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 important works and great artists. Why shouldn’t he work for a gallery that manages, like several others, to mount museum-quality, essentially non-commercial exhibitions? John’s intellectual integrity is not for sale—never has been, and I suspect never will be.
This is a brilliant move by Gagosian, and I, for one, applaud it.
And though I don’t know what his deal is, why shouldn’t John get paid seriously for this work? Museum curators do not retire rich unless they were rich to begin with (as in olden days).
And by the way, all the blues [blue-chip galleries] snag artists from each other whenever possible. Pace and Gagosian famously compete. And as for the Art Dealers Association of America [to which Gagosian doesn’t belong], I understand that Larry [Gagosian] has never even applied for admission, as it was for years dominated by his then chief New York rival, Pace Gallery. He seems to have done reasonably well staying out of that particular club.