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Morbid Fascination: The Undead Haunt the Met Breuer’s “Like Life” (with video)

"Ewww, gross!" exclaimed a seasoned critic (not me), disconcerted by one of many creepy, gruesome works that affront delicate sensibilities in the Met Breuer's Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body (1300–Now), to July 22. This provocative flesh-fest of some 120 strange bedfellows is the fever dream of two high-profile Met curators, who have approached their common project from different art-historical time frames and contrasting interpretive angles. Luke Syson has brought his usual astute analysis and deep scholarship to the historic … [Read more...]

Coming Tomorrow: My WSJ Review of the New Whitney UPDATED

UPDATE: Here's my review. And here's Julie Iovine's companion piece. With my appraisal of the spacious new downtown digs of Whitney Museum set to appear in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal (online tonight), I will finally be able to break my uncharacteristic (WSJ-mandated) silence about this year's most important, game-changing development on the New York art scene. Unlike the battalion of jump-the-gun reviewers, we tortoises waited until we could see how well the place worked when fully installed and occupied by its intended … [Read more...]

Bubble Burst: Hirshhorn Deflates Its “Inflatable”; Brougher to Be Acting Director

This just in from the Smithsonian Institution regarding the Hirshhorn's punctured plans for a 145-foot-tall temporary meeting hall, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro: The Smithsonian will not move forward with plans for the Hirshhorn’s Seasonal Inflatable Structure, known as the Bubble. Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, made the announcement today (June 5) citing financial uncertainties as the reason for the decision. The proposed structure on the plaza of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden was … [Read more...]

MeTube: Scenes (and thoughts) from the Barnes Foundation’s Preview

Top of the Barnes (behind Philadelphia's Free Library): Green roof on the right. Gallery mock-ups on the left, where monitors measure the sunlight and help regulate the lighting in the galleries below. In the middle, a cantilevered light box (now renamed a "canopy") that admits filtered and diffused illumination into the sprawling event space below. Entrance to the facility is on the far right, at the opposite side of the building from the gallery wing.All photos by Lee RosenbaumToday was dedication day at the new Barnes Foundation in … [Read more...]

Turkey’s Repatriation Claims: Met’s Schimmel Benefactions Targeted (plus AAMD database)

Silver rhyton (drinking vessel) of a stag, c. 14th-13th century B.C., Central Anatolia, Hittite, Gift of Norbert Schimmel Trust, 1989I've always wondered whether the repatriationists would eventually get around to scrutinizing the objects donated to the Metropolitan Museum by the late Norbert Schimmel, a collector widely respected for his connoisseurship and public spiritedness, and a great patron of the Met.Now Jason Felch's and Ralph Frammolino's Chasing Aphrodite blog reveals that Schimmel's collection was the source of objects that Turkey … [Read more...]

New U.S. Artists’ Equity Bill is an Auction-House Inequity Bill

Congressman Jerrold Nadler I'm all for artists' resale royalties---a cause I've been espousing since the '70s. But it's not a good plan to redress one perceived inequity by creating another. That's what the newly introduced Equity for Visual Artists Act of 2011 appears to do, by singling out large auction houses as the only sellers required under the proposed law to collect a 7% royalty on works resold for more than $10,000. The bill's full text is not yet, at this writing, on the Library of Congress' website. I obtained a copy from the … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Museum’s Red-Ink 2009 Annual Report, Now Online

Okay, all you museum wonks. It's that moment you've all been waiting for---the online debut of the Metropolitan Museum's annual report for fiscal 2009!The Report of the Chief Financial Officer, as predicted, showed a whopping $8.4-million operating deficit for the fiscal year ending June 30. Even scarier, the Report from the President and Director mentioned the "likelihood of budget deficits in the range of $20 million-plus a year for years to come unless significant expense reductions occurred." (Necessary measures have now been taken, … [Read more...]

New Acropolis Museum Photo Essay: A Sneak Preview

It's too soon to "review" the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, because it's still a work-in-progress: Construction continues and few objects have been installed, except on the ground floor, where relatively minor but instructive archaeological finds unearthed during excavation for the museum are ingeniously and attractively arrayed in an educational gallery targeted to children.Still, Bernard Tschumi's architecture is almost ready for its close-up, so a CultureGrrl photo essay is in order. My impressions, like those of several commentators who … [Read more...]

Kindred Gamers: NY Public Library as Video Parlor

Asher B. Durand, "Kindred Spirits," Crystal Bridges Museum, sold by NY Public LibraryWe all remember when the NY Public Library justified its 2005 sales of important paintings, including Asher B. Durand's iconic "Kindred Spirits" (above), on the grounds that exhibiting art was not part of its core mission as a library.Now it has discovered a pursuit more closely tied to its mission---being a video-game parlor.In a NY Times article on Saturday, we learned that the grand lobby of the library's venerable main headquarters on Fifth Avenue and … [Read more...]

News Flash: No Decision Today on Reopening Barnes Case

As expected, Judge Stanley Ott of Montgomery County Orphans' Court did not rule from the bench today on whether the Friends of the Barnes and/or Montgomery County would be granted standing to seek a reconsideration of the judge's decision that gave permission for the Barnes Foundation to move to Philadelphia.This just in from Carolyn Carluccio, the attorney for the county who argued for reconsideration at today's hearing:I thought it went extremely well for the County. We were able to present our arguments without being silenced by the [Barnes] … [Read more...]

Boutique Freak: Marketing Murakami Vuittons in Brooklyn

Catalogue for the © MURAKAMI exhibition When I contacted the always helpful Sally Williams of the Brooklyn Museum's press office about a month ago, she informed me that no decision had yet been made as to whether Brooklyn's version of the Murakami show (organized by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, opening Apr. 5 in Brooklyn) would include a boutique for products designed by the artist in collaboration with Louis Vuitton. Today, this press release hit my inbox: The Brooklyn Museum announced today the exhibition of a fully … [Read more...]

New Acropolis Museum: Marring the Marbles

Mock-up of copies (left) of the Parthenon Marbles in the New Acropolis MuseumThe planners of the New Acropolis Museum had a brilliant idea for display of the Parthenon Marbles. Then they improved upon it. Now they've ruined it.What still remains of the original plan is the installation of the sculptural slabs around the outside of a rectangular structure of the same dimensions as the Parthenon, to simulate their original display on the monument. This is truer to their ancient installation than displaying them inside the walls of a traditional … [Read more...]

More on Tom Krens from James Russell (and me) UPDATED

An early model of Frank Gehry's planned Guggenheim Abu Dhabi A kinder, gentler assessment of Tom Krens' reign at the Guggenheim is provided today by James Russell of Bloomberg. Russell has approving words for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (and the rest of the proposed development in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District) and also praises what Krens did in New York: Before Krens, the New York building was regarded as a curatorial black hole. He and savvy curators have shown that a wide variety of works not only can be displayed well in the space, … [Read more...]

More on Eli Broad from Martin Filler (and me)

Broad-ly Speaking at LACMA More Eli Broad criticism occurs in Martin Filler's brilliantly titled piece for the latest New York Review of Books (Mar. 20), Broad-Minded Museum. (Why didn't my editors think of that?) A key passage: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art receives substantial public funds and many of its staff members are civil service employees of Los Angeles County. Thus the parties who acceded to Broad's de facto privatization of a big chunk of LACMA--the cultural equivalent of a leveraged buyout, or taking a public company … [Read more...]

D’Offay Offs Broad: Parading a Different “Paradigm”

Look familiar? Here are two works from Anthony d'Offay's collection, which have twins in Eli Broad's collection: Damien Hirst, "Away from the Flock," 1995 © Damien Hirst Robert Therrien, "No Title (Table and Four Chairs)," 2003 © Robert Therrien / ARS, NY and DACS, London 2008 Their collections may have similarities, but you can't have much more of a contrast between art donors' approaches to museums than those embodied by Los Angeles collector Eli Broad and retired London dealer Anthony d'Offay. Broad wants to lend works from his 1,900-piece … [Read more...]

My WNYC Krens Commentary and Where the Guggenheim Should Go From Here

Thomas Krens Here's what I said today on WNYC, as well as a few additional comments: I have no idea if he wants it, but, as I said on the radio, I think Michael Govan of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art would be the ideal next director of the Guggenheim. True, he's been at his current post for less than two years, but job-hopping is not unheard of in the museum world. My guess is that Govan's heart is in New York and in the contemporary artworld. Maybe he can forge a Guggenheim relationship with a new Dia "satellite" in Manhattan. This … [Read more...]

UPDATED: CultureGrrl on Krens Today on New York Public Radio

UPDATE: Why did they make me get up SO EARLY? Now I'm scheduled to be on at about 8:35 a.m....subject, of course, to change. By then I should be completely caffeinated. Late notice to you, because it was late notice to me: If all goes according to plan, I'll be on New York Public Radio (WNYC) today (Thursday) after 7 a.m., commenting on the imminent departure of Thomas Krens from the directorship of the Guggenheim Foundation. You can hear me at 93.9 FM. Or you can listen online here. I will, as usual, post the podcast on CultureGrrl, when it's … [Read more...]

Tom Krens, Global Impresario, to Leave the Guggenheim

I'll have more to say on the announcement of Tom Krens' imminent departure from the Guggenheim later. For the details, see Carol Vogel's piece for tomorrow's NY Times, online now. For now, just this: You might think Krens was a bit of a con artist, who tried to realize his improbable schemes by latching on to a succession of moguls and foreign government officials with more money and ambition than cultural acumen. But I always thought he truly believed his own hype and I know, from several conversations that we had, how convincing he could be … [Read more...]

Sotheby’s Contemporary Success and More on Guarantees

Francis Bacon, "Study of a Nude with Figure in a Mirror," 1969 Sotheby's had a lot riding on today's London evening sale of contemporary art, which its president and CEO, Bill Ruprecht, said yesterday would be an important art-market indicator. I don't yet have all the official press-released information, but it seems clear that the "indicator" is upbeat. Estimated to fetch a total hammer price "in excess of" $144 million, the sale brought (WITH buyer's premium) $189.42 million. Here are the online results (in British pounds). Top lot, as … [Read more...]

Updates: Edith Wharton, Curtis Wong, NY Philharmonic in N. Korea

A few tidbits on some stories that we've been following: ---A Save the Mount emergency campaign has been launched to try to undo the financial damage caused by wishful thinking about fundraising for the admirable (and still unfinished) restoration and library acquisition at author Edith Wharton's former mansion and gardens in Massachusetts' Berkshire Mountains. They say they need $3 million before Mar. 24 to prevent foreclosure. I think Stephanie Copeland, The Mount's president and executive director, has made this site a joy to visit. But now … [Read more...]

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