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Archives for July 2011

Folk Art Museum’s Bad-News Day: Sale to MoMA Consummated, Disgraced Patron Sentenced

The flagship building of the American Folk Art Museum (with the red banner) on its last day. On left (behind the white "MoMA" fence) is the vacant lot where the Nouvel-designed MoMA/Hines tower may eventually rise. On the right is MoMA. The financially struggling American Folk Art Museum (AFAM), which permanently closed its 53rd Street building to the public on July 8, closed its deal on Friday to sell the flagship facility to the Museum of Modern Art for $31.2 million. AFAM was given 90 days from the closing to clear out, making way for the … [Read more...]

CultureGrrl the Oracle: Hot-Button Issues Surveyed by Center for the Future of Museums UPDATED

I've been called many names, but, until now, "oracle" has not been among them.That's how the American Association of Museums' new Center for the Future of Museums (CFM) is referring to the museum professionals and other experts (including me) enlisted to identify and reflect upon emerging ethical issues that museums will likely confront in the coming decades. This nascent think tank, supported with funds from the federal government's grantmaking Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS), was organized in partnership with Seton Hall … [Read more...]

Testing the Boundaries: Ai Weiwei Speaks via Google+ (plus CultureGrrl Video of Asia Society show)

Ai Weiwei's Google+ photoMy advice to you is this: Hurry over to Ai Weiwei's Google+ page, just established yesterday [via], while you still can. Who knows how this latest (and, given his recent 81-day detention, most audacious) thumb-in-the-eye to the Chinese authorities can remain there, uncensored?As Jeremy Page of the Wall Street Journal reported at the time of Ai's release last month, the dissident artist was barred from speaking to the media, "including through Twitter," for at least one year. He seems to believe he has found a loophole … [Read more...]

Joseph Lewis&#146 Egyptian Art Loans at U.S. Museums, Continued (plus Boston&#146s planned giveback to Turkey)

Entrance to Boston Museum of Fine Arts' "Art of the Ancient World" galleriesI knew that I could count on CultureGrrl's scholarly readers to evaluate the provenances provided to me by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for the eight ancient Egyptian objects on loan to the museum from the recently indicted Virginia collector, Joseph Lewis II.Archaeologist/blogger David Gill (who first alerted me to the Lewis case), caught my pass and moved the ball down the field: In his Looting Matters post, he examined the ownership histories that Virginia … [Read more...]

Greek Cultural-Property Agreement: U.S. Adopts Broad Import Restrictions

Signing cultural-property agreement with Greece: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Stavros Lambrinidis A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Greece, restricting U.S. importation of that country's cultural property, was signed Saturday at the Acropolis Museum, Athens, by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Stavros Lambrinidis. Some of the proposed MOU's originally proposed provisions (at least one of which was subsequently modified) had been strongly … [Read more...]

Hawass Watch: New Candidates for Antiquities Minister Post

This just posted on the Restore + Save the Egyptian Museum! Facebook page (for Egyptologists) by Nicole Hansen, who in March had participated in a Cairo demonstration demanding that antiquities be kept independent from the Ministry of Culture under the post-Mubarak regime:New list of candidates for [antiquities] minister: Abdel Halim Noureddin, Raafat al-Nabrawi, Wagdi Abbas, Hasan al-Saadi, Mohammed Hamza, and Adel al-Toukhi. Some I don't know but the three that I do know I could live with.The search (and the confusion) continues... … [Read more...]

He&#146s Ba-a-a-ck! Hawass Reportedly Reassumes Antiquities Post (for now)

The Incredible Reappearing Minister: Zahi HawassHow many times can Zahi Hawass come back from the dead?  The Art Newspaper (along with several Middle Eastern news sources, in Arabic) has reported that Hawass has been asked to stay on the job as Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, at least for now. Martin Bailey of the Art Newspaper writes:On July 19 he [Hawass] told the Art Newspaper that Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has asked him to continue to go to work. However, Hawass' future is now very uncertain.According to this report (in Arabic) from … [Read more...]

Dept. of Transparency: Virginia MFA Provides Complete List of Lewis&#146 Egyptian Loans (with images & provenance)

Late Friday afternoon, Stephen Bonadies, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' deputy director for collections and facilities management, responded with laudable swiftness and thoroughness to my request for a complete list of ancient Egyptian objects loaned to the museum by Virginia collector Joseph Lewis II, who was recently indicted (along with three dealers) for the alleged smuggling of other Egyptian antiquities (not those at the VMFA).Might the stated ownership histories of any of these pieces be cause for concern? The VMFA's director, Alex … [Read more...]

Egyptian Antiquities Ministry Revolving Door: El-Banna Out Before Sworn In

Farewell, Abdel-Fattah El-Banna. We hardly knew you. Erupting protests by Egyptian archaeologists (which I gave you a first heads-up about in my previous post) were evidently so effective that Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said, in effect, "Just kidding!" and withdrew his nomination of El-Banna to succeed Zahi Hawass as that country's antiquities minister. The nomination is still listed in an earlier Al-Masry Al-Youm article, but Al-Ahram apparently deleted its announcement of this and other cabinet appointments from its website. Hawass, … [Read more...]

Egypt&#146s Revamped Cabinet: Zahi Hawass Replaced by Abdel-Fattah El-Banna UPDATED and CORRECTED

Abdel-Fattah El-Banna, Egypt's new Minister of AntiquitiesIn what the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram has described as "the latest cabinet reshuffle," Zahi Hawass is being replaced as Egypt's Minister of Antiquities by Abdel-Fattah El-Banna---one of many new appointments just announced by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. UPDATE: The link in the above paragraph now calls up a "Page doesn't exist!" message on Al-Ahram's website. Al-Ahram now reports that Sharaf canceled El-Banna's nomination, immediately after protests erupted (see below). More on these … [Read more...]

Virginia MFA&#146s Lewis Loans: More on Museums & the Indicted Egyptian Antiquities Collector

Alex Nyerges, director, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts In my previous post about the indictment of collector Joseph Lewis II for alleged antiquities smuggling, I mentioned that this case "could reverberate through the U.S. museum and collecting communities." I have not yet heard form Emory University's Michael C. Carlos Museum, Atlanta; the Boston Museum of Fine Arts says it will get back to me on this next week. Both reportedly had received objects by gift or loan from Lewis, although there is as yet no indication that any of these were … [Read more...]

Museum Alert: Egyptian Art Collector Joseph Lewis Charged with Smuggling, Money Laundering

Under indictment: Egyptian art collector Joseph A. Lewis II A criminal indictment concerning alleged smuggling of Egyptian antiquities and money laundering, unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, could reverberate through the U.S. museum and collecting communities. Egyptian art collector Joseph A. Lewis II of Chesterfield County, VA, from whose residence objects were seized on Wednesday, was one of four defendants charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District, with "conspiring to smuggle … [Read more...]

Logistical & Diplomatic Nightmare: Asia Society&#146s Postponed Pakistan Show Gets Back on Track

Sign in Asia Society's lobby heralds show postponed from March to next month.In the history of exasperatingly difficult-to-organize exhibitions, few can top Asia Society's upcoming Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan: Art of Gandhara, now expected to open on or about Aug. 9 for a run of about three months, as its curator, Adriana Proser, told me today. The show of sculptures, architectural reliefs and works of gold and bronze from the Gandhara region of Pakistan (in present-day Peshawar) had originally been announced for last March."You have no idea … [Read more...]

American Folk Art Museum’s Last Day on W. 53rd: My Narrated Slideshow (plus the Barnes Foundation’s closure)

With the $31.2-million sale (to be consummated on July 22) of its flagship building on New York's W. 53rd Street, the financial trainwreck that is the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) was given 90 days to clear out of its 10-year-old Tod Williams Billie Tsien-designed facility. It will settle into what was had been its satellite location---a comparatively small site near Lincoln Center. Its W. 53rd Street building is being bought by the Museum of Modern Art, which has not yet announced its plans for the property. AFAM is flanked on the east … [Read more...]

3,100 and Counting: Crystal Bridges Museum Plans 24-Hour Members&#146 Day

                     Crystal Bridges at top right of the mapIn an official announcement, posted today, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art reported that it netted 3,000 members since the July 1 start of its membership drive. As of this morning, the total was actually about 3,100, a spokesperson told me, adding that 1,434 of those had signed up on the museum's membership website. Others have been "faxing, mailing [and] e-mailing" membership … [Read more...]

BMFA’s George Shackelford Steps Up to Kimbell’s Senior Deputy Directorship

George Shackelford at entrance to Boston Museum of Fine Arts' "Art of Europe" galleries The official announcement is not scheduled until Monday. But the word has gotten out that George T.M. Shackelford, chair of the Boston Museum of Fine Art's European art department and its senior curator of modern art, will become senior deputy director of the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, where he will play an important role in planning for the museum's expansion into its planned Renzo Piano-designed addition, expected to open in 2013. Speaking of … [Read more...]

Eric Shiner Named Warhol Museum&#146s Director UPDATED

Eric Shiner, new director of the Andy Warhol MuseumEric Shiner, acting director of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, has now had the "acting" designation removed from his title.In getting the nod to succeed Tom Sokolowski, who resigned the Warhol's directorship, effective at the end of last year, Shiner had the inside track for the top spot, thanks to his insider status as curator at the Warhol since 2008. But he lacks the deep background in contemporary art and all-things-Warhol that Sokolowski brought to his lively 14-year tenure. Before … [Read more...]

Fisk/Stieglitz Court of Appeals Arguments: How Crystal Bridges Could Have Withdrawn from Its $30-Million Deal

Tennessee Supreme Court building in Nashville, site of recent Court of Appeals oral arguments on Fisk's Stieglitz CollectionI recently obtained the voice recording of the entire 42 minutes of oral arguments by opposing lawyers in the never-ending Stieglitz Collection case, now under consideration by the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Both sides---Fisk University and the Tennessee Attorney General---are appealing from this decision by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle.  Near the end of listening to the June 28 legal wrangling, I … [Read more...]

Michael Kimmelman&#146s Travels: Music to Art to…ARCHITECTURE???

Michael Kimmelman, critic-of-all-tradesI guess we'll have to suspend disbelief. But NY Times culture editor Jonathan Landman's memo announcing the appointment of the paper's chief art critic, Michael Kimmelman, to the position of the paper's "chief architecture critic" (replacing Nicolai Ouroussoff) brought to mind the Metropolitan Museum's recent announcement of its new hire---Luke Syson, curator of Italian paintings before 1500 and head of research at the National Gallery, London. In January, Syson joins the Met as curator in charge of … [Read more...]

Cy Twombly, the Inscrutable (but haunting) Scrawler, Dies UPDATED

Detail from installation of "Fifty Days at Iliam," 1978, Philadelphia Museum of ArtIn his fine (but preliminary) obituary for Cy Twombly, who died Tuesday at 83, the NY Times' Randy Kennedy wrote:He [Twombly]...mostly ignored his critics, who questioned constantly whether his work deserved a place at the forefront of 20th-century abstraction, though he lived long enough to see it arrive there [emphasis added].[UPDATE: The Times has now published Kennedy's full-length Twombly obit, here.]Indeed, Twombly was an artist whose … [Read more...]

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