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Archives for December 2011

De Kooning, Degas, Donatello (to Bellini): Ambitious Loan Shows that Bucked the Permanent-Collection Trend—Part I (with video)

Left to right: De Kooning, "Clam Digger," 1972, private collectionDegas, "Dancer Looking at the Sole of her Right Foot," modeled between 1896-1911, cast between 1921-31, Musée d'Orsay, ParisDonatello, "Reliquary Bust of Saint Rossore," c. 1425, Museo Nationale di San Matteo, PisaThe Big D's---De Kooning, Degas, Donatello (et al.)---bucked the museum trend this year towards permanent-collection agglomerations, small dossier displays and single-lender shows. The "D" trio, to me, were welcome throwbacks to the extravagant blockbusters of fond … [Read more...]

“Sense of Betrayal”: NY Times’ Staff Rebellion (including culture writers and editors) UPDATED

Janet Robinson, exiting NY Times Co. CEO and president The rebellious spirit of the times has just hit the Times, in the form of a Dec. 23 Open Letter to Arthur Sulzberger Jr. (the newspaper's publisher). NY Times culture reporters Carol Vogel, Randy Kennedy, Robin Pogrebin, Daniel Wakin, Patrick Healy and Larry Rohter, as well as co-chief art critic Roberta Smith, chief theater critic Ben Brantley, co-chief film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, music critic Allan Kozinn and assistant culture desk head Laurel Graeber, were on the … [Read more...]

More Frankenthaler Tributes: Time for a Memorial Retrospective?

Installation view: "Frankenthaler at Eighty: Six Decades at Knoedler & Company," 2008In finding commonalities between two recently deceased artists whose work couldn't have been more different---Helen Frankenthaler and John Chamberlain---Roberta Smith in today's NY Times appraisal, demonstrates her knack for synergistic thinking.Roberta writes:They occupy such similar positions within the history of American art. Both emerged in the 1950s and provided crucial links between art styles, specifically helping to forge the transition from … [Read more...]

Battle of the Classified Obits: Pace vs. Gagosian on John Chamberlain

Recently installed in the rotunda of the reopened National Academy, New York: John Chamberlain, "Tasteylingus," 2010, courtesy of the late artist and Gagosian Gallery While we're on the subject of recently deceased famous artists, we also take note of the passing last Wednesday of sculptor John Chamberlain, 84. His demise occasioned an unseemly classified-obit war in the NY Times between the two prominent dealers who represented the mangled-metal artist. First, the backstory: Earlier this year, the voracious Gagosian Gallery lured … [Read more...]

“A Search for Truth and Beauty”: Helen Frankenthaler, Dead at 83 UPDATED

Helen FrankenthalerPhoto © Chris FelverHelen Frankenthaler, 83, who died today after a long illness, was never a comfortable artworld fit. Her unabashed commitment to subtle beauty and ethereal lyricism set her apart from the rough-and-tumble Abstract Expressionist circles in which she gracefully moved. She stayed her artistic course throughout, with steadfast disregard of new fashions and movements.In today's NY Times obit, veteran art journalist Grace Glueck writes that this second-generation Abstract Expressionist "departed from the first … [Read more...]

Catch-Up Times: NYT’s Roberta Smith on Crystal Bridges Museum

Crystal's Chris Crossed? The Bentonville museum's soon-to-depart founding curator, Chris Crosman Now that we've all dutifully returned to our computers after quaffing eggnog and eating latkes (not a good pairing) during the concurrent Christian and Jewish seasonal celebrations, it's time for us to stop opening presents and start opening the saved tabs on our web browsers. Let's begin catching up on all that art news we've missed. We'll start with this: At long last, the NY Times has found its way to Alice's Palace in the Ozarks, with an … [Read more...]

Guggenheim Helsinki: The View from Finland (plus my second Finnish TV gig)

Ivan Puopolo, reportier for the "Strada" program of Finnish Broadcast Company's YLE TV1, standing on the presumed site of the proposed Guggenheim HelsinkiThe City of Helsinki yesterday reported that the feasibility study for the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki will be completed by Dec. 30, as scheduled. But it will not be publicly released until Jan. 10. So what kind of museum will it be? My new Finnish television friend, Axa Sorjanen of the Strada program on the Finnish Broadcast Company's YLE TV1, told me that a "reliable source" had informed … [Read more...]

Crystal Bridges vs. Wal-Mart Workers: Jeffrey Goldberg&#146s Irrational Either/Or

Miniature replica of a Wal-Mart shopping cart (left) and Sam Walton's 1979 Ford pickup truck---part of a display on life in Northwest Arkansas at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American ArtFar be it for me to become a champion of Alice Walton (on whom I've been notably hard in the past) or of Wal-Mart (where I don't shop). But Bloomberg View's Jeffrey Goldberg has gone off the deep end is his two-part rant condemning as a "moral tragedy" Walton's worthy Arkansas project, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.[I've exhaustively reviewed the … [Read more...]

The Art of Sloan Kettering—Part II

Pat Steir, "Lovely Day Waterfall," 2009 [Part I is here.] I try to enjoy art wherever I find it, and I did get a welcome aesthetic charge yesterday from gazing at Pat Steir's lyrical "Lovely Day Waterfall." But it wasn't such a "lovely day" for me, because of where I was situated for a good part of the afternoon---the waiting room of an outpatient facility (above) for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where my close friend, who recently had brain surgery, was getting an MRI before meeting at another outpatient facility with her … [Read more...]

New U.S. Artists&#146 Equity Bill is an Auction-House Inequity Bill

Congressman Jerrold Nadler I'm all for artists' resale royalties---a cause I've been espousing since the '70s. But it's not a good plan to redress one perceived inequity by creating another. That's what the newly introduced Equity for Visual Artists Act of 2011 appears to do, by singling out large auction houses as the only sellers required under the proposed law to collect a 7% royalty on works resold for more than $10,000. The bill's full text is not yet, at this writing, on the Library of Congress' website. I obtained a copy from the … [Read more...]

The Name Game at Miami Art Museum: Fundraising Tool or Vanity Insanity?

Construction webcam shot of the newly named Jorge M. Pérez Art Museum of Miami-Dade CountyI've been pondering the controversy surrounding the Miami Art Museum's infelicitous renaming as the [take long breath] Jorge M. Pérez Art Museum of Miami-Dade County. The balancing act between private fundraising and public purpose is a difficult one, fraught with sensitive issues. But upon reflection, I come down on the side of those who think that the name change, although endorsed by the museum's director, Thom Collins (who succeeded Terence Riley), is … [Read more...]

Reader Support: CultureGrrl&#146s Urgent End-of-Year Appeal

This is it, art-lings.Notwithstanding the dubious ego boost of being featured on Finnish television (with Part II, on the proposed Helsinki Guggenheim, airing today), I've come to an obvious, long overdue conclusion: There's not enough financial support out there from you---CultureGrrl's devoted readers---to justify continuing this five-and-a-half-year experiment in trying to build something journalistically worthwhile and financially viable. But I'm willing to wait three more weeks for you to prove me wrong.One of the parts of my edited … [Read more...]

Off “Chasing Aphrodite&#146s” Facebook Wall: Tales from the Getty/Cuno Staff Meeting UPDATED

Felcholino and their Getty tell-all, "Chasing Aphrodite"[UPDATE: David Bomford, in response to my direct query, said that he is not in talks with the Courtauld, as suggested by Felcholino's source.]Felcholino (Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino), of Chasing Aphrodite fame, apparently still have their "Deep Throat(s)" at the J. Paul Getty Trust, ready and eager to spill the beans on confidential goings-on in LA's art acropolis. Getty officials haven't released any details from yesterday morning's museum staff meeting with trust president James … [Read more...]

Explaining the Bomford Bombshell: My Q&A with Michael Brand, Getty Museum&#146s Ex-Director

Michael BrandJames Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, is scheduled to meet with the Getty Museum's staff this morning to discuss "the transition and moving forward," as Getty spokesperson Julie Jaskol confirmed this morning, responding to my query (which was prompted by this Chasing Aphrodite tweet). Yesterday, the Getty's press office stonewalled my efforts to get more information regarding the circumstances leading to Tuesday's bombshell---the cryptic announcement that the museum's acting director, David Bomford, would leave his post … [Read more...]

Chunk of the “Hunk”: Stanford Names Ennead as Architect for $30.5-Million Anderson Collection Facility UPDATED

Stanford's Big Catch: Jackson Pollock, "Lucifer," 1947, Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson CollectionStanford is on a major arts binge.The university's previously amorphous plans have now been somewhat fleshed out for its new facility to house 121 works from the legendary 20th-century American art collection of Harry W. ("Hunk") and Mary Margaret ("Moo") Anderson. As announced into today's press release, the project will be designed by Ennead, the same architectural firm that designed Stanford's new Bing Concert Hall, opening in January 2013. … [Read more...]

News Flash: David Bomford to Leave Getty; James Cuno to Assume Acting Directorship

David BomfordMore instability has hit the J. Paul Getty Museum. A bombshell from its press office exploded in my inbox this afternoon: David Bomford, the museum's acting director for almost two years (and associate director before that), is leaving on Feb. 1, to "return to London where he plans to pursue research, scholarship and writing," according to the Getty's press release. In another unexpected development, James Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, announced that he will assume the acting directorship, while the executive search … [Read more...]

Paddy Johnson of “Art Fag City” Blog (and 10 others) Sued by Controversial Art Authenticator

Paddy JohnsonWe learned this in our libel-law course at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism:If you repeat someone else's libel, you too can be sued for libel. That doesn't mean the libel suit has merit or that the person bringing the suit will win. There are lots of legal defenses against the charge that you have damaged someone's reputation or livelihood. Truth is the best defense, if you can prove it. But even if your report is completely fair and accurate, you may have to spend lots of money on lawyers' fees to win your … [Read more...]

The Importance of Art Blogging: CultureGrrl&#146s Finnish Television Debut (with video)

Scene of my Blogger-on-the-Street interview: Between me, Ivan and the lamppostI've gotten the chance to do a lot of radio work (thanks to my five and a half years of blog-slogging), but ever since my 2007 BBC television debut, I've been waiting in vain for TV stations to clamor for my commentary.At last, it's finally happened!Okay, so it wasn't an American TV station. I had to brush up on my Finnish (what Finnish?) for this two-minute broadcast cameo (below). A week and a half ago, I got the call from Axa Sorjanen of the Strada program on the … [Read more...]

James Levine Withdraws from Met Conducting through 2012-13 Season

James Levine, the Metropolitan Opera's music director, plagued with back injuries (the painful effect of which I witnessed while attending his nonetheless powerful performance of Wagner's "Die Walküre" last April), has come to terms with the obvious: He needs an extended rehabilitation period before he can commit to the rigors of conducting at the Met. In a statement accompanying the Met's press release, he noted that he is only just about to leave the hospital, after a three-month stay for physical rehab.Still, while Fabio Luisi has assumed … [Read more...]

Met Stretches to Buy Roman Head It Once Exhibited (plus Sotheby&#146s Big Oops!)

Marble head of Zeus Ammon, Roman Imperial, c. 120-160 A.D., bought yesterday at Sotheby's by Metropolitan Museum for $3.55 million (presale estimate: $800,000-$1.2 million)Through prior display in its own galleries, the Metropolitan Museum may have increased the price it had to pay last night at Sotheby's for the Roman Imperial head (above) from the collection of Dodie Rosekrans, the San Francisco-area socialite and arts patron who died a year ago.The evening auction of antiquities also occasioned a bizarre turn of events, when the astonishing … [Read more...]

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