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Moonwalking at the Piccolomini Library, Siena

In honor of World Book Day- a ThrowBack Tuesday to Moonwalking at the Piccolomini Library, Siena

Photography and text © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

Scruffy tennis shoes tread on crescents more than five centuries old. Half-moons fade under the weight of so many soles. Has no one thought of plexiglass? The 16th century ceramic crescents on which tourists so casually trample represent the emblem of a powerful Sienese family, the Piccolomini.

The Piccolomini Library honors 15th century humanist and scholar, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, also known as Pope Pius II.

The ceiling and walls, with their luscious scarlets and blues, remain vibrant as ever, shockingly, when one discovers that they have neither been cleaned nor retouched.

Bernardino di Betto, more commonly known as Pinturicchio, created the glorious frescoes depicting the life of Pope Pius II. If you walk closely enough, you will observe glittering textures of gold emanating from the robes, collars, and belts of Pinturicchio’s subjects, a window to Renaissance splendor. The sculpture of the Three Graces, its effective juxtaposition of sacred and profane, underscores the secular Humanistic spirit of the age,

Piccolomini or “Piccoli uomini” means “Little Men” and Pinturicchio translates as “the Little Painter.”

Once you enter the library doors and begin your moonwalk, you will instantly forget these misnomers. Greatness abounds.


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Study: A Child’s Brain develops faster with exposure to music education


Researchers at the Brain and Creativity Institute (BCI) at the University of Southern California conducted a 2 year-study that illustrates that exposure to music and music instruction increases the rate of brain development in  young children. The study focused on the areas of the brain responsible for language development, sound, reading skill and speech perception.

The study began in 2012, when neuroscientists started monitoring a group of 37 children ages 6-8 years old. Thirteen of them received music instruction through the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles Program

The researchers compared various groups by tracking the electrical activity in the brains, conducting behavioural testing and monitored changes using brain scans.

“The results showed that the auditory systems of the children in the music programme had accelerated faster than the other children not engaged in music. Dr. Assal Habibi, the lead author of the study and a senior research associate at the BCI, explained that the auditory system is stimulated by music and the system is also engaged in general sound processing. This is essential to reading skills, language development and successful communication.”

Here is the link to the study:

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Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day- photo from a stroll at the Getty Villa-

Photography  © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Lily Pad.Getty Villa jpg

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Top Ten Art Forgery Facts

Top Ten Art Forgery Facts

From Venable Art Law co-chair, Joshua Kaufman’s lecture,

“The Art of Deception: Art Fakes & Forgeries”

held at Christie’s Beverly Hills 

#1 Art Forgery VS. Collaborating with the Enemy

imagesProfessor Kaufmann commenced his lecture with the case of notorious Dutch painter Han Van Meegeren, one of the most talented forgers of the twentieth century who was obsessed with the work of Vermeer.

After World War II, Van Meegeren was arrested and accused of collaborating with the enemy because he had ostensibly sold Dutch cultural property, a Vermeer painting, to Nazi leader Hermann Göring. This crime carried the ultimate punishment, the death penalty. Van Meegeren confessed that he had, in fact, forged the painting, which carried with it the much lesser charge of one year in prison. According to Kaufman, a dubious judge responded, “Prove it to me. Paint me a Vermeer.” Under the watchful eyes of the police Van Meegeren created his masterpiece. The work was brought into the courtroom, and Van Meegeren was acquitted of collaboration charge. He was subsequently charged and arrested for forgery despite the fact that many supposed art experts insisted that the work in question was an authentic Vermeer. Kaufman’s lecture depicted Van Meegeren’s zealous dedication to creating the perfect forgery. Van Meegeren concocted his own paints (contemporary paints would have been a dead giveaway) and even devised a badger hair paintbrush to mimic Vermeer’s style. He then donned his metaphorical chef hat and baked the painting in the oven in an attempt to age the canvas with cracks. Noteworthy in his modus operandi: Van Meegeren never copied an existing Vermeer painting, he only created works “in the style of Vermeer.” Spurious, but clever.

 # 2) Fakes have always been with us


To illustrate this point, Kaufman discussed the Romulus and Remus sculpture from Rome’s Capitoline Hill. This work, depicting the mythological founders of Rome, was thought to be a sculpture from the 5th century. The sculpture’s ancient authenticity was debunked by radiocarbon testing in 2007 which proved that it was actually created between the 11th and 12th century.



 #3)  Albrecht Dürer’s warning to forgers


In 1511 Albrecht Dürer warned, “Beware, all thieves and imitators of other people’s labour and talents, laying your audacious hands upon our work.”

Despite Dürer’s outraged warning, Professor Kaufman revealed that his work was constantly copied.

In fact, in the “The Art of the Forgery” (Phaidon Press) Noah Charney notes that Dürer brought the first artistic intellectual property lawsuit in Venice. What is exceptional in that case was that Dürer took an artist to court (Marcantonio Raimondi) who had not only copied one of his prints, but was brazen enough to also forge the artist’s trademark, the letters AD which Charney described be first artistic trademark! Collectors often purchased Dürer’s work on the strength of this trademark. So, talented artists have to be on the lookout not only for those who forge their works, but their trademarks as well! 


#3)         Fakes and Looted Art


3/4′s of the the looted art from Syria turned out to be fake, according to Professor Kaufman.

He revealed that this transpires when there there is neither a government nor a legitimate market to regulate the art.






camille-corot.jpg!Portrait#4) The most forged artist is Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

 Professor Kaufman made the tongue-in-cheek jab, “Corot painted about 800 paintings in his lifetime, of which 8,000 ended up in private collections.”




# 5)  Salvador Dalí was part of the problem

Kaufman noted that Salvador Dalí signed 15,000 blank sheets. Perhaps Mr. Dalí’s intention was not nefarious, as he may have intended to use them for future authorized lithography. However, many of his artistic associates, and possibly even his wife Gala signed deals which resulted in unregulated publication of his works; it was this step that opened the door to the unfortunate mass forgery that resulted from this practice. Sadly, the market was flooded with Dalí fakes. 



# 6)   The Tate was involved in a Bizarre Art Forgery (love) Triangle

The first triangle involved Con Man John Drewe, art forger John Myatt, and the prestigious Tate Gallery. Drewe hired art forger Myatt to make paintings for him. As part of Drewe’s shady scheme to give an air of legitimacy to the fabricated works, he made a donation to the Tate, and the gallery opened its archives to him. He then inserted Drewe’s forgeries into the archives so that the paintings would be authenticated.

How did this spurious art forgery triangle get disrupted?

By an actual love triangle.

Drewe’s wife discovered that he was cheating on her. She found letters about forgery incriminating her roguish husband and called the police and the Tate Gallery.

The museum said it would take years to expunge their records of the false information. 

# 8) Crime sometimes pays if you are an art forger

Professor Kaufman joked, “Crime pays if you are an art forger.” He revealed that art dealer Glafira Rosales, the perpetrator of the Knoedler and Company forgery scandal was embroiled in 81 million dollars in crimes and yet, initially, only received three years probation.

# 9) Legal Issues in Forgery

 Professor Kaufman explained, “What is illegal is not replicating the work of an artist; the crime occurs if one takes credit for the work.”


# 10)  Queen Isabella of Spain and fakes

Queen Isabella of Spain, according to Professor Kaufman, once sent the Pope a fake painting.

Should she have gone confession?

Better than facing the Inquisition, I suppose.



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Our hearts are with the people of Paris

Editor’s Note: Leticia Marie Sanchez

Devastated to read about the fire at Notre Dame

Remembering a peaceful morning stroll this summer with my son from Notre Dame to the bird market.

CNN’s latest report is that ”The entire wooden interior of Notre Dame Cathedral has been lost.”…/nortre-dame-fire-oak…/index.html

What a terrible artistic loss.

Our hearts are with the people of Paris.




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This weekend’s MUST SEE- “20th Century Highlights” at Christie’s Beverly Hills



Culture Lovers, do NOT miss a Cultural Cocktail that blends a dash of David Hockney, a fizz of Frank Stella, and blend of Basquiat. Shaken, Not Stirred.

A thrilling artistic experience featuring the works of artists including: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jonas Wood, David Hockney, Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol to Balthus, Man Ray, Georgia O’Keefe and Fernand Leger.

You will have a chance to view highlights from the Post- War and Contemporary, Impressionist and Modern and American Art sales, ahead of major New York auctions in May.

Together, the exhibition encompasses over $120 million worth of art and represent various collections, including those of S.I. Newhouse and Drue Heinz.

Christie’s welcomes all to the exhibition free of admission.

CCH selected this as a MUST SEE experience, because when else do you have the chance to view (in one space) so many seminal works that have been in private collections before they head back to (likely) private collections? It is a rare opportunity to view museum quality work spanning artistic movements all in the same room!

Sat, April 13: 10am – 4pm | Sun, April 14: Closed Mon, April 15: 10am – 6pm | Tues, April 16: 10am – 6pmOn View until Tuesday April 16


Christie’s Los Angeles 336 N. Camden Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90210

And, my fellow art detectives, tune in next week for a full report on “The Art of Deception: Art Fakes & Forgeries” by Art Law expert  Joshua Kaufman, an intriguing discussion which was held at Christie’s

Left: Robert B and Beatrice C. Mayer Family Collection

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)

Kiss III

64X 48 in. (162.6 X121.9 cm)

Painted in 1962


Above: Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale | 15 May 2019

The Robert B. and Beatrice C. Mayer Family Collection

Andy Warhol, Liz (Early Colored Liz)

synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas, 1963 

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CCH is reading “Gin Austen: 50 Cocktails to celebrate the novels of Jane Austen”

Gin Austen 1       Gin Austen: A book that’s Top Shelf!


Leticia Marie Sanchez 

The introduction to Gin Austen: 50 Cocktails To Celebrate the Novels of Jane Austen includes a revealing quote from Jane Austen to Cassandra Austen: “I believe I drank too much wine last night at Hurstbourne; I know not else how to account for the shaking of my hand to-day.”

Despite being an Austen fan, I never realized how freely drinks flowed at the social engagements during her time.

I could not put down the book down, mainly due to the chuckle-factor and wit of Colleen Mullaney.

Firstly, the names of the concoctions are hilarious, from Jane’s Addiction to Bloody Elliot to Gin and Bennet to No Weymouth.

Gin Austen 2

Secondly, the author integrates, with finesse, the literary works of Jane Austen, with each chapter devoted to novels like Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion.

Thirdly, Mullaney includes useful descriptions of items ranging from barware, glassware, and cocktail ingredients that even neophytes like myself could understand!

CCH recommends this book as being Top Shelf!

Gin Austen 5

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Badabing Badaboom: Stolen Van Gogh paintings found in Mafia den

Badabing Badaboom

 Two Stolen Van Gogh paintings found in home of Naples Mafia boss

In honor of Van Gogh’s birthday this week (Happy Birthday, Vincent Van Gogh!)

a Flashback to a news story from 3 years ago, 2016, when 2 Pilfered Van Gogh Paintings were found!

by Leticia Marie Sanchez


Two Vincent Van Gogh paintings that were stolen from a museum in Amsterdam fourteen years ago have been recovered in the house of a mafia lord at Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples.

The two paintings, Seafront at Scheveningen and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen, were stolen from the Van Gogh museum in 2002 by thieves who climbed to the roof of the museum using a ladder and then absconded by means of a rope. One of the agile art thieves earned the alias “The Monkey,” and the FBI Art Crime Team listed the brazen heist as one of the Top 10 Art Crimes.

What is murky is how the stolen Van Gogh paintings made their way from the hands of the original Dutch art thieves to the luxurious den of the Italian mobster where authorities found the paintings in decent condition.  According to an Italian prosecutor, the mobster runs “one of the most dangerous and active crime groups” in the region. The mafia boss, Rafaelle Imperiale, flew the coop and is believed to be currently running a construction business in Dubai. Italian authorities have requested his extradition from the United Arab Emirates. Investigators have also seized other loot belonging to Signor Imperiale, including apartments, villas and a plane worth an estimated total of $22.3 million. Quite a stash there, goodfella.

Painting Above: ”Seascape at Scheveningen” (The Van Gogh Museum)

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This week in LA


Hiking the Poppy Reserve in Lancaster this week, March 2019

“Through the dancing poppies stole a breeze, most softly lulling to my soul.”

John Keats

All Photography  © 2019 Leticia Marie Sanchez


Poppies 1

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Review: Oscar Rejlander and Reenactment in Contemporary Photography at the Getty Center

Oscar Rejlander: Artist Photographer

Encore: Reenactment in Contemporary Photography

On View March 12-June 9, 2019


Leticia Marie Sanchez

With the advent of I-phones, Instagram, and social media, photography is the artistic medium most often at people’s fingertips. Aided by the use of filters, users attempt to curate frothy artistic images out of everyday items like cups of Espresso or Pumpkin Chai.

But photography was not always viewed as an artistic medium on par with Fine Arts like painting and sculpture.

The Getty Center’s new exhibit Oscar Rejlander: Artist Photographer sheds light on an artist who became known as “the father of art photography.”

The exhibition, curated by Lori Pauli, curator of photographs at the National Gallery of Canada, and Karen Hellman, assistant curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum, is comprised of 150 photographs and includes images of some of the most seminal figures of the day including Charles Darwin, Lewis Carroll, and Julia Margaret Cameron. Rejlander worked first as a painter before experimenting with photography. His photographs exude a painterly quality, particularly in the pose of the sitters. For instance, Non Angeli sed Angli (Not Angels but Anglos), alludes to the cherubim in Raphael’s Sistine Madonna.


Oscar Gustaf Rejlander

British, born Sweden, 1813-1875. Non Angeli sed Angli (Not Angels but Anglos), after Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, about 1854-1856.

Albumen silver print

Image: 20.5 X 26.3 cm (8 1/16 X 10 3/8 in.) Princeton University Art Museum. Museum purchase. David H. Mc Alpin. Class of 1920. Fund. EX.2019.5.91

The exhibit is filled with works that shed light on the time period. One of the most hilarious photographs is Rejlander clad as Italian nationalist and general Giuseppe Garibaldi. At the time, Garibaldi was a world superstar with legions of fans. Apparently, the emulation of celebrities is nothing new.


Another Rejlander work not to be missed is the epic photograph, the Two Ways of Life, or Hope in Repentance. Similar to Angeli sed Angli , this work was influenced by Raphael. The composition of the Way of Life alludes to Raphael’s School of Athens. The photograph is a complex allegory of two divergent paths in life, the road of Vice and the road of Virtue. The ghastly portrayal of vice includes dark and depressing depictions of those spiraling into a world of gambling, idleness, and desire. The uplifting portrayal of Virtue includes orderly depictions of industriousness, education, and religion.  What was avant-garde for the time was Rejlander’s technique of combination printing. This process involved the combination printing of over 30 separate wet collodion on glass negatives, a technique which took more than three days. The Two Ways of Life is considered one of the finest examples of combination printing from this era.

As a companion exhibit, Encore: Reenactment in Contemporary Photography depicts the reimaging of events for the camera as a means to explore historical art narratives. The visually arresting exhibit includes works by seven photographers: Eileen Cowin, Christina Fernandez, Samuel Fosso, Yasumasa Morimura, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Gillian Wearing, and Qiu Zhijie.

Highlights of the Encore: Reenactment in Contemporary Photography Exhibit include:

371825EX1_x1024Yinka Shonibare, CBE

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (America) 2008

Chromogenic print

Image: 182 X 125.9cm (71 5/8 X 49 9/16 in.) Collection of Michael W. Rabkin and Chip Tom. © Yinka Shonibare CBE. Courtesy James Cohan, New York. EX. 2019.4.2

Based on a Goya etching, the “reenactment” helps one to better understand the horror in the original Goya etching.

Just as color functions to highlight emotions in German Expressionist paintings, the vibrant color in Shonibare’s work intensifies the experience of the work.

The original Goya is accompanied by the following epigraph: “Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her (reason), she (fantasy) is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.” Viewiing Shonibare’s work, the frightful monsters are experienced in a bright, visceral way, the bats flying straight towards the viewer, making the original Goya etching pale in comparison to the visceral, three-dimensional impact.



The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters by Francisco Goya; c. 1799

Etching, aquatint, drypoint and burin
Dimensions 21.5 cm × 15 cm (​8 7⁄16 in × ​5 7⁄8 in)
Location Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York







Another highlight in the Reenactment exhibit is Christina Fernandez’ photographic narrative depicting her great grandmother’s migration to the United States. In this reenactment Fernandez photographed herself as the character of her great-grandmother. Fernandez’ narrative has a cinematic quality: the various stages of her intrepid grandmother’s odyssey are depicted in black and white. The last image, the only one in color, emerges like a burst of Technicolor, possibly depicting the artist herself, safely ensconced in her middle-class 1950’s home, a comfortable life only made possible due to the sacrifice of her great-grandmother.Christina Fernandez, American, born 1965, 1927, Going back to Morelia, 1995-1996; Gelatin Silver Print. Image: 44.8 X 30.5cm (17 5/8 x 12 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © Christina Fernandez 2014 37.3

Both of the exhibits challenge the viewer to look at photography in a new light, one in which art historical narratives shaped the camera lens.

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