MOMA PREVIEW, 2009-2010
Every once in a while, the Museum of Modern Art invites the few dozen New York City art journalists for a breakfast press conference, complete with everything from quiche, fruit salad, bagels and lox to slide presentations on upcoming shows. So it was today, with museum director Glenn Lowry acting as master of ceremonies. Lowry struck an optimistic note in his brief remarks: despite a declining economy, the museum had record attendance in 2008 (2.8 million) as well as a record number of new members (120,000). Corporate support and endowment income were down, Lowry said, requiring "lots of sacrifices," but no exhibition cancellations -- "every show on the schedule is going ahead." Nor is the museum passing up any of what the director vaguely called "critical acquisitions."
Indeed, the advance exhibition schedule, which is posted on the museum website, gives the impression of an institution running at full throttle. MoMA’s lineup for 2009-2010 combines its signature explorations of classic modernism ("Bauhaus 1919-1933," "Henri Cartier-Bresson," "Matisse: 1913-17," "The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture") with a continuing global outlook (a "projects" show of the Polish artist Artur Zmijewski, "Impressions from South Africa: Printed Art 1960 to Now") and a relatively new openness to what might be called the vertical integration of the culture industry ("Tim Burton").
MoMA also continues to be a player in the contemporary art scene, with huge monographic shows of Gabriel Orozco, William Kentridge and Marina Abramovic, as well as the usual and varied contemporary high-jinks out at P.S.1 in Queens, which include the third installment of "Greater New York" in 2010.
MoMA has had a new contemporary art curator for about a year -- Ann Temkin -- and her influence is felt in the current show in the museum garden, "Sculpture in Color," which opened May 18, 2009, and features three colorful polyester sculptures by Franz West, bought by the museum for an undisclosed price (such works have sold at auction for about $150,000). Both special installations and acquisitions specifically conceived with the garden in mind are likely to increase under Temkin’s direction, Lowry said.
In another development, perhaps visible only to specialists, Temkin is gradually repainting the walls of the permanent collection galleries on the museum’s fourth and fifth floors -- devoted to works from 1880-1960 -- a light gray rather than the pure modernist white that had been almost dogmatic. What’s more, Temkin is regularly rotating works in the 25 galleries on those floors, in recognition of the fact that only 10 percent of the collection can be on view at any one time. "Static is over," she said.
A selective run-down of the museum’s exhibition schedule follows.
* 1969, Oct. 25, 2009-Apr. 5, 2010, the big fall exhibition at P.S.1, involves artworks from the MoMA collection made in 1969 -- an "artistic esthetic incited by a period marked with revolution and sociopolitical tumult" -- along with unspecified "interventions" by contemporary artists.
* Performance 6: Fischerspooner, Nov. 1, 2009, 6-9 pm, is a presentation of Between Worlds, a "pop spectacle" based on the New York artists’ 2009 album Entertainment, running continuously for three hours on a large central stage in the auditorium. The show is part of Performa 09, Nov. 1-22, 2009, and is organized by MoMA media and performance art curators Klaus Biesenbach and Jenny Schlenzka.
* Bauhaus 1919-1922: Workshops for Modernity, Nov. 8, 2009-Jan. 25, 2010, presents ca. 430 objects in collaboration with the three Bauhaus collections in Germany (Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau and Klassik Stiftung Weimar), in the first comprehensive treatment of the multidisciplinary modernist movement at MoMA since 1938. MoMA sees itself as a Bauhaus heir, Lowery said, and the show coincidentally falls on the 80th anniversary of MoMA’s opening in 1929 and the 20th anniversary of the reunification of Germany. The exhibition is underwritten by the Hyundai Card Company, which is (according to Wikipedia) Korea’s leading credit card company and a joint venture of the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group and GE Capital.
* Tim Burton, Nov. 22, 2009-Apr. 26, 2010, is the largest show ever presented by MoMA’s film department, and includes the Hollywood auteur’s filmmaker’s juvenilia and drawings on hotel stationary as well as material from his 14 films. The Nov. 17 benefit for the MoMA film department boasts the presence of Johnny Depp as well as Helena Bonham Carter, Burton’s wife. The show is organized by film dept. curators Ron Magliozzi, Jenny He and Rajendra Roy, and sponsored by SyFy, the science fiction cable television channel.
* Gabriel Orozco, Dec. 13, 2009-Mar. 1, 2010, includes 20 years of works by the Mexican-born bricoleur, including the four original yogurt-container lids that were the complete contents of his provocative 1994 show at Marian Goodman Gallery (one lid in the middle of each of four walls, an invocation of the compass) and Orozco’s much-commented-upon 1993 La DS, a Citroën with its middle third surgically removed. MoMA gave Orozco his first museum solo show in 1993, for which the artist spurned the museum galleries in favor of "interstitial" spaces, and also placed oranges in the windows of apartment buildings across from the museum along West 54th Street. This time around the show takes place in the museum’s sixth-floor exhibition galleries, and is organized by Ann Temkin.
* William Kentridge: Five Themes, Feb. 24-May 17, 2010, is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art but will also reveal MoMA’s deep holdings in works by the artist, assembled over the years with relatively little fanfare. The show coincides with Kentridge’s staging of Dmitri Shoshtakovich’s The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera in May 2010, an event that Lowery said "points the way towards further collaborations."
* Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, Mar. 14-May 31, 2010, features 50 works in a rare "performance retrospective," and includes "re-performances" of Abramovic works by other performers.
* Picasso: Themes and Variations, Mar. 24-Sept. 6, 2010, is a survey of Picasso’s "creative process" via approximately 100 works. The show is organized by MoMA print and illustrated books curator Deborah Wye, and corresponds with an effort to put online images of the museum collection of over 1,000 etchings, lithos and lino cuts by Picasso.
* Greater New York, opening in spring 2010 at P.S.1, is organzied by Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA drawing curator Connie Butler, and P.S.1 senior curatorial advisor Neville Wakefield -- with further details to be announced.
* Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century, Apr. 11-June 28, 2010, organized by MoMA photo curator Peter Galassi, includes about 300 photographs, arranged thematically and supplemented with periodicals and books. The exhibition is supported by the William Randolph Hearst Endowment Fund, with additional support from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.
* Matisse: Radical Invention 1913-17, July 18-Oct. 11, 2010, features approximately 120 works in the first sustained examination of this important period. The show, which debuts at the Art Institute of Chicago, Mar. 20-June 6, 2010, is organized by AIC curator Stephanie D’Alessandro and MoMA chief curator emeritus John Elderfield.
* The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, Aug. 1-Nov. 1, 2010, features about 350 photos by more than 100 artists, in a show organized by photo curator Roxana Marcoci. The show subsequently appears at Kunsthaus Zürich, Jan. 21-Apr. 25, 2011.
VENICE BIENNALE WORKERS ON STRIKE
The harshest critics of the current Venice Biennale, June 7- Nov. 22, 2009, may be the actual workers who take care of the exhibition’s day-to-day operations. According to the British art journal Art Monthly, about 110 biennale employees have gone on strike, picketing and pamphleting the festivities. Their grievances include unpaid overtime, lack of job security, poor management and lack of placement for workers who have worked on previous biennales.
The dispute, apparently, has been ongoing since the debut of the art festival in June. According to a copy of the pamphlet posted online, the workers claim that they reached an impasse with management in July. One major issue was that in the past, workers have been guaranteed contracts from one to four months, while this time around some of these jobs were replaced by "three-day-only" contracts just for the exhibition’s set-up -- a big blow for seasonal workers.
A YouTube clip shows a demonstration of biennale workers outside the Giardini in August, under banners of the CGIL, one of Italy’s main trade federations. The film features interviews with several affected workers -- ticket-takers, ushers, coat check workers, and the like -- many of whom claim to have worked at previous shows (including one worker who claims to have been there since 1999). They all decry the degeneration of working conditions at the biennale.
PRINTED MATTER BOOK FAIR ‘09
Artist-book lovers, it’s that time again. The fourth annual NY Art Book Fair takes place on all three floors of P.S. 1, Oct. 2-4, 2009, with over 200 publishers, booksellers, dealers and independent artists from around the world. The event, which is organized by Printed Matter, includes "Calling All Readers," a special exhibition of books and posters by Richard Prince selected by John McWhinnie, as well as galleries devoted to installations by Dexter Sinister, EAI and DADDY Magazine. Also back for a second year: Friendly Fire, the freewheeling selection of publications from artists and collectives. Another attraction is a two-day-long Contemporary Artists’ Book Conference put together by the Art Libraries Society of New York. The fair -- which is free -- previews on Oct. 1, 6-8, with a benefit to follow at Deitch Studios in Long Island City (tickets start at $20), featuring a performance by an "industrial punk-and-dub duo" named I.U.D. For further info, see http://nyartbookfair.com
SOTHEBY’S AND BONHAMS SCUFFLE DOWN UNDER
Australia’s art-auction world was rocked this week when Sotheby’s unexpectedly sold off its Australian arm to Sydney businessman Tim Goodman, who apparently will continue under the Sotheby’s name. Goodman is the head of First East Auction Holdings Limited (FEAL), an auction house that has had a partnership with Bonhams and traded under the name Bonhams & Goodman for the past six years.
''They [Sotheby’s] were in the process of evaluating operations in Australia as part of a worldwide review when, as I understand, FEAL independently went to Sotheby's and made an attractive offer to acquire it,'' Sotheby's Australia managing director Lesley Always told The Age. How attractive FEAL’s offer was seems to be open for debate. The news report estimated that the sum paid for continued use of the Sotheby’s name could be "in the low millions."
Sotheby’s Australia staff was described as "shocked" and "gutted" by the development, which was revealed on Sept. 28, 2009. As for Bonhams, its president Robert Brooks immediately announced that his house would be launching its own independent operation in Australia, after the partnership with Goodman lapses on Dec. 22, 2009.
''It's an extraordinarily audacious move to convert oneself from Bonhams & Goodman to Sotheby's,'' former Sotheby's Australia managing director Mark Fraser told The Age. ''It's also extraordinary that Sotheby's Holdings, the parent company in New York, has decided to move in this direction. In most other countries they have simply closed down the operation. I would say this is unprecedented. . . Sotheby's has not liked licensing their name.''
ART FORGERY SCANDAL IN STOCKHOLM
A former Stockholm art gallery owner has been charged with a 30 million kronor ($4.4 million) art forgery scam. The name of the dealer in question was not given, but he is accused of faking works by some heavyweight modernists, including Georges Braque, Alberto Giacometti, Edward Munch and Egon Schiele. Police claim that they found 15 forged works when they searched his house, and that he sold the fakes with forged certificates of authenticity from Sweden’s National Museum of Fine Arts. Authorities also say that the alleged forger secured a 200,000 kronor ($28,500) loan using a fake Braque painting as collateral, and attempted to sell "falsely signed" works by Viktor Vasarely through the website Blocket.se.