BIG PLANS FROM MUSEUM BIG SHOTS
Today’s museum director is nothing if not ambitious, and several of these art CEOs have been in the news lately for their big plans. First on our list is Thomas Krens, who may have given up his job as Guggenheim Foundation director but who hasn’t quite given up his plans for a massive Guggenheim "mega-museum" project in New York City. A report in the Bloomberg news has Krens musing about building a new Guggenheim branch in the Hudson Yards on the West Side of Manhattan, the plot of land that mayor Michael Bloomberg had previously eyed as a potential home of a new sports stadium. The huge project now calls for a state-sponsored, yet-to-be named "major cultural institution."
Asked what he might have in mind, Krens described a giant, warehouse-like space "as simple as possible," with precast concrete walls. "With a 60,000-square-foot footprint, you could build 600,000 or 700,000 square feet, with a museum on every floor," he enthused, seeming to suggest that the new space could focus on the kind of immense, spectacular projects favored by blue-chip contemporary artists like Cai Guo-Qiang, Damien Hirst and Anselm Keifer.
Meanwhile, Krens protégé Michael Govan, now director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is "moving to build gallery space on his own terms," according to a rather speculative report by Christopher Hawthorne in the Los Angeles Times. The site in question is across Wilshire Boulevard from LACMA’s newly opened Broad Contemporary Art Museum, a parcel that the museum recently purchased for a reported $12 million. According to Hawthorne, Govan is a "serial builder and extender of museums" who was burned by his recent experience with BCAM, the Renzo Piano-designed LACMA wing financed by Eli Broad, where he "was forced into the unusual position of third wheel."
So what’s on the table? Among the possibilities the article mentions for LACMA’s surrounding properties are a mixed-use art-luxury living project on the model of the Museum of Modern Art’s development with Jean Nouvel, new contemporary art galleries stacked atop a subway station, and a restaurant designed by starchitect Greg Lynn. "Govan and the board see the current market downturn as an opportune moment to add to the museum's real-estate portfolio," Hawthorne suggests, "setting the table for future initiatives on the far side of the boulevard."
And finally, G. Wayne Clough has been appointed as the new chief of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Reeling from the revelations about the fiscal profligacy of its top staff -- former executive Lawrence M. Small was forced out following news reports of the lavish perks he afforded himself as museum director -- and facing a staggering $2.5 billion budget shortfall, the Smithsonian has turned to a man with a proven track record as a fundraiser, known for raising some $1.5 billion in private donations during his previous tenure as director of the Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT). His inaugural initiative as Smithsonian leader? To spearhead the first large-scale private fund drive in the Smithsonian’s history.
The new post comes with a pay cut for Clough, who will make $490,000, compared to $551,186 at GIT. Annual compensation for his predecessor at the Smithsonian was $900,000.
REYKJAVÍK ARTS FESTIVAL LAUNCHES IN MAY
Over 30 exhibitions are planned for the Reykjavík Arts Festival in Reykjavík, Iceland, May 15-June 5, 2008, the second to focus on contemporary visual art. Artistic director of the overall festival is Thorunn Sigurdardottir; most of the exhibitions remain on view through July or August. One highlight is "Experiment Marathon Reykjavík," a series of installations, screenings and performances at the Reykjavík Art Museum organized by Serpentine Gallery curator Hans Ulrich Obrist in collaboration with artist Ólafur Elíasson. Participants include Marina Abramović, Matthew Ritchie, Brian Eno, Jonas Mekas, Thomas Saraceno, Gustav Metzer and Fia Backström.
The fest promises to mix international art stars with local talent. Museum exhibitions include "Art against Architecture," a group show featuring Finnbogi Pétursson, Monica Bonvicini, Elín Hansdóttir, Steina Vasulka and Franz West at the National Gallery of Iceland; "Reflection," a show of top Iceland photographers at the National Gallery of Photography; "Dreams of the Sublime and Nowhere in Icelandic Contemporary Art" at the Reykjavík Art Museum; an exhibition inspired by Iceland’s volcanoes by Halldór Ásgeirsson and Paul-Armand Gette at the ASÍ Art Museum; and a survey of performance art by Karl Holmqvist and other Icelandic artists at Nylistansafnio / The Living Art Museum.
Gallery and alternative space exhibitions include "Welcome -- Croatian Contemporary Art" at Gallerí 100°; Andrea Maack at Gallerí Ágúst; Ernesto Neto at i8; Sirra Sigrún Sigurõardóttir at Kling & Bang; and Rúrí at Start Art.
The festival features public art installations as well, notably including "Atlantis" by Tea Mäkipää and Halldór Úlfarsson, a partially submerged house in Reykjavik’s Tjornin pond, and a work by Anna Leoniak and Fiann Paul in which the faces of almost 1,000 Icelandic children are printed on aluminum plates that are installed in a building gutted by fire.
Exhibitions at museums outside Reykjavík include "Facing Ching," a show of works by Chen Qing Qing, Fang Lijun, Liu Ye, Tang Zhigang, Wei Dong, Yang Shaobin, Yue Minjun, Zhang Xiaogang and Zhao Nengzhi at the Akureyri Art Museum in Island’s "Northern Capital" Akureyri (pop. 17,278), across the island, about 150 miles northeast from Reykjavík.
For more details, see www.artfest.isWHITNEY BOON FROM LEONARD LAUDER
Cosmetics mogul Leonard A. Lauder, who is currently chairman of the Whitney Museum of American Art board, is giving $131 million to the museum’s endowment. This marks the largest donation in the Whitney’s history, according to a report in the New York Times. The 75-year-old chairman of Estée Lauder Companies had a net worth of $3.2 billion in 2007, according to Forbes magazine. The gift boosts the museum’s endowment from $70 million to $195 million; by comparison, the endowment of the Museum of Modern Art (which was formerly headed by Leonard Lauder’s brother, Ronald S. Lauder) is $850 million. Lauder’s donation to the Whitney requires that the museum not sell its 1966 Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue, as had been discussed by museum trustees. The Whitney is currently planning a satellite museum, designed by Renzo Piano, at Washington and West Streets in Manhattan’s Meatpacking district.
NANCY BOOK BY JOE BRAINARD
The late artist and writer Joe Brainard (1942-94), a member of the "Tulsa School" of the New York School of poets, was celebrated during the Pop Art era for paintings and collages that appropriated Ernie Bushmiller’s then-famous comic-strip character Nancy. These works, made between 1963 and ’78 and much-loved by art-world insiders, have now been collected into a tome featuring almost 80 reproductions as well as essays by Ann Lauterbach and Ron Padgett. The hardcover book has been issued by Siglio Press in Los Angeles, and can be ordered by mail for $39.50 at www.sigliopress.com
MUSEUM HIGHLIGHTS PARK PLACE GALLERY
The first major museum show devoted to the legendary Park Place Gallery, the New York co-op space founded in the soon-to-be SoHo neighborhood in 1963 by Mark di Suvero, Robert Grosvenor, Forrest Myers, David Novros and six other artists, goes on view this fall at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. "Re-imagining Space: The Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York," Sept. 28, 2008-Jan. 18, 2009, is organized by U. of Texas professor Linda Henderson.
"CRAIGSLIST," THE ART SHOW
With the online classified-ad octopus Craigslist fast becoming the first resort for everything from apartment rentals to personal services, it was only a matter of time till contemporary artists began to take note. And now it has happened, with "craigslist," Mar. 21-Apr. 26, 2008, an exhibition of works by four artists who use the "renowned community website as a conceptual component in their artistic practice." The show, jointly presented by Curator’s Office and Civilian Art Projects, both in Washington, D.C., features works by Joseph Dumbacher, John Dumbacher, Jason Horowitz and Jason Zimmerman. The Dumbachers and Horowitz use Craigslist to find models for their photographs, while Zimmerman makes digital photo albums of the sex ads posted on the website.
AWARDS FROM AAAL
Los Angeles artist Charles Long, currently in the spotlight for his attenuated figurative sculptures in the Whitney Biennial 2008, gets another feather in his cap, taking the $10,000 Award of Merit Medal for 2008 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (AAAL) in New York. The AAAL also awarded $10,000 to New York painter Anna Conway, who won the Willard L. Metcalf Award for a young artist of great promise. Conway had her first solo show at Guild & Greyshkul gallery in Soho last year, Feb. 23-Mar. 31, 2007.
Other award winners were painter Marc Trujillo, who received the $5,000 Rosenthal Family Foundation Award in Art for a young painter; painter Mark Greenwold, who snags the $5,000 Jimmy Ernst Award in Art, reserved for a painter or sculptor with a consistent lifetime body of work; and Llyn Foulkes, Eric Holzman, Judith Linhares, Gordon Moore and Susan Smith, who each received $7,500 Academy Awards in Art.
Works by the award winners are currently on view in the annual invitational exhibition at 633 West 155 Street until Apr. 9, 2008. The 2008 selection committee included William Bailey, Jennifer Bartlett, Varujan Boghosian, Vija Celmins, Eric Fischl, Jane Freilicher, Catherine Murphy, Philip Pearlstein, Martin Puryear and Robert Ryman.
BARD PRIZE TO DAVID
European curator Catherine David has received the Award for Curatorial Excellence for 2008 from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in Annendale-on-Hudson, N.Y. Artistic director of Documenta X in 1997, David also organized "Contemporary Arab Representations" in the Arsenale for the 2003 Venice Biennale. The Bard award carries no purse, but has been given to a distinguished list of recipients in the past, including Alanna Heiss, Walter Hopps, Harald Szeemann and Marcia Tucker.
ITURBIDE WINS HASSELBLAD AWARD
Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide has won the 2008 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, a prize worth 500,000 Swedish kroner, or about $80,000.
INDIAN PHOTOGRAPHY AT HERMÈS
How do you know that Indian art is in fashion? Because it’s being featured at Hermès, that’s how. The celebrated boutique is filling the fourth-floor gallery space at 691 Madison Avenue with some 55 photos by Raghubir Singh, a pioneer of color photography on the Indian subcontinent whose images explore the landscape as glimpsed through a car window, and Dayanita Singh, known for elegant black-and-white pictures of peaceful interiors [see "Mumbai Jumbo," Apr. 24, 2007]. Titled "The Home and the World," Apr. 17-May 16, 2008, the show is curated by Paris-based art historian Deepak Ananth.
GANA ART OPENS IN NEW YORK CITY
The 25-year-old Gana Art Gallery from Seoul has opened its first New York branch with an exhibition of photographs by Bien-U Bae (b. 1950), Mar. 19-Apr. 12, 2008, to be followed in May with a show of "mutant" sculptures by Yong Ho Ji. The gallery is located in a two-floor, 7,000-square-foot space at 564 West 25th Street in Chelsea. Other artists on the roster include Luo Xu, Sung Ha Ahn, Seung Woo Baek, Tae Won Jang, Byung-Hyun Chon, Young Hoon Ko, Suk Won Sa and Sun Chul Kwon.
Gana Art, which also has a branch in Paris and two galleries in Korea, also operates an ambitious artist-in-residence program, which provides Korean artists with a stipend and studio space in order to help bring Korean artists to the international arena. Gana Art was founded in 1983 by Ho-Jae Lee, who is also founder of the Seoul Auction House, Korea’s top auctioneer. For further details, see www.ganaart.com
GINA GALLERY OF INTERNATIONAL NAÏVE ART
Naïve Art collector Dan Chill, who has operated the GINA Gallery devoted to Naïve Art in Tel Aviv since 2003, is opening a new branch in New York City. The 2,000-square-foot space is located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side at 454 Columbus Avenue, and opens on Apr. 1, 2008, with "Rites of Spring," an exhibition of more than 75 works. For more info, see www.ginagallerynyc.com
DCKT CONTEMPORY OPENS IN THE BOWERY
Art dealers Dennis Christie and Ken Tyburski, who closed their Chelsea space last year, are set to reopen DCKT Contemporary gallery in the new Bowery gallery district this week, debuting a new space at 195 Bowery. The new location opens with a show by Josh Azzarella, Mar. 21-May 17, 2008, featuring doctored photos and video of historically charged events such as Abu Ghraib and 9/11.
DE ZEGHER TO AGO
Catherine de Zegher, former head of the Drawing Center in New York, has been appointed director of exhibitions and publications at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. The Toronto museum is currently closed as it undergoes a major $254-million, 97,000-square-foot expansion and renovation designed by Frank Gehry. It is slated to reopen in late 2008.