Category Archives: Museums

Renoir Sucks at Painting 2, Renoir 0

As both all of my longtime readers know, I’ve been a passionate supporter of the #RenoirSucksAtPainting movement since its earliest days. I’ve posted items about the grassroots crusade to have the treacly, insipid works of the “painter” Pierre-Auguste Renoir removed from the world’s galleries and museums here and here.

And here. And here, too.

Massive #RenoirSucksAtPainting Rally, Demanding the Removal of Treacle from American Museums

Misguided Counter Protester


As you can tell from the number of postings, I care deeply about art, which is more than can be said about a certain dead French hack. That’s why I got such malevolent joy out of two news items in the past few weeks.


Art World Owes a Debt to Heroic Thief 

According to Agence France-Presse, “A small painting by French impressionist Auguste Renoir was stolen from an auctioneer in a Paris suburb on Saturday, the day before it was due to be sold, police said. ”

The article describes the theft as “brazen,” but art lovers everywhere hailed it as valiant.

BTW, The Onion, America’s most trusted source for news, anticipated the theft. Here’s what they wrote seven years ago:


Scamming the Scammer

A few years ago, a writer for Vanity Fair was given the unenviable job of shadowing a certain short-fingered vulgarian. Here’s part of his report:

And then this happened.


Ah, the Schadenfreude! It is so sweet!

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“David Bowie is” Coming to the US!

This makes me very, very happy.

“David Bowie is”, an exhibition that originated at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in 2013, will be installed at the Brooklyn Museum next year. It will be the last stop on a long journey.

After the original blockbuster show at the V&A, “David Bowie is” went on tour, visiting 10 cities on five continents. Along the way, it became the most popular exhibition in the museum’s 165-year history, attracting 1.8 million attendees so far.

I saw it in Toronto, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, on the first stop of the tour. You can read my rapturous reaction here, along with a description of some of the items on display. A quick summary: It was one of the most brilliantly staged and mounted museum exhibitions I’ve ever seen.

Here’s perhaps the highest compliment I can give to “David Bowie is”: It’s worthy of Bowie himself.

“David Bowie is” will be on display at the Brooklyn Museum from 2 March 2018 through 15 July 2018.

Museum Day Live! Is This Saturday


It’s that time of the year again.

“Museum Day Live!”, Smithsonian magazine’s annual celebration of American museums, takes place across the USA this Saturday, 23 September 2017. You can get free admission tickets for any of the 1,000+ participating museums, galleries, and cultural institutions at the magazine’s Museum Day Live! website.

The website makes it easy to find the participating museums in your area.

The Arab Hall in Lord Leighton’s House

“Of all the Arab Halls in all the towns in all the world…”

…this is my favorite.

I’ve spent hours in this room, in what was once the Holland Park home of Sir Frederic Leighton. The house is a museum now—I’ve posted about the current Alma-Tadema exhibition, which is taking place there—and I visit it whenever I’m in London, which is never often enough.

And now you can visit too, in a way. I’ve just found some gorgeous 360-degrees panoramic views of many of the rooms in the Leighton House Museum.

Clicking this link will take you to the museum’s Reception area.  From there, you can travel directly to the Arab Hall, or take a narrated tour through the rest of the house.

It’s a great place to visit, and I’d really love to live there.

The Circus Comes to Town

Every year, the Smithsonian holds a Folklife Festival on the Mall in Washington during the last week in June and the first week in July. This year was special, because 2017 marks the Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s 50th anniversary.

Most of the recent festivals have followed a similar format, celebrating a US state or region, a foreign culture or area, and/or a traditional occupation. In 2016, for instance, the two main themes were “Basque: Innovation by Culture” and “Sounds of California.”

This year’s festival was easily the most fascinating and entertaining I’ve ever visited, because the main attraction was a tribute to…Circus Arts!

And it was wonderful!


One of the displays was this classic Circus Wagon.

You could watch close-up performances by clowns and jugglers…

…and not-so-close-up performances by acrobats and trapeze artists.

In addition to the open-air displays, the festival included full performances in its own Big Top, and in one of the Smithsonian buildings. But for me, the best part was the panel discussions featuring circus people talking about their careers and training and lives in the circus. Heard some awesome stories during my two visits to the festival.

Alma-Tadema at Leighton House Museum — A Brief Follow-Up

The Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity exhibition opened in London today, and the Leighton House Museum has just released this teaser.

I posted an item with some background information about Alma-Tadema, Lord Leighton, and this exhibition a few days ago, but, as my grandmother used to say, one video is worth a thousand words. Especially when the video is this well done.

The show will run from 7 July 2017 through 29 October 2017.

Alma-Tadema Returns to Leighton House Museum

There are two places I always visit when I’m in London: The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Leighton House Museum in Holland Park. The V&A describes itself, accurately, as “the world’s leading museum of art and design.” It’s easily my favourite museum in this world, or any other. The Leighton House Museum is the former home and studio of Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton, whose painting “Flaming June,” is one of the crowning achievements of 19th Century British art.

“Flaming June,” just because I can never pass up an opportunity to post it.

“Flaming June,” just because I can never pass up an opportunity to post it.

It’s an old, sad story. After the turn of the 20th century, Victorian artists like Leighton fell out of favour with both the critics and the public. And few of them fell so fast and so far as Leighton’s friend, Lawrence Alma-Tadema. By the 1960s, Alma-Tadema’s “The Finding of Moses,” the picture at the top of this note, was cut out of its frame by a gallery, because a buyer was only interested in the elaborate frame itself.

In a way, Alma-Tadema got a belated revenge: Fifty years later, the painting sold for $35,900,000.

If I can work out the last few bugs on the time machine that I’ve been tinkering with, my first stop will be the 1950s, to stock up on Pre-Raphaelite paintings and Tiffany lamps.


Beginning this weekend, the Leighton House Museum is hosting an exhibition called Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity, which includes more than 130 works. Here’s a sample:


"The Roses of Heliogabalus,” posted for the same reason I posted “Flaming June.”

“The Roses of Heliogabalus,” posted for the same reason I posted “Flaming June.”


The show will run from 7 July 2017 through 29 October 2017. As if anyone needed another reason to go to London.