Saturday, 19 January 2019

Reading list, 19 January 2019

"Using his own fortune, Verdi built the retirement home for opera singers and musicians, a neo-Gothic structure that opened in 1899. The composer died less than two years later, but he made sure the profits from his music copyrights kept the home running until the early 1960s, when they expired. Today guests pay a portion of their monthly pension to cover basic costs – food and lodging — while the rest comes from donations." I love this so much.

"What role the Rothko served remains unclear to me." I love this a bit less (the trend, not the article). The Rise of the Mindful Museum.

More from the Walker's "Museum Resolutions" series: Laura Raicovich, Dismantle the Myth of Neutrality and Antony Romero's Build Social Relations Over Property Relations  

Ted Loos in the NYTAfter the Quake, Dana Schutz Gets Back to Work

I'm not sure what to make of this article yet, despite reading it twice. Good to read alongside the Schutz piece above; pity McLean didn't tie it off with Michael Parekowhai's chrome Cook sculptures. Ian McLean, Paper Tigers: The New Iconoclasm and Identity Politics, in Di'van: A Journal of Accounts, issue 4.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Reading list, 12 January 2019

I haven't linked to anything tech-related in ages. But I've been following Shelley Bernstein's thoughtful write-ups of her tech decisions for her workplaces for more than a decade now, and they're always worthwhile. On choosing collaboration tools to bring together a very diverse group: Prototyping a Change Network with the OF/BY/FOR ALL First Wave.

I also don't often link to workplace advice but this NYT article is much better than the title suggests. It actually delves into common issues with time-management and particularly how people get into toxic and stressful situations around things like answering emails - the four general personality types, how each responds to stressors, and how you can improve your instinctive approach. The 4 ‘Attachment Styles,’ and How They Sabotage Your Work-Life Balance.

Also unusual. As with Shelley, I've been following my friend Nat Torkington's 4 Short Links digest for years now. This page of project management aphorisms from NASA has some of your typical engineer machismo, but also some really great insights and timeless advice. 100+ Lessons Learned for Project Managers.

Back on the normal path. This article on the Guardian helped explicate a current artistic movement I've been struggling to wrap my head around, without going PhD-level on it. Political, forensic, hi-tech: how 'research architecture' is redefining art.

Colleen Dilenschneider on why members of cultural organisations don't renew. Valuable for parsing what people really mean when they say things like "I'll sign up again next time I visit".

Seb Chan on salary cloaking (ie. not stating salary ranges in museum job advertising)

My friend the typographer Kris Sowersby, founder of Klim Type Foundry, is one of the most prolific people I know - and one of the smartest. For some purely good writing, check out his design notes on his recent reversed-stress typeface Maelstrom, and Bethany Heck's review of Maelstrom in use.

An interesting set of responses to a question on Twitter about "actual examples" of decolonisation in museums.

And a profile of Kaywin Feldman, gearing up to take over the National Gallery of Art in Washington, bit of a personal hero.


Sunday, 6 January 2019

Reading list, 6 January 2019

Fighting in your weight class: it's stimulating to read big critics robustly taking on big institutions and big shows, as with Peter Schjeldahl for the New Yorker and Roberta Smith for the NYT on the Met's Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera.

Ongoing, from the Macron report on restitution: Jason Farago assembles a roundtable for the NYTArtwork Taken From Africa, Returning to a Home TransformedFrench antiquities dealers slam ‘shocking’ report on restituting African art  and The repatriation debate intensifies as calls for post-colonial restitution grow—but is it legal? in The Art Newspaper; Thomas Marks' editor's letter for ApolloRethinking the restitution of African artefacts.

And from a different political angle - tensions between France and Italy play out through museum loans: For Italy’s Populists, Everything Is a Nationalist Cause. Even Leonardo.

"Museums are not neutral. Displays of European Art are not neutral. White supremacists know it. We must see it too." Alexander Kauffman for Hyperallergic, Committing to Anti-Racism in Galleries of European Art.

Things I plan to read when I'm back at work (tomorrow, sigh) - Culture 24's latest report from the end of 2018, Understanding the social purpose of digital technology for arts and heritage organisations.

"The food we consume, what we enjoy, how we acquire nourishment, literally all the mechanisms that touch how we eat are fascinating. But the museums of ice cream, pizza, and avocado don’t provide any of that insight". Pissed off by the museum-of-X phenomenon but from another angle; Erin DeJesus for Eater, Fake Food Museums Are Our Greatest Monuments to the Brand Hellscape of 2018.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Reading list. 22 December 2018

An article this week by my colleague Puawai Cairns for the Center for the Future of Museums blog - Decolonisation: we aren’t going to save you. Puawai also pointed this week to an earlier piece of writing by another of our colleagues, Sean Mallon, which is evergreen: Opinion: why we should beware of the word ‘traditional’.

 Interesting job going at the Pitt Rivers, showing how deliberate and pointed research can be one of a museum's best tools of self-reflection and correction: the Research Associate - Labelling Matters is being recruited for a project to "dissect and dismantle some of the complex contested words, stereotypes and concepts that are present not only in museums but in society at large."

The V&A's Tristram Hunt must have a very active comms rep: here he is for the end of the year in The Art Newspaper, Museums must confront the big issues. Still a million times better than the dickwad bemoaning Kaywin Feldmen's appointment as director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington this week - he doesn't warrant a link.

And some listening for over the holiday break:

Circuit's end of year round-up is a two-parter this year, featuring Mark Amery, Shannon Te Ao, Simon Gennard and Health Galbraith. Part One: personal highlights, trends, best show // Part Two: biggest surprise, best publication, best writing, best moving image work

Suse Anderson of MuseoPunks interviews Christopher Bedford, director of Baltimore's Museum of Art 

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Reading list, 8 December 2018


“I fell into a trap for 10 years or more of trying to educate the non-Native about what Natives were about,” says Gerald Clarke Jr., a Cahuilla artist known for his large welded sculptures. “It’s a trap because the default setting for mainstream America is that the artist is the ambassador of the community, and that almost replaces the interest in the artist’s own creativity.”


Designing for Instagram is fully established as a real thing (to wit - Ollie Wainwright's
Snapping point: how the world’s leading architects fell under the Instagram spell). The NGV have just paired M.C. Escher (perhaps one of the most Instagram-adaptable of artists) with design firm Nendo: MC Escher gets another dimension – and a show that plunges you into his obsessions.

Ticketed for later listening: a Slate podcast interview with exhibition designers Lana Hum and Mack Cole-Edelsack of MoMA’s exhibition design and production department.

A really fascinating read: Revisiting Suck magazine’s experiment in radical feminist pornography.

Excellent fluff: What 8 Collectors Wore to a Fall Art and Design Fair.

Nathalie de Gunzburg
Age: 52
Occupation: chairwoman, Dia Beacon
You’re wearing leather.
Yes, I’m wearing a Hermès black leather dress.
It’s very strong.
Of course.
How do you dress for an event like this?
I don’t know. I like the dress, I had it in my closet. I thought, Why not?
Your shoes: Are they python?
Yes. They’re Aquazzura. All my shoes are. And they’re very comfy.
I don’t believe that. It’s like a four-inch heel.
It’s a full-time job to know how to walk in heels.

It's that time of the year: How Pantone Picked ‘Living Coral’ as the 2019 ‘Color of the Year’.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Reading list, 2 December 2018

Nathan Sentence, who is a project officer in First Nations programming at the Australian Museum, regularly puts out some of the best writing in the sector. Most recently: Diversity means Disruption.

Among the many reactions to Bénédicte Savoy and Felwine Sarr's report to President Macron on the repatriation of African artefacts from French museums:

Return of African Artifacts Sets a Tricky Precedent for Europe’s Museums, featuring Hartwig Fischer (British Museum), Hartmut Dorgerloh (Humboldt Forum) and Prince Kum’a Ndumbe III (AfricAvenir International)

Restitution Report: museum directors respond, featuring Tristram Hunt (V&A), Nicholas Thomas (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge) and Dorgerloh

Legal challenges remain for restituting African artefacts from French museums

Monday, 26 November 2018

Reading list, 26 November 2018

Better late than never ...

Matariki Williams (curator Mātauranga Māori at Te Papa, Tusk co-founder and The Pantograph Punch contributor) writes about the RA's Oceania for Frieze: Complicating the Narrative of ‘Oceania’.

Follow-up from an earlier link: the Ben Uri Gallery in London is deaccessioning a chunk of its collection to raise funds to widen its remit: the inner circle of trustees has approved this decision, the wider advisory board (stacked with big names) has come out swinging against it: Ben Uri museum advisory board resigns en masse over Sotheby’s sale of works from the collection.

Look for big moves in repatriation next year: from the BBC, 'Stolen friend': Rapa Nui seek return of moai statue; from the Art Newspaper,  'Give Africa its art back', Macron's report says.

I'm considering an overnight trip to Sydney before March especially to see Nick Cave's installation at Carriageworks - Nick Cave on his darkly exquisite new work: ‘Is there racism in heaven?’

Glenn Lowry's contract has been extended at MOMA - if he serves his full term through to 2025, that will be 30 years in charge. He got the job in 1995 when he was 40.

The Gray Market goes deeper into a recent report published in Science about how artists' careers are made or broken on the basis of a small number of key galleries & how fast they get into them. Good graphs. Still my best weekly email newsletter.

A dual interview with Phyllida Barlow and Anna Maria Maiolino in the NYT MagazineTwo Pioneering Artists Discuss Motherhood and Machismo.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Peter Peryer, 1941 - 2018

Peter Peryer in his Devonport studio, 1985. Photo by Jim Barr and Mary Barr

The artist Peter Peryer died on Sunday. I say 'artist' advisedly, because Peter was a photographer who came of age in the 1970s, when contemporary photography was scrapping its way into the art system: galleries, criticism, the market.

He was a great artist, and also one of the first artists I was able to get to know as a human being, not the subject of an art history lecture. I've been lucky enough to be able to buy a few examples of his work over the years - including a portrait photo of a set of salad servers that was an engagement gift to ourselves over a decade ago now. I was even luckier to be able to work with him when I was director at The Dowse, on the exhibition Peter Peryer: A Careful Eye, beautifully curated by Sian Van Dyk.

It's a cliche to say that artists make you look at the world in a different way, but Peter's visual sense literally infected me. When I'd been spending time with him, my eyes would attune themselves to his imagery, and walking through the world after that felt like being a roving Peter Peryer image-making machine - snap snap snap. He was a characterful and distinctive man, articulate, gorgeously presented, ever so romantic, and possessed of the most wonderfully naughty gurgling laugh. I got to spend Sunday night thinking about him and writing a memorial of sorts for him for Radio New Zealand today, which you can listen to here.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Reading list, 18 November 2018

Tara Robertson is back in Wellington as a keynote at this week's National Digital Forum, and catching up with her sent me back to her 2016 essay Digitization: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, on the social and cultural considerations beyond the value of 'open access' when it comes to digitising archival collections, which is still bloody good.

3 Days, 150 Paintings: A Whirlwind Tintoretto Tour - why won't anyone pay me to write pieces like this? (Lots of reasons, really. Good ones, too.)

For my own future reference - historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore interviewed on her new book, These Truths.

A handy recap: Museums don’t just want gift shops to make money — they want them to shape our understanding of art.

Lisa Martin for The GuardianAustralian cultural institutions struggle to survive as War Memorial gets half-billion dollar upgrade.

Dr. Barabási and his team spent the past three years reconstructing the exhibition histories of nearly 500,000 artists, whose work was shown in about 16,000 galleries and 7,500 museums between 1980 and 2016. He and his team also scoured sales held in 1,239 global auction houses from the same 36-year time period. 
They used this data to help trace the paths that artists took early in their careers, tracking how one who earned a spot on the roster of Gallery A subsequently got exhibited in Museum B and then Museum C, for example.
Kelly Crow's The Surprising Formula for Becoming an Art Star for the WSJ, on a recently published study that over three years researched the exhibition histories of nearly 500,000 artists, whose work was shown in about 16,000 galleries and 7,500 museums between 1980-2016, to map the network of power behind artists who become successful.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Reading list, 10 November 2018

Museums are dangerous places: How Te Papa is challenging colonialist history - or as the author, my stellar colleague Puawai Cairns put it in a tweet, "The byline I’ve seen “How Te Papa is challenging colonial history” is a bit wrong though. The Māori communities who work with us are provoking most of the best change, we just have to be brave and reMāorify how we tell stories."

And another stellar colleague, currently on secondment to MCH working on repatriation at a national level: Amber Aranui for Pantograph Punch - Toi moko in Toi Art: A Harbinger for a Conversation.

Your taste is why your work disappoints you:  a simply wonderful piece by Penguin Random House New Zealand's publishing manager Claire Murdoch, who manages to mine memories of childhood reading, writing and friendship without ever getting saccharine.

The Ben Uri Gallery in London, established to help Jewish immigrants gain access to the arts, is deaccessioning works from its permanent collection (through a combination of selling via auction and distributing to public collections) in order to expand their mission and respond to contemporary society by championing immigrant artists.

An insightful article by Charles Desmarais for the SF Chronicle on the appointment of Tom Campbell (unceremoniously ushered out of the Met directorship last year) to fill the vacancy left by his successor Max Hollein at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Love a good new-director story: Suzanne Muchnic for ArtNews on Klaus Biesenbach and LA MOCA.


Sunday, 28 October 2018

Reading list, 28 October 2018

Back on the wagon ...

A great Longform podcast interview with New York Magazine's veteran art critic Jerry Saltz. Start listening to it for his enticement of more writing from younger people on their own peer group: stay for where he talks about his marriage to the stellar NYT art critic Roberta Smith. P.S. I hope Roberta has both health insurance and retirement savings.

I spent last week on the Museums & Galleries Australia week-long residential museum leadership programme. I'm still processing it - I went partly to build out my Australian networks, partly to audit the programme on behalf of Museums Aotearoa (New Zealand has no equivalent programme) and partly for my own reflection and (hopefully) growth. Without any doubt, the most valuable part was the day we had with Nicholas Serota, as he walked us through what I think of as the four 'seasons' of his extended tenure at Tate.  I'm still processing this, but one of my classmates, Paul Bowers, managed to reflect & write-up on the day: A day with Nicholas Serota.

This McKinsey Quarterly piece was cited by another instructor on the MGA programme: Accidentally agile: An interview with the Rijksmuseum’s Taco Dibbits in which the director talks about how teams were formed and dissolved around pieces of work for their massive renovation. Reading it, I couldn't help but think that small evolutions look like revolutions in hidebound old institutions, but there's a few nuggets, like having one exhibition team prep the first list of works for a collection hang, and a second team then be charged to come in, reduce it by two thirds, and argue for the inclusion of every object they're keeping.

Nina Simon and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History have released a Community Issue Exhibition Toolkit, based on their own work.

Why Are Antiques So Cheap? Because Everyone Lives in the Kitchen - this NYT piece by Scott Reyburn starts out kinda chintzy, but then becomes really interesting on how families' use of their houses, and accompanying furnishings trends, are changing.

Oof. From the Harvard Business ReviewWhen Boards Broaden Their Definition of Diversity, Women and People of Color Lose Out.
Whereas a mandate of diversity once inspired attention to demographic differences, including gender, race, and ethnicity, it now increasingly prioritizes differences of functional and industry experience. ... 
... Attention once oriented toward underrepresented groups (women and racial and ethnic minorities) is increasingly centered on technical attributes, such as experience and skills.
Mandatory proxy disclosures offer plain evidence of this shift. Among the largest U.S. firms last year, less than 45% attended to traditional measures of diversity (for example, gender) in their proxy disclosures. Director and recruiter interviews confirm evidence procured from company disclosures. 
One result has been a noticeable slowdown in the rate of appointment of women and other minorities to board seats. Globally, women hold only 15% of all corporate board seats, a mere increase of 2% since 2015. Among large U.S. companies (S&P 1500), women hold just 16% of seats — fewer seats than are held by directors named John, Robert, and William. Moreover, among the premier Fortune 500, women’s share of board seats actually declined by two percentage points in 2016. 
Thought provoking stuff from art consultant Lisa Schiff: Is This the Victory Lap We Were Hoping For? Why We Must Keep Women and Artists of Color From Becoming the Next Victims of Market Speculation

And finally, tangentially linked to Nick Serota (now chair of Arts Council England) - one of their recent research reports, commissioned from Golant Media Ventures and The Audience Agency, What is resilience anyway?, which has introduced me to the concept of 'bouncing back' and 'bouncing forward'.