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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Paul Allen and J.M.W. Turner, BFF?

Posted by on April 12 at 22:35 PM

I was just looking at a news item from this past weekend about Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s selection to represent the US at the 2007 Venice Biennale (more on that in a forthcoming post) when I saw something I’d overlooked, from the NY Times:

A mysterious American collector bought a dreamy scene of Venice by J. M. W. Turner for $35.8 million, a record for the artist, at Christie’s in New York yesterday [April 6].

“Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio” (around 1840) was being sold by St. Francis of Assisi Foundation, a nonprofit organization in White Plains that supports the missionary efforts of Capuchin priests and brothers worldwide. The painting was given to the foundation by a European collector who wishes to remain anonymous. It had been on view for many years at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Three bidders Robert Noortman, a dealer from Maastricht, the Netherlands; and two unidentified telephone bidders vied for the painting, which was bought by one of the telephone bidders described by Christie’s officials only as an American who frequently bought Impressionist and Modern art.

Names being bandied about included the financier Leon Black and the Microsoft giant Paul Allen, who both already own Turners, as well as the hedge-fund manager Kenneth Griffin.

The Turner painting of Venice that we do know Allen owns is gorgeous; it’s up at the Experience Music Project through September and may be the best work of art on display right now in Seattle. (EMP didn’t make a reproduction of it available, and I can’t find another Turner Venice picture online that seems comparably compelling, otherwise a scene of a hazy, dissolving world would appear right here.) The fact that it’s in a half-baked show in a sub-par museum, well, that’s the subject of my review in this week’s issue.

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I thought the NY Times outed Steve(?) Wynn, the Las Vegas casino guy, as the buyer.

Someone factcheck. I'm pretty sure it's the same case.

You're completely right. Steve Wynn got it.

I also feel like Wynn's presentation of impressionist pieces at the Bellagio was less weird than Allen's current show, if that's even possible. Maybe I'm being uncharitable now ...

Wynn even let you take your camera and for snapshots, as I recall.

If only Allen's installation were as well done.

Some paintings - most infamously, the Rothko - even have shadows cast on their upper edges by the ghastly frames.

And who is that idiot professor he hired to blab a bunch of smart undergraduate style "compare and contrast" essays in our ears as we try to enjoy the fruits on Allen's bounty?

That's the thing about similarity and difference: everything is both similar to, and different from, everything else - or can be made so by someone making an exhibition of themselves and their overwrought interpretive skills.

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