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Tag Archives: Modern Art

Arty Farty Friday: The Art of the Steal

During the summer I spent a lot of time learning more about art.

Apart from reading and watching stuff connected to artists and their works, I also delve into the functioning of the art work, museums, forgery and such.

One of the patterns you see repeated is how museums will do anything to get their hands on a valuable collection.

An owner works sought after by museums promise to keep the collection together, never sell off individual pieces, to display them together in their own separate wing etc.

The museum holds up their part of the bargain… till a better collection comes their way, but by then no one really cares about the benefactors wishes and all contracts and promises are broken.


I encourage you to check out Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret Story of the Lust, Lies, Greed, and Betrayals That Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art written by Michael Gross.

It’s a fascinating read about how one of the most influential museums was founded, but also takes a peek behind the glamour to reveal secrets that I bet the MET would want kept in the shadows.

Gross sums up what he learned when he was researching and writing about the MET:

“Behind almost every painting is a fortune and behind that a sin or a crime.”

Before you start thinking that only the MET has shady practises, think again.

The 2009 documentary The Art of the Steal follows the story of  The Barnes Foundation, a $25-billion collection(conservative estimate) of mostly Modernist and post-Impressionist artworks.


It is the most valuable collection of art from the period ever to be accumulated by one man and includes 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 60 Matisses, 44 Picassos, and 14 Modiglianis.

The collection, created by Dr Albert C. Barnes, operated its gallery in a residential neighbourhood with restrictions on access, in Merion, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.

The main aim of The Barnes Foundation was to be a school for artists and the artwork was supposed to inspire students and serve as teaching tools.

Barnes loathed the establishment at the time and was adamant that his art collection would never be taken over by Philadelphia’s art museums.

As long as Barnes was alive, the foundation could function in the capacity he had intended, but on his death there was a  mad dash to acquire the collection by any means necessary.

Dr Barnes was so adamant that the art establishment wouldn’t get their hands on his beloved art works that he drew up a seemingly iron-clad will that would protect the foundation.

What happens next defies belief and is a painful reminder that where there’s a will (in this case Dr Barnes’ last will and testament), there’s nevertheless a way to break it with just enough money, power and politics.

This story is particularly painful because the theft of paintings from the Barnes Foundation happened in broad daylight and was engineered by the powers that be.

This documentary is a must-see!

The YT link is inactive but you can watch it on Vimeo HERE

David LaChapelle’s kitschy Celeb Reality

David LaChapelle is one of my most favorite photographers and artists.

His career began in the 1980’s in New York City.
There his work was spotted by his hero Andy Warhol and the editors of Interview Magazine, where he began his first professional photography job.

Working at Interview Magazine, LaChapelle created the most memorable advertising campaigns of a generation.

His striking images have appeared on and in between the covers of magazines, where he has redefined how we view celebrities.

He’s an unusual mixture of vivid colours, symbolism and a wicked sense of humour.

LaChapelle isn’t for the faint-hearted, but not many can deny he embodies popular culture.

There can be no doubt that LaChapelle is out to shock, but I really do enjoy his work.

He sprinkles just enough kitsch in his images, to make them eye-catching and characteristic.

He never bores, and yet you can always identify his work.

Please note that some images may be NSFW.

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Here is a Lost promo directed by LaChapelle.

Smilde’s Clouds take the Art World by Storm

Artist suspends real clouds in the middle of the room

Artist Berndnaut Smilde seems to be able to control the weather.

What is more, he does it for art’s sake.

He merges art and science to create man-made clouds that exist indoors.

Smilde uses a fog machine to make the actual clouds, but also carefully regulates the humidity and temperature.

For a moment, he creates sculptures from clouds.

Then they quickly dissipate inside the room, but every cloud has a silver lining.

The effect is breathtaking, and the artist’s popularity has taken the art world by storm.

Inspired: 'I imagined walking into a classical museum hall with just empty walls. There was nothing to see except for a rain cloud hanging around in the room,' Smilde said

Fleeting: Each cloud only exists for a moment before dissipating

Blooming Georgia O’Keeffe

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.- Georgia O’Keeffe

I’ve been preparing for my History of American Art exam.

Of my most favorite artists is Georgia O’Keeffe.

She is best known for her dramatic paintings of gigantic flowers and sun-bleached desert bones.

She started painting flowers 1918, but it wasn’t until 1924 that she painted magnified images of blossoms.

 In the period from 1918 to 1932 O’Keeffe produced more than 200 flower paintings.

She painted roses, petunias, poppies, camellias, sunflowers, bleeding hearts and daffodils as well as  rare blooms such as black irises and exotic orchids.

One of the flowers that she regularly treated in larger-than-life format was the calla lily.

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