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Weekend Reads

Loving the New Whitney, When Orhan Pamuk Met Anselm Kiefer, & More

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Loving the New Whitney, When Orhan Pamuk Met Anselm Kiefer, & More

"Here's the keys kids ... catch.": In a rangy, three-part piece that combines personal and institutional history, Jerry Saltz puts the new Whitney in the context of larger changes in the museum world. “How did the museum go from being a contemplative quiet car to the very center of a commercial frenzy?” he asks, on the way to delivering an enthusiastic appraisal of the downtown Whitney’s architecture and its inaugural show “America is Hard to See.” (New York Magazine)

Philippe de Montebello Takes Over the Hispanic Society: The first thing the august former Met director should change about this musty, spectacular jewel box of Spanish and Latin American art is the lighting! Amid the gloomy darkness of the museum that gives it the feel of architecture-as-chiaroscuro, the bright spotlights that are trained on individual paintings bounce off the extraordinarily laid-down oil paint in a way that makes it impossible to see the whole composition without walking around it to avoid the glare. (WSJ)

Ah, Life as a Famous Novelist: Orhan Pamuk—who has invented an actual museum out of a novel he wrote, grew up wanting to be a painter, and won a little Nobel Prize once—really likes Anselm Kiefer (because “his art conveys this feeling by accentuating the ‘thingness’ – to use Heidegger’s term – of letters, words and texts”), so when he wanted to meet him the dealer Thaddaeus Ropac drove him out to the artist’s studio in France and then hosted a dinner at his home “on the banks of the Seine” and sat him next to the artist so they could chat some more. Here, Pamuk recounts the experience beautifully. (Guardian)

“Not Only Dated But Also Derivative”: Architect and critic Joseph Giovannini writes a long, scathing account of fellow architect Peter Zumthor’s plans for the new LACMA complex in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Giovannini is effusive in his disdain for the proposal, calling it “comfort Modernism on steroids,” and a “study in design procrastination,” but his best line may be this one: “It’s a handsome proposal in the way a Ken doll is handsome: good-looking but vacant, despite being delivered by a reclusive architect with the aura of a prophet who has come off the hill to levitate our expectations.” ZING! We should note, however, that this vitriol is accompanied in equal proportion by measured arguments for why Zumthor’s plans are not up to snuff. (Los Angeles Review of Books)

It'll be Huge on Instagram: Writing for The Atlantic’s CityLab, Kriston Capps comes down hard on spectacular (as opposed to “high-quality”) museum exhibitions like Carsten Höller’s slides at the Tate Modern and Florentijn Hofman’s (a “charlatan,” in Capps words) massive rubber duckie that has graced the harbors of Shanghai and other art world capitals. Capps writes that “spectacle art is totally at odds with civic debate in America” because “the artists who can deliver at the scale of architecture are few in number, especially as the scale grows.” If museums are becoming little more than amusement parks, where will we hang the art? (The Atlantic)

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