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Securian Financial Services, a St. Paul-based company, has given a three-piece Tony Smith sculpture to the University of Minnesota's Weisman Art Museum. The company commissioned the sculpture from Smith in 1979 for an indoor plaza at its then-new corporate headquarters at 6th St. and Robert in downtown St. Paul.
The company now has other plans for the plaza and so is giving the sculpture to the Weisman which owns 55 sculptures that are displayed on the grounds and in buildings throughout the University's Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses. The Smith piece will be installed this summer or fall on the plaza outside the McNamara Alumni Center on the University's East Bank Minneapolis campus.
Tony Smith (1912 - 1980) was an internationally known American artist whose sculptures are featured in public parks, museums and private collections throughout the United States. He envisioned the parts of the Securian commission scattered in the atrium "as if tossed like dice by the hand of a god."
Called "One, Two, Three," the sculpture consists of three abstract, geometric forms in graduating sizes. They were "based on Smith's concept of 'mathematical continuance,' in which each individual piece derived from the previous one," Securian said in a statement, adding that "the concept appealed to Securian, where math is integral to its financial services businesses."
Before the 2,700 pound steel sculpture is placed outside, its bronze-toned surface will be treated so it will not be damaged by exposure to rain, snow and other potentially damaging weather.
For an online tour of 25 of the Weisman's sculptures on the University campus, go here.
Vergne in a Thomas Hirschhorn 2006 installation at the Walker. Star Tribune staff photo by Tom Wallace.
Philippe Vergne, who was curator and later Deptuy Director and Chief Curator at Walker Art Center, has been picked as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. He follows Jeffrey Deitch, a former New York art dealer, whose controversial leadership of MOCA ended with his resignation last September after three years on the job.
The 35 year old museum in downtown Los Angeles has struggled financially in recent years as it tried to manage three sites and to develop an artistic vision that would please artists and excite support from wealthy collectors and potential donors. Within the past year board members raised $100 million to shore up an endowment that had dropped to $6 million in the 2008 financial crisis. The money is expected to produce income of at least $5 million annually to support operations.
Vergne,47, is fondly remembered in Minneapolis for his indelible French accent and his venturesome exhibitions which included more than 25 international shows including solo show and installations by Yves Klein, Thomas Hirschhorn, Huang Yong Ping and Kara Walker.
His decade long association with the Walker (1998 - 2007) was briefly interrupted by a return to his native France to run the private Francois Pinault Foundation in Paris. When the foundation's namesake mogul decided to relocate the foundation to Venice, Vergne in 2005 returned to the Walker as Deptuy Director and Chief Curator.
In 2008 he moved to New York to head the Dia Art Foundation which focuses on massive installations, conceptual, and earth-art primarily by mid-20th century Americans. He is credited with strengthening Dia's board of directors, consolidating its operations, and developing long range plans to stabilize its finances and artistic ambitions.
Artists have been deeply involved with MOCA since its founding in 1979 and their vociferous criticism of Deitch as overly commercial contributed to his departure. Conceptualist John Baldessari heartily endorsed Vergne's selection, saying in a statement issued by the museum, "I am 100% excited that Philippe Vergne will be the new director of MOCA. MOCA is very fortunate. I think it's a perfect marriage."
Other artists who touted Vergne in the museum's statement include Barbara Kruger who cited his "intelligence, vision, and ambition to lead MOCA forward;" Catherine Opie who declared herself "personally thrilled;" and Ed Ruscha who dubbed him "the most artist friendly and at the same time the most community friendly" candidate.
Richard Koshalek, a MOCA director in the 1980s, told the New York Times that, "The most important challenge for the new director is to raise the standard of expectations of the museum within this community and beyond, and that means new, original ideas for the future. If you don't raise expectations in every sense -- in terms of leadership, programs and such -- you will not have the chance to raise the funding needed for the museum to sustain itself programmatically and operationally going forward."
Koshalek, who began his career as a Walker curator in the 1970s, recently returned to L.A. after running the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D. C. for several years. In one of those small-world, musical-chairs coincidences endemic in the art community, the Walker's current director Olga Viso preceded Koshalek as director of the Hirshhorn.
Olga Viso, Star Tribune staff photo by Tom Wallace
Walker Art Center's director Olga Viso will oversee the contemporary art center's curatorial affairs in the interim following the departure of Chief Curator Darsie Alexander who is leaving for a new post as executive director of the Katona Museum of Art in New York.
"All of us at the Walker are very excited about Darsie's new appointment and I am delighted to have a new colleague among the museum director ranks," Viso said in a statement. "I look forward to overseeing curatorial affairs at the Walker in the interim as we search for new curatorial talent for the team."
Trained as a curator, Viso has continued to organize exhibitions since taking the Walker post in 2008. Her book "Unseen Mendieta," about the pioneering feminist artist Ana Mendieta, was published the year she arrived in Minneapolis, and her exhibition "Guillermo Kuitca: Everything," opened in 2010. Next month she will open a new exhibition "Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take," the first U.S.survey of the poetic sculptures and mixed media work of the American artist from whom the Walker commissioned a major outdoor sculpture in 2013.
The Walker's curatorial departments include visual art, performing arts and film.
Previously Viso served 13 years at the Hirshhorn Museum of Art in Washington, D.C., starting as an assistant curator and rising to be deputy director in 2003.
Walker Art Center’s chief curator, Darsie Alexander, has been named executive director of the Katonah Museum of Art, a small but wide-ranging institution in Westchester County about 50 miles north of New York City. She starts work there March 1.
During her five-year tenure at the Walker, Alexander made her biggest splash with “Benches & Binoculars,” a whimsical installation of paintings and works-on-paper that were hung floor-to-ceiling in a two story gallery where visitors lounged on couches and peered at the art through binoculars. She brought in film auteur John Waters to guest curate "Absentee Landlord," a provocative redo of the Walker's collection. She also arranged the Walker’s purchase of the 3000-piece archive of the Merce Cunningham dance troupe which includes original objects and canvases by Pop-art stars Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Her "Internatonal Pop" exhibition, three years-in-the-making, will open at the Walker in 2015.
The Walker has “no immediate plans for a search to fill [Alexander’s] post,” said Ryan French, the museum’s spokesperson. The museum is looking at it’s “overall structure” and considering “a number of different options,” he added.
The Katonah museum, nicknamed KMA, occupies a building designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes whose first and most famous building is the Walker’s 1971 brick-clad wing. Like the Walker, the KMA offers lectures, films, workshops and concerts as well as art exhibitions. Its shows encompass “all cultures and time periods,” however, while the Walker focuses on modern and contemporary art. It attracts about 40,000 visitors annually, compared to the Walker which last year drew 265,000 people to exhibitions and events plus an additional 300,000 to the sculpture garden.
Previously Alexander was senior curator at the Baltimore Museum of Art. She began her career as a photo curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City after earning an M. A. in art history at Williams College. She and her husband David Little, photography curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, have two school-age daughters.
Veterans of the commuter-marriage routine, the couple are preparing to resume that life style when Alexander starts the Katonah job.
“I’m delighted for Darsie; it’s a great opportunity for her,” Little said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Asked if his own job was now in play, Little said “No. I’m here and committed here.”
Vincent Van Gogh's "Wheatfields Under Thunderclouds," (1890)
In a reproduction art scam potentially worth more than $36 million, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has apparently approved the reproduction of five of the Dutch master's popular paintings in "limited editions" that, if all sold, would unleash more than 1,000 full-scale copies into the market.
What's unusual about the museum's collaboration is that the reproductions violate typical museum standards for assuring that no one could confuse the fakes for the real things.
When art museums authorize reproductions of work in their collections, their standard practice is to make clear that the reproductions are just that, copies with no pretense of originality. So images of paintings are done up as posters, or cards, or even on t-shirts or mugs. If they are, for whatever reason, reproduced on canvas similar to that of the original, the copy is usually smaller so that the difference is obvious. And prices of the reproductions and souveniers are low.
In violation of that standard behavior, the Van Gogh Museum has apparently authorized the fabrication of more-or-less exact copies of five of Van Gogh's most popular pictures:
"Almond Blossoms" (1890); "Boulevard de Clichy "(1887); "The Harvest," (1888); "Sunflowers" (1889); and "Wheatfield under Thunderclouds" (1890).
Since all five paintings are well known and remain in the collection of the museum, only naives would be fooled into imagining that any of the copies was the real thing if they were to encounter one in a swank hotel lobby, boardroom, or private apartment. But the world is filled with impressionable innocents readily bamboozled by glitzy fakery. Perhaps that is the audience to whom the Van Gogh Museum and its "partners" are marketing the "Van Gogh Museum Edition" of these pictures.
Fujifilm Belgium invented the "reliefography" technology and 3-D scanning used to make the copies. The processes enable the reproduction of the artist's famous thick-paint surfaces with their frosting-like swirls and daubs of pigment. In addition the reproductions copy the backs of the pictures right down to the stickers and stamps that show where and when the paintings have been loaned to other museums and galleries around the world. Buyers get a "museum quality" frame for their fakes, too.
The reproductions come in "limited editions" of 260. The museum plans to keep 50 pieces from each edition for "educational purposes" including possibly letting the blind or visually impaired stroke them. That puts 210 of each of the five reproductions on the market, or a total of 1,050 reproductions for sale. If all 1,050 were to sell at their $35,000 asking price, the project would generate $36,750,000.
All this is enthusiastically endorsed by Willem van Gogh, the great, great grandson of Theo van Gogh, the artist's brother and most stalwart supporter throughout his tumultuous and tragically brief career. Willem van Gogh is an "advisor" to the museum's board of directors. The intent, clearly, is for these repros to increase in value just as the originals have. As a press release announcing the project coyly noted, "For a limited time, the starting price for each piece in the limted edition is $35,000.00."
Who gets the money was not explained.
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