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Archives for March 2009

Another Day Without CultureGrrl

I'm back, art-lings, from the annual conference in Tarrytown held by the Museum Association of New York and the Upstate History Alliance, where the discussion on "Desperation Deaccessions" was possibly the only event in which the attendees (some of whom popped in just for this session) may have been more distinguished and thoughtful than the featured speaker and discussion leader (me).I have juicy, nourishing morsels to serve up from this 75-minute brainstorming session, but I was disheartened to discover that no CultureGrrl readers responded, … [Read more...]

CultureGrrl Curriculum: The Deaccession Diva Tarries in Tarrytown

I've been invited to vocalize at two deaccession-related speaking gigs in the next few weeks---a sign, I suppose, of the increased interest and anxiety over this issue, touched off by the current financial crisis and the recent controversies at the National Academy and the Rose Art Museum.The Deaccession Diva's first engagement, as I've briefly mentioned, is at the annual conference (scroll down) in Tarrytown, NY, of the Museum Association of New York and the Upstate History Alliance, where I'll be a speaker and discussion leader Monday morning … [Read more...]

District Attorney Morgenthau: Gory Details of the Salander Indictment

Manhattan District Attorney Robert MorgenthauI can't do this justice by merely excerpting it. You'll just have to read it for yourself, but make sure you're sitting down. It's the press release from Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau describing in hair-raising detail the substance of the 100-count indictment just handed down against bankrupt dealer Larry Salander, who was arrested at his home this morning.Okay, just one excerpt:The fraud in each investment opportunity occurred when Salander did not own the work of art he offered for … [Read more...]

Goudstikker “Reclaimed” Show: Searchable Online Inventory Book, Question-Raising Exhibition

Goudstikker heir Marei von Saher at the "Reclaimed" press previewThe most fascinating object in the uneven, possibly problematic traveling show now at the Jewish Museum, New York, Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker (to Aug. 2), is now online and searchable. It's the small, meticulously annotated inventory notebook (have patience; it loads slowly) in which the late dealer listed the bulk of his gallery's holdings. Goudstikker is thought to have left behind some 1,400 works, most of which were seized by the Nazis. He … [Read more...]

BlogBack: George Shackelford on Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ Collaboration with Italy

Titian, "Flora," ca.1516-18, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, in BMFA's "Titian Tintoretto Veronese" exhibitionIn my post on Antiquities Diplomacy: More Italian Loans to the Getty, I stated that the patience of Michael Brand, the Getty's director, "in crafting antiquities collaborations with Italy, rather than arranging immediate compensatory loans (as was done when the Metropolitan Museum and Boston Museum of Fine Arts relinquished their objects) is finally paying off handsomely for the Getty." George T.M. Shackelford, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts' … [Read more...]

Crystal Bridges Update: Bob Workman Resigns; “Kindred Spirits” at the Met

Robert Workman, speaking at the Crystal Bridges site dedication Crystal Bridges, Alice Walton's museum-in-construction in Bentonville, AR, has added three contemporary works to the small selection of acquisitions listed on its website. But it has lost its director, Bob Workman. In a Jan. 26 announcement that fell under my radar (and maybe yours), the museum disclosed that Workman, who became the museum's executive director more than three years ago, "has decided to step down as executive director of the Crystal Bridges Museum of … [Read more...]

MoMA Comments on Four-Year Disappearance of Rockefeller’s Fractional-Gift Picasso

David RockefellerIn reponse to my inquiry last week about the prolonged absence from the Museum of Modern Art's galleries of Picasso's early Cubist masterpiece, "The Reservoir, Horta de Ebro," 1909, Kim Mitchell, the museum's spokesperson, informed me late Friday afternoon that the painting (a fractional and promised gift to MoMA from its honorary chairman, David Rockefeller) "will likely go on view again sometime this year."That would certainly be a welcome development. But why has it remained unseen for four years, when it had been intended … [Read more...]

True Trial: Getty’s Ex-Curator Fights Back, Italy’s Expert Witness Retreats

Italian prosecutor Paolo Ferri Why was I perusing Italian newspapers last weekend? I stumbled across Corriere del Mezzogiorno's article about the imminent loan to the J. Paul Getty Museum of two bronze statues excavated at Pompeii because I had been searching (in vain) for Italian newspapers' take on this new development in the never-ending trial in Rome of Marion True, the Getty's former curator of antiquities, who is accused of trafficking in looted antiquities. As reported by Elisabetta Povoledo of the NY Times, the defendant on … [Read more...]

Antiquities Diplomacy, Part II: More Italian Loans to the Getty

"Chimaera of Arezzo," Etruscan (from Arezzo,) 400-375 B.C., Museo Archeologico Nazionale, FlorencePhoto: Fernando GuerriniBut wait, there's more!I've not yet heard from the J. Paul Getty Museum about the upcoming loan of two bronze Apollos from the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, about which I've just posted. But hot off my inbox is a Getty press release about loans from yet another Italian museum, the National Archaeological Museum of Florence. The two museums have just announced a "long-term collaboration" between them, which, … [Read more...]

Antiquities Diplomacy: The Getty Awaits Two Apollos, Lent by Italy UPDATED

The Getty Villa, MalibuUPDATE: More Italy-to-Getty loans (from Florence) here.In what the Italian newspaper Corriere del Mezzogiorno calls "the first element of stable, collaborative relations" between the Italian Culture Ministry and the J. Paul Getty Museum, two bronze statues of Apollo, both from excavations at Pompeii, are due to travel to the California museum tomorrow, on loan from the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. Luisa Melillo, the Naples museum's head of conservation and restoration, will travel with the statues.The … [Read more...]

Michael Kimmelman’s Peregrinations: Berlin to Baghdad?

In the NY Times' "Talk to the Newsroom" feature, assistant managing editor Richard Berke writes:Michael Kimmelman, our brilliant Berlin-based chief art critic, recently asked whether he could make a costly---and arduous---trip to Baghdad to review the national art museum there. The answer was, Yes! We have still to work out the details, but how many news organizations these days are even able to consider such an expense---much less have a critic based in Berlin in the first place?Wow, that NY Times must be flush with money! And what other … [Read more...]

NY Times’ Sam Sifton, The Cartoon

Eric Gelber, the news editor of, an online art magazine, is also a blogging cartoonist at EAGEAGEAG, where he recently responded graphically to my report on how Sam Sifton, cultural news editor of the NY Times, rides herd over the nags and throughbreds in his stable of writers:Actually, Eric's graphic was a little too graphic. I always strive to comport myself according to the NY Times' well-bred blogging standards, which were reduced to writing only last month (finally!) by assistant managing editor Craig Whitney. (Maybe HE … [Read more...]

MoMA Picasso’s Deplorable Deaccession Revisited: No Rockefeller “Horta” Pictures on View

Picasso, "The Reservoir, Horta de Ebro," 1909, Museum of Modern Art, fractional and promised gift of David Rockefeller © 2009 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York In 2003, when the Museum of Modern Art sold its seminal Picasso, "Houses on the Hill, Horta de Ebro," 1909, which was bequeathed to it in 1979 by Nelson Rockefeller, it justified this astonishing disposal of an outstanding, early Cubist masterpiece on the grounds that it had a comparable one---"The Reservoir, Horta de Ebro," 1909 (above), promised to … [Read more...]

I Gave the Whitney $75, and All I Got Was This Lousy Tee Shirt

Whitney's WhitTee: If only they could have gotten Houston to model this garment (or maybe this Whitney)Granted, the Whitney gives you other benefits (hey, it comes in black too!) for your $75, along with this "limited edition," commissioned from Jenny Holzer, as the museum describes it. (Is this "edition" numbered?)But why have NYC cultural organizations suddenly decided that what we all need is artsy tee shirts? As a NY Philharmonic subscriber, I was amused when this hit my inbox two weeks ago: Bid on T-shirt Autographed by Dudamel and … [Read more...]

NY Times Arts Coverage: Get-It-First Sifton Explains How the Bully Pulpit Strong-Arms Sources

Future of Arts Journalism panel, left to right: Sree Sreenivasan, Marian Godfrey, Sam Sifton, Alisa Solomon Had I not been getting my mother out of the hospital last Thursday, I would have been in the audience for the panel discussion on The Future of Arts Journalism at Christie's. (Actually, "Blithe Spirit," the Noël Coward play that I did manage to attend later that night, was decidedly more entertaining. Did I mention how much I adored Rupert Everett, who is to "debonair" what Angela Lansbury is to "dotty"?) Had I been there, I might … [Read more...]

BlogBack: NEA’s Research Director on Artists’ Employment and Fellowships

Sunil Iyengar, the National Endowment for the Arts' director of research and analysis, responds to Artists' Jobs: Even Worse than NEA's New Report Suggests (and I respond to his response, below):I wanted to try to clarify our team's perspective on two important issues you raise:First, know that we would have welcomed a chance to run a comparison of fourth-quarter 2008 "art-related income" with that of the 2007 quarter, but those data were unavailable at the time of our study. We used, in our view, the most directly applicable numbers to tell … [Read more...]

Tomorrow’s NY Times “Museums” Section Today

You can read it online now. But do you really want to? The NY Times' special section on museums in tomorrow's (Thursday's) newspaper may be your thing if you're fascinated by institutions with a pop-culture focus (Motown, chocolate, Woodstock, mobsters), efforts to appeal to untraditional audiences (children and Alzheimer's sufferers) and, of course, strategies to cope with the financial crisis.All this, while of some interest, is somewhat removed from the concerns that serious scholars, curators, museum directors and museumgoers regard as … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Max Anderson on Indianapolis’ Deaccession Database

Maxwell Anderson at the IMAMaxwell Anderson, director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, responds to my call (in yesterday's post, Deaccession Heaven: Indianapolis Museum of Art Does It Right) for him to make the technology behind his state-of-the-art deaccession database "available to the entire field immediately...if not sooner":We are committed to the use of open source tools and standards whenever possible, and would be pleased to partner with peer institutions on any web extension, from the deaccessioning database to the Dashboard … [Read more...]

New Acropolis Museum, Finally!

I just got this save-the-date invitation from Bernard Tschumi Architects, so I guess the much-delayed New Acropolis Museum in Athens really IS set to have its "public opening ceremonies" on June 20.Here's my CultureGrrl photo essay of the museum-in-(slow)progress, from my visit last March, at which time the announced opening date for the facility (which had been intended to be up and running for the 2004 Olympics) was September 2008. But meeting that deadline was already being described then by insiders as highly doubtful.At the bottom of my … [Read more...]

Brodsky Bill: NY Assemblyman Targets Desperation Deaccessions UPDATED

NY State Assemblyman Richard BrodskyNY State Assemblymen Richard Brodsky and Matthew Titone are about to introduce legislation to regulate deaccessioning by museums in the state. Brodsky, a veteran assemblyman with a longstanding interest in oversight of museums and art auctions, told me that the bill will most likely be introduced tomorrow.Disposals by most museums in the state are already regulated by the New York State Board of Regents, which yesterday renewed its amendment that prohibits using deaccession proceeds to defray debts, operating … [Read more...]

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