miércoles, 17 de noviembre de 2010

Sobre la arquitectura de los museos - Whitney Museum of American Art

Jack Manning/The New York Times

Jacqueline Kennedy attended the opening of the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1966.

The Controversial Whitney Museum

By Christopher Gray

Whiter the Whitney? Yes, it’s got a swell building designed by Renzo Piano under way in the meatpacking district, to be finished in 2015. But what about its structure at 75th and Madison, where Jacqueline Kennedy attended the ribbon-cutting in 1966? Ornery and menacing, it may be New York’s most bellicose work of architecture.

The artist, heiress and collector Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney established the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1931 in back of her studio in some row houses at 10-14 West Eighth Street. In the 1950s the Whitney jumped to a small structure behind the Museum of Modern Art. In 1961 the museum enlarged its board — to include, for instance, Mrs. Kennedy — and began seeking a site for a larger building.

The board found just the spot at the southeast corner of Madison and 75th Street, which was owned by the developer and art collector Ian Woodner. He had cleared it of a lovely little group of houses, including a brick-and-brownstone Queen Anne, an Edwardian limestone and a demure neo-Federal. Mr. Woodner, who had intended to erect an apartment house, agreed to sell the property to the Whitney.

The board, despite a mission to encourage American art, hired the architect Marcel Breuer, who was Hungarian-born and Bauhaus-trained, to design a building.

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The Whitney today.

Municipal Archives

The southeast corner of Madison and 75th in 1940; the buildings had been razed when the museum bought it.

A 1963 rendering of the museum shows it almost as it stands, projecting out over Madison Avenue like a medieval fortress, with oddly shaped windows reminiscent of the gun ports of the Maginot Line. But in the rendering the panels of granite are variegated in tone, giving the building a life it does not have today with its more uniform masonry.

In an article Dec. 12, 1963, Ada Louise Huxtable, the architecture critic for The New York Times, praised the initial design, finding it “serious and somber,” and “sympathetic to its neighbors.” But harmony was not, apparently, Breuer’s intent, since in 1966 Newsweek quoted him as saying that the neighboring brownstones and town houses “aren’t any good.”

By this point the elite had accepted modernist architecture, and anyone who protested risked denunciation as a hayseed. But the art critic Emily Genauer, writing in The New York Herald Tribune, also on Dec. 12, cautiously ventured that the new building seemed “oppressively heavy.”

A fortnight later Mrs. Huxtable backtracked slightly, saying that “it might be too somber and severe for many tastes,” but was still “careful” and “conscientious.” Her description, however, used the words bulky, sunken, gloomy, stygian and Alcatraz within three sentences.

The Whitney opened in 1966, and the hayseed lobby had apparently made itself known to Mrs. Huxtable; while acknowledging that it was “the most disliked building in New York,” she still admired Breuer’s design.

But Miss Genauer called it “the Madison Avenue Monster.” And Thomas B. Hess, writing in Art News, was of the opinion that the granite gave the museum “a mineral, prison look.” However, the stark concrete interiors received wide praise.

In 1967 the brash new “A. I. A. Guide to New York City,” by the architects Norval White and Elliot Willensky, quipped that passers-by should “beware of boiling oil,” but also called Breuer’s work a must-see. It was as if, as Olga Gueft put it in Interiors Magazine, the high-culture stamp of the Whitney and its trustees made it “completely invulnerable.”

Most writers at the time expressed skepticism about the Whitney’s choice of a cramped site. And only a little more than a decade after opening there was talk of a critical need to expand. In the 1980s the architect Michael Graves proposed demolishing the flanking brownstones down to the 74th Street corner for a complementary addition.

But in 1980 the Whitney had been included in the Upper East Side Historic District, designed to preserve just those buildings that Breuer had deprecated to Newsweek. The landmark designation caught up good and bad alike, and Mr. Graves’s proposal was not the only one that failed on the grounds of either the loss of the brownstones, or the changes to the Whitney.

It is easy to imagine the conniption fits the Whitney of 1966 would meet if it were being built today; its threatening character spears every tenet of people-friendly cities now held dear. In comparison the reviled white brick apartment houses of the 1960s are absolutely benign.

Even in an age where traditionalism has triumphed, Breuer’s granite bunker is still aesthetically bombproof. If its architecture is like a horror movie, it is like a Stephen King horror movie, unimpeachably literate.

The Whitney hasn’t said what it intends to do with the old museum after it completes its downtown structure, and perhaps it will operate the two in tandem.

If it decides to sell, it will be offering a monument that is probably unexpandable, even unchangeable, and unmistakably the brand of a single famous institution. Even if Breuer’s building comes into other hands, the name Whitney will never be far removed from this singular edifice.

jueves, 4 de noviembre de 2010

sobre los balances de seguridad + protocolo de un museo y la integridad y diversión del arte

Down From the Heights


Take 6,800 bamboo poles, 70 miles of colorful cord and plans for an art installation that will change every day over a six-month period and ultimately grow to 50 feet high. Add two artists and a bunch of rock climbers who like to listen to the Rolling Stones while they add to the piece, and drink pilsner when they’re done working. And then stick the whole thing on the roof of the esteemed, establishment Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It was bound to be a combustible mix. “There’s the good and the bad,” Doug Starn, one of the artists, said last week while watching the piece, “Big Bambú: You Can’t, You Don’t and You Won’t Stop,” being dismantled. (It closed on Sunday.) “People like us — and rock climbers — we don’t fit into the dead artist thing. As much as they welcomed us in” — he said of the Met — “there were struggles all the way through. Us and the climbers are part of the piece, part of the organism. We live in the piece. We need to enjoy what we make, and we need to enjoy ourselves while we’re making it.”

Curfews and adjusting music volume became part of the creative experience for Mr. Starn and his twin brother, Mike. But it wasn’t all tension and sticky red tape. There was also enormous success: 600,000 visitors (400,000 had been projected), international acclaim, six marriage proposals in the bamboo thicket, and famous climbers like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; the artists Martin Puryear and Francesco Clemente; Bono, Lou Reed, Paul McCartney, who went up barefoot or — as Mike Starn put it — “ ‘Abbey Road’ style.” And though the Starns had mapped out certain elements, like staircases and “living rooms” with benches inside the structure, plenty of things were unexpected, which was actually kind of the point. They hadn’t planned, for example, to have bamboo cup holders, which sprouted throughout the piece (the climbers put them in), or the cresting wave of bent bamboo at the top, or the spontaneous wind chime that turned up toward the southern end. They could not have predicted that the roof’s wisteria would wend its way all the way up the piece; that the red-tailed hawk Pale Male would regularly circle overhead; or how breathtaking Central Park would look from “Big Bambú” as the seasons changed. The installation had to close every time it rained and the climbers and the Starns had to stop work for a week when the artists ran out of cord, which was used to lash the poles together.

“We used up all the rope in the United States,” Mike said. “Then we had to wait for the ash cloud to pass so we could ship the rope from Switzerland.” Met officials last week seemed satisfied, if still catching their breath. It is certainly the most complex and ambitious project to date on the roof,” said Anne L. Strauss, an associate curator at the museum, who organized the installation. “Their project has brought our sculpture program on the roof to a new dimension and literally to great heights.” And the Met had to navigate some uncharted territory. To prepare for “Big Bambú” the museum secured approval from the city Buildings Department and ran its plans by several other city agencies, including the Fire Department. It plotted how people could safely go up the undulating sculpture, though the piece was a perpetual work in progress. And it came up with requirements that visitors sign waivers and follow strict rules (no sandals, no cellphones) as they ascended the installation’s winding walkways. And there was more: How do you handle a fleet of rock climbers who insist on listening to Jimi Hendrix while they help construct the sculpture? And how do you enforce museum operating hours if the artists have Friday-night parties atop the sculpture that stretch past closing time?

Standing on “Big Bambú” last week, sipping bottles of beer in T-shirts and jeans, the Starns said they thought the Met had responded like a pretty cool parent. “It’s amazing that the Met had the nerve to take on an evolving structure like this,” Mike said. “But we had to pull them along to create something about chaos. It’s a habitat. They wanted us out at 5 o’clock. But we’re not just here working. We’re a part of it. They didn’t like that — the beers. We finally got them to understand that this piece wouldn’t exist if it were too controlled. The vibe is important.” The music was clearly a flashpoint. Ms. Strauss said: “There might have been from time to time some volume issues, but then those were addressed. We’ve had a very collegial working experience with them.” When it came to the artistic side of the piece, the Starns were given a lot of rope (so to speak). “Big Bambú” took shape from one day to the next. Except for designated locations for the vertical poles to touch ground, placing each pole was largely up to the rock climbers. “That’s a moment-to-moment decision on their parts,” Mike said. The only time the artists exercised a veto is when “it wasn’t interconnected enough,” Doug said, “when it wasn’t part of the flow of the piece.”

The Starns ran out of bamboo after using 3,200 poles and had to order two more shipments of 1,800 each. (They said they had to share the cost of the bamboo and the extra cord with the Met, which declined to discuss the matter.) It was all worth it, though, according to many who waited hours for tickets or returned repeatedly because they wanted to see how “Big Bambú” kept changing. “It’s exciting for people to become part of an installation like this,” said Ryan Wong, one of the tour guides. “People are just exhilarated to be up there. You can see it in their faces. They say, ‘This is like being Robinson Crusoe or being on a wooden roller coaster.’ A melancholy hangs over the piece’s dismantling, which is expected to take two months. The Starns will cut out whole sections to keep as relics and are planning to gather the thousands of photographs they took of the piece into a pile, which will become an exhibition of its own. “It’s a lot of ambivalent feelings, conflicted feelings,” Doug said. “There is also an excitement taking it apart. I’m not quite sure why.” Many fans of the piece have suggested the Met make it permanent. “I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people talk about a petition,” Mike said. “But as far as I know, there isn’t one.” The Met, whose roof sculpture program is in its 13th year, does not seem to have considered the possibility. “We use that space for a rotating series of exhibitions, so every time we invite an artist to work there, they know it’s for a The rock climbers found it hard to go. One tried to sleep up there once — he just curled up until a guard discovered him and made him come down. The Starns said they understood the impulse. “If we could, we would camp out here,” Doug said.

“When we do this again,” Mike added, “we’ll definitely make living in the piece part of the contract.”

viernes, 29 de octubre de 2010

La Bienal de Sevilla no sobrevive a la crisis

El Gobierno autónomo de Andalucía ha retirado su apoyo económico a la Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo de Sevilla, por lo que no habrá cuarta edición, ni en 2010 ni en 2011. La retirada del apoyo oficial es el tiro de gracia para un encuentro que logró atraer a más de 130.000 personas en 2008, y al que ya había dado la espalda la Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, que prometió en 2009 una aportación económica de alrededor de 2 millones de euros para la cuarta edición.

Qatar interesado en comprar la casa de subastas Christie's

El Gobierno del Emirato de Qatar quiere comprar la mayor casa de subastas del mundo, dentro de su ambicioso plan para afianzarse como un gran destino cultural. “Si se presenta la oportunidad, no lo dudaríamos", dijo el emir Al Thani al Financial Times.

"Estamos construyendo un nuevo museo y Christie´s tiene ver con lo que estamos coleccionando", explica el jefe del estado más rico del Golfo Pérsico, que tiene 58 años, y dirige con pulso firme un proyecto encaminado a sustituir el actual monocultivo petrolífero del país.

El jeque Hamad Al Thani explicó al diario londinense que no está interesado en seguir el camino de otros gobernantes de la zona, empeñados en costosos planes de rearme, aunque no niega su preocupación por lo delicado de la situación estratégica en la región.

Qatar es el mayor exportador de gas licuado del planeta, y ahora podría aprovechar el impulso de su nuevo Museo de Arte Islámico para adquirir una empresa que factura muchos millones de euros en ventas cuyo destino final es el propio emirato.

Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts

The Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts in San Francisco offers an expanded perspective on curating contemporary art and culture. Alongside traditional forms of exhibition making, this two-year master’s degree program emphasizes artist-led initiatives, public art projects, site-specific commissions, and other such experimental endeavors that have had a momentous impact in the last half-century. The program is distinguished by an international, interdisciplinary perspective, and it reflects San Francisco’s unique location and culture by placing a particular importance on the study of curatorial and artistic practices in Asia and Latin America. Our graduates have gone on to successful careers in the fields of independent curating, museums, galleries, public art agencies, and arts publishing.

The program was established in 2003 by the curators Kate Fowle and Ralph Rugoff. It provides practical training in curating and organizing exhibitions as well as rigorous study in the history of the discipline, modern and contemporary art history, theory, and criticism. Close, ongoing partnerships with outside organizations (such as SFMOMA and the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts) bring students into direct contact with artworks, archival materials, and artists, and allow them to engage in original research and collaborative projects. CCA offers many opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange, and we privilege collective forms of practice. The program also organizes numerous exhibitions, lectures, and symposia.

Our core faculty members include curators, art historians, and other art professionals from prominent Bay Area institutions. More than 200 curators, critics, scholars, and artists from around the world have taught courses here since the program was launched.

CCA has extremely strong graduate programs in Architecture and Design, and students interested in pursuing curatorial avenues in either field can now apply for an MA in Curatorial Practice with a concentration in one or the other. The curriculum combines core courses in Curatorial Practice with a selection of theory and practice courses (including possibly a written thesis) in the second discipline. Applicants who wish to pursue this should indicate their interest in the personal statement that accompanies the application.

The Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice, in collaboration with the CCA Wattis Institute and the 101/Artnow Collection, supports one paid, nine-month, postgraduate curatorial research fellowship each year. In addition to regular curatorial duties at the CCA Wattis Institute, each fellow organizes an exhibition of works from the 101 Collection and proposes works for acquisition. This multiyear commitment on the part of the 101 Collection recognizes the importance of offering young curators professional opportunities as well as our program’s dual emphasis on academic knowledge and practical experience.

QUALIFICATIONS FOR ADMISSION (deadline: January 5, 2011)
• Undergraduate degree in the history of art, fine art, or other appropriate area of the humanities or social sciences
• Relevant practical experience in the visual arts and a demonstrated commitment to curating
• Strong interest in contemporary art

For full details on the application process and requirements please visit www.cca.edu/admissions/grad. Our program manager, Sue Ellen Stone (sstone@cca.edu or 415.551.9239), is always happy to answer questions.

Prospective applicants are invited to attend our open house and info night at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 3, 2010, where they can meet the program chair, faculty, and current students. For more information or to RSVP please contact Sue Ellen Stone at sstone@cca.edu or 415.551.9239.

Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice at
California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco CA 94107-2247
T: 415.551.9239

EL Pais ::: Joyas de Artista

'El ojo del tiempo', de Salvador Dalí, en la exposición del MNAC "Joyas de artista. Del modernismo a la vanguardia"- CARLES RIBAS

Las joyas que diseñaron a lo largo de su vida artistas como Josep Llimona, Manolo Hugué, Pablo Gargallo, Alexander Calder, Georges Braque, Salvador Dalí o Pablo Picasso se confrontan y ponen en diálogo con sus pinturas, esculturas, fotografías y tejidos en una exposición única en el Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña (MNAC), que abre sus puertas mañana hasta febrero de 2011.

Bajo el título Joyas de artista. Del modernismo a la vanguardia, la exposición, que reúne 340 piezas, explora por primera vez el acercamiento al ámbito de la joyería de los artistas que encabezaron los principales movimientos de las primeras décadas del siglo XX. Tanto la directora del MNAC, Teresa Ocaña, como la comisaria de la exposición, Mariàngels Fondevila, han resaltado lo "inédito" de la propuesta, tanto por la lectura que se podrá hacer sobre el contexto en el que se realizaron las obras, como porque se exhiben piezas muy difíciles de ver y reunir.

Algunas proceden de colecciones privadas y otras son de instituciones y museos como el Metropolitan Museum of Art de Nueva York, el Victoria and Albert Museum de Londres, el Reina Sofía de Madrid o el Musée d'Orsay de París. La idea es mostrar cómo los grandes de la Historia del Arte en el último siglo se acercaron de forma abierta a una disciplina como la de la joyería creando obras artísticas, muchas veces con materiales nada nobles como el latón e incluso obtenidos de los contenedores por parte de un escultor como Julio González.

Piezas singulares

Reivindicando la "singularidad" de cada una de las piezas así como su aspecto fetichista en ocasiones, Fondevila no ha obviado que el "espíritu lúdico" también está muy presente y no ha escondido que algunos de los artistas acabaron moldeando pequeñas joyas, porque así lo aconsejaban sus problemas de salud, como la artrosis.

La exposición, dividida en tres ámbitos, se abre con una selección de piezas realizadas por "joyeros artistas", entre las que destacan las elaboradas por el francés René Lalique, algunas de ellas adquiridas en su momento por el Museo de Hamburgo para la Exposición Universal de París de 1900, o el colgante inédito que el industrial catalán Antoni Amatller compró para su hija Teresa. También se muestra la obra con ricos esmaltes y variadas gamas de colores del barcelonés Lluís Masriera.

El corazón de la exposición late, sin embargo,gracias a las joyas concebidas por artistas no joyeros como Manolo Hugué, Herich Heckel, Pablo Gargallo, Julio González, Josef Hoffmann, Joaquim Gomis, Charlotte Perriand, Alexander Calder, Henri Laurens, Hans Arp, Pablo Picasso, George Braque, Antoni Gaudí o Salvador Dalí. Colocadas en unas vitrinas con cuidada iluminación, las joyas se contraponen con pinturas o esculturas que se exhiben a unos metros y que se reflejan en los cristales con el objetivo de establecer un paralelismo entre las diferentes disciplinas que cultivaron todos ellos.

'El ojo del tiempo'

Entre este ámbito y el último, en el que domina la fotografía y una exhibición de vestidos procedentes del Museo del Traje de Madrid, llama la atención una imagen de Salvador Dalí, realizada por Philippe Halsman, donde lleva tapado uno de sus ojos con la joya El ojo del tiempo, un icono omnipresente desde la primera página del catálogo-libro que se ha editado para esta exposición.

En la última de las salas se explora la relación existente entre "cuerpo y joya" y, además de mostrarse una selección de trajes, uno de ellos de Coco Chanel, de 1939, hay fotografías de los años treinta de autores como Man Ray, Edward Steichen, George Hoyningen-Huené y Horst P. Horst, todos ellos alejados del mundo de la moda pero que ofrecieron "visiones rutilantes y evocadoras, en las que el cuerpo y la joya forman una estrecha alianza".

sábado, 23 de octubre de 2010

Crítica de arte ::: Nuevos Descubrimientos

Mirado con reluctancia y aprensión por la mayoría de los ciudadanos de los países latinoamericanos desde casi el mismo momento de lograr su independencia, los cuales preferían afincar sus respectivas identidades en el patrimonio histórico-artístico anterior al descubrimiento de América, el llamado arte colonial posee un inmenso valor que desborda cualquier estrecha visión política. También la retórica política afectó a España, que quiso usarlo, principalmente durante el franquismo, como una trasnochada reivindicación del finiquitado Imperio y de las glorias de una raza hispánica. Ambas son visiones caducas, que es imprescindible superar, porque, a la postre, ni benefician a los que las promueven, ni, sobre todo, al conocimiento de un maravilloso y muy singular fenómeno cultural, de interés universal.

De entrada, hay dos hechos que caracterizan la exploración y conquista del continente americano y otras tierras de ultramar por parte de los españoles: el primero y más importante es el mestizaje, que, desde luego, no se limitó al simple cruce racial; el segundo, que el afán de explotación no impidió el desarrollo de una formidable política de infraestructuras locales, que, por ejemplo, apenas si existió en los territorios norteamericanos bajo dominio británico. Las razones que explican este comportamiento colonial tan desparejo son diversas y complejas, pero su raíz última quizá obedezca a una concepción del poder imperial más medieval por parte de los monarcas españoles, frente a otra imperialista propia del moderno capitalismo anglosajón. Sea como sea, lo cierto es que en los territorios ultramarinos dependientes de la corona española, entre los siglos XVI y XIX, se lleva a cabo una formidable labor constructiva y artística, que no sólo forma una parte sustancial del arte de la época moderna, sino que posee una personalidad única, al surgir del entrecruzamiento de las culturas más diversas.
Nuevos Descubrimientos

Tan sólo acotando el tema al terreno de la pintura, como lo hace la exposición titulada Pintura de los Reinos. Identidades compartidas en el mundo hispánico, el resultado de lo exhibido es, se mire por donde se mire, de un interés y una calidad asombrosos. Sorprende, por tanto, que, con semejante acervo patrimonial, ninguno de sus protagonistas hayan sabido sacarle su extraordinario rendimiento potencial, empezando por lo más básico, que es explicar su auténtico sentido y su importancia, más allá de oportunistas retóricas políticas.

En el caso español, es muy elocuente la inveterada pésima gestión de lo atesorado en nuestro país de este increíble legado histórico-artístico. Hasta 1941, por ejemplo, no se crea una nueva institución del así llamado Museo de América, ni se inaugura su nueva sede física propia hasta 1965, habiéndose cobijado sus tesoros hasta entonces en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional, fundado casi un siglo antes, en 1867. Ubicado en la zona de Moncloa, muy cerca de la Ciudad Universitaria, el nuevo edificio, diseñado por los arquitectos Luis Feduchi y Luis Moya, y sus fantásticas colecciones no fueron adecuadamente dotados y promocionados. No se ha producido tampoco nunca una reflexión y un debate serios sobre cómo ordenar y distribuir sus tesoros, en los que se mezclan las obras precolombinas, el arte colonial, las artes populares e industriales, los documentos de la índole más diversa, etcétera. Por otra parte, no se ha llevado una duradera política de exposiciones temporales, ni la programación de otras muchas actividades que podrían haberlo convertido en el centro de la atención pública nacional e internacional. Con un poco de imaginación y medios, se comprende, en fin, lo que podía dar de sí una institución como ésta, hoy todavía muy poco conocida por la mayoría de los españoles, aunque debería ser uno de los cauces para que se produjera un nuevo descubrimiento de América, que sería simultáneamente también el descubrimiento de nuestro pasado y de nosotros mismos, y, por supuesto, por lo mismo, el de los pueblos americanos.