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Archives for March 2012

Brooke Astor Settlement: Belated Windfall for Metropolitan Museum, Morgan Library, Brooklyn Museum, Other NY Cultural Institutions

Brooke Astor's art-filled Park Avenue apartment Good things sometimes come to those who wait. The Metropolitan Museum announced late this afternoon that thanks to a settlement brokered by the office of NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, it stands to receive some $20 million from the estate of its major benefactor and trustee, Brooke Astor. The windfall "will be used to support the institution's curatorial programs and art acquisitions, as Mrs. Astor wished," according to the Met's press release. The estate of Astor, who died in in … [Read more...]

Hilton Kramer, 84, Cuttingly Cantankerous Critic

Hilton Kramer, who died today at the age of 84, was a polarizing figure. That's part of what I liked about him.In a left-leaning artworld, he was a committed conservative, railing against what he perceived as mediocrity and speciousness in political thought and artistic practice. It was easy to disagree with him, but hard not to appreciate his intellectual acuity and graceful prose. Like many NY Times critics of the period, he was worth reading at least as much for the quality of his writing as the perceptiveness of his opinions.One still … [Read more...]

Sherman Surrender: Akron to Auction Cindy’s Iconic “Centerfolds” Image

If a museum owns two major works from the same period by the same artist, can one of them---by far, the more celebrated of the two---be deemed redundant and expendable?That seems to be the thinking behind the Akron Art Museum's announcement, through Christie's, that on May 8 it will auction off Cindy Sherman's "Untitled #96" from her landmark "Centerfolds" series---the famous image of a girl (Sherman herself) in an orange sweater, lost in reverie. Her removal to the auction block is intended to capitalize on the heightened interest brought to … [Read more...]

BlogBack: David Ross Applauds Elderfield’s Move to Gagosian

                               David Ross David Ross, chair of MFA Art Practice at the School of Visual Arts, New York, and former director of the Boston ICA, Whitney Museum and SFMOMA, responds to Say it ain't so, John! Elderfield Goes Gagosian: Come now, Lee, do you think this is news? Or that we should be outraged? There are real scams to be uncovered, real conflicts of interest to be exposed, cabals to be broken. John [Elderfield] is a terrific curator, retired too early [my links, not his] by MoMA rules, and used to working with … [Read more...]

Say it ain’t so, John! Elderfield Goes Gagosian

John Elderfield, center, chatting with visitors last September at the Museum of Modern Art's recent de Kooning retrospective, which he organized Is anyone else troubled by the revolving door between the nonprofit museum world and the commercial art market? My jaw dropped at this item (scroll down) just in from the NY Times' Carol Vogel, to appear in tomorrow's paper: [John] Elderfield [the Museum of Modern Art's retired chief curator of painting and sculpture] is joining the Gagosian Gallery, where he will be  organizing museum-style … [Read more...]

Attention Barnes Purists: Derek Gillman Will “Go Beyond” Dr. Barnes’ Vision

Derek Gillman, president and executive director of the Barnes Foundation, speaking yesterday in San FranciscoIn the second time that he has spoken at an annual lawyers' conference on Legal Issues in Museum Administration organized by the American Law Institute of the American Bar Association, lawyer Derek Gillman, president and executive director of the Barnes Foundation, yesterday briefly honed in on the Barnes during a rambling keynote address on "Museum as a Global Citizen"---a topic assigned to him that he admitted he had found "utterly … [Read more...]

Support CultureGrrl: Buy My Book, “The Complete Guide to Collecting Art”

Yesterday, in my post about the latest skirmish in the cultural-property wars, I reproduced a passage from my book, The Complete Guide to Collecting Art (Knopf, 1982), which contained some revealing remarks by that late antiquities collector and benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum, Norbert Schimmel. It occurred to me that some CultureGrrl readers may be curious to see the rest of the book. Although the artworld in 2012 has changed tremendously from the world I wrote about some 30 years ago [Internet? What's an internet?], the basic … [Read more...]

Turkey’s Repatriation Claims: Met’s Schimmel Benefactions Targeted (plus AAMD database)

Silver rhyton (drinking vessel) of a stag, c. 14th-13th century B.C., Central Anatolia, Hittite, Gift of Norbert Schimmel Trust, 1989I've always wondered whether the repatriationists would eventually get around to scrutinizing the objects donated to the Metropolitan Museum by the late Norbert Schimmel, a collector widely respected for his connoisseurship and public spiritedness, and a great patron of the Met.Now Jason Felch's and Ralph Frammolino's Chasing Aphrodite blog reveals that Schimmel's collection was the source of objects that Turkey … [Read more...]

Rueful about Rudolph: Bloomberg’s James Russell Goes to Goshen

James Russell, Bloomberg's architecture critic James Russell, Bloomberg's indispensable architecture critic, has done what I've yet to do---taken a roadtrip to Goshen, NY, to eyeball the endangered Paul Rudolph-designed Orange County Government Center. The question of whether Rudolph's "magnetic composition" should be knocked down is "not an easy call," he said, because the building has fallen into such disrepair. Its compromised condition is due not only to last September's floods but also to the county's chronic neglect and deferred … [Read more...]

BlogBack: More on Romney’s Proposed Cultural Cuts (including PBS)

Margy Waller, and arts researcher and advisor who was a senior White House advisor on domestic policy under President Clinton, responds to Mitt Snit: Romney Would Ax National Endowments for the Arts & Humanities:Saw your post about Mitt Romney on the NEA. He actually said this as early as last December, when he was caught on video. I've been using this video in my talks about the need for a new communications strategy that will build broad support for the arts. This is a classic example of using the arts when making the case for smaller … [Read more...]

Donor Intent Honored? Cleveland Museum Director Disavows Plan to Divert Acquisition Funds to Capital Project UPDATED

Today's NY Times special Museums section contained many meaty articles and eyebrow-raising ads: ---Fred Bernstein's article about the ways in which architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have cut themselves some slack in interpreting their mandate to "replicate" the original Barnes Foundation galleries in the foundation's new Philadelphia facility, opening May 19. Moldings will be simplified, lighting improved, and, most significantly (as discussed by me here and in my video tour, here), the flow of the galleries will be interrupted by a … [Read more...]

Mitt Snit: Romney Would Ax National Endowments for the Arts & Humanities

Mitt Romney chats with KSDK's Ann Rubin in Kirkwood, MO It's so rare that the campaigning candidates mention anything about the arts. Now culture has finally gotten some attention, but for all the wrong reasons [via]. This just in from Ann Rubin of St. Louis' KSDK NewsChannel 5, reporting on what Mitt Romney told her in Kirkwood, MO: "The test [for budget cuts] is pretty simple. Is the program so critical, it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And on that basis, of course you get rid of Obamacare, that's the easy one. … [Read more...]

Goshen Commotion: Save-the-Rudolph Campaign’s Petition, Public Hearing

The campaign to save Orange County's endangered Paul Rudolph-designed Government Center, Goshen, NY, now has a logo (above), a website and petition. The petition (173 signatories at this writing) is for Orange County residents, but I added my name, with this full-disclosure statement: I am not an Orange County resident, but I would like to express my solidarity with this effort to renovate, not decimate, an architectural treasure. And here's a comment, appended shortly after mine, by Paul Berman: I worked on this project in Paul Rudolph's … [Read more...]

Goshen Commotion: Local Preservationists Rally to Save Endangered Paul Rudolph Building

            The Sublime to the Ridiculous: Orange County's Paul Rudolph building and the "Proposed Concept Building Design" for its replacement Chris Mckenna of the the Times Herald-Record, the go-to person for news stories on the Orange County Executive's proposal to knock down the county's 1970 Paul Rudolph-designed Government Center in Goshen, NY, published a follow-up story on Saturday. Mckenna wrote: A dozen opponents of Orange County Executive Ed Diana's push to replace the county … [Read more...]

Wanna See Matisse’s “Dance” Mural Installed at the Philly Barnes? UPDATED

Now, alas, you can. [UPDATE: And now,alas, you can't.]The video below will also give you a glimpse of what the main gallery will look like in the new Barnes Foundation, which opens to the public on May 19, after it completes the move from its longtime home in Merion, PA. Tickets will cost $18, compared to $15 at the old facility. (So much for making it more accessible to the "plain people," which the Barnes has repeatedly cited as one of the reasons for the move.) However, there will be no service charge for Philly Barnes tickets, according to … [Read more...]

News Flash: Hispanic Society’s Collection of 37,895 Spanish Coins Finds Buyer

15th-century Fifty Excelentes, struck under the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, perhaps the most important coin in the Hispanic Society of America's trove, sold through Sotheby'sThis just in from Sotheby's, in response to my query regarding its sealed-bid auction, which ended yesterday, of 37,895 Spanish coins owned since 1949 by the Hispanic Society of America:We are very pleased to announce that the Archer M. Huntington Collection of nearly 38,000 coins from the Hispanic world has been sold to an anonymous purchaser, for a price that is … [Read more...]

Preservationist Alert: Important Paul Rudolph Building in Goshen May Be Knocked Down

Paul Rudolph's Orange County Government Center, Goshen, completed in 1971 [More on this: here, here and here.] It's on the World Monuments Fund's 2012 Watch List of endangered cultural-heritage sites. But what the WMF may soon "watch" is the demolition of the building that it has called one of Brutalist American architect Paul Rudolph's "greatest achievements" [via]. According to Chris Mckenna's report in the Times Herald-Record, Orange County Executive Ed Diana on Monday presented to the County Legislature his proposal for a new … [Read more...]

Met Displays Controversial $13.7-Million “Commander,” Sold by Princess Diana’s Brother

The Metropolitan Museum appears to have gotten a spectacular (although unannounced) present in time for last December's holiday season. According to a Met spokesperson, you should be able to enjoy this treat in the galleries at least until August, when it may go back to its lender. As I exited through the old masters galleries after my second viewing (on Dec. 23) of the Met's show of early Italian Renaissance portraits, the dynamic interplay of three figures caught my eye. This vibrant composition held its own between two monumental, very … [Read more...]

Hear Me Now: My WNYC Commentary on the Shepard Fairey Case

I finally did manage to obtain the audio for my very brief soundbite heard last Friday on New York Public Radio, WNYC, regarding Shepard Fairey's guilty plea to criminal charges involving his previously admitted destruction of documents and manufacturing of evidence. He thereby seriously compounded his legal difficulties that arose in connection with the appropriation (for his famous "Hope" poster) of Mannie Garcia's photograph of Barack Obama, which had been published by the Associated Press. My comment, which you can hear below, wasn't … [Read more...]

Despite Strong 2011, Sotheby’s Stock Slides on Fourth-Quarter Decline

Today's fluctuations, so far, in Sotheby's stock Despite boasting the second-best annual financial results in its history (only outstripped in pre-crash 2007), Sotheby's has been watching its stock price slip today (down more than 9% from yesterday's close, at this writing), after reporting late yesterday afternoon a 25.7% decline in its net income for the fourth quarter of 2011, as compared with the previous year's fourth quarter. Explaining this decline, Bill Ruprecht, Sotheby's president and CEO, said this to security analysts during a … [Read more...]

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