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Label: travel

Wednesday 08th July 2015Art Travel Ban

Tourism is one of the world's great industries - after all, the world is an incredibly beautiful and exciting place. Over the years a number of specialized versions of tourism have evolved, some more prominent than others, but one that has been gaining steam lately is tourism combined with art purchasing (as strange as it might just seem). Not everyone seems to view this with the same equanimity, unfortunately, which can lead to some strange and perhaps misguided attempts to correct the perceived problem.

Germany, which is home to the second largest art auction market in the world after the United States, has recently decided to propose laws to govern the purchase and sale of art by non-residents. Apparently, it is quite common for visitors to Germany, whether casual tourists or wealthy collectors, to purchase art during the course of their trip, which obviously has cultural and economic benefits for everyone involved. This has provoked a knee-jerk reaction among some elements of German society, which lead to the development of the bill in question.

Needless to say, a complete ban on traveling purchases is a rather extreme measure that has aroused the ire of art buyers, auctioneers and artists all around the world. The theory is that the law will prevent Germany's cultural and historical artifacts from being sold off to wealthy collectors in other parts of the world, but it may in fact become a stifling measure that inspires artists and auctioneers to move to more friendly and tolerant cultural climes.

While the law hasn't actually been formally put on the books yet, it has a serious chance of passing. The Culture Minister, Monika Grütters, plans to bring the draft law to Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet for approval during August. This is likely to create a major upheaval in the multibillion dollar world art market if it passes, of course, and who knows what kind of negative impact it will have on Germany's role in the artistic community. It seems a bit strange in a modern, information-friendly global economy that this kind of ban is felt to be necessary, so here's hoping that the rest of the German government understands the negative impacts this ban would have on a whole host of related industries, not just the artistic world.

Posted on July 08th 2015 on 04:18pm

Friday 11th April 2014The Best Cities for Art Lovers 8: Seattle

When most people think of Seattle, they think of beautiful forests, the Space Needle, and the birthplace of the Starbucks coffee franchise. If they're a bit older, they might think of famous bands that rose out of the grunge music scene in the early 1990s (Nirvana, anyone?). But the Pacific Northwest has been home to great artists for hundreds, if not thousands of years, as the huge number of galleries in Seattle and the surrounding area show. If 'thousands of years' throws you off, then you're forgetting the fact that various Native tribes have inhabited the Pacific Northwest long before Europeans ever showed up. Fortunately, a number of artifacts that might otherwise have been lost have been preserved in an impressive showcase of Native artwork found in galleries throughout the region.

Seattle itself is home to several world-class art galleries, chief among which is the Seattle Art Museum, or 'SAM' as it is affectionately known. Interestingly, the museum's collection is rather light on the traditional European works that many of us are used to encountering in art galleries, despite having a large collection overall. This gap in their repertoire tends to be filled by temporary travelling exhibitions, which makes for an interesting experience no matter when you happen to visit, but the regular collection contains an impressive array of Native artwork.

One of the museum's Matisse paintings was subject of quite the controversy in the late 1990s, when it came to light that the piece had actually been looted by the Nazis during World War II and sold to the museum under false pretenses by a gallery, who they later successfully sued. This may partially explain their aversion to classical European works, but the result is a pleasantly different gallery experience.

One of the SAM's satellite galleries, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, now housed in the old SAM building, features a number of beautiful collections from all throughout Asia, ranging from Chinese pottery to Indian portraiture to Thai statuary, with a nice blend of works by contemporary Asian artists as well. Perhaps unique in North America, there is also an extensive collection of artwork by Australian aboriginal peoples.

If these galleries don't appeal, the natural beauty of Seattle and its vibrant artistic traditions have called a huge number of artists to the city, and a number of commercial galleries have sprung up in response to the demand. A huge number of them are concentrated in an area of the city known as Pioneer Square, cheek to jowl with a number of small artists studios which are also occasionally open to the public.

Posted on April 11th 2014 on 03:30pm

Friday 28th March 2014The Best Cities for Art Lovers 7: Palma de Mallorca

Ah, Mallorca - one of the true jewels of the Mediterranean. A long-time vacation hotspot in the truest sense of the word, the island Mallorca - or Majorca, if Spanish isn't your native tongue - has always been a destination worthy of its touristic leanings. Moody mountains, the beautiful blue of the Mediterranean, and a panoply of gorgeous beaches all combine to create a truly stunning landscape. However, there's more to Mallorca than just beaches and nightlife.

As with many towns that grow around the tourism industry thanks to their natural beauty, the main port and city of the island, Palma de Mallorca, has attracted more than its fair share of the artistically inclined. And, as with many such places, some of those who come to visit eventually find themselves falling so deeply in love with the place that they never leave.

One such visitor was the famous Spanish painter, Joan Miro, a native of Barcelona who fell so deeply in love with the island that he made it his adopted home in 1956, where he lived and worked until his death in 1983. As a result, Palma de Mallorca boasts one of the most impressive Miro galleries in the world, the Fundacio Miro, where visitors can see a wide-ranging collection of his works, and visit the actual studios where he painted some of his most famous works.

Miro isn't the only reason to visit Palma, however, as there are several other galleries that are worthy of note. One of the most impressive is the legacy of Juan March, who was, at one point, the sixth richest man in the world, the Museu Fundacion Juan March, which is home to works by the most influential and well-known Spanish artists. The collection features a number of additional works by Miro, as well as works by Salvador Dali, and in 2009 added a new wing to the museum entirely dedicated to the works of Pablo Picasso.

A little more off the beaten track is the Es Baluard Museu, which features a number of contemporary artists who have a connection to the Balearic islands and the Mediterranean. The building itself is almost a work of art that spans the centuries, as the gallery is partially housed in a 16th century Spanish fortress, and partially within a beautiful newly-constructed minimalist wing. It features original works by the likes of Cezanne, Picasso, and Gauguin, as well as the ever-present Miro. If you can tear yourself away from the stunning beaches and moody Mediterranean lighting, these galleries are guaranteed not to disappoint.

Posted on March 28th 2014 on 12:56am

Tuesday 25th February 2014The Best Cities for Art Lovers 5: Basel

On our continuing journey through the best cities in the world for the experienced art lover, we've decided to stay in Europe, and move north from last post's foray into the old-new blending that is Florence to the idyllic city of Basel, Switzerland, located right along the Rhine. This is another of the smaller cities that many of even the most well-travelled art enthusiasts have overlooked, but it's definitely on the rise as travellers and artists begin to search even further off the beaten track.

Perhaps it's not really fair to call Basel off the beaten track, exactly, but it's definitely absent from most 'Top X Cities for Art' lists that aficionados carry around in their heads. Over a million tourists every year grace the streets of Basel - but that's still a far cry from the tens of millions that flock to other cultural capitals around Europe and throughout the other major cities of the art world. Most of the visitors that arrive in Basel are drawn by the astonishing number of museums that dot the city, over three dozen at last count, which is a truly impressive number for a city with a population that's barely over 500,000.

The majority of these museums have a heavy focus on the fine arts of drawing, painting and sculpture, and the collections cover a veritable who's who of famous artists from around the world dating from the end of the Renaissance era to modern 21st century works. You can find everything from Claude Monet to Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh to Jasper Johns, and a sampling almost everything in between, all at the world-famous Kunstmuseum Basel, easily the largest of the city's museums. Some of the lesser-visited museums deserve to be more noted, however, including the Vitra Design Museum which was designed by Frank Gehry, and the Schaulager which houses a stunning collection of modernists and contemporary works.

The museums aren't the only draw to the city, however, as the Basel art fair "Art|Basel" is often touted as the archetypal art fair that is responsible for spawning the legions of art fair imitators that have been springing up all over the world. First hosted in Basel in 1970, it's easy to see how they can make this claim - although interestingly, the show also has two other locations that it travels to throughout the year - Miami Beach and Hong Kong, neither of which tend to be on the art world's radar either. Perhaps this should change - so if you find yourself in any of those places, be sure to stop by and see the art fair that started them all!

Posted on February 25th 2014 on 08:04pm
Labels: art, basel, cities, travel

Tuesday 10th December 2013The Best Cities for Art Lovers

As winter closes in around us in the Northern Hemisphere, those of us lucky enough to be able to get some time off work tend to look on it as a chance to get away to somewhere tropical and warm - but for those of us who love art, vacations are chance to see some of the world's greatest masterpieces. Here's a list of vacation city suggestions that host some of the world's most expansive and extensive art galleries. They're not listed in any particular order, because everyone has different tastes, but no matter what you like you're sure to find someplace that will suit your fancy.

Paris tends to be one of the first cities that art lovers go to on vacation, and with good reason. Not only is the city itself incredibly beautiful and romantic, even in the depths of winter, but Paris boasts a truly impressive range of world famous galleries. A gallery that almost everyone in the world has heard of, the Louvre boasts one of the most extensive art collections in the world, with somewhere in the neighbourhood of 35,000 pieces on display. For the more controversialist among you, the Centre Pompidou has polarised the Parisian art community since it was built, showcasing an impressive array of modern art. These are just two of the most famous, but there are far more galleries and museums than anyone would be able to see in a single trip, so plan out your visit carefully.

If modern art is more your style, you may want to consider a trip to either New York City or Chicago, both of which have world-famous modern art galleries. Chicago boasts the Museum for Contemporary Art, which does more or less what it says on the tin, as well as the Art Institute of Chicago, which features works from some of the greatest modern artists, including Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. New York is no slouch when it comes to modern art either, boasting its own truly staggering array of galleries, many of which are centred along a stretch of 5th Avenue that has become known for this fact. The Guggenheim Museum is located here, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art is nearby, along with the world-famous Museum of Modern Art which has recently re-opened its doors after an extended hiatus.

Back on the other side of the pond, one of the more typically overlooked cities for art lovers is Vienna, where you can find the Kunsthistorisches Museum, known to us in English simply as the Museum of Fine Arts. MuseumsQuartier Wien (Museum Quarter) also boasts a huge collection, and the modern MUMOK caters to all branches of modern contemporary art. Vienna is also an incredibly beautiful city to visit, with a huge number of architectural styles on display, making the city a work of art in and of itself.
Watch for our upcoming post on cities that have a burgeoning art scene if something a little more avante-garde is more your taste!

Posted on December 10th 2013 on 10:04pm
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