What We're Reading: 3/20/23

She was the queen of Chicago’s arts community. But her collection now means trouble for the Art Institute.

Eying a rare collection of Asian artifacts, the Art Institute of Chicago turned on the charm to woo a local benefactor.

It arranged a major exhibit to showcase the South and Southeast Asian art that Marilynn Alsdorf had accumulated over decades and published an elegant catalog to commemorate the event. The museum even hired a longtime Alsdorf friend as a curator.

It was “like a card game, or a minuet … a little dancing,” Alsdorf said at the time.

That effort paid off. In 1997, Alsdorf announced at a party of the museum’s Woman’s Board that she would leave approximately 500 objects from Nepal, India and other countries to the Art Institute, saving it the millions of dollars it would have had to spend to build such a collection. And in 2008, the Art Institute opened the Alsdorf Galleries, a tribute to Marilynn and her late husband, James.

But the Alsdorf collection, once so desired, has increasingly become a problem for the Art Institute as it faces questions of ownership history that cast doubt on the museum’s commitment to keeping its galleries free of looted antiquities.

Via Crain's Chicago


Why We Want to Live (and Work) in That Vermeer Light

Sunlight wields enormous power in our interior spaces. It can drive up the value of real estate and alter the mood of a room. It can clarify the work on your desktop and create warmth on a cool day. No light bulb can do all that.



John Waters, connoisseur of quirky art

Welcome to the wacky and wonderful world of art collected by John Waters, on view now at the Baltimore Museum of Art – works like Richard Tuttle's "Peace and Time": "I love this piece, because it basically looks like I had a niece that failed shop class in summer camp," Waters said.

Via CBS Sunday Morning

Ai Weiwei at his studio in Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal / Ai Weiwei's superimposed hand flips off The Art Newspaper's London office© Morgan Sinclair for Avant Arte / Courtesy Avant Arte

Stick 'em up! Ai Weiwei invites you to give the middle finger in new online art project

The Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei is known for raising his middle finger to authority in one of his most famous series Study of Perspective. But now, members of the public can post their own “raised finger” works for a new online digital work.

Via the Art Newspaper