Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Mark Landis, Good Work

The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel, Mississippi
Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Laurel MS//

No photography is allowed in any part of the museum.

A nice, small museum, the strongest element of their permanent collection is undoubtedly the Native American basketry, with some images here.

Other notable pieces:
Thomas Moran ‘A Glimpse of Long Island Sound from Montauk’ 1907
Mary Cassatt ‘Woman Bathing’ 1891
Grant Wood litho ‘In the Spring’ 1939
John Singer Sargent ‘Wooded Landscape’ 1883
Robert Henry ‘The Brown Wrap’ 1911

A Clyde Butcher exhibit, “America the Beautiful: the Monumental Landscapes of Clyde Butcher” is going on now through September 4 of this year.

The museum just wrapped up a Chihuly exhibit (they acquired the ‘Dale Chihuly Aventurine Green Chandelier with Copper Leaf’ which was installed in 2013) and the LRMA happens to have the only Chihuly on display in the state of Mississippi.

Laurel, Mississippi is best known in the larger art world as being the home of Mark Landis, the now-famous art forger who duped 50+ museums. In this 2013 New Yorker piece (one of the best on this topic), The Giveaway by Alec Wilkinson, the Lauren Rogers is mentioned, as Landis had gifted “Nymph on the Rocks” ‘by’ Everett Shinn to the museum in 2003. When Landis offered more works but never delivered, George Bassi, museum director, went searching for him — Mark Landis lived in Laurel, after all. There were doubts about him. About the art.

The Shinn stayed in the museum’s vault until 2008. By then, Bassi had heard a sufficient amount about Landis that he thought it was time to confront him. When a member of the staff told Landis that he believed the piece was fraudulent, Landis said he wished he had known that when he bought it. “He made it sound like he’d been duped,” Bassi told me.

Sometimes, through the window of his office, Bassi would see a director from another museum on the sidewalk, waiting, it turned out, for Landis. An official from a museum in Kentucky flew in to meet him. Another one came from Florida. As a means of establishing his credentials, Landis sometimes dishonestly raised the name of the Lauren Rogers Museum in letters. He wrote the director of a museum in Chapel Hill, asking “if the museum would consider the gift of Weidlingbach, Egon Schiele, oil on panel, 12 x 9 ½ in. I bought this at Christie’s, New York in 1986.” He went on to say, “I hope you are familiar with our museum here, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. It was founded by my mother’s family.”

From the documentary Art and Craft:

Mark now takes commissions (of non-copyright material) and donates a portion of the proceeds to NAMI for mental illness awareness.

And big +++ to the museum for their provenance research project. They are looking into the history of 11 pieces for which they have incomplete ownership accounts to make certain they’re not Nazi-stolen artworks. Other museums do this, but not all make it quite so prominent. Nice.

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