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Zaha Brouhaha: Hadid and the Conscience of Architects

Architect Zaha Hadid

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

Jeffrey Spier, Getty Museum's new senior curator of antiquities

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

DC Superior Court
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

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

Corcoran Gallery of Art
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

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”

Sidney Janis and Stacey Hollander, AFAM's deputy director and chief curator, with the newly donated Hicks painting.
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

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

Carving up the Corcoran, Steven Knapp, Peggy Loar, Earl (Rusty) Powell

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

Daniel Loeb

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

Kriston Capps' Twitter avatar

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 Storify of that dialogue, which ends with a reference to the Corcoran's aborted deal with the University of Maryland … [Read more...]

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

Charles Patrizia (holding white file box), waiting to go through metal detectors at D.C. Superior Court
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

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...]

Carol, Do You Copy? Vogel’s Sticky Wiki

Carol Vogel's research tool

By now you've likely heard that Carol Vogel, the NY Times' veteran art reporter, got caught with her hand in the wiki jar. As I tweeted below, I wasn't sure which of her lame moves was more irresponsible---plagiarizing from Wikipedia or relying on that frequently inaccurate, crowd-sourced compendium for journalistic research: Which is dumber? Plagiarizing Wikipedia or using it as a journalistic source in the 1st place? Carol Vogel's gaffe. — Lee Rosenbaum (@CultureGrrl) July 29, 2014 .@Cristidel43 I don't think … [Read more...]

Koons, Whitney, Wynn and My “Greater Fool” Theory of Trophy Art

At the Jeff Koons press preview, L to R: Whitney directorAdam Weinberg, Pompidou Center director Alain Seban, Jeff Koons
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Having dutifully ingested the Whitney Museum's press preview for its monumental Jeff Koons retrospective (to Oct. 19) and then gagged on the laudatory commentary from two major critics whom I greatly admire, I hesitated to publicly air my indigestion, figuring it would likely reveal more about my own limitations than that of the art. But Tuesday's contrarian (and, to my mind, astute) review by Peter Plagens in the Wall Street Journal emboldened me to say what I came to feel about this perplexingly and aggressively vapid show: The only way … [Read more...]

News Flash: Standing Granted for Some Save the Corcoran Members UPDATED and CORRECTED

Andrew Tulumello, lawyer for Save the Corcoran

Now it gets interesting. This just in from Twitter feed of Washington Business Journal's Rebecca Cooper: Judge Okun granted petition to intervene to nine of the 19 potential intervenors of @savethecorcoran, incl. current students and faculty. — Top Shelf (@TopShelfWBJ) July 21, 2014 Judge Okun tells Corcoran that in upcoming hearing, he expects further justification of mergers as path forward for gallery and school. — Top Shelf (@TopShelfWBJ) July 21, 2014 A Save the Corcoran source tells me that those allowed by the judge to … [Read more...]

Corcoran Cliffhanger: What Will Happen in DC Superior Court Tomorrow? UPDATED

Corcoran Gallery of Art
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

UPDATE:  I've now added, below, the page citation from STC's court filing regarding acceptability of selling art and possible loss of accreditation in so doing, as well as the page citation for STC's suggestion that the judge hear Reynolds' views. At Friday's D.C. Superior Court hearing on the Corcoran Gallery's proposed merger with the National Gallery and George Washington University, Judge Robert Okun said he would rule today (Monday) on whether to grant Save the Corcoran's request for legal standing to oppose the merger in court. My … [Read more...]

News Flash: D.C. Attorney General Supports Corcoran Merger

District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan

In advance of tomorrow's cy pres hearing, Washington, D.C., Attorney General Irvin Nathan has given his go-ahead to the planned merger of the Corcoran Gallery and College of Art + Design with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University. In a 20-page brief (not counting voluminous exhibits) dated yesterday, the AG "concluded that the Corcoran’s financial situation will prevent it from continuing to pursue its mission as a viable and independent institution and that, as a result, cy pres relief is justified." He went on to … [Read more...]

Grand Bargain vs. Tawdry Fire Sale: Detroit Institute of Arts’ Progress on the Former, Caveats on Latter

Today's grand announcement for the Grand Bargain
TK at podium, Detroit Institute of Art director Graham Beal to his left

There was a lot of self-congratulation at this morning's buoyant press conference, where the Detroit Institute of Arts and Mayor Mike Duggan announced that the museum has now raised almost 80% of the $100 million it has committed towards the $816-million Grand Bargain that is intended to prevent monetization of the museum's art to help pay Detroit's creditors. Nine new contributors, led by Roger S. Penske and Penske Corp. (with a $10-million pledge) have promised $26.8 million in this latest burst of philanthropy. Reporting in the Detroit … [Read more...]

“Egregious Mismanagement”: Save the Corcoran’s Serious Allegations in Court Filing

Andrew Tulumello, lawyer for Save the Corcoran

The Corcoran Gallery's trustees, in a brief filed today, argued that Save the Corcoran's 40-page complaint and petition to scotch the planned merger with George Washington University and the National Gallery "amounts to 'obstruction for the sake of obstruction' that would disrupt the coming school year for art students and force the sale of artworks to pay for operations," according to David Montgomery's Washington Post report. (Montgomery doesn't link to the actual document; I'll add that link at the top of this paragraph, if and when I get … [Read more...]

More on Expanded Clark Art Institute: Added Art, Hidden Entrance, Unintended Water Feature


Given my space limitations, there were many details about the Clark Art Institute's expansion that didn't make it yesterday into my Wall Street Journal piece (nor into my CultureGrrl blog post). So let's return for another look at the good, the bad and the ugly to be discovered while exploring the Clark's much enhanced campus: THE GOOD Yesterday, I barely mentioned the intelligent, resourceful work done by landscape architect Gary Hilderbrand in renewing and enhancing the idyllic outdoor setting, not only through his alluring design … [Read more...]

Companion Slideshow for My WSJ Piece on Reimagined (and today evacuated) Clark Art Institute

Across the pond: View of Tadao Ando-designed addition to the Clark, across its new water feature
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

More on this here. My largely positive review in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal, Striving for Grand-Scale Intimacy (online now), did not cause the evacuation of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. A regional power outage was the culprit. A spokesperson for the museum, whom I had contacted late this afternoon for fact-checking, told me that the entire area---including not only her museum but also MASS MoCA and the Williams College Museum of Art---had suffered loss of electricity because of a fire in the power station in North … [Read more...]

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