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The Guggenheim Museum by twilight, 2002

The Whitney Museum of American Art,
with the 1999 exhibition, "The American Century"

MoMA QNS, 2002

The Museum of Modern Art under construction, 2002
The 21st-Century Museum
by Charlie Finch

Candyassed sycophants like Thomas Krens, Maxwell Anderson and Glenn Lowry are especially ill-equipped to deal with a crashing stock market and a deflating economy.

Solons of the so-called meritocracy, which produced WorldCom, a company that "controls" 50 percent of American internet activity yet doesn't have enough cash to last until next week, these losers are hanging on the edge of a sharp precipice and ready to fall.

Why? Because all three museum directors are dependent on a double-edged sword: the scaredy-cat super-rich and the cash flow of a public with less and less cash to spend.

Who goes to the Guggenheim anymore? No one -- the museum has abandoned its modernist heritage of Kandinsky, Delaunay and Picasso for the highest bid of the increasingly desperate whore on any world street.

Adrian Dannatt zinged Krens in the Art Newspaper last winter when he reportedly captured Krenzy selling $2.5 million trusteeships to the Russian nomenklatura in Las Vegas.

The desperation can only increase.

As for the Whitney, what exactly is the Whitney? In a word, the Whitney is "Edward Hopper." A franchise cultivated by the museum's long-time curator Lloyd Goodrich, a.k.a. "Edward Hopper's only friend."

The Whitney stood for stolid American integrity in the face of European trendiness and provincialism. What is it now? Party central for Maxwell Anderson's self-regarding friends, except the budget has run dry and nobody wants to pay the freight to boogie there anymore.

In the face of universal critical condemnation of its last two Biennials, mostly curated by pathetic trendoid Larry Rinder, Max's Whitney has acted as if they have had hits on their hands.

Ooh! The Buxsbaum Award won't help the bottom line, Maxie, you pretentious, Collegiate-educated little twit. Wake up, wake up, wake up!

And what about MoMA? After a disastrous Al Qaeda-influenced, security-dominated opening bash, MoMA QNS attendance has predictably dipped below the 1,500-a-day break-even point postulated by Glaring Glenn.

Nobody wants to see Picasso in a tiny backwater, which is smaller than the rusted train station looming above it, whether new retiree Aggie Gund boards the Number 7 or not.

How we love Edgar Allan Poe's Fall of the House of Usher, because it is so predictable that, in a crashing economy, these rich idiots will begin to cannibalize each other.

The Guggenheim? Just keep reading the WorldCom news in the Wall Street Journal every day, Krenzy, because in a few weeks that's gonna be you.

The Whitney? Forget the expansion and just keep reeling out your permanent collection, and hope that Sotheby's and Christie's invite you to a deaccession bonfire.

MoMA? Do you really think that art-friendly mayor Michael Bloomberg is going to honor the city's commitments to your extravagant building plans when police, fire and schools budgets are being cut by billions?

Get used to Queens, Glenn, and, we've been saying it for years, it's time to turn P.S. 1 back into a school.

So, what is to be done? The big tragedy is that, unlike the 1989 crash, which ruined the careers of a lot of know-nothing Conceptual artists, talented artists like Julien LaVerdiere and Inka Essenhigh could be ruined by the coming crash of 2002.

Gallery prices should drop at least 75 percent this fall, so it behooves the mismanaged museums to deaccession aging crap and prop up the market for contemporary.

More crucially, just as aging '60s rockers like Elton John, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, etc., have to tour together, so New York's museums will, out of necessity, have to cooperate.

Mark my words, the days of the MoMA/Whitney/Goog conglomerate are upon us, shuttle buses, reduced ad missions, shared shows and collections all.

By which time Max, Glenn and Tom will be long, long gone. Good riddance!

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).