Credit-Rating Your Local Museum

The Delaware Art Museum is planning to sell works, aiming to right its finances. (Photo by Leslie W. Kipp)

Former Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Chief Curator Paul Schimmel has won praise from critics for his exhibitions, but you can’t eat praise. In 2012, Mr. Schimmel resigned and, in an op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times, L.A. MOCA trustee and art collector Eli Broad cast aside claims that Mr. Schimmel was fired but noted that “the museum has … curated a number of exhibitions that were costly and poorly attended, often exceeding $100 per visitor. In today’s economic environment, museums must be fiscally prudent and creative in presenting cost-effective, visually stimulating exhibitions that attract a broad audience.” Read More


A Peek at the Jewish Museum’s ‘Other Primary Structures’


“Art history’s really depressing,” said Jewish Museum Deputy Director Jens Hoffmann, “because you look back to all these wonderful, very radical art movements that happened and you always feel, ‘Why am I in this moment, and not in Dada or whatever.’” While his new exhibition at the museum may induce nostalgia, “Other Primary Structures” is far from depressing. It’s a tight presentation of Minimalist sculpture from around the globe with more than a few playful works, like wiggling pillars of foam by Filipino artist David Medalla and small aluminum sculptures by Brazilian artist Lygia Clark that viewers are invited to touch and rearrange. Read More


Corcoran May Merge With National Gallery, George Washington University

The Corcoran. (Photo by afagen/Flickr)

After years of financial insecurity and questions about its future, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. announced today that it is considering a merger with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University.

Under the proposal, which will have to be approved by the boards of the National Gallery and George Washington, the National Gallery would absorb a considerable portion of the Corcoran’s 17,000-piece collection and organize shows in its building, which is said to be in need of some $100 million in renovation, and GW would take over the Corcoran College of Art + Design. Works not taken on by the NGA would be distributed to other museums. Read More


Philippe Goes to Hollywood: With Vergne In Place as New Director, L.A. MOCA Looks to the Future


This article is one part of a two-part look at Philippe Vergne’s departure from the Dia Foundation to lead MOCA Los Angeles. For the other part, please click here.

In 1997, when he was chief curator at the Walker Art Center, a contemporary art museum in Minneapolis, Richard Flood received an email from the French Ministry of Culture informing him that a young curator from Marseilles was traveling the United States and would be passing through the City of Lakes. Would Mr. Flood consider meeting with him? Once the curator was in town, Mr. Flood got in touch with him by email. He apologized, saying he could not meet that night, but said there was a jazz concert happening at the Walker and there would be a ticket waiting for him there. Mr. Flood then went to dinner and told his friends that he sent some French curator to the museum for the concert that evening. His friends quickly informed him that the concert was, in fact, the following night. Racing over in his car, Mr. Flood saw Philippe Vergne standing in the lobby, “unmistakably French, unmistakably carrot-topped,” a reference to Mr. Vergne’s head of orange hair. He was genially talking to the security guard on duty and asking if there was a good place to see music in Minneapolis. Read More


New Museum’s Paweł Althamer Show Will Feature 50 Live Street Musicians, Bowery Mission Coat Drive, the Artist Himself

Pawel Althamer. (Courtesy

The New Museum’s Paweł Althamer retrospective “The Neighbors”–the artist’s first U.S. museum exhibition–opens Feb. 12. In addition to sculpture, the medium for which Mr. Althamer is perhaps best known, the show will include some of the artist’s community-based public performances: in this case, a coat drive for the New Museum’s neighbor, the Bowery Mission (visitors that bring “new or gently used” men’s coats will receive free admission), and a group of more than 50 street musicians, who will be heard performing over the course the exhibition. Read More


Ways Forward: What’s Next for the Dia Art Foundation?


This article is one part of a two-part look at Philippe Vergne’s departure from the Dia Foundation to lead MOCA Los Angeles. For the other part, please click here.

As snow fell on Downtown Manhattan on Monday afternoon, Heiner Friedrich, a 75-year-old German with a piercing gaze behind round glasses, sat in a Tribeca café discussing Dia, the art foundation he cofounded 40 years ago.

The past year had been difficult, he told me between sips of hot water. Though he is no longer involved with Dia’s operations—he was forced out during financial turmoil in 1985 and is now an emeritus board member—he had watched its director, Philippe Vergne, and the current board sell work by artists who had been his friends and collaborators—Cy Twombly, Barnett Newman and John Chamberlain—to help acquire pieces that had been on long-term loan to Dia’s 240,000-square-foot museum in Beacon, N.Y. Read More