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Archives for August 2014

Zaha Brouhaha: Hadid and the Conscience of Architects

Why is Zaha Hadid now being uniquely and unfairly saddled with the burden of becoming standard-bearer for the social conscience of architects? Because of her big mouth. At the end of his Vanity Fair piece, Zaha Hadid is Still Wrong About Construction Worker Conditions (reacting to the recent Hadid/Martin Filler contretemps), architecture critic Paul Goldberger suggests that Hadid should use her fame to "bring enormous attention to the problem" of exploitation of migrant construction workers in Qatar, where she designed a planned World Cup … [Read more...]

Plagiarism, Libel Suit, Blackballing: Bad-News Summer for Art-&-Architecture Journalism

We all make mistakes. But Carol Vogel's NY Times-acknowledged lifting from Wikipedia (which I've already commented on here) and the recent retraction by the NY Review of Books' architecture critic Martin Filler of his factually wrong and allegedly defamatory statement regarding architect Zaha Hadid were gasp-inducing gaffes. More on the Zaha brouhaha here. From previous coverage of Hadid's statements regarding migrant workers' deaths on Qatar construction projects, Filler inferred, with disastrous inaccuracy, that there had been "an estimated … [Read more...]

Spier & Gasparatto: The Getty Museum’s Dark-Horse Curatorial Appointments UPDATED

Here's my main question: If Jeffrey Spier, just named to the Getty Museum's long-vacant position of senior curator of antiquities, is a "member of the Department of Classics at the University of Arizona" (as the museum's press release states), why isn't he listed on the faculty website for the University of Arizona's Department of Classics? I called the department, whose secretary told me it was her understanding that he was "a University Associate" but wasn't an employee. She also said she would get me further clarification from a … [Read more...]

Do You Know the Way to Cy Près? What’s Wrong with Judge Okun’s Corcoran Opinion

A newcomer to the bench, DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun proved to be no Judge Stanley Ott when it came to the rigor of his courtroom questioning, legal analysis and writing mastery in crafting his momentous Corcoran-dissolving decision. The Corcoran name will be perpetuated (on its dispersed artworks, its figurehead board and its university-subsumed school), but not much else of the Corcoran as we know it (and as founder William Corcoran wanted it) will remain, save for a token "Legacy Gallery" in its landmark building. Notwithstanding … [Read more...]

Read It and Weep: Judge Okun Allows Corcoran/National Gallery/George Washington U. Merger THREE UPDATES

My analysis of the decision is here. You can read these along with me: Here's DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun's decision to allow the proposed merger of the Corcoran Gallery, National Gallery and George Washington University. Here's the judge's related order. The three parties to the merger have now issued this exultant press release. More on all this later. UPDATE: The Washington Post's Philip Kennicott, previously a strong critic of the merger, tries to see the bright side. UPDATE 2: The lawyers for the opponents to the … [Read more...]

Revived American Folk Art Museum: The Ingenuity of “Self-Taught Genius”

Last week, I belatedly visited the American Folk Art Museum's engaging, rightly acclaimed Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum (closed Sunday), arguably its most ambitious, wide-ranging exhibition since it decamped in 2011 from its W. 53rd Street facility to what had been its satellite space on Lincoln Square. In astute wall texts and labels for some 100 objects from the museum's superlative permanent collection, AFAM reframed self-taught art as the visual expression of America's independent spirit, unrestrained by … [Read more...]

CultureGrrl on Corcoran is “Notable & Quotable” in Wall Street Journal; More on National Gallery’s Role

You read it here first, art-lings. The Wall Street Journal has just chosen to anoint as Notable and Quotable (in tomorrow's paper, but online now) an excerpt from yesterday's CultureGrrl post in which I was critical of the role that the National Gallery will play if the Corcoran Gallery gets court permission to disperse its collection. Here's an excerpt from the WSJ's excerpt: Two weeks ago, when I attended the Corcoran court hearings, I wandered through the National Gallery (a stone's throw from DC Superior Court) and checked out how … [Read more...]

Chris Crosman on Corcoran’s Endangered Legacy (plus: National Gallery’s Lonely Founding Fathers) UPDATED

With Philip Kennicott, the Washington Post's art critic, having yesterday reemphasized his opposition to the dissolution of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and its collection, let's examine one of the arguments advanced by the Corcoran in favor of handing over its art holdings to the National Gallery of Art. The moribund museum had claimed in its initial press release that its "great cultural...resources" would become "more widely accessible" under the terms of the proposed deal. Two weeks ago, when I attended the Corcoran court hearings, I … [Read more...]

Sotheby’s Earnings Conference Call: The Cost of Activist Shareholders

Sotheby's press release today on recent earning results included two different figures for the key metric of profitability---"net income"---in the second quarter (ending June 30), which included the big May sales of Impressionist/modern and contemporary art. "Adjusted net income" for that quarter decreased 4% from the same quarter last year, to $87.83 million. But "net income" for that quarter decreased even more---by 15%, to $77.63 million. So what exactly was that "adjustment"? The more favorable figures are the result of adding back … [Read more...]

My Twitter Debate with Kriston Capps on the Corcoran (plus Univ. of MD’s spurned proposal)

My piece in today's Wall Street Journal on the possible dismantling of the Corcoran Gallery of Art got Kriston Capps of The Atlantic all a-Twitter, resulting in a somewhat contentious conversation between us on how to salvage that endangered museum. In his previous gig at the Washington City Paper, Capps was one of the most cogent commentators on the Corcoran mess, so I enjoyed our friendly sniping in snippets. Below is my Twitter chain of that dialogue, which ends with a reference to the Corcoran's aborted deal with the University of … [Read more...]

“Isn’t There a Better Way?” My WSJ Piece on the Corcoran Gallery Court Case

I spent two days last week in Judge Robert Okun's Courtroom 317 at D.C. Superior Court, hearing arguments and testimony by the Corcoran Gallery's attorneys and the three witnesses it called to help make its unconvincing case for ending the 145-year-old institution's function as a museum, scattering its collection to various nonprofit recipients (with the lion's share going to the National Gallery of Art) and transferring its the Corcoran's real estate, most of its financial assets and its college to George Washington University. Having … [Read more...]

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