Marion Maneker0March 31, 2014

New York’s Met Already $3m Ahead in 2014 from Deaccessioning

Master of the Plump Cheeked Madonna, Virgin with Child (400-600k USD) 941k USD

The New York Post does a little heavy breathing over the Met’s deaccessioning:

The museum sold off 3,290 objects worth a total of $5.4 million last year, generating the highest revenue in eight years. The selling spree continues with at least $3 million worth of paintings auctioned off this year alone.

Metropolitan Museum sells off millions worth of art (New York Post)

Marion Maneker0March 26, 2014

With Bonds Threatening to Sink Delaware Art Museum, Director Decides to Sell Works to Raise $30m


The Association of American Museum Directors isn’t having a ton of luck lately in preventing museums from selling works to pay off debts or for any other reason than to buy more works. If the reaction to the Delaware Art Museum’s particular bind is any indication of what the AAMD does, following Randy Kennedy’s story in the New York Times, then it is no wonder.

The Delaware Art Museum issued a statement today that it would sell up to four works of art to raise $30m and retire debt as well as fund its endowment. The museum’s director made clear that the viability of the institution was at stake.

The museum said that repayment terms for tax-exempt bonds issued in 2003 for an expansion became accelerated for various reasons during the financial crisis, and at the same time the museum experienced a significant decline in its endowment as a result of stock market performance, forcing trustees to conduct layoffs and cut funding for exhibitions.

The AAMD’s response to the crisis seems to have been a combination of begging and, well, begging:

The Association of Art Museum Directors had been in private discussions with the museum for several months, encouraging it to seek other ways to address its debt, such as making a public appeal or asking legislators to help restructure its debt. Timothy Rub, the association’s president, said he believed the museum did not seriously explore options other than selling.

Delaware Art Museum Will Sell Works to Pay Off Debt (

Artists, Museums
Marion Maneker0February 17, 2014

Miami Artist Destroys Ai Weiwei Vase at PAMM in Protest Over International Artist Receiving Exhibition

Perez Ai Weiwei Incident

CBS’s local station in Miami reports on the destruction of a vase in the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Perez Art Museum by Maximo Caminero:

PAMM’s security told Camino [sic], according to the affidavit, to put the vase down—but he didn’t listen. Instead Camino threw and broke the vase—which shattered into pieces.

Camino, whose occupation is listed as an artist on the affidavit, “spontaneously” told an officer that he broke the vase in protest of local artists because the museum only displays international artist’s work.

Museum Visitor Destroys $1 Million Ai Weiwei Vase “In Protest” (CBS Miami)

Marion Maneker0February 14, 2014

The Naked Is Not Dead

Tate Video on Nudes in Art History


The Tate is doing a little educating with this compact history of the nude.

Marion Maneker0January 31, 2014

A Few Writers Owe Peter Schjeldahl an Apology

Peter Schjeldahl

Last July, New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl had the temerity to take a humanist stand on the issue of Detroit’s art in the context of its bankruptcy. He was excoriated by arts writers for saying the pensioners should be put in a superior position to the city’s holding on to it’s art:

Art will survive. The pensioner will not. I do not view the impending decision as a close call.

Of course, Schjeldahl wasn’t saying that the art should be sold or that it would a good thing to sell it. What he said was that the commitment to the pensioners super-ceded the city’s pride in owning cultural treasures. A bankruptcy is all about creating a hierarchy among the creditors.

For all the dudgeon expressed by those on the “side of the art,” their hysterics did nothing to advance the negotiations. Luckily, two Federal judges acted to guide the negotiating process in a manner that has achieved the best possible outcome.

Pensions for the city workers have been put at the top of the list of priorities. The art has been made a close second and now we see that financial creditors are being made to wait last in line (as it should be.) Dealbook explains this morning:

Detroit is preparing to resolve its bankruptcy case by splitting its unsecured creditors into two groups and treating them differently, according to people briefed on the city’s plan.
One group, composed of retired city workers, would get cash for their claims, while others, holders and insurers of certain city debts, would get a series of notes of uncertain but lesser value. One person, who asked not to be identified because of a confidentiality order, called the plan “massively discriminatory.”

Now that’s the kind of discrimination few but philistines would object to. However, this outcome required a credible threat to monetize the art. That is precisely what Schjeldahl was trying to say before he was shouted down.

Detroit Plan Is Said to Split Creditors Into 2 Groups (Dealbook/NYTimes)

General, Museums
Marion Maneker0January 29, 2014

Is This the Final Piece of the Detroit Puzzle?

The Detroit Institute of Arts 

In what may be the keystone to the entire Detroit Institute of Arts bailout, the museum itself announced its own contribution to the fund-raising plan which would transfer ownership of the museum out of the City’s hands:

DIA leaders said today that its board of directors approved a $100 million fund-raising campaign over 20 years and would look to corporate and individual donors for the money. As part of the deal, the City of Detroit would transfer legal title to the museum building, the art collection and related assets, ending nearly a century of city control and shielding the museum forever from whims of city finances and politics.

The DIA’s $100 million commitment marks a potential turning point in Detroit’s historic Chapter 9 bankruptcy, helping clear a path to a less painful and faster resolution to the bankruptcy.

DIA pledges to raise $100 million for art, Detroit pension rescue fund (Detroit Free Press)

Marion Maneker0January 28, 2014

Don’t Blame the Market, Good Museums Built the Public’s Taste for Contemporary Art

Top Ten Art Museum Attendance 2013

Last month, The Economist ran the above chart and commented, “The rise of contemporary art is closely related to the growth in the art market.” The statement could be true. It could also be that the rise of art market in the past decade and a half tracks the growth of Contemporary art institutions. The Frieze Art Fair started in 2003 a few years after the opening of the Tate Modern in 2000.

Art Basel Miami Beach chose Miami for the number of private collectors with large, almost institutional collections. And later many of those collectors opened their own museums which have the freedom to take risks that larger institutions cannot.

Contemporary art seems to be what the public wants—and artists, their dealers and museums are happy to supply it. […]  “The interest in contemporary art is much broader, much richer and much deeper than it was when I started out 30 years ago,” says Paul Schimmel, a Los Angeles curator-turned-dealer.

Among museums, grand institutions like the Museum of Modern Art in New York are seen as stuffier than the Kunsthallen, the not-for-profit municipal art galleries found in many German cities. Earlier this year the Ludwig Museum in Cologne opened a retrospective by Andrea Fraser with a video of the artist having sex with one of her collectors. Los Angeles-based Ms Fraser is well represented in public collections in Britain, France and Germany, but considered too daring for an American retrospective.

Contemporary art: On a wing and a prayer (The Economist)

Marion Maneker0January 25, 2014

Denver vs. Dallas: Measuring the Art Museums

Denver Museum

Denver Museum

It’s a regional thing here in the US but Colorado and Texas have a lot of animosity towards each other. Denver recently received a $100m gift of 22 landscapes, including works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Eugène Boudin and Edouard Manet. That might stir things up a little but as the Dallas News’s art critic explains, it turns out they have somewhat similar histories when it comes to establishing art museums:

Dallas and Denver aren’t known primarily for their cultural tourism. Tourists to Denver generally head to the mountains. Visitors to Dallas tend to be conventioneers, sports fans or shoppers.

Both cities were founded at roughly the same time, in the mid-19th century, but Denver was wealthier in the 19th century, while Dallas surpassed it in both wealth and population in the second half of the 20th century. The cities founded their downtown art museums 10 years apart — in 1893 for Denver and 1903 for Dallas — but Denver’s grew more quickly and now has a collection of about 70,000 artworks, compared to the DMA’s roughly 25,000.

The Denver Art Museum has harnessed attention-getting architecture. The campus boasts two buildings by major figures: the only building in the U.S. from midcentury-modern Italian master Gio Ponti, which opened in 1971, and a boastful geometric explosion of metal-clad forms by New York-based Daniel Libeskind, which opened in 2006.

By contrast, the DMA’s discreet limestone boxes by Edward Larrabee Barnes seem almost unassuming.

How does Denver’s art scene compare to Dallas’? (Dallas Morning News)

Denver Art Museum to acquire its first van Gogh, Cézanne, four by Monet (The Denver Post)

Marion Maneker0January 21, 2014

Philippe Vergne LA MoCA’s Artist-Enabler

Philippe Vergne

Philippe Vergne

Alana Semuels profiles Philippe Vergne for the Los Angeles Times. Vergne is no stranger to the city having in-laws who live there and relationships with some of the local artists. In fact, it is his artist-centric focus that seems to have gotten him the job:

“This is the artist’s institution,” said Vergne, 47, paraphrasing the founding principle of MOCA: “The Artist’s Museum.” “For me, it has to be the most innovative institution in this country.” […]

Catherine Opie, one of the artist trustees who resigned from MOCA’s board in protest over Deitch’s direction of the museum, knows Vergne from a residency at the Walker Art Center more than a decade ago. His personality and sense of humor puts artists at ease, said Opie by phone.

“He is incredibly gifted with being social, and his sense of humor, and he can talk to pretty much anybody,” said Opie, who was on MOCA’s search committee. Vergne will “be an artist-centric director,” she said, and “restore the confidence of artists in L.A. that MOCA is a place to be excited about.”

A first step in making MOCA more artist-centric would be to invite the four artists who resigned from the institution’s board to rejoin it, said Cindy Bernard, a Los Angeles artist who co-founded MOCA Mobilization in 2008, when the museum came close to shutting down, as a MOCA watchdog of sorts.

Vergne hopes to strike a balance, enhancing MOCA’s presence on the international scene while keeping in mind local artists and visitors.

New MOCA director Philippe Vergne plans an artist-enabling museum (Los Angeles Times)

Marion Maneker0January 20, 2014

Critics Complain but Saving Detroit’s Art Has Been High Priority in Bankruptcy Debate


We’re told that art needs to be more engaged with politics and yet our most sophisticated art critics seem to have no ear for politics, no ability to see their own victory. The situation in Detroit is a perfect example. Over the last several months we’ve heard repeated wails of outrage that Detroit’s art should become mixed up in the city’s bankruptcy. This latest example comes from the New Republic’s Jed Perl:

The hue and cry about the DIA, loud as it has been, is not loud enough. Detroit would be a much smaller place without its Bruegel—or its great Poussin or its great Matisse. If the future of the auto industry is a matter of national concern, then why isn’t the threat to the DIA regarded as a national scandal? For years our elected officials have been backing away from any serious engagement with the arts.

Michigan Governor Snyder is an elected official and as soon as a Federal Judge ruled Detroit’s bankruptcy could go through, thus putting DIA’s art in real jeopardy, Governor Snyder started floating the potential for a grand bargain. County officials—also elected—raised operating funds for DIA by taxing their residents. Both acts are “serious engagement with the arts.”

Detroit’s art should not be sold. But politics, as they say, isn’t beanbag. The process by which that city, state and region came to recognize the value of its art collection was not pretty nor was it dignified. But it did unequivocally make preserving DIA a paramount issue. That’s a victory for the arts and a victory for the people. Shouldn’t an art critic celebrate that?

Detroit Art Institute’s Masterworks Should Be Saved | New Republic.