Current & Coming | By James Gardner

Then and Now: A museum’s museum

June 12, 2014  |  One of my earliest memories is from half a century ago and relates to something that I saw, and that astonished me, in the darkened halls of the American Museum of Natural History. I was four and my nanny was taking me-not for the first time, as I clearly recall-to the museum, a few blocks from where I grew up. On one of the upper floors, where you now see the dinosaurs, the museum displayed its gemstone and mineral collection, which was moved, about a decade later, to the ground floor. It must have been a weekday, because there was no one else in the cavernous hall. Suddenly I saw a man in a motorized wheel-chair glide by, "swifter than thought," along the terrazzo floors and disappear out a distant exit as quickly as he had come. Back then, unlike today, motorized wheelchairs were so rare that I would almost imagine they didn't exist, except that I saw one with my own eyes and have replayed the memory in my mind many times since.

Above: Mammal Hall, 1900. AMNH Digital Specia…» More

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Current & Coming | By James Gardner

Meet the Altamiras at the Met

May 22, 2014  |  Go to the Metropolitan and meet the Altamiras, one of the richest and most illustrious families of 18th Century Spain. Four of Goya's portraits of the family are assembled in one place for the first time in a century and a half. So illustrious was the family that the father, Vicente Joaquín Osorio Moscoso y Guzmán, 12th Conde de Altamira, was said to have more titles to his name than any Spaniard of his time. And though the family would ultimately lose most of its wealth in the catastrophic upheaval that followed Napoleon's invasion of Spain in 1808, at the time when Goya painted these four sitters, between 1786 and 1788, they seemed positively pink with prosperity.

Frequent visitors to the Met will already be familiar with two of these works, the Lehman Collection's pearline portrait of Maria Ignacia Álvarez de Toledo, Condesa de Altamira, holding an infant girl in her arms, and the portrait of Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga, Maria's younger son. The latter, a boy in a br…» More

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Current & Coming | By James Gardner

Object of devotion at MOBiA

May 20, 2014  |  It was big news in the museum world when the New York Times reported that a rare exhibition of Donatello, considered by some to be the finest sculptor of the Renaissance, was coming to New York City. But the venue for Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral (on view from February 20 through June 14, 2015), will not be the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the National Gallery in Washington, but rather the tiny Museum of Biblical Art (MOBiA), on Broadway and 61st Street. The exhibition will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the museum's founding, and the palpable incongruity between the show and its surroundings will be like having the Rolling Stones show up for some sweet sixteen party.

The Museo del Duomo in Florence is currently undergoing renovations and the major museums that were approached with the exhibition felt that they would not have enough time to mount it properly. And so it comes to MOBiA, one of the worthiest if leas…» More

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Current & Coming | By ANTIQUES Staff

Chrysler Museum reopens

May 9, 2014  |  Visitors approaching the grand front entrance of Norfolk, Virginia's Chrysler Museum of Art on its reopening on May 10 could be forgiven for not realizing that a major transformation has taken place. So seamlessly have the flanking wings been enlarged and the gardens in front of them so surreptitious­ly moved forward that it is on­ly when inside that the impact of the seventeen-month reno­vation and expansion becomes evident. In its new spaces and reconfigured galleries the mu­seum presents a fresh look at its collections, with its long­standing strengths in glass and European and American paint­ing and sculpture as well as newer areas, such as contem­porary art. 

Within a broadly chrono­logical progression of paint­ing, sculpture, and decorative arts the curators have creat­ed several provocative "inter­ventions": in a gallery devoted to seventeenth-century Italian art, a 1954 Robert Richenburg Pieta so abstract that it takes some looking to discern the image of the dead Chri…» More

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Current & Coming | By ANTIQUES Staff

Current and coming: Charles James at the Met

May 6, 2014  |  The subtitle of the Met's Charles James exhibition, "Beyond Fashion," is suitably vague, hint­ing at an exalted realm where even the most extrava­gant fashion su­perlatives will be inadequate. Then, too, the phrase is meant to suggest that what lies beyond fashion must inevitably be art. Certainly James's designs have been so described almost from his first decade as a couturier in the 1930s: "Charles James is...the world's best and only dress­maker who has raised it from an applied art form to a pure art form," no less a personage than Cristóbal Balenciaga declared in a compliment that has become more or less routine.

Evening dress in black silk-rayon velvet, red silk satin, brown silk faille, and black silk crepe by James, 1946. © Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metro­politan Museum of Art, gift of Arturo and Paul Peratto-Ramos.

The Met will display some seventy-five of the master's designs, all instantly recog­nizable for their dramati…» More

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NYG 2013

by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton

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