CARTOONS AT MOMA
"Pixar: 20 Years of Animation," Dec. 14, 2005-Feb. 6, 2006, is the Museum of Modern Art’s baldest venture into popular culture in recent memory. Including some 500 drawings, paintings and sculptures that went into producing animated films like Toy Story (1995), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003) and The Incredibles (2004), the show also features a Toy Story zoetrope that has to be seen to be believed and an 11-minute-long panoramic cartoon Artscape, both especially made for MoMA’s second-floor media gallery. On the occasion of the show, Pixar donated copies of its films to the museum.
Organized by MoMA film and media curators Steven Higgins and Ronald Magliozzi, the show celebrates the artistry of Pixar Animation Studios creative director John Lasseter and the legions of artists who labor under his management. Pixar is, of course, a billion-dollar company headed by Steve Jobs that may or may not be headed for a breakup with its longtime partner, Walt Disney -- but "Pixar: 20 Years of Animation" hardly represents the kind of "sell-out" to commercial interests that its critics have supposed. In fact, it is largely consigned to MoMA’s two below-ground theater lobbies and a modest first-floor space, in addition to the media gallery.
What "Pixar" does demonstrate, with good humor and élan, are the considerable artistic gifts of its animators and sculptors. Not only are the ca. 80 artists in the show consummate technicians (move over, Claes Oldenburg!), but they have also mastered the more literary art of capturing and developing individual human characters via their artworks. At the same time, the show makes it crystal clear that commercial art of this sort, however accomplished, lacks the kind of questioning relationship with modern life and its institutions that we generally expect from fine art, at least the avant-garde kind.
For most of the artists, the show is the first time that their works have been displayed in an art context. In fact, since the art is "work for hire," Pixar owns it all. Incredibly, these gemlike drawings and paintings are not ordinarily exhibited, collected or traded. The artists don’t own any of their work, at least not the works made for Pixar.NAME CHANGE FOR TEL AVIV MUSEUM?
The Tel Aviv city council has agreed to rename the Tel Aviv Museum of Art for Israeli billionaire Sammy Ofer and his wife Aviva, in return for a $20 million gift from the Ofers towards construction of a $45-million new wing. According to a report in Ha’aretz, the name change has prompted considerable controversy, including a protest petition signed by more than 1,000 artists and art professionals. The reclusive 84-year-old shipping magnate is one of a handful of supercollectors whose names come up in connection with big-ticket contemporary art purchases. The Tel Aviv Museum opened in 1932 and is considered Israel’s top art museum. STORR TO CONSULT AT PHILA MUSEUM
Who’s the hardest working curator in the art business? Possibly Robert Storr, curator of the 2007 Venice Biennale and curator of the current Elizabeth Murray retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, who has just been named consulting curator of modern and contemporary art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. At the PMA Storr joins new contemporary art curator Carlos Basualdo and curator of modern art Michael Taylor. DIGITAL COPIES GAIN FOOTING IN ART WORLD
Are digital copies of art masterpieces finding acceptance in the hallowed galleries of top art museums? It would seem so, as the Whitney Museum of American Art complements its exhibition of Ed Ruscha’s "Course of Empire" paintings from the 2005 Venice Biennale with digital versions of T. Cole’s series of the same name, currently on permanent view across town at the New-York Historical Society.
Now, the brand new Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), located at 820 N. Michigan Avenue along Chicago's Magnificent Mile, has opened with the first North American presentation of "Caravaggio una mostra impossibile!," Oct. 8, 2005 - Feb. 11, 2006, a "retrospective" consisting of life-size, back-illuminated digital photographs of 69 Caravaggio paintings made by Radiotelevisione Italiana and first presented in Naples in 2003. Visitors to the exhibition -- general admission is $6 -- effectively tour an upscale coffee table book.CAULFIELD TAPESTRY TO BRITISH LIBRARY
One of the last projects by British artist Patrick Caulfield, who died in September 2005 at age 69, was a 10 x 14 foot tapestry based on Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy and commissioned by architect Colin St. John Wilson for the British Library in London. Now, the work is close to completion, with the artist’s widow, Janet Nathan, overseeing the last details at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh. Plans call for the tapestry to be installed at the library on Jan. 19, 2006, when Caulfield would have celebrated his 70th birthday. ZINGMAGAZINE WINS PRIZE
Artist Devon Dikeou’s Zingmagazine has won a prize from the Council of Library Magazines and Presses for a short story published in Zingmagazine 19, which came out last year, titled Monsters by Max Ruback. "Max just sent the story in, unsolicited," said Dikeou. "He lives in Florida." The story focuses on two young adolescents in foster care and their relationships -- including sexual ones -- with other kids in the system. KARA WALKER WINS ALDRICH
Kara Walker has won the Larry Aldrich Award for 2005, consisting of $25,000 prize and an exhibition at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, Conn. The museum plans to present a new video by Walker in 2006. MEZZATESTA ENTERS ART-FAIR BIZ
Michael P. Mezzatesta, the director emeritus of the Duke University Museum of Art, has been named director of Palm Beach!, the fine art and antiques fair held in West Palm Beach in Florida in February. Mezzatesta has also been curator of European art at the Kimbell Art Museum, and most recently was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome. SCHROEDER ROMERO, PLUS ULTRA MOVE TO MANHATTAN
Two more Brooklyn art galleries have plans to cross the East River to take up residence in Manhattan. Both Schroeder Romero, currently located on North 3rd Street in Williamsburg, and Plus Ultra Gallery, now at South 1st Street, hope to unveil new quarters at the Terminal Warehouse at 637 West 27th Street sometime in 2006. The premiere show at Schroeder Romero is "Royally Fucked," an exhibition of large-scale works on paper by Ken Weaver -- a show whose title, one hopes, has nothing to do with the ongoing construction on the new space! NEW CURATOR AT IMA
The Indianapolis Museum of Art has named Rebecca Uchill as its assistant curator of contemporary art. She joins curator Lisa Freiman in programming the IMA’s newly expanded contemporary galleries, which opened Nov. 20, 2005. L.A. ART GIRLS AT ANNA HELWING
Who are the L.A. Art Girls? Here in New York, we don’t know, except that a show of their work went on view at the Anna Helwing Gallery in Los Angeles on Dec. 10, 2005. The artists in question are Felis Stella, Claudia Bucher, Anne Hars, Ellina Kevorkian, Dawn Kasper, Micol Hebron, Deborah Aschheim, Bari Ziperstein, Elizabeth Tremante, Stephanie Allespach, Leigh McCarthy, Betsy Davis, Angela Ellsworth, Lia Halloran, Hillary Bleeker, Karen Dunbar, Carolyn Castaño, Kristin Calabrese and Kim Schoenstadt.
Contact wrobinson @ artnet.com