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Archives for May 2010

MeTube: My Upcoming WSJ Review of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ Expansion

Rick Mather, architect for the latest VMFA expansionAn under-the-radar museum gets an under-the-radar expansion by an under-the-radar architect. Considering the size, scope and importance of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' collection, it generally receives surprisingly little attention from the media outside of Virginia. And considering the architectural importance of its recent expansion---the first major project in this country by American-born, London-based architect Rick Mather---the May 1 opening of the McGlothlin Wing garnered … [Read more...]

Last Day with Marina at MoMA: The 15-Minute Limit UPDATED

Agnes Gund, Museum of Modern Art's president emerita, as seen among the posted mug shots of Marina Abramović's visitorsPhotograph: Marco AnelliIf, unlike me, you want to endure a long wait in line in the Museum of Modern Art's atrium for the chance to sit opposite Marina Abramović, you'll have to do it today. The performance priestess' self-imposed penance, which began on Mar. 14, is mercifully drawing to an end. Visitors for this final day will be limited to a 15-minute stare. Previously, departure time was left up to the visitor's discretion … [Read more...]

LA MOCA’s Dennis Hopper Retrospective Becomes a Memorial Show

Actor Dennis Hopper, best known for his 1969 "Easy Rider" film role, has died of prostate cancer at the age of 74. His less known visual arts work is the subject of the first show to be brought to LA MOCA by dealer Jeffrey Deitch, the museum's incoming director: Dennis Hopper Double Standard, July 11-Sept. 26.Coincidentally, today is the last day of the last show, Shepard Fairey: May Day, at Deitch Projects, which is closing shop as its owner decamps for his MOCA directorship, effective Tuesday. … [Read more...]

Rent-a-Rose: Sotheby’s Persuades Brandeis to Lend Collection for Profit

Cover of catalogue for Rose Art Museum's "permanent" collection In a detailed, thoroughly reported story for today's Boston Globe, Geoff Edgers' dropped this pre-holiday weekend bombshell: Brandeis to Loan Art to Boost Budget. In his account, Edgers repeatedly uses the "loan" euphemism, but what's really contemplated is renting the Rose Art Museum's collection for big bucks: Brandeis University, which stirred controversy last year by proposing to close its Rose Art Museum, now plans to hire Sotheby's auction house as a broker to raise money … [Read more...]

My Q&A with Richard Rossello: Will the Real Johns “Flag” Buyer Please Salute?

The first Johns "Flag," 1954-55, collection of the Museum of Modern Art© 2010 Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY When we last discussed the Michael Crichton sale at Christie's, we had the NY Times' Carol Vogel fingering Bryn Mawr dealer Richard Rossello as the buyer of the record-breaking $28.6-million Jasper Johns "Flag" (not the one shown above) and everybody else saying it was New York private dealer Michael Altman. Both putative buyers were better known for buying and selling traditional American art, not later classics from the … [Read more...]

Renzo Piano Week: Details of Kimbell Addition Announced (day after Whitney’s green light)

Renzo Piano's back-of-a-placecard drawing of his plan for the expansion (left) of the Louis Kahn-designed Kimbell Art Museum (right)Just a day after the Whitney Museum's board green lighted its planned new Renzo Piano-designed facility in New York's Meatpacking District, the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, has released details of its final design for its own Renzo Piano expansion---quite a bit more fleshed out than the green doodle above, which the architect had rapidly sketched for me when I had asked him about his Kimbell plans a year ago. … [Read more...]

Whitney Groundbreaking Plans Announced; Talks with Met on Breuer Building Disclosed UPDATED

Cross-section of Downtown Whitney, as presented in July 2008 to New York's City Planning CommissionIn a press release that just hit my inbox but is not up on the Whitney Museum's website at this writing [UPDATE: now it is], the museum announced that its board today agreed to break ground next May for the Renzo Piano-designed Downtown Whitney. The press release also detailed the current state of fundraising for the project: The fundraising campaign for downtown, currently in its leadership phase, has already reached $372 million [$1 million more … [Read more...]

NY Times Paywall: Some Good News for Bloggers!

With all the talk of future paywalls to view online articles from newspapers, bloggers are worried that many of the free links they provide to readers may be doomed to extinction.Peter Kafka of All Things Digital, part of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, writes:Will the paywall the New York Times is building scare away the paper's natural allies---bloggers who like to link to the site? Wait a minute! Do bloggers function as "natural allies" of the mainstream media, or are we their harshest critics? Leaving that aside for the moment, … [Read more...]

Feeling Sugary, Post-Surgery: A Paean to Good Ideas

The Critic Sees(Image from Mayo Clinic website)Can CultureGrrl be sweet?In gratitude and relief that my cataract surgery went well (or so I think---bandage comes off tomorrow), I'm dropping my usually truculent persona to applaud a few recent developments.I'm still recovering from the disconcerting experience of being completely conscious for the entire procedure, hearing words like "surprise" and "short eye" and "I need to close this up," while seeing and feeling nothing. I was told it went perfectly. (Then again, would they tell me right … [Read more...]

MeTube: Bionic Philippe on How Titanium Knees Influenced Departure from the Met

Honoree Philippe de Montebello, speaking last night at the National Arts ClubI was on hand yesterday for the dinner honoring Philippe de Montebello at the National Arts Club in New York, where two of the originally announced speakers---Marc Porter, chairman of Christie's Americas, and Neil Shapiro, president of WNET/Thirteen (New York Public Television, where Philippe has a regular gig), never took the podium, but the unannounced Dr. Ruth did, bringing down the house with one quip. I was juggling knives and forks when she said it, so the … [Read more...]

Deitch Speaks! His Guggenheim Talk on Art, Pop Culture, MOCA and Gaga

Jeffrey Deitch onstage at the Guggenheim MuseumIn March, I mentioned that I had attended a public talk at the Guggenheim Museum by Jeffrey Deitch, LA MOCA's director-designate, after which I chatted with him and learned of his plans to continue selling art from his gallery's inventory, even after he assumes the directorship of the museum on June 1.What I haven't yet reported is what he had to say publicly that evening about his West Coast future, which he discussed at some length. Here are some excerpts from those remarks:On why Jeffrey Deitch … [Read more...]

Clarification on Third-Party Guarantees at Christie’s

At the end of my recent post on Third Party Guarantors and the "Tilted Playing Field", I misleadingly suggested that Christie's printed catalogues don't disclose the fact that third-party guarantors may bid on the works they guarantee and that they receive financing fees from Christie's, whether or not they are the winning bidders. (Sotheby's says [scroll down] that its third-party guarantors are not allowed to bid on the works they guarantee, making the situation simpler.) In my post, I stated the following opinion: These arrangements … [Read more...]

AAMD’s New President: Who is Kaywin Feldman?

Kaywin Feldman, president-designate of AAMDNo, that headline is not a Jeopardy question. It's a reprise of a previous CultureGrrl headline, published in September 2007, when Kaywin Feldman was named to succeed the better known William Griswold (now director at the Morgan Library & Museum) as director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. At that time I wrote that I had previously not heard of Kaywin and added: The MIA has a history of prominent professionals in its top post (Evan Maurer, Samuel Sachs II), so her relative obscurity took me … [Read more...]

In the Hopper: Jeffrey Deitch’s Plans for LA MOCA

Jeffrey DeitchIn the time leading up to assuming his new post at LA MOCA on June 1, New York dealer Jeffrey Deitch should have bent over backwards to dispel doubts about his fitness for the job, by sounding and acting like a museum director.Instead it appears that you can take Deitch out of his gallery, but you can't take the dealer out of Deitch.He recently allowed himself to be quoted as the chief dealers' spokesperson for this NY Times article by Randy Kennedy about a lawsuit regarding galleries' blacklists against certain buyers. Jumping … [Read more...]

My Q&A with Christie’s Marc Porter on Third-Party Guarantors and the “Tilted Playing Field”

Marc Porter, chairman of Christie's Americas While I was at Christie's covering the Crichton auction, I took advantage of my encounter at the postsale press conference with Marc Porter, the chairman of Christie's Americas, to get his response to this post about what I regard as a tilted, rather than level, playing field among bidders for certain lots at Christie's auctions. I had noted in my post that third-party guarantors at Christie's, who receive a financing fee from the auction house whether or not they are the successful bidder, … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Ford Bell on AAM’s New Policy Defending University Museums

Ford Bell, president of the American Association of Museums, responds to New AAM Standards Defend Collections-at-Risk in University Museums:Many thanks for your piece about AAM's new guidelines for museums with parent organizations. I think it is an important step, given the turmoil we have seen in recent years. However, I want to stress that I had very little to do with these new guidelines. The credit goes to the fine AAM Accreditation Commission, including Julie Hart (AAM's senior director of museum standards and excellence), and AAM's … [Read more...]

New AAM Standards Defend Collections-at-Risk in University Museums

Ford Bell, president of the American Association of MuseumsWhen it comes to museum-governance issues of utmost importance, the American Association of Museums, under its proactive president, Ford Bell, doesn't merely issue suggested guidelines (the usual course taken by the more decorous Association of Art Museum Directors, with one notable exception).AAM shows it means business by issuing forceful directives with real teeth.The latest example is AAM's newly revised [via] Accreditation Commission Policy on Statements of Support from Parent … [Read more...]

AAM, AAMD vs. Landesman’s “Our Town” Initiative (unless NEA funding increased) UPDATED

Laurie Norton Moffatt, executive director, Norman Rockwell MuseumWhile nosing around the Association of Art Museum Directors' website yesterday, I came upon this under-the-radar testimony by AAMD and the American Association of Museums to Congress in opposition to the ballyhooed Our Town initiative of Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.During a Congressional subcommittee appropriations hearing for NEA and the National Endowments for the Humanities, Laurie Norton Moffatt, executive director of the Norman Rockwell … [Read more...]

New Terracotta Warriors Discovered “in Rich Colors”!

Museum of Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Xi'anI've been looking forward to traveling to China this October, but now I'm looking forward to it so much more!China Daily reports on an exciting new archaeological find in Xi'an, which, thanks to the famous (and much toured) terracotta warriors discovered there in the 1970s, is a city on every tourist's itinerary (including mine). Here's the news:A company of Terracotta Warriors---most painted in rich colors---have been unearthed at the largest pit within the mausoleum complex of the … [Read more...]

Violet Warhol Trumps Red Rothko at Sotheby’s Solid Contemporary Sale

Fright Night: Warhol's "Self Portrait," 1986, the top lot at Sotheby'sSotheby's turned in a solid performance at tonight's contemporary auction (which I watched from home, via live feed), with only three of the 53 works failing to find buyers. Bidders on the much touted red Rothko (displayed directly behind auctioneer Tobias Meyer during the entire course of the sale) were apparently unruffled by the legal kerfuffle that had erupted over it a couple of days earlier. At a hammer price of $28 million, the painting outstripped its presale estimate … [Read more...]

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