REPUBLICANS CLEAN HOUSE AT NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The façade of the New-York Historical Society building on Central Park West is wrapped with a huge multicolored replica of a $10 bill -- a symbol that seems appropriate to the takeover of the august institution by two deep-pocketed Republican trustees. Since history nuts Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman seized control of the society last summer [see "Artnet News," June 24, 2004], they have gutted the professional staff and dumbed-down the exhibition program. Unceremoniously out are ceo Rick Beard, who previously headed the Atlanta History Center; Historical Society museum director Jan Ramirez; senior projects historian Steven Jaffe, who formerly was curator at the South Street Seaport Museum; and public information director Travis Stewart.
The much ballyhooed current exhibition -- "Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America," Sept. 10, 2004-Feb. 28, 2005, for which the museum building was plastered with the aforementioned giant sawbuck -- could hardly have cost almost $6 million, as widely (if unofficially) advertised. The show consists of three galleries: an orientation space lined with benches, hung with a score of portraits of Hamiltons peers (including Dolley Madison) and featuring a brief audiovisual introduction to Hamiltons ideas; a long high-tech gallery containing the actual historical documents in a series of fancy vitrines, along with a baffling series of five newsreel-type projections that have little to do with Hamilton himself; and finally a confusing timeline printed on the wall of a long hallway. And in the lobby is a slightly comical, contemporary (dated 2004) pair of bronze figures of a dueling Hamilton and Aaron Burr.
On a recent Saturday, the show was well-attended if not crowded, so hopes that paying visitors to "Hamilton" -- beloved by conservatives as the father of high finance -- might add to museum's coffers dont seem entirely unrealistic. As for the exhibition itself, its commentary is pitched alarmingly low, reminiscent of junior high school social studies class. The design of the main gallery is perplexing, with many documents displayed at knee level, so the sight of visitors leaning over like feeding storks is a common one. Whats more, Hamilton was the founder of a newspaper that was the ancestor of the current New York Post, whose obnoxious presence is felt throughout the show, in the timeline as well as the advertising-filled free handout, which is designed as a mock copy of the tabloid.
In a recent New York Times story, new Historical Society director Louise Mirrer suggested that a "dusted-off" museum would include an exhibition of the institutions great collection of paintings by John James Audubon. This comment was greeted derisively by one former staffer. "We just did a show in 1997 or so," said the source. "There was a fine catalogue, a national tour -- and abysmal attendance at the museum." Since the society was reopened in 1995 (after nearly going bankrupt), its curators had resorted to the Audubon holdings more than once to fill an unbudgeted exhibition slot -- "Birds of Autumn," "Birds of Central Park" and the like. "Anytime you see Audubons at the New-York Historical Society," said the source, "its a sign of trouble!"
Otherwise, the society is one of New Yorks best-kept secrets. The open-stack storage of the Henry Luce III Center on the fourth floor is a marvel, and the large and airy Beaux-Arts library is simply beautiful. The Luman Reed Picture Gallery is full of quaint 19th-century masterpieces. Among the other exhibitions on hand is a selection of 9/11artifacts and, in the basement, Around Town Underground: Prints from the Collection of Dave and Reba Williams, a group of 66 works that show how little life in the subway has changed in the last 60 years.
ARMORY SHOW GOES SMALLER, MORE INTERNATIONAL
New Yorks Armory Show 2005 is going to be smaller and more international than previous editions, with larger booths, presumably to compete better with the powerhouse Art Basel Miami Beach. The premiere New York fair, slated for Mar. 11-14, 2005, is to include 162 galleries, down from a total of 189 in 2004 -- a drop of 27 galleries. The 2005 fair includes 19 fewer New York galleries than in 2004; among the 2004 participants who are not returning are Brooke Alexander, American Fine Arts, Clementine,Derek Eller, Feigen Contemporary, GBE (Modern), I-20, Susan Inglett, Kravets/Wehby, Lombard-Freid, Luhring Augustine, Florence Lynch, Yossi Milo, Modern Culture, Paul Morris, Friedrich Petzel, PPOW, Julie Saul, Stux and Leslie Tonkonow.
Twenty-seven galleries are new to the 2005 show, including Diana Stigter (Amsterdam), the Breeder and Els Hanappe Underground (Athens), Groeflin Maag (Basel), Contemporary Fine Arts, Johann Knig and Barbara Weiss (Berlin), leisure clubMogadishni (Copenhagen), Angstrom (Dallas), Schmela (Dsseldorf), Black Dragon Society, Anna Helwing, David Kordansky and Peres Projects (Los Angeles), Enrique Guerrero and Kurimanzutto (Mexico City), Fredric Snitzer (Miami), Raffaella Cortese and Francesca Kaufmann (Milan), Chez Valentin (Paris), Magazzino dArte Moderna (Rome), Kukje (Seoul), and Brndstrm & Stene and Charlotte Lund (Stockholm).
MAX ERNST MUSEUM IN GERMANY
A museum dedicated to the work of Max Ernst (1891-1976) is slated to open next spring in Brhl, a small Rhineland city between Cologne and Bonn that is the celebrated Surrealist artists birthplace. Since 1980, Brhl has maintained a Max Ernst Kabinett, a research facility that has had exhibitions and a collection. Now, Brhl is opening the new Max-Ernst-Museum in a freshly restored classical building, a u-shaped structure built in 1844. Cologne-based architect Thomas van den Valentyn has overseen the renovation, which features a glass-cube entryway and a large subterranean gallery for temporary shows built 18 feet into the ground.
The new museum houses a collection of approximately 700 graphic works bought from the Schleppenheim Collection as well as 70 sculptures, 57 of which were acquired by the Savingsbank Cologne from Ernsts widow, the painter Dorothea Tanning. The new museum cost 13 million, with 10 million of the sum being provided by government of Northrhine-Westphalia. The Max-Ernst-Museum opens in April 2005 -- the same time as the new Max Ernst retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, which premieres on Apr. 7, 2005.
BUY TICKETS NOW TO NEW MIDTOWN MOMA
The Museum of Modern Art doesnt open its new midtown headquarters until Nov. 20, 2004 -- but MoMA is already selling advance admission tickets to the new museum. Tickets cost a record $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and $12 for full-time students (children 16 and under are free with an accompanying adult) and can be had through Ticketmaster online at www.ticketmaster.com. The $820-million, 630,000-square-foot structure, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, nearly doubles the capacity of the old building, and features a soaring, 110-foot-tall atrium and gallery spaces on six floors.
ONE ARTIST IN 2004 MACARTHURS
The MacArthur Fellows for 2004 have been announced by the munificent John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the anonymous jurors could find only one fine artist worthy of the famous "genius grant." Sculptor Judy Pfaff, 58, an art professor at Bard College, was one of 23 winners of the $500,000 award, a five-year fellowship that comes with no strings attached. Other fellows include archeological illustrator Heather Hurst of New Haven and folk artist Aminah Robinson from Columbus, Ohio, as well as a nanotechnologist, a marine roboticist, a high school debate team coach, a Latino bookseller, a philologist, a ragtime pianist, a farmer, an inventor and a poet.
ART BENEFIT FOR WILLIAM H. JOHNSON FOUNDATION
The three-year-old William H. Johnson Foundation for the Arts, inspired by the life and career of the 20th-century African-American expatriate artist William H. Johnson, is holding a benefit silent art auction on Oct. 2, 2004. Works have been contributed to the sale by Mark Steven Greenfield, Artis Lane, Kori Newkirk, Nadine Robinson, Alison Saar, La Monte Westmoreland and Richard Wyatt. The works can be seen on the foundation website; for more info, contact Steve Turner at (310) 271-3721.
The Johnson Foundation also awards an annual prize to a young African American artist -- an award of $25,000 in 2004. Previous winners have been Laylah Ali and Nadine Robinson. Applications are due Nov. 5, 2004; application forms may be downloaded from the foundation website.
HARING "NEW WAVE AZTEC" AT GUGGENHEIM
In a rush of creative programming, the Sackler Center for Arts Education at the Guggenheim Museum has organized "Keith Haring: New Wave Aztec," Oct. 22, 2004-Feb. 5, 2005, an exhibition of the East Village graffiti artists drawings, objects and prints, with several accompanying workshops for students. Harings drawings often include pyramids and other pre-Columbian symbols (not to mention spaceships), and the Haring show is billed as a "special complement" to the Guggs sprawling "The Aztec Empire" exhibition, which opens Oct. 15, 2004.
"INTERNATIONAL ARTS & CRAFTS" IN LONDON, U.S.
"International Arts and Crafts," billed as the largest Arts and Crafts exhibition ever and the first to explore the movement as an international style, opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Mar. 17-July 10, 2005. The show features nearly 300 late-19th-century objects from Great Britain, the U.S., Europe and Japan (where it developed as the Mingei, or folk craft movement). Highlights include a reconstructed furnished interior inspired by Gustav Stickley. The survey subsequently appears at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Sept. 25, 2005-Jan. 22, 2006, and the de Young Museum, San Francisco, Mar. 18-June 18, 2006.
PINAULT SNAGS WALKER CURATOR
Walker Art Center senior curator Philippe Vergne has been appointed director of the François Pinault Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris, a new 350,000-square-foot, Tadao Ando-designed art center -- the largest privately owned arts institution in Europe -- being built by the French luxury-goods magnate on an island in the Seine. Director of the Muse dart Contemporain Marseille during 1994-97, Vergne came to the Walker in 1997, where he organized several major exhibitions, including "How Lattitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age" and "Herzog & De Meuron: In Process." He is currently organizing the first retrospective of Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping, which premieres at the Walker in October 2005, and a Kara Walker survey that opens there in 2007.
"BUSH-WHACK!" AT GEORGE ADAMS GALLERY The George Adams Gallery at 41 West 57th Street in Manhattan is widely celebrated for its roster of artists with a political bent, and the gallery is not lying idle this fall election season. "Bush-Whack!" -- billed as "unapologetically partisan" -- runs from Oct. 1, 2004 through Election Day and features "politically responsive work" by 14 artists. Among the highlights is a new painting by Peter Saul depicting a Salvador Dalí urinating in George W. Bushs ear and a 1991 painting by Robert Arneson showing the first president Bush covered in oil, a reference to his true interests in the Middle East. Other artists in the show are James Barsness, Enrique Chagoya, Sue Coe, Patricia Dahlman, Lesley Dill, Diane Edison, Jon Haddock, Rajkamal Kahlon, Andrew Lenaghan, Trong Nyugen, David Sandlin and Erika Wanenmacher.
ART IN GENERAL BENEFIT
Tickets are still available for Art in Generals annual studio tour and silent auction, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004. Among the hip tour leaders are Museum of Modern Art design curator Paola Antonelli, Central Park Conservancy veep Linda Blumberg, Artforum publisher Knight Landesman, and Wrong Gallery co-founders Ali Subotnick and Massimiliano Gioni. Artists who are opening their studios range from Anna Gaskell, Peter Nadin and Pat Steir to Christo and Jeanne-Claude and Maira Kalman. The benefit auction is held at the Milk Gallery, the ground-floor space on West 15th Street where Phillips, de Pury & Co. holds its art auction. Tickets begin at $75; for more info, see www.artingeneral.orgFERNWOOD GRANT TO WOLFSONIAN Fernwood Art Investments, a new high-end art investment fund [see "Artnet News," July 22, 2004], has a charitable arm -- and it has made its first award. The Fernwood Art Foundation has given a $30,000 "award for creativity" to the Wolfsonian-Florida International University for an installation of Richard Tuttles Inside, Out, a "continous painting" inspired by the Wolfsonian collection and using the museum façade as its canvas. The work goes on view at a reception for the 2004 Art Basel Miami Beach art fair on Dec. 3, 2004.
HASWELLEDIGER & CO. OPENS IN CHELSEA
Add another gallery to your Chelsea art rounds. Haswellediger & Co. opens with "The Journalist," a multimedia exhibition by New York-based artist Bozidar Brazda, Oct. 7-Nov. 12, 2004, at 465 West 23rd Street. The new gallery is headed by Angela Kotinkaduwa, former director of Maccarone Inc., and Samantha Tsao, former associate director of Thread Waxing Space. Forthcoming exhibitions feature work by Lindsay Brant, Bob Gramsma, Richard Jackson and Reena Spaulings.
SAMUEL SACHS TO POLLOCK-KRASNER
Samuel Sachs II has been named president of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, succeeding Eugene Victor Thaw, who becomes president emeritus of the foundation. A respected museum director who headed the Minneapolis Institute of Art (1973-85) and the Detroit Institute of Arts (1985-97), Sachs was director of the Frick Collection from 1997 until his abrupt dismissal in 2003, a move that caused dismay in museum circles.
ANNIE HERRON, 1954-2004 Annie Herron, 50, much-loved New York curator and art dealer, died after a three-year battle with cancer at Calvary Hospice in the Bronx on Sept. 24, 2004. A graduate of FIT, Herron went to work at Semaphore Gallery in SoHo in 1982, becoming director of Semaphore East in the East Village in 1984, where she showed works by Ellen Berkenblit, Lori Taschler, Lady Pink and Amy Cutler. In 1991 she opened Test-Site in Williamsburg, an early gallery outpost in what is now a lively Brooklyn art scene. Test-Site hosted solo debuts of Roxy Paine, David Shapiro, Lauren Szold and others. In 1995-96 she co-directed Black + Herron Space on Broome Street in SoHo, and during 2000-04 she was co-director with Larry Walczak of Eyewash, a Williamsburg-based project space. Most recently she co-organized an exhibition of drawings at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. A memorial service is being planned.