Art Buzz February 14, 2012: Two valuable Persian pieces dating from the Roman Empire stolen from Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

ART & ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY NEWS

MUSEUM NEWS

Two valuable pieces stolen from Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Source: Montreal Gazette, 2-14-12

AXA ART, an art-led insurance company, is offering a substantial reward for the safe recovery of two small-scale archaeological fragments -- an Assyrian low relief and a marble head dating from the Roman Empire -- that were stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts  in the fall of 2011.AXA ART, an art-led insurance company, is offering a substantial reward for the safe recovery of two small-scale archaeological fragments — an Assyrian low relief and a marble head dating from the Roman Empire — that were stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in the fall of 2011.

Photograph by: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

A thief snatched two archaeological pieces worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts last October during opening hours, steps from security guards.

The theft is only the second heist in the MMFA’s 152-year history and the incident is testing the facility’s policy of not encasing many of its items as well as the decades-long bond of trust it has with visitors – now numbering 500,000 a year.

A Persian sandstone bas-relief and a marble head dating from the Roman Empire were taken from the Mediterranean archeological exhibit room on the first floor of the Hornstein Pavilion on or about Oct. 26. The theft wasn’t made public until now so as not to compromise the investigation, the MMFA said.

Montreal police said Tuesday the investigation is continuing. One suspect – believed to be in his 30s and 5-feet, 7-inches tall – can be seen wandering the museum halls in surveillance video.

The Persian piece – donated to the MMFA by Cleveland Morgan in 1950 – is worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Mark Dalrymple, representing AXA Art, a global insurance company insuring the items for the Montreal museum.

The second piece – on loan since 2003 from the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec – is worth “tens of thousands,” Dalrymple said.

“We’re interested in seeing if anybody could possibly recognize this man and point the finger at him and help the police,” he said about the security video.

The insurance company is offering a “substantial” reward for the return of the stolen objects and a $10,000 reward for anyone who can identify the suspect.

Danielle Champagne, a spokesperson for the MMFA, said security has been tightened in some areas of the museum since the theft.

But the museum does not plan any major changes to its policy of keeping many of its objects in open-air displays – anchored or attached, but not in cases – “so people get a better sense of the texture of the objects.

“We are blessed to live in a country where people are generally honest and we’ve had very few problems,” she added.

The only other theft at the museum was in 1972, when 18 paintings were stolen, including a Rembrandt. Only one of the paintings was recovered.

Cecily Hilsdale, a professor of art history at McGill University, said the Persian object’s theft is “huge” news in the art world.

The piece was part of the Apadana, a grand audience hall in Persepolis, the ancient city centre of the Persian empire.

The object is well-known, she added. Anyone purchasing it would lprobably want to know where it came from.

Anyone with information about the theft is urged to call police at 1-800-659-4264 or the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts at 1-855-471-1800.

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Art Buzz February 3, 2012: Louis Kahn: Can You Tell An Architect Is Jewish By His Style of Building?

ART & ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY NEWS

ARCHITECTURE NEWS & REVIEWS

Can You Tell An Architect Is Jewish By His Style of Building?

Source: Philly Curbed, 2-3-12

mikvehint.gif

Louis Kahn’s illustration of his design for Mikveh Israel via Louis I. Kahn Archives at Penn

Professor of Visual Studies at California College of the Arts Mitchell Schwarzer reviews Gavriel Rosenfeld‘s latest book, Building After Auschwitz: Jewish Architecture and the Memory of the Holocaust—and finds its “shaky thesis” is largely unsubstantiated. Rosenfeld claims that American Jewish architects in the 20th-century architecture have been markedly influenced by their Jewish identity, creating a “new Jewish architecture.”

Schwarzer is unconvinced. He assesses a few of the architects profiled—like Louis Kahn—and sees little evidence of Jewish thematics in their work.

Schwarzer writes:

It is only when the book reaches Louis Kahn that readers are asked to detect, and then only slightly, a Jewish building sensibility. Yet where does Kahn’s architecture show that sensibility? … We read that Kahn, though not a practicing Jew, visited Israel. This correlation seems a stretch.

In fact, the question of Kahn’s relationship to Judaism and architecture has been asked before. In Louis I. Kahn’s Jewish Architecture: Mikveh Israel and the Midcentury American Synagogue, Susan G. Solomon uses Kahn’s (later abandoned) plans for Philadelphia’s Mikveh Israel to broach a larger conversation about the evolution of synagogue architecture. When the book came out, in 2009, it was Rosenfeld who reviewed the book for The Forward:

Does a building’s Jewishness lie in its form, its function, its designers’ personal background, its clients’ program? Solomon does not explore these questions in much detail, and so it remains difficult to glean exactly how Kahn injected “Jewish content.”

Apparently, he thought he could probe the subject more thoroughly than Solomon did, but according to Schwarzer, he’s failed to persuade.

REVIEW: MITCHELL SCHWARZER / Building After Auschwitz [Places]

Art Buzz January 27, 2012: The Architectural History of Bankers Hill From Victorian manors to modernist homes

ART & ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY NEWS

ARCHITECTURE NEWS

The Architectural History of Bankers Hill

From Victorian manors to modernist homes

Source: San Diego News, 1-27-12

In its heyday, Bankers Hill was the center of luxury and wealth in San Diego. The end of the Victorian era brought huge growth to the city as a whole, but especially propelled the few blocks west of Balboa Park into popularity among the financial elite.

The name “Bankers Hill” comes from the great number of financiers and banking tycoons who made their homes in the area. Perhaps the most culturally important mark Bankers Hill made on San Diego’s history was its abundance of architectural gems, some of which still stand today.

From Victorian manors to modernist homes, the neighborhood is a visual, living history of major movements in architecture, with enormous contributions from often overlooked founding fathers of modern San Diego. Bankers Hill undeniably has its roots in the Victorian era, when it began to rise in prominence. Architect and Southern California congressman William Bowers designed the Florence Hotel at Fourth Avenue and Fir Street, in 1884….READ MORE