time between the kids and other gigs. So I offered to let them come down to the basement, and I could show them how to do it themselves.

After some time, I moved the business out of our house to a bigger space and started teaching small groups. I advertised the classes at one point—I made posters, of course. Most of my students have just come to me via word of mouth. Word of mouth has been very kind to me over the last 30 years.

About a year ago I got a space about two blocks from my house in Rogers Park, allowing me to work close to home during COVID. Twenty-twenty was a nightmare. I thought at first we'd be down for a few months and just weather it out, but yeah, it's going to be a while still. I turned my workspace into a gallery and shop to sell my stuff and work from other local artists, and I started renting some of the upstairs space to other printers. My girlfriend Allison and I named the store Burgoo (she's from Kentucky, and burgoo is a kind of Kentucky stew). Jon Langford has some pieces there. Jewelry makers, woodworkers, a lot of my friends that make art are selling it there.

It's hard to guess what 2021 will bring. I've been trying to do my own art for fun, but I'm finding that I really relied on having deadlines to get stuff done. Anything I can do to get by and get through this—short of getting a real job. After 30 years of this, I don't really have any skills that are useful in the real world. To be honest, there are days that I would kill for a real job, to not have the responsibility of doing everything. But mostly I like working for myself. Chicago Reader


Tennessee Williams: The Painter and the Playwright

Tennessee Williams, one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century, was also a painter. While he used his plays to explore the dynamics of the American South and his tumultuous upbringing, Williams turned to painting to express other private thoughts.

The exhibition “Tennessee Williams: The Painter and the Playwright” is on view February 6 through April 11, 2021 at The MAX in Meridian, Mississippi.

“There’s a fragility to his paintings or a shyness. We are allowed in, to gain a glimpse into Williams’ innermost thoughts and struggles,” said Stacey Wilson, Curator of Exhibitions at The MAX.

A native of Columbus, Mississippi, with other childhood years spent in Clarksdale, Williams as an adult lived in New Orleans, New York, and Key West, Florida. He is closely associated with the literary heritage of the latter. He wrote plays, short stories, screenplays, poems, and essays, with the bulk of his success realized between the mid-1940s and early 1960s. Despite his success, he struggled with alcohol and drug abuse as well as depression. He used writing and then painting as coping mechanisms.

Cori Convertito, PhD, Curator of the Key West Art & Historical Society, created “The Painter and the Playwright” because she wanted to show that Williams was multifaceted. “The intention of this exhibition is to showcase the playwright in a more developed narrative using his paintings as the catalyst, revealing his more personal side, the side that found comfort in Key West’s carefree lifestyle,” said Convertito. “He moved with relative anonymity around the island despite his international fame. That, plus the relative acceptance of the homosexual community on the island, made this an attractive place for Williams to live and work.”

The exhibition is generously sponsored by The Community Foundation of East Mississippi. The foundation strongly favors collaboration among nonprofits and other entities, and is a longtime supporter of The MAX.

“We really just want to build relationships and be involved with what’s important to our community, to see our community thrive and grow,” said CFEM Executive Director Leigh Thomas. “The fact that Tennessee Williams is a native Mississippian is not lost on me. The people of Mississippi are our greatest asset, and the talent that we have should not go unsung.” Fine Art Connoisseur


Art teachers get creative with at-home projects for students

Concord’s elementary school art teachers began planning for their September curriculums as early as May last year. They knew from the spring semester that teaching art remotely would be a challenge, and they needed to figure out a way of making sure they could keep a similar curriculum, even with students at home.

Then an idea emerged to assemble small, individual art kits for their students, to make sure everyone would have the same supplies. The kits contain paint sets, markers, crayons, oil pastels, colored pencils, sharpies, erasers and glue sticks. When the kids are in school, the personal kits ensure they aren’t transferring germs through sharing. At home, it’s ensures they have art supplies to work with.

“That was the biggest challenge – how can you take a materials-based curriculum and get it home to students, especially students who wouldn’t have access to it,” said Jessica Chambers, who teaches art at Mill Brook School. “I’ve gained a lot of flexibility as an educator. I’ve really been working on ‘well if this is what you have, let’s make it work.’ ”

Art class, a very hands-on subject, is tricky to transfer seamlessly online. This year, New Hampshire art teachers are having to be even more creative than usual to adapt their curriculum to an online setting.

Bess French, art teacher at John Stark Regional High School in Weare, teaches a lot of classes involving 3D art, like glassworks – something that isn’t easy to recreate outside a studio. During remote learning periods, she has been assigning projects that use materials like cardboard, something students probably already have.

“I wanted to be really respectful of trying to find supplies that were universal that every student would have at home because everyone is coming from a different environment in their household,” French said. “I had to get more thoughtful about what we are working with.”

French shows her students examples of artists who work in uncommon mediums to inspire them, like Connecticut artist James Grashow who works with cardboard and New York artist Ben Denzer who made a book out of deli meat.

French’s students have also been making art with nature.

“I challenged them to go outside and to make a three-dimensional sculpture using whatever they could find,” French said. “It’s kind of interesting weather right now because we have the snow, but there is a lot of ground, grass and earth open. Really thinking about textures, colors, what can you make with just snow, branches, twigs, rocks? They were excited about that.”

Keeping students engaged online is not always easy in a remote setting. Concord elementary art teachers have been doing it by having a different theme for the artwork each week. For the “fun with food” theme, students made 3D art tacos from paper plates. For the animals theme, students drew animals as rock stars, animals as emojis, animals with Zentangle patterns and animals with attitude wearing sunglasses.

Some teachers are having their kids experiment more with digital art this year, on programs like Google Drawings.

Melissa Lagasse, art teacher at Beaver Meadow School in Concord, recently had students use Google Drawings to create mosaics. Lagasse said the kids have enjoyed using the technology – one student in particular, who never showed an interest in participating in art class during normal school, thrived with the digital program.

“He really has taken off on it,” Lagasse said. “His mosaic is super intricate, he has these tiny little shapes he has made. I had to zoom in so close to see the shapes he has created. He has been working on it outside of art. You definitely sometimes see a different side to students in a remote environment that is positive.”

Elizabeth MacBride, art teacher at Christa McAuliffe School, says that this year, with more limited access to supplies, skill-building is more important than the finished piece. If a student doesn’t have drawing paper, she tells them to use lined notebook paper, or whatever they have.

“In reality, much of what we teach is fine motor skills, the practice of doing the drawing rather than the actual outcome,” MacBride said. “We are not necessarily going to get the beautiful finished product, we might just get the kids practicing their art skills.”

Most teachers said they prefer teaching live on video, making their remote classes feel as if they’re all working together in the studio. MacBride usually begins her classes with giving directions about an art assignment, and sharing her screen to show examples. Then the students have independent work time where some will choose to go off screen and others will stay on. Lagasse sometimes plays music on her computer to provide a virtual soundtrack while the students work.

Karen McCormack, art teacher at Broken Ground School, signs into her Zoom meetings on two laptops, one with the audio on for interacting with the students, and the other on mute, angled down at the table like a makeshift document camera, so the students can watch her hands as she demonstrates the assignment.

French says that while she tries to keep remote class as similar to studio class as possible, she understands learning from home can’t be exactly the same.

“There is being respectful to the creative process too, and just understanding that students are under different pressures in remote – they have siblings there, they have many people in the household,” French said. “There are just so many issues with remote learning that you have to be sensitive to.”

French said COVID protocols has definitely forced her to become more flexible with assignments and outcomes, but in a positive way.

“I enjoyed the challenge of being creative as a teacher and an artist,” French said. “Visual arts is about thinking outside the box (literally), being creative and being resilient.” Concord Monitor


Bellingham Urban Sketchers Capture the City of Subdued Excitement, One Sketch at a Time

From marketplaces to city streets, gardens, and historic sites, Bellingham abounds with picturesque urban landscapes. For the artistically inspired, Bellingham Urban Sketchers provides opportunities to recreate this panorama on paper.

During the COVID pandemic, the group has done Zoom sessions to share sketches of suggested topics, such as holiday decorations and other things that can be safely sketched from inside one’s car. They also encouraging sketching things spied outside one’s window.

Urban Sketchers is an international nonprofit connecting artists who sketch their home cities’ sights on-location. The original group, Seattle Urban Sketchers, started in 2007. The Bellingham group began in 2017 with Karen Ver Burg and Katharine Engh, who first joined San Diego Urban Sketchers.

“The mantra is to show the world our town one sketch at a time,” says Engh. “So you go out and you sketch by observation, and we go as a group to different locations within Bellingham and Whatcom County and sketch different areas and share our work with each other.”

Urban Sketchers enables dedicated artists to hone their craft through international events. Bellingham chapter organizer Marta Raaka attended the 2019 symposium in Amsterdam, annually held in different countries each year.

“They had a four-day gathering where people could take workshops if they signed up ahead of time, and then in the afternoon they’d kind of have a map of places to go,” says Raaka. “It’s a really big gathering, so there’d be like 60-100 people at a spot…spread out because Amsterdam is a big city, but they’d kind of have a spot to sketch and you ran into sketchers all over the city.”

As part of the wider organization, Bellingham Urban Sketchers show the world Bellingham’s local character.

Group Activities
Anyone can join Bellingham Urban Sketchers by emailing their website and joining their Facebook group.

“We are always looking for people who want to join us to sketch, and you don’t have to be at any level of expertise,” says Engh. “We have everybody along the spectrum. We have people who are starting out and just getting used to the tools and the methods, and we have more experienced people that have taken classes with sketchers all over the world.”

During non-pandemic times, members receive Facebook announcements for “sketch crawls”: weekly trips, typically at 10 a.m. on Saturdays.

“People show up and sketch whatever they want and have about two hours to just kind of sketch,” says Raaka. “At the end, we all come together and put our sketchbooks down and take a few pictures of the sketchbooks and the sketchers.”

Bellingham Urban Sketchers has amassed more than 100 members on Facebook, with over 20 actively engaging at most times. Organizers strive to keep the group free to all comers.

“There isn’t any formal membership that has to be renewed, you don’t have to show up in order to be on our Facebook page,” says Engh. “It’s very open.”

In addition to camaraderie and sightseeing, members share informal art lessons.

“We’re good resources for each other,” says Raaka. “We’ll share information about art materials and what we like and if we found a workshop online that we think is useful.”

Sightseeing Around Bellingham
Bellingham Urban Sketchers capture natural landscapes and urban cityscapes throughout Whatcom County. Nurseries such as Kent’s Garden & Nursery and Gardens at Padden Creek are among the most popular vistas.

“There’s so much to sketch there,” says Engh. “There’s usually a combination of buildings and structures along with beautiful colors and bright objects to paint.”

In winter, Bellingham Urban Sketchers take their craft indoors. Favorite venues have included Village Books, Bellingham Farmers Market, and 20th Century Bowl.

“Whenever we ask somebody if it’s okay if we can come, we’ve been welcomed very warmly by all of the different venues,” says Raaka. “People in Bellingham are very welcoming of artists that come and sketch.”

Several urban sketchers have gotten into the habit of sketching their everyday environments.

“It’s a really good way to experience your traveling experience, because you actually sit and observe and record a picture of it, which is so much better than just taking a bunch of photographs,” says Engh. “It’s just a wonderful thing to do. All the senses are involved, so it’s great to have sketchbooks when you’re taking a trip no matter how far or near.”

Building a Sketching Community
Bellingham Urban Sketchers’ work has had a warm reception on Facebook, as well as on-location.

“We’re welcome anywhere we ask if we can go sketch,” says Engh. “They’re usually thrilled at the end of our session to see what the sketches look like, too.”

The group has plans to showcase sketches at venues such as Bellingham Public Library in the future. In the meantime, they continue to inspire each other to share the city’s scenery.

“It keeps me motivated to stay with my practice of sketching and trying to improve my art,” Raaka says. Engh adds, “It inspires you to keep sketching and keep sharing and it’s a whole genre unto itself. I mean, you can just really get into this forever—being with the people forever.” whatcomTALK


Meet YInMn, the First New Shade of Blue in Two Centuries
The vibrant pigment, created accidentally in 2009 by chemists at Oregon State University, is now commercially available.

Cerulean, azure, navy, royal … Much has been written about the color blue, the first human-made pigment. “Because blue contracts, retreats, it is the color of transcendence, leading us away in pursuit of the infinite,” wrote William Gass in his book On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry. Wassily Kandinsky once mused: “The power of profound meaning is found in blue, and first in its physical movements of retreat from the spectator, of turning in upon its own center […] Blue is the typical heavenly color.”

And now, for the first time in two centuries, a new shade of the celebrated color is available for artists — YInMn Blue. It’s named after its components — Yttrium, Indium, and Manganese — and its luminous, vivid pigment never fades, even if mixed with oil and water.

Like all good discoveries, the new pigment was identified by coincidence. A team of chemists at Oregon State University (OSU), led by Mas Subramanian, was experimenting with rare earth elements while developing materials for use in electronics in 2009 when the pigment was accidentally created.

Andrew Smith, a graduate student at the time, mixed Yttrium, Indium, Manganese, and Oxygen at about 2000 °F. What emerged from the furnace was a never-before-seen brilliant blue compound. Subramanian understood immediately that his team stumbled on a major discovery.

“People have been looking for a good, durable blue color for a couple of centuries,” the researcher told NPR in 2016.

OSU patented the color in 2012, but it took five more years until the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved YInMn, at first only for use in industrial coatings and plastics. Last May, the government agency officially approved the new pigment for commercial use, making it available to all.

The vibrant pigment caught attention long before the EPA’s official approval last year. In 2016, Shepherd Color Company acquired the license to sell the pigment commercially for exterior applications. A year later, YInMn Blue inspired a new shade of Crayola crayon called Bluetiful. The shade has also been popular on Etsy, although the quality and authenticity of these offerings are not guaranteed.

Now, the authenticated pigment is available for sale in paint retailers like Golden in the US. A dry powder version has not yet been approved for public consumption.

Blue pigments, which date back 6,000 years, have been traditionally toxic and prone to fading. That’s no longer the case with YInMn, which reflects heat and absorbs UV radiation, making it cooler and more durable than pigments like cobalt blue.

“The fact that this pigment was synthesized at such high temperatures signaled that this new compound was extremely stable, a property long sought in a blue pigment,” Subramanian said in a study about the compound.

Artists in Oregon, including OSU art students, have already used the pigment in watercolors and printmaking, the university lab announced in a press release.

Since the discovery, Subramanian and his team have expanded their research, producing a range of new pigments, from bright oranges to shades of purple, turquoise, and green. They continue to search for a new stable, heat-reflecting, and brilliant red, calling it “the most elusive color to synthesize.” Hyperallergic


Mona Lisa is alone but still smiling

From her bulletproof case in the Louvre Museum, Mona Lisa’s smile met an unfamiliar sight the other morning: emptiness. The gallery where throngs of visitors swarmed to ogle her day after day was a void, deserted under France’s latest coronavirus confinement.

Around the corner, the Winged Victory of Samothrace floated quietly above a marble staircase, majestic in the absence of selfie-sticks and tour groups. In the Louvre’s medieval basement, the Great Sphinx of Tanis loomed in the dark like a granite ghost from behind bars.

Yet out of the rare and monumental stillness, sounds of life were stirring in the Louvre’s great halls.

The rat-a-tat of a jackhammer echoed from a ceiling above the Sphinx’s head. Rap music thumped from the Bronze Room under Cy Twombly’s ceiling in the Sully Wing, near where workers were sawing parquet for a giant new floor. In Louis XIV’s former apartments, restorers in surgical masks climbed scaffolding to tamp gold leaf onto ornate moldings.

The world’s most visited museum — nearly 10 million in 2019, mostly from overseas — is grappling with its longest closure since World War II, as pandemic restrictions keep its treasures under lock and key. But without crowds that can swell to as many as 40,000 people a day, museum officials are seizing a golden opportunity to finesse a grand refurbishment for when visitors return.

“For some projects, the lockdown has allowed us to do in five days what would have previously taken five weeks,” said Sébastien Allard, general curator and director of the Louvre’s paintings department.

Louvre lovers have had to settle for seeing masterpieces during the pandemic through virtual tours and the hashtags #LouvreChezVous and @MuseeLouvre. Millions of viewers got a spectacular fix this month from the Netflix hit series "Lupin," in which actor Omar Sy, playing a gentleman thief, stars in action-filled scenes in the Louvre’s best-known galleries and under I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid.

But virtual reality can hardly replace the real thing. Louvre officials are hoping the government will reopen cultural institutions to the public soon, although the date depends on the course the virus takes.

In the meantime, a small army of around 250 artisans has been working since France’s latest lockdown went into effect Oct. 30. Instead of waiting until Tuesdays — the sole day that the Louvre used to close — curators, restorers, conservators and other experts are pressing ahead five days a week to complete major renovations that had started before the pandemic and introduce new beautifications that they hope to finish by mid-February.

Some of the work is relatively simple, like dusting the frames of nearly 4,500 paintings. Some is herculean, like makeovers in the Egyptian antiquities hall and the Sully Wing. Nearly 40,000 explanatory plaques in English and French are being hung next to art works.

Even before the pandemic, the Louvre was taking a hard look at crowd management because mass tourism had meant many galleries were choked with tour groups. While travel restrictions have slashed the number of visitors, the museum will limit entry to ticket holders with reservations when it reopens to meet health protocols.

Other changes are planned — like new interactive experiences, including yoga sessions every half-hour on Wednesdays near Jacques-Louis David and Peter Paul Rubens masterpieces, and workshops in which actors play scenes from famous tableaux right in front of the canvas.

“It’s a callout to say the museum is living and that people have the right to do these things here,” said Marina-Pia Vitali, a deputy director of interpretation who oversees the projects.

When I walked the halls on a recent visit, I felt a thrill upon seeing the Venus de Milo rise from her pedestal — minus the glow of iPhones — and admired, at leisure, the drape of sheer fabric chiseled from unblemished marble.

In the cavernous Red Room — home to monumental French paintings including the coronation of Napoleon as emperor in Notre Dame, and the Raft of the Medusa, depicting gray-skinned souls just clinging to life — it felt uplifting not to be swept along by throngs.

In the Egyptian Wing, antiquities experts cleaned a 2-ton granite stele that will dominate a new entrance. Workers are also refurbishing the Mastaba of Akhethotep, part of an Egyptian tomb that is among the Louvre’s most popular artifacts, in a dust-covered gallery scattered with saws and hammers.

Sophie Duberson, a restorer, took a child’s toothbrush and delicately removed grime from the stele’s hieroglyphs, which provide instructions for reviving Sénousret, chief of the Egyptian treasury during the 12th Dynasty, in the afterworld.

Vincent Rondot, the Louvre’s director of Egyptian antiquities, inspected a temporary six-story support structure that had been built around the Mastaba, where a new angular entry wall would be erected in time for the return of hoped-for crowds.

“No one is celebrating the virus,” said Rondot, as sparks flew from a nearby worker’s cutting tool. “But we can welcome this situation because it lets us concentrate on the work.”

At the same time, social distancing protocols restrict the number of workers allowed in closed spaces, which can sometimes brake progress.

Artisans applying gold leaf in Louis XIV’s rooms, for example, must remove masks to blow on the paper-thin metal. Workers have to keep far apart, so fewer can do the job, and the work can take more time.

The pandemic also has wreaked havoc with planning for special exhibits. The Louvre lends around 400 works a year to other museums and receives numerous loans for special shows.

“It’s really complicated because all museums in the world are in the process of changing their planning,” Allard said.

As governments order new restrictions to contain a resurgence of the virus, special shows are being pushed back. A loan reserved for exhibits at several museums may get caught in confinements, making it tricky to deliver the promised artwork, he said.

On a small metal dolly nearby, the self-portrait of a young Rembrandt, resplendent in a jaunty black beret, a thick gold necklace and a confident smile, rested in an ornate oval frame. The 1633 blockbuster had been lent to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, but was stranded for three months there because of coronavirus travel restrictions. A few days earlier, he had returned to his home at the Louvre by truck through the underwater Channel Tunnel linking Britain and France.

Blaise Ducos, chief curator of the Louvre’s Dutch and Flemish paintings collection, typically accompanies loans to and from their destination but could only watch the Rembrandt’s removal by video. He drove to Calais to get the masterpiece when it emerged from the Chunnel and was at last overseeing its rehanging in the Louvre’s Rembrandt room.

“We’re happy to have him back,” Ducos said.

Nearby, workers climbed a rolling scaffold to remove an enormous Anthony van Dyck painting of Venus asking Vulcan for arms. Destined for an exhibit in Madrid, the painting was whisked through the Dutch halls, past Johannes Vermeer’s Astronomer studying an astrolabe, before getting stuck in front of a small doorway in the Rubens room.

The workers turned the painting on its side and slid it on pillows to the next gallery, where it would go on to be packaged and — pandemic restrictions permitting — sent on its way.

“COVID has been a force majeure,” said Allard, as a duo of Dutch paintings were hoisted to replace the van Dyck. “At the moment we have so many question marks — it’s hard to know what the situation will be in two, three or four months,” he said.

“But despite COVID, we continue to work as always,” Allard continued. “We must be ready to welcome back the public.” artdaily


Angelina Jolie sells painting Churchill gave as gift to FDR

A painting by Winston Churchill that is a piece of both political and Hollywood history is coming up for auction.

Christie’s auction house said Monday that the Moroccan landscape “Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque” — a gift from Churchill to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt — is being sold by Angelina Jolie next month with an estimated price of 1.5 million pounds to 2.5 million pounds ($2.1 million to $3.4 million).

The image of the 12th-century mosque in Marrakech at sunset, with the Atlas Mountains in the background, is the only painting that Britain’s World War II leader completed during the 1939-45 conflict.

He painted it after the January 1943 Casablanca Conference, where Churchill and Roosevelt planned the defeat of Nazi Germany. The two leaders visited Marrakech after the conference so that Churchill could show Roosevelt the city's beauty.

“Roosevelt was blown away by it and thought it was incredible,” said Nick Orchard, head of Christie’s modern British art department. He said Churchill captured the view in the “wonderful, evocative painting” and gave it to Roosevelt as a memento of the trip.

Churchill was a keen amateur artist who completed some 500 paintings after taking up painting in his 40s. Orchard said that “the light in Morocco and over Marrakech was something that Churchill was passionate about” and painted again and again.

“He loved the dry air, the light, the sun and the way it played on the landscapes,” he said. “And that’s absolutely visible here in this painting. You can see the long shadows and the turning purple of the mountains and the deepening of the sky — classic sunset time.”

The painting was sold by Roosevelt’s son after the president’s death in 1945, and had several owners before Jolie and partner Brad Pitt bought it in 2011.

The couple separated in 2016 and have spent years enmeshed in divorce proceedings, amid speculation about the division of their extensive art collection. They were declared divorced in 2019 after their lawyers asked for a bifurcated judgment, meaning that two married people can be declared single while other issues, including finances and child custody, remain.

The painting is being sold by the Jolie Family Collection as part of Christie’s March 1 modern British art auction in London.

Orchard said the auction house was hopeful it could set a new record for a Churchill work.

“The record price at auction for Churchill is about 1.8 million (pounds) for a painting that, in my view, is not as important as this,” he said. “And I think this is probably his most important work.” Click Orlando


Golden Artist Colors Launches New ‘SoFlat’ Matte Acrylics

Golden Artist Colors introduces SoFlat Matte Acrylic colors, a new line of products that helps artists create immersive fields of color without the distraction of texture and glare.

Artists have always been drawn to the enigmatic quality of matte color, and SoFlat delivers with a glare-free surface that allows the depth and intensity of each color to take center stage.

“Artists have used gouache for centuries because of its matteness and opacity, but are restricted by its inherently sensitive paint film,” said CEO, Mark Golden.

“With the introduction of SoFlat, artists will be able to move beyond these limitations. SoFlat will provide them with a velvety smooth, durable surface. The new product line, which has a flowing consistency, is also compatible with other acrylic paints and mediums, increasing the range of creative effects that artists can achieve,” he said.

Perhaps the most distinctive quality, and the one that might be most unique to SoFlat, is the paint’s exceptional coverage and natural leveling quality as it dries. The paint relaxes after being brushed out, making it easier to minimize the appearance of brushstrokes for uninterrupted fields of rich, matte color. When striving for that pure color effect, artists need a paint that goes down evenly with full intensity in as few coats as possible.

While some pigments are naturally transparent, SoFlat has a unique formulation that provides greater opacity from these colors than is normally found in acrylic paints. This unique combination of qualities can only be found in SoFlat Matte Acrylic Colors.

Artists can choose from 40 colors, including six fluorescent colors. Each color is offered in 2, 4 and 16 oz. wide mouth jars. Also available are two six-color sets of 2 oz. jars:

974-0 SoFlat Pop Set

Bold colors inspired by mid-century pop art and probably the best starting point and value for flat, matte, painting. Six – 2 oz. jars: Cadmium Primrose, Naphthol Red Light, Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Green, Black and Titanium White.

975-0 SoFlat Zing Set

Bright, surprising, high-chroma and intense – the colors of the Zing Set will jump off your artwork. Six – 2 oz. jars: Bismuth Vanadate Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Naphthol Pink, Red Violet, Cobalt Teal and Yellow Green.

Look for SoFlat Matte Acrylic Colors at your local art supply retail store beginning mid-March. To learn more product details, tips and tricks, and application information about SoFlat, go to www.goldenSoFlat.com. Additional online content will be added to the site in the coming weeks, so check back often.

Golden Artist Colors, Inc. is a manufacturer of artist quality materials including colors and mediums for painting in acrylics, oils and most recently, watercolor.

With two locations, a 100,000-square-foot facility in rural Columbus, N.Y., and a 45,000-square-foot commercial warehouse and distribution center in Norwich, N.Y., the company’s 224 full-time employees are committed to producing materials that encourage exploration of form and concept, while assuring archival integrity.

The Golden brand of acrylics is known for quality and archival integrity as well as being the most innovative and extensive system available.

The company also owns Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors, which is known for its quality and extensive palette of colors including genuine Italian and French earth colors. The Evening Sun



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