tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:/posts The George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann 2015-02-08T20:21:38Z George Lindemann tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/808783 2015-02-08T20:21:37Z 2015-02-08T20:21:38Z "Gauguin Painting Sells for Record Sum of Almost $300 Million" @wsj by Kelly Crow

A colorful painting of two Tahitian women by Paul Gauguin has reportedly been sold by a Swiss family foundation to a group of state museums in Qatar for nearly $300 million, a record sum for a single work of art.

The price would best the roughly $250 million that Qatar paid three years ago for Paul Cezanne’s “The Card Players,” and underscores the purchasing power and ambitions of the nation. The New York Times reported the amount and said two dealers pegged Qatar Museums as the buyer of Gauguin’s lush, 1892 double portrait, “Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?).”

Museum officials in Qatar couldn’t be reached to comment late Thursday. The Gulf nation, which surged from poverty to prosperity on the strength of its oil and gas fields, has earned a reputation in the past decade for paying top dollar to amass a world-class art collection. Some of its purchases have been displayed in its relatively new museums in Doha. Others, like the Cezanne, remain out of view.

The price of the Gauguin will likely send shock waves through a global marketplace already obsessed with touting and trading art trophies. Whether at auction or brokered privately, nothing—not even Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”—has come close to selling for as much. The price handily eclipses the current record-holder at auction, a $142.4 million Francis Bacon triptych.

The Gauguin’s seller is Rudolf Staechelin, a Sotheby’s retiree who lives in Basel, Switzerland, and oversees the Staechelin Family Trust, which includes a collection of at least 20 major Post-Impressionist works amassed by his namesake father during World War I. Mr. Staechelin confirmed to several Swiss newspapers Thursday that he sold “Nafea” but he declined to name a seller or a sale price. Reached at his home late Thursday, Mr. Staechelin declined to comment.

Mr. Staechelin’s father once served as an adviser to the Kunstmuseum Basel, where the Gauguin has hung for much of the past half-century. On Thursday, Mr. Staechelin told the newspaper Basler Zeitung he was unhappy with the way the Kunstmuseum Basel was handling its renovations.

The museum, in a statement, confirmed the sale of the painting and said it “profoundly regrets” the sale of “Nafea” and the removal of other loaned works by Mr. Staechelin from the museum, calling them “integral to our exhibitions.” The sale of the Gauguin will also be a blow to art lovers in Basel, where the painting has long been a point of pride.

It’s easy to see why: Gauguin, a brash, carefree Frenchman known for his vivid palette and lusty portraits of Tahitian women, painted “Nafea” only a year after he arrived in Tahiti. The work shows a pair of young women in a sun-drenched meadow, with mountains rising on the horizon and workers toiling in a far-off field. One woman wears traditional Tahitian garb, which includes loose, colorful fabrics, but the other one wears the prim, high-collared dress preferred by European settlers to the island. Their juxtaposition hints at a culture undergoing change, but it also marks a career-defining period in Gauguin’s oeuvre. At the time, he was able to use these portraits of appealing women to capture a seemingly exotic paradise—and to experiment with his theories about the significance of color and symbols in art. His works influenced peers such as Vincent van Gogh as well as later icons like Pablo Picasso.

Chronically short of money, Gauguin often painted on surfaces like wood and cardboard-quality canvases that haven’t held up well over time. “Nafea,” by contrast, is in excellent condition in part because it has been in a museum.

It is unclear when the Kunstmuseum will be asked to turn the painting over to its new owner. On Sunday it will be on view in a Gauguin exhibition at Basel’s Beyeler Foundation. The painting is expected to be part of an exhibit at Washington’s Phillips Collection in October.

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/807761 2015-02-05T22:18:45Z 2015-02-05T22:18:45Z "Heir to 10,000 Picassos Is Ready to Cash Out" @nyt by Doreen Carvajal

Heir to 10000 Picassos Is Ready to Cash OutMARSEILLE, FRANCE:  Since Marina Picasso was a child, living on the edge of poverty and lingering at the gates of a French villa with her father to plead for an allowance from her grandfather, Pablo Picasso, she has struggled with the burden of that artist's towering legacy.

When she was in her 20s and inherited the 19th-century villa, La Californie, as well as a vast trove of Picasso's art treasures, she turned the paintings to face the walls in resentment. Through 15 years of therapy, she dissected bitter family memories of her grandfather's perceived indifference and her brother's suicide. In her 2001 memoir, "Picasso: My Grandfather," she bared her pain and anger at the Picasso clan.

Now 64, Picasso acknowledges that she is expanding her rebellion by preparing to sell off many of his artworks to finance and broaden her philanthropy - aid for a pediatric hospital in Vietnam and projects in France and Switzerland benefiting the elderly and troubled teenagers.

And her unconventional sales approach is reverberating through international art markets, worried dealers and auctioneers accustomed to playing key - and lucrative - roles in the sale of renowned art. In an interview, Picasso said she would sell works privately and would judge "one by one, based on need," how many, and which, of the remaining Picasso works, of about 10,000 that she inherited, she would put up for sale.

Picasso has been regularly selling her grandfather's works for years to support herself and her charities. And since the death of her longtime dealer in 2008, she has tried various strategies in the market - auctioning two major paintings in 2013 and displaying a collection of nude drawings by her grandfather at Sotheby's in Paris last year.

But her decision to sell them on her own suggests a more aggressive effort to purge herself of her legacy. And while other Picasso heirs have occasionally sold works, Marina Picasso is the only one who seems to be "accelerating" the sale of art objects, said Enrique Mallen, an art history professor at Sam Houston State University in Texas who created the Online Picasso Project to track the art.

"It's better for me to sell my works and preserve the money to redistribute to humanitarian causes," Picasso said, speaking publicly about her new strategy for the first time while inspecting a hospital site in Marseille, where she is financing a psychiatric unit for teenagers in crisis. "I have paintings, of course, that I can use to support these projects."

The news of her unusual strategy is spreading in select circles by word of mouth, generating rumors and misinformation - including a recent tabloid report that she planned to sell off her grandfather's villa and seven major works. That is leading to speculation that she could flood the market and depress prices.

"Instead of having a dealer show them, it's been an open secret that there are works for sale and people have been asking other people if they would be interested," said John Richardson, a Picasso historian and biographer in New York. "I've been asked by odd people who tell me, 'We are in on a great deal, and Marina is selling all her stuff.'"

While bypassing dealers and auction houses in the sale of major works is not unusual, sellers going it alone can be at a disadvantage in trying to estimate the value of their own works and to vet the buyers and their source of funds. At the same time, with some auction houses increasing their fees, it can be a smart move in the end for a seller eager to make more money.

Marina Picasso, who inherited about 300 paintings among those 10,000 Picasso artworks - ceramics, drawings, etchings and sculptures are among the others - said she had not decided on the number to be sold and had no plan to put the villa on the market. But she knows which piece she will sell first: "La Famille," a 1935 portrait of a family surrounded by an arid landscape.

"It's symbolic because I was born in a great family, but it was a family that was not a family," Picasso said. By the time of his death in 1973, Pablo Picasso had created some 50,000 artworks and left behind a tangled brood of four children and eight grandchildren, as well as wives and muses, who have had a long-running battle over his estate and his legacy. Marina Picasso is the daughter of Pablo Picasso's son Paulo, and she has long kept her distance from the rest of the family. For years she was guided in her sales by Jan Krugier, a Swiss art dealer who curated and sold off many of the best works in her collection until he died in 2008.

She was disappointed, she said, by other sales routes, like a 2013 Sotheby's auction of two major paintings, including "Femme Assise en Robe Grise." The works drew $6.8 million, according to Sotheby's in Paris, but Picasso said she had expected more because buyers knew the money was going to support her charities.

Her timing is good: Last year, auction sales of Picassos were second only to those of Andy Warhol - $449 million last year in a $16.1 billion international market, according to Artnet, the New York-based art researcher.

While the sales will broaden Picasso's philanthropy, they will also help her move on from the burden of her family history, she said.

Picasso said that she had no photographs of herself with her grandfather and had none of his works until she received her inheritance. She recalled that he would fashion flowers out of paper for her, but she was never allowed to keep the trinkets.

Her father, Paulo, was the son of Picasso and his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, a Russian ballerina. Picasso said she still suffered from the memories of Paulo serving as her grandfather's chauffeur, among other lowly roles, and begging for money.

Her mother, Emiliénne, split from her father after a brief marriage and struggled with alcoholism. She relied on handouts from her ex-husband to raise Marina and her older brother, Pablito.

"I saw my father very little," Picasso said. "I didn't have a grandfather."

Her alienation from her grandfather and his entourage intensified after her brother was barred from Picasso's funeral in 1973 by the artist's second wife, Jacqueline Roque. A few days later her brother committed suicide by drinking bleach. Contributions from friends paid for Pablito's funeral, according to Marina Picasso, who supported herself then by working in a hospice for autistic and mentally ill children.

Pablo Picasso left no will when he died at 91, setting off a bitter struggle among his widow, children and grandchildren. Unexpectedly, Marina Picasso was named an heir and inherited a fifth of the estate, including the villa.

"People say I should appreciate my inheritance and I do," Picasso said, "but it is an inheritance without love."

In the end, she learned from her past.

"It was really difficult to carry this celebrated name and to have a difficult financial life," Picasso said. "I think because of it I developed my sense of humanity and my desire to help others."

Olivier Widmaier Picasso, a grandson descended from the artist's mistress Marie-Therese Walter, who published his own biography of Picasso, holds a more benign view of his grandfather's legacy. As for Marina, with whom he tangled when he tried to brand Citroen cars with Picasso's name, he said he understands her anger, but thinks it is misplaced.

"We need to be honest," he said. "Pablo Picasso was not the cause of all of this. Her mother had exclusive custody. Picasso didn't want to give money to her mother because he worried she wouldn't spend it on the children. So he paid directly for their schooling."

He said he was surprised to learn about Marina Picasso's sales approach.

"All the heirs have always worked with major dealers, like Picasso did in his life," he said. "They know the market and the buyers and work to avoid any bad moves."

In the 1970s, when the estate was split to pay off taxes, "La Famille" was considered one of the most valuable because its realistic style was so unusual, he said.

"The scale is enormous and it is obviously an important work," said James Roundell, a dealer with Simon Dickinson Fine Art in London, who says it is worth "in the millions" of dollars.

Picasso has not publicly disclosed what she hopes to earn.

Picasso, who has five children, three of them adopted from Vietnam, said that selling more of Picasso's art to expand her charities is a fitting use. In just the last year, she has donated 1.5 million euros (roughly $1.7 million) to the Hospital Foundation of Paris and France. Some went to the psychiatric emergency unit for teenagers, and Picasso also financed a project for elderly patients in long-term hospital care.

"I live now in the present," she said. "The past rests in the past. But I will never forget, never. I respect my grandfather and his stature as an artist. I was his grandchild and his heir, but never the grandchild of his heart."

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/806037 2015-02-02T21:32:59Z 2015-02-02T21:32:59Z "Bold Addition to Paris Skyline Gets Art to Match" @nytimes by Carol Vogel

PARIS — When it opened in October, the Louis Vuitton Foundation museum was such an audacious addition to the landscape here that all eyes were on the architecture and its creator, Frank Gehry. At the time, it seemed that the art on view — from the foundation’s collection — was little more than an afterthought, and few details were disclosed about future programs. But it turns out that Suzanne Pagé, the foundation’s artistic director, was secretly working on an exhibition of modern masterpieces to open in April with loans from institutions around the world including Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” Matisse’s “Dance” and Léger’s “Three Women (Le Grand Déjeuner).”

A lyrical confection of glass, concrete, timber and steel set on the western edge of the Bois de Boulogne, the building was the most radical design since I. M. Pei’s 26-year-old glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre. Critics called the new building a sailboat, a crystal palace, a spaceship, even a whale.

Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” circa 1910. Credit Edvard Munch, Munch Museum

“We wanted the emphasis to be on the architecture first,” said Ms. Pagé, a former director of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris.

When the $143 million building opened, many in the art world voiced disappointment that the inaugural installation included only a peek into the holdings amassed by Bernard Arnault, the chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the luxury goods conglomerate, who is a fiercely private collector. The exhibition included a mixed bag of canvases by Gerhard Richter and Ellsworth Kelly, and sculptures by Thomas Schütte and Isa Genzken, Christian Boltanski and Pierre Huyghe. (Some of the stronger works were commissioned from Mr. Kelly, Olafur Eliasson and Taryn Simon.)

Now the foundation will be a place to see some of the touchstones of modern art. “The Scream” is on loan from the Munch Museum in Oslo; Matisse’s “Dance,” not seen in Paris for 15 years, is on loan from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg; Léger’s “Three Women” is from the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The building will also showcase works including Rothko’s “No. 46 (Black, Ocher, Red Over Red),” from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Also reported to be in the show is Brancusi’s “Endless Column, Version 1,” from MoMA. Crafted from carved oak, it is the first fully developed example of that celebrated sculpture. Picasso’s “Woman With Yellow Hair,” belonging to the Guggenheim Museum in New York, is also said to be arriving here, according to museum sources.

“The foundation indeed aims to be contemporary,” Ms. Pagé said. “But it doesn’t want to ignore the history of art, as it is seen in these major works of the 20th century, which continue to be a vital reference for artists today.”

The exhibition, “Les Clefs d’une Passion” (“The Keys to a Passion”), will be on view through July 6. Two weeks after it opens, another selection of works from the foundation will be installed in the rest of the galleries by contemporary masters including Warhol, Gilbert & George, Richard Prince and Douglas Gordon.

These presentations, Ms. Pagé hopes, will dispel questions by skeptical art lovers who at first wondered whether the new building was just a rich man’s toy; a 21st-century example of corporate branding, or if it would, over time, have the heft to become an integral part of Parisian cultural life.

“I think it’s something very important,” said Henri Loyrette, an art historian and the former director of the Louvre. “When I first saw it I thought more about the beautiful architecture than anything else. But on a second visit I realize there’s a lot more to it than that. They have been clever in the way you first discover the building and then progressively, over time, see different things.”

In a city where places to see art are, for the most part, government funded, the foundation is a rare example for Paris of a more typically American-style institution, similar to private museums for contemporary art opened by the Brant Foundation in Greenwich, Conn.; the Broad Foundation in Los Angeles; or the Rubell Family Collection in Miami.

Its novelty has aroused considerable curiosity here. Most days, lines snake around the building hours before it opens, and on weekends as many as 8,000 people a day, predominantly Parisians, have visited the city’s newest arts center.

Jean-Paul Claverie, a special adviser to Mr. Arnault who had worked under Jack Lang in the French Ministry of Culture, recalled being so bowled over by the Guggenheim Bilbao, which Mr. Gehry designed in the Basque region of Spain, that he convinced Mr. Arnault to go see it. “I knew it would have an impact on him,” Mr. Claverie recalled the other day, over lunch in the dining room of the foundation, where lamps in the shape of articulated fish, designed by Mr. Gehry, floated overhead. That visit, Mr. Claverie said, convinced Mr. Arnault to hire Mr. Gehry to design his foundation building.

While the architecture has been the big draw, the art is soon to be an equal partner. “When a building is first finished, curators generally want time to figure out how to use it,” Mr. Gehry said by phone from Los Angeles. “Every time I’ve designed a museum, the curators have always wanted to open it empty, but I’ve always insisted they put some art in it.”

Mr. Gehry said he had spent hours with Ms. Pagé studying the collection so the building’s 11 galleries — some with vertiginous ceilings — and roof terraces could show off the art to its best advantage.

“We have a constant dialogue about art; it’s not fashion,” Ms. Pagé said on a recent trip to New York, sipping tea at the Pierre Hotel after spending the day scouring galleries in Chelsea and catching up on museum exhibitions, including Leonard A. Lauder’s collection of Cubist art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which she said was “fantastique.”

“Mr. Arnault wants to create a very serious place,” Ms. Pagé added. Since his wife, Hélène Mercier, is a serious pianist, he also has a passion for performance. “Not just music, but poetry, too,” Ms. Pagé said. “Very few places in Paris have poetry.” So far in the 350-seat auditorium they have held concerts by the pianist Lang Lang and the band Kraftwerk, an installation by the German artist Florian Hecker and a poetry series organized by the writer Jérôme Game. Georgy Tchaidze, the 25-year-old Russian pianist, performed here on Friday.

This is not Mr. Arnault’s first public foray in the art world. In 1999, he bought Phillips, the auction house, which he merged with Simon de Pury and Daniella Luxembourg, two renowned dealers. The arrangement lasted only until 2002. Realizing that trying to compete with the auction giants Sotheby’s and Christie’s was a losing battle, he sold his stake to Mr. de Pury and Ms. Luxembourg. (None of the principals are still involved; Phillips is now owned by the Mercury Group, a Russian luxury goods company.)

While Mr. Arnault lost millions of dollars in Phillips, it did not dampen his enthusiasm or interest in art. Currently on view at the foundation is an exhibition of work by Mr. Eliasson, the Danish-Icelandic artist perhaps best known to New Yorkers for the four waterfalls he created in New York Harbor in 2008. For the LVMH site-specific installation, he created a space where viewers are enveloped in light and their own mirrored, dreamy reflections, set beside a pool of water on the building’s lower level, or grotto, as they call it.

With “The Keys to a Passion,” Ms. Pagé said that she hopes the public will see that the foundation is more than a showcase for contemporary art but also a place to learn about the historic figures inspiring art today. “Both are important,” she said. “You have to be very curious about what’s happening everywhere around the world, whether it’s in Sharjah or New York or Paris.”

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/806034 2015-02-02T21:28:22Z 2015-02-02T21:29:43Z "When Art Buyers Need Help" @wsj by Daniel Grant

It’s one thing to have the money and desire to collect art. It’s another thing to know what to buy.

Enter art advisers, a fast-growing profession that promises to bridge the often sizable gap between buyers and sellers of expensive art. Many advisers are hired by businesses that want art to inspire their employees and impress customers. Others are finding a lucrative practice among the newly minted superrich from the developed and developing world, many of whom wish to decorate opulent homes in lavish style, while others wish to build art collections, either for personal enjoyment, a public legacy, or perhaps both.

“A lot of my clients are somewhat informed about art, but most of them don’t know much, because they are really busy,” says Judith Selkowitz, an adviser in New York.

Here are some basics about how the art-advisory business works.

Who Uses Advisers

Art advisers tend to work for clients with very big budgets. Many such buyers, who often are pressed for time, are willing to pay substantial amounts for guides who help them identify highly desirable artists and pieces, and who negotiate the best prices for those works.

Wendy Cromwell, principal at the art advisory service Cromwell Art LLC in New York City, says her clients expect to spend at least six or seven figures on their art purchases. Ms. Cromwell, who is also president of the board of the Association of Professional Art Advisors, says that in most cases it isn’t worth the adviser’s time, or the client’s money, if the budget is less than roughly $30,000.

How They’re Paid

The size of the client’s budget and the kind of project they have in mind (decorating one or more houses, or building a large collection, for instance) tend to determine how the adviser gets paid. Variations include hourly fees, monthly retainers, payments on a quarterly, annual or biannual basis, or a flat percentage of the cost of the artworks purchased. Excluding hourly rates, fees average about 17% of the value of the art purchased, according to the Association of Professional Art Advisors.

An Education

For many clients, the adviser’s service begins with an education in art appreciation. Many buyers don't know their own tastes and preferences, so the initial meetings with an art adviser may involve a wide-ranging look at Western and non-Western art in different media and styles over a span of centuries.

Todd Levin, an art adviser in New York City, says, “The majority of the time I spend with my clients is educating them about artists, art history and the inner mechanics of the art.” That time may be spent visiting gallery or museum exhibitions, as well as at Mr. Levin’s office where he makes visual presentations. “The more knowledgeable they are, the more confident they are and the more apt to buy,” Mr. Levin adds.

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Connections and Advantages

Some advisers say their relationships with certain gallery owners and dealers can give their clients advantages over most buyers of art, such as access to high-quality pieces that typically aren’t available to the public.

“Most gallery owners don’t put out their best work,” says Ms. Selkowitz. “I can get my clients into the galleries’ backrooms. I can get them to see pieces that the dealers haven’t even brought into the gallery yet. I can provide entrance to dealers who would never speak to these people.”

Some advisers also say they have connections that they say help them to negotiate lower purchase prices, or higher sale prices if a client wishes to sell a piece.

“We can shave the commission rate down from 25%, sometimes down to zero at auctions, because we do an enormous amount of business with auction houses,” says Jessica Ransom, an adviser with the Palm Beach, Fla., office of New York-based Winston Art Group Inc.

Choosing the Right Adviser

Things go more smoothly when clients and advisers have similar tastes, something the buyer should try to determine early in the process.

In initial meetings, or interviews, Mr. Levin suggests that buyers judge whether the potential adviser listens and communicates carefully. Advisers also should provide references, Mr. Levin says; perhaps a client or two, or gallery owners who have worked with the adviser.

Word-of-mouth recommendations (from dealers and collectors, usually) are the principal means by which someone learns of an adviser.

Some dealers and gallery owners moonlight as art advisers themselves, says Linda Blumberg, executive director of the Art Dealers Association of America. Because of fears of conflicts of interest, however, they aren’t permitted membership in the advisers association, says Ms. Cromwell, the group’s board president. The concern is that, as vendors, they would have a tendency to sell from their inventories instead of putting their clients’ interests first. Similarly, Ms. Cromwell says, her association cautions its members against accepting payments from dealers when purchasing works for their clients.

Paul Gray, director of the Chicago-based Richard Gray Gallery, sometimes acts as an adviser and says he sees no conflict of interest. “Dealers often advise clients and do it with the depth of experience and the degree of connoisseurship that comes from years of intense looking and activity in the market,” he says.

“A potential for conflict of interest exists in nearly all relationships,” Mr. Gray elaborates in an email. “It is the integrity of the individuals that distinguishes and circumspection should always be a consideration in sound decision making.”

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/805780 2015-02-02T10:10:05Z 2015-02-02T10:10:05Z "Kehinde Wiley Puts a Classical Spin on His Contemporary Subjects" @nytimes by Deborah Solomon

Now 37, Mr. Wiley is one of the most celebrated painters of his generation. He is known for vibrant, photo-based portraits of young black men (and occasionally women) who are the opposite of scared — they gaze out at us coolly, their images mashed up with rococo-style frills and empowering poses culled from art history. He maintains studios in China and Senegal in addition to New York. As a self-described gay man and the son of an African-American mother and a Nigerian father, he offers a model of the artist as multicultural itinerant.

At the moment, Mr. Wiley’s work seems to be everywhere, from the set of the Fox drama “Empire” to all of the right institutions. His first museum retrospective opens at the Brooklyn Museum on Feb. 20, before traveling to museums in Fort Worth, Seattle and Richmond, Va. In January, he was summoned to Washington to receive a Medal of Arts from the State Department. (“I brought my mother as my date,” he said.)

A Wiley painting is easy to recognize. More often than not, it shows a solitary figure, an attractive man in his 20s, enacting a scene from an old-master painting. Dressed in contemporary garb — a hooded sweatshirt, perhaps, or a Denver Broncos jersey — the man might be crossing the Swiss Alps on horseback with the brio of Napoleon or glancing upward, prophet-style, golden light encircling his head. Typically the man has a lean frame, and his clear skin gives off a coppery sheen. His posture is regal: shoulders rolled back, head turned slightly to reveal the elegant sweep of a jawline.

Every Wiley painting is a two-punch affair — the masculine figures contrast sharply with the ornately patterned, Skittles-bright backdrops unfurling behind them. Based on design sources as varied as Victorian wallpaper and Renaissance tapestries, the backgrounds can look as if thousands of curling petals had somehow been blown into geometric formations across the canvas. For the moment depicted in the painting, the men are protected and invincible, inhabiting an Arcadian realm far removed from the grit of the artist’s childhood.

Mr. Wiley’s champions tend to view his work in overt political terms. He redresses the absence of nonwhite faces in museum masterpieces, “using the power of images to remedy the historical invisibility of black men and women,” as Eugenie Tsai, the curator of the Brooklyn Museum show, observes in the accompanying catalog.

But you can also read his work in psychological terms, and Mr. Wiley himself emphasizes the never-ending tension in the paintings between their male and female aspects. “It’s about a figure in the landscape,” he said of his output, adding that the backdrops symbolize the land. “For me the landscape is the irrational. Nature is the woman. Nature is the black, the brown, the other.” He added, “That’s the logic behind it, but everyone has their own sort of reading.”

Mr. Wiley, who attended graduate art school at Yale, has a taste for academic language. During our conversation he used the words “slippage” and “surd,” the last of which sent me to the dictionary. It’s a math term for irrational numbers with no square root.

Surd, in truth, seems to capture something essential about Mr. Wiley, his distrust of reductive explanations. Although he has a warm manner and a winning gap-tooth smile, there is an aloofness about him, too, especially when he does not care for a question. I asked him whether he felt an affinity with the work of Chuck Close, who similarly paints portraits that disclose next to nothing about their subjects.

“He fetishizes the material process instead of an external story,” he said.

What about John Currin, his fellow Yalie and devotee of brazen pastiche? “We have different projects,” was Mr. Wiley’s businesslike reply.

Even his sexuality, by his description, defies categorization. “My sexuality is not black and white,” he said. “I’m a gay man who has occasionally drifted. I am not bi. I’ve had perfectly pleasant romances with women, but they weren’t sustainable. My passion wasn’t there. I would always be looking at guys.”

Before meeting Mr. Wiley, I had seen a photograph of him in a magazine and was struck by his stylishness. He was wearing a suit whose jazzy stripes matched the background of one of his paintings. Jeffrey Deitch, the art dealer who gave Mr. Wiley his first one-man show in New York and represented him for a decade, had urged me, only half-jokingly, to try to look in the artist’s bedroom closet if I wanted to understand him. It contains, Mr. Deitch said, dozens of custom-made suits, many of them byRon & Ron, a tony label founded by Haitian twins.

Mr. Wiley’s studio does not look like the haunt of a dandy. You enter the building by buzzing past a steel-frame security door that opens onto a long, sunless courtyard. The heat wasn’t working on the day of my visit, and the artist met me at the door bundled in layers of paint-stained work clothes. He proposed that we talk in a small front office warmed by a space heater, and night was already falling.

A fish tank glowed with blue light. Above it hung what appeared to be a Basquiat from the ’80s, a smattering of cryptic words (“teeth,” for instance) scratched into its brushy surface. When I complimented the painting, Mr. Wiley replied mischievously, “I painted it myself.”

Clearly, he has a gift for mimicry. He can do a Velázquez. He can do a Jacques-Louis David. He can do a Basquiat. His devotion to pastiche has kept him operating on a meta level, and perhaps at a deliberate remove from his past. “The stuff I do is a type of long-form autobiography,” he said, with his usual attention to paradox, “but the starting place is not me.”

The artist said he never met his father during his childhood, or even saw a photograph of him. Isaiah D. Obot — a Nigerian citizen who came to the United States as a scholarship student — returned to Africa after finishing his studies. He went on to have a second family in Nigeria and a substantial career in city planning.

The artist’s mother, Freddie Mae Wiley, a Texas native, studied linguistics and eventually became a teacher. Kehinde was the fifth of her six children, and a twin. For most of his childhood, he said, the family subsisted on welfare checks and whatever spare change came in from his mother’s thrift shop. The store didn’t have a sign or a retail space, other than a patch of sidewalk in front of the house on West Jefferson Avenue. But everyone in the neighborhood thought of it as Freddie’s Store. Mr. Wiley recalls the mounds of merchandise: used books, windup Victrolas, tarnished gold-leaf picture frames, porcelain figurines of rosy-cheeked lovers.

“It was like ‘Sanford and Son,’ ” he said, referring to the ’70s sitcom about two men with a salvage shop, “junk everywhere.”

The children would help their mother scout for new inventory, driving around in a Dodge van that backfired noisily. “That was the more embarrassing part,” he recalled. He added, “You’re 11, and you don’t want to be seen jumping out to go through your neighbor’s garbage. That’s social death!”

At 11, everything changed. His mom enrolled him in a free art course at a state college. Suddenly, he knew how he wanted to spend his life; his career unfolded with remarkable velocity. He attended college at the San Francisco Art Institute, before winning a scholarship to Yale. He arrived in New York in 2001 as an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Since then, Mr. Wiley has “street-cast” his paintings, heading out to scout for models — initially along the jammed sidewalks on 125th Street in Harlem and later, when he had enough money, overseas, in China, Israel and elsewhere.

His paintings all begin with an exchange of glances between artist and subject. Mr. Wiley describes the process as “this serendipitous thing where I am in the streets running into people who resonate with me, whether for cultural or sexual reasons. My type is rooted in my own sexual desire.”

He added, with amusement, “Most people turn me down.” The willing few are instructed to come to his studio to pose for photographs that serve as source material for the portraits.

Mr. Wiley delegates much of his production to a bevy of assistants, so much so that he has been accused of outsourcing his entire output. “Wiley’s paintings are created by teams of assistants in China,” the critic Ben Davis observed in an ulcerous review at BlouinArtinfo.com in 2012.

At the time, Mr. Wiley had declined to say much about his process, but during our meeting, he was candid about the division of labor. In general, he said, his assistants are responsible for painting the super-busy, detail-packed backgrounds. “Let’s face it,” he said, “I’m not doing all that.”

After a background is laid in place, he starts in on the figure, the gently lit face and body, which he seems to view as the heart of his work. Rendering skin tones, especially black and brown ones, is a subtle process, and, if you look closely at a patch of cheek or forehead in his paintings, you are likely to notice an array of indigo blues and alizarin reds.

Even so, his surfaces are thinly painted, and he speaks with distaste for the Expressionist tradition of visible brush strokes. “My work is not about paint,” he told me. “It’s about paint at the service of something else. It is not about gooey, chest-beating, macho ’50s abstraction that allows paint to sit up on the surface as subject matter about paint,” he said.

Mr. Wiley has his share of critics who say his work is formulaic and repetitive. Whether he’s working in oil or watercolor, he deploys the same strategy of inserting dark-skinned figures into very white masterpieces of the past.

To be fair, he has varied his subjects over the years. In 2012, for his debut show at the Sean Kelly Gallery, he added women to his roster of models. (“It was my idea,” Mr. Kelly said, explaining that he was pushing Mr. Wiley to branch out.) Mr. Wiley has also ventured into sculpture, and his coming show at the Brooklyn Museum will include six stained-glass windows as well as a few bronze heads that can put you in mind of the portrait busts of Jean-Antoine Houdon, who flourished during the French Enlightenment.

“I am interested in evolution within my thinking,” he said. “I am not interested in the evolution of my paint. If I made buttery, thick paintings, there would be critics of that. You just have to proceed.”

In all fairness, he is only 37, which is still young for an artist. It would make more sense to talk about his evolution when he is 60 or 70. See you back here then.

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/805778 2015-02-02T10:06:23Z 2015-02-02T10:06:24Z "Sometimes Heartbreak Takes a Hostage" @nytimes by Jon Pareles

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND — It wasn’t exactly a beach day. It was a chilly, damp November morning with a drizzle that turned intermittently to rain. Björk called it “sniffle weather”; she and a video crew were at Grotta, a lighthouse on a spit of land on the coast here that she has often rented for stretches of isolated songwriting.

The tide and fleeting winter daylight gave her only a few hours to make the video that, if all goes as planned, will turn “Stonemilker,” the first song on her new album, “Vulnicura” (One Little Indian), into the virtual-reality finale of the Björk retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art that opens on March 8.

Björk was, as she has so often placed herself throughout her career, on the cusps of nature and technology, raw emotion and complex artifice. She often calls herself a “pop musician,” but that’s a humble understatement for an artist who, over the past three decades, has constantly experimented with sounds, structures and images around the elemental communication of her gentle, searing voice.

She was a preteenage pop singer — releasing her first album at 12 — and then the frontwoman of the Sugarcubes, Iceland’s celebrated art-punk band. Since 1992, she has made adventurous solo albums that, for all their eccentricities, have been international hits. Working with designers and directors, she has also enfolded herself in the kind of enigmatic, memorable images that made her appealing to MoMA — not least of them the unforgettable swan dress she wore to the 2001 Academy Awards, in which her effigy will preside over the public lobby during the exhibition.

She’s a consistent early adopter of new technologies. To shoot “Stonemilker” in 3-D, 360-degree virtual reality, the director Andrew Huang was using four pairs of sports cameras on a stand, refitted with 180-degree-angle lenses and facing in four directions, with their images to be stitched together later by software. Parts of the prototype were “literally held together with Scotch tape,” Mr. Huang said.

For the video, Björk wore an asymmetrically layered neon-yellow dress and leggings — the color, she told me, of “emergency” — and white platform shoes that made it difficult to clamber over a tall rock wall onto the black stone beach where the camera was set up. There wasn’t much time; by midafternoon, high tide would flood the only road from the lighthouse.

Since the 360-degree capture left nowhere to hide, Björk performed unseen; the crew and observers crouched behind the wall. As she lip-synced and danced, her voice, a string orchestra and a fitful electronic beat poured out of a speaker as she sang, “We have emotional needs!”

“Vulnicura,” Björk wrote on her website, is a “complete heartbreak” album; its songs plunge into the estrangement, separation and self-healing that came with the breakup of her relationship with the artist Matthew Barney. Their daughter, Isadora, was born in 2002. She also has a 28-year-old son. “Usually I don’t really talk about my private life,” Björk said. “But with this album, there’s no two ways about what it is. I separated during this album, ended a 13-year relationship, and it’s probably the toughest thing I’ve done.” (Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Barney declined to comment.)

She added: “You feel like you’re having open-heart surgery, with knives sticking in, so everything is out, and you have this urgency and immediacy. It has to happen right now, that you have to express yourself. And part of it is, you always feel like you belong to another power. It’s not yours, it’s like the universal heartbreak energy current — dot com,” she said with a laugh, “that is taking you hostage.”

The album’s intended release date, in March, was planned to coincide with the MoMA show and a world tour beginning March 7 at Carnegie Hall. But when the complete album was leaked on the Internet, Björk decided to sell her legitimate version online immediately. Her decision “was mostly impulsive,” she said by phone last Saturday. “All the record companies around the world were just stubborn about keeping to the plan. I’m not just, ‘Break the rules to break the rules,’ but it had a strange smell to it. The chances people were going to wait a month and a half were zero.”

“It was a 50-50 thing,” she continued. “What tipped it was also the emotional content of the album. It’s just been really important for me to have it out there. For me psychologically, to put it out in the world and move to the next thing — I think that’s good, and good karma, and good for me and my family, to just move on.”

Throughout Björk’s solo career, her music has merged the worldly and the otherworldly in ever-mutable ways. She has made albums extrapolating from club dance beats (“Post”), constructed almost entirely of vocal sounds (“Medulla”), or shaped by the plinks of harp and music boxes (“Vespertine”). Her 2011 album, “Biophilia,” featured an Icelandic choir as well as one-of-a-kind mechanical instruments, which will be displayed and heard in MoMA’s lobby. “It was important for her to have something of her show that is accessible to everybody,” said Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA’s chief curator at large, who first approached her about a retrospective back in 2000. Because she sees herself as a musician, not a visual artist, Björk didn’t agree to the idea until 2012.

In his introduction to the exhibition catalog, Mr. Biesenbach praises her for “creating innovative forms that cross all channels of our media-driven society.”

On her 1997 album “Homogenic” and, in different ways, on the new “Vulnicura,” Björk sets dramatic string arrangements against electronic beats — though “Vulnicura” is far less rhythm-driven, more rhapsodic, more abstract and more openly desolate. The similar palette may be no coincidence; both albums deal with heartbreak and perseverance.

Writing, for Björk, is largely solitary: “selfish moments” when she gets a chance to reflect. She often writes while walking outdoors, she said, “so it’s not a coincidence that most of my songs are 85 or 90 beats per minute.”

But this serious artist can also cut loose. After countless video takes in the cold, Björk could have called it a day. Instead, she invited the crew and some Reykjavik friends to her home for a wrap party that was also, it turned out, Björk’s slightly belated 49th birthday party. One friend’s gift was a scarf painted with Michael Jackson in Pierrot costume, which had her gushing about the “celebration, that sense of merging with other people” in his music. Then came a club crawl, much of it sound-tracked by her iPod.

First she plugged into the sound system of a cafe-bar near her house: Minimalism, gamelan music. Then the group headed into central Reykjavik and a basement club where Björk and her iPod took over for the D.J., playing Chaka Khan, Bollywood and the avant-pop composer Mica Levi. She hopped out of the D.J. booth to dance on the pool table, rolling across it like something in a vintage MTV video. Around midnight, she led her flock to Prikid, a packed hip-hop club, where she danced nonstop, sang along and downed shots of birch schnapps until nearly 4 a.m. “Best! Song! Ever!” she shouted when Amerie’s “1 Thing” hit the sound system.

“I like to do that properly, go all the way when you feel it,” she noted two days later, when she played the album for me in her home studio. “I like the extremes.”

Her house is cozy and book-lined, with startling touches of nature brought indoors: a spherical chandelier made of white feathers, a stone staircase with a balustrade built from (unendangered) minke whale bones. Her second-floor studio overlooks a seascape panorama: a cone-shaped mountain, a black sand beach, an ever-changing Icelandic sky. As she was about to hit Play on her laptop, she paused. “That cloud is crazy!” she said. “It’s like a fuzzy triangle, and then all the other clouds have definition.” I suggested that it was like her new songs; electronic sounds with indistinct edges are set against the fervently physical, defined strings and vocals.

The songs on “Vulnicura” are both premeditated — Björk writes her own string arrangements — and resolutely unguarded, with Björk’s voice open and exposed. She often kept her first impulses for the lyrics. “I almost didn’t fix anything,” she said. “It’s just got to be this conversation in your head, and if you take it someplace else then it loses the only thing it’s got — that urgency.” The album’s first six songs are a chronology of the breakup: feeling the partnership crumble and, eventually, coming to terms with it. “At the time I was really grumpy, like a teenager, because I couldn’t stand how typical it was. But it is true, when you are going through it, the songs just pour out of you,” she said.

“Weirdly, I think the survivalist in me kicked in. When you’re going through the most difficult things emotionally, the scientist kicks in to try and make sense of it all. Part of me wants just to hide it, and part of me is going, ‘No — this could be a document of the heartbreak of the species, and could even be helpful to someone.’”

Björk wasn’t looking forward to recording the songs. Although she enjoys the process of building and editing music with software — she compared it with knitting and embroidery — it had taken her three years to finish “Vespertine” because she was painstakingly constructing beats on her own. On previous albums, she had done most of the music but brought in collaborators to handle the most complex parts. “I could finish all my albums myself and do it on my own,” she said, “but it somehow doesn’t agree with my philosophy. I would feel it would be too inbred.”

Luckily, while writing “Vulnicura” in 2013, she heard two songs by Arca: Alejandro Ghersi, a 25-year-old electronic musician from Venezuela who had grown up on her music and who has made tracks with Kanye West and F.K.A. Twigs. She invited him to work with her in Iceland, and he ended up co-producing seven songs and programming for the other two. Another electronic musician who has darker sounds on his mind than dance beats, the Haxan Cloak (a.k.a. Bobby Krlic), mixed it.

Arca will be touring with Björk, along with a 15-piece string orchestra and the percussionist Manu DeLago, whose specialty is a steel drumlike instrument, the hang. “She’s a musician of the highest order,” Arca said via Skype. “She would be very, very precise, but it also would be accompanied with a lot of freedom.”

Both Arca and Björk said that he started out largely executing her ideas — she called herself a “bossy back-seat driver”— but their collaboration deepened. In the studio, he said, he sometimes “felt like a kid. We would just trade stuff back and forth — dancing a lot, laughing hysterically.”

The bleakest, bravest song on “Vulnicura” is “Black Lake,” which is dated in the album booklet as “2 months after” the separation. “My soul torn apart, my spirit is broken,” Björk sings, and the strings hover behind her in open, austere chords. When verses end, the chord sustains, lasting longer than the verse. It’s harrowing and deliberate.

“We call them the freezes,” Björk said. “At the time, I couldn’t put together one logical thought. You’re just stuck in pain, you’re stuck in unbearable pain, and you can just about express yourself and then you’re just stuck in the pain. You’re paralyzed.”

Yet as Björk recorded the album, “Black Lake” took careful technological shape. Along with “Stonemilker,” it is part of the “new commission” of the MoMA exhibition. At the sessions, each of the 30 string players was individually miked; MoMA is building a room with an array of speakers that will allow visitors to approach each track separately for a spatial experience of the music.

In the three years that Mr. Biesenbach and Björk have been working on the exhibition, she has grappled with the idea of “how do you hang a song on a wall?” They were drawn to the idea of songlines, the indigenous Australian tradition in which songs and images become maps. The question became, “How could you move in space, steered by sound and music?” Mr. Biesenbach said.

The show will have visitors — only 100 at a time — wearing headphones and walking through each of Björk’s adult solo albums in a room of its own, looking at costumes and videos and hearing a song through location-based triggering that will place them within the recordings. The audio guide will also include a fabulistic tale of Björk’s itinerary, written by her and a periodic collaborator, the novelist and poet Sjon, and narrated by Björk and an Icelandic director and actress, Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir. For exhibition visitors, voices and music will demand as much attention as costumes and videos. “It will be some cacophony of sound,” Björk said. “There’s obviously some risk involved. But if it’s not dangerous, it’s not worth doing.”

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/794011 2015-01-10T14:00:06Z 2015-01-11T18:42:27Z "Takashi Murakami: ‘In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow’" @nytimes by KAREN ROSENBERG

Takashi Murakami’s “Isle of the Dead” (2014), at Gagosian, reflects on the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Credit 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd; Robert McKeever, Gagosian Gallery

In his exhibition at Gagosian, Takashi Murakami appears unintimidated by big historical and religious subjects but strangely cowed by his fellow artists. Working in response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011 in the Tohoku region of Japan, he has come up with a quasi-spiritual installation of paintings and sculptures surrounding a copy of the gates of a Buddhist temple. It invites us to meditate and heal from the trauma of natural disasters and to savor expensively fabricated art objects while worshiping Koons, Hirst and Warhol (as if we needed another place to do that).

In an 82-foot mural inspired by the scrolls of the 19th-century Buddhist painter Kano Kazunobu, Mr. Murakami tosses manga-like figures into a stylized seascape and piles on a dazzling assortment of mosaic and marble effects. His sculptures, however, which include enormous painted-metal lion figures inspired partly by Damien Hirst’s “Hymn” and smaller mirrored ones reminiscent of Jeff Koons’s inflatables, feel too obvious — Buddhist icons in shiny, consumerist cladding.

Mr. Murakami is generally very good at aggregating and packaging ideas from other artists and epochs. (That’s what makes him such an interesting curator and mentor to other artists.) In this show he is working with some fascinating material, with evident ambition and astoundingly high production values, but you wish that some of this energy and expense would produce a more original statement.


George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/794010 2015-01-10T00:00:01Z 2015-01-10T00:00:01Z Cy Twombly: ‘Treatise on the Veil’ @Nytimes by Roberta Smith

An untitled 1970 drawing with collage elements by Cy Twombly in “Treatise  on the Veil” at the Morgan Library & Museum. Credit The Menil Collection, Houston, Cy Twombly Foundation

Cy Twombly: Treatise on the Veil” ostentatiously combines two museum trends: exhibitions built around one important painting, and the growing urge of museums of all kinds to feature modern and contemporary art. Here the yen for newness is lavishly advertised by a show centering on the billboard-size painting “Treatise on the Veil (Second Version),” a panoramic canvas measuring nearly 33 feet across that Cy Twombly (1928-2011) made in Rome in 1970.

The painting, from the Menil Collection in Houston, is displayed in what seems like splendid isolation despite the presence of 10 large related collages, some of which incorporate cardboard and plywood. Most were made on May 27 or 28 of that year and depict a work divided into several panels, just as the first version of “Treatise on the Veil,” from 1968, was.

But Mr. Twombly eventually settled on a single surface, which allowed for an expansive field loosely painted in shades of gray, similar to his blackboard paintings but more exuberant. To this he added a relatively restrained graphic narrative in white crayon: Five pairs of ruled parallel lines skip horizontally across the lower portion of the canvas, forming a kind of channel through which four or five hand-drawn lines crackle like sound, water or electricity — or, less specifically, the hum of life.

Attesting to Mr. Twombly’s ability to scale up drawing without sacrificing its essential intimacy, the work magnifies his exploration of line, registering his nervous energy as it fluctuates effortlessly from cursive to musical or mathematical notation to architectural sketch.

“Treatise” looks both glorious and slightly out of place at the Morgan, whose primary commitment is to drawings, prints and manuscripts from before 1900. It doesn’t help that it hangs above dark wood wainscoting, rather than closer to the floor and more in the viewer’s space. Still, the painting is a remarkable fusion of drawing and painting and of flamboyance and restraint. Among Mr. Twombly’s largest, it hasn’t been seen in New York in decades. Its return is a valiant attempt to bring new purpose to one of New York’s most beautiful and venerable art spaces.


George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/793482 2015-01-08T21:51:15Z 2015-01-08T21:51:15Z "A New Art Palace Sets Sail in Paris" @wsj by Joel Henning

Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne                                  

Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne Bruno Morandi/Corbis

As you approach Frank Gehry’s monumental structure on the edge of Paris in the verdant Bois de Boulogne, you first see a billowing array of glass panels joined together like a three-dimensional collage, very much suggesting a ship under sail, an illusion reinforced by the sunken reflecting pool fed by a ground-level cascading fountain. Here, glass becomes Mr. Gehry’s defining material, molded in a wholly novel way. The architect of the titanium Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain and the stainless-steel Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles has found yet another way—entirely new—to make our jaws drop, inspired in part by his love of yachting and in part by the monumental barrel-vaulted glass roof of Paris’s Grand Palais exhibition hall off the Champs-Élysées.

This is the Fondation Louis Vuitton, built by LVMH, the company whose luxury brands include Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy, as well as Dior, Fendi, Bulgari, Donna Karan, Givenchy and a few dozen others. LVMH may well be the ideal client for this structure, perhaps the most self-conscious work of architecture designed to house art since Frank Lloyd Wright’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on New York’s Fifth Avenue.

The 3,600 glass panels are each unique—shaped in kilns specially developed for the job. Each contains white ceramic dots to temper the sun’s heat. And then there is the museum itself, a complex structure encompassed by the glass sails and constructed mainly of Ductal, an ultra-high-performance concrete.

The buildings 3600 glass panels are each uniqueshaped in kilns specially developed for the job ENLARGE
The building’s 3,600 glass panels are each unique—shaped in kilns specially developed for the job. Bruno Morandi/Corbis

Several early critics couldn’t resist the urge to knock a “starchitect” of Mr. Gehry’s popularity working for a luxury goods conglomerate marketing exclusively to the wealthy and those who aspire to be so. Artnet News described the structure as “The Sydney Opera House crossed with a blimp.” Others criticized the location, far out of Paris proper, and characterized the early exhibitions as mediocre work by big-name contemporary artists. But these naysayers missed much that is enthralling here.

There is no way anything resembling this singular structure would have been allowed in the lovely, dense, over-administered heart of Paris. With the exception of I.M. Pei’s Louvre Pyramid of 1989, entirely enclosed in that museum’s main courtyard, nothing much that is new has gone up there since the 1977 opening of the relatively staid Centre Pompidou, designed by Richard Rodgers and Renzo Piano. Just this week a French appeals court blocked the modest renovations proposed by LVMH to the abandoned La Samaritaine Department Store. LVMH plans to appeal.

Fortuitously, LVMH administers for the City of Paris the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a children’s park in the Bois on the western edge of the city. The garden, created by Napoleon III in 1860, includes an archery range, house of mirrors, miniature-golf course, narrow-gauge train, pony ride, puppet theater, and science and art museums for children. But on its edge stood an ugly, abandoned bowling alley.

Mr. Gehry and LVMH’s CEO, Bernard Arnault, proposed to replace that hulk with the Fondation. Still, Paris’s mayor didn’t come around until Mr. Gehry suggested that the building be largely glass. “We talked about buildings in parks made of glass, like the old Crystal Palace in London’s Hyde Park and the Grand Palais,” Mr. Gehry told me, “so I did some sketches that he liked.” But these uniquely shaped and sculpted glass sails required Mr. Gehry and his colleagues essentially to invent a new process. “The cost of the building went up considerably having a double skin, because you can’t hang art on glass,” Mr. Gehry said.

Fortunately Mr. Arnault’s pocket has great depth—he is one of the richest men in Europe. Mr. Gehry prides himself on bringing his buildings in on budget, but he told me that he didn’t know the cost of this one and wasn’t working against a prescribed budget. Mr. Arnault’s chief cultural aide, Jean-Paul Claverie, who headed the building project, told me that it cost more than $120 million, but that seems low, perhaps by half, according to an individual close to the project.

Inside the Horizon a permanent installation by Olafur Eliasson ENLARGE
‘Inside the Horizon,’ a permanent installation by Olafur Eliasson. Olafur Eliasson/Iwan Baan

Mr. Arnault is one of the European pioneers of major private philanthropy, which is relatively new to that continent. In addition to his enormous private collection of contemporary art, he has been in the vanguard of European business magnates sponsoring major exhibitions, as well as other philanthropic work including the restoration of parts of Versailles and of Rome’s Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. In addition to its own art, the Fondation exhibits works from Mr. Arnault’s private collection, as well as objects on loan.

The galleries range from immense to intimate. Five of Ellsworth Kelly’s paintings are ingeniously displayed in a chapel-like space, unlike the massive rooms in which his paintings are usually found. During its inaugural months, the building itself is featured in several galleries. On view through March 16 is a selection of Mr. Gehry’s early sketches, models, computer renderings and construction blueprints. After first viewing the site, he doodled sketches while flying back to Los Angeles that don’t look like much until you realize that they are remarkably consistent with the finished product. So much for critics who allege that Mr. Gehry’s work emanates mainly from his computer software.

To me the most fascinating exhibit on view at the Fondation’s opening was “A Polite Fiction” (which, unfortunately, has since closed), the work of the American photographer and graphic designer Taryn Simon. Allowed to nose around the site during excavation and construction, she uncovered more than 400 artifacts, many of which were on display, including a newspaper article about the 2013 murder of three Kurdish political activists in Paris, placed in the ceiling of the executive office, and a plastic bottle of urine hidden behind ceramic tile in the administrative restrooms, along with many lewd notes and drawings. She also tracked, occasionally purchased and photographed objects purloined from the site, such as copper and aluminum cables sold to scrap dealers; cement used by a father to build the walls of his daughter’s bedroom; and an oak sapling that a worker took to Poland, planted, and named after his boss. To my knowledge this is the only time an artist became the archaeologist of a massive construction project and then made art of her discoveries, thus magically introducing us to the hard hats who built it.

I was transfixed by “Inside the Horizon,” a permanent installation by the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson of 43 prism-shaped, illuminated yellow columns alternating with mirrors, arrayed along a walkway in the grotto beside a pool, creating kaleidoscopic reflections of the building, water, lights and the viewer’s own image.

Ellsworth Kelly - Color Panels                                      
Ellsworth Kelly - Color Panels Ellsworth Kelly/Fondation Louis Vuitton Marc Domage

The elegant auditorium contains a permanent Ellsworth Kelly installation of five cheerful colored fabric panels as well as his 12-panel painted canvas stage curtain happily suggesting a contemporary counterpart to the earlier theater work of Picasso, Chagall and other modern artists. When the seats rise out of the floor, the space accommodates 350 people. But when the seats are hidden away, the auditorium can hold as many as 1,000 for music, dance, lectures and Louis Vuitton fashion shows.

Now all the galleries contain art, but when I visited in mid-November, some galleries were empty, leaving no question that in the beginning the Fondation Louis Vuitton was more about the architecture than the art. This left more time and energy to feast on the building and its myriad terraces and gardens, arrayed on a multitude of levels and affording spectacular views of Paris and the Bois. The auditory, visual and spatial assets of the galleries suggest that in time contemporary artists will thrive here. Curator Suzanne Pagé has been in place since 2006. “Suzanne was really a part of the design of the galleries,” Mr. Gehry told me. Her highly regarded 18 years as director of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris suggest that she will not be unduly daunted by Mr. Arnault, his private art collection or his fortune as she curates extremely contemporary work in this exceptional structure, designed by a man of 85 years, in a children’s playground, on the edge of one of the world’s most ancient capitals.

Mr. Henning writes about the arts and culture for the Journal.

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/792080 2015-01-06T19:54:02Z 2015-01-06T19:54:02Z "A Profusion of Enlightenment" @nytimes by KEN JOHNSON

Here comes the sun. And what a relief! With the winter solstice behind us, the days getting longer and brighter, and the dawn of a new year just around the corner, it’s a happy time to think about the light and the darkness and what those two terms mean for art and life.

THROUGH THE GLASS DARKLY Among the sunniest artworks on view now in New York is Spencer Finch’s “A Certain Slant of Light” at the Morgan Library & Museum. For this immersive installation, Mr. Finch covered many of the glass panes of the museum’s airy four-story atrium with rectangular sheets of translucent colored film. Suspended high overhead in the middle of the space is a set of clear glass squares, each freely turning in response to ambient air currents. As they turn, they reflect the sunlight filtered through the colored films, creating a crystalline, prismatic play of colors.

It’s all immensely subtle; visitors may not even realize they’re in the middle of a site-specific artwork. The title, taken from the first line of a poem by Emily Dickinson, seems appropriate, as it suggests an exquisitely sensitive attunement to ordinary experience. If you don’t remember the poem, however, you may be surprised on rereading it; it’s actually very dark. Dickinson’s slanted light “oppresses like the Heft/Of cathedral Tunes” and gives “Heavenly Hurt.” It’s “the seal Despair — An imperial affliction.” The last lines are chilling:

“Tears Become ... Streams Become ...” at the Park Avenue Armory. Credit Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

When it goes, ’tis like the Distance

On the look of Death

You don’t sense in Mr. Finch’s installation anything like Dickinson’s psychic distress. That’s a problem. His work is pretty but thin; it could use some darker substance.

(“A Certain Slant of Light” runs through Aug. 23 at the Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street; 212-685-0008212-685-0008, themorgan.org.)

BLACK WATER UNDER A NIGHT SKY There’s plenty of darkness in “Tears Become ... Streams Become ...” a vast, magical installation by Douglas Gordon at the Park Avenue Armory. It consists of two grand pianos that seem to float on a hockey-rink-size expanse of black water. Mr. Gordon designed it as the setting for a program of water-related music by Ravel, Liszt and Debussy, among others, played by the pianist Hélène Grimaud.

A photograph of an Antarctic iceberg, part of Sebastião Salgado's "Genesis." Credit Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas images-Contact Press Images

The final performance took place last Sunday. Now the installation remains, with a player piano operating silently, as if a ghost were at the keys.

Illuminated by small ceiling lights like stars in the night sky, the installation has a haunting, nocturnal feeling. The glassy water’s surface mirrors the armory’s high, barrel-vaulted ceiling and its infrastructure, creating a breathtakingly expansive illusion of deep architectural space. In its vertiginous complexity, it’s like a vision by the 18th-century printmaker Piranesi. Although in reality only about two inches deep, the water appears to be of indeterminate depth. What’s beneath the surface is unknown, a possibly infinite darkness, which you might read as a psychological metaphor for the unconscious, whence spring inspirations of creative imagination.


THE LIGHT OF THE DIVINE There’s much darkness in Sebastião Salgado’s art, too. At the start of “Genesis,” his exhibition of more than 200 photographs at the International Center of Photography, there’s a spectacular black-and-white picture of a giant iceberg under a luminous sky of mottled clouds. It’s an amazing object. Rising from a flat, black ocean, it has sharp peaks and ridges, a great hole through part of it and, most improbably, a blocky formation resembling the top of a medieval castle towering high over the lower, craggy base.

The iceberg picture belongs to a project Mr. Salgado began in 2004 to seek out and photograph landscapes, seascapes, wild life and indigenous peoples that appear untouched by the effects of technological progress. Hence the biblical title “Genesis,” suggesting a prelapsarian state of nature. Thus framed, the light that so strikingly breaks through tumultuous clouds in many of Mr. Salgado’s landscapes has a divine cast to it; it’s the beneficent light of God pouring down over all things great and small. What’s not pictured but looms off-camera are shadows of what William Blake called the “dark satanic mills” of modern industry.

Sarvavid Album Leaf 18 from "The All-Knowing Buddha: A Secret Guide," at the Rubin Museum of Art. Credit Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp (Belgium), Rubin Museum of Art

Like Ansel Adams before him, Mr. Salgado aims to arouse environmentalist concern. He and his wife, Lélia Wanick Salgado, founded the Instituto Terra, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reforestation and environmental education. There’s something contradictory about Mr. Salgado’s project, though. The camera is, after all, a modern machine, and he uses machines to travel by land, water and air to the remote places he captures on film. He is himself a kind of technologically armed invader altering planetary ecology, however slightly or greatly, wherever he goes. But that dimension isn’t reflected in his seemingly innocent photographs, and so they’re less complexly thought-provoking — less fully enlightening — than they might be.

(“Genesis” runs through Jan. 11 at the International Center of Photography, 1133 Avenue of the Americas, at 43rd Street; 212-857-0000212-857-0000, icp.org.)

REFLECTED LIGHT, SILVERY AND ENIGMATIC There are many different kinds of enlightenment. Consider “The Flat Side of the Knife,” an installation by Samara Golden at MoMA PS 1. Standing at a railing where you look into the museum’s two-story-tall Duplex Gallery, you behold a confoundingly complicated interior architecture with furniture, stairways, musical instruments, wheelchairs and many other domestic items rendered in silvery, foil-clad foam board. Light bounces every which way, creating a kind of crystalline, 3-D Cubism. Far below — farther than seems really possible — you see an arrangement of chairs, a sofa and a colorful rug. Then, looking up, you see the same objects attached upside down to the ceiling. It turns out that the gallery’s floor is covered by a grid of large mirrors; what you see when you look down isn’t real but a reflection of what’s above. Everything is doubled, and what you think is up may really be down, and what you take to be real may be a virtual reflection of the real.

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The installation includes two videos projected on wall-mounted screens, both showing ocean waves rhythmically lapping a sandy beach. The sound of the waves fills the gallery. The screens are like windows to the outdoors, and they also suggest something metaphysical beyond the constructed interior. Maybe this is what Ms. Golden means by her thoughts quoted in the exhibition’s introductory text panel: “I hope my work can be like a door that opens to other times or moods. Maybe we can see that this kind of door is possible, but we don’t yet know how to cross its threshold.”

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(“The Flat Side of the Knife” runs through Aug. 30 at MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, at 46th Avenue, Long Island City, Queens; 718-784-2084718-784-2084, momaps1.org.)

An image of galaxies receding from "Dark Universe," a new Hayden Planetarium space show. Credit American Museum of Natural History,

BY THE LIGHT OF A WHITE MOON, ENLIGHTENMENT You may recall Aldous Huxley’s treatise on mescaline-assisted mind expansion, “The Doors of Perception,” which takes its title from William Blake’s mystical aphorism: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

But how, exactly — barring the use of psychedelic drugs — might a person progress toward this sort of enlightenment? A fascinating and remarkably thorough manual for seekers of higher consciousness is on view at the Rubin Museum of Art in an exhibition called “The All-Knowing Buddha: A Secret Guide.” It presents 54 paintings that illustrate step-by-step instructions for followers of Tibetan Buddhism. Delicately painted on 10-inch-by-10-inch paper sheets, most of the pages depict a monk having fabulous visions in a verdant landscape.

The album is thought to have been commissioned by a Mongolian patron and executed by unidentified artists in a Chinese workshop in the 18th century. Acquired in 1923 by a European missionary working in Inner Mongolia, it now belongs to the Museum aan de Stroom in Antwerp, Belgium. Although the album has no written text, scholars have done a lot to make sense of its trippy imagery. Its most recent examiners, Karl Debreczeny and Elena Pakhoutova, both Rubin curators and organizers of the exhibition, have provided brief, lucid explanations for every page. Leaf 36, for example, represents “full and complete enlightenment” in the form of a white moon emanating rainbow-hued light waves. Ensconced on a great blue lotus that rests on an ornate hexagonal pedestal, it’s guarded by a pair of fierce, flaming demons who are like cosmic bouncers.

(“The All-Knowing Buddha” runs through April 13 at the Rubin Museum of Art, 150 West 17th Street, Chelsea; 212-620-5000212-620-5000, rubinmuseum.org.)

DARKNESS UNFATHOMABLE What does one who ascends to the level of the all-knowing Buddha know? That’s hard to say for an ordinary mortal, but it might be worth asking such an enlightened one if he or she could shed light on the mystery of dark matter. That’s the subject of “Dark Universe,” an entertaining and educational 30-minute movie projected on the domed ceiling of the Hayden Planetarium. Created for a popular audience, it conveys up-to-date knowledge about how the universe began, what it seems to be doing now and where it might be going.

Here we learn something that has so far stumped scientists: It seems that if you calculate all gravitational forces observably in play in the universe, you can’t explain how it is that the stars and galaxies are organized as they evidently are. Something must be exerting some kind of gravitational energy to keep things in place, but what that is has eluded detection by any and all human-made instruments. It neither gives off nor reflects any kind of electromagnetic radiation. Yet if scientific theories are correct, there must be a shocking amount of it: Only 5 percent of the universe is what we think of as ordinary matter. The rest is unfathomably dark.

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/789320 2014-12-30T20:00:06Z 2014-12-30T20:00:06Z The 10 Art News Stories of 2014 You Need to Know @artnet


Installation view of Richard Prince, "New Portraits," at Gagosian
Photo: Paddy Johnson

Looking back on some of the most popular stories from our first year in business (since March, that is), some of the stories that turned up surprised us, while the appearance of others at the top of the list heartened us. In an effort to share some of these, we began with the top 50 stories that drove the most traffic on the artnet News website all year long. From there, we sifted the pickings down to our top 10 favorites. To our minds, these are the stories that most had people talking. Thus, without further ado, here are the top 10 stories from artnet News in 2014:

1. Beloved Illustrator Blasted by Fans Over Ferguson Artwork: When illustrator Mary Engelbreit departed from her normal fare of cartoon depictions of apple-cheeked children to post a work on her Facebook page that reflected the turmoil in Ferguson, her fan base turned on her.

2. Ways of Seeing Instagram: In his nifty piece about Instagram and art theory, Ben Davis explores how Instagram, an app that's only four years old, is "dominating the art conversation as no purely art-related topic has."

3. Kara Walker's Sugar Sphinx Spawns Offensive Instagram Photos: One of the most buzzed-about exhibitions of the year was Kara Walker's "A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby," a mammoth Sphinx-like figure coated in sugar that was commissioned by Creative Time and staged at the Domino Sugar Factory. Intended to comment on the sugar cane trade, and to serve as a cultural critique of representations of black women throughout history, the work, which had exaggerated breasts, bottom, and vagina, created an unintentional uproar on Instagram—viewers took selfies sexualizing the work for their followers.

4. We Asked 20 Women "Is the Art World Biased?" Here's What They Said": The art world is presented as an industry where its professionals, both women and men, have more freedom to express themselves and share equally in the ability to take advantage of opportunities. But is that true? artnet News canvassed women collectors, dealers, curators, and advisers to find out.

5. World's Biggest Art Collector Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed Al-Thani Dies at Age 48: Once held to be the wealthiest and most powerful art collector in the world, Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed Al-Thani of Qatar's ruling family died suddenly at his home in London in November. Since then, stories have been unfolding about the enormous debt he has left in his wake.

6. Richard Prince Sucks: When Richard Prince took over the space behind the Gagosian gift shop with his Instagram portraits taken from the Instagram feeds of various celebrities (and created a new twist to his practice of appropriation), many critics had something to say about it. But none lambasted the lazy and simple artworks quite as deliciously as Paddy Johnson.

7. Meet 20 of the World's Most Innovative Art Collectors: From Theo Danjuma to Maria Baibakova, these collectors were chosen for their ability to set themselves apart in the practice of collecting artworks, whether for their highly specific focus, their environmental activism, or their Renaissance qualities.

8. Have Art Fairs Destroyed Art? Zombie Abstraction and Dumb Painting Ruled in Miami: With his hilarious spot-on observations, critic Christian Viveros-Fauné takes Art Basel in Miami Beach to task for catering to the "connoisseur class" and loading up on "shiny surfaces, stacks of joke paintings, and enough zombie abstraction to inspire several remakes of World War Z." A must-read for anyone who went down to Miami, and even a must-read for just anyone.

9. Why James Franco's Cindy Sherman Homage at Pace Is Not Just Bad But Offensive: "James Franco's new exhibition at Pace is bad." That's how former artnet News staffer Ben Sutton starts off his piece about James Franco's exhibition of works in which he recreated the well-known images of artist Cindy Sherman. And the skewering only gets more intense from there.

10. Kanye West Gives Kim Kardashian Nude Portrait as Wedding Gift: Kanye commissioned British street artist Bambi, the so-called female Banksy, to create a wedding gift for his Internet-breaking bride: a nearly-nude portrait titled Perfect Bitch, depicting Kardashian posing from behind wearing nothing but a tiny G-string and Louboutin heels. The artist's instructions were to create "something regal but typically Kim."

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/789319 2014-12-30T16:26:20Z 2014-12-30T16:26:20Z "Contemporary Art Sizzles in Shanghai" By AMY QIN

The Power Station of Art, the first state-owned contemporary art museum in China, is host to the 10th Shanghai Biennale. Credit Qilai Shen for The New York Times

SHANGHAI — Few knew what to expect of the Power Station of Art when it blew onto the contemporary art scene here in 2012. Just one year earlier, the Power Station — the first state-owned contemporary art museum in China — had been but a half-baked idea in the minds of local government officials intent on transforming Shanghai into an international cultural capital.

By the time the Power Station was set to make its debut by playing host to the ninth Shanghai Biennale, construction workers and artists alike were hurrying until the final hours to prepare the space, a colossal decommissioned electrical power plant, for the show. Despite last-minute efforts, the hastily assembled biennale — with its roughly installed artwork, missing or misprinted wall labels and poorly trained staff — made for a lackluster start, leaving many with questions about the museum’s sustainability.

Now, two years later, those doubts appear to be diminishing as the Power Station, one of the few public institutions in China dedicated to contemporary art, finds its footing in the flourishing contemporary art scene here.

At the opening of the 10th Shanghai Biennale last month, crowds streamed through the seven-story Power Station to take in works by more than 80 artists from 20 countries, centering on the theme “Social Factory.” Organized by the writer and curator Anselm Franke of Berlin, the show, which runs through March 31, displayed few of the technical and production issues that dogged the preceding edition.

“This biennale is really a landmark event for China,” said Chris Dercon, director of the Tate Modern.

It is the first time in the biennale’s 18-year history that the chief curator had been given free rein to choose the theme. The decision to allow Mr. Franke that latitude was made by the museum’s academic committee, which was recently reorganized and includes prominent international figures like Mr. Dercon and Homi K. Bhabha, a humanities professor at Harvard.

“We want the Shanghai Biennale to be more international,” said Li Xu, deputy director of the Power Station. “This is a new kind of cultural confidence.”

The current biennale, which has been well received by critics and those in the museum world, is the latest milestone for the Power Station after a string of successful exhibitions. Highlights have included a large-scale exhibition on Surrealism shipped in from the Pompidou Center in Paris, a major solo exhibition by the Chinese contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang sponsored by Infiniti, and a 30-year retrospective of portraits in Chinese contemporary art organized by Mr. Li. The Power Station has embraced its role as one of the few public institutions in China dedicated to contemporary art, developing educational outreach and training emerging curators.

“The museum is really changing,” said Larys Frogier, director of the Rockbund Art Museum, one of the many private museums that have emerged in Shanghai in the last few years. “The next challenge for the Power Station as a public museum is to build not only a collection but a strong vision about Chinese contemporary art.”


Whether museum officials can convince the public that a government-mediated vision of Chinese contemporary art is credible remains to be seen.

While negotiating with censors has long been accepted by most art institutions, the Power Station, as a public institution, is often subject to greater scrutiny and censorship. Several artists were banned from exhibiting in the latest edition of the Shanghai Biennale. Pak Sheung Chuen of Hong Kong, for example, was cut from the show just a few days after a so-called blacklist of artists — which included him — appeared on social media, according to Cosmin Costinas, a biennale co-curator. The artists are said to have been banned from working on the mainland because of participation in recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Another Chinese artist, Song Ta, was also prevented from participating by culture bureau officials even though a show of his works, which often address Communist Party corruption, ran unimpeded in a Beijing gallery.

“Censorship is part of being a public institution in China,” said Uli Sigg, one of the world’s leading collectors of contemporary Chinese art. This year works by Ai Weiwei were removed from an exhibition that Mr. Sigg helped organize for the Power Station about the history of a prize the collector created for Chinese contemporary art.

“The paradigm for contemporary art is to show things as they are, to document and to criticize,” Mr. Sigg said. “It doesn’t represent China in the way the government wants it to be represented to their people and to the outside world.”

Museum officials agree that escaping the shadow of politics is among the foremost challenges facing the Power Station.

“When people first look at us they see politics before they see art,” said Gong Yan, the museum director and former editor in chief of the Chinese-language magazine Art World. “We want to shift this attention so that when people come to see the exhibits they can see the individual value of the Chinese artists and not just the entire societal context.”

Another issue for the Power Station is funding. Although the government paid for the $64 million needed to convert the 450,000-square-foot space into a museum, the institution — like many other public museums today — still struggles to find enough money for operations. And with prices for contemporary art skyrocketing, a lack of financing has also hampered the museum’s ability to build a substantive collection.

“The biggest problem is that the government is great at taking care of the hardware but not the software,” Mr. Li said. While officials have demonstrated an increasing willingness to invest in contemporary art, he said, the “speed of change has not been as fast as you might guess.”

A foundation to solicit private donations is being established. In the meantime, money problems have also hurt the museum’s ability to attract professional staff members, officials say.

“When the government talks about culture in China they are always talking about construction,” said Qiu Zhijie,  who as chief curator of the ninth Shanghai Biennale experienced the museum’s growing pains firsthand. “No one thinks that culture is like planting a tree, where you have to continue watering it.”        

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/788684 2014-12-29T14:00:05Z 2014-12-29T14:00:05Z "Olafur Eliasson on How to Do Good Art" @tmagazine by NED BEAUMAN

On the eve of his exhibition at the new Fondation Louis Vuitton, the artist discusses his work — which includes a school, an architecture practice, a charity, a cookbook and a herd of Icelandic sheep, and which is meant to make the world a better place. Really.

Unfinished wooden sculptures at Studio Olafur Eliasson which occupies a converted brewery in Prenzlauer Berg Berlin
Unfinished wooden sculptures at Studio Olafur Eliasson, which occupies a converted brewery in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. Credit Nigel Shafran

“Irony or not?” said Olafur Eliasson, looking around the meeting table. At his studio in Berlin, the answer is almost invariably “not,” but perhaps here an exception could be made. Eliasson and a few of his staff were finalizing the title of a new book chronicling the five-year history of the Institut für Raumexperimente, a small art school that Eliasson ran until February. The title under consideration was “How to Make the Best Art School in the World.” “It would be nice to piss off the very academic art schools,” Eliasson said. “I do think we had the best students in the world. But is irony really the economy I want to support?” In the end, Eliasson and his staff agreed that such good-natured braggadocio was pretty harmless in irony terms, although the cover would be designed so that at first glance the book would appear to be titled simply “How to Make.” Eliasson had also ensured that the book would include a photograph of a puppy that one of the students had met on a field trip. “Every book should have a picture of a puppy in it,” he told me, “because it just makes you so happy.”

If, like me, you operate under the assumption that irony is automatically more sophisticated than earnestness, it is confounding to enter Eliasson’s world. One of the most extensive private holdings of his work belongs to the advertising executive Christian Boros, whose appointment-only museum in the Mitte district, the Boros Collection, was originally built as a Nazi air-raid shelter but over the years has also functioned as a banana warehouse and a notoriously debauched techno club. This is the nature of Berlin, where things cascade with contradictory meanings, where “post-” is a ubiquitous prefix, where hipsters chase oblivion in the ruins of old dogmas. Irony is almost always a safe bet here, not least in the expat art scene. So you arrive at Studio Olafur Eliasson with certain expectations, and when you find that, on the contrary, it is one of the most earnest places you have ever been, you start looking around for the cracks.

Clockwise from top left Inside the Horizon a recently completed installation at the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris One-way colour tunnel at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 2007 Your waste of time 2013 for which chunks of ice were transported from Icelands largest glacier into MoMAs PS1 gallery Your wave is a three-dimensional mesh of light-emitting cables hung over the Palazzo Grassi on Venices Grand Canal in 2006
Clockwise from top left: ‘‘Inside the Horizon,’’ a recently completed installation at the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris; ‘‘One-way colour tunnel’’ at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2007; ‘‘Your waste of time,’’ 2013, for which chunks of ice were transported from Iceland’s largest glacier into MoMA’s PS1 gallery; ‘‘Your wave is,’’ a three-dimensional mesh of light-emitting cables hung over the Palazzo Grassi on Venice’s Grand Canal in 2006. Credit Clockwise from top left: Iwan Baan; Ian Reeves/Courtesy of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Matthew Septimus; Santi Caleca.

Eliasson was born in Copenhagen to Icelandic parents in 1967. His most celebrated work to date is 2003’s “The weather project,” for which the Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern was converted into a gigantic, artificial solarium, attracting over the course of six months two million visitors, who often felt compelled to lie down on the floor, spelling out political messages with their bodies or just gazing at themselves and each other in the mirror on the ceiling. My own favorite work of Eliasson’s is “Your waste of time,” an installation at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City last year that consisted of several chunks of ice, detached by seasonal melting from an Icelandic glacier, that had been fished out of a lake, shipped to New York and installed in the refrigerated gallery. There they sat for nearly four months, crystalline but also surprisingly grimy, stout as rock but also frail enough to need their own microclimate — individual and real and lost.

A lot of Eliasson’s works are like this: irruptions of the elemental into a museum setting, as if the building had sprung some mythic leak. Others are harder to convey in a high-concept pitch. When I visited the studio, Eliasson was working on a commission for the Fondation Louis Vuitton, a major new museum that opened in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris last month. In addition to taking over the ground floor for the Fondation’s inaugural temporary show, he would be constructing a permanent “grotto” from which the Frank Gehry-designed building could be flatteringly viewed. Although Eliasson showed me plenty of sketches and models for the exhibition, I never quite formed a clear idea of what he was planning to do, apart from that it involved mirrors and curves and tinted glass. This side of Eliasson’s practice takes the form of a highly refined fun house, subjecting you to experiments in human perception that don’t sound like much until you see them firsthand. The intended effect often seems to be a pre-intellectual wonder, so that you will have basically the same experience as the 5-year-old next to you. There’s a reason why Eliasson feels an imperative to appeal to the broadest possible audience. He believes that in normal life we have a tendency to hurry along on autopilot, seldom questioning our deeper assumptions. Art, by goosing the senses, can make us more conscious of our positions in time, space, hierarchy, society, culture, the planet. In the long run, this heightened consciousness will result in change for the better — emotionally, socially, politically.

Clockwise from left The weather project of 2003 which drew more than two million visitors to the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern Your rainbow panorama built on top of the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Denmark in 2007 an interior viewemAndrew Dunkley  Marcus Leith Ole Hein Pedersen Studio Olafur Eliassonem
Clockwise from left: ‘‘The weather project’’ of 2003, which drew more than two million visitors to the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern;  ‘‘Your rainbow panorama,’’ built on top of the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Denmark in 2007; an interior view. Andrew Dunkley & Marcus Leith; Ole Hein Pedersen; Studio Olafur Eliasson. Credit

In other words, Eliasson has a faith in the improving power of art that has been out of fashion since Victorian times. But his ambitions aren’t bounded by his studio. He is on friendly terms with Bill Gates, Kofi Annan and Michael Bloomberg, and regularly attends the World Economic Forum in Davos to discuss public policy with the people who make it. “I don’t go there to meet world leaders,” he joked. “I go to become a world leader!” In fact, he already talks like a politician much of the time, with a habit of disappearing into a haze of generalities and wonk-speak and anecdotes of uncertain relevance. The concepts he draws on — inclusivity and engagement and trust and so on — seem to have been filtered to ensure that you could no more be offended by his statements than you could be offended by the colored lights he puts in museums. Yes, he has given a TED talk.

And yet the longer I spent with Eliasson, the harder I found it to cling to my cynicism, because he’s such a good advertisement for sincerity. One of Eliasson’s friends, the author Jonathan Safran Foer, told me over the phone that he found spending time with Eliasson “overwhelming, whether overwhelming in the sense of at times feeling almost too much, or overwhelming in the sense of being really moving. You sit down with Olafur for a meal and he picks up the fork and stares at it for a moment and you think, Oh my god, he’s either inventing a new fork or wondering how to get forks to people who don’t have forks. ” He added: “After I’ve spent an hour with him I feel like I need a nap, but it’s because he has more curiosity than anyone I’ve ever met, and a greater belief in a person’s ability to be useful and to change things. Somehow he lives his entire life with the urgency of someone who just walked out of the doctor’s office with a dire prognosis.”

Clockwise from top left cooking using the Studio Olafur Eliasson cookbook Brooklyn Bridge as seen during Eliassons The New York City Waterfalls project in 2008 from the Grey Sheep series 2013 featuring Eliassons own herd of Icelandic sheep bred to rehabilitate the Icelandic economy at the studio two of the 90 staff members who assist the artist an advertisement for the Little Sun a solar-powered LED lamp distributed worldwide
Clockwise from top left: cooking using the Studio Olafur Eliasson cookbook; Brooklyn Bridge as seen during Eliasson’s ‘‘The New York City Waterfalls’’ project in 2008; from the ‘‘Grey Sheep’’ series, 2013, featuring Eliasson’s own herd of Icelandic sheep, bred to rehabilitate the Icelandic economy; at the studio, two of the 90 staff members who assist the artist; an advertisement for the ‘‘Little Sun,’’ a solar-powered LED lamp distributed worldwide Credit Clockwise from top left: Fg | Architektur & Indechs; Julienne Schaer/Courtesy Public Art Fund; Studio Olafur Eliasson; Nigel Shafran; Maddalena Valeri.

Eliasson has 90 people working for him. Few of them have job titles. Four days a week they all eat a healthy vegetarian lunch together in the light-filled canteen upstairs, with a rotating schedule for washing the dishes afterward. Initially, I found the atmosphere at the studio rather too good to be true, like a hippie cult before night falls. But when I joined Eliasson for lunch on my second day at the studio, I sat there eating my roasted carrots and enviously contemplating how much better my life would be if I, too, received that bounty of vegetables and sunlight and intelligent chatter. Sebastian Behmann, who heads Eliasson’s architecture practice, told me that you can track how long someone has worked at Studio Olafur Eliasson by how much healthier they look every year (and indeed many people have stayed on for a decade or more). Last year, Studio Olafur Eliasson published its own 368-page cookbook of sustainable vegetarian recipes.

This is just one of the unpredictable byproducts of the studio, which often resembles a sort of ongoing Apollo project. Others have included the art school, a full-scale architecture practice, a series of publications, a charity and a herd of Icelandic sheep. As motley as these pursuits may sound, Eliasson would argue that they all emerge from a single mind-set, and that they’ve all been made viable by his years of practical experience as an artist. “If you can make a show in Venice, which is the most difficult damned thing one can do, not just because working with Italians is a mess, but also because you’re in a city on water in the middle of nowhere and getting a hammer and a nail is impossible . . . you can make a show on the moon,” he told me. “So as an artist, you become an entrepreneur by definition. . . . The art world underestimates its own relevance when it insists on always staying inside the art world. Maybe one can take some of the tools, methodologies, and see if one can apply them to something outside the art world.”

Eliasson at work
 Eliasson at work. Credit Nigel Shafran

For instance, sheep. “It started with the financial crisis,” Eliasson told me when I asked about his herd. “Björk said everybody must think innovatively. So we started buying up lambs to rescue the Icelandic economy — but I think we ended up burdening it! My mistake was I wanted to turn it into an art project. Still, it was a nice excuse to go to the countryside and drink vodka and play with the sheep.” Eliasson began breeding lambs whose meat would be particularly well-suited to Moroccan tagines, with the intention of selling diced, marinated lamb to delis in Iceland. “I just couldn’t convince my partners that people in Iceland would eat tagine.” In the end, the lambs were slaughtered, their meat frozen and their wool knitted into 20 “secular prayer mats.”

Other ventures have been less quixotic. After they adopted two children from Addis Ababa, Eliasson and his wife, the art historian Marianne Krogh Jensen, started 121Ethiopia, a project that works to improve the lives of children in Ethiopian orphanages. 121Ethiopia operates on a modest scale. Little Sun, Eliasson’s other philanthropic enterprise, does not. Developed with the Danish engineer Frederik Ottesen, the Little Sun is a very efficient solar-powered LED lamp, cheerful in design and lightweight enough to wear around the neck on a lanyard. Since the lamp’s debut in 2012, more than 200,000 have been distributed, over a third of them to regions in Africa with no electricity, the rest at venues like Tate Modern or Coachella. While Eliasson was still discussing the Institut für Raumexperimente book, I was taken upstairs to the Little Sun workshop to meet Felix Tristan Hallwachs, who heads the project. “We’re not going to solve the Ukraine crisis, we’re not going to solve IS [Islamic State],” he said. “But in theory if everyone has a light at home and can study, then you have less chaos in the world, probably.”

One of Eliassons hanging sculptures in the studio
One of Eliasson’s hanging sculptures in the studio. Credit Nigel Shafran

If there isn’t much irony at Studio Olafur Eliasson, I came to feel, it’s not because irony is proscribed. Irony doesn’t offend anyone and it doesn’t go over anyone’s head. Irony is simply not required, because the things you can achieve with crusading sincerity are self-evidently so much better. At worst, you could argue that Little Sun makes Eliasson’s talk about the power of museum art look a bit vaporous by comparison. But at Studio Olafur Eliasson the distinction between art and direct intervention is barely even recognized. Hallwachs told me: “Olafur’s work uses media from photography to oil paint to all kinds of installations and architecture. Now business is part of the range of media as well.” Eliasson told me that he was hoping to present a work at the next G7 conference that would evaluate the German public’s degree of trust in Chancellor Angela Merkel and perhaps in the process inspire a renewal of the European relationship with Africa. I asked him whether, in order to achieve such an ambitious and specific political objective he would need to make a new type of work, something more targeted, more explicit. Possibly, he replied — but he would be just as likely to bring along something like “Riverbed,” which consists of a riparian landscape constructed inside the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art near Copenhagen from 180 tons of Icelandic bluestone. For Eliasson, art need never be marginal, and art need never be just a carrier for a message. Art can change the world with the sheer intensity of its art-ness. Or, perhaps, by helping to get the artist in a room with the energy minister of Nigeria.

If Eliasson had his way, the same “everyone’s invited!” quality that makes his work so appealing to institutions might sometimes be pushed to extremes that would leave even those institutions flustered. Before I left the studio, I related to Eliasson something that happened to me in July last year at Warm Up, the Saturday afternoon dance party held in the courtyard of MoMA PS1. It was oppressively hot and muggy on the outdoor dance floor, and halfway through the afternoon I had the idea of going inside to spend a few minutes with “Your waste of time,” the piece with the chunks of ice, to cool off. Arriving at the gallery, however, my friends and I found that it had been locked for the duration of the event, so we could do no more than press ourselves against the chilly door. When I told Eliasson this story, he looked genuinely pained. “What a pity!” he kept saying. “What a pity! I would have left that door open.” But would he really have wanted drunken revelers slithering over this ancient ice that he’d imported from thousands of miles away? “If the ice melts and disappears — well, maybe it’s beautiful that there was once an iceberg, and then there was a party and now the iceberg is gone.” He pointed out that this would have been an excellent metaphor for man-made climate change. “People underestimate how robust art is.” He added: “If we don’t believe that creativity as a language can be as powerful as the language of the politicians, we would be very sad — and I would have failed. I am convinced that creativity is a fierce weapon.”

“Inside the Horizon,” a specially commissioned grotto by Olafur Eliasson, is now on view at the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. An exhibition of Eliasson’s work, the inaugural show at the Fondation, will open on Dec. 17 and run until Feb. 16, 2015.

The Fondation Louis Vuitton Opens at Last


The massive private art museum dreamed up by the LVMH chairman and prolific contemporary-art collector Bernard Arnault and designed by the starchitect Frank Gehry debuts on Oct. 27.

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/788683 2014-12-28T23:00:07Z 2014-12-28T23:00:07Z "The New Dealer" @tmagazine by Jonathan Griffin

David Kordansky might not be the biggest player in the L.A. gallery scene, but his manic enthusiasm and seemingly genuine determination to draw attention to underappreciated artists make him the most interesting by far.

strongINNER CIRCLEstrong Kordansky center with several artists he represents from left John Mason Rashid Johnson Kathryn Andrews Jonas Wood Mary Weatherford Elad Lassry Anthony Pearson Ricky Swallow Thomas Lawson and Lesley Vance
INNER CIRCLE Kordansky (center) with several artists he represents, from left: John Mason, Rashid Johnson, Kathryn Andrews, Jonas Wood, Mary Weatherford, Elad Lassry, Anthony Pearson, Ricky Swallow, Thomas Lawson and Lesley Vance. Credit Elena Dorfmann

There is little in the world that David Kordansky enjoys more than talking about art. According to the artists he represents and the collectors to whom he sells, this is his gift. The artist Rashid Johnson, whom Kordansky has represented since 2009, said he can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he and Kordansky have spoken about sales. There is no doubt that Kordansky, who is 37, can sell art like few other dealers, but he prefers to leave the closing of the deal to his staff. The venality of the current art business dismays him. Even in the 11 years since he opened his first gallery in L.A.’s Chinatown, the market has become bloated beyond recognition, he said, especially in the auction houses of New York and London. “I believe in art much more than I believe in the art world,” he told me last summer in the kitchen of his home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife, the artist Mindy Shapero, and their two young children.


10 of David Kordansky’s Top Cultural Influences

As he christens his new space in Los Angeles, he shares his creative touchstones — including several artists he doesn’t represent but admires nonetheless.

In person, Kordansky is almost compulsively candid, by turns hectoring and vulnerable, outspoken and shy. “He wears his heart on his sleeve,” is the phrase I heard over and over again from the people who know him best. Candor can, of course, also be a form of performance. Collectors who enjoy the company of artists appreciate his eccentric, intimate manner, which make them feel like the chosen few.

Beneath his gym-fit, boyish exterior and positive, Californian outlook, his persistence and gritty ambition are evident still. He may disdain aspects of the art market, but the success of his business is obviously a source of pride. “I didn’t come from money. I’ve bootstrapped every step of the way,” he said.

Kordansky’s latest gamble is on a 12,705-square-foot gallery — designed by Kulapat Yantrasast, head of the architecture firm wHY — which recently opened in a nondescript midcity neighborhood halfway between the L.A. art hubs of Highland Avenue and Culver City, where his last two spaces were situated. With its bow-truss ceilings and abundance of light, the former martial arts studio and car dealership now exudes an ambience of cloistered calm. Comprised of two equally sized galleries, a viewing room and on-site art storage, the space also boasts a lounge for artists and their families, and private gardens for staff. Kordansky has always aimed to create “a culture of ownership” among his gallery’s employees. In return, he receives a degree of loyalty rare in the notoriously factious and gossipy gallery world.

Kordansky was born in Biloxi, Miss., to American Jewish parents; his father was a doctor and his mother a family therapist. In the late ’90s he was accepted at the small but esteemed Hartford Art School. In 2000, he moved to the West Coast to study in the graduate art program at the California Institute of the Arts under conceptual artists including Michael Asher, Charles Gaines and Martin Kersels. (Kordansky now represents the painter Thomas Lawson, the dean of the art school.) After college, he continued to make installations, perform and curate exhibitions of friends’ work with his classmate, Jeff Kopp. From the outset he approached running a gallery as a creative project, perhaps more like an artist than a businessman, and soon became known as the primary dealer for what has been called “the post-Mike Kelley generation.”

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    Washington, D.C.-based artist whose paintings, spanning the 1960s to the present day, had been much neglected prior to Kordansky’s interest. ‘‘Wide Narrow,’’ 1972. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, Calif.
    Israeli-born artist who often appropriates or digitally modifies images, transforming them into something more like sculpture. ‘‘Untitled (Boot A),’’ 2013. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, Calif.
    One of the Californian artists whose work helped bring ceramics to museums in the late 1950s. Sculptures from the exhibition ‘‘Crosses, Figures, Spears, Torques,’’ 2013. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, Calif.
    Known for his colorful, flat interiors, often depicting his own Los Angeles studio, as well as for paintings of boxers and basketball and baseball players. ‘‘Kitchen with Aloe Plant,’’ 2013. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, Calif.
    Artist who refers to aspects of African-American culture in paintings and sculptures made from materials such as black wax, mirrors, zebra skins and shea butter. ‘‘Un-American Idol,’’ 2014. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, Calif.
    Painter whose abstract works, made by building up thin washes of paint and attaching strips of neon, are inspired by California’s coastal landscapes. ‘‘Neptune’s Net,’’ 2013. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, Calif.
    Australian-born artist who casts his small sculptures, made from cardboard and rope, in painted bronze. ‘‘Magnifying Glass with Rope No. 1,’’ 2014. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, Calif.
    Los Angeles-based painter whose small-scale, luminous abstract paintings are inspired by traditional still lifes and landscapes. ‘‘Untitled,’’ 2014. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, Calif.
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Stories abound from those early days of Kordansky’s limitless, sometimes maniacal enthusiasm for his artists. The collector Mera Rubell remembers meeting him in 2006. Kordansky was determined to show her and her husband, Don, the work of a young artist he was representing, Aaron Curry, while Curry was on vacation. Reached by phone in Hawaii, Curry gave them permission to break into his studio, where Kordansky was soon pulling sculptures out of boxes and expounding on the artist’s ideas. The following morning — at 6 a.m., while shuttling the couple to the airport — Kordansky took them to meet Thomas Houseago, another sculptor he had recently begun to champion, who laid out his work in a studio borrowed for the occasion. Rubell says she was “blown away.” She and her husband later invited the two artists and their dealer to visit their museum in Miami. The trip was an inspiring and formative experience for the three men, who stayed up late into the night, drinking and arguing about Picasso, classicism and figuration in sculpture.

Kordansky’s passionate nature has not always worked in his favor. His professional relationship with Houseago buckled under the weight of its own intensity in 2009, when the artist left David Kordansky Gallery — a loss Rubell described as “a huge wake-up call” for the young dealer. Houseago finally settled with the international powerhouse Hauser & Wirth in 2011. “There was this abundance of youthful energy bouncing off each other that, in the end, was bigger than both of us,” Kordansky said ruefully. (Houseago agreed, but noted, “I can confidently say my career would not be where it is now without him.”)

The majority of his artists have stuck by Kordansky, however. His very first exhibition in Chinatown included Matthew Brannon, Patrick Hill, Will Fowler, Lesley Vance and William E. Jones, all of whom continue to show with the gallery. Brannon told me that Kordansky’s often blunt manner can be an asset, despite artists’ often fragile egos: “My therapist loves Dave. He says, ‘You always know where you stand with this guy; he treats you right, he’s telling you the problem.’ ”

Kordansky seated at center with a group of his artists in Los Angeles
Kordansky (seated at center) with a group of his artists in Los Angeles. Credit Elena Dorfmann

Kordansky now represents over 30 artists and counting, hence the need for space. He is still far from being the biggest fish in the L.A. pond — nor, perhaps, would he want to be. He prefers to avoid competition with his neighbors, who include Regen Projects near Highland Avenue, Blum & Poe in Culver City, Overduin & Co. in Hollywood, Marc Foxx, also a stone’s throw from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the power players Gagosian, Matthew Marks and Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, the last of which will take over a former flour mill in Downtown in 2015. When asked which galleries he feels a kinship toward, he instead looks across the Atlantic: to Johann König in Berlin, Standard (Oslo) in Norway or Herald Street in London. The art world loves youth, and Kordansky currently occupies the sweet spot between blue-chip establishment and cutting edge.

In contrast to his imposing new gallery space, Kordansky’s home is modest, perfectly scaled to a family of four and designed for living, not for entertaining. Kordansky grows kale, Meyer lemons and Persian cucumbers in the garden. He gave me the tour with the eagerness of a child showing off new toys. Succulents exploded from earthy ceramic planters made by Robert Maxwell and David Cressey on the deck outside the kitchen. In addition to pieces by artists Kordansky represents — Valentin Carron, Larry Johnson, Elad Lassry — the interior was furnished with Brazilian and Mexican Modernist pieces in rosewood and leather, and ceramics were displayed beside rows of art books on floor-to-ceiling shelves. A painted sculpture of a nude trapeze artist by the Japanese Pop artist Keiichi Tanaami sat on a coffee table, and drawings of outlandish figures by the Chicago Imagist Karl Wirsum hung on one wall.

Kordansky appreciates the Californian tendency to disregard hierarchies between creative disciplines; his gallery represents artists such as Ruby Neri and the Geneva-based Mai-Thu Perret, who both work in the tradition of John Mason, one of the Californian artists who, in the late 1950s, first brought ceramics into contemporary art galleries. (Mason, now 87, joined David Kordansky Gallery last year.) About half of his roster is made up of Angelenos, and a Californian sensibility infuses the program — not only in its emphasis on the region’s art-historical legacy, but also, more broadly, in its bias toward esoterica and marginalia, domestic themes and profane materials.

Kordansky likes to talk about “curating one’s life.” Shouldn’t we consider the architecture, the objects we handle, the furniture we sit on and the artwork we look at all as part of a unified aesthetic experience? He showed me a shelf of tiny Doyle Lane vases, each glazed a different color and texture. He would always rather stand in front of an object than look at a screen, and is particularly skeptical about what has recently been labeled “post-Internet” art — work made from Internet memes, online avatars, stock photos, patents and 3D scans. “We don’t even want to talk about the world any more,” he said. “We’re disconnected from core emotionality.”

In other places, talk of lifestyle is always related to an embarrassment about class, but in L.A. it’s an ongoing philosophical discussion. “The exterior of my life kind of runs itself,” Kordansky admitted over a lunch of grilled chicken and kale salad. “Now it’s about the interior, the spiritual. It’s about getting at the core of my existence — which is about my family.” There is little distinction in his mind between his professional and personal lives, or between his tastes in art and his philosophy of being. “It’s about having an open, holistic view rather than a myopic view,” he said. “Here culture is more attached to nature.” The greenery beyond the wide window, the home-grown salad and the stoneware planters seemed to reinforce his point.

Two years ago, Kordansky undertook a pilgrimage to the D.C. studio of Sam Gilliam, an 80-year-old African-American painter of the Washington Color School. Gilliam never achieved the level of recognition that his peers from the 1960s such as Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis did, in part because the art establishment didn’t know what to make of a black artist who refused to make work about race. Kordansky had been a fan of Gilliam’s radically innovative, unstretched, stained canvases for years, and had shared his enthusiasm with Rashid Johnson when they first met in 2009. (Johnson, who didn’t know many dealers — let alone young white dealers — who were interested in Gilliam’s work, was impressed, and agreed to join Kordansky’s gallery himself.) The pair asked Gilliam to do an exhibition in L.A., which Johnson would curate. They feared they were overreaching, and when they put their proposal to Gilliam in his studio, they thought he was laughing at them. In fact, they realized, he was crying.

As Kordansky told me this story, I saw that he was also close to tears. Since first working with Gilliam, he has placed his paintings in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rose Art Museum in Massachusetts. Without Gilliam, he said, the new gallery would probably not have been possible. There is nothing Kordansky is prouder of than having been able to bring him back into the spotlight. “The work has done for other people what it did for us,” he said. “There is no money in the world that can buy an experience like that.”

Correction: September 21, 2014
An article last Sunday about the Los Angeles art dealer David Kordansky, which recounted the key role he played in bringing the paintings of the 80-year-old African-American artist Sam Gilliam back into the spotlight, erroneously included a product among the types of things Gilliam bartered his work for at a lower point in his career. While he exchanged art for services such as dental work, he never traded art for laundry detergent.
George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/785837 2014-12-21T14:00:07Z 2014-12-21T14:00:07Z "Speculation Swirls as New Christie’s Boss Gets Going" @wsj by Kelly Crow

Patricia Barbizet Christies new chief executive and boss Franois Pinault at a Jeff Koons exhibition in Paris in November                                       

Patricia Barbizet, Christie’s new chief executive, and boss François Pinault at a Jeff Koons exhibition in Paris in November. French Select/Getty Images

French billionaire François Pinault popped into the London headquarters of auction house Christie’s one day in 1994 to see some art. He was accompanied by one of his employees, Patricia Barbizet, who helped translate, recalls Brett Gorvy, the Christie’s expert who greeted them.

Last week, Mr. Pinault stunned the art world by promoting Ms. Barbizet to chief executive of Christie’s, which he bought in 1998. “I had no idea how far she’d go,” says Mr. Gorvy, now Christie’s chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art. “The translator is now the boss.”

The move has unleashed a swirl of speculation about the 248-year-old auction house’s future, including a potential restructuring. The 59-year-old Ms. Barbizet wouldn’t confirm or deny that possibility during a senior-level staff meeting Wednesday in New York to introduce herself and other members of her new executive team.

“Give us a few days to look around,” she said, according to one person at the meeting.

Ms. Barbizet and Mr. Pinault declined to be interviewed for this article. She isn’t expected to speak publicly until Christie’s reports financial results in January. The auction house is part of Mr. Pinault’s private holding company, Groupe Artemis, where she is chief executive.

Some outsiders think she might run Christie’s only until Mr. Pinault hires a longer-term replacement for Steven Murphy, who stepped down as chief executive last week. Ms. Barbizet was widely known as a supporter of Mr. Murphy, who has said he left by mutual agreement. Some outsiders believe he clashed with Mr. Pinault. Mr. Murphy wouldn’t comment.

Ms. Barbizet has worked for Mr. Pinault since 1989 but isn’t well-known among the art establishment. Executives promoted since last week’s shake-up are longtime Christie’s auctioneers who enjoy the loyalty of employees and know the firm’s top collectors far better than she does.

Despite a calm, soft-spoken demeanor, Ms. Barbizet has a reputation as an efficient, powerful deal maker for her demanding boss. In 1999, Ms. Barbizet, who is French, helped carry out takeovers of Gucci and a stable of perfume brands in less than a month.

As Christie’s chairman, she controls approval of budgets, major deals and bonuses, according to employees.

Despite surging sales in the global art market, profits at Christie’s have been shrinking. Last year, the auction house sold a record $5.9 billion of art and collectibles at auction, up from $5.3 billion in 2012.

But profits fell to $122.6 million in 2013 from $153 million in 2012, according to financial statements filed by Arok International SA, a holding company owned by Mr. Pinault. The overall profit margin on art sales declined to 10.7% from 15.2%. In contrast, rival Sotheby’s boosted its profit margin to 15.2% from 14.1% in 2013 while selling $5.1 billion of art.

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/785835 2014-12-20T14:00:03Z 2014-12-20T14:00:03Z "Roberta Smith’s Top Art Shows of 2014: Gober, Koons and More" @nytimes by Roberta Smith

There are many ways to parse the highs and lows of the year just ending. Among the more uplifting events was, for example, the Detroit Institute of Arts’ being rescued from the city’s predatory creditors — and also from city ownership. Another was the large and fabulous assortment of Cubist works given by the collector Leonard A. Lauder to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the most important gifts in the museum’s 144-year history. Among the lows was the Met’s clumsy redesign of its three-block-long plaza along Fifth Avenue. (Never mind who paid for it.) The deepest low: the needless destruction of the building formerly known as the American Folk Art Museum by the Museum of Modern Art.

But one of the most memorable aspects of 2014 was the unusually high success rate among New York museums in the design and installation of exhibitions of contemporary art. The routinely dull arrangement of exhibitions is something you learn to live with in this town, where museum space is at a premium, and gallery design is often uninspired.        



But this year was different. There were several shows in which art and the surrounding architecture were seen to best — or at least much better than usual — advantage. Sometimes, the design and placement seemed almost laugh-out-loud serendipitous. The Guggenheim Museum’s exhibition “Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s” a survey of adventuresome postwar European art, fits its spiral container with rare perfection (the show runs until Jan. 7). Art and architecture seem both radical and quaint in equal part, which makes sense: around half the art on view dates from 1957-62, the very years during which the Guggenheim’s building was completed and inaugurated.

Not surprisingly, several of these shows were monographic efforts in which artists had some or a lot of say in the show’s layout. At the Whitney, Jeff Koons and the curator Scott Rothkopf fashioned the building into a Koonsarama of considerable clarity and pacing. The layout opened yet another window onto ways Marcel Breuer’s big boxy volumes can be divided up and viewers routed through them.

The year’s most stunning transformation of space occurred when the Modern (and its photography curator Roxana Marcoci) gave the photo-Conceptualist Christopher Williams apparent free rein over the survey of his obsessively self-conscious art. He proceeded to work magic with one of its most hopeless spaces: a dead-end shoe box on the museum’s sixth floor that has done well with historical material (Gauguin and Seurat, for example) but not with much of anything of a 20th- or 21st-century nature. Covering a few walls with print, Mr. Williams layered together the exhibition with elements of its catalog and checklist as well as vestiges of previous shows in the gallery. It was a thicket of self-reference, but whether you deciphered it all or not, the actual show’s spatial precision and expansiveness were a revelation, achieved in part by keeping the artworks somewhat sparse.

Jeff Koons’s “Play-Doh” at his retrospective at the Whitney. Credit Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

In October, Robert Gober’s retrospective, overseen by Ann Temkin, who heads the Modern’s painting and sculpture department, added to the museum’s short winning streak. No surprise, an overtly Goberesque sense of spareness and quiet prevailed, in keeping with this sculptor’s installation pieces as well as the Charles Burchfield survey that he organized at the Whitney a couple of years back. The Gober exhibition unfolds (until Jan. 18) throughout the museum’s atrium and the second-floor galleries usually reserved for post-1980 works from the permanent collection, and it makes them look better than they ever have.

Other memorable museum-installation moments this year include the survey of the artist Chris Ofili at the New Museum, which was overseen by Massimiliano Gioni, the museum’s artistic director, and has some of the perfection of the Guggenheim’s “Zero” exhibition. Divided into distinct bodies of work in accordance with the museum’s architectural layout, the show seems also to have installed itself. It is one of the first times the museum’s galleries have escaped the inherent grimness of their proportions and lack of windows.

And at the Brooklyn Museum, hardly known for illuminating exhibition design, the darkened “Killer Heels” (until Feb. 15) brings a fitting sense of glamour and remarkably successful spatial flow to another dead-end gallery, while the Judith Scott retrospective (until March 29) accentuates the ingenious color sense of this artist’s yarn-wrapped sculptures to sparkling effect with an arrangement against traditional white walls. (It was orchestrated by Catherine J. Morris, of the museum’s Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and Matthew Higgs, director of White Columns.)

Scrutinizing “Kodak Three Point Reflection Guide ©1968, Eastman Kodak Company, 1968 (Meiko laughing) Vancouver, B.C. April 6, 2005,” at “Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness” at the Modern. Credit Jake Naughton/The New York Times

Of course, beneficial elucidations of space are never limited to big-name museums. Four occurring elsewhere this year that will stick in my mind include Darren Bader’s “The Show Is Three Shows,” a combination of found-object artworks and borrowed photographs evenly distributed around the walls and across the floors of the Andrew Kreps Gallery in Chelsea last spring. Another was “Macho Man Tell It to My Heart: Collected by Julie Alt,” an exhilarating exhibition of contemporary works accumulated by Ms. Ault, an inveterate alternative-art worlder, organized at SoHo’s Artists Space, where, for better and for worse, every show is some kind of departure from the exhibition form.

In Kai Matsumiya’s hole-in-the-wall gallery on the Lower East Side, Rainer Ganahl’s installation “El Mundo,” a double video projection, was based on an ad hoc performance by classically trained musicians at the unheated El Mundo discount store in Spanish Harlem in winter, amid only slightly distracted shoppers. It created a kind of reverie of art and determination in the conflation of two quite different spaces, uptown and down. And still open for viewing is the transporting exhibition devoted to Greer Lankton’s heroic, gender-bending life and work, which seems to all but float in a series of all-but-invisible vitrines at Participant Inc., through Dec. 21.

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/785845 2014-12-19T23:00:06Z 2014-12-19T23:00:06Z "Let the Peter Marino exhibit mess with your head" by Anne Tschida
Detail from Manolo Yllera  Peter Marinos Double Portrait

Detail from Manolo Yllera, Peter Marino’s “Double Portrait.”

While the highlights of Art Basel week usually include some of the top-quality artworks at the various fairs, this year two locally presented exhibits competed with the best of them.

Unfortunately, “Auto Body,” a temporary exhibit in a former auto mechanic shop on Bay Road in South Beach, produced by Spinello Projects, is no longer up. But it’s worth giving it a mention, as it may (and should) travel, and even the New York Times gave it a shout out on its Arts section cover during the week. Curated by three women and featuring video and performance from 35 local and international female artists, it was outstanding. The videos in particular from two Israelis, and several from black women, were mesmerizing. In the space that was open on two sides, allowing a nice breeze to blow through, you could take your time with the headphones and the videos, moving from one mini station to the next in a leisurely manner. The performances took place twice a day, and also addressed (sometimes in graphic fashion) the nature of the “body,” the status and, yes, the power of women.

At the Bass Museum, “One Way: Peter Marino” will be up until May. Do not miss it. One could view it as a monumental exercise in self indulgence from the architect, collector and patron; or as a massing of incredible art, but either way, it will leave you overwhelmed in a good way.

Installation from Gregor Hildebrandt

Installation from Gregor Hildebrandt.

First off, the entry up the often cumbersome ramp is an exhibit in itself, draped with black videotape strips from Jean Cocteau’s 1950s film Orphée, a site-specific work from Gregor Hildebrandt. It guides you through a sampling of Marino’s collection from the likes of Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. This shimmering, tunnel-like intro then opens up to the rest of the exhibit, where the ceilings seem to tower above you, filled with art stacked to the roof. A huge collection of Robert Mapplethorpe photos take over one room; various profiles by famed artists of the very distinctive Marino, in his trademark black biker and chaps gear, in another room. Another section shows off the outlandish architectural creations of Marino, including an entire casino-island in Singapore. And it culminates with gargantuan – there is no better word – paintings of Anselm Kiefer. If at any point in the tour of the exhibit you are looking down, you’ve missed it. There’s a cathedral feel to the whole thing, an intentional “wow” creating momentum that builds throughout.

One Way: Peter Marino” runs through May 3 at the Bass Museum of Art, 2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; www.bassmuseum.org.

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/785833 2014-12-19T21:56:14Z 2014-12-19T21:56:15Z "Art Collectors Predict ‘Stampede’ to Cuba" @wsj by Kelly Crow

With the U.S. and Cuba restoring diplomatic ties, some art-world cognoscenti are betting that the tiny island could become the next hot corner of the global art market


Kcho  De le serie Puntos Cardinales Al borde del abismo  2007
Manuel Mendive  The Sons of Water Talking to A Fish  2001
Roberto Fabelo  Chicharrn  2012
Juan Pablo Ballester  F-I-D-E-L  1994
Lazarro Saavedra  The Sacred Heart  1995
Tonel  Self-Portrait Eating a Rat  1997
Yoan Capote  Protocol  2000
Kcho  De le serie Puntos Cardinales Al borde del abismo  2007

With the U.S. and Cuba restoring diplomatic ties, some art-world cognoscenti are betting that the tiny island could become the next hot corner of the global art market.

Collectors in the U.S. have been circling—and collecting—Cuban art for years, thanks to a little-known exception to the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba that makes it legal for Americans to buy Cuban art, which the U.S. government classifies as cultural assets (unlike, say, rum or cigars).

Now, collectors like Miami’s Howard Farber say they expect American art lovers to “stampede” to Cuba’s studios and galleries as soon as it becomes easier for them to travel and shop there. “I believe Cuban art has been a best-kept secret among a few collectors,” Mr. Farber said, “and now that Cuba is opening up to us I think more people will discover a genre that’s fresh and great.”

Prices for Cuban art began climbing during the recession, driven by collectors like Mr. Farber and Miami-based philanthropist Ella Cisneros as well as major museums like London’s Tate. Currently, prices for works by Cuba’s living art stars like Yoan Capote, Carlos Garaicoia and the conceptual art duo Los Carpinteros swing between $5,000 and $400,000 apiece.

Cuban art embodies a mix of Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences and motifs. Wifredo Lam, who died in 1982, is considered Cuba’s Picasso; Sotheby’s sold his 1944 work, “Ídolo (Oya/Divinité de l’air et de la mort),” for $4.6 million two years ago, a record price for the artist.

Cuban artists tend to favor found objects like weathered woods and scrap metals. Cuban art also has long addressed themes specific to the island, such as isolation and the sea: Rafts, towers and oars are frequent symbols. Political criticism tended to be depicted in coded imagery to sidestep censors; lately, more art has tried to address global concerns like immigration and the economy.

Miami collector Steven Eber said he plans to keep an eye on Cuban art to see if its artists experiment with different motifs should closer ties to the U.S. give them greater access to the Internet and permission to travel more widely. “How many paintings of boats do we really need?” he said, half-joking.

Dealer George Adams said the art scene also will need to stand up on its own merits after its “forbidden fruit” allure falls away.

Right now, works by Cuban artists aren’t necessarily less expensive in Havana than in New York or London. But collectors who visit the island can meet and form relationships with artists there that may result in small discounts or first dibs on new pieces—before the artists’ works reach galleries in Europe or New York. This type of access is particularly valuable for Americans competing with European and Latin American collectors who have been traveling to Cuba for years. Cuban dealers say Americans currently make up more than a third of their buyers.

New York dealer Sean Kelly, who represents Los Carpinteros, said he expects American collectors to focus on finding and visiting younger, edgy artists in Cuba who might not yet have been widely shown abroad. He said collectors also likely will crowd the next star-making biennial in Havana in May.

“If you’re the 24-year-old Jean-Michel Basquiat of Cuba, nobody in the U.S. has been able to discover your work. Now, we will,” Mr. Kelly said.

Mr. Kelly also thinks it could become easier for artists in Cuba to get permission to travel to the U.S.—still a difficult task now—and sell their work to Americans wielding U.S.-based currency and credit cards.

Getting into Cuba to shop has long been a tricky proposition. For decades following Fidel Castro’s 1959 communist revolution, collectors wishing to travel to Cuba needed a travel license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which doled out a handful of licenses a year to Americans seeking to scout Cuba for “informational materials” like art.

Other collectors took advantage of different legal loopholes to get into Cuba to shop for art. The Treasury Department, for instance, agreed to issue travel permits to Americans who pledged to do humanitarian, scholarly or religious work in Cuba.

Mr. Farber, who made his fortune as co-owner of the Video Shack chain, sees parallels between the rebellious art made in China following the Tiananmen Square protests and art made during pivotal periods in Cuba’s revolutionary history. To gain access to Cuba’s art studios, he had to set up a charitable foundation five years ago and create an award for Cuban artists. Now, he owns more than 200 works and plans to go again next month.

Mr. Kelly is leveraging his educational license to fly his immediate family to Havana next week to attend the Dec. 28 wedding of one of the members of Los Carpinteros, Dagoberto Rodriguez Sanchez. “For Cuba, this is equivalent to Berlin’s Wall coming down,” he said. “We’re all ready to party.”                 

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/783735 2014-12-15T20:32:35Z 2014-12-15T20:32:35Z "When the Art Is Watching You" @wsj by Ellen Gamerman


One morning last week, a team of experts at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum searched for hidden spots in the rotunda to conceal tiny electronic transmitters. The devices will enable the museum to send messages about artworks to visitors via their smartphones while at the same time collect details about the comings and goings of those guests.

At today’s museums, all eyes aren’t just on the art. They’re on the visitors. 

Across the country, museums are mining increasingly detailed layers of information about their guests, employing some of the same strategies that companies like Macy’s, Netflix and Wal-Mart have used in recent years to boost sales by tracking customer behavior. Museums are using the visitor data to inform decisions on everything from exhibit design to donor outreach to gift-shop marketing strategies.

At the Dallas Museum of Art, a frequent-visitor program asks guests to check in at spots around the building via their phones or on kiosks. By doing so, members win points toward rewards, like free parking, special-exhibition tickets or private use of the museum’s movie theater. The museum then filters the data to better understand guests’ behavior, like how often they visit, which shows they flock to and what art they ignore.

An Estimote Beacon transmits to a smartphone ENLARGE
An Estimote Beacon transmits to a smartphone Estimote

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts analyzes data from tens of thousands of visitor surveys to help make certain curatorial decisions. If the numbers indicate people aren’t so interested in a coming show, it might be reworked, postponed or moved to a smaller gallery. “It’s really a culture shift in museums for the curators to pay attention not just to what’s significant art historically, but also what’s perhaps on trend,” says Kristin Prestegaard, the museum’s chief engagement officer.

The moves have some critics questioning whether the “Big Data” revolution that is transforming American corporations has a place in the nonprofit arts world.

“When you’re looking at the art, you don’t want the art looking back at you,” said Marc Rotenberg, a Georgetown University law professor who heads the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy research group. “It’s not as if people going out of museums say, ‘Jeez, I wish that museum knew a lot more about me, I would’ve had a lot better experience.’ It’s being driven by the possibility of increased sales, advertising and better marketing.”

As museums collect more personal information from their guests, privacy advocates warn, they’re opening themselves up to the same kinds of security breaches and potential lawsuits that have roiled companies like Home Depot and eBay. And with data-mining tools able to calculate a show’s most popular artworks, some museum observers worry that curators will choose exhibits that are the most crowd pleasing instead of the most challenging or artistically significant.

But museum directors say it’s about time the art world catches up to the private sector in retrieving basic information about their visitors to make informed decisions.

The Guggenheim Museum is installing electronic transmitters in its rotunda Seen here Gutai Splendid Playground February 2013 ENLARGE
The Guggenheim Museum is installing electronic transmitters in its rotunda. (Seen here: ‘Gutai: Splendid Playground,’ February 2013) Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal

“If a mall developer knew how many people crossed the threshold into the mall but didn’t know what people were buying or sales a square foot or sales per customer, their enterprise would be considered fatally flawed—but we’ve accepted that lack of information for over a century,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “All we know is who walks through the door. We don’t know who they are, what they’re doing or what they’re learning.”

In a world where statistics used to be gathered by a guy in a gallery with a clicker, the big-data push is a potential game-changer. Today, when some museums make a pitch to prospective sponsors, they come armed with sophisticated graphs indicating what types of people come to the museum, what brings them there and why. Understanding audience behavior enables museums to target marketing for future exhibits or personalize messages to visitors based on their past viewing history. From an educational standpoint, data can help museums find the most effective tools for teaching their audiences about the art on the walls.

In recent months, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., and the Minneapolis museum have all launched national searches for data analysts.

Museums are wrestling with how to guarantee the privacy of their newly acquired data. To protect themselves, many institutions stress that visitors must opt in to any museum program that accumulates data about them. They also encrypt credit-card numbers and unlink payment details from the guest profiles stored in their databases.

Officials at the Dallas Museum of Art analyze visitor data ENLARGE
Officials at the Dallas Museum of Art analyze visitor data. Dallas Museum of Art

Even amid such cautions, the quest for data is intensifying. Until recently, the Met didn’t have a coordinated plan for collecting email addresses from its 6 million annual visitors, said Sree Sreenivasan, the Met’s chief digital officer. Now the museum asks for the information on an optional basis when visitors access the building’s free Wi-Fi. In only a few months, the Met has collected 100,000 email addresses.

More detailed information could help the museum deliver more personalized experiences to visitors, Mr. Sreenivasan said. “I want to be able to know exactly what people have seen, what they love, what they want to see more of, and have the ability to serve it up to them instantly,” he said. For example, “If someone loves a painting they’re looking at, they could get an instant coupon for the catalog, or a meal being sold at the cafeteria that’s based on it.”

The Met has also been experimenting with possible uses of digital beacons—devices that transmit a signal, allowing a smartphone to register its position within a given space. The beacons have the potential to direct visitors and deliver information about art while collecting data, on a voluntary basis, about guests’ movements inside the building.

In the art world’s search for audience data, the Dallas Museum of Art is often cited as a national leader. Through its two-year-old “DMA Friends” program, the museum offers free membership in exchange for names and email addresses (ZIP Codes and cellphone numbers are optional but many people often submit them). Before launching DMA Friends, museum deputy director Robert Stein sought help from a lead consultant on the design of the American Airlines frequent flier program. Like the airline, the museum uses the quest for points to encourage repeat visits.

Currently, the DMA is working with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Denver Art Museum to adapt DMA Friends to those institutions.

Bryan Smith, a 30-year-old medical researcher who joined DMA Friends with his wife two years ago, said he didn’t mind handing over some personal information if it meant he could participate in the rewards program. He is a frequent visitor, racking up enough points last year to win a 1930s-style beauty makeover for his wife, Lacey, and her friends at the museum.

Bryan Smith won a 1930s-style beauty makeover for his wife Lacey second from left and her friends at the Dallas Museum of Art ENLARGE
Bryan Smith won a 1930s-style beauty makeover for his wife, Lacey, second from left, and her friends at the Dallas Museum of Art. Dallas Museum of Art

For the last six months, Lacma has been using digital beacons to send notices to visitors about artworks located around them. Guests sipping a cappuccino in the cafe, for example, might be alerted on their smartphone—via a fingernail-sized transmitter in the table—that the structure nearby in the plaza is a sculpture by the Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto. “We immediately saw the opportunity to say, ‘Here’s where you are and here’s what’s cool’—we’re there to sort of whisper in their ear,” said Amy Heibel, the museum’s vice president of technology and digital media.

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., is crunching numbers for a more conventional purpose: retail. The museum began working with a data analytics company last year to increase gift-shop sales, fine-tuning its email blasts based on customers’ past purchases or the buying patterns of first-time shoppers. The effort made a difference: This year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday gift-shop sales were up 16% to 20% over last year, said Margit Hotchkiss, deputy director of audience and business development. The museum plans to integrate more metrics on visitors—like their ages, what exhibits they see and the lectures they attend—into its marketing campaigns sometime next year, she said.

Not everyone is diving into big-data gathering with equal enthusiasm. Some museum officials worry that such efforts might backfire if visitors feel they’re subject to the same intrusive tactics used by certain retailers.

LACMAs beacon tracking system ENLARGE
LACMA's beacon tracking system © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA

“We’re trying to balance that creepiness factor,” said Edward Gargiulo, director of membership and database marketing at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The museum generally avoids getting into all the detail it has about its guests when communicating with them, he said. For instance, when the MFA sends digital surveys to guests after they visit, it deliberately omits the date of that visit in case that level of specificity would unnerve the email’s recipient.

Businesses that cater to museums are driving the analytics, too. “Because it’s so important to museums now, there is a push to get even more data,” said Simon Dale, vice president of engineering for Acoustiguide, which creates audio tours for museums and studies how people engage with museum-related apps. Mr. Dale said museums are increasingly interested in beacons, which can help institutions glean data about how quickly visitors move through galleries and even how long they stand in front of a particular work of art.

At the Guggenheim, such beacons likely will be operating by the summer, accessible to people who download the Guggenheim app or rent an iPod Touch from the museum. Visitors will get notifications about text, audio or video connected to select artworks. Guests also might receive membership pitches and ads from the gift shop, though museum officials are still figuring out what such notices would say and where inside the building they would be allowed to appear, said Naomi Leibowitz, the museum’s associate director of digital media and rights.

Getting the beacons in place isn’t straightforward. The curving interior of the Frank Lloyd Wright building can misdirect signals from electronic sensors if they aren’t placed in precisely the right spots. The museum also must pay attention to artworks with materials like water, which can interfere with beacon transmissions. Another problem comes when lots of people gather around a single artwork, absorbing the signal. (The company making the Guggenheim’s beacon, Estimote, tried to troubleshoot this scenario by taking several large sacks of potatoes, hanging them close together and studying what happened to the signal.)

Last Thursday, the day the Guggenheim is closed to visitors, Estimote senior director of business operations Tanuj Parikh climbed the museum’s winding ramps. He took notes on the building’s features to send to his co-workers in Krakow, Poland, where the two-year-old company is working on devices for museums, stores, hospitals and hotels. He watched as the museum experts figured out where to put sensors that conform to the building’s landmark restrictions. The staff eventually decided to stick the devices near the light fixtures.

For Mr. Parikh, the technology is a natural fit with art. “You learn where in museums people are spending more time, which pieces of art are more popular—you can curate and adjust what you’re doing in real time,” he said. “Some museums are now thinking about it like retailers, asking ‘How do we get these visitors to come back more often?’”

Write to Ellen Gamerman at ellen.gamerman@wsj.com

George Lindemann
tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/783633 2014-12-15T17:37:26Z 2014-12-15T17:37:40Z "The Paintbrush in the Digital Era" @nytimes by Roberta Smith
  • “The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World” has been a long time coming. The Museum of Modern Art has steadily been acquiring new painting, as a visit to its website will confirm. But for years it has disdained actually saying anything about the state of the medium in exhibition form, and all the while painting has developed actively on numerous fronts.

    “The Forever Now,” which opens Sunday and is organized by Laura Hoptman, curator of painting and sculpture at MoMA, considers some of those changes, and it does so with a normal combination of successes and shortcomings, including a lack of daring. Its thesis hinges on the word atemporal, inspired by “atemporality,” which was coined by the science fiction writer William Gibson in 2003. The idea is that, especially in the digital era, culture exists in a state of simultaneity, where all of history is equally available for use.

    It could be argued that simultaneity is nothing new: It was once the definition of postmodernism; it also describes the ways artists selectively consider past art alive and useful, and can be a cover for simple derivativeness — a condition not entirely absent from the exhibition.

    The terrain the show stakes out is diverse and fairly recent, but also very familiar: The 17 artists represented here are all known, mostly market-approved entities familiar to anyone who follows contemporary art even casually. Nearly all the participants possess résumés dotted with solo shows in smaller museums and at blue-chip galleries, here and abroad; 12 of the artists are already represented in MoMA’s collection.

    In short, this exhibition looks far too tidy and well behaved, much as you might fear a show of recent painting at the Modern would look: validating the already validated and ready for popular consumption. For the majority of the museum’s visitors who rarely set foot in commercial galleries, the show may hold surprises and even mild frissons of shock.

    And this exhibition may also exceed the expectations even of gallery-scene regulars. Against the odds, it is surprisingly engaging. It gives you plenty to look at, which has become something of a rarity with shows of recent art at the Modern. (It’s when you consider what else could be here that the problems begin.)

    Continue reading the main story

    The show is actually less predictable than the list of names would imply. It helps that there are new works by several artists. Some, like Julie Mehretu, have pushed into new territory (in her case, from drawing closer to painting, of a decidedly Twombly-esque sort).

    If you focus intently, you can get an expanded appreciation of some of the artists. The much ballyhooed young painter Oscar Murillo, for example, shows several reasonably promising new paintings, albeit all lent by one of his galleries, which should have been avoided.

    Although it occupies galleries that are too small for close to 100 pieces, the show has been smartly installed. The sequence of works and the conversation about current painting that it presents in real space is one of its primary strengths. It is arranged in largely contrapuntal exchanges between extremes: spare and labor-intensive; little or no color and lots of it; improvisation and deliberation; and riffs on Minimalism and reconsiderations of Expressionism, both abstract and figurative. And in plotting this conversation, Ms. Hoptman makes highly effective use of the narrow, dead-end space at her disposal, dividing it crosswise with walls, including four free-standing ones.

    Consequently, artists drop in and out of sight, and different ones are prominent, when you retrace your steps, as you must. The work of Josh Smith, possibly the most rough-edged artist here, is (perhaps deliberately) invisible until you reach the show’s final space and turn around. Mr. Smith’s nine canvases insouciantly sum up the show’s no-holds-barred attitude, tripping the light fantastic with works variously monochrome, gestural and figurative, as well as a kitschy sunset and the artist’s signature, writ goofily large.

    The contrasts among artists are sometimes so glaring they seem sure to set even a novice’s mind in motion. At the entrance, the large elaborately textured and tinted, latently Symbolist paintings on paper by Kerstin Brätsch — which suggest masses of rustling silks or feathers — flank a wall of works from which they could not be more different: Joe Bradley’s emblems simply outlined in grease pencil on raw canvas, redolent of children’s drawings. But the rich detail of Ms. Brätsch’s works attunes you to the unexpected subtleties of Mr. Bradley’s bare-bones approach. The rudimentary perpendicular forms of his “On the Cross,” for example, are enhanced by repeated diagonal creases in the canvas, intimating the wrapping of a bandage, a shroud or swaddling.

    Rashid Johnson’s voluptuous black paintings, whose thick graffitilike marks are scrawled into a mix of wax and black soap with a broom handle, confront the more delicate and colorful improvisations of Michaela Eichwald, which look impressive but more decorous than usual.

    After that comes a conversation about carefully but thickly applied paint that is one of the show’s best face-offs. To one side: Mark Grotjahn’s palette knife loops of color, which define a deep space but are also scattered with oblique features, and Nicole Eisenman’s forthright, masklike faces, laid on in thick, textured slabs of color. They recall the early modernist visages of Alexej von Jawlensky, but on a contemporary scale and with references to our political present: a raised (white) fist here, collages of African sculpture elsewhere.

    Sometimes the show makes such clear points, you can get the impression that artists or works were chosen to fill slots, to demarcate positions as much as for themselves. You almost imagine Ms. Hoptman going down a punch list.

    Interactive? Check: Mr. Murillo has an additional eight unstretched canvases on the floor that visitors can unfold and look at, like rugs at a bazaar.

    Minimalism? Check: Matt Connors is represented by an immense three-panel work in sharp, non-primary hues of red, yellow and blue. Purposefully made so tall it can only lean against the wall, it evokes everything from Barnett Newman’s “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue” painting to Richard Serra’s steel plates.

    Painting as deconstruction? Check: Dianna Molzan’s piquant explorations of canvas, stretcher and paint improve upon the French Surface/Support group of the 1960s.

    Abject-art deprivation and the trendy “de-skilling”? Check. Richard Aldrich’s elegantly offhand works, one of which has strips of painted wood and canvas at right angles to the canvas.

    His spare works face the excessive but smooth-surfaced paintings of Michael Williams, whose crazed, partly printed tapestries of color, cartoons and airbrushed lines make the digital and the handmade all but indecipherable. Mr. Williams ends the show on a very promising note.

    There’s one way that “The Forever Now” is something of a landmark: Nine of its 17 artists are women. A large-group show that is over 50 percent female is beyond rare and sets a standard for other museums (and commercial galleries) to match.

    Less cheering is this demographic detail: With one exception, all the older artists are women, all the younger are men. And only three are not white.

    And yet it’s not just about numbers. This show also reminds us that a more open art world allows male and female artists alike to have inflated reputations, which I think is the case with Amy Sillman, Charline von Heyl and Ms. Mehretu. They’re perfectly good painters, but no better than, say, Joanne Greenbaum, Dona Nelson, Sadie Benning and Katherine Bernhardt, any of whom might have disrupted the conversation here a bit more.

    Another possibility would have been the irrepressible Mickalene Thomas. It’s great to think of her extravagant depictions of proud black women in this well-done but too-safe show.

    It makes you wonder what’s so scary about surveys of current painting.

    George Lindemann
    tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/780307 2014-12-10T14:00:06Z 2014-12-10T14:00:06Z "Miami’s Karmic Buzz Around Peter Marino" @wsj by Marshall Heyman

    Miami’s Karmic Buzz Around Peter Marino

    Show at Miami Beach’s Bass Museum of Art; Receives Design Visionary Award

    Peter Marino                                          
    Peter Marino Manolo Yllera
    Marshall Heyman

    If Art Basel Miami Beach had a prom king, this year’s would be the New York-based architect Peter Marino.

    Mr. Marino, who often dresses in black leather and has designed flagship stores for fashion brands like Chanel, Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Dior, is the subject of a show, opening this week, at Miami Beach’s Bass Museum of Art.

    “One Way: Peter Marino” features a third of his massive art collection, 136 pieces by the likes of Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Richard Serra. In addition, it includes studies of his more recent architecture projects; his initial series of cast-bronze boxes; as well as new work he commissioned from artist friends like Gregor Hildebrandt and Guy Limone.

    There is an ode to the performance of the opera “Orfeo ed Euridice” Mr. Marino staged in his own New York City home last year, as well as a life-size wax sculpture of himself.

    Even the catalog has the Marino touch. It is bolted with real leather straps that Mr. Marino fabricated in-house and paid for out of his own pocket.

    Black Rosaries 2014 by Jean-Michel Othoniel is part of the One Way Peter Marino exhibit at Miami Beachs Bass Museum of Art ENLARGE
    ‘Black Rosaries’ (2014) by Jean-Michel Othoniel is part of the ‘One Way: Peter Marino’ exhibit at Miami Beach’s Bass Museum of Art. Jean-Michel Othoniel/Philippe Chancel

    Meanwhile, Design Miami, an offshoot of Art Basel, will also recognize Mr. Marino with its Design Visionary award. For that honor, he was asked to design a pavilion, which features furniture pieces from Mr. Marino’s collection as well as a newer series of his cast-bronze boxes.

    “There must have been some karmic buzz on me in Miami a year ago,” said Mr. Marino during an interview. Creating eight galleries worth of material for the Bass and designing a 25-by-25 foot pavilion has been “a huge amount of work,” Mr. Marino explained: “It feels like I got an Academy Award.”

    How did the show at the Bass Museum come about?

    Anyone who’s been to my office knows that I’ve created a special environment where art and architecture are intermingled. Next to a Cy Twombly, I have a model of a hotel. And 18 months ago, the museum asked if I would have a show of my work and my collection. They’re looking for out-of-the-box kind of shows that will have a big appeal for the community. To be frank, I’ve been very busy and I have a successful company, and I didn’t spend as much time recording my legacy as other firms. Though this is not a retrospective, I thought that maybe this was a good idea for my legacy.

    How did you start collecting artwork?

    In the ’70s when I started working for Andy Warhol, he paid me in art. But I always went to flea markets; you can find a gold nugget amid some crummy stuff. And as my career grew, I was able to balance my flea market adventures with art fairs. My collection has become massive as I became more successful. I owe about 11 art dealers a fortune, but it’s not my intention to die with money in the bank. A lot of this is art that you’ll see was in my office. I’m the original rat-packer. Things are coming out of the closets and going back on the walls there, and people have already asked me, “What are you going to do when the 136 pieces of art come back?”

    When you pulled the show together, did you notice any throughlines in your collection?

    I love paintings that are all white or all black because that’s how I think. I love pop art. I love photography. I have tons of Mapplethorpe. I love German painting. I think there’s great truth in that German angst. I collect from 5000 B.C. to yesterday.

    What made you start making bronze boxes?

    There is something in every architect yearning for eternity and, of my work, nothing was lasting. Barneys, which I built, got sold and redone and is all messed up. But I remembered seeing a bronze show, and I realized those pieces had lasted 3,000 years. Some of what I’d done hadn’t even lasted three years. So, five years ago, I started making these boxes. That’s my way of expressing myself. Some boat will go down with one of these boxes and they’ll discover it in 2,000 years at the bottom of the sea, signed and numbered.

    I can’t even picture how you staged an opera in your home.

    Well, close your eyes and imagine a very big house. Opera started in people’s homes. Music was an intimate experience. We wanted to give to our 120 closest friends a very special thing. We had a full corps de ballet. I was asked very nicely, “Can we take this production and bring it elsewhere?” And I just don’t have the time. Last year, I did the opera, this year I did the Bass. I’ve only got two hands. We have 81 active projects.

    Tell me about this wax figure of yourself.

    I always loved Madame Tussaud’s and wanted to be in a wax museum. A friend introduced me to this artist named Yuji Yushimoto [of studio UG]. I spent eight hours in Brooklyn getting my whole body molded. He measured my head and my hairs and my arms. And then he brings the body parts to you and puts them on a table, and you see your arms and your legs. And then he paints them.

    What’s going to happen to the wax figure when the museum show closes in May?

    That’s what my staff wants to know. I’ve threatened to motorize it and roll it up and down the aisles of the drafting room.

    Write to Marshall Heyman at marshall.heyman@wsj.com

    George Lindemann
    tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/780303 2014-12-09T17:00:35Z 2014-12-09T17:00:36Z An Architect’s Life | Peter Marino @nytimes


    George Lindemann
    tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/780301 2014-12-09T14:00:03Z 2014-12-09T14:00:04Z "Peter Marino's One Way at Bass: Luxury and Leather Done Right" by Liz Tracy

    The name "Peter Marino" was on the well-moisturized lips of every privileged attendee at the New York Times-hosted International Luxury Conference at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami this week.

    And why wouldn't it be? Of all the people on display during the Art Basel Miami Beach fair, the architect, art collector, and Warhol protege Marino seems to know about living most luxuriously.

    By "on display," we mean quite literally, too. Marino's personal collection was curated thoughtfully by Palais de Tokyo's Jérôme Sans, at the Bass Museum of Art's One Way. But front and center sitting pretty is a wax sculpture of the often leather-clad Marino, hand tipping his hat at every passerby.

    Every news outlet around the world seems to be frothing at the mouth for a tiny taste of Marino and his extravagant lifestyle. It's a bit odd that while most people can't afford rent, the art world still laps up the extravagant like its starving.

    See also: From Wynwood to South Beach, Galleries Bring the Heat to Basel

    In the Louis Vuitton room.
    Rooms at the exhibition are sponsored by Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Dior. Those fortunate to get in (and it was packed) excitedly tiptoed, chattering and iPhones snapping away, through the gallery at both the VIP preview opening on Tuesday and last night's proper vernissage. Moreno attended both, but stayed much longer on Tuesday.

    To be fair, who wouldn't want to live like this guy? His taste is clearly honed, his talent undeniable, and his BDSM gear very leathery.

    But what's more impressive is how interactive the show is, and finely presented. It's about the design of it all, among other things, so it feels almost like a very fancy living space.

    Walking up the ramp, the walls are covered with what looks like VHS tape and black, white, and red-only work by Gregor Hildebrandt, Loris Gréaud, Dan Colen, Rudolf Stingel, and others. It's festive but dark and modern. Though the elements are there, there isn't a Gothic or industrial feel, the energy is still warm in a way, with a hint of humor.

    As you round the bend to the first space, you first encounter a display case filled with medical equipment. This sets the sort of metallic vibe, repeated in the futuristic Stingel alien-like busts and Marino's own cast-bronze boxes. But, obviously, everyone is busy vying for a selfie with the wax figure which stands alongside a wall of tasteful photographs of the man himself.

    Farhad Moshiri
    Other rooms have different themes. On the wall in the Vuitton sponsored room, the explanation is that these works are "borrowings" of other greats or use repurposed materials. There's a Richard Prince wall, and Farhad Moshiri creations -- you could call them sculptures -- bright images made from tiny beads.
    George Lindemann
    tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/780299 2014-12-08T20:00:02Z 2014-12-08T20:00:03Z "Art Basel Miami Beach’s Not-to-Be-Missed Parties and Events" @nytimes by KEVIN McGARRY

    "Art Basel Miami Beach’s Not-to-Be-Missed Parties and Events" @nytimes by KEVIN McGARRY

    Jeff Koons at the North American premiere of his BMW Art Car last year. Credit Donald Bowers/Getty Images for BMW

    No matter what it looks like on social media, Art Basel is all about the art. Well, at least the original one in Basel, Switzerland is. As for the Miami Beach edition, which takes place in the coming week (officially Thursday through Sunday, though festivities begin as early as Monday), it is still a horde of ancillary art shows and performances, with the parodic parade of parties swirling around them. Here are 10 buzzworthy happenings where culture, taste and excess all combine to electric effect.

    1. FREE ART

    Some of the best art at Art Basel isn’t for sale. With so much of the art world in town, it is the moment for Miami’s galleries to shine. A modernist house designed by Jean Prouvé is being unveiled in the orchard behind the Delano hotel (1685 Collins Avenue), exhibiting sculptures by the Brooklyn artist Zak Kitnick and the French art duo Kolkoz. Meanwhile, across the bay, the artist Daniel Arsham excavates a giant hole at Locust Projects, a gallery in the Design District (3852 N. Miami Avenue), and fills it with ghostly casts of obsolete gadgets. And at the cheekily named Guccivuitton gallery just south of El Portal (8375 NE Second Avenue), an exhibition called “Luxury Face” ponders how art has become a blue-chip commodity.


    The Edition hotel.

    Ian Schrager returns to Miami with the 1960s-style Miami Beach Edition hotel (2901 Collins Avenue) and a slew of parties. On Wednesday, the design firm Yabu Pushelberg (responsible for the hotel’s white-and-cream interiors) hosts the debauched gay party from London Horse Meat Disco. The rest of the week, there will be parties for Visionaire and W magazine, and pool bungalows turned into pop-up galleries and bookshops. Also new in Mid-Beach is the Thompson Miami Beach (4041 Collins Avenue), which will host parties for Jeremy Scott and others.


    Last year, rumors were spiraling about the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, and a rancorous split between its board and the city. Would MoCA’s board decamp? Yes. Would it move to the beach? No. Instead, the newly formed Institute of Contemporary Art Miami (I.C.A.) has set up shop in the Design District (Moore Building, 4040 NE Second Avenue; icamiami.org). Inaugural exhibitions by Pedro Reyes and Andra Ursuta open on Tuesday, with an intimate dinner that night hosted by Lisson Gallery.


    Credit Francesco Clemente, via Mary Boone Gallery

    Speaking of the Design District, the luxury strip mall continues to heat up. On the retail front, newcomers include Chrome Hearts, a Los Angeles-based jewelry brand that opens a concept store (4025 NE Second Avenue; chromehearts.com), and a pop-up marketplace called The World of Mr. Somebody and Mr. Nobody featuring the outré European designers Walter Van Beirendonck and Bernhard Wilhelm (91 NE 40th Street). The scene continues after dark with a V.I.P. dinner on Wednesday for Peter Marino, who has an exhibition at the Bass Museum of Art.

    5. POP ART

    Miley Cyrus. Credit Raphael Dias/Getty Images

    Musicians are artists, too. And these days, the caliber of D.J.s and performers at Art Basel rivals that of the Winter Music Conference. Tongues are wagging about what may be Jeffrey Deitch’s grandest Miami stunt yet: a private Miley Cyrus concert at the Raleigh (1775 Collins Avenue) on Wednesday. YoungArts Miami features a triple play from Britain: the inscrutable chanteuse FKA twigs (Thursday), James Blake (Friday) and the dance alchemist SBTRKT (Saturday) (2100 Biscayne Boulevard, youngarts.org/artbasel; tickets from $37). The Pérez Art Museum Miami (1103 Biscayne Boulevard) celebrates its first year on Thursday with Kelela, Total Freedom and the D.J. collective Future Brown. And Solange Knowles D.J.s at various parties.


    The Freehand. Credit Barbara P. Fernandez for The New York Times

    To say that Art Basel is saturated with satellite fairs is putting it lightly. But not all are worth your time. For those seeking emerging talent, the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) is still a draw for young galleries like Misako & Rosen of Tokyo, François Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles and Foxy Production in New York (Deauville Beach Resort, 6701 Collins Avenue, newartdealers.org). Newcomers include the NEWD Art Show, an “anti-fair” from Bushwick, Brooklyn, that is testing the waters with a Wednesday cocktail party at the Freehand (2727 Indian Creek Drive), and Concept, a secondary-market fair held on a yacht docked downtown in Miami.

    7. NO WALLS

    While Tumblr and GIFs were all the rage a couple of years ago, the more ontological dimensions of the web are taking center stage this year. On Tuesday, Ryan McNamara will reprise his “ME3M 4 Miami: Story Ballet About the Internet” from the Performa biennial at the Miami Grand Theater at the Castle Beach Resort (5445 Collins Avenue). On Thursday, the art-world bigwigs Klaus Biesenbach, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Simon de Pury join the Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, the artist Amalia Ulman and Bettina Korek (moderator) to discuss “Instagram as an Artistic Medium” — no selfies were harmed in the making of this panel (Miami Beach Convention Center, Auditorium Hall C; Thursday at 5 p.m., open to Art Basel attendees).


    The Soho Beach House. Credit Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Soho Beach House

    As Art Basel veterans know: The real action takes place at the private dinners and parties that give the week its hedonistic reputation. Tentpole events include White Cube’s welcome-to-town jubilee on Tuesday at the Soho Beach House (4385 Collins Avenue); Artsy’s Wednesday party with Carter Cleveland, Wendi Murdoch and Dasha Zhukova, which this year moves to the Design District; and Aby Rosen and Samantha Boardman’s who’s-who dinner on Thursday at the W hotel. Needless to say, strictly invitation only.


    Even more exclusive, perhaps, are the parties held at private estates,. This year, the Russian collector Maria Baibakova and her family, who upgraded from a Setai penthouse to an island home, are hosting a housewarming on Wednesday, with VanDutch boats whisking partygoers across Biscayne Bay. On Tuesday, Dee and Tommy Hilfiger, the new owner of the Raleigh hotel (which he plans to convert into a private club) will host a dinner at his Golden Beach home to celebrate a Dee Ocleppo handbag benefiting Autism Speaks.


    The Le Baron pop up in Miami last year. Credit Casey Kelbaugh for The New York Times

    With only so many hours before the sun comes up, the battle of the after-parties rages on. Rather than the roving parties of years past, Le Baron hunkers down at its previous home, FDR at Delano (1685 Collins Avenue). On Tuesday, Silencio slides into the Edition hotel for a party with the New Museum. Tolga’s Fair Pop-up, will hold a week-ending blowout on Sunday at a club to be announced, while Surf Lodge and Paul’s Baby Grand will hold pop-up parties at the Deauville Beach Resort.

    Correction: December 7, 2014

    An article last Sunday about events related to Art Basel Miami Beach omitted part of the name for a performance last Tuesday. It was the “ME3M 4 Miami: Story Ballet About the Internet,” not just “Story Ballet About the Internet.” The article also misidentified the venue for that performance. It is the Castle Beach Resort, not the Thompson hotel. In addition, the article misstated the purpose of a dinner for Peter Marino on Wednesday. It was to honor him personally, not his current exhibition at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach. And, finally, the article misstated part of the address of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. It is 4040 NE Second Avenue, not 3841.



    George Lindemann
    tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/780298 2014-12-08T15:38:53Z 2014-12-08T15:38:53Z "With Art, Investing in Genius" @nytimes by JAMES B. STEWART

    "With Art, Investing in Genius" @nytimes by JAMES B. STEWART

    Andy Warhol’s “Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)” sold for nearly $82 million this month. It is from the ’60s, his most sought-after period. Credit Andrew Gombert/European Pressphoto Agency

    If there were any remaining doubts that “making money is art,” as Andy Warhol famously pronounced in his 1975 book, “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol,” they were surely vanquished on Nov. 12. His silk-screen print “Triple Elvis (Ferus Type),” an image taken from a Hollywood studio publicity shot showing Elvis Presley with a gun, sold for nearly $82 million at a Christie’s auction packed with bankers, hedge fund managers and art dealers.

    In just two weeks this month in New York, the auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s sold over $2 billion in art, a record for major New York fall auctions. The billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen paid over $100 million for a Giacometti sculpture. A Manet sold for $65 million, two by Mark Rothko for $45 million and nearly $40 million, a Georgia O’Keeffe for $44 million and a small Jasper Johns American flag for $36 million.


    The lofty sums stunned even longtime art market watchers. “It’s phenomenal,” said Michael Moses, a founder of the Mei Moses Fine Art Index, a widely followed measure of art prices, and a retired professor at the New York University Stern School of Business. “At the Christie’s postmodern and contemporary sale, the average compound return was 20 percent annualized. That’s amazing.”

    Kazuo Shiraga’s “BB56.” The artist is obscure, but his work is innovative and influential. Credit Christie's

    For better or worse, fine art is now firmly planted alongside equities, bonds, commodities and real estate as an asset class. Financial terms like “compounded rates of return” have elbowed their way into the traditional vocabulary of connoisseurship even as art’s old guard has trouble with the word “sell.” (“Deacquisition” is preferred.)

    This month’s record sales left some dealers and collectors talking about irrational exuberance and a potential bubble, especially in the soaring contemporary-art market. But Evan Beard, who leads Deloitte’s art and finance practice in the United States, said he didn’t agree. “If you were seeing second-rate works selling for huge values, then you’d say there’s dumb money out there,” he said. “But the works selling for these high multiples are important works that art historians have deemed innovative and have had influence. People want to own original works of genius.”

    Continue reading the main story

    Mr. Moses said that it was hard to describe the art market as exuberant, when overall returns — about 3.5 percent annually — have barely outpaced inflation and have trailed equities and, in recent years, even fixed income. He noted that it was contemporary and postwar works that had shown the biggest gains. “The single most surprising change in the art market is the relative increase in the value of recent art,” said David Galenson, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who has done groundbreaking research into valuations in the art market.

    While some art historians, curators and dealers bemoan the emergence of fine art as just another economic asset class, “art and money have always been joined by an umbilical cord of gold,” Professor Galenson said. “The Renaissance ideal has gone the way of the dodo bird. I say, Get over it. Steven Cohen doesn’t make any pretense of being an art history major. Maybe he’s the Andy Warhol of collectors.”

    Continue reading the main story

    In a recent survey of art professionals by Deloitte, 76 percent said collectors viewed art, at least in part, as an investment — up from 53 percent two years ago. And 72 percent said their clients’ primary reason for buying art was related to the “social and networking scene” and the status associated with buying art, compared with 59 percent in 2012.

    Given the money involved, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that bankers are treating art like any other asset class, which, in turn, is helping drive up prices and create a more liquid market. More banks are lending against art as collateral. Some are even starting to create collateralized debt obligations with art as the underlying asset — much as bankers packaged subprime mortgages before the financial crisis.

    John Arena, senior credit executive for fine art at U.S. Trust, said the bank had a long track record in art lending and had billions outstanding in loans guaranteed by art. “Contemporary and postwar art is the driving force,” he said. “The trajectory has gotten steeper, and the loan requests have gotten much higher. In contemporary art, you’re dealing with a younger generation of collectors, who are comfortable with the economic aspects of their art. They’re leveraging it and using it to take advantage of other investment opportunities, while still being able to enjoy it and keep it on their walls.”

    He said U.S. Trust would lend up to 50 percent of a work’s appraised value but that it wasn’t packaging the loans into C.D.O.s. “I’ve heard people are doing that,” he said. “But it scares me. That’s not our game.”

    The soaring prices are being driven by market forces rather than any aesthetic or artistic awakening, Professor Galenson said. “Aesthetics have nothing to do with it.”

    What does matter, Professor Galenson’s research suggests, is innovation by the artist. “It’s really incredibly simple,” he said. “Valuable paintings are innovative. Valuable artists are innovators. Cézanne did his most influential work at the very end of his career, Picasso at the very beginning, when he invented Cubism. Nineteen sixty-two is when Warhol started using mechanical reproductions and photography and reinvented modern art. His works from the 1960s are the very most expensive. Those from the 1980s are much less.”

    Mr. Beard, of Deloitte, said he found Professor Galenson’s research persuasive. “That you saw the ‘Triple Elvis’ sell for so much has nothing to do with its aesthetic value or coolness or hipness and everything to do with the fact that historians agree that Warhol with this work influenced art history,” he said.

    In this respect, the auction catalog may be more important to a work’s value than the art itself. Monet’s portrait of Alice Hoschedé may be very beautiful, but its sales price of $33.8 million represents a compounded rate of return of just 5.4 percent since its last sale, according to Mr. Moses. And for Impressionist and modern works as a whole, the average was only 3.9 percent.

    By comparison, consider the work of the Japanese artist Kazuo Shiraga, who died in 2008 after becoming a Buddhist monk. Mr. Shiraga is hardly a household name, and he didn’t figure in the headlines from this month’s sales. But his “BB56” sold for $4.9 million, which represents the single best compounded rate of return — 53 percent — of any work sold this month, according to Mr. Moses’ calculations. (The work last sold at auction in 2008 for a little over $300,000.)

    The description of the work from Christie’s catalog hits all of Professor Galenson’s benchmarks.

    It’s innovative: “Painted directly with the artist’s feet as he suspended himself above the canvas from a rope hanging from the ceiling, the painting represents a unity of the central tenets of postwar abstraction with performance art.”

    And it’s from the most influential period of the artist’s work: “Painted in 1961, ‘BB56’ dates from a highly significant time for the artist,” the catalog description says, adding that 1962 “was the year in which Shiraga was given his first solo show outside Japan, at the Galerie Stadler in Paris, where this painting was exhibited.”

    That it may look, to some, like a child’s finger painting is irrelevant. “A lot of contemporary art is aggressively ugly,” Professor Galenson said. “That doesn’t matter in terms of its value.”

    George Lindemann
    tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/778400 2014-12-03T22:41:41Z 2014-12-03T22:41:41Z One Way: Peter Marino Art Basel review – a spectacle of decadence @TheGuardian by Jason Farago

    Bass Museum of Art, Miami
    This show of the leather-clad architect’s private collection suggests that art’s recession into fashion and luxury is not just inevitable but to be celebrated

    Curator Jrme Sans posing next to wax Peter Marino
    Curator Jérôme Sans posing next to wax Peter Marino. Photograph: Jason Farago/The Guardian

    The Bass Museum of Art, a medium-sized institution not far from the sands of South Beach, is opening its winter exhibition on Wednesday: a showcase of both the work and the collection of Peter Marino, the New York architect known as much for his designs of global luxury emporia as for his perennial uniform of black leather, even in the Floridian heat. I had a preview of the show, and it’s – well, it’s perfect for Miami, I can say that.

    The exhibition starts on a long ramp ascending from the ground floor to the main galleries upstairs, whose usually white walls have been covered in black unspooled videotape: an intervention by the artist Gregor Hildebrandt, whose dark luminescence sets the tone of high-end punk. Against this backdrop, in recessed spaces, are paintings from Marino’s collection: universally black and white, and utterly unconcerned with art history or for that matter quality. Ideas are out, looks are in. An important painting by Rudolf Stingel, one of the most trenchant interrogators of the possibilities of abstraction, hangs next to a vapid Dan Colen; a fine Christopher Wool is displayed next to, no joke, a projection of a Chanel runway show. (The show has been organized by Jérôme Sans, a peripatetic French curator.)

    Paintings by Loris Graud Dan Colen and Rudolf Stingel hung side by side Paintings by Loris Gréaud, Dan Colen, and Rudolf Stingel hung side-by-side. Photograph: Jason Farago/The Guardian

    But even the luxe leather bar does not prepare you for the subsequent galleries: first, a dozen images (hung cheek-by-jowl, like at an auction preview or a storage facility) of Marino himself, biceps bulging out of his leather vest, as well as a Madame Tussaud’s-style wax sculpture perfect for selfie snappers. Photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, that earlier leather lover, against walls covered in shiny black cowhide. Dozens of flatscreen televisions projecting Marino’s luxury boutique designs: Armani, Bulgari, Chanel, Dior, all the way from LA to the Gulf, as well as a model of one of his Louis Vuitton stores. And, in the last room, of all things, an opera: a multi-screen video recording of Glück’s Orfeo ed Euridice, performed last year in Marino’s own house and reconstituted here with custom furniture, a shimmering silver backdrop, and all the trimmings.

    Mapplethorpes against leather wall Mapplethorpes against leather wall. Photograph: Jason Farago/The Guardian

    It is, in a word, obscene. And yet there is something almost perversely admirable about the overtness of its obscenity – the show’s unconcerned commingling of art and commerce, its total indifference to history and scholarship, its assurance that art’s recession into fashion and luxury is not just inevitable but something to be celebrated. Philanthropy is marketing, alas, but this show takes it to new heights. Too many luxury brands to count have stumped up to support the show, and here’s something I’ve never seen before: individual galleries bear the names of luxury sponsors. “This gallery is sponsored by Chanel.” “This gallery is sponsored by Louis Vuitton.”

    An Anselm Kiefer and a Georg Baselitz An Anselm Kiefer and a Georg Baselitz. Photograph: Jason Farago/The Guardian

    The funny thing is that he actually owns some truly major works of art. Along with numerous Stingels, you’ll see some important photographs by Thomas Struth, a totemic Baselitz sculpture I liked more than I thought I would, and there’s even a Robert Ryman white monochrome if you can find it shunted near the emergency exit. (Female artists are not his thing; I counted just three – Paola Pivi, Claude Lalanne, and Michal Rovner – alongside more than 40 men, though Marino’s wife Jane Trapnell collaborated on the opera.) If a private collector wants to hang such important works in such decadent circumstances, that’s no concern of mine. Whether a nonprofit museum should be the forum for this, though, is a thornier matter.

    George Lindemann
    tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/777798 2014-12-02T23:13:05Z 2014-12-02T23:13:05Z One Way: Peter Marino Art Basel review – a spectacle of decadence @TheGuardian by Jason Farago

    Bass Museum of Art, Miami
    This show of the leather-clad architect’s private collection suggests that art’s recession into fashion and luxury is not just inevitable but to be celebrated

    Curator Jrme Sans posing next to wax Peter Marino
    Curator Jérôme Sans posing next to wax Peter Marino. Photograph: Jason Farago/The Guardian

    The Bass Museum of Art, a medium-sized institution not far from the sands of South Beach, is opening its winter exhibition on Wednesday: a showcase of both the work and the collection of Peter Marino, the New York architect known as much for his designs of global luxury emporia as for his perennial uniform of black leather, even in the Floridian heat. I had a preview of the show, and it’s – well, it’s perfect for Miami, I can say that.

    The exhibition starts on a long ramp ascending from the ground floor to the main galleries upstairs, whose usually white walls have been covered in black unspooled videotape: an intervention by the artist Gregor Hildebrandt, whose dark luminescence sets the tone of high-end punk. Against this backdrop, in recessed spaces, are paintings from Marino’s collection: universally black and white, and utterly unconcerned with art history or for that matter quality. Ideas are out, looks are in. An important painting by Rudolf Stingel, one of the most trenchant interrogators of the possibilities of abstraction, hangs next to a vapid Dan Colen; a fine Christopher Wool is displayed next to, no joke, a projection of a Chanel runway show. (The show has been organized by Jérôme Sans, a peripatetic French curator.)

    Paintings by Loris Graud Dan Colen and Rudolf Stingel hung side by side Paintings by Loris Gréaud, Dan Colen, and Rudolf Stingel hung side-by-side. Photograph: Jason Farago/The Guardian

    But even the luxe leather bar does not prepare you for the subsequent galleries: first, a dozen images (hung cheek-by-jowl, like at an auction preview or a storage facility) of Marino himself, biceps bulging out of his leather vest, as well as a Madame Tussaud’s-style wax sculpture perfect for selfie snappers. Photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, that earlier leather lover, against walls covered in shiny black cowhide. Dozens of flatscreen televisions projecting Marino’s luxury boutique designs: Armani, Bulgari, Chanel, Dior, all the way from LA to the Gulf, as well as a model of one of his Louis Vuitton stores. And, in the last room, of all things, an opera: a multi-screen video recording of Glück’s Orfeo ed Euridice, performed last year in Marino’s own house and reconstituted here with custom furniture, a shimmering silver backdrop, and all the trimmings.

    Mapplethorpes against leather wall Mapplethorpes against leather wall. Photograph: Jason Farago/The Guardian

    It is, in a word, obscene. And yet there is something almost perversely admirable about the overtness of its obscenity – the show’s unconcerned commingling of art and commerce, its total indifference to history and scholarship, its assurance that art’s recession into fashion and luxury is not just inevitable but something to be celebrated. Philanthropy is marketing, alas, but this show takes it to new heights. Too many luxury brands to count have stumped up to support the show, and here’s something I’ve never seen before: individual galleries bear the names of luxury sponsors. “This gallery is sponsored by Chanel.” “This gallery is sponsored by Louis Vuitton.”

    An Anselm Kiefer and a Georg Baselitz An Anselm Kiefer and a Georg Baselitz. Photograph: Jason Farago/The Guardian

    The funny thing is that he actually owns some truly major works of art. Along with numerous Stingels, you’ll see some important photographs by Thomas Struth, a totemic Baselitz sculpture I liked more than I thought I would, and there’s even a Robert Ryman white monochrome if you can find it shunted near the emergency exit. (Female artists are not his thing; I counted just three – Paola Pivi, Claude Lalanne, and Michal Rovner – alongside more than 40 men, though Marino’s wife Jane Trapnell collaborated on the opera.) If a private collector wants to hang such important works in such decadent circumstances, that’s no concern of mine. Whether a nonprofit museum should be the forum for this, though, is a thornier matter.

    George Lindemann
    tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/776340 2014-11-30T14:00:05Z 2014-11-30T14:00:06Z George Lindemann Journal "Performance, new opening time mark Art Basel’s 2014 edition" @miamiherald Andres Viglucci

    George Lindemann Journal "Performance, new opening time mark Art Basel’s 2014 edition" @miamiherald Andres Viglucci

    Buckminster Fuller dome is displayed at the entrance to the Perez Art Museum Miami which is exhibiting fresh work for Art Basel         

    Buckminster Fuller dome is displayed at the entrance to the Perez Art Museum Miami, which is exhibiting fresh work for Art Basel. CARL JUSTE MIAMI HERALD STAFF

    Here it comes, ready or not: Year 13 of Miami Beach’s blockbuster Art Basel fair, which will as always fill the vast Miami Beach Convention Center floor and overflow into nearby public spaces with a mind-boggling gamut of contemporary art, plus a few fresh wrinkles — including a free screening of a new Tim Burton film.

    In the biggest change, fair-goers will see a new opening schedule on Wednesday and Thursday that’s designed to give serious art collectors more “quality time’’ at the gallery booths before the doors open to the general public. Ticket buyers will get three hours less inside the hall on Thursday’s public opening day.

    The fair also boasts a pair of program additions this year, one inside and the other outside the convention center. Inside, the new Survey sector will focus on overlooked 20th century artists deserving of fresh consideration. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given how the art world has long been a men’s club, the Survey artist roster is dominated by women, said fair director Marc Spiegler.

    Then, at the unlikely venue of the onetime Playboy Theater at the Castle Beach Resort, artist Ryan McNamara will stage MEEM 4 Miami: A Story Ballet About the Internet. The “immersive’’ choreographic performance, a tweaked version of a work that debuted last fall in New York, features 20 dancers dancing in a range of styles, from classical to club dancing and contemporary, to a parallel mix of music.


    In its most unconventional aspect, audience members will be bodily lifted on gurneys while still in their seats and wheeled to different areas of the performance space, mimicking the jumping-around experience of the web.

    “It’s a mind-blowing experience,’’ Spiegler said, adding that he considers the performance to be one of the must-sees at this year’s fair.

    Coming back this year is the popular Film program, which features videos inside the hall but also free outdoor showings on the projection wall of the New World Symphony’s building across Seventeenth Street. On Friday, director Burton’s new film, Big Eyes, about a notorious, real-life art fraud, will screen at the Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road Mall. Seating is free but obviously limited.

    Also returning is the free Public program, which this year will bring 26 sculptures and installations, guided tours and live performances to Collins Park.

    Then, from the sublime to the practical, the fair’s restaurants inside the convention center will be moved this year from the center of the floor to the two entrances, and — hosannah! — seating will be doubled, Spiegler said. Hunting for a table in past editions of the fair has been a frustrating experience for some fair-goers.

    This year’s edition will be the next-to-last before the Beach embarks on a total renovation and updating of the aging convention center, work that has already forced a planned relocation of the international boat show.

    But Spiegler, sounding optimistic, said the city has pledged there would be no real disruption for the art fair during the two years of construction because work will be done in phases around it. Only one edition of the fair will happen while renovations are in progress, he said.

    The upshot of the makeover will be significant improvements for the fair, in particular to the convention center’s inadequate Internet service, an important element because of the image-heavy web traffic the event generates, Spiegler said. The addition of multilevel parking to the center, he said, will also be helpful in reducing some of the parking crunch that has plagued the neighborhood during the fair, which draws about 75,000 people.

    “The city has been extremely collaborative in understanding what we need to have to continue to be a world-class show,’’ Spiegler said. “This is a show that needs to run smoothly all of the time.’’

    The departure this year from the established opening schedule might lead to some initial confusion, Spiegler conceded. But he said the shift is necessary to better serve the fair’s two main constituents — the galleries and the collectors who come to the fair to buy.

    The previous schedule — with a semi-public Vernissage Wednesday evening and admission to the general public starting on noon Thursday — did not allow enough time for gallerists to meet and chat with new customers, a main goal of their attendance at the fair, Spiegler said.

    “We wanted to extend that time,’’ he said. “We think it will have a great effect on our galleries.’’

    Now, Wednesday will be for VIPs only, with the Vernissage moving to 11 a.m. Thursday and extended by one hour, running until 3 p.m., when the general public will be admitted.

    Beyond the Art Basel fair, another two dozen satellite fairs will take over hotels and set up in tents in Miami Beach, Wynwood and Midtown. Those include long-established fairs like Art Miami and SCOPE, and relatively newer shows including Untitled, MiamiProject and the first-timer PINTA. And for those who have become accustomed to finding fairs in specific places, it’s a year to consult the map: Pulse, for instance, will move from the Ice Factory near downtown to Miami Beach.

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/visual-arts/art-basel/article4193639.html#storylink=cpy

    George Lindemann
    tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/776338 2014-11-29T20:00:05Z 2014-11-29T20:00:05Z George Lindemann Journal - "Waxing Surreal" @wsj by Lance Esplund

    George Lindemann Journal - "Waxing Surreal" @wsj by Lance Esplund

    From a dismembered leg to a human-sized cigar, Robert Gober’s work is certainly indebted to Surrealists—but is it worth a trip to MoMA?

    Untitled Leg 1989-90 by Robert Gober now on view at the Museum of Modern Art                                          
    ‘Untitled Leg’ (1989-90) by Robert Gober, now on view at the Museum of Modern Art. The Museum of Modern Art/Robert Gober
    Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor

    Museum of Modern Art

    Through Jan. 18, 2015

    New York

    Few contemporary artists can rankle and befuddle viewers as sympathetically as the American sculptor Robert Gober (b. 1954), who hasn’t shied away from tackling serious subjects—including AIDS, slavery, terrorism and gay rights—or from playing the entertainer, the buffoon. In the opening gallery of his 40-year retrospective, “The Heart Is Not a Metaphor,” at the Museum of Modern Art, we encounter his neo-Dadaist classic “Untitled Leg” (1989-90). Like much of this exhibition, in which Madame Tussaud’s effigy meets the Duchampian Readymade, “Untitled Leg” transforms the commonplace into the surreal—and back again.

    Mr. Gober turns the Readymade—the found object-become-sculpture—on its head. He and his studio assistants meticulously craft mundane domestic objects such as fake fruit, playpens, bottles of liquor, girl’s ice skates, newspapers, disposable diapers and white porcelain sinks entirely from scratch, until they are nearly indistinguishable from the mass-produced goods they mimic.

    Fusing realism and Readymade, “Untitled Leg” is the first of what would become Mr. Gober’s signature handmade life-size beeswax sculptures of truncated human legs and bodies with actual human hair. Unfussy, drab and unnerving, “Untitled Leg” is oddly lifelike or corpselike. It comprises a man’s leg dressed in dark trousers, gray sock and old brown shoe, cut off at the shin and jutting, toes-up, straight out from the base of the gallery wall. The foot is turned out slightly, conveying relaxation and surrender; and its short, cuffed pant exposes hairy white flesh, which verges on the obscene.

    “Untitled Leg” is initially amusing, but its strange, associative aftertastes linger. These include the dismembered victims of serial killers and Théodore Géricault’s morgue-based preparatory studies of severed limbs. “Leg” also dogs Duane Hanson’s hyperrealistic figurative sculptures, Hans Bellmer’s surreally twisted pubescent female dolls, van Gogh’s “Shoes” and René Magritte’s “Time Transfixed”—the steaming locomotive exiting the fireplace. And then there is the obvious: This man, like the Wicked Witch of the East, has perhaps been crushed by the museum.

    Sly jokes tinged with melancholy abound in Mr. Gober’s work, which is one reason he’s so likable—even forgivable. As sculpture, “Untitled Leg” is lifeless. It just lies there. But in relationship to its entire spare gallery, in which we’re also confronted by a shallow, doorless, empty closet, the sculpture resonates—serving up humor, pathos and dread in equal measure. With “Untitled Leg,” Mr. Gober is at his most understated, barren and discomfitingly satisfying. He lets things fall with an ambiguous thud.

    Unfortunately, “Untitled Leg” is the high point of Mr. Gober’s oeuvre and of MoMA’s survey, which was organized by Ann Temkin and Paulina Pobocha, working in close collaboration with the artist. A close second may be “Long Haired Cheese” (1992-93). Inspired perhaps by Méret Oppenheim’s Surrealist “Fur Teacup,” it is a beeswax wedge of Swiss cheese, sporting a thin, black flowing mane of real human hair.

    Mr. Gober is at his rawest and most convincing—most surreal—when he keeps things simple; when he resists being too preachy and melodramatic. At MoMA, he twists a child’s playpen, like a Klein bottle, into two triangular jails; he rams culverts through a playpen and a stuffed chair, respectively; and he cuts barred prison windows—through which you can see daylight and painted blue sky—high into gallery walls. One eerily vacant room contains little more than five of the artist’s fixtureless, wall-mounted white sinks made of plaster, wire lath, wood and enamel paint. In various sizes and all from 1984, their blank faucet holes stare out like beady eyes.

    But Mr. Gober can overwork his themes. Sinks here also have been oddly joined like Siamese twins and transformed seemingly into useless urinals. On a scaffold outside MoMA’s second-floor windows, two sinks have been partially buried in a patch of grass, announcing themselves like goofy tombstones. And in three subsequent sculptures of truncated, prone men’s bodies, Mr. Gober adds, respectively, white candles, embedded sink drains and a musical score written across hairy bare buttocks. In the center of the room is a human-scale cigar. Made out of tobacco sheaves, it looks like an overturned canoe. Elsewhere, a woman’s nude torso—evoking Gustave Courbet’s erotically charged “Origin of the World”—gives birth, shoe-first, to a man’s leg. Freud would have had a field day.

    MoMA has spared no expense for Mr. Gober—literally pushing the boundaries of what is possible in a museum. Besides the outdoor scaffolding, they have installed running water and plumbing in numerous galleries and have jackhammered large holes in the museum’s granite floors. But are Mr. Gober’s theatrics worth all the fuss?

    Typical here are kitschy, symbolically ham-fisted, sociopolitical installations. In one, from 1989-96, a wedding gown (representing “purity” and “equality denied to gay Americans,” according to the wall text) is surrounded by wallpaper (representing “excrement”). The wallpaper juxtaposes images of a lynched black male next to a white male, who sleeps soundly in his bed. Bags of kitty litter (the cleansing “metaphorical fulcrum” linking the violent imagery and dress) line the walls. This work should have never left the idea stage.

    Another cornball installation, evoking the interior of a church, is Mr. Gober’s memorial to Sept. 11, 2001, where, according to MoMA, the artist (who grew up Roman Catholic) sought “to create a space of refuge and reflection.” Here, altered photolithographed pages from the Sept. 12, 2001, edition of the New York Times are positioned like stained-glass windows. We also encounter makeshift pews, chapels, bags of disposable diapers and bathtubs filled with running water. Hanging above the altar is a headless, crucified Christ—minus the cross—whose nipples shoot streams of “regenerative ‘living water’” into a big hole cut into MoMA’s floor. Far from being contemplative, this installation is a circus. It emphasizes not the loss suffered on 9/11 but, rather, the power of Mr. Gober to make his mark.

    Despite Mr. Gober’s hyperbolic missteps, this show has flashes of redemption. His “Untitled Leg”—25 years later—still trips me up. And one intricate under-floor piece, “Untitled” (1997), which I had not seen before, is otherworldly. A large, open suitcase—another nod to Duchamp—sits on the floor. Inside, it reveals a sewer grate, through which you can see a brick shaft, which leads to a shallow, glowing pool filled with sea life and which offers glimpses of a man and infant. Mr. Gober had hoped with this work to “make a believable sculpture of a living tidal pool.” Surprisingly magical, it is the one instance in this exhibition where MoMA feels truly—not just physically—transformed.

    George Lindemann
    tag:georgelindemann.posthaven.com,2013:Post/776335 2014-11-29T13:50:05Z 2014-11-29T13:50:05Z George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann - "After Detroit’s Close Call" @wsj by Lee Rosenbaum

    A bronze cast of The Thinker sits in front of the Detroit Institute of Arts ENLARGE

    A bronze cast of ‘The Thinker’ sits in front of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Reuters
    Lee Rosenbaum
    Nov. 19, 2014 6:05 p.m. ET

    “What happened in Detroit must never happen again,” declared U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes in his landmark Nov. 7 ruling that approved the city’s plan to exit from bankruptcy. Museum officials might add a corollary: “What happened to the Detroit Institute of Arts must never happen again to another cultural institution.”

    During the bankruptcy proceedings, city creditors sought permission to get some of the money Detroit owed them through the liquidation of masterpieces from the DIA’s city-owned collection. Instead, under the “Grand Bargain” approved by the court, the city is to receive $816 million over 20 years from nonprofit foundations, the state of Michigan and DIA donors, to be used to reduce the cuts to city workers’ pensions and to allow for the transfer of ownership of the museum’s collection and building from the city to the museum’s own nonprofit corporation. The DIA, at this writing, has raised some $87 million of its $100 million commitment to the Grand Bargain.

    The DIA’s supporters and museum officials around the country sighed with relief at Judge Rhodes’s ruling, which extolled the DIA as “an invaluable beacon of culture” and ringingly declared that “to sell the DIA art would be to forfeit Detroit’s future.”

    But there are other museums around the country whose objects are owned, in whole or in part, by government entities, and the DIA’s excruciating experience in defending its collection against the predations of the city’s creditors should be a wake-up call to them. They should do proactively what it took the DIA millions of dollars and more than 16 months of legal wrangling to accomplish—put their collections beyond the reach of municipal creditors. The experience of Detroit—once prosperous, now fallen on hard times—proves that what seems inconceivable today may become inescapable tomorrow.

    Surprisingly, however, officials at several museums with potentially vulnerable collections feel no urgency about protecting them, citing the financial soundness of their localities and the strong support they receive from government officials and the public. But as recent events have shown, when a city declares bankruptcy (Detroit’s being the 13th since 2008), a community’s love of culture and its government’s previous history of solvency are no insurance against an onslaught by creditors, who may love a museum for the wrong reasons—as a treasure trove of monetizable assets.

    Patricia McDonnell, director of the Wichita Art Museum, in Kansas, believes that its city-owned collection is protected from being sold during a municipal financial crisis because “the city is required to balance its budget every year.” But what if the city one day felt compelled to “balance its budget” on the back of the museum? “Anything is possible,” Ms. McDonnell acknowledged, “but I find it highly improbable.”

    Similarly, Gail Andrews, director of the Birmingham Museum of Art, in Alabama, said: “We have no plans to change” the ownership by the city of part of the museum’s collection. “The city has been a steadfast and important partner of the museum, both of us deeply valuing the collection and its importance to the community,” she noted.

    Even the director of a major encyclopedic museum, Michael Govan of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, feels no pressing need to shield the estimated 10% of LACMA’s collection that is county-owned: “Los Angeles’s good financial condition and its commitment to culture . . . meant that we didn’t really feel we were at risk,” Mr. Govan stated. Nevertheless, in light of the DIA’s experience, LACMA officials have begun exploring the possible future transfer of the objects that are county-owned to museum ownership.

    At the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, whose 23,000-object founding collection is city-owned, executive director Julia Marciari-Alexander said that the takeaway from the Detroit ruling is this: “It is important for us to talk with the city and with our trustees and to have these conversations [about ownership], which, frankly, no one wanted to have before.” Initial talks have already begun and “the situation and ruling in Detroit provides an incredibly useful framework for these discussions, going forward,” she said.

    Richard Levin, the DIA’s lead bankruptcy attorney, suggests a pre-emptive defense for those museums with city-owned collections that are not yet in the cross hairs of creditors. On the same day as Judge Rhodes’s ruling, Mr. Levin told attendees at a symposium on art law held in New York that museums and city governments should “see what assets you have that you think might be vulnerable and find a way, properly under state law, to put [those assets] in a charitable trust,” to protect them for the city’s residents.

    Some museums with government-owned objects have already done this. They include the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, that city’s Asian Art Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Their city-owned works—the entire collections of the first two; the John G. Johnson Collection at the PMA—are held for the benefit of the public under the terms of charitable trusts that protect them from liquidation to satisfy their cities’ debts. Similar protection was provided by the 1972 transfer of the Saint Louis Art Museum’s collection from city ownership to the museum’s own state government subdistrict, according to SLAM’s attorney, David Linenbroker.

    For the museum world, what is perhaps most significant about the resolution of Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings is that a federal court ruling has explicitly upheld the Association of Art Museum Directors’ professional standards for deaccessioning: “Nationally accepted standards for museums,” Judge Rhodes declared, “prohibit the de-acquisition of art to pay debt.”

    That said, the knowing violation of these standards by several financially desperate cultural institutions (most recently, the Delaware Art Museum) has created an environment that gives a cloak of legitimacy to the notion of monetizing a museum’s art to defray debt. According to Mr. Levin, Detroit’s creditors “argued that the [AAMD] guidelines were just advisory and not binding,” since several art museums had previously disregarded them.

    Having passed its grueling test in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the DIA is now poised to embrace its future, with its collection intact and confidence restored.

    “I’m hopeful this will give us a boost in fundraising,” said Annmarie Erickson, the museum’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, noting that the DIA had “kept aside” from the Grand Bargain campaign “a category of donors who we knew loved the museum and . . . would be willing to support endowment. We have a short list to begin with and we’re looking to grow that.” She added, “I know there are people who were waiting in the wings to see how the bankruptcy played out” before deciding to donate.

    She and the DIA’s director, Graham W.J. Beal, want to beef up the museum’s inadequate endowment over the next eight years to at least $400 million from some $120 million. “We’re certainly going to cull Judge Rhodes’s opinion for some great language,” she said, “when we go out to make those fundraising appeals!”

    Ms. Rosenbaum writes on art and museums for the Journal and blogs as CultureGrrl at www.artsjournal.com/culturegrrl.

    George Lindemann