Morphy’s to auction rare first-issue comic books April 28

Sub-Mariner Comics #1, spring 1941, CGC 5.5. Est. $5,000-$6,000. Morphy Auctions image.
Sub-Mariner Comics #1, spring 1941, CGC 5.5. Est. $5,000-$6,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Sub-Mariner Comics #1, spring 1941, CGC 5.5. Est. $5,000-$6,000. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – On April 28 Morphy Auctions will hold its first-ever single-day auction devoted entirely to comic books. The sale will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, with Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com.

The auction features a great grouping of early Planet Comics issues. Highlights are led by an issue #1 with a CGC grade of 9.0, estimated at $15,000-$20,000. Also included in the Planet group are issues #3, CGC 8.5, estimate $2,500-$3,000; and issue #4, CGC 9.0, estimate $7,000-$8,000.

Other early Golden Age comic books entered in the sale include Daredevil Battles Hitler #1, CGC 8.5, estimate $7,500-$8,500; Sub-Mariner Comics #1, CGC 5.5, estimate $5,000-$6,000; and Captain America #1, CGC 6.5 (restored), estimate $10,000-$12,000.

This auction also includes more than 300 graded Silver Age books with such titles as The Amazing Spider-man, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, X-Men, Avengers and many other Marvel and DC productions. There will also be a fabulous selection of ungraded Golden and Silver Age comics.

For additional information, tel. 717-335-3435, e-mail john@morphyauctions.com. Visit Morphy’s online at www.morphyauctions.com.

View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

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View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Sub-Mariner Comics #1, spring 1941, CGC 5.5. Est. $5,000-$6,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Sub-Mariner Comics #1, spring 1941, CGC 5.5. Est. $5,000-$6,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Planet Comics #1, 1/40, CGC 9.0. Est. $15,000-$20,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Planet Comics #1, 1/40, CGC 9.0. Est. $15,000-$20,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Captain America #1, 3/41, CGC 6.5. Est. $10,000-$12,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Captain America #1, 3/41, CGC 6.5. Est. $10,000-$12,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Playboy Magazine #1, Dec. 1953, Marilyn Monroe cover. Est. $10,000-$15,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Playboy Magazine #1, Dec. 1953, Marilyn Monroe cover. Est. $10,000-$15,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Matheson’s to auction James W. Pihos collection May 5-6

Pair of gray pottery Taoist mask door knockers from China's Warring States period. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. Image courtesy Matheson's AA Auctions.

Pair of gray pottery Taoist mask door knockers from China's Warring States period. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. Image courtesy Matheson's AA Auctions.

Pair of gray pottery Taoist mask door knockers from China’s Warring States period. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. Image courtesy Matheson’s AA Auctions.

MELBOURNE, Fla. – The lifetime collection of the late James W. Pihos, formerly of Las Olas Isles, Fla., plus two prominent Miami estates, will be sold on May 5-6 by Matheson’s AA Auctions at the firm’s gallery facility, 600 E. New Haven Ave. in Melbourne, on Florida’s Space Coast. Start time both days will be 11 a.m. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding.

Pihos, who died about a year ago, was a major player in the McDonald’s restaurant chain, owning 36 franchises. He also had a discerning eye when it came to putting together his fine collection of 18th and 19th century Chinese coral and ivory carvings. All of these will be offered in the auction, most without reserve, but all lots will carry modest opening bids.

“Mr. Pihos had huge Lalique doorhandles leading into the magnificent master bedroom of his estate home, and that may offer a little insight into the world of a man who lived life large and only bought the very best,” said Lloyd Matheson of Matheson’s AA Auctions. “His red and white figural coral pieces – there are 33 in the sale – and his ivory carvings are just outstanding.” The Laliqe doorhandles, incidentally, will also be auctioned as part of his overall collection.

Much of Pihos’s collection will be sold on Saturday, May 5. Also offered that day will be other Chinese lots, to include jade and other hardstone carvings, porcelains and pottery, cloisonné and cinnabar, and jewelry, to include Bulgari, Tiffany, Chanel, Corum, Caroline Dadlani, David Yurman, Girard Perregaux, pearls, diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds.

Silver will also change hands on Saturday, to include Georg Jensen, Tiffany, Gorham and antique English silver.

On Sunday, May 6, the session will be packed with fine furniture, decorative arts, lighting and artwork. Furniture will feature a black lacquer ware ivory and ormolu mounted bedroom suite, carved rosewood Chinese furniture and bronze Gucci pieces.

Decorative arts will include Japanese mixed metal vases, Meissen figural groups, crystal (Lalique, Steuben and Baccarat), Picasso ceramics, Karl Mann vases and more. There will also be magnificent and monumental Baccarat chandeliers, sconces and lamps and other lighting. The artwork will feature original paintings and works on paper by a host of noted international artists.

The Chinese coral figural groupings from the Pihos collection are certain to attract keen bidder interest. One example, with an estimate of $30,000-$50,000, is a fine and massive angel skin coral and melon colored coral group (circa late 17th century, the Chia-ch’ing imperial era). Carved of a single branch, the piece depicts an emperor on a throne surrounded by subjects.

Also carrying an estimate of $30,000-$50,000 is a stunning bronze side table by Diego Giacometti (1902-1985), the renowned Swiss sculptor and designer, and younger brother of the sculptor Alberto Giacometti. Also in the sale will be tables by Gucci (est. $3,000-$5,000) and Philip LaVerne (est. $4,000-$6,000) who, with his father, Kelvin, made cast-bronze tables.

Yet another lot with an expected $30,000-$50,000 selling price is a monumental oil on canvas painting of a lion in repose by Charles Robert Knight (New York, 1874-1953). Knight was best known for his animal-in-landscape paintings, but he was also known for dinosaur sculptures and other prehistoric renderings. The painting in this auction is attractively housed in a period frame.

Another artwork of note is an ink drawing with wash depicting a reclining nude figure by Leonard Tsuguhary Foujita (1886-1968), a French-Japanese painter and a contemporary of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Henri Roussea. The work being sold, Nu Allonge, is signed and dated lower left (1951), is double matted in a gold leaf frame and is 7 1/4 inches by 12 inches.

Also from the fine art category, an original oil on canvas of a woman playing the piano by James (Francis) Day (New York, 1863-1942), is expected to fetch $10,000-$15,000. The work is signed lower right and measures 30 inches by 34 inches. Other artworks in the auction are by such notables as Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Nicola Simbari, Joan Miro and Paul Jacoulet.

Asian objects will be featured all weekend and one lot is so intriguing it borders on being priceless—a Chinese figure of a standing Quan Yi, with an inscription on the base that translates “Gift from Sima Yan to … ” (illegible). Sima Yan was the first emperor of the Jin Dynasty (A.D. 265-420). If it’s authentic to the period, the estimate of $15,000-$20,000 is wildly conservative.

Another ancient Oriental lot is a rare pair of gray pottery Taoist mask two-piece door knockers, from tomb doors dating to the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.). When a thermo-luminescence analysis/report was done at Oxford (authentication papers included ), it stated the date of the last firing was 1,800-2,000 years ago. The knockers should realize $10,000-$15,000.

Two Chinese lots carry identical estimates of $3,000-$5,000. One is a spinach jade table screen mounted in a fretwood stand (16 inches by 10 3/4 inches overall). The 18th century screen came from Yuan Ming Yuan, Peking, in 1860. The other is a pair of porcelain foo dogs attributed to the Ming Dynasty, circa 1368-1644, with ivory glaze perched on fitted stands.

A carved ivory and inlaid lacquer birdcage, attributed to the Ch’ien Lung period and removed from the Imperial Palace in Peking, China by Anglo-French troops who invaded in 1860, is expected to bring $7,000-$12,000. The dome cage has ivory rod sides above a collar of red lacquer ware, inlaid mother of pearl insects and floral motif, with a nifty cloisonné feed jar.

A Louis XV ebony striking bracket clock, with bracket, circa 1750, should command $10,000-$15,000. The “Festeau Le Jeune A. Paris” clock comes in a cartouche-shaped case and is mounted with scrolled ormolu having an eagle in a pierced pendant.

Also due to be sold is a Yamanaka silver and jade inkwell with turquoise Buddha (est. $2,500-$3,000) a pair of Japanese Shibavama vases (est. $2,500-$3,500); and a Greek terra-cotta figural group, attributed to the Hellenistic period (second-third century B.C.), showing a bacchanal procession (est. $3,000-$5,000).

Previews will be held on Friday, May 4, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, May 5, the first day of the sale, from 9-11 a.m.; and Sunday, May 6, from 9-11 a.m. All purchases will be subject to a 17 percent buyer’s premium (in-house) and 20 percent (on LiveAuctioneers.com) for total purchases up to $200,000; and a 12 percent premium for in house and 15 percent Liveauctioneers.com over that.

Matheson’s AA Auctions is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To inquire about consigning an item, estate or collection, you may call Matheson’s AA Auctions at 321-768-6668 or you can e-mail them at aaauctions@earthlink.net.

To learn more about Matheson’s AA Auctions and the upcoming May 5-6 auction, please log on to www.mathesonsaaauction.com.

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Pair of gray pottery Taoist mask door knockers from China's Warring States period. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. Image courtesy Matheson's AA Auctions.

Pair of gray pottery Taoist mask door knockers from China’s Warring States period. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. Image courtesy Matheson’s AA Auctions.

Rare and massive 18th century angel skin and melon colored figural coral group. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Image courtesy Matheson's AA Auctions.

Rare and massive 18th century angel skin and melon colored figural coral group. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Image courtesy Matheson’s AA Auctions.

Gorgeous bronze side table by renowned Swiss designer Diego Giacometti. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Image courtesy Matheson's AA Auctions.

Gorgeous bronze side table by renowned Swiss designer Diego Giacometti. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Image courtesy Matheson’s AA Auctions.

Important Chinese bronze figure of a standing Quan Yin, possibly from the Jin Dynasty, A.D. 265-420. Estimate: $15,000-$20,000. Image courtesy Matheson's AA Auctions.

Important Chinese bronze figure of a standing Quan Yin, possibly from the Jin Dynasty, A.D. 265-420. Estimate: $15,000-$20,000. Image courtesy Matheson’s AA Auctions.

Louis XV ebony striking bracket clock, circa 1750, marked ‘Festeau Le Jeune A. Paris.’ Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. Image courtesy Matheson's AA Auctions.

Louis XV ebony striking bracket clock, circa 1750, marked ‘Festeau Le Jeune A. Paris.’ Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. Image courtesy Matheson’s AA Auctions.

Carved ivory and inlaid lacquer birdcage, attributed to China's Ch'ien Lung period, 24 inches tall. Estimate: $7,000-$12,000. Image courtesy Matheson's AA Auctions.

Carved ivory and inlaid lacquer birdcage, attributed to China’s Ch’ien Lung period, 24 inches tall. Estimate: $7,000-$12,000. Image courtesy Matheson’s AA Auctions.

Reading the Streets: The elephant in Columbus Circle

An elephant is an imposing figure, even amidst the hustle and bustle of Columbus Circle. Sculpture by Peter Woytuk, photography by Kelsey Savage Hays.
An elephant is an imposing figure, even amidst the hustle and bustle of Columbus Circle. Sculpture by Peter Woytuk, photography by Kelsey Savage Hays.
An elephant is an imposing figure, even amidst the hustle and bustle of Columbus Circle. Sculpture by Peter Woytuk, photography by Kelsey Savage Hays.

NEW YORK – As part of the Art in the Parks Program, life-size sculptures of elephants “trumpet” to the crowds in Columbus Circle. Hosted by the Broadway Mall Association in conjunction with the Parks Department, the bronze pachyderms were created by Peter Woytuk, an American artist renowned for his animal pieces. The exhibit, called Peter Woytuk on Broadway, stretches from Columbus Cirlce north along Broadway and encompasses 18 pieces, finishing with “2 Bulls” at 168th Street.

Peter’s animals appear to interact with the city environment, often incorporating apples as perches for birds or as a plaything for the elephants. The bronzed, smooth surface of the bulls, bears, elephants, kiwis and other animals he casts provides a soothing, cool-to-touch surface that invites human interaction. But their touchability contradicts the wild subject manner; their calmness contradicts their location in the middle of the busiest city in the world.

The Broadway Mall Association strives to connect the Broadway malls as a stretch of greenery with art that unifies the diverse neighborhoods along the bisecting street. Besides organizing art displays they also help maintain the areas including gardening and removing trash. The exhibit will run through the end of this month.

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ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


An elephant is an imposing figure, even amidst the hustle and bustle of Columbus Circle. Sculpture by Peter Woytuk, photography by Kelsey Savage Hays.
An elephant is an imposing figure, even amidst the hustle and bustle of Columbus Circle. Sculpture by Peter Woytuk, photography by Kelsey Savage Hays.
Peter’s elephant cradles the symbol of the city. Sculpture by Peter Woytuk, photography by Kelsey Savage Hays.
Peter’s elephant cradles the symbol of the city. Sculpture by Peter Woytuk, photography by Kelsey Savage Hays.
The cast bronze has a smoothness and fluidity that belies its wild subject. Sculpture by Peter Woytuk, photography by Kelsey Savage Hays.
The cast bronze has a smoothness and fluidity that belies its wild subject. Sculpture by Peter Woytuk, photography by Kelsey Savage Hays.

Fort Ord in CA gets national monument designation

SEASIDE, Calif. (AP) – A rare California coastal wilderness that served as a training ground for generations of soldiers was designated a national monument Friday in a presidential signing ceremony.

President Barack Obama signed a proclamation that protects nearly 15,000 acres of the decommissioned Fort Ord military base along Monterey Bay. It’s the second national monument created by Obama in his three years as president.

About 1.7 million soldiers trained at the former U.S. Army post from the beginning of World War I through Operation Desert Storm. Now, the scenic area is a popular spot for hikers and mountain bikers and home to protected wildlife and plants.

“This national monument will not only protect one of the crown jewels of California’s coast, but will also honor the heroism and dedication of men and women who served our nation and fought in the major conflicts of the 20th century,” President Obama said in a statement.

The area coming under federal protection will preserve a major swath of the rare Central Coast Maritime chaparral ecosystem, a habitat unique to California. Mountain lions, deer, eagles and the protected California black legless lizard all make their homes at Fort Ord.

The official proclamation signed by the president cites Fort Ord’s ecological and historical significance as key reasons for protecting the land.

The undeveloped sections of ancient dunes likely look much as they did to early Ohlone settlers and later to Spanish explorers in the late 18th century whose overland route from Mexico to San Francisco passed through what became Fort Ord.

“The protection of our natural and cultural heritage is essential to providing people with an opportunity to experience the outdoors. It is great to see the administration take this action,” said Brian O’Donnell, executive director of the Conservation Lands Foundation, which helped organize support for the monument designation.

The preserve will formally be known as Fort Ord National Monument.

At its peak, Fort Ord spanned a total of 28,000 acres and was declared a Superfund site four years before its official closure in 1994. In 2008, the Army transferred to local authorities some 3,300 acres of the one-time infantry training center, still believed to be littered with unexploded ordnance.

Local officials at the time said they wanted to use the land for housing and expected cleanup of the area under their control to take five to seven years with the help of $100 million from the Army. A California State University campus, many homes and several big box retailers already occupy other sections of the former base.

Initially, a little more than 7,000 acres of the monument already cleaned up will be open to the public, said Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, which will oversee the monument. Another 7,400 acres remain under Department of Defense control as cleanup continues through 2019, he said.

Abbey said the cleaned-up areas pose no environmental hazard to the public. About 100,000 visitors already come to Fort Ord annually, and that number is expected to increase with the monument designation, he said.

A president’s power to proclaim national monuments originates in the Antiquities Act of 1906.

President Obama in November designated a shuttered Army fort in Virginia with an important role in the nation’s slavery history as a national monument. The site of the decommissioned Fort Monroe was where Dutch traders first brought enslaved Africans in 1619.

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Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Oklahoma Indian museum raises $40 million in private funds

George Caitlin (American, 1796-1872) painting of Osage warrior of the Wha-sha-she band (a subdivision of Hunkah). By the mid-17th century, the Osage had migrated west of the Mississippi to their historic lands in Oklahoma and several other states. They are not based mainly in Osage County, Oklahoma.
George Caitlin (American, 1796-1872) painting of Osage warrior of the Wha-sha-she band (a subdivision of Hunkah). By the mid-17th century, the Osage had migrated west of the Mississippi to their historic lands in Oklahoma and several other states. They are not based mainly in Osage County, Oklahoma.
George Caitlin (American, 1796-1872) painting of Osage warrior of the Wha-sha-she band (a subdivision of Hunkah). By the mid-17th century, the Osage had migrated west of the Mississippi to their historic lands in Oklahoma and several other states. They are not based mainly in Osage County, Oklahoma.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The Native American Cultural and Educational Authority says $40 million has been raised in private funds to support completion of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.

Authority CEO Blake Wade says BancFirst confirmed the amount, which officials hope will be matched by $40 million in state funding. Wade says the money collected from private donors shows there’s strong community support for the museum.

He says he hopes Gov. Mary Fallin and the Legislature will supply the additional $40 million needed to complete the project. But some state legislators have been critical of the museum’s total costs, which are estimated at $171 million.

The Oklahoma City Council voted to dedicate $9 million to the project if the state approved the additional $40 million. The city donated land for the center.

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Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


George Caitlin (American, 1796-1872) painting of Osage warrior of the Wha-sha-she band (a subdivision of Hunkah). By the mid-17th century, the Osage had migrated west of the Mississippi to their historic lands in Oklahoma and several other states. They are not based mainly in Osage County, Oklahoma.
George Caitlin (American, 1796-1872) painting of Osage warrior of the Wha-sha-she band (a subdivision of Hunkah). By the mid-17th century, the Osage had migrated west of the Mississippi to their historic lands in Oklahoma and several other states. They are not based mainly in Osage County, Oklahoma.

NYC photo exhibit captures Warhol as young artist

Andy Warhol in a field of black-eyed Susans with Taylor Mead holding an early “Flowers” canvas as a backdrop in Queens, New York. Title: Warhol Flowers VII Location: Flushing, Queens Medium: Chromogenic Print Edition: 60 with 7 Artist Proofs Size: 24 x 16 inches Executed: 1964 Printed: 2012 Copyright 2010 William John Kennedy / Courtesy of Kiwi Arts Group
Andy Warhol in a field of black-eyed Susans with Taylor Mead holding an early “Flowers” canvas as a backdrop in Queens, New York. Title: Warhol Flowers VII Location: Flushing, Queens Medium: Chromogenic Print Edition: 60 with 7 Artist Proofs Size: 24 x 16 inches Executed: 1964  Printed: 2012 Copyright 2010 William John Kennedy / Courtesy of Kiwi Arts Group
Andy Warhol in a field of black-eyed Susans with Taylor Mead holding an early “Flowers” canvas as a backdrop in Queens, New York. Title: Warhol Flowers VII Location: Flushing, Queens Medium: Chromogenic Print Edition: 60 with 7 Artist Proofs Size: 24 x 16 inches Executed: 1964 Printed: 2012 Copyright 2010 William John Kennedy / Courtesy of Kiwi Arts Group

NEW YORK (AP) – Andy Warhol once predicted 15 minutes of fame for everyone.

But 25 years after his death, the pop artist’s reputation and impact on the contemporary art world show no signs of fading. His iconic images of everyday consumer objects and celebrities consistently command high prices and draw enthusiastic crowds to museum and gallery shows.

But before he catapulted onto the world stage, the young artist was already producing some of his most iconic pieces. In a new exhibition, Warhol is captured in photographs at the very cusp of the pop art movement.

“Before They Were Famous: Behind the Lens of William John Kennedy,” at the Site/109 gallery in Lower Manhattan, features rare shots of Warhol and artist Robert Indiana posing together with what were soon to become their most celebrated works – Warhol’s “Marilyn” and Indiana’s “LOVE” logo.

Kennedy, a freelance photographer when the photos were taken, had nearly forgotten about them and only rediscovered the images several years ago in a “beat-up cardboard box” while sorting through his archive, he said.

He took them when Warhol “was a known entity but had not yet exploded on the scene,” said Eric Shiner, director of the Warhol Museum, located in Warhol’s hometown of Pittsburgh. “They capture Andy both in production mode and also having fun mode.”

The 82-year-old photographer, who lives in Miami Beach, Fla., said he set out to record “the rising stars of the new movement in pop art.” He sensed immediately that Warhol would become “a giant in the industry” but said he “was amazed to meet this very withdrawn and taciturn man.”

Among his favorite photographs is one of the pop icon working at his Manhattan studio, The Factory.

“Piled up in the corner were 50-75 sheets of acetate. Andy said ‘Those are proofs of my work,'” Kennedy recalled. As he unrolled one, “there’s this huge face of Marilyn Monroe – a transparent proof of his silkscreens.”

He had Warhol hold it up in front of him, creating a portrait within a portrait.

In another image, the photographer posed Warhol with one of his early flower paintings standing in a field of black-eyed Susans, located in a most unlikely spot – an industrial section of the Flushing neighborhood in New York City’s Queens borough.

These and about 50 other silver gelatin prints of Warhol and some 30 of Indiana capture the artists in their studios, relaxing, editing, painting and chatting on the phone. The works – presented by the Miami-based publishing house Kiwi Arts Group – are shown alongside some of the artists’ originals works.

Kennedy shot hundreds of images of the artists; 100 will be placed in the permanent collection of the Warhol Museum.

The exhibition, which runs through May 29, also includes a 40-minute documentary film featuring people still living who were involved with Warhol, including such Warhol superstars as Ultra Violet and Taylor Mead.

“What’s great is all these people are in their 80s. We were able to capture them in this juncture about a period that was almost lost in the early 1960s at such a monumental, pivotal point in the pop art movement,” said Kiwi Arts founder Mike Huter.

Warhol, who used every available medium to create his brand of imagery, died in 1987 at the age of 58. His output was prolific.

“If you amass all the sales of Warhols, he is by far the most sold … in the art world” today, said Alex Rotter, Sotheby’s pop art expert, adding that Warhol began attracting museums and collectors in a big way in the 1980s.

The current auction record for a Warhol is $71.7 million. Privately, one of his works has sold for more than $100 million.

The show at the Site/109 gallery is just one of many current or planned Warhol exhibitions around the world.

A major Warhol retrospective is now on a five-city tour of Asia. After it concludes in Tokyo in 2014, it may travel to New York, Mexico City and possibly Istanbul, said Shiner.

During New York’s Frieze Art Fair next month, the Warhol Museum will show some 20 Warhol Polaroids alongside those by Jeremy Kost, a young New York artist who works under the rubric of the great pop artist. And Affirmation Art, a nonprofit art space in Manhattan, is showing 50 Warhol photographs, eight of which have never been seen outside the Warhol Museum.

But the showstopper will be a major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art titled “Regarding Warhol: 50 Artists, 50 Years.” Scheduled to open in September and travel to Pittsburgh in 2013, “it will be a blockbuster exhibition showing how deeply entrenched Warhol is in contemporary art,” Shiner said.

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Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Andy Warhol in a field of black-eyed Susans with Taylor Mead holding an early “Flowers” canvas as a backdrop in Queens, New York. Title: Warhol Flowers VII Location: Flushing, Queens Medium: Chromogenic Print Edition: 60 with 7 Artist Proofs Size: 24 x 16 inches Executed: 1964  Printed: 2012 Copyright 2010 William John Kennedy / Courtesy of Kiwi Arts Group

Andy Warhol with “Self Portrait” mounted on homemade sandwich board on fire escape at the Factory. Title: Warhol with Self Portrait SB, Factory Fire Escape II Location: The Factory, New York City Medium: Silver Gelatin Fiber Print Edition: 60 with 7 Artist Proofs Size: 20 x 16 inches Executed: 1964  Printed: 2010 Copyright 2010 William John Kennedy / Courtesy of Kiwi Arts Group
Andy Warhol with “Self Portrait” mounted on homemade sandwich board on fire escape at the Factory. Title: Warhol with Self Portrait SB, Factory Fire Escape II Location: The Factory, New York City Medium: Silver Gelatin Fiber Print Edition: 60 with 7 Artist Proofs Size: 20 x 16 inches Executed: 1964 Printed: 2010 Copyright 2010 William John Kennedy / Courtesy of Kiwi Arts Group
Andy Warhol holding an unrolled acetate of “Marilyn” in the Factory. Title: Warhol Holding Marilyn Acetate II Location: The Factory, New York City Medium: Silver Gelatin Fiber Print Edition: 60 with 7 Artist Proofs Size: 24 x 20 inches Executed: 1964  Printed: 2010 Copyright 2010 William John Kennedy / Courtesy of Kiwi Arts Group
Andy Warhol holding an unrolled acetate of “Marilyn” in the Factory. Title: Warhol Holding Marilyn Acetate II Location: The Factory, New York City Medium: Silver Gelatin Fiber Print Edition: 60 with 7 Artist Proofs Size: 24 x 20 inches Executed: 1964 Printed: 2010 Copyright 2010 William John Kennedy / Courtesy of Kiwi Arts Group

Lego sculptures displayed at Ames’ Reiman Gardens

From sculptor Sean Kenney's exhibition 'Sculptures Built with LEGO® Bricks,' on view through Oct. 28, 2012, at the Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University. Image courtesy of Reiman Gardens.

 From sculptor Sean Kenney's exhibition 'Sculptures Built with LEGO® Bricks,' on view through Oct. 28, 2012, at the Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University. Image courtesy of Reiman Gardens.
From sculptor Sean Kenney’s exhibition ‘Sculptures Built with LEGO® Bricks,’ on view through Oct. 28, 2012, at the Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University. Image courtesy of Reiman Gardens.

AMES, Iowa — Let’s start with the numbers: 27 sculptures made from more than 400,000 Lego bricks have been installed at Reiman Gardens in Ames. They’ll be on display for the next six months.

“It’s actually about 410,000 if you wanted to count them,” the New York sculptor Sean Kenney said.

He and a team of studio assistants built the “Nature Connects” collection — a 7-foot rose, a bumblebee the size of a St. Bernard — in his Manhattan studio over the course of the last six months. Their collective 5,000 work hours would have stretched into 2 ½ years if the artist had assembled the pieces by himself.

Kenney does this kind of thing full-time. But this was a big project, even for him.

“Building a hummingbird that’s 9 feet tall with thin little wings way up over your head is not necessarily as easy as sitting on the carpet making a fire truck in your living room,” he said.

But the process is pretty much the same. The artist sits down with a big pile of the plastic bricks and starts building. He doesn’t design with a computer and doesn’t use any special pieces you couldn’t find at the store. It’s just the basic plastic bits, reinforced with hidden steel rods and a bucket of glue.

Each sculpture was packed into a custom-built crate and loaded into a semi truck for the trip to Ames.

“It’s an art in itself to produce crates for these things. Just like moving a Ming vase halfway across the world, you want to make sure these things don’t break,” he said. “They’re sturdy, but the New Jersey Turnpike has a lot of potholes.”

The truck arrived last week, and the sculptures were placed throughout the 14-acre site on the Iowa State University campus. A Lego gardener tends a bed of vegetables. A Lego goldfish jumps in the pond, near a Lego frog and a Lego water lily. A Lego bison grazes in the prairie.

They look pixelated up close, like images from a 1980s video game that landed in the real world. From a distance, their surfaces seem surprisingly smooth.

“It’s funny to talk about Legos as a ‘medium,’ ” Kenney said, “but they’re all about texture and form.”

The artist has always loved the tiny plastic bricks, which were developed in Denmark in the 1940s. He played with them as a kid and later when he grew up, when he needed to unwind from his desk job. He tinkered almost every night, often while still wearing his suit.

Once, he built a model of himself, sitting listlessly in his cubicle, and titled it “Success.”

“It reflected very much how I felt at the time, before I decided to just take off my tie and pursue my dream,” he said.

Soon enough, that dream caught the attention of the Lego bigwigs in Denmark, who in 2005 named him the company’s first certified artist. (There are now 13 worldwide.) He still works independently and buys his own supplies, but the arrangement, he said, “makes it a little easier for me to buy 20,000 yellow pieces all at the same time.”

In the years since, Kenney has created Lego artwork for “major corporations, grandmas, celebrities, art galleries — everybody,” he said. His clients include biggies like Google and Mazda, and his work has been featured in the New York Times, on “Good Morning America” and in a full-length documentary.

The producers at the NBC sitcom “30 Rock” called him when they needed a Lego train for the set. The organizers at an international toy fair hired him to make 150 Lego Chewbaccas from the “Star Wars” movies.

“There is no shortage of fun and wacky things that people want,” he said.

The call from Reiman Gardens came when its leaders decided a Lego display would fit into the gardens’ 2012 theme, “Some Assembly Required,” which highlights building blocks in science and nature. They commissioned the 27 sculptures and have arranged for them to go on national tour after they leave Ames this fall. Their next stop is at Powell Gardens in Kansas City.

Director Teresa McLaughlin expects the sculptures to draw big crowds, bigger even than the ones that doubled attendance three years ago for a display of dinosaur sculptures.

“We think we’ll beat that,” she said. “Everyone has a Lego story, even if it’s just about stepping on them on the carpet with bare feet.”

The sculptures have already caught the attention of area Lego clubs as well as the engineering department at Iowa State University, where students often use Legos for class projects.

“Everybody can connect to it,” Kenney said. “No pun intended.”

Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

Visit sculptor Sean Kenney’s website at www.seankenney.com.

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Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


 From sculptor Sean Kenney's exhibition 'Sculptures Built with LEGO® Bricks,' on view through Oct. 28, 2012, at the Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University. Image courtesy of Reiman Gardens.
From sculptor Sean Kenney’s exhibition ‘Sculptures Built with LEGO® Bricks,’ on view through Oct. 28, 2012, at the Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University. Image courtesy of Reiman Gardens.

Pa.’s Michener museum presents exhibit from Italy’s Uffizi

Alessandro Tiarini, Nativity of Jesus, mid-17th century, oil on copper, 33 x 42.7 cm. Collection of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Alessandro Tiarini, Nativity of Jesus, mid-17th century, oil on copper, 33 x 42.7 cm. Collection of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Alessandro Tiarini, Nativity of Jesus, mid-17th century, oil on copper, 33 x 42.7 cm. Collection of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

DOYLESTOWN, Pa.—A museum known for its focus on American art, specifically the Pennsylvania Impressionists who called the region home, is hosting its first-ever international exhibition with a blockbuster show of Italian Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces.

“Offering of the Angels: Treasures from the Uffizi Gallery” opened Saturday at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, its only stop in the northeastern United States. It will be on view through Aug. 10.

The 45 religious paintings and tapestries from the Uffizi in Florence, one of the world’s oldest and most revered museums, are touring America for the first and perhaps only time. They are joined at the Michener by six additional works from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The old masters presented in the show include Tintoretto, Titian and Parmigianino. The showstopper, however, is Botticelli’s “Madonna with Child,” painted around 1466, and presented in the exhibition with a frame from the same period.

The work has little painted flourishes that were added hundreds of years later to the Madonna’s garments—perhaps the reason why it isn’t exhibited in the Uffizi. That shouldn’t detract from appreciating the Italian master’s genius, said consulting curator Diane Cole Ahl, an art history professor at Lafayette College and scholar of Italian Renaissance and Baroque art.

“A restorer decided to add little items to this to appeal to 19th century tastes,” she said. “But nonetheless, this is a Botticelli … soft brushstroke, luminous colors, the dynamic relationship between the two of them.”

Another key work is “Mary with Child and Saint Catherine,” a work from around 1550 associated with the workshop of Titian, if not the master himself. It was specially cleaned for the exhibition and “revealed an unsuspected depth and glorious color … and the color and short brushstroke for which Titian is famous,” Ahl said.

The pieces all are based on biblical stories or characters and grouped by theme. That allows viewers to see how artistic interpretations of classic motifs like the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Last Supper changed with aesthetic and cultural sensibilities, from the composed rationality of the Renaissance to the passion and drama of the Baroque.

“Everybody comes to this work with different religious beliefs, which in a sense are irrelevant,” Ahl said of “The Ascent to Calvary,” Luca Giordano’s epic 1685 painting. “This is an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the history of Judaism and Christianity but just to look at this (from) the perspective of the painting.”

Botticelli and company came to Bucks County, thanks to a just-completed expansion of the museum that allows for traveling exhibitions like “Offering of the Angels,” which museum officials expect will attract upward of 125,000 visitors.

Named after the late author James Michener, a Doylestown native and museum benefactor, the private museum 25 miles north of Philadelphia opened in 1988 inside what had for a century served as the county prison.

Most of its 3,000 works are from the early 20th century Impressionists who lived and worked in the region, and that emphasis won’t change, museum director Bruce Katsiff said Friday.

“It’s all about institutional aspiration: bringing in the best art we can get our hands on to the region, attracting increasing crowds that are interested in us,” Katsiff said. “We’re just upping the ante.”

The Uffizi, visited by more than 1.5 million people annually, was built in the 16th century by the Medici, the powerful Florentine dynasty who shaped the political, cultural, scientific and religious landscape for generations.

Many of the landscapes, portraits and still life works presented in “Offering of the Angels” were never on public display at the Uffizi because of space limitations—until museum director Antonio Natali began pulling items from its “secret rooms” for the traveling exhibit.

“It was an experience to see the installation of this, where every workman walked in here, stopped and gazed at these paintings and didn’t want to move,” Ahl said.

“Offering of the Angels” was a hit for the Uffizi and toured Spain before its U.S. arrival. After its run in Doylestown, “Offering of the Angels” travels to the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wis., and the Telfair Museum in Savannah, Ga. It was previously on view at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art.

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Online:

http://www.michenermuseum.org/exhibits/uffizi.php

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Alessandro Tiarini, Nativity of Jesus, mid-17th century, oil on copper, 33 x 42.7 cm. Collection of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Alessandro Tiarini, Nativity of Jesus, mid-17th century, oil on copper, 33 x 42.7 cm. Collection of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

Report blames security flaws for Athens Picasso heist

ATHENS (AFP) – Untrained guards, faulty equipment and disastrous communications made Athens’ National Gallery vulnerable to a January art heist that saw it lose a Picasso and other works, a report said Friday.

The museum “did not fulfill the security conditions needed to protect the institution,” the public service inspector general’s office said in the report.

The document traces an almost farcical trail of security breakdowns leading to the burglary in the early hours of January 9 of Picasso’s 1939 oil-on-canvas “Woman’s Head”, which the Spanish master had given the Greek state in 1949 as a tribute to the country’s resistance of Nazi Germany.

The other stolen works were a 1905 oil painting by Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian and a sketch by 16th-century Italian artist Guglielmo Caccia, better known as Moncalvo.

The National Gallery was an ideal target, the report said, because museum security had not been upgraded since 2000.

Several areas in the museum were out of range of security cameras — and even if the cameras had caught the whole burglary, their tapes had not been changed because there was no money for new ones.

The museum’s alarms were also faulty and prone to ringing gratuitously, the report said, blaming dead or absent batteries.

The night of the heist, the burglar or burglars repeatedly set off an alarm by manipulating an unlocked door, diverting security before sneaking into the building.

The guards had to use their cell phones to communicate because they had no radios. And they had not received any job-specific training.

The report said security had been improved since the heist.

The gallery was on reduced security staffing at the time owing to a three-day strike.

After the heist, Citizen’s Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis had biting words for the gallery, calling security arrangements “non-existent.”

The sole guard told police a burglar alarm went off shortly before 5:00 am, and that he saw the silhouette of a person running from the building.

He said he ran after the thief, who dropped another Mondrian oil painting.

The break-in lasted only around seven minutes.

Authorities did not specify the value of the stolen works, but Skai television said they were worth about 5.5 million euros ($7.3 million).

The back of the Picasso painting, a cubist portrait, reads in French: “For the Greek people, a tribute by Picasso.”

The gallery in the center of the Greek capital has a vast permanent collection of post-Byzantine Greek art, as well as a small collection of Renaissance works and some El Greco paintings.

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