an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Archives for January 2009

Should Brandeis President Reinharz Be Deaccessioned?

The strongest commentary yet on the proposed Rose Art Museum dissolution comes from David Bonetti, Brandeis '69 and veteran art critic of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His one-word description of his reaction---"fury." There's much more: The Rose Art Museum, then [when Bonetti attended Brandeis] one of the few museums in the country devoted to contemporary art, was instumental in the development of my interest in art and my subsequent career as an art critic. The highlight of my four difficult years at Brandeis---being a college grad in 1969 … [Read more...]

Nasher Flash: Strick-ly Speaking, It’s a Good Match

Jeremy Strick, at the old placeI look forward to working with a talented staff and committed board to create a program that through its quality, scope, and ambition will capture the attention of the world.So says Jeremy Strick in the press release announcing the appointment of the formerly embattled director of LA MOCA to his fresh new gig as director of the marvelous but currently rudderless Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas. Clearly the Nasher's board wants the high profile and is not too worried about the finances.Still, Strick does get a bit … [Read more...]

Rosenbaum Awards Day: We Interrupt this Blog…

I've got lots of posts in (Third) mind to do, but first I've got to get out that application for the award that I previously mentioned (and that I won't get). To divert me further, my doctoral-candidate daughter, also applying for an award, has just e-mailed me, for my editorial guidance, a 22-page paper entitled, "Enhanced Sound Propagation Modeling of Aviation Noise: Hybrid Parabolic Equation-Fast Field Program Method." (You KNOW I couldn't make this up.)Don't we stop having to read our kids' work after the college-application essay? It will … [Read more...]

Olga Raggio, Remembered by Met Staffer

The late Olga RaggioA Metropolitan Museum assistant museum librarian, Stephanie Post, who took pity on me in my vain search for a photo to accompany my Wednesday night Olga Raggio obit, has sent me the above image from a luncheon given for the longtime Met curator when she stepped down as chairman of European sculpture and decorative arts.Stephanie writes:I was touched that you wanted to include a picture of Miss Raggio with your post. I worked with her for seven years in ESDA, and she will not soon be forgotten. … [Read more...]

AAM’s Brandeis Statement: The Rose Collection in Any Other Museum Would Smell (almost) as Sweet

Ford Bell, AAM's president, speaking Monday at New York UniversityI was wondering what was taking them so long. We have already heard from AAMD and ACUMG, CAA and a group of contemporary museums, and AAMC. But AAM's statement on the Rose woes was well worth the wait:Taking a page out of the CultureGrrl book (4th paragraph), or, more likely, illustrating the maxim that "great minds think alike," the American Association of Museums has not merely condemned Brandeis' plan to close the Rose Art Museum and sell its art. AAM has proactively proposed … [Read more...]

The Pendulum Swings: Met’s Tom Campbell Gets Punked

I'm getting sore.How come Tom Campbell has time to speak [via] to Ed Pilkington of the Guardian, but not to Lee Rosenbaum of CultureGrrl (and occasionally even of the Wall Street Journal)? Believe me, I've asked. How come those Brits have all the fun?I know why: because it looks like Pilk got bilked---another of those bleeping beeper-timed interviews, with little of substance to show for it. The Grrl needs at least 45 minutes, not 30, of deep down discussion with the Metropolitan Museum's new director. Maybe in my next lifetime.But wait a … [Read more...]

A Rose is a Rose is a…: Association of Art Museum Curators Weighs In Against Brandeis Decision

Yet another county heard from: The Association of Art Museum Curators says this about the possible dissolution of the Rose Art Museum: The decision to regard the collection of the museum as an asset rather than as a wealth of ideas in physical form was made without consultation of all the most important parties. The professional staff of the Rose Art Museum and its student employees, all of whom who will lose their jobs, were informed only an hour before the decision was announced. The art and art history faculty, past donors to the … [Read more...]

Rose Museum Outrage, from CAA and Contemporary Museums; More Brandeis Self-Justifications

Marsden Hartley's "Musical Theme (Oriental Symphony)," 1912-13, Rose Art Museum, seen at today's Guggenheim Museum's New York press preview of The Third Mind (Can we keep it?) The College Art Association has added its voice to the chorus of condemnation against the possible dissolution of the Rose Art Museum. Here is its statement: CAA Protests Rose Art Museum's Closing and Art Collection Sale at Brandeis University January 29, 2009, New York, NY - The College Art Association (CAA) was shocked and dismayed to learn of the decision by … [Read more...]

Deaccession Revisions: AAMD Needs to Tighten Its Own Standards

In punishing the National Academy for its desperation deaccessions, the Association of Art Museum Directors went too far. The unfortunate byproduct of that has been to galvanize certain art lawyers and museum consultants, who think that some institutions (perhaps those to which they provide counsel) would benefit by a loosening of deaccession standards. If it's okay for museums to sell art, these critics reason, then it should be okay for them to use those proceeds however they wish (not just for acquisitions), especially if that money is … [Read more...]

Olga Raggio, Met’s Former Chairman of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Dies

The late Olga RaggioOlga Raggio, 82 [via], was, during her time at the Metropolitan Museum, one of the relatively rare high-ranking female museum professionals in this country. Seriously considered for the directorship that was ultimately won by Philippe de Montebello, she was at that time chairman of the Met's Western European arts department. She was praised by Thomas Hoving, in his book about his own Met directorship, as "the sharpest eye in the business."In addition to her museum work, she had taught at NYU's Institute of Fine Arts as an … [Read more...]

The Spectre of the Rose: Brandeis Flip-Flops Again

In its written statement Monday announcing its plan to close the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University said that "the university will publicly sell the art collection." Let me repeat that: It said "THE art collection." It didn't say "SOME of the art collection."But now Fred Thys of Boston's public radio station, WBUR, reports that Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz informed him that the university "does not intend to sell the entire art collection, just some of the works. He promises that the university will check the donors' wishes before … [Read more...]

Malcolm Rogers: Promised Loans May Still Go to National Academy Show

Malcolm RogersIn my diatribe yesterday against the decision by the board of the Association of Art Museum Directors that its member museums should deny loans to or collaboration with the National Academy, I noted that six museums listed on the Academy's website as lending art to an upcoming Academy show have now been deleted from the online description of that show. The only lender still listed was not an AAMD member. What I didn't say is that I had contacted Carmine Branagan, director of the Academy, several times for comment on this, but … [Read more...]

Deaccession Aggression: One Decision that AAMD Should Rescind

[NOTE: I originally intended to post this yesterday, until the Rose Art Museum situation preempted it. But recent developments make this recommendation more relevant than ever, as I will argue below.] I'm second to no one in deploring the National Academy Museum's desperation deaccessions, but I think the Association of Art Museum Directors' reaction to that watershed event went too far in one respect. In another respect, though, AAMD has yet to go far enough. My opinions on this are only reinforced by the late-breaking news (here, here, … [Read more...]

NY Times Reports That Massachusetts AG Will Review Brandeis Art-Sale Plans UPDATED

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley Sometimes, it seems, we can't trust what Brandeis University's publicity machine would have us believe. As I reported here, a university spokesman told the Boston Globe's Geoff Edgers that the Massachusetts Attorney General had been informed of university's plan to sell the Rose Museum's entire collection. The university spokesman declared that the AG (in Edgers words) "will not block" the disposals. It now appears this may have been mere wishful thinking on the university's part. And the … [Read more...]

ACUMG and AAMD Issue Statements Deploring Rose Museum’s Dissolution UPDATED

David Robertson, President, ACUMG and director, Mary and Leigh Block Museum, Northwestern University The Association of College and University Museums and Galleries (ACUMG), the leading professional organization for such institutions, has issued this statement lamenting Brandeis University's plan to close its Rose Art Museum and sell off its collection: Speaking on behalf of the ACUMG, we are saddened and disappointed to learn of the decision by Brandeis University to close the Rose Art Museum. This act is the culmination of a series of … [Read more...]

More on the Closing of the Rose: Sign the Petition; Stop the Auction UPDATED

Thumbs down on Brandeis University President Jehuda ReinharzForget the Quincy Jones Petition. If you want to sign an important artworld action document, go to the petition by Concerned Alumni of Brandeis University---In Opposition to the Closing of the Rose Art Museum.The petition says it all:The Brandeis University Board of Trustees in a closed meeting and without any community input decided to sell off the University's unique collection of modern art in order to meet a budget shortfall. But there are other ways to do this. The Rose Art Museum … [Read more...]

My WSJ “Cultural Conversation” with AAMD President Michael Conforti

Michael Conforti's WSJ Portrait, by Ismael RoldanYou can read me now: He's a Museum Leader for These Troubled Times, my Wall Street Journal profile of Michael Conforti, director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, and president of the Association of Art Museum Directors.Of course when I wrote this piece for today's (Tuesday's) WSJ "Leisure & Arts" page, I had no idea just how troubled these times would be!Now AAMD members will REALLY have something to talk about at their midwinter meeting, beginning tomorrow … [Read more...]

Brandeis to “Deaccession” Its Entire Rose Art Museum

Michael Rush, director of Brandeis University's withering Rose Art Museum[More CultureGrrl coverage of the Rose: here, here, here, here, here and here.]Forget about the National Academy's selling a couple of major paintings---mere chicken feed. How about selling your museum's ENTIRE collection? After you rub your eyes in disbelief, read it and weep---Geoff Edgers' and Peter Schworm's Boston Globe article about the planned closing and art cleanout sale of Brandeis University's 47-year-old Rose Art Museum.Here's the university's entire press … [Read more...]

Required Museum-Director Reading for the AAMD Meeting: My WSJ Profile Tomorrow of Michael Conforti UPDATED

Janet Landay, newly appointed AAMD executive directorAs you wing your way tomorrow to the midwinter membership meeting of the Association of Art Museum Directors in San Diego (Jan. 28-30), all you artworld luminaries should fasten your seatbelts, make sure you've found your flotation devices, and then turn to the "Leisure & Arts" page of your copy of tomorrow's Wall Street Journal, where you can eavesdrop on my "cultural conversation" at the Harvard Club in New York with your association's very articulate president, Michael Conforti.He … [Read more...]

BlogBacks: Culture Czar Sparring, Pro and Con (and Bill Ivey’s position) UPDATED

David Smith, teacher, author and overthrower of culture czarsAs you might have expected, CultureGrrl readers are engaged by the question of whether there should be a cabinet-level Secretary of Culture in the Obama administration. (My thumbs-down is here and here.) At the end of this post, you can read what Bill Ivey, who was appointed by President Obama to lead the national transition team for the three federal cultural agencies (National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services) … [Read more...]

an ArtsJournal blog