Vampiric Royal Portrait Bites, Will Ferrell Buys Omer Fast for LACMA, and More

Vampiric Royal Portrait Bites, Will Ferrell Buys Omer Fast for LACMA, and More
Detail of Paul Emsley's "Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge" (2012)
(Courtesy National Portrait Gallery)

– Kate Middleton Portrait Spooks: After months of anticipation, it's finally here: Kate Middleton's first official portrait, painted by Glasgow-born artist Paul Emsley. The Duchess of Cambridge is depicted in soft focus against a black background. She looks, well, rather old and kind of like a vampire. "The first thing that strikes you about Middleton's visage as it looms from the sepulchral gloom... is the dead eyes: a vampiric, malevolent glare beneath heavy lids," writes the Guardian's Charlotte Higgins. "Then there's the mouth: a tightly pursed, mean little lip-clench (she is, presumably, sucking in her fangs)." [Guardian]

– Will Ferrell Chips In for Omer Fast Video at LACMA: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's contemporary art department and Contemporary Friends group have acquired nine new works for the museum's permanent collection, including a large tapestry by Theaster Gates, an Erin Shirreff work depicting James Turrell's "Roden Crater," and a pair of Omer Fast videos bought with funds from Sue TsaoViveca Paulin-Ferrell, and "Anchorman" actor Will Ferrell. "While our funds from membership dues made the purchase of four works easily possible, members added on individually in order to purchase the rest," said LACMA curator Franklin Sirmans. "Nearly all of the artists were acquired by the museum for the first time." [Unframed]

– Ancient Sexy Graffiti Found at Roman Colosseum: Archaeologists working to restore the badly unkempt Colosseum in Rome came across a series of bright, colorful frescoes in a small hallway that appear to depict the exploits — martial, erotic, and otherwise — of gladiators. The section of the amphitheater containing the frescoes and the names scrawled by visitors to the arena dating as far back as the 17th century will be on view to the public next year. "We hope to be able to find other traces in this corridor but that depends on the funds available to continue with the restoration," said Colosseum director Rossella Rea. [AFP]

– Turrell Gets Into Gallery Design: Why hang a work of art in a gallery for a limited time when you can make a permanent mark on the space? Or with the space itself? James Turrell is designing a gallery for Los Angeles's Kayne Griffin Corcoran, which is moving to South La Brea Avenue from Santa Monica this spring. The new 10,000-square-foot location will have its very own permanent installations by Turrell, including a signature "skyspace." He is also designing a courtyard and the main gallery. [NYT]

– Tuymans Show Sells Out: Belgian painter Luc Tuymans's latest exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery in New York is meant to capture the oppressive banality of the artist's everyday life. But the gallery's success in controlling Tuymans's market are anything but banal. All seven works in the show sold for between $1.4 million and $1.8 million each even before last night's opening. "We have… bought back numerous works from the auctions in order not to get into the speculative wave that's been going on the past 15 years. It's dangerous," said the artist. [WSJ]

– Grand Palais Pulls All-Nighters for Hopper: The success of the Grand Palais's Edward Hopper retrospective is such that the additional 18,000 tickets made available last month have proved insufficient, so the museum has opted to extend the show by six days — until February 3 — with the doors staying open through the night on February 1, 2, and 3, for a final attendance bonanza of 62 consecutive hours. To date the exhibition has brought in some 580,000 visitors, for a daily attendance average of 6,800. [AFP]

– Nabokov Museum Attack by Misguided Anti-Pedophilia Vandal: The Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg, housed in the home where "Lolita" author Vladimir Nabokov was born, has become the target of anonymous attacks from people who conflate the subject of his best-known novel with the aim of the museum devoted to his memory. Recently a vandal smashed a museum window with a bottle that contained a note stating that the institution would incur "God's wrath" for promoting pedophilia, a sentiment echoed by several letters the museum has received in recent months. [RIA Novosti]

– Getty Returns Hades to Italy: The Getty has decided to voluntarily return to Sicily a terracotta head depicting the Greek god Hades. The decision comes after two years of research that concluded the head was looted from a sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone in the early 1970s. The museum paid $530,000 for the piece from collector Mauice Tempelsman in 1985. [LAT

– Modigliani Leads Christie's Impressionist Sale: The top lot at Christie's modern and Impressionist sale in London on February 6 is a 1919 portrait by Modigliani of his lover that may sell for as much as $35.5 million. (The Italian artist created the elegant painting, "Jeanne Hebuterne (au chapeau)," a year before he died at the age of 35; the subject, his common law wife, committed suicide the following day.) The entire 78-lot sale may raise as much as $237 million. [Bloomberg]

– Tolstoy Museum Lures Kids With Cooking Classes: The Leo Tolstoy Museum-Yasnaya Polyana Estate is modernizing its exhibits and programming in an attempt to bring in a younger audience. New initiatives include new interactive displays and an iPhone app, as well as cooking classes where visitors learn to prepare the recipes of Leo Tolstoy's wife, Sofia Andreevna. Conducted by Nikolai Muraviev, the executive chef at the museum's hotel restaurant, the cooking class project is being funded by a foundation belonging to Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin. [TAN]


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