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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...]

Peter Brant’s Brands: Whither ARTnews and Art in America?

In its recently announced merger plans with Brant Publications' three art magazines---Art in America, The Magazine Antiques and Modern Magazine---ARTnews, sold in April 2014 by its long-time editor and publisher, Milton Esterow, will likely be altered beyond recognition. Ceasing monthly publication, it would be reduced to an unspecified number of "theme issues," along the lines of last month's Women in the Art World compilation and its ever-popular yearly list of The Top 200 Collectors. Brant Publications is wholly owned by mega-collector … [Read more...]

Philbrook Museum Director Randall Suffolk Gets High (Museum, that is)

The High Museum today named Randall Suffolk to become its new director, succeeding the Atlanta museum's 15-year head, Michael Shapiro, who leaves on July 31. Suffolk, director of the Philbrook Museum, Tulsa, since 2007, will assume his High position Nov. 2. Philip Verre, the High's COO of and previously director of the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, will be the High's interim director during the interregnum. The press release announcing Suffolk's appointment highlights his "comprehensive plan that aligned [the Philbrook's] programming … [Read more...]

Et Tu, Arnold? Lehman, Brooklyn Museum’s Director, Joins Museum-to-Market Defectors UPDATED THRICE

I’m always taken aback when a distinguished, long-time art professional crosses over from the sanctum of the nonprofit museum world to the commercial side of the artworld---auction houses and galleries. It’s about to happen again, with Phillips auction house’s announcement that Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum, will soon become senior advisor to Edward Dolman, the auction firm’s chairman and CEO since last July. According to the above-linked press release, Lehman will “advise on the global expansion of the Phillips brand … [Read more...]

FAILE Fail: Brooklyn Museum as Gaming Arcade (with video)

Always defying norms of museum propriety, Arnold Lehman has outdone himself in outrageousness with one of the final exhibitions opening under his transformative 18-year directorship at the Brooklyn Museum (ending on Aug. 31). I'm not talking about Sneaker Culture (although it's more a popular than scholarly success), but the astounding display that opened on the same floor at the same time---FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds (to Oct. 4). Installed in a gallery adjoining the hightops is a low point in museum spectacle: a fully equipped game … [Read more...]

Tawdry Cosby (Continued): Smithsonian Secretary Skorton Supports the Controversial Show’s Run

The Smithsonian's new head, David Skorton, last week endorsed the continuation of the Cosby Show at the National Museum of African Art, notwithstanding the flood of unfunny allegations regarding comedian Bill Cosby's personal character. The day before the latest sordid story appeared in the NY Times, Linda St. Thomas, the Smithsonian's chief spokesperson, responded to my query as to whether the institution might consider changes to the exhibition (beyond the recently added visitor-advisory message that disclaims any implicit Smithsonian … [Read more...]

The Smithsonian’s Cosby Debacle: Take Down that Exhibition, Dr. Skorton?

Should the Smithsonian’s new Secretary, former Cornell University President David Skorton, who has barely had time to sit down at his desk (let alone make new policy), cancel or drastically modify the National Museum of African Art's embarrassing situation comedy, The Cosby Show? To inform your consideration of this question, here's the latest family-friendly episode in this ongoing saga---a new visitor-advisory message that now introduces the exhibition: We can only hope that Skorton will read and ponder the comments solicited at … [Read more...]

Pay-to-Play: Cosbys Bankrolled Their Show at Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art CORRECTED

Notwithstanding the latest tawdry Cosby revelations, let's elude the quaalude story and keep our eyes on the latest museum-related disclosures: Brett Zongker of Associated Press reports that Bill and Camille Cosby funded the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art's current 50th anniversary exhibition, Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue to the tune of $716,000, "which virtually covers the entire cost" of the show. A spokesperson for the museum confirmed those details to me today. Some 62 of the 171 works in … [Read more...]

“It’s a Guy Thing”: My Storify on the Brooklyn Museum’s “Sneaker Culture” Salon

Yesterday, I brought you Arnold Lehman's fancy footwear, in my post about our conversation at the press preview for the Brooklyn Museum's Sneaker Culture show (July 10-Oct. 4). One thing that we can say about Arnold is that, right to the end, he hasn't backed down from his controversial commitment to street culture and populist sensibilities. Organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (and expanded for NYC), the show was goofy fun (with a little social commentary mixed in), perhaps more suited to … [Read more...]

Arnold Lehman on Life After the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum’s Life after Arnold

While attending today's Sneaker Culture press preview, I took the opportunity to ask director Arnold Lehman about his plans after leaving the Brooklyn Museum. (He is due to retire on Aug. 31.) But first things first, Arnold: Who are you wearing? Let's take a closer look: Lehman told me his feet were clad in Yohji Yamamoto and that he had owned these for a number of years, until they were appropriated by his grandson. He borrowed them back to be strikingly shod for the new exhibition, which opens to the public on Friday. As … [Read more...]

“Milking Time” Milked: Delaware Museum’s Failed Deaccession Gambit

With its announcement last week of the sale of one of its most beloved works---Winslow Homer's "Milking Time"---as well as Andrew Wyeth's "Arthur Cleveland," the Delaware Art Museum claimed to have closed one of its "most difficult chapters." Not so fast. Details about the amount of the money received by the museum from its four deplorable deaccessions, as reported by Margie Fishman of the Wilmington News Journal, suggest that DAM's difficulties are not over. In announcing its deaccession plans back in March 2014, the museum had … [Read more...]

CultureDaughter Commercial: Acoustic Engineer’s GoPro “Session” Obsession

My idea of extreme sports is playing two sets of tennis or descending a Carsten Höller slide. So I haven't quite envisioned myself using the product that Dr. CultureDaughter has been obsessively working on---GoPro video cameras, those very popular, rugged, waterproof contraptions that are designed to capture thrill seekers' adventures on land, sea and mid-air. But now, with my daughter's help, they've made a new version. With one-button operation, it's simpler to use for my technologically challenged generation and appealingly … [Read more...]

Crank It Up: Thomas Heatherwick’s Contrarian Contrivances at the Cooper Hewitt (with video)

With its new exhibition, Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio (to Jan. 3), the Cooper Hewitt has hit its stride after what struck me as a shaky debut. Organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, this traveling show owes its existence to the long-haul perseverance of the Nasher's director, Jeremy Strick, and the Cooper Hewitt's deputy director, Brooke Hodge, who were both at LA MOCA when they became intrigued by the brilliantly quirky creations of British architect Thomas Heatherwick, a mad inventor gone … [Read more...]

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...]

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