George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann "Bare Knuckles at Sotheby’s Auction House" @nytimes By ALEXANDRA STEVENSON and MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED

George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann "Bare Knuckles at Sotheby’s Auction House" @nytimes By ALEXANDRA STEVENSON and MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED

Andy Warhols Liz 1 Early Colored Liz on the block at Sothebys which faces a shareholder challenge on May 6Michelle V. Agins/The New York TimesAndy Warhol’s “Liz #1 (Early Colored Liz)” on the block at Sotheby’s, which faces a shareholder challenge on May 6.

Directors of Sotheby’s gathered in their wood-paneled boardroom with an urgent goal: how to mollify Daniel S. Loeb, the outspoken hedge fund mogul who is the auction house’s largest shareholder.

Yet on that day, in late February, even as the board was debating whether to give the investor the two board seats he had demanded, Mr. Loeb suddenly struck. He nominated three director candidates, officially declaring war against the art world stalwart.

That battle — being closely watched in Manhattan socialite and art circles as well as on Wall Street — is now heading to its final stages as both sides lobby other shareholders before the company’s annual meeting on May 6.

On Thursday, Mr. Loeb gained a significant advantage as the influential proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommended that shareholders vote for two of the three board nominees he has proposed, including himself. (Glass-Lewis, I.S.S.’s rival, is, however, supporting the Sotheby’s slate.)

With a 96 percent stake the mogul Daniel S Loeb is Sothebys biggest shareholderMichael Nagle for The New York TimesWith a 9.6 percent stake, the mogul Daniel S. Loeb is Sotheby’s biggest shareholder.

Mr. Loeb, 52, is no stranger to no-holds-barred corporate battles, but this one is different in several ways. For one, it is almost as much a test of his reputation as an art aficionado as it is of his skills as an investor.

Known for his focus on contemporary and feminist art, Mr. Loeb has regularly made ARTnews’ list of the 200 biggest collectors. Works that have graced his Manhattan office or homes include a seven-foot-wide metallic pink-and-blue Jeff Koons egg — which he reportedly sold for $5.5 million — and a Martin Kippenberger sculpture of a crucified frog.

As part of its defense, Sotheby’s has publicly questioned Mr. Loeb’s art expertise, irking him in the process.

For Sotheby’s, the hedge fund challenge comes as the 270-year-old auction house is grappling with a seismic shift in the business of selling art. Fierce competition and the rapid sprouting of new millionaires and potential clients in emerging economies like China have forced auction houses to reconsider their traditional models.

“Sotheby’s is like an old master painting in desperate need of restoration,” Mr. Loeb has argued.

The battle is reverberating not just among investors but also within the exclusive and close-knit circles of the art world. Some have questioned whether Mr. Loeb, as an upstart, is doing what’s best for the business of art.

“I think what people may be concerned about is that although he is a significant collector, his primary focus is finance and he is not an art world insider,” said Jeff Rabin, a co-founder of the art consulting firm Artvest Partners.

Founded in London in 1744 to sell off several hundred rare books, Sotheby’s has been one of the most prestigious names in the art world. It is the oldest listed company on the New York Stock Exchange.

Yet it was hit hard during the financial crisis. For the last year, activist investors have circled the company, anticipating a broader shake-up of the art market.

“The big question for Sotheby’s is how to adapt to a changing market without losing what makes them special and different,” said John D. Shea, the chief executive of Proxy Mosaic, a firm that advises shareholders in activist situations.

To Mr. Loeb, Sotheby’s has not adapted quickly enough, leaving it ripe for the sort of corporate agitation that has made billions for himself and investors in his firm, Third Point. His playbook: buying a large stake in a company, and using that position to call for shifts in strategy and, often, board seats.

According to Mr. Loeb, Sotheby’s has fallen behind its chief rival, Christie’s, in recent years, especially in the Impressionist and Modern art beloved by today’s mega-collectors, like hedge fund moguls. For example, while Sotheby’s reported its biggest-ever night of contemporary art auctions in November, with $390 million in sales, Christie’s equivalent night fetched $691 million in sales. (Christie’s, however, is privately owned by the French businessman François-Henri Pinault and does not report financial results.)

Mr. Loeb has accused Sotheby’s of rebating the fees its takes for selling multimillion-dollar works, while also taking less of the buyer’s fees to attract more business. He has taken issue with the auction house’s strategy of focusing on top clients and headline sales. He has even criticized board members’ relatively low holdings of their own company’s stock.

In Sotheby’s view, Mr. Loeb has disrupted its business for months by contacting major employees and positioning himself as their new boss, while also suggesting that prominent art world figures consider becoming the auction house’s chief executive.

In the fall, he met with Jeff T. Blau, chief executive of the Related Companies, to discuss a possible move to Related’s Hudson Yards complex or the Time Warner Center, according to people briefed on the matter.

Company officials have also complained that Mr. Loeb has sometimes misunderstood the business. Moving Sotheby’s out of its current headquarters, for example, would make life difficult, given how customized it already is for the auction house.

And they have alluded to accusations that Mr. Loeb has committed “greenmail,” the frowned-upon practice of buying up big stakes in companies and then forcing them to buy the shares back. After winning an activist campaign at Yahoo — one of his biggest victories to date — the Internet company bought back the majority of Mr. Loeb’s stake a year later for $1.2 billion, yielding a significant profit.

Bloodline Big Family No 3 by the Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang on preview at a Sothebys auction in Hong Kong this monthTyrone Siu/Reuters“Bloodline: Big Family No. 3” by the Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang, on preview at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong this month.

Though the billionaire investor first met with Sotheby’s last August, he came out swinging in October, when, in a typically Loeb-like letter, he disclosed a 9.3 percent stake. He now has a 9.6 percent stake.

He accused the auction house’s chairman and chief executive, William F. Ruprecht, of having outstayed his welcome while being paid a salary that “invokes the long-gone era of imperial C.E.O.s.” Ultimately, he demanded Mr. Ruprecht’s resignation.

Sotheby’s responded by instituting a poison pill, a defense that would limit activist investors from owning more than 10 percent of a company, a move that Mr. Loeb sneered was a “relic of the 1980s.”

Unusually, Mr. Loeb then went quiet, even as another hedge fund manager, Mick McGuire of Marcato Capital Management, announced a multipronged plan for the company to generate $1.3 billion in cash for shareholders. Mr. McGuire, who has a 6.6 percent stake, said this week that he would vote with Mr. Loeb at the annual meeting.

By January, Sotheby’s announced its own initiative to return $450 million to shareholders through dividend payouts and stock buybacks, after concluding a financial review initiated by its new chief financial officer, Patrick S. McClymont.

“We spoke with many of our shareholders, and we asked people for their thinking on these topics,” Mr. McClymont said at the time.

Privately, Mr. Loeb was holding talks with Mr. McClymont and Domenico De Sole, the dapper co-founder of the luxury clothier Tom Ford and Sotheby’s newly installed lead independent director. By winter, the hedge fund manager had dropped his demand that Mr. Ruprecht resign, a matter of some satisfaction for the company.

Sotheby’s offered to make Mr. Loeb a director and to give him plum board committee assignments, including its nominating committee. But Mr. Loeb, irritated by what he perceived was a disinterest in listening to him, argued that a single directorship could not drive home real change, and repeatedly demanded two seats.

Now the two sides are contesting three board seats.

Mr. Loeb has nominated himself and two associates, including Olivier Reza, a former investment banker whose jeweler family has done business with Sotheby’s. The auction house’s slate includes Jessica Bibliowicz, a financier and daughter of Citigroup’s former chief executive, Sanford I. Weill, and Robert S. Taubman, whose family rescued Sotheby’s from a hostile bid in the 1980s, but whose father was convicted in a big price-fixing scandal a decade ago.

Each side has fallen into the timeworn rhythms of a corporate proxy fight, flinging attacks at each other on an almost weekly basis. In its most recent counterpunch, Sotheby’s disclosed on Wednesday its preliminary first-quarter results, including a 34 percent jump in Impressionist and contemporary sales from the same time a year ago. Overall, net auction sales rose 40 percent, to $730 million, while the company’s overall loss narrowed to about $6 million.

In its report on Thursday, I.S.S. wrote that while Mr. Loeb’s plan lacked a solid vision, both his and Marcato’s critiques still had merit. “In the particulars of their criticisms of things like commission margin, there is credible reason to believe their larger criticism about strategic myopia has some credibility,” the advisory firm wrote.

To some outsiders, Sotheby’s seems to be receptive to some of its critics’ recommendations. The question is whether its executives are making certain changes fast enough.

“There is a lot of minutiae with this proxy battle,” said Oliver Chen, a luxury goods analyst with Citigroup. “But there are a lot of big-picture questions — for example, ensuring that the model has another 100 years ahead of it.”

George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann "MoMA Plans a Robert Gober Retrospective" @nytimes

George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann "MoMA Plans a Robert Gober Retrospective" @nytimes

An untitled installation by Robert Gober from 1992 that features a hand-painted forest mural. Credit 2014 Robert Gober, Bill Jacobson/Matthew Marks Gallery


It seems almost inconceivable that there has never been a Robert Gober retrospective in an American museum. This 59-year-old artist, who rose to prominence in the mid-1980s, is perhaps best known for his creepy sculptures of body parts — a cast wax leg or torso with individually applied hairs on them — as well as his signature sinks fashioned from plaster painted with enamel.

But for several years now, Ann Temkin, chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, has been quietly working on “The Heart Is Not a Metaphor,” a large-scale survey of Mr. Gober’s work, which will be on view there from Oct. 11 to Jan. 18, 2015. The show’s title, chosen by Mr. Gober, is taken from a sentence in “Sleepless Nights,” a 1979 novel by Elizabeth Hardwick, because, Ms. Temkin said, he often chooses enigmatic phrases for exhibitions.

So often, organizing an exhibition of a living artist’s work can be a tug-of-war between curator and artist. But what few realize is that, in addition to being a celebrated artist, Mr. Gober is also an active curator. He has organized exhibitions, like the paintings of Charles Burchfield at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Whitney Museum of American Art; he also put together a room of works by the painter Forrest Bess at the Whitney’s 2012 Biennial. “Robert is totally involved and approaching himself as if he were one of his subjects,” Ms. Temkin said.

Robert Gober's Untitled Leg, 1989-90, made with beeswax, cotton, wood and human hair. Credit 2014 Robert Gober, Museum of Modern Art

Over the years, he has been particularly influential among a generation of artists too young to have seen his only previous retrospective, which took place in 2007 at the Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland, or the meticulously carved doll’s house that he made when he was just 24 and struggling to get by, which was included in the 2013 Venice Biennale (organized by Cindy Sherman).

The show at MoMA will include about 130 works in all mediums. There will be many well-known objects but also some rare sculptures and new works made just for the retrospective.

Because some of his sculptural installations involve plumbing — like sinks and bathtubs with running water — and others, like a room-size, hand-painted mural depicting a New England forest in summer, need space, the show will take place in the contemporary art galleries on the second floor, rather than the museum’s special exhibition galleries on the sixth.


In January 2013, to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the magazine Art in America lined up a year’s worth of artists to design its monthly covers. Big names like Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Urs Fischer and Louise Lawler have all been contributors. “We’ve loved doing it so much we’ve just continued,” said Lindsay Pollock, the editor in chief.

Now, the magazine is going one better. Tucked inside the May issue, on newsstands April 29, will be a specially commissioned print by Jasper Johns on perforated paper that can be carefully torn out and framed. A black-and-white lithograph on translucent vellum, it depicts many of Mr. Johns’s signature motifs: numbers, a map of the United States and sign language.

“Amid all the recent consternation about the art world’s fixation on money and glitz, Jasper Johns and Art in America are going against the grain by offering a substantial, free piece of art by a legendary artist,” Ms. Pollock said.

The print is a co-publication with the independent curator and print expert Sharon Hurowitz and has been produced by Bill Goldston, the print publisher, at Universal Limited Art Editions. It is only the second time Mr. Johns has collaborated with a magazine on a project. In 1973, he produced a print called “Cups 2 Picasso,” for XXieme Siècle, a French publication.


A pair of 14-foot-tall salvaged box trucks, their cabs submerged in the ground and set amid the impeccably manicured polo fields that surround the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, Conn., may seem like a messy intrusion. They are meant to. But the installation, which the New York artist Dan Colen has titled “At Least They Died Together (After Dash),” will be the first thing visitors see.

“It’s about bringing the city to some other place,” Mr. Colen said. “I wanted to bring a bit of the city with me. From a distance they will just look like minimal cubes.”

Mr. Colen found the trucks on Craigslist. “At first I was looking for trucks with graffiti on them, but then I changed my mind because graffiti seemed too redundant,” he said.

The title refers to a collage that his friend, the artist Dash Snow, gave him before his death in 2009. It is a prelude to “Help!” a comprehensive show of his work on view there from May 11 through Sept. 7. Included in the show are more than 45 paintings, 15 sculptures, drawings and one video.

“Dan’s one of the better painters around,” said Peter Brant, the collector and founder of the foundation, who coincidentally owns Art in America. “I’ve been collecting his work for six or seven years now.”


Since opening its elegantly pleated, stainless-steel building designed by Zaha Hadid in 2012, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University in East Lansing has presented 32 exhibitions and attracted more than 125,000 people, which is boosting the local economy there by about $5 million a year, according to museum officials.

To mark Michael Rush’s second year as director, Mr. Broad, the Los Angeles financier who founded the institution with his wife, has given $5 million to increase its exhibition endowment and to provide annual funds for shows over the next five years. The Broads provided the initial $28 million gift for the design and construction of the museum and for its endowment, which now totals $33 million.

George Lindemann Journal by Goerge Lindemann - "A Provocateur’s Medium: Outrage" @nytimes by Roberta Smith

George Lindemann Journal by Goerge Lindemann - "A Provocateur’s Medium: Outrage" @nytimes by Roberta Smith


The 2012 survey of the courageous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei seen at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington has finally arrived in New York, and is much improved. The show, “Ai Weiwei: According to What?,” which opens Friday at the Brooklyn Museum, has been beefed up throughout, but most notably by two installation pieces completed in 2013. One, “S.A.C.R.E.D.,” is perhaps the best work of art Mr. Ai has yet made.

As a result, this show is far clearer and more gripping than its original incarnation and something of a triumph. It brings many of Mr. Ai’s past efforts into focus as the juvenilia they often were, while making a persuasive case for his ability periodically to reconcile art and ideals and life — which in his case is usually, unavoidably, political — into a memorable balance.

The show originated at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, organized by Mami Kataoka, its chief curator. The Brooklyn presentation has been expertly overseen by Ms. Kataoka and Sharon Matt Atkins, the museum’s managing curator of exhibitions.

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Mr. Ai is a complex, troublesome figure: an artistic provocateur who works in several mediums, an activist and thorn in the side of the Chinese powers that be and an impresario able to marshal scores of variously adept Chinese artisans to make ambitious pieces that he barely touches. He’s also a designer and part-time architect who collaborated with the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron on the emblematic “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. And he was the darling of the Chinese power structure, until he began jumping in where he wasn’t invited.

Initially, he made his presence felt on his outspoken blog, complaining about the destruction of the old alleyway neighborhoods of Beijing to make way for the Olympics (his involvement with the Bird’s Nest notwithstanding) — until the blog was shut down by the government in 2009. That year he was beaten by the police when, in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake, he began to agitate for more information about the shoddily built schools that collapsed, killing thousands of children. Then he was held incommunicado for 81 days in 2011, and, since his release, he has been prohibited from traveling beyond Beijing.


That restriction has not stopped him from making artworks and spiriting them out of China, or from sending assistants to oversee his exhibitions.

Some Westerners may wonder why Mr. Ai doesn’t find a way to leave China (ignoring that his every move is carefully watched). But Mr. Ai is not like, say, a Russian ballet star, who can usually perform as well in London or New York as in Moscow.

Mr. Ai would be nothing without China. His country, its history, its artistic and material culture, its totalitarian government and the travails of its people drive his art. Conversely his art at its best bears witness to the often perverse machinations of the state. His recurrent theme, that of an individual wrestling with all this, is sometimes superficially touched upon in his earlier pieces and is usually detailed in wall labels. More recently, it is profoundly and frighteningly invoked.

This is the case with “S.A.C.R.E.D.,” which was exhibited at the Venice Biennale last year and is now in the lobby of the Brooklyn Museum, where people see it as they enter and again as they leave. It brackets the rest of the show.


On first sight, its six imposing iron boxes resemble a work by Richard Serra. But each box has a firmly shut door and step-size iron boxes upon which visitors stand to peer down through an opening in the top. Inside is a roughly half-scale diorama of the tiny, sparsely furnished cell in which Mr. Ai spent his 81 days of detention. Each includes a painted fiberglass sculpture of Mr. Ai performing one of his daily activities — sleeping, eating, showering, using the toilet — always accompanied by two uniformed guards who seem deliberately to crowd him.

With each successive box, we follow Mr. Ai from chair, to bed, to table, watching a government trying to break an individual without touching him. Because it is enacted in almost real space, the piece gives this tactic a visceral immediacy greater than writing, photography or perhaps even film. This makes sense: Confinement is spatial limitation. The slightly reduced size enables you take in these scenes all at once, to get the picture and empathize, but also to conduct your own surveillance.

“S.A.C.R.E.D.” sets a high standard, a level to which the other works don’t always rise. That’s certainly true of “Stacked,” the newest and largest installation, which is also in the lobby. Consisting of his signature Chinese bicycle frames, but this time copies made from stainless steel, it is the latest, extravagant expression of his continuing involvement with Duchamp’s principle of the ready-made.

The ready-made that serves Mr. Ai best is life itself. As “S.A.C.R.E.D” implies, his strength is as a kind of imaginative documentarian who figures out ways to bring reality close, sometimes unbearably so. This gift has long been evident in his photographs, which are well represented here in gritty black and white, recording his life as a young artist in both New York (where he lived from 1983 to 1993) and Beijing; and in color images papering the walls that show the building of the gigantic Bird’s Nest as well as the destruction that cleared space for the Olympic build-out.

Further color images flutter past on a dozen monitors in “258 Fake,” an ebullient document of his life centered on a studio populated by friends, assistants and cats. (Mr. Ai calls his studio Fake, and 258 is its actual street number.) The documentary impulse is also evident in the show’s increasingly searing videos, one of which follows the plight of a woman infected as a child with H.I.V. from a blood transfusion in a Chinese hospital, part of a medical system that only grudgingly acknowledges her disease.

More traditional notions of the ready-made operate in the first gallery, which concentrates on Mr. Ai’s early work of the last decade. The space is dominated by sculptures made from lustrous wood and antique furniture salvaged from houses and temples doomed by the Olympics. Especially good are his reconfigured Qing dynasty tables, their legs planted on both the floor and the wall as if under great strain. Even better is “Kippe,” an exquisite wood-pile-like mass of scraps that suggest a funeral pyre.

Otherwise, the sadness of the stories is provided by the labels, though the pieces themselves are primarily familiar forms of international Conceptual sculpture translated into local materials. You glimpse Mr. Ai’s implicit rebelliousness in his repainted Han dynasty vases and photographic triptychs showing him dropping the irreplaceable objects, shocking gestures that gain resonance from his recent work.

Two other high points are room-size installations. One is an enlarged version of “Straight,” which consists of 73 tons of rebar (nearly double the tonnage at the Hirshhorn show) salvaged from the collapsed schools of the Sichuan earthquake, painstakingly straightened so that nothing appears to have been amiss and stacked in a thick undulating carpet that visitors walk around. It suggests both a landscape and the orderliness of a morgue. Its stark density balances its tragic back story. (But a large snake made of children’s backpacks coiled on the ceiling is an earthquake commemoration whose lightheartedness is almost insensitive.)

The other work is “Ye Haiyan’s Belongings,” named for a Chinese women’s rights advocate. The government has responded to her activism with repeated evictions, the last time dumping her and her daughter on the side of a highway. Mr. Ai responded first with financial aid and then turned Ms. Ye’s hastily packed household goods into a fairly successful artwork.

Four walls of the gallery are papered floor to ceiling with images of neatly arranged possessions of Ms. Ye and her daughter: clothes, CDs, teapots, rice bowls. This rather cheerful surround contrasts with the dusty and desolate array of the items themselves, packed in shabby cardboard boxes and suitcases on the floor, along with appliances, a motorbike and a bicycle.

In these last two works and in “S.A.C.R.E.D.,” we feel the crushing vortexes that the Chinese government creates for its citizens, sometimes in groups, sometimes individually. It is not clear how often Mr. Ai will find ways to enter these maelstroms and make them hauntingly, even beautifully, visible. But for as long as he can we will be lucky.

Correction: April 19, 2014

An art review on Friday about “Ai Weiwei: According to What?,” at the Brooklyn Museum, referred incorrectly to the curator who originally organized the show at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo and helped oversee its presentation at the Brooklyn Museum. The curator, Mami Kataoka, is Ms. Kataoka, not Ms. Mori.

“Ai Weiwei: According to What?” is on view through Aug. 10 at the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, at Prospect Park; 718-638-5000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 718-638-5000 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting,

A version of this review appears in print on April 18, 2014, on page C25 of the New York edition with the headline: A Provocateur’s Medium: Outrage. Order Reprints|Today's Paper|Subscribe




George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann "Two Miami-Dade museums win Kellogg Foundation grants" @miamiherald by Hannah Sampson

George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann "Two Miami-Dade museums win Kellogg Foundation grants" @miamiherald by Hannah Sampson

Two Miami-Dade institutions — the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and the Bass Museum of Art — have been named recipients of W.K. Kellogg Foundation grants for programs that foster family engagement in early childhood education.

More than 1,100 applications poured in last year after the Michigan-based philanthropic foundation asked for proposals, a higher number than any previous individual grant opportunity. In the end, 30 organizations were chosen by the foundation to receive a total of $13.7 million.

“This was an eye-opening moment for us,” La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation, said in a statement. “We knew there was a need and a value around the issue of family engagement, but we didn’t realize the extent of the shared value around families’ desire to more deeply engage in their children’s education.”

The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, which gets $500,000, was the only art museum awarded a grant.

Silvia Karman Cubiñá, executive director and chief curator of the Bass, said the grant will allow the museum to expand efforts that began about a year ago to reach out to more diverse audiences with young children throughout the community.

“We were doing it within our means and on a small budget,” Cubiñá said.

Through the IDEA@thebass Educational Program, the museum will hire parents to act as ambassadors within communities.

“It’s all about family engagement and how a family is so important in the early years of learning and how a family can be brought into programs to enhance learning,” Cubiñá said.

With the help of the grant, the museum will train between 25-30 ambassadors over 3 years, which Cubiñá said would have an impact on 30,000 children and families.

At the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, the grant of nearly $450,000 will support the Early Childhood Hands-On Science (ECHOS) Family Engagement program, which helps preschool teachers, assistants and families to get more comfortable with science education and the museum.

The science museum is setting up the program in three large model demonstration sites in north, central and south Miami-Dade. There, teachers and parent leaders will use the ECHOS program and parents and children will also experience what the museum has to offer.

“When we were selected, we felt very privileged and happy,” said Judy Brown, the museum’s senior vice president for education. “I would say ecstatic.”

Felicia DeHaney, the Kellogg Foundation’s director of education and learning, said the grants are meant to address one of the great challenges in education: developing authentic relationships with parents and other caregivers.

“When people recognize the need to involve families and those programs that are respecting and partnering with families, they realize the benefits that come not only short-term but long-term,” she said.

Read more here:

George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann - "Warhol and Basquiat at New York Auctions in May" @wsj by Kelly Crow

George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann - "Warhol and Basquiat at New York Auctions in May" @wsj by Kelly Crow


Andy Warhol's 'Six Self-Portraits' © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/ARS, NY/Sotheby's

Want to bet on a painting? Be ready to hang onto it for a long time. That's a lesson to be gleaned from a group of artworks headed to auction next month in New York.

In late 1981, Maryland collector Anita Reiner stepped into the New York basement of dealer Annina Nosei's gallery and watched a 21-year-old street artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, paint his self-portrait in the guise of a warrior king standing against a sunset-colored sky. Ms. Reiner bought it on the spot. On May 13, Ms. Reiner's heirs plan to resell the untitled work at Christie's for at least $20 million. Christie's specialist Brett Gorvy said the painting ranks among the artist's largest canvases, and it hasn't been seen publicly until now.


Untitled work by Jean-Michel Basquiat The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/ADAGP, Paris/ARS, NY/Christie's Images Ltd.

The Reiner Family Collection is also selling off six other pieces by artists like Robert Gober, Paul McCarthy and Urs Fischer, Mr. Gorvy added.

Over at Sotheby's, London stockbroker Barry Townsley is offering up Andy Warhol's "Six Self-Portraits," that the artist assembled for his last London gallery show in 1986. These so-called "fright wig" silkscreens show the artist wearing his signature wig and staring piercingly at the viewer. Four years ago, designer Tom Ford sold a wall-size, purple "fright wig" Warhol for $32.5 million at Sotheby's. On May 14, the house will ask at least $25 million for Mr. Townsley's group of 22-inch versions, which are silkscreened in differing candy colors.

Mr. Townsley declined to comment, but dealers say he has often told friends about the good-luck day he walked into Anthony D'Offay's gallery on the eve of Warhol's show and paid $57,500 for the six artworks. Sotheby's expert Oliver Barker confirmed the price but said he could not discuss the seller.

Write to Kelly Crow at

George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann - "Architects Mourn Former Folk Art Museum Building" @nytimes by ROBIN POGREBIN

George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann - "Architects Mourn Former Folk Art Museum Building" @nytimes by ROBIN POGREBIN

Scaffolding on the former Folk Art Museum building on West 53rd Street. Credit Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

As scaffolding went up around the former Folk Art Museum building on Tuesday, one of its two architects broke his silence to say how devastated he and his partner are about the Museum of Modern Art’s decision to tear down “one of our most important buildings to date.”

“Yes, all buildings one day will turn to dust, but this building could have been reused,” Tod Williams said in his first interview since the Modern announced the demolition of this West 53rd Street building, completed in 2001. “Unfortunately, the imagination and the will were not there.”

Until now, Mr. Williams and his partner, Billie Tsien, have declined to be interviewed about MoMA’s hotly debated decision. Instead, since January, when MoMA confirmed its conclusion that the neighboring Folk Art Museum building could not be salvaged, this husband-and-wife architectural team had let a prepared statement speak for them.

Mr. Williams and Ms. Tsien issued another such statement on Tuesday, in response to the appearance of scaffolding around the building, which MoMA bought in 2011 when the folk museum vacated it because of financial troubles.

Billie Tsien and Tod Williams. Credit Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

“A building admired, visited and studied by so many will now be reduced to memory,” the statement said. “We understand the facade will be put in storage, but we worry it will never be seen again.”

MoMA declined to comment. It has defended the demolition as necessary for its expansion. The museum plans to extend galleries through the Folk Art Museum site and into new exhibition space that will be part of a tower to the west, designed by Jean Novel for the Houston developer Hines.

In response to protests, though, MoMA agreed to preserve the Folk Art Museum’s 82-foot-high facade, which is being removed ahead of the rest of the building; its future is unclear. For now, it will be transported to one of the museum’s storage sites. An ensemble of 63 copper-bronze panels, it was the most celebrated architectural feature of the building.

Some new homes for the facade have been floated, Mr. Williams said, including MoMA/P.S. 1 in Long Island City, Queens. This idea was proposed by Nina Libeskind — chief operating officer of the architectural practice of her husband, Daniel Libeskind — and Fredric M. Bell, executive director of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

“I believe strongly that the facade of that building was an integral part of the New York cityscape and that it should have, and could have, been incorporated into MoMA’s plans,” Ms. Libeskind said in an interview. “It’s a valuable piece of architecture that should be kept.”

Ms. Libeskind said she and Mr. Bell are scheduled to meet with MoMA about their proposal next week. “Whether or not they accept that, I have no idea,” she said. “I think it is a reasonable, very intelligent alternative.”

Asked why he and Ms. Tsien had not addressed the facade’s future earlier, Mr. Williams said, “We held out hope, even when we knew there was very little hope, that the complete building could be saved.” He added, “We were focused on saving the building so we did not think of the facade as a separate piece.”

Mr. Williams said he appreciated recent proposals to reuse the most publicly recognizable portion of the building, though he and Ms. Tsien have always maintained that the facade and the building were

That said, Mr. Williams explained that during the construction process, the facade was attached to the building as a separate element — “as an architectural mask.” Though fragments of buildings have been preserved at places like the Cloisters and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mr. Williams said, “the idea of installing a few panels somewhere doesn’t interest me.”

    When asked whether MoMA had contacted him and Ms. Tsien, Mr. Williams said, “Only when we were notified that the building would be torn down.”

    He declined to address the personal issues involved; the situation has been particularly thorny because the Modern’s expansion plan involves another pair of architects with whom he and Ms. Tsien were friends: Elizabeth Diller and Ric Scofidio. That husband-and-wife team are part of Diller Scofidio & Renfro, the firm hired by MoMA to evaluate whether the existing folk art building could be integrated into the Modern’s expansion plans. Ms. Diller declined to comment.  


    George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann "Ai Weiwei's Spring: Three Shows on Two Continents" @wsj by Mary M. Lane

    George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann "Ai Weiwei's Spring: Three Shows on Two Continents" @wsj by Mary M. Lane

    Ai Weiwei is seeing his work mounted in museums in Berlin and New York and at a gallery in London. Ai Weiwei Studio/Brooklyn Museum

    When "Evidence," Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's biggest exhibition to date opened in Berlin last week, one person was notably missing from the guest list: the artist himself.

    Barred from traveling abroad since his release from detention in 2011, Mr. Ai couldn't be in Germany—or in New York. There, his first museum show in the city opens at the Brooklyn Museum April 18 and runs through Aug. 10.

    But Mr. Ai says that in some ways Germany in particular surrounds his home in Beijing every day. "When you walk in Beijing now you almost think you're in a German industrial city, because you see all these Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs everywhere," Mr. Ai, who owns a Volkswagen VOW3.XE -1.05% Volkswagen AG Non-Vtg Pfd. Germany: Xetra 192.40 -2.05 -1.05% April 14, 2014 5:35 pm Volume : 976,645 P/E Ratio 10.31 Market Cap€89.21 Billion Dividend Yield 2.11% Rev. per Employee €343,937 19619419219010a11a12p1p2p3p4p5p 04/14/14 Peugeot Sets Out Recovery Plan... 04/13/14 Can New Hyundai Sonata Match P... 04/13/14 GM's Opel Could Break Even Ahe... More quote details and news » VOW3.XE in Your Value Your Change Short position and frequents a bar popular with German engineers, said in a Skype interview from Beijing last week.

    Chinese hunger for German products triggered one piece in Berlin: eight vases from the Han Dynasty (202 B.C.—220 A.D.) dipped into the most popular Mercedes-Benz DAI.XE +0.11% Daimler AG Germany: Xetra 66.22 +0.07 +0.11% April 14, 2014 5:35 pm Volume : 3.74M P/E Ratio 10.35 Market Cap€70.77 Billion Dividend Yield 3.40% Rev. per Employee €428,427 6766656410a11a12p1p2p3p4p5p 04/13/14 GM's Opel Could Break Even Ahe... 04/11/14 China Car Demand Slows as Euro... 04/10/14 Ai Weiwei's Spring: Three Show... More quote details and news » DAI.XE in Your Value Your Change Short position and BMW car paints in China. The altered antiques speak of consumerism, but also of the economic freedoms Chinese citizens enjoy today, Mr. Ai said.

    The artist and his studio designed the new exhibitions, and a May show with art for sale at London's Lisson Gallery, to raise Mr. Ai's profile even higher than it is—while China still refuses to issue him a passport. It's a clear push for large exposure, simultaneously in three cities on two continents, at a prime season for art sales and tourism.

    Mr. Ai says he is addressing two audiences: one foreign, one domestic. The artist hopes that Chinese tourists, whose presence has sharply risen in the West, will be exposed to his art and issues. "Because my work is banned from being shown inside China, the only way they can become aware of it is from the outside," he said.

    The Brooklyn show "According to What?" originated in 2009 at Tokyo's Mori Art Museum, with later stops in Washington, Toronto and Miami, but Brooklyn's version includes several major new pieces. Social injustice and sexual discrimination are key themes in the artworks. Among five videos screening in Mandarin with subtitles, the new "Stay Home" documents the anguish of a woman who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion. Many Chinese still think of those with HIV/AIDS as promiscuous pariahs, to which Mr. Ai is trying to draw attention, says Sharon Matt Atkins, curator of the Brooklyn show.

    Another added artwork in the roughly 13,000-square-foot Brooklyn show involves sex worker-activist Ye Haiyan, a close friend of Mr. Ai's. Ms. Ye has for seven years pushed to widen health-care access for Chinese prostitutes and petition the government to legalize prostitution and destigmatize rape and AIDS. Ms. Atkins said that last summer Ms. Ye fled to a hotel after being kicked out of her apartment in the wake of the publicity over her sex activism.

    At the Brooklyn show, Mr. Ai created wallpaper that covers a room and portrays Ms. Ye's belongings including a phone, a teapot and a Guy Fawkes mask. Jumbled in front of the wallpaper are many of Ms. Ye's actual possessions—including her fridge, rolling suitcases and her Tiffany-blue moped.

    Several subjects show up both in Brooklyn and the much larger German show, at the Martin-Gropius-Bau exhibition hall. In a debut, Berlin features a replica of the detention room where Chinese authorities held Mr. Ai in 2011 for 81 days. Visitors can sit on his bed, at the desk or touch the toilet. "I was in jail, I was beaten, I was forbidden to go on the Internet—all because of thoughts that were inside my mind," said Mr. Ai in the video interview.

    In the same vein, Brooklyn is showing "S.A.C.R.E.D.," a sextet of less-than-life-size dioramas featuring scenes from Mr. Ai's life in detention. "S.A.C.R.E.D." has only been seen during last year's Venice Biennale.

    The artist added that he has consistently received "strong support" from Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel lobbied for his release from detention and he keeps a life-size cardboard cutout of her in his studio. Though some Americans have openly supported him, he says he still believes, as he stated in 2009, that America's approach to human rights abroad is becoming insular: "If it is not necessary, most people don't try to share the pain and struggle of others. That is just how society is."

    Politics doesn't occupy all the space at the new shows. The artist's love of Marcel Duchamp, the father of conceptual art whose work Mr. Ai discovered while living in Brooklyn in the 1980s, is present in the New York exhibition through a wire bent in the shape of Duchamp's face.

    The artist's work often revolves around Mandarin puns that can get lost on Westerners. One such work displayed in both shows (and part of the U.S. tour from the start) is "He Xie," a pile of 3,200 hand-painted porcelain crabs. The Mandarin word means both "river crabs" and "harmonious society," but also designates the "Gang of Four," disgraced leaders who were tried in 1981 for treason.

    In 2011, authorities bulldozed a studio that they had invited him to build in Shanghai in 2008. Mr. Ai first tried protesting. When that failed, he planned a feast of river crabs at the site and went on to create the porcelain crustaceans.

    George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann - "Breaking From Donor Dependence" @nytimes by ROBIN POGREBIN

    George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann - "Breaking From Donor Dependence" @nytimes by ROBIN POGREBIN

    ONE doesn’t typically think of drawing visitors to a cultural institution with a sheepshearing festival. But that is part of the strategy of Gore Place, a historic house in Waltham, Mass., that also has a working farm.

    The farm has always been a part of Gore Place, the 1806 house and estate of Gov. Christopher Gore that is considered among the most significant Federal Period mansions in New England. Recently the institution has stepped up its for-profit events to include snowshoeing (rentals available at $8 for adults and $5 for children), farm dinners ($80 a person) and an evening “Tick-Tock a Tour” of the mansion’s clock collection ($15).

    Such efforts are part of a growing consciousness among cultural institutions that they can no longer depend on donations and must develop revenue-generating activities beyond the cafe and bookstore.

    “Museums are thinking of new ways to achieve their mission that earn money,” said Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums, an initiative of the American Alliance of Museums.

    Bronx Museum of the Arts hosts walking tours. Credit Lauren Click/The Bronx Museum of the Arts

    “How do you break this cycle of charitable poverty?” Ms. Merritt continued. “How do you make a program self-sustainable, where you’re drawing a connection between people who value it and those willing to pay for it?”

    Such projects come with some growing pains, museum experts say, particularly given the historical bias against mixing a cultural mission with business considerations. But at a time when contributions from foundations, corporations and individuals are shrinking — along with government support — such adjustments increasingly seem like a matter of economic survival.

    “It requires a mind shift,” Ms. Merritt said. “To stop thinking automatically in terms of underwriting and stop thinking of earning money as somehow being a bad thing and start with the premise that if you’re delivering a program that’s mission-related maybe there’s a way of finding a capitalist way of supporting it.”

    There are already such entrepreneurial ventures. This summer, the New Museum plans to open NEW INC, an incubator for art, technology and design in its adjacent building at 231 Bowery in Manhattan. Members selected through a competitive application process (deadline April 1) are to form an interdisciplinary community intended to foster collaboration and innovation. Those chosen will pay a monthly membership fee in exchange for work space, professional development, support services and a series of programs. The fee will go toward the incubator’s operations.

    The Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla., recently established “The Edge at The Dalí,” a creativity and innovation services program for businesses and nonprofit organizations. The museum developed its curriculum based on Dalí’s art and the psychology and neurology of innovative thinking.

    Over the last decade, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has developed a commercial licensing business by marketing its digital image archive to the home furnishing, fashion and hospitality industries. Designers are drawing from the museum’s textile collection for products like tableware, drapes and pillows. “The purpose is to get the artwork and the imagery out there and to see it used in multiple functions,” said Debra LaKind, the museum’s director of business development and strategic partnerships. “It’s also a way of generating revenue.” The Bronx Museum of the Arts now hosts dinners featuring prominent chefs ($250 to $300 a person), runs a wine club that generates as much as $15,000 a year and recently started selling prints of works by some of its featured artists.

    The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington charges a licensing fee to collaborators in its SparkLab National Network. SparkLab offers activities at the museum that are focused on invention, such as Science Stations, which explore concepts like radioactivity, and an Under 5 Zone where children can build with blocks or solve puzzles. The proceeds go into the program.

    In exchange, the partners receive use of the Smithsonian, SparkLab and Lemelson Center names and logos; a set of start-up activities; two years’ worth of materials, and assistance and consultation services. The program ultimately aims to help its collaborators in the network — like the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno, Nev. — create activities and programs that are specific to their institutions and geographic areas.

    “The idea is to expand it out of the museum internationally to places that seem interested,” said Arthur Molella, director of the Lemelson Center. “They can take our basic material and add a lot of their own content relevant to the idea.”

    Organizations like Gore Place feel as if they have no choice but to diversify. “Historic houses have to find ways to make themselves unique in order to survive,” said Susan Robertson, the executive director. “They have to be cultural resources, they have to be community resources, they have to be able to pay their bills, they have to attract visitors — they have to get a buzz going.”

    “It’s an exciting challenge,” she added. “Whether we’ll succeed remains to be seen.”

    Indeed, it is still unclear whether these experiments ultimately will make nonprofit institutions more independent of donor largess. Gore Place, for example, is in the second year of a three-year plan to pursue new sources of revenue — including farm stands.

    “Like any new venture, there are all of the unknowns,” Ms. Robertson said. “You don’t know if the geese are going to come in and strip your pea fields in half an hour or you don’t know that you’re going to have an influx of rabbits and they’re going to eat up all your squash.”   

    George Lindemann, George-Lindemann, George Lindemann Jr, George-Lindemann-Jr, Lindemann, Lindemann George, Lindemann George Jr, George Lindemann Junior, Jr George Lindemann, Lindemann Jr George, George L Lindemann,,,,,,,,,,,

    George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann - "In Boston, Altering the Artist-in-Residence Concept" @nytimes by By HILARIE M. SHEETS

    George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann - "In Boston, Altering the Artist-in-Residence Concept" @nytimes by By HILARIE M. SHEETS

    Matthew Ritchie working on “Remanence/Remonstrance,” an installation on the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. CreditLiza Voll Photography

    COLLABORATIONS among museums and artists-in-residence typically culminate in a single artwork or event. More unusual is the one between Matthew Ritchie and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. During his 18-month residency, he is producing a series of related artworks and performances in and near the museum that weave Boston and the institute into an abstract narrative of past, present and future.

    “I’ve never done a thing where I sort of seep into the fabric of the museum itself and the neighborhood around it, almost like an energy consultant coming in,” said Mr. Ritchie, 50. “But instead of talking about heat, it’s ideas.” The artist is known for his densely layered, expansive paintings and installations that diagram systems of religion, science, history and cosmologies, sometimes all at the same time.

    “Matthew heard from us that we’re interested in activating more spaces in the museum and activating the museum in more spaces in the city,” said Jill Medvedow, director of the 78-year-old institute, who oversaw its relocation to the edge of Boston harbor in 2006 in a luminous glass building designed by the architectural firm Diller Scofidio & Renfro. “He took that and completely embraced it and has incorporated those goals of ours into these new works of his, which are all one big body of work.”

    “Remanence: Salt and Light,” by Matthew Ritchie. CreditGeoff Hargadon

    Leading the project is Jenelle Porter, senior curator at the contemporary art institute. She had seen Mr. Ritchie’s multimedia music production “The Long Count,” conceived with Bryce Dessner of the National, the indie rock band, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2009. Having worked with him before, she knew Mr. Ritchie’s penchant for collaborating across disciplines with musicians, scientists, architects and judges. “I thought it would be great to bring someone in who has the skill set to work with a lot of different people in the museum,” Ms. Porter said, “but whose work also requires and desires that kind of collaboration.”

    She initially proposed that Mr. Ritchie stage a version of “The Long Count” in the museum’s theater; paint a mural on the lobby’s Art Wall, and produce a project with the Teen Arts Council. “Visual arts, performing arts and education are the most important programming elements for the I.C.A.,” said Ms. Porter.

    From there, Mr. Ritchie’s residency evolved to include an additional mural in Dewey Square, a park near the institute, and an additional performance with Mr. Dessner, all unfolding through the year. “I’m imagining moving people through time and having all these disparate moments understood as orbiting planets in a solar system,” said Mr. Ritchie, who has also donated a painting, “The Salt Pit,” on view now in the museum’s collection galleries.

    Mr. Ritchie has just completed the lobby mural; it covers a 50-foot wall and extends across an adjacent stretch of windows. While the piece is abstract, it builds on visual themes in the Dewey Square mural, completed in September.

    “On one level, this is the story of the beginning of time,” says Mr. Ritchie. A large atom form, or big bang, is exploding on the top right, with smaller atoms falling into a kind of primordial seascape. From the center arises a vessel-like form with dense scaffolding, suggesting the building of a complex society, which then begins to break down and return to a state of nature on the left.

    Within this epic history, the artist suggests ideas of Boston and the institute as well. The shape of the vessel alludes to the ship where John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, quoted the Sermon on the Mount to migrants from England in 1630 as he envisioned the future “city upon a hill.”

    “The I.C.A. is also the model of the shining city on a hill,” said Mr. Ritchie, “clearly designed as a lantern that glows at night and was embedded with ideas of the future at that moment it was built.” Mr. Ritchie said he thought of museums as ocean liners moving through history and preserving things. He is interested in how the opening of the art institute’s building spurred rapid redevelopment of the once-dilapidated waterfront, with hotels, office buildings and condominiums going up all around it (the mural on the institute windows, in fact, obscures a construction site directly outside).

    On March 29, the next episode of Mr. Ritchie’s complex vision comes to life in a performance that will begin in the museum lobby and conclude at a Roman Catholic chapel nearby, Our Lady of Good Voyage. Musicians on clarinet and guitar, including Mr. Dessner, will improvise a composition in front of the mural. When they proceed to the chapel, originally for seamen, the performance will develop into a choral work, with the vocalist singing Mr. Dessner’s composition “To the Sea,” accompanied by organ choir and imagery by Mr. Ritchie projected behind the altar.

    It is meant to connect the innovative technological present, embodied by the museum and the contemporary art within it, to Boston’s maritime and religious roots, as well as the shift in art to a largely aesthetic experience from its more spiritual role in the past. The artist noted that the chapel itself would soon be relocated from its prime location in the middle of the redevelopment district.

    Since the beginning of the residency last fall, Mr. Ritchie has met regularly with members of the Teen Arts Council at the museum and prompted them to think like him. “He’s directed us to take photographs of things in our day-to-day lives that might normally go unnoticed and connect them in this big photo map or web of overlapping concepts,” said Cecelia Halle, a high school sophomore on the council, which recently received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award from Michelle Obama. “Ultimately, we’re going to put these things into a video that documents the changing structure of Boston through the eyes of us teens.” The collaborative project, which will make use of the museum’s high-tech digital lab, will go on view this summer.

    The artist has other surprises in store. He plans to embed an unannounced artwork somewhere in the museum later this year and is working with the bookstore about a way to provide an unexpected — and undefined — ghost text along with intended purchases. He’s also created a series of short films, which set his vocabulary of abstracted imagery in motion and can be seen and heard via smartphone at the site of each artwork and performance. The residency will conclude with a reprise of “The Long Count” in the museum’s theater in December.

    “There are all these things swirling around each other and each person is going to be encouraged to solve it in a way,” said Mr. Ritchie. “It’s not about having a secret language but more to encourage exploration. Can you remember the mural you saw 15 minutes ago in Dewey Square when you walk into the lobby? Can you remember the performance you were at six months ago when you’re at another one that echoes it? Can these things have an algorithmic choral quality and build on each other not just in space but in time? It’s the sense of a haunting.”

    George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann - "The Met’s Director Looks Ahead" @nytimes by By ROBIN POGREBIN

    George Lindemann Journal by George Lindemann - "The Met’s Director Looks Ahead" @nytimes by By ROBIN POGREBIN

    IN the five years since Thomas P. Campbell became director and chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the museum world has had to grapple with declining philanthropic dollars, mushrooming entertainment options and a rapidly developing digital world. But in an interview, Mr. Campbell said he was optimistic about the public’s appetite for museums in general and the Met’s prospects in particular. This interview has been edited and condensed.

    Q. What is the biggest issue facing museums today?

    A. Impacting all of us is technology. We’ve made a huge investment in transitioning from being an analog museum to a digital museum and there are great opportunities in that to see the collections on the whole, to deliver the information to our audiences in new ways. Still, at the end of the day, the core values remain the same: It’s about bringing people face to face with works of art and stimulating their curiosity.

    Q. Can museums really hope to compete with computers for people’s attention and leisure time?

    Thomas Campbell and Xu Bing’s “Book From the Sky.” Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times

    A. We’re all bombarded. Museums are like the quiet car of the world. It’s a place you can come to escape, where there’s authenticity, there’s uniqueness, there’s calm, there’s physicality. I feel it’s so refreshing. But at the same time, the exciting thing is that because of technology we’re reaching out to new audiences. Our attendance has increased from 4.5 million to 6 million over five years. But online last year we had 44 to 45 million visitors to the website.

    Q. What in particular are you looking forward to at the Met right now?

    A. Over the last five years, we’ve completed a number of major capital projects — the American Wing, the Islamic galleries and the re-presentation of the European paintings collection. Next up is the reopening of the Costume Institute in May. This has been a project that has long been planned but has been undertaken in the last two years. We’ve expanded the exhibition space and we’ve put in place state-of-the-art storage and conservation facilities. The opening exhibition is on the great but little-known American couturier Charles James, an amazing designer of both everyday wear and couture to whom many contemporary designers look back as the inspiring genius for their own work. And then in the fall we’ll have the reopening of the plaza, which of course has been under construction outside the museum.

    Q. What are you looking to accomplish with that?

    A. The plaza is the entry point for the museum. For many it’s the gateway to a great institution that many visitors feel very comfortable with. But for others, our great Beaux Arts facade is intimidating. And it certainly wasn’t helped by the deplorable state of disrepair that the fountains had fallen into. We started with a plan first to replace the fountains, and then one thing led to another, and we’ve totally reconceived the plaza so it will be a much more friendly, attractive, welcoming area for people visiting the museum or who, after a visit, want to sit outside and enjoy being in one of the great New York spaces. It’s a beautification project that will make the plaza worthy of our great facade, but it’s also an external manifestation of the emphasis on accessibility that we’ve really been making over the last five years. The Met is a museum for everybody.

    Q. Given the goals you set when you became director, how are you doing so far?

    A. We’ve undertaken a whole range of initiatives over the last five years, some of which are ongoing. Some of them have been as simple as numbering the galleries and having numbered maps — both online and physically — recognizing that, with an ever more international visitorship, some people are not familiar with the artistic traditions that we represent. We can’t take anything for granted. We’re introducing basic descriptions that state what the point of this gallery is and what the highlights are within each gallery. We have done a number of new audio tours that aim to walk you through the museum and talk about great artistic works but also talk about the physical spaces and the history of the museum. They are translated into 10 languages.

    Q. Talk a little about the Met’s technological advances.

    A. We’ve wired the whole museum — there is wireless access everywhere in the museum for free. The catalog collection is now online and we’ve also put a lot of investment into creating cross-museum applications. The scholarly backbone is the Timeline of Art History set up about 12 years ago, which we continue to invest in very heavily. And we have a number of publications like “Connections” and “82nd and Fifth” that are aimed at being entry points for audiences who want — not such in-depth scholarly information — but to get an understanding of why certain works of art are important.

    Q. What is the place of contemporary art at the Met and how are you planning to use the Breuer building when the Whitney moves downtown?

    A. It’s clear from all of our surveys that our audience is very interested in seeing modern and contemporary art at the Metropolitan. That was an explicit part of the job description when I was hired as director — to make sure the museum was engaging in a meaningful way with modern and contemporary art. The challenge we have is that our modern and contemporary galleries are not very well laid out and they’re also quite constrictive. So to operate the Breuer building is a great opportunity. It’s space that’s going to be especially well suited to the display of modern and contemporary art. We can provide an element of context that will differentiate our programs from those of MoMA and the Guggenheim and the Whitney. In a way, the Breuer building — because it’s not constrained — is a new space for us. We can perhaps be more experimental there, we can break away from the departmental restraints that often characterize the programs we run here at the main museum and we can really respond to the way contemporary artists are using multiple media. We can look very closely, not just at the European and American schools, but also think more internationally.

    Q. Given these innovations, has there been any pushback from the old guard, saying, “This is too much change for us”?

    A. By and large this is evolution, not revolution. The financial crisis of 2008 to 2009 was a sobering moment but the silver lining is, it forced all of us to think very hard about what our core priorities were about scholarship, education and accessibility, and out of that moment came a huge wave of creativity. The greatest asset along with the building and the collections is this extraordinary staff of curators and conservators at the core. I want to sustain the culture in which those scholars have flourished, so I’m not out to force any of those faster than they want to go. Most of my colleagues are as sensitive to the changes that are going on in the world as I am.

    Q. How much of a hurdle do you think price is for a museum like the Met?

    A. We’ve had a lot of negative press over the year about our admissions policy that really ticks me off. Five years ago, we had people telling us we should go to a compulsory charge. I felt, and the board felt, that making admission a voluntary donation was central to the integrity of an institution that was trying to make itself as accessible as possible. We’ve sustained that process in the face of financial pressure and I’m really proud of that. The average visitor costs us about $45 and we ask for a donation of $25. Of course, the reality is many visitors give much less, but that’s great. I don’t want to start charging for exhibitions. Here we have this amazing cornucopia of exhibitions and whatever you’ve donated — it’s all accessible.

    George Lindemann, George-Lindemann, George Lindemann Jr, George-Lindemann-Jr, Lindemann, Lindemann George, Lindemann George Jr, George Lindemann Junior, Jr George Lindemann, Lindemann Jr George, George L Lindemann,,,,,,,,,,,