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.

Your Paintings website puts UK’s art collections at your fingertips

paintings, Constable
An online collection now boasts half of all the publicly owned oil paintings in the United Kingdom.

Your Paintings was started in June by the BBC and the Public Catalogue Foundation and has already uploaded high-quality images of 104,000 oil paintings by 23,000 artists.

The goal is to put online all of the estimated 200,000 publicly owned paintings housed in some 3,000 institutions, making it a veritable Google Books of UK art. There are plenty of UK artists, as well as many other works from around the world and from all periods. While all are owned by the public, many are in buildings that aren’t generally open to the public, so this website helps make them available.

Right now the website is focusing on putting up all the oil paintings since that was the preferred medium of painters for several centuries, and a medium that British painters used quite well. Other media such as watercolor and tempera are represented, and more such paintings will probably go up in the future.

Users can tag paintings to help with the ongoing organization of the collection. There are also links to BBC’s online sound and video archives and various guided tours by different people in the art world.

The website also hosts regular online exhibitions. Currently there’s one on the arctic.

Detail from John Constable’s “The Hay Wain” courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Caixa Forum Madrid opens major exhibitition on Eugene Delacroix

Madrid, Liberté
Caixa Forum Madrid has teamed up with the Louvre and several other museums and galleries to host a major exhibition on French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix.

Delacroix (1798-1863) is most famous for his painting Liberté, shown above in this Wikimedia Commons image. This masterpiece commemorates the revolution of 1830 in which French king Charles X abdicated and fled to Great Britain. Absolute monarchy was abolished and a constitutional monarchy was created.

This exhibition brings together more than 130 works of the French master from all phases of his career and explores how he was inspired by Spanish painters such as Goya and later influenced Picasso. Unsatisfied with the artistic life in Paris, Delacroix set off to see the world and paint it. He was an adventure traveler in an age when that really meant something and many of his best paintings are of (then) hard-to-get-to countries. The painting below, courtesy Wikimedia Commons, shows The Women of Algiers in their Apartment.

Caixa Forum Madrid is an amazing free art gallery with three floors of exhibition space, a large bookshop, and a cool vertical garden in front. Visiting it is one of the ten best things to do in Madrid. The show runs until January 15, 2012. It will reopen at the Caixa Forum Barcelona in February.
Madrid

Missouri celebrates painter George Caleb Bingham’s 200th birthday

Missouri, missouri
He was one of America’s greatest regional painters, and next month he turns 200. George Caleb Bingham captured the life of fur trappers and steamboats along the Missouri River, and the horrible civilian cost of the Civil War.

A self-taught painter who grew up in Missouri, Bingham witnessed the state transform from an underpopulated frontier into a thriving center of commerce and agriculture. The above painting, Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, was painted in 1845 and captured a scene that was already becoming a thing of the past. Individual fur trappers, generally French, were being replaced by larger companies. His Luminist style and the little details like the cat earned him a lasting reputation. Actually, many researchers think it’s a bear cub, but it looks like a cat to me!

Bingham was a realist. The boy in the picture is half French and half Indian, a common enough sight in those days but not something that “respectable” society wanted to talk about. The original title for the painting was French Trader, Half-Breed Son, but the American Art Union changed the name when they put it on display. Yet another example of a powerful institution whitewashing America’s past.

Bingham was born 20 March 1811 and Missouri is planning several exhibitions and events. Kansas City’s famous Nelson-Atkins Museum will have an exhibition of his work from March 9 to December 2. At The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, there’s another Bingham retrospective from March 10 to September 9. There are several other events taking place to mark the bicentennial. You can find an entire list here.Perhaps his most famous painting is Order No. 11, Martial Law shown below. This order by Union General Thomas Ewing in 1863 forced civilians out of their homes in several Missouri counties bordering Kansas. It was in retaliation for a Confederate guerrilla raid that destroyed Lawrence, Kansas, killing 200 mostly unarmed men and boys. General Ewing knew that secessionist civilians helped the guerrillas, so he decided to move them out of the region. Bingham was a Union man and was as shocked as anyone else by the Lawrence Massacre, but he thought punishing civilians was unjust. His painting was an instant success and has become a permanent symbol of Missouri’s bitter Civil War. It will be on display at the Truman Museum exhibition.

[Fur Traders Descending the Missouri courtesy The Yorck Project. Order No. 11, Martial Law courtesy Americasroof]

Missouri, missouri

Six new hotels fuse art and luxury in Melbourne

I love it when art and hotels come together. I found a pair of gems in Orlando back in March, but what’s coming to Melbourne, Australia over the next two years is even more exciting. Indy luxury hotel group Art Series Hotels is spending $300 million to open six new properties — all focused on art. Each hotel will be inspired by a famous Australian artist in name and design, and each will be unique.

The first opened its doors last week. The Cullen is a boutique hotel in Prahran, Australia. At a cost of $48 million, it offers only 115 rooms and is home to more than 450 pieces by Adam Cullen. An in-house curator attends to the artwork. Two of Cullen’s custom designed cows grace the foyer, welcoming guests to an aesthetic treat. There are traces of Cullen all over the hotel — from the restaurants to the phone messages to the bikes and smart cars that guests can hire. Rates start at $208 a night.

The Olsen, which will be Art Series Hotels’ flagship property, is set to open in February 2010. Honoring painter John Olsen, it will be located on Chapel Street, right in Melbourne‘s shopping district. There will be 239 rooms on 15 storeys and will feature the world’s largest glass-bottomed swimming pool … which will hang over Chapel Street. The third hotel, the Blackman, is scheduled to open in April, with the remaining properties scheduled for 2011.