Art Gallery of Ontario buys Blue Irises painting - Canadanewsmedia
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Art Gallery of Ontario buys Blue Irises painting

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The French irises are here to stay: After three years of delays and disputes, the Art Gallery of Ontario has acquired Iris Bleus, Jardin du Petit Gennevilliers by Gustave Caillebotte for a price tag of more than $1-million. The prized French Impressionist painting from 1892 was at the centre of a recent fight over export permits for significant works, after it was sold to a British art dealer at a Toronto auction in 2016 but blocked from leaving the country.

Under a system designed to help keep such works in Canada, the AGO is receiving a $540,000 grant from the federal government toward the purchase. AGO chief curator Julian Cox would not disclose the full price, but said the grant covered slightly less than 50 per cent. A $1-million-plus figure would represent a significant profit for the unnamed British seller, who paid $678,500 in 2016. However, Cox said the painting marks an important addition to the AGO’s collection and is the only example of Caillebotte’s rare, but increasingly prized work in a large Canadian museum.

The 1892 Gustav Caillebotte painting Iris bleus, jardin du Petit Gennevilliers.

�/The Canadian Press

“It does so many things for us in terms of the story of 19th-century art: It expands the discussion around Impressionism in particular,” Cox said of the work by an artist who both supported the Impressionists and painted with them. “Caillebotte funded the Impressionism exhibitions of the era; he was independently wealthy. He was a peer, but a patron too.”

The painting, which shows stems of pale blue irises against a backdrop of greenery in the artist’s suburban garden, will go on public display at the AGO on Saturday. It was executed two years before the artist’s premature death at the age of 45, during a period when he was working closely with Claude Monet who was also painting flowers, in his famed garden at Giverny. The one other notable example of a Caillebotte in Canada is a scene of sailboats on the Seine dating to 1883 that belongs to the McMaster Art Gallery at McMaster University in Hamilton.

Caillebotte, known for a crisper style that his Impressionist contemporaries, often painted intense, highly realistic city scenes before he moved to Gennevilliers, outside of Paris. There, his work became looser and, like Monet’s, began to foreshadow the development of abstraction, Cox said. His art is increasingly sought after by museums: Cox pointed to recent acquisitions of other garden paintings by New York’s Metropolitan Museum and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Iris Bleus was originally purchased by the British dealer at a sale held by the Heffel Fine Art Auction House in November, 2016, but the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board (CCPERB) judged it too significant to leave Canada and subjected it to an export delay. The AGO has been negotiating to buy it ever since, but the British buyer refused a first offer, leading to a stalemate.

CCPERB can delay the departure of art considered of “outstanding significance and national importance,” but the rules do not define what that means and whether it can be applied to both foreign and Canada art. That issue was at the crux of a legal battle over the Caillebotte launched when Heffel sued the federal government, arguing the interpretation of national importance was far too broad.

At first, a federal court agreed: In a 2018 decision, Judge Michael Mason argued that foreign art could not be considered central to Canadian cultural heritage, sending the museum world into a tailspin. Purchases such as the one the AGO is now unveiling – using both the government grant and funds from two private bequests from the estates R. Fraser Elliott Estate and F.W.G. Fitzgerald – are rare: The Caillebotte was one of only seven objects delayed that year and sometimes no museum comes forward to purchase blocked items. However, in a parallel system, the same criteria of outstanding significance and national importance are used by CCPERB to decide whether art that collectors want to donate qualifies for special tax credits, enabling Canadian museums to acquire much of their art.

Fearing that these incentives for donations had been sideswiped by the judge’s decision, museums across the country joined the federal government in a successful appeal – but not before Ottawa had also removed the words “national importance” from the rule book in the 2019 budget. The appeal judge ruled that is up to CCPERB experts to rule on art’s importance.

With those moves, the system has reverted to one in which collectors can still count on tax credits for donated art, while the exceptional export delay may give museums opportunities to buy works as rare as the painting of blue irises.

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Art gallery sending artist from the Rock to the Emerald Isle – CBC.ca

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Philippa Jones, executive director of Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John’s, says a partnership between Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador could benefit the province’s art community. (Alex Kennedy/CBC)

A St. John’s art gallery will be sending an artist to Ireland and welcoming one in return — and it’s all thanks to its new studio space.

Philippa Jones, the gallery’s executive director of Eastern Edge Gallery, says a partnership between the gallery and Donegal art company Artlink began earlier this year, when some of Artlink’s members came to St. John’s for an art conference.

“They were wandering around trying to figure out … where the art centres were,” Jones said. “And they dropped into Eastern Edge and we said ‘hi’ and from there we just formed a really great partnership.”

A recent Eastern Edge expansion gives the gallery the room to do projects like an international residency exchange with Artlink, she said.

As part of this partnership, Eastern Edge will send one artist from Newfoundland and Labrador to Donegal, about 220 kilometres north of Dublin, for a four-week residency in their own studio. The residency is self-directed, meaning it’s up to the artist what they want to do. The artist will also receive 6,000 Euros, nearly $9,000 Cdn, for fees including travel and living costs.

An artist from Ireland will also come to Newfoundland and Labrador, and work in residency at Eastern Edge.

Jones said the residency is a great opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador to establish itself on the international art map.

“We have a really unique, vibrant arts community with a lot of independent artists making a living and a life here enriching the culture,” Jones said.

“It also then gives the opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador artists to travel to Ireland and, in the same vein, see how their art industry works and runs. But also make work over there, make connections, form friendships.”

Strengthening relations with Ireland

With WestJet cancelling its direct flights between St. John’s and Dublin last year, Jones says she hopes the art connection between the two countries can carry over to the runway.

“There’s a history of an extremely strong relationship already between Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador,” Jones said.

“It would definitely be advantageous and make everyone’s life easier if the direct flights were returned. Taking 24 hours to get to Donegal is not going to be as much fun or as easy for our artists when they have to go directly.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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After Hiatus, Trump Awards National Arts and Humanities Medals – The New York Times

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For the first time since he took office, President Trump will award the National Medal of the Arts and the National Humanities Medal, honoring eight recipients including the actor Jon Voight, the novelist James Patterson, the musicians of the United States Military and the conservative think tank the Claremont Institute.

The medals, given annually since the 1980s, were last awarded in 2016, by President Obama, who named about a dozen honorees for each medal, as was typical in past years. This week, in a terse announcement, the administration named four winners each for the arts and the humanities. They will be honored on Thursday at the White House.

In addition to Mr. Voight and the musicians of the military, the winners of the arts medal are the bluegrass musician and singer Alison Krauss and the philanthropist Sharon Percy Rockefeller, who is also president of WETA, Washington’s public television and radio station.

The humanities honorees include Patrick O’Connell, the chef at the Inn at Little Washington, an acclaimed restaurant in Washington, Va., and Teresa Lozano Long, a philanthropist in Austin, Tex., as well as Mr. Patterson and the Claremont Institute.

The lack of awards since he came into office had underscored Mr. Trump’s uneasy relationship with the arts, and his rocky history with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which he attempted to close down shortly after his inauguration.

In 2017, all 16 members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned in protest after Mr. Trump made comments in defense of white nationalists after the violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va. And for the past two years, Mr. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have skipped the Kennedy Center Honors, a major event on the Washington cultural calendar.

The arts and humanities medals are among the country’s most prestigious cultural honors. In 2016, the year they were last given, winners included the comedian Mel Brooks, the interviewer Terry Gross, the trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, the biographer Ron Chernow and the novelist Sandra Cisneros.

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Beaux Arts Bazaar runs until Dec. 24 in Quesnel – Quesnel Cariboo Observer

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Looking for a unique, handmade gift for yourself or someone special this Christmas?

Quesnel Art Gallery member artists and artisans are selling a wide variety of one-of-a-kind items for the next five weeks during the gallery’s annual Beaux Arts Bazaar.

At least a dozen artists and artisans from Quesnel and the surrounding area are participating, selling a range of handcrafted items, including bookmarks, ornaments, pottery, carvings, felting, digital art, glass work, painting, photography, drawings, soy candles and cards.

The Beaux Arts Bazaar is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Quesnel Art Gallery at 500 North Star Rd.

The show opened Saturday, Nov. 16 and runs to Tuesday, Dec. 24, and it is sponsored by KPMG and DHJ Design Studio.

For more information about the Beaux Arts Bazaar, visit quesnelartgallery.com.

READ MORE: Beaux Arts Bazaar starts Saturday at Quesnel Art Gallery



editor@quesnelobserver.com

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These felted mice by Marguerite are just some of the local works available at the Beaux Arts Bazaar.

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