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Archives for December 2012

The Year in CultureGrrl, 2012 Edition

While the idiocracy in Washington makes its non-plans to keep us teetering on the edge of the fiscal cliff, do not forget, art-lings, that today is the last day of the year to make your non-tax deductible contributions to support CultureGrrl. That said, tomorrow is the first day of next year to make your non-deductible contribution to supportthis blog'scontinued existence. The timing isn't crucial; the support truly is. So far, six of you have responded generously to my Participatory Financing Appeal. Two others "participated" earlier … [Read more...]

Esmerian Bankruptcy Deal: American Folk Art Museum May Get to Keep 53 of 263 Works Promised by Disgraced Donor

The American Folk Art Museum's previously preeminent donor and former chairman, the criminally convicted jewelry mogul Ralph Esmerian, made a lot of promises he couldn't keep. When I visited AFAM's Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions (to Feb. 3) at the South Street Seaport Museum last August, I was surprised to see so many objects (including the one above) bearing the credit, "Collection of the American Folk Art Museum, Promised gift of Ralph Esmerian." I knew that the collector thus credited had no more credit, having gone bankrupt and … [Read more...]

Eyeballing “The Scream” at MoMA: Is It Worth $120 Million?

The short answer: YES! After having been frustrated by the wire barrier (not to mention the dense crowd) when "The Scream" was exhibited at Sotheby's before being sold last May for the highest price ever achieved by an artwork at auction, I finally got to see it up close and personal last week at the Museum of Modern Art, where it's on view to Apr. 29. It was even better than I had expected: This lurid, fervid pastel is not worth its outsized price to me personally: I haven't yet stashed away $120 million in mad money, nor, I … [Read more...]

Multicultural Judaism and Landmark Hasidic Exhibition at Israel Museum (with video)

For those, like me, who may need a Christmas alternative today, let's blog-travel to Israel, where one of my chief takeaways from my two-week trip last month was how multicultural the Jewish people have been over the centuries. (I had tweeted about this from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with images: here, here, here, here and here.) Jewish cultural diversity, dependent upon where the diaspora led us, is demonstrated by the 18 models of synagogues from around the world in the core exhibition (click on "Faith") at the Museum of the Jewish People in … [Read more...]

Thanks from CultureGrrl: New “Participatory Financiers” (plus 6000th follower)

Many thanks to my six December CultureGrrl contributors, including the four who clicked my "Donate" button in response to yesterday's "Participatory Financing" appeal. May I hope for 10 more supportive art-lings by the end of the year? Then we can all go over the Fiscal Cliff together! Meanwhile, my 6,000th follower, relatively new to Twitter and new to me, recently clicked in. She's Mila Shugurova, an artist/writer from Toronto and multilingual tweeter (English and Russian): Mila Shugurova's Twitter photo Speaking of interesting … [Read more...]

CultureGrrl’s “Participatory Financing” (plus: Who wants to be my 6,000th Twitter follower?)

The crass term for it is begging, but the French prefer a loftier description: "participatory financing." So begins the front-page article by Doreen Carvajal in today's NY Times about how French cultural institutions, notably the Louvre, are passing the chapeau for contributions towards acquisitions and refurbishment. As my art-lings may have noticed, I've grown weary of "begging" for contributions to support CultureGrrl. So let's call it "participatory financing." A grant that I applied for this year didn't come through. With a few much … [Read more...]

Behind the Ban of Warhol’s “Mao” in China: Purging the Chairman’s Presence

When I traveled to China two years ago, my group's first stop was, of course, Tiananmen Square, where one can see one of the few publicly displayed portraits of the formerly ubiquitous Chairman Mao: I learned when I was there that the very mention of Mao to many Chinese has become taboo. In a turnabout-is-fair-play scenario, he has become almost a non-person in his homeland, just as he had sanitized history to suit his own ends. So when Eric Shiner, director of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, expressed puzzlement (in comments to … [Read more...]

Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Engineers Rescue of Phoenix’s David Wright House

The Chicago-based Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy today announced that its exhaustive efforts to save from a developer's wrecking ball the David Wright House, which the celebrated architect had built in 1950-52 for his son in Phoenix, had succeeded, with its sale to an undisclosed preservation-minded benefactor. According to the conservancy's press release: The transaction closed on December 20 for an undisclosed price. The property will be transferred to an Arizona not-for-profit organization responsible for the restoration, … [Read more...]

Mather Matters: Famed Architect’s Kiosks Axed from Metropolitan Museum’s Plaza Renovation (with videos)

By Fall 2014, when the Metropolitan Museum's in-construction, four-block-long entrance plaza is expected to reopen to the public, you'll gaze upon new fountains, granite paving, plantings, tables, chairs and dramatic nighttime illumination. But you won't see this... Rendering of the proposed (now eliminated) information and ticketing kiosk, designed by architect Rick Mather ...or this: Food service kiosk, also designed by Mather Excited that an architect I have admired would leave a footprint, however modest, in Manhattan, I … [Read more...]

Burnishing Bernini: Model of Scholarship at Metropolitan Museum (with video)

Veteran art critic Holland Cotter, in his end-of-year art museum round-up in Sunday's NY Times "Arts & Leisure" section, showed symptoms of what I call "exhibition ennui"---a malady that often afflicts those of us who have viewed a lifetime's worth of museum displays. What we crave is (in Cotter's words) "stimulation, to find what you didn't already know" and also (in my words) the chance to appreciate aspects of certain art that you had vaguely sensed but hadn't seen fleshed out in prior exhibitions. Three very different but equally … [Read more...]

Newtown Massacre and the Power of Images: Macabre Echo of “Snap the Whip”

Am I alone in having Winslow Homer's iconic image of innocent, idyllic childhood come to mind, wrenchingly, when I encountered (on the front page of all three newspapers that I receive) the sickening Newtown Bee photo of children being evacuated from Sandy Hook Elementary School, after the horrific massacre that occurred there on Friday? This painting, a framed reproduction of which I passed in the hall every day during my own innocent elementary school years in the Bronx, shows "exuberant boys" forming a chain after being "released from … [Read more...]

Gagosian Commotion: Cracks in the ÜberDealer’s Fortress?

I've long wondered whether the Gagosian Empire---now expanded to 12 galleries in seven countries, with 304 names on its roster of exhibited artists---was over-extended. Now, with the news (in Georgina Adam's Financial Times scoop) that Gagosian art star Damien Hirst has abruptly left the gallery after 17 years, it's time to wonder if the mega-dealer's formidable, unprecedented dominence of the blue-chip contemporary art market has peaked. The Hirst defection followed close upon the surprise decision of another superstar, Jeff Koons, to … [Read more...]

Whitney Curator: Benton Mural, Donated to Metropolitan Museum, Had Been “Shopped Around” (plus: Met’s loss of Rauschenberg’s “Canyon”)

Upon hearing yesterday that Thomas Hart Benton's jaw-dropping magnum opus, America Today, was being donated to the Metropolitan Museum, I enthusiastically tweeted: Kudos to AXA Equitable for donating TH Benton's magnum opus to @metmuseum. But Met should display it sooner than 2015! Upon my further investigation, it seems that those "kudos" need to be qualified. Responding by phone to my query today, veteran Whitney curator Barbara Haskell revealed that her institution was one of several museums to which the mural's owner, AXA Equitable … [Read more...]

Good News: Corcoran Will Remain in Its Washington Home

The Washington Post's David Montgomery has the story, quoting Fred Bollerer, president of the Corcoran Gallery and College: A number of individuals, corporations, foundations, other organizations [perhaps these?] have understood the severity of the problem and have engaged in a way to allow us to continue to stay in this building and to assure the future. The Corcoran adminstrators apparently have likewise "understood" the intensity of their constituents' attachment to the institution's elegant, historic home. No details were announced on … [Read more...]

Art Basel Frazzle: Curmudgeons’ High Dudgeon on High-Priced Art

Memo to disgruntled critics, ranting about the recent "obscene" prices for "trophy art": Highly coveted artworks cost big bucks---today and always. Art writers whose bank accounts don't rise to the level of their exquisite taste can't afford a square inch of an Andy Warhol silkscreen or of any other blue-chip art. So what else is new? Warhol, "Statue of Liberty," $43.76 million on Nov. 14 at Christie's This post constitutes my seventh annual curdled Art Basel Miami Sour Grapes Soufflé, wherein I vent my cynical take on this event … [Read more...]

The Met’s Stealth Attribution: A Michelangelo in Our Midst?

The putative "Michelangelo of Fifth Avenue" has gotten an upgrade. With Italian Renaissance scholars James Beck, Leo Steinberg and, above all, the great Michelangelo expert Creighton Gilbert no longer with us to cast doubt on his controversial, ambitious attribution, James Draper, curator at the Metropolitan Museum, has quietly removed the "attributed to" from the label for this armless waif, whom I recently came upon in the corridor leading from the Met's European sculpture and decorative arts galleries to its arms and armor … [Read more...]

Architecture Critic Paul Goldberger vs. Dallas’ Museum Tower

Yesterday, in the interest of fairness, I aired the response of Museum Tower to my post on the harm that the glare of its highly reflective skin is causing the Nasher Sculpture Center.Just so I don't leave you with the mistaken impression that I agree with the condo's take on this contretemps, here's my Twitter exchange this morning with Vanity Fair's distinguished architecture critic, Paul Goldberger: Lee Rosenbaum @CultureGrrl Museum Tower says only solution to harm it's causing @ NasherSculpture is altering Renzo's roof. What about … [Read more...]

BlogBack by Museum Tower Spokesperson: Nasher’s Louver Solution Won’t Mitigate Glare

Here's the other side of the story regarding the Nasher clash over the glowering tower. Rebecca Shaw, executive vice president for Spaeth Communications, responds to Reflective Invective: Nasher's Jeremy Strick Glares Back at Condo Tower's Glare, Reacts to DMA's Free Admission: A feasibility report for a retractable louver system to remediate the reflected light [from the new Museum Tower condo] was to be presented to [Jeremy] Strick [director of the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas]  on Nov. 20. Unfortunately, the meeting was canceled by … [Read more...]

Reflective Invective: Nasher’s Jeremy Strick Glares Back at Condo Tower’s Glare, Reacts to DMA’s Free Admission

Picasso in Plaid: "Nude Man and Woman," 1971All photos courtesy of Nasher Sculpture CenterContacted by me yesterday (in light of this CultureGrrl post) for an update on his standoff with the highly reflective (and, to the Nasher, highly pernicious) Museum Tower, Jeremy Strick, director of the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, gave me this detailed reply (and sent me photos showing how the glare from the tower defaces the art and harms the garden):Regarding Museum Tower, no important new developments to report, I'm afraid. The leadership of the … [Read more...]

Dallas Fallacy: Should Museums’ Admission Be Free? (Should Nasher Sculpture Center be glare-free?) CORRECTED

If this works for the Dallas Museum of Art, fine. Maxwell Anderson, the DMA's director, has thrown down the populist gauntlet by trumpeting his museum's decision (effective Jan. 21) to offer not only free admission (eliminating the current $10 adult fee) but also "free membership" (which won't offer the same benefits as paid membership, such as the soon-to-be obsolete perk of free entry). While admirable in intent---making the museum more accessible to constituents from South Dallas, as well as from tonier Highland Park---this Big D … [Read more...]

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