Arts Funding Lags Behind Market Growth

ARTINFO, has produced a tidy little report about how three cities hit hard by the recession, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Washington, D.C., are finding new ways to keep their art institutions afloat.

Los Angeles is proposing the repurposing of fees charged to government-funded construction and usually used toward new acquisitons, to support staffing for it’s 25 arts centers.

Detroit is leveraging social media to attract a younger audience; is it telling that the eggheaded DIA is also “reinstalling its collection in 2007 with simpler labels and more interactive elements?”

While Washington, D.C. seems to be seeing a slight resurgence in giving, it has also experienced an increase in cost due to inflation: it estimates that it will need to raise $3 million more than it did last year in a struggling game of catch up.

$uperman vs Batman

In 1938 the Superman comic cost 10 cents.
In 1938 the Superman comic cost 10 cents.

First, Superman, sold for a million, pummeling all previous sales records of comic books, but he was met, immediately thereafter, with a sock to the money bags by Batman, who went for a nice $1,075,00.

Coming to, Superman fought back and once again trounced his rival, popping him upside the record sales with a beefy $1.5 million, thanks to the aid of sidekick,


This story, via ART BEAT on Twitter: PBS Newshour’s ART BEAT reporter: Molly Finnegan

Thanks also to The Washington Post’s COMIC riffs.

How to Talk About Art: Say “appropriate”

Ah: the art web is abuzz because that rascally MoMA has announced that they have “acquired” Ray Tomlinson’s @, but they don’t OWN it.

Instead, their Department of Architecture and Design has “tagged it” as they say, an option now available to the ballsiest of curators who, in our proud age of electronic euphasia “are [set] free to tag the world and acknowledge things that ‘cannot be had.”

In other words, they can talk about it.

MoMA: “The appropriation and reuse of a pre-existing, even ancient symbol—a symbol already available on the keyboard yet vastly underutilized, a ligature meant to resolve a functional issue (excessively long and convoluted programming language) brought on by a revolutionary technological innovation (the Internet)—is by all means an act of design of extraordinary elegance and economy.”

And, getting a whopping lot of press by appropriating this appropriation: well, now, talk about elegance and economy!

For insight into the power grab for other  nontangibles:  check out post.thing, Steven Kaplan’s very thoughtful blog. wherein he mentions also Erica Orden’s “Collecting Smoke” (New York Magazine, Dec 28, 2008).


Erica Orden Archive on New York Magazine:

Steven Kaplan’s Blog:

Big Art Taps Technology

Factum Arte's genius printer
Factum Arte's genius printer

Factum Arte, based in Madrid (with studios in London and San Francisco as well), developes high rez 3-D scanners that are used to reproduce artworks in minute detail using historically accurate materials and paints. The company was founded by Adam Lowe and Manuel Franquelo, both painters themselves.

Their amazingly accurate duplicative powers have been utilized in the name of preservation, as with their first project, in 2001, to recreate the Paleolithic paintings in Spain’s Altamira cave that had been forced to close to the public, 1977, in order to spare further carbon dioxide erosion.

But the studios, have also been used to collaborate with just about every big name in 3-D art installation and sculpture in the contemporary art world, including: Marc Quin, Anish Kapoor, Urs Fischer, Jeff Wall, and Louise Bourgeois.

One of Factum Arte’s most successful collaborations was the 2009 installation by filmmaker, Peter Greenaway , projected onto a facsimile of Paolo Veronese’s Wedding at Cana. The performance at the Palladian Refectory of San Giorgio Maggiore, which formerly housed the original painting, was a great success. Factum Arte’s copy of the painting has stayed with San Giorgio Maggiore, while the original is in the Musée de Louvre where Factum Arte had to scan it in situ in order to create their reproduction.

Little Dancer vs Little Dancer

The Little Dancer we all know.

In a story for ARTnews, William D. Cohan reports an artworld identity crisis: apparently the Little Dancer the world has come to know and love is being challenged by “an original” plaster cast, supposedly created by Degas himself. She is one of 74 plaster casts currently under dispute by experts who are suspicious of the claim that these are truly Degas casts and not the work of an imitator.

Continue reading “Little Dancer vs Little Dancer”


Deitch Projects' May Day Poster

SoHo’s Deitch Projects will close its door on June 1 as Jeffrey Deitch takes on to the directorship of L.A.’s MoCA. The final show at Deitch’s Wooster Street location starting May 1, will be a Shepard Fairey send off appropriately named May Day.


The New Yorker this week contains a story about Goldman Sachs‘ recent acquisition, a 5 million dollar painting by Julie Mehretu, called “Mural“which, while huge and sprawling and visible from the street, has apparently gone uncelebrated (perhaps for obvious reasons).

Meantime, another Goldman Sachs commissioned work, a $10 million dollar Franz Ackermann mural gets to be “reviled” and “hated” by Goldman employees, according to various reports.


Mark Billy's missing bit

If you are looking for Mark Billy, or his penis, and you type you get a big splash page that reads, “I Stole Mark Billy’s Penis
and his domain name. Now he owes me $97.00. HA!”
The linked ‘HA’ used to lead you to some obscure photographer, but now it links to Mark Billy. Mr. Billy lost one of his brightly colored penis sculptures During the BYOA exhibition at X-Initiative. Mark Billy, perhaps glad to have his domain back is still not master of it: though he has leads, the bit is still missing.


The art market is bouncing back nicely: for a nice little romp through some, perhaps overly enthusiastic purchases, check out this article from Souren Melikian at The New York Times: An Art Market Suddenly at Dizzying Height.

REVIEW: Gesumkunstwerk: Neue Galerie’s OTTO DIX

The Poet, The Dancer, The Business Man
The Poet, The Dancer, The Business Man

Otto Dix at Neue Galerie: March 11 to Aug.30

Leah Ammon shrugs when I ask her why the press release for Neue Gallerie’s Otto Dix show does not mention the layered sensuality of sounds and scents, effected by Frederico de Vera’s exhibition design.

The Neue concentrates on addressing the art and the artist in its press releases, the exuberant Communications Director tells me. But it is in line with museum director Renée Price’s philosophy of seeing each show as a Gesumkunstwerk – an entire artwork in itself. I would ask her how to spell that, but I don’t want to damp her very infectious enthusiasm.

She wafts a muddy scent toward us from a vent near the floor and we hear crickets while we look at Dix’s WWI works on paper in pencil and watercolor: the lonely sense of abandonment that Dix would have experienced in those dark trenches is indeed heightened as the atmosphere grows contemplative.

The thing to remember is that the Neue Galerie is class. Truly. It wears its estate pearls quietly. What might be immediately judged as a perhaps superfluous attempt to amplify the drama of Dix’s already powerful works, proves, actually, to be an understated design meant to place the viewer into a context which erases the white box.

Ammon tells me that, this uncelebrated Gesumkustwerk approach is signature to the Neue and has been used often, usually in the form of music.

The Neue’s Otto Dix show is a triumph of this unobtrusive design philosophy that uses scent, sound, and music along with a timeline-defying layout to highlight the experience and the story of the artist’s inspirations: WWI, and the Weimar era.

The success of organizing Dix’s works by four themes: WWI, Portraiture, Sexuality, and Allegory, is most strongly borne out when one is surrounded by his stunning portraits. Seeing them all together one is struck by the individuality of each one, and the great variety of methods which Dix freely availed himself of: pencil strokes are used on fine hair, translucent veins signal the vulnerability of a child, while painterly build up is used to express fullness and wrinkling. The painted eyes of some, built up to alarming heights create a stare that had to be inspired by a very real presence, and pallid and burning colors signal strongly the spirit of each personality.

A painting of the Poet Iwar von Luecken is long, weightless and etherial, a la, El Greco, while another, the daunting portrait of  Dancer Anita Berber is an almost mannerist study of snaky sensuality, slathered in a defiant bold red. Others are detailed in some spots and painterly in others. Works on wood are scored and layered to create fullness and deeply creased wrinkles. In many of these, the palpable heft of women’s flesh adds a fascinating contrast to Dix’s self portraits which are so posed and so flat that he seems at once exposed and armored in objectivity.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, the Neue’s design shop is selling an Estée Lauder exclusive Berlin Red Lipstick and Bauhaus-style compact. They form a nice complement to the unforgettable Anita Berber portrait. The museum has unique access to cross-marketing opportunities with Estée Lauder through co-founder and president, Ronald S. Lauder. Asked about this, and how it may be viewed as a possible conflict of interest, Ms. Ammon is unfazed: it’s an “obvious connection,”– the style and the period, and cosmetics. I also find it in keeping with the spirit of Dix’s many soldier and girl paintings, fun, bold, and not too sweet.

Sole Trustee Makes Free

HSS MillerOne cannot but snicker at the NYT’s drole headline: “Foundation Promotes Art as Well as Sole Trustee” which heads up Kevin Flynn and Robin Pogrebin’s story about Harvey S. Shipley Miller, trustee to the Judith Rothschild Foundation. In eight words, the elegant headline sums up the entire story so well that, really, one could simply move on,

But there’s still a lot of fun in the details: Ms. Rothschild, died in 1993, having established a foundation that was to use her personal art collection to promote artists and the arts. She appointed her friend, Harvey S. Shipley Miller, sole trustee, a move which experts agree, is unwise since it lends too much flexibility to that trustee’s interpretation of the foundation’s mission.

Mr. Miller has indeed followed through on the Judith Rothschild Foundation’s mission, donating and selling artworks in order to benefit cultural institutions throughout the U.S.

But he has also:
• Set a $200, 000 salary for himself
• Lived, for years, in Ms. Rothschild’s Park Avenue town house
• Donated $130,000+ in foundation money to University of California law school which subsequently used some of that same money to create a fellowship named after him.
•And, NYT reports “was given coveted seats on important boards and committees at institutions like the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, where he has served alongside the likes of Ronald S. Lauder and David Rockefeller Jr.”

The lone trustee, is an unusual model because most foundations recognize a need for oversight. Nancy E. Kelly, who is on the advisory panel of Charity Navigator, tells the NYT , “This kind of governance fails to protect against possible conflicts of interest.”

OPINION: Mine/Yours: Fair Use vs Free For All

Bloggers picking on Gallery 303
Photo mash-up: taken from, it was shot by “unidentified” New York bloggers in protest of Gallery 303’s no-photo policy: in the background, Maureen Gallace, “August” (2009)

I always thought it was pretty clear that galleries represent artists and make their living doing so to the best of their abilities. It seemed pretty clear to me that if I walked into a gallery, I was playing by their rules. Indeed, it seems like wise business practice and if I were on their roster, that’s how I would prefer things to be: my images should be protected and my market should be optimized by the gallery and its resources.

As artist Deborah Fisher puts it, “Artists are told upways and down that they really must control their photographed presence…I don’t blame the gallerists for wanting to control which images make it online. And I think it’s so easy to get good images from gallerists that there’s no excuse not to at least try to play nice.”

So imagine my surprise when I found that the very common no-photo policies held by many galleries were being decried and, lamely, protested by wanna-be militant bloggers.

Apparently the notion that anyone with an i-phone can just swing into any white cube and start pressing buttons is a common one, and is actually in need of refutation.

Curious as to how it should happen that issues of “mine” and “yours” would be so easily confused, I read many related posts.

The most profound conclusions I could reach were:

1) Issues of fair use were often misunderstood and taken by bloggers to imply a free-for-all. A quick Google or Wiki search should be enough to clear things up, but in the face of flat out bad manners, it hasn’t yet.

2) Bloggers often see themselves as anti-establishment heroes and have strangely inflated ideas about what it means to take an amateur shot of a picture on a wall.

In answer to posted comments asking why one should not simply ask for jpegs from the galleries in question, one blogger responds, “…journalists” who ask permission before doing stories aren’t journalists, they’re amanuenses. Or a member of the White House press corps.”

To which another, in more measured tones, quips, “You’re not covering Vietnam or Watergate…”

Another, jaw-dropping self-aggrandizing statement made by, I guess, another blogger, confirmed my worst fears: some of these people think their god-awful pix are an art in themselves:

“Shooting a show is part of the thinking process. I’m connecting the dots visually and verbally. I want to be able to get up close for a detail or shoot two paintings that are in a particularly interesting visual conversation.”

3) Many people think that everything is and should be free now, just ‘cuz.

C-Monster says: “In this day and age, in which information is shared and disseminated virally, this is the kind of legal B.S. that does an artist, the press and those who enjoy art a real disservice.”

An incredibly measured response from starpower was, ironically, erased by one blog host because said host was awaiting identification which starpower had apparently not been upfront about. Hmmmmm…The response, the sanest and most succinct of all the comments, is reproduced here:

By starpower on May 8, 2008 3:46 PM

All gallerists are entitled to look out for the copyright interests of works that they exhibit. Artists rely on gallerists to identify as many incidents of unauthorized use of images as possible.

The lighting on the above-posted images is atrocious, and it misrepresents the works. 303 Gallery is correct in its request that the work be removed from the Internet.

It should also be noted that attendees of the press preview at the Armory Show were advised that photographs should not be taken without the permission of an exhibitor. A blogger or journalist does not automatically have the right to photograph any work at most fairs.

In the event that no exhibitor is available to grant permission, it would be fair to say that an exhibitor does not waive his/her right to request removal of an image from a web site.


Fair Use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

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