an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Archives for April 2014

Live Tweets of My Top-to-Bottom Wander Through the Metropolitan Museum: Graham’s Rooftop Funhouse

One of the unexpected joys of having an 11-month-old grandson is seeing everything afresh through his unjaded eyes. I can't wait to see how he responds to the Metropolitan Museum's new rooftop installation, which I experienced with the scribe tribe on a cooperatively sunny Monday morning. My art critic's reaction to Dan Graham's Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout (enhanced by landscape architect Günther Vogt with trellised ivy) was that the pleasantly disorienting time-space warp inside its curvy walls reminded me of navigating through one of … [Read more...]

From Wagner to Sedaka: Heppner’s “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” His (& Beal’s?) Swansong (with video)

My reward for sitting through several days of intermittently interesting museum-administrators' panels, held in New York under various auspices, came at the end of today's "New Face of Museums" panel of the Leadership Nouveau conference, presented at the Museum of Modern Art by the HEC Montréal business school. Celebrated Wagnerian tenor Ben Heppner, whose astonishingly robust and moving "Tristan" was one of the top-10 highlights of my more than four decades of operagoing, served as emcee for the conference. When things had wrapped up, he … [Read more...]

Debunking Myths about Goya’s “Red Boy” at Met’s Once-in-a-Lifetime Family Reunion (with video)

It's rare (if not unprecedented) that images for the entire checklist of a museum exhibition are arrayed on the front page of the NY Times (see bottom of this photo): So let's get right to this intimate, myth-busting show, Goya and the Altamira Family (to Aug. 3), in which the Metropolitan Museum hosts a first-ever Altamira Family Reunion---father, mother (holding their baby daughter), and individual portraits of three sons, including the Met's poster-and-postcard child, known 'round the world as "Red Boy": Thanks to its … [Read more...]

“Satellite Museums” Panel: My Interchange with Guggenheim’s Richard Armstrong on Abu Dhabi Human-Rights Concerns

This afternoon I attended an illuminating panel about "Satellite Museums" at the Guggenheim Museum, presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Richard Armstrong, the Guggenheim's director, was a panelist, along with two Parisian heavyweights---the director of the Centre Pompidou and the managing director of the Louvre. In the Q&A portion of the program, Armstrong and I had this telling exchange, which I share with you in haste (and probably with typos) as I prepare to attend another panel this evening: ROSENBAUM: What is … [Read more...]

Grand Façade: A Final Farewell to Former American Folk Art Museum Facility (with video)

In yesterday's unsparing NY Times appraisal of Glenn Lowry's 19-year reign as the Museum of Modern Art's director, Randy Kennedy reported that "the first stage of the controversial demolition" of the former American Folk Art Museum building would begin today. So this seems like a good moment to take one last look at the doomed building, via a CultureGrrl Video that I had shot earlier this year. (I had previously posted a narrated slideshow of its interior, with photos taken on July 8, 2011, the last day of AFAM's operation there.) In the … [Read more...]

CultureGrrl Omitted from MOCA’s Storify of Its Twitter Q&A with New Director Philippe Vergne UPDATED

For those of you who may have been preoccupied by Good Friday and Easter preparations, LA MOCA today posted a Storify of its Friday #askMOCA Q&A on Twitter with its new director, Philippe Vergne. His cryptic replies---far less than the 140-character limit, for the most part---weren't all that illuminating. But he does get points for his display of openness to hearing (and possibly addressing) the interests and concerns of MOCA's constituents. Wait a minute! What happened to my own #askMOCA tweet and Vergne's response? They were excluded … [Read more...]

Saffron & Sozanski: Philadelphia Inquirer’s Good-News/Bad-News Week

The spirits of culture writers at the Philadelphia Inquirer whipsawed this week from jubilation to sorrow, in reaction to two major Monday occurrences---the awarding of the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism to the paper's estimable architecture critic, Inga Saffron, whose Changing Skyline column is the go-to source for information and astute commentary on Philadelphia's buillt environment; the sudden death of the paper's perspicacious art critic, Edward Sozanski. Both were passionately devoted to the quality of life in their city … [Read more...]

Bilious About Billboards: A Dissenting BlogBack from Advertising Association and Heated Tweets

            My Tuesday post, in which Chris Crosman and I criticized the Art Everywhere billboard initiative (featuring blow-ups of 50 American artworks from five U.S. museums, sparked a debate on my Twitter feed (see below), as well as this detailed response from Nancy Fletcher of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, sponsor of the billboard project: I have been the Outdoor Advertising Association of America’s president and CEO for more than 15 years and am responsible for … [Read more...]

MoMA Drama: My Participation on Archinect’s Panel Regarding the Expansion Controversy

On Jan. 31, I participated in an Archinect-organized panel discussion (via Skype) regarding the controversy over the Museum of Modern Art's expansion plans in general and the knock-down of the American Folk Art Museum's former building in particular. Our freewheeling give-and-take, moderated by Archinect's editorial manager, Amelia Taylor-Hochberg, was pegged to the Architectural League's Jan. 28 all-star discussion about the controversial project (video of that two-hour event is here) and also made reference to Robin Pogrebin's Jan. 18 … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Chris Crosman, Founding Curator of Crystal Bridges, on Museums’ Billboard Barrage

Chris Crosman, founding curator of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (who left there at the end of 2011), responds positively to my negative tweet from Apr. 6 about the Art Everywhere intiative, sponsored by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. Intended in part to help bolster the foundering billboard industry, that campaign will feature 50 blow-ups of American art from five U.S. museums---the Dallas Museum of Art (whose director, Max Anderson, is the program's lead spokesperson), Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles … [Read more...]

Palisades Palaver: My Twitter Debate on LG with Kimmelman, Goldberger, Davidson, Others

As someone who lives on the "wrong" side of the Hudson River, I've been bemused by the specious arguments about how the planned new LG Electronics headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, will violate the Palisades' "pristine tree line" (Bonnie Burnham, president of the World Monuments Fund, in the Huffington Post), will "for the first time violate the unspoiled ridgeline" (Protect the Palisades) and will disrupt a "landscape of unbroken, natural beauty" (Rose Harvey, New York State’s parks commissioner). The last quote was published in Michael … [Read more...]

Jackson Action: Companion Video for My WSJ Article on Getty’s Restoration of Pollock’s Mural

There's a myth about Jackson Pollock's breakthrough 1943 painting, "Mural," that I didn't have the space to mention in my Wednesday Wall Street Journal article, Getty's Jackson Pollock Restoration: It was often said that the painting was cut down in order to fit on the wall in Peggy Guggenheim's apartment, for which it was commissioned. Not true. However, a sizable portion of the left side of "Mural" was cut off in the reproduction accompanying my piece in the above-linked online version. (By the time you read this, I hope this may have been … [Read more...]

News Flash: ARTnews Magazine Sold to Skate’s UPDATED

ARTnews magazine was editor and publisher Milton Esterow's labor of love for 41 years. It's with sadness that I report his family's sale of the magazine to Skate Capital Corp., described in the official announcement of the transaction as "a private art and media industry investment vehicle of Sergey Skaterschikov." The above-linked announcement describes some of Skate's art-investment activity. Here's more on Skaterschikov, whose focus seems to be mostly market-oriented. Milton was passionate about art journalism. As a former arts … [Read more...]

BlogBack: David Ross Argues Against Deaccession Legislation

David Ross, chair of MFA Art Practice at New York’s School of Visual Arts (and former director of the Whitney Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Boston ICA), responds to Delaware Art Museum’s Deaccession Debacle: The Impotence of AAMD. Once again, I still think you are wrong about bringing more government into the art museum world. State attorneys general already have the power to investigate and prosecute institutional malfeasance but often lack the prosecutorial courage to take on powerful trustee boards. New laws would not … [Read more...]

Delaware Art Museum’s Deaccession Debacle: The Impotence of AAMD

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The time has come for the passage of legislation to bar museums from monetizing important collection objects that are in the public domain and should stay there. The recent examples of the sale of art from Randolph College's Maier Museum and planned sales from the Delaware Art Museum demonstrate, once again, that censures and sanctions from the Association of Art Museum Directors are powerless to prevent deplorable deaccessions of museum-quality artworks that are held in public trust. Some attorneys … [Read more...]

Delaware Art Museum’s Deaccession Debacle: My Q&A with Its Former Director, Danielle Rice

While the Delaware Art Museum has been the target of considerable criticism among museum professionals for its decision to sell art to repay debts and enhance the endowment, no one has been more distressed by this development than the museum's own former director, Danielle Rice, who left at the end of August to direct a program in museum leadership at Drexel University. In a candid, in-depth conversation with me, Rice expressed her strong disapproval of what the trustees did after she left, outlined what should have been done instead, and … [Read more...]

Stepping Up: Judith Dolkart Leaves Barnes Foundation for Addison Gallery Directorship

The Barnes Foundation, less than two years after it opened its new Philadelphia facility, is not only without a director, but is also about to lose its deputy director/chief curator. When I learned that Derek Gillman was leaving the Barnes, effective last Jan. 1, to become distinguished visiting professor at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, I wondered in this CultureGrrl post whether there might be a Barnes directorship in the future of deputy director Judith Dolkart, "whose acumen I admire, was a 2013 fellow … [Read more...]

an ArtsJournal blog