13Jul10
I need a vacation. And maybe I’ll go to London if I can find a magic ticket (v. unlikely). Because this show looks so great:
Just the kind of stuff I like. And another motivator to get into archives: proper documents can (try to) be helpful in authentication…although if a Boticelli can be forged, so can a document. Anyway. I read The Forger’s Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century a few months back, and it was a great read, albeit not too terribly scholarly. Despite gossipy tones, thought, it was smart and interesting. As the Times article points out, what people are willing to accept is really so dependent on the times. I mean, just look at those fake Vermeers! So doughy!
On the continuing topic of art historical beach reads, I also read The Madonnas of Leningrad. It’s a neat trip into the Hermitage in St. Petersburg during World War II (interspersed with a modern day Alzheimer’s story). As in many museums during the war, all of the collections were hidden away for safekeeping, from bombs and grubbing Nazi hands. The main character works to pack up all the objects and creates a memory palace as the paintings are tucked away, which really made me think about how few paintings I can actually describe, or reproduce mentally or on paper. Kind of embarassing. I bet if I was starving and had literally nothing else to do I could do better. I can call up a picture in my head and say, “That’s a Giorgione,” but that’s about it. Hum. Guess that’s a product of the nature of studying art history. Some things I can’t forget though, like this
One of my very favorites. Geertgen tot Sint Jans!

Last thing, here’s a Fresh Air story on Robert Wittman, who tracks down art thieves to recover stolen works of art for the FBI. Neat.



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