The Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College has been given a rare slap on the wrist: Randy Kennedy reports in the New York Times that the Association of Art Museum Directors has asked its members not to loan works to or collaborate with the Randolph’s museum. The college’s crime? Its decision to sell a George Bellows painting in order to raise money towards the college’s operating budget. The 1912 painting, Men of the Docks, was purchased for $2,500—money raised by a group of students at the college. Last month, it was revealed that the museum sold it to the National Gallery of Art in London for $25.5 million. “The prohibition against the sale of works of art from museum collections for such purposes is a violation of one of the most fundamental professional principles of the art-museum field,” said the association in a statement. The group also asked member museums to “suspend any loans of works of art to and any collaboration on exhibitions and programs with the Maier Museum of Art.”
Sandra Jackson-Dumont has been appointed chairman of education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since 2006 she has acted as director of education and public programs as well as adjunct curator of modern and contemporary art at the Seattle Art Museum. Prior to this role, she held positions at the Studio Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Said director Thomas P. Campbell: “Sandra is a visionary, highly respected educator who has been connecting art and audiences at museums on the East and West coasts for a number of years. I am thrilled that she has agreed to return to New York City to lead our extensive educational initiatives with her trademark dynamism and intelligence.”
The J. Paul Getty Trust, the world’s richest visual-art institution, saw its endowment rise to $6.2 billion over 2013 due to a surge in financial markets, reports Mike Boehm of the Los Angeles Times. Gains from investments totaled $766.74 million over the past year—the institution saw a 13.7 percent return on its investments—which is enough to cover its expenses while saving $534 million. Officials said the endowment gained an additional $300 million during the second half of 2013, reaching $6.2 billion by the year’s end. The core budget for the current fiscal year is $263 million, which remains 20 percent below where it stood at its prerecession peak. President James Cuno remarked that, despite these gains, the institution plans to continue a program of fiscal conservatism: “One makes decisions independent of available resources because one wants to make sure one is spending wisely.”
Prada Marfa, the conceptual storefront by Elmgreen and Dragset, was defaced over the weekend, according to the Art Newspaper’s Helen Stoilas. While the project has frequently been damaged with graffiti and bullet holes, the wreckage is worse this time: The site’s “now coated in toxic paint while the insulation foam garbage left behind by the defacer(s) blows across the highway and into the landscape,” in the words of Ballroom Marfa. "It is crazy that we have come to a point in our culture where some individuals in their insane egomania, eager to obtain a bit of attention, start attacking other artists’ works,” wrote Elmgreen and Dragset. “To believe that you can fight something like social inequality by overpainting a sculptural work in the Texan dessert with toxic blue paint is pretty off the target.”
According to the Big Bend Sentinel’s John Daniel Garcia, some are speculating that an artist known as 9271977 may be responsible for the damage, because text left at the site matches passages found on the artist’s website. Garcia also noted that Ballroom Marfa’s executive director Melissa McDonnell Lujan estimates the cost of repair to fall somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000.
The Asheville Art Museum in North Carolina will have another six months to demonstrate to the local tourism board that it’s met its fundraising goal of $17 million in order to receive an additional $2 million in government money for an ambitious expansion program. According to Roger McCredie in The Tribune Papers, museum executive director Pam Myers said that about $11.4 million had been raised since 2006.
Chilean architect Smiljan Radic has been commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery to design its 2014 pavilion. Radic will be the fourteenth architect to build a temporary structure at the entrance of the Serpentine, in Kensington Gardens. He’s designed buildings such as the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino in Santiago and the Wardrobe and the Mattress in Tokyo. Describing his plans for Serpentine, he said, “the visitor will see a fragile shell suspended on large quarry stones. This shell—white, translucent, and made of fiberglass—will house an interior organized around an empty patio, from where the natural setting will appear lower, giving the sensation that the entire volume is floating. At night, thanks to the semitransparency of the shell, the amber tinted light will attract the attention of passers-by, like lamps attracting moths.” Last year almost 200,000 people visited Sou Fujimoto’s cloud-like pavilion.
The 2015 Venice Biennale will open earlier than previous editions, running from May 9 to November 22, with previews scheduled for May 6 to 8. Gareth Harris of the Art Newspaper reports that the Biennale could clash with the Frieze New York Fair, which this year opens its VIP previews on May 8. A spokeswoman from Frieze New York stated that dates for the 2015 fair have not been finalized, but that Frieze is “aware of the potential crunch points in the calendar next year and are looking to make a decision in the forthcoming weeks.” Previous editions of the Biennale generally open just before Art Basel in Switzerland. Art Basel Hong Kong announced last week that its 2015 edition has been moved to March, which means it will avoid an “impending bottleneck,” as Harris writes.
David J. Skorton, currently president of Cornell University, has been named the thirteenth secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, which operates a $1.3 billion collection of museums, research centers, and a zoological park. The Freer Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Sackler Gallery, the Renwick Gallery, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum are among the nineteen museums included within the institute. The past year has been tumultuous for the Smithsonian, which closed completely during the government shutdown, saw $41 million of its budget cut during sequestration, and has been at the center of a public debate over redesign plans for the Hirshhorn Museum. Lonnae O’Neal Parker and Katherine Boyle of the Washington Post report that among the most closely watched tests of Skorton's leadership will be how the cardiologist and first physician to lead the Smithsonian will deal with tensions between the institution’s artistic and scientific arms.
Said John G. Roberts, Jr., Smithsonian chancellor and chief justice of the United States: “David Skorton has demonstrated keen vision and skilled leadership as the president of two great American universities. His character, experience, and talents are an ideal match for the Smithsonian’s broad and dynamic range of interests, endeavors, and aspirations. I look forward to working with David to increase the impact of an incomparable American institution across the spectrum of arts, sciences, education, and culture.”
Sheikha Hoor bint Sultan Al-Qasimi has been named the curator of the United Arab Emirates’ pavilion at the Fifty-sixth Venice Biennale. As president and director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, Al-Qasimi has contributed to the development of the Sharjah Biennale and curated its sixth edition. She also serves as chair of the advisory board for the University of Sharjah’s College of Art and Design. “I believe it is important to recognize the great depth of artistic talent in the UAE,” said Al-Qasimi, “and to acknowledge the history of art and cultural production in this country.”