Magazine Home  |  News  |  Features  |  Reviews  |  Books  |  People  |  Horoscope  
Artnet News

The further expansion plans of the Guggenheim Museum, which already operates five museums in four countries, have been in the news lately, so it might be a good idea to check into the status of the various projects that Gugg director Thomas Krens has in the works. At present, four additional satellite facilities are in their early stages: Rio de Janeiro, Taichung, Hong Kong and Gaudalajara.

The projects all face a certain amount of local opposition, and the Gugg's current strategy is to leave the local politics to the local politicians. "We rely on our local partners to bring the necessary resources together," said museum spokesman Anthony Calnek. "We're hopeful, but it only happens once in a while."

The Guggenheim's satellite projects are entirely funded by outside parties (newer projects, like Guadalajara and Taichung, are also being handled in partnership with the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg), and eventually earn money for the Guggenheim. The Basque government paid the Gugg a hefty $20 million licensing fee in 1990 for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and the mother museum gets an annual payment as well, though it's "not a huge cash benefit," according to Calnek.

The appeal of a satellite Guggenheim to local politicians results in large part from the success of the Gugg's Bilbao branch. Frank Gehry's design is an architectural triumph, the project has put the Basque city on the international tourist map and, according to one study, the museum has pumped an estimated $1 billion into the local economy in the last decade.

A brief report on the status of current projects:

* Rio de Janeiro, Brazil -- at present, local courts are blocking the Guggenheim Museum Rio de Janeiro, French architect Jean Nouvel's fantastic design for a $130 million, 240,000-square-foot facility on a pier in Rio's Guanabara Bay [see "Artnet News," May 2, 2003]. One objection was that Rio mayor Cesar Maia, a major booster of the project, couldn't propose construction that would occur after his term in office -- but he has just been re-elected by a landslide. The city has plenty of money on hand for capital improvements -- the question is whether the funds can be committed to a museum rather than more focused anti-poverty efforts. Stay tuned.

* Taichung, Taiwan -- Taichung Mayor Jason Hu has proposed a $250-million facility that could cost as much as $10 million a year -- but can he come up with the money? Last month, the city council unanimously voted against the plan, expressing fears that the "megaproject" could bankrupt the city. Now, Hu is turning to the central government for funding. Architect Zaha Hadid's design for a Guggenheim Museum Taichung, unveiled in July 2003, proposed moveable wings and floors that would completely reorient entire sections of the structure.

* Hong Kong -- Usually, the Gugg sits back and waits for a local government to come up with a development proposal. In Hong Kong, the scenario is slightly different. The Chinese province has proposed a massive, $24-billion development project, called the West Kowloon Cultural District, and invited developers to bid, one of which has brought the Guggenheim on board to contribute a cultural facility. The ballpark figure for the museum is $480 million.

The controversy here involves charges of "cultural colonialism," as well as a certain amount of color provided by reports of a feud between the Gugg and the Pompidou Centre in Paris, which may also be involved. The South China Morning Post quoted Pompidou chief curator Alain Sayag saying the Gugg was "second class" while Pomp director Alfred Pacquement sniffed that "a museum is not a Coca-Cola factory" with "branches everywhere in the world."

* Guadalajara, Mexico -- The latest proposal to the Guggenheim comes from Guadalajara, where the Jalisco state government is underwriting a $2-million feasibility study for a museum in a scenic park overlooking Heuntitan Canyon on the eastern edge of the city, Mexico's second largest. If the outcome for a Guggenheim Museum Guadalajara is favorable -- a result is due in April -- the museum would seek preliminary designs from three architects -- Enrique Norten, Jean Nouvel and Hani Rashid/Asymptote.

Press reports of a Guggenheim branch in Shelden Adelson's new casino in Macau -- his Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas hosts the Guggenheim Hermitage -- are speculation at this stage, according to the museum.

The Metropolitan Museum got a bargain on its Madonna and Child by Duccio di Buoninsegna (ca. 1300), which it bought for a reported $45 million, according to writer Michael Hunt Stolbach. "I think the auction price would easily have topped $75 million," said Stolbach in an email politely disagreeing with a report published here [see "Artnet News," Dec. 9, 2004]. No buyers for gold-ground paintings? asks Stolbach, rhetorically. "Don't kid yourself about rich Italian industrialists who would have paid as much or more for the Met's painting."

Duccio's Madonna and Child has great historical significance -- it is the first known use of the parapet as a device in Italian art for a setting for the Virgin and Child -- and great rarity -- it represented the last chance for anyone outside of Italy to own a painting by Duccio. In addition, Stolbach says, Duccio is a much more important artist than Pietro Lorenzetti, whose crucifixion the Met bought for $12 million from Wildenstein; a better comparison would be to the Pontormo Portrait of a Halberdier (1528), bought at auction by the Getty Museum in 1989 for $35 million -- more than $50 million in today's currency.

"The last Duccio? That's a pretty big selling point!" writes Stolbach. "The Met got it right this time around. Good for the Met, and good for New York."

Back in 1971, French conceptualist painter Daniel Buren installed an enormous Peinture-Sculpture -- a large banner bearing the artist's trademark awning stripes -- in the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum as part of the museum's "International Exhibition," only to have the work removed after vociferous protests from Donald Judd and other U.S. Minimalists -- Buren's gigantic work, apparently, detracted from their own smaller efforts. Now, with his forthcoming exhibition at the museum, is Buren taking the opportunity to present the work at long last? Unfortunately not. "It would be in bad taste," said the artist at a press conference at the museum.

Instead, "The Eye of the Storm: Works in situ by Daniel Buren," Mar. 25-June 8, 2005, features 20 stripe canvases dating from 1966-77, an installation from the Muse d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and five new site-specific works especially designed for the Gugg. The show-stopper is Around the Corner, for which Buren is constructing a massive, right-angle wall, dividing the rotunda and extending all the way up to the museum skylight. The exhibition is jointly organized by Lisa Dennison and Susan Cross of the Gugg and Alison Gingeras of the French museum.

The hot new exhibition for fans of architecture and public art is "Coming to Light: The Louis I. Kahn Monument to Franklin D. Roosevelt for New York City," on view Jan 10, 2005- Feb. 5, 2005, at the Cooper Union in lower Manhattan. Originally proposed in 1973-74, the monument was never built (Kahn died in '74), though Welfare Island in the East River between Manhattan and Queens was renamed after Roosevelt in anticipation of Kahn's city commission. Though it seems unlikely that Kahn's monument will ever be realized, Cooper Union nevertheless attempts to bring the project to life by featuring Kahn's personal sketchbook of plans for the memorial on public view for the first time along with official documents concerning the project and a digital animation to simulate a walkthrough.

The Yale University Art Gallery has just acquired a complete set of works by American landscape photographer Robert Adams (b. 1937). Dubbed "The Master's Sets," the collection includes 1,465 gelatin silver prints by the New Jersey-born chronicler of post-1950 suburban banality. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed; it was underwritten by Saundra Lane, the Trellis Fund and the Janet and Sineon Braguin Fund. In 2000 Yale acquired "What We Bought: The New World, Scenes from the Denver Metropolitan Area," another group of Adams photographs. A touring retrospective is in the works.

Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa, who has been wowing international art audiences with his photographs and sculptures of Cuba's elegant but deteriorating architecture, is getting his first U.S. museum survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Mar. 6-June 12, 2005. The show is organized by MOCA curator Alma Ruiz and features 12 works that "articulate the failed outcome of social and architectural programs in Cuba."

With all the attention being paid to the East Village art scene of the early 1980s -- still another review of the New Museum's "East Village USA" is due from critic Peter Schjeldahl in next week's New Yorker magazine -- it's no surprise that one more gallery is getting into the act with a survey of work from the lively neighborhood. "Vintage East Village," Jan. 20-Apr. 29, 2005, organized by artist Rick Prol, opens at Hal Bromm Gallery at 90 West Broadway in New York's Tribeca neighborhood. Works by over 50 artists are featured, from Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mike Bidlo and Keiko Bonk to David Wojnarowicz, Martin Wong and Rhonda Zwillinger (not to mention an expert painting by someone named Walter Robinson). A dealer back in the 1980s -- in 1984, the gallery mounted "Climbing," a group sow of 25 artists -- Bromm has more recently been concentrating on his architecture and design practice.

The traveling retrospective of works by Artnet Magazine's favorite war artist, Steve Mumford, is making its next stop at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Titled "Drawing from Life: Steve Mumford in Iraq 2003-2004," Jan. 29-Apr. 3, 2005, the show includes over 40 of Mumford's works on paper, supplemented by other war art by Goya and Winslow Homer. The show is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum director Gregory Wittkopp and Matthew Kolodziej, a professor at the University of Akron, where the show premiered; it subsequently opens at Moore Space, run by Sylvia Cubiñá, in Miami in April 2005.

The Franz and Virginia Bader Fund of Washington, D.C., has awarded artists Charles Ritchie, Yoriko Yamaguchi and Steven Kenny individual grants of $15,000, $20,000, and $15,000, respectively. Launched in 2002, the annual awards are earmarked for artists over the age of 40 living who work within 150 miles of D.C.

Contact wrobinson @