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“Nur,” About Islamic Art, Sheds Light On Broader Curatorial Goals


Museum exhibitions owe their existence to artist anniversaries, artistic discoveries, brainstorming, chance encounters, but rarely -- I think -- from corporations. But that was a hook I used to write about Nur: Light in Art and Science, a sweeping presentation of Islamic art organized by Sabiha Al Khemir, who signed on as a senior advisor to the Dalllas Museum of Art  in 2012. The story, headlined Shedding a Light on Islamic Art’s Great Treasure, was equally about Al Khemir. a multitalented Tunisian who in addition to her art scholarship and … [Read more...]

Waugh Fans: Head to California


If you like Evelyn Waugh -- and I do -- you may be pleased to learn that about 250 rare books and reference books and 135 letters and manuscripts by the great English prose satirist have been given to the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Ca.  (Unless, like me, you happen to live in New York, and wish they had gone to the Morgan Library,* which has some Waugh material, but has you will see below, not much by comparison with other institutions). But really, that wouldn't have happened: the Waugh trove … [Read more...]

Second-Rate Or “One Of The Greatest Ever”?

Veronese's Martyrdom of Saint George

The artist in question is about to get an exhibition at the National Gallery (yes, I'm still inspired by goings-on in London) -- and he is Veronese. Apparently, when the NG bought Veronese's The Family of Darius before Alexander (below right) in 1857, it was accused of squandering money on "a second-rate specimen of a second-rate artist." Of course, we don't think of Veronese as second-rate today, though -- and I hate to say this, as I love his work -- he came off in third place a few years back, when the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston gave … [Read more...]

What Have Leonardo, Aggie Gund, Sopheap Pich, Etc. Got In Common? News


I rarely do this, but  several smallish but interesting things have happened in the museum world recently, so I've collected them in one post. From the Frick Collection, three pieces of news: Director Ian Wardropper has lured one of the Metropolitan Museum's* biggest stars, Xavior Salomon, several blocks south on Fifth Avenue to serve as chief curator; he'd been a curator in the European paintings department, "a prototypical and brilliant curator/scholar," as one source who knows him well told me, and formerly chief curator at the … [Read more...]

Another Curator Leaves Indianapolis; It’s Worrisome


When I last wrote here about the Indianapolis Museum of Art, it was looking quite troubled. That was March. Now it's worse; IMA seems to be hemorrhaging people. Hyperallergic, reporting more departures in the contemporary art department, got this quote from Sarah Green, the Curator of Contemporary Art, who just quit: "I don’t believe in [Director Charles] Venable’s mission for the IMA, and our visions don’t align." It would be one thing if Green were the only one departing for that reason, but Hyperallergic reports, the reason for most if … [Read more...]

Solidarity With Detroit


It's just a gesture, but it is nevertheless an excellent one: Today, the Association of Art Museum Curators announced that they will hold their next annual meeting in Detroit. At least one day of programs in the three-day conference will take place at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Said Emily Ballew Neff (at right), President of the AAMC and curator of American painting and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: We have watched the situation in Detroit and at the DIA very closely this year. We believe that moving our conference to the … [Read more...]

Textiles: No Longer In The Backroom


Museums have increasingly shown fashion exhibitions in recent years, often in efforts to draw crowds and to attract a new kind of visitors. Now textiles are coming out of the storerooms far more often, too, I think -- though I don't have statistics to prove that. Exhibit A, of course, was SPUN: Adventures in Textiles at the Denver Art Museum, which I wrote about here, and which ends Sept. 22. (From afar, I've heard SPUN has been a great success for the museum, but I haven't checked in lately. See some of the Native American textiles that are … [Read more...]

Nicholas Penny Speaks Out Against Overseas Lending

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Many museums, from the Louvre to the Barnes Foundation to the Modern, have send parts of their collections on the road, at least in part to earn some money. The city of Glasgow in Scotland had such plans for the Burrell Collection, whose 8,000 works of art were given to the city under a 1944 deed of gift -- one that prohibits its exhibition overseas. But, last January, with the 30-year-old building that displays the collection in need of repair, "estimated to cost millions of pounds," according to The Herald Scotland, trustees decided to go … [Read more...]

How The Asia Society Museum is Evolving


I'm still away, but the news never stops. Actually, I finished an article on Melissa Chiu's vision for the Asia Society Museum before I left the U.S., and it was published in today's Wall Street Journal. Headlined A Society Evolves, it is pegged to the opening this weekend of an exhibition on art created in Iran between 1950 and the 1970s, while the Shah was in control. He allowed, surprisingly, relative freedom in the arts. I am looking forward to seeing the show; so far I've looked only at the catalog. But my article is broader than that, … [Read more...]

The Berlin Saga: A New Proposal Keeps The Old Masters Where They Are


It has been more than a year since the Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage  set off a furor by deciding to mothball, for at least several years and possibly indefinitely, about half of the Old Master paintings now on view at the Berlin Gemaldegalerie. The other half would go to the Bode Museum, necessitating the storage of about half the Old Master sculpture on view there. This was all in the name of making space to display a 20th century art collection of uncertain importance, a condition of the donors, Ulla and Heiner … [Read more...]

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