NEW MUSEUM TRIENNIAL VS. WHITNEY BIENNIAL?
The New Museum’s upcoming survey, "Younger than Jesus," Apr. 8-June 14, 2009, features 50 of the most buzz-worthy artists from around the world, all under 33 years of age. The show in itself provides more than enough drama, but art-world insiders are whispering about something more: the New Museum triennial, the first in a series dubbed "The Generational," is bound to supplant the Whitney Museum’s signature Whitney Biennial as the go-to bellwether for contemporary art.
In today’s global art world, the Whitney Biennial’s restriction to living American artists has increasingly been seen as an unfortunate limitation. In 2006, for instance, Whitney Biennial curators Philippe Vergne and Chrissie Isles explicitly proposed making the show a "post-national" biennial, though they were unable to make it truly international. By contrast, "Younger than Jesus" is showcasing young art from around the world, including artists that hail from far-flung places like Algeria, Colombia, Lebanon and Venezuela.
More recently, the 2008 Whitney Biennial curators Shamim Momin and Henriette Huldisch tried to capture the zeitgeist of "social networking," and their shaggy-dog effort was jokingly called the "FaceBook Biennial" by at least one critic. Once again, the New Museum promises to put the Whit’s vague idea into practical action, assembling "Younger than Jesus" via what a press release terms "an open curatorial model that is participatory, and inspired by the networking proclivities of the generation represented in the show."
Sharp-eyed curators Lauren Cornell, Massimiliano Gioni and Laura Hoptman have essentially crowd-sourced the selection process, employing an "international network" of 150 art-world figures to discover the best representatives of the current generation. The most fascinating product of this approach, perhaps, is Younger than Jesus: The Artist Directory, a book co-published with Phaidon, including not just the 50 artists on display but all 500 artists identified by the network. "The publication will serve as an informal census of the artists from this generation," the New Museum claims -- an ambitious undertaking that once more outflanks the Whitney Biennial’s moment-defining function.
As for the lucky one-tenth of the 500 who made it into the actual show, they include a handful of relatively familiar figures: Brooklyn-based hacker-artist Cory Arcangel, Chinese multimedia star Cao Fei, conceptual egoistic painter Josh Smith and psychedelic filmmaker (and Whitney Biennial vet) Ryan Trecartin all make appearances. On the other hand, the show has plenty of future stars, ranging from the hyper-ironic American collective AIDS-3D (a.k.a. Daniel Keller and Nik Kosmas), who play with the intersections of technology and social space (and whose credo, according to one interview, is "smoke weed everyday"), to South African-born Dineo Seshee Bopape, creator of messy, evocative installations which would not look too out of place in "Unmonumental," the New Museum’s recent survey of the contemporary junk esthetic (or in the last Whitney Biennial, for that matter!)
Besides those already mentioned, participants are Ziad Antar, Tauba Auerbach, Wojciech Bakowsky, Mohamed Bourouissa, Kerstin Brätsch, Carolina Caycedo, Chu Yun, Keren Cytter, Mariechen Danz, Faye Driscoll, Ida Ekblad, Haris Epaminonda, Patricia Esquivias, Mark Essen, Ruth Ewan, Brendan Fowler, Luke Fowler, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Cyprien Gaillard, Ryan Gander, Liz Glynn, Loris Gréaud, Shilpa Gupta, Emre Hüner, Matt Keegan, Tigran Khachatryan, Kitty Kraus, Adriana Lara, Elad Lassry, Liu Chuang, Guthrie Lonergan, Tala Madani, Anna Molska, Ciprian Muresan, Ahmet Ögüt, Adam Pendleton, Stephen G. Rhodes, James Richards, Emily Roysdon, Katerina Sedá, Alexander Ugay, Tris Vonna-Michell, Jakub Julian Ziolkowski and Icaro Zorbar.
For those who keep track of these things, the gender breakdown of the artists looks to be 30 men, 20 women -- better than some, but not as equal as it could be. As for the possible competition with the Whitney, true score-keepers won’t be able to know until 2012, when the New Museum Triennial and the Whitney Biennial are scheduled to go head to head.
NEA STIMULUS SLASHED
The art world is up in arms about the so-called "Coburn Amendment" to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the $800-billion stimulus package currently making its way through congress. Proposed by Oklahoma Republican senator Tom Coburn, the amendment specifically eliminates the $50 million appropriation for the National Endowment for the Arts by prohibiting stimulus funds from going to any museum or cultural center. Especially infuriating to arts advocates was the way that Coburn’s amendment lumped art museums (and parks and swimming pools) in with casinos and golf courses in the list of projects that could not be funded.
The Coburn Amendment passed by a 73-24 vote on Friday, with votes of support from a disturbing number of high-profile Democratic senators, including Chuck Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California. It seems that even when the Democratic Party is in the majority, it punks out.
The NEA appropriation could yet be restored in conference, which hopes to vote out the final bill on Friday. Americans for the Arts is urging arts supporters to flood their senators with letters opposing the Coburn Amendment. For details, click here.
PITY THE CHRISTIE’S "SORORITY": NYT
Of course, if the art world wanted to be portrayed as an elitist realm out of touch with ordinary people, then it just needs more stories like the weekend New York Times feature that bore the headline, "In World of High-Glamour, Low-Pay Jobs, the Recession Has Its Bright Spots." The piece zoomed in on how workers behind the scenes at Christie’s see an upside in the recession, as it makes them more equal to the people they party with on Wall Street. Penned with cringe-inducing forced sympathy by Laura M. Holson, this truly icky piece depicts auction house employees as a "sorority of client-advisers and appraisers who spend weekends flying to Palm Beach or the Caribbean hoping to land a big account -- and, some of them concede, perhaps a husband -- but whose paychecks put them close to the poverty line," though the report also suggests that the young auction firm employees can afford to work at such jobs because they come from wealthy families in the first place.
In fact, Christie’s staffers have plenty to worry about, since the auction house is planning some 300 lay-offs in response to the art-market recession. The Times article, however, sets its sights on other hardships. In addition to the end of the "free cupcake" privileges formerly doled out for birthdays, the story bemoans the end of the era of "mushroom risotto, braised short ribs, chocolate soufflés and wines from Château Latour," seeing such feasts likely to be replaced by "pint-sized catered affairs with potential buyers invited to collector’s homes to view the artwork up close." As the website the Daily Kos notes, the piece is part of a baffling series of recent Times articles obsessed with the plight of the rich and famous during the current downturn.
"GLAMOUR" AT LEHMAN MAUPIN
As if Lehmann Maupin Gallery needed any more glamour (with artists like Ashley Bickerton, Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George and Juergen Teller), the gallery is teaming up with Glamour magazine to present "The Glamour Project," Feb. 24-Mar. 21, 2009. Organized by the magazine’s photo director Suzanne Donaldson, the show features artworks presenting the concept of "glamour" by 10 women artists: Nina Chanel Abney, Rita Ackermann, Sarah Charlesworth, Tracey Emin, Rachel Feinstein, Marilyn Minter, Laurie Simmons, Lorna Simpson, Mickalene Thomas and Kara Walker. A separate show of photographer Brigitte Lacombe’s portraits of the featured artists is also on view. The project appears in the April edition of Glamour as well.
CLEVELAND MUSEUM TO OPEN PHASE ONE
The Cleveland Museum of Art debuts phase one of its ambitious, three-part expansion, designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, on June 20, 2009. The new 139,200-square-foot East Wing includes galleries for everything from 19th-century European sculpture, painting and decorative arts to modern and contemporary art, plus the museum photography collection. The whole project is due to be completed in 2012.
ARCO MADRID 2009
ARCO Madrid, the 28th International Contemporary Art Fair, kicks off at the Madrid Exhibition Centre in the Spanish capital, Feb. 11-16, 2009. Over 240 galleries are participating in a program that includes solo projects, “Expanded-Box" (featuring new technologies) and "Performing Arco" (live art). Among the U.S. dealers taking part are Alexander and Bonin, Gering & López, Christopher Grimes, I-20, Jason McCoy, Newman Popiashvili, and Edward Tyler Nahem.
Special guest country is India, organized by curator Bose Krishnamachari, and including Bodhi Art, Chatterjee & Lal, Chemould Prescot, Mirchandani & Steinruecke, Project 88, Sakshi Gallery and the Guild (all from Mumbai), Espace, Nature Morte, Photoink and Vedehra Art Gallery (all from New Delhi), Kashi (Fort Kochi), and Ske (Bangalore). For more info, see the website.
RHIZOME GRANTS FOR NEW ART
Rhizome.org, the online art network affiliated with the New Museum, is offering nine modest grants for new media artists for 2010. The awards range from $1,000 to $5,000. Apply by 2, 2009; for more info, see www.rhizome.org.
It’s worth noting that Rhizome has a quirky method of selecting winners -- seven of the nine grants are voted on by a team of two judges, who are themselves determined by an open vote of Rhizome members.
ART COLOGNE PRIZE TO FALCKENBERG
Collector and writer Harald Falckenberg has received the 2009 Art Cologne Prize, awarded annually to an individual "who has rendered outstanding service in the promotion of modern and contemporary art." The €10,000 prize is backed by the Federal Association of German Galleries and Editions and Koelnmesse, the institution behind the Art Cologne art fair. Falckenberg has assembled an extensive, 1,900-piece collection of new art, featuring works by John Bock, Nicole Eisenmann, Thomas Hirschhorn, Mike Kelley, Martin Kippenberger, Paul McCarthy, Jonathan Meese, Manuel Ocampo, Albert Oehlen, Dirk Skreber and Ena Swansea, among others. The prize is to be awarded during Art Cologne, Apr. 22-26, 2009.
JOHN JOHNSTON TO SAN ANTONIO
John Johnston has been appointed curator of Asian art at the San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas. A specialist in Buddhist art and co-founder of the Buddhist Art News website, Johnston comes to the SAMA from the Honolulu Academy of the Arts.
HOWARD KANOVITZ, 1929-2009
Howard Kanovitz, 79, early Photo Realist painter who had his first show at the Jewish Museum in 1966, died after heart surgery on Feb. 2 in Manhattan. One of his more celebrated paintings, The Opening (1967), depicts a frieze of gallery-goers silhouetted against a blue background.
MAX NEUHAUS, 1939-2009
Max Neuhaus, 69, experimental musician and sound sculptor, died of cancer on Feb. 3 in southern Italy. His sound installations could involve penny whistles in swimming pools, audible only underwater, or electronic tones filling a space or emanating from a particular location. Permanent Neuhaus sound installations are at the Menil Collection in Houston, at Dia:Beacon in upstate New York and on a traffic island at Broadway and 46th Street in Times Square.