In honor of the New Year, I am straying a bit from my usual one-post a week to bring you a round up of art world current (or should we say, currant) events. And what better way to enjoy them than with a couple of fragrant cardamom currant snickerdoodles and perhaps a glass of champagne? These are what I consider to be the “art world” highlights of 2013 in no particular order:
- Priceless works of art were both stolen and destroyed. It was reported in July that works stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands in October of 2012 (possibly valued €100-200 million) were destroyed in the oven of a Romanian woman, whose son was accused of stealing the works. Her defense when forensic investigators found the remains of pre-20th century paint, canvas and nails in the ashes of her appliance was that she needed to “destroy the evidence” (Mother of the year award!). In November, the world learned that a “treasure trove” of Nazi-confiscated art was found in a German man’s apartment in Munich. While this is an incredible development and a positive step forward in the restitution of these works to the owner’s families, there is yet to be a real explanation as to why German authorities waited almost 2 years to let the rest of the world know… In past art theft news, the FBI announced this year that they have had major developments in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist case (of 1990), though no arrests have been made.
- This year auction houses hit a high mark—November brought us many things: Millions of people finally got the Obamacare website to work and signed up, Americans celebrated Thanksgiving (and hopefully millions celebrated by making my pumpkin banana bread) and we were also graced with the most successful Post-War and Contemporary Art sales at auction. Ever. An exciting offering from Sotheby’s and Christie’s brought highlights by Barnett Newman, Cy Twombly, Jeff Koons, Francis Bacon (who’s 1969 triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freudsold for $142.4 million, and is currently on view at the Portland Art Museum through the end of March), Andy Warhol and Christopher Wool together for a brief week in early November, culminating with the sales of over $1 billion worth of fine art (Christie’s totaling $691.5 million and Sotheby’s $380.6 million). An amazing growth of almost $600 million since 2009’s record-breaking low! To quote Christie’s head of Post War and Contemporary Art, Brett Gorvy, “We’re not at the end of something; we’re at the beginning of something” (quote from Art in America, November 7, 2013 issue). If this is the beginning, then I am in it for the long haul (and in the art world, where things seem at times to move ridiculously slowly, then that means I am really in it for the long haul—estimated retiring age: 200 years old).
- Jay-Z finally had his Chelsea art gallery moment—no, not a show of his own work, or a show featuring some of his big art purchases (which is rumored to be extensive), but instead he graced us with a 6-hour music video/performance piece of his art-themed, name-dropping hit, Picasso Baby, filmed and performed at Chelsea’s Pace Gallery. This wasn’t a solo performance though, since Hollywood, fashion and art world notaries including Alan Cumming, Cynthia Rowling, Jerry Saltz, Judd Apatow, Maria Abramovic, and Picasso’s actual grandbaby, Diana Widmaier Picasso all made cameos, making it the perfect star studded event.
- Art Forgeries are still happening.The ongoing drama happening over at New York’s Knoedler Gallery proves that soap operas are not just for daytime TV. Former dealer Glafira Rosales plead guilty in September for selling more than 60 paintings / $80 million worth of fake art through Knoedler, over the span of 15 years. While Rosales faces up to 99 years in jail, her dozens of victims are still coming out of the woodwork, disproving Jay Z’s 10-year old hit, 99 Problems (but a *itch ain’t one).
- Banksy graffitis New York.The British graffiti artist known as Banksy spent some time in New York in October, spraying a new masterpiece daily. Banky’s appearance here caused a social media blowup, with fans anxiously tweeting the next location of his works, followed by hoards of fans rushing to the location to take selfies (or graffiti over the works themselves), and prepare for the next Banksy-inspired flash mob. And if this wasn’t enough excitement on its own, collectors were given a special opportunity to own an original work at a severe discount—the artist’s works were offered one day near Central Park for $60 (a bargain, considering his 2007 work, Keep It Spotless sold for almost $2 million in 2008). And there you have it. A full year’s worth of art happenings, condensed to be readable in the amount of time it takes you to eat 2 of these delicious cookies. Now get to baking! Out with the old, and in with the new (flavors)!
Cardamom Currant Snickerdoodles
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons for coating cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom plus one teaspoon for coating cookies
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
½ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup dried currants
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: sugars through salt, and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and butter, and add in the vanilla and currants. Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing only until just combined. At this point, stick the dough in the fridge for about 10 minutes—the cardamom and currant flavors in this cookie are pretty strong, and chilling helps strengthen them even more, while also making the dough easier to work with.
While the dough is chilling, combine the extra 3 tablespoons of sugar and the extra 1 teaspoon of cardamom in a small bowl. Remove the dough from the fridge, and either portion out with a small to medium-sized cookie scoop or roll into 1 or 1 ½ inch balls. Roll each ball in the cardamom sugar mixture, and arrange on an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving a couple of inches between each cookie. Bake for about 8 minutes until the cookies are golden brown and a bit cracked on top, but still nice and soft in the middle.
Recipe adapted from Food52, makes about 50
Featured art: Rembrandt, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, 1633, stolen from the Gardner Museum in 1990