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The Perelman-Gagosian Brawl


You may not be avid readers of the business section of The New York Times, so you may have missed an article in Sunday's paper headlined The Feud That's Shaking Gallery Walls. In it, Ron Perelman says, "Art is such a beautiful thing. But it’s been sullied by an ugly business. It needs to be fixed.” Do you find it strange that a man who's been buying and selling art for a very long time suddenly decides he's had enough or that he was had? After all, he willingly entered into the transaction he has now gone to court to protest. Here's the … [Read more...]

Detroit Institute Addresses Compensation Complaints


A short time ago, the Detroit Institute of Arts responded to the criticism that has kept it in the news for the wrong reasons this week--and threatened to undermine support for the millage tax that provides $23 million on operating support each year. Board chair Edward Gargaro signed the statement, which said that "unfortunately misunderstandings have occurred." Indeed. In a key paragraph, Gargaro promised to discuss the matter the public officials threatened to repeal the millage: We will continue to provide our community with exceptional … [Read more...]

Mistake at DIA: A Pay-Raise Ruckus And A Solution


In the last two years or so, I've often praised the Detroit Institute of Arts for conducting itself in the right way--with respect to passing the millage and in how it has handled itself during the city's bankruptcy. Now, though, it has made a major mistake--in terms of optics if not substance. And it may cost the museum big, in terms of local support. Some local legislators are threatening to take action. According to several reports, the board handed out big raises to the top two execs in 2012: Director Graham Beal received a 13% raise … [Read more...]

Mystery Solved: The Man Who Bought The Rothschild Prayerbook


Though I was hoping, last January, that the Getty Museum had purchased the marvelous Rothschild Prayerbook when it came up for auction at Christie's, no press release ever emerged from Brentwood, so I had long since figured that it had disappeared into a private collection and wouldn't be seen for some time. I was wrong. The 150-page prayerbook, you'll recall, is a lavishly illuminated medieval Book of Hours, and at the time of its sale was considered to be the most important illuminated manuscript in private hands. It had been commissioned … [Read more...]

ArtPrize: The People And the Jury Pick Same Winner


In a remarkable development, the Grand, No. 1 ArtPrize--the open, two-track competition in Grand Rapids--went to the same artist: Anila Quayyum Agha's entry was chosen by both the public and a jury of art experts. Her piece, called Intersections, uses light to project Islamic imagery in shadows.  Or as she wrote: ...the geometrical patterning in Islamic sacred spaces, associated with certitude is explored in a way that reveals it fluidity. The viewer is invited to confront the contradictory nature of all intersections, while simultaneously … [Read more...]

Art First: A New Start in Cincinnati


I've never met Cameron Kitchin, who began his job as director of the Cincinnati Art Museum today. He is making an interesting start: today, in the museum's Great Hall, he met the public from 4 to 6 p.m., over light appetizers and a cash bar. Presumably, he walked the museum and met staff earlier in the day. Those are the right gestures to make. Kitchin, you'll recall, isn't a first-time director (He came from the director's post at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and has other interesting experience, which you can read about here), and it … [Read more...]

What’s It All About, Jean Nouvel? A Pace-Setting Museum?


Of course he wants it to be one: he's an architect. But the project announced by Jean Nouvel last week, plans for a National Art Museum of China, won't just be innovative in design; it seems--from the announcement and resulting press coverage--that the Chinese, with Nouvel's help, will be out to establish new practices in museums, or at least to confirm what other museums have been trying, as standards. NAMOC, as it has been dubbed, seems to be aiming for upending the museum world a bit. Aside from gallery spaces, a research and education … [Read more...]

More Triumphs And Woes For Frank Gehry


He's called (by some) the most important architect working today, which is debatable, but there's no question that Frank Gehry is one of the world's most innovative and creative architects. In the U.S., he's still having trouble with the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, despite a revision in his design delivered earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, In the revised design, Gehry's Los Angeles-based team eliminated two large, metal tapestries on the sides of the memorial park, along with some large columns. One long, stainless … [Read more...]

Answer to the Ever-Present False Dichotomy About Museums


It's very trendy these days to insist that museums should be visitor-centered, not art-centered. Most recently, I was called on the carpet yet again for suggesting that art comes first, but not just that; in fact, someone I do not know accused me a restarting the culture wars when I wrote here about the Portland Art Museum's Parklandia. The blog post was called "The Value of Museum Selfies." I'm not going to provide the link, partly because the writer misconstrues and mixes up ideas illogically and uses as justification for selfies that they … [Read more...]

And Now: The Answers To Who Said That


In my last post, I provided some quotes, thanks to Artspace, that could be attributed to four important critics as a back-to-school time test. And here are the answers: Clement Greenberg “I would not deny being one of those critics who educate themselves in public.” “Everyone dislikes technical criticism of painting; and there’s no other decent kind. What’s wanted is horseshit. And the horseshit is so easy to write brilliantly, but I shan’t.” Harold Rosenberg “The new American painting is not ‘pure’ art, since the extrusion of … [Read more...]

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