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James Cuno

by Charlie Finch

The appointment of James Cuno to the presidency of the Getty at age 60 is many things. It is a rubber stamp to the role of public intellectual for a man whose media presence is silky smooth and who, in the public eye, has always liked to have it both ways, as interpreter of globalization and champion of the American heartland, opponent of cultural patrimony and quick deaccessioner, builder of the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago and bungler of many of the minor architectural details and conveniences of that wing.