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Archives for August 2015

Adjaye in Play? What’s Behind Worldwide Search for Obama Center’s Architect?

Could architect David Adjaye be in play to design the planned Obama Presidential Center on Chicago's South Side? He was, after all, the choice of Thelma Golden to design the new home (on the old site) for the Studio Museum of Harlem, which she directs. Golden is a recent addition to the board of the Obama Foundation, which is responsible for all aspects of the plans for the Presidential Center. Adjaye could benefit from the Obama Foundation's unorthodox decision, announced today, to mount a worldwide search for an architect to design the … [Read more...]

True-isms: Marion True, the Getty’s Sacrificial Ex-Curator, Vents Again

The lionization of the late dealer in dicey antiquities, Robert Hecht, on the occasion of the publication of his memoir, apparently struck a nerve with the Getty Museum's ex-curator of antiquities, Marion True: In her recent interview with Washington Post reporter Geoff Edgers, True again vented her bitterness about how she had been left to twist slowly in the wind by her colleagues and her superiors, including then Getty director John Walsh, who had overseen her controversial acquisitions: I never understood is why American museums did what … [Read more...]

Chewing Up Chiu: Thin-Skinned DC Critics Feel Snubbed by Hirshhorn’s NYC Fundraising Gala

Memo to Philip Kennicott and Kriston Capps: Get over it! These two estimable Washington, DC-based art writers have gotten bent out of shape over the decision by Melissa Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden since September, to hold a 40th-anniversary gala in New York, where she had directed the Asia Society Museum from 2004 until her Hirshhorn appointment. There she had notable fundraising success as described in her Hirshhorn bio: Chiu secured about 80 percent of the Asia Society Museum’s budget through gifts from … [Read more...]

Reading the Tea Leaves: What is Ai Weiwei Thinking? UPDATED

Trying to interpret the underlying meaning of Ai Weiwei's enigmatic and sometimes contradictory pronouncements since he traveled to Germany from China is like trying to decipher the cryptic pronouncement inside a fortune cookie. The more Ai Weiwei speaks to Western media, the more people struggle to interpret his ambiguous words. Today he told Noah Barkin of Reuters that the timing of his possible return to China "depends on how long the West will allow me to stay here, really. Maybe they will throw me out very fast and I will have to go … [Read more...]

Ai Weiwei Watch: International Travel Plans, Sympathy for His Tormentors UPDATED TWICE

UPDATE: Ai Weiwei retweeted and favorited my tweet that links to the post below. Does that constitute an endorsement? In what many will see as an excess of empathy for those who harshly punished him, Ai Weiwei, who promptly flew to reunite with his son and his son's mother in Germany, after being reunited with his passport, gave a revealing interview with Joerg Haentzschel, arts and culture writer for the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, in which he expressed surprising sympathy for the repressive government authorities responsible for … [Read more...]

Sotheby’s Stock Price Plummets as CEO Tad Smith Reports “Rather Bumpy Quarter”

Activist investors who have roiled Sotheby's management and negatively impacted its bottom line may be gratified by the auction firm's announcement today that it will increase a previously authorized $125-million stock repurchase program by another $125 million, with the funds coming from the company's current cash balances. But investors can't be happy with the plummeting of today's stock price (down 9% and falling, at this writing) in reaction to today's release of disappointing quarterly financial results. At the beginning of his most … [Read more...]

My Donald Trump and Yours: A Rueful Reminiscence UPDATED

With frontrunner Donald Trump's having staked out prime real estate at the table for the first Republican debate tomorrow, it's time for me to dust off a 41-year-old story of my personal encounter with The Donald, then known as "Young Donald." While working on a 1974 NY Times article in the Sunday Real Estate Section on the shifting rent patterns in New York City, I interviewed Donald in his limo. He had kindly offered me a ride back to Manhattan, after learning that to get from my Bronx apartment to the Trump Organization's offices on … [Read more...]

Who’s “Unfair”? Guggenheim & Gulf Labor Coalition Exchange Barbs Over Delayed Abu Dhabi Project UPDATED

The Guggenheim appears to have lost all patience with the Gulf Labor Coalition, the watchdog group of artists and others concerned with the welfare of migrant workers who are building museums on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island. Instead, the Guggenheim should lose patience with the slow and still inadequate progress that's been made in implementing essential labor reform. In its latest report, issued at the end of last month, GLC summarized its on-site researchers' new findings regarding the progress (or lack thereof) in safeguarding construction … [Read more...]

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