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High atop a hill, about two hours north of Manhattan, stands one of the most celebrated landmarks of the Hudson Valley region: Olana, the opulent Orientalist palazzo of Hudson River School landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900). Church chose the spot for his home because of its commanding views of the beautiful river and its Catskill Mountain surroundings, views that he painted in all seasons. Moreover, a much smaller house directly across the majestic waterway was especially close to his heart: Cedar Grove, the home of Church's teacher Thomas Cole (1801-48). Cole is acknowledged as the founder of the Hudson River School, his Romantic compositions inaugurating the first body of distinctively American landscape paintings.

Now Cedar Grove, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, is showing "Master, Mentor, Master: Thomas Cole & Frederic Church," an exhibition central to the story of Church's artistic development.

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After 15 years in storage, a Dutch painting long slighted in the academic literature dramatically returned to public display on Monday at this city's Joslyn Art Museum as an authenticated work of Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). The "Portrait of Dirck van Os" (c.1658) was recently confirmed as a work of the master by the world's foremost authority on Rembrandt, Amsterdam University professor Ernst van de Wetering, following conservation efforts to remove extensive repainting and layers of discolored varnish that previously obscured the picture's original paint surface. The culmination of a decades-long campaign by the Joslyn's staff to interest outside specialists in the painting's attribution, the unveiling marks a proud moment for one of America's outstanding regional museums. "People here sensed the underlying quality," says the Joslyn's executive director, Jack Becker, "but you need the scholarly community to rehabilitate a picture like this."

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A unique scholarly institute devoted to Francis Bacon is to open in Monaco, where the painter drew inspiration from the light and landscape, as well as the principality's gambling dens and bars.

The idea of the wealthy Lebanese-born property developer Majid Boustany, the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation's collection will bring together previously unseen photographs, oil paintings from the 1920s to the 1980s, and furniture and rugs from Bacon's spell as an interior designer. There will also be an extensive library open to scholars and members of the public by appointment.

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The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth has put its newly acquired landscape by a Dutch master on display.

The 17th century painting by Jacob van Ruisdael titled Edge of a Forest with Grainfield went on display Friday. Ruisdael is considered one of the greatest landscape painters. Ruisdael expert Seymour Slive calls the painting “a world-class masterpiece.”

Earlier this year the museum purchased the painting from Oxford University's Worcester College, which had the work since 1811 when an alumnus donated it.

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From May 17 to October 2, 2014, The Irvine Museum presents Then and Now: 100 Years of Plein Air Painting, a special exhibition featuring California landscape paintings from 1903 to 2013.

The exhibition features a selection of The Irvine Museum's celebrated historic landscape paintings alongside contemporary plein air works. Works range from A Clear Day by William Wendt (c. 1903), to the most recent work featured in the exhibition, Sunset by Alexander Orlov (2013).

Featured historic artists include Benjamin Chambers Brown (1865-1942), Frank Cuprien (1871-1946), Frederick Melville DuMond (1867-1927), Euphemia Charlton Fortune (1885-1969), John Bond Francisco (1863-1932), John Frost (1890-1937), William Alexander Griffith (1866-1940), Paul Grimm (1891-1974), Sam Hyde Harris (1889-1977), Anna Hills (1882-1930), Emil Kosa, Jr. (1903-1968), and William Wendt (1865-1946).

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Widely considered one of the greatest sculptors of all time, British artist Henry Moore played a pivotal role in translating modernism into three dimensions. A new exhibition at the artist’s former home in Hertfordshire, England, examines the influence that Moore’s soaring, organic sculptures had on contemporary art.

“Body & Void: Echoes of Moore in Contemporary Art” presents works by some of the world’s most celebrated contemporary arts, including Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread, Antony Gormley, and Anish Kapoor. Works by a number of post-war artists, such as Joseph Beuys and Bruce Nauman, are also included in the exhibition. Site specific works by leading British artists Richard Deacon and Robert Long have been commissioned as part of the show.

“Body & Void” presents sculptures that examine Moore’s central themes, including the exploration of internal and external space, mother and child, and figures in a landscape, alongside contemporary works that touch on the same topics. For example, Hirst’s “Mother and Child (Divided),” a bisected cow and calf floating in giant tanks of formaldehyde, appears between Moore’s rose marble sculpture “Mother and Child” and “Stringed Mother and Child,” a single plaster cast that features two forms connected by a series of cords. The three works explore the same mother and child relationship in vastly different ways.

“Body and Void” fills the galleries and gardens at Perry Green, where Moore lived and worked for 50 years. The estate is also home to the Henry Moore Foundation, which was established by the artist in 1977. Although Moore amassed considerable wealth during his lifetime, he chose to live frugally and put most of his fortune towards endowing the Foundation, which continues to support education and promotion of the arts.  

“Body & Void: Echoes of Moore in Contemporary Art” will remain on view at Perry Green through October 26.

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American sculptor Richard Serra has won the the Architectural League of New York’s 2014 President’s Medal. The award is the League’s highest honor and is bestowed, at the discretion of the organization’s President and Board of Directors, on individuals to recognize an extraordinary body of work in architecture, urbanism, art, or design. Recent recipients of the award have included Renzo Piano, Richard Meier, Ada Louise Huxtable, and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.

Serra is best-known for his large-scale steel sculptures that explore the physical and visual relationships that exist between the viewer, the site, and the work. He has produced a number of site-specific sculptures that engage with a particular architectural, urban, or landscape setting. Serra’s latest work, “East-West/West-East,” is a set of four standing steel plates placed in the middle of the western Qatari desert. It is his second public commission in Qatar.

Serra, who is the first visual artist to win the Architectural League’s President’s Medal, will be given the award on May 6 in New York City.

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Thursday, 17 April 2014 10:33

Exhibition at the Morgan Explores Sky Studies

The Morgan Library & Museum in New York has organized an exhibition that explores the importance of sky studies in landscape art. During the second half of the 18th century, landscape artists often worked outside, using oil paint on paper to quickly capture their ever-changing view. The varying effects of light, the subtle hues of the atmosphere, and the fleeting shape of clouds made the sky the perfect subject for artists hoping to develop and refine their techniques.

The exhibition at the Morgan features sky studies by artists from France, Germany, and Scandinavia, including Johan Christian Dahl, Carl Gustav Carus, and Eugène Louis Boudin. The works on view have been drawn from the collection of oil sketches acquired by Morgan Trustee Eugene V. Thaw and his wife, Clare. The Thaws are well-known for having built one of the finest collections of drawings in private hands. In 1975, the couple promised their collection to the Morgan, which is internationally recognized for its holdings in works on paper.

In 2009, the Thaws donated their collection of more than 130 oil sketches jointly to the Morgan and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Sky Studies: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection” includes sketches from the 2009 gift as well as newly acquired pieces.

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On March 15, the Museum of Modern Art’s William S. Paley Collection will go on view at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. “A Taste for Modernism” presents 62 works that cover all of the pivotal movements that defined the art world between 1880 and 1940. The exhibition features works by 24 major artists including Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, and Francis Bacon. The William S. Paley Collection has been on a North American tour since 2012. The Crystal Bridges Museum will be the last venue to host the exhibition before it returns to MoMA.

Highlights from the exhibition include two works by Cézanne, which Paley acquired from the artist’s son; eight works by Picasso that trace his artistic evolution over the first three decades of the 20th century, including “Boy Leading a Horse” from his Rose period, the Cubist painting “An Architect’s Table,” and the collage-inspired composition “Still Life with Guitar”; Gauguin’s “The Seed of the Areoi,” which was inspired by the artist’s trips to Tahiti; and realist landscapes by Edward Hopper.

William S. Paley, the media mogul who built the CBS broadcasting empire, was an important art collector and philanthropist. Paley began collecting in the 1930s and had a particular fondness for French modernist movements such as Fauvism, Cubism, and Post-Impressionism. Paley played a major role in establishing MoMA as one of the most significant institutions in the world and he fulfilled various roles at the museum including patron, trustee, president, and board chairman from 1937 until his death in 1999.

“A Taste for Modernism” will remain on view at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art through July 7.

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The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas has acquired “Edge of a Forest with a Grainfield,” a landscape by the Dutch Golden Age master, Jacob van Ruisdael. The painting, which was created around 1656, had belonged to Worcester College in Oxford, England since 1811. The work was acquired by the Kimbell Art Museum through a private treaty sale negotiated by Christie’s London.

The painting, which measures about 3 feet by 5 feet, is in near-perfect condition and is regarded by experts as one of the greatest Dutch landscapes in the world. Eric M. Lee, the Kimbell Art Museum’s Director, said, “‘Edge of a Forest with a Grainfield’ epitomizes Ruisdael’s mastery of landscape painting, uniting an unprecedented observation of nature with a sympathetic feeling for the bounteous glory of the Dutch countryside. It is an imposing complement to the Kimbell’s ‘Rough Sea at a Jetty,’ one of his most important seascapes. Whether depicting the sea or the land, these paintings attest to Ruisdael’s profound love of nature in all its forms.”

Before the painting goes on display at the Kimbell Art Museum in April, the museum’s Director of Conservation, Claire Barry, will adjust small areas of old restoration.   

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