Seen and Heard

Editorial Staff Exhibitions


London-based Asian art specialist Ben Janssens, who was injured in a cycling accident last August, has resigned as chairman of the European Fine Art Fair after seven years. He will continue serving on TEFAF’s board of trustees and as chairman of its Antiquairs section. Willem van Roijen succeeds Janssens, replacing acting TEFAF chairman Robert Aronson.

Joshua W. Lane (left) has been named the Lois F. and Henry S. McNeil Curator of Furniture at Winterthur Museum. Lane, curator of furniture at Historic Deerfield since 2000, assumes the post on April 14. He directed Historic Deerfield’s Summer Fellowship Program between 2005 and 2012.  Lane replaces Wendy Cooper, who retired last year.

Malcolm Rogers, director of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts since 1994, will retire.  The activist director oversaw an era of explosive growth at the MFA culminating with the opening of the new Art of the Americas Wing in 2010 but was at times criticized at times for his aggressive management style. Rogers, who is staying until a successor is found, also announced two new curatorial chairs. Frederick Ilchman will head Art of Europe while Benjamin Weiss leads Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

Helen A. Cooper is retiring May as Yale University Art Gallery’s curator of American paintings and sculpture. Director Jock Reynolds credited Cooper with enlarging Yale’s holdings of early Modernist paintings and sculpture and nineteenth century landscape views during her 39 year tenure.



Winterthur Museum has a hit on its hands with its new show “Costumes of Downton Abbey,” which opened at the Delaware institution on March 1 and remains on view through early next year.  The ticketed exhibition features costumes and accessories, on loan from Cosprop, worn by the stars of the widely viewed PBS series.  “To date we have over 22,000 tickets reserved through the run of the exhibit, with nearly 8,000 in May alone,” says Jeff Groff, Winterthur’s director of public programs.  Guest lectures are also selling out.



In a letter to Maine Antique Digest, the always outspoken Graham Arader writes that the business model employed by Sotheby’s – and, by extension, most of its competitors – offers slim hope for success. “The simple fact is that rich people – 200 people comprise 80% of Sotheby’s business -demand a huge amount of service,” says the Pennsylvania dealer, who speculates that net profit margins, perhaps  15% in Sotheby’s case, are simply too low to accommodate concierge service.  Sotheby’s has been under withering attack from hedge-fund manager Daniel Loeb.

As the world gets smaller and its wealth concentrated in fewer hands, the top 500 artists now account for 75% of auction sales, reports Art Market Monitor. Due out in June is veteran market watcher Georgina Adam’s new book on the effect of globalism on the markets, Big Bucks: The Explosion of the Art Market in the 21st Century .  



As reported here and here, London’s National Gallery of Art recently unveiled George Bellows Men of the Docks, 1912. In a controversial move, Randolph College in Virginia sold the painting to the museum for $25.5 million. The Brooklyn view is the first major American work to enter the National Gallery’s collection. The acquisition signals growing interest in American art outside of this country.

Through June 1, Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut is examining the transatlantic exchange in “Lyme Artists Abroad.”

Café at Biskra, Algiers by Willard Metcalf, 1887. Oil on wood panel, 10 ½ by 16 in. Florence Griswold Museum.



February, Nassau, Bahamas by Harry Leslie Hoffman, ca. 1920. Watercolor and gouache over chalk on board, 15 by 21 15/16 inches. Florence Griswold Museum.




Of all that has been said about the Museum of Modern Art’s decision to tear down the American Folk Art Museum, few have said it more eloquently than Michael Sorkin. Writing in The Nation, the critic lament’s MoMA’s callous indifference to the qualities that most distinguish the building designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien: a craft aesthetic and a scale commensurate with 53rd Street’s row-house history,  “values that are central to the city’s memory, respect, even compassion…,” says Sorkin.

See also: “For the love of architecture,” from September/October 2013



Historic New England is seeking nominations for its annual Prize for Collecting Works on Paper, an award given to a collector or dealer who has assembled or helped save ephemeral material that otherwise would have been lost or gone unrecognized.  Past recipients include Charles Burden, Nelson Dionne, M. Stephen Miller, DeWolfe & Wood Antiquarian Book Dealers, Bryant F. Tolles, Jr., Philip H. Jones, and Kenneth W. Rendell. The deadline for nominations is March 27.