Maxwell Anderson. He dead -- at least museologically.
In his five pathetic years as director of the Whitney, Max has often complained, via e-mail, about his coverage on Artnet, more than once calling for its correspondents to be fired. But we bear him no grudge -- he has a sexy, amenable soap opera actress wife and he is the grandson of a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, also named Max. So forgive him.
It's the rest of the art world that Max should worry about, such as Thelma Golden and Eugenie Tsai, whom he summarily dismissed upon his bogus accession.
In fact, it was reportedly the brilliant curator Eugenie Tsai, whose latest effort opens at Apex Art this month, who tipped off Artnet two months ago that mighty Max was on his way out.
You could cut the schadenfreude with a stiletto. As Max repeatedly stonewalled Artnet via e-mail about his long-term contract and other guarantees of his survivability, our sources at the Whitney were revealing a far different story. Artnet had insider access to communications between Anderson and the Whitney board in which Max allegedly begged the board repeatedly not to embarrass him by jettisoning him.
After all, Max was the self-important director of the Museum Directors Association of America! How dare he be asked to leave.
Reportedly, the Whitney board delayed its announcement of Max's departure long enough to secure him a sinecure at the Yale School of Management. But as Max recently told a colleague of ours, "That is not my ultimate goal." How about total anonymity, Maxie?
Talk of Max's successor was hot and heavy at the Whitney's dinner presentation of its annual American Art Award last week to the chairman of Cartier, attended by artists Tony Oursler, Su-en Wong, Jacqueline Humphries and Amy Myers.
Anderson gave a strained if articulate toast, introducing his nemesis, Whit chair Leonard Lauder who was described by one attendee as "clueless." Talk centered on a list of successor possibilities supposedly finalized by the Whitney board, including Hammer Museum director Annie Philbin, Yale Art Gallery director Jock Reynolds and Addison Gallery director and former Whitney curator Adam Weinberg. In response to Artnet's queries, our old pal Annie Philbin responded, "I have not been contacted. Personally, I hope that the Whitney merges with the New Museum, because New Museum director Lisa Phillips can handle the Whitney board."
We encountered Jock Reynolds, another old friend, at an Asia Society cocktail party. "Charlie," Jack told us, "I swear that my last job will be director of the Yale University Art Gallery."
We did not try to contact the great Adam Weinberg, because we sincerely hope he gets the job.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).