Conference

9 Events for Your Art Calendar This Week, From a Show of Cringeworthy Art to a Christie’s Conference on NFTs


Each week, we search for the most exciting and thought-provoking shows, screenings, and events. In light of the global health crisis, we are currently highlighting events in person and digitally, as well as in-person exhibitions open in the New York area. See our picks from around the world below. (Times are all EST unless otherwise noted.)

 

Monday, July 12 and Tuesday, July 13

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Manhattanhenge (2001), sunset looking down 34th Street. One of two days when the sunset is exactly aligned with the grid of streets in Manhattan. Photo ©Neil deGrasse Tyson, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Manhattanhenge (2001), sunset looking down 34th Street. One of two days when the sunset is exactly aligned with the grid of streets in Manhattan. Photo ©Neil deGrasse Tyson, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History.

1. “Manhattanhenge” in New York City

The four-times-a-year phenomenon that is Manhattanhenge, when the setting sun aligns with the city’s street grid, was rained out over Memorial Day Weekend, but we get a second chance at this eminently photographable event this week. For the best Instagram fodder, post up on the east side about a half hour before sunset, and be sure that whatever street you’re on aligns with the grid—if you can’t see through to New Jersey, find a different block!

Location: Crossstreets in Manhattan
Price:
Free
Time:
Monday 8:20 p.m.; Tuesday, 8:21 p.m.

—Sarah Cascone

 

Wednesday, July 14

"Nrityagram: Samhāra Revisited" at the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Stephanie Berger.

“Nrityagram: Samhāra Revisited” at the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Stephanie Berger.

2. “Women and the Critical Eye: The Intersection of Performance and Art” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This edition of the Met’s annual “Women and the Critical Eye” series features a conversation on the intersection of performance and art with Sarah Arison, board chair of the National YoungArts Foundation; dancer and choreographer Bijayini Satpathy; and Met Modern art assistant curator Lauren Rosati, moderated by Limor Tomer, general manager of Live Arts at the Met.

Price: Free registration, but donation suggested
Time: 5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m.

—Sarah Cascone

 

Thursday, July 15

Representation of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible token. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Representation of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible token. Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

3. “Christie’s Art and Tech Summit: NFTs and Beyond” at Christie’s 

In the wake of its $69 million Beeple sale, Christie’s continues to explore the NFT art space with its Art and Tech Summit, an annual one-day conference. The schedule includes topics like “NFT’s Impact on the Art Market: Democratization, Monetization, Emergence, and Sustainability” and “Creating Technology for the Metaverse.” Speakers include leading NFT artists such as Mad Dog Jones (now Canada’s most-expensive living artist, thanks to his recent Phillips sale), crypto art collector Justin Sun (who has also ventured into more traditional fine art trophies), and software engineer and NFT collector Tim Kang (who has launched a nonprofit to help artists mint NFTs).

Location: Christie’s, 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York
Price:
$250 in person/$100 virtual
Time: 9 a.m.

—Sarah Cascone

 

Opening Thursday, July 15

The Museum of Chinese in America. Image courtesy of Ajay Suresh via Flickr

The Museum of Chinese in America. Image courtesy of Ajay Suresh via Flickr

4. “Responses: Asian American Voices Resisting the Tides of Racism” at the Museum of Chinese in America

After more than a year of shuttered operations and a five-alarm fire at its collections space, the museum’s main space will reopen with a show on the historical roots of anti-Asian and anti-Asian American Pacific Islander racism from the earliest days of U.S. history. The exhibition is the culmination of the museum’s year-long “OneWorld COVID-19 Special Collection” initiative that gathered submissions of creative, artistic, and public responses to the tumultuous events of 2020 and ’21. Art, essays, videos, music, and physical artifacts were donated by people from across the U.S. and Asian diaspora.

Location: Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street, New York
Price: 
General admission: $12; seniors, military, educators, students and children two and over $8; members, free
Time: Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday–Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

—Eileen Kinsella

 

Thursday, July 15–Friday, August 27

Ron Tarver, <em>David's Last Ride</em> (1996), detail. Courtesy of Chart Gallery.

Ron Tarver, David’s Last Ride (1996), detail. Courtesy of Chart Gallery.

5. “Horses?” at Chart Gallery

When confronted with the essential question of “What is art?” 30 Rock‘s Jack Donaghy did not have to think long to respond. “We know what art is,” he said. “It’s paintings of horses!”

While Donaghy’s definition—which he later expanded to also include “ships with sails” and “men holding up swords while staring off into the distance”—is a little narrow, it’s true, there has been a ton of great art made about our equine friends. Chart, the gallery opened in Tribeca in 2019 by Clara Ha, celebrates this long history with a show called “Horses?” that celebrates the presence of the steed across media. Patricia Cronin’s large installation Tack Room (1997-2021) will be staged at the gallery nearly 25 years after debuting at White Columns, and will feature an entire barn locker room peppered on the walls with postcards of horse-centric works by Delacroix and Degas. And Will Cotton’s work appears—the guy can paint a pretty fantastic gigantic pink unicorn, believe you me.

Elsewhere, Ron Carver’s photos document the culture and history of black cowboys in Philadelphia and East Texas, while David Wojnarowicz snaps a male sex worker dressed as a hat-clad John Wayne type to dig at the idea of the cowboy as a hyper-straight trope. The idea of the “horse girl” is toyed with in Laurel Nakadate’s self-aware on-saddle self-portraits. And, of course, there’s a contribution from Susan Rothenberg, the late artist who spent decades exploring and abstracting the horse as symbol and shape. Clearly, this summer group show isn’t held back all that much by sticking to one subject. Maybe Jack Donaghy was right. Here’s to hoping for a ships-with-sails group show before the summer ends.

Location: Chart gallery, 74 Franklin Street, New York
Price:
Free
Time: Monday–Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

—Nate Freeman

 

Though Sunday, July 18

Isaac Peifer, White Boy Summer (2020). Courtesy of THNK1994.

Isaac Peifer, White Boy Summer (2020). Courtesy of THNK1994.

6. “Cringe: Portraits from the Pandemic by Isaac Peifer” at THNK1994

Isaac Peifer’s painted portraits of celebrities are all a little off in an uncanny valley sort of way. It’s as if they were copied from an iPhone covered in vaseline. There are practical reasons for this: the artist just started painting in 2019, for one, and most of his canvases are completed in one sitting—a hyper-reactive form of making that echoes the here-today-gone-tomorrow nature of the artist’s meme-orable subjects.

But the distortions are thematic, too: “My use of portraiture is a commentary on the role notoriety, disgrace, and ‘cringe’ increasingly play in capturing public interest (however briefly) in the digital age,” the artist wrote in a statement for his new show at THNK1994, a roving gallery now operating out of a residential building’s basement in Chinatown.

Each of Peifer’s paintings in the show was made during lockdown—and it’s obvious. On view are portraits of people that, for better or worse (usually for worse), dominated our timelines at various points in the last year: Chet Hanks, Ghislaine Maxwell, Anna Delvey. “Cringe” is the name of the exhibition; it’s also a description of what you’ll probably do upon seeing the work therein.

Location: THNK1994, 9 Monroe Street, basement
Price:
Free
Time: Friday–Sunday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.

—Taylor Dafoe

 

Adolph Gottlieb, <em>Black and White On Pressed Wood</em> (1950). Photo © Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation/licensed by VAGA at ARS, N.Y., courtesy of Pace East Hampton.

Adolph Gottlieb, Black and White On Pressed Wood (1950). Photo © Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation/licensed by VAGA at ARS, N.Y., courtesy of Pace East Hampton.

7. “Thomas Nozkowski” and “Adolph Gottlieb” at Pace, East Hampton

New Yorkers who have decamped to the Hamptons for the summer can enjoy a pair of solo shows at the Pace outpost, featuring Thomas Nozkowski and Adolph Gottlieb. The former offers never-before-seen abstract, colorful paintings on paper; the latter features eight pictographs by Gottlieb, a pioneering Abstract Expressionist who spent much of his later years, beginning in the 1960s, living and working in East Hampton.

Location: Pace, 68 Park Place, East Hampton
Price:
Free
Time: Tuesday—Saturday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m.–5 p.m.

—Tanner West

 

Through Sunday, August 1

Mark Van Wagner, <em>Greenie</em> (2020). Photo courtesy of Marquee Projects.

Mark Van Wagner, Greenie (2020). Photo courtesy of Marquee Projects.

8. “John Perreault and Mark Van Wagner” at Marquee Projects, Bellport, New York

Beverly Allan Starke and gallery owner Mark Van Wagner co-curated the inaugural exhibition at Bellport’s Marquee Projects, with a retrospective of work from the late artist, poet, and art critic John Perreault. Now, Starke has convinced Van Wagner to show his work in conversation with pieces by his friend. She’s paired Perreault’s “Scratch Paintings”—made by applying white acrylic paint to insulation panels and scraping it off to created abstract line drawings— with Van Wagner’s “Sandboxes” sculptures, made from recycled cardboard boxes covered in beach sand.

Location: Marquee Projects, 14 Bellport Lane, Bellport
Price:
Free
Time: Thursday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

—Sarah Cascone

 

Through Saturday, August 21

Benjamin Langford’s flowers are installed on the walls of the gallery's courtyard in "但聞人語響:Yet, Only Voice Echoed" at Fu Qiumeng Fine Art. Photo courtesy of Fu Qiumeng Fine Art.

Benjamin Langford’s flowers are installed on the walls of the gallery’s courtyard in “但聞人語響:Yet, Only Voice Echoed” at Fu Qiumeng Fine Art. Photo courtesy of Fu Qiumeng Fine Art.

9. “但聞人語響:Yet, Only Voice Echoed” at Fu Qiumeng Fine Art, New York

Our colleague Cathy Fan, editor-in-chief of Midnight Publishing Group News China, is the curator of this group photography show featuring work by Michael Cherney, Lois Conner, Shen Wei, Su Jiehao, Cheng Ronghui, and Benjamin Langford. The unifying theme is imagery drawn from Tang Dynasty poem “Deer Enclosure,” by Wang Wei, an ode to the beautiful scenery of a mountain with a deer pen, which lends the show its title. Like the poem, the photographs in the show don’t have a narrative, instead capturing the sensory experience of a given moment, like Langford’s larger than life sculptural prints of flowers and fruits.

Location: Fu Qiumeng Fine Art, 65 East 80th Street, New York
Price:
 Free
Time: Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

—Sarah Cascone

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The Market Is Coming for Museums’ Art, and 7 Other Takeaways From a Hot-Button Conference on Deaccessioning


American museums are in a bind. Budget shortfalls during the pandemic have led to existential threats, while at the same time activists have ramped up calls for museums to correct long-standing racial inequities, which necessitates more funding—all of which has led to a heated debate among professionals about how institutions should manage their finances.

As museums struggle to find new ways to raise money amid plummeting revenue streams, deaccessioning has come the the fore as a controversial solution. At a conference organized last week by Syracuse University, “Deaccessioning After 2020,” brought together directors, curators, scholars, and other experts to discuss policies surrounding the way museums sell objects from their collections.

While museums routinely sell works, how they can use the resulting funds are determined by two leading industry organizations, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). (“Deaccessioning” includes sales along with giving items away and repatriating them to their countries of origin or other rightful owners.)

While the AAMD’s guidelines have restricted museums’ use of proceeds from sales to purchasing other objects, AAM’s policies have long allowed institutions to use those funds for “direct care” of their collections. But to help museums face the financial crises caused by the pandemic, AAMD has opened a two-year window during which its members may use such funds for direct care.

Institutions like the Brooklyn Museum quickly moved to take advantage of the exception. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which sits on an endowment of some $3.3 billion, revealed that it, too, would take advantage of the loosening regulations, causing considerable blowback. Thousands signed a petition calling on board members to write checks to meet the museum’s $150 million budget shortfall. Some professionals warned of a slippery slope that might result in boards being less willing to fund institutions that could simply sell objects, and of a threat to museums’ tax-exempt status. 

Furthermore, “direct care” has never been strictly defined. When the Baltimore Museum of Art recently penned an expansive definition of the term as it planned to sell several masterworks to raise $65 million to meet ambitious diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion goals, the AAMD balked. The museum withdrew the works from auction at the last moment. 

Speakers at the conference, which was held on Zoom, included the Museum of Modern Art director Glenn Lowry, the Baltimore Museum of Art director Christopher Bedford, scholar Glenn Adamson, lawyers for the Berkshire Museum, as well as government officials. 

Here are eight key insights on the future of museums put forth by the participants.

Protesters outside Sotheby's ahead of this morning's American Art sale, which included works being deaccessioned from the Berkshire Museum. Image courtesy of Save the Art—Save the Museum

Protesters outside Sotheby’s ahead of an American art sale that included works being deaccessioned from the Berkshire Museum. Image courtesy of Save the Art—Save the Museum

1. Museums are not going to “sell” their way out of their financial problems. Not during the pandemic—and not after. 

During a panel on legal issues and the role of the courts, Nicholas O’Donnell, partner at Sullivan and Worcester’s art and museum law practice group, sounded a warning bell. (O’Donnell was one of the lawyers arguing against the sale of works from the holdings of the Berkshire Museum in 2017.) If a meaningful percentage of museums face the inability to continue, he said, selling art isn’t going to help them stay open. (A survey by AAM conducted at the beginning of the pandemic found that a third of museums faced the real possibility of closure.)

2. That’s because museums have grown way too large without regard to future costs. 

In the opening keynote, National Gallery of Art director Kaywin Feldman sounded warning bells of her own. Museums’ governing philosophy in the 20th century, she said, was growth. Collections grew and grew such that today, lack of storage space is a crisis. Buildings grew to fill museums’ properties without regard to future costs to maintain the physical plant. Galleries and storage spaces are overflowing, she said, and yet the industry keeps talking about growth. 

3. Don’t expect clarity from governing organizations on what “direct care” actually means.

The AAM added direct care to its code of ethics in 1994, but left it to museums and their boards to define the term. And yet, in the years since, the industry hasn’t outlined it with much clarity.

In a recent vote among AAMD membership, museum directors opted not to even have any further discussion on the subject. Museum directors were too afraid to even talk about this hot-button issue, the Brooklyn Museum’s Anne Pasternak said. But they need greater guidance from the AAMD. Museums are too diverse for a one-size-fits-all solution, and yet the current situation, in which boards just make their own decisions, isn’t ideal.

Pasternak added that museums need the AAMD to develop clear guidelines because direct care could be a very real part of how museums get through the current crisis.

Jackson Pollock, Red Composition (1946). Image courtesy Christie's.

The Everson Museum sold Jackson Pollock’s Red Composition (1946). Image courtesy Christie’s.

4. Boards aren’t going to save museums in every emergency. They can’t, and maybe it shouldn’t be their job. 

If those who oppose deaccessioning expect super-wealthy boards to come to the rescue, they could be waiting a long time, said the directors and board chairs on a panel about regional museums tasked with “making difficult decisions,” including the Berkshire Museum and the Everson Museum of Art, in Syracuse, which recently sold a Jackson Pollock work to fund future acquisitions.

“Boards are not banks,” Everson board chair Jessica Arb Danial said. “They are fiduciaries.” What’s more, the Everson doesn’t have a single billionaire on its board, she said. (Though if you are a billionaire in Syracuse, she added, “I will find you.”)

On her panel, too, Pasternak called the assumption that her board could simply write checks to cover pandemic shortfalls “perplexing.”

Likewise, Mark Gold, a partner at Smith Green and Gold, in Massachusetts, who was counsel to the Berkshire Museum, called it “offensive” to assume that boards are stocked with super-wealthy members, saying that he works with institutions whose boards include local business owners and school teachers.

5. Museums must get creative about cutting costs.

The Dallas Museum of Art recently mounted a Juan Gris exhibition using many loans, director Agustín Arteaga said. Whereas big-ticket items on loan are usually lovingly cared for every step of the way by couriers, the museum managed this time to cut costs without using a single one. (As Kate Brown recently wrote, the organizers of a Rembrandt show in Germany pulled off the same feat.)

Joe Thompson, former director of Mass MoCA, piped in, saying that those loans are typically triple insured, at “absurd” rates, “with no balancing of actual risks.”

6. Some museums will go out of business, and that’s just the way it goes.

On a panel devoted to “the impermanence of museums,” Brown University professor Steven Lubar pointed out that his institution once had a museum, the Jenks Museum of Natural History and Anthropology, that simply went the way of the dodo when the school’s priorities changed. Many museums have closed, said Lubar; we just don’t remember them. 

7. The market is coming for museums’ art.

Lawyer Nicholas O’Donnell’s phone started ringing as soon as the AAMD’s policy change was announced, he said. The market will find efficient ways to source art to sell, he posited, saying that “collectors are coming full force” for museums’ collections. 

8. And when it does, expect more crises, and more online rage.

While museums may collect with relative freedom, independent curator and writer Glenn Adamson pointed out that they are subjected to intense scrutiny when selling they sell, and the headlines bear that out.

When the market comes for their art, can their boards be trusted to do due diligence and defend every sale? That’s going to be “the gorilla in the room,” said O’Donnell.

When they opt to sell, expect “scorched earth criticism by bloggers,” added lawyer Mark Gold.

Velásquez, on her panel, appealed for more propositions for solutions than just criticism. The current crisis, she said, showcases museums’ most pressing needs. Those in the hot seat need great ideas and empathy. 

But Pasternak was defiant. Let bloggers criticize, she said.

“Haters gonna hate.”

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