On a rainy evening back in October 2003, those who knew Kirk Varnedoe, the former director of the department of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art who died of cancer at age 57, got a glimpse of his magnetic personality as he was described by friends and relatives at a memorial service held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Last month, when his students and fellow professors at the NYU Institute of Fine Arts gathered on a bleak, rainy weekend to deliver papers in his honor, participants in the symposium got a chance to appreciate what a wonderful teacher he must have been.
With every seat filled on Friday, Nov. 12, 2004, Robert Rosenblum, himself a most distinguished scholar, opened the program with a review of his younger colleagues jam-packed career. From just his choice of slides, including artworks by Caillebotte, Hammershoi and Klimt as well as Gauguin, Pollock, Close and Picasso, Rosenblum established the wide range of Varnedoes interests. And this was obvious as well from the topics tackled by his accomplished students, who included National Gallery of Art curator Jeffrey Weiss, who discussed Picasso and the Zervos catalogue raisonn; Pepe Karmel, co-organizer of Varnedoes celebrated Jackson Pollock retrospective, who addressed abstraction as his topic; MoMA curator Anne Umland, who discussed Giacometti; and Gertje Utley, an independent scholar whose paper focused on Egon Schiele. As Wellesley professor Patricia Berman noted, Varnedoe saw art that others could not.
This event helped raise almost half of the $2 million needed to endow an IFA chair in Varnedoes honor. The three sessions of the symposium were underwritten by Emily and Jerry Spiegel. Funding is being sought to underwrite a book of the outstanding talks -- Robert Storr and Robert Lubar also participated -- from this top notch gathering.
-- Phyllis Tuchman
TOURISTS EYE AT CHICAGO MCA
Those crazy curators at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, are at it again, with an exhibition that boasts of taking a tourists point of view, of all things. Universal Experience: Art, Life and the Tourists Eye, Feb. 12-June 5, 2005, is organized by MCA curator Francesco Bonami and features works by more than 70 of the top contemporary artists from around the world, including Maurizio Cattelan, Katharina Fritsch, Jeff Koons, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Andy Warhol. The exhibition promises to examine the transformation of art and museums into tourist attractions, the role of the artist as an international traveler producing work in response to local culture, and the experience itself of tourism, the largest industry in the world, which opens the senses to new experiences.
TUTTLE RETRO AT SF MOMA
The first full-scale retrospective of the maverick Minimalist Richard Tuttle opens at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art next summer. The Art of Richard Tuttle, July 2-Oct. 2, 2005, features more than 300 works in a show organized by Madeleine Grynsztejn in collaboration with the artist. After premiering at SFMOMA, the exhibition departs on an extensive tour, with stops at the Whitney Museum, the Des Moines Art Center, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Chicago MCA and the Los Angeles MOCA. The show is accompanied by a 320-page catalogue with essays by Cornelia H. Butler, Richard Shiff, Katy Siegel, Robert Storr and others.
NEW MIAMI ARTS FACILITY
The Miami art boom never stops. The newest addition is the Goldman Warehouse at 404 NW 26th Street in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami, which opens to the public on Jan. 8, 2005, with a show of more than 60 works by Jules Olitski, Larry Poons, Friedel Dzubas and others from the collection of Goldman Properties CEO Tony Goldman and his wife Janet. The new exhibition space -- plus a building shell across the street, dubbed the Ruins and slated as a venue for performance and other events -- is part of the increasing development of the Wynwood area into a Miami Warehouse District of live and work lofts, according to Joey Goldman, the 32-year-old son of Tony and head of Goldman Properties real estate arm. Goldman has acquired more than 20 commercial properties in the neighborhood, which is located just north of downtown Miami and south of the Miami Design District. For info, contact Goldman Properties at (305) 531-4411.
BLACK ESTHETICS AT WHITNEY
The Whitney Museum of American Art is hosting a conversation on the theme of black esthetics between Studio Museum in Harlem curator Thelma Golden (who also organized the controversial Black Male exhibition for the Whitney itself in 1994) and Harvard humanities prof Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The discussion, slated for 7 pm on Jan. 5, 2005, coincides with exhibitions of African American art at the two museums: The Art of Romare Bearden at the Whitney and works by Kerry James Marshall at the Studio Museum -- both of which close on Jan. 9. Admission is $8; for advance tickets, call 1 (877) WHITNEY.
ART MIAMI GEARS UP
Need another chance to visit sunny Florida? Try Art Miami, Jan. 6-10, 2005, now celebrating its 15th anniversary by bringing more than 110 galleries from 23 countries to the Miami Beach Convention Center. Among the special attractions are the Currents showcase of new art and a Project Spaces section of individual installations. New York dealers heading down south include Denise Bibro Fine Art, Black & Whtie Gallery, J. Cacciola Gallery and Forum Gallery. For more info, see www.art-miami.com.
MENDENHALL SOBIESKI OPENS IN PASADENA
California art lovers are welcoming the new Mendenhall Sobieski Gallery at 40 Mills Place in Pasadena, a 100-year-old brick building that formerly was home to the Archetype Press of the Art Center College of Design. Launched by Ted Mendenhall, his brother Peter Mendenhall and Jamie Sobieski, the gallery opened with a group exhibition of almost 30 artists, including Squeak Carnwath, Peter Drake, Lisa Krivacka, Sally Storch and Donald Roller Wilson. Forthcoming shows include Tough, Trashy and Tasteless: Original Art from the Golden Age of Mens Adventure Magazines, Jan. 15-Feb. 1, 2005, and Hot Rods and Cool Chicks, the Juxtapoz Review, Apr. 2-12, 2005. For more info, see www.mendenhallsobieskigallery.com
BOWMAN STUDIO OPENS IN EAST VILLAGE
Add a new stop to your tour of East Village galleries -- Bowman Studio at 95 East 7th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A. Founded by artist and sometime-art-dealer Lisa Bowman, the gallery opened with a show of gestural abstractions by painter and printmaker Charles Lahti, Dec. 6, 2004-Jan. 15, 2005. Other artists on the schedule are Marcus Geard, Robert Hawkins, Mette Madson, Kembra Pfahler, John Tottenham and Sally Webster; the backroom includes works by Laddie John Dill, Damien Hirst and Chris Wool. Bowman is joined in the enterprise by Laura Bloom, who spent 13 years on the staff at Sonnabend and is organizing a forthcoming show of works by Jack LaRoux. For more info, call (203) 952-9025.
HELP WANTED AT LACE
Go west, young art-organization director! The hip, 26-year-old alternative space, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), is seeking a new executive director. Its a tough job -- the E.D. provides creative vision but doesnt actually organize shows, and must somehow double the current operating budget (set at an optimistic-sounding $500,000) and eventually find the organization a new home. The salary level is unspecified, but the pay for such posts begins at a modest $45,000 a year and sometimes can soar past six figures.
NEW DIRECTOR FOR SPENCER MUSEUM
Saralyn Reece Hardy, director of the Salina (Kansas) Art Center and former director of the museums and visual arts divisions at the National Endowment for the Arts, has been appointed director of the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. She takes her new post in March 2005.
CLEVELAND PICKS NEW CURATOR
The Cleveland Museum of Art has named Mark Cole as associate curator of American painting and sculpture, effective Feb. 7, 2005. He had been curator of American art at the Columbus Museum of Art.