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Archives for April 2012

Goshen Commotion: Vote Expected Thursday on Endangered Paul Rudolph Building

Interior of Paul Rudolph-designed Orange County Government Center, 2010Mark your calendars, architecturally-attuned art-lings! The Orange County Legislature is expected to vote at its meeting this Thursday afternoon, beginning at 3:30 p.m., on whether to save or demolish the flood-damaged Paul Rudolph-designed Orange County Government Center. There will be a chance for public comment on the proposed replacement of the building, which is on the World Monuments Fund's 2012 Watch List of endangered cultural-heritage sites.The exact time when the … [Read more...]

Munch’s “The Scream”: Who Will Buy It? For How Much? (plus video)

Good luck trying to get a good view at Sotheby's presale exhibition (open, until noon on Wednesday, but only to Sotheby's clients) of one of the best-known images in the world---Edvard Munch's "The Scream." Partly for security reasons and partly to convey the dramatic awe of a "chapel" (as a Sotheby's specialist called it), the small pastel-on-board is engulfed by a dark cave. (You can glimpse it, brightly spotlit, at the back.): This confined viewing area may not be as tightly packed for you as it was for me at today's press … [Read more...]

After a Good Scrubbing, $3.55-Million Zeus Installed at the Met

Zeus, we hardly knew you. When you were catalogued by Sotheby's for its Dec. 8, 2011 sale, you looked like this: Marble head of Zeus Ammon, Roman Imperial, c. 120-160 A.D., bought at Sotheby's by Metropolitan Museum for $3.55 million (presale estimate: $800,000-$1.2 million)But when I saw you yesterday, installed near the entrance to the Leon Levy and Shelby White Court for Greek and Roman art at the Metropolitan Museum (which was the successful bidder at the Sotheby's auction), you looked like a changed man:Photo by Lee RosenbaumThey gave you … [Read more...]

Nashville/Bentonville Saga: What’s Next in Fisk/Crystal Bridges Stieglitz Collection Case?

Will the above works by Georgia O'Keeffe at Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, AR, soon be joined by this?Georgia O'Keeffe, "Radiator Building---Night, New York," 1927, Fisk University, NashvillePosting Monday evening in haste, I suggested (based on accounts I had read) that the prolonged court battle regarding the fate of Fisk University's Stieglitz Collection is finally over, except for the working out of details by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle. Court permission was needed for Fisk's plan to sell a half-share of its … [Read more...]

News Flash: Court Clears Way for Fisk-Crystal Bridges $30-Million Collection-Sharing Deal

Alice Walton, speaking in Bentonville, AR Chalk one up for Alice Walton, one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World. This just in from the Tennessean's Heidi Hall: The Tennessee Supreme Court has rejected the state's latest move to keep Fisk University's art collection in Nashville year-round. In January, Attorney General Bob Cooper appealed a lower court's ruling that opened the door for Fisk to enter into an art-sharing agreement with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. Cooper's office just … [Read more...]

Chinese Jade Theft: Security Breach at Potts’ Fitzwilliam Museum Compounded by Publicity about Alarm Setup

Timothy Potts, Getty Museum's director-designateNo Getty Museum director has been so bedeviled by controversy before even assuming his post.First, Timothy Potts, who comes on board Sept. 1, told me in an interview that he hadn't yet "seen a document on the details" of the Getty Museum's highly important (and unusually stringent) antiquities-collecting policies---an oversight that roiled archaeologists and others, in light of the Getty's checkered past concerning the acquisition of antiquities later returned under duress to Italy and Greece.Now … [Read more...]

Prank Alert: Whitney “Press Release” Turns Museum over to Demonstrators UPDATED

From the 2012 Whitney Biennial: LaToya Ruby Frazier, "Corporate Exploitation and Economic Inequality!," 2011. © LaToya Ruby Frazier; courtesy the artist Photograph by Abigail DeVilleThey had me for a moment.Whitney Museum director Adam Weinberg and I had shared a very early period of our careers working in the Union Square office of the Art Workers News, an artists' rights newspaper. So I recognized the rhetoric and spirit of the press release that hit my inbox at 8:35 this morning, and I thought for a split second that Weinberg had hit his … [Read more...]

BlogBacks: Readers Weigh In on the Philly Barnes

Close up of the exterior and windows of the Barnes Foundation's new Philadelphia facility, opening May 19Photo by Lee RosenbaumTwo readers respond to Rent-a-Barnes: Disregarding the Founder's No-Parties Intent:Robert Zaller, professor of history and politics at Drexel University, informs me there were plenty of parties (notwithstanding the prohibition in founder Albert Barnes' trust indenture) at the Merion Barnes. Zaller was the author (with Tom Freudenheim) of an LA Times opinion piece questioning the Philadelphia Barnes' long-term financial … [Read more...]

Rent-a-Barnes: Disregarding the Founder’s No-Parties Intent

Returning repeatedly to the Barnes Foundation's website to see whether there was any acknowledgement of the death of its general counsel (which has now been reported as a suicide in an obit by Stephan Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer), I stumbled across the Special Events section. It appears that CultureDaughter, still engaged in her nationwide mission to find the perfect wedding venue, could hold her reception right here:Bride and groom in the new Barnes Court, under its "stunning glass canopy"Wait a minute! Didn't the stern … [Read more...]

Death of Brett Miller, 47, Barnes Foundation’s Counsel, Said to Be a Suicide

There has been no official confirmation yet of the cause of the sudden death last week of Brett Miller, 47, the Barnes Foundation's general counsel. But a CultureGrrl reader, who insisted on anonymity, has told me that Miller's Philadelphia neighbors reported that he had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. One of Miller's neighbors told my source that Miller died "some time earlier last week," with the medical response team coming on Saturday and the "cleanup team" on Sunday.A detective from the police district where Miller had lived told … [Read more...]

Brett Miller, Barnes Foundation’s Counsel, Found Dead UPDATED

More on this, here.I liked and respected Brett Miller, the Barnes Foundation's general counsel since January 2010, and I am saddened by the news (reported by Helen Stoilas of the Art Newspaper) that he was found dead this weekend at his home. There's nothing about this, at this writing, in the Phladelphia Inquirer. No cause of death has yet been disclosed. That Miller, an intellectual property expert, was widely respected by his peers in the museum-law profession was demonstrated by his status as faculty co-chair at last month's three-day … [Read more...]

Blogger Breakthrough: ArtsJournal’s Tobi Tobias Named Pulitzer Finalist

Tobi Tobias, Pulitzer FinalistThe 2012 Pulitzer Prizes have just been announced, and ArtsJournal has broken the blogger barrier: Tobi Tobias has been named as one of two finalists in the criticism category, for posts on her Seeing Things blog on ArtsJournal (which also hosts CultureGrrl). Tobi was cited "for work appearing on that reveals passion as well as deep historical knowledge of dance, her well-expressed arguments coming from the heart as well as the head."For the second year in a row, the winner in the criticism category … [Read more...]

Latest Global Guggenheim Developments: Helsinki & Singapore

In another insult to second-class journalists (i.e., everyone who doesn't write for the NY Times), the Guggenheim vigorously promoted a major press conference Thursday morning to announce its new "global cultural exchange" and then made attendance superfluous by delivering the entire story to Carol Vogel a day early. Everyone who showed up at the Gugg's 9 a.m. breakfast had already read and digested Carol's buttery croissant. (Happily, I hadn't planned to attend; I was traveling that morning on assignment for one of those less favored news … [Read more...]

Getty President James Cuno’s Odd NYC Press Lunch (plus new Morgantina show)

Now at the Getty: Statue of Persephone, c. 300 B.C., Regional Archaeological Museum of Aidone I've been traveling on a work-ation since Thursday, so I haven't had a chance to report on the press lunch hosted by Jim Cuno in New York City last Wednesday---his first since becoming president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. The last time I saw him preside at an NYC press gathering, Jim was the president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago. Speculation was then rife that he might be named to the Metropolitan Museum's directorship (which … [Read more...]

Cambodian Battle: Feds’ Second Antiquities-Seizure Attempt Aborted (for now)

Object of Contention: 10th-Century Khmer "Athlete," held by Sotheby's The Feds are doing it again---trying to intervene in a cultural-property ownership dispute by seeking to seize an antiquity thought to have been out of its country of origin for decades. In what I believe to be heavy-handed and counterproductive interference in what should be, at worst, a legal dispute between owner and claimant or, at best, a series of conversations leading to a negotiated settlement, the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York … [Read more...]

Goshen Commotion: Endanged Rudolph Building Makes NY Times’ Front Page (plus architectural news in my own hometown)

Orange County Government Center, 1971, designed by Paul Rudolph You might have missed it while you were engaged in feverish holiday preparations (perhaps, as I was, elbow-deep in matzo-farfel stuffing), but a month after CultureGrrl's first post on the endangered Paul Rudolph building in Goshen, NY, Robin Pogrebin landed a front-page article in Saturday's NY Times that provided a detailed, balanced view of both sides in the decimate-or-renovate controversy surrounding the Orange County Government Center. The County Legislature's decision … [Read more...]

“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”: Exhilarating, Inspiring Film Portrait of China’s Conscientious Objector

Ai Weiwei in one of many confrontations with authorities, as seen in Alison Klayman's new film, "Ai Weiwei Never Sorry," a Sundance Selects release. Photo by Ted Alcorn On Tuesday, the first anniversary of the beginning of dissident artist Ai Weiwei's 81-day detention by Chinese authorities, I attended an advance screening in New York of Alison Klayman's powerful cinematic biography, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. A master of all modes of self-expression, Ai is constantly filming and being filmed as part of his relentless campaign to spotlight … [Read more...]

Tech Attack! Google Art Project Takes Over the World (and my inbox)

Google Art Project, piloted by a few museums more than a year ago, has now (like its parent company) conquered the world. Some 151 institutions in 40 countries (including 29 in the U.S.) have now jumped on bandwidth bandwagon, and every one of them (well, not quite) has felt impelled to send me an e-mail announcing its participation. As I write this, the announcements are still coming in. (I've yet to hear from South Africa.)Even the White House has gotten into the act. It had the distinction of being the first participant to inform me of its … [Read more...]

Repose for the Mummy: St. Louis Art Museum Wins Ka-Nefer-Nefer Court Case

Mummy Mask of the Lady Ka-nefer-nefer, Egyptian, Dynasty 19 (1295-1186 BC), St. Louis Art MuseumU.S. District Court Judge Henry Autry has just dealt the U.S. Government a serious blow [via] in its increasingly aggressive legal posture on behalf of foreign governments in cultural-property disputes. And the St. Louis Art Museum gets to keep one of its most prized possessions.In his nine-page opinion, Judge Autry threw out the government's lawsuit that had sought the removal to Egypt of the museum's luminous Mummy Mask of Ka-nefer-nefer, which it … [Read more...]

April’s Fool: Mordant Morley Safer Still Doesn’t Get Contemporary Art (with video)

Wanna see Morley Safer's latest "60 Minutes" screed, where he once again suggests that the contemporary artworld (this time seen at Art Basel Miami) may be "the biggest scam since Hans Christian Andersen trotted out the emperor's new clothes"?Then again, are you sure you want to waste your time with this?Okay, art-lings, if you really want to (perhaps in the April Fools spirit of Beethoven's Tenth), now you can!If you'd like to get through this tiresome twaddle faster, you can quickly read the segment's transcript, here. But then you'd miss … [Read more...]

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