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ARTnews Lives! (former parent company files for bankruptcy)

A lot of confusion ensued from this artnet post today, in which Brian Boucher reported: Artnews S.A., the Polish company that briefly published the New York-based ARTnews magazine and, even briefer still, Art in America, has filed for bankruptcy and liquidation of its assets, according to the Polish website Investments. Did this mean that ARTnews was going to fold? Not so, according to the official statement, just issued by Rubenstein Associates, the media relations firm, on behalf of collector/publisher Peter Brant's BMP Media … [Read more...]

“What Is an Art Museum?” Some 50 AAMD Members Tell Us (video)

For museum junkies like me, the video below, produced by the Association of Art Museum Directors in connection with its 100th birthday, is a delight---not only for the contagious enthusiasm and astute insights of museum leaders from around the country, limning the value of the museum experience, but also, in my case, for the chance to reencounter many directors whom I've known and interviewed but haven't seen in years. As part of his institution's recent press release announcing an intriguing show that will juxtapose the works of Jasper … [Read more...]

Ruing Roulin: MoMA Lends (or rents?) Some 150 Works to National Gallery of Victoria

Bye-bye, Joseph Roulin! The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne, recently announced that it will be the exclusive venue for a multi-disciplinary installation of some 150 MoMA masterworks, June 8, 2018-Oct. 7, 2018. Fans of the home team are going to miss these heavy-hitters by van Gogh, Dali and Lichtenstein (top to bottom), among many others: If you scroll down at this link, you'll see many more players from the A-team who will be AWOL from MoMA. Organizing their Australian road trip is Samantha Friedman, MoMA's … [Read more...]

“The King” Gets Dinged: Warhol “Triple Elvis” Roughed Up by SFMOMA Paparazzi

"We had an incident," Gary Garrels, SFMOMA's senior curator of painting and sculpture, told me last Friday when I encountered him in the fifth-floor galleries, only minutes after I had interviewed him in his office. He was answering my query as to why, less than three weeks after the expanded museum had opened, this Warhol room was closed to the public... ...while a "Jackie Triptych" was being installed there: To my astonishment, Garrels told me that the day before (Thursday), a visitor had bumped into one of the Warhols on … [Read more...]

Warhol Damaged, von Rydingsvard Caressed: My Storify on Unexpected Encounters at the New SFMOMA

As you've probably guessed if you follow my Twitter feed (@CultureGrrl), I've neglected the blog because I've been traveling in the San Francisco area, where I spent two rewarding, if exhausting, days (Friday and Monday) in the generous, welcoming spaces of the expanded SFMOMA. The advantage of arriving after the scribe tribe has decamped lies in getting to see how the museum is being used by real visitors (not just persnickety critics). Press previews are fine for receiving useful, spoonfed information, but not so great for judging how … [Read more...]

Hard Times at NYC Museums: National Academy Homeless (with video); Staffing Cuts at the Metropolitan Museum, Brooklyn Museum, MoMA

Unlike the 2008 meltdown, there's currently no major economic recession in the U.S. to blame for the recent epidemic of belt-tightening by three major New York City art museums---the Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art and Brooklyn Museum. While the long-term viability of those institutions is not in doubt, a fourth---the National Academy Museum---intends to shut its doors tomorrow ceasing normal operations (but offering to lend works to other institutions), until and unless it can sell its posh Fifth Avenue buildings and find a new, … [Read more...]

Frick Flick: CultureGrrl Video Tour of Off-Limits Upstairs Living Quarters at Frick Collection

One of my favorite parts of the Frick Collection's controversial expansion plans was the commitment to opening to the public the historic upstairs rooms where the Frick clan lived 100 years ago. Now that I've had the chance to climb those stairs, thanks to a tour that director Ian Wardropper offered to me and two other writers after yesterday's press lunch, my excitement has yielded to disappointment. As you'll see in the CultureGrrl Video, below, I gradually learned that precious little remains of the decor and furnishings that the … [Read more...]

“Tidal Wave of Change”: The Sudden Turnover of U.S. Art Museum Directors (towards contemporary)

While the annual meeting of the Association of Art Museum Directors (in Cleveland through tomorrow) focuses on ways "to increase diversity throughout the field," Kaywin Feldman, director of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and former AAMD president, has noticed a major change among her fellow attendees at the directors' conclave. She tweeted this insight: Majority of directors @MuseumDirectors meeting have been directors for under 5 years. Exciting tidal wave of change in the field! — Kaywin Feldman (@KaywinFeldman) May 23, 2016 To … [Read more...]

Art Museum Day’s Odd Couples: Corcoran/GWU, MASS MoCA/Crystal Bridges, Smithsonian/Hebrew University

In the provocative spirit of CultureGrrl, come join me, faithful art-lings, in an unconventional commemoration of Art Museum Day, spotlighting some unlikely pairings that have recently hit the news. Whether conceived in a spirit of innovation or desperation, they've caught our attention by being unexpected and a little eyebrow-raising: ---There have been new developments in the doomed three-way marriage of the Corcoran Gallery and College of Art + Design with George Washington University and the National Gallery. As reported by Peggy … [Read more...]

An Asterisk for Twombly Record* at Sotheby’s? Bloomberg Reports Payment by Art-Swap

When is an "auction record" not really an auction record? That's a question that may be raised regarding a wobbly Twombly benchmark set at Sotheby's last November. In her Bloomberg report on that auction house's $242.19-million evening Contemporary sale last week, Katya Kazakina unpacked the back story for this untitled Christopher Wool, for which the bidding inched up to $12.2 million, against a presale estimate of $14-18 million. (Final price for the Wool, with buyer's premium: $13.9 million.) Here's Katya's … [Read more...]

Are We Still Awake? My Storify on Christie’s Impressionist/Modern Snooze

I don't know about you, but I'm experiencing severe auction fatigue, which is not nearly as rewarding as museum fatigue. So let's cut to the chase and get right to my Storify account of tonight's dull, workmanlike Impressionist/Modern sale at Christie's, which, despite its record for Frida Kahlo, lacked electricity. Even Frida's nudes, nestled in this lush landscape, look drowsy: [View the story "Sleepwalking Through Christie's Colorless Impressionist/Modern Sale" on Storify] … [Read more...]

Competition Lives! My Storify on Sotheby’s Creditable Contemporary Sale

After its rocky night Monday, it looked like Sotheby's could become a distant also-ran in the art-auction sweepstakes. But tonight, with a little help from some late-breaking irrevocable bids (likely accompanied by lowered reserves), it glided through a smooth Contemporary sale, with an impressive 95.4% sold by lot and 98.6% sold by value. The price levels, for the most part, were not as impressive: This is a time of lowered expectations. So it was with the top lot, a Twombly blackboard with blue (instead of the usual white) scribbles, … [Read more...]

“Contemporary Confidence” Game: Brett Gorvy Tells How Christie’s Got it Done

The headline for my last post was: Christie's Gets It Done. At the press preview for last night's confidence-restoring contemporary sale, Brett Gorvy, Christie's chairman of Post-War and Contemporary art, told me how he had worked to achieve that. With the benefit of hindsight, his strategy worked, but with some added help from the previous night's disappointing Sotheby's sale of Impressionist and modern works. As reported by Bloomberg's Katya Kazakina, "Christie’s staff members made phone calls" yesterday before the start of their … [Read more...]

Christie’s Gets It Done: My Storify on Tonight’s Solid Contemporary Sale

Christie's tonight pulled the art market out of its Sotheby's-induced funk with a Post-War/Contemporary sale that hummed along nicely from beginning to end, with one manic moment---a new auction record for this untitled 1982 Basquiat, which sold for $57.29 million with buyer's premium: Here's my running commentary on Christie's spirited sale (thanks to the lively performance of auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen), which ups the ante for Sotheby's contemporary sale tomorrow night. It doesn't have to equal Christie's take. (Indeed, Sotheby's lower … [Read more...]

Sotheby’s Slump: My Storify from Tonight’s Painful Impressionist/Modern Sale

If Sotheby's is trying to restore buyer confidence, tonight's mediocre Impressionist/Modern sale wasn't the way to do it. Only 66.1% of the works sold, and the sold total by hammer price total was considerably below the presale estimate of hammer price. Here's my running Storify commentary on how it went down: [View the story "Sotheby's Impressionist/Modern Slump" on Storify] … [Read more...]

“Cautious Optimism,” Depressed Results: Sotheby’s Spins the Art-Market Slump for Analysts

How do you restore investor confidence in a company whose first-quarter results show a net loss of $25.9 million (compared to net income of $5.2 million for the same period the previous year), with a 35% decrease in net auction sales and 33% decrease in auction revenues in this year's first quarter compared to last years? You try to show that this was an anomaly (because the first quarter last year included "unusually strong sales") and you profess "cautious optimism" that better days are coming. That's what Sotheby's CEO Tad Smith gamely … [Read more...]

Contraction Action: Sotheby’s & Christie’s Confront New Market Reality (plus Koons “Deflatable”)

The operative words for the art market this season are "correction" and "contraction." So Sotheby's can be forgiven for seeking comfort in nostalgia, via this Monday tweet, recalling a past triumph: #OnThisDay in 2012, Sotheby's sold Edvard Munch's 1895 'The Scream' for a record $120 million #SothebysImpMod pic.twitter.com/VO0i1XxsPc — Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 2, 2016 Those days (and that auctioneer, Tobias Meyer) are gone. There's nothing in this spring's evening sales at Sotheby's expected to reach the giddy heights of "The Scream." … [Read more...]

Bedford in Baltimore: Christopher is Third Contemporary Expert Recently Tapped to Lead a Major Art Museum

Are we seeing a trend here? Anne Pasternak at the Brooklyn Museum; James Rondeau at the Art Institute of Chicago; now Christopher Bedford at the Baltimore Museum of Art. In all three recent cases, a contemporary art specialist was chosen for the top spot at a museum with distinguished historic collections. (Notably bucking that trend were the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Wadsworth Atheneum.) The impetus for this predilection for the present is undoubtedly the same force driving the Metropolitan Museum (which tapped a tapestry … [Read more...]

Brothels & Landscapes: MoMA Mines Degas’ Monotype Monomania–Part II

Part I is here. While most of Degas: A Strange New Beauty at the Museum of Modern Art (to July 24) assembles the artist's usual cast of characters---dancers and singers, acquaintances and nudes (often in ungainly poses)---two sections at the end of this thoroughly engrossing show of the artist's monotypes reveal aspects of his work that are less familiar (as discussed by curator Jodi Hauptman in this CultureGrrl Video). The most baffling chapter in the exhibition (and in Degas' oeuvre) examines his brothel scenes, which were "unexhibited … [Read more...]

My Q&A with President Daniel Weiss–Part II: Financial Impact of Met Breuer & Planned New Wing

Part I is here. While implicitly faulting the Metropolitan Museum's administration for not having managed its operations "in a way that’s financially sustainable," Daniel Weiss, who has been the Met's president since July, diplomatically avoided direct criticism during most of our wide-ranging conversation last week. But in assessing the Met's plans for the new Southwest Wing for modern and contemporary art, he briefly became uncharacteristically blunt. In Part II of our Q&A, below, he asserted that the timeline previously being … [Read more...]

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