Vincenzo de Bellis, direttore artistico MiArt 2013

Art Market Italy: Interview with Vincenzo de Bellis

Vincenzo de Bellis, artistic director MiArt 2013

Vincenzo de Bellis, artistic director MiArt 2013

Milan’s fair for modern and contemporary art, MiArt, has a new artistic director: Vincenzo de Bellis. Former director Frank Boehm, a Milan-based German architect and consultant for Deutsche Bank Collection Italy, was in charge for only one year.

Already in the past the fair has been looking for a winning formula and has often made changes to the artistic direction—even if this discontinuity cannot be good for the event. And this is not the only adjustment at the head of an Italian fair this year. In Bologna, Silvia Evangelisti, who has been directing the local art fair Arte Fiera for nine years, was replaced by Giorgio Verzotti and Claudio Spadoni. In Turin, Francesco Manacorda left the direction of Turin’s art fair Artissima to Sarah Cosulich Canarutto, as he was called to the direction of Tate Liverpool.

According to the organizers of MiArt, the decision to dismiss Boehm from his position did not depend on the quality of his work. “The reality of the art system, which is getting more and more complex, made it necessary to rethink the role of the director itself,” MiArt’s organization told Auction Central News. “We need no longer a single professional, but a personality who is able to create a team of experts from different sectors, and to speak both to the Italian and to the international community.”

Thus, next to Vincenzo de Bellis as the artistic director, there will be a team composed by Andrew Bonacina, curator at the International Project Space in Birmingham; Florence Derieux, director of Frac Champagne-Ardenne in Reims; Fionn Meade, independent curator in New York; Alessandro Rabottini, external curator at GAMeC in Bergamo; Andrea Viliani, core agent at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel; and Donatella Volonté, responsible for the modern sector since the foundation of MiArt.

As far as the choice of Vincenzo de Bellis concerns, the organization says that de Bellis was invited to present a proposal, which was then accepted by the fair. “De Bellis represents an inherent figure in the art system: As co-director of the Milanese Peep-Hole art center, he is curator and entrepreneur; he is able to become a collector of different structures, and to underline the cultural function of the art fair, even without neglecting its undeniable commercial aspect.”

Auction Central News asked Vincenzo de Bellis to anticipate his plans for the next edition of MiArt, which will take place on April 5-7, 2013.

Q: You have stated that you want to start a process which brings MiArt to be active in the production of contemporary art during the whole year and not only during the three days of the fair. How do you want to realize this program?

A: The starting idea is to transform MiArt in a “sounding board” for events and projects which will be organized by the institutions in Milan and will happen during the same period as the fair. Later, we would like to start some programs and projects which will be produced and coordinated by MiArt in different times of the year, in accordance with institutions and galleries of the city.

Q: Which will be the role of the Italian and international experts who will join you? Have you chosen them?

A: Yes, they were all chosen by me. I strongly believe in team work and collaboration. Some of them are people I have collaborated with in the past, others are people I have known for a long time as professionals and now I have the occasion of working with them. Everyone of them was chosen for a specific reason and with the aim of working on a specific section of the next edition of MiArt.

Q: Can you anticipate something about the new sections of the fair?

A: For now I can tell you that the sections will be four. Two of them are the same as the last editions and two of them are new. Among these there is one that directly compares the modern and the contemporary segments, the two veins of MiArt.

Q: What do you think is liable for improvement compared to the 2012 edition and to the past editions of the fair?

A: The quality of the art on offer; the quality of the services offered both to the public, and to the exhibitors, and to the collectors. Another fundamental aspect is to generate the interest of the international art public, Milan is the heart of art in Italy and the city must aim in this direction.

Q: What are you going to do to involve international art dealers and collectors?

A: There will be a program specifically conceived for international collectors, with tours and visits to some pivotal places of the city (art institutions but also other places), and there will be also programs specifically conceived for international exhibitors, so that they come in contact with the public of Italian collectors, who are known internationally for being among the most active and attentive.

About Silvia Anna Barrilà:

Silvia Anna Barrilà is an Italian fine arts journalist and regular contributor to the Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 ORE (ArtEconomy24). She also writes about art, design, lifestyle and society for a number of Italian and international magazines, including DAMn Magazine and ICON (Mondadori). She is based in Milan and Berlin.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Vincenzo de Bellis, artistic director MiArt 2013

Vincenzo de Bellis, artistic director MiArt 2013

KPM oval porcelain plaque depicting cherub with lamb and babies, 11 x 8 1/2 inches, est. $2,800-$3,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

Bruce Kodner offers luxe array July 1: Harry Winston watch, Tiffany lamp

KPM oval porcelain plaque depicting cherub with lamb and babies, 11 x 8 1/2 inches, est. $2,800-$3,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

KPM oval porcelain plaque depicting cherub with lamb and babies, 11 x 8 1/2 inches, est. $2,800-$3,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

LAKE WORTH, Fla. – “Luxury” is the watchword in Bruce Kodner Galleries’ Sunday, July 1 auction of antiques, fine art, ivory and estate jewelry. The 375-lot sale of premier items from some of Florida’s finest residences and collections will commence at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, with Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com.

Topping the list of fine watches is a Harry Winston ladies platinum watch with 17.10 carats of round, brilliant-cut diamonds. The exquisite timepiece from New York premier high society jeweler weighs 47.25 dwt and has a replacement value of $128,600. It is marked “Harry Winston,” adding further cachet to its pedigree. Bruce Kodner Galleries will auction the watch with a presale estimate of $60,000-$80,000.

The fine jewelry category is replete with glittering gems and quality designs, including 14K and 18K white and yellow gold rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces and watches, with settings that feature diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, tanzanites and other gemstones.

Sterling silver offerings are led by a weighty, exquisitely designed epergne signed by Emick Romer, London, 1771. Set on outwardly scrolling foliate legs terminating in masks and splayed foliate feet, supporting a skirting composed of drapery swags, the openwork body under a large oval central dish and six detachable scrolling branches supports openwork baskets. The entire design is decorated in openwork with bead edges, foliate scrolls, swags and masks. It stands 15½ inches high by 22 inches wide by 22 inches in diameter and weighs in at a hefty 148 troy ounces. The epergne could bring $30,000-$35,000 on auction day.

Extremely desirable and always in demand with collectors, a very rare circa-1920 Tiffany Studios turtleback desk lamp in the Zodiac pattern is another top lot amongst the decorative art. It retains its original dore patina and turtleback glass, and is stamped “Tiffany Studios New York 541.” Standing 14¾ inches tall, it is expected to realize in the vicinity of $15,000-$17,000.

Foremost among the paintings is a signed John Francis Murphy (1853-1921) oil on canvas depicting “white birches of young growth…very slender in a group at the edge of a brownish yellow field their trunks distinct in green foliage rising against a darkening grey sky. The 12 by 15 7/8 inch artwork carries an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.

Among the antique highlights is an exquisite KPM oval porcelain plaque depicting babies with an angel and lamb. The plaque bears a KPM mark on verso and measures 11 by 8½ inches. It is estimated at $2,800-$3,000. The porcelain portion of the sale also includes collections of Lladro, Dresden, Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grondahl.

A limited-edition William Hal bronze figural sculpture of an eagle, titled American Fisherman is numbered 1/36 and is dated 1984. It measures 3½ inches by 18 inches on a 3¾-inch base. Estimate: $6,000-$7,000.

There are many other very high-quality antique, fine and decorative art objects in this sale, including oil paintings by listed artists, Charles Fazzino serigraphs, sterling silver flatware and hollowware; Lalique crystal, Steuben, Murano, bronze figures and Oriental rugs ranging from small to room size.

All items may be previewed at Bruce Kodner Galleries Sunday from 11 a.m. till the auction begins at 1 p.m. The galleries are located at 24 S. Dixie Highway in Lake Worth, Florida.

For additional information on any lot in the auction, contact Bruce Kodner by calling 561-585-9999 or e-mailing liveauctions@brucekodner.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


KPM oval porcelain plaque depicting cherub with lamb and babies, 11 x 8 1/2 inches, est. $2,800-$3,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

KPM oval porcelain plaque depicting cherub with lamb and babies, 11 x 8 1/2 inches, est. $2,800-$3,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

Circa-1920 Tiffany Studios desk lamp in Zodiac pattern, est. $15,000-$17,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

Circa-1920 Tiffany Studios desk lamp in Zodiac pattern, est. $15,000-$17,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

Harry Winston platinum ladies wristwatch with 17.10 carats of round brilliant-cut diamonds, replacement value $238,600. Estimate $60,000-$80,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

Harry Winston platinum ladies wristwatch with 17.10 carats of round brilliant-cut diamonds, replacement value $238,600. Estimate $60,000-$80,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

John Francis Murphy (1853-1921), signed oil-on-canvas painting of white birches, est. $3,000-$5,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

John Francis Murphy (1853-1921), signed oil-on-canvas painting of white birches, est. $3,000-$5,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

Rare Daum Nancy cameo vase, 13.5 inches tall, est. $5,000-$6,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

Rare Daum Nancy cameo vase, 13.5 inches tall, est. $5,000-$6,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

Art Nouveau carved-jade elephant with yellow enamel and diamonds on bronze-mounted lapis-base desk clock. Estimate $2,500-$3,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

Art Nouveau carved-jade elephant with yellow enamel and diamonds on bronze-mounted lapis-base desk clock. Estimate $2,500-$3,000. Image courtesy of Bruce Kodner Galleries.

Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s ‘First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln,' 1864, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Original copy of Emancipation Proclamation sells for $2.1M

Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s ‘First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln,' 1864, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s ‘First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln,’ 1864, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

NEW YORK (AP) – A rare original copy of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation ordering the freeing of slaves sold Tuesday at a New York auction for more than $2 million.

It’s the second-highest price ever paid for a Lincoln-signed proclamation—after one owned by the late Sen. Robert Kennedy that went for $3.8 million two years ago.

The latest copy of the 1863 document, which was auctioned at the Robert Siegel Auction Galleries, which specializes in stamps, went to David Rubenstein, managing director of The Carlyle Group investment firm. The American seller remained anonymous.

The $2.1 million purchase price includes a buyer’s premium.

This price and the one for the Kennedy copy are the highest ever paid for the proclamation, reflecting a “growing appreciation for documents that capture the most important moments in our history,” said Seth Kaller, a dealer in American historic documents and expert on the Emancipation Proclamation.

The document will go on public exhibit somewhere in Washington, he said. The name of the institution is yet to be announced.

Lincoln signed the proclamation during the Civil War, freeing all slaves in states then in rebellion. The proclamation also provided a legal framework for the emancipation of millions of other slaves as the Union armies advanced.

Forty-eight copies were subsequently printed, with Lincoln signing all of them.

The president donated them to the so-called Sanitary Commission, a precursor of the modern Red Cross that sold the documents privately to provide medical care to Union soldiers.

A century later, President Lyndon Johnson invoked the proclamation while presenting the Voting Rights Act to Congress. He said equality was still an unfulfilled promise for black Americans.

A total of nine proclamation copies have been sold publicly in the past 40 years, Kaller said.

In 2010, Robert Kennedy’s family auctioned his copy for $3.8 million at Sotheby’s. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, had purchased it for $9,500 in 1964, when he was U.S. attorney general.

Only about half of the 48 proclamation copies have survived, Kaller said.

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

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s ‘First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln,' 1864, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s ‘First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln,’ 1864, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The USS Edson, shown in a 2003 photo, is named for Maj. Gen. Merritt 'Red Mike' Edson USMC (1897-1955), who was awarded the Medal or Honor while serving as commanding officer of the First Marine Raider Battalion on Guadalcanal. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

Destroyer USS Edson to anchor Navy ship museum in Mich.

The USS Edson, shown in a 2003 photo, is named for Maj. Gen. Merritt 'Red Mike' Edson USMC (1897-1955), who was awarded the Medal or Honor while serving as commanding officer of the First Marine Raider Battalion on Guadalcanal. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

The USS Edson, shown in a 2003 photo, is named for Maj. Gen. Merritt ‘Red Mike’ Edson USMC (1897-1955), who was awarded the Medal or Honor while serving as commanding officer of the First Marine Raider Battalion on Guadalcanal. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

BANGOR TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) – A 418-foot destroyer that’s expected to become the centerpiece of a ship museum in Michigan will be heading to the Great Lakes State next month.

Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum President Mike Kegley says the USS Edson will leave Philadelphia for Bay County on July 18.

The Edson served during the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

It’ll be established as the centerpiece of a floating ship museum on the Saginaw River, near the Independence Park Boat Launch in Bangor Township.

MLive.com says two tugboats will be needed to assist the Edson on the journey west through the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Kegley says it’s expected to take 16 days.

The Navy announced April 24 that it was donating the ship to the museum. The USS Edson was launched in 1958.

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

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The USS Edson, shown in a 2003 photo, is named for Maj. Gen. Merritt 'Red Mike' Edson USMC (1897-1955), who was awarded the Medal or Honor while serving as commanding officer of the First Marine Raider Battalion on Guadalcanal. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

The USS Edson, shown in a 2003 photo, is named for Maj. Gen. Merritt ‘Red Mike’ Edson USMC (1897-1955), who was awarded the Medal or Honor while serving as commanding officer of the First Marine Raider Battalion on Guadalcanal. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

The National Library of Sweden, also known as the Royal Library, in Stockholm. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Rare stolen Swedish atlas recovered at NY gallery

The National Library of Sweden, also known as the Royal Library, in Stockholm. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

The National Library of Sweden, also known as the Royal Library, in Stockholm. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

NEW YORK (AP) – A rare atlas stolen a decade ago from the Royal Library of Sweden has been recovered in New York.

Swedish and U.S. authorities showed off the 415-year-old Wytfliet Atlas at a news conference Wednesday.

It’s the first of 56 rare books stolen from the library to be located.

The books were stolen from 1995 to 2004 by a library employee who later killed himself. A library lawyer says all the volumes were sold through a German auction house.

The Royal Library in June 2011 discovered that the atlas was being offered for sale by Arader Galleries. The New York map dealer helped return it.

The atlas includes the first printed map of California.

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

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The National Library of Sweden, also known as the Royal Library, in Stockholm. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

The National Library of Sweden, also known as the Royal Library, in Stockholm. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

'Pollock and his Dog Relax, East Hampton,' Tony Vaccaro photograph, 1953/printed later. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Gallerie Bassenge.

Getty Center to restore, exhibit key Jackson Pollock work

'Pollock and his Dog Relax, East Hampton,' Tony Vaccaro photograph, 1953/printed later. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Gallerie Bassenge.

‘Pollock and his Dog Relax, East Hampton,’ Tony Vaccaro photograph, 1953/printed later. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Gallerie Bassenge.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Mural, the seminal, larger-than-life work that represented a sea change in abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock’s career, will be traveling from Iowa to Los Angeles this summer for a little nip and tuck.

The painting, which is nearly 70 years old, is being shipped to the Getty Center, where scientists at the Getty’s Conservation Institute and curators at its J. Paul Getty Museum hope to restore it to pristine condition.

When the work is complete, the oil-on-canvas painting will be exhibited at the Getty Center museum for three months before it is returned to its owner, the University of Iowa.

The work is more than 8 feet high and nearly 20 feet long. It represents a key moment in Pollock’s career, as he began to move from creating more symbolic, regional forms to the abstract expressionism that would reach full bloom in his famous “drip” paintings, in which he poured paint directly onto the canvas.

“It may be the most important painting from the second half of the 20th century,” said Tom Learner, head of modern and contemporary art research at the Getty Conservation Institute.

Pollock created it as a commission from wealthy art collector Peggy Guggenheim, who gave it to the University of Iowa in 1951.

The work, filled with colorful, twisting animal-like forms, was described by the artist himself as representing a stampede of animals from the American West.

Although it is dated 1943, Pollock is said to have created it in one burst of frenetic activity on New Year’s Day 1944, after complaining for months that he was “blocked” and couldn’t come up with an idea to put on canvas for Guggenheim.

“I’ve had to tear out the partition between the front and middle room to get the damned thing up,” he once wrote of the painting’s size. “I have it stretched now. It looks pretty big, but exciting as all hell.”

Over the years, the huge work has begun to sag. Getty experts will study how that might be repaired and how to prevent it from continuing in the future, said Yvonne Szafran, head of paintings conservation for the J. Paul Getty Museum.

It will also be cleaned and a varnish that appears to have been put on it sometime during the 1960s or ’70s will be removed.

Experts also will look closely at the paints Pollock used. Lerner said there is some thought that Pollock, who worked in auto and house paints later in his career, may have used some house paint on Mural as well.

Szafran estimated the work will take as long as 21 months. It hasn’t been determined whether the painting will be flown or driven to Los Angeles.

There was talk last year of putting Mural, which is valued at $140 million, on the auction block to raise money for art scholarships.

That proposal, by state Rep. Scott Raecker, was quickly shelved, however, after the university and others objected.

One state representative, Todd Taylor, said such a sale would have amounted to “cultural vandalism.”

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

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


'Pollock and his Dog Relax, East Hampton,' Tony Vaccaro photograph, 1953/printed later. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Gallerie Bassenge.

‘Pollock and his Dog Relax, East Hampton,’ Tony Vaccaro photograph, 1953/printed later. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Gallerie Bassenge.

An exhibit at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Muhammad Ali Center sues gallery over donated artwork

An exhibit at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

An exhibit at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – The Muhammad Ali Center says a Michigan art gallery that has faced multiple lawsuits for alleged fraud should either take back its gift of more than 180 pieces or allow the center to display or store it without any of the conditions set in the donation agreement.

At issue is the authenticity of Ali autographs on six pieces donated in September 2009. In a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Louisville, the center said the signatures are not Ali’s and are not in an online database that authenticates signed artwork.

“The Ali Center is not willing to display the entire donation within its facility,” attorneys Sheryl Snyder and Peter Cummings wrote.

Park West Gallery of Southfield, Mich., donated 151 photographs and 31 mixed-media paintings with the agreement that the Ali Center would retain the art in perpetuity, but had to display the pieces with plaques noting where the art came from.

Park West told officials that the pieces were hand signed by Ali and were listed in the database of Online Authentics, a company specializing in authenticating sports memorabilia, the center says in the lawsuit.

After discovering the signatures weren’t Ali’s, the center tried to return the donation, but Park West refused to take it back or allow the donation agreement to be altered, the center alleges.

Among the items donated were 21 mixed media paintings by British-born artist Simon Bull; 10 mixed media paintings of Ali done by artist Peter Max, who painted the official portrait for Ali’s 70th birthday in January; and 151 photographs of Ali over the course of his life, including pictures of the one-time heavyweight champion working out, Ali with Jackie Onassis and shots from several boxing matches.

The Ali Center showcases the boxing career of the former world heavyweight champion and highlights his social activism and humanitarian causes out of the ring. Ali grew up as Cassius Clay in a West End neighborhood of Louisville.

The center replays his most famous bouts and features plenty of memorabilia. Visitors can shadowbox, punch a speed bag and lean into a heavy bag that lets them feel the power of an Ali punch. Other exhibits retrace Ali’s fight against war, segregation and poverty.

In recent years, Park West has been the target of 18 federal lawsuits in six states, each alleging fraud by the Michigan art dealer who has been in business since 1969. The allegations in the lawsuits were all similar: That an employee of Park West billed a piece of art as rare and valuable, but that turned out to be either worth far less than billed or completely worthless to the buyer.

Many of the suits, which involved art auctions on cruises, were consolidated and later settled.

Art authenticator Teri Franks, who has been tracking Park West on her Phoenix-based blog, www.FineArtRegistry.com , said Park West has an extensive history of complaints about the art they sell, including disagreements over authenticity of the works and autographs. In some cases, such as the one with the Ali Center, problems with the work or autographs turn up after donation documents are signed and the recipient has little recourse, Franks said.

“The lawsuit doesn’t really surprise me. It’s been a long time coming,” Franks said.

Jeanie Kahnke, a spokeswoman for the Ali Center, declined to comment Tuesday afternoon. Messages left for the attorneys for the Ali Center were not immediately returned Tuesday morning. A Park West spokeswoman declined immediate comment.

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Follow Associated Press reporter Brett Barrouquere on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBarrouquereAP

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

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


An exhibit at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

An exhibit at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Baltimore police mugshot of presidential historian Barry Landau.

Barry Landau to serve 7 years for rare documents thefts

Baltimore police mugshot of presidential historian Barry Landau.

Baltimore police mugshot of presidential historian Barry Landau.

BALTIMORE (AP) – A presidential memorabilia collector who has acknowledged stealing thousands of rare and valuable documents from historical societies and archives nationwide was sentenced Wednesday to serve seven years in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay about $46,000 in restitution.

Barry Landau was caught stealing documents from the Maryland Historical Society in July 2011. A subsequent investigation concluded Landau, 64, or New York, stole at least 4,000 documents worth more than $1 million from archives around the country.

Many of the stolen documents are more than 100 years old and some are worth more than $100,000. They include the copies of speeches President Franklin D. Roosevelt read from during his three inaugurations, a land grant signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861 and letters written by scientist Isaac Newton, novelist Charles Dickens and French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

In a plea agreement signed in February, Landau acknowledged that he and his now 25-year-old assistant Jason Savedoff would visit historical archives and often distract staff while stuffing documents into secret pockets in their clothing. The pair attempted to cover up the thefts by removing card catalog listings for the items and using sandpaper and other methods to remove museum markings, a process they called “performing surgery.”

Savedoff has pleaded guilty to theft of major artwork and conspiracy to commit theft of major artwork. No sentencing date has been set.

Landau has acknowledged stealing documents from at least five institutions in addition to the Maryland Historical Society. They are the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Connecticut Historical Society, the University of Vermont, the New York Historical Society and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential library in Hyde Park, N.Y.

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

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Baltimore police mugshot of presidential historian Barry Landau.

Baltimore police mugshot of presidential historian Barry Landau.

Photo by Jonathan Wright.

Diary of an artist-in-residence: Report from Verbier #3

Photo by Jonathan Wright.

Photo by Jonathan Wright.

VERBIER, Switzerland – So the agony is over.  The “art battle” is done. My work was purchased. Saved from embarrassment, I pour myself a large glass of white wine and join in the conversation.

Zeb is the local painter who has joined us. He seemed unfazed by his public performance and tells me that he will be joining us as an assistant to partner Matt, our studio manager. The studio assistant is a crucial piece in the residency. They cater to the artists’ needs, getting materials and equipment, solving problems with construction and installation, and often providing a subtle form of counseling.

As the week progresses Julien has carved and cast his way through a ton of cement fondue and is continuously covered in a veil of dust and clay—a real worker. He is obviously deeply organized and there is a quiet assurance in his manner. This work will be finished on time.

Onyedika is carving a 40-foot-long tree, teasing out a barley twist along its length. The tree is fascinating because it is two that have grown into one—as he puts it, a kind of “Siamese twin.” It is very elegant, and its white surface seems flesh-like and demands to be stroked and caressed when you get close to it.

Sabine is on the mountain filming with her collaborator. Her performance involves crash mats and fur pelts. We are all intrigued to see the outcome. Meanwhile, Elly has had to retreat into the cabin at the end of the tent, as her video equipment is too delicate to withstand the dust and turmoil of such an environment. The video artist tends to spend a lot of time “rendering.” This is a tedious but necessary process whereby the video is prepared and formatted. It demands long hours of staring at the screen are the result.

We have been invited to the opening of an exhibition in the Alpine Garden a few miles from Verbier. The artist is Nicola Zaric, a Swiss artist who has quite a reputation here. The setting is simply staggering. The Alpine Garden is a real gem. The sculptures sit among the blooms and foliage of a remarkable array of plants. Zaric’s work is composed mostly animagus-type forms, goats heads on human bodies and hares articulated like human marionettes. It’s strange work but done with a certain flair and very well presented in the amazing location.

These trips offer us some respite from the toil in the studio, serve to refresh the mind and move the focus away from the repetition involved in the manufacture of objects. My hands are slightly swollen and I am aware that I have used nearly half my stock of 2,500 nuts and bolts.

We return to Verbier ready to eat. Another significant factor in the residency is food. We are extremely lucky to have the wonderful team of Jo and Eileen cooking for us. These two talented chefs make fabulous food, and our mealtimes are an oasis of pleasure and relaxation. This is the perfect time to discuss the day’s activity, plans and upcoming events. While consuming freshly made Thai fishcakes with coconut sauce on a bed of glass noodles in coriander and lemon grass salad, we all agree it doesn’t get much better than this.

During the meal, Kiki tells us that Paul Goodwin will arrive later in the week. Paul is the curator of the current 3-D Foundation residency. He has selected the artists here and has provided a critical structure that underlies the reasons for us being brought together on the mountain. But more pressing is our invitation to the Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais. We have been offered the chance to produce and edition a print with Francoise Locher, a highly respected artist at the school.

And I thought things couldn’t get any better!

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ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Photo by Jonathan Wright.

Photo by Jonathan Wright.

Photo by Jonathan Wright.

Photo by Jonathan Wright.

Photo by Jonathan Wright.

Photo by Jonathan Wright.

Photo by Jonathan Wright.

Photo by Jonathan Wright.

Students fundraise to fix vandalized Ohio geological museum

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Months after an Ohio State University student trashed the Orton Geological Museum, an artist, a curator and elementary schoolchildren are helping to piece history back together.

About 175 second- and third-grade gifted students from Hilliard elementary schools did chores, held bake sales and even sold “doughnuts for dinosaurs” to raise money to help repair the museum’s exhibits.

“(The students) made signs that they hung all over the school buildings,” said Jeanne Melvin, a gifted-intervention specialist in the Hilliard school district.

Nathaniel A. Harger, 20, broke into the Orton Hall museum on Jan. 8 and caused about $11,000 in damage, according to university police. Harger, who told police he had been drinking and did not remember how he got into the museum, was charged with breaking and entering, theft and vandalism.

Reproductions of several skulls were damaged. Plexiglas covers on exhibits were toppled and broken. A claw from a real 20-foot skeleton of a giant ground sloth was removed but recovered.

Harger was suspended from Ohio State. He is in a diversion program, and charges will be dismissed if he stays out of trouble, works during his time in the program and pays restitution to the museum. He also must seek alcohol counseling.

A few weeks ago, the museum received a $6,000 check from Harger; and this week, a check for $150. He is supposed to send $150 a month to the museum for the next three years.

The museum also has received more than $700 from fundraising efforts. Some of the key players are elementary students, said Dale Gnidovec, a geologist and collections manager and curator for the museum.

The Hilliard students were studying paleontology as part of a yearlong program and were planning a field trip to the museum when the break-in occurred.

The students brainstormed what they could do to raise money, and each school did something different. Melvin’s group sold baked goods.

“Anything they made, they renamed it to give it a paleontology spin, like someone had brownies and she called them `mud sediment squares,”’ Melvin said.

Others also are helping to restore the museum. Vicki Peffers, an artist in Ostrander, repaired the Tyrannosaurus rex and Cryolophosaurus elliot i skull casts _ free of charge. Peffers said it took her about three weeks to finish the T. rex cast.

“The main thing is, with all the little pieces, you gotta put two pieces together and let them dry for 24 hours,” Peffers said. “There were probably 50 different little pieces.”

Research Casting International Ltd., in Trenton, Ontario, is recasting the Dunkleosteus terrelli, or prehistoric fish, skull that was damaged beyond repair. The new cast is scheduled for delivery in August.

Any additional funds will be used to improve the museum’s exhibits, some of which haven’t been updated in more than 20 years, Gnidovec said.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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