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Walker Art Center’s chief curator, Darsie Alexander, has been named executive director of the Katonah Museum of Art, a small but wide-ranging institution in Westchester County about 50 miles north of New York City. She starts work there March 1.
During her five-year tenure at the Walker, Alexander made her biggest splash with “Benches & Binoculars,” a whimsical installation of paintings and works-on-paper that were hung floor-to-ceiling in a two story gallery where visitors lounged on couches and peered at the art through binoculars. She brought in film auteur John Waters to guest curate "Absentee Landlord," a provocative redo of the Walker's collection. She also arranged the Walker’s purchase of the 3000-piece archive of the Merce Cunningham dance troupe which includes original objects and canvases by Pop-art stars Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Her "Internatonal Pop" exhibition, three years-in-the-making, will open at the Walker in 2015.
The Walker has “no immediate plans for a search to fill [Alexander’s] post,” said Ryan French, the museum’s spokesperson. The museum is looking at it’s “overall structure” and considering “a number of different options,” he added.
The Katonah museum, nicknamed KMA, occupies a building designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes whose first and most famous building is the Walker’s 1971 brick-clad wing. Like the Walker, the KMA offers lectures, films, workshops and concerts as well as art exhibitions. Its shows encompass “all cultures and time periods,” however, while the Walker focuses on modern and contemporary art. It attracts about 40,000 visitors annually, compared to the Walker which last year drew 265,000 people to exhibitions and events plus an additional 300,000 to the sculpture garden.
Previously Alexander was senior curator at the Baltimore Museum of Art. She began her career as a photo curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City after earning an M. A. in art history at Williams College. She and her husband David Little, photography curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, have two school-age daughters.
Veterans of the commuter-marriage routine, the couple are preparing to resume that life style when Alexander starts the Katonah job.
“I’m delighted for Darsie; it’s a great opportunity for her,” Little said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Asked if his own job was now in play, Little said “No. I’m here and committed here.”
Vincent Van Gogh's "Wheatfields Under Thunderclouds," (1890)
In a reproduction art scam potentially worth more than $36 million, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has apparently approved the reproduction of five of the Dutch master's popular paintings in "limited editions" that, if all sold, would unleash more than 1,000 full-scale copies into the market.
What's unusual about the museum's collaboration is that the reproductions violate typical museum standards for assuring that no one could confuse the fakes for the real things.
When art museums authorize reproductions of work in their collections, their standard practice is to make clear that the reproductions are just that, copies with no pretense of originality. So images of paintings are done up as posters, or cards, or even on t-shirts or mugs. If they are, for whatever reason, reproduced on canvas similar to that of the original, the copy is usually smaller so that the difference is obvious. And prices of the reproductions and souveniers are low.
In violation of that standard behavior, the Van Gogh Museum has apparently authorized the fabrication of more-or-less exact copies of five of Van Gogh's most popular pictures:
"Almond Blossoms" (1890); "Boulevard de Clichy "(1887); "The Harvest," (1888); "Sunflowers" (1889); and "Wheatfield under Thunderclouds" (1890).
Since all five paintings are well known and remain in the collection of the museum, only naives would be fooled into imagining that any of the copies was the real thing if they were to encounter one in a swank hotel lobby, boardroom, or private apartment. But the world is filled with impressionable innocents readily bamboozled by glitzy fakery. Perhaps that is the audience to whom the Van Gogh Museum and its "partners" are marketing the "Van Gogh Museum Edition" of these pictures.
Fujifilm Belgium invented the "reliefography" technology and 3-D scanning used to make the copies. The processes enable the reproduction of the artist's famous thick-paint surfaces with their frosting-like swirls and daubs of pigment. In addition the reproductions copy the backs of the pictures right down to the stickers and stamps that show where and when the paintings have been loaned to other museums and galleries around the world. Buyers get a "museum quality" frame for their fakes, too.
The reproductions come in "limited editions" of 260. The museum plans to keep 50 pieces from each edition for "educational purposes" including possibly letting the blind or visually impaired stroke them. That puts 210 of each of the five reproductions on the market, or a total of 1,050 reproductions for sale. If all 1,050 were to sell at their $35,000 asking price, the project would generate $36,750,000.
All this is enthusiastically endorsed by Willem van Gogh, the great, great grandson of Theo van Gogh, the artist's brother and most stalwart supporter throughout his tumultuous and tragically brief career. Willem van Gogh is an "advisor" to the museum's board of directors. The intent, clearly, is for these repros to increase in value just as the originals have. As a press release announcing the project coyly noted, "For a limited time, the starting price for each piece in the limted edition is $35,000.00."
Who gets the money was not explained.
Family heritage would make Katya Chavchavadze a princess in the Republic of Georgia, but she gave up any claims to a royal title with her marriage to John Redpath of St. Paul. Still, the links to royalty are enough to earn her a date at The Museum of Russian Art where she will recount family tales in conjunction with the museum's sparkling and tragic exhibition The Romanovs: Legacy of an Empire Lost.
Chavchavadze Redpath will give two talks at TMORA. The first, 7 p.m. Jan 29, is sold out. Tickets are still available for the second, 7 p.m. Jan. 30, $9. (The Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Av. S., Mpls. Diamond Lake Rd. at Hwy 35 W. Call 612-821-9045 or www.tmora.org)
A descendant of the Romanov's Chavchavadze Redpath has a family history that combines fairytale glamor with surreal encounters and "suspense, espionage and kidnapping," according to her sister-in-law Kate Redpath.
Among her tales is one of an 1854 kidnapping of a relative who was snatched by a Muslim warlord and held for ransom in Dagestan. The woman and her children were imprisoned for months with the warlord's harem.
Katya's great grandparent's fled from Russia during the Bolshevik revolution, escaping with enough jewels to enable her grandmother to sell some in order to purchase property on Cape Cod. Her father worked for the American CIA during the Cold War.
And somewhere along the line, Katya met and married St. Paul native John Redpath, a graduate of Cretin High School and the University of Minnesota. Katya and John have two daughters and divide their time between New York City and Vermont where they are launching an organic farm.
The must-see exhibition "The Romanovs: Legacy of an Empire Lost," is a touching, dramatic and tragic show featuring memorabilia --letters, paintings, china, photos and clothing -- belonging to the Romanov family whose dynasty began 400 years ago this year, and ended with the Bolshevik revolution of 1917-18. The show runs through March 23.
An image from Sean Smuda's portfolio "Blueprints," recently acquired by Walker Art Center.
Sean Smuda, a Minneapolis photographer, multimedia artist and ubiquitous fixture on the cultural scene, once unwittingly insulted Walker Art Center associate curator Bart Ryan. But Ryan hasn’t held it against him. He recently acquired a portfolio of Smuda’s work, “Blueprints,” for the Walker’s collection.
“I’ve pestered various Walker curators over the years to stop by my studio, with no real expectations,” Smuda said, in his usual charmingly dry, affectless tone. “The first time I met Bart, he gave me a drink ticket at a Walker event, then I criticized a show I didn’t know he had just curated.”
“Blueprints” is a series of collages made from photographs of modes of transport from trains to hot-air balloons plane to a shopping cart -- against barren, fantastic landscapes, with excerpts of poems translated from many different languages embedded at the bottom.
Ryan said he was drawn to Smuda’s work for its “constellations of knowledge, the interplay of information, identity and geography.”
“I now feel completely justified for dropping out of art school,” Smuda said. See and read more about his work at http://seansmuda.com/mosaic.html
Tim Peterson, who brought a lot of high quality new art to the Twin Cities during his years as director of Franklin Art Works, has been named chief curator for the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art. The 35-year-old college located in history-rich downtown Savannah, GA opened its new museum two years ago. Peterson will have 20,000 sq ft of exhibition space to curate and will also oversee satellite galleries in Atlanta, Hong Kong and Lacoste, France, he said in an email note.
Franklin Art Works closed earlier this spring after a 14 year run and was hoping to relocate to a more high-trafficed area than its former site on Franklin Av. Since Peterson was Franklin's only employee, the organization's future is now in question.
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