Subscribe to our RSS feed:

RSS Feed Button

Artnet News
Sept. 27, 2005 

Venezuelan politics seems to have thrown a monkey wrench into the plans for the new exhibition of works by Venezuelan-born José Antonio Hernández-Diez at Sandra Gering Gallery on West 22nd Street. The show was scheduled to open Sept. 17-Oct. 15, 2005, and feature a large kinetic sculpture, Self-Portrait with Jeans, fabricated from bicycle frames and the artistís jeans and symbolizing, in part, the conflicting forces operating on the artistís psyche.

But the sculpture is stored in Caracas, and local authorities wonít allow it to be shipped out of the country. Whether the problem is bureaucratic or political remains unclear; relations between the U.S. and Venezuela, headed by socialist strongman Hugo Chavez, are at a low ebb. "We canít get a straight answer," said Gering. "Itís devastating to the gallery, and very stressful for the artist, who promptly got the flu and put himself under the covers." Making matters worse, Hernández-Diez, who lives in Barcelona, canít get a visa to come to New York, apparently because of a bureaucratic snafu -- a State Department watch list includes a convicted drug dealer who has the same name.†

Currently, the gallery is empty, save for two large Hernández-Diez color photographs that were sent from Barcelona. They show a new pair of jeans, with the pockets turned inside-out and with the "care label" prominently on display. "Weíre selling them," Gering said. The photos, priced at $15,000 each, are produced in an edition of three.

It looks like the J. Paul Getty Museum is in serious trouble. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times on Sept. 25, 2005, internal Getty documents -- leaked to the newspaper -- suggest that many of the most important works in the museumís antiquities collection are the products of the illegal antiquities trade. The revelations come as Getty antiquities curator Marion True faces prosecution in Italy for buying looted artworks for the museum. Italy is seeking the return of some 42 objects from the Getty, and the Getty has determined that 82 items in its collection were purchased through dealers and galleries under investigation by Italian officials.

Italyís long-running investigation of the illegal antiquities trade is now in its ninth year. The Italian authorities claim that they have photographs seized from an art dealer in 1995 that show Getty artifacts encrusted with dirt, as if they had only recently been dug up. Giacomo Medici, an Italian art dealer who had worked with the Getty in the past, was convicted of conspiring to traffic in looted antiquities last year and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

The Times story, accompanied by reproductions of damning internal Getty documents, depicts top Getty management, including former Getty director John Walsh, former Getty Trust chief executive Harold Williams and former Getty museum director Deborah Gribbon, as in the know about the Gettyís unscrupulous antiquities purchases. Among the documents is an internal memo from former Getty antiquities curator Arthur Houghton, who resigned in 1986 after expressing concerns that the Getty was pursuing a path of "curatorial avarice" and "self-enforced ignorance of fact" by knowingly buying from known criminals, and warning that continuing the course would lead to "catastrophic" consequences.

Among the suspect objects is the Gettyís celebrated 4th-century B.C. statue of Aphrodite, which was purchased in 1988 for $18 million, and which True described as possibly the "single greatest piece of ancient art" in the U.S. The Getty bought the statue even though Italian authorities had informed the institution that the piece was of suspicious origin and a Getty staffer had referred to the dealer who was selling the piece, Robin Symes, as a probable "fence." Stay tuned.

Duke University in Durham, N.C., opens the $24-million, Rafael Viñoly-designed Nasher Museum of Art on Oct. 2, 2005. Named after art collector and Duke alumnus Raymond D. Nasher (who also launched the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas in 2003), the museum -- Viñolyís first freestanding art museum in the U.S. -- opens with two exhibitions, a survey of the Nasher holdings and "The Forest: Politics, Poetics and Practice," a show exploring the theme of the forest in works by Petah Coyne, Kiki Smith, Joseph Beuys and Wolfgang Staehle.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami is growing, planning an expansion to its current facility designed by a "well-known architect," to be announced, as well as opening a satellite space in Miamiís booming Wynwood Art District. The new 8,000-square-foot exhibition space, dubbed "MoCA at Goldman Warehouse," is being leased to the institution by developers Tony and Joey Goldman Ė- said to be the masterminds behind New Yorkís SoHo real estate boom in the 1970s -- for just $1 a year. The Goldmanís have also provided ca. $500,000 worth of work on the warehouse to bring it up to museum standards.

Though critics of the plan have noted that the Goldmans own 20 other properties in the neighborhood, whose value is expected to rise, the museum is anxious to have a place to show its 500-piece permanent collection to the public. "MoCA at Goldman Warehouse" debuts on Dec. 1, 2005, just in time for Art Basel Miami Beach, with selections from MoCAís permanent collection and "Cloud City," an exhibition by the Miami-based art group Friends with You.

Spanish artist Cristóbal Gabarrón, known for a sensibility that combines the erotic with a certain gallows humor, gets his due with a 40-year survey exhibition at Chelsea Art Museum, Sept. 30, 2005-Jan. 14, 2006. The show includes 186 works by the multitalented, Murcia-born artist, who graced New York in April with a series of colorful sculptures representing characters from Don Quixote, placed in front of the United Nations, the Cervantes Institute, Bellevue Hospital and the very same Chelsea Art Museum. The exhibition is organized by art critic and frequent Artnet Magazine contributor Donald Kuspit.

The Duncan Phillips Award for 2005 goes to philanthropist and collector Monique Barbier-Mueller, founder of the Barbier-Mueller Museums in Geneva and Barcelona, said Phillips Collection director Jay Gates. Other winners of the Phillips award have included Leonard Lauder, David Rockefeller, Virginia and Bagley Wright and HRH The Duke of Bavaria.

Carlos Basualdo, former chief curator at the Wexner Center during 2000-02, has been appointed curator of contemporary art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a new post. Basualdo is currently a professor of art and design at the Universitá IVAV in Venice, and organizer of "Tropicália: Revolution in Brazilian Culture (1967-1972)," which opens at the Chicago MCA in October.

Eyebeam, the New York art space dedicated to exploring the connections between art and science, has appointed Amanda McDonald Crowley as its new director. An Australian native, Crowley served as director of the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) from 1995 to 2000 and was executive producer of the 2004 edition of the International Symposium of Electronic Art

-- contact wrobinson @