London ICA Considers Obrist for Directorship; France's National Institute of Art History Opens; A Successful Run for ARCO 2005


Will Hans-Ulrich Obrist become the next director of London's ICA? According to a report from The Guardian's Charlotte Higgins, Obrist is the favorite to take over from former director Philip Dodd, who resigned last summer. Obrist, curator at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, was one of five candidates interviewed last week at Tate Britain for the ICA directorship. “A source close to the selection process confirmed Mr. Obrist was the chosen name,” writes Higgins. “But added: 'He hasn't signed a contract.'” As Higgens reports, the ICA has offered no confirmation, but has said that the museum council, which is responsible for the decision, will meet this week.


At long last, France has established a centralized library for the study of art history, Libération's Vincent Noce reports. The Institut national de l'histoire de l'art (INHA) was inaugurated last week in Colbert Galerie, close to the Palais-Royal. The ministers of culture, education, and research were on hand for the historic event, which has been in the offing since 1908, when the collector and designer Jacques Doucet opened a library for the fine arts. His exceptional collection—150,000 books and manuscripts and 280,000 photographs—was donated to the Université de Paris in 1917 and stayed there until 1991, when it was moved to the former site of the Bibiliothèque nationale. In 2001, the archeologist Alain Schnapp established the INHA, organized the move of Doucet’s collection to the Galerie Colbert, and convinced French national museums to donate their own libraries, which had been sitting in storage at the Louvre. “The library thus counts among its holdings a million monographs, theses, catalogues . . .” writes Noce. “One dreams that the state will find the means to enrich the library even more by acquiring the private archives of gallerists [or] auctioneers.” The dream, as always, will depend upon the state's coffers.


After a rocky beginning, the 2005 ARCO art fair concluded in Madrid this week. As Le Monde's Harry Bellet reports, a car bomb exploded on the fair's opening day, February 9, in a public parking lot outside the Juan Carlos I Convention Center near the fair grounds. According to Spanish police, the Basque militant group Eta claimed responsibility for the attack, which injured forty-three people. Despite the blast, that evening, King Juan Carlos, accompanied by the Mexican president Vicente Fox, attended the official opening of the fair, where Mexico was this year's guest of honor. ARCO's organizer Alvarez de Manzano told Le Monde, “If terrorists want to interrupt our daily life once again, it is our duty to continue, despite everything.” The attack did not seem to deter visitors to ARCO, which, with over 200,000 attendees in one week, remains the most popular fair in the world.

Jennifer Allen