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Episode 26
"Turner's Modern World" with Kimbell Art Museum Deputy Director George Shackelford

  • 1 min read

Episode Description

01:06 - A discussion with Kimbell Art Museum Deputy Director George Shackelford about the museum’s current exhibit “Turner’s Modern World”. The exhibition explores J.M.W. Turner’s lifelong interest in the inventions, events, politics, society, culture and science of his time, which resulted in many of his most original works and transformed his way of painting. The exhibit is on view through February 6.

45:26 - The week's top art headlines.


Craig: [00:00:10] This is Art Sense, a podcast focus on educating and informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. On today's episode, I speak with Kimbell Art Museum deputy director George Shackleford about the museum's current exhibit, Turner's Modern World. The exhibition explores J.M.W. Turner's lifelong interest in the inventions, events, politics, society, culture and science of his time, which resulted in many of his most original works and transformed his way of painting. The exhibit is on view at the Kimball through February six at the end of the episode. I'll be taking a look at some of the week's top art headlines. The first up, a dive into Turner's Modern World with George Shackelford.

Craig: [00:01:05] George Shackelford, thank you so much for being willing to be on the podcast today to talk about this current exhibit of J.M.W Turner at the Kimbell Art Museum. Maybe you could start with kind of giving us some background on how the exhibit came about and what the history of this of this exhibit is.

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George: [00:01:24] Well, thank you for it's great for inviting me. It's a great pleasure to be here. Turner's Modern World is an exhibition that was organized by Tate Britain in London in cooperation with the Kimbell Art Museum here and with the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, where the exhibition will be shown in the spring and into the summer of twenty twenty two. It's a show that was really quite a natural for Tate to partner with Boston on, because Boston owns one of Turner's most important modern pictures, and I use modern with an underline and inverted commas around it. It it is the the great slave ship from the Royal Academy of 1840, which unfortunately neither traveled to London nor will it be in. Nor is it in Fort Worth. But we'll see be seen with the exhibition only in Boston. When Tate Britain approached us about the exhibition, I leapt on it because I thought, This is a great topic and Turner is such a fantastic artist. I mean, in my mind, the greatest British painter period and and having an opportunity to show more than one hundred works by him. Oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, one print some sketchbooks the full range of Turner's lifelong career from the 1790s to the 1840s, it was just too good an opportunity to to pass up.

George: [00:03:01] Even though the Kimbell's lone turner is could not be less modern, it is a subject taken from Ovid. So, so nonetheless, we were delighted to be invited to participate. Turner's modern world really concentrates the exhibition really concentrates on the idea of Turner's engagement with the world around him, not only with the facts of the world like the, you know, the changing the rise in industrialization in Britain, the the sort of changing means of transport and and and the rise of the of cities versus the country, et cetera, but also with the issues of war and peace. Turner living through a period of enormous military conflict with the Napoleonic Wars and then and then also to some extent, with Turner's involvement in politics and causes, which are touched on in the exhibition. And then finally, the modern painter, the notion that Turner's way of painting a complete invention of his own, a complete transformation of his early style into this late style for which he is now most famous, that that was, in a way, a modern act, an act of of of contemporary assertion of a new artistic way of being. So that's the that's the sort of premise of the exhibition Grosso Modo across the across the whole hundred and twenty odd objects in the show.

Craig: [00:04:45] I feel like an exhibit like this really benefits by learning a lot about context. For the folks that maybe didn't get a PhD in art history, could you just kind of set the stage for perhaps a term like the hierarchy of painting and and how that's something that he deals with over the course of this in terms of what subject matter he chooses to explore?

George: [00:05:14] Well, in in the Royal Academy, when Turner was a student there, the most important thing to do for a painter was to to learn how to paint the figure, the human figure. And and this was preparatory not towards portraiture, which was fairly low ranking, but towards the painting of history. And by that, I don't mean what happened last week, but in fact, what happened centuries ago. So the Greek and Roman history, or in Britain, sometimes ancient British history would be the subject matter that would be expected of the Royal Academy. Successful artist Turner was pretty lousy at it. To begin with, that was not his forte. He was not, you know, a great gift gifted draftsman of the human figure. And it wasn't what he was interested in, either. He was interested in something much more, much more expressive to him. And that took the form of landscape and landscape was, of course, already a British tradition. And in the 18th century, a lot of artists had turned to painting landscape because it was profitable. People liked to buy landscape paintings for their houses, and this is always a consideration of the of what of what an artist might turn to the to make a living, after all. And and and the British have always been nationally extremely interested in landscape and in the British landscape and and in the conservation of of landscape nowadays and in the in the 19th century with the spoliation of landscape.

George: [00:07:02] But in in in Turner's day, landscape painting was not particularly revered as a as a discipline. It fit. It wasn't as low as still life, which was the bottom of the ladder. But it certainly wasn't as high up as as history, painting or any kind of religious subject matter and even not as high up as as portraiture would have been. But Turner really changed that Turner was one of the artists, along with the slightly younger John Constable, who asserted that landscape painting was vitally important in terms of art history and and picking up on the lessons of the past and particularly. The great example for them was the Franco Roman painter, a clothed lawyer who was active in Rome in the 17th century, and Claude was adored by British collectors and therefore by the the academy and then by the nascent National Gallery. And he was one of their their archetypes, if you will, one of the one of the artists that they strove to emulate. And Turner certainly goes through this Claudian period in his work. And for instance, we have in the exhibition a wonderful picture of Richmond Hill on the Prince Regent's Birthday with the fore title England.

George: [00:08:40] As if England were always a great landscape party and it's completely based on a Claudian prototype, lots of golden light coming through the trees, trees framing the composition on both sides and and a beautiful, distant view of the landscape sort of receding properly into space and getting less and less defined as you go into the canvas or figures in the foreground doing something to catch your interest there. And this is the kind of painting that by the end of his career, Turner was just completely had bypassed, totally not interested in in in defining the figures in the foreground. I mean, there are pictures that we know are are meant to represent something, and yet you can you can barely discern the subject in the in the in the painting at all. And and so he he revolutionizes landscape. Not only does he, he insist that it's important. He insists that he is going to change the way you perceive it and that the public is going to learn about what painting should be through the example of his landscape painting. So I think that he he he rebels in a way against the academic rules and breaks them all and and and succeeds brilliantly by by virtue of doing so.

Craig: [00:10:06] When I look at his prolific body of work, I tried to imagine how his work would have been received, and I know that there are the shows at the academy. But then he also had his own gallery space in his studio. The more difficult subject matter, would he necessarily submit that to show? Or is the difficult subject matter, whether it's a disaster at sea or a slave, the slave ship or work regarding Waterloo? Was that for public consumption or was it, you know, the difficult nature more left to him sharing it in more intimate space?

George: [00:10:46] Oh, it was absolutely for public consumption. The paintings that you mentioned, particularly Waterloo or the slave ship or were paintings that he definitely showed to the public and in both cases, actually with not a particularly great reception because people didn't like the pessimistic, rather mournful tone of his Waterloo painting. It was, after all, the greatest battle that they had ever fought, and his painting was sad rather than joyful. The slave ship was a chaotic image, visually and very challenging in terms of the subject matter of these enslaved Africans who were being thrown overboard so that they could be claimed for insurance rather than arrive dead or dying at their destination. Those those kinds of subjects did not appeal to a royal academy audience, but Turner was insistent that. Those paintings would be shown to the public the reaction to them, particularly by the eighteen forties, when he is at his full tilt, if you will. The reaction was was often. On grounded in the appearance of pictures and people down there, mystifying found the what they saw as chaotic brushwork, a kind of incoherent construction to the to the canvas and which, of course, Turner was completely in control of. Absolutely. There's no chaos there. It's completely organized. If it's chaos and and they saw them, they were baffled by what they looked like. They had not seen paintings that look like that before. They were expecting when it was when it was a seascape. They expected for there to be a recognizable boat where you could see the outlines very clearly of the boat and the horizon would be clear and you could see what was happening.

George: [00:12:50] And when Turner presents them with a kind of a whirlpool of of snowstorm in one of his most daring paintings in the exhibition, they don't get it. They don't understand what what's happening. And Constable had it right when he said that the the public looks at Turner's paintings and they think he's making fun of them. And so in a reaction, they laugh at him, you know, self defensively and of course, Turner's deadly serious and he's not laughing at the public. He's just saying, I can't deal with you on any terms, but my own, but my most honest terms for myself, and this is how I have to show my art to you and come along with me. Let me lead you in a way towards towards a new way of looking, really? And the public just in in large part, the public was unwilling or unable to join him on that that trip right away. Now, of course, he's the, you know, one of the most popular artists in Britain. His his painting, The Fighting Temeraire, is voted the most popular painting in Britain regularly, and now it's on a bank of the back of a banknote. And and so it's he's he's beloved now, but certainly in his own day in the 1840s, the the cognoscenti got it. The collectors got it. And but the public often didn't get it and and the critics made fun of him for, you know, painting with mashed potatoes and gravy. When when in fact he was, he was just trying to convey something of the the the power and the majesty of nature.

Craig: [00:14:44] Beyond what he was able to express through the the form. A great deal of what we see in this exhibit is over his life's work, how he is reflecting the world around him in a time of great change, right?

George: [00:15:02] That's certainly true.

Craig: [00:15:03] We're seeing the Industrial Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars. Does Turner have an agenda here or is he just reflecting the world around him?

George: [00:15:13] Well. I think that changes are over the course of of his career when he sets out to record the the low level factories, foundries etc that he visits, typically at nighttime so that the fire is glowing and seen as a kind of all know, I don't want to say too satanic presence, but Blake has it right when he talks about the dark, satanic mills that are despoiling the British landscape. Turner engages in. He chooses those subjects and and and depicts them because they are also their picturesque. And even if he's doing it in a in a little sketchbook, he's admiring what he can achieve even for personal consumption. With with the painting of of a forge or a cabinet factory or an iron, an anchor factory at night. So those, I think, are him. Actually being interested in the subject, being willing to treat it and and then and then as as the years go by, those were in the seventeen nineties, let's say, as the years go by, by the eighteen forties, when he's showing you the tiny spark of red that you are meant to read as the furnace on a steamboat. He's he's still interested in coal fire. And and and what it can do. But he's he's more subtle about it in a way. And and what he's he's less preoccupied with showing you the fire itself than he is with the power that it unleashes.

George: [00:17:09] So the steam power that's one of the great inventions of the 19th century is the steam engine was invented in the 18th century, but put to use in the 19th century with the invention of the of the steam boat and the railroad train, the steam powered railroad train. Those those developments in Britain just change the world. They change society completely. They change time. You can get places faster than you ever could before, and distances are conquered suddenly. And and so Turner celebrates those things while sometimes perhaps commenting on. Are we sure that all of this smoke and and and steam are are the best thing for our world? I think, you know, honestly, Greg, we're probably reading a little too much into it for our own point of view about climate change. When we look at is Waterloo Thames above Waterloo as as an image of pollution. I think he probably loved the the the visual effect of the smoke and the steam and the the nastiness that was all around that part of the Thames because it provided such a good subject for painting. But but he is. He is engaged with it, not just as as a as a reflection of what's happening. It's not simply that it's there, it's that he chooses to to treat these subjects and to give them a certain amount of importance and glory.

Craig: [00:18:40] Maybe we could talk a little bit about Turner in context to other artists of his time in his earlier work. I can see that he is bouncing around in the same world as like Joseph Wright of Derby, and of course, Constable is always there. But his later work, I think we have to think of folks like Jericho and Goya. Maybe you could help place us in the world of his contemporaries?

George: [00:19:07] Certainly. Certainly. Well, yeah, I mean, he comes out of a British landscape tradition that is exemplified in, on the one hand, by Joseph Wright of Derby, who treats them more romantic side of subject matter. I mean, right of derby love is a moonlight scene or a volcano. You know, he's good at those things. There's also the completely pastoral side of things that, you know, were were really glorified a lot in watercolor by artists like Paul Sambee, whose you know, was famous in his day but hardly known nowadays at all. Turner is the contemporary of Gericault and Goya. He certainly well almost certainly saw Gericault's Raft of the Medusa when it was exhibited in London in the 1820s. And so he's aware of of those trends or cross-channel developments. He he expresses some of the same. I don't know whether you call it a kind of zeitgeisty of these romantic artists of the of the '20s and '30s, though he's coming to it typically after the death of I mean, his peak is after the death of both Goya and and Gericault, who are a bit older than he is. And and then he comes up against a new generation of artists who ironically are the darlings of the guy who is his biggest apologist, John Ruskin, who thinks that Turner is the greatest painter of all time and yet who also very much admires this kind of almost nitpicking realism of artists like John Everett Millet or William Holman Hunt, the Pre-Raphaelites. Who who have who are. Have the same fan base in Ruskin as Turner, but could hardly be more different from him, and he, in my view, wipes them off the map.

George: [00:21:17] I mean, they're they're they're nothing by comparison in terms of genius or or or indeed and indeed in terms of influence. Because one of the things Craig to remember is that Turner Wylie is well known and very much appreciated during his lifetime after he dies. What Turner is becomes a completely different thing because he bequeathed his entire artistic production. Everything that he has in his possession when he dies, he gives to the nation and the nation is accepts. The responsibility of exhibiting these works of it takes them a long while, but of giving them proper space. Really, only in the 20th century do they get a wing of Tate Britain. The Clore Gallery, which they now have and occupy. The Turner bequest, occupies that whole wing of the building, but works by Turner, including the sketchiest. His watercolors are shown in abundance and artists modern artists who come to London in the 1870s. All the French artists who were there in exile from the Franco-Prussian War like Monet and Pizarro. They see Turner's work in the 1870s. They see works by Turner exhibited in in Paris as well. Christopher moves from London to Paris and back to London and and is profoundly influenced by what he sees in the Turner bequest. And so Turner has this this unbeknownst to him or impact on what happens after him. That really is important, and it really and it really matters.

Speaker3: [00:23:13] So it's it's kind of there's this postmortem Turner that is a completely different man in a way than or an exaggerated version of the man that we already knew about or that his contemporaries already knew about. And after he's gone. He has a he has a meaning that is extraordinary. You know, Rothko is incredibly impressed by Turner when he sees Turner at the the Museum of Modern Art. Even the slave ship is a picture that he sees at MoMA. And and it's it's revelatory to him, and it changes the way he perceives color even and because of his admiration for Turner. He gives a bunch of paintings to Tate and and so there's this wonderful deposit of gift of great Rothko's late Rothko's that are there because of Turner, really? So it's all it's a it's there's so many ways in which he touches other artists, you know, accidentally, causally. And and it's it's such a rich subject. I mean, we could go on for days and days about this idea in books and articles that have all been published on this and lots of lectures given. But I think that that also among artists that I know among painters that I know this is an exhibition at the Kimbal that they are dead to come to see because of how much they take inspiration from this long dead artist. I mean, he's he's been gone now for one hundred and seventy years and and he's still an extraordinary figure for us

Craig: [00:24:59] The way we judge, according to the modern esthetic. People adore and love Turner, and obviously he was quite successful in his time. And, you know, he winds up influencing, like you said, Rothko, but even even closer, you know, Whistler, the impressionists. I guess, you know, something I've always been curious about is if Turner was was lauded in his own time, so often we see copycat artistry. Why is it that we really don't see the esthetic that he kind of pioneered take off for another 30, 40 years or even more after his death?

George: [00:25:43] Well, I think it's actually there. It's just a bit subliminal maybe. Take take, for example, the artists who are British born, who come to America and to have a great career in America. And I came to the earlier. And is Thomas Cole, who certainly, you know, is aware of what's going on in England, he has he has a trans-Atlantic career in a way. And and while Cole's paintings don't actually end up looking a lot like Turner, it's not like he's copying Turner. The notion that you can use landscape for that kind of of highly emotional message that I think is is is connects Cole to Turner, even though you wouldn't necessarily look at them and say, Oh boy, Cole loves Turner, an artist that you would say that about is Thomas Moran, who is nowadays perhaps best known for his gigantic views of the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone or Yosemite, and and who takes Turner's color sense, particularly the the high keyed, high chroma color, and applies it to the American West. English born, you know, immigrants to the United States and becomes famous for his paintings of the American landscape. And then in between, you have an artist like Frederick Church, whose twilight in the wilderness this, you know, ghastly sunset that he paints at the at the really at the outset of the Civil War, a kind of statement of conflict and and to calm really blood, to calm, if you will. He's he's an artist who is very much aware of Turner and has and has seen paintings by him. And and while he doesn't emulate Turner's breadth of brushstroke, for instance, he he is very keenly interested in Turner's color sense I think.

Craig: [00:28:03] I like to think that I have a bit of a broader audience than just the regional. I would love to talk a little bit about the Kimbell as an institution. I don't know if everyone nationwide or worldwide appreciates the jewel box that the Kimbell is and how it it doesn't have an encyclopedic focus. It has something far more refined, which makes it an amazing institution to visit.

George: [00:28:30] Well, you know you've asked the right question and you come to the right place. There's nothing I like better than to brag about the Kimbell Art Museum. We're about to enter our 50th year. The Kimbell was opened in October of of 1972. It is the brainchild of a couple, Kay and Velma Kimbell, and they're there. Mr. Kimbell, sister and brother in law, created the Kimbell Art Foundation in the 1930s and. And Mr. Mrs. Kimbell through their acquisitions of mostly paintings, mostly English and French, mostly 18th and early 19th century, they had amassed a great number of works of art by the time Mr. Kimbell died in the mid 1960s. He bequeathed this the foundation already owned the works of art. He bequeathed the foundation the the vast bulk of his estate. Mrs. Kimbell signed over her life use of that even from the very beginning, and they the the trustees are the directors of the Kimbell board set about fulfilling Mr. Kimbell's desire to create a museum. In his words, "of the first class". Their ambition was was really refined by their first director, a man named Rick Brown, who came from California, who was the person who I think helped the board define the terms of the Kimbell, which would be not to create a museum that collected everything or collected everything in depth, but instead a museum that collected carefully and with great excellence, with an insistence on the work being the very best, the very best of its kind that they could possibly get their hands on and from the beginning.

George: [00:30:44] Brown and the board of directors with him decided to strike out in a broader direction than Mr. Kimbell so that they, one of the first works that that Rick Brown bought was a fantastic Bodhisattva Maitreya, an ancient Southeast Asian bronze. And and the collection then expanded to works from most Asian centers, most ancient American centers and Africa. We only own eight examples of African art, but they're all typically very, very fine. And and then European painting and sculpture and the collection really only now numbers about three hundred and fifty objects. And so it has not really grown very much, though it's it's morphed. Things have been let go. The things that Mr and Mrs. Campbell had more for decorative purposes have gone away and been replaced by things that are of greater importance, we think. And the collection continues to change and to add to grow. We've been we've, you know, bought a bone or recently or a great Pusan, which we bought about 10 years ago. Fantastic scene from the one of pussy's first set of the seven sacraments. So we try to buy at a kind of level of of. Of quality, that means that we don't buy very much.

George: [00:32:25] You know it, it happens seldom and and we hope spectacularly. The the collection is displayed its original building, which opened 50 years ago next year, was designed by the amazing architect Louis Kahn, who is known in California above all for the Salk Institute in La Jolla. He's known on the East Coast for his academic buildings at the University of Pennsylvania or Bryn Mawr, but also for the first extension to the Yale Art Gallery in the nineteen fifties and then for his Yale Center for British Art, which actually opened after the Kimball Gate and opened after Khan's death. It followed the Kimball by about five years. He's known also internationally, but he's revered by architects internationally. He's one of the gods who who built so few buildings that he's best known by specialists rather than by the broader public. He's not like Philip Johnson, for instance, where there's a building by him and almost every great American city. He's a he's an architect who built, you know, capital cities in Bangladesh or the Indian Institute of Management or or these remarkable buildings or a synagogue someplace. Or, you know, he's he was he was a phenomenal architect that still, nowadays we see architect groups of architects coming to the temple really in a kind of pilgrimage. Eight years ago, we expanded the museum and added a building designed by an architect who very much admired Louis Kahn, who worked for Louis Kahn briefly in his youth.

Speaker3: [00:34:16] That is Renzo Piano, who is probably built more museum buildings in the last 20 years than any other architect, but seemed like exactly the right fit for for building a building in complement to Kahn's original. That would have its own character and its own strength, but also be a good partner, a good friend to the original building, and that the opening of that building has allowed us to exhibit much greater quantities of the permanent collection at any one time because we don't have to take anything down to do a special exhibition. So today's modern world is in the galleries that we have for special exhibitions in the piano pavilion, and the permanent collection is in its full glory here in the building. We're we're we're a museum that that people who have not been before walk in and they're dazzled by the light. I mean, it's not that it's dazzling, bright, it's just dazzling smart. And and the way it, the way con manipulates light by reflecting it, by having it sort of spill over over strange surfaces like the rather shiny but somewhat rough concrete, for instance, that's the ceiling surface in the majority of the galleries. By giving you these very, these very small hints, these kind of eyebrow shaped windows over the the arches at either at each end of these barrel vaults by giving you a clear storey window that reminds you that his vault is not, in fact, sitting on the wall, but in fact resting on two posts that are 100 feet apart.

Speaker3: [00:36:11] And he's an incredibly subtle and clever architect and and piano follows in that same idea by taking his measurements from Kahn's building and rather than having light expand pianos, seeks to filter the light. Have it go from its maximal down to a more filtered and nuanced form. Kahn gives you a slit of light that he then gets to expand as it as it moves down into the galleries and floats over the artwork below. So it's a it's a fully esthetic experience all the way around. I urge you if you if you've ever been to the Kimball to take a stop at DFW, when you're going across country sometime and and spend a day with us and and and indeed with all the museums in Fort Worth because we are one of three major museums here in town with the and Carter Museum of American Art up the hill from us in a building designed by Philip Johnson and across the street from us, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in a. Magnificent building designed by Taddeo Ando, so it's it's it's a great site for architecture and for art in the middle of the country.

Craig: [00:37:29] I can't go to one without going door three, and it's it's it's seriously a very easy, seductive trip to visit all three in a day. You know, I think your response there, the thing that was most shocking to me is the fact that your collection is so small and I don't know for the person that doesn't have a lot of knowledge of the museum world. Three hundred and fifty works may sound massive, but the larger museums will have tens of thousands, if not hundreds, of thousands of items that they have to to manage. And you know, one of the topics that we keep kind of coming back to on on the podcast is the issue in this space these days about de-accessioning. You know, I know that Rick Brown and I believe you made some reference to it how there was some deaccessioning in the beginning to focus the collection on fine examples of art. I guess, well, my question is like, do you turn away opportunities to receive works of art from donors at this point? Is that a reasonable question? Like how do you how do you how do you keep the collection so small because it seems like people would want to add to the collection?

George: [00:38:48] Right. I just wish somebody would would offer me a Benvenuto Cellini bronze right now. It would be. It would be most welcome or John Bologna, let's say, or you know, or another another marble by Canova. We we do get offered extraordinary gifts from time to time. And the most important recently is a spectacular limestone head by Amedeo Modigliani, the Italian artist of the first couple of decades of the of the 20th century who was resident in Paris, who made his career really in Paris, but who was born in Italy. And this is a work that came to us from the collection of Lucille and Ted Wiener, who had lived in Fort Worth and who collected their their sculptures that they the collection they formed of sculptures while they were living in Fort Worth. They moved to California. Their daughter decided that she wanted this particular sculpture, which is really the most important work in the winter collection. She wanted it to come back to Fort Worth, and so it is on on view here at the Kimbell, and it's just a great masterpiece. If you if you go to our website or type Kimbell Modigliani, you'll if you can spell Modigliani and and and so you'll you'll be able to see it. It's it's the vast majority of the collection, however, was was acquired through purchase and therefore directed really by the by the curatorial vision of the institution from the nineteen seventies to the present and and in the process of building the collection, there has also been even in the last twenty. For 30 years, there has been a certain amount of of grading up, if you will, building up so that 30 years ago, the museum bought a magnificent Matisse and we sold a Matisse as part of to pay ourselves back, if you will, because typically we own one, or maybe at most two works by any one artist.

George: [00:41:19] I'd love it if we had to Caravaggio's we only have one, but that's of course, more than most people will do. We've got two Monets. We have, you know, actually we have three Corots or three Baseados. But but it's but rare is the artist that we owe more than one work by and I speak of of artists whose names we now know, as opposed to the many artists from from earlier times or more remote places to our own history than than than the Europe that we all that we not all, but that we seem to think of as being more familiar. Certainly, the nameless artisan who made artist who made a great sculpture in Guatemala in the 6th century Maya Censor- Stand who who has a clear personality and a clear identity as a as an individual. Unfortunately, we don't know that person's name, and we'll never find it out because the works aren't signed or marked in any way for that, for that, for us to retrieve that information. But but we, we we tend to own sort of singular works. And so we can, in fact, use works already in the collection if we're making an acquisition that's really quite expensive. We can use a work that's in our collection in a way as partial payment, if you will, on the on the on the greater acquisition.

George: [00:42:56] And that, of course, that comes with it comes with risks because these judgments are are subjective and there are one or two works that that used to belong in the Kimbell that no longer do that. I really wish still did. And but but those are few and far between. I must say, I think my predecessors both written around at the very beginning. And then Ted Pillsbury, who who did a lot of refining of the collection as he was being able to acquire a in the 1980s and early 90s in particular, he was able to acquire remarkable works of art that simply aren't on the market anymore today, at least not within reach. So those those kinds of of of strategic de-accessioning, I think, were were were intelligent and well done. I mean, what's what's the most the most controversial nowadays, of course, is that the notion that you should sell the work of art to use the proceeds for something other than another work of art? And and I won't get into the to the morals of that, it's been debated endlessly, but but basically the the the way that we have always been able to operate is that the the nothing gets sold that but but that the money turns back into the collection and into having other works of art in the collection. We are enormously fortunate that Mr. Kimball was so generous to us at the beginning and and our endowment is, is, is, you know, rich for a collection of our size and for operation of our scale.

Craig: [00:44:49] George, I really, really appreciate your time today. This has been a real pleasure to to talk about Turner and to talk about your institution. And thank you so much for gracing us with your presence in the first couple of hours back in the office. After your break,

George: [00:45:08] It's it's it's good to be back.

Craig: [00:45:11] Wonderful.

George: [00:45:11] Thank you so much.

Craig: [00:45:22] And now the news.

Craig: [00:45:26] As we approach the end of twenty twenty one, we're able to reflect on some final numbers and of follow up on some stories from earlier in the year. First up, I look at the burgeoning NFT marketplace. As we've reported and discussed on the podcast this year, the market for NFTs has exploded in a way no one could have ever anticipated. By March of this year, NFTs were red hot, followed by a summer cooling off period and a steady rise through the fall. The NFT market tipped the scales at one hundred million dollars in 2020, while the market saw $4 billion in revenue in the first half of twenty twenty one in eighteen billion in the second half of the year. That represents a growth of two hundred and twenty x over twenty twenty. The traditional art world weighs in at around 60 billion dollars, so that twenty two billion dollars is an enormous number that begs to be taken seriously. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that not every NFT is tied to art. There are many NFTs that are tied to collectibles and in-app purchases of games, but there is no doubt that twenty twenty one was the year of the NFT further earlier in the year. I previewed the estate auction of Texas oil tycoon Edwin L. Cox Art Collection. The sale took place with great fanfare in mid-November at Christie's. The collection of mostly impressionist and Post-Impressionist pieces was expected to fetch roughly one hundred and seventy nine million in pre auction estimates. But the sell actually generated three hundred and thirty two million dollars in the end.

Craig: [00:47:06] At the heart of the sale were a number of Van Gogh's. One 1889 painting of olive trees titled Wooden Huts among olive trees and cypress trees was estimated to go for $40 million, but after spirited bidding wound up selling in the end for $71 million. The same bidder won another lot on paper from eighteen eighty eight, which depicted a scene of yellow haystacks in Earl. The interesting thing about this work isn't the final hammer price of $35 million, but that the sum will be divided three ways as part of a restitution agreement. It seems that the artwork, titled Merely the Play, was sold under duress by one German Jewish owner in looted from another leading up to World War Two. The proceeds from that work were split between the heirs of Max Murawski, Alexandra and de Rothschild and representatives of Cox's estate. Another van Gogh worked that caused a stir was a painting titled Blur that was painted in the weeks preceding Van Gogh's death. The painting depicts a redheaded young man with the stem of a blue flower in his mouth. The painting realized a hammer price nearly 10 times the pre-action estimate, which begs the question How can the experts be a thousand percent off on their estimate? Well, my guess is that the answer lies in the speculation around the murky details of Van Gogh's last days and the shooting that resulted in his death. In the 2011 biography Van Gogh The Life, Pulitzer Prize winning author Steven NIPA examined circumstances around the narrative that Van Gogh's deadly gunshot wound was not necessarily self-inflicted.

Craig: [00:48:57] Stories emerged of young men in town who would harass Vincent, one of which liked to dress as a cowboy and carry a pistol. While it's known that Van Gogh didn't even own a gun, a review of the autopsy indicated that a self-inflicted wound in that part of the abdomen would have been very awkward and at such close range would have left burning tattooing and gunpowder residue that just wasn't present. This led a forensic pathologist to judge that Vincent didn't shoot himself, but was shot by someone else in Twenty Seventeen. The epic biopic loving Vincent pieced together Van Gogh's last days while using van Gogh's paintings as source material for animations that tell the story. One hundred and twenty five artists hand painted more than sixty five thousand oil paintings to bring the vision to life. If you have never seen the movie, please do. It's an amazing work of art and then loving Vincent, the redheaded boy from a Jerome DeBlois, is at the center of the tragedy. So is this a portrait of Van Gogh's murderer? Just the prospect makes all the difference. Pre auction estimate based on its artistic merit five million dollars The hammer price based on this possible suspect forty six point seven. Million are the price of a good story. That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to art since you can find the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rate the show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. If you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read a transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to Canvia Art. And click on the Podcast tab. If you'd like to reach out to me, you can email me at Craig at Canvia. Art, thanks for listening.

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