MOMA PUSHES UP TOP SALARIES
The top staff at the Museum of Modern Art is rolling in dough. As the New York Times revealed last week, not only is MoMA head honcho Glenn Lowry now pulling down some $1.28 million a year, but the museum also set up a slush fund to secretly channel a total of $5.35 million to Lowry between 1995 and 2003. The museum even took care of his mortgage payments. Tax experts contacted by the Times suggested that MoMA had violated the law, and might well expect investigation by the IRS or state regulators (though don’t hold your breath).
Why lie about museum CEO pay? Presumably to make it that much easier to manage the plebes who work for hourly wages. The MoMA staff union, weak as it is, has been known to strike ("The board will have to fire Lowry before the next contract renegotiation," joked one observer). Now that MoMA management has been caught pulling a fast one, why would a union negotiator ever trust it again?
In any case, top curators at MoMA have already been cut in on the sweet salary deal. According to MoMA tax records for 2005, the museum’s curatorial staff is notably well paid. John Elderfield, who heads the museum’s painting department, received $380,062. Gary Garrels, who headed MoMA’s drawings department at the time (he’s now curator at the Hammer Museum in L.A.), took home $312,829. And chief photo curator Peter Galassi was paid $285,695. All three got additional compensation totaling $15,320. Garrels also received $150,000 from the MoMA slush fund over a three-year period.
Such a pay scale particularly makes sense, especially today, when the artists being catered to at the museums are millionaires.
Salaries for curators at comparable posts at other museums could not be readily determined. A nonprofit’s IRS form 990 lists the top five salaries, which typically -- until now, anyway -- includes the director and four employees from the business side. In the 2004-05 fiscal year, according to the Times, Metropolitan Museum director Philippe de Montebello received $533,462 in salary, $80,934 in benefits and $242,650 in housing and other expenses -- or a total of $857,046. The Met’s 990 also notes that de Montebello was to receive a special payment of approximately $3.3 million at age 70, a milestone he passed last year.
ART CRITICISM GRANTS FROM WARHOL FOUNDATION
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has announced the lucky winners of its much-anticipated first round of "arts writing" grants. Eight $100,000 awards go to nonprofit journals: Bomb Magazine, Cabinet and Esopus, all from New York; The Brooklyn Rail; Atlanta’s Art Papers; Ithaca’s Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art; and Afterall and X-tra, both from Los Angeles.
Individual critics received grants ranging from $8,500-$50,000 (actual amounts were not disclosed), and were selected by a team that included October magazine scholar Douglas Crimp, WhiteWalls editor Anthony Elms, curator Okwui Enwezor, Art Papers editor Sylvie Fortin, Artforum editor Tim Griffin and Art Journal editor Judith Rodenbeck.
Applicants could apply for either book or magazine projects, or something digital, as indicated here. The winners: Julia Bryan-Wilson, Art Works: Artistic Labor in the Vietnam War Era (book); Susan Cahan, The Politics of Race in American Museums, 1968-1972 (book); Eda Cufer, Art as Mousetrap (book); Catherine de Zegher, Drawing Book (book); T.J. Demos, The Document Between Fact and Fiction: Contemporary Art in Beirut (article); Grant Kester, The One and the Many: Agency and Identity in Collaborative Art (book); Tan Lin, Warhol Writer (article); Mary Warner, Documentary Photography: Episodes in the History of Image-Making and Ideas (article); Tom McDonough and Nancy Davenport, Inhabiting Authoritarianism: Students in the Iranian Pavilion in Paris, 1961-1979 (new and alternative media); Judd Morrisey, The Last Performance (new and alternative media); Eileen Myles, The Importance of Being Iceland (book); Margaret Nelson, Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractionists (book); Molly Nesbit, The Tempest Essays (book); John Peffer, The Struggle for Art at the End of Apartheid (book); Frances Richard, Physical Poetics: The Writings of Gordon Matta-Clark (article); Reiki Tomii, Collectivism in 20th-Century Japan: A History of Strategic Alliances (article); Kenneth Wark, The Situationists: A Users’ Guide (new and alternative media); Gene Youngblood, George Kuchar’s Video Diaries (article).
ART FORUM BERLIN GOES PINK
The powers that be at Art Forum Berlin wanted a new image for the 12th installment of the hip art fair, which goes on view in the German capital city Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2007. So they turned to Viennese artist Gerwald Rockenschaub, who exhibits with Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac and in 2006 crafted a special multicolored café at ARCO 2006, courtesy Galerie Georg Kargl [see "ARCO at 25,"]. Working with Alexander Rendi, Rockenschaub redesigned the signage, advertising and other graphics with the motif of bright pink brushstrokes. The fair has also adopted the slogan of "About Beauty," and is striving for an "even younger profile," according to press chief Anne Maier. "Showing at Art Forum Berlin makes even established galleries young again," she said. "It’s a fountain of youth." A total of over 120 galleries from more than 25 countries are expected.
SERRA RETRO SET FOR MOMA
A major retrospective of work by sculptor Richard Serra is scheduled to appear at the Museum of Modern Art, opening June 3-Sept. 24, 2007 -- just before everyone jets off to the Venice Biennale and Documenta 12. "Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years" encompasses everything from early works in rubber, neon and lead to the massive Corten steel volumes that have made him the leading avant-garde sculptor of his day.
KAHLO AT THE WALKER
One woman artist whose work sells for more than that of her artist husband is Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), whose auction record of $5.6 million compares favorably to the $3 million high of her husband, Diego Rivera. In celebration of what would be Kahlo’s 100th birthday, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is mounting a full retrospective of the Mexican Surrealist’s work. "Frida Kahlo," Oct. 27, 2007-Jan. 20, 2008, features approximately 50 paintings, and is organized by Kahlo scholar Hayden Herrera with Walker associate curator Elizabeth Carpenter. The show is also scheduled to appear at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
FLANAGAN IN UNION SQUARE
New Yorkers are well aware of the ongoing redesign and beautification of Union Square at 14th Street and Park Avenue South, long home to an equestrian statue of George Washington as well as a monument to the Marquis de Lafayette and a statue of Mahatma Gandhi. Now, courtesy of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, a new bronze by Barry Flanagan of a marching, drumming hare -- titled Large Left Handed Drummer -- is installed in the park’s newly landscaped southeast traffic island, Feb. 18-June 24, 2007. The installation of the sculpture coincides with the British artist’s show at Paul Kasmin Gallery in Chelsea, Feb. 24-Mar. 31, 2007.
PROMOTING ART EXPO
Say one thing for Artexpo, the sprawling festival of schlock art that opens at Javits Center in New York, Mar. 1-5, 2007 -- it knows how to promote itself, especially to what might be called a "tabloid sensibility." A recent press mailing claims that Artexpo’s 10,000 artists have offered "art therapy" to Britney Spears, and that some 50 artists in the "Solo" section of the fair -- devoted to individual exhibitors -- are "painting pieces to send to her in rehab."
Other Artexpo attractions include an exhibition of paintings (and a public appearance) of Paul Stanley, lead singer of KISS (and graduate of the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan), newly editioned artworks by animation star Chuck Jones, illustrator Dr. Seuss and rock star Jimi Hendrix (despite the fact that all are deceased) and the launch of an online art store called Artaissance (at www.artaissance.com).
What’s more, the famous Hollywood Sign is also coming to Artexpo -- or a piece of it is, anyway. It seems that artist Bill Mack has purchased the original version of the sign, which had been stored in a warehouse since being torn down and replaced with a larger version in 1978, and used it as a canvas for a new series of works. The first of the series, titled The Letter H, is a large letter H featuring images of Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, James Dean. Actress Jane Seymour, star of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, is slated to be on hand for the unveiling at 3 pm on Thursday, Mar. 1, 2007.
YOSSI MILO EXPANDS
Yossi Milo Gallery is expanding. The successful photography gallery, which is located at 525 West 25th Street, is opening Yossi Milo North at 535 West 25th (the former ClampArt space). The inaugural exhibition in the new gallery is "Indre Serpytyte: A State of Silence," Mar. 8-Apr. 15, 2007. The main gallery features photos by Takashi Yasumura.
WEISS TO DIA
Jeffrey Weiss has been named director of the Dia Art Foundation, and is set to assume his duties in late-spring 2007. Weiss is currently head of the department of modern and contemporary art at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., where he most recently organized "Jasper Johns: An Allegory of Painting 1955-65." He succeeds Michael Govan, who left Dia to become director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
WILLARD HOLMES OUT AT WADSWORTH ATHENEUM
Willard Holmes has announced his resignation as director of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn. The long-time deputy director of the Whitney Museum in New York, Holmes made waves when he arrived at the Atheneum in 2003 and promptly canceled its elaborate (and architecturally awkward) expansion plan, which would have cost $120 million and shut down the museum for two years. In its place Holmes launched plans for more modest $15.5 million renovation of the former Hartford Times building, designed to link the museum to booming development in downtown Hartford -- a job that Holmes said requires a three to five year commitment, more than he wanted to make. He is expected to remain on the job until the museum board finds a replacement.
PEERS TO LTB
Wall Street Journal cultural reporter Alexandra Peers has been named as the new editorial director of the LTB Media publishing empire. A founding editor of the Journal’s weekend section, Peers has taught at Columbia University’s school of journalism. She assumes her duties in March.
HEINZ BERGGRUEN, 1914-2007
Heinz Berggruen, 93, German-born art dealer and collector who sold his collection to Berlin’s State Museums for €129 million in 2000, died outside Paris on Feb. 23. Berggruen, a Jew, fled Hitler’s Germany for the United States in 1936, becoming art critic for the San Francisco Chronicle before joining the U.S. army in 1942. At war’s end, he found himself in Paris, where he opened a gallery on the Left Bank. Dadaist poet Tristan Tzara introduced him to Picasso, who became a close friend. At the same time, Berggruen developed an affinity for the works of Arp, Cézanne, Giacometti, Klee, Matisse and Van Gogh. His collection is now housed in the Museum Berggruen opposite Charlottenburg Palace in the German capital.
EMMETT WILLIAMS, 1925-2007
Emmett Williams, 82, concrete poet and performance artist who was a leading figure in the Fluxus movement, died at his home in Berlin on Feb. 14. Born in South Carolina, Williams served in the U.S. Army in WWII, which took him to Europe, where he helped found the "Darmstadt Circle" of concrete poetry. In 1962, he took part in the first Fluxus performance in Wiesbaden, Germany. In 1966, he returned to the U.S., serving as editor-in-chief of the Something Else Press and publishing sweethearts, considered a seminal work of concrete poetry. In 1981, Williams settled again to Europe where he continued numerous creative endeavors -- his final book, A Flexible History of Fluxus Facts & Fictions, is set to be published by Thames & Hudson later this year.