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Archives for May 2008

Sex and the Critic: Can Venerable Male Reviewers Judge this Movie?

Roger EbertCritics face this problem all the time: We all carry around with us certain likes, dislikes, prejudices and personal baggage. That means we may not always be well suited to review everything that comes our way. Yet we do it anyway, usually without revealing our conflicts-of-disinterest. One wonders, for example, how critic Roger Kimball, a champion of "classical realism," will be able to credibly review the work of certain major art movements after categorically dismissing, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, "pop, op, minimalism, … [Read more...]

Friends, Romans and Classicists: Is This the Head of Julius Caesar?

The conqueror of French archaeologistsPhoto: French Ministry of CultureHas Julius Caesar been dredged up from a French riverbed? CBC News reports:A bust found at the bottom of a river in Arles, France, may be the truest representation of Julius Caesar ever found. The marble sculpture of a man in his 50s, with facial wrinkles and a receding hairline, may have been carved from life. Archeologists say the bust dates from 49 to 46 B.C. when Caesar reigned and the town of Arles was founded. It also resembles official portraits of Julius Caesar from … [Read more...]

Long Live Elliott Carter! An Operatic Double-Bill?

Excerpt from Elliott Carter's first opera, "What Next?"I didn't make it to last Thursday's well received Metropolitan Opera Orchestra performance of Elliott Carter's 1955 "Variations for Orchestra." But I did see, the night before, both its conductor, James Levine, and the high-spirited, keen-minded 99-year-old Carter himself at the Museum of Modern Art, where they conversed onstage after a world premiere of a filmed live performance, conducted by Levine, of Carter's mysterious, whimsical, "What Next?"---a one-act opera composed when Carter was … [Read more...]

News Flash: Maier Museum’s Deaccessioned Tamayo Fetches $7.21 Million

It was estimated at $2-3 million. The Latin American sale at Christie's is still in progress, but the "Trovador"'s long song at Randolph College's Maier Museum is, sadly, finished. … [Read more...]

End of an Era for Whitney’s Board: Leonard Lauder, Chuck Close Step Down

MoMA director Glenn Lowry (left) interviews a very outspoken Chuck Close at a recent conference in New YorkThis just in---a changing-of-the-guard press release  from the Whitney Museum:In elections held yesterday by the Board of Trustees of the Whitney Museum of American Art, current Chairman Leonard A. Lauder was named Chairman Emeritus, while continuing to be a voting member of the Board....In addition, Fred Wilson was elected Artist Trustee, replacing Chuck Close.More than most heads of art museum boards, Lauder wielded influence over … [Read more...]

The Debate Over “Context”: From Elgin to Eakins

Kathleen Foster, senior curator of American art at the Philadelphia Museum, speaking about Eakins' "The Gross Clinic" at the "American Icons" conferenceCritics of the source countries' stance in the cultural-property wars (such as Edward Rothstein in yesterday's NY Times) frequently call into question the assertion by Greeks, Italians, Egyptians and others that context is crucial. Having admired antiquities in both encyclopedic museums and source-country museums, I appreciate the advantages of each and wouldn't want to do without either. But … [Read more...]

Jewels and the City: Baubles from Embattled Esmerian’s Business Said to Adorn Sarah Jessica and the Girls

Laden with Leighton? Sarah Jessica Parker at the premierePhoto from sexandthecitymovieblog.comIt must be because I've proven myself such a fashionista that I've somehow gotten onto the publicity e-mail list for Fred Leighton, the jewelry firm owned by the American Folk Art Museum's financially embattled benefactor, Ralph Esmerian. Fred Leighton keeps sending me photos of various glamorous celebrities who have borrowed the company's baubles for special events. It was so excited about the coup it scored for tonight's "Sex and the City" movie … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Christian Kleinbub Takes Cuno’s Side on Cultural Property

Edward Rothstein, in a long think piece in today's NY Times, takes James Cuno's side in the cultural property wars. (I'll have more on that later.) As CultureGrrl readers know, I have a nuanced view on these issues, and don't fit neatly into either camp. Too often, each side in the cultural-property divide exaggerates its position to make its polemical point, rendering reasonable compromise---the only way these issues will be resolved---more difficult.Here's the response of one CultureGrrl reader, Christian Kleinbub, assistant professor, of art … [Read more...]

Text of Met Director’s Job Description: Could You Be the Next Philippe?

Wanna be the Metropolitan Museum's next director? For what it's worth, here's the complete official job description (hard to read here, but I'll translate below):A list of possible candidates was recently submitted to the trustees' search committee by the Met's headhunters, Phillips Oppenheim. (Don't bother looking for the job description on that site; it doesn't even mention the Met as a client.) I was told by two different sources that the candidates' list skews young. Kate Taylor, who has a story in the NY Sun about New York's succession … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Ron Hartwig on the Getty Trust’s Finances (and the Getty Goats)

Ron Hartwig, the J. Paul Getty Trust's vice president for communications, responds to Getty Operating Deficit Soars: Wood Cuts Jobs, Goats Cut Underbrush:Sorry, but your attempt to link the Getty's "operating deficit" to our recent strategic move---to reduce and streamline operating costs, both at the Trust and within our four programs, together with programmatic reprioritization, to increase by 25% the amount of funds available to strengthen the focus our Programs put on art---is just plain wrong! There is no … [Read more...]

Getty Operating Deficit Soars: Wood Cuts Jobs, Goats Cut Underbrush UPDATED

New Hire at the Getty?The J. Paul Getty Trust, which recently posted its fiscal 2007 annual report online, last year incurred a staggering operating deficit of $49.36 million on a budget of $307.7 million. The previous year, the deficit was $18.29 million on a $293.57-million budget.This growing shortfall is likely one of the reasons for the recently announced elimination of 114 jobs, including 40 layoffs. Anne-Marie O'Connor of the LA Times recently quoted this explanation for the cuts by trust president James Wood:The whole goal here is to … [Read more...]

BlogBacks on Randolph College’s Sale of Tamayo

Readers respond to Tamayo, the First Maier Museum Deaccession, Offered Next Week: Erik Neil, executive director of the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, NY, writes:This is a sad expedient for a college with such a distinguished legacy in the arts. A quick fix now and then in a couple years there will be reports about new financial and management problems. This sale will not solve the ongoing failure of leadership. The current and future students at Randolph College are being short changed.Roy (Bud) Johns, a collector and plaintiff in the … [Read more...]

Cuno Conundrum: Whose Law Is It, Anyway?

I've been shirking my obligation to give you my opinion of James Cuno's new book (above), Who Owns Antiquity?, because I wasn't relishing the prospect of slamming it. But on Monday, an e-mail hit my inbox from the book's Princeton University Press publicist, sending me links to other articles mentioning the book (including a Wall Street Journal review that found it "excellent" but marred by "surprising factual errors"). The imprudently eager publicist wrote me: A while back you expressed some interest in Jim and his book and I'd be happy to … [Read more...]

Museum Objects Falling Down: London’s National Gallery, New York’s Metropolitan Museum

Before the Fall: Tullio Lombardo, "Adam," ca. 1490-95, Metropolitan Museum of Art Martin Bailey's report last week in the Art Newspaper about the damage to a 500-year-old panel painting by Domenico Beccafumi at London's National Gallery (which "slipped out of its temporary frame and dropped to the ground," breaking in half) brought to mind a major 2002 mishap at the Metropolitan Museum---the unfortunate fall of "Adam," a 15th-century sculpture by Venetian artist Tullio Lombardo, purchased by the Met in 1936. According to an account by … [Read more...]

Philippe at Abu NYU: Will He Still Blast Rent-a-Louvre?

I've become an expert on museum issues, on museum problems, on the history of museums, on the nature and purpose of museums. I expect what I'll be doing will be more museological than art historical. It would be closer to what I would call high art appreciation than art history.---Philippe de Montebello at his January press conference, announcing his imminent departure from the Metropolitan Museum.I had been really looking forward to marveling at Philippe Unchained.He had indicated that he would feel less constrained about speaking out more … [Read more...]

New York Public Radio Podcast: You CAN Hear Me Now (really!)

WNYC had website audio glitches for most of the day. It wasn't just my particular segment that was silenced...dispelling my paranoid fantasy that an ingenious auction minion, embedded at the radio station, had prevented my embeddng this market-analysis podcast on my blog. Just kidding (I think). Here it is (I hope): … [Read more...]

Tamayo, the First Maier Museum Deaccession, Offered Next Week

Rufino Tamayo, "Trovador," 1945 The evening Latin American sale on May 28 at Christie's includes one of the four lots from the collection of the Maier Museum, Randolph College, Lynchburg, VA, that were supposed to hit the block last November---Rufino Tamayo's Trovador (above), estimated at $2-3 million. The sales were stalled by a lawsuit filed by opponents, including alumnae. The opponents have now "unsuited" that legal challenge, but maintain that a broader lawsuit still pending in Virginia Supreme Court, which challenges the college's … [Read more...]

Art Newspaper Pegs Russian Industrialist as Buyer of Freud and Bacon (UPDATED WITH MY WNYC PODCAST)

Roman Abramovich[UPDATE: You can now click on my podcast, at the end of this post. SECOND UPDATE: Oh what a glitchy morning! At this writing, nothing happens when you click the podcast, below. But I'm leaving it up because WNYC says it will fix the problem. We can only hope. THIRD UPDATE: There's now audio up, but it's the podcast for my WNYC auction report from last fall! Patience, Art-lings!]If you listened this morning to my very rapid-fire analysis of the art market on WNYC, you heard me mention that Roman Abramovich---an orphan, a college … [Read more...]

Due to Technical Difficulties…Hear Me on WNYC at 8:40 (maybe)

Art is long; technology, glitchy.Due to problems that WNYC had in establishing a phone line, I'm now scheduled to expound on the art market at 8:40 a.m. You'll note that when I inform you about my upcoming radio gigs, I always say, "if all goes according to plan"---because it frequently doesn't!So tune in, if you dare, to 93.9 FM or 820 AM, or tune in to CultureGrrl later, when I link to the audio. … [Read more...]

My Art-Market Analysis Tomorrow on New York Public Radio

Can you sum up the current ambiguous state of the art market in a New York four minutes?New York Public Radio's Soterios Johnson and I will try, if all goes according to plan, tomorrow during the 7 a.m. hour on WNYC's Morning Edition. (I'm not usually even awake at 7 a.m., so we'll see if I can manage to be coherent when caffeinated.)Those of you who are early risers can hear me at 93.9 FM or 820 AM. Or you can listen live by clicking at the upper left corner of the station's website.I'll post the audio later tomorrow on CultureGrrl, when the … [Read more...]

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