01 Starting in March, the Met’s decades-old policy of “pay-as-you-wish” will change, and non-New Yorkers must pay full price for admission.
(via the New York Times)
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art announced Thursday that its pay-as-you-wish policy in place since 1970 will end for out-of-state visitors, and beginning March 1st they must pay the mandatory $25 admission. New York State residents will have to provide identification. Prominent art critics from the New York Times called the new policy a mistake, arguing that great museums, especially those whose nonprofit status is supported by taxpayers, should be freely open to the public, as is the case with public libraries. The controversial move aligns with “the Met’s efforts to establish a reliable, annual revenue stream after a period of financial turbulence and leadership turmoil,” the New York Times reported, noting that the share of attendees paying full-price admission had dropped drastically to 17 percent, down from 63 percent 13 years ago, despite an increase of roughly 2.3 million visitors over that same time period. The Met, which has sustained itself through private donations and public funds, historically differed from many other internationally-renowned institutions in not charging a mandatory fee. Met president and chief executive officer Daniel Weiss told the Times that the change is intended to make up for declining public funding from New York City and declining admissions revenue. Under the new policy, those without identification will not be turned away but instead asked to bring it for the next visit, and students from Connecticut and New Jersey will still fall under the “pay-as-you-wish” admission system.
02 Influential ceramic artist Betty Woodman died on Tuesday at age 87.
Woodman is esteemed for her buoyant ceramic works, ranging from inventive vessels to sprawling, wall-sized installations, often glazed with dazzling patterns. The news that the artist had died from pneumonia in Italy this week was confirmed by her dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn of Salon 94 (Woodman was also represented by David Kordansky Gallery, Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Galerie Francesca Pia, and Galleria Lorcan O’Neill). The Connecticut-born artist first took a pottery class at age 16 and went on to receive training as a studio potter. She emerged as an artist in the 1960s and ’70s, and developed her own experimental style of ceramics, incorporating wheel-throwing and handbuilding techniques while taking cues from various art historical movements, from the Italian Renaissance to Chinese decorative arts. Widely considered feminist in spirit, Woodman’s work countered the male-dominated art world, including the circle of influential ceramist Peter Voulkos; she earned acclaim beginning in the early 1980s for her “Pillow Pitchers,” vessels in the shape of overstuffed pillows, bearing a spout and handle. “Her play with the vessel pushed it out of domestic display to the much more elevated space of art or ritual,” Greenberg Rohatyn told artnet News. In 2006, Woodman became the first living female artist, and the first ceramic artist, to have a solo exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; she was celebrated in 2016 in a major retrospective at Institute of Contemporary Art, London. Woodman kept a home and studio in Chelsea in New York City for most of her life, together with her husband, painter George Woodman, who died in March 2017. The couple were parents to the late photographer Francesca Woodman.
03 After several women accused long-time Columbia University professor of photography Thomas Roma of sexual misconduct, he announced his retirement.
(via the New York Times)
On Wednesday, the New York Times reported five allegations of sexual misconduct during Roma’s tenure in the 1990s at Columbia University and the School of Visual Arts (SVA), including those from filmmaker Ash Thayer and actress Mozhan Marno who both recounted sexual encounters with him in 1999 when they were students. Roma, a distinguished photographer whose work is in the collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, informed the university of his retirement in a letter that Wednesday evening, a development the Times reported on Thursday. After Marno reported the event when she was an 18-year-old Barnard student to Columbia in 2000, the university’s investigation panel found them “both complicit in the incident,” according to the paper. Marno had described the encounter to a Times reporter as consensual and overwhelming, and “controlled and initiated by [Roma] from beginning to end.” Columbia University’s policy forbids faculty from sexual relations with their students, and a representative added that the school “looks differently at these matters today than 20 years ago” and has improved its policies in recent years. SVA said the school never received complaints during the 1980s and 90s. Roma has declined to comment and disputed that his behavior was coercive. His lawyer told the Times that the claims of misconduct were “replete with inaccuracies and falsehoods,” and added that Roma was “shocked.” Roma has also taught at Fordham, Cooper Union, and Yale.
04 A Utah elementary school art teacher lost his job over a few nude images from a deck of Phaidon art history cards.
On December 4th, the teacher, Mateo Rueda, had directed his sixth-grade students at Lincoln Elementary School to look through Phaidon’s “The Art Box Postcards” to find examples of color usage. When students discovered the nude photographs, he took them away and “explained to the whole class that art can sometimes show images that are not always comfortable to all, that art is better understood when placed in its proper context, that the human body is often portrayed in art, and that the images in the school collection are icons of art history and a patrimony of humanity,” he said to a parent, who defended the teacher and later posted his explanation to Facebook, The Herald Journal reported. However, another parent complained to the school, saying Rueda told her son “You guys need to grow up and be mature about this,” a claim which Rueda denied. Rueda and principal Jeni Buist went through the classroom library to find other examples of nudity, which Buist was in the process of destroying in a paper shredder when a law enforcement official arrived to investigate a resident’s complaint that students were being exposed to “pornography.” The County Attorney’s Office declined to file charges, but Rueda was terminated after refusing to resign. He reportedly plans to appeal the termination.
05 Documents reveal that Frieze Art Fair explored the possibility of creating an art district in the South Bronx, although the plan was ultimately scrapped.
(via artnet News)
The real estate development project, which aimed to cover 280 acres of the South Bronx with housing, galleries, studios, and restaurants in one of the city’s largest mega-developments in recent years, never advanced beyond the proposal stage, but its existence illustrates the growing role art organizations are attempting to assume in urban development. Matthew Slotover, co-founder of Frieze, an art-fair organizer and media company, confirmed the abandonment of the plan in an email, artnet News reported Thursday. Although the “Frieze South Bronx” plan is no longer being pursued, the extensive 58-page proposal focused on the Port Morris section—over 40% of whose residents live below the poverty line—shows it was given serious consideration. “Frieze engaged experienced partners, several of whom have previously completed projects in the Bronx. The final page lists Marvel Architects, the firm behind St. Ann’s Warehouse and El Museo del Barrio; Macro Sea, the developer behind New Lab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard; and Type A Projects, which has developed charter schools, public plazas, and affordable housing projects in the Bronx,” artnet News reported.Artnet News noted that Art Basel, which launched the Art Basel Cities Program in September, is also taking a proactive role in culturally-centered urban development.
06 David and Peggy Rockefeller’s collection of art and furniture could fetch as much as $1 billion at auction this spring.
Although the low estimates put the value of the collection conservatively at around $700 million, the current economic climate raises the possibility that competition for the rare and choice works on offer will push prices past their estimates. Christie’s will offer all 1,600 lots from the couple’s estate in a series of auctions in May at their New York location in, appropriately enough, Rockefeller Center. The Daily Mail noted several highlights in the May sale, including an estimated $70 million Pablo Picasso painting, Filletteà la corbeille fleurie (Young Girl With A Flower Basket) (1905); Henri Matisse’s 1923 painting Odalisqueaux magnolias (Odalisque With Magnolias) (1923), estimated at $50 million; and Nymphéas en fleur (Lilies In Flower) (c. 1914-1917) by Claude Monet, estimated at around $35 million. But Michael Daley, director of ArtWatch UK, said “I dare say [the works] will fetch more than the estimates in the present climate,” the Daily Mail reported. Proceeds from the sale will go to several charitable causes. Rockefeller, who died at 101 last year, was the scion of the American oil dynasty. He was a financier, eventually the chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan bank, and a notable philanthropist.
07 The Foundation for Contemporary Arts awarded three $40,000 grants to experimental poets.
(via the New York Times)
The organization, founded by composer John Cage and multimedia artist Jasper Johns in the 1960s to champion other artists producing novel work, announced on Monday the recipients of three awards funded by visual artists. The winners, selected by the foundation’s board of directors (which includes The Museum of Modern Art’s president emerita Agnes Gund), are Canadian poet Lisa Robertson, Missouri-based Anne Boyer, and Fred Moten, a poet and scholar living in New York. Robertson is now based in France and received the C.D. Wright Award for Poetry bestowed by the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, which is headed by the late artist’s longtime partner, Jack Shear. Boyer writes about gender and class and received the Cy Twombly Award. Moten, the recipient of the inaugural Roy Lichtenstein Award (which will go to artists in any discipline), focuses on black culture and the relationship between art and social movements. A director of the foundation, British painter Cecily Brown, released a statement expressing her pride at spotlighting the “perennially under-resourced field” of poetry.
08 Israeli archaeologists unearthed a 2,700-year-old seal in Jerusalem’s Old City.
(via Agence France-Presse)
On Monday, excavators of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) discovered the circular clay seal dating back to the 7th century B.C. by the city’s Western Wall. The diminutive artifact inscribed “belonging to the governor of the city” may substantiate excerpts from the Bible referring to Jerusalem having a city governor thousands of years ago. Stamped with ancient Hebrew script and images of two robed men facing each other, the ancient seal “was apparently attached to an object to be delivered to someone on behalf of the governor of the city” in the time of the First Jewish Temple, Agence France-Presse reported. “It’s a very rare find,” IAA excavator Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah told AFP. She added that it represents the first time an archeological find could corroborate the biblical reference to the governor of Jerusalem from that time. The discovery comes amidst tension and protests that followed United States President Donald Trump’s highly controversial recognition of Israel’s capital as Jerusalem, which upended decades of U.S. foreign policy towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A forthcoming scientific examination is expected to determine whether the connection can be made definitively, reported the AFP.
09 The president of the Musée du quai Branly in Paris called President Macron’s plan to return African artifacts to Africa an “awesome challenge.”
(via The Art Newspaper)
The Art Newspaper reported Thursday that Stéphane Martin, president of the ethnographic Musée du quai Branly in Paris, praised French President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge in November of a “provisional or permanent return of African cultural heritage to Africa” within the next five years. Macron’s pledge represents a shift from France’s historic attachment to what The Art Newspaper described as “the principle of the inalienability of public collections.” France’s cultural minister, Françoise Nyssen, whose office has a history of being “notoriously hostile to any changes on matters of restitution,” had not been informed prior to the president’s declaration and has yet to comment according to sources, The Art Newspaper wrote. The museum boasts a collection of over 70,000 artifacts from sub-Saharan Africa, 1,000 of which are displayed in the museum’s galleries in Paris.
10 A four-story mural of a penis appeared on, then disappeared from, a New York City building over the course of a few days.
The pink-and-red painting of a penis went up on the side of a building on the Lower East Side on December 24th. Swedish artist Carolina Falkholt, whose work often deals with gender and sexuality, posted a photo on Instagram with part of the caption reading “I have never heard so much laughter and seen so many happy faces behind my back when painting as for today doing this wall on Broome Street.” But, as Hyperallergic noted in a low-hanging pun, the work soon faced “stiff opposition” from Naomi Peña, president of District 1’s Community Education Council. Peña emailed local restaurant Baby Brasa, which runs an organization that promotes public art in the neighborhood, calling the mural “the most disgusting display of art I’ve seen.” Falkholt told Hyperallergic in a statement, “To paraphrase Judith Bernstein, if a dick can go into a woman, it can go up on a wall...Many of my murals, including these, are about not feeling ashamed of your body and who you are as a sexual being.” However, by the morning of December 28th, the mural had been painted over.
Cover image via Wikimedia Commons.