Friday, May 11, 2007

Weekly Roundup

The Metropolitan Museum of Art 's newly redesigned, $220m Greek and Roman galleries. A view of the Leon Levy and Shelby White Court, which features Roman sculpture, portraits and funerary art.

Weekly Roundup
by Laura Berlin

This week the phrase “you’re so money and you don’t even know it,” was used unironically in Seattle for the first time, as “money talked” for buyers from the Middle East and a southern comic-book store owner wished he could simply “throw money at the problem”, thus proving, once and for all, what our friends at the auction houses have always known - money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.

David Rockefeller; Mark Rothco's White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose).
Archrivals Christie's and Sotheby's heated up their long-standing feud this Tuesday with two weeks of back-to-back auctions in which each house has baited clients with unheard of guarantees and unprecedented estimates.

Of the more notable lots is Mark Rothko's, "White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)," at Sotheby’s, on offer from David Rockefeller, who purchased the work in 1960 for under $100,000, and will now be available for $40m.

The work is being aggressively pushed on potential buyers who, during private viewing, received gift bags which included several hard-backed catalogues from the 1998-99 traveling Rothko retrospective.

The overriding scheme of excess has drawn out an impressive list of sellers including David Geffen, Charles Saatchi, and Oliver Stone. This little game could end profitably if market stability continues, however, the cultural/economic Russian Roulette might also end with tens of million of dollars in loss. [The New York Times]
Mark Saatchi, David Geffen, and Oliver Stone
Mind altering drugs and modern art seem to spell disaster when taken together in “The Salon”, a graphic novel by SVA Professor, Nick Bertozzi, which has led to felony charges for Rome, GA, comic book store owner, Gordon Lee.

The text follows main characters Picasso and Braque, as they ingest a magical blue form of absinynth which allows them to move into paintings physically and includes subplots in which Gertrude Stein angrily flings porcelain china at her critic, collector brother.

When Mr. Lee treated city youth with the novel during a Halloween Street Fair, he was tricked the next day by being arrested for distribution of obscene materials.
Scenes from The Salon. Click image to order.
The panels that have been labeled ‘offensive’ are ones in which Picasso, working in the nude, sports a considerable erection. Lee’s case, set to go to trial next month, has garnered the support of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Of the text Mr. Lee defends, "This book is no more offensive than viewing the beautiful paintings of the Sistine Chapel, or reading one of the best-selling books with stories of sex, lust and nudity known as the Bible," and here I thought he was going to say The Da Vinci Code. (Nick Bertozzi will be at Rocketship Comics on Saturday, May 12th at 8pm, 203 Smith Street - between Baltic and Butler - Cobble Hill, Brooklyn) [The Comics Reporter]

Seattle Museum of Art
The little recognized Seattle Art Museum (SAM) was put on the map with a record-making, collective donation of over 1,000 works conservatively estimated at $ 1b, thus concluding their astoundingly successful 75th anniversary fundraiser. Donated works include pieces by Brancusi, Edward Hopper, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Philip Guston, Willem de Kooning, Sigmar Polke, Anselm Kiefer, Tony Smith, and Calus Oldenberg among others. Though the philanthropic hopes had originally been modest, the board of trustees ultimately decided to create a new $ 200m suite of galleries to house the gifted collection.

Mimi Gates
Director Mimi Gardner Gates, Bill Gates' stepmother, (the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $25m) stated without even a hint of immodestly, "suddenly the Seattle Art Museum is a major art institution.” [Seattlepi.org]

The soon to be Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) located in Doha, Qatar, is on a secretive spending spree under the guise of paddle numbers 400, 401, 402, and 403 — I suppose it's safe to assume the buyers arrived en tandem to Sotheby's London, New Bond Street, Arts of the Islamic World Auction. Collectively, these cohorts purchased nearly 100 items including a seven-meter Ottomon textile from Holy Ka'ba at 311,200£ ($622,400) and an Iznik water-pot at 11,400£ ($22,720). This news, in combination with Abu Dhabi's plans to create a $ 1.3b desert Louvre, should put dealers on the ready to collaborate with Middle Eastern buyers who are proving themselves to be a formidable new force in the marketplace. [The Art Newspaper]
Museum of Islamic Arts, Doha, Qatar, in mid-construction and complete (digital). By Leslie E. Robertson Associates, R.I.I.P. (LERA).
On the short list:

Artist, curator, and patron of the arts, Roy Moyer, died April 6th at his home in Manhattan, he was 85. Among Mr. Moyer’s impressive list accomplishments is his curatorial contribution to the groundbreaking exhibition “Art and the Found Object" and the re-creation of the groundbreaking 1913 Armory Show in 1963. [Artdaily.org]


Olga Garay, Treva Offutt, and Caroline Stone Keating
Los Angelenos took on a new general manager of the Los Angeles department of cultural affairs, the city's top arts post, with the appointment of "internationally recognized dynamo" Olga Garay. [LA Observed]

Lastly, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened their newly redesigned, $ 220m Greek and Roman galleries Friday after 15 years of renovation and promises to be quite a treat with a tessera floor modeled after the Paratheon's, a celestial glass ceiling, a nine-foot black marble fountain and a mezzanine which now displays touchpads allowing visitors to peruse over 3,500 objects. [The New York Times]