Category: News from Art Scene

Rare Chinese art collection rediscovered

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Rare Chinese art collection rediscovered

A university coordinator stumbles upon 15 handmade propaganda pieces made decades ago.

Propaganda pieces produced in China four decades ago during the Cultural Revolution have been unearthed in a storage room at the University of Michigan — a rare find in either the U.S. or its country of origin, experts said.

The rediscovery of the 15 poster-sized papercut images illustrating the political upheaval of the era is a pleasant surprise to scholars studying a society that was largely closed off from the West. The images are cut out of red paper in the same way that artists customarily create decorations for Chinese New Year celebrations and other festivities. They include glowing portrayals of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong and Red Guards burning books and trampling on a Buddhist statue.

The handmade images were stored at the university’s Center for Chinese Studies, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Carol Stepanchuk, the center’s community outreach coordinator, found them while sorting through boxes in its storage room. She said the collection of 15 framed images “stood out.” The frames weren’t in great shape, but the images were in “remarkably good condition,” she said.

Stepanchuk took them to her office and brought the find to the attention of faculty members, who marveled at the rarity and quality of an entire set that tells a coherent story.

The late scholar Michel Oksenberg, who taught at the university for two decades, collected the papercuts while doing research in Hong Kong in the early 1970s and donated them to the center when he left in 1991 to lead the East-West Center in Honolulu.

Ena Schlorff, the center’s program coordinator, remembered the donation.

“We were storing them for future consideration,” said Schlorff, who had been Oksenberg’s personal secretary. “It took the newer faculty … to realize the current importance of this collection.”

Associate history professor Wang Zheng said the collection was produced at a small, folk art institute in the southern province of Guangdong, and it most likely wasn’t commissioned by Communist Party leaders. She said it shows how young artists at the time understood and related to the decade-long Cultural Revolution, and she plans to use one of the images in a book she is writing.

“They did not have embedded interests in the establishment, and the Cultural Revolution was to smash the establishment,” Zheng said. “The young ones who didn’t have power … likely identified with it.”

Zheng said it’s rare for the English-speaking world to have access to such visual historical documents. Even in China, she said, this collection probably would not have survived because it features Mao alongside Lin Biao, who was accused of plotting a coup against Mao and deemed a traitor. He died in a plane crash while flying to the Soviet Union in 1971.

“This whole project would be politically incorrect,” she said.

Xiaobing Tang, a professor of Chinese literature and visual culture, said in a university release that the images are more valuable than others found online because of their complexity and detail. He estimated that each papercut could be worth more than $150 to a serious collector.

The university has no immediate plans for a public display of the actual papercuts but has digitized the images and posted them online.

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Theory claims van Gogh didnt kill himself

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New questions surround the death of Van Gogh

Two American authors present an entirely different account of how the famous artist died.

Vincent Van Gogh has long been a poster boy for geniuses who appreciated only after death. Not one of his paintings sold during his life. But while his creative legacy is undisputed, a new theory has raised some doubts about the official story of his death.

CBS “60 Minutes” recently aired a story of two journalists who believe Van Gogh may not have taken his own life. Instead, they believe) that the iconic painter may have been murdered.

They also published a book to advance their claim. Van Gogh: A Life by Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh, argues that the great impressionist painter, was probably murdered by two local teenagers. Before this book, most people believed that Van Gogh shot himself in a field before stumbling into her room, where he died more than a day later.

The book, which argues that Van Gogh had lied to protect his alleged attackers, because he wanted to die, raises some interesting questions. Why, for example, were the brushes and easel that Van Gogh had with him on the ground has never recovered? Why does not anyone find a suicide note? And why were unable to locate the investigators of the gun that Van Gogh would have been used on himself?

However, some experts remain unswayed by the new theory. Leo Jansen, curator of the Van Gogh Museum and the editor of the letters of the artist, noted that Van Gogh: A Life is a “great book”, but the authors of the lack of solid evidence in support of their thesis.

Jansen also noted that all we really need to go on what Van Gogh said while he was dying. Van Gogh was asked if he intended to kill himself, and he would have said, “Yes, I believe.”

You can watch the entire “60 Minutes” segment above and decide for yourself.

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Jennifer Aniston spends $450,000 on painting

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Jennifer Aniston

The actress and her beau, Justin Theroux, are the highest bidders at a celeb auction.

Jennifer Aniston was the winning buyer at Christie’s glitzy “Artists for Haiti” auction in NYC on Thursday — where beau Justin Theroux did the bidding on her behalf.

Actor-screenwriter Theroux, 40, helped his love, 42, snag American artist Glenn Ligon’s “Stranger #44,” an abstract 2011 work of oil, charcoal and graphite on canvas that seems to match his downtown hipster tastes.

At the auction, “Stranger #44″ (pictured with artist Glenn Ligon and Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem) was estimated at $150,000 to $200,000.

But Aniston helped shatter the record for sales of Ligon’s work, spending a whopping $450,000 on the 72″ by 60” painting, an Artists for Haiti rep confirms to Us.

Reports Artinfo.com: “Aniston, who was in the room, clapped enthusiastically after [Theroux’s] winning bid.”

Benefiting health and education initiatives for Haiti, The “Artists for Haiti” auction — artists donated their works for the cause — was co-organized by Ben Stiller, and raised $13,662,000.

After the auction, Stiller, 40, and his wife Christine Taylor hung out with Theroux and Aniston for a late dinner at Il Cantinori. “They seemed to be having a lot of fun with Ben and his wife, like old friends,” a witness said. “Ben paid for everyone,” the witness adds.

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Stunning amateur photos highlighted in National Geographic feature

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National Geographic

An image from one of the world’s most colorful festivals is among a magazine’s top reader submissions.

National Geographic is renowned for its professional photojournalism, but the photos that readers themselves shoot and submit are often just as amazing. Every weekday, the magazine’s editors choose their Daily Dozen favorites, and those that are rated highest by online visitors are made available for download in National Geographic’s Weekly Wrapper as computer wallpaper. The image shown here was shot at the Goroko show in Papua, New Guinea, which is one of the most colorful festivals on Earth.

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Art Burger: New Website Launched

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Art Burger: New Website Launched

Art Burger is an Art Canyon Project, a new website launched specifically dedicated to help customers to reach new posters and artworks in a fantastic way of sharing & finding solutions for home decorating.

We urge you to visit and benefit from this website by clicking the following link : http://art-burger.com/

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Chinese artist makes himself ‘invisible’ in photos

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Chinese artist makes himself 'invisible' in photos

A Chinese artist becomes a living sculpture by using paint to blend in with his surroundings.

You might say that Liu Bolin likes to blend in. But the Chinese artist does more than just wear camouflage pants and stand next to a bush. With the help of some assistants, Bolin paints himself, head to toe and unassumingly just stands there–in grocery stores, next to piles of coal, on staircases, you name it. And, unless you look really closely, you’ll miss him entirely–which is pretty much the point.

It turns out that the process of making oneself truly invisible is quite painstaking. According to a report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, Bolin spends hours perfecting his poses to ensure that he’ll mesh with his background. Bolin then stands “in front of backdrops with a team of two assistants to paint the camouflage on his clothes.”

The “camouflage” can be anything, so long as Bolin segues seamlessly into the backdrop. Aside from looking cool, Bolin’s work does have a deeper meaning. Again according to the Daily Mail, the living sculptures are “designed to show how we all can just disappear in today’s mass production world.” And how! The photo of Bolin standing in front of a grocery store shelf full of soda cans and bottles is full of color, shading and shadow.

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Stunning trove of Picasso art uncovered

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Stunning trove of Picasso art uncovered

A retired French couple has come forward with 271 never-before-seen pieces.

A retired French electrician and his wife have come forward with 271 undocumented, never-before-seen works by Pablo Picasso estimated to be worth at least 60 million euros ($79.35 million), an administrator of the artist’s estate said Monday.

The electrician, who once worked for Picasso, and his wife for years squirreled away the staggering trove — which is believed to be authentic — inside a trunk in the garage of their home on the French Riviera.

The cache, dating from the artist’s most creative period from 1900 to 1932, includes lithographs, portraits, watercolors, and sketches — plus nine Cubist collages said to be worth 40 million euros alone, according to French daily Liberation, which first reported Monday on the discovery.

Pierre Le Guennec, a 71-year-old former electrician, and his wife showed many of the works to Picasso’s son Claude and other estate administrators in Paris in September, seeking to have the works authenticated, Picasso Administration lawyer Jean-Jacques Neuer.

Shortly after that meeting, Neuer filed suit on behalf of Picasso’s heirs for alleged illegal receipt of the works. Police investigators are looking into how Le Guennec and his wife, Danielle, came by the pictures.

“This was a gift,” Danielle Le Guennec told The Associated Press by phone from their home in the town of Mouans-Sartoux, near the tourist Riviera hotspot of Antibes. “We aren’t thieves. We didn’t do anything wrong.”

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8-year-old prodigy is new art world star

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Kieron Williamson

Just three years after picking up pencils and paper, Britain’s “mini Monet” Kieron Williamson has a waiting list 3,000 long.

He’s Britain’s most talked-about young artist. His paintings fetch hefty sums and there’s a long waiting list for his eagerly anticipated new works.

It has all happened so quickly — he’s still getting used to the spotlight — and Kieron Williamson fidgets a little when he’s asked to share his thoughts on art.

“Cows are the easiest thing to paint,” said Kieron, who has just turned 8. “You don’t have to worry about doing so much detail.”

Horses, he says, are “a lot harder. You have to get their legs right, and you have to make their back legs much bigger than their front.”

Paintbrush prodigy Kieron — dubbed “mini Monet” by the British press — is a global sensation. All 33 of the pastels, watercolors and oil paintings in his latest exhibition sold, within half an hour, for a total of 150,000 pounds ($235,000). Buyers from as far away as the United States lined up overnight outside the gallery, and there is a 3,000-strong waiting list for his Impressionistic landscapes of boat-dotted estuaries, snowy fields and wide marshland skies.

He has a website and a business card. Strangers approach him at the gallery, asking him to sign postcards of his work. Journalists from around the world travel to his small home town in eastern England to interview him.

Kieron shrugs off the attention. “It feels normal to me,” he says.

It definitely doesn’t feel normal to his parents, Keith and Michelle Williamson. They are bemused, proud and a little anxious about their son’s talent and its effects.

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