MOMA HAS GONE CORPORATE: CRITIC
Every once in a while, even the sleepiest precincts of art criticism show a little life, and so it is in the Apr. 10, 2006, issue of New York magazine, where longtime back-of-the-book resident Mark Stevens stands and delivers on the new Museum of Modern Art. Eighteen months after MoMA unveiled its new building in fall 2004, Stevens reports that the art world has concluded that the museum has become too corporate. Programming is stodgy, strong-minded curators have been turned into bureaucrats, and the expensive new architecture is passive and empty.
The celebrated atrium, currently housing Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk (1963-69), should be used for strong sculptural statements, not receptions, Stevens says. The museum needs "vision -- not reportage, not survey, not coronation." If MoMA can't supply edgy enough fare, Stevens warns, some new hedge fund operator will establish a true museum of the 21st-century, much as the Rockefellers did with MoMA back in 1929. Stevens admits that similar sentiments were widely expressed back when the museum opened (including in these pages, by Charlie Finch and Jerry Saltz).SERRA SCULPTURE FOR THE O.C.
Richard Serra is installing a towering new sculpture in Costa Mesa, Ca., on Apr. 17-20, 2006. Measuring 66 feet tall, the new work is constructed of five torqued weatherproof steel plates that gracefully bend and lean as they ascend. Set on a pentagonal ground plan that measures 20 feet in diameter, the plates gradually narrow to form a four-foot opening at the top. The as-yet-untitled work was commissioned by shopping center magnate Henry Segerstrom to grace a plaza connecting the Orange County Performing Arts Center to its $200-million expansion, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts (Segerstrom is the founding chairman of the institution). Perhaps mindful of the famous controversy over Tilted Arc, which was criticized for blocking passage across Federal Plaza in downtown Manhattan, the new sculpture has two openings at ground level that pedestrians can traverse, one on line with the new arts center, the other with a roundabout.
The local Orange County Register newspaper, however, has put the spotlight on a different controversy, pointing out that Serra’s notably radical political statements are out of place in the county where George W. Bush won by his largest margin in the 2004 election. Serra’s expressionistic poster of a hooded prisoner at Abu Ghraib, emblazoned with the words "Stop Bush," was ubiquitous during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, and is included in the current Whitney Biennial. The Register took the initiative to survey the local members of the Republican Central Committee on the issue, though most members said that as long as no politics were involved in the commission, it was fine by them.
BROOKLYN SETS OPENING FOR FEMINIST CENTER
The Brooklyn Museum has set the opening of its new Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, slated to debut with "Global Feminisms," Mar. 23-July 1, 2007, a show of 100 artists from over 50 countries, organized by Sackler Center curator Maura Reilly and feminist art historian Linda Nochlin. The 8,300-square-foot facility, designed by Susan T. Rodriguez of Polshek Partnership Architects, features a permanent installation of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party along with study space and galleries for temporary exhibitions.
ALLEN COLLECTION AT EXPERIENCE MUSIC PROJECT
The Experience Music Project -- the multicolored, Frank Gehry-designed wad-of-gum-like structure that sits at the base of the Space Needle in Seattle -- opens a new semi-permanent art installation, titled "Double Take: From Monet to Lichtenstein," April 8, 2006. The show features 28 works from the collection of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, patron of the EMP, and may well be an attempt to amp up interest in the museum, which has consistently failed to break even with its focus on rock-and-roll history (Jimi Hendrix’s guitar is one of its key exhibits), and recently branched out into displaying science fiction memorabilia, creating a separate department for the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. "Monet, money," curator Paul Hayes Tucker is quoted as saying during an interview with the Associated Press.
As if it weren’t incongruous enough to show fine art in a Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the curator has installed the art in pairs meant specifically to clash -- thus "Double Take." For instance, Paul Gauguin’s 1899 Maternité (II), featuring three Polynesian women posed against a bright yellow field, is paired with Japanese artist Kenji Yanobe’s 1998 Atom Suit: Project: Desert 1, a photo of two men in orange space suits scaling a red mountain. Other notable works in "Double Take" are Jan Brueghel the Younger’s The Five Senses: Sight (ca. 1625), Canaletto’s The Grand Canal, Venice, Looking South-East from Saint Eustace to New Rialto Buildings (ca. 1738), Vincent van Gogh’s Orchard with Peach Trees in Blossom (1888), Pierre-Auguste Renoir's The Reader, Mark Rothko's Yellow over Purple (1956) and Gerhard Richter’s Candle (1982).
For art fans, the show seems to confirm that Allen is a big player at the auctions. The Gauguin sold for $39.2 million at Sotheby’s New York in November 2004 (anonymously, at the time); a set of Brueghel paintings of all five senses sold for $3.9 million at Christie’s New York in 2001; Renoir’s La Liseuse went for $13.2 million at Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg in 2001; and the Rothko sold for $14.3 million at Sotheby’s in 2000.
ANTIQUITIES SYMPOSIUM IN NYC
With the current kerfuffle over stolen antiquities roiling museums across the U.S., the Association of Art Museum Directors -- a professional organization representing 170 art museum directors in the US, Canada and Mexico -- is holding a day-long symposium titled "Museums and the Collecting of Antiquities: Past, Present and Future" at the Celeste Bartos Forum of the New York Public Library on May 4, 2006. Organized by Art Institute of Chicago director James Cuno and Kimbell Art Museum director Timothy Potts, the affair features a host of top-drawer scholars and museum muckamucks, including Kwame Anthony Appiah, Michael Barry, Malcolm Bell, Glen Bowersock, Michael Coe, Philippe de Montebello, David Freidel, Patty Gerstenblith, Richard Leventhal, Neil MacGregor, John Henry Merryman, David Owen, Jane Waldbaum and James Watt. The symposium is free and open to the public. A complete schedule and registration information are available at www.aamd.org
ROME ART SCENE REPORT
Is superdealer Larry Gagosian preparing to conquer the Eternal City? The contemporary art scene in Rome took note last summer when Gagosian borrowed artist Cy Twombly's archive office in Palazzo Borghese and opened it as a public gallery with a small exhibition of works by Ed Ruscha, presented in conjunction with the 2005 Venice Biennale, but the "gallery" has been quiet since then. Now, word is that Gagosian is leasing a 4,500-square-foot space in the beautiful Palazzo Taverna, a building distinguished by lush cascading ivy and a resplendent baroque fountain (the late 1960s artist Gino DeDominicis once lived there). The landlord gave Gagosian a good deal, our source says, because the owner hopes to turn the building -- which already houses Paolo Bonzano gallery -- into a major gallery center. Other Roman dealers are trembling -- they fear Gago will steal their best clients.
News from Rome isn’t all about growth, however. Insiders say that Zaha Hadid's ambitious architectural expansion for MAXXI, the Museum of Art for the XXI Century, one of Rome's two major contemporary art museums (along with MACRO), which would have made MAXXI the world's largest museum of contemporary art, has been dramatically scaled back, apparently due to lack of funds. And word is that after three years of operation (with almost no attendance, except for the trendy opening parties), RomaRomaRoma, the gallery opened by dealers Gavin Brown, Toby Webster and Franco Noero, has closed its doors.
VIDEO ART IN NORTH CAROLINA
The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, N.C., is the place to be for video art aficionados this summer. First up, the Nasher premieres Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to 89 Seconds at Alcázar, their 12-minute video that restaged and tweaked the tableau from Las Meninas (a highlight of the 2004 Whitney Biennial). On view July 6-Sept. 25, 2006, The Rape of the Sabine Women takes off from the famous Neo-Classical painting by Jacques-Louis David, creating an hour-long fantasia that draws on "contemporary news photography; paintings by David, Peter Paul Rubens and Nicolas Poussin; early modern architecture in Greece and Berlin; and experimental films of the 1960s." The piece is choreographed by Claudia de Serpa Soares, features costumes by Karen Young and is set to an original score by composer Jonathan Bepler.
Hot on the heels of the Sabine Women is "Memorials of Identity," Aug. 3-Sept. 25, 2006, which brings together an impressive list of video-art heavy hitters: William Kentridge, Sigalit Landau, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, Sven Pahlsson, Anri Sala, Fiona Tan and Artur Zmijewski. All the works in the show are on loan from the Miami-based Rubell Family. Luisa Lagos and Mark Coetzee curate.
DISNEY COLLECTION AT AFRICAN ART MUSEUM
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art exhibits selections from the Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection, donated to the museum by the entertainment giant in 2005, in "First Look: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection," May 17-Dec. 3, 2006. Organized by museum curator Christine Mullen Kreamer, "First Look" features 23 works; additional selections go on view in 2007. Overall, the collection includes 525 objects assembled over 20 years by New York real estate developer Paul Tishman and his wife, Ruth. Disney purchased the collection from the Tishmans in 1984.
"Girlies, greasers, hooligans, rappers, ravers, streetballers, train surfers, traceurs and yamakasis are just some of the ‘artificial tribes’ to which today’s young people feel they belong," say curators Max Hollein and Matthias Ulrich of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, where the phenomenon gets a thorough airing with "The Youth of Today," Apr. 7-June 25, 2006, an exhibition of 160 works by 50 artists. What’s more, our rootless youth -- who can extend in age from the "tweens" to the 30s -- can pass through more than one subculture. Growing up is no solution, say the curators, who note that many of the tribes develop as "closed and untouchable microcosms."
Among the artists are Abetz/Drescher, Rita Ackermann, Joe Andoe, Marc Bijl, Anuschka Blommers / Niels Schumm, Slater Bradley, Daniele Buetti, Ian Cooper, Annelise Coste, Sue de Beer, Amie Dicke, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Iris van Dongen, Tracey Emin, Luis Gispert, Anthony Goicolea, Janine Gordon, Matthew Greene, Lauren Greenfield, Kevin Hanley, Esther Harris, Rachel Howe, Pierre Huyghe, Laura Kikauka, Clemens Krauss, Hendrik Krawen, Liisa Lounila, Marlene McCarty, Ryan McGinley, Alex McQuilkin, Martin Maloney, Bjarne Melgaard, Alex Morrison, João Onofre, Lea Asja Pagenkemper, Mike Paré, Frédéric Post, Bettina Pousttchi, L. A. Raeven, Julika Rudelius, Collier Schorr, Kiki Seror, Ulrike Siecaup, Hannah Starkey, Tomoaki Suzuki, Alex Tennigkeit, Sue Tompkins, Gavin Turk, Alejandro Vidal and Banks Violette.
ASIA SOCIETY GOES GLOBAL
The art world’s new focus on Asia is not limited to the auction rooms. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Asia Society in New York has announced a $100-million global expansion that includes new facilities in Hong Kong, Houston and Mumbai. The new $52-million Asia Society Hong Kong, designed by New York architects Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates and including galleries as well as theatre, lecture and office space, is scheduled for unveiling in 2008. The new $40-million Asia House in Houston, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi and sited in the city’s central museum district, is slated to be completed in 2010. And last month, Asia Society launched the Asia Society India Centre in Mumbai, India, which is described as "a multi-dimensional resource."
SAATCHI OPENS "USA TODAY"
The Royal Academy of Arts in Burlington Gardens is set to open "USA Today" on Oct. 4, 2006, featuring 80 works of art by American artists from the Saatchi Gallery collection, boosting a new generation of American artists. Artists in the show are Ellen Altfest, Kristin Baker, Jules de Balincourt, Huma Bhabha, Mark Bradford, Carter, Mathew Cerletty, Dan Colen, Adam Cvijanovic, Inka Essenhigh, Brian Fahlstrom, Barnaby Furnas, Luis Gispert, Mark Grotjahn, Marc Handelman, Daniel Hesidence, Matthew Day Jackson, Terence Koh, Douglas Kolk, Ryan McGinness, Rodney McMillian, Josephine Meckseper, Aleksandra Mir, Matthew Monahan, Wangechi Mutu, Jon Pylypchuk, Christoph Schmidberger, Lara Schnitger, Dana Schutz, Erick Swenson, Ryan Trecartin, Banks Violette and Dan Walsh.
HERRING AT HIRSHHORN
German-born, Brooklyn-based artist Oliver Herring makes the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., his playground on Apr. 29, 2006, when he performs "Task," an iteration of a community-art happening that he has also enacted in London and Paris. The event involves bringing a diverse bunch of 60 area residents to the Hirshhorn Plaza on the National Mall to perform with paper, pens, tables, chairs, books and CDs, creating a massive collaborative artwork. The convergence takes place at noon.
Video works from Herring’s "Basic" are also on display in the lower level galleries of the Hirshhorn, Mar. 30-July 2, 2006.
TURRELL SKY SPACE IN YORKSHIRE
The U.K.-based Art Fund is set to open its most ambitious commission ever on Apr. 28, 2006, when a £800,000 James Turrell "skyspace" debuts at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. James Turrell Deer Shelter, as the piece is called, is part of the artist’s series of such spaces featuring apertures that frame the sky and heighten the observer’s experience of it. The park also features an exhibition of three Turrell light pieces in its underground gallery, on view through Sept. 3, 2006.
JOHNS TOPS ACQUISITIONS LIST
The Art Newspaper has released its annual report on acquisitions at U.S. art museums. Jasper Johns weighs in as the most sought-after artist in 2005, according to the survey, with major acquisitions at five museums, followed closely by 2005 Venice Biennale star Ed Ruscha. Others popular with major institutions are Louise Bourgeois, Jim Lambie, David Hockney, Richard Prince, Man Ray, Robert Rauschenberg and Kara Walker. The complete list of acquisitions is available at the Art Newspaper website.
STOLEN, ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL ONLINE
Two smaller-scale films about the art world are due in theaters soon, but in the meantime their trailers are viewable online. Art School Confidential, an ironic look at the art world by Crumb director Terry Zwigoff based on the comic by Daniel Clowes, starring Max Minghella as a frustrated art student and John Malkovich as his has-been artist-professor, premiered at Sundance in January. Called "painfully bad" by one reviewer, the film is being released by Sony Pictures Classics, and its trailer can be viewed here.
Stolen, the film by Rebecca Dreyfus on the 1990 art theft at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston -- with Blythe Danner as the voice of Gardner -- begins its theatrical run at Cinema Village in Manhattan on Apr. 21. The trailer can be found at www.stolenthefilm.com.NEW WEBSITE FOR PHILLIPS COLLECTION
At the same time that the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., unveils its new 30,000-square-foot annex (which opens Apr. 15), the museum is launching a new website devoted to its collection. American Art at the Phillips Collection features a timeline and inventory of more than 650 artworks by nearly 150 artists, ranging from Berenice Abbott, Josef Albers and Alexander Archipenko to Edward Weston, James Whistler and William Zorach. The two-year project was produced by art historian Ruth R. Perlin.
ARTISTS REFLECT A CHANGING MIAMI
Miami, a burgeoning destination on the international art circuit, steps back and looks in the mirror in "Miami in Transition," Apr. 27-Oct. 29, 2006, at the Miami Art Museum. Organized by Lorie Mertes and René Morales, the show features 50-plus works by area artists reflecting on the dramatic changes in the city in recent years. Artists in the exhibition are Daniel Arsham, Natalia Benedetti, Vicenta Casañ, Xavier Cortada, Patricio Cuello, Andrés Ferrandis, Mark Handforth, William Keddell, Leila A. Leder-Kremer, Nicolas D. Lobo, Michael Loveland, Glexis Novoa, Martin Oppel, Placemaker, Tao Rey, Leyden Rodríguez-Casanova, George Sánchez-Calderon, Tina Spiro, Ivan Toth DePeña, Thomas Brian Virgin and Purvis Young.
CHELSEA ARTS TOWER CLIMBS SKYWARD
Work continues apace on the slim 20-story skyscraper on West 25th Street in Manhattan, sited next to Cheim & Read gallery and dubbed the Chelsea Arts Tower, with completion slated for August 2006. The building is more than 60 percent sold, says Artnet Magazine contributor Elliott Arkin, who sells real estate in his spare time. Among the gallery tenants are Marlborough (which has taken two floors) and Tina Kim Fine Art; buyers of the 3,500-square-foot loft spaces include collectors Adam Lindemann and Glenn Fuhrman. Of course, these are commercial condominiums, so no living is allowed. Hmmm.
LATINCOLLECTOR MOVES TO MIDTOWN
Latin Collector Gallery inaugurates its new facility at 37 West 57th Street -- also home to The Project, Bernarducci Meisel, Edward Tyler Nahem and Lori Bookstein -- with an exhibition of recent color abstractions by Puerto Rico-born painter Tony Bechara. Latin Collector, which specializes in art by Latin American artists, was previously located in Tribeca. For more info, contact Lisa Pursell at firstname.lastname@example.org
ART OF THIS CENTURY CLOSES
Art of This Century, the ten-year-old gallery and publisher of contemporary-art multiples (including Jeff Koons’ ubiquitous white porcelain puppy vase), has closed and is now beset by creditors, insiders say. The cause of the demise is an unhappy one -- founder Sandro Rumney suffered a debilitating stroke while climbing the Tulum pyramid in Yucatan in early March, and is now bedridden at a Paris hospital. Rumney cannot speak and his prognosis is uncertain, according to a source, though he has recovered considerably. Rumney is grandson of Peggy Guggenheim.
NEW DIRECTOR AT ARTISTS SPACE
Benjamin Weil, the founder of the pioneering digital art website äda web in the mid-1990s and adjunct curator of media arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, has been named director of Artists Space in SoHo. He succeeds Barbara Hunt McLanahan, who was recently appointed director of the Judd Foundation.
ALLAN KAPROW, 1927-2006
Allan Kaprow, 78, painter and assemblage artist who invented the Happening, died peacefully at his home in Encinitas, Ca., on Apr. 5. A student of Hans Hofmann, Kaprow co-founded the co-op Hansa Gallery on East 10th Street in Manhattan in 1952, where he showed his early "action-collage" paintings including all kinds of raw materials as well as flashing lights. By 1957-58 he had begun making total environments that "pointed the way to a new form of art in which action would predominate over painting." The first Happening, titled 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, took place in October 1959 at the Reuben Gallery on Fourth Avenue. He filled the courtyard of the Martha Jackson Gallery with used tires for Yard in 1961, and for the 1963 exhibition "Hans Hofmann and His Students" at the Museum of Modern Art, he installed two furnished rooms that could be rearranged by visitors. He had major survey exhibitions at the Pasadena Art Museum (1967), the Bremen Kunst Museum (1976), Fondazione Mudima in Milan (1991), Galerie Donguy in Paris (1992) and the John Gibson Gallery in New York (1995). He was professor emeritus at the University of California San Diego.
contact wrobinson @ artnet.com