EXPERIMENTAL ABSTRACTION, 1967-1975
The sleeper exhibition of the summer is "High Times, Hard Time: New York Painting 1967-1975," organized by Hunter College art historian and Artforum contributing editor Katy Siegel in consultation with artist David Reed and premiering at the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, N.C., Aug. 6-Oct. 16, 2006. Included are over 40 works by 38 artists "from this period of total possibility and intense doubt," with a strong emphasis on women and African American artists who, if they are not overlooked today, certainly deserve more attention.
The works in the show are divided into five groups: expressive "flower power" abstraction, ca. 1968, by artists like Dan Christensen, Ralph Humphrey and Kenneth Showell; painting that comes off the stretcher bars, off the wall and onto the floor or ceiling, by Lynda Benglis, Lee Lozano, Manny Farber, Al Loving , Louise Fishman, Howardena Pindell, Richard Tuttle and others; painting that doubles as installation and performance art by Mel Bochner, Yayoi Kusama, Dorothea Rockburne, Carolee Schneemann and Franz Erhard Walther; early ‘70s painting that reflects the influence of film and video, by Roy Colmer, Lawrence Stafford, Michael Venezia and Jack Whitten; and painting that represents a certain return to traditional forms, by Joan Snyder, Mary Heilmann, Guy Goodwin, Elizabeth Murray and Pat Steir.
The excellently designed 176-page catalogue, which includes some great period photos, boasts texts by Dawoud Bey, Anna Chave, Robert Pincus-Witten and Marcia Tucker, as well as Siegel and Reed, and also includes a timeline, artist’s bios and statements by several of the artists. The price is $29.95.
The show is organized by Independent Curators International, which has arranged the extensive national tour, whose stops include the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2006-Jan. 21, 2007, and the National Academy Museum in New York, Feb. 15-Apr. 22, 2007.
NEW DIRECTOR FOR BARNES FOUNDATION
In the long dispute over the fate of the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pa., one thing has remained crystal clear, if unsaid. Though three Philadelphia foundations have pledged $150 million to move the idiosyncratic house museum to a modern new facility on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, under its current leadership -- no offense to executive director Kimberly Camp, who announced her resignation last year -- the Barnes Foundation could barely keep its doors open, much less manage a major building project.
But now that the money is in hand, the 15-member Barnes board has hired Derek Gillman, 53, as its new executive director. A Brit, Gilman is currently CEO of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and formerly was deputy director of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne (1995-99) and keeper of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia (1985-95). His appointment received thumbs-up from Museum of Modern Art director Glenn Lowry, Clark Art Institute director Michael Conforti and Cincinnati CAC director Linda Shearer, in the press release, at least.
One thing should be noted as well -- Gillman doesn’t hesitate to sell pictures from the collections in his charge. At least at the Penna Academy, he sold off several of its European paintings, including Alexandre Cabanel’s Birth of Venus (bought by the Dahesh Museum here in New York) on the grounds that they were not central to the museum’s American focus.
Meanwhile, out in old Merion, the famous neighbors of the Barnes Foundation -- who made it so difficult for Camp’s predecessor as Barnes head, Richard Glanton, with their complaints about increased traffic -- seem to have had second thoughts. Signs reading "The Barnes Belongs in Merion" are on nearly every lawn, according to the New York Times, and the Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners has resolved that plans to move to the museum to the city center be "forever abandoned." Faint hope.
CRYSTAL BRIDGES "GEORGE" IN HOUSTON
For those who like to keep track of Wal-Mart heir Alice Walton’s nascent Crystal Bridges museum in Bentonville, Ark., we got nothing for you here. But one of her star acquisitions, Gilbert Stuart’s George Washington (The Constable-Hamilton Portrait) (1797), purchased for $8.1 million at Sotheby’s New York in November 2005 -- the disgraceful legacy of New York Public Library president Paul LeClerc, who blithely put the New York picture on the auction block and still has not given public accounting of what he is doing with the proceeds -- is now on view in Texas.
The painting, which was once owned by Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, goes on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, for one year, beginning Aug. 8, 2006. "The MFAH is thrilled to host this likeness of our first president while the Crystal Bridges Museum is being readied for its public opening," said MFAH director Peter C. Marzio. The 100,000-square-foot Crystal Bridges, designed by Moshe Safdie, is slated to open in 2009.
NEW SCHNABEL SHOW IN FAMED HOTEL
Julian Schnabel has made movies and music, written an autobiography, raised some charming kids and, needless to say, made a few paintings and sculptures. To this already impressive list of vocations we can now add "interior decorator," as Schnabel was enlisted to design the lobby and public spaces of hotelier Ian Schrager’s $200-million renovation of the Gramercy Park Hotel at Lexington Avenue and 21st Street, which has just opened for business. The hotel has a famous past, of course, including status as favorite stop-over for punk-era bands and as original launch pad for New York’s massive Armory Show contemporary art fair.
According to reports, Schnabel’s design features lots of velvet, old wood and funky "Baroque" furniture, as well as an extensive installation of hip artworks by the master and his pals, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol, some on loan from supercollector Aby Rosen. Also not to be missed is the New York Sun review of the new hotel by critic James Gardner, who is clearly first in the running to succeed Hilton Kramer as our most amusingly anti-avant-garde critic. "Catastrophic amateurism," Gardner writes, "chock-a-block" with "all manner of dopey incongruities and clashing asymmetries that look as if they’d been created in conformity with a sitcom’s notion of how crazy contemporary art behaves." For the entire screed, click here.
GISH PRIZE TO SHIRIN NESHAT
Iranian-born artist Shirin Neshat has been awarded the $300,000 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, one of the largest arts prizes. The award ceremony takes place in New York City on Oct 12, 2006. The Gish Prize is now in its 13th year; previous winners have included theater director Peter Sellars (2005), jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman (2004) choreographer Merce Cunningham (2000), singer Bob Dylan (1997) and director Robert Wilson (1996).
LINDA BLUMBERG TO ADAA
Arts administrator and curator Linda Blumberg has been hired as the first executive director of the Art Dealers Association of America, where she is to be responsible for managing all ADAA activities, including the annual Art Show. Blumberg previously helped the Central Parks Conservancy with Christo and Jean-Claude’s The Gates; before that she was arts director of the American Academy in Rome and executive director of Capp Street Project in San Francisco. She was co-founder and first program director of P.S.1 in Long Island City.
ARLENE RAVEN SCHOLARSHIP IN THE WORKS
Feminist art historian and writer Arlene Raven died on Aug. 1, 2006, and a scholarship in her name is being established at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, Md., where she was critic in residence. The Arlene Raven Scholarship is to support both undergraduate and graduate students in art history and critical studies. Send contributions -- which are tax-deductible -- to the Arlene Raven Scholarship Fund, MICA, Development Office, 1300 Mount Royal Avenue, Baltimore, Md. 21217. Make checks payable to MICA/Arlene Raven Fund.
RICHARD MOCK, 1944-2006
Richard Mock, 61, New York artist known for satirical paintings and oversized wood cuts that address social and political injustice, died on July 28 at Long Island City Hospital in Brooklyn after a long illness. A larger-than-life figure whose work could be similarly energetic, Mock painted hundreds of portraits of sitters’ eyes as part of a 1977 show at ArtPark in upstate New York, and was resident artist at the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, where he made quick portraits of dozens of athletes. Over a long career he had many exhibitions: His abstract paintings were included in the 1973 Whitney Biennial, he participated in the 1980 Times Square Show, and he was given a 10-year survey show at Exit Art in 1986. He regularly contributed illustrations to the op-ed page of the New York Times and many other publications during early ‘80s. He subsequently relocated to Rinconada, a remote village in northern Mexico, where he made abstractions inspired by the Mexican landscape, and later images of animalistic deities built from shredded money. He published a series of linocuts in reaction to 9/11 in 2002.