10:52 AM, Dec 3, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
At the end of September, the federal government's fiscal year was drawing to a close, the threat of a shut down was increasing, and the State Department was shopping for art. Four contracts were awarded in the last two weeks of September, including $1,000,000 for a granite sculpture by Irish-born artist Sean Scully to be installed at the new U.S. Embassy in London. Notice of the awards was posted Sunday afternoon of Thanksgiving weekend on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
Although the form of the Scully sculpture is not identified in the award notification, the artist has produced granite sculptures before, including this one entitled "Wall of Light Cubed 2" in 2008:
The remaining three awards include a bronze sculpture, "Flowers", by American artist Donald Baechler ($150,000), for the new U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan; a mosaic mural by Miotto Mosaic Art Studio in Carmel, NY ($150,000), for the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil; and a work entitled "The Black Arch" by Saudi Arabian writer Raja Alem and artist Shadia Alem, for the new U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
When asked for comment on the contract awards, a State Department official provided the intended destinations for the artwork, as well as the following statement:
The Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies curates permanent and temporary exhibitions for U.S. embassy and consulate facilities. For the past five decades Art in Embassies has played a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy with a focused mission of cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts and artist exchange. Art in Embassies is a public-private partnership engaging over 20,000 participants globally, including artists, museums, galleries, universities, and private collectors, and encompasses over 200 venues in 189 countries.
The art pieces listed below will become part of the collections at diplomatic posts and in some cases, comply with host city planning requirements that art be incorporated within the design scheme and displayed in public spaces. These pieces are permanent purchases, not on loan.
The State Department's 2013 budget request included $2.5M for the Art in Embassies program.
UPDATE: A State Department official emails to say, "Sean Scully was born in Ireland, but is now an American." This post has been updated to reflect that fact.
10:09 AM, Jul 22, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Washington D.C. is big on tradition, and one of those traditions involves official portraits of top government officials. The Defense Department just awarded a $31,200 contract (frame included) to Portraits, Inc. for an official portrait of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta:
The work-in-progress of an American master. Jul 22, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 42 • By DANIEL ROSS GOODMAN
In some locales, wrote Albert Camus in The Plague, beautiful days are only experienced in the winter. But this is easily belied by the magnificent Edward Hopper exhibition on display at the Whitney Museum this summer. Beyond a showcase of artistic beauty, it is a much-deserved homage to an American master who is occasionally overshadowed by New York museums’ infatuation with European painters. That Hopper was born and bred in New York merely compounds this ironic injustice.
The disdain is largely one-sided.
Jul 1, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 40 • By STEPHEN MILLER
John Kinsella, a highly regarded Australian poet who teaches at Cambridge, was quoted not long ago in the Times Literary Supplement as saying that he has “not sold his soul to market fetishization.” Kinsella means that he doesn’t want even to think about making a profit from his writing. But Kinsella is also doing what comes naturally for most poets and many literary essayists: He is expressing a disdain for the commercial world. To think about selling books is tantamount to worshipping Mammon.
4:02 PM, May 25, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Detroit is so close to insolvency that there is talk in the city of selling off some of the Detroit Institute of the Arts' treasures, including works by Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh.
The gimlet eye of Saul Steinberg.Mar 11, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 25 • By JOSEPH EPSTEIN
At a celebration at UCLA of the career of Eugen Weber, the Romanian-born historian of France, I made the mistake of describing Eugen as an exile. In his response to the tributes paid him, Eugen corrected me, remarking that he had never considered himself an exile. “From the moment I attained consciousness,” he said, “I wanted to leave Romania. The place is a dump.”
3:41 PM, Feb 8, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The illegal hacking of email addresses of George W. Bush's family members has revealed paintings that appear to be the work of the former president himself.
Weaving the Master’s spell without color.Dec 10, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 13 • By DANIEL GOODMAN
It may be hard to believe that one of the more underrated New York art exhibits of recent times is a current Picasso show at the Guggenheim, but such is the case. “Picasso Black and White” is not only one of the best Picasso exhibitions to visit New York; it is one of the better exhibitions of any artist to visit New York in the past few years.
The Reformation as seen in the art of Lucas Cranach.Sep 10, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 48 • By DAVID GELERNTER
The Serpent and the Lamb is not easy to pin down. Officially, it tells the story of Martin Luther’s relations with the eminent painter Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553); Professor Ozment argues that the two men created the Protestant Reformation between them. Luther was the mastermind and Cranach, who became Luther’s publicist, champion, and protector as well as his friend, was indispensable.
8:08 AM, May 11, 2012 • By LIAM JULIAN
“Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape” is at the National Gallery of Art through August 12. The conceit of the exhibit is that Miró was no sequestered surrealist but an artist readily engaged with politics and society—“an artist of his times,” as a wall caption puts it. Visitors reading that caption might well wonder how Miró could be anything but of his “times,” for they surely were interesting ones.
1:18 PM, Apr 19, 2012 • By JAY COST
Sadly, Levon Helm – the drummer for the Band – died this afternoon at age 71. A terrible day for music fans everywhere, indeed. But let’s stop to appreciate Helm's great influence on American music.