June 8, 2007

Haring Mural Salvaged from Lower East Side Boys' Club

The New York art dealers Alberto Magnan and Dara Metz, of Magnan Projects, have salvaged a Keith Haring mural from the Boys’ Club of New York, reports Carol Vogel in the New York Times. The forty-thousand-pound work, created in 1987, was located at 135 Pitt Strreet, in a building purchased in 2003 by the nonprofit housing organization Common Ground, which wanted to demolish it and build low-cost housting on the site. “It was close to being destroyed, and Common Ground was trying to save it,” Magnan said. He and Metz volunteered to pay for a five-member crew to remove the wall before demolition, at a cost of more than $250,000, in exchange for the right to sell it. As for determining a price, he said: “It’s hard to know. Nothing like this has been on the market before.” Experts have suggested that it could be worth four to six million dollars.

June 8, 2007

Charles R. Schwab New SFMoMA Board Chair; New Directors of Tribeca Film Festival

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced yesterday that Charles R. Schwab will assume the position of chair of the board of trustees on July 1, 2007. He succeeds Steven H. Oliver, who has led the board since 2004. “Chuck’s combination of business acumen and great enthusiasm for art will be tremendous assets as we head toward the Museum’s seventy-fifth anniversary in 2010,” said SFMoMA director Neal Benezra.” Schwab has been vitally involved with SFMoMA since 1987, serving as a member of the board of trustees from 1987 to 1994. From 1999 to 2000, he chaired the Endowment Campaign, which raised more than sixty million dollars.

Elsewhere, Tribeca Film Festival and Tribeca Enterprises cofounder Jane Rosenthal announced yesterday that Peter Scarlet has been promoted to artistic director of the festival and that Nancy Schafer has been promoted to co–executive director. Schafer will share the position with Paola Freccero, who joins the company full-time as co–executive director. Schafer and Freccero will also hold posts as senior vice presidents of Tribeca Enterprises. Rosenthal further announced that Jennifer Maguire Isham will now serve as executive vice president of Tribeca Enterprises to help identify new business opportunities domestically and abroad, after having served six years as the festival’s president. The role of festival president has been retired at this time. All positions are newly created, and the appointments are effective immediately. Scarlet will continue to act as chief programmer of the festival in addition to his new responsibilities as artistic director.

June 7, 2007

New York City Settles Suit with Grad Art Students; Gehry to Take On Monkey Bars?

The city has settled a federal lawsuit by eighteen former Brooklyn College graduate art students and their teacher that charged that the city violated their free-speech rights, awarding them $750 each and $42,500 in fees to their three lawyers and issuing a letter of apology, reports Felicia Lee for the New York Times. Details of the settlement were released yesterday by Norman Siegel, a lawyer for the students, and by Jonathan Pines, an assistant corporation counsel. “The lesson here is that the government is not the appropriate body to judge the value of art work,” Siegel said. The suit, filed in district court in Brooklyn last June, claimed that the students’ First Amendment rights were violated and their work damaged last May when their thesis exhibition was ordered closed by the Brooklyn parks commissioner, Julius Spiegel. Spiegel wrote the letter of apology, after saying at the time that some of the artwork was inappropriate for families. A live rat and a sculpture of a hand holding a penis were in the show, presented in a World War II memorial hall near the Brooklyn Bridge.

Frank Gehry, the architect known for his buildings adorned with undulating banners of titanium, is set to make his first foray into the world of monkey bars and swing sets with a new playground at Battery Park, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced yesterday. The New York Times' Diane Cardwell reports that the design for the new playground, which is to transform an aging, underused expanse of gray-pebbled concrete, is to be unveiled later this year and is to include an environmentally friendly rest station with a planted roof and plant-based walls. “Everything Frank Gehry touches is unique, and I’m sure it will be a great park,” said Bloomberg.

June 6, 2007

Jay Gates to Leave Phillips Collection; Prouvé's Maison Tropicale Sold

Jay Gates, director of the Phillips Collection, announced yesterday that he would leave his job next year, writes the Washington Post's Jacqueline Trescott. Gates, who this week marked his ninth year as director, said he was stepping down because both he and the museum were ready for a transition. Gates led the Phillips through a five-year expansion that doubled the museum's size. “I have spent thirty-six years in the museum world, since 1971,” said Gates. “I love museums, I love what they do. They affect systems of education and the way people live. I would like to think about what that means.” After leaving his job, Gates plans to teach and write about changes in museum culture, as visitors demand up-to-date technology and amenities, crowd into blockbuster shows, and flock to visit showcase architecture.

Showcase architecture starred in other news last night: La Maison Tropicale, a movable metal house on stilts by French modernist designer Jean Prouvé, sold for $4.97 million at Christie's International in New York. Bloomberg's Lindsay Pollock writes that it sold at more than twice the price per area of a Park Avenue apartment. “I just love Prouvé,” said hotelier Andre Balazs, who bought the house and said he hasn't decided what he will do with it. Of one thing was he certain: “It belongs back in the tropics.” The Maison Tropicale is the third house to be sold at auction as an art object. In 1989, Sotheby's sold a 1950 Philip Johnson-designed Manhattan townhouse. (In 2000, the same house was auctioned at Christie's.) In 2003, Sotheby's sold Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's 1951 Farnsworth house in Plano, Illinois.

June 6, 2007

Luis Gordillo Receives Velázquez Award; Institutions Chosen for Site 2008

Seville painter Luis Gordillo has received the sixth Visual Arts Velázquez Award from the king of Spain, reports ArtDaily. In his speech after receiving the award, Gordillo summed up his artistic career and said he wanted to send a collective hug to all the artists who received the award before him. The award goes to the collection of works created by the artist and it is given out by the Ministry of Culture. The award, presided over by the king and by the minister of culture, Carmen Calvo, comes with €90,000 ($121,663) and was created by the Ministry of Culture in 2002. The winner of the award can choose another artist, younger than thirty-five, to receive the Velázquez Scholarship. The Ministry of Culture will also organize an exhibition of the works of Gordillo at the Reina Sofia Museum.

In other news, SITE Santa Fe has announced the fifteen international partners it has chosen for its seventh International Biennial exhibition, scheduled to run later this fall. The curator of the 2008 biennial, Lance Fung, has chosen the institutions—ranging from Palais de Tokyo in Paris to Ullens Center for the Arts in Beijing—that will each be invited to submit three artists, one of whom will be chosen by Fung to contribute a commissioned piece to the biennial. The other institutions selected are Gertrude Street, Melbourne; the Power Plant, Toronto; Centre for International Cultural Exchange, Ministry of Culture, Beijing; the Townhouse, Cairo; Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; Fondazione Antonio Mazzotta, Milan; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; Raster Gallery, Warsaw; the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; Centro de Arte Santa Monica, Barcelona; Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul; Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, New Mexico; and SITE Santa Fe.

June 5, 2007

International News Digest

This week's International News Digest, compiled by Jennifer Allen, has just been posted. Click to read news from Germany, France, Sweden, and elsewhere.

June 5, 2007

Updates on Pinault's Punta Della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi; Details of Calle's French Pavilion in Venice; Are Forged Warhol Brillo Boxes on the Market?


As the crowds arrive in Venice for the first stop on this summer's art tour, the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Henning Klüver checks out “Sequence 1: Paintings and Sculptures from the François Pinault Collection,” an exhibition at Pinault’s Palazzo Grassi. “At the same time as the art biennial in the Giardini,” writes Klüver, “the Palazzo is presenting its own little biennial with sixteen artists from four corners of the earth,” from Kristin Baker to Martial Raysse.

Welcoming Klüver, Jean-Jacques Aillagon—the Palazzo Grassi chief and former French minister of culture and Pompidou president—outlines Pinault’s plans for the Punta della Dogana after the collector won out against the Guggenheim Foundation in a heated bid to transform the location into a contemporary arts center. “It was hard work, but a nice victory,” said Aillagon, adding that 141 works from Pinault’s collection will appear there over the next thirty years, including prized pieces by Keith Haring, Alighiero Boetti, Mario Merz, and Mimmo Paladino. Exhibitions will change every six months.

Although there’s no word on how Japanese architect Tadao Ando will transform the Dogana, Aillagon insists that the design will not be a classical museum, “because you can’t put contemporary art into a mausoleum.” Instead the site promises the air of an atelier; collaborations are currently being initiated with the University of Venice and the city’s other educational institutes. As for the Palazzo Grassi, a collaboration with Bonn is in the works, for a mega-exhibition titled “Rome and the Barbarians,” due to start next year.


Elsewhere, Le Monde’s Harry Bellet offers a more detailed review of “Sequence 1” and notes that Pinault has now become a shareholder of Le Monde. The show is “a nice surprise,” writes Bellet, “a long way from the accumulation of last year’s ‘Where Are We Going,’ which piled up 220 works and was more an exhibition of trophies than an exhibition of art.” Since Takashi Murakami’s contribution did not arrive on time to be included in the show, artists Urs Fischer, Rudolf Stingel, and Anselm Reyle were happy to fill the gaps.

Having identified Pinault as a shareholder in his employer, Bellet has no other option but to quote critics from other newspapers, lest his own seal of approval be taken as an act of favoritism. Libération’s critic saluted curator Alison Gingeras for offering up the “essentials” to an international public in town for the Biennale. London’s Telegraph and Artnet.com also praise the selection. Calling Pinault the King Kong of the art world, Artnet’s Ben Davis portrays Gingeras as Fay Wray: The blonde American who is the only one capable of taming the beast.


Télérama offers an interview with Sophie Calle, who is representing France at this year’s Venice Biennale. Locating her curator for the national pavilion—fellow artist Daniel Buren—via want ads was only the first novelty in her contribution to the exhibition. While Calle made an international name for herself twenty-five years ago by tracing an unknown man to Venice, the artist is now presenting an attempt to forget a man instead of following one.

“Two years ago, I received a letter breaking off a relationship I was in,” Calle told Télérama. Adept at using her own life and the lives of friends as material, Calle decided to transform her “Dear Jane” letter into a project. “For the Biennale, I asked women to interpret the letter according to their profession,” explained the artist. 107 women responded. “A proofreader corrected spelling mistakes, a cruciverbalist created a crossword grid, a criminologist drew up a facial composite.”

For Calle, the only threat to the project was the possibility of a successful reunion. “I became so excited about the idea,” the artist reports, “I was almost afraid that the man might come back.”


Die Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that some of Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes might be forgeries. The original boxes, which were created in 1964, have since captured six-figure prices at auctions. According to a recent report in the Swedish newspaper Expressen, some of the prized boxes may have been made in Malmö in 1990—three years after Warhol’s death.

How did the fakes surface in Sweden? In 1968, Stockholm’s Moderna Museet ordered five hundred original Brillo boxes from America for a Warhol exhibition. To fill in some gaps in the installation, Pontus Hultén, who was then head of the museum and who died last year, is said to have ordered extra boxes, which were made in Sweden, with Warhol’s permission and according to the artist’s specifications. These 1968 copies can today garner up to 100,000 euros ($135,238) when accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

According to the Expressen report, in the mid-nineties, Hultén signed similar certificates for Brillo boxes that were made in 1990 in Malmö and shown in an exhibition in Saint Petersburg. These fake “Stockholm boxes” surfaced on the art market in 1994. In light of the report, current Moderna Museet director Lars Nittve has initiated an investigation into the newspaper’s claims.

Jennifer Allen

June 4, 2007

War of Words in Venice; Becker Named Dean of the School of the Arts at Columbia

The Independent reports that Venice Biennale's managing director has resigned amid a welter of snide remarks and angry accusations. Renato Quaglia said he had become exasperated with the exhibition's curator, Robert Storr. Quaglia said the final straw came when the bill for the festival came in a million euros over budget. “I have not gone over budget,” Storr told the Art Newspaper. “This is my world and I know how it works. I gather Mr. Quaglia is very well informed about theater. From my experience, he seems to know very little about visual art.”

Carol Becker, dean of faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has been named dean of the School of the Arts at Columbia University in Manhattan, reports the Chicago Tribune. Becker, who joined SAIC as an assistant professor in 1978, will assume the post September 1. Among her many publications is The Invisible Drama: Women and the Anxiety of Change, which has been translated into seven languages.

June 1, 2007

A Second Broad Museum; Timothy Potts Joins Fitzwilliam Museum

Four years ago, Eli Broad, the Los Angeles collector, philanthropist, and chairman of SunAmerica, gave the donation needed for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to build a contemporary art center, opening next year, to be called the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. It won’t be the only museum bearing the Broad name, writes Carol Vogel in the New York Times. This week, Michigan State University, from which Broad graduated in 1954, announced that he and his wife, Edythe, had given the university twenty-six million dollars for a new art museum. To be called the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, it will house the university’s current collection, which ranges from antiquities to contemporary art. “I hope besides a museum they get a great piece of architecture too,” Broad said. The university is in the process of choosing an architect. The finalists include Coop Himmelblau from Vienna, Thom Mayne from Los Angeles, Zaha Hadid from London, Randall Stout from Los Angeles, and William Pedersen from New York.

Vogel also reports that, exactly a week after Timothy Potts resigned as director of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, he was appointed director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England. In January, Mr. Potts replaces Duncan Robinson, who is retiring. The Fitzwilliam boasts world-famous collections of paintings, drawings, antiquities, decorative objects, and metals.