The Art Newspaper trekked to Washington, DC to cover the (e)merge art fair opening there for the first time under the guidance of the Rubell family:

Emerge was hampered by a bleak location and the curatorial challenges that stem rooms that were, by gallery standards, cramped and dimly lit rooms. Around 1,400 people attended the preview on 22 September, although few out-of-towners were in evidence. One New Yorker, Christopher Apgar, a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, had travelled to the fair with his wife, but not to buy. He said he wanted to show support for Allen and added that he did not see many other Manhattanites.

Those who did attend were in no hurry to buy, given the low prices and lack of competition. “It’s not like Art Basel Miami Beach, where you see a Basquiat for $11m and have to buy it now or it won’t be there later,” said local collector and curator Michael Pollack.

To attract new collectors, the fair’s organisers suggested galleries keep their prices at $5,000 and under, although not all heeded the price cap. Milan-based gallery Jerome Zodo Contemporary offered a large-scale ceramic engine by mid-career New York artist Steven Montgomery, priced at $42,000. Static Fuel #4, 2005, was one of the most expensive works on show, but never found a buyer. Jerome Zodo, the gallery’s director, said he had expected more of the fair and its promotion. Nonetheless, he made one sale of a work priced at only $2,500—Brooklyn artist Ben Grasso’s small oil painting Adaptation, 2011.

Emerging Into Dim Light (The Art Newspaper)

Riding the Rubell's Coattails

Washington’s City Paper describes the efforts of Alex Ventura and Victoria Milko to mount a rival art fair to the upcoming Rubell sponsored (e)merge art fair taking place in late September in Washington, DC:

Now the Rubells seems to be betting on D.C. as an emerging hub of contemporary art—but Ventura and Milko aren’t convinced they’re bringing the missing infrastructure they bemoaned.

“What we’re doing is already going on,” Ventura says, describing the setting for the But Is It Art? fair. “Southwest, a hotbed for artists? That’s just not true.” He says the Rubells engage in a practice of “art tourism” that might be good for the Capitol Skyline and their forthcoming hotel-cum-museum at the former Randall School property a few blocks away at 65 I St. SW, but has little connection to the city’s artists. “There’s a reason [the Rubells] own hotels. They’re not doing it pro-bono. It’s naïve to say they’re trying to help D.C. people out.” […]

Both Ventura and Milko acknowledge that the (e)merge fair helps them from a marketing angle. Ventura describes But Is It Art? as an unofficial “step-sister” fair; he knows artists applying for both (e)merge programming and anti-(e)merge programming. “Let’s be honest,” Ventura says. “It’s a great opportunity to steal their publicity.” […]

“These people have not contacted us,” [Leigh] Conner [one of (e)merge’s founders] says, “but I think it’s fantastic.” She says that (e)merge aims to be inclusive and to broadcast other arts events within the city, including, potentially, But Is It Art? “Casting things as mainstream versus alternative—I’m not sure those are the right terms. If like the Armory, if like Art Basel, if what (e)merge is doing is inspiring others, we’re happy that a satellite is happening.”

Fair Apparent: As the Massive (e)merge Art Fair Looms, Curators Plan a DIY Alternative (Washington City Paper)


National Gallery Buys $7m Arcimboldo

Blake Gopnik gives the details on the National Gallery’s acquisition of an Arcimboldo that had been included in the museum’s recent exhibition on the artist. Carol Vogel estimates the price at between $7 and $10 million. Another example of the artist’s work is currently on the market for $5m:

The National Gallery of Art has announced that it has purchased one of the show’s best paintings for its permanent collection, as the only undisputed Arcimboldo work in public hands in the U.S. […] Curators are giving it the awkward title of “Four Seasons in One Head” and dating it to around 1490, when Arcimboldo would have been in his 60s. […]

The painting may well be the one that Arcimboldo made for his friend, scholar Gregorio Comanini, who described it in detail in a book published in 1591. It then passed out of sight until 2007, when it was rediscovered in an unnamed private collection in England.

Arcimboldo’s ‘Four Seasons’ will join National Gallery of Art collection (Washington Post)

When Is An Art Work Also a Bookstore?

Washington’s Hirshhorn Museum has been proposing an addition by artist Douglas Aitken. The “work” would do double duty as art and a bookstore which has some tongues clucking across the internet. Here’s the LA Times‘s Christopher Knight:

The precedent is unmentioned in the Washington Post story, but that’s the year the little Hudson River Museum commissioned artist Red Grooms to design its bookstore as a collection purchase. The project was even partly paid for with an acquisitions grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.Continue Reading

Reclaiming the National Gallery

The Wall Street Journal tries to reclaim the name and place in history of John Russell Pope and his National Gallery in Washington, DC which houses Andrew Mellon’s art collection, the foundation of the National Gallery:

Yet, by the time the National Gallery was dedicated by President Roosevelt in 1941, Mellon’s reputation was badly damaged and Pope and the grand tradition of classically inspired architecture were under fire. Modernists denounced the building as a “pink marble whorehouse” and “a costly mummy.” Foremost of these detractors was the now-forgotten dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design who claimed that “surely the time cannot be far distant when we shall understand how inadequate is the death-mask of an ancient culture to express the soul of America,” obviously something he thought was best accomplished by the European-born International Style and structures like the 1939 Stone-Goodwin Museum of Modern Art.Continue Reading

DC Dealers Go Outside

The Washington Post profiles gallery owner Leigh Connor as a beacon of hope for the Washington, DC contemporary art scene because the 47-year-old has brought outside artists to the city. She’s also bought collectors from far and wide. But being the hub for out-of-town buyers and artists hasn’t made a dent in the local scene:

“I’m not happy with the outmoded thought that in order to be a successful artist you have to leave D.C.,” Conner says. “Maybe in 1965, sure. But the world has changed. There’s no doubt that you have to engage with what’s going on. But that doesn’t mean you can’t live in D.C. and do so.” […] Over the past decade, the pair have attracted top local talent, including performance artist Mary Coble, video artist Brandon Morse, painter Erik Sandberg and artist Zoe Charlton, whose large-scale drawings deal with identity and race. Continue Reading

A Gallery Grows in Washington

The Washington Post gives some space to the opening of local lawyer Craig Appelbaum’s Industry Gallery. Inspired by Appelbaum’s desire to break away from the conservative aesthetic constraints of his Midwest upbringing, Industry aspires to bring 21st Century style to DC:

Appelbaum, 39, grew up in Cleveland in a traditional home — complete with a grandfather clock, a wood dining-room table and a bedroom shag rug. He earned his law degree at University of Pennsylvania, worked seven years as a tax lawyer, and now works at Mayer Brown in the District. Built like a speed runner, with a direct exuberance, he explains how he wanted to shake the decorating restrictions he’d grown up with but felt stymied by Washington’s conservative style.Continue Reading

Hirshhorn's Bubble Logic

The New York Times‘s Nicolai Ourousoff flips for the Diller + Scofidio addition tot he Hirshhorn:

Diller, Scofidio and Renfrew
Diller, Scofidio and Renfrew

For the last several months the newly appointed director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Richard Koshalek, has been quietly at work on a plan to erect a 145-foot-tall inflatable meeting hall that would swell out of the top of the internal courtyard of the museum, which sits on the Mall midway between the White House and the Capitol.Continue Reading