September 22, 2021


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In this issue:

First Cupid, now a wine glass? More revelations emerge from restored Vermeer painting in Dresden
This Brooklyn Subway Station Is a Portal Into Marcel Dzama’s Surrealist Universe
Winston Churchill’s 1948 Painting ‘The Bridge at Aix en Provence’ Debuts at Auction
Spotlight of the Week: Rileystreet Art Supply
New Van Gogh discovery: first version of despairing man that was bought for £6—and then hidden away for more than a century
Painters Rejoice: Scientists Have Created the Whitest Acrylic Paint Ever Known
Christo's dream unveiled: A wrapped Arc de Triomphe









First Cupid, now a wine glass? More revelations emerge from restored Vermeer painting in Dresden
Major restoration on Girl reading a Letter at an Open Window shows a large studded goblet later covered by a green curtain

A mysterious wine glass has been uncovered in Vermeer’s Girl reading a Letter at an Open Window at Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie. The 1657-59 painting goes on display tomorrow after a major restoration project, which has involved removal of later overpaint to reveal a picture of Cupid hanging on the back wall.

During the restoration the lower part of a Dutch roemer (a large, studded wine glass) was also found at the very bottom of the composition, towards the right. After removal of overpaint the rounded shape of the base of the glass can be seen in dark blue-grey, with white highlights as it catches the light.

Nearly all the roemer was hidden by a green curtain, added by Vermeer himself while he was working on the composition—but the base of the glass remained. The base was later disguised with 18th-century overpaint, which has now been painstakingly removed.

The full glass, which would have been 18cm high, is visible in x-radiographs. Conservators can even make out a trailing vine tendril decoration and see the level of the wine.

Vermeer may originally have wanted the glass to appear to rest on a balustrade, teetering in front of the viewer. He might also have originally framed the canvas so that the wine glass would seem to stand on the actual wood of a plain frame.

It is even possible that Vermeer intended the framed painting to be hung in an interior to give the trompe-l’oeil impression that it was an opening in the wall. This would have provided a fictive view into an adjacent room in which the woman reading a letter could be observed. Or maybe the roemer is nothing to do with Girl reading a Letter at an Open Window, but is simply the remains of a discarded earlier composition, whose canvas the artist later reused.

But whatever Vermeer’s original intention, he apparently changed his mind, painting over nearly all the wine glass with the curtain. His decision is obviously being respected and the curtain has been left. But the discovery of the hidden roemer represents yet another puzzle to be solved about this most enigmatic of artists. The Art Newspaper

 




This Brooklyn Subway Station Is a Portal Into Marcel Dzama’s Surrealist Universe
The permanent installation in Williamsburg features anthropomorphic moons and suns, watching over wild, celebratory scenes.

In May 2020, amid New York City’s COVID-19 lockdown, Brooklyn-based artist Marcel Dzama shared his most unexpected longing during home isolation with GARAGE Magazine: “Riding the subway.”

Now, post-lockdown, Dzama can have the double pleasure of riding the subway and seeing his own works adorning the walls of the recently refurbished Bedford Avenue subway station in the Williamsburg neighborhood of north Brooklyn.

Commissioned by MTA Arts and Design and fabricated by Mayer of Munich, Dzama’s permanent installation, No Less Than Everything Comes Together (2021), includes two pairs of colorful, large-scale glass mosaics located on the station’s two mezzanines: one at Bedford Avenue and the other at Driggs Avenue.

Like subterranean portals to another dimension, Dzama’s extramundane compositions feature anthropomorphic blue-tinted moons and red-lipped suns hanging above a congregation of ballerinas in Zorro masks, performing a synchronized dance with animals and beasts of all sorts.

As if reflecting the around-the-clock-ness of the busy subway station, the mosaics alternate from sun-washed backgrounds in yellow to cool-toned nocturnal scenes. In each, there’s a dance occurring, and there’s a mixture of tension and delight in numerous esoteric plots and sub-plots that are only comprehensible to Dzama. If you look closely, you’ll find walking fruits, mice in suits, foxes in bow ties, and other fantastical creatures, including a guest appearance by Pinocchio in one piece.

So rich with detail, these mosaics require a level of attention seldomly afforded by the typically hurried commuters of New York City. On Wednesday morning, September 8, none were seen pausing to admire the artworks or try to untangle their mystery. Stopping any of them for an interview felt like it would be a rude, unforgivable interruption of their day.

The only individuals who were available for an interview were two NYPD officers — last names Marcelle and Jaquiz — who were stationed inside the entrance at the corner of Bedford Avenue and North 7th Street. Their job, as we know, includes enforcing the controversial policy of ticketing turnstile jumpers. Nevertheless, they had plenty of time to inspect the pair of mosaics in front of them.

“I like this one because it reminds me of summer,” said Marcelle in a moment of candor after inquiring me about my intentions. He was referring to a piece that shows the sun and moon in a cheek-to-cheek pose, almost kissing.

Fully armed and with handcuffs dangling from her waist, Jaquiz approached me with a stern face, then pointed at the same mosaic and interrogated: “What does this mean?”

I pleaded the fifth, knowing that logical interpretation of Dzama’s works is a futile pursuit. The best you can do is join the ride. Hyperallergic

 

Winston Churchill’s 1948 Painting ‘The Bridge at Aix en Provence’ Debuts at Auction

Winston Churchill’s 1948 painting The Bridge at Aix en Provence will be auctioned for the first time via Christie’s London, with an estimated value of between £1.5 million £2.5 million (US$2.07 million and US$3.46 million).

The painting was originally gifted to Willy Sax, a Swiss paint manufacturer who supplied Churchill with his artistic materials, including some products specifically for Churchill (1908-65). For example, “Royal Blues” were two colors made for Churchill in light and deep shades, according to Christie’s.

The two were first introduced in 1946. Two years later, Sax and the Swiss artist Charles Montag visited Churchill in the South of France, where he painted The Bridge at Aix en Provence, according to Nick Orchard, head of modern British art at Christie’s.

“That Sax was present when Churchill created this seminal work is testament to his lasting influence on the former prime minister and in a nod to that, Churchill gifted the work to him, cementing a lifelong friendship,” he said in a statement.

The bridge depicted in the work, Trois Sautets over the River Arc, was also featured in two watercolors by post-Impressionist French artist Paul Cézanne, who was an inspiration to Churchill, Christie’s says.

Cézanne’s Baigneuses sous un pont is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Le Pont des Trois Sautets is held in the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Churchill, who served as prime minister of the U.K. from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955, completed hundreds of paintings throughout his life. He gifted many to his close friends as well as his contemporary world leaders.

One of his paintings, Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque, which was originally gifted to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was later acquired by American actress Angelina Jolie, sold for £8.3 million (US$11.6 million) at a Christie’s auction in London in March, the highest price achieved by a Churchill painting at auction.

“As with the majestic scenes Churchill committed to paint in Marrakesh, The Bridge at Aix en Provence demonstrates his preference for painting en plein air [painting outdoors], and is one of the finest examples of his favored subject, water.”

The Bridge at Aix en Provence will be offered at Christie’s live auction of modern British art on the evening of Oct. 20 in London. PENTA

 

Spotlight of the Week: Rileystreet Art Supply

Rileystreet Art Supply is one of the most popular local spots for Sonoma State art students to buy their art course materials. The store supports SSU students and local artists by providing a variety of discounted art supplies, selling handmade artwork, and offering in person art classes.

According to Rileystreet’s website, their Santa Rosa location “has been voted the Best Art Supply Store in Sonoma County for the past 22 years.” The site states that the store “has always carried the widest selection of artist materials in the North Bay, many of which are discounted from retail everyday. We offer a fantastic art education schedule in both stores including free demos virtually every weekend. Plus all of our staff are practicing artists or have visual art degrees.”

Rileystreet offers a 10 percent discount to SSU students and holds an annual two month back to school sale in the fall where everything is 25 percent off. This year’s sale began during the second week of August and goes on until Sept. 30. Students need to show their SSU ID card and can bring in an art course syllabus for assistance on finding required supplies.

Diana Argueta, a Rileystreet employee and former SSU alumni student, said SSU students visit the store frequently, “An SSU student comes into the store nearly every day, if not three times a week. Art students shop in between classes all year long and many of these students are enrolled in painting, drawing, and printing courses.”

Argueta, who graduated as an art studio photography major, shared her experience with the store, “I started shopping here as a freshman since most teachers recommend this store. I shopped here a lot as a student and got lucky with landing this job after I graduated. I even helped my coworker get a job here and she was a former SSU art student too.”

Rileystreet warehouse worker, Dave Lindgren, described that the staff enjoys assisting SSU art students. “We try to be as helpful as we can. We all really enjoy helping students that are just starting out in college level art courses,” said Lindgren.

According to fourth year art studio student Lexi Geren, “Rileystreet is the most suggested and recommended art store for SSU students to go to. I usually go at least once a semester and I like how fairly easy it is to find everything.”

Fourth year studio art minor, Jenna Zager, shared why Rileystreet is her favorite spot for art supplies. “I usually go for paints, panels, and paint brushes. I really like how wide their selection of supplies is, and I always feel comfortable going to Rileystreet for projects of different mediums. The pricing is also pretty good and there's usually a sale on top of the student discount,” said Zager.

Art teachers contact Rileystreet and use the shop as a place to promote and hold art classes for the public. The shop also supports local artists by advertising flyers inside the store that showcase different art galleries and art events.

Rileystreet sells handmade pieces from local artists, such as postcards and facemasks. The store also accepts art donations from the public, and is decorated with the donated pieces.

Rileystreet has one location in Santa Rosa and another location in San Rafael. Visit either of their locations to buy supplies or check out their website, rileystreet.com, for more information. Sonoma State Star

 

New Van Gogh discovery: first version of despairing man that was bought for £6—and then hidden away for more than a century
The artist titled the drawing "Worn out" in English because he wanted to work for a London publisher

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has authenticated a preliminary sketch for Worn out, a drawing made in November 1882 while the artist was working in The Hague. Teio Meedendorp, the museum’s senior researcher, describes it as “a stunning contribution” to the oeuvre.

The sketch represents a key subject, since in 1890 Van Gogh turned the composition into one of his most powerful paintings, Sorrowing Old Man. The elderly man sits with his head in his hands, either from exhaustion or misery.

Meedendorp’s detailed study on the newly discovered sketch will be published in the October issue of The Burlington Magazine. In the meantime it is freely available online.

The newly discovered sketch, in an unnamed Dutch private collection, was acquired in 1900-10 and then passed down the family. Nothing is known of its whereabouts in the 1880s and 90s. Earlier this year the family approached the Van Gogh Museum, requesting that it be authenticated.

Meedendorp confirmed the authenticity: “In stylistic terms, it fits perfectly with the many figure studies we know from Van Gogh’s time in The Hague and the connection with final version of Worn out is obvious.”

According to Meedendorp, in terms of materials “you find everything you’d expect in a Van Gogh drawing from this period: a thick carpenter’s pencil as medium, coarse watercolour paper as support, and fixing the image with a solution of water and milk”. The paper has a Hallines watermark of a type that the artist often used in The Hague. On the reverse of the sheet is a very rough sketch of a farmer in a field.

The sketch of Worn out offers an unusual insight into Van Gogh’s method of working. He began by drawing a grid on the paper (only just visible in reproductions) and then used a perspective frame to view the seated man and capture his figure quickly in the correct proportions. Van Gogh worked up the sketch in his characteristically expressive style, with energetic pencil strokes.

From this sketch, Van Gogh made his final drawing of Worn out, which belongs to the Van Gogh Museum. There are interesting differences between the sketch and final work. In the eventual drawing, the man sits more straightly on the chair and there are elements of a fireplace near his right leg. Vincent signed this work, confirming that it is the finished version.

The model for Worn out was Adrianus Jacobus Zuyderland (1810-97), a 72-year-old resident of a local almshouse (Van Gogh called them “orphan men”). He appears in no fewer than 40 of Van Gogh’s drawings from The Hague, instantly recognisable from the bald crown of his head, longish white hair and impressive sideburns.

In making the composition, Van Gogh may have had in mind an illustration in a Dickens book. The frontispiece of an 1866 edition of Hard Times shows a very similar pose, drawn by Arthur Boyd Houghton. Van Gogh was a great admirer of Dickens, whose work he had got to know when he was a young art dealer in London.

Vincent recorded doing both versions of Worn out in a letter to his brother Theo, on 24 November 1882: “Today and yesterday I drew two figures of an old man with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands… What a fine sight an old working man makes, in his patched bombazine [a type of hard-wearing fabric] suit with his bald head.” The patch appears at the bottom of Zuyderland’s right trouser, but not on the finished drawing.

In another letter, to Vincent’s friend Anthon van Rappard, he entitled the drawing “Worn out”, in English. This was because Van Gogh then had the idea of seeking work as an illustrator with a British publication, either the Illustrated London News or the Graphic, and wanted some samples to send. It remains unclear whether he actually approached them—or if they rejected his work.

The expression “worn out” was widely used in English literature during the Victorian period, including in the writings of Dickens and Longfellow. Van Gogh may also have seen a print after a painting by the Scottish artist Thomas Faed with the same title (although the Faed composition is entirely different, showing a slumped father by the bedside of his seriously ill child).

Van Gogh was obviously proud of Worn out, since a few days later he made a lithograph based on the finished drawing. He gave this another English title, At Eternity’s Gate. Eight years later, at the asylum just outside Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, he used the print as the basis for his painting, with the figure clothed in shades of blue.

And how much is the newly discovered sketch worth? A family inventory suggests that in the early 1900s it was bought for 75 guilders, then equivalent to around £6. Drawings from Van Gogh’s period in The Hague now generally sell for up to €1m.

The sketch, along with the final drawing of Worn out and the lithograph, goes on display at the Van Gogh Museum tomorrow (until 2 January 2022). The Art Newspaper

 

Painters Rejoice: Scientists Have Created the Whitest Acrylic Paint Ever Known
Their original goal was to create a paint that would effectively reflect sunlight away from a building to reduce energy usage, but now the discovery has earned a Guinness World Record.

What we perceive as a white shade or color in our everyday lives is never pure white. True white is a rarity that can only be observed in unfiltered sunlight, just as pure black can only be found in the depths of a black hole. For even the whitest human-made pigments, a close examination will reveal something a little bit off … off-white, that is.

But now, there’s exciting news coming from Indiana’s Purdue University, where scientists announced yesterday September 16, that they were able to produce the whitest acrylic paint known to humankind. If you’re not convinced, the university has already earned a Guinness World Records title for the invention.

However, breaking a record for the whitest paint was not the researchers’ initial motivation. Rather, it was combating global warming.

“When we started this project about seven years ago, we had saving energy and fighting climate change in mind,” said Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue, in a podcast episode of This Is Purdue.

Ruan invented the paint with his graduate students at Purdue. Their original goal was to create a paint that would effectively reflect sunlight away from a building, which required producing an extremely white pigment. Ruan says that the formulation that his lab created reflects 98.1% of solar radiation while also emitting infrared heat. Because the paint absorbs less heat from the sun than it emits, a surface coated with this pigment is cooled below the surrounding temperature without consuming power.

What makes this invention unique is that typical commercial white paint tends to get warmer, rather than cooler, when exposed to sunlight. Paints on the market that are designed to reject heat reflect up to 80%-90% of sunlight and usually fail to make surfaces cooler than their surroundings.

Using this new paint formulation to coat a roof area of about 1,000 square feet could result in a cooling power of 10 kilowatts, the researchers showed in a peer-reviewed paper. “That’s more powerful than the air conditioners used by most houses,” Ruan asserted.

The researchers found that the ultra-white paint is able to keep a surface around 8 degrees cooler than its ambient temperature in the afternoon and up 19 degrees cooler at night. When tested on buildings in the hot, dry climates of Reno, Nevada, and Phoenix, Arizona, the paint reduced air conditioning costs by 70% during the summer months, according to Ruan.

Research to develop radiative cooling paint as a sustainable alternative to traditional air conditioners goes back to the 1960s. To create their achievement, Purdue’s researchers used a very high concentration of the chemical compound barium sulfate — also used in photo paper and cosmetics — in different particle sizes. The wide range of particle sizes is a key factor because it allows the paint to reflect more wavelengths of the sun, therefore scattering more of the light spectrum.

But there was a limit to how much barium sulfate the researchers could use before the paint starts breaking or peeling off. “There is a little bit of room to make the paint whiter, but not much without compromising the paint,” they said. The team is also working on producing cooling color paints using the same technology.

Artists and art museums have already expressed interest in the new paint, according to Ruan. “Artists have emailed me asking where they can get the paint,” he said in the podcast interview, adding that his team sent samples of the rare pigment to museum collections worldwide.

“I didn’t expect people to be so interested in white,” the researcher said. “White to me, before all this, was a boring color … It’s good to know that there’s a market on the art side, aside from the energy and climate aspects.”

So, when will you be able to buy the paint at your local hardware store? According to Ruan, the paint will hit the shelves in a “year or two.” His team has filed patent applications for the paint and partnered with a commercial company to scale up production and put it on the market. The cost will be comparable to existing paints, or even slightly cheaper. If all goes as planned, a day will soon come when costly, energy-consuming air conditioners are no longer a necessity. Hyperallergic

 

Christo's dream unveiled: A wrapped Arc de Triomphe

In Paris this weekend, traffic stopped and crowds gathered to see the Arc de Triomphe transformed: the huge monument wrapped in shimmering, fabric, tied in place with red rope – the colors subtly emulating the French flag.

It's the creation of the artist known simply as Christo. But when Christo died last year at 84, finishing the project became a mission for Christo's small team of three: his nephews, Vladimir Yavachev and Jonathan Henery, and studio manager Lorenza Giovanelli.

"All the design was done," said Henery. "Every rope, every fold, every pleat, is exactly, exactly and precisely the way Christo designed it. It will be his baby. We're just finishing it for him."

Giovanelli said, "I really don't believe that Christo thought that the Arc de Triomphe would be his last project."

The wrapping took a crew of construction workers two months following Christo's precise plans – plans he actually began making almost 60 years ago.

In 1962, as a young artist in Paris, Christo created a photo montage of the Arc as it might look if he could wrap it. He'd arrived in Paris in 1958 after fleeing Communist rule in his native Bulgaria. Henery said, "To Christo, coming from, of course, a Communist country, his freedom was immensely important his entire life. And if you have a temporary work of art, which you pay for yourself, it's completely your idea, you had to fight tooth-and-nail to get permission, you own that work of art."

But Christo's early ambitions for a different kind of art had to wait. Even struggling artists must eat.

"He supported himself by painting ladies' portraits," said his friend, art historian Annie Cohen-Solal. She said that is how Christo met Jeanne-Claude: "Jeanne-Claude's mother said, 'Why don't you do the portrait of my daughter,' who was extremely beautiful. And so, Christo did, and then he fell in love with her and stole her from her husband. She was recently married. So, that's a very romantic story."

"He is a unique artist," Jeanne-Claude told CBS News in 1976. "There comes a few of them, maybe sometimes one or two in each century, and he's one of them, and I'm very proud to be helping him."

More than a married couple, Christo and Jeanne-Claude became an artistic team, their creations considered as much hers as his, with her intensity matching his.

"Each one of our projects is like a child of ours," she said.

Their work seemed to challenge the very definition of art. Even for the best reporters who struggled for years to describe their work, there was always the question: Is Christo even an artist? It's a struggle we saw watching some early CBS News stories:

From Dan Rather in 1983: "Christo, the alleged artist …"

Roger Mudd in 1976: "The artist Christo, who goes in for the global approach in sculpture, is at it again …"

Richard Roth in 1991: "It is the biggest venture ever by the Bulgarian-born showman known as the world's original wrap artist, Christo."

Mark Phillips in 1995: "With all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's work, there's always the question as to whether it's art or just an artistic event."

Martha Teichner in 1995, at the site of the wrapped Reichstag in Berlin: "So, is it a work of art or a lavish conceit?"

Steve Kroft in 1983, reporting on the wrapped islands: "This is art, whatever that is … not something that matches the sofa, but an idea."

And Richard Wagner, in 1976: "What its creator calls the running fence, and he calls it art. Its detractors call it the world's longest clothesline, and they call it a fraud."

But by 2005, when Christo and Jeanne-Claude created the Gates in New York's Central Park, the answer seemed to be, yes, this is art.

"It's a work of art on a titanic scale," said "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer. "Take a look: It's a spectacle that will disappear in just 14 days."

Like the Gates, all of their large-scale projects lasted just two or three weeks, and all were entirely paid for by Christo and Jeanne-Claude themselves through the sale of his drawings.

"All our project is about freedom," Christo told "60 Minutes." "Nobody can buy this project. Nobody owns his project. Nobody can charge tickets for this project. It'll be there for a few days, and then gone."

"We are not different from all the other artists that create art," said Jeanne-Claude. "It is sold, the artist gets the money. With the money, the artists purchase whatever they please. We do exactly the same. Only what pleases us is to purchase 5,000 tons of steel, 60 miles of vinyl poles!"

Jeanne-Claude died in 2009. Seven years later, Christo completed his first major project without her: the Floating Piers on Italy's Lake Iseo.

Annie Cohen-Solal said, "A million-and-a-half people were able to walk on water, thanks to Christo. It was for free. They could enjoy this magic for free."

And now in Paris, people can experience the wrapped Arc de Triomphe for free – but only for 16 days.

Blackstone asked, ""Is it really art if it doesn't exist anymore?"

"The art is the memory, the joy, the experience," Cohen-Solal replied.

Lorenza Giovanelli said, "That's the beauty of those projects – the fact that they're temporary, because they're unique, and you feel like you have to enjoy it all because you know it will disappear in a few weeks." CBS NEWS

 

 





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