an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Archives for August 2018

Yale’s Intriguing “Leonardo” Examination Gets a Grade of “Incomplete”: Few Leonardos, Many Photos

Road Trip! That was my enthusiastic response to the press release and the advance publicity for the Yale Art Gallery's summer exhibition, Leonardo: Discoveries from Verrocchio’s Studio (to Oct. 7). Since another Leonardo "discovery" has been much in the news of late (including this recent twist, questioning its authorship), the show has more topicality than the museum's chief curator Laurence Kanter might have imagined when he began planning it. Unfortunately, the exhibition's compelling catalogue, which "seek[s] to recalibrate the … [Read more...]

Remember the Members: Parsing Max Hollein’s Letter to Metropolitan Museum’s Most Devoted Fans

Smart is the adjective that always crops up when people describe Max Hollein, the Metropolitan Museum's new director. Yesterday, he made one of his first smart moves by issuing a detailed letter to Met members, appending an email address through which they can share "any thoughts about the museum." To convey some idea of who Max is and what he plans to do, here are extensive excerpts from his members' missive (emphases added; my commentary in brackets): I write to introduce myself and hope that we will meet in the coming months at one … [Read more...]

Profit Flop at Sotheby’s: Auction Houses’ Self-Defeating Assumption of Consignors’ Risk (UPDATED)

My critical analysis at the end of last spring's round of major New York art auctions, in which I argued that auction-house arrangements with consignors "have become too arcane, convoluted and counterproductive for the market’s (and the auction houses’) good," has been supported by the figures in Sotheby's earnings report issued Monday: It revealed that for the six months ended June 30, 2018, its "net income [i.e., profit] of $50.8 million, or $0.95 per diluted share," was "a 23% and 21% decline, respectively" from the same period last … [Read more...]

Grousing about Klaus: Is Biesenbach Right for MOCA?

Much as I try, I can't muster great enthusiasm for the appointment of Klaus Biesenbach to the directorship of MOCA, Los Angeles, mostly because the shows he organized in Manhattan, with the exception of this one (for me, a nostalgia trip), were not among my MoMA favorites. I've seen too few shows at MoMA's Queens outpost (an inconvenient drive for me from New Jersey) for me to knowledgeably evaluate his work at PS 1. And although I've heard his presentations of upcoming exhibitions at MoMA press breakfasts, I haven't approached Klaus for … [Read more...]

Jewish Simcha: Acquisition of Early, Rare Hebrew Bible Celebrated by the Getty

With Christianity predominant in religious works owned by this country's preeminent museums, two recently announced acquisitions (by the Getty Museum and the Metropolitan Museum) of splendid Hebrew manuscripts are cause for celebration by the museums' visitors in general and Jewish audiences in particular. In last month's announcement of its recently purchased "Rothschild Pentateuch," the Getty Museum hyped this monumental volume (1,180 folios, of which some 150 are decorated), as "the most spectacular medieval Hebrew manuscript to become … [Read more...]

an ArtsJournal blog