FAURER HEADLINED IN BOOK, EXHIBITIONS
Street photographer Louis Faurer (1916-2001) did freelance work for major fashion magazines in the 1940s and '50s, was included in the landmark Museum of Modern Art photo show, "The Family of Man" (1955), and taught for years at Parsons School of Design in New York. But he's been more or less forgotten, while his colleagues, photographers like Robert Frank, Roy de Carava, Helen Levitt and William Klein, have been heralded by the museum and gallery world. Now, all that is about to change, with a major Faurer retrospective of over 130 photos opening next week at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Feb. 20-Apr.14, 2002, and the publication of an accompanying 208-page monograph with 150 illustrations and an essay by the show's curator, Anne Wilkes Tucker (Merrell/MFA Houston, $65). An exhibition is also slated for the important New York Gallery 292 at 120 Wooster Street in SoHo, Feb. 1-Mar. 9, 2002.
Faurer's black-and-white photographs are exceptional character studies of ordinary people in the era before television, mass marketing and corporate culture conquered all aspects of everyday life. Faurer had an adept eye for what photographers like to call the "perfect moment" as well as for the odd-balls and other characters who made New York (and Philadelphia, his hometown) so picturesque. Formally, Faurer gave his pictures complexity through reflections, shadows and multiple images, as well as asymmetric compositions with dramatic expanses of black (his style is dubbed "film noir"). He usually photographed anonymous passersby, but occasionally his pictures portray Robert Frank, Edie Gormé and Steve Lawrence, and Warhol superstar Viva with double black eyes. The museum exhibition subsequently travels to the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Mass., the Art Institute of Chicago and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
RAPE ALLEGATIONS FOR DOCUMENTA CURATOR
Just as Museum of Modern Art adjunct P.S.1 prepares to open the ambitious "The Short Century: Liberation and Independence Movements in Africa, 1945-1994" on Feb. 10, 2002, the show's curator has been hit with allegations of rape and violence against women. An email purporting to be from a group called South African Women against Abuse in the Arts circulated to art-world inboxes with a series of ugly accusations against Okwui Enwezor, the Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based curator of Documenta 11, the major art exposition that opens next June in Kassel, Germany.
The lengthy email asks, "Did Documenta curator commit Rape?" and then goes on to claim that Enwezor may have raped a young woman artist in his hotel room in Sweden in 1998, that "on many occasions he physically attacked his [first] wife," who subsequently divorced him, and that his present wife "called the police to her home and obtained a police restraining order against him for attacking her verbally and physically while they had Christmas dinner." The email concludes, "If Okwui Enwezor committed this act... who knows which woman will be his next victim?" and urges that the art world discuss the issue "openly so that no other woman artist will experience the same thing at the hands of a powerful male curator."
The email was first circulated on Jan. 12 and summarized by the Berliner Zeitung on Jan. 16. Dokumenta C.E.O. Bernd Leifeld told Artnet News that "These are very grave accusations put forward in the form of an anonymous racist hate mail" and promised to pursue legal action against whomever sent it. Enwezor is expected to issue his own statement in a few days. Stay tuned.
DROUOT IN PLAY
Paris' Hôtel Drouot, the French auction conglomerate of 110 licensed Parisian auctioneers, is the subject of a takeover battle. Last week, Pierre Berge, head of the soon-to-close French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, announced plans to take control of Drouot for about 122 million Euros (about $107 million). Barclays Private Equity Capital, a buyout firm, then made a rival offer for the house, thought to be around 150 million Euros (about $132 million), sparking what the Wall Street Journal called a "bid war." Druout's auction sales totaled about 690 million Euros in 2001. The move to consolidate and modernize Drouot's operation comes fast on the heels of Christie's and Sotheby's recent aggressive moves into the French auction market.
ANOTHER KIND OF JANSON
Art history students everywhere know the late H.W. Janson as author of the weighty survey, History of Art. Now, art enthusiasts can sample his less-known efforts as a curator of classic modernism with a show of 21 works by 17 artists going on view at Salander-O'Reilly gallery in Manhattan, Mar. 12-Apr. 6, 2002.
From 1944 to 1948, Janson served as curator of Washington University in St. Louis, where he persuaded the museum board to deaccession more than 620 paintings and other objects from the collection, raising $40,000 (Remington's Dash for Timber brought more than half of the sum, selling for $23,000). With the proceeds, Janson purchased an extensive group of 40 modernist works, including paintings by Max Ernst and Henri Matisse. Over the years, his successors added to the school's holdings.
The exhibition, titled "H.W. Janson and the Legacy of Modern Art at Washington University in St. Louis," is organized by Sabine M. Eckmann, curator of the Washington University Gallery of Art. The exhibition catalogue features her essay Exile Vision, describing Janson's emigration from Germany, his interactions with New York exile-dealers, and his views on contemporary art.
DOOM TO ALL ART LOVERS
Beijing-based artist Feng Mengbo has combined art with the popular "search and destroy" computer game Quake in "Q4U," his new project for the Renaissance Society in Chicago, on view Jan. 13-Feb. 24, 2002. Mengbo's version of the game features a 3D likeness of the artist holding a plasma rifle in one hand and a video camera in the other. The Renaissance Society gallery has three play stations, with the game projected on three giant screens; the game can also be played online at http://www.Q4U1.uchicago.edu. "Kill or be killed," says Mengbo, an enthusiastic gamer himself.
BUDGET CRUNCH THREATENS NEW NYC MUSEUMS
With its potential $40-billion budget shortfall, New York City won't be building any new baseball stadiums soon, according to new mayor Michael Bloomberg. Now, though the mayor's office won't be releasing its capital budget until Feb. 12, it looks like the city's museums may have to put a freeze on their building plans as well. According to a recent report in the New York Times, the Museum of Modern Art is going ahead with its $650-million renovation, though it is considering doing less of a "gut rehab" than originally planned, especially in the administrative areas. No city money is expected in the immediate future for institutions that haven't started building, like the Queens Museum, which recently unveiled an expansion design by Eric Owen Moss that would double its space. As for the $900-million, Frank O. Gehry-designed new Guggenheim Museum down by South Street Seaport, that too is in go-slow mode -- though museum deputy director Laurie Beckelman told the Times that the Gugg had recently signed a memo of understanding with the city to build on the downtown site.
NEW CURATORS AT MCA, SAN DIEGO
The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego has promoted curator Toby Kemp to head the curatorial department, and added two assistant curators to the staff, Stephanie Hanor and Rachel Teagle. Hanor has been curator at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin; Teagle was curatorial project manager at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.