July 31, 2009

Nicholas Baume to Head Public Art Fund

Nicholas Baume, chief curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston since 2003, has been named the new director of the Public Art Fund, which presents temporary art installations throughout New York City, reports Carol Vogel for the New York Times. He succeeds Rochelle Steiner, who left in April; his tenure will begin on September 21.

The Sydney-born Baume, forty-four, helped establish the Boston institute’s “Momentum” project series, which features site-specific installations by emerging artists. While there, his team produced up to twelve new exhibitions and commissions annually. Artists for which Baume organized shows while at the ICA include Ugo Rondinone, Rodney McMillian, Gerard Byrne, Tara Donovan, Thomas Hirschhorn, Kai Althoff, and Carol Bove, among others. While he said it was premature to discuss specific artists or the kinds of works he would like to present in New York, he said he took the job because “I love working on ambitious projects with great artists.” He added that “the chance to create extraordinary works in a context like New York is unequaled.”

July 31, 2009

MCA Chicago’s Chief Curator Steps Down

Elizabeth Smith, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, will resign from her post on August 31, the Chicago Tribune reports. Madeleine Grynsztejn, the MCA’s president, characterized Smith’s upcoming departure as a “natural juncture” rather than a result of creative differences or economic troubles posed by the recession. Smith, fifty one, was appointed chief curator in 1999.

“I feel that I’ve accomplished a lot here. I’m interested and eager to do new things,” possibly museum work elsewhere or “something in a university setting,” she said in a telephone interview. Her resignation was her decision, by her account and Grynsztejn’s. The MCA will conduct an international search and hopes to name a replacement within six months. An interim chief curator, yet to be named, is expected to come from within its ranks.

Her major exhibitions include a widely praised 2004 retrospective of Lee Bontecou and a 2008 survey of Jenny Holzer. She also organized architecture and design exhibitions such as the 1999 show “At the End of the Century: 100 Years of Architecture,” for which she served as co-curator.

July 31, 2009

Morton Appointed Curator at National Gallery; Mackenzie at Nelson-Atkins

The National Gallery of Art in Washington announced this week that Mary Morton, associate curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles since 2004, will run its department of French paintings. Morton is currently developing an online catalogue of the Getty’s painting collection, reports Carol Vogel for the New York Times. In Los Angeles, she has organized several exhibitions, including “Sur le Motif: Painting in Nature Around 1800,” in 2008, and “Oudry’s Painted Menagerie,” in 2007.

In related news, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has announced Colin C. Mackenzie as its new senior curator of early Chinese art, reports Artinfo. Mackenzie comes to the Nelson-Atkins with twenty years of previous experience as a professional in Asian art and fifteen years of curatorial experience. He worked as the associate director and curator of Asian art at the Asia Society in New York, curator and head of the department of Asian art at the Yale University Art Gallery, and, most recently, as curator of Asian art and adjunct professor at Middlebury College in Vermont.

July 30, 2009

Annie Leibovitz Sued by Art Capital Group

The photographer Annie Leibovitz was sued by Art Capital Group and accused of failing to live up to the terms of agreements for loans of twenty-four million dollars, report Patricia Hurtado and Philip Boroff for Bloomberg. Leibovitz approached the firm last year over her “dire financial condition” arising from tax liens and debts including mortgages on properties in Manhattan’s West Village and Rhinebeck, New York, the lender and art consultant claimed yesterday in a complaint in state court in New York.

Using her artworks, intellectual property, and real estate assets as collateral, Leibovitz borrowed twenty-four million dollars from Art Capital to pay creditors, the firm said in the complaint. The photographer failed to meet obligations in the loan agreements and has blocked the firm’s contractual right to act as her exclusive sales agent, Art Capital alleged.

July 30, 2009

Courtauld Considers Drastic Cuts to Archives

The Courtauld Institute in London is considering drastic cuts to its three archives of images, including the Witt Library, according to the Art Newspaper. From September, they would only open one day a week and effectively cease to collect. This proposal is causing great concern among art historians, as well as the art trade, since it is a major resource.

Cost-cutting lies behind the proposal, and the Courtauld is concerned about the subsidy involved in administering and adding to the collections (Witt Library, Conway Library, and Photographic Survey).

More than three million images are kept in London’s Somerset House and are currently open to the public every weekday, for a modest sixteen dollars a year or three dollars a day. Although the Internet means that much of the recently added material is now available online, Web images cannot be searched in such a systematic way.

Courtauld staff who run the three collections are now under threat of redundancy. The plan is that the libraries would open only one day a week (with volunteer assistance), and further images would not be systematically added. An internal consultation with the librarians is underway and is due to be concluded in August.

July 30, 2009

Perry Departs Allentown Art Museum for London’s National Gallery

Gregory J. Perry, executive director of the Allentown Art Museum, will become director of operations and administration at London’s National Gallery, reports Allentown’s Morning Call via Artinfo. Perry has been at the Allentown museum since the beginning of 2008. During his tenure, he has overseen the acquisition of a number of important collections, including a nineteenth- and twentieth-century costume collection and holdings of ancient Asian and Indian art, as well as organized an extremely popular exhibition of French masterworks. He departs September 1, after which Robert Metzger, emeritus director and former chief executive of the Reading Public Museum, will step in as interim director and consultant.

July 30, 2009

Palm Springs Art Museum Receives Contemporary Art Gift

The Palm Springs Art Museum’s contemporary art collection will rise to a new level with a major gift of works from Donna and Cargill MacMillan, reports Suzanne Muchnic for the Los Angeles Times. Composed of one hundred and sixteen pieces by sixty-six artists, the international trove is particularly strong in sculpture, including pieces by Anish Kapoor, Louise Bourgeois, Donald Judd, Mona Hatoum, and Gary Hume.

The MacMillans, who divide their time between Minnesota and the California desert community, have built their collection over the past twenty years with an eye for works that connect with viewers through humor, emotional expression, and provocative subject matter. Eclectic in style and attitude, their selections embrace expressionism, Minimalism, and Pop in a variety of media. There are pieces by historical giants such as Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein, along with works by artists who have garnered international recognition in the last couple of decades, including Jennifer Steinkamp, Pae White, and Julie Mehretu. A public introduction to the collection is coming soon in a four-part exhibition, “The Passionate Pursuit: Gifts and Promised Works from Donna and Cargill MacMillan,” which opens September 5.

July 29, 2009

UNC's Art Museum Hires Former Harvard Museum Curator

Peter Nisbet has been appointed the chief curator of the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, according to Raleigh-Durham’s Business Journal. Nisbet, who will begin his position on October 1, was formerly the curator of the Busch-Reisinger Museum at the Harvard Art Museum. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cambridge University and a doctorate in art history from Yale University, and is an expert in Russian and German art of the twentieth century.

July 29, 2009

LACMA Cancels Weekend Film Program; Louvre to Unveil English-Language Database

The weekend film program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—which has continued over thirty-seven years—is going away in November, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The chronically underfunded program has lost about one million dollars over the past ten years, and the audience has diminished, partly because many people are watching films at home, says Michael Govan, the museum's director. During the last fiscal year, 22,754 people attended films at LACMA, including 6,228 at its Tuesday matinees, which will continue.

The demise, Govan says, is “a pause for rethinking” while the staff creates a more adventurous program, attuned to LACMA's mission, and finds donors to support it.

Efforts to raise funds for the existing program have been unsuccessful, Govan says, so it's necessary “to shake people up a little bit and ask how we are going to arrange the museum's priorities. “Now is the time, he says, “to take stock of where film sits in the development of recent art. I have a firm belief that the history of twentieth-century art will be rewritten in terms of film and photography.”

In other news, the Louvre plans to announce today that it will make an English-language version of its online database available on its website, according to the New York Times. The announcement was made in a news release by the group American Friends of the Louvre, which provided a $380,000 grant for the database. The database, called Atlas, will provide information on twenty-two thousand works of art from the Louvre, as well as high-resolution images and the locations of works and galleries within the museum. That represents about 80 percent of the works available on the French-language version of Atlas, which catalogs twenty-six thousand of the thirty-five thousand works on permanent display at the Louvre.