Issue 40, Autumn 2014

Editor's Letter: LUCINDA BREDIN

Where is the best place to see art? Having come back from holiday touring around Germany – where I visited a huge number of museums and saw loads of art – I had to dust off my art books when I got home in order to sharpen up the rapidly fading experience of seeing the work. There is such a thing as looking at too much, too quickly. But hey, no lesser figure than Philippe de Montebello, who reigned at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 31 years, has the same problem as I do. Art needs time, he says in Rendez-vous with Art, a new book that he has written with Martin Gayford, and time is hard to find when seeing works in a museum setting. For one thing, there are too many masterpieces on the walls clamouring to be looked at. In this issue, Martin describes his journeys with Philippe to see the world's great art. Turn to page 34 to discover their conclusions.

However, I don't think it's giving much away to say that owning a work and studying it on a daily basis is by far the best way to appreciate it. And this is why, from time immemorial, people have needed to own art. For an example of this, look no further than the late Count and Countess Martignone, whose collections from their homes in Milan and Genoa will be offered at Bonhams London in September. The Martignones had a passion for religious art, silverware and furniture, and, in the words of their niece, Mariella Battaglia, they adored being surrounded by their collections, which they knew so well. It was as if these works were their 'family'.

In May, Bonhams opened its new state-of-the-art saleroom in Hong Kong to emphasise the company's ambitions for its Chinese operation. In this issue, the curator Philip Dodd, writes about Shanghai and how art fairs and private museums have become a way of life. It goes to show that there are more and more people every year who crave a closer connection with art, which only ownership can bestow.

Enjoy the issue.

Lucinda Bredin

  1. Page 2

    They shall grow not old

    Jack Cornwell's name may not be familiar today. But in 1916, this boy sailor was awarded a posthumous VC – and his death was mourned by a nation desperate for heroes. Jeremy Paxman reports

    Unhappy the land with a need for heroes, as Brecht put it. But in wartime, every nation finds them. At the start of the First World ...

  2. Page 5

    My favourite room
    Hans Ulrich Obrist

    Hans Ulrich Obrist found his Paris hotel room too dreary – so he invited round some artists to liven things up

    I had always wanted to live in a hotel. In the summer of 1993, I left Switzerland for Paris and borrowed a room used by the artists Gloria Friedmann and Bertrand Lavier. It was at the Carlton Palace Hotel, a ...

  3. Page 6

    I hate museums

    Philippe de Montebello ruled the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 31 years. But after a grand tour of galleries to write a book about looking at art, he has a few gripes. Martin Gayford, his co-author, describes what happened on their travels

    From time to time, as we explored some of the great art collections of the world together, Philippe ...

  4. Joan Mitchell (American, 1925-1992) Untitled (Triptych) 1975-1976

    Page 8

    Private view

    Abstract Expressionist Joan Mitchell gave two paintings to her friend, Patricia Molloy. The works are as intense as their correspondence, revealed here for the first time, says Rachel Spence

    You made it, the pic, thanks – not quite finished – but blue. If I could make that 'blue' real – look like a blue??" The letter continues. "You made me paint – you always ...

  5. Page 12

    Major Barbara

    Barbara Hepworth has re-emerged as a key figure of 20th-century art. Mark Hudson charts the abstract sculptor's rise to prominence, and how her move to St Ives shaped her work

    Barbara Hepworth divides people, now perhaps more than ever. That the Yorkshire sculptor is a major world figure isn't in doubt. For some she's the serene earth ...

  6. Page 16

    Miles ahead

    Dreamt up by two Italian playboys, the Mille Miglia was the most glamorous fixture of the motoring calendar. Richard Williams tracks its illustrious – and heart-stopping – history

    One evening in December 1926, a pair of Italian aristocrats and a couple of their friends sat around a table in the Vecchia Cova restaurant in Milan, sharing their ideas for a new long-distance ...

  7. Page 22

    At the sharp end

    The samurai warriors were the ultimate killing machines. They cut a swathe through Japan, says John Man, with the help of some of the finest weapons the world has ever seen, one of which is offered at Bonhams New York

    Many weapons have made history – the English long-bow, the Zulu assegai, the Colt .45, the Kalashnikov – but there's nothing ...

  8. Page 32

    Orient express

    Shanghai's skyline is changing faster than the weather, says Philip Dodd

    I have been visiting China once a month since 1998 and five years ago would have told anyone that Beijing is, and would always be, the centre of the Chinese art world. It is where many of the most important artists still live, but recently I have begun ...

  9. Page 37

    When in Rhône

    do as the Romans did, says Bruce Palling. Buy and drink as much as you can

    Rhône wine has long had admirers. Its popularity is first recorded in 92AD, when the Romans turned their backs on the local plonk in favour of luscious wines from the new colony of Gaul. Faced with a growing revolt from the vintners around the ...

  10. Page 46

    La dolce vita

    The late Count and Countess Martignone loved arts and antiques. Lucinda Bredin is given a tour of this couple's Milanese apartment, home to their treasured collection

    From the outside, the apartment belonging to the late Count and Countess Martignone doesn't give away any clues – in that characteristically formal Milanese fashion. But when the door opens, a parallel world ...

  11. Vasudeo S. Gaitonde (1924-2001) Untitled, 1963

    Page 52

    Zen and the art

    The reclusive Indian artist V.S. Gaitonde found his true path when he embraced Buddhism. Beth Citron charts his journey

    The American painter Morris Graves, who was interested in mysticism and Asian philosophical traditions, travelled to India in 1963. On the advice of Pupul Jayakar, he visited the Bombay studio of V.S. Gaitonde – and he was astounded by what ...

  12. Page 60

    Bloom ming

    Two major exhibitions this autumn – at the British Museum and in Edinburgh – highlight the marvels of the Ming dynasty. Here, Colin Sheaf describes the flowering of imperial porcelain

    Mark: The Emperor Chenghua ruled between 1464-1487, in the first part of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Earlier in the same century, Chinese potters at the Imperial kilns in Zhushan (outside Jingdezhen in ...

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