an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Koons, Whitney, Wynn and My “Greater Fool” Theory of Trophy Art

At the Jeff Koons press preview, L to R: Whitney directorAdam Weinberg, Pompidou Center director Alain Seban, Jeff Koons
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Having dutifully ingested the Whitney Museum's press preview for its monumental Jeff Koons retrospective (to Oct. 19) and then gagged on the laudatory commentary from two major critics whom I greatly admire, I hesitated to publicly air my indigestion, figuring it would likely reveal more about my own limitations than that of the art. But Tuesday's contrarian (and, to my mind, astute) review by Peter Plagens in the Wall Street Journal emboldened me to say what I came to feel about this perplexingly and aggressively vapid show: The only way … [Read more...]

News Flash: Standing Granted for Some Save the Corcoran Members UPDATED and CORRECTED

Andrew Tulumello, lawyer for Save the Corcoran

Now it gets interesting. This just in from Twitter feed of Washington Business Journal's Rebecca Cooper: Judge Okun granted petition to intervene to nine of the 19 potential intervenors of @savethecorcoran, incl. current students and faculty. — Top Shelf (@TopShelfWBJ) July 21, 2014 Judge Okun tells Corcoran that in upcoming hearing, he expects further justification of mergers as path forward for gallery and school. — Top Shelf (@TopShelfWBJ) July 21, 2014 A Save the Corcoran source tells me that those allowed by the judge to … [Read more...]

Corcoran Cliffhanger: What Will Happen in DC Superior Court Tomorrow? UPDATED

Corcoran Gallery of Art
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

UPDATE:  I've now added, below, the page citation from STC's court filing regarding acceptability of selling art and possible loss of accreditation in so doing, as well as the page citation for STC's suggestion that the judge hear Reynolds' views. At Friday's D.C. Superior Court hearing on the Corcoran Gallery's proposed merger with the National Gallery and George Washington University, Judge Robert Okun said he would rule today (Monday) on whether to grant Save the Corcoran's request for legal standing to oppose the merger in court. My … [Read more...]

News Flash: D.C. Attorney General Supports Corcoran Merger

District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan

In advance of tomorrow's cy pres hearing, Washington, D.C., Attorney General Irvin Nathan has given his go-ahead to the planned merger of the Corcoran Gallery and College of Art + Design with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University. In a 20-page brief (not counting voluminous exhibits) dated yesterday, the AG "concluded that the Corcoran’s financial situation will prevent it from continuing to pursue its mission as a viable and independent institution and that, as a result, cy pres relief is justified." He went on to … [Read more...]

Grand Bargain vs. Tawdry Fire Sale: Detroit Institute of Arts’ Progress on the Former, Caveats on Latter

Today's grand announcement for the Grand Bargain
TK at podium, Detroit Institute of Art director Graham Beal to his left

There was a lot of self-congratulation at this morning's buoyant press conference, where the Detroit Institute of Arts and Mayor Mike Duggan announced that the museum has now raised almost 80% of the $100 million it has committed towards the $816-million Grand Bargain that is intended to prevent monetization of the museum's art to help pay Detroit's creditors. Nine new contributors, led by Roger S. Penske and Penske Corp. (with a $10-million pledge) have promised $26.8 million in this latest burst of philanthropy. Reporting in the Detroit … [Read more...]

“Egregious Mismanagement”: Save the Corcoran’s Serious Allegations in Court Filing

Andrew Tulumello, lawyer for Save the Corcoran

The Corcoran Gallery's trustees, in a brief filed today, argued that Save the Corcoran's 40-page complaint and petition to scotch the planned merger with George Washington University and the National Gallery "amounts to 'obstruction for the sake of obstruction' that would disrupt the coming school year for art students and force the sale of artworks to pay for operations," according to David Montgomery's Washington Post report. (Montgomery doesn't link to the actual document; I'll add that link at the top of this paragraph, if and when I get … [Read more...]

More on Expanded Clark Art Institute: Added Art, Hidden Entrance, Unintended Water Feature

ClarkCarp

Given my space limitations, there were many details about the Clark Art Institute's expansion that didn't make it yesterday into my Wall Street Journal piece (nor into my CultureGrrl blog post). So let's return for another look at the good, the bad and the ugly to be discovered while exploring the Clark's much enhanced campus: THE GOOD Yesterday, I barely mentioned the intelligent, resourceful work done by landscape architect Gary Hilderbrand in renewing and enhancing the idyllic outdoor setting, not only through his alluring design … [Read more...]

Companion Slideshow for My WSJ Piece on Reimagined (and today evacuated) Clark Art Institute

Across the pond: View of Tadao Ando-designed addition to the Clark, across its new water feature
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

More on this here. My largely positive review in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal, Striving for Grand-Scale Intimacy (online now), did not cause the evacuation of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. A regional power outage was the culprit. A spokesperson for the museum, whom I had contacted late this afternoon for fact-checking, told me that the entire area---including not only her museum but also MASS MoCA and the Williams College Museum of Art---had suffered loss of electricity because of a fire in the power station in North … [Read more...]

Save the Corcoran Files Complaint and Petition to Intervene in Cy Près Case UPDATED

CorcSave

UPDATE: This just in from the D.C. Attorney General's Office, in response to my query: "We are not taking any position on the Corcoran’s petition now (nor on the Save The Corcoran’s petition)." Save the Corcoran, the ad hoc advocacy group, today announced that it has filed a complaint and petition to intervene in the Corcoran Gallery's cy près case that seeks the D.C. Superior Court's permission for a planned merger with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University. As described in the announcement, the complaint "charges … [Read more...]

BlogBack: George Washington University on Its Plans for Corcoran College

GWU

Candace Smith, George Washington University's assistant vice president for media relations, responds to Do You Know the Way to Cy Près? What’s Wrong with Corcoran’s Court Petition, in which I quoted the university's student newspaper regarding the possible pricing for new Corcoran students and possible new course requirements: It's important to remember that most of GW's students do not pay the full tuition sticker price.  In fact, GW offers generous financial aid packages to the majority of our students, including a number of scholarships … [Read more...]

Do You Know the Way to Cy Près? What’s Wrong with Corcoran’s Court Petition UPDATED

District of Columbia Superior Court

I'm no stranger to cy près arguments, having attended the court hearing for the Barnes Foundation that paved its way to Philadelphia. Cy près is legal lingo describing petitions that request court permission to deviate from a donor's written stipulations. D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Okun is scheduled to hold a hearing at 2:30 p.m. on July 18, Courtroom 317, regarding the Corcoran Gallery's cy près request for approval of its proposed merger with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University. From what I've seen in the … [Read more...]

My Wall Street Journal Article on Conservation at the 9/11 Memorial Museum (with slideshow)

Fragment from Rodin's "The Three Shades"
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

I probably wouldn't have visited the recently opened 9/11 Memorial Museum, on the site of the destroyed Twin Towers, had I not been asked by my Wall Street Journal editor to do a piece on the preservation and conservation of the battered, mangled objects that were presciently preserved during the cleanup of the Ground Zero. Some 1,000 artifacts, from a collection of about 13,000 (some directly from the site, others donated by individuals) are on display at the museum. My piece, Restoring the Ruins: Maintaining the Integrity of the … [Read more...]

Tech-Centric Museum Without a Functioning Website? What Happened to CooperHewitt.Org? UPDATED

CoopDown2

UPDATE: Almost immediately after I posted this, the Cooper Hewitt's website returned to functionality, hopefully this time for good. In yesterday's post on the renewed and renamed Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, I wrote that the website for this technologically souped up institution seemed to be down. The museum's spokesperson told me I was wrong at that it was working (which seemed unlikely to me, since I had tried it repeatedly, on four different devices). Then she corrected herself, saying that there had been a problem with the … [Read more...]

Souped-Up Cooper Hewitt: Interactive Pen, Newark-Exiled Collection (with video) CORRECTED

Caroline Baumann, Cooper Hewitt director, holding the "Interactive Pen"
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

More on this here. It's way too early to review the renewed and renamed (but not yet reinstalled) Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (formerly, "Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum"). After a protracted three-year closure, it will reopen on Dec. 12. One thing that I can assuredly say right now is that the former Andrew Carnegie Mansion has great bones. The highlight, for me, of museum's advance press tour this week was the chance to admire its restored Babb, Cook & Willard-designed spaces, uncluttered by objects. The room … [Read more...]

Damning DAM: AAMD Sanctimoniously Sanctions the Delaware Art Museum

William Holman Hunt, "Isabella and the Pot of Basil" 
Sold at Christie's London for £2.88 million ($4.89 million)

When will the Association of Art Museum Directors wake up and realize that its sanctions against museums that flout its deaccession standards have little or no power over financially desperate museums lacking strong professional governance? As you've probably already heard, AAMD today announced that it had sanctioned the Delaware Art Museum for its sale yesterday at Christie's, London, of one of its most important Pre-Raphaelite paintings---William Holman Hunt's "Isabella and the Pot of Basil"---to help pay down debts and beef up … [Read more...]

Frick Expansion Bonus: Opening the Upstairs Rooms (with slideshow and Storify)

Soon to be opened: stairs leading to second floor of Frick mansion
Photo by Michael Bodycomb

How many times have you gazed at those stairs and wished you could ascend? My favorite aspect of the Frick's expansion plans won't occupy any more space on E. 70th Street, won't need government approvals, will greatly enhance the visitor experience and should attract nothing but plaudits from critics who (like me) are starting to grumble about some aspects of the Davis Brody Bond-designed expansion. (See my Storify, below. And if you want to see more reactions, take a look at the readers' comments---114 at this writing---attached to Robin … [Read more...]

Beaux Arts on Botox: The Frick Collection’s Planned Expansion

Rendering of the Frick with expansion by Davis Brody Bond on right (seen from 70th
Street, looking west
Courtesy of
Neoscape Inc., 2014

More on this here. Following in the footsteps of the Morgan Library and Museum, another New York jewel-box museum established by a Gilded Age mogul/collector---the Frick Collection, founded by Henry Clay Frick---has outgrown its space and plans to expand. But without mentioning the Morgan, the Frick's press release announcing the expansion yesterday suggests that the approach to be taken by its architects, Davis Brody Bond, will be the antithesis of what Renzo wrought in 2006 under the Morgan's previous director, Charles Pierce Jr. Piano's … [Read more...]

Detroit Exploits: Today’s Grand Bargain Announcement (plus Detroit Institute’s more aggressive legal stance)

Detroit Institute of Arts director Graham Beal (and me)
Photo by

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) was not providing any advance details regarding its "major Grand Bargain announcement," planned for later this morning. After getting a heads-up from the museum on Friday about the planned announcement, I assumed it might have something to do with fundraising successes. At least some (if not all) of the news was leaked early to Detroit reporters by other sources: Matt Helms of the Detroit Free Press reported that "leaders of the Detroit Institute of Arts will join Gov. Rick Snyder...to announce a … [Read more...]

My Q&A with Timothy Potts: Reinstalling the Getty Museum’s Antiquities (and more on the Getty Bronze)

Timothy Potts, director, J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

The inscrutable Italian courts may have once again delayed their decision on the Getty Bronze case, but that doesn't mean CultureGrrl needs to hold off any longer from reporting about Getty Museum director Timothy Potts' plans to thoroughly overhaul the installation of his institution's antiquities holdings in the Getty Villa, Pacific Palisades, where the contested "Victorious Youth" is a signature work. When I was at the Getty researching my Pollock piece for the Wall Street Journal, I took the occasion to find out what Potts has been up to … [Read more...]

Getty Bronze Court Decision Postponed Again

"Victorious Youth," aka the Getty Bronze, 300-100 B.C.
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Italy's highest court, the Court of Procrastination...I mean, "Cassation," punted once again in the never-ending Getty Bronze case. This just in from the Getty Museum: The Court's official report, which was issued today, simply states: "Stayed pending hearing by the Constitutional Court." Why has the court repeatedly balked on bringing this case to conclusion? Might it be that the judges are reluctant to issue the decision that they feel is legally warranted but that would roil Italy's repatriationists? (A lower court ruling was in the … [Read more...]

an ArtsJournal blog