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28th annual Baltimore Summer Antiques Show July 21, 2008

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28th ANNUAL BALTIMORE SUMMER ANTIQUES SHOW ANNOUNCES LECTURE SERIES ALL-STAR LINE-UP > Presentations hosted by industry experts and are free to the public

This Labor Day weekend, August 28-31, 2008, the 28th annual Baltimore Summer Antiques Show will open its doors to over 30,000 attendees looking for unique, one-of-a-kind treasures among over 550 international dealers and a 60-dealer Antiquarian Book Fair.  An educational lecture series enhances the show and will offer attendees and the general public a chance to learn about a wide range of topics relating to antiques featuring an all-star line-up of speakers, all renowned experts in their fields.

“The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show is truly a cultural experience and offers an extraordinary opportunity for guests to view and purchase some of the finest antiques in the world,” says Scott Diament, co-owner and COO of the Palm Beach Show Group. “The lecture series affords a wonderful opportunity for the public and other dealers to learn from industry experts in an informal environment that fosters the understanding and appreciation of antiques.”

A sample of lecture topics include “A Journey of Artistic Splendor: 20th Century Jewelry Design” presented by Gus Davis of Camilla Dietz Bergeron Ltd. in New York and “Collecting Rarities in Silver: Every Treasure Tells a Story” with Spencer Gordon and Mark McHugh of Spencer Marks Ltd. in Massachusetts.

The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show lecture series will take place at scheduled times each day of the show with lectures on a variety of fascinating topics that represent various genres.  A complete schedule including speakers, lecture descriptions and speaker biographies is outlined at > http://www.baltimoresummerantiques.com

Francis Bacon auctioned painting sets new record May 15, 2008

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Triptych had been in private hands since it was bought at auction in 1977 > A Francis Bacon masterpiece has broken the artist’s record at auction after selling for $86.3m (£43m) in New York.

The sale of Triptych (1976) beat the previous record of £27m paid for Study For Innocent X. The piece was sold at Sotheby’s by a private collector from Europe who had owned the work since it was first exhibited in Paris in 1977. Bacon used Ancient Greek legends as inspiration for the painting, which depicts disfigured human faces.

Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s London deputy director for contemporary art, described the work as a “totemic triptych”. “It created an overnight sensation when it was first exhibited in Paris in 1976,” he said. “It showed Bacon working in a new way. It is a watershed painting which sees him moving beyond personal grief on to a more universal scale. Bacon was heavily influenced by Greek tragedies where personal stories relate to grander, universal issues. He saw the large format triptych as the greatest vehicle for artistic vision and this work sees Bacon achieve a new level of complexity.”

Irish-born Bacon, one of the most prominent contemporary artists of his era, died from a heart attack in Madrid in 1992.

Related Links > http://www.sothebys.com

Uproar over spectacle of death May 2, 2008

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The prize winning artist Gregor Schneider, enfant terrible of the German cultural scene, is looking for a volunteer who is willing to die for his – that is, Mr Schneider’s – art.

He wants someone whose dying hours will be spent in an art gallery with the public admiring the way the light plays on the flesh of a person gasping for the last breath.

Politicians and curators are in a state of uproar about Mr Schneider’s plans. The 39-year-old artist has been concerned with death for much of his career. He gained critical acclaim for a sculpture, Hannelore Reuen, of a dead woman. He has been hatching his current idea since 1996, and now has a sympathetic pathologist and art collector to help to find a candidate who wants to become a work of art in the final days of his or her life.

Death is commonly seen as the last taboo, but artists have been trying hard to demystify it. The Schneider project, however, seems to have gone too far. It is being compared with watching executions in the United States. The influential gallery owner Beatrix Kalwa spoke for many German curators who rule out the idea of giving space to Mr Schneider’s artistic endeavour. “Existential matters like death, birth or the act of reproduction do not belong in a museum,” she said. “There is a fundamental difference between portraying these acts in an art form, and showing them in actuality.”

The head of the German hospice foundation that provides care for the terminally ill, Eugen Brysch, said: “This is pure voyeurism and makes a mockery of those who are dying.” But Mr Schneider, who feigned his own death as part of an exhibition in Germany in 2000, argues that death is already undignified and that his aim is to restore its grace.

Linda McCartney’s photos on display at London gallery May 2, 2008

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An exhibition of Linda McCartney’s photographs, hand-picked by her husband, will be put on display as of April 25 at the James Hyman Gallery in west London.

The prints show the range of the late photographer’s career, which was overshadowed by the fame of her husband, former Beatle Paul McCartney. Featured photos include iconic portraits of John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. But the display also intends to show her range, with family photos of Paul McCartney and their children, as well as landscapes and interiors. Reporters were given a preview of the collection on April 22.

Linda McCartney was a professional photographer before she met Paul McCartney, but her career changed once she settled down, gallery owner James Hyman said. “I’d say she was a very strong photographer, and part of what we’ve done here is we’ve tried to show the range of her work – that it’s not just pictures of rock stars in the ’60s, which she’s most famous for,” Hyman said.

One of the most poignant images exhibited is a self-portrait she took in painter Francis Bacon’s studio when she was receiving chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, Hyman said. The photograph reflects death, showing an empty couch, a bust of British poet William Blake and McCartney’s reflection in a broken mirror. “We tried to be as true to what she wanted as possible,” Hyman said. “That it’s the paper that she liked, the platinum which she liked and the print studio that she used.”

The display has taken three years to come together since Hyman approached Paul McCartney with the idea. There are 25 prints of 28 photographs on sale. Prices start at 4,800 pounds ($9,500; 6,000 euros) each. The exhibition coincides with the 10-year anniversary of McCartney’s death in 1998 at the age of 56. The McCartney family held a private opening at the gallery on the evening of April 23. The exhibition opens to the public on April 25.

World’s oldest oil paintings in Afghanistan May 2, 2008

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Scientists said on April 22 they have proved the world’s first ever oil paintings were in caves near two destroyed giant statues of Buddha in Afghanistan, hundreds of years before oil paint was used in Europe.

Samples from paintings, dating from the 7th century AD, were taken from caves behind two statues of Buddha in Bamiyan blown up as un-Islamic by Afghanistan’s hardline Taliban in 2001. Scientists discovered paintings in 12 of the 50 caves were created using oil paints, possibly from walnut or poppy, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France said on its Web site on April 22.

“This is the earliest clear example of oil paintings in the world, although drying oils were already used by ancient Romans and Egyptians, but only as medicines and cosmetics,” said Yoko Taniguchi, leader of the team of scientists.

It was not until the 13th century that oil was added to paints in Europe and oil paint was not widely used in Europe till the early 15th century. Bamiyan was once a thriving Buddhist centre where monks lived in a series of caves carved into the cliffs by the two statues. The cave paintings were probably the work of artists travelling along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China, across Central Asia to the West and show scenes of Buddhas in vermilion robes and mythical creatures, the ESRF said.

Afghanistan’s Taliban government used dozens of explosive charges to bring down the two 6th century giant Buddhas in March 2001, saying the statues were un-Islamic. Later in the same year, US-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban government after it refused to give up al Qaeda leaders behind the September 11 attacks. Now work is underway to try restore the biggest of the two statues, once the tallest standing Buddha in the world, but the mammoth task could take a decade to complete.