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Archives for September 2013

Dept. of Dysfunctionality: Smithsonian to Close Its Doors in Government Shutdown UPDATED

On the same day that President Obama proclaimed October as National Arts and Humanities Month, the Smithsonian Institution has announced that all its museums will close in the increasingly likely event of a U.S. Government shutdown tomorrow. Of 4,202 Smithsonian employees, 688 would be retained---those needed "to protect life and property." (National Zoo animals must be fed!) If government does grind to a halt, Smithsonian employees will get four hours tomorrow "to undertake necessary work for an orderly shutdown," according to the … [Read more...]

Glenn Lowry on MoMA’s Next Expansion: “Substantial Changes in the Way We Present the Collection”

I neglected you last week, artlings, because I was away on a workation. (If you followed my Twitter feed on Sept. 24 and 26, you saw a couple of photo clues about where I wandered.) Before I left, though, I did manage to attend the Museum of Modern Art's Monday press briefing on its upcoming exhibitions. During the Q&A after the formal presentation, we elicited an update from MoMA's director, Glenn Lowry, on the museum's plans to expand to new galleries at the base of a Jean Nouvel-designed tower... ...and into the space occupied … [Read more...]

NY Attorney General Asks Court to Order the Return of Thomas Cole Painting to Seward House

The NY State Attorney General's office continues to take the praiseworthy, forceful steps to protect the Seward House Historic Museum's Thomas Cole painting that it unaccountably declined to take to protect the Hispanic Society of America's now dispersed coin collection. This week the AG filed in State Surrogate's Court for Cayuga County his formal response in support of a petition filed last month seeking the permanent prohibition of the sale of a Thomas Cole painting, “Portage Falls on the Genesee,” 1839, that had long hung at Seward House … [Read more...]

Forbes Magazine’s “Honest Error of Omission”: My Misadventures When Interviewed about Alice Walton

Occasionally, journalists get a taste of their own medicine: We get interviewed, sometimes with unpleasant results. More comfortable as an interviewer than an interviewee, I was approached a couple of weeks ago by Forbes magazine's Clare O'Connor for a detailed discussion in which I provided some background (unquoted, by her choice) for her lengthy profile of the woman described (inaccurately) in the magazine's headline as America's Richest Art Collector. O'Connor's piece appears in the Oct. 7 Forbes 400 issue (now online) devoted to the … [Read more...]

Clough’s Said “Enough!” So Who Should Be Next Secretary of the Smithsonian?

Who needs the search firm Russell Reynolds Associates to help pick a replacement for Wayne Clough, who yesterday announced he will retire in October 2014, after more than six years as secretary of the Smithsonian? The artworld stands ready and willing to make this selection for them! Kelly Crow of the Wall Street Journal, who wrote an admiring profile of Clough last year, today launched a Twitter survey: Who do YOU think should run the @smithsonian? Why in 140 characters or less. ;) Stephen Persing, a wry, witty Twitter commentator on … [Read more...]

Equal Time: Successor to Retiring Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough Should Be an Art Professional

Enough with all these scientists! With 10 of its 15 museums focused on art, design and/or culture (and with one of those institutions---the in-construction National Museum of African American History and Culture---slated to become the next addition to the Smithsonian empire in 2015), the Smithsonian owes it to its own constituents and to its culturally-oriented visitors to choose Secretary Wayne Clough's successor from the ranks of art scholars. The Smithsonian's art museums have never had one of their own in the institution's top … [Read more...]

Roof Goof: More on the Art Institute of Chicago’s Skylight Adjustments

Erin Hogan, director of public affairs for the Art Institute of Chicago, replied yesterday to my request for more details regarding what's behind the museum's unfortunate seven-month shutdown of the top floor of its four-year-old Modern Wing, designed by Renzo Piano. She told me that work to be done in the galleries for European modern art, which contain (among other treasures) Chicago's celebrated Matisses and Picassos, will involve "recalibrating [the] lighting system [my link, not hers] to ensure consistent 'daylight harvesting' across … [Read more...]

Knoedler Curdler: Rosales Guilty-Plea Agreement Calls for Her Cooperation with Prosecutors UPDATED

In his press release providing the details of today's guilty plea by art dealer Glafira Rosales in the fake paintings case involving sales of works through Knoedler and Julian Weissman galleries (neither of which has been charged and both of which have denied knowledge that the paintings were fake), Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, noted that Rosales had admitted participating in "a scheme to sell more than 60 fake works of modern art to two New York art galleries. Her victims paid more than $80 million … [Read more...]

Roof Goof? Art Institute of Chicago Closes Top Floor of Renzo Piano’s Modern Wing

[More on this, here.] My Friday post on the Kimbell Art Museum's Renzo Piano-designed addition (opening Nov. 27) turned out to be somewhat prescient---not about the Fort Worth museum's new pavilion (which is not yet reviewable, because it's not yet completely finished), but about the Art Institute of Chicago. In reporting that the top of the Kimbell's Piano Pavilion is being touted as one of Piano’s "most elaborately engineered roof systems,” I noted that the same architect's complicated apparatus atop the Modern Wing at the Art Institute … [Read more...]

Another Elaborate Roof: Video Previews of Renzo Piano’s Pavilion for Kimbell Art Museum

UPDATE: My Wall Street Journal review of the Kimbell's Piano Pavilion is here. Wanna see a video preview of the new Renzo Piano addition to the Kimbell Art Museum, opening to the public on Nov. 27? Now your can! This tour of the exterior, posted by KERA, the public broadcasting outlet for North Texas, is narrated by Eric Lee, the Kimbell's director. You'll hear him state that the Piano Pavilion "walks a very fine line between being deferential to the Kahn building and being a strong building in and of itself": Here's an animated … [Read more...]

Sleeping Watchdog Awakes! Attorney General Speaks Up on Behalf of Cole Landscape at Seward House

Did he really say that? In connection with a case that is scheduled to be heard in court tomorrow, the NY State Attorney General's office, in sharp contrast to its silence on the Hispanic Society of America's coin sell-off and the New York Public Library's American paintings disposal (which included Asher B. Durand's celebrated "Kindred Spirits"), has issued a strongly worded letter signed by Jason Lilien, its Charities Bureau chief, defending donor intent. (Details of his letter, later in this post.) At issue are announced plans to sell … [Read more...]

Brant Rant: Christie’s Inflated Hype for Koons’ Puffed-Up “Balloon Dog (Orange)”

In four decades of writing about the art market, I can't recall a more wildly excessive binge of presale promotion than Christie's press release for its upcoming auction of the Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog (Orange)," 1994-2000, consigned to this fall's evening sale of contemporary art by Greenwich, CT, collector Peter Brant, chairman of Brant Publications (which owns Art in America magazine). Brant said he will use the proceeds to support the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich: Describing the Koons "inflatable" as "one of the … [Read more...]

The Elusive Jack Goldstein Reappears at the Jewish Museum (with videos)

This Jewish High Holiday season is a good moment for me to draw some attention to Jack Goldstein X 10,000 at the Jewish Museum, New York (to Sept. 29), an exhibition that has haunted me ever since I viewed it at last May's press preview. Moving me more deeply than most shows I've experienced, it has an elemental force, literally invoking the four elements---earth, fire, water, air. Three of those four forces of nature figure in the piece that introduces the exhibition: "The Jump," 1978, which is screened in its original 26-second, 16mm … [Read more...]

Gagosian Motion: Pace Gallery’s (not-so-)Exclusive de Kooning Representation UPDATED TWICE and CLARIFIED

If you feel a need to compromise journalistic principles in order to get first crack at a news story, that's a scoop not worth getting. Writing in today's NY Times about the Gagosian Gallery's planned November show of 10 late de Kooning works, Carol Vogel, a highly accomplished, deeply experienced reporter, seemed demonstrably unconfortable in omitting the most newsworthy (and obvious) fact regarding this late addition to the gallery's schedule: It appears to be an incursion by Gagosian into a rival gallery's territory. (This Gagosian-Pace … [Read more...]

AAMD’s Blind Eye: No Objections to Pennsylvania Academy’s Upcoming Hopper Sale

As predicted by me and by David Ross (who, as former director of the Whitney Museum, oversaw more than two thousand paintings, watercolors, and drawings from Edward Hopper's estate), the Association of Art Museum Directors will raise no objection to the decision of one if its members, Harry Philbrick, director of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, to sell an important 1934 Hopper streetcape in order to fund acquisitions chiefly of contemporary art. In response to my query, AAMD’s executive director, Christine Anagnos, told me the … [Read more...]

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