Richard Dorment is the art critic of the Daily Telegraph. Among the exhibitions he has organized is “James McNeill Whistler,” seen at the Tate Gallery, London, the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (June 2013)
After Andy Warhol died in February 1987, his will directed that a foundation should be set up in his name, funded with proceeds from the sale of some 95,000 pictures, prints, sculptures, drawings, and photographs left in his estate. Warhol’s bequest made no provision for the authentication of his artwork. But in 1994 the foundation initiated work on a multivolume catalogue raisonné of Warhol’s art. In the following year the foundation’s directors set up an authentication committee to pass judgment on artworks attributed to him.
The defeat was bitter but it is not irremediable. In November of last year Joe Simon-Whelan walked away from his historic lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation and its Art Authentication Board. Simon-Whelan’s complaint alleged that the board had denied the authenticity of a Warhol self-portrait in his collection, despite knowing it to be genuine. The case has created enormous interest on both sides of the Atlantic, not least because unlike most controversies over the attribution of works of art, this one is in essence wonderfully clear-cut.
Unlike Impressionism or Cubism, Abstract Expressionism was not a style or a movement. What the five pioneers had in common was not a shared aesthetic, a painting technique, or a manifesto but a sense of the overwhelming importance of art, a bedrock belief in the power of painting to address ideas and emotions at the deepest level.
With the opening of an exhibition of nine important old master paintings from Dulwich Picture Gallery at the Frick Gallery this month, New Yorkers are at most a mere cab ride away from seeing major yet relatively little-known paintings by van Dyck and Poussin, Rembrandt, Murillo, Watteau, and Gainsborough. Even if you think you know these artists well, go anyway: these pictures rarely travel and many are atypical of the artist’s work.