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Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.

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At Christie's Auction House:
At Bonhams Auction House:
Cleopatra's Needle
Jewels by JAR
INK ART: Past as Present in Contemporary China
METROPOLITAN VANITIES: The History of the Dressing Table
ILEANA SONNABEND: Ambassador for The New


Report for The Month of December 2013



With Chanukkah coinciding with Turkey Time, instead of coming closer to Christian Christmas--as opposed to Commercial Christmas--Anno 2013 was an Unusual Year in which One Greeting Card did not Fit All.

Of course, it's now almost Comical to connect any previously Religiously Inflected Holiday with its supposedly Original Intentions.

There is so much Holiday Merchandising in play that even Hallowe'en is now a Billion Dollar Business.

Even Old Englanders have ditched Guy Fawkes Day in favor of Witches & Goblins & Ghosts!

Anyhow, Who now worries about Dissident Catholics plotting to Blow Up Parliament?

There's No Danger of a new Gunpowder Plot threatening our own Capitol Hill, for Dissident Lawmakers may well Blow Up Each Other as well as the Two Houses of Congress

What did Shakespeare say? Something about A Plague on Both Your Houses?

Or was it Mercutio who said that

In any case, Who now remembers that Christmas rose out of the Smoking Embers of the Pagan Roman Saturnalia?

Or that Dr. Martin Luther's Weihnachtsbaum--O! Tannenbaum!, O! Tannenbaum!--had its Roots in Druidic Tree Worship?

Oy! The Royal Tennenbaums





At Christie's Auction House:

Let's Hear It for Edward Hopper! Multi Million Dollar Auction Sales for Depression Paintings!

Long before there was a Hurricane Sandy, there was an East Wind Over Weehawken.

In fact, during the Great Depression, there were a Great Many Winds over Weehawken.

During The Depression, that quintessential American Archivist of Loneliness, Edward Hopper, busied himself with recording some of the Depressing Sights he was experiencing.

He painted a Bleak Street Corner Scene in Weehawken in 1934, just after he'd had a MoMA Retrospective.

On 5 December 2013, however, that Unassuming Canvas sold at Christie's for $40,485,000!

If any of your Immediate Ancestors bought Depression Era Artworks--there were Federal Artist Programs to help Struggling Artists to survive--you may have a Hopper in the Attic

Take a Look!

The Hopper Market is booming, even Hopping!

In May 2013, Christie's sold Hopper's bleak vision of Blackwell's Island for $19,163,750.

If you want to see the Actual Weehawken Painting now, you need to travel down to Walmart Land, to Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

The Waltons don't pay their Work Force very well--Food Stamps are the Rule, rather than Bread--but they have Lots of Dough for Landmark American Landscapes.

In that Same Sale, $4.1 Million was bid for Hopper's Kelly Jenness House--which was only a Work on Paper.

Way back in November 2012, October on Cape Cod sold On Line at Christie's LIVE for $9.6 Million, a World Record--not only for a Hopper--but also for any item sold On Line by any International Auction House.

Let's Hear It for the Internet!

These Super Sales have made the name of Edward Hopper even more famous, not only in the Art World, but also in the World of Finance.

A Hopper on the Corporate Wall--or in a Kleptocrat Vault--has made Hopper a Market Leader, as well as a Hedge Against Inflation

But Hopper's East Wind wasn't the only Top Seller in that 5 December Auction.

How about $7,893,000 for George Bellows' Evening Swell?

Swell Fellows, Ed Hopper & George Bellows!

But American Women Artists were not to be despised either: A small panel of Two Calla Lillies brought $1,865,000.

But these weren't just Any Calla Lillies: No, indeed!

They had been painted, years ago, by Georgia O'Keeffe!

But a similar O'Keeffe Panel of Two Calla Lillies Together fetched only $1,205,000.

Also On Offer in this Epic Sale--Totals of $76,790,205!--were works by:

Norman Rockwell--$1,625,000 for The Thing to Do With Life Is Live It!

[For that Kind of Cash, you could certainly Do a Lot of Living]

John Singer Sargent--$1,805,000 for Mrs. Richard H. Derby.

Albert Bierstadt--$1,355,000 for Rocky Mountain Waterfall.

Charles Demuth--$1,685,000 for In the Key of Blue.

Childe Hassam--$1,505,000 for Man Standing in Street, which is only a Watercolor & Gouache


A Very Good Christmas Season at Christie's: $5.8 Million for Antiquities & Ancient Jewelry!

In the 13 December 2013 Auction Sale, there were no Million Dollar Bids, but the Basalt Bust of Emperor Philip the Arab won $317,000, even without a JFK Scanning & Security Check for his Arabness.

An impressive Greek Bronze Corinthian Helmet--Seventh Century BC, no less!--was bought for $185,000. Could it have seen Service in the Trojan War?

Two Roman Marble Heads were on offer: Venus & Pan

Venus fetched $221,000, with Pan going for $155,000.

As for Ancient Jewelry, a Scythian Gold Zoomorphic Handle was bought for $62,500.

Dealers & Collectors need to Get a Handle on such Soaring Prices.


"Magnificent Tiffanys" Also On Auction: Report Just In!

The Stunning Array of Tiffany Lamps on the Block for the 19 December Sale featured many Leaded Glass Lamp Shades of Designs seldom seen.

Top of the Lot & Fiercely Fought Over was the Pony Wisteria Tiffany, which finally sold for $220,000!

From The Collection of Mrs. Kersey Coates Reed, Lake Forest, Illinois, came three lamps by Jean Michel Frank.

One of them--a handsome Quartz Table Lamp--achieved $317,000, which is quite a Lot for a Light, when you really think about it

The Tiffanys were joined by 20th Century Decorative Arts & Design, featuring Rembrandt Bugatti's Elephant d'Asie En Marche [Grand Modèle], which fetched $725,000, which is a Big Sum for a Small Bronze.

Together, these Sales totaled almost Six Million Dollars.

If you can find even a Battered Tiffany Lamp Shade in your Attic, you may be In Luck


At Bonhams Auction House:

Norman Rockwell & Hiram Powers Star in American Art Auction.

On 4 December 2013, Bonhams raked in over $5 Million for American Art.

Two Saturday Evening Post Covers by its most Famous Illustrator, Norman Rockwell, did well.

Rockwell's amusing vision of a Girl Choosing a Hat realized $1,205,000.

The Facts of Life--a 1951 Post Cover--fetched $943,000.

[Odd Info: Years & years ago, Your Roving Arts Reporter once wrote for The Saturday Evening Post.]

That famed American Sculptor, Hiram Powers, was represented by The Ideal Christ--Head & Shoulders, not a Full Figure, which makes one wonder just how Ideal this Image of Christ may be.

But, even without the Christian Feet, Legs, & Torso, this Victorian Marble was purchased for $137,000!

You can currently admire the Wild West Bronzes of Alexander Phimister Proctor at the Met Museum, including his Stalking Panther, a copy of which was sold at Bonhams for $60,000.


At Bonhams, Fine Books & Manuscripts Do Not Sell in The Millions, But Do OK

Saul Steinberg's Ink & Crayon Satirical Scene, Allegory, sold for $25,000.

How about an Unpublished Poem by Russia's Anna Andreevna Akhmatova, which fetched $37,500?

Oddly enough, a Signed Photo of Ivan Alekseevich Bunin was sold for $31,250--not even a Manuscript, but then Bunin wasn't so much known for his Poetry as his Polemics.

Perhaps the Star of the Show was a Pre Publication Copy of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz.

Inscribed by both Baum & his Illustrator, William Wallace Denslow, it brought $87,500.

It is One of only Two Known Copies!

Oh! Bonhams also had a Fine Jewelry Sale, with a Type IIa Diamond going for $2,629,000.

That Type of Diamond contains little or no Nitrogen, making them among the Purest of the Pure.

Total Jewel Sales: Almost Nine Million Dollars!

Does this mean that The Economy is finally Recovering?


Looking Backward Toward Late November at Bonhams: Ted Turner's Treasures Total $6 Million

Speaking of The Wizard of Oz & Pre Publications, Noel Langley's Pre Production Draft of his Screenplay for The Wizard of Oz brought only $10,000.

Whereas: A Third Revised Final Draft of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane won $35,000.

This was the What Dreams Are Made Of Turner Sale, previously reported, but it's worth noting that Francis Ford Coppola's Working Copy of the Screenplay for The Godfather, brought its Previous Owner some $22,500.

Yes, that Lead Statue of The Maltese Falcon did, indeed, sell for over Four Million Dollars. That's a Lot of Bucks for a Chunk of Lead


Some very handsome European Furniture & Decorative Arts went on sale on 9 December 2013, but that was in the Los Angeles Bonhams, so there's no Sales Report on hand


At The Metropolitan Museum of Art:


Cleopatra's Needle

[Closing 8 June 2014]

Cleopatra VII--who was immortalized by Wm. Shakespeare, in Antony & Cleopatra--wasn't much of a Seamstress.

Cleo had Platoons of Slaves to do her Bidding, so what would she want with Needles?

Actually, the Noble Obelisks that Pharaoh Thutmose III commissioned for the Sun Temple in Heliopolis were later removed to Alexandria by Emperor Augustus, to adorn the Caesareum, founded by Cleopatra--who was once Julius Caesar's Beloved.

Sex with Caesar must have been Fabulous, for he was declared Divine! See George Bernard Shaw's Caesar & Cleopatra for Details.

Nonetheless, the Two Obelisks were still standing in 19th Century Alex.

London got One & Egypt's Khedive Ismail Pasha gifted the other to New York City, to be erected in Central Park!

Obelisks had long ago been removed from Egypt & taken to Rome by the Caesars, though they were later co opted by the Popes.

Obelisks were believed not just to be Symbols of Power, but to actually Contain Powers.

They were thought--in their Mysterious Hieroglyphs & under their Golden Capstones--to conceal

Arcane Secrets.

Obviously, Obelisks are an Erect Symbol of the Male Member as well.

Lowering America's Own Obelisk in Alexandria was a difficult Feat of Engineering, in itself.

But transporting it by Ship to Staten Island & moving it to Manhattan & onward to Central Park & Erecting Our Very Own Cleopatra's Needle was daunting indeed.

A Parade of some 9,000 Freemasons accompanied the Needle from the East River Dock at 96th Street.

Not only is that Golden Capstone on Our Dollar Bills, it is also is said to embody Masonic Secrets.

What's with Novus Ordo Saeclorum, anyway?

Now, after Centuries--even Millennia--of Wear & Tear, Cleopatra's Needle is in need of Repairs.

So, the Met Museum--which has the Needle in its Backyard!--has opened a Small Scale Exploration of Obelisks in General & Our Needle, in particular.

Nor have Met Curators neglected Other American Obelisks: How about that Washington Monument!

We even have Another Obelisk in Manhattan: the Monument to General William Worth, down on Fifth Avenue & 25th.

Worth was once the Youngest Commander of West Point, when he was only 22.

He is remembered not only in New York but also in Texas: Fort Worth!

In Florida, he is recalled with Lake Worth, in remembrance of his involvement with the Seminole Indians.

The United States was embarking on a Policy of Seminole Suppression & Removal.

General Worth was sympathetic to the Seminoles, but that didn't help either them or him. He died in Florida

Some years ago, when the Manhattan Worth Obelisk & Mortuary Monument had been restored--with the West Point Military Academy Band in attendance--the President of the Municipal Art Society pointed out that only Two Men, both US Generals, were buried in Manhattan, but not in Actual Cemeteries.

The other General has No Obelisk--just some Granite Eagles--but Grant's Tomb is indeed a Noble Monument, even if Long Closed to the Public.

After the Twin Towers were destroyed by Enemy Islamists, apparently someone in DC decided that Grant might also be a Target.

Julia Dent Grant lies in her own Sarcophagus in the Tomb, beside the Hero of Appomattox. Would the Taliban want to disturb her Eternal Rest?

As with those Easter Island Heads that are still lying horizontal in the Original Quarries, Unfinished, so also, on the Banks of the Nile, there are some Horizontal Obelisks, also unfinished.

I must have photographed them for INFOTOGRAPHY each time I've made the Journey Upriver to Aswan.

But the Khedives are long gone, so it's unlikely that they will ever be completed, raised, & gifted to the United Nations. Or to the Red Cross?


Jewels by JAR

[Closing 9 March 2014]

When some JAR Jewels were to be auctioned recently at Christie's--with Astronomical Opening Bids suggested--I looked some Piles of Diamonds & thought mistakenly that the Gems were to be offered in Jars Full Lots.

No! No! No!

JAR has nothing to do at all with Jars--Mason, Jam, or otherwise.

JAR is an Anagram for Joel A. Rosenthal, who has designed the many Glittering Jewel Studded Ornaments on view in the Met's Contemporary Galleries.

Here is what New York Magazine has to say about JAR & his Jewels:

The Bronx born Parisian Joel A. Rosenthal is an outrageous and notorious craftsman, carpeting every piece with tiny gems to produce subtle shadings of color and fantastic glitter. And this is his first ever American retrospective.

Frankly, I do not think I could have Said It Better

Nonetheless, this is a Must See Multi Million Dollar Gem Show, although there are No Guards equipped with Machine Guns, in case of a Gangland Heist.

Monsieur Rosenthal--born in NY & Harvard Educated--is not just about Jewels & Gemstones.

He also uses Beetle Wings, Butterflies, Steel, Aluminum, Wood, Titanium, & Silver, darkened by Chemical Processes.

There are some 400 Unique Masterworks on view.

This means that--if you really do have Big Bucks--you don't fly over to Paris on your Private Jet to order a Diamond & Platinum Necklace just like the one that Gwyneth Paltrow has loaned for this show.

As it is Very Unlikely that most of us Mere Mortals will be invited over for an Evening with Barry Diller & Diane von Fürstenberg, the Met is the place to see Diane's JAR Designed 1993 Diamond Ruby Platinum Ring.

Hey! Whatever became of Diane's Ex Hubby, Prince Egon von Fürstenberg ?

Designer Diane was once entitled to the Style & Title of Princess Diane!

Other Notable Lenders of JAR Masterworks include: HRH The Prince of Wales, the Marquise de Ravenel, Lady Lever of Manchester, Her Grace, the Duchess of Northumberland, Jamie Alexander Tisch, Chantal Miller, Lily Safra, & several stunning Items simply identified as: Property of a Lady.

Very Henry Jamesian, that

Wow! Here are the 80th Birthday Cufflinks of the Late Martin Norton.

They date back to 1991, so it's to be hoped that Martin lived long enough to insert them in the Cuffs of his Turnbull & Asser Shirts?

You may well wonder why the Rich & Famous would want to attach their Names to such Fabulous Jewels.

Wouldn't this Alert some Mafia Thugs from New Jersey to seek out their Manhattan--or Paris, or London--Town Houses & steal the Jewels when the Owners are away in the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands?

Or maybe in Davos or in Aspen?

Actually, exhibiting Such Treasures enhances their Provenance when Time comes to send them for Auction at Christie's!


INK ART: Past as Present in Contemporary China

[Closing 6 April 2014]

Although this Title suggests an Exhibition of Chinese Tattoo Art, that is not its Substance.

The Fundamental & Essential Chinese Means of Communication--aside from Actual Speech--has for Millennia been the Bold Brush Strokes of Chinese Calligraphy.

But the Form & Style of those Brush Strokes has also always been an Art in Itself.

Nonetheless, over the Centuries, Chinese Philosophers, Artists, & Scribes have evolved & changed the Written Language of Ideographs.

The Current Show seeks to document how Contemporary Artists are adapting the Language, the Themes, the Tools, the Techniques, & the Aesthetic to Special Visions & Changing Times.

One of the most Bizarre Employments of Inked Ideography is the Documented Performance of Zhang Huan, whose Face is gradually obliterated by Physiognomic Texts.

Large Scale Photo Reproductions of his Face being transformed are Big Sellers at Auctions at Christie's, Bonhams, & Philips de Pury.

There are Four Sections of Ink Inspired Artwork: The Written Word; New Landscapes; Abstraction, & Beyond the Brush.

The Latter Category is a Catch All for Videos & whathaveyou

There are Hanging Scrolls & Horizontally Unrolled Scrolls.

China's most famous Dissident Artist, Ai Wei wei is represented with Two Unusual Artistic Statements.

One is his Map of China, which is composed of Interlocking Ironwood Elements, saved from Destroyed Qing Dynasty Temples.

Among other Suggested Meanings, this may be read as a Mosaic of the Past.

Or, if you like, it can be a Symbol of the Cultural Diversity of Modern Post Maoist China!

My Favorite, however, is Ai Wei wei's Han Jar Overpainted with Coca Cola Logo.

For some Arcane Reason, Ai has omitted the © that always must accompany the Use of the Corporate Logo.

I still have my Free Ai Wei wei Maoist Red Carry Bag that was given me as a Protest Symbol when the Communist Government destroyed his Shanghai Studio.

Under Chairman Mao & those Millions of Little Red Books, inculcating his Disastrous Thought, more than Qing Temples were destroyed.

Ruins of the Past & Rising Commercial Temples of the Future are featured photographically in this Striking Exhibition of 70 Works by 35 Artists.


METROPOLITAN VANITIES: The History of the Dressing Table

[Closing 13 April 2014]

You won't find many Modern Male Vanities in this Small Scale Survey of Attempts To Be Beautiful over the Centuries & Millennia.

But that does not mean that Gentlemen of Fashion did not once have their own Shaving Tables.

What would Period Opera be without The Barber of Seville

Nonetheless, the Emphasis at the Met is on Milady's Boudoir, not Home Shaving.

It all began, apparently, with a Box!

So we get to see a variety of Boxes, as well as the Pruning Implements, Mirrors, & Cosmetics that would have been found in them.

Over time, these Boxes became more & more Elaborate, even Jeweled!

Yes, Cleopatra did indeed spend some time Making Up, before she was going to meet Marc Antony

Combining the Boxes & Their Contents with Flat Surfaces & Drawers--plus Much Larger Mirrors--led to the Development of the "Vanity."

Think of Les Grandes Courtesaines, or of Jean Harlowe & Art Deco Hollywood

The actual Dressing Table Cabinetry on view ranges from the 18th Century through the Minimalist Present.

Michael Graves certainly wasn't into Inlaid Cabinet Work.

Curiously, at the recent Press Preview, I was the Only Male Reporter on hand.



[Closing 13 April 2014]

Actually, in the Real Old West, the Dominant Metal was not Bronze--which is the Basic Artist Material of the 65 Sculptures now on view at the Met--but LEAD.

As in Bullets or Buckshot!

Nonetheless, as the Old West receded into American Memories & Fictive Imaginations, a Public Appetite for Solid Reminders of Indians, Prospectors, Cowboys, Cougars, Panthers, & Buffalo began to grow.

Among the American Artists who Answered the Call were Frederic Remington, Alexander Phimister Proctor, Charles M. Russell, & Frederick William MacMonnies.

Even that Art Deco Sculptor par excellence, Paul Manship, provided a sleek, Modernist Vision with Indian Hunter & His Dog.

Teddy Roosevelt is on view, not only in Bronze, but also in Period Photos.

The Met obviously could not haul that Heroic Roosevelt on Horseback Bronze across Central Park from the American Museum of Natural History

This is a Traveling Exhibition, the first time such a Comprehensive Overview of The Old West in Bronze--with some Evocative Oils as well--has ever been Mounted.

Speaking of Mounts, there seems a Superfluity of Tired Indians & Romping Cowboys on Horseback.


At MoMA--The Museum of Modern Art


ILEANA SONNABEND: Ambassador for The New

[Closing 21 April 2014]

Yes! Ileanna Sonnabend was Legendary!

She was, as they say, a Legend in Her Own Time

Curiously, although her Family Name means Evening Sun, the Modern Art she introduced to Gallery Goers & Astute Collectors in Paris [1962] & in Manhattan [1970] was not anytime soon going into the Sunset.

Sonnabend is rightly described in this Exhibition Title as an Ambassador: she not only introduced American Pop & Minimalism to Parisites & Europe in General, but she also aroused American Interest in such Continental Distractions as the Arte Povera of such Italian Talents as Mario Merz & Michelangelo Pistoletto.

The Great Fun of a Pistoletto Mirror Painting is that you can also see Yourself in the Composition!

This Intriguing Show is, in effect, a Sonnabend Celebration, occasioned by the Sonnabend Family Gift to MoMA of Robert Rauschenberg's Combine Canyon.

Actually, however, it looks more like an Excuse to Raid the MoMA Vaults for some of its Own Treasures.

In fact, Strolling through the Show--trying not to get in the way of Cell Phone Critic Photographers--is rather like a Walk Down Memory Lane

Old Friends & Old Favorites!

Jeff Koons! Jasper Johns! Robert Morris, John Baldessari!

Oh oh! Not to forget ANDY WARHOL!

Fortunately, there is a lot of Photo Documentation, just in case you never made it to the Paris Gallery, especially during an Installation.

But what would any Modern Art Exhibition be without one of those stark Black & White Photo Compilations of Bernd & Hilla Becher, featuring Old DDR Water Towers or Defunct Factories?

Here, however, we have Nine Gelatin Silver Prints of Old Mining Shaft Hoist Towers, called here Winding Towers.

Both Harvesting & Death are suggested by the Small Sized Sickle hanging from Jim Dine's Sickle.

Good that he didn't include a Hammer, along with the Sickle, for then it might suggest Commie Sympathies

What would we do without Gilbert & George?

Or Roy Lichtenstein, now that one of his Smaller Canvases was sold at Christie's for--what was it?--$140+Millions.

So: Let's Hear It for Bruce Nauman, William Wegman, Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselman, James Rosenquist, & Hiroshi Sugimoto!



Copyright © Glenn Loney 2013. No re publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney, Curator's Choice." Reproduction rights please contact:

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