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Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’

The Free Press WV

When Leonardo da Vinci’s long-lost painting, “Salvator Mundi” (“Savior of the World”) shattered records by selling for $450.3 million at auction in mid-November, its fate remained as mysterious as its unknown buyer. But both were revealed on Wednesday.

Museumgoers will be able to view the painting at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a United Arab Emirates franchise of the Paris museum, Christie’s Auction House told Bloomberg. The museum appeared to confirm this, tweeting on Wednesday that, “Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi.“ It is unclear at this time when the painting will be displayed.

According to the New York Times, the painting’s buyer was not the museum but an outside party: one Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, a “little-known” Saudi Arabian prince with no history as an art collector.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened on Nov. 11, has been one of the “most aggressive buyers on the global art market over the last decade,“ according to Bloomberg.

These acquisitions, including that of “Salvator Mundi,“ are probably part of a dedicated effort to raise the global cultural profile of the UAE.

Prince Bader’s purchase of the painting is surprising for a number of reasons, as the New York Times noted.

First, the painting portrays Jesus, whom many Muslims believe to be a prophet. Most who practice Islam - the state religion of Saudi Arabia - shun visual portrayals of its prophets.

When he placed the required $100 million to participate in the Christie’s auction, lawyers from the auction house asked how he acquired the money, according to documents obtained by the Times.

He reportedly responded that it came from real estate and that he was one of 5,000 princes, saying nothing more.

Finally, the splashy purchase came just as Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was leading a “sweeping crackdown against corruption and self-enrichment” among the country’s elite, as the Times noted.

“Salvator Mundi,“ which depicts Jesus holding a crystal orb in his left hand and raising his right in blessing, is one of some 16 known surviving works painted by da Vinci. While most are scattered around the world, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will now have two of these paintings. It displays “La Belle Ferronnière,“ which is on loan from the Louvre in Paris, according to Bloomberg.

The painting disappeared several times over the course of history, most recently in 1958 when it was sold alongside the rest of the Cook Collection in London. By then, though, the painting’s origin had been obscured due to overpainting and it was credited to da Vinci’s follower Bernardino Luini. It sold for only 45 pounds or about $125 today, CNN reported.

New York-based art collector and da Vinci expert Robert Simon and art dealer Alexander Parish found the painting in Louisiana in 2005 and purchased it for $10,000.

It then underwent a six-year restoration and verification process.

In 2013, a consortium of dealers including Simon, Parish and Warren Adelson sold “Salvator Mundi” for $80 million to a company owned by a Swiss businessman and art dealer Yves Bouvier, Bloomberg reported. Bouvier, in turn, sold it to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million in 2014.

Rybolovlev owned the painting until Nov. 15, when Prince Bader made it the world’s most expensive painting by shelling out $450,312,500 for it. Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger” (“Women of Algiers”) held the previous record of $179,364,992.

Submissions Being Accepted for First Trillium Art Exhibit

The Free Press WV

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the community are invited to submit artwork to Glenville State College’s first Trillium Art Exhibit.

The exhibit is open to anyone who wishes to submit entries of their own artwork.

“The Trillium strives to be GSC’s showcase for the substantial creative talent of our students, faculty, staff, and community. Coordinating our first art show with the Department of Fine Arts will help us fulfill that important mission,” said Dr. Jonathan Minton, who serves as an advisor for the Trillium.

Each person may submit up to three entries. Submissions will also be considered for inclusion in the Trillium, but space is limited.

Digital art entries must be submitted as png, bmp, or jpeg file attachments via-email to .

Artwork can also be dropped off in the Student Support Services office, which is located in Goodwin Hall Suite 139.

Submissions made in person should be done on Monday and Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to Noon or on Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Entries will be accepted until Friday, November 17.

For more information about the Trillium Art Exhibit, call 304.462.6322.

Gallery Exhibit Featuring Early Appalachian Photography to Open at GSC

Selections from the Glenville State College Archive will be on display for a gallery exhibit during Homecoming week. The theme of the exhibit will focus on early Appalachian photography and will include several prints from glass negatives, equipment used during the process, and even some of the original glass negatives themselves. The show will feature four different collections: the Byron Turner Glass Negative Collection, the Early Gilmer County Collection, the Gainer Family Glass Negative Collection, and the Pickle Street Glass Negative Collection.

The Free Press WV
One of the photos included in the Early Appalachian Photography Exhibit
reproduced from a glass negative from the Gainer family collection


An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Tuesday, October 17 between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. in the GSC Fine Arts Center Gallery. The show will be open the remainder of Homecoming Week from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. daily and prior to the Bluegrass concert on Saturday, October 21 between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Beyond Homecoming Week, the gallery is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The gallery is also open one hour prior to most musical performances in the Fine Arts Center.

The Byron Turner Glass Negative Collection was preserved by Glenville State College’s former chemistry instructor, Byron Turner. Turner used the glass negatives as a project in his classes to demonstrate what chemicals were used to make the glass negatives and preserve the picture. The Early Gilmer County Collection was found in the Archives of Glenville State College. It dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The Gainer family collection contains donated prints from glass negatives provided by the Gainer family. The pictures were taken by Lloyd Gainer and are from around 1902. The pictures were preserved by West Virginia State Folk Festival founder and 1924 Glenville Normal School graduate Patrick Gainer. The Pickle Street glass negative collection was brought in from the auction house on Pickle Street in Lewis County, West Virginia. The negatives were found in an old barn and later donated to GSC.

“This gallery exhibit will show you what was important to past generations in Appalachia through photography. I hope that the cultural perspective provided gives attendees a better understanding of central West Virginia. It also provides you with more of an appreciation as to what people had to go through and how challenging it was just to take a picture,” said GSC Librarian and Archivist Jason Gum.

During the opening reception, there will also be a book signing for GSC’s recent history book, Preserving and Responding. Gum and the college’s Public Relations Specialist, Dustin Crutchfield, authored this work.

The exhibit will be on display in the Fine Arts Center Gallery through Friday, November 03.

For more information about the gallery exhibit or the book signing, call 304.462.6163.

Arts & Entertainment News

The Free Press WV

►  HBO’s ‘Spielberg’ documentary: Fawning, sure, but also persuasive

The Steven Spielberg portrayed in Susan Lacy’s satisfyingly comprehensive 2 1/2-hour HBO documentary “Spielberg” is a wide-open book. It’s all so clearly been about a lonely suburban boy who found solace in filmmaking and grew up to envision and direct an unforgettable list of movies about lonely boys (sometimes girls) who find cathartic resolution amid middle-American angst, war, political chaos, futuristic ennui and supernatural phenomena. Beginning, essentially, with a shark.

“He certainly likes torturing the audience,“ observes one of the film’s many sources, film critic J. Hoberman, on the subject of Spielberg’s breakout hit, 1975’s “Jaws.“ “Has he ever been in analysis?“

No need! Turns out that nearly everything you’d want to know about Spielberg is front-and-center in his blockbusters, broken down for us here in the simplest exercise of auteur theory: Lacy (who created PBS’s “American Masters” series) gets Spielberg to talk about personal baggage and how it surfaces on-screen. Childhood fears (“Jaws”), ostracization and parental divorce (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind,“ “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”); his disavowal and later acceptance of being Jewish (“Schindler’s List”), his reconciliation with his father (“Saving Private Ryan”), his reactions to 9/11 (“Munich,“ “War of the Worlds”).

“Steven doesn’t want to make little, personal movies,“ says actor Bob Balaban. “He wants to make big personal movies.“

“Spielberg” (airing Saturday) has the feel of official business, with the man himself happily participating in long conversations about his creative process, while dozens of other sources – his 100-year-old father, Arnold, and his mother, Leah, who died at 97 in February; his siblings, peers, longtime collaborators, actors, film critics and historians – supply their own observations and asides. It also features a thrilling, chronological examination of his movies (the best of them, along with some flops such as “1941” and “Hook”) that gives shape and depth to the definition of the Spielbergian style.

Describing “Spielberg” makes it sound like an exercise in fawning, and it is indeed gentle and reverent. But it does include a note or two of well-aired criticism: In a clip from an old “60 Minutes” interview with the late Ed Bradley, a younger Spielberg is confronted with the opinion that his films were big but hollow – “Not art,“ Bradley suggests. Like his pal George Lucas, Spielberg testily rejects what he calls a “pretentious” notion that art must be serious and not move the viewer in an emotional way.

A sequence about his 1985 adaptation of Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” suggests that Spielberg’s vision for the movie hasn’t held up (critic David Edelstein says “There’s something so false, so Disney-storyboard about that movie”). “He could never go where Alice (Walker) went with that book,“ offers producer Kathleen Kennedy, a longtime collaborator. “I just wasn’t the right guy to do that,“ Spielberg says.

Perhaps Lacy brings Spielberg low at this point to prepare the viewer for the exultant second half of her documentary, which sticks to a theme of ascent and maturity. Spielberg’s workaholism costs him personally (it’s strange that, of the dozens of people who are interviewed in the film, we hear nothing from his wife, Kate Capshaw, or any of his seven children), but it paid off extraordinarily. In 1993, he once again conquered the summer box-office with “Jurassic Park,“ fully unleashing the age of computer-generated effects and then, only months later, he released his personal masterpiece, “Schindler’s List,“ which cleaned up at the Academy Awards.

From there, “Spielberg” coasts mainly on afterglow and continued output, providing example after example of its subject’s many contributions to the art of filmmaking. And it offers the pleasant reassurance that, at 70, Spielberg considers his work far from finished.


►  Dr. Seuss museum to replace mural after complaints it depicted ‘jarring racial stereotype’

A controversial mural at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Massachusetts will be replaced after several children’s authors complained that it promoted racial stereotypes - and that they were boycotting an upcoming festival at the newly opened museum because of it.

The authors - including Mo Willems, the Caldecott-winning writer and illustrator behind the popular Pigeon and Knuffle Bunny books - issued a joint letter Thursday saying they were skipping the upcoming Children’s Literature Festival in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Willems, Lisa Yee (“Super Hero Girls”) and Mike Curato (“Little Elliott”) said the mural, which illustrates a scene from Theodor Geisel’s “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,“ includes a “jarring racial stereotype of a Chinese man who is depicted with chopsticks, a pointed hat and slanted slit eyes.“ The authors called the caricature “deeply hurtful.“

Following the uproar, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which oversees the author’s estate, said it would replace the mural with another image depicting another of Dr. Seuss’ stories.

“This is what Dr. Seuss would have wanted us to do,“ according to a statement. “His later books, like ‘The Sneetches’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who,‘ showed a great respect for fairness and diversity. Dr. Seuss would have loved to be a part of this dialogue for change. In fact, Ted Geisel himself said, ‘It’s not how you start that counts. It’s what you are at the finish.‘“

Willems, Yee and Curato had been invited to appear at the festival on October 14 at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, which opened in June.

The event was described by the museum as “a day filled with books, costumed characters and famous authors.“ But the three authors said they were skipping the festival after having learned about the mural’s racial stereotype.

“While this image may have been considered amusing to some when it was published 80 years ago, it is obviously offensive in 2017,“ they wrote. “For some children who visit the museum, their only interaction with Asian representation might be that painting. For others, seeing themselves represented in such a stereotypical way may feed into internalized, even subconscious shame and humiliation. It is incumbent on our public institutions to present all races in a fair manner.

“Displaying imagery this offensive damages not only Asian American children, but also non-Asian kids who absorb this caricature and could associate it with all Asians or their Asian neighbors and classmates.“

The festival was later canceled.

The dust-up came amid a broader debate about how Dr. Seuss books - some of which depict old stereotypes - fit into an evolving culture.

That debate roared back into the spotlight last month after Melania Trump sent 10 Dr. Seuss books to a school in each state - and a librarian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sent them back.

“Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,“ librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro wrote in a letter.

As The Washington Post’s Rachel Chason reported, the librarian argued that rather than sending books to an elementary school in Cambridge, the first lady should have devoted resources to schools in “underfunded and underprivileged communities” that are “marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.“

Critics view DeVos, a billionaire who worked for decades to promote school choice, as one of the most anti-public-education secretaries in the department’s history.

In response, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said giving the books was part of the first lady’s effort to use her platform “to help as many children as she can.“

She added that “turning the gesture of sending young schoolchildren books into something divisive is unfortunate, but the first lady remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere.“

In their letter Thursday about the festival, Willems, Yee and Curato wrote:

“The career of Ted Geisel, writing as Dr. Seuss, is a story of growth, from accepting the baser racial stereotypes of the times in his early career, to challenging those divisive impulses with work that delighted his readers and changed the times. It was our hope that the administration of the new Seuss-ian institution would be able to take inspiration from Mr. Geisel’s journey and find creative ways to allow children of all backgrounds to feel welcomed (or, at the very least, provide context for this hurtful painting).“

The trio said they expressed their concerns to the museum - and “unfortunately, the administration replied that it was the responsibility of visitors to contextualize the oversized painting of the ‘Chinaman’ for their younger wards, not theirs.“

After the mural-replacement decision was announced by Seuss Enterprises, Willems, Yee and Curato applauded the news.

Officials at the museum had said they were looking for ways “to help guide parents and teachers in addressing this issue with children and pupils.“

They also said they requested a meeting with the authors to discuss the matter but were rebuffed.

In a letter sent to the authors, Kay Simpson, president of the Springfield Museums and Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, wrote that the museum “contains unedited material by Dr. Seuss during his lifetime” and that “we do not alter or edit an artist’s work.“

“Dr. Seuss’s books taught life lessons, from being a faithful friend, to not discriminating based upon appearances, to keeping your promises,“ Simpson wrote. “Dr. Seuss was a product of his era and his attitudes evolved over time.

“It is our hope that parents and teachers can use the evolution of Dr. Seuss ... as a teachable moment for children in their charge.“

Dr. Seuss Enterprises said Thursday that Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was “a man of his times. He was also a man who evolved with his times.“


►  ‘Blade Runner 2049’ pulls in older guys but few others

“Blade Runner 2049” had the pedigree, the stars and the stellar reviews. But even though the highly touted sequel had seemingly everything going for it, something didn’t click with audiences.

The big-budget, handsomely crafted sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic opened surprisingly weak at the North American box office. According to studio estimates Sunday, “2049” grossed $31.5 million, a poor start for a movie that cost at least $150 million to make.

The problem “Blade runner 2049” ran into is clear from opening-weekend data. The audience was overwhelmingly male (71 percent) and over the age of 25 (86 percent). The movie, starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, simply failed to pull in moviegoers beyond fans of the 1982 original.

The opening was a blow most of all to Alcon Entertainment, the production company that split the film’s cost with Sony Pictures. Warner Bros., which released the original and maintained rights for any follow-ups, distributed domestically. Sony released the film internationally, where it performed better with $50.2 million in overseas ticket sales over the weekend.

The 20-year-old Alcon, backed by FedEx founder Fred Smith, has been behind some notable successes with Warner Bros. (“The Blind Side,” ″Prisoners.“) But its blockbuster ambitions —which include flops like “Point Break” and “Transcendence” — have gone rockier. Co-founder Andrew Kosove previously called the ambitious “Blade Runner 2049” ″a chips-in-the-center-of-the-table exercise.”

And Alcon — a 45 employee company — seemingly did everything right, turning in a glowingly reviewed film, directed by the sought-after Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”) and produced by Ridley Scott (who directed the original.) Audiences liked the movie, too, giving it an A- CinemaScore. Representatives for Alcon Entertainment didn’t respond to messages Sunday.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t have a larger result this weekend on behalf of the owners of the film, Alcon” said Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. “We had bigger expectations for the weekend. The tracking and the advance sales indicated that there would be a stronger number.”

The Kate Winslet-Idris Elba adventure romance “The Mountain Between Us” debuted in second place with $10.1 million. The 20th Century Fox film, which cost $35 million to make, chronicles the budding affection between two strangers whose charter plane crash lands in the mountains.

The horror hit “It” followed in third place with $9.7 million in its fifth week. The Stephen King adaptation has made $603.7 million worldwide.

“My Little Pony: The Movie” opened with $8.8 million for Lionsgate. But even it managed broader gender appeal than “Blade Runner 2049.” It drew a 59 percent female audience.

But most were wondering what went wrong with “Blade Runner 2049.” Working against it was a lengthy 163-minute runtime. (Villeneuve attempted to lessen the blow by promoting the credit-less runtime of 152 minutes.) Alcon took the lead on the marketing, which went to great lengths to keep much of the film mysterious.

“It’s an intellectually charged, apocalyptic sci-fi story. It’s not a ‘Close Encounters,’ it’s not ‘Star Wars.’ It’s a challenging film. To me, those are the best type of films,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. “But does it make it the most commercial? No.”

“It was creatively and thematically perfectly executed,” Dergarabedian said. “But it didn’t play to the numbers everyone thought.”

In a way, that makes “Blade Runner 2049” the perfect heir to the original film. It, too, was a box-office disappointment. Though a cult would gradually emerge over the years, propelled partly by a DVD release of a more acclaimed director’s cut, “Blade Runner” in 1982 debuted with $6.2 million — or about $16 million in 2017 dollars.

So “2049” can claim one thing many recent sequels can’t: Better box office than the original.

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included.

1. “Blade Runner 2049,” $31.5 million ($50.2 million international).

2. “The Mountain Between Us,” $10.1 million ($3.6 million international).

3. “It,” $9.7 million.

4. “My Little Pony: The Movie,” $8.8 million ($3.8 million international).

5. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” $8.1 million ($25.5 million international).

6. “American Made,” $8.1 million ($1.8 million international).

7. “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” $6.8 million ($6.9 million international).

8. “Victoria & Abdul,” $4.1 million ($3 million international).

9. “Flatliners,” $3.8 million ($1.5 million international.)

10. “Battle of the Sexes,” $2.4 million.

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore.

1. “Never Say Die,” $66 million.

2. “Blade Runner 2049,” $50.2 million.

3. “Kingman: The Golden Circle,” $25.5 million.

4. “It,” $19.8 million.

5. “Chasing the Dragon,” $17.6 million.

6. “The Foreigner,” $17 million.

7. “The Fortress,” $14.4 million.

8. “City of Rock,” $11.9 million.

9. “Crime City,” $9.7 million.

10. “Sky Hunter,” $9.1 million.

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