Friday 30 May 2008

Mission impossible?

Ed Winkleman's latest post looks at the appointment of two former museum heads to positions at dealer galleries. Ed writes:

with all due respect to my friends in museums ... I've always gotten this sense from many of them that the commercial gallery system is seen as somewhat, shall we say, tainted, in their circles. This notion is exemplified by nothing so much as the fact that it's widely believed to be harder for a commercial gallerist to become a major curator or director of a museum than it is for a camel to squeeze through the eye of needle. And yet, as we see, the constriction seems to apply in only one direction.

This something I've thought about before. There seems to be little flow between dealer and public galleries in New Zealand. Hamish McKay got his start at the then-National Art Gallery; several dealers and dealer gallery staffers (including Melanie Rogers and Michael Lett) have walked the floors as attendants at Auckland Art Gallery. John McCormack and Dominic Feuchs at Starkwhite both had careers in public galleries before shifting over.

Ed cites this quote from an article about David Ross (former director of the Whitney and SFMOMA) and Robert Fitzpatrick's (most recently director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago) move to commercial galleries:

“I wanted to work more closely with artists, rather than patrons and trustees,” says Ross, explaining his transition to the commercial side of the industry. Fitzpatrick agrees, describing dealers as having a “passion for art, artists and helping their work become better known.”

I can't think of any examples in NZ where a person from a dealer gallery has moved into a (senior) position at a public gallery. Anyone?

Meanwhile, in a sad side-bar to the Bill Henson fiasco, the recently-launched Art World magazine has been forced to pulp 25,o00 copies of its next issue, which included a reproduction of the image at the centre of the storm. I was really enjoying Art World (the pulped issue was only the third, I think?) and hope the $100,000 this has cost its publishers doesn't send them under.

1 comment:

Blondie said...

Did Dick Bett not go from working with Elva in Wellington for 2 years before becoming director at the Govett Brewster. He returned to the dealer world after his contract was up. Moving to Tasmania to open his own gallery.