The Museum of Modern Art has launched a partnership program with graduate art history programs at several universities. Leah Dickerman, a curator in the department of painting and sculpture, is heading the program, which is aimed at deepening relationships between museum curators and those in academia, reports Carol Vogel of the New York Times. Referred to as the Museum Research Consortium, the program includes fellowships for graduate students; it will also host a series of study sessions twice a year that will focus on important works in the museum’s collection. The program has received financing from the Mellon Foundation.
Curator Linda Wolk Simon has departed from the Morgan Library and Museum. Carol Vogel of the New York Times reports that she came to the Morgan in 2011 to head its department of drawings and prints. She had spent the past two decades at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she had most recently acted as a curator in its department of drawing and prints. A specialist in Italian Renaissance art, Wolk Simon is now an independent curator.
The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire, has announced the appointment of Andrew Bonacina as its chief curator. Most recently the curator at International Project Space in Birmingham, Bonacina has organized exhibitions of the work of Juliette Blightman, Laure Prouvost, Redmond Entwistle, Gareth Moore, Cally Spooner, and Andrea Buettner, among many others. He has also served as the exhibitions and events organizer at Chisenhale Gallery, London, and is a regular contributor to various publications.
Ann Freedman, the former president of New York–based Knoedler Gallery, has filed a defamation suit against Manhattan art dealer Marco Grassi, reports Jennifer Maloney of the Wall Street Journal. Freedman was president of Knoedler until 2009 before it closed around the time allegations surfaced that it had sold fakes attributed to Abstract Expressionists including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko. In the lawsuit, which was filed in New York State Supreme Court on Wednesday, Freedman targets Grassi’s quote in a New York Magazine article that says of Freedman: “A gallery person has an absolute responsibility to do due diligence, and I don't think she did it. The story of the paintings is so totally kooky. I mean, really. It was a great story and she just said, ‘this is great.’ ” Freedman goes on to list twenty experts she says told her that the works were real, including curators from the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In many cases, however, the opinions she gathered were informal rather than official authentications, notes Maloney: A curator at the National Gallery called two works “beautiful,” and a Guggenheim curator borrowed one for an exhibition, according to the suit.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, has announced the appointment of three new curators to its department of Egyptian art, its American wing, and its department of the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, reports Dan Duray of GalleristNY.
After serving as acting head of the Egyptian department since last year, Diana Craig Patch has been appointed curator in charge of Egyptian art. She began her career at the museum in 1996 and since then has curated many exhibitions there, including the most recent “The Dawn of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum” in 2012. She also cocurated the reinstallation of the museum’s predynastic and early dynastic gallery in 2004. Patch has served as an adjunct assistant professor at City College, City University of New York, and has lectured at Rutgers University and the University of Pittsburgh. Her field experience includes serving as a project codirector of an excavation of the festival city of Amenhotep III, as a field consultant for the Metropolitan’s Egyptian excavations at Dahshur, Egypt, as director of the American Research Center in Egypt’s Field School Project at Memphis, and as field director of the Pennsylvania-Yale expedition to Abydos, Egypt.
Ronda Kasl, a specialist in the art of Spain and colonial Latin America, has been appointed curator of the Met’s American Wing. Prior to this appointment, Kasl was the senior curator of pre-1880 painting and sculpture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, organizing exhibitions that include “Sacred Spain: Art and Belief in the Spanish World” in 2009 and “Painting in Spain in the Age of Enlightenment” in 1997. She received her BA in art from the University of Tulsa and her MA and PhD in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
Additionally, Joanne Pillsbury has been appointed the Andrall E. Pearson curator in the Metropolitan Museum’s department of the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. A specialist in the arts of the ancient Americas and formerly an associate director at the Getty Research Institute, Pillsbury most recently served as director of studies for the pre-Columbian program at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Harvard University. She has also served as a professor at the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of East Anglia, as well as served as an assistant dean at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art. She received her BA in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her MA and PhD in art history and archaeology from Columbia University.
Ralph E. Lerner, a prominent art lawyer in New York, who has represented the Sonnabend estate, Gagosian Gallery, and important collectors like Steven A. Cohen, was accused on Wednesday of fraudulently taking at least $750,000 in fees from the Cy Twombly Foundation, report Randy Kennedy and Carol Vogel of the New York Times. In an ongoing court case filed in Delaware, new papers claim that Lerner, as the secretary and a director of the board of the foundation, charged the foundation unauthorized fees for legal services. He then allegedly hid those charges from other members of the board by having the bills mailed to a post office box in New York and a corporate address in Delaware, then arranged wire transfers to fool the foundation’s accountants. The new papers say that Lerner “even charged legal fees for merely attending board meetings as a director,” adding that “no other board member received (or was entitled to receive) compensation (much less at the significant rate of $950 an hour) for attending board meetings or reviewing and editing the board meeting minutes.” Lerner’s law office said in a statement that all fees for his legal services “were made in accordance with the practices and procedures established by Mr. Twombly when he was alive.”
The Cincinnati Art Museum has announced the appointment of Brian Sholis at its associate curator of photography. Previously an editor at Artforum and the Aperture Foundation, Sholis has written various essays on contemporary art and photography, some of which have appeared in exhibition catalogues published by the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Guggenheim Bilbao, the Venice Biennale, and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. As a freelance curator, he has presented projects at the New Museum and Apexart in New York, as well as at galleries in Paris and Miami. Sholis received a BA from Boston University and a MA in American History from City University. He begins his new post in October.
Dozens of politicians and supporters of the arts turned out in downtown São Paulo recently to file their demand for a review of a decision issued by the state’s heritage protection agency (Condephaat) that authorized the construction of two office towers on the ground near the property of the Teatro Oficina, according to R7. Dramaturge José Celso Martinez Corrêa, who convened the meeting, reminded everyone that the theater’s architect, Lina Bo Bardi, originally envisioned a building that occupied the whole street. Meeting attendees also pointed out that construction cannot go forward without the further approval of municipal and the federal heritage agencies, Conpresp and Iphan.
The New York Times reports that the Van Gogh Museum has deemed a painting in its collection, Sunset at Montmajour, a genuine painting by the master himself. For years, the work was considered a fake, stored in an attic and then held in a private collection. According to the museum’s senior researcher, Louis van Tilborgh, the museum has developed a handful of new forensic techniques that allowed the work to be reevaluated. Van Tliborgh pointed out that the work was painted on the same canvas, and with the same underpainting, as Van Gogh’s The Rocks, and has a number—180—painted on its back side that corresponds to the number in the collection inventory.
The New York Times has also uncovered a new twist in the case of the artworks stolen from a Rotterdam museum by a Romanian gang: The Netherlands-based Triton Foundation, which owned the works, has apparently surrendered ownership rights of the pieces, and in return received a payment of $24 million from its insurance company into a Swiss bank account—an indication that the foundation does not expect to be able to recover the works. Those following the story will remember that, earlier, the mother of the ringleader of thieves intensified the mystery over whether the works still existed, first confessing that she had burned the artifacts, and then later claiming that they had in fact been passed on to mysterious contacts. Judges have grown frustrated over the claims and counterclaims—and, it appears, the lawyers themselves. Writes the Times’ Andrew Higgins, “Tuesday’s session quickly descended into low farce when the judge exploded in anger over the casual shoes worn by one of the defense lawyers, Radu Catalin Dancu, who showed up late wearing blue suede sneakers with florescent green stripes.” The lawyer responded by saying that his footwear was high fashion and had cost him $265. He promptly demanded a new judge.
Despite calls for Manifesta to cancel its tenth iteration, which had been planned to open in Saint Petersburg next year, festival organizers have determined that they will go forward as planned. Those agitating for Manifesta to boycott the Russian city were prompted by the nation’s disturbing crackdown on the rights of members of the LGBT community. Manifesta’s chair, Viktor Misiano, issued a statement in defense of sticking to the plan: “Within Russia,” he wrote, “Manifesta 10 has been welcomed by many individuals who recognize that canceling or postponing it will be a loss, not only for communities seeking change, but also for developing a progressive contemporary culture as a whole.” Added Misiano, “We are conscious of the political climate and the significant conservative shift taking place in Russia, of which this issue is but one example. It is also helpful to know that the leading LGBT organizations in Russia do not support a boycott of the Olympics or other events. They know engagement is important.”
The Menil Collection announced today that Allegra Pesenti has been named chief curator for the Menil Drawing Institute. Since 2007, Pesenti has served as curator for the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. She received her MA and Ph.D. degrees from the Courtauld Institute of Art, and has also worked at the Getty Museum as assistant curator. At the Hammer Museum, she curated shows including “Zarina: Paper Like Skin,” 2012, “Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture Undone,” 2012, and “Rachel Whiteread Drawings,” 2010. Her arrival at the Menil Drawing Institute follows the Menil Collection's decision to hire the Johnston Marklee architectural firm to design a free-standing building that will be added to the institution’s thirty-acre campus.