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Artnet News
Mar. 3, 2006 

As has been widely reported, Robert Storr has been named dean of the Yale School of Art. The selection to head up Yale’s art school, long considered one of the country’s best, is something of a hat trick for Storr, who has already been contemporary art curator at the Museum of Modern Art and a professor of modern art at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts in Manhattan. Storr is also the curator of the 2007 Venice Biennale, of course. Storr’s five-year Yale term begins July 1; he succeeds the much-liked photographer Richard "Chip" Benson, who is retiring, presumably to focus on his art.

Art instruction at Yale has always covered a broad spectrum. "When Josef Albers ran it, he hired de Kooning," said David Row, a painter who now teaches at Fordham University. "When I was at Yale, the faculty ranged from Al Held to Mel Bochner to William Bailey. There were lots of arguments -- which is the way it should be." Other observers also suggest that some fireworks might be expected. Yale’s art history department has long been a redoubt for critical theory, and Storr -- a painter himself -- has had more than one dispute with critics who favor what might be called "theoretical machinations." 

Yale’s art school has four divisions: Peter Halley heads painting/printmaking; Tod Papageorge heads photography; Jessica Stockholder is in charge of sculpture and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville runs the graphic design department. Tuition for next year -- the school grants an MFA -- is $26,000.

"The MFA program at Yale just became about a thousand times more competitive to get into," said one art historian and critic. "Go into any Chelsea art gallery with a Yale MFA and it gets your slides looked at. Can you imagine now, with Storr in charge? Make contact with that dean and upon graduation, doors -- gallery and academic -- will open."

Metropolitan Museum of Art director Philippe de Montebello has come out of the whole antiquities scandal -- which sees the Met returning the now-infamous Euphronios krater along with a 2,500-year-old Greek bowl, four other Classical vessels and 15 pieces of Hellenistic silver -- not just unbowed, but with guns blazing. In an interview with New York Times reporters Randy Kennedy and Hugh Eakin, de Montebello takes credit for defusing the scandal with the "returns-for-loans" strategy, which he sees as a triumph for American institutions. At the same time, the combative Met chief offers "no apologies" for the museum’s past and present policies.

De Montebello characterizes the furor over looted antiquities as a matter of narrow-minded archeologists vs. public-minded museum directors, and heaps scorn on the view that exact knowledge is being lost when artifacts are unlawfully excavated. "It continues to be my view -- and not my view alone -- that the information that is lost is a fraction of the information that an object can provide. . . . Ninety-eight percent of everything we know about antiquity we know from objects that were not out of digs," he states. The Met director goes on to characterize the archeological desire to fix the exact origin of a piece as akin to believing in Santa Claus.

The feisty 69-year-old director sums his opinion up with a spirited defense of illegal trade. "The truth is -- unattractive as it may be -- the black market, to a certain extent, is responsible for the preservation of a great many objects."

Every silver lining has its cloud. More than one art lover with an invitation to the opening party for "Day for Night: Whitney Biennial 2006" at the Whitney Museum of American Art on Wednesday, March 1, 2006, waited for hours in line for admission -- incredibly, the queue extended almost all the way around the block -- only to be turned away without getting in to see the show.

One promoter took advantage of the jam-up, however, handing out cards advertising a new art fair. Fountain, as the mini-exhibition is dubbed, is put on by three scrappy Williamsburg galleries -- Capla Kesting Fine Art, Front Room Gallery and McCaig-Welles Gallery -- and goes up Mar. 9-12, 2006, at a warehouse space at 660 12th Avenue, across West Street from the Armory Show. Fountain proudly purports to feature contemporary art in the spirit of Marcel Duchamp’s contribution of a urinal to the 1913 Armory Show. In keeping with its from-the-streets approach to marketing itself, the Fountain website exhorts viewers to "see advanced art as it was meant to be seen, without blinders, without ‘taste merchants’, straight from the source."

ARTnews magazine saved some space in its March 2006 "Photography: What’s Hot" issue for a text by Museum of Modern Art director Glenn D. Lowry. An Islamic art specialist before he became a museum director, Lowry writes an appreciation of his museum’s exhibition of contemporary art by artists born in Islamic countries, "Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking," Feb. 26-May 22, 2006. The show features works by Jananne Al-Ani, Ghada Amer, Kutlug Ataman, the Atlas Group/Walid Raad, Shirazeh Houshiary and Pip Horne, Emily Jacir, Y.Z. Kami, Rachid Koraïchi, Marjane Satrapi, Shirana Shahbazi and Raqib Shaw. The verdict? The show "offers us a unique way of looking at or thinking about Islam and the world through highly informed, deeply felt and visually moving works of art that are as provocative as they are engaging." Lowry’s only previous story for ARTnews was a March 1998 op-ed on deaccessioning.

Finally, an artwork that even conservative politicians might want to go see. Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic comes to the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., this month, as the centerpiece of the exhibition, "Grant Wood’s Studio: Birthplace of American Gothic’" Mar. 10-June 11, 2006. Organized by the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the show features 158 works, including other Wood highlights such as Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and Daughters of Revolution. American Gothic is owned by the Art Institute of Chicago, and rarely travels.

Art Production Fund has teamed up with ABC Carpet to produce a line of limited edition art rugs. The endeavor, dubbed Works on Whatever, offers so-called "printed carpet tapestries" with designs by Amy Gartrell, Verne Dawson, Barnaby Furnas, Laurie Simmons, George Condo, Dana Schultz, Sean Landers, Hernan Bas, Richard Phillips and Peter Rostovsky. Sold in editions of 100, the carpets start at $3,000 and increase in price as they sell out. Currently, designs by Phillips and Furnas are selling at $3,500. About one-third of the retail price goes to the artists.

WoW also offers a line of wall-to-wall carpet designs, including a rug of gem-shaped geometric patterns in pastel pink, blue and green by Sarah Morris, a design of panda bears by Rob Pruitt (apparently already used in an installation at the Andy Warhol Museum), a red field dotted with small, cell-like ovoids by Kiki Smith and, finally, a design of flower-like silhouettes by Madeline Weinrib which come in black-on-white or olive-on-blue. All are $10 per square foot. Also, don’t miss out on that racy, limited edition Lisa Yuskavage shower curtain. Samples and product information are available at

Keep your eye out for Stolen, a new documentary film about the unsolved, $500-million heist from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of priceless paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer and more than 10 other works in 1990. Produced and directed by Rebecca Dreyfus, the independent documentary centers on colorful art investigator Harold Smith (a "courtly man with an ever-present fedora, an eye-patch and a prosthetic nose to cover the ravages of skin cancer") as he follows the trail of the lost loot, encountering mobsters, terrorist groups and someone named "The Turbocharger." The film’s director of photography is renowned documentarian Albert Maysles; actors Blythe Danner and Campbell Scott feature as the voices of 19th century dame Isabella Stewart Gardner and her advisor Bernard Berenson, respectively. The film has won awards at festivals in Sarasota and Avignon; theatrical release is scheduled for this spring. For more details, see

Need something to do this weekend? Visit New York’s most affordable fine art fair, Works on Paper, Mar. 2-5, 2006, at the Seventh Regiment Armory at Park Avenue and 67th Street. More than 80 galleries are on hand, offering everything from modern photographs to Old Master etchings and Japanese ukiyo-e. Entry is $15 for adults.

Seattle artist Ford Gilbreath and Brooklyn artist Martin Weber have each been awarded $25,000 by the No Strings Foundation in the inaugural round of awards honoring "creative endeavors of artists using photography as a medium." Finalists for the grants were nominated anonymously and evaluated by a panel of photo experts, this year comprised of Philip Brookman, Gary Hesse and Anne Wilkes Tucker. The No Strings Foundation was established in 2005, and is currently under the directorship of former Los Angeles County Museum of Art photo curator Tim B. Wride.

Toby Jurovics is new curator of photography at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Jurovics previously served as photo curator at the Princeton University Art Museum, where he oversaw shows of photographs by Robert Adams, Barbara Bosworth and Emmet Gowin. He takes the reins Mar. 20, 2006.

Gianni Jetzer, director of the Neue Kunst Halle St. Gallen since 2001, has been named director of New York’s Swiss Institute. He succeeds long-time SI head Marc-Olivier Wahler, who was appointed director of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The Swiss Institute also promoted former interim artistic director Gabrielle Giattino, who now serves as curator. Future shows at the Swiss Institute feature work by Valentin Carron, Philippe Decrauzat and Ceal Floyer.

The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture awards for 2006 go to Canadian media collective General Idea (for multimedia), New York artist Glenn Ligon (for painting) and Brazilian environmental sculptor Cildo Meireles (for sculpture). Emily Rauh Pulitzer is cited for "outstanding patronage of the arts" and Agnes Gund for "outstanding service to artists." The school hands out the honors at a fund-raising dinner at Cipriani Wall Street in New York on Apr. 25, 2006.

The P.S.1 Art Center in Long Island City has announced a team of four "curatorial advisors," Bob Nickas, Franklin Sirmans, Nick Stillman and Neville Wakefield. What might appear to be a dramatic expansion of the contemporary curatorial department -- and P.S.1 is an adjunct of the Museum of Modern Art -- is, however, just a formalization of long-standing advisory relationships, according to a press office spokesman at the institution. The four men continue to work on other projects and with other publications outside of P.S.1. A fifth advisor will be announced in summer 2006.

Post-postmodern French philosopher Alain Badiou, whose magnum opus Being and Event has just been published in English, is scheduled to speak at the Tilton Gallery at 8 East 76th Street in New York at 7:00 pm on Mar. 7, 2006. Badiou, whose theory on art was published as Handbook of Inaesthetic -- indispensable reading for anyone hoping to decode wall labels in the future! -- was dubbed "philosopher of the year" by Artnet Magazine associate editor Ben Davis in the winter 2005 issue of Adbusters.

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