MORE ART-SCANDAL-MONGERING AT THE WSJ
After successfully launching a six-month controversy about the "Mirroring Evil" exhibition at the Jewish Museum -- art about Nazis, oh no! -- the Wall Street Journal is at it again, this time with a stab at a show titled "Prelude to a Nightmare: Art, Politics and Hitler's Early Years in Vienna 1906-1913," July 13-Oct. 27, 2002, at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Mass. In a review titled "The Adolph Hitler You Never Knew," Art in America contributing editor Lee Rosenbaum accuses curator Deborah Rothschild of assembling an "insidious" exhibition that "paints the young Hitler as a largely sympathetic, downtrodden figure." The show "defines fascism as a kind of art movement," Rosenbaum writes, "hell-bent to beautify Europe with awesome architecture, uplifting art and buff blondes." Rosenbaum also complains about the "atmospherics" of the installation, including its piped-in Wagner music and Nazi-like red bunting.
The exhibition of some 230 artworks, photographs, posters and pamphlets is in fact a typically detailed, art-historical examination of the esthetics of fascism. Everyone knows that Hitler was a frustrated artist; "Prelude to a Nightmare" -- admittedly, an unfortunately glib title that sounds like it came from some tin-eared marketeer -- considers this bizarre component of Hitler's early biography at length. The five years in question begin with his arrival in Vienna in 1908 at the age of 18, "a provincial German nationalist who harbored dreams of becoming a great painter, architect or theatrical set designer," and end with Hitler's departure for Munich in 1913, "an embittered drifter with racist views." The exhibition examines the Viennese sources of such notorious components of Naziism as the swastika, pan-German rhetoric, xenophobia and anti-Semitism and an architecture of imperial pomp.
Granted, any extensive display of Nazi imagery is bound to cause a certain repugnance, even on the part of professional critics who might be counted on for a more considered reaction. But from a newspaper whose editors continue to defend the self-dealings of the U.S. business elite, this latest attack on "pointy-headed intellectuals" seems more transparent than ever.
NEW BRITISH SCULPTURE NEXT BIG THING: CRITIC
The survey of new British sculpture at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, called "Early One Morning," features a group of five abstract artists who "are going to be big news," according to London Telegraph critic Richard Dorment. "At a stroke, this show makes the yBa generation look tired, gloomy and self-obsessed," he says. The critic tags 29-year-old Gary Webb as the most original artist he's seen in the last 15 years, and also sings the praises of Jim Lambie, known for covering floors with multicolored stripe designs; Eva Rothschild, whose sculptures "magically seem to metamorphose"; and Claire Barclay and Shahin Afrassiabi. For more info, check out www.whitechapel.org.
RICHARD HAMILTON DOES DUCHAMP AT PHILLIE MUSEUM
British Pop Art pioneer Richard Hamilton comes to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a special installation focusing on Marcel Duchamp's Large Glass, Aug. 31-Nov. 3, 2002. Hamilton's Typo/Topography of Marcel Duchamp's Large Glass (2001-02), a computer-generated diagram of the Duchamp work overlaid with English translations of the artist's working notes, goes on view in the museum's Duchamp gallery adjacent to the Large Glass itself. The 80-year-old Hamilton has previously produced two translations of Duchamp's notes, and also made a full-size replica of the Large Glass under Duchamp's guidance in 1966.
ART INSTITUTE SLOWS DOWN EXPANSION PLANS
The Art Institute of Chicago has pushed back the groundbreaking date for its $200-million addition to late 2003 or early 2004, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the five-level addition (three above ground and two below) features a dramatic glass roof that Piano likens to an umbrella or flying carpet. The addition may also shrink in size, said Art Institute director James Wood, from 290,000 to 250,00 square feet. Despite troubles in the stock market, Wood said, fundraising for the addition is well underway.
CALLING ALL DINOSAUR ARTISTS
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is looking for artists to decorate some dinosaurs for "DinoMite Days," a public art show scheduled for the streets, gardens and plazas of Pittsburgh in the summer of 2003. The scheme envisions at least 100 revivified fiberglass casts of Tyrannosaurus rex, Torosaurus and Stegosaurus, which are about five feet tall and 10 feet long. Artists receive a $2,500 honorarium; following the exhibition, the works are to be auctioned off to raise funds for local cultural organizations. The deadline for applications is Sept. 15; for more info check out www.dinomitedays.org.
WHISTLER, WOMEN AND FASHION IN 2003
The Frick Collection presents "Whistler, Women and Fashion," Apr. 22-July 13, 2003, the first in-depth exploration of the artist's lifelong involvement in fashion. The exhibition features eight full-length portraits of women and 60 other works. The curatorial team includes Frick curator Susan Grace Galassi, Whistler scholar Margaret F. MacDonald, Courtauld Institute fashion curator Aileen Ribeiro and Patricia de Montfort, research fellow at the Centre for Whistler Studies. Yale University Press is publishing the catalogue. "Whistler, Woman and Fashion," which appears only at the Frick, celebrates the centenary of the artist's birth; for more info on Whistler-related events planned for 2003, see www.whistler2003.com.
FROST & REED PLANS NEW YORK BRANCH
The 194-year-old London gallery Frost & Reed is planning to open a New York branch at 21 East 67th Street on Oct. 15, 2002, according to a story in the Antiques Trade Gazette. The new facility, which is to specializing in Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and contemporary art, is in the same building as Hall & Knight, another London-based gallery. Frost & Reed managing director Tony Nevill said the move is occasioned by increasing taxes and new regulations imposed by the new European Union.
NATIONAL ACADEMY GOES ONLINE
The National Academy of Design Museum has gone online at www.nationalacademy.org with a complete range of activities at the school and the museum, a history of the museum's Huntington Mansion facility and a complete list of Academicians, dating back to the organization's beginning in 1825.
The Cleveland Museum of Art has appointed Charles L. Venable as deputy director of collections and programs; he had been director of collections and senior curator of decorative arts and design at the Dallas Museum of Art.... The Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth has named Sylvie Pénichon as photo conservator; she had been conservator for the Better Image, a private conservation practice.