When grumblings about a museum director start to make headlines, a change is usually in the offing. Given the article published in the May issue of Cincinnati Magazine, which an RCA reader pointed out to me this morning, I’d say Aaron Betsky, director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, is on his way out. But it’s getting a little ugly.
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That’s not the real title of the exhibition that is now on view at Winterthur. Martin Bruckner, the guest curator of ”Common Destinations: Maps in the American Experience,” talks rather about the “social life” of maps. But the exhibit is kind of a coming out for the Winterthur collection — a few of the items in the show have been on view, but it was mostly the maps on ceramics or paintings, that were tucked into the permanent collections rooms. The big paper maps have been tucked away in the library or decorative arts collections.
On Wednesday, I attended the American Federation of Arts’s panel titled “Art Museum Blockbusters: Myths, Facts, and Their Future.” But I don’t want to talk about blockbusters here, at least not today. I’m going to zero in on some comments made by one of the panelists, Aaron Betsky, director (for now) of the Cincinnati Art Museum (none of them are related to blockbusters, as the session wandered away from its original purpose at various times).
The Spring Show at the Park Avenue Armory, held last week, is a new event in the art calendar. This is its third edition, as fair organizers like to term their annual events. It is a mixed offering — mixed in the goods on offer (paintings, furniture, silver, jewelry, flags, artifacts, etc. etc.), mixed in quality, mixed in the geographical home of the dealers, and so on. At the opening preview reception, though, I found plenty of things to enjoy and admire, as well as some that were easy to bypass.
Having written about the exhibition of John Singer Sargent’s watercolors at the Brooklyn Museum before it opened, I was curious to see it in the flesh. I went over the weekend, and am happy to say that it lives up to expectations. One surprise — the color of the walls behind the artworks, which was melon, verging on orange. But not the neon orange the Brooklyn Museum has used in its American art galleries. Rather, it’s a soft orange that you might find in a posh apartment on Park Ave. You can get a sense of it in my picture, at left.
Late last month, I finally got to the New Barnes Foundation in downtown Philadelphia. It’s always a pleasure to see those paintings, but I tend to agree with the commenters who’ve found the replication of the old hanging in the new building to be jarring. Kind of old wine in new bottles — doesn’t work for me. I tried to forget where I was and just focus on the pictures. But it felt more cramped than it did in Merion, possibly because there were many more people in the galleries.
It’s spring-buying season: Yesterday, when the Metropolitan Museum said it had purchased The Sacrifice of Polyxena by Charles Le Brun, which had been found in the Coco Chanel Suite at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris by the London-based fine art consultant Joseph Friedman in January, it merely joined several others that in recent days have announced acquisitions. Here are some of them.
Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal carried a review of the renovated Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which reopens to the public on Saturday. It’s pretty much a rave, and I recommend it. But I found one passage extremely interesting and worthy of singling out and commenting on.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a chat with Phil Grabsky, the British filmmaker who has started “Exhibition: Great Art on Screen,” a series of what he calls “event films” that will bring some of the very best art exhibitions to the public via films analogous to the Metropolitan Opera’s simulcasts (and post-produced filmings of live opera, as La Scala, among other opera companies, does it).
Among the riches at American museums at the moment, here are three innovative or unique ones I’d really like to see: