Saturday, March 04, 2000

Indianapolis purchase bolsters Japanese collection

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Museums everywhere are green with envy over the Indianapolis Art Museum's ability to snap up great art collections. Last year the museum acquired 17 paintings and 81 prints by Paul Gauguin and followers, the group called the School of Pont-Aven. It also acquired major collections of contemporary glass and of European Old Masters.

        Now Indianapolis has acquired “The Tiger Collection” of Japanese paintings, valued at $10 million. The collection of 75 scrolls and folding screens that span more than 300 years of Japanese painting, (1615-1858) was gathered over a 20-year period by Alan Strassman, a Boston area businessman.

        With this collection, Indianapolis has one of the top five American museum collections of Edo period art, ranking with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

        The acquisitions are part of an astonishing $160 million “new vision” campaign to expand the collection, buildings and program offerings.

        The Japanese works are light sensitive and will not be put on permanent exhibition, but displayed on a rotating basis. The only time the museum will exhibit them together will be May 20 to Aug. 6, in the exhibition 300 Years of Japanese Painting.

        TALK ON ART AS SHOWBIZ: “Any remaining gap — if it still exists — between contemporary art and show business is closing by the minute,” Newsweek art critic Peter Plagens wrote recently.

        “Everything that I care about in my paintings hinges on things that people in the art world don't care about any more,” New York painter Laurie Fendrich says.

        Mr. Plagens and Ms. Fendrich will conduct an informal talk on the overhyped state of the arts 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Linda Schwartz Gallery, 315 W. Fourth St., downtown. The event precedes the opening reception, 3-5 p.m., of an exhibition of Ms. Fendrich's paintings. They will be at the gallery through April 22.

        Ms. Fendrich is an abstract painter who sees abstract art as a refuge from “our postmodern, materialistic, morphing, ironic hip age.”

        For information, phone the Linda Schwartz Gallery at 241-4202.

        CLOCKS AT THE TAFT: Fans of Antiques Roadshow will recall the time the Taft Museum of Art was featured for its choice collection of 18th- and 19th-century watches. The watch expert on that show, Jonathan Snellenburg, is coming back to the Taft on Thursday to talk about clocks as automated sculpture and watches as mechanical jewels.

        Mr. Snellenburg, proprietor of Jonathan Snellenburg Timepieces and Decorative Objects in New York, is speaking in conjunction with the Taft's exhibition; A Renaissance Treasury: The Flagg Collection of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, through April 16.

        The lecture, at 7:30 p.m., is free to Taft Museum members and $5 for the public. Reservations are required. Phone 241-0343. Owen Findsen is Enquirer art critic. Write him c/o Tempo, The Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202; fax, (513) 768-8330.


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