LOS ANGELES, CA.- On behalf of The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Board Chair Cliff Einstein and Director Jeremy Strick announced today a major gift from the collection of Blake Byrne, encompassing a total of 123 works by 78 artists. The Blake Byrne Collection is the single largest gift by a private collector to the museum's permanent collection. The gift includes landmark individual works in addition to bodies of work by John Baldessari, Stephan Balkenhol, Marlene Dumas, Robert Gober, Mike Kelley, Gordon Matta-Clark, Paul McCarthy, Martin Kippenberger, Juan Muñoz, Claes Oldenburg, and Gabriel Orozco. "Blake's exceptionally generous contribution is a milestone for both MOCA and the arts in Los Angeles," stated Strick. "This record gift dramatically enhances existing areas of strength in American and European art, adds major works by important artists not previously represented in the collection, and brings to us significant new works by emerging artists." Highlights of the gift include John Baldessari's monumental photographic work, "Mesa" (1990); Robert Gober's sculpture of two doors folded into a corner, "Untitled" (1998); Mike Kelley's mixed media assemblage, "Silver Ball" (1994); and Gordon Matta-Clark's seminal sculpture, "Office Baroque" (1977). Stephan Balkenhol's multi-part sculpture, "Vier Figurerengruppen" (1999), and Steve McQueen's breakthrough video installation, "Drumroll" (1998), are the first works by these artists to enter MOCA's collection. The E. Blake Byrne Collection also includes important individual works by Kai Althoff, Linda Benglis, Cosima von Bonin, Joseph Cornell, Tony Cragg, Thomas Eggerer, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Douglas Gordon, Thomas Hirschhorn, Joseph Kosuth, Yayoi Kusama, Rita McBride, Annette Messager, Albert Oehlen, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Jim Shaw, Beat Streuli, Richard Tuttle, Luc Tuymans, Andy Warhol, and Paul Winstanley, among many others. "It is a great honor and thrill for me to share my art with MOCA, and through that, the people of the city of Los Angeles," said Byrne. For more than 20 years, Byrne has been an active supporter of contemporary artists. Now retired from a distinguished broadcasting career, Byrne was formerly president of Argyle Television. Prior to moving to Los Angeles in 1989 to become president and general manager of KCAL-9, he managed various network affiliates and was the head of Lin Broadcasting. Byrne joined MOCA's Board of Trustees in 1999, and after having been a member of the Director's Forum since 1996 and the Acquisition and Collection Committee since 1997. Byrne is the founder and chairman of the Blake Byrne/Skylark Foundation, and he currently co-chairs the campaign for the Raymond D. Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. He received his MBA from Columbia University and is the father of two and grandfather of four. "We are deeply honored by Blake's outstanding gift," said MOCA Board Chair Cliff Einstein. "This remarkable group of artworks is a testament to our meaningful relationships with leading collectors, such as Beatrice and Philip Gersh, the Lannan Foundation, Barry Lowen, and Count Giuseppe and Mrs. Giovanna Panza di Biumo, Rita and Taft Schreiber, Scott D. F. Spiegel, Marcia Simon Weisman, all of whom also made significant contributions to the permanent collection." Unusual for a Los Angeles-based collection, the Blake Byrne Collection is particularly strong in European holdings, while also significantly representing leading New York and California artists. The collection also spans a wide historical range, featuring key works by seminal artists from the 1950s to works by current artists who are defining art today. Consistent with MOCA's practice of collecting an artist in depth, with multiple examples tracing the development of a career, the gift includes works by artists already represented in the museum's permanent collection. "The collection embodies Blake's tremendous energy, passion, and connoisseurship," said MOCA Chief Curator Paul Schimmel. "Distinguished by its range of geographic and generational perspectives, the gift features concentrations of artists' works from California, New York, Latin America, Asia, and Europe; in-depth bodies of works by artists such as Marlene Dumas and Juan Muñoz; and singular works ranging from Gordon Matta-Clark's post-minimalist sculpture to pieces by significant, internationally renowned artists of the 1990s, including American Robert Gober and German Stephan Balkenhol." As a whole, the Blake Byrne Collection reflects a wide range of attitudes and practices with works that delve into social commentary, as well as address issues of contemporary abstraction. Byrne has shown a strong commitment to painting and drawing, while also collecting significant works in the areas of sculpture, video, and photography. With this gift, the first works by the following artists enter MOCA's collection: Georges Adeagbo, Stephan Balkenhol, Guillaume Bijl, Jan Fabre, Christina Iglesias, Steve McQueen, Annette Messager, Tatsuo Miyajima, and Jacques Villegle. MOCA will present a major exhibition featuring selections from the gift, including many works that will be seen by the public for the first time. The exhibition, which will open at MOCA Grand Avenue (250 South Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles) on July 3, 2005 and remain on view through October 10, 2005, will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring an interview with Byrne conducted by Schimmel and MOCA Senior Curator Ann Goldstein, as well as an essay summarizing the key attributes of the collection by MOCA Assistant Curator Michael Darling.

12.21.04 The People's Republic of China still pays lip-service to Communism but it is abandoning Mao Tse-tung's doctrines and embracing capitalism with breathtaking speed. Nine days ago, it opened its doors to foreign auction houses for the first time to fulfill its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization, Will Bennett reports in The Telegraph. The move ended an extraordinary year for the market in Chinese art. In Hong Kong in late October and early November, Christie's sold art and antiques totalling £35 million ($68 million), doubling its 2003 figures, and the fever reached the US and Britain as well.

Among the Florentine artists of the second half of the fifteenth century was the painter Sandro Botticelli (1446-1510). One of his most famous pictures represents not a Christian legend but a classical myth - the birth of Venus. It was painted about 1485-86 for the villa of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici at Castello; Tempera on canvas, 172.5 x 278.5 cm; now in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. Botticelli's Venus is so beautiful that we do not notice the unnatural length of her neck, the steep fall of her shoulders and the queer way her left arm is hinged to the body. Or, rather, we should say that these liberties which Botticelli took with nature in order to achieve a graceful outline add to the beauty and harmony of the design because they enhance the impression of an infinitely tender and delicate being, wafted to our shores as a gift from Heaven. The classical poets had been known all through the Middle Ages, but only at the time of the Renaissance, when the Italians tried so passionately to recapture the former glory of Rome, did the classical myths become popular among educated laymen. To these men, the mythology of the admired Greeks and Romans represented something more than gay and pretty fairy-tales. They were so convinced of the superior wisdom of the ancients that they believed these classical legends must contain some profound and mysterious truth. The patron who commissioned the Botticelli painting for his country villa was a member of the rich and powerful family of the Medici. Either he himself, or one of his learned friends, probably explained to the painter what was known of the way the ancients had represented Venus rising from the sea. To these scholars the story of her birth was the symbol of mystery through which the divine message of beauty came into the world. One can imagine that the painter set to work reverently to represent this myth in a worthy manner. The action of the picture is quickly understood. Venus has emerged from the sea on a shell which is driven to the shore by flying wind-gods amidst a shower of roses. As she is about to step on to the land, one of the Hours or Nymphs receives her with a purple cloak. Botticelli has succeeded where Pollaiuolo failed. His picture forms, in fact, a perfectly harmonious pattern. But Pollaiuolo might have said that Botticelli had done so by sacrificing some of the achievements he had tried so hard to preserve. Botticelli's figures look less solid. They are not so correctly drawn as Pollaiuolo or Masaccio's. The graceful movements and melodious lines of his composition recall the Gothic tradition of Ghiberti and Fra Angelico, perhaps even the art of the fourteenth century - works such as Simone Martini's Annunciation.

This painting, "Venus", is in the private collection of the Art Appreciation Foundation. It is by Argentinian artist Ricardo Celma. It features his two daughters standing in front of Botticelli's "Birth of Venus". This 48" x 71" oil on canvas was done in about 2001, and is catalog number 2017 in the Art Appreciation Foundation collection. It was acquired directly from the artist.

Ricardo Celma, born in Buenos Aires in 1975, showed his artistic talent as early as 1981 when he was 5 years old. He has studied with Susana Mármol (1981-1982), Marcelo Plaza (1982-1983), José Alberto Marchi (1983-1985, 1990-1991), Claudio Barragán (1985-1986, 1989), Julio Barragán (1989), Carlos Fels (1991-1992), and Alejandro Boim (1997, scholarship for studies at La Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes). He graduated from the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes Prilidiano Pueyrredón, where he studied from 1994-1998. His title obtained from these studies is Profesor Nacional de Pintura. He then graduated from the Instituto Universitario Nacional de Arte. I.U.N.A. (2000-2002), where he obtained the title Licenciado en Artes Visuales. Here is a list of his most recent expositions:
2004 - ArteClásica Buenos Aires - ARTEXPO New York 2003 - ARTEXPO New York - Feria de Arte de Shangay - Feria de Arte de Ginebra - Muestra de Arte Latinoamericano Canadá - Galería de Arte Lincoln Center Art Gallery (Miami Beach, Fl.) - Fundación DISCAR - Buenos Aires Design - ARTE CÓRDOBA 2002 - Feria de Arte ARTE BA - Feria de Arte de Barcelona - ExpoTrastienda

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This is not your father's museum. It's the outsider, non-traditional, contemporary-visionary, self-taught, treasure troving, self-loathing, articulation of hopes and losses whirlwind of a museum. Bringing new meaning to the idea of the tortured artist, the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) has been designated by Congress as America's national museum and educational center for self-taught art. The AVAM's working philosophy is that while anyone can create art, only a small reserve of those creators are visionary. Many of the self-taught artists are farmers and other rural inhabitants who choose not to mix much with society. Painting is a part of the self-taught artist's medium, but many use materials such as matches, glue, paper plates, crayons, metals, machinery parts and even unraveled thread from wash cloths. Nellie Mae Rowe, a visionary artist whose work is on display in the AVAM's permanent exhibit, wrote: "I draw what is in my mind, I draw things you haven't seen born into this world." As her statement suggests, twisted devils and demons abound in the works on the AVAM walls, as do God and angels.

History will be made in the Finnish art auction business in December, when a record amount of Finnish valuable paintings are to be sold by the Bukowski-Hörhammer auction house. More than the quantity, the quality of the art on offer is impressive, and experts are already talking about an extensive redistribution of Finnish art treasures. Most of the paintings on sale are from the estates of deceased persons. A new record is being set here as well. The estate of just one couple, who were avid art collectors, contains more than ten prized paintings with a combined estimated value of EUR 1.5 million.

The auction of "Important Canadian Art"...brought in $4.8 million for 217 works by historical and contemporary Canadian painters, including [Paul] Kane and several Group of Seven artists. But the auction still brought in much less than expected. Sotheby's predicted the lots would earn a total of between $5.6-million and $7.4-million, the highest presale estimate in Canada.

HANOVER, N.H. - Researchers at Dartmouth College have developed a new mathematical process of authenticating art that they claim equals that of human authenticators. The process, which was made public in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, uses high-resolution digital photos and complex computer analyses to map out the idiosyncrasies of an artist's style. The computer is able to identify and record an artist's unique pen and brush strokes, which it then uses to compare with other artworks. Hany Farid, co-author of the paper, said the process replicated the work of human authenticators when it was used to analyze works by Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder and by Italian artist Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci, known as Perugino.

Each year, the U.S.’s nonprofit arts industry generates $134 billion in economic activity, claims a report issued by national art advocacy group Americans for the Arts. According to the group's June 2002 study, Arts & Economic Prosperity: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts Organizations and Their Audiences, that figure includes $24.4 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues; $53.2 billion in spending by nonprofit arts organizations; and $80.8 billion in event-related spending by arts audiences. Taxes aside, that breaks down into the equivalent of 4.85 million full-time jobs and $89.4 billion in household income. The findings of the report are based on surveys of 3,000 nonprofit arts organizations, as well as interviews with more than 40,000 attendees at arts events in 91 cities in 33 states, plus the District of Columbia.

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Pause For Thought

Monet on Repetition

"I know that to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place so that you can understand its way in that particular spot and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again, four or six times even."