Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Artis Omnipotensis: The Power of the Museum Director

Over the past several days, two very striking examples of major museum directors striking works of art from public view have hit the headlines.
It's deja vu all over again!

What do these two men fear will happen? Are the works in question truly "dangerous"--i.e. in "artspeak": do these art-dukes risk losing funding for their museums by keeping them on view?

There is no question that some art is "too hot to handle" for "institutional" art museums, but savvy leaders usually pre-censor their exhibitions. In the case of the National Portrait Gallery and LA's Museum of Contemporary Art, these took place after the fact. The Andy Warhol Foundation has threatened to withdraw its funding for the Smithsonian, which operates the National Portrait Gallery, and in LA, everyone who was skeptical of turning MOCA over to art dealer Jeffrey Deitch is saying "I told you so."

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