Museums and gallery bodies are up in arms that they are unable to open their doors until mid May this year. Whilst most managed a sensible social distancing policy last year, they have been categorised as ‘indoor entertainment venues’ like cinemas. Public buildings such as libraries and community centres, however, have the go ahead to open with non-essential shops (and therefore commercial galleries) on 12 April. The Museums Association is lobbying but in the meantime we are going to have to get our culture fix elsewhere. Some ideas below.
Vemeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring is one of the most famous paintings in the world and there is now a 10billion pixel photograph of it for you to explore. It was made in order ‘to evaluate the surface condition of the painting, measure cracks, and see the topography of various key areas while assessing past restorations”. Click here to view the photo and keep zooming in until it looks like an abstract landscape. Also be sure to press the 3D link to see how bumpy the surface texture actually is.
The V&A has relaunched its website too, having been in development for 2 years. It is now designed to be a more immersive experience with their 1.2m objects spanning 5,000 years now catalogued in a way that gives you more information and links to similar areas, rather than just a dead end. It is to encourage people to use the site more intuitively and take more horizontal journeys across the collection. Whilst researching for this newsletter, for example, I spent far too much time looking at the glass section. Lovely.
A Van Gogh painting from 1887 that hasn’t been seen in public for a century is going to auction at Sotheby’s in Paris this month. Scene de rue a Montmatre has been in private hands for 100 years and, I think, is a beautiful painting. Painted whilst Van Gogh lived with his brother Theo in Paris, it is evocative of city life in a time past whilst being unmistakably Van Gogh. If you’ve saved up some spare cash over the past year and fancy investing, it’s estimate is 5-8m euros.
Permission is being sought to retain a set of four pieces by Sir Anthony Gormley in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. The four cast iron sculptures, known as Quartet, have courted controversy and locals have compared them to giant sex toys and/or dog poos. Originally made 20 years ago, they have been installed by local gallery owner Caroline Wiseman. If anyone is going in that direction this year, please do report back to me on what you think. Aldburgh is no stranger to controversial beach sculptures with Hambling’s Scallop having had multiple petitions signed for its removal.
TV: Grayson’s Art Club is back for a second series on Channel 4 on Friday evenings. This time the theme is Family. Catch up on the first episode.
The National Gallery are running a series of talks and courses, some paid for but some free. Click here to see what is on offer. I’m going to join the ‘Talk and Draw’ session exploring El Greco on 12th March. Come and join!