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Archives for January 2015

Goshen Commotion: Kimmelman’s Belated, Muddled Plea to Save Architect Paul Rudolph’s Masterpiece (with video)

"Where's Kimmelman?" I had asked the end of one of my many posts (beginning with this one) about the need to save Brutalist architect Paul Rudolph's endangered Orange County Government Center, Goshen, NY. Almost three years later, the NY Times' architecture critic, seemingly more intent upon writing about urban planning issues than architectural achievements, has at last turned his attention to this: Until now, it has fallen to the Times' veteran arts writer, Robin Pogrebin, to cover the controversy---a political football in Orange … [Read more...]

“The Dish” to Fold: Andrew Sullivan’s Blogger Burnout

In yet another sign that Holland Cotter may have been right to debunk "the one-personality blog of yore," Andrew Sullivan, the widely read and respected creator of The Dish, wrote today that he has "decided to stop blogging in the near future." Sullivan has posted almost daily for 15 years, leaving his host publication, the Daily Beast, in 2013 to set out on his own. Here's why he's calling it quits: I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again....Although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have … [Read more...]

Glenn Lowry as AAMD’s Improbable Expert on “Public Trust”

Sometimes wrongly, but sometimes rightly, Glenn Lowry has a major public-trust problem. That's why I did a double take when I saw he was one of the panelists for the “Conversation on the Public Trust" at the Association of Art Museum Director's midwinter meeting in Mexico City (ending today). I did another double take yesterday, when I followed AAMD's live-tweets from that panel, and read this: Lowry: once you lose the public's trust, there is no one thing you can do to quickly regain it. #aamdmex — Art Museum Directors … [Read more...]

Sotheby’s Raises Its Buyer’s Premium. How Much Is Too Much?

In the midst of a flurry of publicity about how the Big Two auction houses are self-sabotaging their profitability through cutthroat competition to win top consignments, Sotheby's today announced an attempt to bolster its profits---yet another hike in the fee it charges to buyers. If things go true to form, Christie's will soon follow the leader. Here are Sotheby's new charges (with old ones in parentheses), effective Feb. 1: Buyers will be charged 25% of first $200,000 (previously $100,000) of the hammer price; 20% of amount above … [Read more...]

AAMD’s Midwinter Meeting: Cultural Property, “Public Trust”

The Association of Art Museum Directors hasn't released many substantive details about topics and possible actions being considered at its midwinter meeting, which began Saturday and ends tomorrow. While those of us in the Northeast are bracing for a blizzard, the directors, with a talent for being in the right place at the right time, are gathered in balmy Mexico City, where today's official opening was preceded by two days of preliminary committee meetings and visits to museums and cultural sites, including the National Museum of … [Read more...]

“Translucent Complementary Contrast”: Steven Holl’s Alluring Expansion of MFA, Houston (with video)

It's about time that architect Steven Holl got another shot at a major art museum in the U.S., given the nearly universal acclaim that greeted his 2007 addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City. Judging from his preliminary renderings (presented an NYC press lunch last week) for a suavely handsome, 164,000 square-foot-building for 20th- and 21st-century art---just one part of the architect's master plan to enhance and unify the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's 14-acre campus---this project's planned 2019 completion will be well worth … [Read more...]

KUAF Public Radio Gets Crystal Bridges Officials’ Response to Kevin Murphy’s CultureGrrl Lament

After I published Kevin Murphy's candid appraisals (here and here) of his frustrating stint as American art curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR, I invited the museum to respond. I received no reply. But Sara Burningham of KUAF, the Fayetteville, AR, public radio station, did get the museum's reaction, as part of her "Ozarks at Large" segment today about A Year of Mixed Headlines for Crystal Bridges, in which she interviewed Rod Bigelow, the museum's executive director, and Mindy Besaw, its new … [Read more...]

George Washington University Offers Corcoran’s Fillmore Building for $14 Million (plus: preservationists’ challenge) CORRECTED

George Washington University's media relations office today announced this new development related to the controversial GWU-Corcoran-National Gallery deal that I just posted about: TTR Sotheby’s International Realty announced that it will serve as the exclusive listing agent for the former Corcoran College’s Fillmore building, which the George Washington University plans to sell this upcoming year. GW took control of the property as part of the historic agreements with the National Gallery of Art and the Corcoran last summer.... The … [Read more...]

Corcoran Collection Under Wraps: Long Wait Until “Legacy Gallery” Opens

Peggy McGlone in her Washington Post report last week, ominously suggested that there's some sinister plot afoot regarding the collection of the defunct Corcoran Gallery of Art: The works are "being divvied up under a cloak of secrecy," she warned. But it's unreasonable to expect the National Gallery of Art, the new custodian of the Corcoran's collection (as approved by the DC Superior Court), to publicize its every step in executing the complicated assignment of determining the fate of this eclectic 17,000-object trove---a dispersal … [Read more...]

Statistical Shenanigans: AAMD Plays the Numbers on Admission Fees (so does Indianapolis Museum)

In 2006, I complained that the “State of North America’s Art Museums” survey, which the Association of Art Museum Directors released annually from 2002 to 2011, was "frustratingly incomplete." Fast-forward to Art Museums by the Numbers, a six-page infographic released by AAMD last week, which makes earlier AAMD surveys seem like a mathematical PhD theses. (You can see the 2011 survey here.) As in 2006, AAMD has interpreted the latest figures as evidence that "museums are stable,” in the words of executive director Christine Anagnos, as … [Read more...]

News Flash: Graham W.J. Beal, Detroit Institute of Arts’ Director, To Retire (“Quite a Ride”)

It was an open secret that the most heroic, steadfast and principled art museum director I've ever met, the Detroit Institute of Arts' Graham W.J. Beal, was likely to retire when his contract expired June 30. He will have stayed the often difficult but rewarding course for almost 16 years. Clearly Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press knew Beal was soon to leave: Like obituary writers who have detailed biographies ready to go at the moment someone expires, Mark had a full appraisal of Beal's career and a recap of his monumental … [Read more...]

News Flash: Thom Collins Named to Head the Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation has just announced that Thomas ("Thom") Collins will be its next executive director and president, succeeding Derek Gillman, who left the building a full year ago. Collins will take the helm in mid-March. A Philadelphia native, Collins has been director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (formerly Miami Art Museum) for the last five years. As detailed in the above-linked announcement, he has an extensive track record, having previously worked at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY; Contemporary Museum, Baltimore; … [Read more...]

Museum-Commercial Gallery-Museum: John Elderfield’s Head-Spinning Revolving Door

In my original post on John Elderfield's new Princeton University appointment, I stated that "the conflict-of-interest potential" inherent in simultaneously working as a museum curator at Princeton and as a commercial gallery consultant for Gagosian "seems obvious." Apparently, though, it isn't obvious to Elderfield or to James Steward, director of the Princeton University Art Museum (PUAM), where the Museum of Modern Art's curator emeritus is about to become "distinguished curator and lecturer" while still working as a consultant for … [Read more...]

Communications Gap? Exodus of Guggenheim’s Top PR Officials

With the unannounced departure at the end of 2014 of Eleanor Goldhar, who followed Betsy Ennis down the ramp, the Guggenheim has lost two top-ranking communications veterans in rapid succession. Whether this is symptomatic of a broader institutional malaise or merely an unfortunate coincidence may become clearer if other key players leave the building. The Guggenheim's deputy director and chief of global communications, Goldhar came on board seven and a half years ago and was the journalist's go-to person for information on her … [Read more...]

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