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Audio’s Up: Listen Now to My WNYC Radio Podcast on White House Art

You can hear me now: Can you believe that New York Public Radio has, at this writing, posted 34 written comments on this subject? Everyone wants to tell the Obamas what to hang on their walls.For my own further comments about White House art on CultureGrrl, go here. … [Read more...]

Casting a Wider Net: More on White House Art

Ed Ruscha, "I Think I'll...," 1983, borrowed by the White House from the National Gallery, WashingtonOf course I have more to say on the Obamas' art choices than made it onto New York Public Radio's just concluded Brian Lehrer radio segment. That's what blogs are for:I'm impressed and a bit surprised (given Barack's barebones Senatorial office decor) that they have taken such a serious, intelligent approach to bringing the nation's art to the People's House, and they seem to be going about this in exactly the right way: They're consulting … [Read more...]

Due to Technical Difficulties…I May or May Not Be on Radio Today

I just got a call from the Brian Lehrer Show at New York Public Radio (WNYC), where I'm supposed to be speaking about art in the White House today, letting me know that the show may not be able to broadcast "due to technical difficulties." You can see here that I really AM scheduled to be on shortly. Time and technology will tell.UPDATE: So far they're presenting an old repeat show. But Lehrer is standing by live in case they exorcise the tech gremlins. And so am I.Can we stand the suspense?UPDATE 2: The show did go live. I was on! Podcast to … [Read more...]

My Commentary on Obam-art Tomorrow on New York Public Radio

Brian LehrerIf all goes according to plan, I'll be on the Brian Lehrer Show tomorrow morning on New York Public Radio (WNYC), talking about how change has come to the White House---on its walls. Kelly Crow and Amy Chozick of the Wall Street Journal own this story, but I'll be there to provide a little critical and historical perspective. You can hear me and, I believe, another guest (yet to be determined when I was invited) at 10:30 a.m. on 93.9 FM or 820 AM in the New York metropolitan area. Or you can listen live here (upper lefthand … [Read more...]

Seattle Bonanza? Derrick Cartwright Rides to SAM’s Rescue

Derrick Cartwright?All that I know about Cartwrights can be found on one of my favorite childhood TV shows. I could swear that's Derrick, aka Little Joe, riding the range:Thankfully, Jen Graves of Seattle's The Stranger knows a lot more than I do about the future director of the Seattle Art Museum, having interviewed him yesterday and found him to be "a very pleasant person---or at least as a person who bothers to know his audience and to adapt to it....Not a chameleon (he exudes more spine than that), but a listener."He does looks quite … [Read more...]

Richard Armstrong Does It Right: Guggenheim’s Letter to Human Rights Watch on Abu Dhabi

Richard Armstrong (second from left) on his first Abu Dhabi sojourn as the Guggenheim's directorHaving repeatedly been brushed off whenever I had asked Guggenheim Foundation spokespersons about Human Rights Watch's revelations regarding construction worker abuse in Abu Dhabi (where the museum intends to build a major outpost), I was astounded by the arrival in my inbox late yesterday of a detailed letter that the museum's director, Richard Armstrong, had just dispatched to HRW, responding seriously to its new 80-page report.The Guggenheim sent … [Read more...]

Sarkozy Kicks Off Louvre Abu Dhabi Construction; Human Rights Watch Disapproves (again)

Rendering of Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu DhabiCopyright Ateliers Jean Nouvel Just in time for French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit today to participate in a ceremony marking the start of construction of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Human Rights Watch has published a new 80-page report decrying the "exploitation of migrant workers on Saadiyat Island." A Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and other cultural facilities are also planned for that site, as well as a New York University liberal arts campus. I first reported on HRW's statements about this issue two … [Read more...]

More Eakinses Sold: Hirshhorn Deaccession Update, Updated

Eakins' study for "The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand," 1879Yesterday I reported that the Hirshhorn Museum had sold two of the three Eakinses that it had consigned to the American art auction on Wednesday at Christie's. Yesterday at Sotheby's the Hirshhorn unloaded more Eakins: four studies for his painting "The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand," which is in the Philadelphia Museum. The Hirshhorn's studies had been exhibited in the Philadelphia Museum's 1982 Eakins exhibition.Hammer price for the four studies sold at Sotheby's was $97,500, bringing the … [Read more...]

Deaccession Updates: Montclair, Hirshhorn

Floundering founder: William Merritt Chase, "Portrait of William B. Dickson," 1905[Updated here, with subsequent Hirshhorn disposal of Eakinses at Sotheby's.] At yesterday's American art sale at Christie's, the Montclair Art Museum attempted to sell some 28 works and the Hirshhorn Museum put three Eakinses on the block. Montclair sold 23 works (five unsold), for a hammer total of $2.28 million. Before the sale, the museum withdrew from auction a 1905 William Merritt Chase portrait of William B. Dickson, after Dickson's descendants hotly … [Read more...]

Wintour Detour: Michelle Models Alaïa for ABT Gala (attended by Anna)

Dressing the First Lady is the best revenge.Fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa, who went public with his displeasure over being omitted from the Metropolitan Museum's "The Model as Muse" exhibition, blaming it on the influence of Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, got even when America's new arbiter of taste, Michelle Obama, wore one of his creations to the opening night gala of American Ballet Theatre. Her designer choice and the presence of Wintour at the gala were both reported by Michael Saul, the press pool journalist assigned to the … [Read more...]

“Best Blog”: CultureGrrl Wins “Front Page Award” of Newswomen’s Club of NY

National Arts Club: Cocktails, anyone? Who needs the Pulitzer anyway?CultureGrrl has just been awarded the "Best Blog" designation from the Newswomen's Club of New York, whose distinguished 2009 winners also include Kelly Crow, my Wall Street Journal colleague. I got the blog nod for "Stealth Deaccessions by the National Academy"---this post and the subsequent follow-ups. Kelly was honored for cultural reporting in the newspaper category, on the strength of her Aug. 22, 2008 piece, From the Art World to the Underworld. Our illustrious … [Read more...]

Text of Michelle Obama’s Speech at Metropolitan Museum’s Ribbon Cutting

Michelle Obama's official portraitIf, like me, you would have liked to have been present at today's ribbon cutting by First Lady Michelle Obama at the Metropolitan Museum's renovated and reimagined American Wing, now you can! (I abandoned my own request to be included, when I learned on Saturday that I would have a more pressing commitment---my aunt's funeral.)I've posted in full, below, the text of the First Lady's remarks, as dispatched to me by the White House. I think she hits the target.A number of commentators have been poo-pooing Mrs. … [Read more...]

The Rose Closes (for now)

Where is that Rose Museum arrow (above) pointing?Geoff Edgers reports in today's Boston Globe:Yesterday marked the closing of the Rose's temporary exhibitions on 20th-century abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann and a second show, "Saints & Sinners." The day had special significance because on July 22, when the museum's doors reopen, the Rose will probably not have a proper director or curator.That's the result of the university's still-developing plans to change the Rose's mission and sell some of its art.What happens going forward is … [Read more...]

First Lady as Muse: Michelle Obama to Visit the Met (and the ABT)

At the press preview for the Metropolitan Museum's "The Model as Muse" show, an E! television reporter had asked the museum's curator, Harold Koda, whether Michelle Obama would be attending the Costume Institute's gala that night. He deftly sidestepped, saying that he hoped that the President's wife would at some point visit the museum, to demonstrate her support for the arts.Next week, she will---visiting not only the Met but also American Ballet Theatre. This just in from the White House Media Affairs Office:Monday, May 18th:   Mrs. … [Read more...]

Virago in Chicago: Winging to the Modern Wing

I WILL!If all goes according to plan, my plane will be taking off at noon tomorrow to transport me to the (very) Windy (and thunderstorm-y) City, to cover (for the Wall Street Journal) the opening of the Art Institute of Chicago's Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing. The last time I was in Chicago, I was researching a WSJ story about the difficulties then confronting the now defunct Terra Museum of American Art. Some of the Terra Foundation's collection is now shown at the Art Institute.I've never even seen The Bean! (I hope they've been able to … [Read more...]

Sponsor As Muse: Wintour, Jacobs and the Met’s Latest Fashion Faux Pas

Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Met's Costume Institute, at the entrance to its new extravaganza, "The Model as Muse"There are elephants in the room at the Metropolitan Museum's absorbing, highly entertaining (but also highly problematic) The Model as Muse show (to Aug. 9). And those conspicuous pachyderms are not the huge cutouts looming at the entrance to the Costume Institute's show, meant to evoke this iconic Richard Avedon image of "Dovima with the Elephants":Evening dress by Dior, photo published in "Harper's Bazaar," September … [Read more...]

Ned Rifkin Goes Back to Texas: From Smithsonian Undersecretary to Blanton Museum Head

Ned RifkinA year after his resignation from the top art spot at the Smithsonian Institution, Ned Rifkin has been named director of the Blanton Museum of the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to his departure from his federal post as undersecretary of art, he oversaw a major report by a panel of distinguished art museum officials. The report's findings were particularly (and to my mind, unfairly) critical of the direction of the Smithsonian American Art Museum under Elizabeth Broun's leadership. She survived that challenge and still … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Museum Got First Chance to Buy Auctioned Havemeyer Pictures

Monet, "Sailboat on the Little Branch of the Seine, Argenteuil," 1872 ($3.5 million at Sotheby's)Two of the three Havemeyer paintings that sold well above their presale estimates at Sotheby's on Tuesday had a connection to the Metropolitan Museum going far beyond their 1993 appearance in the museum's exhibition of the Havemeyer Collection.As disclosed in Sotheby's auction catalogue, the Monet (above) and one of the Pissarros remained at the Met, on loan, until some time this year. What's more, Gary Tinterow, the museum's curator in charge … [Read more...]

Christie’s Solid $102.77-Million Sale: One Star Lot (Picasso) Sells; Another (Ernst) Withdrawn Beforehand

Picasso, "Musketeer with Pipe," 1968, sold for $14.64 millionI didn't stand watch at Christie's tonight with the rest of the art-scribe tribe, but it seems clear from the results of this evening's Impressionist/Modern sale that gloating must have occurred at the post-sale press conference: Some 38 of the 48 lots offered found buyers---about the same sold-lot percentage as at the 36-work sale conducted at Sotheby's the night before.But unlike Sotheby's, where some of the highest-estimated lots were left stranded on the block (resulting in a … [Read more...]

Sotheby’s Depressing Start to the Spring Evening Sales

Sotheby's unsold Picasso, the auction's cover lotI'm not going to exhaustively cover the evening sales this season. It's probably better to avert our eyes from the shrunken catalogues with their shrunken estimates.So let's get this over with quickly: Sotheby's Impressionist/Modern sale tonight fetched a hammer total of $52.95 million, against its presale estimate of $81.5-118.8 million (which does not include buyer's premium). The sold total including the buyer's premium: $61.37 million.The two most highly touted works failed to sell: Picasso's … [Read more...]

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