Photo by Shinya Suzuki, via Flickr.
After several years of financial mismanagement, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is reportedly handing over the lease on the Met Breuer to the Frick Collection. The move, which would see the mammoth institution subleasing the last three years of its contract with the Whitney, could save the Met at total of $45 million.
“Our future is in the main building,” the Met’s president and chief executive Daniel Weiss told The New York Times. The change, which would occur in 2020, is being framed as a natural progression for the museum, which will shift its modern and contemporary art programming (previously hosted in the Breuer building) to its Fifth Avenue location.
The symbiotic agreement would allow the Frick to go through with its renovations while offering it a temporary venue to display its collection. The Frick’s director Ian Wardopper wondered, “If we’re closed for two-plus years, what happens to our visitorship, our membership, do people forget about us? Here, we’ll be able to stay open almost seamlessly.”
Weiss also announced that the Met will move forward with its own renovation plans, albeit with a mildly more modest price tag than was originally suggested. The modern and contemporary galleries will get a makeover designed by architect David Chipperfield to the tune of under $500 million. Previous estimates placed the price tag at about $600 million.
Detail shot of The Last Lockdown. Photo by Daniel Crumrine.
The artist, Manuel Oliver, lost his 17-year-old son Joaquin during the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. To honor Joaquin’s memory, Oliver helped conceive a sculpture that will be displayed in 10 congressional districts represented by pro-gun lobby politicians, as part of a campaign to increase voter turnout and elect leaders who will enact stricter gun laws. The work, entitled The Last Lockdown, is powerful. It depicts a small boy crouched under his desk, cast using 3D-printing technology in a copper-colored bronze.
The project installs editions of the work in places such as Las Vegas, Denver, and in Parkland, and is backed by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who herself was a victim of a 2011 mass shooting that occurred in Arizona. “Too many students have to reckon with the unspeakable trauma of gun violence,” Giffords said in a release. “They are tired of gunshots, they are tired of funerals, they are tired of loved ones no longer being around.”
“It’s too late for us to save Joaquin from gun violence,” Oliver told the Huffington Post. “But through art my family and I are making sure that we protect the rest of the kids out there.”
Caravaggio, Saint Jerome Writing, circa 1605–06. Via Wikimedia Commons.
There is no shortage of theories about how Caravaggio died, from lead poisoning caused by his paints to sunstroke, syphilis, or even an assassination by the Knights of Malta. The latest hypothesis, supported by close analysis of a skeleton believed to be Caravaggio’s, suggests that he died from sepsis caused by a badly infected wound. Research by scientists at Aix-Marseille Université, the University of Bologna, and the University of Verona, published in the latest volume of scholarly publication The Lancet Infectious Diseases, concluded that the 39-year-old artist died from “an infected wound that Caravaggio received during his last fight in Naples.”
The new findings are based on analysis of a skeleton the researchers believe is that of Caravaggio. Of the skeletons in the cemetery in Porto Ercole, Tuscany, where the artist was allegedly buried, the scientists found nine matching the known physical proportions of Caravaggio, but only one dating to the early 17th century. Comparing DNA from that skeleton with other men named Merisi or Merisio—Caravaggio’s full name was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio—supported their theory that it was in fact the artist’s skeleton. The prognosis of sepsis, or blood infection, brought on by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, is based on analysis of that skeleton’s teeth cross-referenced with two types of DNA analysis.
The study’s authors conclude: “Converging elements supporting this hypothesis also showed that this death is plausible in the context of Caravaggio’s life.” Indeed, Caravaggio’s short life was famously tumultuous and involved about as much violence as the scenes he rendered in his famous chiaroscuro style. After killing Ranuccio Tomassoni in 1606, Caravaggio fled Rome and spent the the next four years traveling between Naples, Malta, and Sicily. He was on his way from Naples back to Rome, in hopes of securing a pardon, when he died.
Isa Genzken, Rose III, 2016, aluminium, galvanized steel, lacquer, in Zuccotti Park, New York, 2018. Photo by Timothy Schenck, courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.
A new sculpture is occupying Zuccotti Park. On Sunday, a 26-foot-tall flower by the renowned German artist Isa Genzken was permanently installed in the heart of Lower Manhattan. Rose III (2016) joins two other sculptural mainstays in the park: Mark di Suvero’s towering steel sculpture Joie de Vivre (1998) and Seward Johnson Jr.’s Double Check (1982), which, in the aftermath of 9/11, became a memorial to those who perished.
Already, Rose III is getting some pointed political readings, with some speculating that the installation is a nod to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Zuccotti Park, a publicly owned private property belonging to Brookfield Properties, was taken over in 2011 by members of the 99 percent trying to change capitalism. A rose is the symbol of democratic socialism. The sculpture’s unveiling was wedged between the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the 7th anniversary of Occupy.
Laura Hoptman, the curator who organized the first exhibition of The Rose at the New Museum, added more fertilizer to the fire. She said in a statement: “Over almost 40 years, Isa Genzken has pursued a brave and radical vision for a public art created for, and in tune with its environment.”
Genzken herself, who had a major U.S. retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 2013, added: “To me, New York had a direct link with sculpture…. [It] is a city of incredible stability and solidity.”
Norman Rockwell, Sinatra: An American Classic (Portrait of Frank Sinatra), 1973, oil on canvas, est. $80,000–$120,000. Courtesy Sotheby’s.
Sotheby’s has the art world on a string. This week, the auction house announced that, in December, it will be auctioning off artwork, furniture, film scripts, and memorabilia once owned by the singer and actor Frank Sinatra as part of the sale of the estate of his late wife, Barbara Sinatra. In addition to works by Pablo Picasso and Childe Hassam, curiosities for Sinatra fans abound. There is a portrait of him by Norman Rockwell, a number of his personal film scripts, autographed books, décor from houses in Malibu and Palm Springs, and even work that the Chairman of the Board painted himself—including a noble attempt at a De Stijl abstraction à laPiet Mondrian, suggesting Ol’ Blue Eyes was a pretty respectable Sunday painter.
Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group’s proposed memorial. Courtesy MLK Boston.
This week, the finalists for a monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King in Boston—the city where they met—were revealed. The five proposals envision very different sculptural and landscape-based homages to the Kings in Boston Common, the oldest city park in the country, where the memorial is expected to be completed by late 2019 or early 2020. The finalists include teams led by artists Yinka Shonibare (with Stephen Stimson Associates ), Adam Pendleton (with Adjaye Associates, Future\Pace, and David Reinfurt), Hank Willis Thomas (with MASS Design Group), Barbara Chase-Riboud, and Krzysztof Wodiczko (with Julian Bonder, Maryann Thompson Architects, and Walter Hood). A public review and feedback period kicked off on Tuesday and will continue through October 16, after which municipal officials and members of Martin Luther King Boston, the nonprofit leading the project, will announce a winner.
“I would describe them as breathtaking, visionary, bold, and immersive, and I think people are going to be shocked by them, and hopefully in a good way,” Paul English, the founder and co-chairman of Martin Luther King Boston, told the Boston Globe. “This is going to be the most modern thing in the Boston Common, and I think the Kings deserve that.”
The finalists’ designs are eclectic, from Shonibare’s colorful monolith fountain at the center of the “Avenue of Peace” design, to the zig-zagging and cantilevered walkway envisioned by Pendleton’s team. The centerpiece of Willis Thomas’s proposal would be a large sculpture of mirrored bronze titled The Embrace and visualizing the Kings’ interlocking arms, while Chase-Riboud’s towering stone and bronze monument takes the form of a 17th-century wooden pulpit topped with a searchlight. Wodiczko’s team envisions an emancipation timeline leading to two towers topped with bells that will emit light and sound. Regardless of which design is selected, the memorial is expected to cost $5 million to realize ($3 million has been raised thus far), with all the funds coming from private donors.