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|MoMA Shits PASTA
by Charlie Finch
|Since PASTA justifiably struck the Museum of Modern Art over a month ago, I have refused to go to the museum and refused to review the many excellent small shows at MoMA, which no one, especially art critics, should be attending at the moment.
But passive sympathy is not enough. It is time to point the finger at the wretched villains in this disgraceful affair: Agnes Gund, Ronald Lauder and Glenn Lowry.
Glenn Lowry got his MoMA job because of his reputation as a cost-cutter who apparently had no compunctions about firing dozens of employees at his previous post in Toronto.
Reportedly, the Whitney hired Maxwell Anderson as director because he was recommended by the same corporate headhunter who successfully pitched Lowry to MoMA.
Anderson, the quintessential toff, has superintended a dubious P.R. campaign for his disappointing Biennial, which basically blames the messenger: critics who universally panned a Whitney show that should have closed out of town with its curators.
While Anderson is often foolish, Lowry, who looks like an undertaker, is apparently venal, mobilizing his crack public relations staff to contact art media (including Artnet) to rave about strike breakers and alleged chinks in PASTA's armor.
But let's face it -- at a time when S.I. Newhouse can allegedly suck in a $10-million prime Picasso from MoMA's permanent collection while serving on MoMA's board, Robespierre Lowry is no revolutionary, just a factotum for the king and queen -- Lauder and Gund.
There is a reason that Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
He was talking about an attitude, a state of mind, a world view that allows someone to endow a charity (say, Studio in a School) that one can control to glorify one's self, while treating the worker who Xeroxes papers for you like garbage, because he or she belongs to a union.
New Yorkers owe Ron Lauder a debt of gratitude for the term limits referendum he successfully pushed through the electorate. It has done more to democratize New York's neighborhoods and political clubhouses than any law in memory.
But when it comes to democracy at MoMA, beneficiary of millions in taxpayer dollars for its renovation, Lauder seems prepared to shut down the museum and ultimately lay off PASTA members for good, when the bulldozers come.
And for what? Not meeting meager wage, health and union shop concessions which would bring loyal Museum of Modern Art workers into the renovation tent, rewarding everyone's now shattered faith in MoMA's future. All for much less than the price of Newhouse's Picasso, annually [according to PASTA, the cost of the entire package is about $350,000].
And Glenn Lowry just dithers in the New York Times about choosing a board for new MoMA outlet, P.S.1.
Don't go to P.S.1. Don't go to MoMA. Visit the strikers.
And if you run into Glowering Lowry or Fun Gund of the Duke of Lauder, you precious Chelsea denizens, give'em a face full of PASTA.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (1998).