Andy Warhol Exhibit Opens In China, But His Chairman Mao Portraits Are Forbidden

Andy Warhol
The Power Station of Art in Shanghai has opened a new exhibition by Andy Warhol, but the famous pop artist’s portraits of Chairman Mao have been left out of the picture.

Agence France-Presse reports that the Andy Warhol Museum, which created the traveling exhibition, was told by the Chinese government that images of Mao would not be needed. Warhol painted many pictures of the Chinese revolutionary leader, such as this one hanging in Berlin shown here courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

As everyone knows, China has been reinventing itself as a capitalist superpower while still maintaining its Communist leadership. Images of Chairman Mao have been steadily disappearing from public display because the new China doesn’t jive with his idea of a peasant revolutionary Communist state. Bringing up memories of his Cultural Revolution, which saw countless works of art destroyed, also doesn’t sit well with Shanghai’s new image as a center for the arts.

The traveling exhibition, titled “Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal,” has already been to Singapore and Hong Kong and will run in Shanghai until July 28, at which point it will continue on to Beijing and Tokyo.

Van Gogh Painting Losing Its Luster

Van GoghVincent Van Gogh is famous for the brilliant colors he used in his paintings, but one of them is beginning to fade.

“Flowers in a Blue Vase,” owned by the Kröller-Müller Museum in The Netherlands, is showing signs of deterioration. Specifically, the brilliant yellows are beginning to crack and turn gray.

The museum stated in a press release that it decided to take two tiny samples from the painting and have them analyzed. Imagine being charged with the task of popping off pieces of a Van Gogh painting! Anyway, the samples were sent off to a laboratory that found that a varnish added to protect the painting after the artist’s death included lead that reacted to cadmium in the yellow paint to gradually turn the paint gray.

Even more worrying, the varnish seems to have absorbed some of the underlying paint, thus making it hard to remove without causing damage to the picture. Now other museums owning Van Goghs will need to check to see if this type of varnish was used on their art treasures.

Koen Janssens, who led the research team, stated that, “paintings by Vincent Van Gogh are not static entities for decades and centuries to come. Over a period of 100 years, they can actually be considered a fairly reactive cocktail of chemicals that behaves in unexpected manners.”

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Remodeled Hunterian Art Gallery In Glasgow Reopens With Rembrandt Exhibition

Hunterian Art Gallery
The Hunterian Art Gallery, part of the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, has just reopened after a nine-month remodel that expanded its exhibition space.

Its opening show is “Rembrandt and the Passion,” which showcases one of the Hunterian’s most famous works of art, Rembrandt’s “Entombment Sketch,” alongside the final painting of the “Entombment” (shown here courtesy the University of Leipzig) and about 40 other masterpieces.

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) was one of Europe’s greatest painters and printmakers. This exhibition explains how the “Entombment Sketch” served as the model for the later painting. Rembrandt had been commissioned to create a series of paintings on the Passion of Christ for the Prince of Orange. It was one of the most important commissions of his career and helped give him a permanent standing among Europe’s major artists.

Since the sketch is in Glasgow and the final painting is usually in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, this is a rare opportunity to see them side by side. The exhibition also examines Rembrandt’s studio, his painting process, inspiration and the techniques he used.

Besides its art gallery, the Hunterian Museum has a large collection of art and artifacts from all periods – everything from dinosaur bones to 19th century medical equipment – and a new permanent exhibition on the Antonine Wall, which was briefly the northernmost border of the Roman Empire in Scotland.

“Rembrandt and the Passion” runs from September 15 to December 2.

6-Year-Old Saves Manet Painting For UK (With A Little Help)

ManetLast weekend my family and I visited the Ashmolean Museum here in Oxford. My 6-year-old son loves this place because of all the headless statues, the bow you can use to shoot deer in the Prehistoric Europe room, and the gold coin of the Roman emperor Julian, who he’s named after.

In the European art section we came across several paintings by Manet. One was “Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus,” painted in 1868. The Ashmolean has been campaigning to keep this painting in the UK.

As an Ashmolean press release explains, “The painting was purchased by a foreign buyer in 2011 for £28.35 million. Following advice from the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, the picture was judged to be of outstanding cultural importance and was placed under a temporary export bar … the painting was made available to a British public institution for 27% of its market value.”

So the museum set out to raise £7.83 million ($12.25 million). Julian puzzled through the fundraising plea with a serious look on his face, reached into his pocket for some coins, and plunked them in the box.

Three days later the Ashmolean announced they’d raised the money.

This is what I love about museums. They connect people with the world’s heritage. In some cases, like with the Ashmolean, they connect them for free. Art like this doesn’t belong in the living room of some asshole banker who makes his money from sub-prime mortgages and keeps it in offshore accounts. More and more, art and antiquities are seen as investments for the super rich, commodities to be bought and sold instead of appreciated. I’ve had to mingle with these plastic people in galleries like Sotheby’s in London. It’s the only chance I have to see the art for sale there before it disappears into a private collection.

I don’t even like Manet all that much, but that’s not the point. His work has touched millions of people for more than a century. So congratulations, Ashmolean, thanks for keeping this painting in the public eye where it belongs. And thanks for teaching my kid an important lesson in democracy.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Postage stamp-inspired paintings by Molly Rausch


Ever wanted postage stamp-inspired paintings? Molly Rausch can give you what you want, in that case. And even if you’ve never had an itch to acquire a stamp-themed painting with any cognizance, you might still want to check out her work. Rausch is an artist based out of New Paltz, New York. Her stamp art began 14 years ago when she received an envelope filled with foreign stamps from her father. Her paintings begin with an actual stamp and she proceeds to paint an image around the glued-on stamp. Since stamps are small, her paintings are, too. They’re usually about 3 inches tall. After flipping through her work on her website, I have to say, I like it–it’s a great concept. You might, too. And if you do, throw some travel-related art on your walls, courtesy of Ms. Rausch.

Landscape Painting Techniques