June 11, 2005

Artists, Gallerists and Collectors Sue Over Momart Fire

More than forty artists, galleries and collectors have begun a legal battle against the storage company Momart over works destroyed in a warehouse fire in east London last year, Arifa Akbar reports in The Independent. The list of litigants includes some of the most powerful figures in the industry: the artists Damien Hirst and Gillian Ayres; the sculptor Barry Flanagan; five Royal Academy of Arts trustees, including the celebrated architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw; and a host of galleries.

June 10, 2005

Mixing Business with Pleasure at the Getty?

During his seven-year stewardship, Barry Munitz, chief executive of the J. Paul Getty Trust, has led the Getty through a trying period of change. But he has also pushed the limits on how nonprofit organizations use their resources, Jason Felch, Robin Fields and Louise Roug write in the Los Angeles Times. Documents show that Munitz has spent lavishly, traveling the world first class at Getty expense, often with his wife, staying at luxury hotels and mixing business with pleasure. In balancing outside pursuits and in managing the Getty, employees and critics say, Munitz has blurred the line between his own interests and those of the organization he leads.

June 10, 2005

Liverpool Museum Unveils a Less Controversial Design

While members of the public were having their first glimpse of what the new Museum of Liverpool will look like, intensive talks were going on behind the scenes to secure funding, Larry Nield reports in the Liverpool Daily Post. The proposed project, seen as an alternative to Will Alsop's ill-fated design, nicknamed “The Cloud,” is likely to cost around £65 million ($118 million), a sum that includes the construction costs and creating a series of exhibition halls. Early reactions from the public show that the building will generate controversy and mixed feelings, though the first-day response was positive and supportive. That will come as a comfort to the architects, Danish firm 3XN, following the public onslaught that greeted Alsop's design.

June 9, 2005

Warhol Foundation to Pursue Internet Pirates

In the last two decades, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc. has filed several lawsuits charging copyright infringement of Warhol's work, Felicia R. Lee writes in the New York Times. Yesterday, it announced the first of what it said it expected would be “a significant number” of lawsuits in the next year saying the Internet is being used for such pirating. “There are probably a dozen sites offering Warhol rip-offs,” said Paul Hanly, a partner at the law firm Hanly Conroy Bierstein & Sheridan, which is pursuing the suit with the firm SimmonsCooper.

June 9, 2005

“Fridamania” and the Personality-Driven Culture Industry

In Tate Modern's Frida Kahlo retrospective, which opens on Thursday, Adrian Searle writes in The Guardian, Kahlo's self-appraising and self-dramatizing portraits lead us inexorably to the woman beyond the painting: to her biography, to the movies, to the current excess of what has been called Fridamania, the cult of Frida Kahlo. This might be good for business at the Tate, and for Hollywood and franchise sellers of Kahlobilia, but it makes looking at her art a complicated business, even though by now we are used to cultish artistic reputations that focus as much on the artist as on what they do. This trend is probably irreversible in the modern, personality-driven culture industry, whether we are talking about Kahlo or Beuys, Warhol or Bourgeois, or even Tracey Emin.

June 9, 2005

Art Prices “Near Lunacy,” Says Investor

Michael Steinhardt made his millions as a hedge-fund manager by betting against overvalued companies, Bloomberg reports. Now, he says it's time to sell overpriced Picassos and Pollocks and buy bargains, such as antiquities. “Contemporary art prices are in fantasy land—they're near lunacy,” says Steinhardt.

June 8, 2005

LACMA Names New President

Melody Kanschat, a 16-year administrator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, will take over the museum's presidency July 1, Christopher Reynolds reports in the Los Angeles Times. The move is part of the restructuring that will make the presidency the second-ranking job in the institution. The top job will go to the director who is chosen to succeed Andrea Rich, who is serving as museum president and director. Rich will retain the director title until she retires November 7.

June 8, 2005

Art Historians at Odds Over Authenticity of Pollocks

At first, it was a joyous artistic discovery. Now it's one of the hottest controversies in the art world, Steven Litt writes in the Plain Dealer. Three weeks ago, with great fanfare, New York art dealer Mark Borghi announced the discovery of thirty-two hitherto-unknown paintings and studies by Jackson Pollock. Cleveland art historian Ellen Landau, an expert on Pollock, added luster to the announcement by stating that the works are authentic. Since then, however, Eugene Victor Thaw, a famous art dealer and highly respected expert on Pollock, has cast doubt on the paintings.

June 7, 2005

Philadelphia Museum of Art Announces $500 Million Expansion

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is embarking on what would be the largest cultural expansion in Philadelphia history, an extremely ambitious, $500 million effort to expand and renovate its iconic building, Peter Dobrin and Inga Saffron report in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Under the plan, the museum would dig deep into the hillside on which it is built to carve out a vast new exhibition space to house its growing collections. The subterranean addition would increase the museum's available display space by 60 percent.