Tony Bennett’s Passion for Painting, Last ‘Monuments Man’ Dies, and More: Morning Links for July 24, 2023

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The Headlines

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THE DEATH OF SINGER TONY BENNETT on Friday, at 96, “brings the era of the great crooner to an end,” as the Daily Mail writes. Along with being a revered musician, Bennett was also a “a creditable painter,” the New York Times notes, making “landscapes and still lifes in watercolors and oils and portraits of musicians he admired.” He signed his works with his given name, Anthony Benedetto, according to Parade, which has images of a few of his pieces, including a vivid depiction of jazz legend Duke EllingtonInsider has more images. As a teenager, Bennett enjoyed art classes, he said in a 1981 interview that Parade dug up, because music classes were “terribly boring.”

RICHARD BARANCIK, the last living member of the “Monuments Men and Women,” who worked to safeguard art in Europe amid the Second World War, died earlier this month at the age of 98, Richard Sandomir reports in the New York Times. Barancik, who was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2015, served in the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section for three months, and felt uncomfortable about the attention he later received, his daughter Jill Barancik told the paper, but she said that she explained to him, “You’re representing the people who aren’t with us anymore.” The exploits of his fellow soldiers and scholars in the program became a 2014 film directed by George Clooney. After the war, Barancik became an architect in Chicago.

The Digest

A collector who filed suit in Germany to have a Andreas Achenbach painting he owns removed from a database of art that may have been stolen or sold under duress in the Nazi era lost in court. The piece was sold by Jewish dealer Max Stern in 1937 in Germany; his heirs have argued they are its rightful owners. [The Associated Press]

Art historian Simon Schama has a new book, Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines and the Health of Nations, and shared some of his cultural highlights, like the 1989 Martin Amis novel London Fields and Anselm Kiefer’s current show at White Cube in London. “Spectacularly dark glory,” he said. “No one does it like Kiefer.” [The Guardian]

With Barbie dominating theaters, columnist Carolina A. Miranda has a piece on the Barbie Dreamhouse, and how a wide array of writers have approached the subject. “What’s intriguing to me are the ways in which the Barbie Dreamhouse has evolved—growing increasingly fantastical over the decades,” Miranda writes. [Los Angeles Times]

Speaking of blockbuster entertainment, a 150-pound abstract sculpture was stolen from the set of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice 2, which is being filmed in Vermont. The cinephiles at the Vermont State Police, apparently in a jovial mood, tweeted, “We tried saying the name of this stolen statue three times, but it didn’t come back!” [AV Club/Yahoo!]

Artist, musician, and all-around superstar Yoko Ono, 90, recently moved out of her longtime home in the Dakota on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for a farm upstate. Reporter Anna Kodé looked at Ono’s legacy in the building, the neighborhood, and the city. [NYT]

Two patrons in their 60s got into a “physical altercation” at the hotspot Le Bilboquet (which is owned by art-collecting billionaire Ron Perelman) in Sag Harbor out in the Hamptons. [Page Six]

The Kicker

THE MAGIC NUMBER. In the New York TimesJohn Leland has a remarkable story about Mark Herman, “a dog walker and recreational drug enthusiast” in Manhattan who found himself the owner of what may or may not be a very early Chuck Close painting. While going about getting it authenticated and appraised, Herman consumed some magic mushrooms, which suggested nine- and ten-figure valuations. “But they’re pranksters,” he told the paper of those drugs. “I would not jump out of an airplane and say, ‘Oh, the shrooms packed my chute.’ ” And so, understandably, he has also consulted more traditional experts. [NYT]


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