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Artnet News
Aug. 13, 2009 

The Polaroid Corporation has gone bankrupt, taking its much-beloved camera and instant film off the market. Now, Sothebyís has signed on to disperse the corporationís famed photo collection of approximately 16,000 works by 1,600 artists, through both a major single-owner auction and through private sales. Under the terms of the deal in U.S. bankruptcy court in Minnesota, Sothebyís takes no commission from the seller on the auction, and 10 percent on private sales. No appraisal price was given for the collection as a whole in court papers.

Some works from the collection are on loan to museums and other institutions, but the bulk of the material is in storage in Somerville, Mass., and at Le Musťe de líElysťe in Lausanne, Switzerland. Over the years, Polaroid operated an extensive range of programs for artists and photographers, distributing free film and cameras and inviting artists to use the firmís oversized camera in its own studio. As a consequence, the "Polaroid Collection" has an impressive range and depth.

The collection includes considerable quantities of works by Ansel Adams (627 photos), Paul Caponigro (671), Barbara Crane (103), Wendy Ewald (139), Philippe Halsman (198), Yousuf Karsh (136), Barbara Kasten (79), David Levinthal (59), Patrick Nagatani (98), Olivia Parker (137), Neal Slavin (76) and William Wegman (78).

Other notable artists in the trove are Vicky Alexander & Ellen Brooks (8), Margaret Bourke-White (3), Dawoud Bey (23), Bill Burke (39), Nancy Burson (19), Harry Callahan (5), Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons (26), Ellen Carey (39), William Christenberry (12), Larry Clark (1), Chuck Close (14), Alvin Langdon Coburn (32), John Coplans (1), Imogen Cunningham (14), John Divola (30), Harold Edgerton (29), Stephen Frailey (16), Robert Frank (6), Ralph Gibson (25), Milton Greene (34), Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (19), Richard Hamilton (2), Sally Mann (3), Mary Ellen Mark (35), Robert Mapplethorpe (12), Joel Meyerowitz (5), Duane Michals (16), Robert Miller (3), Sarah Moon (8), Hans Namuth (8), Arnold Newman (39), Helmut Newton (8), Bill Owens (31), Eliot Porter (15), Robert Rauschenberg (10), Bettina Rheims (3), Lucas Samaras (22), Jan Saudek (7), Victor Schrager (11), Andres Serrano (6), Stephen Shore (10), Laurie Simmons (4),† Lorna Simpson (13), Bert Stern (26), Larry Sultan (5), Deborah Turbeville (7), Andy Warhol (13), Carrie Mae Weems (16), Minor White (34) and Joel Peter Witkin (1).

Local news outlets are scratching their heads over the sudden resignation of Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission (SMAC) vice chairwoman Ann Curry-Evans. The announcement came in an email to colleagues earlier this week, with Curry-Evans insinuating cryptically that she had learned information about Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson that made it impossible for her to continue in her post.

In the same statement, Curry-Evans also said she would not continue as director of 40 Acres Art Gallery ( after the close of its upcoming show "Amazing Wonders: Quilts by African Americans in the Northern California Region" in December. She claimed that the gallery would shutter permanently at that time. As it happens, 40 Acres is run by St. HOPE -- a community development organization that Johnson founded.

"I have recently received information regarding St. HOPE founder Kevin Johnson’s personal behavior and actions that make me unable to continue working for St. HOPE," Curry-Evans wrote. "I have pursued St. HOPE’s and the 40 Acres Art Gallery’s missions with passion but I cannot continue that passion given my new knowledge." Questioned by local news, the mayor called the resignation a "personal matter," adding that St. HOPE, not Curry-Evans, would determine whether 40 Acres Gallery continues to operate.

The only other clue in the matter is a brief remark in Curry-Evansí statement saying, "There is much that I must do and consider as I move forward with the next chapter in my life, and SMAC’s work with the city, particularly in light of Kevin’s arts initiative, places me in an uncomfortable position."

Presumably this statement is referring to "For Art’s Sake," a $100,000 initiative of Johnsonís to promote Sacramento as a capital of culture. According to KTXL-TV, over 100 people come together for the last "For Artís Sake" meeting at Verge Art Gallery, July 22, with Johnson telling the crowd, "For the next three and a half years, the arts initiative will be something I’m fighting for." Attendees broke into working groups focusing on art funding, facilities, marketing, education and filmmaking, and agreed to meet again on Aug. 26 at Capitol Public Radio -- an event that may well now be overshadowed by controversy.

Phillips de Pury & Company is taking advantage of its new High Line audience -- the boutique auctioneerís galleries look right out onto the new elevated park -- by commissioning a major sculptural work by New York artist Nils Folke Anderson for its empty galleries, for the month of August. Dubbed After Before and After, Aug. 10-Sept. 6, 2009, Andersonís installation is composed of five separate sculptures, each made of nine interlinked square frame elements of white polystyrene measuring more than eight feet to a side.

Anderson notes that the sculptures, which measure around 12-15 feet in each direction, are positioned not only in response to the gallery space but also to the viewers outside the windows on the High Line. Auctioneer Simon de Pury first saw Andersonís sculpture, which is represented by Robert Miller Gallery, several years ago at Robert Wilsonís summer benefit in Watermill, Long Island. For more info, click here

How are museums, hit with big endowment losses and declining support from local governments, weathering the economic downturn? By taking advantage of free labor, thatís how! A report in the Houston Chronicle says that the gargantuan Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which has so far avoided major layoffs, is dipping into a staggering pool of 500 new volunteers, "including some who have lost jobs," as a means of economizing. "No question about it," MFAH director Peter Marzio told the Chronicle. "Our volunteer increase helped a lot with our operational budget in all areas of the museum."

Itís just one example, but it seems likely that it is part of a more general trend. A report in Brown Universityís newspaper describes the experience of college grads in the arts and humanities looking for paid internships, and finding mainly volunteer opportunities. It cites the case of Harvard sophomore Daniel Villafana, who says he is working around 12 hours a week at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, for the summer. "They would not take an intern," Villafana says. "You have to pay interns." Along with filing and organizing duties, one of Villafanaís tasks has been to clean out the office of recently laid off paid staff.†

The Islip Art Museum in Islip, N.Y., long a home for experimental art on Long Island, is facing probable closure as the town looks to grapple with a $10-million budget hole by laying off city workers. After what Newsday called "a rowdy and emotionally charged" meeting on Tuesday, the Islip Town Board voted to let go of 97 city workers -- including, it seems, the entire museum staff.

Islip Museum director Mary Lou Cohalan told Artnet Magazine that the Town of Islip was in negotiation with the nonprofit Islip Arts Council about taking over the museum, but that negotiations would take at least four months, while layoffs will come much sooner. "Closing for any length of time will have a negative impact on our audience, on our schedule (we will have to cancel exhibits) and on our reputation with our grantors," said Cohalan.

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