Picasso Painting Sells for $45

Picasso Painting Sells for $45 thumbnail

Pablo Picasso’s “Seated Woman in a Blue Dress” has sold in New York for $45 million dollars, news agencies report. Says the BBC site:

It is one of the great Picasso portraits of his middle years, inspired—as so often—by love and by powerful sexual desire, BBC arts correspondent Vincent Dowd reports.

Judge for yourself. The real news here seems to be that it last sold six years ago for a mere $26 million, making this a very nice flip.

Correction: The painting sold for $45 million, not $45. 

Sotheby’s European Art, May 24th 2017


Sotheby’s New York on York Avenue holds its annual auction of miscellaneous “European art” on Wednesday May 24th. Items include works from “the most celebrated artists of the era, including William Bouguereau, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Jean-Léon Gérôme and Henri Gervex.” Era appears to be 19th century.

Gérôme, who did this fighting-cock piece in 1846, is thus described on the website for the Musée D’Orsay:

Naked Greeks with Chickens

In the “Neo-Grec” style, characterised by a taste for meticulous finish, pale colours and smooth brushwork, Gérôme portrays a couple of near-naked adolescents at the foot of a fountain. Their youthfulness contrasts with the battered profile of the Sphinx in the background. The same opposition is found between the luxuriant vegetation and the dead branches on the ground, and in the fight between the two roosters, one of which is doomed to die.

In the chorus of praise for the work, few commentators noticed the artist’s disillusioned attitude. Hardly anyone but Baudelaire criticised the canvas, calling Gérôme the leader of the “meticulous school”, and finding him weak and artificial. The public preferred the opinion of Théophile Gautier who saw in The Cock Fight “wonders of drawing, action and colour”. At the age of twenty-three, Gérôme therefore made a brilliant entry into the art world and thereafter pursued the official career he had planned for himself, punctuated with honours and rewards.

Whichever, it appears the Musée D’Orsay is getting rid of it, and now’s your chance to hang it over your mantlepiece.

Restroom Galleries, Beware!

Art, column
Restroom Galleries, Beware! thumbnail

The current fad of young people taking snaps of themselves in the bathroom continues to puzzle me.

Typically they use their little toy ‘smartphones,’ which typically have a hole at the back, through which they can shoot a dim photo.

What is it about bathrooms that they find so alluring? And what happens to the snaps afterwards? Do these youngsters paste them into a scrapbook or photograph album? Make postcards? They are most unappealing.


I am reminded of my old friend James Hervey Johnson, onetime city tax assessor and papaya fancier in San Diego. For most of his life he snapped a picture of himself nearly every day. Many of these he pasted into a photo album.

I suggested to Hervey that he mount an exhibition of this lifetime cavalcade in one of the new avant-garde galleries in La Jolla or the Gaslamp Quarter, but he couldn’t be bothered.

This is before we had toy phones that could snap pictures. Hervey never photographed himself in a bathroom, I believe.

Alex Martinis Roe



I have no idea what this is, but it looks good.

Walking into The Showroom, you might think you’ve made a wrong turn into a feminist group’s meeting. But look past the DIY aesthetics and give this exhibition time – you’ll be rewarded by the political resonance and relevance of Alex Martinis Roe’s work.

From TimeOut London.

France in the Grip of Cold Terror

Commentary, Newsbrief
France in the Grip of Cold Terror thumbnail

The expected news that Emmanuel Macron would win the presidential runoff in France on Sunday accounted for many bitter tears on the part of «Le Penistes» and yet it was not wholly a surprise.

For many years it has been apparent that voters in Western “democracies” are generally willing to trade the health of their peoples and nations in exchange for short-term economic stability.

Whether or not the Macron regime will collapse in short order, as most French regimes have in the past century, remains to be seen. As Herbert Asquith liked to say, “Wait and see!”

More Art Is on Its Way This Week

Art, Newsbrief
More Art Is on Its Way This Week post image More Art Is on Its Way This Week thumbnail

Art lovers in NYC who have been dying to visit more galleries and see more artworks of quality ranging from excellent to meretricious, are in for a treat. For more art is on its way!

Renoir’s Little Girl in Blue Dress

The exact number of art galleries in the city ranges between 500 and 5,000, depending on whether one counts such things as museums, student exhibitions, photography displays, furniture showrooms, and pop-up art shows. Many of the best galleries, such as the late, lamented Dorian Grey in the East Village, survive for only a few seasons before moving on.



Contrariwise, the Upper East Side is dotted with commercial galleries that exist for many decades, whether as vanity operations or a reliable source for realtors’ decorations.

For those willing to make the trip to Brooklyn, a sumptuous array of small galleries may reveal themselves in the cleaner and more inhabitable areas. Neighborhoods with retail shops and a plethora of cafés are a good place to find them!

“For I’m to Be Queen of the May, Mother, I’m to Be Queen of the May”


Evidently certain folks like to entertain themselves by writing “funny” lyrics to well-known folk and popular tunes.

This works very well as private amusement, I suppose, but isn’t it a bother when you find yourself faced with eight or ten stanzas supposedly “Sung to the Tune of the ‘Haircrofters’ Ball'”? Or some other ditty that the amateur lyricist remembers from a piano-book of his youth, but which is now lost to time.

That is annoying enough, but it’s even worse when you are given an alternate name for the tune, one with which you are unfamiliar. You may not be too befuddled when you see “Over Hill Over Dale” named as the tune to words that clearly have the meter of “The Caisson Song.” And you probably know that “O Maryland My Maryland” has approximately the same melody as “O Tannenbaum.”

But what are you to do when someone is thinking of “Little Brown Jug” but tells you sing to the tune of “Ha! Ha! Ha!”?

In my childhood there was a popular song about a Red Indian maiden, recorded by many a dance band, to which we had the sheet music in our piano bench. As I recall, its correct name was “Red Wing.” But recently, in our weekly newspaper, there were lyrics that seemed to have a similar cadence but which we were advised were written for the music of the song, “The Happy Farmer Returning from Work.”

My researchers tell me that “Red Wing” was a popular adaptation of that earlier work. But who in this day and age would know that?

Less forgivable, I feel, is the wordsmith who sent me a couple of stanzas that she insisted were to be sung to the tune of “There Once Was a Union Maid Who Never Was Afraid.”


DEVO: The First Half-Century

Art, Newsbrief

Mark Mothersbaugh: MYOPIA at the Grey Art Gallery, NYU.
April 26 – July 15, 2017.
100 Washington Square East, NYC.

One of those rare multimedia installations worthy of repeat visits, and full of enjoyment for the entire family. Mom and Dad will like it because it will take them back to the heyday of the “Dada-Punk” new-wave rock combo called DEVO. The kids will love it for its funny cartoons and Dalek-like electronic calliopes.

In-betweens will rejoice over the surrealistic “We Are DEVO” video playing on the south wall. Popcult historians will be happy to find out who the hell was Booji Boy, hero he of decades-old cult video. See video also.

“Booji Boy” (pronounced “Boogie” for reasons too minuscule to go into) was an alias of Mothersbaugh himself, as we see from manic, fantastical, Burroughsesque journals and scrapbooks shown here. These go back nearly five decades, but he hasn’t been wasting his time.

We’re pinheads now, We are not whole

Dots and Slopes

Art, Newsbrief

Kim Yong-Ik. April 27 – June 17, 2017. Tina Kim Gallery, 525 West 21st St, NYC 10019. 212.716.1100

New frontiers in oriental minimalism arrive with the new Kim Yong-Ik exhibition at the Tina Kim Gallery (no relation). Mr. Kim’s work appears in three basic motifs: his “dot paintings, which feature the repetition of regularly spaced circles,” according to the exhibition guide; constructivist cutouts, which put one in mind of the bias-cut construction paper collages one did in kindergarten arts-and-crafts; and pieces of unadorned burlap.

We are reliably informed that this is Kim’s “the first solo exhibition in the United States.”

Art in Austerity


Noted belatedly, but with pleasure, in the September 2008 issue of The New Criterion—that very 1950s-ish Little Magazine of cultural criticism that keeps hanging on, despite its resemblance to a vanity publication, mainly because it manages to produce at least one or two highly intriguing essays or reviews in each issue: a John Gross review of Austerity Britain, 1945-1951 (by David Kynaston), which contains such passages as the following:


Coward in the 1940s

Kynaston isn’t so wedded to the virtues of vox pop that he isn’t ready to use better-known names to spice up his story. “It might not be a bad thing for the Labour boys to hold the baby”—as the result of the 1945 election became clear, many Conservative supporters, thinking of the country’s looming problems, must have consoled themselves with the same thought. But it lends piquancy to this particular comment that it was made by Nöel Coward.


Ronald Reagan with Virginia Mayo, 1947

Many other well-known figures put in an appearance. One of the less expected ones is Ronald Reagan, who spent the icy winter of 1948–49 working on a movie in a studio outside London and undergoing many of the familiar ordeals of austerity, inadequate heating in particular. Some of the problems he encountered were the result of inherited problems which no British government could have put right in a hurry. But he was inclined to ascribe most of them to officialdom, inefficiency, and the abandonment of sound economic principles. In his memoirs, written thirty years later, he recalled his time in Britain as a defining moment in his political education: “I shed the last ideas I’d ever had about government ownership of anything.”

The trouble with entertaining reviews like this is that they are likely to be better than the books themselves. I do confess I’d never heard of the book, but back issues of TNC are fun to thumb through.

Nice, Victor

Art, Newsbrief

“Victor Stamp is convinced that beyond this brief biographical skeleton, the less that is known about him the better. Nevertheless he is willing to divulge that his favourite colour is grey, his favourite metal lead, and his preferred quality in a woman, broad shoulders.”

See also.

“Funny Stuff” at Academy of Art


Illustration rather than Fine Art (if there’s a difference anymore), but very entertaining for the NYTimes. It’s a show mounted to open for the Tribeca Ball a few days back. This one’s wittily entitled “Untitled.” Story here.