Author Archives: Jeanie Craig

About Jeanie Craig

Senior Accredited Fine Art Appraiser and Art Collection Manager

Arnold Newman at the Jewish Museum, San Francisco

Pablo Picasso, 1954

Pablo Picasso, Vallaurise, France, 1954

Arnold Newman:  Masterclass is on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco until February 1, 2015.  The retrospective exhibition includes 200 of Newman’s most famous portraits, as well as rarely and never-before exhibited still lives, architectural studies, cityscapes and early portraits.

Based mostly in New York, Newman was one of the world’s best known and most influential photographers. He worked as a freelancer for Life and other magazines and traveled the world to photograph artists, architects, authors, composers, scientists, fellow photographers and politicians.  Newman found his vision in the empathy he felt for artists and their work, and his photographs demonstrate complex layers of emotional, psychological and cultural significance.  In a press release about the exhibit, the Contemporary Jewish Museum wrote that “Artists delighted in sitting for Newman, knowing that he would find a way to convey their sensibility in a forceful, yet always appropriate, fashion.”

Salvador Dali, 1951

Salvador Dali, 1951

Newman created powerful studio shots, as exemplified by his famous portrait of Pablo Picasso in Vallaurise, France, 1954 (above, left).

His signature style, however, was ‘environmental portraiture,’ in which he captured the essence of his subjects by showing them in their personal surroundings using strong, graphic, black and white imagery to give insight into what made his subjects so successful.

“Every artist is a different human being, a different kind of person, a different kind of personality, a different kind of psyche, and all of this the photographer should reflect,”  Newman is quoted as saying in the exhibition catalog.  The surroundings had to add to the composition and the understanding of the person.

Igor Stravinsky, 1960

Igor Stravinsky, 1960

Newman was a master at composition and was meticulous about his work. In the beautiful, black and white portrait of Russian Composer Igor Stravinsky  (above),  the composer was seated at a grand piano which was strategically silhouetted against a blank wall to create the illusion of the lid as an abstract musical note.

Marc Chagall, 1956

Marc Chagall, 1956

“Whenever I want to photograph someone, I read about them. I read biographies. If they are painters or scientists, I know their work. This is all good. It prepares me to observe.” – Arnold Newman

Newman’s work can be found in major museums and private collections worldwide.  The Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street, San Francisco is open Thursday – Tuesday (closed Wednesdays) 415-655-7800


Arnold Newman

Art Appraisal San Francisco – Lauder Cubism Collection at the Met

Fernand Léger, Composition (The Typographer),1918-19), by

Fernand Léger, Composition (The Typographer),1918-19), by

Cubism: The Leonard A Lauder Collection now on view at the Metropolitan Museum in New York is considered one of the most important assemblages of Cubist art in the world.

The collection consists of 81 paintings, drawings, collages, works on paper and a few sculptures by Cubism’s four giants: Georges Braque (1882-1963), Juan Gris (1887-1927), Fernand Léger (1881-1965) and Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Most of the work dates from 1907 to 1918, and the Met has posted images of each of the pieces here.  The trove of signature works is valued at more than $1 billion.

New York Times art writer, Roberta Smith states in her comprehensive review that  “the work outlines the genesis of the modernist movement that set the stage for almost all others.”  Accompanying her article is a 13-image slide show of the work in place.

Georges Braque, Still Life: "2ᵉ étude, 1914

Georges Braque, Still Life: “2ᵉ étude, 1914

The collection raises the Met’s profile as an institution for modern and contemporary art considerably, since its holdings in that area were very limited before. Thomas Campbell, the museum’s director said that “In one fell swoop this puts the Met at the forefront of early-20th-century art.  It is an unreproducible collection, something museum directors only dream about.”

Leonard A. Lauder, philanthropist and chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder, amassed the collection over a period of 40 years.  The Met has posted a video in which Lauder talks about his lifelong interest in collecting, from picture postcards and posters to Cubist works of art.  He said that when he discovered Cubism, “I found something I was really able to relate to, and I liked the concept of looking in depth at a moment in time.”

Lauder bought his first piece of Cubist art in 1976:  a Léger. In her review of the exhibition, New York Times art writer Carol Vogel reports:  Mr. Lauder said that “nobody wanted” Cubist art for the first 20 years he collected it, so it was still affordable. And early on, he knew that one day he would donate the collection to a museum. He said, “Before buying something, the question I always ask myself is this: If it were going to a museum, would it make the cut? If the answer is yes, then that’s what I buy.” The collection he put together now rivals that of major museums worldwide.

Juan Gris, Still Life With Checked Tablecloth, 1915

Juan Gris, Still Life With Checked Tablecloth, 1915

The Lauder Collection exhibition continues through February 16, 2015.  The Met is open 7 days a week:  Sun-Thurs, 10-5:30, Fri-Sat:  10-9 & closed on major holidays.  If you go, get there early — best, right when it opens — because the exhibition gets crowded very quickly.  1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) New York, NY 10028  Phone: 212-535-7710

Leonard A. Lauder

Art Collector Leonard A. Lauder





Thomas Hart Benton’s epic “America Today” at the Met

ThomasHartBentonAmericaTodayMETThomas Hart Benton’s 1930’s epic  “America Today, Mural Rediscovered” is on display at the Met for the first time since acquisition in 2012.

The 10-panel, wrap-around mural cycle was commissioned in 1930 for the boardroom of Manhattan’s New School for Social Research and is one of Benton’s most famous works. It depicts a panoramic sweep of rural and urban American life on the eve of the Great Depression and shows everyday people in scenes of life during that time–flappers, farmers, steel workers burlesque dancers, Wall Street tycoons and more.

Lance EsplundBenton of the Wall Street Journal called the mural “A roiling, illustrative melting-pot nearly 8 feet tall…it serves up the good, the bad and the ugly in equal measure.”  Read the rest of his article for further description and history.

The Met is displaying the massive seven-and-a-half foot tall murals in a faithful replica of the 30-by-22-foot boardroom for which the piece was originally created. On view in an adjacent gallery are Benton’s studies and sketches for the mural.  Painter Jackson Pollock was Benton’s student during this time and he served as a model for several of the mural’s figures. Here’s the Met’s video curatorial overview of the installation.

Thomas Hart Benton (1989-1975) was born in Missouri, studied in Paris and lived in New York for more than 20 years before returning to the Midwest to live and work.

Thomas Hart Benton industrial“Thomas Hart Benton’s ‘America Today’ Mural Rediscovered” is in the Met’s American Wing, and will remain on view through April 19, 2015.  The Met is open 7 days a week:  Sun-Thurs, 10-5:30, Fri-Sat:  10-9 & closed on major holidays.  1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) New York, NY 10028  Phone: 212-535-7710

Thomas Hart Benton portrait

Thomas Hart Benton, Ken Burns PBS photo

Picasso shows at Gagosian and Pace, New York

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso, Le réservoir (Horta de Ebro), 1909. On loan to Gagosian from David Rockefeller, who has promised it to MOMA

Two stellar Picasso shows are on view in New York galleries this month.  Both are museum quality and contain loans of major original paintings, drawings and sculpture that you’ve probably seen in museums or art books over the years.

Picasso & the Camera at Gagosian was co-curated by the artist’s friend and biographer, John Richardson and explores how Picasso used photography as a source of inspiration and also as an integral part of his studio practice. The show, which spans 60 years, includes 40 paintings, 50 drawings and 225 of the artist’s photographs. Many of the works are on loan from the Picasso family, private collections and major museums.

An example is the photograph of Picasso’s mountain retreat in Horta de Ebro, Spain and one of his paintings from 1909 of the same subject.

Pablo Picasso, Le réservoir (Horta de Ebro), 1909

Pablo Picasso, Le réservoir (Horta de Ebro), 1909

Picasso worked from the photograph to create the blocked, jagged shapes he painted on canvas. These early landscapes became regarded as the beginning of cubism.  Throughout the exhibition are similar examples of photographic inspiration paired with paintings, drawings and sculpture.  More on this show by Carol Vogel, New York Times.


Pablo Picasso, Jacqueline aux Fleurs, 1954

Picasso & Jacqueline: The Evolution of Style at Pace features nearly 140 works by Picasso created in the last two decades of his life while living with his muse, and later, wife, Jacqueline Roque. Accompanying the exhibition is a group of more than 50 photographs by David Douglas Duncan, a confidant of Picasso, who captured the artist at work and during private moments with Jacqueline.  Many of the works are from the Picasso family and Jacqueline Roque’s estate and are on view to the public for the first time, plus other loans from private collections and major museums.  Read more on this show and see a slide show of photos of Picasso and Jacqueline by Hilarie M. Sheets, New York Times.

Jacqueline and Picasso. 2014 David Douglas Duncan. Estate of Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Jacqueline and Picasso. 2014 David Douglas Duncan. Estate of Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Picasso & the Camera is at Gagosian Gallery, 522 West 21st Street, until January 3, 2015. Picasso & Jacqueline: The Evolution of Style is at PACE Gallery, 32 East 57th Street and 534 West 25th Street until January 10, 2015. Security is high at both shows:  Bags are checked at the door at Gagosian, photography is not permitted in either gallery and Gagosian had 15 hired guards posted throughout the gallery and Pace, 7.  Catalogs of the shows are available for purchase at the galleries.

The Future Whitney Museum: A Preview


The new Whitney from the High Line

The Whitney Museum closed its Madison Avenue location yesterday (10/19/14) when its blockbuster Jeff Koons retrospective ended.  More than 250,000 people saw the exhibition since it opened in June. The museum ended things with a bang, staying open 36 continuous hours during the final weekend. Whitney Director Adam Weinberg said, “This will not only give more people an opportunity to see the Koons retrospective, it’s also a chance for some to say goodbye to the Breuer building as it was.”  The closing weekend drew huge crowds.

The new Whitney Museum building in lower Manhattan is nearing completion and is scheduled to open in spring, 2015.  Check out the video preview. Designed by architect Renzo Piano and situated between the High Line and the Hudson River, the new 200,000 square foot space will vastly increase the Whitney’s exhibition and programming space. The new building is located at Washington and Gansevoort Streets in the Meatpacking District, a 20-square block neighborhood bordered to the north and east by Chelsea and to the south by the West Village. The building project began in 2007.


The new Whitney from the Hudson River

Renzo Piano is widely acknowledged as the master of museum design.  He has designed 25 museums, 14 in the US alone, and he understands well the needs of board directors, curators, the visiting public and the spatial needs of the art itself.  According to Donna de Salvo, chief curator of the Whitney, “Our curators and the architects had an ongoing dialogue throughout the design of this building. Our curatorial voice was central to the discussion and they have given us a terrifically dynamic building, a uniquely responsive array of spaces for art.”

When the new building opens, the Metropolitan Museum of Art plans to present exhibitions and educational programming at the former Whitney’s uptown building for a period of eight years, with the possibility of extending the agreement for a longer term.  The Met’s lease begins in the spring of 2016 and runs through 2023.

Stanford’s Windhover Contemplative Center Opens

Windhover Stanford

Windhover Contemplative Center, Stanford campus
Nathan Oliveira painting

Stanford University’s newly opened Windhover Contemplative Center is a spiritual and meditative refuge intended to allow visitors to escape from the daily intensity of campus life.  The Center, designed by Aidlin Darling Design, a San Francisco architectural firm, features paintings by Nathan Oliveira, an outdoor reflecting pool, a granite labyrinth and a Japanese-style garden.  The entryway is intentionally drawn-out, requiring navigation through tree and bamboo groves to reach the entrance, with the intent of shedding the stresses of the day prior to entering. The building’s structure will block cellular and internet signals, and visitors are expected to remove their shoes when coming inside.  Except for the public docent tours described below, a Stanford ID card is required to enter.

Nathan Oliveira

Artist Nathan Oliveira

Nathan Oliveira, who taught at Stanford for three decades, was an internationally acclaimed artist. He retired from teaching in 1995 and died in late 2010 at 81. SFMOMA released a video in 1999 with Nathan talking about the genesis of the Windhover project, which was named for a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins.  Oliviera began the project in the 1970s, inspired by kestrels swooping above the Stanford foothills. He returned again and again to the paintings during a lifetime of art, ultimately creating monumental oil paintings of wings and curves that measure up to 17 feet across.  Oliveira said he envisioned a place for these paintings where people could “sit, meditate and reflect on themselves.” He said he hoped people would be able to sit and watch the paintings change as the light changed and “distract themselves from whatever is bothering them.”   

Docent-led tours of the Windhover Contemplative Center are open to the general public on Tuesdays. The tours include information about the conceptual ideas behind the physical structure and an in-depth look at the Windhover paintings by Nathan Oliveira featured in the building.  Tours are ongoing every week from October 14, 2014 through June 20, 2017, 10:00 am – 10:45 am.  Admission is free.  Reservations not required; 15-person maximum.

Ai Weiwei’s TRACE: 176 Stories. Here’s one: Reeyot Alemu

Ai Weiwei @Large:  Reeyot Alemu

Reeyot Alemu – TRACE, Ai Weiwei, Alcatraz

On October 2, I went to Alcatraz to see Ai Weiwei’s @Large exhibition, aptly described by Christopher Knight  as “an always poignant, often powerful meditation on soul-deadening repressions of human thought and feeling.”  One installation, “Trace,” features 176 portraits of people imprisoned because of their beliefs or affiliations. The sheer number of political prisoners portrayed, some familiar, most not, was overwhelming.   Brief bios of each can be found on FOR-SITE’s website.

A few days later, I started researching one of them:  Reeyot Alemu, a journalist imprisoned in Ethiopia, Africa’s second worst jailor of journalists.   She was prosecuted under vaguely-worded and broad-reaching anti-terrorism laws passed by the Ethiopian legislature in 2009. The laws allow for the arrest of anyone thought to “encourage” parties labeled as terrorists.  Based on no evidence other than her articles criticizing the Ethiopian government, Alemu was sentenced to 14 years in Ethiopia’s notoriously ill-maintained Kality prison. She refused to admit guilt in exchange for clemency.  Her sentence was reduced to five years on appeal, and she is currently pursuing an international appeal via the African Human Rights Commission.

Ai Weiwei Trace: Reeyot Alemu

Reeyot Alemu

Born in 1980, Reeyot Alemu taught at a high school in Addis and worked as a columnist for several local newspapers.  In 2010, she founded her own publishing house and became the editor in chief of a magazine in which she wrote about political and social issues, focusing on the root causes of poverty and gender equality. According to her friends and colleagues, she thought she could make a difference in the trajectory of her people, and that her work might make things better. Her outspoken criticism on political and social issues was not viewed lightly by the government.

In 2011, Alemu was one of the first journalists arrested in a government crackdown on dissent as authorities in Addis Ababa, unnerved by the Arab Spring revolutions, rounded up prominent journalists, intellectuals and political opponents and linked them to a vague terrorism plot. Her arrest occurred several days after she published an article criticizing practices of Ethiopia’s ruling party. Branded a terrorist, Alemu had no access to legal counsel during three months of pretrial detention, and she reported being pressured to sign a false confession implicating co-defendants in crimes against the state. The court refused to investigate her allegations of mistreatment and denial of medical care in detention.  At present, Reeyot’s condition is unknown; human rights organizations have not been able to communicate with her for several months.

Reeyot Alemu’s exceptional courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression has been recognized internationally.  In May 2013, she was awarded the UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, and in 2012, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) bestowed a Courage in Journalism Award.  Now Ai Weiwei shines a light on her story.  No amount of international awards and public outcry have succeeded in gaining her freedom thus far.

In Ai Weiwei’s artist statement accompanying @Large, he calls upon the 5,000 people a day who visit Alcatraz to reflect upon and amplify the message of his installations at Alcatraz.  It remains to be seen if the work is able to accomplish his aims and impact his situation, or that of any of the people portrayed in Trace who are still imprisoned.  As Christian Frock muses in her article in KQED Arts, “Can art affect change?  If it could, would that be Ai Weiwei’s ultimate artwork — or a great shift in thinking about what art can do, or both?”

I hope it can.

For more information about prisoners of conscience, visit Amnesty International.  I found petitions to sign on behalf of Reeyot Alemu on PEN and and will be posting an update as soon as there is any news on her condition and appeal.  Reeyot’s address on the postcard is “Reeyot Alemu, Kaliti Prison, Addis Ababa, c/o Prison Administration, PO Box 2436, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  @Large:  Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz will be on exhibit until April 26, 2015.  Entry is free with a ticket to Alcatraz ($30).


Update:  Reeyot turned 35 in Kaliti Prison on 1/21/15.  Her condition and the status of her appeal remain uncertain.

Jules Maeght Gallery to open in San Francisco 11/14/14

Tourbillons Alexander Calder

Tourbillons, Alexander Calder, 1974
Ink on paper, 29.5 x 43 inches
Jules Maeght Gallery, San Francisco

Jules Maeght, grandson of the founders of Galerie Maeght, Paris and the Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul de Vence, opens his first gallery in Hayes Valley, San Francisco on November 14, 2014.  The inaugural show, “Art in Motion” (11/14/14-1/31/15), brings together works that explore kinetic art in diverse forms, including pieces by Pol Bury, Alexander Calder, Marshall Elliott, Vassily Kandinsky, Kirstie Macleod, Joan Miró,  Clovis Prévost, Tracey Snelling and Kal Spelletich.  The Jules Maeght Gallery is located at 149 Gough Street (at Oak) and is housed in the former studio of San Francisco’s legendary inventor and machine-maker, Rube Goldberg.

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 9.37.33 AM

Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul de Vence, France

Maeght is one of the great names in the history of the 20th-century art world. In 1932, Aimé Maeght and his wife, Marguerite, opened a print studio “ARTE”  in the south of France, and in 1945, they opened Galerie Maeght in Paris with a show of Matisse drawings. Through the years, the Maeghts became influential and respected dealers,representing leading European Modernist artists such as Bonnard, Braque, Calder, Duchamp, Giacometti, Léger, Rouault and many others. Today, the Paris gallery is run by family members and shows modern masters as well as young artists. The Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence, opened in 1964 by Aimé and Marguerite, is a private museum with one of the largest collections of 20th-century art in Europe.  It has put on over 100 exhibitions since inception and has more than 200,000 visitors annually.  The Fondation celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014.

Jules, along with his partner and wife Amelie, continue the Maeght family legacy at their new gallery and will show modernist artists alongside contemporary Bay Area and international artists. For more information, call 415-549-7046 or email

Mildred Howard: Collective Memories Exhibition Opens


Island People on Blue Mountain I, 2013 Chine collé with pochoir and silver leaf

Mildred Howard:  Collective Memories opens at the Fresno Art Museum on September 26 and will be on view through January 4, 2015.  Mildred Howard was  awarded the Distinguished Woman Artist Award for 2014 by the Museum’s California’s Council of 100, an organization devoted to recognizing outstanding women in the arts.  The artist will give a free public lecture about her work 11 am – noon on October 4, and that afternoon will attend the Distinguished Woman Artist Award Ceremony and Luncheon.

The exhibition, curated by Dr. Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins, includes thirty-five of Howard’s mixed media works which explore African American folk customs and traditions of the American South.  “Howard’s works are a constant interchange between formalism and content as she becomes more committed to the process of retrieval—selecting and working with repurposed materials to capture and peel back the layers that form her ideas and inform the embedded stories that she pushes forward, conscious of the layering of time and how time brings historical perspective to life.” ~ Fresno Art Museum


Artist Mildred Howard

Mildred Howard is a Berkeley-based artist, activist and teacher who is known for her sculptural installations and mixed media assemblages. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including an NEA Fellowship in sculpture, two Rockefeller Fellowships to Bellagio, Italy (1996 and 2007), the Adeline Kent Award from the San Francisco Art Institute, the Joan Mitchell Foundation CALL Program Artist award and a  California Arts Council Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited internationally including recent shows in Berlin, Cairo, and Bath, England.  She is represented by the Paule Anglim Gallery in San Francisco.

Howard’s work is included in the collections of the de Young Museum, Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, CA; the Oakland Museum of California; the San Jose Museum of Art, CA; the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT; the International Museum of Glass and Contemporary Art, Tacoma, WA; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; the Washington State Art Commission and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Paule Anglim Gallery has published a wonderful on-line catalog for the exhibition on issuu:  Mildred Howard: Collective Memory.

A Brief History Of John Baldessari (narrated by Tom Waits)

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 8.25.03 PM A Brief History Of John Baldessari is  a very entertaining 2012 documentary commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for a gala honoring the artist. Described by its filmmakers as “the epic life of a world-class artist, jammed into six minutes,”  the video presents a fast-paced collection of off-beat facts narrated by Tom Waits, with deadpan commentary by Baldessari.  Born in 1931, Baldessari is one of the country’s most legendary and influential conceptual artists. A pioneer of conceptual art practice, his career spans five decades and embraces painting, photography, film, video, books, prints, objects and installation. He taught at CalArts from 1970 – 1988 and at UCLA from 1996 – 2007. His artwork has been featured in more than 200 solo exhibitions and in over 1000 group exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. Baldessari currently lives in Santa Monica, California and works in Venice, California.

Secondhand at Pier 24

Secondhand at Pier 24

Matt Lipps, Untitled (Women’s Heads), 2010
From “Secondhand” at Pier 24

Secondhand is the current exhibition at Pier 24, up until May, 2015.   It features the work of over a dozen artists whose work is based on the appropriation of pre-existing photographs.  Admission is free, but you need a reservation.  At 28,000 square feet, Pier 24 is the largest photography-only venue in the world. It was founded by retired San Francisco investment advisor Andy Pilara, and much of the work on display comes from his extensive collection.  If you missed the last couple of shows, you can buy the gallery guides from Pier 24, or take a look at the catalogs on line posted by Chris McCall, the director:  A Sense of Place (7/1/13 to 5/1/14), About Face  (5/15/12-4/30/13)

Anderson Collection at Stanford Opens 9/21/14

andersonMuseumThe eagerly anticipated Anderson Collection at Stanford University  will open to the public on September 21, 2014. Admission is free but timed tickets are required for weekends.  In 2011, the Andersons promised 121 works by 86 artists to Stanford, and the University constructed a permanent building designed by Ennead Architects next to the Cantor Arts Center exclusively for the gift. The Anderson Collection was assembled over the past 50 years by Bay Area locals Harry W. “Hunk” and Mary Margaret “Moo” Anderson, along with their daughter Mary Patricia “Putter” Anderson Pence, and is considered among the world’s most impressive private holdings of 20th Century American Art.  It includes 837 works by 203 artists.