Selling “The Scream”

Talk about an eager seller!

In a rare move, Sotheby’s sent the work to private homes in Asia, North America and Europe so key clients could test whether the haunting image clashed with the rest of their art collections. The piece has been removed from its frame for certain serious contenders who wanted to stare at the icon nose-to-nose. The picture recently flew to Hong Kong for 48 hours so a top collector could inspect it in person in a private room at Sotheby’s offices.

Potential buyers include European executives, Asian big-spenders and Middle Eastern sheiks. Among the names most often mentioned: the royal family in Qatar, which is building a museum empire and reportedly purchased Paul Cézanne’s “The Card Players” for at least $250 million not long ago. Simon Shaw, head of Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art department in New York, noted fascination with the work in Japan, where “The Scream” is a particularly resonant image, possibly because Munch was influenced by Japanese prints.

Sotheby’s expert Philip Hook estimates a pool of about 10 collectors. His personal theory: Collectors don’t tend to spend more than 1% of their net worth on an individual artwork. That leaves “Scream” bidders at people worth $8 billion and up.

The Department of Art & Architecture takes over downtown Geneva

Through an extraordinary effort by Kathryn Vaughn and her student assistants, we not only have the usual student show at Houghton House (and go to flickr to see some photos of the installation), but we also have 4 storefront galleries downtown with works by the Honors students. This allows their work to stay up longer – through graduation, I believe – rather than being flung up and then taken down right after their honors orals.

What’s even more amazing – they are sales galleries! Kathryn encouraged the students to price their work directly. All of them were staffed Saturday and will be staffed again today.

The push to the end


Next-to-last classes today – so I spent a lot of time answering questions about finals, due dates for papers, factual questions for papers, bibliographical suggestions for papers (you mean you haven’t started yet??). Tomorrow I participate in an honors exam (art history examiner for someone else’s advisee). The building was noisy all day today with folks hanging the annual end-of-year student show. The opening is tomorrow. I think we’ll survive, but it’s going to be close!

Interesting hire for president at Reed

Kroger named new Reed College president.

I know only what I’ve read about Reed and some idle chit-chat here and there – but Reed has always struck me as an intensely academic place (oh, and with a weird reputation for drugs, though there always seemed something carnival-like to what I’ve heard). And everyone at Small LIberal Arts Colleges know they refuse to participate in the USNews ratings. Read the Wikipedia entry.

So, to hire someone with a J.D. instead of a Ph.d., though it’s all  the rage (and we’ve survived for 13 years with our local version), seems striking. Higher Education has certainly turned against hiring from the inside!

Maybe they hired the Oregon Attorney General to do something about the druggie reputation? Interesting.

John Edwards – the miniseries

Don’t you know that historians of the presidency will have a lot of fun c. 2050 combing through things that get released then — kind of like the endless stuff that comes out nowadays about the Kennedy years? Will they believe how close John Edwards got to the White House (or at least Number One Observatory Circle) and how willingly the media averted its gaze? What a scumbag. As far as I can tell, the real accusation here is not that he had a child by his mistress, but that in order to conceal it from his dying wife he tried to pay her off not with his own massive fortune but with money he was taking from supporters of his campaign. Scum.

This time we took a bullet.

After a very dry winter, and even missing predicted snow a couple of times, we got a bit last night. The streets look slushy, but the snow doesn’t seem to have fallen heavily enough to bring any limbs down in my view. I just saw a salt truck go past, which given the prediction of rising temps all day may be overkill. We’ll see!

It’s a nice reminder for the students: the semester is not over! We have 7 days of classes left (3 meetings for each of mine).

How do you bury an abbot?

Furness Abbey by Frenkieb
Furness Abbey, a photo by Frenkieb on Flickr.

Archaeologists working in advance of a project to stabilize the ruined walls of the Cistercian abbey at Barrow-in-Furness found the grave of an abbot. The grave is remarkably intact (really, click and see!).

English Heritage curator Susan Harrison told Channel 4 News: “This is really significant because it’s the first time under modern conditions that an abbatial or abbot burial has been discovered intact with so much detail and information – from the skeleton to the mark of his office, his crosier, his ring, but also fragments of textile in there.”

I’ll be leading off with this in Gothic Art and Architecture this morning!

Mona Lisa Overdrive

The Prado has made an amazing discovery underneath the upper layers on their copy of the Mona Lisa. Even the UNDERpainting and pentimenti (the revisions) match the original. They don’t think the hand is Leonardo’s, but they’re not sure WHAT they think.

Here’s the story, but in case you are close to using up your 10 page views/month at the New York Times, go directly here — the neatest interactive feature of all time.