August 23, 2001

EUROPEAN HEADLINES AT A GLANCE

RIST EXPECTING, PRESENTS EXPECTING: Pipilotti Rist’s latest exhibition at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht has gained the attention of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Online (FAZ.NET), which has gathered an in-depth dossier on the Swiss artist, including an interview and an overview of the international video-art market. Although Rist is pregnant, it appears that the title of her new work Expecting, 2001, has more to do with the immaculate conception than her upcoming motherhood: It was made expressly for the museum’s medieval chapel. The dossier also reveals that Rist plans to leave Europe next year to go to UCLA, where she will teach with Paul McCarthy. The exhibition continues until November 18: View FAZ.NET interview

SPAGHETTI MAN IN FRANCE: Meanwhile, Paul McCarthy’s exhibition at the Villa Arson in Nice has garnered reviews in Libération (read review) and Le Monde (read Le Monde review), which both seem to rely on the catalogue published by New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art, where the show originated. Libération’s Elisabeth Lebovici makes a suggestive link between McCarthy and the Marquis de Sade but ends up quoting Rosalind Krauss’s The Optical Unconscious (1993) instead of Sade’s La Philosophie dans le boudoir (1795). Hélas. The Swiss are next to face McCarthy, whose “Pirate Drawings” will be on display in Zurich at Galerie Hauser & Wirth from August 25 to October 13.

KOONS TARGET IN EDINBURGH, DEFENDED IN AUSTRIA: Jeff Koons’s “Easyfun-Ethereal” paintings are receiving mixed reviews at the Fruitmarket Gallery during the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. It seems the forty-six-year-old artist gives the BBC’s Olive Clancy the giggles (read BBC review), though giving The Guardian’s Elisabeth Mahoney vertigo (read Guardian review). The reception seems more subdued at Austria’s Kunsthaus Bregenz, which is showing works from the same series, originally commissioned by Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. By contrast, FAZ reviewer Martin Engler takes a cool analytic tack, dismissing critics such as Robert Rosenblum who see Baroque or “Barococo” references in the paintings: Read FAZ.NET review

HAL FOSTER GETS UNDER GEHRY’S TITANIUM SKIN: In England, the BBC’s Steve Schifferes has dubbed Frank O. Gehry the “King of Pop” in an appropriately superficial review of the architect’s retrospective, now just winding down at New York’s Guggenheim Museum (read BBC review). In a lengthy study of Frank Gehry: The Art of Architecture (2001) in the London Review of Books, however, Hal Foster goes below the surface of Gehry’s “pop years” and wonders “Why all the hoopla?” (Read Foster review) Foster finds Gehry’s sculptural side in both Richard Serra and Claes Oldenburg, though he seems to ignore Frank Stella’s 1991 architectural model for a Kunsthalle in Dresden. Elsewhere, Le Monde takes a tour of the site for Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (Read Le Monde article), while the FAZ’s Niklas Maak considers architecture’s growing love affair with organic forms, giving a nod to Gehry’s favorite computer program “Catia”:
Read FAZ.NET article

FRENCH AUCTION MONOPOLY COMES TO AN END: Also, Britain and France are getting closer in more ways than one this week as the protectionist French auctioneers’ monopoly came to an end after four and a half centuries. The change, which gives foreign auction houses the right to sell in France, is the result of EU reforms as well as pressure from Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Representatives from both houses are among the eleven members recently named to the “Conseil des ventes” that will review 458 French auctioneers and foreign applicants. The Guardian considers the end of protectionism (Read Guardian article), while the International Herald Tribune offers an insider’s view of an old-fashioned market set to disappear: Read Tribune article

LEAVING LONDON: It turns out that Lars Nittve is part of a trend: foreigners who abruptly abandon top jobs at cultural institutes in London. Nittve recently left the Tate Modern to head the Moderna Museet in his native Sweden, but also gone from the English capital are German Karsten Witt, who recently left the South Bank Centre, and American Michael Kaiser, who is no longer heading Covent Garden. The Guardian’s Vanessa Thorpe reflects upon the alarming trend, noting that Nittve didn’t even return to London after his summer holiday; she suggests that he “effectively left without saying goodbye”: Read Guardian article

HIRST, EMIN SPEAK OUT AGAIN: The YBAs may be getting on in years, but the British press still can’t enough of them. Child of Margate, Tracey Emin defends her provocative art for the BBC (Read Emin article) and gets coverage for appearing on a talk show in The Guardian this week (Read Guardian article). Both media outlets offer excerpts of an interview with Damien Hirst that will appear in Gordon Burns’s upcoming book On The Way To Work (October 2001). Hirst comments on his drug use and the British art world, adding the novel insight: “Charles Saatchi believed he could affect art values with buying power.” Even more startling is The Guardian’s addendum to the article: (Read Guardian addendum)

Jennifer Allen

August 21, 2001

DAVID A. ROSS RESIGNS FROM SF MoMA

David A. Ross abruptly resigned as director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (www.sfmoma.org) last Friday, a position he had accepted after leaving the Whitney Museum of American Art three years ago. The move came so unexpectedly that the San Francisco Chronicle, in an article published on Friday, quoted several people prominent in the San Francisco art community expressing their disbelief. The story even quoted Ross’s wife saying that the move was “a surprise."

In an attempt to explain their director’s unexpected departure, the museum’s board of trustees issued a statement saying that Ross had priorities “that diverged from those of the museum.“ Its chairperson, Ellen McKeon, told the New York Times on Saturday that the economic downturn in San Francisco in the wake of its high-tech economy’s decline was forcing the museum to shift its focus to ”internal management,” whereas Ross, she stated, “is focused on external matters."

Today, however, another article in the Chronicle shed new light on the situation. At a lunch with McKeon and the board’s president, Richard L. Greene, the fifty-one-year-old Ross explained that his sudden departure was due largely to his desire to make more money than his current $393,000 annual salary. “I have to think about myself a bit,” he was quoted as saying. Apparently, in an effort to do so, earlier this year Ross became a director of Eyestorm, a London-based website founded in 1999 as a self-styled alternative to the traditional gallery system. A venture-capital start-up, Eyestorm signs exclusive contracts with artists such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, and William Wegman, and sells art in shops in New York and Paris as well as online. Prominent California media-art collector Dick Kramlich also sits on its board.

The move, however, was not well received by SF MoMA's board, which believed that conflicts of interest were inevitable. The article suggested that this situation, which emerged in May, was largely responsible for Ross’s resignation last week. The luncheon seemed planned to quell any sense that Ross is departing under duress, and the museum board insists that Ross's resignation shouldn't affect his career. “David’s reputation in the global art community is excellent, and we know he will contribute greatly to any institution he decides to join,” McKeon said.

Indeed, since arriving at SF MoMA, Ross has been very successful at drawing attention to the institution: Membership has nearly doubled, from 24,000 to 44,000 (more than New York’s MoMA), since he came on board. Over a period of three years, Ross and the museum have spent $140 million buying works by Chuck Close, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Rauschenberg, and Sam Francis, among others, in a bid to build a collection equal to their world-class ambitions.

Because Ross's resignation is effective immediately, SF MoMA has stated that it is already consulting executive search firms to find a new director. According to the first story in the San Francisco Chronicle, Ross was already entertaining new job prospects as early as Thursday evening. One unconfirmed rumor circulating in San Francisco is that he may head to Mass MoCA, although that institution's director, Joseph C. Thompson, told Artforum yesterday that he knew nothing of such a prospect.

Reena Jana

August 17, 2001

NATIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP

DENVER ART MUSEUM HIRES NEW-MEDIA AND PHOTO CURATOR: After a year-long search, John Pultz has been named a consulting curator of photography and new media for the Denver Art Museum's modern and contemporary art department (www.denverartmuseum.org). In addition to planning the display of the museum's collection of photography in its new contemporary art wing, which will open in 2005, Pultz will organize photography, video, and digital-art exhibitions, and intends to continue his current duties as associate professor of art history and curator of photography at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. Pultz is a former curatorial fellow in the department of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has curated many exhibitions, among them “Cindy Sherman: Selections from the Eli Broad Family Foundation Collection.”

SEATTLE COLLECTORS RECOGNIZED BY PHILLIPS COLLECTION: The Phillips Collection (www.phillipscollection.org) in Washington, DC, has recently announced that the third annual Duncan Phillips Award on November 1 will honor Bagley and Virginia Wright, collectors based in the Seattle, WA, area. The Wrights, who made their fortune from Mr. Wright's real-estate development company, which built, among other structures, Seattle's Space Needle, have amassed holdings of modern and contemporary art by major artists of the twentieth century. The Wrights are major patrons of the Seattle Art Museum, to which they have promised gifts from their collection, including the paintings Manuscript, 1963, by Robert Rauschenberg and No. 10, 1952, by Mark Rothko. Each year, the award is given to a notable collector who reflects “the notion that current art doesn't break from the past, but instead continues on an art historical path,” said Lynn Rossotti, a spokeswoman for the Phillips Collection. Award recipients are chosen by an independent panel of museum curators and collectors not affiliated with the collection. This year's panel included Ned Rifkin, director of the Menil Collection in Houston. Previous winners include cosmetics magnate and art collector Leonard Lauder (1999), owner of a highly regarded collection of Cubist works, and David Rockefeller (2000).

SENATE CONFIRMS NEW HEAD OF IMLS: The United States Senate recently confirmed Robert Sidney Martin, a librarian and archivist, as director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (www.imls.gov), an independent, five-year-old Federal grant-making agency that funds American libraries and museums. Previously professor and interim director of the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman's University, Martin will replace Beverly Sheppard, who has been the senior official at IMLS since March 1999. Sheppard will remain at IMLS, stepping down to serve in her former role as deputy director for museum services. The agency currently has an annual budget of approximately $230 million and is advised by two Presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed entities: the National Commission for Libraries and Information Science and the National Museum Services Board.

Reena Jana

August 15, 2001

MARK DION AND CLAIRE COREY HONORED BY ALDRICH MUSEUM

Conceptual artist Mark Dion has been named the recipient of the 2001 Larry Aldrich Foundation Award. Selected by a panel that included, among others, curator Thelma Golden, artist Doug Aitken, gallerist Bill Maynes, writer and curator Dominique Nahas, and founding director of the New Museum, Marcia Tucker, Dion receives $25,000 and a show at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art (www.aldrichart.org), which gives the award annually to an American artist whose work has been influential in the previous three years. Past recipients have included Elizabeth Murray, Cindy Sherman, Bruce Nauman, Robert Gober, and Doug Aitken.

Dion is known for installations that resemble natural history museum displays and elaborate “digs” held in places not normally thought to hold archaeological treasures. In History Trash Dig, 1995, for example, Dion removed two cubic meters of earth from behind a wall in Fribourg, Switzerland, to display the refuse that had been thrown there for centuries. A year before the Tate Modern opened in its current location, Dion presented Tate Thames Dig, a collection of items he unearthed from the banks of the London river. One goal of these urban archaeological expeditions, according to Dion, is to examine the subjective, arbitrary nature of scientific history and its classification systems. “I consider myself a visual artist with a keen interest in the science of life,” wrote Dion on the occasion of the 2000 Carnegie International. The themes of science, natural history, and museological classification were first explored by '60s figures such as Marcel Broodthaers and Robert Smithson. They continue to influence many contemporary artists, most directly perhaps Dion, but also Alexis Rockman, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Damien Hirst.

The Aldrich also presented digital artist Claire Corey with the Aldrich Emerging Artist Award, for which she received $3,000. Selected by the museum’s curatorial staff, Corey creates abstract, computer-generated and -manipulated images that can’t easily be classified as either paintings or prints. Corey was featured last year in the Aldrich’s “Ink Jet” exhibition, which featured work created solely with digital equipment found in today’s average office, including the titular ink jet printer. Past recipients of the award have included Roxy Paine, Paul Henry Ramirez, and John F. Simon Jr.

Reena Jana

August 13, 2001

MOMA MAKES A MOVE

This week, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (www.moma.org) plans to demolish its north wing. It will be the latest step in the institution’s $650 million renovation. But as construction continues on Yoshio Taniguchi’s design for the new West 53rd Street building, MoMA has been equally preoccupied with moving its offices and galleries to a temporary home designed by architect Michael Maltzan in Long Island City, Queens. When it opens in the summer of 2002, the MoMA QNS, as it will be called, will offer 25,000 square feet of exhibition space (as compared to MoMA’s current 85,000 square feet).

The transition requires, among other things, the transfer of thousands of artworks to a number of storage sites throughout the New York area, which museum officials are keeping secret for security reasons. Some works, of course, will be on view in Queens, including van Gogh’s The Starry Night, 1889, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907, and Warhol’s Gold Marilyn Monroe, 1962. These crowd pleasers, perhaps unsurprisingly, are the most requested works of art by visitors inquiring at the museum’s information desk. They will return to the Manhattan space once it reopens in 2004 with 125,000 square feet of exhibition space, at which time MoMA QNS will be transformed into a permanent art storage and study center.

To accomplish a tidy transition, the museum devised a strategy with the aid of architectural firm Cooper, Robertson, & Partners several years ago. With a master plan in place, staff began moving out of their midtown offices in waves: the finance department in 1999, followed by payroll operations in 2000. The curatorial staff moved only six months ago. “It was an extremely abstract exercise,” said MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry, speaking from his part-time office in Queens, where he spends two days per week. “We had to figure out who would move first, what groups could move at the same time, with every step depending on when different parts of the museum would be demolished.”

Lowry, for one, is elated to be in Queens and sees it an opportunity to enhance MoMA’s programming. “I love it out here. I’ve got one of best views of Manhattan anywhere. I can see the Chrysler Building and the UN, and I wouldn’t be surprised if visitors were to get attached to the exhibition space, which will operate more like a Kunsthalle than MoMA does.”

In the meantime, the museum has commissioned new works for its Projects series to be installed in the construction area. Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson will place fifty panes of striped clear-and-mirrored glass in the existing windows facing the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, which has been torn up by construction crews. Entitled Seeing Yourself Sensing, the work will offer a parallel to the ripped-up garden in the form of fragmented, multiplied images. Eliasson’s installation opens on September 13 and runs until MoMA QNS opens. Ricci Albenda and Layla Ali will also be premiering works in the coming months.

Logistical dilemmas in both construction and relocation have been abundant if manageable. One early concern was the residents of Museum Towers who, according to MoMA officials, raised questions about the project and its potential to disrupt the area. In the end, the New York City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the zoning request for the expansion project. In addition, the museum narrowly avoided delays in its transition last year when MoMA staff went on a twenty-week strike. Media reports appeared at the time claiming that MoMA’s preferred sculpture movers, teamsters from Mariano Brothers of Danbury, Connecticut, refused to cross the picket line.

Multimillion-dollar art collection notwithstanding, one of the biggest challenges turns out to have been moving the trees in the sculpture garden. “We couldn’t get a daytime permit for trucks large enough to move the trees,” said William Maloney, MoMA’s project director in charge of the renovation and relocation. Sadly perhaps, in the process, the museum discovered that the trees will be too large for the new space; they will remain where they are currently being stored, the New York Botanical Gardens, after the new structure is built. “They’ve outgrown this garden,” said Maloney. “They can’t afford to live in Manhattan any more.”

Reena Jana

August 8, 2001

HASEGAWA CHOOSES ARTISTS FOR ISTANBUL BIENNIAL

The list of artists participating in the 7th Istanbul Biennial (www.istfest.org/bienal/eng/bienalFrameset.htm) was confirmed this week. Among the group of sixty international artists are well-known figures such as Rirkrit Tiravanija, Gabriel Orozco, On Kawara, Isa Genzken, Sislej Xhafa, Chris Burden, and Guillermo Kuitca. But the list also extends to less obvious choices, including Japanese architectural firm SANAA, which designed the new Prada beauty shops, Chris Cunningham, the young British music-video director who shot the video for Björk?s ?All Is Full of Love,? and fashion designer Hussein Chalayan, known for his stylish sculptural garments.

?It?s an attempt to make art more accessible to an audience from outside the art world,? explains Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator at the Contemporary Art Museum in Kanazawa, Japan, set to open in 2004, and the organizer of this year?s biennial. The idea seems to have more reach this year than usual. The Bienal de Valencia in Spain also presented art not traditionally exhibited in galleries and museums. Director Luigi Settembrini went so far as to choose filmmaker Peter Greenaway and theatrical designer Robert Wilson as curators of individual sections, in addition to veteran curator Achille Bonito Oliva. For the Venice Biennale Harald Szeemann included filmmakers Atom Egoyan, Chantal Akerman, Abbas Kiarostami, and David Lynch, as well as theater, dance, and music. For the Istanbul Biennial, Hussein Chalayan is creating dresses that fold into the shape of air-mail envelopes, which he has sent to some of the artists participating in the show. They, in turn, will then send them to their friends. Women who wear the dresses will apparently write messages on them before returning them to Turkey for display at the biennial.

Titled ?Egofugal: Fugue from Ego for the Next Emergence,? Hasegawa?s exhibition is meant to describe work that rejects the dominance of the ego and turns instead to a blend of both Eastern and Western philosophies for guidance. To this end, she has coined the New Age-ish term ?Egofugal,? a combination of ego and fugal in Latin. Moreover, in a nod to the curator?s Japanese roots, a new exhibition space on the Asian side of Istanbul?which famously straddles Europe and the Asia?will be added to the three traditional sites used in the past, including the 1,400-year-old Byzantine church, the Hagia Eirene, located on the European side of the Bosphorus.

Hasegawa will also present new works by the performance artists Maja Bajevic from Bosnia and Okisata Nagata from Japan. Rirkrit Tiravanija will debut a collaborative project in which he screens four movies chosen by readers who have responded to a survey published in a local newspaper.

On view from September 22 through November 17, 2001, Hasegawa?s exhibition seems a departure from Paolo Colombo?s exhibition two years ago. At least partly as a reaction against the dominance of new-media and installation art, Colombo featured more traditional forms, including painting, drawing, and photography by artists such as Kara Walker and Chris Ofili, Cuban painter Pedro Alvarez, and African photographer Dorris Haron Kascoas. But that?s not to say there has been a complete break. For one, the earthquake that hit Istanbul a month before the last biennial continues to haunt expectations for the exhibition. ?The people of Istanbul are still depressed,? says Hasegawa. ?And it forces you to ask how a biennial can help in such an atmosphere.?

Reena Jana

August 7, 2001

TATE STRIKE UNLIKELY

Negotiations are continuing between the Tate and the three unions that represent the 800-plus employees working at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St. Ives. Although a proposal for a pay raise put forth last week was rejected by the majority of employees, recent reports in the British press about a possible strike at the galleries have been “premature,” according to Piers Townshend, a union secretary.

The three unions for Tate employees, Public and Commercial Services (PCS), the Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists (IPMS), and the First Division Association (FDA), represent, respectively, low-, middle-, and high-income-level employees at the Tate organization. The PCS union accepted the Tate’s offer of a 7.5 percent pay raise, bringing their average annual salary up to £12,000. The IPMS and the FDA were proposed salary increases of only 2.7 percent, just slightly above the inflation rate. The pay increase, which would be retroactive from April 2001, was rejected unanimously by the FDA and by a majority of IPMS members, who include curators and conservators.

“We feel we’re underpaid with respect to other public sectors,” explains Townshend. The inequality can be traced back to the Conservative government, which in 1997 untied museum employees from other civil servants. Since then, wages have been not determined centrally but negotiated separately at each gallery or museum. “Our salaries have slipped,” claims Townshend. “Now, we make 10 percent less than the civil servants.”

While Townshend was disappointed with the Tate’s recent offer, he says that a strike or a work stoppage is unrealistic for the moment. “If we discontinued working unpaid overtime, the galleries’ activities would come to a stop.” According to Townshend, the Tate would like to pay more, but the money is simply not there. Director Nicholas Serota has promised to discuss the problem with trustees before talks with the IPMS and FDA resume in September.

Jennifer Allen

August 2, 2001

MAYA LIN; GLASS AND NESHAT; PERRY DEAN ROGERS & PARTNERS

MAYA LIN TO DESIGN SCULPTURECENTER: Architect and sculptor Maya Lin was chosen last month to design the new facility of SculptureCenter, which is currently in the process of moving from Manhattan’s Upper East Side to Long Island City. “Lin really understands the architectural issues of exhibition and work spaces,” said Mary Ceruti, executive director of SculptureCenter. “She’s highly responsive to site, content, and material. That will serve us well given the nature of the existing building.” Other finalists in the competition were Deborah Berke, Diller + Scofidio, Specht Harpman Design, and Weisz + Yoes.

The new site for the organization is a ninety-three-year-old steel-and-brick former trolley-repair shop that will provide 4,500 square feet of gallery space, a library, and a live/work space for artists-in-residence, as well as 3,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space. The new building was purchased largely with proceeds of the sale of SculptureCenter’s former home. The first phase of renovation, which has a budget of $1 million, is scheduled to be completed by mid-2002.

PHILIP GLASS COLLABORATES WITH SHIRIN NESHAT: A new collaboration between composer Philip Glass and video artist Shirin Neshat made its official debut at New York’s Lincoln Center on July 26 (though the piece was first shown at a “pre-debut screening” at Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA). Titled Passage, the short film directed and shot by Neshat features scenes of a desert funeral set to an original score by Glass performed by the Philip Glass Ensemble. “The challenge of working with Shirin came through the encounter I’ve had with heage-ior work, which is completely coherent and articulate,” Glass told Artforum. “At first sight it might seem that no additional material is required, that no elements need be added. At second sight, however, I found the work inspiring, and it led me to a musical world that hopefully complements her work.” The film was screened along with four other new works by filmmakers in collaboration with Glass, including Atom Egoyan, who recently collaborated with artist Julião Sarmento on a project for the Venice Biennale, and Peter Greenaway. The series, entitled “Shorts” will tour the US beginning in October.

NEW ADDITION TO ICA BOSTON DESIGN TEAM: Boston-based firm Perry Dean Rogers & Partners has been named as associate architects for the new home of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, which is being designed by Diller + Scofidio. “PDRP knows what it takes to build in Boston and has experience collaborating with other firms,” stated Jill Medvedow, the ICA's director. Perry Dean Rogers & Partners recently designed the Information Services Building for Harvard University. The final design for the ICA, a 60,000-square-foot museum located at Boston's Fan Pier, is scheduled to be unveiled next year. The new building is set to open in 2004.

Reena Jana

August 1, 2001

CAI GUO-QIANG WITHDRAWS WORK FROM PARRISH SHOW

Chinese-born artist Cai Guo-Qiang refused to alter his proposal for a new installation set to debut last week in “About the Bayberry Bush,” an exhibition of work by twelve contemporary artists commissioned by the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, NY. Guest curators Ingrid Schaffner and Melissa Feldman asked the artists, who also include Peter Doig, Bonnie Collura, Lee Mingwei, Joan Jonas, and Joseph Grigely, to create works in response to a popular nineteenth-century painting entitled The Bayberry Bush, 1895, by American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Cai proposed a room-size installation that would feature paintings by both Chase and himself. The project also called for eight live, freely roaming turtles for whom Cai would build Chinese-style ceramic houses in the corners of the exhibition space. Cai had done a similar installation with live turtles in Japan. The conflict arose when the Parrish decided the live animals would pose health risks to humans, including the possible spread of salmonella. The museum proposed an alternative: creating an enclosed area for the turtles that would keep them away from visitors. “We were really looking out for the safety of both the people and the turtles,” said Alicia Longwell, a staff curator at the Parrish. “Sadly, he felt that our suggestion compromised his concept.” Only a sketch of the installation is included in the show, on view through October 14.

Reena Jana