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1.4.04

That's Good Reading: Fully Credited Links

  • John Perreault writes up the Whitney Biennial at Artopia (post on March 14):
    The bad news is that the biennial is too big; it sprawls all over Central Park, the 42nd Street Whitney branch, the Kitchen, and includes so many films, concerts, and video presentations that you would have to devote a major part of your life to seeing it all. Something for everyone is not always a good idea; more is not necessarily more. But, being charitable for once, perhaps this is an inevitable function of too many artists in too many cities working in too many media.

    The good news is that this show's intergenerational mix really works. The curators have even included the recently dead, I think a first. It is refreshing to see established artists along newcomers, and the reverse. For the art virgins, there has to be some transfer of prestige: What biennial were you in? Oh, you know, the one that had Robert Mangold, Kusama, David Hockney, Robert Longo, Alex Hay, Jack Goldstein (d. 2003), Richard Prince, and, in film, Stan Brakhage (d. 2003). Even Mel Bochner.
    His list of awards in many categories is not to be missed.
  • Roberta at artblog posted yesterday and Libby posted on Sunday about Kara Walker's new installation (Fibbergibbet and Mumbo Jumbo: Kare E. Walker in Two Acts, through August 14) at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. Neither of them was particularly impressed. Quoth Roberta:
    It's great the Fabric Workshop provides a space and support for artists to experiment and take risks. You can scratch your head at the results, as we're all doing here, but in the end, I'd rather have a new Kara Walker piece to mull over than a lot of other things.
    In support of this, Libby said: "I found myself waiting for the justification of using such loaded material, waiting for Walker to skewer it the way her visual work until now has consistently skewered the stereotypes of the past. It never happened."
  • Alan Riding writes about the growing interest in Islamic art in western museums (Entr'acte: Islamic art as a bridge to understanding in West, March 31) in the International Herald Tribune:
    A case is being made for the benefits of promoting Islamic art in the West: the Islamic world would feel its heritage is admired in countries that increasingly link "Islam" with "terrorism," Westerners could look beyond today's turmoil to recognize one of the world's great civilizations, and alienated Muslim youths in Europe could identify with the glories of their Islamic roots.
    As Riding puts it, "all too often Islamic art has been hard to find in museums; invariably, it is treated as a poor relative of Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities." This attitude is changing right now, he notes, with the newly created Department of Islamic Art (here are some highlights) at the Louvre moving to spiffy new digs (from its former location in the basement), which will be constructed over the next five years at a cost of $60 million. Second, a Saudi businessman has donated $9.7 million to build a new gallery for the Islamic collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; some of the museum's Islamic art will be displayed temporarily at the National Gallery of Art here in Washington (Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum, from July 18, 2004, to February 6, 2005). Third, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is also going to renovate its Islamic galleries, along with several other projects (see press release). Fourth, the new Benaki Museum of Islamic Art will open this summer in Athens, in time for the Olympic crowds. Fifth, I. M. Pei has designed the new Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, which will open in 2006.

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