Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jeff Koons, The Curator

Over the last several months Mr. Koons, who has always been a polarizing artist, has been at work in a role he has never assumed during his three-decade career, that of curator of other people’s art. Last summer he accepted an invitation by the New Museum of Contemporary Art to organize an exhibition of works from the important collection of the Greek billionaire Dakis Joannou, a collection in which Mr. Koons’s own work plays a pivotal part. That fact — along with Mr. Joannou’s close friendship with Mr. Koons and Mr. Joannou’s role as a trustee at the New Museum, though he is not underwriting the show or providing input — has caused some people, even in the insular contemporary-art world, to worry that the arrangement is too clubby.
Read the NYT article here.

Math to the rescue

Every few years, we're wowed by news of some jaw-dropping sum paid for a previously unknown painting or drawing by a famous artist. But how can a buyer truly be sure that a piece is a legitimate creation of, say, Leonardo or Gauguin? Mathematicians at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H., may have the answer. They recently presented a computer-based statistical analysis technique which they say will help art historians and conservators discover even the most skilled forgery.

Their method, called sparse coding, learns what characterizes the artist's style at a level of detail that is practically imperceptible to the eye of even the most experienced appraiser. It works by examining small patches of a picture and breaking them down to a set of essential elements.

"The aim is to establish for each artist a vocabulary of brush strokes or pencil marks that defines his or her style," says James M. Hughes, a doctoral candidate at Dartmouth who coauthored the research reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Read the report in IEEE Spectrum here.