Apollo personality of the year 2016 Sir Nicholas Serota.
Apollo Personality of the Year 2016 Sir Nicholas Serota
'Why has it taken you so long?' jokes Nicholas Serota, when he calls to discuss the achievements that have prompted his nomination as the Apollo Personality of the Year for 2016. It's true that, by any standards, the longstanding director of Tate might well have won this award several times over already--and not least following the opening of Tate Modern in 2000. It is a mark of Serota's tenacity, however, or rather of the consistency of his vision and accomplishment, that some 28 years after he took the helm at Tate he should still make for such a fitting winner. This award has typically been given either in recognition of lifetime achievement or to celebrate fresh prominence and success: this year, it does both.
In September, Serota announced that he was stepping down as Tate director to become chair of Arts Council England from February 2017. It is perhaps as apt a time as any for him to leave an institution that has been transformed under his watch, and that in turn has stimulated an unprecedented public engagement with modern and contemporary art in London and across the country. In June, of course, Tate celebrated the latest of its bold new beginnings. With the opening of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Switch House extension at Tate Modern (Figs. 1 & 2), the gallery has not only expanded its visitor space by 60 per cent, but has also set out a template that other contemporary art institutions will look to for decades to come.
'I think it provides breathing space, frankly,' Serota says of the new building, which he began planning in the mid 2000s. Certainly, the new Switch House galleries provide counterpoints to the large white-cube galleries in the original Boiler House building, from the raw subterranean spaces of the Tanks dedicated to video installations and performance works--to other spaces that are more intimate than anything that the museum has previously been able to muster. More generally, there is a sense of Tate Modern having opened up, in how the new building allows visitors to enter the museum from its south-facing aspect, and how a spectacular walkway beetling over the Turbine Hall now links the Boiler House and Switch House galleries. The museum feels more like a place for discovery than it used to.
But breathing space is not just a matter of visitor itineraries or new types of gallery; it is also about what the new building might inspire or make possible. The fifth floor is given over to Tate Exchange, essentially a vacant space in which visitors are encouraged to take part in workshops or discussions--in other words, a gallery in which the visitors and their ideas will provide the content. Serota suggests that it is 'like an open art school that anyone can join', and compares it to the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, where director Alistair Hudson has been implementing the concept of the 'useful museum'. It is testament to the open-minded attitude of someone who has spent more than 45 years working in museums that he should still be so alert to how they need to evolve. 'I think that museums are changing,' says Serota, 'in that I think people are obviously coming for the experience of art [...] but they're also wanting to debate and discuss it, and they're wanting to be able to express their own views about it, and to take the art as a starting point to think about other issues in the world.'
If the Switch House is a type of testing ground, though, it is also proof of what Tate Modern has already achieved. It is now some 44 years since the media lambasted the museum's acquisition of Carl Andre's 'pile of bricks', Equivalent VIII, and, as Serota admits, there is 'a certain irony' that the brick-clad exterior of Tate Modern's new extension might be seen as a wry homage to the material composition of that once-controversial work. It may be something of a truism to say that Tate Modern, and in particular the Turbine Hall installations that have so caught the public imagination (Fig. 4), have been instrumental in transforming contemporary art in the UK from an elitist or purely avant-garde interest into a field in which the artistic challenges and procedures now appeal to a wide range of audiences. But the evidence is palpable: Tate Modern attracts more than five million visitors each year.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, I watched the crowds that had stationed themselves on the floor of the Turbine Hall to experience the space being animated by Philippe Parreno's current installation--all gizmos, mechanical fish, and plays of light (Fig. 3). The age range of the visitors here is broad and heartening: from groups of teenagers, to young families, to couples in their sixties. While contemporary art may--and ought to--remain difficult, it no longer alienates large swathes of the population in a way that it might have done two decades ago. (As Serota quips: 'I think Philippe did learn that perhaps if people are going to sit down, they could do with a carpet rather than just sit straight on the concrete floor if they're going to be there for an hour or two.')
'We've definitely built an audience and an appetite,' says Serota, 'and we've probably given people some confidence in making their own judgements about contemporary art.' That 'probably' is typical of Serota at both a personal and institutional level, with its implied caution and characteristic modesty (many would agree with Neil MacGregor's conviction, expressed in a 2012 New Yorker profile of Serota, that he was 'by far the most important player in making the British comfortable with contemporary art'). But pushed on the point, Serota speaks with pride about how the sense of risk-taking at Tate, and the confidence that it has engendered, has stimulated the development of a number of successful regional contemporary institutions and, through the touring Artist Rooms programme, seen the audience for contemporary art grow across the country. 'I do think that the success of Tate Modern and to some extent the success of Tate Britain has helped in the creation of institutions across the country,' he says, citing Turner Contemporary in Margate and Nottingham Contemporary as examples. 'You have to take risks if you're going to literally break new ground, otherwise you're just working in the furrows that are already there. Artists don't work in that way and I don't think museums should.'
At the top of the Switch House is a viewing platform, which one or two critics have suggested to be the foremost attraction of the new building. For me, though, the spectacular panorama of London that has been created here is another aspect of this structure for which the symbolic resonance is as important as the practical use. At a time when the London skyline has been dominated by high-rise buildings with their private eyries, here is an original, freely accessible prospect of the city, poised above a stack of contemporary art galleries and education spaces, and demanding that visitors consider the relationship between what is held inside the building and what lies beyond it. As Serota has it, 'You literally do feel yourself to be at the centre of the city, in a way that no one could have envisaged Bankside as being 20 years ago.'
And for all that he has led Tate's strategy and fundraising through a series of capital projects (including the 45 million [pounds sterling] renovation of Tate Britain by Caruso St John, completed in 2013), it is in fact thinking of places and people elsewhere that has fostered 'the most satisfying achievements' of Serota's directorship. In particular, this has meant the evolution of the collection to challenge the received history of modern art, 'moving it from being first of all geographically limited to northwest Europe and North America, to taking it out into the rest of the world [...] and adding in photography and film, performance and installation--but particularly the photography element.' Where critics would cavil in the past at the perceived weakness of the collection in canonical modern art, what has gradually become clear is the extent to which Tate has worked, strategically and stealthily, to recalibrate the very idea of the artistic canon. The entrance walls to the permanent collection displays namecheck figures such as Ibrahim el-Salahi and Sheela Gowda alongside Alexander Calder and Gerhard Richter; and the recent exhibition programme has featured retrospectives of artists including Mira Schendel, Saloua Raouda Choucair, and Bhupen Khakhar. 'We're probably in a position now where others elsewhere in the world are looking to us to see what they might do.'
Serota is the first to credit the team at Tate for these achievements, and not least Frances Morris, the recently appointed director of Tate Modern and, from 2006-16, the director of the museum's collection of international art. It is, he says, 'a team which is capable of imagining something that people haven't yet seen'. But it is of course a team that Serota has himself shaped, and with the departure of longstanding colleagues to other institutions, his influence as both a cultural leader and curator is felt widely across the art world. Sheena Wagstaff, who worked for Serota when he was director of Modern Art Oxford (from 1973-76) and then the Whitechapel Gallery (from 1976-88), was chief curator at Tate Modern before moving to New York to head the modern and contemporary art department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Nicholas Cullinan, with whom Serota co-curated 'Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons' in 2008, was appointed director of the National Portrait Gallery at the start of 2015.
Serota may have had his detractors over the years, among them those who have questioned the length of his tenure or the concentration of power in the hands of one director, with four museums within his purview (Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives). But in a sense, such commentary is testament to the scale and unprecedented nature of his achievements. He steadfastly defends the evolution of Tate Britain since 2000, telling me that it 'has achieved a great deal more than people sometimes give it credit for'. The development of the 18th-century collection, with the acquisition of major works by Reynolds, Gainsborough, Wright of Derby and others, is one of the aspects of his career that has given him 'the greatest sense of accomplishment'.
Nobody who knows Serota would question his longstanding dedication to Tate across its venues, to his daunting ability to have secured funding for them from both public and private sources, or to his indefatigable advocacy for the art and artists that they foster and represent--which has been as conspicuous in 2016, the year he has turned 70, as it was when Tate Modern moved into its Bankside home 16 years ago. When I ask whether being a director is still the pinnacle of the museum profession, he jokes that he is 'past [his] pinnacle' and is adamant that 'the most coveted job is to be a curator.' Then again, since the opening of Tate Modern, he has somehow found the time to curate acclaimed exhibitions on Twombly, Judd, Richter, and other major artists.
How has he kept up his energy, not to mention the concentration that has been required over the decades? 'No two days are the same, every day is different,' he says. 'I'm consistently meeting really interesting people: artists, collectors, educators, occasionally politicians [...] It's just immensely stimulating, and the challenges come at you, you know, one after another. You either buckle or survive.' All the same, he says, 'I certainly didn't think I'd still be here 30 years ago.'
Thomas Marks is editor of Apollo.
Apollo Artist of the Year 2016 Cornelia Parker
For the last six months in New York, there's been a very different penthouse in town: a blood-red Second Empire-style mansion perched right on the edge of the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From the street, Cornelia Parker's Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) (Fig. 1) looks like a strange and lonely gothic dolls house. Up high, looming over central park and the skyscrapers behind it, it's a lost rural idyll in the midst of a metropolis. Wander round to the back of the house though and you realise it's just a facade, like those on a film set. The shape-shifting continues: in window reflections it looks like a mirage; on Instagram it's a selfie-by-sunset spectacle; at night, with only the city's sodium haze illuminating it, the PsychoBarn is at its most sinister.
'It's hard to compete with the view so I thought I wouldn't, I'd just add something to it,' Parker tells me about her site-specific sculpture for the Met Museum's annual rooftop commission. Skylines have long fascinated Parker, who based one of her earliest sculptures around a souvenir model of the Empire State building. 'With the commission, I was thinking about New York roofs--the water towers there and the propped up signs and particularly Walker Evans's photography of them.' It's four days before the American election when we meet at her North London house (decidedly much cosier than her installation; Fig. 2). She recounts the project's detailed production: how the whole house, except for the screws, was completely fabricated from an old red barn she found In upstate New York, and which was transported to a big warehouse in Long Island. There It was transformed into a mansion styled on the Bates' hilltop lair in Alfred Hitchcock's Oedipal thriller Psycho (itself inspired by Edward Hopper's melancholy 1925 painting House by the Railroad). The 25ft-high house was scaled precisely to the Met's roof garden: 'You can't really see the PsychoBarn head on. It's always seen from an angle, the way you see it in the film. And then you walk behind it, you see the conceit.' It was built by a team of Broadway set builders and had to be tested to withstand 100 mph winds (being outside for 200 years, the barn's framework was pretty weather-resilient).
Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) came into being against the backdrop of the election and the tumultuous campaign certainly influenced Parker: 'Politicians on the campaign trail often stand in front of red barns. The barn represents good old-fashioned American values and a pioneering spirit. Even though the red barn and its design came over with the Europeans, it's totally synonymous with America as a whole.' Parker has a long history of recasting found objects, from the garden shed she exploded for Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991; Fig. 3), to curatorial endeavours like the exhibition 'Found' at the Foundling Museum this year, where Parker invited over 60 artists and writers to exhibit objects that resonated with them (Fig. 4). Among the entries, displayed around the museum and its collection of art and abandoned children's belongings, were a whale's tooth and John Lennon's school detention record.
Parker treats artworks and films the same as found objects, as when she draped string over Rodin's sculpture The Kiss, in homage to Marcel Duchamp. 'Here the Psycho mansion and Hopper's painting, two things which are very unheimlich, come together in this object that is very homely,' she explains. 'Transitional object' is the psychoanalyst Donald Woods Winnicott's term for the object that weans you off your mother. Parker is certain that Hitchcock, lover of psychoanalysis, would have been aware of it and points to the bunny on Norman Bates' bed in Psycho as proof.
'Psycho is in black and white, but don't we always see the house as red?' Parker suggests. That particular hue was very important to her: The two sources of pigment for the red of the old barns were rust and animal blood [mixed with linseed oil]. Blood was ubiquitous for farmers. The rust resulted in a dark burnt red rather than a bright red. I like that slightly pagan feel. Now you get your "Barn Red" paint from shops.'
Parker, who grew up on a farm in Cheshire, was also influenced by Manhattan's history and how at one point, the city was covered in red barns. But it's hard not to read more political meaning into her sculpture. After all, Trump Tower is only a few blocks away down 5th Avenue. Parker spent Halloween in New York capturing people dressed up on the streets with her iPhone for a series of short films (for a forthcoming show at Frith Street Gallery). She also spent time filming outside Trump HQ: 'I was waiting, hoping to get a photo of Trump with the PsychoBarn in the background. Although really, I wouldn't want him to be associated with it.' When we speak again a few days after the election, Parker says she now thinks of the work as a premonition. She tells me she's devastated about the result, even more so than after Brexit, due to the threat that Trump's presidency poses to the whole world and particularly to the environment.
'Increasingly I'm more politically minded,' she says. 'But I don't want to make polemical or narrow work. There was an American show rallying against gun violence and they wanted to exhibit my Embryo Firearms [a 1995 sculpture of two Colt 45 Guns in the earliest stage of their production]. And I said no. Not that I'm pro-gun. But I don't want the piece to become an antigun piece.' For that work, Parker collaborated with NRA-affiliated firearm factory workers. Other unusual collaborators include the British army (who helped her blow up the garden shed), HM Customs & Excise (who donated cut-up porno videotapes for her Pornographic Drawings series), and most recently, 36 prisoners who, alongside numerous public figures, embroidered for her the Wikipedia entry for Magna Carta (An Embroidery) (2015). Julian Assange and former head of MI5 Eliza Manningham-Buller stitched the word 'freedom'; Edward Snowden stitched 'liberty'. In a world that is becoming increasingly politically and socially polarised, Parker makes a habit of moving art and its production outside of the art-world bubble.
'The ambivalence of art is important,' she believes. 'That's what I admire about Christo and Jeanne-Claude, that they wrapped up the Reichstag and then said it had nothing to do with politics. Although it obviously had. But It was also about beauty and form. That just liberated everyone. It was open for interpretation. There should always be space for the viewer. Like music has. That's why I think Bob Dylan is getting the attention now that he deserves. Part of his power is that although people think of him as a protest singer, his protests were universal and they weren't pegged to one political situation.'
'Rather than hope to influence people through an artwork, I'm quite willing to be vocal about things I see being destroyed,' she continues. One such thing is art history A-level. 'It's madness,' she says of the government's decision to axe it. 'It helps people digest culture. If you take that away, a lot of things die. It will still be offered in private schools. But we don't want art by the rich for the rich.'
In 1990, in one of her most delicate interventions, Exhaled Schoolhouse, Parker covered the exterior of a vacant Glaswegian school in tiny white chalk marks, drawing attention to this most ordinary of buildings by making the red bricks look like an abstract drawing. Now she worries about the dramatic cuts to arts education in the last five years, that art is not deemed useful enough, that fewer young people are encouraged or even feel able to study it, and that so many don't have the same opportunities that she did. 'I got six years of free grants. I was so lucky really. Having taught In art schools I've realised there are an awful lot of people there--or people who used to be in art schools--who weren't academic and who would have been unemployable and would have ended up on a scrapheap otherwise, but who are functioning people because they did art. It's really important.'
The Cuban-born American artist, who turned 101 this year, has been painting since the 1950s but her reputation has grown in recent years: she sold her first painting in 2004 and her work has been acquired by MoMA and Tate Modern. This year Herrera has been celebrated with a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (after an exhibition at Lisson Gallery New York)--her first museum show in the US in nearly 20 years.
The performance and video works of Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson gained much attention this year following a mid-career retrospective at the Barbican Centre--the artist's first exhibition in London (now at the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Park until January 2017). The artist's solo show at the Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal earlier this year followed his first solo exhibition in Paris, at the Palais de Tokyo, in late 2015.
Helen Marten's reputation has been steadily rising. Her multimedia works, combining sculpture, painting and installation, have this year earned her nominations for the Turner Prize and inaugural Hepworth Sculpture Prize. A major solo exhibition of new work at the Serpentine, 'Drunk Brown House' opened in September, and a monograph was published this year by Koenig Books, following the artist's solo exhibition at the Fridericianum in 2014.
Hockney remains hugely active: the Royal Academy of Arts presented a new body of work (82 portraits and one still life) created since the artist's return to LA in 2012, while the MAC Belfast mounted the artist's first major show in Ireland. The artist also collaborated on the book, A History of Pictures: From the Cave to the Computer Screen, with Martin Gayford. To celebrate Hockney's 80th birthday next year, Tate Britain will survey the artist's entire career.
The work of the Greek-born painter, sculptor, and performance artist--associated with the arte povera movement--was recently displayed in a major exhibition at London's White Cube, after a show at the Monnaie de Paris earlier in the year. Other notable achievements this year include a site-specific installation to mark the opening of the Museo Espacio in Mexico and an installation at the Centro Arti Visive Pescheria in Pesaro to mark the centre's reopening.
Artist of the Year supported by RAWLINS ON & HUNTER
Isabel Stevens is the production editor of Sight and Sound and writes about photography, art, and film.
Apollo Museum Opening of the Year 2016 National Gallery Singapore
One of the key hurdles to developing how people think about modern Asian art has been the lack of heavyweight modern art institutions across the region. Until now, biennials and private museums have plugged the gap to an extent, but art ecosystems need museums to tell the story of modern art, even if that story is then challenged and deconstructed. It is in this context that National Gallery Singapore opened in November 2015. It contains the world's largest collection of South-East Asian modern and contemporary art, and is spread over two colonial-era buildings, the City Hall and Supreme Court. The story of modern art, seemingly once limited to the contents of Alfred H. Barr's head, has been further widened. The new use of buildings that were key symbols of British colonial power is significant.
The museum opened to much fanfare and some predictable critiques. With one wing devoted to Singaporean art and one wing devoted to South-East Asian art the structure implicitly places Singaporean art at the centre of its story. However, this is no different to other museums around the world that narrate modern art from their own perspective (MoMA is one of many). Yoking together a national collection and an international collection is also something that many institutions have had to navigate (think of Tate). There have also been observations that the collection is uneven. Given the ambitious regional remit, it is difficult to see how this could be avoided. Indeed, the fact that the museum's presence has started these debates about South-East Asian modern art may well be the crucial point. It is the museum's opening that has enabled South-East Asian modern art to become an object of knowledge to be contested and debated, or as younger curators might say, to become 'a thing'. For this reason the museum's emergence is a key moment not just for the region but internationally, developing Barr's famous diagram in unexpected ways.
San Francisco Museum of Modem Art
Reopened May 2016
SFMOMA reopened in summer 2016 with an extension designed by Snohetta that tripled the museum's gallery space, allowing it to display major new acquisitions and long-term loans (among them the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection of contemporary art). The museum sits at the centre of San Francisco's rapid emergence as a major art hub.
National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
Opened September 2016
Designed by David Adjaye, this monumental new addition to the Smithsonian's portfolio in Washington is the first museum in the US exclusively to document African American history and culture; the collection has grown to 36,000 artefacts since the museum was established by an Act of Congress in 2003.
Tate Modern, London
Opened June 2016
Tate Modern 2' was launched in summer 2016, as Tate opened the doors of Herzog & de Meuron's Switch House building. The extension expands visitor space by 60 per cent and provides new galleries for the display of international modern and contemporary art, new facilities for education and artistic experiment, and a viewing level that has opened up a spectacular panorama of the London skyline.
Musee Rodin, Paris
Reopened November 2015
The Musee Rodin, which is housed in the sculptor's former studio in the 18th-century Hotel Biron, reopened in November 2015 after a three-year restoration project. The museum has successfully updated its facilities and expanded its display spaces to incorporate many objects that were not previously shown here, such as Rodin's collection of antiquities.
Reopened April 2016
The Kunstmuseum Basel reopened in spring 2016 following a 12-month refurbishment, and to coincide with the unveiling of its highly acclaimed new exhibition building, designed by Christ & Gantenbein at a cost of CHF 100 million. The new building acts as a contemporary reinterpretation of the museum's 1930s home, and provides spaces for ambitious temporary exhibitions.
Niru Ratnam is a writer and former gallerist.
Apollo Exhibition of the Year 2016 Jheronimus Bosch: Visions of a Genius Het Noordbrabants Museum
Jheronimus Bosch: Visions of a Genius
13 February-8 May 2016
Het Noordbrabants Museum, 's-Hertogenbosch
There are various reasons for making exhibitions: some good, some--such as increasing visitor numbers and revenue--less noble. The best motive of all is to make visible aspects of the subject that cannot be experienced or understood in any other way. 'Jheronimus Bosch: Visions of a Genius' at the Het Noordbrabants Museum, 's-Hertogenbosch, admirably fulfilled this objective. It made a great artist's achievement more comprehensible than it had ever been before.
Bosch, christened Jheronimus van Aken (c. 1450-1516) is one of the best known figures in art history. The bizarre and wildly imaginative imagery that was his trademark has been discussed in numerous scholarly, and often highly speculative, texts. His masterpiece, The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1490-1505) is familiar from reproductions on posters, book jackets, and screensavers. Yet the painter himself and the meaning of the phantasmagoria he created alike remain enigmatic.
The exhibition presented the conclusions of a team of scholars who have winnowed through the catalogue of Bosch's paintings and drawings, discarding some as inauthentic or studio products and adding others. Two multi-panel altarpieces--long since split up among the museums of the world--were reunited, making the point that often, when we look at the art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, we are contemplating fragments: stray passages from a symphonic whole.
In assembling so many of Bosch's authentic pictures in one place, the exhibition underlined his sheer brilliance as a painter and draughtsman: the delicacy of his touch, his almost romantic eye for such spectacles as nocturnal darkness illuminated by flickering flame, and the profusion with which his fantasies spilled on to paper. Unexpectedly this inventiveness brought to mind Bosch's close contemporary, Leonardo da Vinci.
Emperors' Treasures: Chinese Art from the National Palace Museum, Taipei
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
17 June-18 September 2016
Celebrating the Asian Art Museum's 50th anniversary (and now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston until 29 January 2017), this major loan exhibition brought together over 150 objects from one of the richest collections of Chinese art. It has been nearly 20 years since the National Palace Museum loaned work to a US museum, and more than half of the objects were exhibited in the US for the first time.
Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison
4 September--4 December 2016
This ambitious project devised by Artangel has seen the opening of Reading Prison (where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated) to the general public for the first time in its history. A range of art, writing, and performance has been commissioned and installed, including work by Marlene Dumas, Nan Goldin, and Wolfgang Tillmans.
Royal Academy of Arts, London
24 September-2 January 2017
The is the first major survey of Abstract Expressionism to be held in Europe since 1959, with 163 works spanning four decades and including sculpture, photography, prints, and the legendary paintings. Many difficult loans have been secured, including nine works by Clyfford Still, and Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles (1953), which has left the National Gallery of Australia for the first time since 1973.
Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture
Frick Collection, New York
2 March-5 June 2016
This was the first exhibition devoted to Van Dyck in the US in more than 20 years, and it offered a comprehensive overview of the artist's portraiture. Van Dyck's versatility and stylistic development were examined in 100 works, which were also seen in the context of his contemporaries I such as Rubens and Lely.
Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
18 April-17 July 2016
This was the first major international loan exhibition in the US to focus on the Hellenistic period. Over 265 objects in a diverse range of media were on view, approximately a third of which were drawn from the Pergamon Museum's famous collection, and many of which had never before left their museum collections since being accessioned.
Martin Gayford is the co-author of A History of Pictures with David Hockney.
Apollo Book of the Year 2016 The Print Before Photography Antony Griffiths.
The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550-1820
British Museum Press
Antony Griffiths, who was Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum for 20 years from 1991 to 2011, has done something wholly admirable. After retiring and alongside delivering the Slade Lectures in Oxford, he sat down and has written an absolutely definitive book about the history of printmaking in Western Europe from its beginnings to the time that it began to be overtaken by other technologies, including lithography and photography.
The book is not intended to be read from cover to cover--it is on a massive scale--but it is written in such a way that it can be read for pure pleasure, without recourse to academic or specialist jargon; and in such a way that one knows from the beginning that every sentence is deeply informed by scholarly expertise, the result of years of handling prints, thinking about how they were made, how they were used by artists, where they were sold, and how they were looked at by different publics.
If an argument is needed as to how scholarship is developed by the handling of material within museums, and by a combination of deep knowledge of the secondary literature and a tactile sense of the look and feel of material, then this is it. Not since William Ivins Jr., the curator of the Department of Prints at the Metropolitan Museum from 1916 to 1946, published Prints and Visual Communication (1953) has a museum scholar so transformed the understanding of a field. There is a certain irony, too, that this is the last book to be published by the British Museum Press, handsomely and immaculately produced: a monument to a style of scholarship, which will be hard to improve.
The Sixteenth Century Italian Paintings Volume III: Bologna and Ferrara
Giorgia Mancini and Nicholas Penny
National Gallery Company
The third volume of the National Gallery's catalogue of Its 16th-century Italian paintings covers Bologna and Ferrara (the museum holds the most important collection of works from the region outside Italy). This scholarly tour de force presents new archival and technical research and information about provenance.
Wilhelmina Geddes: Life and Work
Nicola Gordon Bowe
Four Courts Press
Wilhelmina Geddes (1887-1955) was regarded as one of the greatest stained-glass artists of her time, but has been unfairly overlooked since her death. This first book about her life and work places Geddes within the Irish Arts and Crafts movement, and also makes a case for her as a great 20th-century European artist.
Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts
Christopher de Hamel
De Hamel's engaging discussion of 12 medieval illuminated manuscripts includes the Gospels of St Augustine in Cambridge and the Codex Amiatinus in Florence. In this personal but scholarly account, De Hamel visits each manuscript in its current home, describes each encounter, and manages to span nine centuries of manuscript production.
Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonne
Martin Harrison (ed.)
Francis Bacon Estate
The culmination of a 11-year project, this publication presents 584 paintings, replacing the previous catalogue made In 1964. Many works, tracked down by Harrison's detective work, have never been published before, or have only been seen In poor black-and-white reproduction. And neglected subjects, such as the female nudes, now have a chance to be studied together.
Pompeo Batoni: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings
Edgar Peters Bowron
Yale University Press (on behalf of the Paul
Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)
Bowron's catalogue of 18th-century Rome's most prestigious portrait painter presents nearly 500 paintings, with new colour photography, archival material about the commissions, and short biographies of sitters. There are also unillustrated appendices about the 250 authenticated drawings, as well as untraced and unverified paintings.
Charles Saumarez Smith is the Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts.
Apollo Digital Innovation of the Year 2016 Art UK
These days, access to public collections is as much a matter of their digital reach as it is of visitor facilities or convenient opening hours. The Art UK website, which currently features images and records of more than 213,000 artworks in UK collections, makes the nation's art available in a way that has no international rival in terms of its ambition, generosity of spirit, or coherence.
Art UK evolved out of the Public Catalogue Foundation, which launched in 2002 with the aim of publishing every oil painting in public ownership in the country, and the BBC Your Paintings website, which has now been supplanted by Art UK's own cleanly designed website. The latter successfully balances the need for an efficient research tool and the prospect of stimulating curiosity among its visitors, whatever their age or level of knowledge--not unlike many of the institutions that it works with and promotes.
The opportunities that Art UK creates for scholars are many and various. Most prominently, there is the chance to share information and collaborate on discoveries, attributions, and the like via the Art Detective section of the website. But beyond that are the types of connection that the site makes possible for curators, academics and art dealers as they conduct research. Searching across collections for artists, subjects, or themes, the structured data (tags) attached to each artwork consistently throw up surprising groupings or correlations. The website's ability to bridge scholarship and public engagement has been clear this autumn in Britain's Lost Masterpieces, a BBC series that has seen the attribution of a number of important works in regional collections after they initially aroused interest on Art UK.
Art UK is currently seeking match funding for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant that will allow it, in partnership with the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA) and others, to develop an ambitious photographic record of the nation's sculpture. On the evidence of Art UK, this promises to be another invaluable public resource.
MoMA Exhibitions Database
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
MoMA runs an ambitious digital programme that extends from archiving to acquisitions of digital artworks. This year, it released a 'living archive' of 3,500 of its past exhibitions, offering easy and open access to images, press releases, checklists, catalogues, and other information. As more museums begin to digitise their object collections, this initiative puts institutional history on the agenda, too.
Illuminated: Manuscripts in the Making
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
To accompany 'Colour: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts', a free online platform was launched alongside it in collaboration with Cambridge Illuminations and MINIARE. The website complements and expands on the exhibition, providing high-quality images of illuminated manuscript pages, historical information, and notes on their conservation.
The Museum of Digital Art
'Europe's first physical and virtual museum dedicated to digital arts' was founded by Caroline Hirt and Christian Etter of the Digital Arts Association, and opened in February. It is notable for providing a permanent physical space for digital projects, and for its novel selection technique. The museum stages a series of solo exhibitions each year, with artists chosen using an algorithm.
The Next Rembrandt
This experimental software project aimed to analyse Rembrandt's oeuvre digitally, and using the resulting data, to create convincing original compositions in a similar style to the master. The unveiling of a new portrait, comprised of over 148 million pixels and based on 168,263 details from Rembrandt's paintings, grabbed the headlines in April--and the project has ignited public debate about the relationship between technology and connoisseurship.
Digitisation in Daghestan
The Factum Foundation's work in Daghestan encompasses a number of exciting digital conservation projects. These include digitising the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography's archive of oriental manuscripts in Makhachkala's Russian Academy of Sciences and scanning the ancient site of Kala-Koreysh (the remote first outpost of Islam in the northern Caucasus).
Apollo Acquisition of the Year 2016
It is appropriate that an Old Master painting, Fra Angelico's The Virgin of the Pomegranate, should win this year's Apollo Award for the leading museum acquisition. Several of the world's top institutions have accessioned outstanding paintings this year: Orazio Gentileschi's Danae and the Shower of Gold, by the J. Paul Getty Museum; a floral masterpiece by Roelant Savery, full of wild but meticulous detail, by the Mauritshuis; and a rediscovered Sebastiano del Piombo, by the Art Institute of Chicago. The first of these was purchased at auction in January for $27 million (hammer price); the others were sold by Colnaghi, with the Savery announced on the opening day of TEFAF Maastricht. Who says that interest in Old Masters is dead?
In the UK, important paintings have entered public collections after DCMS export deferrals allowed for successful campaigns that raised the necessary funds to save them for the nation. These include the so-called Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, which has now gone on display at the newly restored Queen's House in Greenwich, and Dieric Bouts' St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child, which was acquired by the Bowes Museum in County Durham and will tour to York and Bristol in 2018.
Another welcome campaign was that to acquire two 17th-century pietra dura cabinets, which had long been in the collection at Castle Howard (probably since 1738-39), and which have now become the first pair of Roman hardstone cabinets to enter a British public collection. With support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and others, they are the standout acquisition to be made by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, during its bicentenary year.
The Louvre also fundraised for furniture in 2016: the so-called Teschen Table, a masterpiece made by the goldsmith Johann Christian Neuber in 1779 and given by Frederick Augustus III, Elector of Saxony, to the Baron de Breteuil for his part in negotiating the Treaty of Teschen, was purchased by the museum following a major crowdfunding exercise. And at LACMA, not just furniture, but an entire house was donated to the museum. A promised gift of James Goldstein, John Lautner's modernist Goldstein Residence is the institution's first architectural acquisition.
Apollo Acquisition of the Year 2016 The Virgin of the Pomegranate by Fra Angelico, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
The Museo del Prado's purchase of Fra Angelico's Virgin of the Pomegranate (also called the Alba Madonna) for 18 million [euro] represents an exceptional acquisition by any measure. One of the very last masterpieces of the Florentine quattrocento in private hands now enters a public collection. At the Prado it will find an ideal companion in Angelico's Annunciation altarpiece from San Domenico, Fiesole, similarly painted around 1425-26. Together, they trace a key phase in Fra Angelico's early development, as the Dominican painter-friar digested the revolutionary impact of Masaccio's sculptural style and virtuoso perspective. The Virgin of the Pomegranate responds to Masaccio's Virgin and Child with Saint Anne of around 1424, now in the Uffizi, but also emulates the scintillating textiles and luxuriant surfaces of Gentile da Fabriano, Masaccio's greatest rival and aesthetic counterpoint. By 1428 both Gentile and Masaccio were dead and it was Fra Angelico's synthesis of their contrasting visions that would guide Florentine painting through the following decades.
The Virgin of the Pomegranate has been in the Alba family's collection since the 14th duke--whose enthusiasm for the Italian quattrocento was ahead of its time--acquired the picture in Florence in 1817. Removed to Spain, the painting was largely overlooked by scholars until its exposure in the 1955 exhibition in Florence marking the quincentenary of Fra Angelico's death. Seeing the panel first-hand caused John Pope-Hennessy and others to revise their attributions upwards and accept the work as an autograph early masterpiece.
At the same time as overseeing the transfer of the Virgin of the Pomegranate to the Prado, the present Duke of Alba has gifted the museum another Fra Angelico, a predella panel of the death of St Anthony Abbot, whose claims to autograph status have been strengthened by recent conservation.
Donal Cooper is a lecturer in Italian Renaissance art and a fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge.
Musee de Cluny, Paris Reliquary plaque with a devotional image, 14th century French Silver and basse-taille enamel, 17.5x12.8cm Purchased with the assistance of the Society of Friends of the Musee de Cluny
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Shirt of mail and plate of Al-Ashraf Sayf ad-Din Qaitbay, 18th Burji Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, c. 1416/18-96 Egyptian (?) Steel, iron, copper alloy, gold, 78.7x138.4cm Museum purchase funded by the Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, and Rogers, Acquisitions and Fletcher Funds
Art Institute of Chicago Christ Carrying the Cross, 1515/17 Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547) Oil on panel, 118x92cm Acquired through museum funds and endowments
Bowes Museum, Durham St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child, c. 1440-75 Workshop of Dieric Bouts the Elder (c. 1415-75) Oil on canvas, 109.2x86.4cm Acquired with the aid of funding from Art Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and a number of private donors
National Maritime Museum, London Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, c. 1590 English school Oil on oak panel, 110.5x127cm Acquired with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Art Fund, Linbury Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Headley Trust and other major donors, and public donations following a joint appeal with Art Fund
Stadel Museum, Frankfurt Study of the Head of a Boy Wearing a Workman's Cap, c. 1600 Christoforo Allori (1577-1621) Red chalk, 22x17cm Acquired with a donation from the Stiftung Gabriele BuschHauck, Frankfurt
Mauritshuis, The Hague Vase of Flowers in a Stone Niche, 1615 Roelant Savery (1576-1639) Oil on panel, 63.5x45.1cm Acquired with the support of the BankGiro Lottery, the Rembrandt Association, and a private individual
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles Danae and the Shower of Gold, c. 1621 Orazio Gentileschi (1563-1639) Oil on canvas, 161.5x227.1cm
Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon The Death of Chione, c. 1622-23 Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)
Oil on canvas, 109.5x159.5cm Acquired with the aid of 19 societies and national and local public institutions
National Gallery of Art, Washington A Woman Feeding a Parrot, with a Page, 1666 Caspar Netscher (1639-84) Oil on panel, 46x37cm Lee and Juliet Folger Fund
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm Suite of Beauvais tapestries, 1695 Manufactured at Beauvais to a design by Jean Baptiste Monnoyer (1636-99) and borders by Jean Berain (1640-1711) Wool and silk, four tapestries: c.280x230cm Ulla and Gunnar Trygg Fund
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge Pair of Castle Howard cabinets, c. 1625 Italian Ebony and rosewood cabinets, inlaid with pietra dura and mounted with gilt-bronze, each cabinet: 222x92x43.5cm Acquired with the support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), Art Fund, and numerous other benefactors
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven Dr Anthony Addington, 1790 Thomas Banks (1735-1805) Marble, 74x45.5x25.5cm Acquired through the Paul Mellon Fund
Musee du Louvre, Paris Teschen Table, 1779 Johann Christian Neuber (1736-1808) Wooden core clad with gilt bronze, hardstones, Saxony porcelain, ht 81.5cm Acquired with museum funds and the aid of public donations
Frick Collection, New York Melinda and Paul Sullivan Collection Gift: 14 Du Paquier porcelain objects, 18th century Pictured: Elephant Wine Dispenser, c. 1740, Du Paquier Porcelain Manufactory, Austrian (1718-1744), hard-paste porcelain, 23.2x46.4x15.3cm Gift of the Melinda and Paul Sullivan Collection
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas The Interior of Sant'Ambrogio, Milan, 1826 Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-28)
Oil on millboard, 34.9x42.9cm Museum purchase through the Kimbell Art Foundation
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts Robbins Collection Gift: 60 American paintings by New England artists, 19th-20th centuries Pictured: Peace and Harmony, Mount Washington from the Intervale, North Conway, 1865 Benjamin Champney (1817-1907), oil on canvas, 88.9x125.1cm Gift of the Sheila W. and Samuel M. Robbins Collection
National Gallery of Art, London Asbjorn Lunde Gift: One Norwegian and one Swiss landscape, 19th century Pictured: At Handeck, c. 1860, Alexandre Caiame (1810-64), oil on canvas, 39.4x24.5cm Gift of Mr Asbjorn Lunde, through the American Friends of the National Gallery
Tate, London Le Passeur (The Ferry), 1882 William Stott of Oldham (1857-1900) Oil on canvas, 109x214cm Acquired with funds provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Art Fund and The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation
Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio Mask, 1870 Saibai Island, Torres Strait (Northern Islands, Australia) Wood, human hair, shell, seedpod, fibre, pigment, melo shell and coix seeds, ht 72cm Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey
Detroit Institute of Arts Lotus Pond, c. 19th century Korean, Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) Eight-panel folding screen, ink and colour on paper, 155.6x293.1cm Museum purchase funded by the G. Albert Lyon Foundation Fund and L.A. Young Fund
Bayerische Staatsgemaldesammlungen and Staatiiche Graphische Sammlung, Munich Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne Gift: 58 graphic works, 18th-20th centuries Pictured: Femme au turban; verso: Sketch of the head, 1794, Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), pen and ink drawing over pencil, 37.2x26.1cm Gift of Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne
Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas Stammer Mill with Streaked Sky, 1905-07 Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) Oil on canvas, 74.3x96.5cm Museum purchase funded by the William Rockhill Nelson Trust through the George H. and Elizabeth O. Davis Fund
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Street Scene in front of a Hair Salon, 1926 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) Oil on canvas, 120x99.5cm Acquired with the aid of a number of private corporations and foundations, with local state support
Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts The Pregnant Woman, 1931 Otto Dix (1891-1969) Egg-tempera, mastic varnish, stand oil, and oil paint on linen, mounted on plywood, 83x62cm Purchased with endowed funds
Philadelphia Museum of Art Daniel W. Dietrich II Gift: 50 works of American art, 19th-20th centuries Pictured: The Rope and the Wishbone, 1936, Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), oil on board, 71.1 x61cm Bequest of Daniel W. Dietrich II
Getty Research Institute, Los Angleles Richard A. Simms Collection Gift: German works on paper, late 19th and early 20th century
Pictured: Woman with Dead Child, 1903, Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945), etching, drypoint, emery powder, soft-ground etching, and sandpaper, 46x55.9cm Gift of Richard A. Simms
Centre Pompidou, Paris Vladimir Potanin Foundation Gift: 250 works from the USSR and Russia, 1950-2000 Pictured: From the series Birth of a Hero, 1984-1985, Grisha Bruskin (b. 1945), seven sculptures: plaster, wood, cardboard, oil, various dimensions Gift of Vladimir Potanin Foundation
Museum of Modern Art, New York Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift: 102 works by artists from Latin America, 20th century Pictured: Visible Idea, 1956, Waldemar Cordeiro (1925-73), acrylic on wood, 59.9x60cm Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund
Los Angeles County Museum of Art Goldstein House, completed 1963; remodelled 1980-94 John Lautner (1911-94) Promised gift of James Goldstein
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|Title Annotation:||PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR|
|Article Type:||Cover story|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2016|
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