MORGAN LIBRARY MADE NEW
The Morgan Library reopens on Apr. 29, 2006, with a $106-million renovation and expansion overseen by the Paris-based Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners. The project adds a light-filled four-story court as well as new exhibition space, a new 200-seat theater, new storage and a new name -- the library is now dubbed the Morgan Library & Museum. The expansion, made of steel painted off-white with lots of glass, adds about 75,000 square feet to the 151,000-square-foot campus (much of it excavated underground), and spans the area between three historical buildings: the original 1906 Morgan library, designed by Charles McKim, and the 1928 annex designed by Benjamin Wistar Morris, both of which face East 36th Street; and the mid-19th-century brownstone Morgan house, which faces East 37th.
New spaces include the Clare Eddy Thaw Gallery, a 20-foot-square cube inspired by Renaissance chambers, and the underground Gilder Lehrman Hall for performances, named in honor of neo-con art lovers Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman. Though the new Madison Avenue profile is not ideal -- Piano’s gridded, minimalist box sits like a hospital entrance between two historic buildings -- inside the expansion is a triumph, with a piazza-like inner court (and a new Morgan Café) that promises to become very popular.
As for art-lovers, they have new access to the Morgan’s collections after a hiatus of almost three years. Opening exhibitions present more than 300 works in separate exhibitions devoted to drawings, literary and historical manuscripts, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, Near Eastern cylinder seals, music manuscripts and more.
NIGHTHAWKS AT THE WHITNEY
Is there life after the 2006 Whitney Biennial? The answer, it would seem, is a resounding yes, as the Whitney Museum celebrates its 75th birthday with "Full House: The Whitney’s Collection at 75," June 29-Sept. 3, 2006, a sprawling exhibition that engulfs the entire building for the summer. Highlights include a reinstallation of Alexander Calder’s beloved Circus in the lobby, where it held court for decades, and a rehang of the fifth-floor permanent collection gallery with nothing but works by Edward Hopper, opening in advance of the rest of the show, on June 7. The Whitney augments its own extensive Hopper holdings with important loans, including the Art Institute of Chicago’s revered Nighthawks and the Museum of Modern Art’s New York Movie. The rest of the "Full House" exhibition, organized around the murky curatorial concept of "flashpoints" in American art history, features works from key movements of 20th century art, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Minimalism.
ART CHICAGO IN TROUBLE
Two things seem certain about this year’s installment of Art Chicago in the Park, slated to run Apr. 28-May 1, 2006, with a gala preview on Thursday, Apr. 27 -- it’s not opening on Thursday and it’s not going to be in the park. Thomas Blackman Associates was expecting some 125 galleries for the show -- and had collected $1 million in advance fees, according to one source -- but unspecified financial difficulties have thrown the fair off course. As we go to press, Art Chicago is exploring its options, and hopes to find a new backer for the fair and a new site, which could conceivably be Navy Pier. "Five hundred teamsters could put it up in a day for $350,000," said one Chicago observer. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, the Nova Art Fair opens on Apr. 27 at the City Suites Hotel, with a range of hip exhibitors including Bucket Rider Gallery, Pierogi, Billy Shire and Kathleen Cullen. For details, see http://novaartfair.com
AXE FALLS AT LTB
Canadian art-publishing mogul Louise T. MacBain has cut the staff of Artinfo.com to the bone, according to unconfirmed reports, suspending her plans for a database of art-auction prices and network of gallery sites on the internet -- an undertaking that would have competed head-to-head with Artnet. Artinfo’s news-gathering staff has been cut as well, insiders say, with only one employee remaining.
The cutbacks are only the latest development in MacBain’s "restructuring" of the company since her high-profile hire of James Truman as editorial director. Last month, Truman shut down the fashion magazine Spoon, downsized Museums Magazine, reportedly ordered the move of Modern Painters to New York and announced the launch of Culture + Travel, a new magazine headed by Michael Boodro that is scheduled to premiere in September.
ICP GIVES OUT INFINITIES
The International Center of Photography in New York has announced the 2006 Infinity Awards, the annual honors designed to recognize excellence in the field of photography. This year’s honorees include Don McCullin, who wins the Cornell Capa Award for excellence, and Dutch photojournalist Ahmet Polat, who takes the award for best young photographer. Lee Friedlander receives the honor for lifetime achievement. Other awards go to critic Geoff Dyer, Thomas Ruff, photojournalist Yuri Kozyrev and Vogue Italia fashion photographer Steven Meisel. Getty Images receives a special "Trustees Award," and also partly sponsors the awards. The Infinities are handed out during a benefit dinner at Chelsea Piers on May 15, 2006.
BENEFIT RAFFLE FOR MOMENTA
Momenta Art, the veteran Williamsburg alternative space, celebrates its 20th anniversary with a benefit raffle and auction at White Columns on West 13th Street in Manhattan on Saturday, Apr. 29, 2006. The $175 ticket entitles party-goers to a chance for a work by any one of 110 artists, including Rico Gatson, Dan Graham, Oliver Herring, Elisabeth Kley, Amy Sillman and Fred Tomaselli. For details, see www.momentaart.org
"NOVEMBER" SKEWERS CRITICS
Is the influential October magazine, the flagship journal of art theory, a spent force? The editors of the newly released November certainly seem to think so. The 46-page inaugural issue of the parody mag offers a savage send-up of the widely copied, jargon-heavy style of October, via, among other things, contributions from "Lukács G.C. Hechnoh" (an analogue of neo-Marxist critic and frequent Artforum contributor Benjamin H.D. Buchloh), who provides a text sternly condemning "Ikea’s Historic Amnesia," and an essay by "Rosamund Kauffmann" titled "A Picturesque Stroll around Jeff Koons’ Porcelain Pink Panther," employing the fragmentary, French-interspersed style of Rosalind Krauss. The publication concludes with Hechnoh, Kauffmann and stand-ins for fellow October heavys Yve-Alain Bois ("Jean-Luc Salive") and Hal Foster ("Chip Chapman") engaged in a roundtable discussion on the perks that roundtables afford neo-Marxist intellectuals.
Responding to an inquiry from Artnet News about where fans might pick up the spoof, the editors of November wrote that, "The matrix of NOVEMBER's current distribution is constructed largely from the result of aleatory scatterings and (re)inscribed focus groups in an attempt to maintain the dialectical tension between preserving a revolutionary aura of objecthood in this age of debased mechanical inauthenticity and self-reflexively completing the text's projected feedback loop by having others recognize our own editorial subjectivity." They did, however, suggest that parties interested in obtaining a copy could write firstname.lastname@example.org
ISAAC WITKIN, 1936-2006
Isaac Witkin, 69, sculptor known for lyrical abstract bronzes, died of a heart attack at his home in Pemberton, N.J., on Apr. 23. Born and raised in Johannesburg, Witkin went to England in 1956 and studied at St. Martin's School of Art during 1957-60, subsequently becoming an assistant to Henry Moore, about which he memorably wrote in Art in America. He worked in London and taught at St. Martin's from 1963-66 before moving to America to join the faculty at Bennington College. When he began consistently to make sculptures from cast bronze, he settled near the Johnson Atelier, now the Grounds for Sculpture, in New Jersey. In New York, he exhibited his work at the Robert Elkon Gallery, the Patricia Hamilton Gallery and Hirschl and Adler; he had exhibited at the Locks Gallery in Philadelphia since 1990. A sculpture from the ‘60s is currently on view at the Tate Britain. A memorial is being held at 2 pm on Sunday Apr. 30 at the Grounds for Sculpture outside Trenton, N.J.
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