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Charles Gwathmey, 1938-2009
Architect Charles Gwathmey died this week at the age of 71. Best known for his understated addition to Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum building, Gwathmey was a stalwart Modernist throughout his career, designing homes and commercial buildings for art world giants like Larry Gagosian as well as stars like Jerry Seinfeld and Steven Spielberg. In addition to the Guggenheim, Gwathmey designed indelible spaces for other New York cultural institutions, including the International Center of Photography and the Museum of the Moving Image.
Sotheby's Goes Down
Sotheby's posted their mid-year financial report this week, and it was grim. The auction house reported an 87 percent drop in their second quarter earnings, reaching barely half of Christie's sales, which were significantly buoyed by their wildly successful Yves Saint Laurent sale. Yes, the economy has been not been kind to the art market of late, but the auction houses are not blameless for the predicament they find themselves in. Remember the price fixing scandal during the last art market crash that landed Sotheby's head Alfred Taubman in jail? Hopefully the auction houses do too.
But What I Really Want to Do Is Direct
Sam Taylor-Wood announced this week that she will debut her first feature, a John Lennon biopic, focusing on his early years, at the BFI London Film Institute in October. Hopefully Taylor-Wood will be able follow in the wining footsteps of artist-turned-directors like Steve McQueen and Julian Schnabel. This week's release of the concert CD "Andy Warhol Presents Man on the Moon," however, reminds one that when artists expand their horizons it doesn't always work so well. "Man on the Moon" was a Warhol-produced Broadway musical about a bomb, played by a man, that was sent to the moon, where it/he was seduced by pacifistic aliens. The musical closed after five performances.
Collections, Cowboys, and Clean-Ups
The Museum of Modern Art announced this week that they will expand their collection of Richard Avedon photographs with 39 images from the photographer's estate. Meanwhile, another august cultural institution, the Dallas Cowboys, announced that they are expanding their art collection as well, installing 14 site-specific works by artists including Olafur Eliasson and Lawrence Weiner in the football team's stadium. In Greece, another unusual collaboration between the Acropolis Museum and filmmaker Costas-Gravas--ok, it's less unusual than Lawrence Weiner and the Dallas Cowboys--has gotten over an ugly hump when the newly-opened institution agreed not to edit the director's animated work, which shows early Christians destroying parts of the Parthenon frieze by night. (Costa-Gravas managed to smooth things over by explaining the cloaked figures were lay congregants, not actual priests.) Street artists in Rome, however, are finding less leniency than those ancient iconoclasts, with the mayor pushing to force them to repair the damage and clean up after themselves when they're caught. Why didn't Athens' centurions think of that?