David Batchelor: “As with all prejudices, its manifest form, its loathing, masks a fear: a fear of contamination and corruption by something that is unknown or appears unknowable. This loathing of colour, this fear of corruption through colour, needs a name: chromophobia.”
The Bloch Collection – amassed by one of the co-founders of H&R Block and containing works by Van Gogh, Monet, Gauguin, Cezanne, Seurat, and Pissarro – is now on view in specially renovated galleries at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.
“Comprising 410,000 multi-coloured aluminium barrels,” – the Mastaba, to be erected at an empty desert site in Abu Dhabi – “would be the largest sculpture in the world, and, unlike many of Christo’s projects, permanent.”
“Should I say “we” instead of “I”? Am I pretending the museum is actually speaking? What would it say? How would it say it? Can I make jokes? How funny is my museum? Is Wellcome Collection sarcastic, staid, sombre, sassy? Some of the answers to these questions are found in the history, themes and approach of the institution (also expressed through branding). But social media has a range of functions and a certain tone; it offers museums a chance to sidestep outdated perceptions or subvert expectations.”
Of the hundreds of thousands of artworks created under the WPA’s programs during the Depression, a surprising number have gone missing (or at least have been lost track of). Matthew Blitz meets the Special Agent charged with tracking that art down.
“Across the country, museums associated with universities are organizing social events: The Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey holds evenings when graduate students meet curators, for example. Beyond that, museums directors are seeking ways students can play a role in curating and experiencing artworks.”
How are museums supposed to attract younger, more diverse audiences when they charge $20 or more to get in? (Except for, maybe, three hours one day a week.) Daniel Grant suggests a source of funding (granted, a controversial source) to cut or eliminate those admission fees.
Virginia Shore, the programme’s acting director, told Town & Country magazine last year that the value of works on loan to the AIE has risen to a half a billion dollars in recent years, up from around $10m under President George W. Bush.
“The Metropolitan Museum of Art doled out hefty pay raises and six-figure bonuses to top executives despite a looming deficit that threatened to reach $40 million, records show.”
The sculpture of the pharaoh is just over eight feet tall, two feet wide, almost 3½ feet deep, and very well preserved, and there are dozens of fragments of statues of the goddess Sekhmet. (in English)
In light of catastrophes ranging from the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas to ISIS’s trafficking in looted antiquities, the French government has offered a conservation facility it’s building in northern France as a haven for artifacts recovered from the battle-scarred Middle East. Yet some curators and archaeologists are fighting the plan, saying that it would stir up an entirely different hornets’ nest of problems.
“Some museum leaders view these offerings as a way to attract younger audiences who are steeped in multisensory experiences and to deepen the engagement with the art objects for everyone. But others see them as distractions.”
“The 2017 Whitney Biennial was organized in one era and exists in another. I leadingly asked the show’s two 30-something Asian-American curators, Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks, if they altered anything after the election. Nodding with patient understanding but unshaken, both firmly said, “We didn’t change course.” By all rights then, this is the first, last, and only Hillary Clinton biennial. But that doesn’t mean it is out of step, nice-y nice, disconnected, or just so many snowflakes from another era. Instead and pressingly, even with wild up and downs, flaws and all, the 2017 Whitney Biennial is the best of its kind in some time.
“The mood is, by turns, anxious and dark, even sinister, but also, at times, expectant, guardedly hopeful. Everyone is on edge. The show presents a nation, and the sensibilities of its artists, in a period of transition, with violence cresting, identities in flux, and some brave souls hatching plans. A sea change is coming, though it is unclear if its effect will be disastrous, momentous, or something more complicated. Call it the biennial on the brink.”
“Fearless Girl represents basically everything that’s wrong with our society,” argues Jillian Steinhauer. “Could there possibly be anything more patronizing than two massive, male-dominated capitalist companies” – advertising giant McCann and investment firm State Street – “installing a branded statue of the most conceivably non-threatening version of womankind in supposed honor of a day devoted to women’s equality that was founded by the Socialist Party?” Do you think Steinhauer has a point?
From Philadelphia to Seattle, American cities are banking on parks and public spaces to drive social and economic progress. “Parks may not seem particularly urgent compared with the latest gangland murder epidemic; but the effort in Chicago to improve and expand them has, neighborhood by neighborhood, delivered long-term rewards. A few downtown showpieces, like the urbane Riverwalk and glamorous Millennium Park, have reaped immense financial windfalls for the city. Barack Obama’s presidential library in Jackson Park promises to become a major new attraction and help rejuvenate that part of the South Side.”
Absolution (ca. 1900) has a quality most people would never associate with Rodin’s muscular sculpture – it’s fragile, made up of three plaster pieces with fabric draped on top. Emily Sharpe reports on how conservators stabilized the piece and transported it (very carefully) to the Musée Rodin in Paris.
Of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, the Great Pyramid of Giza survives to this day and the fate of five others is documented. But what became of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon has remained a mystery; some scholars aren’t certain they even existed. But ISIS’s destruction of a shrine on the ancient site of Nineveh may have revealed the key to that mystery. Or perhaps not. The connection involves a chain of historical references that may not hold up – but Noah Charney explains that chain and how it might be plausible.
“In recent years, museums have been making a greater effort to have a voice in social activism and respond to pressing problems of the day. The big question is when and how art museums should take a public position and try to effect change, or at least initiate a community discussion on a topic.”
“They’re using design and technology to tackle everything from climate change to social justice, and they are doing so not as lone geniuses toiling away in the dark, but in collaboration with clients, neighborhoods, and cities. The starchitecture era is dead.”
“Once Iraqi forces had secured areas of west Mosul and reporters could enter the museum on Saturday, it emerged that the museum—which had been used as a base during the fighting—had also been completely cleared out and decimated.”
One museum covered artwork donated by immigrants; another rehung its collection to emphasize art by those from the countries affected by the travel ban. Museums whose remit is history sent people into the street to collect artifacts from the Women’s March; other museums say it’s up to the artists, not the museums, to respond. Not every museum is focused on action around politics, but every museum is confronting the times in some way.
Durham, who says he didn’t come to the opening of his Hammer Museum show because he’s had health problems in the last couple of years, says, “I guess you could call leaving New York a statement or position in that I didn’t want to be judged by my monetary success. I didn’t want to be a part of the American dream.”
This isn’t just about helping medical students access their feelings (important as that is). “In addition to focusing on ways that doctors treat their patients through empathy, the program aimed to develop observation skills and address how doctors treat themselves, through a session on mindfulness and self-care.”
One art historian – well, the leading expert on Thomas Gainsborough – says “Miss Brummell” is probably by the painter’s nephew. Why? “It’s just not Gainsborough’s style. It’s too messy. It lacks confidence. The handling is rather scratchy.”
Maybe: “Being an artist implies a normative departure from bourgeois society. It’s a different kind of extension because it refers to a different lifestyle, so, unlike other domains, .art has the capacity to draw artists and institutions to itself.”
Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, the art historian, writer, and filmmaker behind the project, says, “the narrative that is told about Africa is still the backward narrative: no innovation, it’s ahistorical and stuck. Yet with everything I was reading, it was stories of innovation, of knowledge, of technology.”
This “shybot” wandered the desert for a month, with its only goal being to avoid human contact. “Drones tracked its progress from the air — which Shybot at times appeared not to appreciate.”
“The hard lines and raw material of these buildings, captured in Nigel Green’s crisp photographs that accompany the map, seem out of place in this French city of past regencies and Haussmann’s 19th-century design,” but perhaps they show what Paris could, or should, be.
And that mission is to correct, as much as he can, the whitewash of art history in museums across the country. ““At a certain point, you have to decide whether you’d be satisfied always acknowledging the beauty and the greatness of what other people create or if you want to be in the same arena.”