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Vermeer Tickets Are Selling Fast, Australia Makes 2023 Venice Pick, and More: Morning Links for February 8, 2023

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The Headlines

IT IS BLOCKBUSTER TIME.  The  Rijksmuseum ’s hotly anticipated  Johannes Vermeer  blowout does not open until Friday, but it has  already sold an astonishing 200,000 tickets , the  Associated Press  reports. The Amsterdam institution has extended its hours so that more people can pay the exhibition a visit. Treasures await there: It features 28 of the 37 paintings that are generally ascribed to the 17th-century Dutch master. The early reviews are rapturous.  Adrian Searle  gave it five shining stars in the  Guardian  . “The last big Vermeer show, in The Hague, was a febrile, crowded experience,” he writes. (That was in 1996.) “Here,  the art has room to breathe .” In the  Washington Post ,  Philip Kennicott  says that the show “is  beautifully designed  , with dramatic reveals and poignant sightlines,” and he proposes that it is “almost certainly . . . the last great Vermeer show of a passing age in the history of museums, grand narratives and Western culture.” You have until June 4 to get to the Netherlands to catch it.

THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR.  The  Des Moines Art Center  in Iowa has tapped  Kelly Baum   to be its next director , the  Des Moines Register  reports. Baum is coming to the Hawkeye State from the  Metropolitan Museum of Art , where she is curator of contemporary art, and she succeeds  Jeff Fleming , who is retiring after a quarter-century leading the museum. She starts in May. Over in California,  Larry J. Feinberg  is  retiring as director and CEO  of the  Santa Barbara Museum of Art  later this year, after 15 years at the helm,  Noozhawk  reports. Feinberg said that he plans to write and travel.

The Digest

Speaking of the Met: It has received a portrait of the Florentine banker  Bindo Altoviti  (looking very virile!) by the 16th-century artist  Francesco Salviati —a gift from the trust of the late  Aso O. Tavitian . It is the first painting on marble to enter the museum’s collection. Met director  Max Hollein  termed it a “transformative addition to our holdings of European paintings.”  [The Met/Press Release]

Australia has selected  Archie Moore  to represent it at the  Venice Biennale  next year. The Kamilaroi and Bigambul artist works in a variety media to address identity and racism in Australia, and will be the second First Nations artist to represent the country with a solo show.  [The Guardian]

A foundation that was started by the late Swiss real estate giant  Bruno Stefanini  is researching the provenance of the material in his vast collection, which includes 6,000 oil paintings and tens of thousands of other items. An expert panel will make binding decisions about restituting any Nazi-looted material.  [The New York Times]

In a reversal of Trump-era policy, the  U.S. Department of Defense  said that prisoners who are allowed to leave Guantánamo Bay can bring with them art that they made there. A DoD spokesperson said that they can take a “practicable quantity” of art, but that the U.S. government maintains that it is its property.  [The New York Times]

A new podcast,  The Statue , dives deep into the story behind the popular  Rocky  statue that stands at the bottom of the steps of the  Philadelphia Museum of Art . It’s hosted by  Paul Farber , the cofounder of  Monument Lab  in the city; its latest episode looks at the artist who created the piece,  A. Thomas Schomberg .  [The Statue/WHYY]

A  14th-century synagogue  has been identified by archaeologists in Utrera, Spain; it was hidden in a building that has variously served as a church, a hospital, and a bar. A historian’s writings from 1604 had suggested that it had once been a site of prayer for Jews.  [The Associated Press/ABC News]

The Kicker

PAINT WHAT YOU KNOW.  Less than a year before  he died , in 2021, artist  Wayne Thiebaud  gave an interview to writer  Jason Edward Kaufman  in which he discussed a life-changing studio visit he had, early in his career, with  Willem de Kooning . In the interview, which the  Art Newspaper has excerpted  , Thiebaud says that his elder basically told him “you have to find something you really know something about and that you are really interested in, and just do that.” Thiebaud had worked in some restaurants, and so he decided to paint some pies. “I looked at it, and said, my god I just painted a bunch of pies,” the artist said. “That’s going to be the end of me as a serious painter.” Life: It’s full of surprises.  [TAN] shares always this Contents with License.

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