Your Morning Cup of Links

Adorable. Once again, if you supported Trump in the primary and are mad he’s losing now, there’s a thing above the sink in your bathroom you can look in to see who is to blame.

All decent, reality-based Americans despise them both. #NeverTrump #NeverHillary

Chicago’s corrupt red-light camera official gets 10 years

There’s no reason to vote for this man. He’s not a libertarian. He’s not a conservative. He’s a hodge-podge of garbage positions. Vote for Evan McMullin.

The secret life of James Barry: “Michael du Preez tells the curious story of the dedicated British army surgeon who had to conceal her gender for over 50 years in order to pursue her vocation.”

This is beautiful and sad. Anyone who says being single is better than being in a loving marriage is lying.

Mount Rushmore reminds us how we used to talk as a nation.

John Williams reviews Sebastian Smee’s The Art of Rivalry 

A famous portrait of Francis Bacon brazenly stolen off a museum wall. Manet stabbing through an image of his wife painted for him by Degas. Lucian Freud declining a wedding invitation because he found himself “in the unusual position of having been involved sexually not only with the bride but also the groom and the groom’s mother.”

Juicy details like these dot a new book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Sebastian Smee. But Mr. Smee is ultimately after something more subtle — though no less gripping — in “The Art of Rivalry,” a study of the creative tensions embedded in four separate friendships between artists — Manet and Degas, Matisse and Picasso, de Kooning and Pollock, and Freud and Bacon — and the effect of those tensions on their art and the Modernist movement as a whole.

It’s the Matisse-Picasso chapter that fully delivers the adrenaline expected from rivalries. The rest of this engrossing book reads like high-end art history; this section also reads like sports. Mr. Smee calls the pair’s period of intense influence on each other “a drama unlike any in the story of modern art,” even if “it was a fight that Matisse, for a surprisingly long time, doesn’t seem to have quite registered he was even in.”

Why race relations got worse

Mysterious smudge on Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” is candle wax

The greatest presidential comebacks

A Pink Floyd retrospective is coming to London’s V&A next spring

American exceptionalism is human exceptionalism

Excellent piece on the comprehensive Ryan agenda that’s been widely ignored in the Year of Trump.

How gentrification killed the jellied eel

Very sad. Interest in the Old Masters is down.

Old masters, new world. At Christie’s over the last few weeks, two experts in old master paintings and drawings quietly left the auction house. Their departures followed a year of spotty sales, in which the values of works by old masters — a pantheon of European painters working before around 1800 — fell by 33 percent, according to the 2016 Tefaf Art Market Report. At a time when contemporary art is all the rage among collectors, viewers and donors, many experts are questioning whether old master artwork — once the most coveted — can stay relevant at auction houses, galleries and museums.

“We have no intention of selling old masters pictures or 18th-, 19th-century pictures, because these markets are now so small and dwindling,” he added. “The new client base at the auction houses — and the collecting tastes of those clients — have moved away from this veneration of the past.” A shortage of old master treasures, fewer up-and-coming old master specialists and public attention on the highest-selling pictures (which are in the contemporary market) are partly responsible for the shift in emphasis. The London dealer Guy Sainty, who has long specialized in old masters, said that he is mystified and frustrated. “I’ve been an art dealer for nearly 40 years, and I just don’t get it — I don’t understand where the collectors have gone, the people with knowledge,” he said. “There’s a sense somewhere that the American collector has simply lost interest in European culture.”

An appreciation for old masters, experts say, also requires a deeper history of collecting and an educated eye. Christie’s, for example, trains its old master specialists for six to seven years, whereas its contemporary experts get three to four years…“People who buy into the old master field have more connoisseurship — maybe more passion.”

“We’re losing a sense of the value of the past, including the value of past art,” Mr. Meyer said in an interview, “not just the aesthetic value, but the ways in which it can teach us about the cultures and the people who came before us.” To fill curatorial positions, museums are having to look to Europe. The Getty, for example, recently hired Davide Gasparotto — the former director of the Galleria Estense in Modena, Italy — as its senior curator of paintings. “You can’t find curators with the right training and knowledge of European art in American art graduate programs anymore,” Mr. Sainty said.

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