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

Screenshot from promotional video for Art Everywhere

            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

Soon-to-be-dismantled façade of American Folk Art Museum's former building
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

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

Ready for her close-up? Catherine Opie, "Self-Portrait/Cutting," 1993, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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

Buildings above treeline of the Palisades
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

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

Jackson Pollock, "Mural," 1943, at Getty Museum
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

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

Sergei Skaterschikov

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

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

Poster of Winslow Homer's "Milking Time," 1876, being sold by Delaware Art Museum's shop

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

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...]

Abu Boo-Boo: Max Anderson Gets Punked (and so did ArtsJournal)


As you probably know by now, ArtsJournal and its blogs got knocked out for a couple of days by a massive bot attack, which slammed the site with traffic. Did someone not like something we published? (Probably my fault!) Another kind of online mischief was recently directed against the Guggenheim, which has recently been the target of protest demonstrations inside its New York museum, regarding the planned Abu Dhabi facility, designed by Frank Gehry. As reported by Mostafa Heddaya of Hyperallergic on Friday, someone sent out a bogus press … [Read more...]

AAM Condemns Delaware Art Museum’s Deaccessions

More on this here and here. The American Alliance of Museums, in which the Delaware Art Museum is a member, has issued this forceful statement condemning its debt-driven deaccesssions. But the statement fall short of expelling the museum from AAM membership: The Delaware Art Museum’s announcement that it will sell four works from the collection in order to pay its debts and support its endowment is a flagrant violation of the AAM standard for U.S. museums, succinctly embodied in this enduring principle of our field: the museum is there to … [Read more...]

AAMD Condemns Delaware Art Museum’s Deaccessions

More on this here and here. The Association of Art Museum Directors has now seconded the American Alliance of Museums' condemnation of the Delaware Art Museum's debt-driven deaccession. Like AAM, it falls short of taking punitive action, but makes it clear that if the Delaware museum goes ahead with its plan, it will subject itself to possible censure and/or sanction. (The latter would involve withdrawal of AAMD member museums' collaborations on exhibitions or scholarship with the Delaware Museum.) Here's an excerpt from AAMD's … [Read more...]

Delaware Art Museum’s Game Plan: Pay Debts with Art, Then Search for New Director


More on this here, here and here. Are the floodgates opening? Close upon Randolph College’s sale  of its Maier Museum’s “Men of the Docks” to bolster its endowment, the Delaware Art Museum has announced its plan to sell up to four artworks from its collection to “repay the full balance of the museum’s $19.8-million bond debt and replenish the museum’s endowment.” It hopes to raise some $30 million. According to the announcement: The process will begin immediately, and the sale will be finalized in the next six months. No works of art … [Read more...]

Supportin’ Skorton: Cornell’s Sad Loss is Smithsonian’s Big Gain (with video)

Cornell University President (soon to be Smithsonian Secretary) David Skorton

If you followed my Twitter feed last week, you already know how I feel about the upcoming ascension of my alma mater's 12th president, David Skorton, to the top spot at the Smithsonian Institution. [View the story "Views on New Smithsonian Secretary, David Skorton" on Storify] A cardiologist who has spent more than seven years in his current post (after a three-year stint as president of the University of Iowa), Skorton has been the least controversial and most popular of the six Cornell University heads whom I've known as an … [Read more...]

AAMD’s Maier Museum Sanction: Punishing the Victim, Hurting Themselves

Maier Museum of Art, Randolph College

Two days ago, I relayed to you, in haste, the news about the Association of Art Museum Directors' sanction against Randolph College's Maier Museum for selling its signature Bellows painting to beef up its endowment. I was then preparing to return home from a workation, for which my flight was mercifully(?) delayed, leaving me more time to write. What I didn't tell you then was how I felt about AAMD's action. For those of you who, four years ago, read my commentary on AAMD's last deaccession-related sanction---against the National … [Read more...]

More on AAMD’s Maier Museum Sanction: Timothy Rub’s Letter to Members


Timothy Rub, director, Philadelphia Museum of Art and president, AAMD I've obtained a copy of the letter sent to the members of the Association of Art Museum Directors by its president, Timothy Rub, director of the Philadelphia Museum, shortly before the public announcement today of AAMD's sanctions against Randolph College's Maier Museum. (All of this is going on while I'm preparing to fly home from a workation, during which I wasn't planning to blog.) In his letter, Rub states that AAMD's trustees voted unanimously to impose the sanctions … [Read more...]

AAMD Sanctions Randolph College’s Maier Museum for its $25.5-Million Bellows Disposal

George Bellows, "Men of the Docks," 1912, as installed last year in exhibition at National Gallery, Washington
Photo: Rob Shelley, © 2012 National Gallery, Washington

More on this here The Association of Art Museum Directors today announced sanctions against Randolph College's Maier Museum, Lynchburg, VA, for selling George Bellows’ "Men of the Docks" for $25.5 million "to use the proceeds to support the College’s operating budget," in violation of professional museum standards. You can read the full, forceful statement here. AAMD has directed its members "to suspend any loans of works of art to and any collaboration on exhibitions and programs with the Maier Museum of Art." However, there are no words … [Read more...]

Whitney Twitter Bits: My 140 X 11 Review of the Biennial UPDATED

Adam Weinberg, director, and Donna De Salvo, deputy director and chief curator, at press preview of Whitney Biennial
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

As you may have noticed, I've more or less discontinued the "irreverent photo essay" posts on my blog, in favor of tweeting (with images) my fleeting, flitting impressions of certain shows and events. I find the punchy, pointed Twitter format particularly suited to quick takes on the vast agglomerations of unrelated material encountered at art fairs and biennials. For the first time on CultureGrrl (a late adopter of all things technological), I've assembled below my 11 tweet-takes on the Whitney Biennial, arranged here in proper (rather than … [Read more...]

Corcoran Dissolution: Whither the Art-Sale Proceeds?

Peggy Loar, interim director, Corcoran Gallery of Art

Poised to terminate its status as an art museum, the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, is sitting on a pile of money that it accumulated by selling objects from its collection. The museum's Annual Report (posted on its website) pegs the amount "receivable from sales of collections items" at the end of fiscal 2013 at $39.9 million. In accordance with museums' professional standards, the use of that money was to have been restricted to purchases for the collection (i.e., not operating support or capital projects). What will become of those … [Read more...]

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