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Daniel Birnbaum

THEY DON’T MAKE ’EM LIKE KASPER KÖNIG anymore, and maybe for Daniel Birnbaum that’s a good thing. Asked about the choice of Birnbaum to succeed him as director of the Städelschule art academy in Frankfurt, König blithely remarks that he’d preferred some guy from Glasgow who went elsewhere, but that Birnbaum was perfectly fine. So much for the obligatory PR pribble (“the decision was absolutely unanimous, from the chairman of the board right down to the custodian’s assistant”). On the other hand, when it comes to effacingness (self- or otherwise), Birnbaum, thirty-seven, is no slouch either. “Frankfurt has a long cultural history, but really no defined art identity,” he says of the city where he’ll assume the reins of the Städelschule—and its renowned Portikus gallery—in January.

With 160 students, the academy is the smallest in Germany, but it’s probably the most purposefully

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