January 28, 2011

LA City Council Approves $52 Million in Developments Near Broad Museum Site

The Los Angeles City Council has voted to spend fifty-two million dollars in redevelopment funds on a plaza, parking structure, and sidewalk improvements beside the downtown art museum planned by philanthropist Eli Broad, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The funds approved Wednesday are part of $930 million allocated this month by the city’s redevelopment agency for hundreds of projects before it is possibly dissolved under an austerity budget proposed by governor Jerry Brown.

Council members are expected to vote on the rest of the funds next month. At least a dozen city and county governments across the state have followed Los Angeles’ lead in seeking to lock in redevelopment funding after Brown proposed diverting their budgets to other uses.

January 28, 2011

Milwaukee and Pittsburgh Wager Art Loans on the Superbowl

Continuing an art tradition that began last year, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and the Milwaukee Art Museum (the closest museum to Green Bay, Wisconsin, home of the Packers), have agreed to make a gridiron bet, writes Randy Kennedy in the New York Times. If Green Bay wins, the Carnegie will send Pierre Renoir’s Bathers with a Crab from the 1890s to Milwaukee as a temporary loan. If the Steelers win, the Carnegie’s patrons will get a brief visit from a Gustave Caillebotte, another water-focused scene titled Boating on the Yerres from 1877.

Daniel Keegan, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, predicted boldly (in a prepared statement) that he would soon be welcoming the Renoir to his turf, “where the public can enjoy it and be reminded of the superiority of the Green Bay Packers.”

Lynn Zelevansky, the Carnegie’s director, responded: “In Pittsburgh, we believe trash talk is bad form. We let the excellence of our football team, and our collection, speak for itself.”

January 28, 2011

Art Institute of Chicago Acquires Malevich Painting

An abstract canvas of bold geometric shapes floating on a white background by the Russian avant-garde artist Kasimir Malevich has been purchased by the Art Institute of Chicago. The work, Painterly Realism of a Football Player—Color Masses in the Fourth Dimension, 1915, is the first example of Russian Suprematism to enter the museum’s collection, according to Carol Vogel in the New York Times.

“We’ve wanted a Malevich for a long time,” said Stephanie D’Alessandro, the curator of modern art at the Art Institute. “And this painting is from 1915, his breakout year, and it has all the remnants of the artist’s hands.”

The painting and four others by Malevich had hung for years in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In 2008, settling a longstanding dispute over ownership, the City of Amsterdam returned the works to the artist’s heirs, thirty-five grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, in Russia and elsewhere. They in turn sold this painting to the Art Institute through the Gagosian Gallery for an undisclosed price. (Another abstract Malevich canvas, Suprematist Composition, from 1916, sold at Sotheby’s in 2008 for sixty million dollars.)

January 28, 2011

Williams College Museum of Art’s Director Steps Down

Lisa Corrin is leaving the Williams College Museum of Art, reports iBerkshires.com. Corrin will step down from her position as director on June 30 to teach at the college and be both a Clark Fellow at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and a visiting scholar in museum studies at New York University.

She leaves after setting in motion the ambitious “Reflections on a Museum,” a museumwide exploration of hundreds of artworks in its collection that question the nature and perception of art. Williams president Adam Falk said a national search will begin for her successor.

“In Lisa’s six years as director, the museum has made remarkable changes,” Falk said in an e-mail sent to campus. “With her able and dedicated staff, she’s carried out a thoughtful plan to refocus museum activities on the college’s teaching mission, which includes, among many other initiatives, the first reinstallation of the collection in many years.

The museum has presented more than seventy-five exhibitions since Corrin arrived, several of which have traveled nationally and internationally. Exhibitions that took place under her directorship emphasized cross-disciplinary approaches to, and new ways of looking at, art. Among these exhibitions are “Jackson Pollock at Williams College: A Tribute to Kirk Varnedoe ‘67,” 2006, “Making It New: the Art and Style of Sarah and Gerald Murphy,” 2007, and “Drowned in a Glass of Water: An Installation by Pepón Osorio,” 2010.

January 27, 2011

World’s Largest Holocaust Archive Goes Digital

The world’s largest collection of Holocaust documents is going digital, according to Ha’aretz. Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, is teaming up with Google to make its photographs and documents interactive and searchable on the Internet. The first 130,000 photos hit the web yesterday.

Although much of Yad Vashem’s archive was already available through its formidable website, the new project enables users to search keywords and data just like a Google search. A social network–like component allows viewers to contribute to the project by adding their own stories, comments, and documents about family members who appear in the online archives.

Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev said even though that feature could be misused to post anti-Semitic comments, the risk is outweighed by the benefit provided to future generations seeking information about their ancestors.

January 27, 2011

Richard P. Townsend Leaves Musem of Latin American Art

Richard P. Townsend has stepped down as president of the Museum of Latin American Art after less than two years in its top spot, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Boehm.

It’s the third change at the top for the Long Beach museum in little more than three and a half years since completing a fifteen-million-dollar expansion and renovation in 2007. “It caught us a little bit by surprise” when Townsend said he was resigning about a week and a half ago, said cochair Mike Deovlet. “It isn’t anything we’d had discussions about.”

“He met with us and said he wanted to pursue other opportunities,” said Burke Gumbiner, the other cochair. “It was voluntary. We thanked him for his contribution. We like the artistic program and are going to continue the artistic program.”

Townsend arrived in May 2009 after working as deputy director for external affairs at the Miami Art Museum and director of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Within two months of his arrival, in what the cochairs cite as a “critical move,” he hired another Miami art administrator, Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, as chief curator. She had been running the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation there after previously directing a contemporary art space in Caracas, Venezuela.
Emphasizing that the museum is not in the throes of instability despite the rapid changes in its top executive position, Gumbiner said that Fajardo-Hill and the museum’s head fundraiser, another Townsend hire, “are staying and are happy here.”

January 27, 2011

Out of Cash, Jersey City Museum Shuts Doors

Peggy McGlone reports in the Newark Star-Ledger that the Jersey City Museum, the anchor for a once-vibrant city arts district and owner of what may be the best contemporary art collection in the state, is so strapped for cash that it has had to close. The institution has been rocked by steep cuts in city funding and lackluster donations. As a result, it is behind on mortgage payments for the multi million renovation completed ten years ago.

Last year, it shed staff and pulled back on its public hours, but its board was still unable to find financial stability. When a hoped-for partnership with New Jersey City University failed, museum officials decided to close the doors. The museum will remain shuttered, with only an off-site exhibition at the Hudson County Courthouse in the works, officials said. “These are hard times for the museum,” said board member Ofelia Garcia.

January 27, 2011

Metropolitan Museum of Art Acquires Work by Student of Raphael

A large and intricate Renaissance drawing by Perino del Vaga, one of Raphael’s pupils, was bought by the Metropolitan Museum of Art at Sotheby’s on Wednesday morning, according to Carol Vogel in the New York Times.

Jupiter and Juno Reclining in an Alcove Attended by Amorini, Two Others Holding a Heraldic Shield Below, was made as a preparatory design for one tapestry in a celebrated series called “Furti di Giove,” commissioned by Andrea Doria, a nobleman and associate of Emperor George V, for his palace in Genoa. The Met paid $782,500 for the work, a record price for Perino del Vaga at auction. (The previous record, $374,000, was set in January 1988 at Sotheby’s in New York.) The auction house had estimated that the work would fetch $600,000 to $800,000.

January 26, 2011

AICA Names Exhibitions of the Year

The US section of the International Association of Art Critics/AICA-USA has announces its annual awards to honor artists, curators, museums, galleries and other cultural institutions in recognition of excellence in the conception and realization of exhibitions. The winning projects were nominated and voted on by the four hundred active members to honor outstanding exhibitions of the previous season (June 2009-June 2010). This year’s nominating committee included: Eleanor Heartney (chair), Marek Bartelik (AICA-USA president), Rachel Wolff (AICA-USA vice-president), Barbara MacAdam (AICA-USA board), Debra B. Balken, Michael Duncan, and Jeanne Claire van Ryzin.