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In the news: The missing Caravaggio and “the Pizza Connection”

 The missing Caravaggio and the “Pizza Connection”

By Leticia Marie Sanchez

Caravaggio's Nativity

A pilfered painting by Caravaggio has been in the news this month, thanks to an article from Smithsonian magazine that offers new clues to the art mystery. The missing 17th century work, the Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence is on the FBI’s list of Top Ten Art Crimes. The painting was stolen in 1969 from the Oratorio di San Lorenzo in Palermo, Sicily where it hung above the altar. One theory posits that the painting ended up in the hands of Gaetano Badalamenti, a mobster who spent his last seventeen years in prison as the leader of a “pizza connection” drug trafficking ring.  Other hypotheses include that the painting was gnawed by rats, damaged in a fire, or left in deserted farmhouse.

According to Smithsonian, Gaetano Badalamenti, the mobster who ran the “Pizza Connection” ring showed the painting to an elderly Swiss art dealer. The mobster claims that the Swiss art dealer “sat and cried, and cried” upon seeing the work before rather callously declaring that in order to sell it, he would have to divide the masterpiece into pieces. The spurious Swiss dealer has since passed away, according to commission officials.

(Link to the Smithsonian article: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/former-mobster-offers-clues-search-stolen-caravaggio-180969231/#4rHgKr4tshYwVMEG.99)

However, the most intriguing piece about the missing Caravaggio (from garage.vice.com) contains information from art sleuth Charley Hill who understands the convoluted tapestry of the various parties involved: the gangsters, church officials, the Carabinieri, the Guardia di Finanza.

In this article below, Hill offers us a glimmer of hope:

“I acknowledge that it’s probably a rolled-up cadaver of a Caravaggio, but it’s not destroyed. “

https://garage.vice.com/en_us/article/vb34xd/the-case-of-the-mafia-and-the-stolen-caravaggio

Painting above: Nativity with St Francis and St Lawrence, 1609 by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. 

 

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Renoir and Boston

 

Renoir’s “The Seine At Asnieres” reminds me of my boat ride this week at the Boston Public Garden

Renoir

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Alliums in Bloom at the Boston Public Garden

 

Claude Monet — ‘I must have flowers, always, and always” 

Boston Public Garden signBoston Public Garden

Bostob Public Garden

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Cultural Cocktail Hour in Boston

Cultural Cocktail Hour is in Boston,

admiring the flowers in each window in Beacon Hill

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them”-

Henri Matisse

All Photography © 2018 by Leticia Marie Sanchez

Floral WindowFloral Windows 2 Floral 3Floral 4

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Rock on, Gottlieb– the many nicknames of Mozart

First published by Cultural Cocktail Hour in 2011

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

A lecture by Professor Robert Greenberg, from San Francisco Performances, revealed hidden gems about Mozart’s name. Enjoy!

Baptized Name: Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart

The divinely-inspired composer adored word games.

He called himself: Di Mozartini, Mozartus, and Mozarti

 He also enjoyed playing with the letters of his name and called himself:

 Romatz, Trazom, Volfgangus (Latin Version) Gangflow (backwards)

 His middle name, Theophilus, had the most permutations

 His father called him GOTTLIEB because Gottlieb is the German version of Theophilus- “love of God”)

What was Mozart’s personal favorite? 

Amédée, the French version, which he picked up when he lived in Paris.

 He actually never referred to himself as Amadeus!

 (Unless it was a joke, then he would call him self Woolfgangus Amadeus)

Out of respect for Mozart’s preference, someone should have told FALCO to title their 80′s hit Rock Me, Gottlieb.”

or Rock me, Trazom.”

Editor’s Note: For a refresher on the Falco tune in question, check out:

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New Installations at the Getty Villa- *A Must See!*

Getty VIlla 1

by

Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour had the pleasure of visiting the new installations at the Getty Villa. Prior to seeing it firsthand, I honestly wondered how this oasis in Malibu, remodeled after the home of Julius Caesar’s father-in-law, could in any way be improved.

After seeing the results of this massive undertaking, I am a believer.

What now comes to the forefront is art history, the progression of stylistic history that becomes clear on a visceral level. The stylish progression from the very formalized, stiff and archaic works to the explosion of naturalism and expressionism becomes apparent as one walks through the galleries at the Getty Villa.  There’s a logic to the stylistic evolution, and one need not be a connoisseur of art to appreciate the stylistic changes that unfold.

In fact, one striking takeaway is that an artistic neophyte could learn more from a stroll through the Getty Villa galleries that from any textbook. Here are some highlights:

Getty Villa 2

*Works from antiquity that have been in storage on view after many years, or in some cases for the first time!

*A renovated gallery dedicated to the age of Alexander the Great & the Hellenistic World.

  • *A gallery that illustrates “The Classical World in Context” through loans from international museums        
  • *Displays about collector J. Paul Getty                       
  •  *A gallery dedicated to the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum, the lavish Roman home that served as the model for the Getty Villa.

And the image below is not a 2018 mom asking her child to bring her a laptop-

it’s a Greek Gravestone of a Woman with her attendant, about 100 BC!

Getty Villa laptop

 

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Roman Emperor Caligula loved horsing around…

Salvador Dali- Caligula


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

by

Leticia Marie Sanchez

Salvador Dalí s painting, “Le Cheval de Caligula” depicts Incitatus, pampered pony of blood-thirsty Roman emperor Caligula.

The often-violent Caligula became so enraptured with his stallion that he giddily showered him with 18 servants, a marble stable, an ivory manger, rich red robes, and a bejeweled collar. Caligula even made sure that his horse had a lil’ wifey and presented him with the alluring mare Penelope as a bride. The neurotic emperor demanded that everyone bow down to his horse as a god.

No Mueslix or chewy carrots for this horsey. According to Roman historian Suetonius, Caligula’s horse snacked on oats mixed with flex of gold, naturally, and sipped the finest wine from golden goblets. Dignitaries must have clenched their teeth politely when Caligula required that they all sit at the dinner table with the guest of honor, the horse.  But, how could anyone say no? The punishment for daring to disrupt the horse’s beauty sleep before a big race was pain of death. Gulp.

Caligula longed to appoint his beloved horse to the prestigious position of Consul. To be fair, Incitatus was probably no better or worse than some of today’s politicians.

Le Cheval de Caligula (ca. 1971) by Salvador Dalí

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Cultural Cocktail Hour’s Interview with Timothy Potts, Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum

 

Timothy PottsPhoto Credit- Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

Cultural Cocktail Hour interviewed Timothy Potts, Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, in advance of two openings at the Getty Villa on April 18th:

The Reinstallation of the Antiquities Collection at the Getty Villa

  • Plato in LA: Contemporary Artists’ Visions

 

INTERVIEW

Cultural Cocktail Hour: Plato in LA explores the influence of the classical world on the Contemporary World. What do you think are the most profound influences of antiquity on contemporary art and society today?

Timothy Potts, Director of the J Paul Getty Museum:

“It depends on what you mean by contemporary art and what is contemporary to us today. You only have to go back to the late 18th and 19th century when the height of fashion all over Europe was classical styles in sculpture and architecture and just about everything else.  There have been huge revivals of the classical tastes in modern times.

In the particular decade we are living in, it’s much more selective. Classical style is not pervasive the way it was in 1850 or in 1780.But it pervades our thinking about politics, government, philosophy, not just the visual arts- the visual arts are highly selective now. People appropriate classical motifs, tropes, and approaches- sometimes in admiration, sometimes in contradiction to what they are doing or opposition to what they are doing. It’s still a clear reference point that artists go to even if in opposition to it.

But within our general thinking about politics, how societies function or disfunction, our understanding of philosophical issues today, all of that is fundamentally grounded in Plato, Aristotle, and other Greek and Roman thinkers.”

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Plato in LA- A Must See Exhibit- at the Getty Villa

 Plato in L.A.

Contemporary Artists’ Visions

 April 18–September 3, 2018

By

Leticia Marie Sanchez

Plato would have had a field day with Los Angeles at this point in time. Even the term Virtual Reality has Platonic connotations. After all, Platonic Realism espouses the notion that the material world is only a poor copy of the real one. In his allegory of the caves, Plato described shadows which people assume are real, but are, in fact, mere imitations of the real world. What would Plato have thought of social media, with all its filters used to create a hyper-perfect reality? What is real, and what is a façade? Even the entertainment world in Los Angeles, and the dark underbelly that was exposed this year. Beyond the glossy images on the silver screen, the hair and makeup, the movie sets, sexual assaults had been swept under the rug in an attempt to maintain optical illusions peddled for public consumption. Caves and shadows exist in Los Angeles, and they are real.

Plato would have enjoyed Plato in LA: Contemporary Artists’ Visions, an innovative exhibit at the Getty Villa brilliantly curated by Donatien Grau. The exhibition includes work by artists Paul Chan, Rachel Harrison, Huang Yong Ping, Jeff Koons, Josephy Kosuth, Mike Kelley, Paul Mc Carthy, Whitney McVeigh, Raymond Pettibon, Adrian Piper, and Michelangelo Pistoletto.

There are many thought-provoking contemporary works in Plato in LA, and the show merits that you explore them all. CCH will highlight two of the many creative connections to Plato:

Jeff Koons’ “Play-Doh” is a showstopper.  The link to Plato goes beyond whimsical word play. Dr. Grau connected Koons’ work with Plato through the concept of democratization. There is really no more democratic art medium than Play-Doh (although it is technically made from Polychromed Aluminum). Although it is contemporary art, Koons revealed that the polyrchromed aluminum will endure for centuries, linking it with the enduring antiquities in the other galleries at the Getty Villa.

Playdoh

Play-Doh.

1994-2014.

Jeff Koons. American, born 1955. Polychromed Aluminum. Object: H: 315 X W 386.7 X D: 348cm.

Collection of the artist. 

© Jeff Koons. VEX. 2018.1.9.

 

 

Another work not to be missed is Huang Yong Ping’s “Caverne 2009.” This work references Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. What makes it unforgettable is the allusion to the Taliban’s destruction of the largest Buddhist statues in the world. This powerful work leads us to the most Platonic of acts- contemplation- and reflection on how such destruction transpired and achieve a sense of healing through art itself. Platonic metaphysics leads us to ponder not only the world that is, but also the world that can be.  In today’s world, full of tragedy and violence, Plato and art, can guide us to envision better horizons.

Caverne

Huang Yong Ping

French, born China, born 1954

Caverne, 2009, 2009

Resin cave, sculptures of buddhas and talibans, protected bat shadows

Object: H: 550X W: 350 X D: 290cm

Pinault Collection

Image Courtesy of the artists and kamel mennour. Paris. Photo: Marc Domage

© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris VEX. 2018.1.2

 

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More photos from the Peggy and David Rockefeller preview reception at Christie’s

Rockefeller Art partyAtmosphere art partyjpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OKEEFE_NEW MEXICO_preview

 

 

 

 

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)Near Abiquiu, New Mexico Image: Courtesy of Christie’s

 

 

CLAUDE MONET_SAINT LAZARE_preview

 

 

 

 

 

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)Extérieur de la gare Saint-Lazare, effet de soleil

Image: Courtesy of Christie’s

 

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