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Archives for July 2009

MoMA-Monster Smackdown: Tilting at Skyscrapers at the City Planning Hearing UPDATED

I got to the hearing room early on July 22 for the 10 a.m. meeting of the City Planning Commission, claiming a ringside seat for the slugfest between high-powered proponents of the MoMA/Hines project and the neighborhood NIMBYs. As it happened, the MoMA Monster's turn for discussion came up dead last, at 12:15 p.m. Almost three hours after that, when I finally fled the scene, the battle was still raging over Jean Nouvel's mixed-use tower which, at 1,250 feet, would equal the height (without the antenna) of New York's tallest skyscraper, the … [Read more...]

Lee&#146s List: What CultureGrrl is Reading Today

Send a micro-donation of $1.50 my way today (via my "Donate" button, in middle column), and I'll shoot you these links: De Montebello's talk in Maine Contrarian Melikian says art market is booming Flaw in the Rose overseers' case Art Capital Group Inc. v. [Annie] Leibovitz Art and Science of Getty's Conservators Criticizing the British National Portrait Gallery's copyright stanceMany thanks to CultureGrrl Macro-Donors 54 and 55, from Atlanta, GA, and Valatie, NY. … [Read more...]

Obama&#146s Presidential Medals of Freedom: Diverse Game-Changers UPDATED

Joseph Medicine CrowPresident Obama has just send a tellingly symbolic message about the difference in priorities [please see UPDATE, below] of his administration from those of the Bush Administration---his just-announced list of 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor.On Jan. 13, in the waning days of his administration, President Bush bestowed the medal upon three past or present heads of state: Tony Blair, Great Britain; John Howard, Australia; Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Colombia.You have only to … [Read more...]

Lee&#146s List: What CultureGrrl is Reading Today

"These are great. Thanks!" wrote one of those who yesterday took me up on my offer to send readers links to the material that I don't have time (at least not right away) to blog about. Send $1.50 my way today, via my "Donate" button (in middle column), and see what Jonathan of White Plains, NY, was so enthusiastic about. I'll give you my tips for your tips.Today, I'll shoot you these links: Making Money in the Art Market; Wildenstein Donates Paintings; Vacationers Flock to Artists' Sites; Journalists Still Matter (online); arts benefactor Peggy … [Read more...]

Rose Lawsuit Weapon: Signed Contract Between Founder and Brandeis on Use of Art-Sale Proceeds

Abram Sachar, founding president, Brandeis University, who agreed to the Roses' stipulations regarding art-sale proceedsBuried in the 142 pages of exhibits appended to the complaint just filed by three overseers of Brandeis University's Rose Art Museum is a one-page letter from 1968 that could prove just as crucial to this court case as a 1949 letter from artist Georgia O'Keeffe proved in the ongoing Fisk University court battle over the fate of the Stieglitz Collection.In her June 8, 1949 letter to Fisk, O'Keeffe, donor of the Stieglitz … [Read more...]

What I&#146m Reading Today (and every day)

This is an experiment in micro-donations.Every day, I come across several articles, books and other reading material from a wide variety of sources that interest me and that I think would interest you. But I don't have the time or the strong desire to comment about them on CultureGrrl. I want this blog to be primarily about those things on which I have a special perspective, or about new developments that have not yet been widely reported elsewhere. If you're a regular CultureGrrl reader, you share my interests. So the links that engage me … [Read more...]

Esther Grether?!? Forbes&#146 List of Collectors With $700 Million-Plus in Art

Esther Grether, mega-collectorIt's a lot more select than the ARTnews 200.Forbes Magazine has come up with a story and slide show devoted to the world's Top Billionaire Art Collectors. It's mostly the usual cast of characters, with one surprising wild card.Keren Blankfeld, Cristina von Zeppelin and Susan Adams report:During our quest to pin down these extraordinary collections, we discovered a new fortune belonging to Esther Grether, a little-known Swiss cosmetics heiress whose 7.5% stake in Swatch and art collection of more than 600 pieces, … [Read more...]

Three Rose Museum Trustees Sue Brandeis and State Attorney General

Alfred Jensen, "Opposites are Complementary: Per I," 1978, as installed in the current show at Brandeis University's Rose Art MuseumThe threat has now become reality.Three trustees of the Rose Art Museum---Jonathan Lee, the board's chairman; Meryl Rose of the eponymous Rose family, and Lois Foster, for whom a wing of the museum is named---yesterday filed suit against Brandeis University in Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County. Here's what the plaintiffs want the judge to do:---Issue a preliminary injunction preventing … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Gurhan&#146s Spokesperson Defends the Met&#146s High-Priced “Afghanistan” Jewelry

Maya Ahluwalia, marketing and public relations manager for Gurhan, responds to my criticism (in Golden "Afghanistan" Now at the Met) of the high-priced Gurhan-designed jewelry sold at the Metropolitan Museum's shop in connection with Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul:I thought that a little background on Gurhan [Orhan], his collaboration with the Met, and the purpose of the collection would help provide a different angle on the topic. The artifacts in the exhibition, like Gurhan's designs, pull from a wide array of … [Read more...]

Abu Dhabi Update: British Museum Participates in Saadiyat Island’s Museum-Development Spree

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, for whom a planned museum in Abu Dhabi is to be named There's not going to be a British Museum Abu Dhabi, but Neil MacGregor is joining his directorial colleagues from the Louvre and the Guggenheim in contributing his institution's expertise and lending its objects to another new museum in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District. According to a press release that hit my inbox Saturday morning, the British Museum will serve as a "consulting partner" for the Zayed National Museum, scheduled to open in 2012 … [Read more...]

“Training Ground” for Lawyers: Büchel Debacle Back in Court

Installing Christoph Büchel's "Training Ground for Democracy" at MASS MoCA (before it was dismantled, unfinished)Just when we thought MASS MoCA had moved on from its Büchel Debacle, we've learned from Martin Bromirski's Anaba blog that artist Christoph Büchel has pursued the appeal of his case against the North Adams, MA, museum to the U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit, Boston. According to the website for the court's documents, arguments were heard on June 2. (You can listen to audio from that legal wrangle here, courtesy of Anaba.) No … [Read more...]

BlogBacks on the MacGregor/Serota Putdown of U.S. Museums

Readers respond to Serota and MacGregor: Why They Don't Want to Direct U.S. Museums.Alan Wallach, professor of art and art history and of American studies at the College of William and Mary, writes:England has a social-democratic political culture ("socialist," according to the current U.S. right-wing political lexicon) and the English public takes certain prerogatives as rights (e.g., health care, free access to cultural institutions, an effective and relatively inexpensive national system of public transportation, etc.)---prerogatives that … [Read more...]

MacGregor Whopper: Greek Government “Simply Continued Elgin&#146s Practice”

Neil MacGregor, director of the British MuseumIt was one of those astonishing "did he really say that?" moments.The speaker was Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, near the end of his riff on why the Elgin Marbles should remain at the British Museum (which he directs). His comments were part of this conversation with Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate. John Wilson was the moderator.It started out innocently enough:Wilson: The Greek's argument has been considerably strengthened in the last couple of weeks with the opening of the … [Read more...]

New Yorker&#146s Tom Campbell Profile: Met&#146s New Director Still an Enigma

Tom Campbell speaking at his first Met press conference last September as director-designate, while his predecessor listensRebecca Mead's July 27 New Yorker profile of the Metropolitan Museum's new director, Tom Campbell, is now online. While I learned more about his impressive expertise regarding tapestries, his personal qualities, not to mention his aspirations, vision and plans for the institution he has now directed for nearly seven months, are still very much a mystery. The piece tells us little about specific recent developments at the … [Read more...]

“Recycle LACMA”: Hilarious Send-Up of Deaccessioning, LA-Style

Don't just dispose of museum objects. Repurpose them!That's the mischievously subversive concept behind Recycle LACMA, the parodic blog of Los Angeles-based artist Robert Fontenot. Here's the blog's description of his project:On Jan. 14th, 2009 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced [link added] that it was deaccessioning more than 100 items from its costumes and textiles collection. Once carefully collected, catalogued, and cared for, these items have now been cast back out in to the world. What will happen to them? Like any other … [Read more...]

Serota and MacGregor: Why They Don&#146t Want to Direct U.S. Museums

Museum wonks (that's all of you, right?) will need to see this video [via], of a recent conversation at the London School of Economics and Political Science between Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, and Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, who mutually pondered, in wry and witty fashion, "The Museum of the 21st Century." One of the many compatibilities of these sophisticated cosmopolitans involved a somewhat xenophobic lack of interest in leaving their high-powered jobs in Great Britain for comparable posts in the U.S.Here's why … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Museum&#146s Hidden Treasures of “Afghanistan”: Its Curators

Designer labels: Metropolitan Museum ancient Near Eastern art curators Elisabetta Valtz Fino (left) and Joan AruzAddressing the press at the Metropolitan Museum, the final U.S. venue for Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul (to Sept. 20), Fredrik Hiebert, curator for the National Geographic Society, the show's co-organizer, caused me to do a double-take when he unequivocally described the Met's staffers as "the best people we have worked with in the museum world.""Ouch!" groaned professionals at Washington's National … [Read more...]

Professor Philippe de Montebello&#146s NYU Graduate Course: “The Meaning of Museums”

Philippe de Montebello in the waning days of his reign (last fall at the Metropolitan Museum)Here it is, studious art-lings---the course description (scroll to P. 6) for the former Metropolitan Museum director's fall foray into academia at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts: THE MEANING OF MUSEUMS (Lecture) G43.2035.002 Philippe de Montebello Tuesday 10:00am-Noon The lectures survey selected issues in the prehistory of the museum, such as collecting in classical antiquity; the Ottonian Renaissance; church treasuries; the humanist … [Read more...]

Fisk-Walton News Flash: Appeals Court Decision Puts Collection-Sharing Deal Back in Play

Fisk University's exultant press release, summarizing yesterday's 19-page decision by the Tennessee Court of Appeals that keeps alive the university's hope to monetize its Stieglitz Collection, misleadingly suggests that the proposed collection-sharing arrangement with Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum is nearly a done deal:Fisk University announced today that the Tennessee Court of Appeals had ruled in its favor and had reversed a decision of the Davidson County Chancery Court, which had prevented the sale of a one-half interest in its … [Read more...]

David Rockefeller’s Absent Cubist Picasso to Return to MoMA (finally!) UPDATED

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 At last, David Rockefeller's 1909 seminal Cubist Picasso, above, will return to view on Friday at the Museum of Modern Art, after an absence of more than four years. It will be part of the museum's very small, very brief exhibition, Cézanne to Picasso: Paintings from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection, July 17-Aug. 31. As I mentioned here and … [Read more...]

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