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Archives for August 2011

Details (and text) of Clyfford Still Sales Agreement Between Denver, Sotheby’s

Denver's new Mayor, Michael Hancock, expected to sign Still sales agreement with Sotheby's next weekThe Denver City Council approved on Monday evening an agreement with Sotheby's for the marketing of four paintings by Clyfford Still from the estate of his widow, Patricia. The proceeds will fund an endowment for the Clyfford Still Museum, scheduled to open on Nov. 18. Were they not being offered for sale, the paintings would have been part of the collection of the new museum, which will house the works from the Still estate.You can read the full … [Read more...]

Dangerous Defiance: Ai Weiwei’s Cri de Coeur in Newsweek

The Chinese FlagI won't summarize this for you. You have to read it.In perhaps his most brazen defiance of Chinese authorities yet, Ai Weiwei has authored a piece for Newsweek that vividly describes the Kafka-esque quality of his life in Beijing under the current Chinese regime and gives his insider's perspective on the plight of arrested dissidents. In detention for 81 days, Ai was released on June 22, with requirements that he remain in Beijing. (He has.) He was also instructed not to talk to reporters or use social media. (He has done both, … [Read more...]

How New England Museums Weathered Irene (plus an information clearinghouse)

The Bennington Museum, closed today due to area flooding[My report on NYC-area museums is here.]Irene, although downgraded to a tropical storm, still wreaked havoc while working its way up north to New England. Particularly hard hit by devastating floods was Vermont, for which this was (as described by the Burlington Free Press) "the state's worst natural disaster since the epic flood of 1927." A spokesperson for the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT, told me: We were very fortunate to come through Irene unscathed. We never even lost power. We … [Read more...]

How NYC Museums Weathered Hurricane Irene (plus the show to calm your jitters) UPDATED

My selective survey of NYC museums suggests that most are returning today, Monday, to regular visiting hours, now that Hurricane Irene has left town. One exception, though, is the Museum of Jewish Heritage, located at the tip of Lower Manhattan---an area that had been subject to the city's evacuation order. [UPDATE: The museum's spokesperson now tells me that it did open today, Monday, just 15 minutes later than its usual 10 a.m. opening. Minor leaks were found, first-floor reinstallation is in progress.]As you can see, that museum is right on … [Read more...]

Hurricane on the Hudson: Irene Shutters NYC’s Cultural Institutions (and CultureGrrl)

National Hurricane Service's map of what's now (on Sunday) Tropical Storm IreneNew York's cultural institutions, like the rest of us, hunkered down for Hurricane Irene this weekend. Abbie Fentress Swanson, interactive content producer of WNYC (New York's public radio station), had the most comprehensive rundown I've seen of the various cultural closures and cancelations that were announced in the New York area, in anticipation of the hurricane: Theatrical and musical performances were largely canceled, museums prudently closed, both yesterday … [Read more...]

Forever Young: Douglas Druick Gets Art Institute of Chicago’s Directorship

Douglas Druick, Art Institute of Chicago's newly named president and director Here's an appointment to a museum directorship that I think we can all agree on: It's well deserved, on all counts. After a 26-year career of distinguished service to the Art Institute of Chicago, the scholarly, articulate and always welcoming Douglas Druick has been named as the new president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was already acting president and director as of the June departure of James Cuno, now happily ensconced at the Getty … [Read more...]

BlogBacks on the Jewish Museum’s Directorship (and my own rethinking)

The Jewish Museum, New York In my Wednesday post taking issue with the naming of Claudia Gould to the directorship of the Jewish Museum, I observed: "Reasonable people can disagree with me." Now they have. (Even I am starting to disagree with me.) The responses sent by readers (some labeled, "Not for Publication") have, in fact, been so reasonable that they have made me rethink my rush to judgment. My legalistic bent had led me to over-emphasize a technicality of my religion that makes one's "Jewishness" (or lack thereof) dependent … [Read more...]

Save the American Folk Art Museum! (plus former director’s planned keynote speech)

Linda Dunne, acting director, American Folk Art Museum At the end of my narrated slideshow about the last day of the American Folk Art Museum in its W. 53rd Street building, I wistfully stated: We can only hope that there is a place in New York City for a museum of folk art. With the NY Times' recent publication of two articles about the museum's dire plight---one on Saturday by Kate Taylor, the other today by Robin Pogrebin---the odds for AFAM's survival in New York may have been further diminished. While I believe that the Times … [Read more...]

Identity Crisis: Claudia Gould Gets Jewish Museum’s Top Spot

Claudia Gould, newly named director of the Jewish Museum, New York [NOTE: I've somewhat rethought my position on this, here.] Back in 1996, the Jewish Museum mounted an exhibition provocatively titled, "Too Jewish?" That New York museum has now named a new director, whom I would provocatively describe as, "Not Too Jewish." The last paragraph of Kate Taylor's NY Times article (online last night), which pre-announced (before the rest of us got the press release) the naming of Claudia Gould to become the Jewish Museum's new director, … [Read more...]

How Earthquake Engineer (and Smithsonian head) Wayne Clough Rode Out the “Shear Wave”

G. Wayne Clough in the Smithsonian Castle last January. How's Frederick Waugh's "Southwesterly Gale, St. Ives" doing?Few museum professionals are as qualified as Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough to evaluate today's East Coast earthquake, which CultureGrrl rode out in a Manhattan doctor's office. (My friend, the patient, was having a rocky ride for other reasons.) Unlike others elsewhere in the same medical building, I felt nothing at all. But I did hear about the quake within minutes of its occurrence from others in the waiting room, who … [Read more...]

Dressed for Success: Will the Met’s “McQueen” Inspire Cheap Knockoffs?

Bummed by the "bumster": A scene from "McQueen" The Metropolitan Museum of Art has lately been boasting about the boffo box office for its recently concluded fashion retrospective, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. Its exultant post-show press release announced that 661,509 attendees had made "McQueen" the eighth most popular show in the museum's history. I'll leave it to Los Angelenos to say how they feel about the outsized attendance success of LA MOCA's graffiti-intensive Art in the Streets exhibition, which also recently closed. As … [Read more...]

Hawass Replaced by Mohamed Abdel Fattah as Egypt’s Antiquities Head

I had previously written a different version of above headline, with a different name as the appointee. But this time, the designation of a new leader for Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, replacing long-time antiquities head Zahi Hawass, may actually stick.Nevine El-Aref of Al-Ahram reports: Prime Minister Essam Sharaf appointed Mohamed Abdel Fattah the new Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). Abdel Fattah was the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities sector at the SCA. He previously served as head of the … [Read more...]

Still Chill: Sotheby’s to Help Clyfford Still Museum Monetize Four of the Artist’s Works

Clyfford Still MuseumPhotograph by Jeremy BittermanThe in-construction Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, which received court approval in March to sell four of the artist's paintings that came from the estate of his wife, Patricia, announced last night that the City and County of Denver, which officially own the works, have engaged Sotheby's to get the deal done. It has not yet been stated whether the works will be sold privately or at auction.The press release about the arrangement (not on the museum's website at this writing) states:Sotheby's is … [Read more...]

Lewis Stew: Carlos Museum’s Belated, Inadequate Disclosure of 19 Gifts from Indicted Collector

Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, Atlanta Of the three American museums that were said to have received loans and gifts of Egyptian antiquities from collector Joseph Lewis II (who was recently indicted for allegedly "conspiring to smuggle Egyptian antiquities into the United States and conspiring to launder money in furtherance of smuggling"), only one----the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University---failed to respond promptly to my queries about Lewis-connected objects in its galleries. On Friday I received this very … [Read more...]

It’s Ba-a-a-a-ck: Nouvel’s MoMA Monster Files Revised Plans with the City

Northwest view of the new MoMA Monster, truncated by architect Jean Nouvel Photos of plans by Lee Rosenbaum Almost two years after architect Jean Nouvel was sent back to the drawing board by New York's City Planning Commission and City Council to lop 200 feet off his MoMA Monster (reducing its height to 1,050 feet), the developer, Hines, has at last submitted new plans to the city for the "asymmetrical, multi-faceted spire," which includes space for yet another expansion of the Museum of Modern Art. Market conditions, as much as (or more … [Read more...]

Weiwei Watch: Harrowing Details of Ai’s Detention (plus problematic “first interview”)

Signature image on Ai Weiwei's Twitter page When I wrote on Monday that Ai Weiwei's defiance of Chinese authorities (on Google+ and Twitter) was "at once heroic and horrifying," I didn't know the half of it. Sui-Lee Wee of Reuters yesterday published an anonymous source's shocking account of the harrowing details of the dissident artist's detention. (That story was then picked up by Tania Branigan of the Guardian). Here's an excerpt from Reuters (but you must read the whole thing): In the first broad account of Ai's treatment in … [Read more...]

Twitter Rebellion: Ai Weiwei Strikes Yet Again (and explains why)

Tania Branigan, China correspondent for the GuardianAs I said yesterday in my post about Ai Weiwei's electrifying return to Twitter, the recently released Chinese dissident artist seems determined to speak truth to power, no matter what the personal cost. In his latest tweet, posted nine hours ago, he explains why:If you don't speak for Wang Lihong, nor for Ran Yunfei, not only you're the sort that doesn't speak up for fairness and justice, you have no love for yourselfA Twitter page that posts the English translations for Ai's tweets is here. … [Read more...]

Ai Weiwei Tweets about Detainees: “Mental Devastation, Physical Torture”

Signature image on Ai Weiwei's revived Twitter pageAi Weiwei, released from detention on June 22, was already asking for trouble by posting provocative documents recently on Google+. But with his apparent return to Twitter, he's flirting with disaster. Like his Twitter page, the English translation site for his tweets (managed by volunteers) is up and running again. His first rounds, on Saturday, were innocuous. But then he detonated these explosives. (All times are from Beijing.)---Monday, 11:29 p.m.: I saw Liu Zhenggang today. It's the first … [Read more...]

MeTube on BMW’s Brash Sponsorship: Guggenheim Lab Confronts Luxury Cars

The rubble-strew vacant lot at Houston Street and Second Avenue, now transformed as the site of the BMW Guggenheim LabPhoto: Kristopher McKay © Solomon R. Guggenheim FoundationWith federal and state governments already in financial meltdown, and with today's Dow drop suggesting that we could be coming down with another economic-flu epidemic, where can future arts sponsorship be found?The answer, for better or worse, may be those corporations that remain robust in spite of it all---particularly foreign-based businesses that may not be quite as … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Walter Liedtke, Met Paintings Curator, on His Frans Hals Show

Walter Liedtke,curator of European paintings at the Metropolitan Museum, responds to my comments about his Frans Hals show in yesterday's post, The Whit/Met: Holland Cotter Thinks Outside the Breuer Box:A few quick points about your piece: The "Laughing Cavalier" is in the Wallace Collection, which can never lend. Manet's pastel of "George Moore" could not have been displayed at the required low light levels while in the same galleries with the paintings on view in "Hals." A big Hals show---yes, I could have done that. But I know that my … [Read more...]

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