an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

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 TimesCarol 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 exhibitions along the lines of the Picasso shows that John Richardson, Picasso’s biographer, has put together there over the last few years….

Mr. Elderfield said in a telephone interview…”Things are so different these days as the worlds of museums and galleries keep getting closer and closer.”

And is this cozying-up of museums and galleries a good thing? As I’ve written previously, I think not.

Speaking of he museum-gallery nexus, Gagosian gets a prominent plug in the credit line at the entrance to the Guggenheim Museum’s current full-ramp John Chamberlain: Choices retrospective:

Gagosian “gratefully acknowledged” as chair of the “Leadership Committee” (i.e., major contributors) for the exhibition of works by his gallery’s artist.

I guess Elderfield took in stride this hilarious parody equating Gagosian with Goldman. And I suppose that museum-professional-to-dealer is preferable (and probably more lucrative) than the other way around.

Larry Gagosian‘s modus operandi, unlike that of his mentor, the late Leo Castelli, has been to poach artists from galleries that have developed those artists’ reputations, rather than to discover and nurture talent. For whatever reason, he’s conspicuously absent from the membership roster of the Art Dealers Association of America (which two weeks ago included Elderfield on one of its Art Show panels).

Speaking of the world of commerce and conflicts of interest, I’ll soon be taking advertisements again in my righthand column (which I killed when I temporarily killed the blog). I guess I’ve just permanently blown my chance for a Gagosian ad!

an ArtsJournal blog