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Archives for July 2008

Damien The E-Mail? A Cryptic Missive to CultureGrrl

Damien Hirst, "Pharmacy,"1992, Tate Gallery © Damien HirstSomeone who signed his name as "Pharmacy" yesterday sent me an admiring but cryptic e-mail that was linked as a comment to my 2006 post, "Sensation!" German-Style. The message clearly had nothing to do with that long-ago review of the "Glitter and Doom" show at the Metropolitan Museum. But the allusion to "Sensation!", the Young British Artists exhibition that famously included Hirst's shark, and the pseudonym of the sender, which seemed to evoke Hirst's Pharmacy-titled works (including … [Read more...]

Philippe The Exhibition: His Acquisitions Become a Show and a Syllabus

Signature image of the Philippe retrospective: Peter Paul Rubens, "Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment and Their Son Peter Paul," probably late 1630s, Metropolitan Museum of ArtNot only are the Metropolitan Museum's more than 84,000 works acquired during the 31-year reign of director Philippe de Montebello going to be celebrated in an exhibition of more than 250 selected objects, but they are also the focus of a graduate art history course, named for the exhibition, offered this fall at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts.NYU's colloquium … [Read more...]

National Gallery’s Flood Preparedness (and a correction)

In this post about the vulnerability of the National Gallery and other Washington institutions to flooding if the endangered Potomac Park levee fails, I observed that these facilities "had better have a plan for keeping their treasures high and dry."Here's what Deborah Ziska, the National Gallery's chief of press and public information, had to say, in response to my query: The National Gallery of Art continually reviews its emergency preparedness and, in the unlikely event floodwaters do come our way, we have a number of systems in place and … [Read more...]

Damien The Auction: A Career “Retrospective” of Brand New Works

This is not a Hirst: Bull's Head Rhyton, Late Minoan (ca. 1450 B.C.), Herakleion Archaeological MuseumFor his audacious, dealer-bypassing London auction of 223 new works (total presale estimate: more than £65 million), Damien Hirst has concocted an instant "retrospective" of 2008 creations, which recap his career's signature styles and motifs---spin art, dots, butterflies and, of course, formaldehyde-preserved beasts. If this isn't "flooding the market," what is?Sotheby's just-issued press release calls it, "a whole new body of work that covers … [Read more...]

Pssst! Wanna Buy the Salander-O’Reilly Townhouse?

Now (for just $75 million) you can! Sotheby's International Realty has the listing for the 21,200 square feet of "grand and elegant neo-Italian Renaissance" space that once housed Lawrence Salander's financially beleaguered gallery. Christopher Gray of the NY Times reported on Sunday that the E. 71st Street townhouse (above) is being sold by its owner, the real estate mogul and art collector Aby Rosen. Salander had rented it for $1.8 million a year, according to the Times. … [Read more...]

Guernica’s Condition: Robust or Fragile?

Pablo Picasso, "Guernica," 1937, Reina Sofia, MadridDoes Picasso's "Guernica," one of the most celebrated paintings of the 20th century, have "a robust constitution," or is it in "stable but serious" condition?That depends on whether you ask Manuel Borja-Villel, the director of Madrid's Reina Sofia Museum, who provided the upbeat description (as reported by the Associated Press), or Jorge Garcia Gomez-Tejedor, the same museum's conservator, who delivered the downbeat diagnosis to journalist Jesús Ruiz Mantilla, reporting for the Spanish … [Read more...]

News Flash: David Franklin Court Documents Unsealed; Canada National Gallery’s Conflicts Revealed

In Toronto's Globe and Mail later this morning (but online now), James Bradshaw and Josh Wingrove report on the contents of the legal affidavits in the dispute between the National Gallery of Canada's director, Pierre Théberge, and its deputy director, David Franklin, (who was abruptly put on leave). Franklin's July 16 request for a judicial review of the situation was dismissed by a Federal Court judge and the file was "permanently" sealed. The Ottawa Citizen newspaper promptly announced it would file a motion to have the affidavits made … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Kwame Opoku Responds to Michael Conforti

Kwame Opoku, a tireless commentator on restitution issues (one of whose essays recently attracted a rejoinder on Afrikanet.info from Metropolitan Museum director Philippe de Montebello), responds to Michael Conforti Q&A About AAMD and Antiquities: It is always interesting to hear from those whose work it is to keep records of the past achievements of mankind and society declaring that we must forget the past and look forward to the future. What they are saying is that there should be no archaeology of the acquisition practices of the … [Read more...]

Major Washington Museums at Serious Risk for Flooding

In the flood zone: The National Gallery of Art[NOTE: There is a correction to the first paragraph of this post, here.]Remember the June 2006 cresting of the Potomac River in Washington, DC, which caused temporary closures of the National Archives, National Gallery, Natural History Museum and American History Museum, not to mention the Internal Revenue Service?Now, according to the Associated Press, "the threat [of floods] is worsening" for these and other buildings in Washington's flood zone.Brian Wesley reports:The nearly 70-year-old [Potomac … [Read more...]

Gunning for Gunningham: A Dispatch from Banksy?

This message, which seems to debunk the latest identity theory, is now posted on the homepage of the Banksy website [via]:I think I'll let that be the last word on this momentous subject. … [Read more...]

Central Park Goes to Hell in a Handbag

Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld have done Vuitton and Marc Jacobs one better. Or, much more accurately, one worse.Vuitton merely usurped nonprofit museum space for commercial purposes. Chanel will invade a swath of public land to promote its brand: Its players will overtake Rumsey Playfield in New York's Central Park, Oct. 20 to Nov. 9, with "Mobile Art," a futuristic pod designed by Zaha Hadid to display Chanel-commissioned art, "at least in part inspired by Chanel's classic...quilted-style chain handbag" (above), as reported today by Carol Vogel in … [Read more...]

The Banksy/Robin Gunningham Search: CultureGrrl Is Number One on Google

Why do I bother trying to do serious journalism, anyway?This post, in which I reported my discovery of a 2004 obit for one Robin Gunningham of Bristol (the same name and town of the person identified as, possibly, the elusive guerilla artist, Banksy) is, at this writing, Number One on the Google hit parade that appears when you search, "Robin Gunningham." (The implication of my discovery is that the cunning Gunningham name-dropper could be a hoaxster, meaning that the true identity of Banksy remains secret.)I'm not aware of anyone in the … [Read more...]

Michael Conforti Q&A About AAMD and Antiquities

Michael Conforti, Director of Clark Art Institute and President of AAMDWhen we sat down for a chat at the new Stone Hill Center last month, Michael Conforti, director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, must have thought he was talking with Rosenbaum, not CultureGrrl. He asserts that he never reads blogs (although he's been known to read posts forwarded to him by others). As the new president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, with a two-year term for a post that formerly lasted one year, Conforti is in … [Read more...]

Punch List for the Clark’s Ando: Window Shades and Concrete

Many new buildings have "punch lists"---things that didn't get done quite right the first time and need to be fixed or replaced. At the new Tadao Ando-designed Stone Hill Center built by the Williamstown Art Conservation Center and the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, the problems involve the window shades and the building material that Ando is most famous for---concrete.Here's what the shades look like now (at the top of the window, pointed out by Lisa Green, the Clark's director of communications and design):Lisa told me that the white … [Read more...]

Follow-Ups: Guggenheim, Lascaux, Vuitton, Qatar, Shelby White, Acropolis Museum

Because I've been posting less, I've dropped the ball on a number of recent developments on stories that we've been following. Here's a quick catch-up rundown:---Jacques Steinberg of the NY Times reports that "construction workers have begun dismantling the scaffolding that has encased the Guggenheim Museum on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for nearly three years." I recently learned from a construction-company source that a ceremony related to this major makeover is scheduled for Sept. 22. But that doesn't mean that the restoration is almost … [Read more...]

Coptic Antics: The Story Behind the Brooklyn Fakes

Not Coptic: Limestone Relief of a Paralytic Carrying a Bed on His Back, Brooklyn MuseumFor those of you who have heard my WNYC commentary, Fake Art at the Brooklyn Museum, here's more:Edna Russman, Brooklyn's curator of Egyptian art, told me last week that the problem pieces that will be displayed as part of the museum's Coptic sculpture show, Feb. 13-May 10, were known to have come from Egypt, especially from the village of Sheikh Ibada. The limestone from which they were composed was, in fact, unearthed from authentic Coptic sites. Those … [Read more...]

Freedom of Information: More Legal Action on the David Franklin Fracas

Richard Dearden, Freedom of Information FighterThe Ottawa Citizen newpaper wants to know what issues are involved in the David Franklin/National Gallery of Canada court battle and it's initiating its own court battle to find out. Federal Court Deputy Judge Orville Frenette on Wednesday had ordered the permanent sealing of the file pertaining to Franklin's application for "a judicial review." Paula McCooey of the Citizen reports:Citizen lawyer Richard Dearden [above] says the paper will be filing a motion seeking to unseal the file on the … [Read more...]

My Coptic Art Fakes Commentary: Monday on WNYC, Today on CultureGrrl

My New York Public Radio segment on the Brooklyn Museum's Coptic art fakes was bumped to Monday by an story on Iran (fair enough) but it's up on their website today and I've got permission to post it on CultureGrrl. For those of you who still want to hear it on the radio, I'm told that it will air at 7:30 a.m. But these things can change (and probably will).At any rate, you can listen now by clicking the arrow below (or WNYC's website) and I'll post more on the topic next week, after this airs. For now, I'll only add that I stole the quip at … [Read more...]

My Commentary on Brooklyn’s Coptic Fakes: Tomorrow on New York Public Radio

I will never call WNYC's studios "shabby" again. Today I visited New York Public Radio's shiny new headquarters, to tape a segment (which, if all goes according to plan, will be aired tomorrow on Morning Edition) about the upcoming Brooklyn Museum exhibition of Coptic stone sculptures, real and fake. I'm no longer caged in a glass booth, but I can't see host Soterios Johnson, even though he sits opposite me, because that plump new microphone is in my face. I wonder if I'll sound better on the new equipment!In any event, you can listen live … [Read more...]

David Franklin Goes to Court Against National Gallery of Canada UPDATED TWICE

David Franklin, on leave and in court When David Franklin suddenly went "on leave" July 2 from his post as deputy director of the National Gallery of Canada, the museum's director of public affairs, Joanne Charette, told me: The man has a right to his privacy....Eventually, there will be further explanation. Now there is: Yesterday he went to court against both the museum and its director, Pierre Théberge, who had announced previously that he would be leaving his post once a new director was appointed. Franklin had been thought to be a … [Read more...]

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