Andro Wekua, “Sneakers 1,” 2008, Dakis Joannou Collection (at the New Museum)
The New Museum isn’t merely pushing the envelope by mounting its Dakis Joannou exhibition, drawn from the private collection of its trustee and curated by the collector/trustee’s friend, artist Jeff Koons (who told me that Joannou owns more of his works than any other collector).
It is now also trying to place this problematic exercise in the context of enlightened museum patronage—something we got a hint of when director Lisa Phillips described as a public/private partnership what looks more like an abdication curatorial responsibility to private interests
In connection with its Skin Fruit show, opening tomorrow (Wednesday), the New Museum has announced a two-part symposium, Mar. 13, “on the past, present, and future of the cooperation between private collectors and public institutions.”
According to the press
The first session will focus on the importance of public/private partnerships to the rise and development of the American art museum. It will look at the history of patronage in America, the proliferation of institutions during America’s first Gilded Age, and how this set the stage for cultural dynamics in this century.
The second session will focus on new models of public/private partnerships currently being implemented or considered. It will look at changing conditions in the cultural landscape and the need for museums to find innovative solutions to meet the challenges of a new century.
Is “innovative solutions” a euphemism for “expedient compromises”? As you can see from the list of panelists, no major American art museum director (other than Phillips) is lending his or her luster to this colloquy about “the challenges of a new century.” I guess they may be too mired in old-fashioned ethical considerations.
When I asked yesterday if I could set up brief interviews with the principals at today’s press preview for the show, I was informed by museum spokesperson Gabriel Einsohn that neither Koons nor Joannou would be in attendance. The preview, she said, will be “very open-house format. So no speaking program, just art.” (And no pesky questions either, I suppose.)
There has been no other New York art museum exhibition press preview in my (very long) memory where the responsible curator failed to show up.
Wait a minute! This just hit my inbox from the Armory Show, New York City’s premier modern/contemporary commercial art fair (which runs this Thursday to Sunday):
Shuttle buses sponsored by the
New Museum [emphasis added] will…ferry visitors to and from the museum and the
Armory Show, Friday through Sunday, from noon to 7 pm, allowing access
to the fair and to “Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis
Joannou Collection,” curated by Jeff Koons.
“Public/private” is apparently a gambit that keeps on giving. The Museum of Modern Art is no slouch at partnering with this commercial art fair either: It will not only benefit (as it has previously) from ticket proceeds for Wednesday’s Armory preview; it will also (as it did last year) host an after-party for the preview on museum’s own premises.
UPDATE: You can hear my WQXR (New York Public Radio) commentary on “Skin Fruit” here.