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


Report: MOCA L.A. Director Announcement in the Spring [Updated]

Installation view of MOCA's 2013 Urs Fischer show. (Getty Images)

It’s been almost six months since Jeffrey Deitch resigned as director of Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, and despite recent rumors that an announcement of his replacement was imminent, and comments from the museum’s interim director, Maria Seferian, last month that a candidate was expected by the end of the year, it now appears that a name will not be released until the spring, according to board co-chair Maria Bell. [An earlier version of this post stated that an announcement could come as soon as this week; a full correction follows at the end of this article.] Read More


Not Just for Snowbirds: Forget the Beach—Miami’s Hometown Museum Is Heating Up


Miami has more than once been called an ungovernable city, and, true to form, its museum scene is balkanized and unruly. Private museums run by deep-pocketed contemporary art collectors like the Rubells and the de la Cruzes have dominated the scene in recent years, largely buying work with an eye on the market. The hometown Miami Art Museum, which receives public financing, is just 30 years old and only began acquiring work in 1996. Meanwhile, there are reports that, following the recent failure of a bond referendum for an expansion, North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art may leave its current home and merge with South Beach’s Bass Museum of Art, a scattershot museum founded by private collectors 50 years ago. MOCA denies this. Read More


Took a Little Trip to Mexico: Collector Eugenio López Inaugurates Mexico City Museum

Museo Jumex in Mexico City. (Photo by The New York Observer)

This past weekend in Mexico City, 46-year-old Eugenio López Alonso, sole heir to the Jumex juice empire, inaugurated Museo Jumex, a 43,000-square-foot David Chipperfield-designed private museum for his foundation’s collection of 2,000-plus contemporary artworks. An elegant three-story layer cake made of light-brown travertine, it’s located in the tony Polanco district, near a Saks Fifth Avenue, a Crate & Barrel and rising skyscrapers. Next door is another private museum, the Museo Soumaya, a garish, windowless building that the world’s richest man, telecommunications titan Carlos Slim, built in 2011 to house his own art holdings, which are astoundingly mediocre. Read More


King of Queens: Tom Finkelpearl’s Game-Changing Museum Gets Bigger


Tom Finkelpearl hates the word “outreach.” The executive director of the Queens Museum was sitting in his office, a small, nearly windowless room sparely decorated with a few photographs and some fairly uncomfortable furniture, fielding questions from staff that tend to walk in unannounced through the open door. He was outfitted in his usual uniform of nondescript black pants, blue button-down, Skechers sneakers masquerading as dress shoes and rectangular glasses. A hardhat, a bottle of hand sanitizer and an antiquated printer were among the items atop his desk. “I think there’s a difference between outreach and community engagement,” he said. “Outreach is ‘they’re out there and we’re in here.’”

That’s why, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg cuts the ribbon on the brand new, $69 million expansion of the Queens Museum this week, the ceremony will mark more than a facelift for an institution long overshadowed by the rusty relics of World’s Fairs. The glass-dominated addition, with its airy sky-lit atrium and sleek new suite of galleries, is stunning, yes, but the cathedral-like space is only an outward sign of inward grace, an indication of the radical work that has been quietly happening there for years. Read More