During the 50th anniversary gala for Miami’s Bass Museum of Art, trustee board president George Lindemann announced that the museum had received a donation of $1 million from Diane and Alan Lieberman, owners of the South Beach Hotel Group. “Miami Beach is a creative and forward thinking city, and we are so fortunate to have such visionaries as the Liebermans as patrons,” Lindemann added. This gift seems particularly well timed given the museum’s forthcoming internal renovation: Beginning in June of 2015, architect David Gauld and design consultant Arata Isozaki will work within the existing structure to expand programmable space by 37 percent.
PARIS — In a cultural twofer that makes it Frank Gehry week here, the Louis Vuitton Foundation, a private cultural center and contemporary-art museum designed by Mr. Gehry, had its official inaugural ceremony on Monday, attended by the French president, François Hollande. At the same time, the Pompidou Center across town is giving Mr. Gehry, based in Los Angeles, a major career retrospective, his first in Europe.
The Pompidou exhibition, “Frank Gehry,” establishes a narrative arc for a career that effectively started with small-scale, experimental wood-frame studios and houses in Southern California and culminates in the Vuitton Foundation in the Bois de Boulogne, which some critics have called one of the most technologically sophisticated, artistically motivated buildings of his oeuvre. A 126,000-square-foot, $135 million structure that formally opens to the public next Monday, it promises to add a major contemporary monument to Paris’s long list of historic architecture.
At the end of the ceremony, President Hollande described the building as a “cathedral of light” that was “a miracle of intelligence, creativity and technology.”Photo
Mr. Gehry’s moment in Paris comes after his Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington was approved last week, following a bruising five-year process in which Mr. Gehry’s design went through more than 15 committees and commissions and many adjustments. In Paris, after settling concerns about building in a park, he needed the approval of only one client, Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, whose foundation owns the new building.
“The guy knew what he wanted, and he wanted a building that would be different than anything else anybody had ever seen,” said Mr. Gehry, interviewed over coffee on Monday in his hotel off the Champs Élysées.
Mr. Arnault hired Mr. Gehry, he has said, after seeing his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, a spectacle of fluid forms that reshaped that city’s derelict waterfront while enclosing classical white galleries inside. At Vuitton, Mr. Gehry builds on the Bilbao precedent, creating a more complex structure clad in glass rather than titanium.
Visitors encounter what looks like a Cubist sailboat, with glass sails and spinnakers rising above the tree line and billowing simultaneously fore, aft, port and starboard. The building appears to glide over a cascade of water lapping down a stepped embankment below its cantilevered prow. The two-story structure has 11 galleries, a voluminous auditorium and multilevel roof terraces for events and art installations.
The site is next to the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a 19th-century children’s park and zoo at the north edge of the Romantically landscaped Bois de Boulogne. The architect had to build within the square footage and two-story volume of a bowling alley that previously stood here; anything higher had to be glass. Mr. Arnault’s program for the Foundation, whose stated mission is to stimulate artistic creation, called for a museum with galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, and a concert hall.
Mr. Gehry said, “We talked to him about the site, and it was clear that it had to be something that fits into a garden, something in the tradition of a 19th-century glass pavilion or conservatory.”Photo
Unlike his compatriot I. M. Pei, who placed the glass Pyramid at the Louvre to acknowledge the long axis of the Champs Élysées, Mr. Gehry ignored France’s geometric traditions. “The clouds of glass respond to nature’s geometry, to the park’s English landscaping,” he said of the Bois de Boulogne. “Nature’s apparent disorder has its own order.”
In trying to create a spirited adult version of the Jardin d’Acclimatation’s fantasy buildings, Mr. Gehry said he was “very moved by the park, which reminded me of Proust’s Paris.” He added: “I read him over and over again, and I realized it was a pretty emotional site for everybody. It brought tears to my eyes.”
He had two mandates: respecting the park and garden and satisfying the requirements for the galleries.
“Once we had the big, basic premise that there was a solid piece for the galleries, which we started to call the icebergs, and then the glass sails for the garden, we started to work them independently,” Mr. Gehry said. “Merging the two would not work, because you couldn’t have curvy galleries, and you can’t hang paintings on glass.” The diaphanous sails, supported on an acrobatic armature of wood and steel, project outside the iceberg.
The glass structure takes its place in a long Parisian tradition dating from the 13th-century Gothic Sainte-Chapelle on the Île de la Cité, with its tall walls of stained glass, and the 19th-century Grand Palais, an exhibition hall whose glass vaults echo the vast public spaces of Rome. The Foundation’s fragmented, multidirectional forms recall the Cubism of Braque and Picasso. The mission statement of the Foundation acknowledges 20th-century Modern art movements as a basis of the contemporary art it champions.
Visitors enter a tall hall from which angled staircases and meandering paths lead to the galleries and to a roofscape of outdoor terraces enclosed by the glass sails. Between the iceberg and the sailboat, accordion spaces expand and contract, alternately intimate and grand, in what Mr. Gehry called “a chaotic dance.” The white galleries, some with tall ceilings that act as chimneys of light, are “a refuge,” said Edwin Chan, a former design partner in the Gehry firm, who worked with Mr. Gehry and the main project architect, Laurence Tighe. One opens to the sky.Photo
Frédéric Migayrou, the deputy director of the Pompidou, organized the full retrospective and a smaller boutique show of Mr. Gehry’s development drawings that will be on view at the Foundation. “This building doesn’t reveal itself at once, but over many encounters,” he said. “It’s a provocation for the viewer; you have to be part of it, as with an artwork where you make your own experience.”
Claude Parent, France’s 91-year-old éminence grise in architecture whose work in the 1950s and ’60s anticipated deconstructivism, said that when he first saw the Foundation building, “I was seized by an emotion so strong that it seemed to come from something other than architecture.” He called Mr. Gehry’s design “an act of unbridled imagination.”
Others describe the building less favorably. The architecture critic of The Guardian, Rohan Moore, known for his Spartan architectural attitudes, wrote dismissively, “Everything that is good about the Fondation could have been achieved, and better, without the sails.” Denis Lafay, writing in the online financial newspaper La Tribune, did not criticize the architecture but called the building the ostentatious result of an oligarch’s commodifying of artistic creation to burnish his own brand.
At the Foundation, Mr. Migayrou’s immersive show, “Voyage of Creation,” explains the building, with large-screen videos filmed from overhead cranes and drones that flew over and through the building.
“I wanted to give a dynamic view of the building, and the films put the building into movement,” he said in an interview. The show includes many conceptual and development models, along with the seminal sketches Mr. Gehry drew on the long flight back to Los Angeles after he and Mr. Arnault first met to discuss the project.
In the Pompidou retrospective, Mr. Migayrou includes little-known urban designs for housing projects and town plans, evidence of an urban-planning expertise that he said had informed the organization of all of Mr. Gehry’s architectural work. The exhibition also features a wall of previously unexhibited photographs by Mr. Gehry, who gravitated to raw moments in the cityscape, like cement plants, that his eye made beautiful.
“He was photographing the city, the spaces between places,” Mr. Migayrou said.
He also chose models and original drawings to show the evolution of Mr. Gehry’s ideas leading up to the Vuitton Foundation. Other shows, Mr. Migayrou said, “have portrayed Gehry’s buildings as an object, a shape.”
“I tried to do the reverse,” he said, “going through all the works to define the evolution of the language, the continuities, the idea of dynamic movement, how he opens form so that they interact with the city and provoke the movement of the body around the building.”
George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann "London Caps a Busy Art Week" @wsj by Mary M Lane
LONDON—Christie’s bested rival Sotheby’s and boutique house Phillips during a round of evening auctions last week that tested the contemporary art market before New York’s major November sales.
All three houses logged solid results overall, but critical tests of deceased or older artists for whom the auction houses are trying to develop markets were mixed.
The auction market during Frieze Art Week, the European art world’s most frantic week of buying held each October, was further boosted by a sale of 43 museum-quality works from the collection of Karlheinz Essl, an Austrian owner of DIY stores whose failed expansion into Turkey and Eastern Europe triggered the sale.
Mr. Essl’s auctioned works last Monday totaled $75 million, between the $64 million and $96 million pre-sale estimate. It burnished Christie’sgrowing reputation as the leader in liquidating large single-owner collections, a reputation that first drove Mr. Essl’s interest in having them handle the “painful process,” he says.
German painter Gerhard Richter fetched the top price but also suffered the most awkward moment in that sale: his four-paneled painting “Clouds (Window)” sold for $10 million but “Net,” a major abstract painting expected to sell easily, failed to reach its $12 million low estimate, prompting a funereal moment of silence from the audience.
Mr. Richter, 82 years old, was the world’s most expensive living artist at auction before Jeff Koons’s “Balloon Dog” sold last year for $58 million. Specialists expected demand for Richters to be boosted by his show at Marian Goodman’s new London gallery that opened last week with sold-out works priced between $76,000 and $4.4 million.
But buyers are establishing a pecking order for Mr. Richter’s older works, auction specialists and private dealers acknowledged after the auctions.
Though “Net” is an excellent example of Mr. Richter’s transition between blurring paint and using a squeegee, buyers shunned it because it wasn’t a “typical” Richter, says Christie’s specialist Francis Outred.
“The aesthetic wasn’t fashionable,” he said.
Mr. Richter’s drab camouflage-colored 1971 “Jungle Painting” stalled at Sotheby’s on Friday night under its $3 million low estimate.
The overall contemporary sale at Sotheby’s totaled $45 million, just above the pre-sale low estimate and below Christie’s’ $64 million total for its competing sale held on Thursday. Sotheby’s enjoyed a surprise hit in its side Italian sale on Friday when a private European collector paid $20 million for Piero Manzoni’s “Achrome,” a blindingly white 1958-1959 canvas.
Attempts to drum up market demand for two artists academically revered but ignored by buyers were lackluster, particularly for Cy Twombly and Anselm Kiefer.
Mr. Kiefer, 69, has always been a tricky sell given his heavily Nazi-themed works that frequently depict him giving the “Heil, Hitler” salute in a Nazi uniform. One of two Kiefers at Christie’s stalled at $563,000, far below its $660,000 low estimate. A Mandarin speaker paid $1.9 million for his 1999 work “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom!,” a $981,000 loss on the work’s previous value but reflective of a trend amid Chinese millionaires to buy works confronting Maoist thought. A buyer at Phillips paid $1.3 million for “For Paul Celan,” Mr. Kiefer’s homage to the Nazi-persecuted Jewish poet.
Mr. Kiefer’s London dealer Jay Jopling also has taken an unorthodox step to bolster his artist’s soft market by involving an academic institution in a business deal, according to people familiar with the situation. In a move many art insiders would consider anathema, Mr. Jopling himself joined as a main sponsor, along with BNP Paribas, of London’s ongoing Royal Academy exhibition on Mr. Kiefer. Having works in a prestigious exhibition increases an artist’s public profile—and the value of the works.
Mr. Jopling has been quietly selling around seven of the works currently on loan in the show for approximately $750,000 each, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Jopling’s former employee Tim Marlow joined the Royal Academy as director of artistic programs, a newly created position, five months before the show opened. The Royal Academy denied that Mr. Marlow’s transition influenced the show or the sales, of which it says it is unaware.
When asked to comment on the Royal Academy deal and his continued purchases at auction of expensive works by other artists he controls who suffer from soft high-end markets including Tracey Emin, 51, Mr. Jopling said he was “not in the mood” to discuss the matter.
Christie’s next month wants between $35 million and $55 million for a major Twombly abstract but a $24 million Twombly painting offered by Van De Weghe Fine Art at Frieze art fair failed to sell.
The Manhattan auctions begin Nov. 11 at Sotheby’s.
Write to Mary M. Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org
George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann "Heirs Sue Bank Over Sale of Nazi-Looted Art " @nytimes by PATRICIA COHEN
“Danseuses” by Edgar Degas, which was sold in 2009. Credit Christie's
When Christie’s auctioned off Edgar Degas’s “Danseuses” for nearly $11 million in 2009, the catalog noted that the masterpiece was being sold as part of a restitution agreement with the “heirs of Ludwig and Margret Kainer,” German Jews whose vast art collection was seized by the Nazis in the years leading up to World War II.
But now a dozen relatives of the Kainers are stepping forward to object. Not only did they fail to benefit from that sale, they say they were never even told about it, or any other auctions of works once owned by the couple, including pieces by Monet and Renoir.
It turns out that the Kainer “heir” that has for years collected proceeds from these sales and other restitutions, including war reparations from the German government, is not a family member but a foundation created by Swiss bank officials.
In lawsuits filed in New York and Switzerland, the Kainer relatives contend that officers of the bank — now part of the global banking giant UBS — never made a diligent effort to find them, and worse, used the family name to create a “sham” foundation ostensibly organized to support the health and education of Jewish youth but actually formed, they say, to cheat them out of their inheritance.
Both the foundation — named after Norbert Levy, Mrs. Kainer’s father — and UBS have said in court papers that they have done nothing wrong, but declined to comment. The lawsuits come as high-profile disputes over looted art focus attention on how courts and governments have handled assets stolen from Jews by the Nazis. Despite the scrutiny, this case shows just how difficult adjudicating such claims remains. The Kainer family lawsuits, for example, involve the legal systems of four countries and rest on the intentions and actions of people who have been dead for many decades. Like many families who survived the Holocaust, the Kainer descendants were not even aware that their relatives had lost or left behind valuables to which they might have a claim. As experts note, the ability to track family members has made great leaps over the years. This case only came to light when Mondex Corporation, which helps recover looted property, noticed in 2009 that hundreds of works once owned by the Kainers had been listed in an international database of art lost in the war years, and then tracked down their relatives.
Then there is the added drama that the New York lawsuit names UBS as a defendant, striking a sensitive chord. UBS, the result of a 1998 merger between Swiss Bank Corporation and the Union Bank of Switzerland, was one of several Swiss banks accused of trying to block attempts by Jewish war survivors and heirs to reclaim assets deposited in what they had thought were safe havens.
The Kainer family’s dealings with Swiss banks stretches back to the period before Hitler grabbed power. Margret Kainer and her father relied on the Swiss Bank Corporation to manage their fortunes. Before his death in 1928, Mr. Levy, a Berlin metals dealer, set up a foundation to benefit his only daughter. He trusted the Swiss bank so much that in the foundation’s bylaws he required a bank director to be one of its two trustees.
When the Nazis seized control in Germany a few years later, Margret and her husband, Ludwig, a well-known artist and illustrator who designed sets for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, fled to France.
The Germans ended up confiscating much of the Kainers’ extensive holdings, which included real estate, securities, bank accounts and a world-class art collection that contained works by Goya, Ingres and Renoir as well as Chinese ceramics and ancient Egyptian sculptures, according to court papers.
Out of the Nazis reach, however, was the Norbert Levy Foundation, based in Switzerland. The foundation provided regular payments to the couple: 800 Swiss francs a month (about $2,800) until the money ran out in 1944, court papers say.
Most of Margret’s relatives were not as lucky. At least four were killed in the Holocaust, said Max Corden, a great-nephew of Norbert Levy, now 87, who is a party to the lawsuit.
After the war, the Kainers, who had briefly sought refuge in Switzerland, moved back to Paris where Mr. Kainer died in 1967, followed by Mrs. Kainer in 1968. Since they were childless, the rightful heirs, the lawsuits contend, are the 12 children and grandchildren of Mrs. Kainer’s cousins. The foundation, they say, was legally terminated with Mrs. Kainer’s death.
What happened next is at the crux of the legal dispute. Did bank officials make a good-faith effort to track down family heirs after the couple died?
The Kainer relatives say no. They charge in court papers that even a cursory search would have turned up the names of relatives who had contacted the bank in 1947 and 1950 to ask about arranging for help from the foundation. A diligent effort, they say, would also have included contacting the International Tracing Service of the Swiss-based Red Cross, which was created specifically to find missing and displaced people. Family members, the court papers say, were listed with the service.
What bank officials did do was post a notice seeking heirs for three months of 1969 in a local governmental journal published by the Swiss state of Vaud, where the Kainers maintained a legal address.
Experts acknowledge that in those days, few institutions initiated the kind of full-bore efforts to find heirs that are considered standard now.
“There were different expectations of what was required,” said Anna Rubin, the director of New York State’s Holocaust Claims Processing Office. She noted that genealogical research was less advanced, and that digital databases did not exist.
Still, experts said a basic search would have included contacting the Red Cross. A more thorough attempt, they say, would have involved Jewish organizations and a registration office in Germany, where Margret Kainer was born.Photo
The question of who qualified as an heir languished until 1970, when West Germany, as part of a postwar settlement, finally agreed to pay the family a lump sum as restitution (the exact amount is unclear). But the money would be forfeited if there were no legal heirs.
Since the bank had not located any family members, Dr. Albert Genner, a Swiss Bank Corporation director who had personally known Norbert Levy, came up with a plan to revive the foundation in order to get the payout. In a memo dated Dec. 21, 1970, and stamped “Private,” Dr. Genner advocated resurrecting the foundation to function as the Kainers’ legal successor, so that “a claim could be constructed.” The foundation’s purpose, Dr. Genner wrote, would be to help educate children, preferably “of Jewish heritage from prewar Germany,” who “for health reasons” needed to attend school in Vaud’s favorable climate.
What no one understood at the time was just how valuable the Kainer estate really was. Over the last decade and a half, millions of dollars in misplaced assets and recovered art have surfaced. The biggest bonanza came after Swiss officials discovered a lost portfolio worth more than $19 million, according to public records in Switzerland. Swiss officials said they, too, were unable to find Kainer descendants despite multiple searches and claimed the windfall. After the Norbert foundation objected, they ultimately negotiated a settlement in 2005 under which the foundation received $5.6 million. (The Kainer family is suing the municipalities of Vaud and Pulley in Switzerland to recover the rest.)
Inside the SculptureCenter in Long Island City, Queens, with Mary Ceruti, left, the center’s executive director and chief curator, and Ruba Katrib, the curator of the upcoming exhibit "Puddle, pothole, portal." Credit Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Visiting the SculptureCenter on its dead-end street in Long Island City, Queens, feels like stumbling onto a loner artist’s studio. The two-story brick building, a former trolley repair shop with the words “Derrick and Hoist Co. Inc.” fading beneath the cornice, has worn its institutional identity so lightly that the center has existed for years as a kind of art-world secret, attracting only 13,000 visitors in 2013, despite being highly regarded by critics and artists.
But now, 86 years into one of the stranger vagabond histories of any New York City art institution, the nonprofit center is beginning to look — if not act — more like a museum. On Sunday, it will open its expanded and renovated building to the public, after a 14-month, $4.5 million project that used the raw materials of contemporary sculpture — Cor-Ten steel plates, concrete slab and plywood — to alter subtly the building’s exterior and interior.
The center, at 44-19 Purves Street, just off Jackson Avenue, will have a new courtyard entrance that leads to its first substantial front desk and a bookshop, across from which visitors will be able to see beyond a floating wall into the cavernous main exhibition space. A roll-up gate that was once the way inside for many of the largest sculptural pieces has been replaced by castle-sized steel doors that look as if they were conceived by Richard Serra. But most of the building remains defiantly garage-like, down to old ceramic electrical insulators jutting from the basement walls.
“There are plenty of white boxes in New York, and we don’t want to be another one,” said Mary Ceruti, the center’s executive director and chief curator, who added that though the center is only blocks from several subway stops and a five-minute walk from MoMA PS1, it has been a place whose location has long defined whom it attracts.
“People come here ready to see art because they’ve made the effort, and that’s a good thing,” Ms. Ceruti said. “Would I like more people to make that effort? Yes, and that’s part of why we did this.”
In some ways, the renovation — while exceedingly modest, compared with those at many other American art institutions — is an indication of the SculptureCenter’s success in a contentious bet it made 13 years ago. Founded in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in 1928 as the Clay Club, the center soon moved to the West Village and then, in 1948, to a carriage house on the Upper East Side, where it operated a beloved school with artists’ studios.
But in 2001, its board, deciding that the institution was mired in outdated figurative ideas and was out of touch with contemporary artists, upended everything, closing the school and the studios, selling the carriage house and reinventing the center in Queens as a European-style kunsthalle, a noncollecting museum whose mission was to nurture the work of emerging and underappreciated artists.
The move left anger and disappointment in its wake, but by several measures, the center has thrived since. It has shown, early on, the work of many younger artists who have gone on to substantial careers, like Monika Sosnowska, a Polish artist with a show of new work at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Chelsea; Gedi Sibony; Seth Price; Jessica Jackson Hutchins; and Rashid Johnson, whose first solo museum show was there.
It sometimes seems that little of the subsequent attention the artists receive rubs off on the center. But by showing such work, it has solidified a reputation as a place where artists can develop somewhat insulated from the growing pressures of the art market.
“Sometimes, even now,” Ms. Ceruti recalled, “I have a trustee who says, ‘Mary, what do you think of this artist?’ And I say, ‘Well, when we showed her five years ago. ...’ And then I tell the trustee, ‘You were at that show!’ ”
She added, “We have to find better ways to help people remember what we’ve done.”
Andrew Berman, whose architecture firm designed the expansion (the initial design in 2002 was by Maya Lin) said he had sought mostly to create “a measured process of arrival,” an entryway that fostered more anticipation than the center’s previous setup, where visitors entered almost smack-dab into exhibition space.
“The thought was to not in any way iron out its character or even remove the more rough and insistent edges,” Mr. Berman said of the space, which grew 2,000 square feet, to 6,500 square feet. “To me, it speaks of a place where things were made. And that’s sort of perfect as an art space.”
(The exhibition inaugurating the space, “Puddle, pothole, portal,” organized by the curator Ruba Katrib and the artist Camille Henrot, will be a characteristically eccentric, group-show exploration of 20th-century industrial space, using the art of Saul Steinberg and the 1988 movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” as unlikely compasses.)
The project — half of its cost was provided by the city, and the rest by private donors — will make the center more approachable, as the neighborhood around it is rapidly transforming from industrial to residential. Not so long ago, the neighbors were a vacant lot and an auto shop; a nearby lumberyard used to lend its forklift for moving sculptures. Now the center is flanked by two tall, shiny new condominium buildings, and there are rumors that a boutique hotel is coming to the block.
“It’s not the Wild West anymore,” Ms. Ceruti said. “There’s a kind of ‘We can’t do anything we want, make all the noise we want, the way we used to’ feeling in the last few years. But the flip side is that people are much more comfortable coming here now. They know people who live here.”
"Reality Skewed and Skewered (Gushing, Too)" @nytimes by ROBERTA SMITH
The brooding realism of Robert Gober, which will be haunting 13 galleries at the Museum of Modern Art beginning Saturday, is as American as apple pie — with the sugar left out. The sharpness of his tenderly handmade sculptures and installations — a repertory of familiar yet startlingly altered playpens, sinks and easy chairs and truncated human limbs and bodies — brings us up short.
Mr. Gober’s artwork is often called Surrealist, but it’s too real and full of barbs to comfortably fit that label. One of the first galleries displays five of the stark white bathroom, kitchen and laundry sinks with which Mr. Gober, now 60, first announced his presence to the New York art world in the mid-1980s and separated himself from the overheated bravura of Neo-Expressionist painting and the industrial cool of Minimalism. Symbolism is rife in all his objects, which are also subtly touched all over and full of imperfections.
Lacking faucets or other plumbing, each sink has a ghostly yet resonant visage. The empty faucet holes also evoke the nipples on a headless male torso, pure yet lifeless, like a figure on a cross. In one gallery, a playpen slants precariously; while in another, a playpen is twisted into an X: both visibly hostile to their usual occupants. And in the next, seemingly benign wallpaper repeats hand-drawn images of a black man hanging from a noose and a white man safe and asleep in his bed, while signs of filth and purity — sculptured bags of kitty litter and an ivory satin bridal gown — hold the floor.
Later on, the waxen lower half of a man’s body, hyper-real down to the hairy legs and jammed against the wall as if crushed, is dotted with pale drains absent from the sinks. The implicit obsession with cleanliness expands here and the nine drains also echo AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma. Still later in the show, a slipcovered easy chair is run through with an enormous twisted culvert, a shocking collision of lulling comfort and backbreaking roadwork and a form of penetration so violent rape comes to mind.
The exhibition forms a partial, often painful portrait of a nation, while also suggesting a culmination of restrained American realisms that run from Homer and Eakins to Johns and Vija Celmins, and include Duane Hanson, Walker Evans and Edward Hopper.
It highlights some of the conditions of Americanness: the country’s triumphs and tragedies, its amazing grace and falls from same, its faith in a spirit unseen and preoccupation with sin, and its forgotten respect for manual labor and craft. (In addition to wallpaper, less traditional mediums used here include basket weaving and leather working.)
It also offers sobering reacquaintance with recent history and unfathomable loss: the implacable legacy of slavery, the talent destroyed by the AIDS crisis, the shattering that was Sept. 11. And always at the center — of the show and of art — and in the silence and vulnerability of so much that Mr. Gober has done, dwells the theme of redemptive love and the all too real effect of its absence, which is poisonous hate. This much is stated up front, in the show’s title: “Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor.”
The show’s national portrait is rendered by an artist who is at once a moralist and an aesthete and an anthropologist of his own childhood and psyche, which were shaped by growing up gay and Roman Catholic in mostly Protestant New England. He is also a modest poet who all but disappears behind the mirroring familiarity of his work. Discussing the meaning of his art in The New York Times in 1997, Mr. Gober told Steven Henry Madoff: “It’s kind of hovering, with you in front of it. That’s who I want to stand in front of the work,” he said. “You. Not me.”
As deeply as I’ve been affected by Mr. Gober’s art over the years, I wasn’t sure how a full-dress treatment at the Modern would turn out. A little Gober goes a long way, and it tends toward dour, short on humor and color. It can also seem repetitious. (In the mid-1980s, he made more than 50 increasingly eccentric sinks.)
But the show clarifies his development, revealing its pace with abundant visual jolts. Organized by Ann Temkin, chief curator, and Paulina Pobocha, assistant curator in the museum’s painting and sculpture department, it is full of felicitous signs that Mr. Gober had free rein but overdid nothing, thanks in part to good curatorial instincts and a keen appreciation of empty space. He even pauses to devote two galleries to works by other artists that appeared in group shows he organized, demonstrating a characteristic generosity and illuminating his own work with inspirations or influences. At the same time, the museum seems to have met his every wish, drilling through floors and inserting plumbing where there was none.
The opening gallery introduces a lexicon of themes: the body (a man’s leg protruding from the wall); the insistence on hand-forming, whether difficult or nearly invisible (a seemingly real dented can of paint, made of cast glass); the natural world (a study for the flowering plants painted on the slipcover of his first easy chair) and language (a print of a handwritten card advertising cat-sitting services). Most arresting is “Untitled Closet” (1989), a quaint door frame revealing a shallow, dead-end space. A symbol of family secrets, punishment and the love that sometimes still dares not speak its name, the closet foreshadows Mr. Gober’s preoccupation with architectural detail, while also reflecting his family home, built by his father. But the installation has, foremost, an uncanny beauty that typifies the stillness and quiet of Mr. Gober’s best efforts.
He arrived in New York in 1976 with his art bags pretty much packed. He was not yet 22, had a bachelor’s in fine arts from Middlebury College and was soon making big, detailed dollhouses that he was unsure he could call art. Yet in 1982-83 Mr. Gober created “Slides of a Changing Painting”: 89 images of paintings made on a small piece of plywood in his storefront studio in the East Village. He made a slide of each motif, then scraped off the paint and began again. It is stunning to see how much of his art this work foretells.
Second, and perhaps more shocking, the sinks finally function, acquiring faucets, plumbing and audibly running water. A cacophonous symphony of sights and sounds contrast control and freedom: barred prison windows versus open forests, faucets that gush like waterfalls versus boxes of rat poison. These oppositions, unveiled at the Dia Art Foundation in 1992, turn subtle in bundles of old newspapers full of reports of power and its discontents. Several have ads featuring Mr. Gober in the bridal gown: a gay man forbidden to marry.
The show culminates in Mr. Gober’s memorial to Sept. 11, first seen at the Matthew Marks Gallery in Chelsea in 2005. It makes an even stronger impression here, in tighter quarters, its resonances heartbreakingly intensified. Spreads from The Times’s Sept. 12, 2001, report about the terrorist attacks approximate stained-glass windows. They are drawn with glimpses of embracing bodies, a combination that powerfully contrasts public and private loss. The pews are apparently palettes of scruffy plastic foam (actually painted bronze), displaying objects that evoke fecundity, birth and the Crucifixion. On the altar wall, a headless body hangs as if on a cross, water sprouting from his nipples, recalls the first sinks. A spring robin perches on his arm. There are more layers of history and meaning to be explored here, but Mr. Gober’s great subjects are autonomy and self-knowledge, which this exhibition demonstrates at nearly every turn. As he said: “You. Not me.”
"Oops! UK council destroys Banksy immigration mural " @miamiherald by DANICA KIRKA
Authorities in southern England were embarrassed but defensive Thursday after telling workers to destroy a mural they later realized was created by the internationally famous graffiti artist Banksy.
Banksy's often satirical works have fetched up to $1.8 million at auction and his images have been controversially stripped from walls and sold for high prices.
The latest mural, which featured pigeons carrying anti-immigration banners, appeared at Clacton-on-Sea, the site of a special election next week featuring the anti-immigration U.K. Independence Party. Tendring Council spokesman Nigel Brown said Thursday that the mural was chemically removed from the wall after complaints that it was racist.
The mural, featured on Banksy's website, showed pigeons holding up signs directed at one exotic-looking bird. One banner reads "Go Back to Africa" while another says "Migrants not welcome."
The elusive artist has a knack for courting attention with an ingenious mix of timing and clever placement. He left an espionage-themed graffiti artwork in the hometown of Britain's electronic spy agency soon after some of its covert activities were revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Brown said the Clacton mural probably went up Monday or Tuesday — only days before the closely fought Oct. 9 by-election that was sparked when the local Conservative Party lawmaker switched his allegiance to UKIP. Brown said he didn't know about the mural until a reporter asked about its location after seeing the image on the artist's website.
Brown defended the council, saying it had a duty to act on concerns that the mural was inappropriate.
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There was a time when glass was a craft. But in recent years it has become something more: an established art form, and an attractive—and affordable—investment.
"Art glass is a great way to begin collecting art because there is so much available at so many price points," says Carina Villinger, head of 20th century decorative art and design at Christie's.
Since the launch of the Studio Glass movement in the 1960s, glass has slowly crossed the species barrier from craft to fine art. Today, examples of glass art include bright colors and arresting shapes, works that resemble paintings in glass, and objects both strange and familiar encased in glass.
"You're taking sand, soda and ash, and through fire transforming them into something higher," says Douglas Heller, a partner in Heller Gallery in New York City. A successful glass artist needs both the inspiration of an artist and the skill of a craftsman to make a successful piece of art glass, Mr. Heller says.
"Right away, that separates out the dilettantes," he adds.
Harlan Fischer, president of the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, a group of leading collectors, says what attracts collectors to art glass is the sense of "urgency" seen in a finished piece. "You can't just start on your artwork and go eat lunch and come back," Mr. Fischer says. "You have to continue working it in its molten form to prevent it cracking and shattering."
Experts in the field agree there are opportunities for collecting art glass at all points on the price spectrum. "Admittedly you have to have some discretionary income," says Mr. Heller. "But you don't have to be wealthy."
Works at the high end of the market have brought auction prices ranging from around $70,000, for the Italian artist Paolo Venini, to $480,000 for a piece by Czech collaborators Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova that was sold in 2007. Glass works by Libensky tend to be massive exercises in geometry—some more than 10 feet tall—that transform the light that passes through them. Blown glass pieces by Lino Tagliapietra, who has fused the techniques of Murano glassworks with vibrant colors of American studio artists, sell for $50,000 to $75,000. His cast glass panels can sell for $95,000 to $250,000.
There are newer artists as well whose pieces fetch prices from $5,000 to $15,000, including Amber Cowan, whose floral hangings use recycled mid-century pressed glass, Norwood Viviano, whose castings map the decline of industrial cities including his hometown of Detroit, and Nicole Chesney, who paints mirrored glass plates evoking stormy skies.
Works by artists who achieve critical acclaim have proved to be good investments. Libensky pieces that sold for $1,200 to $6,000 in the early 1980s are commanding prices 20 to 30 times higher these days, says Ferdinand Hampson, founder of Habatat Galleries, in Royal Oaks, Mich. Works by Harvey Littleton, widely considered to be the father of the Studio Glass movement, in recent years were fetching as much as $40,000, according to the Artnet price database, after selling for as little as $600 in the 1970s, Mr. Hampson says.
"The fun part about glass," says Tina Oldknow, senior curator of modern and contemporary glass at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y., "is that there's so much going on that's so different."
Mr. Green is a writer in New York. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Paris (AFP) - The contemporary art market, buoyed by high demand and massive growth in China, smashed through the $2-billion mark for the first time in a record-breaking 2013/14, according to new figures released on Tuesday.
In the year from July 2013, sales of contemporary art at public auctions reached $2.046 billion dollars, up 40 percent on the previous year, according to Artprice, a Paris-based organisation which keeps the world's biggest database on the contemporary art market.
This growth, despite a gloomy global economic climate, came as China pushed past America to top the world market by raking in 40 percent of auction earnings.
"As many pieces are being sold in China as in the United States, United Kingdom and France together," said Artprice in its annual report.
China now boasts sales worth $811 million compared to $752 million for the US.
Both nations held 33.7 percent of the market last year.
"Demand has increased significantly," said Artprice president and founder Thierry Ehrmann, adding that five times more works were being sold today than a decade ago.
"We have passed from 500,000 large-scale collectors after the war to 70 million art consumers, amateurs and collectors."
Thirteen pieces alone fetched more than 10 million euros ($12.8 million) each, compared with four in the previous year.
US artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died in 1988, Jeff Koons and Christopher Wool remain the market's biggest stars accounting for auction sales of 339 million euros.
Pop artist Koons, the subject of a major retrospective due to be held at Paris's Pompidou Centre at the end of November, currently holds the record for the most expensive work of art by a living artist ever sold at auction.
His "Balloon Dog" went under the hammer in November 2013 at Christie's in New York, for a record $58.4 million.
The rest of Artprice's top ten is made up -- in order -- of Zeng Fanzhi (China), Peter Doig (Britain), Richard Prince (US), Martin Kippenberger (Germany) who died in 1997, and three more Chinese artists -- Luo Zhongli, Chen Yifei and Zhang Xiaogang.
Zeng Fanzhi's 2001 painting "The Last Supper" was sold at auction in Hong Kong last year for $23 million.
Despite the presence of Basquiat and Kippenberger in Artprice's top rankings, the body's president and founder Thierry Ehrmann told AFP "the old adage that 'a good artist is a dead artist' was changing".
"For the first time, young artists voluntarily want to start on the second market," he said referring to auctions, as opposed to galleries, which are known in the art world as the first market.
"It's a real revolution. The two markets are in the process of merging."
Of the three top-selling contemporary artists, defined as artists born after 1945, Basquiat maintained his lead in 2013/14 with sales worth around 162 million euros while Koons and Wool clocked up 115 million euros and 61 million euros ($78 million) respectively.
After 17 often tumultuous years as director of the Brooklyn Museum, Arnold L. Lehman announced on Tuesday that he is planning to retire around June of next year.
“This has been something I have been thinking about for a while,” Mr. Lehman said by telephone. “I turned three score and 10 this summer. It’s time.”
Mr. Lehman explained that the museum was about to embark on a major capital campaign drive aimed at beefing up its endowment. It is also planning further substantial renovations to the infrastructure of its Beaux-Arts building, which include redesigning more galleries and upgrading them. “Both of these projects could go on for at least five or six years,” he said. “A new pair of hands and a new brain will be good for the museum.”
Elizabeth A. Sackler, chairwoman of the board, said a committee is being formed to find a successor. “Arnold has had a tremendous run,” Ms. Sackler said by telephone. “He had a vision for our collection and our community and he bridged both those things beautifully.”Photo
Mr. Lehman made many attempts to reinvigorate the museum. But he will most likely be remembered for being at the center of one of the most bitter public fights in recent museum history when, in 1999, he presented “Sensation: Young British Artists From the Saatchi Collection,” a show of art from the holdings of Charles Saatchi, the British advertising magnate. Although the show was widely popular and attracted some 170,000 visitors, Mr. Lehman was attacked by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Roman Catholic leaders for including an artwork by Chris Ofili depicting the Virgin Mary, decorated with elephant dung.
The mayor threatened to cut the city’s funding to the museum and accused it of colluding with Mr. Saatchi to inflate the value of his art. The museum faced scrutiny for financing the exhibition largely with donations from those who stood to profit from it. Adding to the protests was the revelation that Mr. Lehman had lied about having seen the show himself in London. Still, it was the first time many Americans had seen the work of a generation of British artists, of whom many, like Damien Hirst, Mr. Ofili and Tracey Emin, have gone on to be superstars.
“It was through that show that all those artists were introduced to an American museumgoing public,” Mr. Lehman recalled.
The “Sensation” brouhaha was just one of his struggles. Shortly after he arrived in Brooklyn from the Baltimore Museum of Art, where he had been director for 18 years, Mr. Lehman started making what at the time were considered audacious managerial decisions, ones that made him a kind of lightning rod. In 2006 he shook up the curatorial staff by replacing traditional departments like Egyptian art and European paintings and created two teams, one for collections and one for exhibitions — prompting the resignations of three longtime curators and two board members.
Still, over the years, Mr. Lehman increased the museum’s annual attendance to 558,788 visitors from 247,000. He also more than doubled the institution’s endowment, which is now $123 million, but was $55 million when he arrived in 1997. Since 1998, with the introduction of programs like First Saturdays, when the museum is open free until 11 p.m. on the first Saturday of almost every month, he has transformed the place into a kind of nightclub, with food, wine and live music. This popular event has helped turn the place into a hangout for Brooklyn residents and attract a significantly younger crowd.
“The average age of visitors in 1997 was around 58,” Mr. Lehman said. “A couple of years ago, it was about 35. Now, when I look around, I feel like everybody’s great-grandfather.”
He also made significant architectural changes to the museum’s classical McKim, Mead & White home, the most instantly visible being the redesign of its entrance, with a modern glass canopy. The design, by Polshek Partnership (now Ennead Architects LLC) included a newly conceived lobby and public plaza as well. He has also started systematically renovating the galleries to make them more coherent and climate-controlled.
Many exhibitions on view during Mr. Lehman’s tenure received significant international audiences, including “Monet and the Mediterranean,” in 1998, which drew 225,000 visitors; a show on Jean-Michel Basquiat in 2005 that attracted 184,000; and a show devoted to the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, in 2008, which drew 133,000. He also created a pioneering online presence around 2006, with crowd-sourced exhibitions that included public participation and have engaged thousands of new visitors.
But his goal, he said, was to attract “visitors from across the street as well as around the world.” To do so — often to the consternation of some curators and critics, who thought the institution was presenting too many lightweight shows rather than scholarly ones — he presented populist exhibitions like “Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes and Rage,” in 2000, and “Star Wars: The Magic of Myth,” a 2002 show of costumes and drawings from the movies.
“For me, those Brooklyn shows fell under the category of material culture, a legitimate candidate for art museum display, though not necessarily approachable by traditional formalist critical standards,” Holland Cotter wrote in The New York Times in 2009. “I saw the hip-hop show twice. It was packed. Being a greenhorn, I asked my fellow viewers questions — who’s this, what’s that — and learned a lot. It was a great museum experience.”
It was also one that slowly started changing the demographics of the institution’s visitors. An audience survey conducted this year showed that members of minority groups made up more than 40 percent of the museum’s visitors. Seventeen years ago, it was a little more than half that figure, Mr. Lehman said.
Although some critics have said he has not taken advantage of the institution’s world-class permanent collection, which includes extraordinary Egyptian and American art, Mr. Lehman has presented more than 200 shows since 1997 that focused on museum holdings. He has also emphasized the work of local artists and feminist art. And, in 2007, he opened the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the only center of its kind in America.
Mr. Lehman informed the institution’s board of trustees at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon that he intended to leave around June 2015. When asked what he plans to do next, he paused and said: “Having time to read the piles of books and journals at home would be a great luxury. But really, I’m not going to think about it yet.”