Fine Arts

The Best Places to Visit in Europe for Art, Music and Culture

Plan the ultimate getaway to Europe with itineraries inspired by an arts and culture themed journey aboard the Four Seasons Jet.

The newly redesigned Four Seasons Jet flew travellers on the Backstage With the Arts journey between Paris, Lisbon, Milan, Istanbul, St Petersburg and Prague.

During a 16-day Backstage With the Arts journey on the Four Seasons Jet, guests experienced the art, music, culture and history of Europe, complete with backstage access, special performances and private entries. Whether you have one day or 20 for a European holiday, let their adventures in Paris, Lisbon, Milan, Istanbul, St Petersburg and Prague inspire your own itinerary. Read on to discover the cultural highlights of each destination and flip through photos from the Four Seasons Jet trip to see the landmarks, museums, theatres and local experiences you shouldn’t miss on your own journey.

four-seasons-atwjt-paris-four-seasons-extraordinary-experience-wine-cellar-636x431Art and culinary prowess in Paris

Paris has long been the homeland of the artist. It is a city to which creative spirits make pilgrimage, while appreciative spirits love to bask in the atmosphere. There’s no better way to kick off your stay than by enjoying the Michelin-starred cuisine of Le Cinq, renowned restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris. From there, tour the newly opened Louis Vuitton Foundation, a striking building designed by Frank Gehry, which has as its mission the fostering and promotion of artistic creation on national and international levels. It also has a magnificent collection of fine art that must not be missed. Survey more of Paris on a private cruise along the Seine, and bid the city farewell over dinner in the Eiffel Tower.


The delightfully chic Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris was the first stop for travellers on the Backstage With the Arts tour and served as an ideal home base for the adventures ahead.

Diverse architecture in Lisbon

Lisbon, home to a spectrum of architecture from classical to Manueline to Gothic, offers the opportunity to explore art and architecture to your heart’s content. Start with a guided tour of the Berardo Collection Museum and then tour the ornate, Manueline-style Jeronimos Monastery. An excellent hub for travellers, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon offers its own take on artistic décor. Allow at least three days to absorb the best of Lisbon: Be sure to visit the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, the Palais de Santos, and take a guided walk through Chiado Square and the surrounding area.


At the French Embassy in Portugal, everything from the ceiling to the uniform lapels illustrates artistry.


Munch’s ‘The Scream’ sells for $120mn at auction

at France24 .com

By William News Wires REUTERS

Edward Munch’s famous painting “The Scream” fetched $120 million at Sotheby’s in New York Wednesday, making it the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction. The bidder was not identified. – Edvard Munch’s masterpiece “The Scream,” one of the world’s most recognizable works of art, sold for $120 million at Sotheby’s on Wednesday, setting a new record as the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction.

Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art auction featured top works by Picasso, Dali and Miro, but Munch’s vibrant work from 1895 was the star attraction in a salesroom packed with art collectors, dealers and media.

The vibrant pastel was conservatively estimated to sell for about $80 million, but two determined bidders competing via telephone emerged from an initial group of seven, driving the final price to $107 million, or $119,922,500 including commission, over the course of a nearly 15-minute bidding war.

The winning bid was taken by a Sotheby’s executive, and the bidder was not identified.

One of four versions by the Scandinavian painter, sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, “The Scream” easily eclipsed the old auction record held by Picasso’s “Nude, green leaves and bust,” which sold for $106.5 million at Christie’s two years ago. The sales room at Sotheby’s erupted in applause and cheering when the hammer came down. Several Sotheby’s officials said the sale marked the high point of their careers.

“It’s worth every penny that the collector paid,” said Tobias Meyer, who served as auctioneer and called it “one of the great icons” of fine art.

In recent decades “The Scream,” which depicts a figure with hands pressed to head against a backdrop of swirling colors, has become a ubiquitous image, appropriated for everything from coffee mugs to editorial cartoons. For many mainstream art lovers, it is perhaps second in familiarity only to the “Mona Lisa,” and is among the best-known works of art still in private hands.

Sotheby’s New York head of Impressionist and Modern art Simon Shaw called it “one of the visual keys to modern consciousness,” adding that it was “perhaps the greatest single draw I’ve seen in my career” at the auction house.

80 percent of lots find buyers

Three other images of “The Scream,” including two which were stolen and later recovered, are in museums in Norway.

Overall, the sale brought in $330.6 million, against an estimate of about $245 million to $325 million, and 80 percent of the 76 lots on offer found buyers.

The total was Sotheby’s highest-ever for an Impressionist and Modern auction, beating the old mark of $286 million, which had stood since 1990. It was also the auction house’s second-best evening in its history.

Other highlights included Picasso’s “Femme assise dans un fauteuil,” which sold for $29.2 million; Miro’s “Tete humaine” went for $14.86 million; and Dali’s “Printemps necrophilique,” which fetched $16.3 million, or about 50 percent more than the pre-sale estimate.

Works by Max Ernst, Tamara de Lempicka, Constantin Brancusi and Paul Gauguin all achieved strong prices, many far exceeding their high estimates.

The collection of financier Ted Forstmann took in $83 million, meeting expectations, although works by Chaim Soutine that were considered highlights failed to make their estimates.

But in the end it was all about the Munch. Olsen, who attended the sale, said afterward he hoped the stunning results would help drive interest in Munch’s work, and added that the artist “will be a continuing force in my life.”

Speaking to its enduring topical nature and present-day relevance, Olsen said “The image of ‘The Scream’ could make more of us fathom the magnitude of the consequences of our continuing emissions of greenhouse gases.”

“For me, (it) shows the horrifying moment when man realizes his impact on nature and the irreversible changes that he has initiated, making the planet increasingly uninhabitable.”

bonus video : by BBC

Why Chinese collectors are heading to London to buy up Chinese art

A turquoise-ground vase with Qianlong seal mark is the star lot at Bonhams' auction of Chinese art on the 10th November in London, estimated to fetch between $8 million (£5 million) and $13 million (£8 million)
A turquoise-ground vase with Qianlong seal mark is the star lot at Bonhams’ auction of Chinese art on the 10th November in London, estimated to fetch between $8 million (£5 million) and $13 million (£8 million)

at CNN

It is a year since an 18th-century Chinese vase was sold in London for $68 million, smashing world records.

Now dealers and auction houses in London are feverishly anticipating a slew of sales as part of Asian Art in London, a week-long event that has been attracting newly-wealthy Chinese buyers and collectors to the capital for over a decade.

Max Rutherston, Chairman of Asian Art in London, says the week of Asian art sales and exhibitions in London has been running for 13 years, and has seen a “Chinese art boom,” with collectors from mainland China and Hong Kong flocking to London to check out the array of antique wares laid out in the salesrooms and galleries.

Antique vases hailing from the much-sought-after 18th-century Qianlong period are going under the hammer at major auction houses Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams and on display at the commercial galleries, alongside decorative objets d’art and furnishings.

Bonhams is selling a rare vase estimated to fetch between $8 million (£5 million) and $13 million (£8 million). The 50cm tall vase features delicate chrysanthemum blossoms in white and pink tones and bears the Qianlong seal.
The Chinese weren’t allowed to buy anything under Mao and they are developing very quickly, tending to go into an area and exhausting it completely before moving onto another one
Daniel Eskenazi, Asian art dealer


ArtPrice Top 50 Contemporary Artists

at ART Market Monitor

Last week, ArtPrice put out their report on the Contemporary art market hoping to catch a contact high from FIAC. The firm’s obsession with China is immediately apparent (as is some of their stranger self-promotion about the “de-materializing” art market,) but lack of reliable data from China means those sales and artists need to be viewed with some skepticism. How much of the spectacular numbers seen during the first half of this year is a product of adding domestic Chinese sales to totals that previously did not record Chinese sales. Nonetheless, says a record 34,700 works of Contemporary art were sold during the 12-month period from July of 2010 to June of 2011. Those works were sold for €895m. And that is only publicly auctioned work:

Finally, after the jump, you can see the top 50 Contemporary artists on Artprice’s list of 500 auctioned artists. Again, the list is over populated with Chinese names whose work is not well known in the West. Even so, there are some very interesting rankings, including Jean-Michel Basquiat’s position at number 1. Notice the volume of works for Murakami, Nara and Haring.

Gerhard Richter’s absence is strange and calls some of the list’s methodology into question.

the Art of the Automobile : Interview with Ralph Lauren

at RL Magazine
 This summer at the renowned Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, one of the most celebrated car collections in the world—that of Mr. Ralph Lauren—will be on display. Running from April 28-August 28, the exhibit, appropriately titled The Art of the Automobile, is a must-see for any enthusiast. For the exhibition catalog, curator Rodolphe Rapetti interviewed Mr. Lauren. The following is an excerpt from that interview.How and when did you start collecting cars? What was your initial motivation when you first started collecting? Has it changed over time?

I don’t think of myself as a collector of cars. In my mind, they are like parts of me. Cars are fun, like toys, and when you start to experience different kinds, especially when you can’t afford them, you look at them and dream about them. Each car offers a different experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brand new Bugatti or a 1961 Morgan. I have that variation in my collection. I never thought of myself as a person who was going to buy cars to put them out there; I thought of myself driving them. I thought of myself living and experiencing them as they were part of me, not possessions or artistic beauty for someone else to look at, but for me to drive and drive my kids around in, and ultimately become the character of the car.

Some of the cars in your collection go back to an era when the craftsmanship of car manufacturing was more similar to a work of art than mechanical engineering. Is there a relationship between this distinction of craftsmanship and the work you do in your world of fashion?

Very definitely. The cars are to me works of art. Many of the older ones from my collection were actually handmade. The details, the metal work was done by artisans. I’ve always loved machines that are the product of someone taking his passion for building and using it to create beautiful shapes or sounds that give pleasure. Ettore Bugatti was an artist like that. His cars were built by a team of real craftsmen. I love that craftsmanship. It gives one a sense of personal connection to the maker. Today there is so much more technical sophistication involved in the creation of cars, but the ones that I love and collect and drive are still special and maintain an artistic integrity. Handwork is what my design process is all about. Many of the products we create, like our handbags and timepieces, are handmade by real artisans around the world. These things are very desirable because they have an enduring timelessness that makes the owner feel like a collector. To own something that is handmade, handcrafted is very desirable today.

You’ve underlined on numerous occasions that your cars are a source of inspiration when creating your clothes, objects or accessories. Could you explain that in more detail?

My day-to-day life, my work, the things I enjoy and the people I meet continue to be my library of inspiration. I am constantly seeking ideas to impact my creative vision. Cars have always been a rich source of that process. I look at a car and love its highly stylized air vents, a row of steel rivets, a hubcap or a gas cap, a perfectly crafted steering wheel, soft buttery leather upholstery, a richly polished burl-wood dashboard or the beauty of a leather strap over the hood. I take those details and integrate them into everything I design from a watch to a chair to a woman’s evening dress. A few years ago I was inspired by the carbon fiber of my McLaren. I was struck by the thought that these fifty-four layers of carbon tissue once found only in high-performance jets and racecars would make an incredibly sleek yet durable chair. We introduced the RL-CF1 carbon fiber chair in 2003, the first of its kind. When we launched our Ralph Lauren Timepiece Collection last year, many of the shapes and styles were inspired by icons from our design archive. The newest one is directly inspired by my Bugatti Atlantic. I call it “The Dash” because its face is a direct representation of the car’s burl-wood dashboard. It has the sleek sculptural design spirit of the car itself. I look forward to wearing it behind the wheel of its namesake.

The restoration process of old vehicles is a delicate procedure which requires a great deal of preliminary studies into the history of the car and how modern techniques are adapted to the model in order to respect the most specific detail of the original state and characteristics of the car. Could you describe the main guidelines involved in the restoration process of your vehicles? Have you confronted any specific dilemmas during the restoration process of your cars? Which restoration brought you the most satisfaction? Which would you refer to as the most difficult one and the most delicate one?

The most important thing about restoration is to go to the experts—the people that really know. There are different experts for Ferrari, for Mercedes, for Mercedes Gullwings, for Bugattis. You look for authenticity. All my cars have been restored because I never wanted to get stuck on the road. Restoration, to me, is all about quality and restoring a car to as it was with all the original details. I am not a restorer, so early on I was lucky enough to find Paul Russell, a car historian and restorer from Boston who has worked with me for over twenty years. Restoration is a sensitive job.

For me, there’s no cheating in the process. Once we restored a 2.9 Alfa Romeo with so much care and so much detail. The original color, a bright red, was found after uncovering five layers of paint. When the car was shown some people thought the color was so bright it couldn’t be right. Though I would have preferred a darker red because it looked older, I respected the restorer’s decision and commitment to the car’s authenticity and history.

Would you like to create a car?

Designing a car and designing a fashion collection both require a certain craft and vision, but they are totally different. Though I know what I love in a car, I would never consider myself a car designer. Choosing the color for a car is not designing a car. I have tremendous respect for those that do it. They live their career like I live mine. When I was growing up I would look at a Bentley or an old Mercedes and say, “Wow, that car is so beautiful. Look at the leather interior, the burl-wood dashboard.” Then, comes along a Porsche that is totally spare and minimal. And you might ask, “Which one is more beautiful?” I would make a case for either. I don’t think I would ever have conceived of the Porsche or the Bentley. But I might have conceived of how to make them the most beautiful Porsche or Bentley.


Greek Financier Pays Christie’s $29 Million for a Picasso

A Greek financier based in London paid Christie’s $29.1 million on Tuesday for a Pablo Picasso painting that was once caught up in a daring World War II-era rescue.
Dimitri Mavrommatis, a longtime collector of French porcelain who also keeps a home in Paris, outbid at least seven rivals for Picasso’s “Seated Woman, Blue Robe.” Christie’s only expected it to sell for up to $13 million.
Christie’sPablo Picasso’s 1939 “Seated Woman, Blue Robe” sold to a Greek financier for $29.1 million at Christie’s in London on Tuesday.
The painting’s history may have added to its allure: Picasso painted the angular, indigo-hued portrait of his girlfriend Dora Maar in late 1939 and sent it to his dealer Paul Rosenberg in Bordeaux. When the Nazis occupied parts of France a few months later, soldiers confiscated the Jewish dealer’s art and sent “Woman” to the German Embassy in Paris with plans to forward it on to Adolf Hitler’s art depot in Moravia.
At some point in all this shuffling, members of the French Resistance slipped in and rescued the painting. “Woman” was eventually returned to Mr. Rosenberg.
“Woman” also capped Christie’s $227.1 million evening sale of Impressionist and modern art — a total that easily surpassed the house’s $185.4 million minimum sale target.
video bonus : Got a spare £12 million? Buy this Picasso One of Picasso’s most celebrated paintings ‘Jeune Fille Endormie’ is up for sale. Gemma Haines from Reuters reports.

Artspace the Latest Online Art Commerce Experiment

Artspace co-founders Catherine Levene and Christopher Vroom

at ArtInfo

The Guggenheim, the Founder of MTV, and a Horde of Dealers and Artists Sign on for Artspace, the Latest Online Art Commerce Experiment. Artspace is the latest contender to enter the growing field of online art sales.
Joining a fast-growing landscape of online art sellers,, a virtual marketplace specializing in limited-edition prints by contemporary artists, launched end of March. The site will collaborate with a selection of big-name museums and galleries — including the Guggenheim, the Brooklyn Museum, David Zwirner Gallery, and Salon94 — to provide a mix of prints and original artworks ranging from $200 to $10,000.
The project is the brainchild of Christopher Vroom, founder of arts nonprofit Artadia, and Catherine Levene, former manager of the Web site DailyCandy. Backed by MTV founder and former AOL Time Warner COO Robert Pittman, financier Alexander Lloyd, and venture capitalists Pamela and RichardKramlich, Artspace has secured $1.2 million since its directors began fundraising in November. “We want to provide education, information, and access to a wide range of works by the best contemporary artists all in one place,” Vroom told ARTINFO.
Artspace comes on the heels of several different attempts to incorporate new media into the art world, none of which has been overwhelmingly successful. December’s VIP Art Fair, the world’s first online-only fair, boasted over 100 high-profile galleries but suffered from technical difficulties and mediocre sales. (New York dealer James Cohan, a co-founder of VIP, will also work with Artspace.) In February, Google unveiled the buggy but largely well-received Google Art Project, which offers virtual museum tours. A Pandora-style art recommendation engine,, will officially launch later this spring. Other Web sites, including those of Pace Prints and Jen Bekman‘s 20 x 200, have been selling limited edition prints online for several years.

Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore

 Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore - The Jewish Museumat The Jewish Museum, New York, from May 6, 2011 to Sep 25, 2011
In the early 1900s Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone visited the Paris studios of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso and began assembling one of the world’s most important art collections. Supported financially by the successful Cone textile business, Claribel and Etta made frequent trips to Europe to purchase art. They often visited avant-garde writer Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo in Paris, and through them became acquainted with a wide circle of artists, musicians, and writers who influenced their collecting.

Etta Cone met Matisse in 1906, and her initial purchase of several drawings marked the beginning of a life-long passion for his art. Among Matisse’s first patrons, the Cone sisters befriended the artist and collected his work throughout his entire career. The sisters also acquired works by Picasso, including an important group of drawings from the artist’s early years in Paris and one of his signature Blue period paintings, which will be on view.

video bonus : The Cone Collection at the BMA in Baltimore


World’s most expensive Painting on show in London

by AFP. LONDON — Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, the world’s most expensive painting, was to go on display Monday for the first time in Britain at London’s Tate Modern museum. The 1932 painting set a world record when it was snapped up by a mystery bidder for $106.5 million (76.2 million euros) at New York’s Christie’s auction house last May.

It will be the first time the painting has been displayed anywhere since 1961 and prompted the famous London museum to create a new Pablo Picasso room to house the loaned work.

“This is an outstanding painting by Picasso and I am delighted that through the generosity of the lender we are able to bring it to the British public for the first time,” said Tate Director Nicholas Serota.

The painting depicts the Spanish artist’s lover and muse, Marie-Therese Walter, lying nude with the painter looking on. Picasso met Walter when he was 45 and she was 17 outside the Galeries Lafayette in Paris in 1927, while he was still married to Olga Khoklova.

bonus video : World Record: Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust sells for $106.5 Million at Christie’s


Clicking on a Masterpiece

By Ellen Gamerman and Kelly Crow at THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Are collectors ready to buy million-dollar artworks online? Some of the biggest names in art and technology are betting on it. Surfing for Pollock, de Kooning and Basquiat

Next weekend, art collectors sitting at computers in London, Toronto and Miami will find themselves face to face with the same work of art, a montage by American artist Robert Rauschenberg. The price for interested online shoppers: more than $1 million.

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