Fine Art

Farewell to a Major Figure of Geometric Abstraction and Concrete Art

 

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François Morellet died on Wednesday, just a few days after his 90th birthday. Parisian gallerist Kamel Mennour confirmed the French artist’s passing to Le Monde. Morellet is known primarily as a major figure of geometric abstraction and Concrete Art, working across mediums including painting, sculpture, and light-based art. Though he began working in the 1950s, the artist has explained that he had to wait decades before his neon works became in-demand enough to sell. Morellet was a central player in the founding of the significant Paris collective of the 1960s Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV).

Some 60 years after his practice began, Morellet received a major retrospective at the Center Pompidou in Paris, cementing his place in the country as one of the key artists of his generation.

Stolen Picasso – When You’re So Rich You Don’t Notice Your Picasso Is Missing

 

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Gallery Art owner Kenneth Hendel holds on tightly to Picasso’s ‘Portrait de Marie-Therese’ at his gallery in Aventura on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Hendel received a letter from a New York law firm saying that the Picasso in his gallery was stolen ten years ago from the Tisch family and they just noticed it was missing now. The gallery owner contends he bought the art from another dealer – paid $350,000 for it — and that he knows nothing about it being stolen.
PATRICK FARRELL pfarrell@miamiherald.com

Christie’s Defies Predictions of Market Chill With $138 Million Impressionist and Modern Art Sale

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Marc Chagall Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel (1928) Price realized:£7,026,500/$10,111,134/€ 9,260,927. Image: Courtesy of Christie’s

With art market pundits anticipating a ‘chill’ in 2016, Christie’s opening salvo was conversely mild, and without too many portents of gloom. But it wasn’t on fire either. The sale realised £95.9 million ($138 million), including premium, or just around the lower estimate of £83.6-123 million without premium. A tolerable 22 lots, or 25 percent of the 89 lots, went unsold, including only 2 in the category of works selling for £1.7 million ($2.5 million) or more. But just as many lots sold to bids either on or below the low estimates.

The sale, which included a separate catalogue for surrealist works, trailedlast February’s £147 million pound sale by some margin. “It wasn’t easy,” commented Guy Jennings, managing director of The Fine Art Fund Group. “I’d say the market has softened a bit. But it was steady.” Jay Vincze, the head of the Impressionist and modern art department at Christie’s London said the shortfall on last year was because last year he had two exceptional collections. “There was no chill; this was about normal for us.”

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René Magritte, Mesdemoiselles de l’Isle Adam (1942). Estimate 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 British pounds. Price realized: £1,986,500/$2,858,574/€ 2,618,207 Image: Courtesy of Christie’s

If Christie’s were looking for some certitude in the middle market, it could be found. They had a racing start with works on paper by Pablo Picassoand Henri-Edmond Cross soaring over estimates leaving underbidders in the room—dealer Hugh Gibson and advisor Wentworth Beaumont—empty handed.

Some of the top lots were coming back to auction having sold just before the 2008 crash, so it was a test as to whether those values could be maintained. Egon Schiele‘s 1909 self-portrait oil painting had previously been in Ronald Lauder’s collection until he sold it in 2007 to help pay for his acquisition of some expensive, restituted works by Gustav Klimt for the Neue Gallerie. In 2007, it sold on a single bid for £4.5 million pounds, and the buyer, a ‘private European collector,’ was hoping for a small mark-up at £6-8 million. Tuesday night, it sold for £7.2 million.

Also the property of a ‘private European collector’ was a 1925 still life by Picasso which had been bought in the same Christie’s auction for a mid-estimate of £2.8 million. Christie’s had doubled the estimate this time around, to £4-6 million, and it made a modest return, selling it for £4 million pounds to a phone bidder against the London dealer Ezra Nahmad.

Other top lots to sell were a blissfully romantic work by Marc Chagall, Les Maries de la Tour, which clipped the top estimate selling for £7 million ($10 million) to adviser Thomas Seydoux who, when he was at Christie’s, was known for his close relationships with Russian collectors. The painting last sold at auction in New York in 1991 for $600,000. And Fernand Leger’s dynamic Le Moteur, a smaller version of a painting of the same title which sold for a record $16.7 million in 2001, sold this evening to dealer, Hugh Gibson, within estimate for £5.2 million.

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Paul Cézanne, Ferme en Normandie, été (Hattenville) (1882). Price realized: £5,122,500/$7,371,278/€ 6,751,455 Image: Courtesy of Christie’s

There was a meaty selection of early 20th century German paintings byErnst Ludwig Kirchner, Lyonel Feininger, Otto Dix and more, which, except for a weak still life by Max Beckmann, sold mostly above estimates. A street scene in Murnau in 1908 by Wassily Kandinsky—not long before he shifted towards abstraction, was snapped up below estimate for £1.4 million by Amsterdam-based advisor Matthijs Erdman, and an early expressionistic landscape by Karl Schmidt-Rottluf, Windy Day, was chased by  German advisor, Jorg Bertz, before selling to a phone bidder near the top end of its estimate at £1.3 million. The star of this section, though, was the relatively unknown Neue Sachlichkeit artist, Georg Scholz, with a satirical 1920s critique of small town bourgeois activities (Small Town by Day) in Germany, which quadrupled the low estimate selling to New York’s Acquavella Gallery for a record £1.2 million. Christie’s saw this coming because much the same happened with a gouache study for this painting in 2012.

On the minus side was a small, rather dull Giacometti painting, Buste d’homme, which had been bought just before the credit crunch for £1.6 million. Now estimated at £1.8-2.5 million, it failed to find a buyer. Making losses for the sellers were a Matisse drawing, bought in New York in November 2012 for $458,500, which now sold for £266,500 ($383,494), and a large jazzy canvas by Andre Lhote, Gipsy Bar, for which the owner paid a seemingly extravagant $2.7 million dollars back in 2007. That record still stands, as Gipsy Bar sold this time round for a more reasonable £1.1 million ($1.9 million).

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Christie’s had made much of the promise in Asia when touring the highlights from its sale in the East last month. But bidding from Asian collectors was muted. A verdant Farm in Normandy by Paul Cezanne (1882), sold near the low estimate for £5.1 million, as did Chagall’s run-of-the-mill Violinist under the Moon, which sold for £1.8 million—both to Asian phone bidders. The strongest Asian bidding came for an early, rather awkward looking portrait of a young man by Cezanne which was estimated at £300,000, but sold for £1.2 million.

The surrealist section of the sale appeared to be a bit disappointing because past sales have been getting stronger and stronger. Christie’s has built a reputation as the leading auctioneer for surrealist art under the guidance of deputy chairman, Olivier Camu, who is also a specialist in the area. Last February, they chalked up 66 million pounds of sales for their Surrealist sale (over the £37-54 million estimate). This evening, the level of consignments was down, with a pre-sale estimate of £26-39 million, as was the total, £29.5 million. Echoing Vincze, Camu said the disparity was only due to the exceptional private collection it had for sale last year, which is not something you can depend on.

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Salvador Dalí, Le voyage fantastique (1965). Estimate 1,200,000 – 1,800,000 British pounds. Price realized: £1,426,500/$2,052,734/€ 1,880,127   Image: Courtesy of Christie’s

However, many of the lots that had higher estimates had already been at auction within the last five years, and were thus well known to buyers. The top lot, Max Ernst‘s The Stolen Mirror, an homage to his former lover, Leonora Carrington, set a record $16.3 million (£10.3 million) when it sold for four times the lower estimate to a European collector at Christie’s New York in November 2011. That collector must have needed to sell and been prepared to take a loss as he secured a guarantee from Christie’s, most probably near the lower end of the  £7-10 million estimate. But bidding was thin on Tuesday and the painting fell to a lone telephone bidder—likely the guarantor—for a premium inclusive £7.6 million.

Also taking a loss was Christie’s. Rene Magritte’s 1947 painting,Mesdesmoiselles de l’Isle Adam, which is simultaneously delightful and scary, sold at Christie’s New York in November 2014 below estimate for $4.3 million dollars. The painting had a third party guarantee, but had somehow managed to become property of Christie’s (i.e., the guarantee didn’t materialize). Now with a lower £2-3 million estimate, it sold for £2 million ($2.86 million), with Christie’s having to shoulder the difference.

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Egon Schiele, Selbstbildnis mit gespreizten Fingern (1909). Price realized: £7,250,500/$10,433,470/€ 9,556,159. Image: Courtesy of Christie’s

The other Christie’s owned property, Joan Miro’s Femme et Oiseau dans la Nuit, 1968, carried the second highest estimate of the surrealist sale at £3-5 million, down on the £4-6 million it carried in  June 2010 when it sold for £5.2 million. Although it had not been guaranteed, it was not paid for. Fortunately for Christie’s, there was plenty of bidding on it the second time around, spurred first by London dealer Angela Nevill, and then by Ezra Nahmad, before it sold to a phone bidder for £5.8 million, just enough to get Christie’s out of jail.

Another of the higher valued lots that had been at auction relatively recently was Salvador Dalí‘s Le Voyage Fantastique, a 1965 portrait of movie star, Raquel Welch, that blended sci-fi elements with a Lichtenstein-like benday-dot technique. This obviously appealed to the Mugrabi family of art dealers when they bought it in 2011 in New York for a mid-estimate $1.9 million. With a similar estimate of £1.2-1.8 million, it might have tempted one of the Asian buyers who have taken Dalí to heart, but it sold on a £1.2 million bid ($1.7 million), and not to an Asian collector, leaving the Mugrabis unusually short on a deal.

source via: artnet

The Top 10 Biggest Art Discoveries in 2015

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Modern technology has enabled researchers to discover exciting things about classic artworks. Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Advances in technology have had a major impact on the art world this year. Cutting-edge research techniques have given scholars and conservationists unparalleled insights into the thought processes and techniques of master artists who died centuries ago, as well as finding long-hidden treasures.

Here we reveal the most fascinating art discoveries of the past year, from secret portraits to glowing sea creatures.

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This putto sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is now believed to be by Donatello. Photo: Otis Norcross Fund, courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

1. Lost Donatello sculptures discovered
A few years ago, art dealer Andrew Butterfield bought a wooden putto from the estate of Turin-based art dealer Giancarlo Gallino. The sculpture is nearly identical to a similar piece acquired by Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in the 1960s, which was determined at the time not to be fromDonatello‘s hand.

But he couldn’t ignore the resemblance. With the help of several Italian Renaissance art scholars, Butterfield secured the stunning attribution this year.

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Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Bust of Pope Paul V (1621). Photo: J. Paul Getty Museum.

2. Rare Bernini bust found by Slovakian art dealer
A Slovakian art dealer took a gamble on a misattributed marble bust, which turned out to be an incredibly rare early work by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. In June, Bust of Pope Paul V was acquired by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles for $33 million.

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3. Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has another portrait hiding underneath
Over the course of a decade French scientist Pascal Cotte used reflecting light technology to analyze the most famous painting in the world. According to the researcher, the original painting did not include the sitter’s enigmatic smile. The findings could reveal more information on Da Vinci‘s process, as well as the identity of one of the most famous women in the world.

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Peter Carl Fabergé, the elephant automaton from the Diamond Trellis egg (1892). Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015.

4. Lost Fabergé egg elephant discovered
This year, researchers found a secret object in a Fabergé egg belonging to the British royal family’s art collection. The Diamond Trellis Egg, commissioned by czar Alexander III in 1892, contains an automaton elephant embellished in diamonds and rubies. Despite its age, restorers were happy to note that the automaton still works perfectly.

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Part of the Nazi’s subterranean system built in what is today Gluszyca-Osowka, Poland, here seen in March 2012. Photo: AP.

5. Nazi treasure train is likely a bust 
Two men claimed to have discovered a long-lost military train near the Polish city of Walbrzych, which experts thought could contain gold, gems, and priceless works of art looted by the Nazis during WWII.

“We are still waiting for the facts to be established but we very much hope that it is a legitimate find—all opportunities to identify and restitute looted property from the Nazi era must be welcomed,” the Art Recovery Group’s Jerome Hasler told artnet News via e-mail.

But in December, professor Janusz Madej from Krakow’s Academy of Mining told BBC News, “There may be a tunnel. There is no train.”

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Claude Monet, A Haystack in the Evening Sun (1892).

6. Researchers find Monet’s hidden signature
Researchers at Finland’s University of Jyväskylä used a hyperspectral camera and an XRF device to uncover Claude Monet‘s signature obscured under a layer of paint in A Haystack in the Evening Sun.

Until now, researchers have been skeptical of the authenticity of the 1891 painting due to the missing signature.

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National Geographic Emerging Explorer David Gruber discovers a biofluorescent sea turtle near the Solomon Islands.

7. Art expedition accidentally uncovers new glow-in-the-dark sea turtle
In September marine biologist David Gruber discovered a critically-endangered hawksbill sea turtle that mesmerized its audience. The turtle’s biofluorescent shell changes color depending on the water temperature.

Gruber was participating in a TBA21 Academy expedition—an art initiative which recruits artists, curators and scientist to work on projects relating to environmental issues worldwide. We’re excited to see what the team comes up with in 2016.

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Wreckage from the recently discovered galleon San Jose. Photo: courtesy the Colombian Ministry of Culture.

8. Columbia discovers 300-year-old shipwreck worth $1 billion
Described by Colombian president Jean Manuel Santos as “the most valuable treasure that has been found in the history of humanity,” the Spanish 18th century galleon San Jose and its treasures were found off the coast of Cartagena on November 27. Ownership is currently being contested by Spain and its former colony.

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Kazimir Malevich Black Square (1915) Photo: Mich Theiner via The Independent

9. X-ray analysis gives shocking insights into Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square
Researchers at Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery used X-ray analysis to discover an unsettling joke underneath Malevich‘s Black Square (1915). The text is thought to be a response to an 1897 painting by the French writer and humorist Alphonse Allais.

The Russian artist’s influences may be much broader than previously thought.

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10. $58 million trove of looted antiquities uncovered in raid
A joint investigation by Swiss and Italian police broke up a smuggling ring lead by the notorious Sicilian smuggler Gianfranco Becchina this year, which contained $58 million of illicit antiquities. Police seized 5,361 items in one of the biggest busts of its type in history.

 

via @artnet

Closure of Miami Causeway Threatens Traffic Mayhem at Art Basel in Miami Beach

Could this year’s Art Basel in Miami Beach see the worst traffic ever for the famously hectic art fair week? The city’s famously clogged roads are going to be even worse this December thanks to the closure of the Venetian Causeway.

One of three passages between Miami Beach and Miami, the Venetian Causeway helps relieve congestion on the MacArthur Causeway to the south or the Julia Tuttle Causeway to the north. Visitors to Art Basel in years past need no reminder of how difficult it can be to get from Miami Beach to say, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, or Wynwood when traffic slows to a crawl on the causeways.

The nine-month, $12.4-million project, which began in late May, will rebuild the causeway’s western drawbridge. Built in 1927, the historic span was patched with metal plates during a renovation in the late 1990s. The need for a better solution became clear in March 2014, when a plate was dislodged and a bus became stuck in the gap.

The city is offering other transit options, which will include water taxis as well as a free trolley service running along the length of Miami Beach that connects the main convention center to the Design District.

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Miami trolley route. Photo: courtesy Miami Beach.

The city is also testing out a new “Miami-Dade Art Express” bus route, which is also free. Running every 20 minutes between 11:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., the bus will provide an alternate mode of transportation across the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

Nick Korniloff, head of two fairs in Miami (Art Miami and its sister fair CONTEXT) and one in Miami Beach (Aqua Art Miami), is hopeful that the effects of the closure won’t be too dramatic. “The Venetian was convenient up until a point,” he told artnet News via e-mail, “but never came close to being able to handle the bulk of traffic that the interstates [on the other causeways] do.”

Free Miami trolley. Photo: via Wikimedia Commons.

Free Miami trolley. Photo: via Wikimedia Commons

New Andy Warhol Exhibit Focuses on His Celebrity Fixation

Nearly 30 years after his death, Andy Warhol’s unrelenting fixation with celebrity and its imprint on his life, art and films fuels a new exhibition marking the 40th anniversary of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Debuting at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox, “Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen” spotlights the Pop Art master’s personal collection of Hollywood memorabilia, which the child of immigrants began collecting growing up in 1930s Pittsburgh.

The exhibition, organized by The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and presented in collaboration with TIFF, includes rare items such as Warhol’s childhood scrapbook as well as posters, magazines, films, prints, drawings, photos, videos and other related artworks. Together, “Stars of the Silver Screen” sheds new light on Warhol’s obsession with Hollywood, particularly as he transitioned from the two-room row house of his youth in Pittsburgh’s working-class neighborhood of Oakland into a globally recognized star and star-maker.

“This is the first major exhibition we’ve seen that looks at the imprint of celebrity on Warhol’s life and work,” said Laurel MacMillan, TIFF’s director of exhibitions. “It takes audiences inside Warhol’s head, both as an artist and fan. It also gives them an opportunity to see how that thread of celebrity carried through his life and prolific career, and how deeply it affected Warhol until his death in 1987.”

“Warhol was a bridge between that golden era of Hollywood, which was filled with stars like Shirley Temple, Judy Garland and Lana Turner, and the new Hollywood that emerged from its ashes in the 1960s,” said Huxley, the curator of film and audio at The Andy Warhol Museum. “Remember, from a very young age Warhol was going to the movies and collecting celebrity magazines and photographs. He was loyal to this passion throughout his life. Warhol even had a copy of Kitty Kelley’s book on Frank Sinatra sitting by his bedside in the hospital shortly before his death.”

The commercial artist turned painter in the 1950s and filmmaker in the 1960s found himself partying with Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Truman Capote, Halston and a host of celebrities of that era.

“Warhol clearly exceeded his childhood dreams about attaining some kind of notoriety in his life. But as he delved into the world of celebrity, Warhol looked to the mundane for inspiration and made stars out of ordinary people who walked off the street and into his studio,” said Huxley. “That curiosity about what stardom really meant kept Warhol ahead of his contemporaries.”

Even in today’s age of social media and reality TV, Warhol’s relevance is undiminished, according to Davies, the managing curator for the Toronto International Film Festival.

“Warhol anticipated many shifts in pop culture and played a significant role in the democratization of fame,” said Davies.“His work also preceded reality TV, particularly with its emphasis on mundane things like soup cans and on the average person’s day-to-day life.”

Available Celebrity artwork by Andy Warhol 

Just the 5 art world updates you should know this week.

1. FIAC Arrives in Paris

This past weekend saw the 42nd edition of the FIAC art fair at Paris’ Grand Palais. Director Jennifer Flay allowed only 170 participators from 22 countries to participate this year, tightening the selection by 21 entries from last year’s edition.

Inside the 2015 Fiac (artnet News)

Inside the 2015 Fiac (artnet News)

As a result, fair-goers — many of whom were enjoyed an extended trip fromlast week’s Frieze London — saw a more selective, curated display of works. And visitors reacted well to the more selective display of works, with participating galleries reporting strong sales throughout the fair. Hauser & Wirth gained attention for its presentation in honor of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks while Gavin Brown’s Enterprise alluded to its own exclusivity with an automatic curtain that separated it from the rest of the fair and 303 Gallery adorned its booth with an edition Jeppe Hein wallpaper. (You can read more about the fair’s best booths here.)

2. Wirths Top List of Most Powerful People in Contemporary Art

Iwan and Manuela Wirth have officially been recognized as the most powerful people in contemporary art in 2015. The Swiss couple, co-founders of international gallery Hauser& Wirth, topped ArtReview’s Power 100 list. The Wirths, who were ranked at 3rd last year, have ascended the list due to their innovations in “the model of selling and promoting art.”

The Wirths (left) and the Los Angeles site of the couple’s forthcoming Los Angeles museum space (The Art Newspaper, Art ldt Magazine)

The Wirths (left) and the Los Angeles site of the couple’s forthcoming Los Angeles museum space (The Art Newspaper, Art ldt Magazine)

Mark Rappolt, the editor in chief of ArtReview magazine, elaborated that Hauser & Wirth has managed to combine the “institutional operations” of the art world and the “lifestyle of collecting” to build a global brand that is both intelligent and sensitive to clients’ wishes. The Hauser & Wirth brand also shows no signs of slowing its international influence, with the recent opening of a gallery in Somerset and an impending museum in Los Angeles. Dealers David Zwirner and Larry Gagosian (the only other deal to ever rank number 1 on the list, which he did in 2004 and 2010) joined the Wirths in the top 10 as well alongside artist Ai Weiwei and Marina Abromovic.

3. UK Museums Go On High Alert For Theft

In the first warning of its kind, the Arts Council England has warned British museums of a “sever and imminent” threat — that of theft. TheUK’s National Crime Agency has learned of a threat to smaller pieces across British artistic institutions.

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London’s National Gallery (artnet News)

The Crime Agency is, “aware of a group who has made reconnaissance visits to a number of museums and other venues across the UK. It is thought that smaller, more portable items will be targeted rather than items such as large paintings.” While the Agency would not comment as to how intelligence came to light, some suspect it came from an embedded or underground source. The need for increased security comes at a difficult time for British museums, who were struggling to balance their budgets already.

4. #LegosForWeiwei Takes Off Amid Lego’s Atempt to “Censor” the Artist

This week, Ai Weiwei took to Instagram to discuss LEGO’s recent denial to send him a bulk order of plastic bricks for an upcoming exhibition in Australia. While Lego stated that it “cannot approve the use of Legos for political works,” Weiwei called the denial an act of “censorship and discrimination.”

Ai Weiwei’s recent anti-Lego posts on Instagram

Ai Weiwei’s recent anti-Lego posts on Instagram

Following the Chinese artist’s post, some became suspicious that Lego was attempting to defend its corporate interests in China (including a forthcoming Legoland in Shanghai) and a hashtag calling for lego donations for Weiwei had taken off. Weiwei is working on the logistics of how to accept lego donations from his supporters, but with the UK’s Chinese ambassador dismissing his work earlier this week and his new three-year visa from Germany, Weiwei definitely has enough to deal with.

5. Not Everyone Loves Renoir

Not even the most recognized masters of painting are safe from criticism it seems. After picketing the Museum of Find Arts Boston, the “Renoir Sucks at Painting” group recently demonstrated outside New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Protestors outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Hyperallergic)

Protestors outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Hyperallergic)

Holding signs that read “ReNOir” and “God hates Renoir,” the protestors demonstrated against the museum’s inclusion of works by Renoir, who they deem untalented and over-hyped. The protest’s leader, Max Geller, founded the movement with a “Renoir Sucks at Painting” Instagram account and a national petition to remove the Renoir paintings from the National Gallery. “I hate Renoir because he is the most overrated artist east, west, north and south of the river Seine,” explained Geller. “Renoir just sucks at painting.” Despite the group’s strong setiments, the Met has not responded with any plans to remove their renown Renoir paintings.

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