ANIMAL HOUSE IN MILAN?
The Fondazione Nicola Trussardi in Milan, the new exhibition space in a converted warehouse at the city’s Porta Genova Station, has outdone itself with its current exhibition. Titled "My Religion Is Kindness. Thank You, See You in the Future," the special project by artist Paola Pivi (b. 1971) features more than 40 white animals living in the gallery during the length of the exhibition, Nov. 14-Dec. 10, 2006. The show, which is overseen by foundation curator Massimiliano Gioni, also includes Pivi’s upside-down Fiat G91 airplane -- first exhibited at the 1999 Venice Biennale, where she won a Golden Lion award -- and Guitar Guitar (2001-06), a collection of more than 2,000 objects -- all presented in pairs, as if on a new Noah’s Ark -- borrowed from local people in Milan. For details, see www.fondazionenicolatrussardi.com.
ART RAISES FUNDS, STIRS CONTROVERSY
Vast exchanges of art and money would seem to be the watchword of the 21st century. Gustav Klimt paintings move from Vienna to New York and points unknown, a Hudson River School masterpiece travels from the New York Public Library to Arkansas, a Hollywood mogul sells a Jackson Pollock painting to raise funds to buy his hometown newspaper. Every day seems to bring more examples -- and art museums are anxious to get in on the act. Herewith, a sampling:
* Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, owner of Thomas Eakins’ The Gross Clinic (1875), has announced plans to sell the painting for $68 million to a partnership formed by the National Gallery of Art and Crystal Bridges, the Bentonville, Ark., museum of American art funded by Wal-mart heiress Alice Walton. Philadelphia natives are taking the loss hard -- besides being a star 19th-century American painting, The Gross Clinic was meant as an ode to Philly’s scientific accomplishments, and has been held at Jefferson since 1878.
"Thomas Eakins’ The Gross Clinic should never, never, never leave Philadelphia, where it was painted," painter Andrew Wyeth told the Inquirer. "It is my favorite American painting." Locals have until Dec. 26 to raise money for a competing bid. Proceeds are earmarked for improvements both to the campus and the curriculum; Jefferson estimates its needs at $400 million-$500 million.
* The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo has decided to sell its antiquities and non-Western art, all the better to concentrate on modern and contemporary art. All told, the museum could realize $15 million from the deaccessions, which are slated to hit the block at Sotheby’s New York as part of several sales during 2007. Highlights include a Hellenistic statue of Artemis and the Stag (est. $5 million-$7 million), a granite figure of Shiva (est. $3 million) and a Shang dynasty Chinese wine vessel ($2 million-$3 million). Sotheby’s plans to publish a catalogue focusing on the 40 highlights in January 2007.
* The Seattle Art Museum is selling eight paintings at Sotheby’s New York on Nov. 29, 2006, to raise money for a soon-to-be-announced "major acquisition of American art." The ironies of deaccessioning include a mixed message -- the museum must belittle the very paintings it hopes to sell at a premium. Thus, SAM curator Patti Junker assured the Seattle Times that the works are "minor. . . . These are absolutely not paintings we would show."
Yet, one of SAM’s paintings, John Marin’s 1934 New York Abstraction, is estimated at $600,000-$800,000. Other works SAM is selling are by Preston Dickinson, Hovsep Pushman, Chauncey Foster Ryder, Frederick Judd Waugh and Guy Wiggins. In addition to the formidable Marin, local observers note that Ryder’s That Which the Sea Gives Up is one of the few paintings in Seattle from the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909, making it a part of local art history.
GAY RIGHTS ART BLOCKED
The Harford-based multidisciplinary art space Real Art Ways has run into a little trouble on the way to opening "Poza," its exhibition of works by 31 contemporary Polish artists. Artist Karolina Bregula proposed putting her photographs of same-sex couples holding hands on billboards in Hartford and New Britain, but the plan was rejected by the company that operates the ad space, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, which had initially agreed to the project.
Lamar has justified its decision by stating that the company is afraid vandalism would mar the public project. In a press statement, Real Ways director Will K. Wilkins responds, arguing, "[t]o make a decision like this based on the anticipated actions of bigots does a real disservice to the gay and lesbian community and the broader community as well." In protest, Real Ways has withdrawn two other text-only pieces that were to run on billboards as part of the "Poza" show. For more about the controversy and the exhibition, see www.realartways.org
KUSPIT CURATES IN POLAND
Art critic Donald Kuspit has long championed what he calls the "New Old Masters" [see "A Critical History of 20th Century Art"] -- and now he’s put his words into action, organizing a large exhibition on the subject at the National Museum in Gdańsk, Poland, Nov. 20, 2006-Feb. 15, 2007. The show features works by a host of artists who seek to integrate innovation and tradition, including Richard Estes, Cristóbal Gabarrón, April Gornik, Robert Graham, Karen Gunderson and Odd Nerdrum. For Polish speakers, more info is available online at http://www.nowidawnimistrzowie.pl/
BENNY ANDREWS, 1930-2006
Benny Andrews, 75, expressionist painter, teacher and activist known for richly colored figurative works that draw on narratives of African American history, died of cancer at his home in Brooklyn on Nov. 9. The son of African-American sharecroppers, Andrews was born in Plainview, Ga., and raised working in the cotton fields. He became the first member of his family to graduate from high school, going on to serve in the Air Force and attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago through the G.I. Bill. In 1958, he moved to New York. He taught at Queens College (1968-97) and served as head of the visual arts division of the National Endowment for the Arts (1982-84). As an activist, he helped found the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition in 1969 to protest the Metropolitan Museum’s "Harlem on my Mind" show, as well as agitating around the Whitney’s exclusion of black artists from its programming. One of his final projects was with children affected by Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast.
PONTUS HULTEN, 1924-2006
Pontus Hulten, 82, world-renowned museum director and champion of contemporary art, died at his home in Stockholm. Hulton graduated with a MA in art history and ethnology from the University of Stockholm in 1951, going on to live in Paris, where he became a champion of the kinetic sculptor Jean Tinguely. Returning to Sweden, he curated a pioneering show of Picasso’s Guernica that led to the founding of Stockholm’s Moderna Museet in 1958, of which he became the founding director, organizing surveys of Pop and kinetic art. In 1968, he curated "The Machine and Contemporary Art" at Museum of Modern Art in New York, and in 1973, he was hired as founding director of the Pompidou Center in Paris. He went on to be director of the Palazzo Grassi in Venice (in 1985), the Kunsthalle in Bonn (in 1991) and the Jean Tinguely Museum in Basel (in 1995).