Thursday, January 20, 2011
Jacaranda is pleased to announce the opening of our new gallery.
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280 Riverside Drive, Suite 13 E
New York, New York 10025
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Monday, January 17, 2011
"The Global Africa Project," currently on display at the Museum of Arts & Design, examines the jewelry, fashion, architecture, basketry, ceramics, painting, and design of the continent. The show presents 200 works by nearly 120 people, teams and collectives. It represents artists, designers, and artisans who produce works that represent the area.
The show aims to "explore the impact of African visual culture on contemporary art, craft and design around the world." Items on display include the work of Baltimore bead sculptor Joyce Scott and 'drapos' by Haitian artist George Valris. Photographs by J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere of African women's headdresses and elaborate hairdos are also on exhibit, alongside crocheted hats by artist Xenobia Bailey. Other featured artists range from such well-known figures as Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Kehinde Wiley, and Fred Wilson; to Nigerian-born, London-based fashion designer Duro Olowu, and Paris-based Togolese/Brazilian designer Kossi Aguessy.
The show is curated by Lowery Stokes Sims, MAD's Charles Bronfman International Curator, and Leslie King-Hammond, Founding Director of the Center for Race and Culture at MICA. The exhibit is organized around several thematic ideas, which include: the phenomenon of intersecting cultures and cultural fusion; the branding and co-opting of cultural references; how art and design is promoted in the international market and the creative global scene; the use of local materials; and the impact of art-making on the economic and social condition of local communities. These themes will, according to the curators, "encourage audiences to discern how global African artists grapple with the commodification of art production and the meaning and value of art in society - an increasingly significant issue for nations in a rapidly changing global context."
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
More than 100 years ago, a Yup'ik Eskimo used wood, pigment, sinew, feather and fiber to make a mask celebrating the winds. Now, its striking appearance, rarity and influence on modern art have led its owner to ask what may be a record price for a Native American work.
The 34-inch tall "Donati Studio Mask" - known to the Yup'iks as "the mask that brought the south winds," and therefore spring and sustenance - is for sale at the Donald Ellis Gallery in Dundas, Ontario.
The Yup'iks of western Alaska made elaborate masks for their ceremonial dances, and Mr. Ellis's windmaker mask is one of a dozen bought from the tribe in 1905 by trader Adam Hollis Twitchell. He sold the mask to George Gustav Heye, a collector whose purchases became the core of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.
But when the museum had financial trouble in the 1940s, it sold five of its Yup'ik masks. A New York dealer purchased them, for prices ranging from $120 to $160. He resold several to Surrealist artists, including the writer Andre Breton and painter-sculptor Enrico Donati, both of whom found inspiration in the masks.
Four of those five masks are now owned by museums. The most famous of the five, once owned by Mr. Breton, is on view at the Louvre; another is at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, the private museum established by the late Swiss dealer Ernst Beyeler.
It was the famed dealer's only purchase of Native American art. Mr. Ellis says that modern art collectors, rather than Native-American-art collectors, buy many Yup'ik works because of their relevance to 20th-century art. "These are conceptual works of art," he says.
The Italian-born Donati worked in the U.S. for many decades, dying in 2008 at the age of 99. The Donati Studio Mask is by the same Native American artist and has the same provenance as the Breton mask.
Mr. Ellis is asking just above $2.1 million, a sum fetched a few years ago for a war helmet of the Tlingit - another Pacific Northwest tribe - at a Connecticut auction. People knowledgable about Native American artworks generally consider that total a record.
The mask will be on display at Donald Ellis gallery's booth at the Winter Antiques Show, running January 21-30.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, Judith H. Dobrzynski
Friday, January 7, 2011
Michael M. Kaiser, the President of the Kennedy Center, announced Wednesday that he is transporting his arts management in February to five countries in Africa.
As an extension of the training programs at the center, Kaiser plans to hold meetings in Nairobi, Kenya; Lagos, Nigeria; Zanzibar, Tanzania; Kampala, Uganda and Harare, Zimbabwe.
Those nations have had participants in the center's training sessions in Washington. "They all expressed a need for more training in those countries. And I thought we had ignored the central part of Africa," Kaiser said.
Kaiser has conducted sessions in Egypt and South Africa, some of the 70 countries that have participated in the center's outreach.
The center itself has only spotlighted performing arts from Africa in a three-year festival, African Odyssey, that ran from 1997 to 2000.
The issues are very similar to ones Kaiser encountered when he held a national listening tour in all 50 states called "Arts in Crisis." "The resources are different," he explained. "In the United States many people are expected to support the arts. That is not so in Africa. There is very little individual fund-raising. And that's true in most countries of the world."
Most of the countries he is visiting, Kaiser said, "do not have a lot of government support and the question is how do you put funding together. Funding, marketing and artistic issues are very central." Many organizations are supported by funders from Europe.
The travel is scheduled for February 7-14. The program is privately supported by the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the center.
Source: Washington Post Online
Monday, January 3, 2011
The Brooklyn Museum is preparing to return about 4,500 pre-Columbian artifacts taken from Costa Rica roughly a century ago.
Costa Rica had made no claim to the objects, which were exported in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Minor C. Keith, a railroad magnate and a founder of the United Fruit Company. And there were none of the conflicts, legal threats or philosophical debates that sometimes accompany arguments between museums and countries that claim ownership of antiquities in their collections.
Instead, the museum simply decided that its closets were too full, overstuffed with items acquired during an era when it aimed to become the biggest museum in the world. So it offered the pieces to the National Museum of Costa Rica, which accepted but has yet to raise the $59,000 needed to pack and ship the first batch.
The objects that the Museum plans to let go are primarily made of ceramic and stone; they include bowls and other vessels, figurines, benches and ceremonial metates, or grinding stones. They are among 16,000 artifacts, some made of gold and jade, that Keith and his workers found on his Costa Rican banana plantations. About 5,000 of these pieces ended up in Brooklyn. The museum's plan to transfer some of the collection to Costa Rica was first reported in ARTnews.
The museum plans to keep some of the most valuable pieces, including gold and jade animals and anthropomorphic figurines and pendants. It is unlikely that many of the items being returned have ever been exhibited, although the museum’s records are not precise in that regard. Earlier efforts to give them to Costa Rican and American museums were unsuccessful.
“It’s exciting to find a home” for the objects, the museum’s curator of the arts of the Americas, Nancy Rosoff, said. “Hopefully they can come up with the money.”
The decision to part with most of the Keith objects is part of a culling of the Brooklyn Museum’s collection that has been under way for a decade. Museum officials once estimated the size of its collection as 1.5 million items, although they are revising that downward as records become computerized.
The goal of the culling is to remove works that are not being exhibited or do not fit the museum’s mission, and to reduce storage costs and to conserve staff members’ time. Kevin Stayton, the Brooklyn Museum’s chief curator, said it was an effort, at a time of strained budgets, to make sure that “we’re not overextending ourselves.”
The largest group of items to leave the Brooklyn Museum so far is its collection of costumes, 23,819 that were transferred to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009. About another 4,400 objects have been deaccessioned already, including 983 Keith pieces. Ms. Rosoff said she expected ultimately to transfer 90 percent of the museum’s Keith objects to Costa Rica.
Like many American museums founded in the late 19th century, the Brooklyn Museum had an almost insatiable appetite for material. Known in its early years as the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the museum was conceived as Brooklyn’s answer to the Metropolitan, and then some, with departments focused on natural history and the sciences as well as on art. It was designed to be the largest museum in the world, but after Brooklyn was consolidated into New York City in 1898, the effort lost momentum, and only a sixth of the planned structure was finally built.
The museum acquired the Keith collection in 1934, five years after Keith’s death. Keith, who was born in Brooklyn, had gone to Costa Rica in 1871, at 23, to join his brother in building a railroad from San José to the Caribbean Sea. During the project’s construction — which took two decades — Keith also established himself as one of the biggest growers and exporters of bananas in Central America. It was on one of his Costa Rican plantations, called Las Mercedes, that his workers first came across pre-Columbian gold ornaments, spurring the start of his collecting.
When the Brooklyn Museum first contacted the Costa Rican museum several years ago about the possibility of transferring most of its Keith objects, it received no response, so it reached out to American museums that had their own Keith collections: the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of the American Indian. Perhaps unsurprisingly, since the Brooklyn Museum was planning to keep the cream of the collection, the other museums were not interested.
The Brooklyn Museum reached out to the Costa Rican museum again last year and that time got a positive response — though, in the absence of money to ship the objects, it leaves the timing of a transfer up in the air.
Since beginning a review of the Keith objects in Brooklyn several years ago, Ms. Rosoff has tackled only the ceramic materials and has not gotten through all of those. Among the objects she has chosen to keep are a vessel ornamented with the head, feet and tail of a tapir (a hoglike mammal with a long snout) and another piece, of unidentified function, embellished with a sculptured figure of an armadillo. The objects being sent back to Costa Rica are not of exhibition quality, at least not in an art museum, Ms. Rosoff said, but do have potential value to students and researchers.
To the Costa Rican museum, though, the transfer seems to be of primarily symbolic importance. Sandra Quirós, director of the National Museum of Costa Rica, said in a telephone interview that the museum did not have immediate plans to display the objects, even if it found the money to ship them. Instead the items would probably go into storage, where they would be available to researchers. She was enthusiastic, however, about regaining part of the country’s cultural patrimony.
“This wasn’t an initiative of ours — it came from outside — but once we were informed of it, of course it was of interest because this is part of Costa Rica’s history,” she said, speaking through an interpreter.
In some ways the transfer is not unlike the Metropolitan Museum’s recent decision to return to Egypt 19 artifacts from Tutankhamen's tomb. In that case the Met concluded that the objects had come to the museum in violation of an agreement intended to keep the contents of the tomb in Egypt. However, the objects’ minor significance — some were little more than bits of wood — made the return seem to be partly an easy way to garner some goodwill with Zahi Hawas, the forceful secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt.
Ms. Quirós said there were no legal issues surrounding the Brooklyn Museum’s ownership of the objects, since they left the country before a 1938 Costa Rican law restricting export of archaeological artifacts. Still, she said, she looked forward to repatriating the pieces whenever the museum could find the money.
Source: The New York Times