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Archives for June 2008

Gloves Off: Sozanski Socks the Barnes Move

Edward Sozanski (above), art critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, has taken off the kid gloves and put on the boxing gloves, pummeling the proponents of moving the Barnes Foundation from Merion to Philadelphia. In doing so, he is battling his own newspaper's MegaBarnes-friendly news coverage, as well its editorial page's campaign in strong support of the Barnes move.Desperate times call for desperate measures: The last legal impediments to the move appear to have been removed. Sozanski has been on the right side of this issue all along, but … [Read more...]

Full Text of Governmental Accord for Louvre Abu Dhabi

Not only is the Art Newspaper's recent report (scroll down) of the contents of the contract between France and Abu Dhabi a rather stale "scoop," but Didier Rykner has just sent me his link to the entire 23-page, French-language text of the contract, which he had posted on his Paris-based La Tribune de l'Art blog back on Oct. 14. So get out your Larousse and peruse the Accord Between the Government of the French Republic and the Government of the United Arab Emirates Regarding the Universal Museum of Abu Dhabi. … [Read more...]

Towards a Ceasefire in the Antiquities Wars: The Next Step (Part II)

Malcolm Rogers, director of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, signing a 2006 accord to relinquish to Italy 13 antiquities from his museum's collection(Part I, where I call on the Association of Art Museum Directors to establish guidelines for repatriating certain antiquities, is here.)American museums cannot be expected to empty themselves of all antiquities with uncertain pasts. Even the most fervent source-country advocates would acknowledge that. For most objects already residing in permanent collections, I recommended (in my above-linked … [Read more...]

Tadao Ando: Dubious in Abu Dhabi

Tadao Ando's first slide for Clark Art Institute lectureI was in Williamstown, MA, last weekend for the Wall Street Journal, to cover the Clark Art Institute's new Stone Hill Center, designed by Tadao Ando. I attended his pre-opening lecture---an hour-long illustrated tour of his various projects around the world. His first slide (above) related to his commission in Abu Dhabi for a Maritime Museum---one of four starchitect-designed cultural facilities planned for Saadiyat Island.I can't blog about Stone Hill until my WSJ piece appears. But I … [Read more...]

Towards a Ceasefire in the Antiquities Wars: The Next Step (Part I)

Cult Statue of a Goddess, 425-400 B.C., to be returned to Italy in 2010 by J. Paul Getty Museum Earlier this month, the Association of Art Museum Directors took an important first step towards deescalating the protracted antiquities wars that have roiled the Getty Museum, Metropolitan Museum and Boston Museum of Fine Arts, among others. The association at long last promulgated rigorous standards for acquiring ancient objects. Institutions adopting these rules will, under most circumstances, acquire only objects known to have been legally … [Read more...]

News Flash: Official Annoucement of Changes at Art in America Magazine

Marcia Vetrocq, new editor of Art in AmericaThis just in---a press release from Art in America (not online at this writing), announcing the changes in leadership. Betsy Baker, who has resigned her long-time position as editor, will be editor-at-large "in charge of special projects, which will include book publishing and website development." Website development? Betsy? If there is one aspect of AiA that probably needs some fresh, tech-savvy blood, I'd say it's website development.As I previously reported, Marcia Vetrocq is the new editor, … [Read more...]

Philly Press Lunch: Rishel Rises to the Occasion

Philadelphia Museum senior curator Joseph Rishel meets the press in NYCYesterday's Philadelphia Museum press lunch in New York was notable both for who wasn't there---Gail Harrity, interim CEO and Alice Beamesderfer, interim head of curatorial affairs (whose appointments were announced Friday by the museum here) and also for who was---Joe Rishel, husband of the museum's late director Anne d'Harnoncourt, and the museum's senior curator of European painting before 1900.Joe presented a lively account of his upcoming Cézanne and Beyond blockbuster … [Read more...]

News Flash: Philippe Vergne Named Director of Dia Art Foundation

Philippe VergnePhoto: Cameron WittigFrench-born Philippe Vergne, deputy director and chief curator at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, will become director of the Dia Art Foundation, effective Sept. 15. He succeeds Jeffrey Weiss, who left the Dia in March, after only nine months, having become disenchanted with the administrative side of the job.Vergne is best know to New York museumgoers for co-curating the 2006 Whitney Biennial and organizing the recent "Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love," which also appeared at … [Read more...]

News Flash: Elizabeth Baker Resigns as Editor of Art in America

This is truly the end of an era. Betsy Baker, editor of Art in America magazine since 1974, has resigned. Marcia Vetrocq, one of five senior editors, has become the new editor. According to my source at AiA, where I am a contributing editor, Betsy will continue working on projects for the magazine and will remain on the masthead (possibly as editor-at-large). There is no official announcement at this writing.Working at Art in America, shortly after Betsy arrived as editor, was my first art-related gig in the mainstream media. Critics Roberta … [Read more...]

Italy’s New Culture Minister Signals Desire for More Antiquity Repatriations

Sandro BondiJust when you thought the remaining antiquities in your museum's permanent collection might be safe, along comes this announcement from the Italian Ministry of Culture. (The date on the ministry's website, June 19, 2007, is a misprint; Bondi was named culture minister only last month.)Here's the translated announcement: The minister of culture, Sandro Bondi [above], announces that he has reconstituted the "Committee for the Restitution of Cultural Property," which has the task of examining all the questions relating to the recovery … [Read more...]

Philadelphia Inquirer Report on Yesterday’s d’Harnoncourt Tribute

Here's the account in today's Philadelphia Inquirer of yesterday's Anne d'Harnoncourt tribute. And here's the newspaper's online photo slideshow of the event. … [Read more...]

“Rembrandt Laughing”…and So Is Its Anonymous Buyer

The reattributed, renamed self-portrait, "Rembrandt Laughing" Okay, so I'm not a Rembrandt expert. Last October, I looked at the photo of the above painting and imprudently wrote: My gut reaction, from a lifetime of gazing at Rembrandts, is "not" [as in, "not a Rembrandt"] but I'm certainly no specialist. There's always that time-honored category for new "discoveries"---Great Artist on a Bad Day. Now the Associated Press reports that some true experts have given this painting a thumbs-up, not to mention a new title. It's now called, … [Read more...]

Anne d’Harnoncourt Day: A Reminder

Today at 6 p.m. is the special program on the East Terrace of the Philadelphia Museum in tribute to its late, great director, Anne d'Harnoncourt. If her widower, Joe Rishel, who is listed on the program, does decide to speak (as stated in this Philadelphia Inquirer item), there had better be lots of tissues on hand. I'd be there, if I didn't have to leave here early tomorrow morning for a mainstream-media assignment, located a nearly four-hour drive in the opposite direction.You go for me. … [Read more...]

Hirst First: Bypassing Dealers with Direct-to-Sotheby’s Sale of New Work

Damien Hirst with "The Golden Calf"© Damien Hirst. Photo: Prudence CummingLess powerful, less high-profile artists might not get away with it, but Damien Hirst has just dealt a body blow to the gallery system. What's more, his New York and London galleries (Gagosian, White Cube) are going along with it, even to the extent of supplying supportive comments for Sotheby's press release.The artist-provocateur is consigning directly to Sotheby's, London, an as yet undisclosed number of new works (created within the last two years), for a two-day … [Read more...]

Succession Obsession: Mediabistro Misconstrues CultureGrrl’s Met Picks

Okay, all you newshounds who are clicking on CultureGrrl today because of this post on mediabistro's blog, UnBeige. I didn't (as suggested by Steve Delahoyde) "predict" that Maxwell Anderson, Michael Conforti or Timothy Potts WILL become the next director of the Metropolitan Museum. What I did say in Who Should Succeed Philippe at the Met? is that they are MY OWN picks of who would be best for the job. (Don't you just love it when journalists get a taste of their own misquote medicine?)If anything, I'd predict that the first two are unlikely to … [Read more...]

Masterpiece-for-a-Day: The Whitney’s Speedy Loan of Timeless Gorky

Arshile Gorky, "The Artist and His Mother," 1926-36, Whitney MuseumIt's a generous but highly unusual gesture---a masterpiece-for-a-day loan to the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), on the occasion of the 40th-anniversary celebration of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral, New York. Tomorrow, the Whitney Museum's iconic Arshile Gorky painting, "The Artist and His Mother" (above) will be temporarily inserted into a larger exhibition, Art @ the Cathedral: Giving Form to Faith, which runs at the cathedral, 630 Second Ave., to June … [Read more...]

Another Getty Antiquities Scandal: Villa’s Dumbed-Down Installation

Roman Sarcophagus representing a Dionysiac village festival, 290-300 A.D. J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu As I previously mentioned here, the Getty Museum's recent announcement that it had acquired a 3rd century A.D. Roman sarcophagus (above) reminded me of the shock I felt last February in perusing the two-year old reinstallation of the renovated Getty Villa in Malibu. According to the museum's recent press release: The sarcophagus will form the centerpiece of an installation focusing on wine and wine-making in antiquity, … [Read more...]

Met Gives Up Its 10-Year Rolling Rule for Antiquities Acquisitions

In my June 4 post announcing the new antiquities acquisition rules promulgated by the Association of Art Museum Directors, I noted that it would be interesting to see whether the Metropolitan Museum changed its policies to conform with the new guidelines. Its director, Philippe de Montebello, had been an outspoken advocate of AAMD's previous "10-year rolling rule," which said that museums should be free to acquire objects that had clear and acceptable provenance going back 10 years. Now, in most circumstances, the provenance must date back at … [Read more...]

News Flash: No Barnes Decision Appeal by Montgomery County UPDATED TWICE

Back row, left to right: Montgomery County Commissioners Joseph Hoeffel, James Matthews and Bruce Castor Jr.Montgomery County will not appeal Judge Stanley Ott's recent reaffirmation of his previous permission for the Barnes Foundation to move from Merion, PA, the county's communications director, John Corcoran, just informed me. And a spokesperson for the Friends of the Barnes has told me that they would "probably not appeal." [UPDATE: The Friends, an ad hoc concerned-citizens group, have now officially announced that they will not appeal.] … [Read more...]

Guggenheim in Vilnius? Maybe Not.

Planned museum in Vilnius, LithuaniaPhoto: Zaha Hadid ArchitectsYesterday, in announcing that the planned Zaha Hadid-designed museum in Vilnius (above) had just gotten a green light from the Lithuanian government, many news organizations were reporting something similar to what the NY Times published, drawing upon a report from Agence France-Presse: The museum will build its own collection and display art from the Hermitage and the Guggenheim.The Times and AFP also said the new museum was a joint project of Lithuania, the Guggenheim and the … [Read more...]

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