Painting

The Woman in Gold

Gustav Klimt's Woman in Gold
Gustav Klimt's 1907 portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer was seized by the Nazis at the outset of World War II. A film starring Helen Mirren now tells the story of Adele's niece, who fought to recover her family's paintings more than a half century later.
Neue Galerie New York

In Woman in Gold Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann — an octogenarian Jewish refugee who fought to recover the Gustav Klimt paintings the Nazis seized from her family in Vienna at the outset of World War II. New York's Neue Galerie, which is now home to more Klimts than anywhere else in the country, includes a 1907 portrait of Altmann's aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer — the woman in gold. Several of Klimt's other portraits have joined Adele Bloch-Bauer at the Galerie in an exhibit on display until September 7. Read more …

More from NPR on ‘The Woman in Gold’

$300 Million Gaughin

300 million dollar Gaughin painting A work by French painter Paul Gauguin, who died penniless in 1903, has reportedly become the most expensive painting ever sold. Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) is believed to have fetched $300 million.

And high prices are trending. Picasso's Women of Algiers sold at Christie's for $179.4 million, officially a record. And at the same auction Claude Monet's The Houses of Parliament, At Sunset and Mark Rothko's No. 36 (Black Stripe) each fetched $40.5 million. And that same week another Rothko sold in Los Angeles for $81.5 million.

Van Gogh's Turbulent Mind

Van Go's Starry Night Studies have linked van Gogh's celebrated 1889 painting The Starry Night — where light and clouds flow in turbulent swirls on the night sky — with studies of fluid dynamics. How this works is one of the hardest questions in physics. Read more …

Picasso's 'The Blue Room' An artist with some “mental turbulence” of his own was Pablo Picasso. Recently, conservators at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, revealed that there is a painting underneath Picasso's noted 1901 painting The Blue Man. The reason Picasso overpainted some of his canvases was simple: he was broke. This article from NPR's Scott Simon offers some insights into Picasso's famous Blue Period.

Art at the Edge of the World

Market Church at Halle by Lyonel Feininger At an exhibition at the Whitney Museum I discovered the German Expressionist Lyonel Feininger.

Feininger was born and raised in New York City, but moved to Germany to study in 1887, at the age of 16. He worked for years as a caricaturist and cartoonist, before turning to fine art at the age of 36.

Gelmeroda Thirteen by Lyonel Feininger When Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus in Germany in 1919, Feininger was his first faculty appointment. In 1933 the Nazis declared his work "degenerate," and he returned to the US in 1936. He taught at Mills College before returning to New York.

Lady in mauve by Lyonel Feininger Stiller Tag am Meer III by Lyonel Feininger The Whitney's Lyonel Feininger: At the Edge of the World showed an extensive collection of Feininger's work, and the beautiful exhibit book is available through Amazon.

I also highly recommend the book Lyonel Feininger: Photographs 1928 - 1939:

“Other”

Musical Landscapes

YessongsAwakenings My favorite rock band is Yes (see the Music page for more on them), and one of their many innovations was the development of a clearly identifiable visual image, through the artwork of Roger Dean.

Beginning with Fragile in 1971 Dean's landscapes graced most of Yes's album covers for the next 40 years. Their mystical quality are the perfect visual counterpart to the grandeur of Yes's music.

Yessongs Crab Nebula StageBesides numerous album covers he's also worked with his brother Martyn on fantastical stage sets for Yes and many commercial architectural projects. Several works, including the cover for Yes's Tales From Topographic Oceans, are in the permanent collection of London's Victoria & Albert Museum.

Paper Trail

Paper sculpture Li Hongbo creates sculptures by layering thousands of sheets of paper and then carving into them. It's truly amazing – click here for a video.

Modern ... Art?

Art Basel In the humorous Why the Art World Is So Loathsome Slate.com critic Simon Doonan asserts that the modern art scene has become "a vapid hell-hole of investment-crazed pretentiousness" where “artists have lost touch with the general audience.”

In a similar vein, in "Has it Come to This?" NPR music columnist Eric Ducker interviews music critic Dave Hickey about recent museum shows involving pop musicians.

Glittering Images That second quote by Doonan is from Camille Paglia's book Glittering Images. The book is a wonderful and informative art history text, beautifully published. But the introduction also argues for the importance of the visual arts and arts education, which I've posted here.