An all-but-forgotten, 74-year-old painting by the Group of Seven’s A.Y. Jackson, a large canvas on which the renowned artist depicts the Northwest Territories mine that produced uranium for the world’s first atomic bomb, has emerged from the obscurity of a private collection to be sold this month at one of three major fall auctions of Canadian art.
Jackson’s Radium Mine — nearly a metre wide and held since it was painted by the family of Gerald LaBine, the artist’s friend and the owner of the mining operation along the eastern shore of Great Bear Lake — represents a remarkable convergence of the histories of Canadian art, national industrial development and the global nuclear age.
The painting, to be sold Nov. 22 at a Heffel Fine Art auction in Toronto, shows a bird’s-eye view of the mine site on a peninsula jutting out into the lake, located about 440 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife. Radium Mine, expected to sell for up to $300,000, was exhibited only once, in 1939, and has remained with the LaBine family as a prized memento of Jackson’s visit to the site just before the outbreak of the Second World War.
Another Jackson painting of the mining operation is held by the National Gallery of Canada.
“Not only is Radium Mine one of Jackson’s finest works,” state’s Heffel’s catalogue entry for the painting, “it is also historically significant. At its heart is the story of two exceptional Canadians — a gifted artist and a bold entrepreneur — linked by their thirst for adventure, imagination and love of their nation.”
But there is a darker subtext to the image, as well, linking Jackson’s scene to the world-changing devastation unleashed upon Japan when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945. Uranium extracted from what became known as the El Dorado mine site had been Canada’s key contribution to the Manhattan Project during the war.
Port Radium’s miners and the Dene workers employed in transporting the radioactive material south from Great Bear Lake would go on to suffer high rates of cancer. That led to Deline — the aboriginal community nearest to the mine —becoming known as the “village of widows.” In recent years, the Canadian government has funded cleanup efforts around the mine as part of a long-term environmental remediation project.
The painting is expected to sell for between $900,000 and $1.2 million, the highest estimated value of any artwork to be auctioned at the Sotheby’s sale.
Researchers have spotted a never-before-seen chemical effect in Vincent Van Gogh’s Flowers In A Blue Vase that is dulling the work’s vibrant yellows.
It seems a layer of varnish added later to protect the work is in fact turning the yellow to a greyish-orange colour.
High-intensity X-ray studies described in Analytical Chemistry found compounds called oxalates were responsible.
But atoms from the original paint were also found in the varnish, which may therefore be left in place.
“This type of information for conservators is very valuable because it helps us understand the condition of the paintings and make the right choices about how we can best conserve them.”
By mid-summer, all streets in Yekaterinburg were decidedly not repaired, which isn’t terribly surprising if you follow the politics of potholes in Russia. And so, logically, some enterprising Russian artists tried the only tactic left to them: They painted Yakob and Porunov’s mugs – alongside their incriminating promises – directly onto the potholes in question (hat tip to Colossal for catching this).
For people suffering on hot days on the urban heat island, there’s often little respite from the roasting other than ducking into a store with A/C.
But inhabitants of Santiago have a much cooler option. Down in the city center is an outlandish hive of inverted cones of white fabric that constantly leak water; stand under the pristine sheets, and you’ll receive a cold shower. Squeeze the dampened drapery and you’ve got a nice drink of fresh agua going on.
The maze of moistness, called “Water Cathedral,” beat out several other skin-chilling options in a 2011 architecture contest put on by Chile’s Constructo and MoMA’s Young Architects Program. Crafted by GUN Architects, the ethereal installation is meant to relieve pedestrians sweating on the sidewalk like wieners on a Foreman grill while providing an interesting place for the public to congregate.
Here’s how MoMA describes it:
The structure is made up of numerous slender, vertical components, which hang or rise like stalactites and stalagmites in a cave, varying in height and concentration. The project incorporates water dripping at different pulses and speeds from these hanging elements, fed by a hydraulic irrigation network. When filled with small amounts of water, the stalactite components act as interfaces out of which water droplets gradually flow and cool visitors below. The stalagmites topography provides elements of shade, along with plants and water that collect under the Water Cathedral’s canopy.
You could never live in this all-glass houseif you are a) obsessive compulsive, because think of the finger prints or b) you ever hope to be naked in privacy. But if you’re a total exhibitionist, have at it!
The good news is, no one can actually live in this beautiful pair of blue glass houses, unless they’re super rich (they costs $6,200 per square foot to build) and love impractical things (once again, it is a house made entirely of glass). They were created by Italian architect Carlo Santambrogio and designer Enno Arosic as a concept to promote Simplicity, Santambrogio’s glass furniture line, which is presumably marketed toward heavy cocaine users. [Apartment Therapy via Design Milk]
Hurting for a sniff of pure Singapore? Czech artist Kirill Rudenko has you covered.
Rudenko has designed these charming cans of air from the world’s cities. Each can contains local air he says “relieves stress, cures homesickness, and helps fighting nostalgia.” We think these cans encourage nostalgia, but maybe that’s just us.
A sample recipe, from a “supplier” in Paris:
20% The Louvre 20% Notre Dame 25% Eiffel Tower 15% Musée d’Orsay 10% Champs-Elysées 10% Sacre Coeur
ATTENTION! May contain traces of liberté, égalité and fraternité.
I want to see one for New York City: 20% sewer gas, 20% piss, %40 car exhaust, and 20% street food?
Two art world news stories:
You usually don’t find Tom Thomson paintings at a yard sale. Particularly in east Vancouver.
But one may have turned up recently, along with a watercolour by Group of Seven member Frederick Horsman Varley.
The lucky buyer walked away with two paintings for $100, then took them to Maynard’s Auctions. Maynard’s is putting the painting up for auction May 16, with an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.
A Cezanne masterpiece worth at least $131 million that was the yanked from the wall of a Zurich art gallery in 2008 has been recovered, Serbian police said today.
Four arrests were made overnight in connection with the theft, which was one of the biggest art heists in recent history.
Police, working from several European countries, focused their two-year investigation on the potential sale of the painting to a rich Serb buyer who was prepared to purchase it for $4.6 million.
(Yes, I like art; I just put up an art post over at Patriactionary, here.)
I really don’t see the issue.