By Bob Hicks
John Buchanan, the flamboyant former director of the Portland Art Museum, died on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, after a struggle with cancer. He was 58.
Buchanan left the Portland museum in 2005 to become director of the much larger Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which encompasses the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the nearby Legion of Honor. He was director there from February 2006 until his death. Here is Kenneth Baker’s obituary for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Penelope Hunter-Stiebel, who was the Portland museum’s consulting curator of European art during Buchanan’s years here, said Saturday morning that it was apparent to his friends and his wife, Lucy Matthews Buchanan, that Buchanan’s days were short when he told Lucy before Christmas that he wouldn’t be returning to work.
For John, such a thing was unthinkable. He was a tireless worker, a man who was energized by the details and occasional high drama of the museum world, and who loved the art of the deal. Nothing stimulated him so much as creating and selling a vision about the world of art.
Continue reading John Buchanan dies of cancer at 58 →
By Bob Hicks
Like “a troop of fairy-tale dwarfs turned to stone by an evil sorcerer” — or so Ken Johnson describes them in his review this morning in the New York Times — they march, mourning the death of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy (1371-1419). These 16-inch-tall alabaster carvings, which these days do most of their weeping at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon in France, have traversed time and the Atlantic for a tour of seven American museums. Their first stop is Medieval Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they’ve been since March and will stay through May 23.
Johnson’s report caught my eye first for the gorgeous photo that the Times ran and then for the story’s mention that the tour was organized under the wing of FRAME (the French Regional and American Museum Exchange), the innovative organization of which the Portland Art Museum has been a leading and vigorous member. The almost forty alabaster carvings in The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures From the Court of Burgundy will move on to FRAME member museums in St. Louis, Dallas, Minneapolis, Los Angeles (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), San Francisco and Richmond — but not to Portland.
Continue reading It’s mourning. Do you know where your weeping medieval alabasters are? →