Is Alice Walton the Art World's Next J.P. Morgan?, Why Babies Prefer Cubism, and More Must-Read Art News

Is Alice Walton the Art World's Next J.P. Morgan?, Why Babies Prefer Cubism, and More Must-Read Art News

Alice Walton Smiles for the Camera: The reclusive and controversial billionaire Wal-Mart heiress and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art founder Alice Waltonhas long avoided press, but she couldn't have picked a more congenial way to break her silence — and pose for the camera — than in this Times piece that off the bat compares her to "Isabella Stewart Gardner, John Pierpont Morgan Jr., and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney."But to live up to those precedents, she'll have to replicate the Bilbaoeffect in Bentonville, Arkansas, with her very expensive Moshe Safdie-designedmuseum opening on November 11. So what news does this fluffy piece offer ? Walton is optimistically expecting about 250,000 visitors in thefirst year, her connoisseurship meets the approval of no less than John Richardson ("I was surprised," the scholar himself says of his assessment), and she has been talking partnerships with Louvre director Henri Loyrette. [NYT]

Babies Prefer Cubism: In the market for nursery art? Well, better choose a Picasso and not water lilies as University of Zurich researchers have found that babies prefer papa Pablo's paintings to those of Monet. Psychologist Trix Cacchioneexplains that babies absorb paintings as pure visual patterns and that the Picasso's "sharp and accentuated contrasts in luminance" are much more engaging than Monet's "blurry, shimmery effects." [Miller-McCune]

RISD Finally Finds New Museum Director: The Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art has had trouble replacing Hope Alswang, the admiredadministrator who was pushed out by RISD president John Maeda (who was then himself stripped of power by the museum's unhappy board), but aftertwo years of turmoil they've landed a successor in John W. Smith. Coming from the Smithsonian, where he has directed the institution's Archives of American Art, Smith will start in September. [Boston Globe]

Kimmelman's Vague New Column: It appears that roving New York Times art-and-sometimes-other-things expert Michael Kimmelman (who remains thepaper's chief art critic despite living in Berlin) has a new column, called Postcards. What is Postcards? "Michael Kimmelman's postcards are about the aura of memorable places and things," states the Times. In other words, think of him as Uncle Traveling Matt on "Fraggle Rock," butwith a better expense account. His first Postcard is about Northern Renaissance paintings at the National Gallery. [NYT]

Stanley Spencer Paintings Break Records at Auction: Two great and deeply weird works by the late British artist achieved new records for the painter, one after the other, at Sotheby'sLondon yesterday when "Workmen in the House" (1935) fetched £4.7 million and then "Sunflower and Dog Worship" (1937) made £5.4 million. [BBC]

British Museum Wins Art Fund Prize: The granddaddy of UK institutions has taken home the country's largest prize for museums in honor of its documentary "A History of the World," for which it partnered with the BBC to chronicle the development of civilization through 100 artworks, religious knickknacks, and other objects. The British Museum — the largest museum in the nation — beat out the tiny Polar Museum in Cambridge, the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, and the Roman Baths Museum in Bath for the £100,000 prize. [Guardian]

Which Big-Deal Collectors Are in Basel?: In a roundup, the Art Newspaper cites Indonesian-Chinese collector Budi Tek, Mexican Jumex Collection heavyweight Eugenio Lopez, Greenwich's own Peter Brant, crazy Tasmanian macher David Walsh, Don and Mera Rubell, and Marty Margulies. We suspect there just may be a few others, too. [TAN]

Get Your Art Nonsense Here: In a stroke of pure satiric brilliance, the Arty Bollocks Generatorhas been programmed to spit out brilliantly bland and solipsistic artist statements that instantly infuse any work with manufactured and referential meaning. Example: "With influences as diverse as Derrida and John Cage, new synergies are crafted from both explicit and implicit textures." [

BP Portrait Prize Announced: Dutch artist Wim Helden has won the BP Portrait Prizefor his "quiet but evocative" rendition of a 25-year-old man whom he has mentored since childhood and has painted 17 times. The artist received a £25,000 purse while runner up Louis Smith nabbed £8,000. [Guardian]

Why Those People With Weird Names Gave Their Art to Stanford: In the wake of the recent donation of the Anderson collection to Stanford, collectors "Hunk" and "Moo" Anderson explain why they chose the university. Harry Andersonsays that getting "a dedicated building exclusively for the Anderson collection" was a boon, adding, "That's always been a major objective ofours."[LAT]

Tino Sehgal to Critique Institutions in Shanghai: For the first time artist Tino Sehgal will present his "constructed situations" in China at three Shanghai museums this summer: Shanghai MOCA, Minsheng Art Museum, and Rockbund Art Museum.The artist himself dislikes flying and so will not travel to China for the presentation of "This is New" and "This is Exchange," both from 2003.[TAN]

New York Dealer Sued for Selling Fake Bonheur: An Arizona couple is currently in a legal feud with New York art dealer Richard L. Feigen & Co. for selling them a Rosa Bonheur painting that may have actually been painted by the artist's brother. Richard and Saundra Verri are suing for $15,000, the price they originally paid for the painting, after Sotheby's revealed the dubious origins of the work. [Courthouse News]

Cesarco and Rivers Win Baloise Prize at Basel: Alejandro Cesarco'sinstallation "The Streets Were Dark With Something More Than Night or The Closer I Get To The End The More I Rewrite The Beginning" and Ben Rivers's film "Sack Barrow" were picked for the Baloise Art Prize at this year's Art Basel fair. As part of the prize, a group of their works have been acquired by Baloise (an insurance company) and donated to the Hamburger Kunsthalle and the MUMOK, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna.[Artforum]

Turrell Retrospective in Moscow: Artist James Turrell will show in Russia for the first time with a 40 year retrospective at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture.Two new works, "Purusa, Ganzfeld Series" and "Light ReignFall," will make their debut in June at the exhibition coordinated with New York's the Pace Gallery. These immersive light experiences will make you "feel with your eyes" according to Turrell. [Press Release]

More Oscars Changes: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scienceshas announced that there will now be anywhere between five and ten nominees for Best Picture, with the stipulation that a film receives at least five percent of votes during the nominating process. The new nomination rule is only one in a series of weird decisions (see James Franco as host) aimed at broadening the appeal of the Oscars. [NYT]

RIP Bergman Cinematographer Gunnar Fischer: The veteran cinematographer, who worked on many classic films with auteur director Ingmar Bergman including "The Seventh Seal" and "Wild Strawberries," has died at 100. [LAT