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Archives for June 2015

Hailing Harold Holzer: Retirement Bash Today for Metropolitan Museum’s Public Affairs VP UPDATED

I feel about guilty missing this, and Harold has just made me feel more guilty: A bum knee is preventing me from attending Harold Holzer's retirement reception at the Metropolitan Museum later today. My last-minute withdrawal from the guest list elicited this (tongue-in-cheek?) suggestion from my longtime facilitator (and sometimes detractor): Can’t you use a Met wheelchair? Harold, I'll make a public appearance in a wheelchair only if you push it! Curators and directors (not to mention critics and journalists) have come and gone, … [Read more...]

Cash-Cow Art Loans in Abu Dhabi: What “Commercial Interests” of British Museum Would Be Harmed by Disclosure?

In my previous post about the British Museum's collaboration with Abu Dhabi's planned Zayed National Museum, I questioned why the amounts paid to the London institution for its art loans and professional consultations were "commercially sensitive," exempting them from the disclosure requirements for public bodies under the UK's Freedom of Information Act. Here, in full, is the reply I received today (in response to my query sent last week) from Olivia Rickman, acting head of the British Museum’s press office [emphasis added]: The Museum … [Read more...]

“Fragmented Exhibition Spaces”: Guggenheim Picks Architects for Helsinki

"Art in the City," the winning design for the proposed (but not yet government-approved) Guggenheim Helsinki, is "a collection of [nine] linked pavilions, each orientated to respect the city grid, and anchored by a lookout tower," in the words of the jury statement on the selection of Paris firm Moreau Kusunoki Architectes, founded less than four years ago by the husband-and-wife team of Nicolas Moreau (previously and briefly with SANAA) and Hiroko Kusunoki (previously with Shigeru Ban). The most distinctive feature of the sprawling "Art … [Read more...]

Guggenheim Helsinki Competition Winner Announced Tomorrow (fly-through video tonight)

More on this here. Speaking of international museum collaborations, early-rising (or insomniac) U.S. art-lings, alert and online at 11 a.m. Helsinki time (4 a.m. NYC time), can be among the first to know which architectural firm has won the anonymous competition for the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki. The design, chosen from the six finalists, must successfully navigate the government approval process before the project can get off the drawing boards and into development. You can see the models of the finalists in this Guggenheim-produced … [Read more...]

Commercial, Not Collegial: British Museum’s Major Loans to Abu Dhabi’s Zayed National Museum

My praise was premature in my Apollo magazine piece on satellite museums, where I favorably mentioned the British Museum's "collegial sharing" of "objects, exhibitions and expertise" with Abu Dhabi’s planned Zayed National Museum, contrasting this with the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi arrangement. It now seems, according to Martin Bailey's recent report in the Art Newspaper, that major objects traveling from the United Kingdom to the United Arab Emirates will be dispatched not as a collegial loan, but for an undisclosed "substantial fee" that … [Read more...]

Mondo Condo: Megabucks Residents at Nouvel Tower to Get Elite MoMA Privileges

Are you hoping to purchase one of the multimillion-dollar apartments in the Jean Nouvel-designed 1,050-foot tapered tower adjoining the Museum of Modern Art... ...but wondering how you'll be able afford MoMA's pricey admission fee after emptying your bank account to acquire and furnish your posh new digs? Fear no more, affluent art-lings! As the recently launched sales website for the project tells us (click "view text" in upper-right corner): "Each resident will...receive title to a unique Benefactor W53 membership at MoMA, … [Read more...]

Cherchez “Les Femmes”: Mysterious Role of “Party with a Financial Interest” in the $179.37-Million Picasso

“A party with a financial interest may be bidding” on Picasso's “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’),” 1955, Christie's auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen announced at the start of the May 11 auction where the flesh-flaunting "Femmes" attracted a $179.37-million sugar daddy. But who was that mysterious "party with a financial interest" and did he/she/it help to pump up the price? In response to my query, a Christie's spokesperson (who did not wish to be named) told me that the "party" consisted of "outside partners" to whom Christie's had … [Read more...]

Trashing Tranquility: Pierre Huyghe Invades Oases at Metropolitan Museum and Museum of Modern Art (with video)

In a audacious double-play, French artist Pierre Huyghe has managed to sabotage both the Metropolitan Museum's Roof Garden and the Museum of Modern Art's Sculpture Garden---two of my favorite outdoor summer spaces in New York. Both are beloved refuges for those seeking tranquility and aesthetic pleasure...not to mention snacks, beverages and a place to take little children: Now Pierre Huyghe has ruined my bliss. My first reaction to seeing the shambles he's made of the Met's Roof Garden was incredulity. My second: dismay that a source of … [Read more...]

The Frick’s Little Noticed “Prized Garden” Saved; Vital Expansion Still Planned

The Frick expansion is dead. Long live the Frick expansion. Preservationists who fought the planned destruction of the Frick's 1970s gated "viewing garden," designed by Russell Page, have gotten their way without ever having to make a formal case to government approval bodies. In his reluctantly conciliatory statement released today, Ian Wardropper, the Frick Collection's director, announced: After months of public dialogue and thoughtful consideration and weighing the potential for a protracted approval process against the Frick’s … [Read more...]

House Passes Bill that Could Make U.S. Museums a Temporary Safe Haven for Syrian Antiquities

Reacting to ISIS's horrific plundering of and trafficking in cultural property to fund its operations, the House of Representatives yesterday passed H.R. 1493, a bill "to protect and preserve international cultural property at risk due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters, and for other purposes." As described by its lead sponsor, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), this bill "would impose new import restrictions on cultural artifacts removed from Syria and would enhance coordination among U.S. government agencies … [Read more...]

Dismissive Missive: Could Peer Pressure Put an End to Guggenheim’s Abu Dhabi Misadventure?

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation thus far has resisted the demands of rowdy demonstrators decrying its continued involvement in Abu Dhabi, where workers rights violations have persisted, notwithstanding the Guggenheim's efforts to encourage reform. But now the Guggenheim finds itself confronted by critics who it can't so easily dismiss: Major museum officials (including Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art, and Sheena Wagstaff, chairman of the Metropolitan Museum's department of modern and contemporary art) have violated … [Read more...]

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