Tour the Met With a Tipsy Ernest Hemingway, Italy Makes Pompeii an $11 Million Money Pit, and More Must-Read Art News

Tour the Met With a Tipsy Ernest Hemingway, Italy Makes Pompeii an $11 Million Money Pit, and More Must-Read Art News
Ernest Hemingway at the Finca Vigia, Cuba in 1946
(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Hemingway the Museum-goer: Revisiting Lillian Ross's famous 1950 New Yorker profile of Ernest Hemingway, Charles McGrathreveals a little-known fact about the world-famous writer: wheneverPapa visited New York (he called it a "phony town"), he took refuge atthe Metropolitan Museum of Art, touring the galleries with a pocket flask to keep himself tight. Another little-known fact: Hemingway's grandson, Seán Hemingway,is a curator of Greek and Roman art at the Met. These two bits oftrivia have collided in a fascinating audio tour provided by Seán thatgoes over the writer's own art collection — it included a copy of Goya's"Disasters of War" series — and talks about his favorite works at themuseum, including "View of Toledo" by El Greco and Breugel's "The Harvesters." [Met via NYT

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Redundant Archaeological Survey in Pompeii Costs €8.2 Million: Following the collapse of the House of Gladiatorsin Pompeii last year, an estimated €8.2 million ($11.1 million) has been dedicated bythe Italian culture ministry for inspections and a three-dimensionalstudy of the site. The research, however, appears to be redundant: asimilar three-dimensional study has already been completed by aneight-member consortium of academic institutions. The cultural affairsbranch of the Italian Labour Union has responded by reporting the matter to the public prosecutors of Torre Annunziata, Naples, and Rome. [TAN

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New Barnes Foundation Gets an Opening Date: The embattled Barnes Foundation will open its new Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects-designed facility on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on May 19, 2012. Only time will tell if anyone will pay the new $20 admission fee. [Philadelphia Inquirer]  

Jewish Museum Acquires Kehinde Wiley: It may sound like anodd couple — a Jewish museum and a painter who specializes in bright,baroque-style portraits of young black men. Nevertheless, the Jewish Museum in New York has acquired Kehinde Wiley's"Alios Itzhak," a 2011 portrait of a handsome Ethiopian-Israeli man ina T-shirt and blue jeans. Behind him is a delicate paper cutoutinspired by a traditional 19th-century Judaica piece in the JewishMuseum's permanent collection. Perhaps Claudia Gould is already exerting her influence? [NYT

Kansas City, Hotbed for the Arts?: The ambitious new Moshe Safdie-designed Kauffman Center for Performing Arts,a $326 million concrete-and-glass clamshell overlooking downtown KansasCity, will open Friday. It was paid for entirely with private donationsand, according to residents, reflects local people's willingness toopen their wallets if it means raising the national profile of thecity's arts scene. [NYT

Peter Doig to do Met Opera Commission: Paying homage to the Met's ongoing Robert Lepage production of Wagner's "Ring" cycle, the Metropolitan Opera in New York has commissioned Peter Doig to create works for both the opera house and its gallery. (Last season, Elizabeth Peyton wasselected.) "When I was a student, I saw a lot of opera, but I'm hardlyan aficionado," said Doig, adding that he's started listening to "Ring"recordings since accepting the assignment. [NYT

Fake Van Gogh Peddler Arrested in Florida: A former art dealer was arrested on Thursday on accusations that he sold an L.A. collector over 100 forged paintings by Claude Monet, Mark Rothko,and others to the tune of over $2 million. He has been charged withwire fraud, money laundering, interstate transportation of stolenproperty and possession of stolen property, and could serve up to 100years in prison. [Reuters]

– Masterpiece Theater: They say a picture is worth athousand words, but in today's cash-strapped economy, a famous pictureis worth the cost of an entire blockbuster exhibition. Museums fromReno to New York City are capitalizing on the budget-friendly trend ofthe one-work exhibition. Titian's "La Bella," for example, will get around this year, traveling from Florence to Fort Worth, Reno, and Portland. [TAN]

Digging Up Old Shit: In a feat of investigative journalism, The Art Newspaper reports that it has tracked the whereabouts of Chris Ofili'sfirst paintings made using elephant droppings, created when the artistvisited Zimbabwe at the beginning of his career in 1993. A gallery inBulawayo, Zimbabwe, confirms that the three dung paintings — twoabstract works and one depicting a human figure — are indeed in itsvault, and that due to their atypical medium and the artist's lack ofexperience at the time, are currently in "urgent need ofconservation."  [TAN]

Cleveland Museum Expands to Transformer Station: The Cleveland Museum of Artis planning to open a new gallery in an old power transformer station.The 3,500-square-foot space is expected to open in late 2012. Let'sjust hope they don't run out of money like another transformer station-meets-art museum we know. [AP

For the Wizard Who Has Everything: A company in Omaha is auctioning off a pair of boots J.K. Rowlingwore while she wrote the first "Harry Potter" book. Rowling donatedthem in 1999 to a fifth-grade class in Omaha for a project called"Operation Shoe Tree," in which celebrities were asked to write abouttheir lives from the perspective of their footwear. The "extremelyhard-working" shoes that "carried my owner all over Edinburgh in searchof good cafes to write in," according to Rowling's original note, willbe offered in an online auction today. [NYT]

Is Singapore Catching on As an Asian Art Hub?: Signs point to yes, argues the Wall Street Journal, citing the success of the first Art Stage event and the Singapore Biennale. But the city-state's draconian laws still led to the censorship of such artworks as Simon Fujiwara's gay-porn-filled installation "Welcome to the Hotel Munber" at the biennale. [WSJ]  

Minneapolis Institute Returns Antiquity: The Minneapolis Institute of Artsannounced today that it will return to Italy a 5th century B.C. Greekvolute krater that it acquired in 1983. The MIA contacted Italy afterbecoming concerned about the object's provenance, and after furtherresearch, it was determined that the krater was the same one depictedin photographs seized in the course of an investigation conducted bythe Carabinieri Art Squad in 1995. A delivery date to the Italian government is being finalized. [Press Release] 

Renoir Stolen: The Art Loss Register recently issued an alert on a Renoirportrait stolen from a private collection in Houston on September 8. Areward of $25,000 is being offered for information leading to thereturn of the painting, "Madeleine Leaning on Her Elbow with Flowers inHer Hair." [Art Market Monitor]  

Gagosian's Spate of Sexy Ladies: After debuting a show of Andy Warhol's portraits of Liz Taylor in New York next week, Larry Gagosian will show the Pop artist's Brigitte Bardot portraits in London. [ITA

VIDEO OF THE DAY:Nicolas Winding Refn's new film "Drive," opening this weekend, may present itself as a fast-paced action heist thriller, but it has been getting a lot of press for being an art film in disguise. The picture also earned Refn the award for best director at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Watch the trailer below. [yourhoustonnews]