Shahi Mosque, built in 1928 by the royal family, presides over downtown Chitral. Yep, northern Pakistan can be quite romantic–not only is it the ceiling of the world (a handful of the world’s highest mountains are in Pakistan’s Himalayas and Hindu Kush), but it’s the of stuff shahs and kingdoms, forts and legend, poetry, music and potent hash.
So here’s the blog I wrote a few hours after I found out about Bin Laden, and I think I have an editorial that should be up tomorrow:
When Osama bin Laden was killed, I was at a dinner party given by an award-winning author, munching on sweetbread and chatting up brilliant filmmaker, writer and activist types. Though I’m in the country where Bin Laden was tracked and killed, for me the news ironically came from America. I read about his death in an email from Mississippi shortly after waking.
My American friends are bombarding my Facebook wall – “What’s it like to be there right now?” Honestly, I feel happy, scared and fairly apathetic. As I rode to work, I watched Defense pass outside my window—the mosque, the goats, the high rise construction site, the Pakistan State Oil station I see at least twice a day—and thought, ‘this is what a world without Osama bin Laden looks like.’ And I felt unaffected.
I wonder too—what’s it like here, what will it be like a week from now, a month from now, a year from now? What will Osama’s death mean for al Qaeda, for the organization’s past and future victims, for American foreign policy and for those living in regions affected by American foreign policy? What does this mean for Pakistanis, Afghans, North Africans, Americans abroad?
A summary of last week’s art news, minus the Met’s Rose Period Picasso fiasco, because that’s hardly news at this point…
Demand and short supply prevailed at the Sotheby’s and Christie’s old masters sales this week. The $109 million that changed hands at Christie’s set a new record for a single old masters auction and established new price highs for the artists Rembrandt, Raphael and Domenichino. Sotheby’s old master’s sales totaled $74 million, well situated in the pre-sale estimate of $54-75 million. Sotheby’s most buzzed items included “Portrait of a Woman, Called ‘La Belle Ferronniere,’ ” once thought to be authored by Leonardo da Vinci. It sold for $1.5 million—triple the $500,000 estimate.
These outcomes support the prediction that high quality conservative art will fare better during a recession. The old masters, the impressionists and the modernists are an inflation hedge, while acquisitions by recent superstars have become risky investments.
In a survey of 25 museums, The Art Newspaper notes that endowments are recovering, and the Met reports that its income is at pre-recession levels. But California closings (Claremont Museum of Art and the Fresno Metropolitan Museum) and cautionary moves, such as the Los Angeles County Museum sending 17 pieces through Sotheby’s last week, indicate that institutional art budgets remain shaky.
All is not lost in our most leveraged state. On Wednesday the Getty Foundation announced that it will award $3.1 million in grants to 26 California institutions to help fund next fall’s bevy of exhibits, “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980.” This gift doubles the previously announced commitment. Continue reading