Monday, June 29, 2009

“Your Bright Future”


With "Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea," the subtitle says it all. It's an informative core sample of the Korean scene. Pro: That LACMA is interested. Con: It's not a show you'll leave humming the curatorial tune.
• This is BCAM's second big exhibition on the second floor. "Two Germanies" almost demanded a second visit to take in properly. This show, you can do in an hour (it's heavy on room-gobbling installations).
So much for connoisseurship. The first two works you'll see are outdoor extravaganzas. I had mentally assigned them to the Master of the Cool Plastic Installations (below, left) and the Pseudo-Christo (right). It turns out they're one and the same artist, Choi Jeong-Hwa. Choi is the Korean Koons, more or less, and one of the best-known artists in the show. Still, the curators might have helped Choi's American reputation immeasurably by skipping the Ahmanson wrap. (In the L.A. Times, Christopher Knight rates Choi's bad self worthy of a Hyundai showroom.)
• Inside, the show starts with a bang, two pieces by Do Ho Suh. Both merge his childhood home in Korea with his New York apartment. Do you prefer the "Carole and Barry Kaye Museum of Miniatures" version, or the MOMA one? (Incidentally, they aren't showing LACMA's rather marvelous Suh, Gate.)
• You'll probably miss one of the strongest works in the show. It's Koo Jeong-A's Mountain Fundamental (top, a suggestive detail). A table at just below average-adult eye-level holds tiny piles of sanded stone, forming a mountain landscape that is a simultaneous homage/burlesque of the Korean, after Chinese, ink painting tradition. You'll miss it because it's the only "Bright Future" work on BCAM's first floor, in one of the rooms holding a ginormous Richard Serra sculpture. The room is about 10,000 square feet. The Koo sculpture occupies 5 square feet. Anybody's guess why they had to bump it down here? The show's other Koo is a wall projection that eats up, oh, maybe 80 square inches of wall space. Everybody else gets massive rooms. What is Koo, chopped liver?
Speaking of Serra. The LACMA website is running a Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries animation as its splash screen. It's not a bad thing but it keeps you from getting where you want to go — shades of Tilted Arc… Anyway, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries is an inspired collaborative (of Young-Hae Chang and Marc Voge) that also gets short shrift in this show. The good news: If you're reading this, the whole YHCHI oeuvre is a click away. It's as good a show as "Bright Future," and you're the curator.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

“Miracle” at LACMA


A 1691 version of Our Lady of Guadalupe by Manuel Arellano has just been added to LACMA's growing Latin American collection, reports curator Ilona Katzew on the museum's "Unframed" blog. Guadalupe paintings are not so common as Angelenos might think; this is LACMA's first. It's exceptional for the artist and early date, as well as the fact that an inscription says it was copied after the original—a venerable icon in Mexico City's Basilica of Guadalupe. Arellano has both improved on the original artistically and added border scenes telling its miraculous legend. LACMA already owns a large Folding Screen with Indian Wedding and Flying Pole attributed to Arellano. With all the Guadalupe imagery in L.A., the new acquisition seems certain to become one of the museum's signature works. Katzew is calling it "just short of being a small miracle itself."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Larry Johnson at the Hammer


The UCLA Hammer Museum's Larry Johnson show opens with a short film, Untitled (Paul Rand's Women, 1948). Johnson is an exponent of L.A. text art, best known for photographs that don't look like photographs, typically referencing Hollywood and hustlers. Paul Rand was a twentieth-century graphic designer, the veritable master of the modern corporate logo. Johnson is hardly known to the public, whereas Rand did logos everyone sees, for ABC, IBM, and UPS. His Enron design has turned out to be more timeless than Enron was. Johnson admires Rand's work, it turns out, and that datum puts an unexpected spin on the Hammer show (curated by Russell Ferguson). Would that all mid-career shows had such a sense of fortuitous nuance.

"The problem of the artist is to defamiliarize the ordinary," Rand wrote. L.A.'s sixties generation did just that, by painting words lifted from signs (or hiring a sign painter to create art). Johnson PhotoShops words and hires someone to create an editioned color photograph. The art crowd loves Johnson to death, it seems. Hammer publicity resorts to that threadbare term, "artist's artist." It just might fit here: This 60-piece show has prints on loan from Richard Prince and Ed Ruscha. Johnson is a curator's artist, too. MOCA has 11 Johnsons, a decent holding for a mid-career guy (at top, Ghost Story for Courtney Love). The Hammer now owns several of the key works in this show.

Most critical attention has focused on Johnson's gayness and on his sources: for the texts, TV Guide, airline black box flight recorders, Frank O'Hara, and so on; for the image, animation cels and found pictures (including commercial logos). For the most part, the Hammer show follows this cue. It also offers an alternative reading: Johnson as the anti-Rand.
Paul Rand's aesthetic economically integrates text and image, as in his classic cover design for Jean-Paul Sartre's The Condemned of Altona. A famous Rand dictum holds that a design should remain recognizable even after being distorted or mutilated (example, Rand's black-and-white cover for Design Quarterly).

Throughout his maturity, Johnson has been going in the opposite direction: text distorted to the point of illegibility. Words are twisted digitally; paragraphs are parti-colored to create shimmering patterns as disorienting as a color blindness test. Johnson's Thinking Man's Judy Garland has those words in white on white. You can barely "read" the photograph, standing in front of it. Rand waterboarded logos to learn which had the right stuff. With Johnson, the torture is the art.

Jasper Johns fanboys debate the source for every little jot and tittle. For Johnson aficionados, the Hammer show outs the source of the tasteful color stripes against white that background some of the distorted-typography pictures. It's lifted directly from Paul Rand's packaging for the first IBM PC's.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pay $3 Million or We Sell This Kandinsky

Looks like Dennis Szakacs has competition for art-selling villain du jour. Long Beach City Councilman Patrick O'Donnell is talking of selling artwork if the Long Beach Museum of Art doesn't meet a $3 million bond payment due this September. It's not likely to have it — LBMA's finances are a train wreck. Hence O'Donnell's ultimatum: the City of Long Beach holds the deed to that part of the museum's permanent collection acquired before 1985. That includes the Milton Wichner trove of Bauhaus-era modernism.

One Room, Seven Rembrandts

It's anyone's guess whether the plunging securities market has quelled the Getty's buying for now or forever. The museum at the Getty Center continues to attract impressive loans, though. Two Rembrandt paintings have recently gone on view, a Saint Bavo from Gothenburg, Sweden, and a Portrait of a Rabbi from a New York private collection. Add that to the 1632 Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Wide-Trimmed Cloak (below) that's been on long-term loan, and the four Rembrandt paintings the Getty owns. That comes to seven Rembrandts in one room, something you won't otherwise find outside of the East Coast and Europe. Two qualifications: all are smallish, and the Getty paintings outshine the loans.
Saint Bavo appeared alongside the Getty's Saint Bartholomew in the 2005 exhibition of "Rembrandt's Late Religious Portraits." Getty conservator Mark Leonard has since freshened up Bavo. Dammit, Jim, he's a conservator, not a magician. The result is still very dark and hard to read. (No .jpg seems to do it justice). The jury's out on whether Bavo is completely autograph.
The small Portrait of a Rabbi, said to be from the early 1640s, is an key precedent for the broad-brushed holy men of the 1660s. It is not well known, suggesting that the attribution may be tentative-ish?

To us in the casual-everyday 21st century, the 1632 Girl Wearing a Wide-Trimmed Cloak looks like a formal portrait. It's not; it's a tronie, a painted tribute to a memorable face in which the sitter perhaps couldn't afford the clothes she's wearing. Rembrandt used the subject as a model for Europa and her attendant in the Getty's Abduction of Europa. For more, see the lavish Rembrandt in Southern California site.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pricing “Silver and Gold”


The most expensive plein air painting deacessioned by the Orange County Museum of Art seems to be Granville Redmond's Silver and Gold. How important is it, anyway?
Many will tell you that "California Impressionism" doesn't count for much in the scheme of art history. They've got a point. OCMA director Dennis Szakacs says he's bought a 1984 Jack Goldstein painting (for $95,000) with a fraction of the proceeds. Just about everyone in the art world (excepting Cali plein air wingnuts) would say that's an interesting and potentially defensible trade. Not that Goldstein's name will necessarily mean anything a hundred years hence: who can know such things?
And that's the point. The swap must be evaluated, at least in part, by whether OCMA got fair market value for the Redmond. In the L.A. Times, Laguna Art Museum director Bolton Colburn termed Silver and Gold “an A-plus, a perfect Redmond, one of the five best paintings he ever did.” He suggests that this single work is worth a million, approximately the reported $963,000 purchase price for all 18 paintings.
In today's flat-world economy, one admittedly crude index of an artwork's marketability is the presence of Internet knock-offs. Want a Redmond-ish Silver and Gold to hang in your great room? Check out these prices.
From China, a full-size (30 by 40-inch) "museum quality" copy of Silver and Gold runs $135. Settle for high quality, and it's only $69.

From Australia, the price is quoted by e-mail, depending on the desired size [sic throughout]: "We sale oil paint direct from our oil painting studio. we supply only the museum quality of oil paintings on 100% cotton canvas from Australia. All our paint are painted by our talent artist who graduated from art university and at least 10 years of experience on oil paintings." (Pictured, screen shot from the "Australian Oil Painting Studio Team.")
Doesn't it say something that the reputation of this one Redmond painting has made it to the oil-painting mills of the antipodes?

Transparency Test: Iran v. Orange County

The good news: Tehran Bureau, the independent Iranian news site, is back online this morning after being censored much of yesterday. The bad news: When you click on the the "Collection Online" link of the Orange County Museum of Art site, it returns you to the logo animation—and then the home page. (In case you've missed it, OCMA director Dennis Szakacs has sold 18 California plein air paintings to a private collector at a steep discount and is taking a bit of heat for it. One of the sold paintings, William Wendt's Spring in the Canyon, was considered such a key work that it appears in the Collection Online button.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Swagger in Santa Monica


How do you explain who Barkley L. Hendricks is to a moderately art-savvy friend who doesn't know who he is? You probably say something like, "He did these swagger portraits of black people in the 1970s, in a kind of European old master style." Second question: "You mean like Kehinde Wiley?" One might add that many of Hendricks' signature works predate Wiley's birth (1977), but that's not quite the point.
"Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool," now at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, should if nothing else help to disambiguate future Wikipedia entries. The show casts Hendricks in the context of minimalism: the grounds are no less important than the figures. (Above, Hendricks' 1969 Icon for My Man Superman (Superman never saved any black people — Bobby Seale), a self-portrait.)

As seen here, Hendricks' work is both very political and very formal. A mash-up of Glenn Ligon and Alex Katz might evoke him better than Wiley's baroque postmodernism. Dr. Kool (left) exemplifies the current taste for Hendricks. In the New York Times, Ken Johnson links such paintings to Malevich's White on White, and in the L.A. Times, Christopher Knight finds parallels to the contemporary fashion photography of Avedon and Penn.

Hung salon style on a far wall are the artist's relatively unloved post-2000 landscapes. Hendricks makes the Jamaican landscape both recognizable and alien, after the fashion of the c. 1800 oil sketches that have been the rage lately. The only false note might be the frames—too Kehinde Wiley?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Big Scary Vase at the Getty


The Getty Museum is displaying a monumental bronze vase by French Symbolist sculptor Jean-Désiré Ringel d'Illzach, a loan from a private collection (unidentified: aren't they all?) The attached photo gives you some notion of its scale but nothing of its incredible decoration. The surface is modeled throughout with spiderwebs, bats, peacock feathers, juniper branches, and masks, all in ink-black patina. A flotilla of snails slime their way up onto the base. Des Essaintes must be crushed he didn't have this for his black party. Set designers for the next Addams Family vehicle, take note.

Big bronze vases are part of the forgotten story of French sculpture in the quote-unquote Impressionist age. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco owns an 11-foot-tall Gustave Doré Vintage Vase encrusted with an orgy of bacchic figures in bronze. Modeled in 1878, it was hawked at international expositions on two continents, descending to the most provincial California Midwinter Fair of 1894-5, held in San Francisco. A yokel by the name of M.H. de Young bought it and gave it to a museum that bears his name. It is now displayed outside the stunning Herzog & de Meuron building, a prime location that nonetheless raises the question of just how much the current Fine Arts curators value it, conservatorially speaking. (Flickr photo by Greatest Paka Photography.)
The Ringel d'Illzach vase at the Getty demonstrates that the vase form survived into the last years of the century. Its date, 1889, is practically the Symbolist summer-of-love (the Getty's Ensor painting is titled "Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889"). Like Doré, Ringel d'Illzach is best known for small-scale works. In 2006 LACMA bought two of his ceramic sculptures of goblins. LACMA's underappreciated collection of medals includes a Ringel d'Illzach portrait of that quintessential—and gothic—American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Dr. Moriarty of the Art World

Chapter 31 of Thomas Hoving's Artful Tom recaps his long-running feud with the Getty. Hoving is one of the great masters of the "no one else was in the room" snark reported verbatim. For that reason opinion differs on where exactly he falls within the James Frey continuum of creative memoir-writing. In any case, this chapter is indispensible reading for anyone interested in the history of L.A. museology. Among Hoving's more amusing characterizations is that of Norton Simon. A few things you may not have known:

• "Once on the phone [Simon] spoke to me in a bizarre falsetto, explaining, 'My shrink wants me to break free from my macho, commanding voice.'"

• Hoving says Simon tried to bribe him to call off his Getty muckraking in Connoisseur magazine.

"I am trying to work out a deal between the Getty and you," Simon said. "The possibility of buying Connoisseur and you being the head guy here. We’d make a commitment on ads and other ways to support the magazine. And we’d make some editorial changes, too, especially about the Getty."

Simon hinted at a Simon-Getty collaboration or merger — with a role for Hoving?

"If I go to Harold Williams and say so, he’ll support what I want. Your pay would not be money alone; it would come in other, positive means. We’ve talked about how southern California can become the world art mecca. That’s it. You will be the head guy. The Getty has a few billion now. And may never get old masters except through me. A positive series of things. Getting our minds together."

But when Hoving reported this very private conversation in Connoisseur, Simon told the New York Times: "What Tom Hoving told you about what we discussed is not the truth."

• Walter Annenberg on Norton Simon: "He’s the Dr. Moriarty of the art world… He’s very, very dangerous."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Getty v. Italy, the Early Years

In the late 1970s Walter Annenberg asked former Metropolitan Museum director Thomas Hoving to approach the Getty Trust about a joint venture funding excavations in Herculaneum. As Hoving tells it,

I met the Getty gang at the exclusive Oil Club in downtown Los Angeles. The Chairman of the Getty Trust, Harold Berg, a retired oilman, was a crusty, profane guy. He inhaled a Camel in one suck and drained his martini in two slurps as he listened to my pitch of the two wealthy foundations getting together and collaborating with the Italian government to dig the prize location.
Two minutes into my pitch, Berg grumbled. "Wanna know what I think of ‘Guineas?’ Not much."
"Excuse me?"
"Don't like 'em," Berg went on. "What they ought to do is sell us that bunch of ancient stuff they have in that old Naples Museum. Work with Guineas? Forget it."
I rose to my feet and left the room.
"Hey, where you goin'?" Berg asked, but I didn't bother to reply.
Walter choked with laughter when I told him what had happened.


—From Thomas Hoving's memoir, Artful Tom, being serialized on Artnet. (One statue from "that old Naples Museum" is now on loan to the Getty.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Recession Nixes Gorky, Puts Off Messerschmidt


The Art Newspaper is reporting that the sour economy has prompted LACMA to cancel a planned summer 2010 Arshile Gorky retrospective as well as a Cildo Meireles show and a survey of Japanese photography and video. The Getty will be postponing an unannounced Franz Messerschmidt exhibition, originally slated to open this fall.
(Above: a Flickr shot of Messerschmidt's Vexed Man, which is shaping up to be an icon of vernacular photography. Shout out to Star5112.)
UPDATE: MOCA has picked up the Gorky show.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Free Parking at the Getty

The Getty website is announcing a new policy of free parking Saturday nights after 5 PM at the Getty Center. It starts July 1, when the normal parking fee rises to $15. There's no comparable deal for the Getty Villa, but parking will be free for lectures and other evening events (after 5) at both sites.
Many museums' free days are during the week, limiting them to the funemployed and the Ladies and Gents Who Lunch. J. Paul Getty wanted his museum to be free to all. But there hasn't been free parking — the de facto admission charge — since the Getty Center opened. As the Getty Center is open until 9 on Saturdays, the new policy offers four free hours on a weekend, something price-conscious 9-to-5ers can actually use.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

LACMA Nets $5 Million at Sothebys


LACMA hit the jackpot with its auction of 17 European paintings at Sothebys New York. All but three sold, with many doubling or tripling their estimates. The highest prices were for the De Hooch ($1.65 million), Ter Borch ($1.59 million), and Rubens ($842,500). Even if the estimates were conservative, this proves that someone is still buying third-string old masters. Perhaps most surprising was buyer enthusiasm for Greuze's creepy Girl With Lamb and a portrait of a mother and two children merely attributed to the forgotten name of Gaspar de Crayer. The Greuze, a quintessential example of the Hearst-Marion Davies taste, went for for $182,500 (estimated $60,000 to $80,000) and the questionable de Crayer sold at $254,500, over four times its low estimate. According to the figures on the Sothebys site, the total of the LACMA paintings, including buyer's premiums, came to about $5.8 million.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

American Art 2.0


May was a big month for American art. In Los Angeles, the news was the reopening of the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art at the Huntington. Christopher Knight writes that the Scott Gallery collection "doesn't yet warrant all that space." With doubled space, the average quality level has gone down. That much is simple math. The real question is, what should the Huntington be buying? It is competing with all those other American wings out there, including the one Alice Walton is building with Wal-Mart billions. "Why not let loose?" Knight asks. "Rather than another cartoon-like Thomas Hart Benton from the 1920s… it would be great to see a Henrietta Shore floral, a Modernist pastoral landscape by Charles Reiffel and transcendental abstractions by Raymond Jonson and Agnes Pelton from the same period… The Huntington needs to shake things up." (Above: Wilhelm Hunt Diederich's art deco weathervane).
Pittsburgh-born Virginia Steele Scott was heir to her father's electrical motor fortune. She studied play writing at Yale and spent much of her youth abroad. In Florence she met Jonathan Scott, a minor British painter. They married and moved to Pasadena. Virginia financed restoration work in Venice — the one in Italy — and was a major supporter of the Pasadena Art Museum, contributing to its curious building (now the Norton Simon Museum).
Scott wasn't particularly a collector of American art. Her tastes spanned German Expressionism, Sir Jacob Epstein, and Foujita cat paintings. These interests did not align too well with those of the Pasadena Museum, fixated on Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol. Scott's health began to fail, along with her mind. In 1973 she called workmen out to her home in a fashionable part of Pasadena and instructed them to build an underground museum in her back yard. Scott was not the sort of person to worry about zoning. Even as the subterranean gallery neared completion, Scott spoke of giving half her art trove to the National Gallery, Washington. Scott's private museum was completed in late 1974 and never opened to the public. Nor did Scott put her verbal pledge to the National Gallery in writing. She died the same year as J. Paul Getty (1976), leaving a will about as vague.
The Scott Foundation trustees found themselves with an illegal museum on a residential street, with parking for about two cars. The collection was a mixed bag even by the standards of L.A. vanity museums. The trustees decided to sell almost everything and start over.
A group of California paintings, including work by Mr. Scott, were donated to the Laguna Art Museum. The foundation concentrated on forming a reasonably coherent collection of American art from colonial times to early modernism. In the late 1970s, this art was relatively inexpensive. American scene painter Millard Sheets and UCLA art historian Maurice Bloch were tapped to use the Scott money to buy about 45 American paintings and a few watercolors. This included nice representative pieces by Mary Cassatt (Breakfast in Bed) and Edward Hopper ( The Long Leg).
The Scott Foundation came to an agreement with the Huntington to donate the art and construct a new facility to show it. The original building by Paul Gray was introduced in a 1984 brochure as "a handsome example of 'post modern' architecture." (Yes, the Huntington going PoMo was like the school principal rapping a Kurtis Blow rhyme. The new Scott Gallery brochure identifies the Gray building as "neoclassical.")
Over the years, the Scott money bankrolled such key purchases as Church's Chimborazo, Harnett's After the Hunt, the Greene and Greene room, and the Hosmer Zenobia in Chains. As the collection grew, the Huntington raised money for an expansion by Frederick Fisher (described as "modern classical.") The Fisher addition, named for museum patrons Lois and Robert F. Erburu, originally housed British art while the Huntington mansion was being refurbished. My reaction at that time was that the grand-manner portraits fit Fisher's rooms perfectly. I was afraid the American art would lack the proper scale.
As installed by curator Jessica Todd Smith, the art fills the space well. Furthermore, the Scott Gallery now feels like a real museum rather than a Timken Museum-like folly. It's bigger than LACMA's downsized American galleries and offers a substantial chronological survey from about 1700 to 1980. The three big twentieth-century rooms are a revelation. One wall puts two Edwin Dickinsons next to a Charles Sheeler — a precisionist v. imprecisionist smackdown you won't find anywhere else.

But where is the collection going? There's no Thomas Cole, nor a Winslow Homer painting. This hampers any comprehensive presentation of nineteenth-century painting. In 1998 Bill Gates paid over $30 million for a rather dull Homer. Even Alice Walton had to settle for a small Homer genre scene.
Well, there's always the twentieth century. The Huntington has pushed the chronology up to Sam Francis. Given that a single Rothko can sell for more that would have been paid for all the art in the Scott Gallery, there's not much hope of ever assembling a complete set of American modernists, barring a miracle.
That's okay. American museums have always accepted that they have to tell the story of European art without Michelangelo. You get past that and do what can be done.
If you look at what American works the Huntington has bought since 1984, several trends are apparent.
• The best acquisitions were funded wholly or partly by the Scott Foundation and must have been expensive. No surprise there.

• There's also been a pattern of buying minor (obviously: "affordable") works by big names. The new Thomas Hart Benton falls into that category or ventures dangerously close to it. Another example is the very early Stuart Davis Gloucester Landscape. It dates from 1919, which is to say, before Stuart Davis became Stuart Davis. It would appear they were more concerned with crossing a name off the shopping list rather than with quality or interest. In fact, it's hard to imagine how any major museum would show Gloucester Landscape, except as part of a most hagiographic Stuart Davis retrospective. (The Huntington is showing it now, of course, as their one and only specimen of Davis' art.)

• Every now and then the Huntington does shake things up. That's the good news; the bad news is that their taste in underappreciated artists can be downright odd. Example: Still Life with Telephone by Luigi Lucioni (1926). It's a likeable conservative picture by an artist who once had a certain renown. Lucioni was the youngest artist ever (age 31) to have a painting purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I doubt the Met has shown its Lucioni this century, or in the latter decades of the last. Consider how much space the Met has for American art. If the Met can't find room for Lucioni, how much wall space does he merit in the Huntington's more abbreviated presentation?
The Huntington's buying reflects the inevitable economics and psychology of collector's councils. Ideally, a museum would bank the annual contributions and buy something really special maybe every ten years. But patrons aren't going to donate unless they can see where their money is going to go. This tends to result in buying minor pieces by safe names or safe pieces by nobodies (rather than a first-rate Raymond Jonson, which would be swell).

Monday, June 1, 2009

Gilding the Gilded Age Dept.


In 2004 the Huntington bought a Louis Comfort Tiffany favrile glass Fern Vase. The colors — purplish iridescent splotches on a dark green ground — were a little on the subdued side. Until now. In the new Virginia Steele Scott Gallery installation, the vase sits atop a light and glows like a friggin' lava lamp.

Hosmermania


American sculptor Harriet Hosmer is having a moment. Her Zenobia in Chains, unseen by the public since the 1860s, just went on view at the Huntington's Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art in San Marino. Later this week, the Brooklyn Museum's Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art opens "Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found." It's not a Hosmer show per se but rather a conceptual catalogue raisonné. Artist Patricia Cronin researched Hosmer's oeuvre and made black and white watercolors of each sculpture, even lost works known only from verbal descriptions. The Brooklyn Museum will be displaying Cronin's watercolors, and the "catalogue" has just been published in book form by Charta Press.

This isn't the first creative reimagining of Hosmer's life and work. In 2006 Carole Simmons Oles published a book of poetry, "Waking Stone: Inventions on the Life of Harriet Hosmer." Can an indie film be far off? Hosmer ran with a bohemian crowd of lesbian intellectuals in Rome, and a biopic would include such plum roles as Nathaniel Hawthorne, George Sand, Bertel Thorvaldsen, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Henry James (as the lesbian-phobic frenemy?)