Dude, Where’s My Torqued Ellipse?

If you follow the clues deliberately spelled out in a Sept 24th article in the New York Times, you can find the exact address of South Bronx storage lot that mysteriously houses a Richard Serra sculpture.

Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty

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Art Noir: Black Lists and Speculators

Charles Saatchi: photo via http://www.artconcerns.com

When a big name collector “offloads” the art of a specific artist from his collection, it can, we have heard, have a chilling effect on the market for that artist’s work. Sometimes this makes the artist very angry. Sometimes things escalate.

All the same, Charles Saatchi feels that a collector should do as they will with the artwork they buy.

Asked about a long-standing rumor that he had “ruined” the career of Sandro Chia when he purged his collection all of his Chias at once,  Saatchi said:

“At last count I read that I had flooded the market with 23 of his paintings. In fact, I only ever owned seven paintings by Chia. One morning I offered three of  them back to Angela Water, his New York dealer, where I had originally bought them, and four back to Bruno Bischofberger, his European dealer, where, again I had bought those. Chia’s work was tremendously desirable at the time a all seven went to big-shot collectors or museums by close of day.”

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James Turrell’s Tall Glass Half Full

Walter Bieri/Keystone, via Associated Press The artist James Turrell, who has negotiated a legal settlement with the Albion Gallery.
Walter Bieri/Keystone, via Associated Press The artist James Turrell, who has negotiated a legal settlement with the Albion Gallery.

Often disputes between artists and dealers can turn into something like a divorce with all the same spoilage. The one between James Turrell, and Michael Hue-Williams of Albion gallery displays several kinds of ugly, fouled-up business, soiled reputations, career sabotage, and — sigh– lots of compromise.

If a dealer thinks an artist is not delivering on a commission, he can bring the artist to court, for instance. as Hue-Williams did to Turrell in 2007.

And if an artist thinks a dealer is selling pieces that he was not consulted about or paid for, he can counter-sue, as Turrell did to Hue-Williams.

Now when a dealer is miffed and spending money on litigation, he may take a the semi-self-sabotaging action of selling the artist’s work off at auction to make the artist look bad. This is what Michael Hue-Williams hinted at in a 2008 e-mail.

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How the Met Killed The New York Senate’s De-accessioning Bill

It was the last straw, when, in 2008, the National Academy Museum sold two Hudson River School paintings in order to cover operating costs.

Public art institutions, feeling the recession and finding no recourse, had already begun to whisper about a sale here and there: Fort Ticondergoa had proposed to sell some artifacts and then withdrew the idea, and The Metropolitan Opera had put up its Chagall murals as collateral for a loan. By 2009,  Brandeis University was working with Sotheby’s on a lending program designed to avoid having to sell its entire Rose Art Museum collection.

With such threats to public art coming in ever increasing waves, a sense of urgency took over and the New York Senate, working with the Museum Association of New York and the New York Board of Regents, drafted a bill to prohibit cultural institutions from selling pieces of their collections to cover operating costs.

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Ford Foundation Sees Art As Community Development Plan

Photo of Luis A. Ubiñas, by Michael Falco for The New York Times

Over the next ten years, The Ford Foundation plans to distribute an unprecedented $100 million to the nationwide development of arts spaces and artist housing.

The Supporting Diverse Art Spaces Initiative will help arts supporters build and renovate spaces, but it will also place a new focus on the economic benefits that follow from developing affordable housing for artists nearby these spaces.

According to Ford Foundation president,, successful economic turnarounds follow the arts, especially when communities support their artists.

Ubiñas gave Stephanie Strom, New York Times reporter, the example of the Boston Center for the Arts which offered studios to artists in the 1970‘s when the South End neighborhood was in ruins. “Then the Boston Ballet was added, and performance space for other kinds of arts organizations, and what was a struggling neighborhood characterized by housing projects is a bustling community.”

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.”

One-Two Punch for Art Market as Titans Compete for Luxury Dollars

In a competitive back and forth, The Wall Street Journal has announced the debut next month of a special New York Metro edition that could result in greater outreach to the luxury and arts markets. Meanwhile, The New York Times has responded with an announcement of their new “Numbers” ad campaign meant to demonstrate to advertisers it’s unique influence on the same demographic.

David Kaplan, of paidContent, reports “The campaign …will run for six weeks across print, out-of-home and online. The stats on the campaign’s microsite, NYT Audience, are culled from market researcher Scarborough and attempt to show that the NYT has nearly twice as many affluent readers, roughly three times as many New York-based online users and significantly higher female print readership.” The NYT also is working hard to point out that the paper and its website are particularly popular among women, business professionals and art enthusiasts in the New York market. In other words, the WSJ has a lot of catching up to do in those areas, if its New York-centric edition stands a chance.

Since the NYT and the WSJ will be competing for more advertising from museums, galleries, auction houses and other cultural institutions, it may be that they will be expected to widen cultural news coverage as well. This could provide the city’s arts industry with an additional, high profile avenues with which to reach more affluent audiences. It could also result in discounts in ad rates from both papers as they compete to for finite marketing dollars among local luxury ad repositories such as New York and The New Yorker magazines. More details in the press release

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