CNN Style has a 23 minute documentary on the art and artists behind the Guggenheim Museum’s show Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World. It’s well worth watching.
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Crow published a long look at the Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi museum showcasing the region’s cultural prowess. This weekend, the public will get a chance to see the combined display of the Abu Dhabi’s own art and works on loan from the Louvre. But the museum isn’t so much a replication of the western museum model as it is an attempt to create a global art history, according to Manuel Rabaté, the museum’s director:
Mr. Rabaté said the museum’s mix-and-match approach is meant to counter conventional ideas about art-history hierarchies. That’s why an 8,000-year-old figure with two heads from Jordan will get the same treatment as a Benin bronze head or Leonardo da Vinci’s “Portrait of a Woman, also called La Belle Ferronnière.”
Bloomberg’s James Tarmy offers a list of some of the museum’s acquisitions now revealed as works advantageously purchased during the art market slump in 2009:
- There’s a 3.75 foot high work by the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow, and Black, which the lot notes indicate was acquired in 2009.
- Gustave Caillebotte, Game of Bezique, which was painted in 1880, was also purchased by the museum in 2009
- as was Eduoard Manet’s The Gypsy, painted between 1862 and 1867
- A year later, the museum scored a coup by acquiring a work by Paul Gauguin’s Children Wrestling from 1888
- a 1928 René Magritte, The Subjugated Reader
- a blue and white series of nine, eight and a half foot-high panels by Cy Twombly, which the artist painted three years before his death in 2008
Since Jonathan Binstock became the director of the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester for three years ago, he has been looking to capitalize upon MAG and Rochester’s strength in the history of image making. Binstock also had the unusual opportunity to work with John G. Hanhardt, a leading curator of film and media arts who has held key positions at MoMA, the Walker Art Museum, the Whitney and Guggenheim museums.
Together, Binstock and Hanhardt have commissioned a series of works that will both capitalize upon Rochester’s history of image making with Kodak and the George Eastman house as well as extend that tradition by helping establish MAG as a center of film and video art:
Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) of the University of Rochester announces today a series of media art commissions inspired by the City of Rochester, New York. “Reflections on Place” will feature the work of three international artists: Javier Téllez (Venezuela, b. 1969), Isaac Julien (U.K., b. 1960) and Dara Birnbaum, (U.S., b. 1946). These works will be individually presented from April 8, 2018, and will enter MAG’s permanent collection at the end of the exhibitions.
The art critic takes to the pages of the New York Times to compare the deficit plagued Met’s idea to make the museum’s entry fee mandatory for out-of-state visitors to a dystopian prison:
Mr. Weiss seems to be restoring some financial sense to the Met, but he has helped hatch one really bad idea: a proposal that, if approved by the city, would allow the Met to charge out-of-state visitors a fixed $25 entrance fee instead of letting them pay what they wish, like everyone else. This could be a logistical nightmare. Those who retain the privilege of paying what they wish will still have to have their papers to get in — which papers has not been worked out. The jobs of ticket sellers and others at the museum’s entrances will become more complicated and stressful; they will in all likelihood sometimes end up functioning a bit like border guards, adjudicating who has proper New York identification and who doesn’t.
The Fall’s Most Fascinating Art Show? The Met Trying to Fix Itself (The New York Times)
The New York Times continues its coverage of the Metropolitan Museum’s leadership transition and struggle to shore up its position as New York’s pre-eminent cultural institution—as it tries to attract donors among the world’s wealthiest persons who have turned toward Modern and Contemporary art away from other collecting categories—by framing an interesting news story in the oddest way.
The news in the story is that the Met approached—and was turned down by—David Koch and Steven Schwarzmann to donate $300m to kickstart the languishing plans to rebuild the museum’s Contemporary art wing.
Oddly, though, the Times makes the story a question of whether Leonard Lauder will go through with his gift of Cubist art if the museum cannot build a new home for the collection:
Is Mr. Lauder’s gift, valued at more than $1 billion four years ago, now at risk? If the Met takes too long to resurrect the project or ultimately scales it back, might Mr. Lauder take his collection elsewhere?
Worry not, the story tells us. Lauder will indeed give the art to the Met. Did anyone ever doubt it? Although the story tries to raise the idea that Lauder could give the art to other institutions, the collection was assembled for the purpose of enhancing Lauder’s reputation as a gift to the Met. It is silly of the Times to pretend otherwise.
It’s also silly of the Times to value the collection at $1bn. That’s simply not true. Lauder did not spend $1bn assembling the collection. It is being donated to a museum where it will not be sold. So the collection has no market value any longer. Lauder’s accountants may be working with $1bn to offset his taxes in other areas.
The Times’s long-standing skepticism about the art market isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It does act as a tonic to the market fixation on these notional values. Why the Times abandons that market skepticism precisely when it is most appropriate—Lauder’s gift is meant to be a measure of his art historical acumen and cultural beneficence, what’s a $1bn to the cosmetics magnate, after all?—is one mystery of the story.
The mystery is what’s happening at the Met. The story doesn’t tell us whether the approach to Koch and Schwarzmann was a thought out strategy or a desperate move to reclaim lost momentum. The Times doesn’t say whether the approach was made by the museum’s new president, Daniel Weiss, or the board. Either way, the story suggests the museum is still far from setting itself back on track.
When Hunk and Moo Anderson gaive their art collection to Sanford University, it was a bit of surprise. The collection was much sought after by major museums and Stanford had no permanent collection. Now the first new works have been added to the 121 originally.
Among the 86 artists the Andersons collected were Bill Jensen and Manuel Neri, whose trust donated 11 works. Mary Weatherford is a California painter whose work is being donated by two Stanford graduates:
New to the collection is Bill Jensen’s watercolor and gouache Study for Denial, 1985-86; three sculptural works and eight works on paper ranging from 1958 to 1997 by Manuel Neri; and Mary Weatherford’s black painting, 2017..
The Financial Times has a nice story highlighting the Ernst Beyeler Foundation and its plans to expand the building which are proceeding apace. But in the conversation with Sam Keller, the former head of Art Basel who now runs the foundation, the reporter asks about Beyeler’s taste which elicits an illuminating response from Keller:
- “Taste is a dangerous word and I think Beyeler would probably have rejected the notion. He definitely had a great eye for quality though. He continued to be curious and understood the importance of moving forward with the collection and with the exhibition programme.”
Keller also notes that the foundation’s 300 works—”encompassing more than 30 Picassos, two exemplary works by Hans Arp, including the 1960 sculpture “Schalenbaum”, and Cézanne’s “Madame Cézanne in the Yellow Chair” (1888-90)“—needs to move forward with Contemporary acquisitions.
MoMA seems to feel stung by the criticism launched at the museum when its expansion plans (and demolition of the adjacent Folk Art Museum) created controversy. The museum has launched a PR assault by coopting the New York Times with an early release of the next set of plans which seem to include a massive re-orientation of the museum’s philosophy and approach to the idea of whatis “modern.”
Both the museum and the Times are downplaying the shift in favor of playing up the idea of inclusiveness:Continue Reading
The LA Weekly looks at the new show at the Norton Simon Museum tracking pioneering art dealer Galka Scheyer’s migration to Southern California. The dealer was a passionate advocate for Alexei Jawlensky, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, artists she brought with her to America from Europe:Continue Reading