"UNMONUMENTAL" AT THE NEW MUSEUM
With perfect avant-garde contrariness, the debut of the New Museum’s monumental seven-story-tall new facility at 235 Bowery on Dec. 1, 2007, features a series of three big group exhibitions of new art, all tagged with the moniker "Unmonumental." To wit:
* "Unmonumental: The Object in the 21st Century," Dec. 1, 2007-Mar. 23, 2008, organized by New Museum curators Richard Flood, Laura Hoptman and Massimiliano Gioni, features more than 100 objects by 30 artists. Participants are Alexandra Bircken, Urs Fischer, Kristen Morgin, John Bock, Claire Fontaine, Manfred Pernice, Carol Bove, Isa Genzken, Anselm Reyle, Martin Boyce, Rachel Harrison, Marc André Robinson, Tobias Buche, Elliot Hundley, Eva Rothschild, Carlos Bunga, Gabriel Kuri, Lara Schnitger, Tom Burr, Jim Lambie, Gedi Sibony, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Nate Lowman, Shinique Smith, Aaron Curry, Sarah Lucas, Nobuko Tsuchiya, Sam Durant, Matthew Monahan and Rebecca Warren. The show is accompanied by a 264-page catalogue co-published with Phaidon.
* "Collage: The Unmonumental Picture," Jan. 17-Mar. 23, 2008, features 80 collages by 11 artists -- Mark Bradford, Wangechi Mutu, Nancy Spero, Henrik Olesen, Kim Jones, Martha Rosler, Jonathan Hernández, John Stezaker, Thomas Hirschhorn, Kelley Walker and Christian Holstad. Collage is important "at this moment of excessive imagery and miscegenation," the curators note, as a medium that "incorporates fragments, opposing tensions, broken images, hidden desires and collective myths." The show is accompanied by a 144-page catalogue co-published with Merrill/Mondadori Electa.
* "The Sound of Things: Unmonumental Audio," Jan. 30-Mar. 23, 2008, features three programs of short audio collages by 13 artists, including Vito Acconci, Nautical Almanac, Anthony Burdin, Keith Obadike, Trisha Donnelly, Pauline Oliveros, Paul Elliman, Seth Price, Andy Graydon, Stefan Tcherepnin, Language Removal Systems, Ulrike Müller and Susan Phillipsz. The exhibition is organized by Rhizome director Lauren Cornell, Massimiliano Gioni and Laura Hoptman, and is accompanied by an audio CD.
* Last but not least, "Derivative Art: Montage on the Unmonumental Web," Feb. 8-Apr. 6, 2008, is an online exhibition of "internet-based montage" by 14 artists, including Michael Bell-Smith, Cao Fei, William Boling, Kenneth Hung, John Michael Boling, Nina Katchadourian, Charles Broskoski, Oliver Laric, Jessica Ciocci, Olia Lialina, Petra Cortright, Guthrie Lonergan, Chris Coy and Paul Slocum.
For an updated view of the New Museum’s silvery asymmetrical skyscraper, designed by the Tokyo-based architects Sejima + Nishizawa/SANAA, see www.newmuseum.org
MORE FROM THE MAIER MESS
The ripples continue from the scandal concerning the decision by Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va., to sell off four paintings from its Maier Museum collection at Christie’s auction house [see Artnet News, Oct. 2, 2007]. The College Art Association and the Association of Art Museum Directors have both issued statements decrying the college’s handling of the matter. Most interestingly, however, former Maier director Karol Lawson, who resigned over the college’s decision, has spoken out to the Lynchburg News & Advance and other publications about what she claims was the college’s spectacularly heavy-handed treatment of the art taken from the museum.
The details sound like something out of a spy novel -- or the Keystone Cops. According to Lawson, 15 minutes before the museum was to close a truck arrived at the museum, accompanied by college officials, including president John Klein. Internet and phone service to the building were cut off, and local police officers arrived, saying they were investigating a suspicious vehicle. The car belonged to Amanda Sandos, a museum intern and the only other person at the museum at the time besides the director. They forced Sandos to leave, and when she attempted to return later, the police told her that a bomb threat had been made against the Maier. This claim turned out to be spurious, and the Lynchburg police have now publicly apologized for it.
More importantly, Lawson said that the handling of the art -- the four paintings, including George Bellows’ Men of the Docks (1912), which are estimated to fetch more than $32 million at Christie’s -- was less than professional. "I came out into the gallery and saw the Bellows resting on its frame on the floor, with only one person holding it up. That person was the lawyer, and the painting probably weighs over 200 pounds," she told the News & Advance. She also claims that president Klein asked her several times to oversee the packing to make sure it was done right, provoking suspicions that the handlers did not know what they were doing (she did not see the paintings packed or leave the building).
Randolph, for its part, disputes Lawson’s characterization, saying that the paintings were removed in a professional manner. A representative for Christie’s said that the works were transferred directly from the museum to a climate-controlled truck and transported to New York, "following accepted guidelines for the transportation of museum quality art."
BOSTON MFA LAUNCHES "WEST WING"
It’s all about contemporary these days, even in the famously conservative town of Boston. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston director Malcolm Rogers, for instance, wants to give the MFA its own lively, multifaceted contemporary art space, and has earmarked the museum’s West Wing as the place. "I envision the West Wing," Rogers said, as "a vibrant space where contemporary art, film and music, as well as programming of all kinds, converge within the context of an encyclopedic museum, resulting in a new dialogue for the Boston art scene."
To this end, the museum has hired Edward Saywell to oversee the redevelopment of the West Wing, with its 23,000 square feet of exhibition space. A former drawings curator at the Harvard University Art Museums, Saywell joined the MFA a year ago as an assistant curator of prints and drawings. His new title is Director of the West Wing. The MFA is already in the middle of a renovation and expansion project, adding a new American Wing, a glass-enclosed courtyard and more, all due to be completed in 2010.
FUNDRAISER IN NORTH DAKOTA
New York artist Barton Lidice Benes, long celebrated for his obsessively arranged and annotated collections of all kinds of oddments, has promised the entire contents of his New York apartment to the North Dakota Museum of Art -- once Benes gives up the abode, it is to be dismantled and reassembled at the museum as a "21st Century Artist’s Studio." In the meantime, the NDMA seeks $2 million for the project, and on Oct. 20, 2007, actor Larry Hagman kicks off the fundraising drive with a special hour-long comedy monologue, "A Night with Larry Hagman." Tickets begin at $100. Benes has a long relationship with the NDMA, designing its museum shop and donor wall, and having exhibitions there in 1989, 1995 and 2004. Hagman met Benes through his mother, the actress Mary Martin, and has also promised his collection of works by the artist to the NDMA.
ONLINE ART ADVICE FROM APT
The Artists Pension Trust, the four-year-old "pension fund" for artists funded by contributions of their own artworks, is branching out. The newly formed APT Intelligence offers "bespoke" advice to art collectors and investors via phone consultations with curators, critics and other art experts all over the globe. Among the "curatorial advisors" are Milan curator Chiara Agnello, Performa associate curator Defne Ayas, Berlin Biennial co-curator Elena Filipovic, curator and critic David Hunt, Singapore ICA director Eugene Tan and former LACE director Irene Tsatsos. Consultations can be set up via the firm’s website at www.apt-intelligence.com -- with fees, payable via PayPal, starting at $350 for 30 minutes. As dubious as the scheme may seem, it does have a certain appeal -- after all, the APT is already invested in a huge pool of contemporary artists, some 250 in each of eight cities. For more info on the Artists Pension Trust, see www.aptglobal.org
ART AND GLAMOUR IN "W" ART ISSUE
The October issue of W magazine -- the fashion bible’s "art issue" -- has hit the newsstands, and the art world is rushing to pick up its copy. The question is, which copy? The oversized, 392-page publication comes with ten different covers, all designed by Richard Prince in one of his signature styles: glamour portraits of famous actresses, each inscribed with a personal message and signed. A sultry Angelina Jolie purportedly pens, "Hey Richard, shine on!" while Lindsay Lohan asks, "What me worry?" Cameron Diaz hazards "Love you long time," while Jennifer Aniston suggests, "Let’s not and say we did."
KATHERINE CHAPIN, 1960-2007
Katherine Chapin, 47, art dealer and consultant who produced the documentary film The Visionary World of Howard Finster, died on Oct. 6 after a long battle with cancer. Over a long career she served as registrar for the Max Hutchinson Gallery, director of the Sharpe Gallery in the East Village, and director of Stiebel Modern and the K&E Gallery. More recently she had co-founded the consulting firm Chapin Sloan Fine Art.