Thursday, October 19, 2017

Collectors: David and Sybil Yurman: Out of Africa — and the subconscious

Show Us Your Walls
By Warren Strugatch
The jewelry designers David and Sybil Yurman in their SoHo apartment. Credit Alex Welsh for The New York Times
When the SoHo jewelry-design power couple David and Sybil Yurman bought the adjacent penthouse in their building two years ago, converting much of it into studio space, it gave them the opportunity to stretch out stylishly in their original loft just across the hall. Since then they have been rearranging and adding to their collections of furniture and art. The masks are mostly African in origin or inspiration. Other objects have an Asian aesthetic. A few of Mr. Yurman’s jewelry pieces and small sculptures — he began his career as an apprentice to Jacques Lipchitz — and Ms. Yurman’s paintings are included too. Their favorite pieces enjoy places of honor on a living room cabinet, but arrangements are not firmly fixed. [More]

A trove of Yiddish artifacts rescued from the Nazis, and oblivion

By Joseph Berger
A pinkas, or a kind of registry, of the Lomde Shas Society in Lithuania from 1836, one of the documents rescued from the Nazis and soon to be displayed at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in Manhattan. Credit Kevin Hagen for The New York Times
In one of their odder and more chilling moves, the Nazis occupying Lithuania once collected Yiddish and Hebrew books and documents, hoping to create a reference collection about a people they intended to annihilate. Even stranger, they appointed Jewish intellectuals and poets to select the choicest pearls for study. These workers, assigned to sift through a major Jewish library in Vilna, now Vilnius, ended up hiding thousands of books and papers from the Nazis, smuggling them out under their clothing, and squirreling them away in attics and underground bunkers. But months ago curators at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in Manhattan, the successor to the Vilna library, were told that another trove, totaling 170,000 pages, had been found, somehow overlooked in the same church basement. [More]

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Collecting strokes of genius at the Morgan Library & Museum

By Holland Cotter
“Three Standing Saints,” by Andrea Mantegna (1450-55), in “Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings From the Thaw Collection.” Credit Thaw Collection/The Morgan Library & Museum
NEW YORK---Item by luminous, brain-zapping item, “Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings From the Thaw Collection” at the Morgan Library & Museum has to be one of the paramount group drawing shows of the era. It is also a grand summing-up of a career, an art form and an institution’s holdings. During the past 60 years, the New York art dealer Eugene V. Thaw and his wife, Clare Eddy Thaw, gradually amassed a phenomenal drawing collection, notable not just for visual charisma, but also for chronological breadth, running from the early Renaissance to the near present, with lingering stops en route. The exhibition of some 150 choice items fills both of the Morgan’s large ground-floor galleries, which for the occasion have been divided into cabinet-size nooks sequenced roughly by date. [More]

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Obamas have chosen Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald: one established artist, one on her way

By Roberta Smith
The painter Kehinde Wiley, in 2015, depicts his subjects with flamboyance and historical sweep. Barack and Michelle Obama have chosen him to create Mr. Obama’s official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery. Credit Chad Batka for The New York Times
Barack and Michelle Obama don’t like to waste an opportunity, in word or action, to make larger points about contemporary life and culture. In that vein, their choices of artists for their official portraits in the collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery shine a spotlight on the state of American art. In their selection of Kehinde Wiley, for Mr. Obama’s likeness, and Amy Sherald, for Mrs. Obama’s, announced Friday, the Obamas continue to highlight the work of contemporary and modern African-American artists, as they so often did with the artworks they chose to live with in the White House, by Glenn Ligon, Alma Thomas and William H. Johnson, among others.  [More]