Caspar David Friedrich (German, 1774–1840)
Woman at the Window, 1822
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie
Now Showing at the
of Art, NYC
"ROOMS WITH A VIEW:
THE OPEN WINDOW
IN THE 19TH CENTURY"
Exhibition runs through July 4, 2011
I had the privilege to spend quite a bit of time studying this exhibition at the Met. In some ways it is an art show for artists, by artists, from a different era.
In the realistic style of painting, an artist crops and frames his or her view of the world within the edges of their paintings. Beginning in 1805 and ending in the 1840's northern European artists realized their studio windows also framed and cropped a view of the world and if the open window was painted as the subject of an interior scene, they could create a picture within a picture - an interior scene and a landscape painting at the same time.
An interesting note about distant landscapes comes from the German poet Novalis, “Everything at a distance turns into poetry: distant mountains, distant people, distant events: all becomes Romantic.” This "Rooms with a View" exhibition (at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City), are paintings from the 19th century's "Romantic" period of art in Northern Europe. It is the first time in art history for a museum show to have as it focus paintings of "interior windows - on the inside looking out".
Caspar David Friedrich (German, 1774–1840)
Caspar David Friedrich (German, 1774–1840)
This art movement had its beginning with two sepia wash paintings (above) by Caspar David Friedrich in 1805. Paintings of windows seen from the interior, without human figures and starkly bare with a seascape seen through the window. Artists in their studios quickly jumped on this bandwagon, because they enjoyed painting a self portrait of their workspace showing their tools, sketchbooks, easels, portfolios and their much needed nearby window.
In contrast to works showing windows from earlier centuries, such as paintings by Vermeer and other Dutch masters, these nineteenth-century pictures usually show the windows straight on as the subject, not from the side as the "light source". The view outside the window becomes the second subject: pastoral, urban or alpine; views of the sea, the sky, moon, clouds, rooftops, steeples, shipyards, and cityscape.
Georg Friedrich Kersting (German, 1785–1847)
In Front of the Mirror, 1827
Kunsthalle zu Kiel
Johan Christian Dahl (Norwegian, 1788–1857)
View of Pillnitz Castle, 1823
Museum Folkwang, Essen
Carl Gustav Carus (German, 1789–1869)
Studio Window, 1823–24
Die Lübecker Museen, Museum Behnhaus Drägerhaus
Martinus Rørbye (Danish, 1803–1848)
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen
Adolph Menzel (German, 1815–1905)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie
Franz Ludwig Catel (German, 1788–1856)
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund
Georg Friedrich Kersting (German, 1785–1847)
Léon Cogniet (French, 1794–1880)
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund
Jakob Alt (Austrian, 1789–1872)
Constant Moyaux (French, 1835–1911)
Musée des Beaux Arts, Valenciennes
This exhibition offers us views of the artists' studios in the early 1800's, and sometimes the views out their windows, but sometimes(exercising artistic license) the view the artists wished were out their windows.
Editorial sources: official Metropolitan Museum of Art - Press Department, online catalog synopsis and text from curator Sabine Rewald’s exhibition catalogue, "ROOMS WITH A VIEW: THE OPEN WINDOW IN THE 19TH CENTURY" all edited, rewritten and adapted for this specific editorial use.
ART BASEL 42
June 13 - 19, 2011
The grand ART BASEL Arts Festival of Switzerland finally gets going this week.
At Stall # A11 is the NY gallery, Cheim & Read - showing important works by Ghada Amer, Donald Baechler, Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, William Eggleston, Louise Fishman, Adam Fuss, Hans Hartung, Jenny Holzer, Gill Jensen, Chantal Joffe, Johathan Lasker, McDermott & McGough, Joan Mitchell, Jack Pierson, Milton Resnick, Pat Steir and Juan Usle. Some examples are shown below:
More art from some of the other 300 galleries at Art Basel 42 will be in the next issue. (The dialogue from a panel discussion at last year's fair about the differences in the American Art Scene and the European Art Scene can be found in the epilogue of this issue.)
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Asian / Mexican Sandwich
Designed by Roy Choi as the "Midnight Torta".
Choi is the chef at Kogi Korean BBQ in Los Angeles.
|Food & Wine Magazine photo by Anna Williams.|
Note: Sandwich is pictured on Wasara Kaku plates.
Asian / Mexican Sandwich
- FAST to Prepare
- Recipe source online / Food & Wine Magazine,
- July 2010 issue, Page 238.
- permission requested
- 2 large jalapeños
- 12 ounces meaty fresh pork belly, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 4 large Mexican rolls (crusty, soft white rolls 5 to 6 inches round or oval–shaped), split and toasted
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- Grated cojita cheese, cilantro leaves and sliced tomatoes, for serving
- Roast the jalapeños over a gas flame until charred all over. Transfer the jalapeños to a bowl, cover and let cool. Peel, stem and seed the jalapeños, then cut them lengthwise into thin strips.
- In a large nonstick skillet, arrange the pork belly slices in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and add the spinach to the pork in the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and stir until the spinach is wilted. Crack the eggs into the skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Using a wide spatula, gently turn the eggs with the pork and spinach, trying not to scramble the eggs. Cook just until the whites are set but the yolks are runny, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the lime juice.
- Spread the mayonnaise on the toasted rolls and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Using a spatula, divide the filling between the rolls. Top with the roasted jalapeños, cotija cheese, cilantro leaves and tomato slices. Close the tortas, cut them in half and serve right away.
ARTSnFOOD, All rights reserved. Concept & Original Text © Copyright 2011 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.
ART PANEL DISCUSSION from 2010
Crossing the Atlantic
(TOPIC: The similarities and differences between Europe and the United States, when it comes to the arts, and especially when it comes to museums.)
Klaus Biesenbach, Director, MoMA PS1, New York and a Chief Curator at Large, The
Museum of Modern Art, NY; founding Director, Kunst-Werke (KW) Institute for
Contemporary Art, Berlin and Berlin Biennale
Lynne Cooke, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina
Ann Goldstein, Director, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; former Senior Curator, The
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles
Moderator: András Szántó, Author, Consultant to arts and philanthropic organizations,
Welcome | Sylvia Chivaratanond
Good morning everyone. Thank you all for joining us this morning for Art Basel
Conversations. My name is Sylvia Chivaratanond and I helped to organize Art Basel
Conversations and Art Salon. Today we have very distinguished panel speakers: Klaus
Biesenbach, Lynne Cooke and Ann Goldstein. Our moderator, András Szántó will
introduce them each. He is a writer and an advisor for cultural institutions and foundations
and he regularly contributes to 'The Art Newspaper'. He teaches art business and cultural
communication and marketing in New York. He is a European, who lived half of his life in
the U.S. Please help me welcome our panel today!
András Szántó: Thank you very much, thanks for coming so early this morning. Thanks to
Art Basel as always for surrounding the commercial stimulus with some intellectual
stimulus. And thanks to all of you – I have seen many colleagues, friends and students
from both sides of the Atlantic.
We will talk about something that, I think, is very important and timely: Similarities and
differences between Europe and the United States, especially when it comes to the arts,
and especially when it comes to museums. We all have heard and read about how
globalization is supposed to erase differences between nations, between continents. But I
think, time, we come to understand that there are very, very profound and enduring
differences that do persist in values and perceptions, in ways of doing business, in the
sort of frames of mindset around the arts and around museums. But what exactly are
Joining us today are three art world luminaries. They do not need much introduction –
although I will try to say very, very briefly something about each of them later on: They are
Klaus Biesenbach, currently of MoMA PS1; Ann Goldstein, currently of the Stedelijk
Museum in Amsterdam; and Lynne Cooke in the middle, who is the most travelled of all,
most recently in the U.S., now here in Europe, in Madrid.
You may ask: Why should we talk about America and Europe right now? The idea for this
conversation came about last year, when we were talking with colleagues at Art Basel. We
noticed that there was actually a spate of announcements about major curators who had
moved across the Atlantic to assume new positions, in this case two very recent
transitions from the United States to Europe, one last transition from Europe to the United
States, and there were many others. We thought that this was very interesting.
But there was also something more profound going on. We sat here exactly a year ago
with five museum directors from Europe and the U.S. and we were talking about the crisis.
Our perception was that European museums and American museums at that time were
confronting very different realities. American museums were really at the low point in the
crisis. Their endowments were tanking. They were laying off staff. It was a very dark time
in many US museums. Meanwhile the European museum directors on the panel last year
were quite sanguine about the situation. They were quite optimistic.Many of them
expressed relief that they were shielded from the storm, they were protected by the state
subsidies. They were taking advantage of the situation in many respects.
But what a difference a year makes! Right now, it is almost the opposite situation: It is
Europe that seems to be heading into more turbulent waters. In the United States
museums are recovering, endowments are back, some museums are hatching new plans.
Again, a reminder that the realities and the contexts and the situations of museums on the
two sides of the Atlantic can be quite different. But putting aside those differences, I hope
that we can talk today about three areas, that we can peel away three layers of the onion:
First I would like to talk about the overall cultural context in which museums find
themselves – overall differences of the place of the arts in general and museums in
particular in society. Then, I hope that we can talk about differences in how museums are
run. Who makes decisions, how are those made, why are those made? Where does the
money come from? And then thirdly, and I think for this panel perhaps most importantly, I
hope we can get a little bit into the different texture of exchange that happens inside the
museum between objects and curators, on the one hand, and the public on the other
hand. What are the different frames of mind, the different references that people bring to
that encounter? As a way to get into this I warned my friends here that I will going to ask
each one to ease us into this topic by giving us an anecdote, a kind of epiphany of when
they first realized that they were in a different kind of place. When was it, after they took
on their new job, that they said: 'Aha, this is a different kettle of fish.'
I will start with you, Lynne. Lynne is currently at the Reina Sofia in Madrid, where she is
deputy director and chief curator, a role she took a year and a half ago, roughly. Before,
she was at Dia in New York. She was there for 17 years. So this was a very big switch in
your life, Lynne, but not your first one – you are an Australian who moved to New York.
Among many, many accomplishments she was the curator of the 'Carnegie International'
in ’91, she was the artistic director of the Sydney Biennale, she has taught and lectured
very extensively and among her many exhibitions were Richard Serra, Jorge Pardo, Roni
Horn, Ann Hamilton, Rosemarie Trockel, and on and on. She is of course a widely
published author as well. So, Lynn: When you got to Madrid, when was it when it sank in
that you were in a different context?
Lynne Cooke: It sank in very fast. I was installing the first exhibition I worked on; it was a
retrospective of Zoe Leonard. It was a very comprehensive show and involved many,
many photographs. The installation period seemed to go well. But the day before we were
opening there was still an enormous amount to do and we asked for this to be done and
that to be done – nothing seemed to happen. And then there would be a two and a half
hour lunch break and a lot of people do not work after lunch - it seemed a little precarious
to me. The next morning there was a press preview at noon and suddenly, at ten o’clock,
an army of people appeared, eight women were washing the floor with buckets and
people were putting labels up and all this happened within this last hour and a half. It was
perfectly finished. I realized that this is certainly the way it happens in Spain: It is a big
drama at the end, everybody is involved, there is a huge amount of flurry and there is a
tremendous sense of theater as things come together just before the opening. And this is
totally the opposite of what I experienced before.
András Szántó: How was it in your previous post: Two years of planning?
Lynne Cooke: Everybody knew exactly what to do. Everything finished two days before
opening. Things happened on schedule.
András Szántó: Was this a kind of pleasant discovery for you? Like: 'Oh, I can do it this
way as well.'
Lynne Cooke: I think I do it this way because it is the way it is. It is a very different way of
thinking. It has an adrenaline rush that people get off on and I can appreciate the
excitement of it. It is perhaps not necessarily my preferred mode, but... In Madrid lunch is
at three o’clock. I am always hungry at one o’clock. My body hasn’t quite got there.
András Szántó: So these are the cultural threats that are simply there and that you have
to adapt to.
Ann, you are next! Ann is the most recent Atlantic hopper. She has barely arrived, her
museum actually hasn’t reopened yet – she is general artistic director of the Stedelijk
Museum in Amsterdam, where she arrived in January. Now she is working on her first
exhibition. Before that she was for a very long time, 25 years, at L.A. MOCA, serving for a long period as a senior curator for contemporary arts and in many other positions before that. At L.A. MOCA she oversaw the permanent collection, organized many thematic and
single artist exhibitions, many of which traveled, so through that you certainly have
experience in how things are played out Europe. She has exhibited Martin Kippenberger,
Felix Gonzales-Torres, Barbara Kruger and on and on, she is also a prolific writer, many
of her catalogues are the definite texts in their areas. So, Ann, I realize that for you this is
all new. You are just getting used to it. What was the moment you realized that you are
now somewhere else?
Ann Goldstein: It was very interesting coming to the Stedelijk and coming to a museum
that has been closed for a very long and extended renovation and expansion that started
six years ago. It was supposed to have been completed two or three years ago and still
doesn’t have a definitive end – although we hope for the end of next year. So it has come
to a level where the museum has been functioning on certain levels and not functioning in
a public way. It has had a temporary building for about four years and for the last two
years there was no building for programming – although there were things done in the city
and loans of the collection. So I was coming into that situation and I was jumping into
many new things: jumping from being a curator to a director, jumping from one country to
another, jumping from a museum that almost disappeared to a museum that kind of has
disappeared. I wanted to walk in swinging and hit the ground running. Of course then one
of the first things you encounter is the different ways things are done. You are really
understanding a fundamental difference in the institutions, coming from a privately funded
kind of trustee-owned institution to a truly publicly owned situation. It was interesting going
into a closed museum where I actually have to ask for permission to look at the collection
and I have to ask for permission to go into the buildings.
András Szántó: You mean, you do not have the keys?
Ann Goldstein: Right, I do not have the keys. It is a different sense of ownership, internally
and actually of the staff. You really are a custodian. The museum doesn’t own its buildings
or its collection. I met the alderman of the city of Amsterdam and she said: 'When
something happens to a work of art, the first person you call is me'. So I am learning all
these different processes. There are many anecdotes, but I think it is all about
understanding that there is a different sense of ownership. I think any museum is a public
trust but certainly a publicly funded institution has a different sense of entitlement and
expectations coming from outside.
András Szántó: I think that even compared to America’s public museums – not that we
have that many – it is a little different. We will get back to administrative issues in a
minute. I am really glad because I think these two anecdotes worked really well, because
we had one on the sort of deep culture and then we had an anecdote on a sort of
administrative culture being different.
But now let’s get Klaus into the conversation. He is a veteran Atlantic-crosser.He made
the definitive journey a while ago. He is the director of MoMA PS1 but has been curating
since the 90s. He came, of course, to New York from Berlin, where he founded
Kunstwerke – Institute for Contemporary Art in ‘91. He also founded the Berlin Biennale in
’96. And he remained founding director of both institutions. In case you haven’t been
reading the newspapers: Klaus, who became film and media curator at MoMA in ’05, has
been steadily expanding his range of responsibilities at MoMA . He has lead a number of
important initiatives there – certainly on behalf of performance art, but certainly in other
areas, too. Museums workshops, acquisitions... For those of you who haven’t been to
New York recently, the Marina Abramović show just closed, the 'Greater New York' show
just opened... so he is a very busy guy. And again: Too many artists to name have been
in your exhibitions; some of the names overlap between all of you. Klaus, tell us of your
perception of these two continents on which you seem to find yourself all the time.
Klaus Biesenbach: First of all I see it perhaps as two cities, Berlin – New York. I am very
often asked: 'Oh god, you are so anti-cyclical! How dare you to leave Berlin when
everybody moves to Berlin? ' I was in Berlin from ’89 until 2004, this was fifteen years.
Having founded KW and the Berlin Biennial, having worked with so many artists, I think I
did my fifteen years in Berlin. And when I am saying that I went to New York in 2004 it is
not really true because I started commuting between New York and Berlin in ’92. This is
18 years commuting between the two cities on a monthly basis. There were so many
exhibitions that were done for both cities from early on: Paul Pfeiffer, Taryn Simon or a
very big 'Mexico City' show with Francis Alÿs – they were all made for both cities.
Anecdote... Since I am doing this for 18 years and I am often waking up and I don’t know
where I wake up, it takes a while until I find out where I am... We recently opened the
Marina Abramović exhibition and Marina was sitting there with two chairs at a table in the
main atrium. On the sixth floor there was a quite monumental show. We had done a
casting and we had looked at 200 younger performers, dancers, actors. Finally Marina
had started training 93 of those 200 and it was a one-year-process of training. There was
a workshop of three days no talking, of endurance, of just lying down for a whole day, not
moving. We were so focused on this. Then the opening comes and the whole museum is
full and our trustees are there, everybody is there. And then he first person comes up to
me and says: 'These people there are all naked. Didn’t you see that? They are all naked!'
And then the second person comes up and says: 'How did you sell this to the museum?
These people are all naked! We are in America! ' I seriously had not thought about this.
András Szántó: Being German.
Klaus Biesenbach: No, I think being European. I think in Europe about art there is so
much consensus. That art has a special set of rules, art is consulted to get some secret
truth and beauty out of everything. In Europe there is a consensus that art is something
very, very powerful whereas in the U.S. art is still difficult. For example: We had this very
powerful politician from Germany, maybe she read in a magazine that there was this kind
of show. She came and she would right walk through the naked people – while the mayor
of New York would never ever get photographed close to that situation.
András Szántó: When a camera is around.
Klaus Biesenbach: In the States art is still difficult. And I just not had any doubts about it. I
was very doubtless with my colleagues and my colleagues saw that, but then at the
opening everybody was like: 'Oh god!' Then the press said: 'Oh god'. Everybody stayed
cool. But then the press went a little bit crazy for a week and it ended up at Barbara
Walters and David Letterman and every mainstream talk show. But afterwards everybody
had his or her rage and it was fine. Three months long all the people were naked and
nobody cared anymore. And they behaved, actually.
András Szántó: IThese are very revealing windows in our broader topic. The last one
leads us really forward to where I was hoping to go. We really had a little taste of the
deeper cultural differences and administrative differences and the status of art. That is
exactly where I would like to go now. As they say on CNN: 'to dig a little deeper'. 'What
areyour perceptions about the different place of art in society in the US and Europe?'
Lynne Cooke: I think what Klaus said about difficulties is quite a good way of approaching
it. My experience in the States was that you had to anticipate trouble. Where the trouble
might come from, where the flare-ups might be, to make a kind of preventive action
before. This is not my experience in Spain. There is a great deal of freedom on that level.
It is a liberal society. I have never been asked about the potentially explosive sexual or
political content of a show beforehand. I just co-curated a show with Douglas Crimp,
called 'Mixed Use, Manhattan' and it has amongst other works some of Alvin Baltrop’s
photographs, many of which show explicit sex on the piers in New York City in the
Seventies. Nobody said that we needed to cordon off this room or that we would have to
put up signage. Nobody made some kind of drama in anticipation of trouble.
András Szántó: So you had no meetings with your public relations department about
Lynne Cooke: Those kinds of issues didn’t come up. There is a level of trust that
audiences can work out such issues on their own terms.
András Szántó: Maybe they even expect to be provoked?
Lynne Cooke: No, I don’t think that they are looking for being provoked.
András Szántó: So it is just accepted. Sexuality and explicit works is one thing. But does
that also apply on other areas beyond sexuality, political hard potatoes, and religious
Lynne Cooke: Religious subjects probably more. I have actually not witnessed the case
but it comes up in the news from time to time. Within my experience of looking at
exhibitions, reading literature and going to the theater: no, it is a very free society.
András Szántó: So there is a greater tolerance that comes, as I understand it, from a
greater respect for art. Is that what you are saying, Klaus?
Klaus Biesenbach: I don’t know if it is greater respect. I can mostly talk of the German-
speaking parts of the European Union. But I would say that at least in my generation it is a
very secular society. I remember every time I watch the Oscars or the music awards and
then come this fantastic director or actor and is thanking god... I am not against this, but I
always realize that in Europe you wouldn’t necessarily do that in a context like this. So I
would say that Europe is a very secular society whereas the U.S. is still a very religion-
driven society. The president, the mayor, they got to a TV or radio show and they say: 'I
have to leave now, I have to read the bible.' This is the daily truth. So what does that
mean? I believe that in the secular Europe art took the function in society of being a secret
place, a revealing place, a place of epiphany and wonder, a place of belief, a place of
miracle and therefore has a very strong support group. When you think of all those
collectors running and buying – it is a little bit like buying religious devotional objects. I
think this is strange in Europe, whereas in America society has that different spectrum and
art is still slightly dangerous, slightly subversive, definitely dangerous for a politician, for a
public figure – it is something you do not want to get to close to. You cannot get a public
person in the U.S. to get too close to art. And this is over 30 years after Mapplethorpe and
Andres Serrano. You would still not get there. The subversive otherness of art is still there
and you feel it.
András Szántó: It is interesting though, because Americans feel very often, and express
very often, that they are more open to innovation, to different ideas. There is a dimension
of the American self-image that America is a more liberal, more tolerant, more open
society, certainly more accepting breaking boundaries – so is that an illusion or is that also
Ann Goldstein: Well, I am coming from the other side, from the American side looking
towards Europe. I am the only American on the panel. We always have been impressed
by how much art is considered as part of society, of how art is incredibly respected. I think
in the States many artists feel that they are suspected, that they are a suspicion. And this
is not even based on issues of tolerance or content – whatever they are doing is
suspicious. I think it is interesting just to look at the question who gets a show where? In
terms of MOCA we co-organized a Lawrence Weiner retrospective three years ago,
Stedelijk Museum organized a retrospective in the late Eighties and his first museum
survey was in the Seventies in Europe. So it is interesting how certain artists, especially in
the area of conceptual art, get exhibitions. That Dan Graham just got his first American
retrospective, that it just doesn’t happen sooner. Maybe it is because of the different
financial systems, the fact that we have to get funding, persuade, justify in a different way
what we do. I feel that in the States there is a different process of how things go on a
schedule. How do you determine what you do? You worry about: 'Can I get it funded, will I
get support for it? ' I think it is interesting – that has always been a very perplexing and
interesting situation, that it takes so long for certain artist to get shown in the U.S.
András Szántó: So let‘s acknowledge that there is this kind of constraints in America.
There is a public morality that is less tolerant of certain kind of aesthetic transgressions.
What Europe has as constraints is something else – maybe that there is the idea of art
being seen as some kind of embodiment of national culture, and of museums being
national institutions? How does that change things? Does it? What does it mean that the
museums are seen as major national institutions? That much of the art in there is not just
art but also an emblem of a national tradition? Does that lead to a change in how you
approach your work or your programming?
Ann Goldstein: I am in a city-owned institution, it is the center of a national network of
modern and contemporary art museums, it is definitely a national treasure, but it is also
very locally identified and owned. It is an institution that has really been used by its
citizens. They all grew up going to the Stedelijk Museum and they all miss it terribly, which
is very encouraging. I was impressed of how much was written about it: about its history,
about its directors, the history of the institution’s architecture. There was so much
investment in its own history and I think that this is something special. And I come from a
museum that is very young, I kind of witnessed its history. So coming into an institution
that is 115 years old is a new encounter, how much it really lives with this history and
everybody knows it!
Lynne Cooke: The Reina Sofia is a museum that has responsibility for Spanish modern
and contemporary art as well as international art. And in that sense it is like the Tate or
the Centre Pompidou. There is always a debate between what the relative status of each
is, in local terms. But what is really interesting to me is in the institutions that look after
national patrimony, Like the Reina Sofia museum patrimony is not necessarily considered
to be just the artifacts, it is also the discourse. There is constantly a tremendous debate
around the reception and interpretation of works. When the collection was re-hung under
the new administration led by Director Manuel Borja-Villel, 'Guernica' was re-
contextualized. It caused massive debates for months. That discussion goes on with
exhibition programming too; it is not just about who is shown, it is about the bigger story,
about what the story is, and about the terms in which such narratives are defined.
András Szántó: And they weave that back into the whole debate about their patrimony; it
is not just a technical question of the re-hanging...
Lynne Cooke: No, it is about patrimony but it is also about discourse. As I said, it is not
just about objects; what is acquired for the collection or put on public view. And this is very
different from my experience in New York because there is no equivalent to this kind of
institution in the States. Also, the fact that the discussion is philosophical and discursive is
very different from there, I think.
András Szántó: In general, I suppose you are referring to the press. I mean, in
professional publications there is obviously a lot of discussion. But this permeates into the
public press as well, right?
Lynne Cooke: There is a great deal of press in Spain. A lot of it is journalism as distinct
from high-level criticism. But it means that the institution is in the press every day for one
reason or another. When you look at the culture section of the newspaper it is a big
section with substantial articles and many of the people who are in the art world have
degrees in philosophy and aesthetics, rather than in art history as in the English-speaking
world. That makes for a different type of discussion: Rancière is as likely to be quoted as
Meyer Schapiro. But it is not only a different kind of discussion, it is one that people from
many different disciplines enter into.
Ann Goldstein: I think that is true in Germany, too.
András Szántó: This is another interesting contrast we discovered – it is actually one I
haven’t heard of before: The art historian versus the philosophical framework. But let’s
switch gear a little bit now and go from the sublime to the more technical questions: The
differences in how these institutions are run. I do want to get back to these more subtle
issues of how the discourse is different. But we can’t have this discussion today without
talking about the differences between institutions that are privately run and funded and
institutions that are state-funded and run. I think there are a lot of clichés about what that
means exactly. It is not as really as black and white as: 'In America private collectors are
getting together to run museums and in Europe the state is imposing its will.' I would like
each one of you to reflect upon this a little bit. Where are you on the scale of things and
what was your experience from going from one type of institution to the other? What are
the pros and cons of being in a privately funded organization and in a public one?
Klaus Biesenbach: I do think the difference is indeed not that black and white anymore. I
worked a lot in Japan in the 90s and there were all these museums started or planned or
built. But they were just built without having a budget. I thought that this was an incredible
phenomenon: all these modern or contemporary art museums pop up in every major city
and they didn’t think about the staff, they didn’t think about a collection and they didn’t
think about a budget to plan shows. Ten years later Europe looks a little bit like this. With
a long tradition of having Kunstvereine, Kunsthallen, a museum in every middle-sized city
but with the economy not necessarily being incredibly strong, they look a little bit like
these museums in Japan: They have their building and their structure but they don’t have
necessarily money to plan shows and to go for new acquisitions. So I think that this is
slightly changing – correct me if I am wrong. I think if the state economy gets weaker it will
be even more the case. I think that sponsors, private collectors, donations will be more
important in Europe whereas in America the ideal museum has a variety of very, very
strong trustees and donors, so that it can function like an institution, so that it is
independent from the donations, it can program just by the curator’s and director’s
decisions. So I think in an ideal world an American institution is based on that civic
responsibility like a hospital is or a library. You walk in a hospital and you realize: 'Oh, it is
the Kimmel Hospital!' or the hospital of another family. But you wouldn’t expect that the
family whose name is on the door will tell you which surgeon is best for you. That is not
how it functions and it is not how it functions in a well-run museum. There is this big name
on the door but the big name will not tell the curators what to do. So I think there is an
ideal of establishing an independence that is purely curatorial or directorial. I think it works
in most museums really well. We were all a little bit shocked when economy tanked, how
fragile some museums are. We were all shocked when we heard that L.A. MOCA was in a
deep emergency situation. But this can happen to a state-run museum in Europe, too.
Just two or three wrong decisions and you are there.
András Szántó: But Klaus, do you ever feel at MoMA that in thinking about what you are
putting on and how you are putting it on, that you have to worry about the trustees? Do
you feel that pressure or do you feel comfortably isolated from that?
Klaus Biesenbach: I am not only comfortably isolated but I also feel supported going
towards areas I don’t even know yet. This is, I think, a great point to be at. I think curators
have different roles. So there are curators that are curator-directors and there are director-
directors. I am more interested in discovery, my main profession is to be curious. I would
describe my role as some kind of director, I would call it 'inventor-curator'. I can only say
that I changed my role every half of a year in the five and a half years I am in the museum
now, and the museum always supported this. So I actually do think that in a large enough
institution you are safely disconnected but you are in a great way supported once you
really want to gain new territory and make a case for it. Once we had no media
department, we had no performance department – all these things are new territories. I
couldn’t imagine that I would have made this in Europe because it is so slow sometimes.
András Szántó: Is this your experience as well, Lynne, that institutionally, a private
ownership maybe gives a little bit more freedom?
Lynne Cooke: In my experience it might give less bureaucracy. But on the other hand, to
generate anything in North America is time consuming: to apply for grants, to write
proposals, to go through the institution’s press and media departments... I find that the
Spanish situation is in some ways more flexible. One can actually work much faster,
though that would seem unlikely given that it is very bureaucratic. On the whole there is
less infrastructure to weigh in. In some ways, that’s refreshing. There is little direct
external scrutiny from politicians. Nor is there the bald reduction to counting numbers of
people coming through the door.
András Szántó: I was going to ask that exact question: Where do you feel the greater
pressure to generate audience, attendance numbers?In the U.S. there is an enormous
emphasis on the body count. You, Lynne, are saying that it is not so important in Spain.
Lynne Cooke: Well, we are in the fortunate situation that the number of people who are
coming to the museum is high, and continues to increase. That has to do with many
factors, I think. Maybe even the relatively high unemployment means that with more time
on their hands people are perhaps coming more often. Of course 'Guernica' is a key
attraction. But there is also a very active exhibition program, probably on a larger scale
than in other comparable institutions. Maybe because the numbers are very strong, and
the critical reception has been good over all, there is not that much pressure.
András Szántó: We are dispelling a number of myths here quietly. Myths of the sort that
an Orwellian state tells you what to do in Europe, or the myth of the influence of private
trustees on curatorial decisions in America. Journalists in particular sometimes take it
almost as a matter of course that somehow American trustees come along and say: 'Here
is my collection; I want it on the wall! ' I want to know what your reflections are, Ann, on
Ann Goldstein: There can be those perceptions in the States, but I think in a museum that
has everything in its proper place, the director is responsible that the curators can do their
jobs. He has to keep that separation and to field the various stakeholders. I think an
institution needs to know itself, insure its identity, believe in itself and fight for itself. The
Stedelijk Museum has slightly shifted its configuration, it is mostly publicly funded by the
city of Amsterdam, it was privatized to the fact that the staff reports to an advisory board
rather than to the city. So that is an interesting balance. But we do have to raise money
and this is a whole new encounter: The art of the give and get is very underdeveloped
from my perspective and unsystematized. I was very surprised to come in and there
weren’t procedures or policies, this catch-as-catch-can, contract here, contract there.
András Szántó: Do you have fundraising staff?
Ann Goldstein: We have two people.
András Szántó: How many people are in MoMA involved in fundraising?
Klaus Biesenbach: It is definitely a very large number.
András Szántó: Thank you for being so precise!
Ann Goldstein: At MOCA we had 20 people. The staff was bigger than the curatorial staff.
The two biggest staffs were the curatorial staff and the fundraising staff.
András Szántó: How much of your own time is spent with fundraising in your current jobs,
Ann Goldstein: At the Stedelijk it is a big part of my job. It was part of my job at MOCA,
too. Curators were expected to fundraise, absolutely. Especially now, when so much of
fundraising is with private individuals. Corporate money shrunk or nearly disappeared,
foundations have been hit, it was very much about individuals. And the curators know
people. Often, at least in my world, we are expected to make an ask, not just to identify,
but also make the ask.
András Szántó: Lynne, how much of your time?
Lynne Cooke: Relatively little. The museum is very largely funded by the state. The idea
of corporate funding or private individual funding will grow, certainly. But at the moment it
is in a nascent condition.
András Szántó: At DIA, you weren’t too much involved in fundraising either, right?
Lynne Cooke: Well, DIA was very small in terms of the numbers of staff employed. The
policy when I was there was always that the director was the most effective fundraiser. He
did the heavy lifting, and then the deputy director.
András Szántó: Klaus, how much of your time do you have to devote in some way or
another in dealing with trustees and donors?
Klaus Biesenbach: I think I am not directly fundraising. I wouldn’t be allowed to anyway,
because we have a department for this. I see it more in the way that I have a relatively
small group, not more than twenty people, most of them are on our board of directors and
I think we are on a journey together. Metaphorically on a journey, like what the institution
will do, and then literally on a journey, like we are all in Basel or we are all in Shanghai.
My conviction is that you need a certain group of supporters of artists, also of people
being critical with you in order to get somewhere. So before you read something in the
New York Times or in the FAZ I rather hear it from my friends and hear it from my board
and hear it from my artist friends. So I see it as a journey, we make studio visits together
and go to exhibitions and galleries together. It is this very lively inner circle, of perhaps 25,
30 people. When I think about it, they are maybe more. But this group of supporters,
artists and sometimes just very frank people just carry the institution. And that comes from
a European perspective I brought to America. I couldn’t do it differently. It works and it
means that we come to a point where I hope that people around the institution understand
where my exhibition decisions come from. I hope that they understand when the exhibition
goes a little wild or challenging.
I loved the way you said that in Europe artists are respected and in America they are
suspected. I hope that my group is always with me. I think that P.S.1, which is ten years
with MoMa but nobody really realized and now there is a name change to MOMA PS1 – is
actually free now to become much more European and international. It is going to be a
Kunsthalle now; I think the idea of a Kunsthalle is not really known in America. Which
institution in America is a real Kunsthalle? Without a collection, disconnected, rotating. I
treat it the same in Europe as in the U.S.: You need a certain group of people and that
might be your mayor in Amsterdam or I don’t know who it is in Madrid, you need to
somehow share your thinking with them and get clear if this person supports you or not
and then you know what to do.
András Szántó: Is there a difference in decisions that are going to acquisitions between
the European more public situation and America? In terms of what the museum buys or
Ann Goldstein: I find a big difference, but it is also again procedural. At MOCA we had
acquisition committees; the board had to prove acquisitions, at the Stedelijk it is the
András Szántó: So if you say, 'I want a Frank Stella,' they get you a Frank Stella?
Ann Goldstein: I have to pay of course, but, yes, it is like this.
András Szántó: It is not approved by a committee.
Ann Goldstein: No, and it is funny: The curators have been accustomed to a quick
turnaround and I have been always on this three or four months cycle of acquisitions. So
they present something to me and two days later they say: 'Well, what are you going to
do?” – And I say: 'Oh, I didn’t have time to think about it! '
András Szántó: You are dispelling myths again. One would have been tempted to believe
that the European scenario would be the more complicated.
Ann Goldstein: Well, I can’t generalize, I can only speak about this specific situation.
András Szántó: Klaus, can you have an acquisition without a committee deciding or
Klaus Biesenbach: I actually agree with Ann – America has a committee system and in
America an acquisition is considered as a serious decision, like doing an exhibition. It is a
very important activity and I would never do it without a committee. And also why should
I? Either I have a good point and then it will be acquired or you can’t make the point and
perhaps that has a reason. I actually like the committee system.
Lynne Cooke: There is a board of trustees at the Reina Sofia. The debate is usually not
about the cost of a work, it is about some historical issue surrounding it.
András Szántó: A debate around the discourse aspect. Second quick question: Are there
differences in how success is measured across the Atlantic?
Lynne Cooke: No, I don’t think so. I think it is a combination of public perception and
professional recognition – it is the same everywhere.
András Szántó: Do we have agreement there?
Ann Goldstein: I think so. I would say that the quantifiable is present in Europe and
America. Quantifiable meaning attendance, press and so on. Those are still factors for
how success is judged. But each of us has an own inner compass and there is an
institution’s inner compass and I think it needs to be perfectly calibrated to understand
how to judge your own success not just on the base of what is quantifiable. If you get too
far away from that or too far into the quantifiable, it is going to be a problem. But it is
interesting, because for the Stedelijk Museum when we reopen we are expected to have
at least 600.000 visitors, which is a significant amount more than the museum has had
historically. That is also budgetary, there is a budget based on a certain amount of
income, a certain amount of visitors.
András Szántó: Now I want to go to the heart of the matter, which has to do with the
differences in perceptions and responses to the art itself and how you present art. So my
question is, I’ll try to formulate it as simply as possible: Do you plan an exhibition
differently when you are presenting it for a European audience or when you are preparing
it for an American audience?
Klaus Biesenbach: First of all I think that we haven’t finished your question about success.
I see the success of a museum like an onion – there are a lot of layers and you can peel
it. A museum like MoMA has approximately 3 million people a year, so it is a big onion.
But I do think that success is not measured by the door, by the amount, it is not measured
if Roberta Smith and Jerry Saltz have seen and liked it. This is not the measure. I think
when you peel the onion you come to that little thing in the middle and that is the art scene
and the artist, it is us. And this surprisingly small middle of the onion is more about art
scene legends, buzz, a fight, a confrontation. It is basically pushing the envelope in that
small little middle of the onion, that ultimately means success: that you pushed it, that you
moved it, that you really changed perception. It is not the 3 million people. If we have the
impression 'Oh god, Lynne pushed this envelope, there was this controversial thing,
formally so fantastic and I will change my practice after I saw it.' That is success! Some
institutions run on that little thing since twenty years and they run on the idea that this has
Lynne Cooke: This is what I mean by the professional side of success. It is public and
professional, and I think that it is the case everywhere. It is made up of colleagues, the
world of those who know the history of exhibition-making, acquisitions, of museology in
Klaus Biesenbach: I went yesterday to the Basquiat show and there is this kind of spray-
painted poster 'New York, New Wave' and I thought: 'Oh god, Alanna Heiss did that show
with others at P.S.1 and here is the spray-painted Basquiat as an entrance'. It is a legend,
long gone, but these things still run. And I think what you did at the DIA, Lynne – DIA will
run on this for a long time. That is success. Success is the legends.
András Szántó: If it is not the numbers and not the critics,when do you know that it is
Klaus Biesenbach: When something creates a legend and a buzz! I remember when I
went to your Thomas Schütte show – that was like... Wow! Middle of the onion!
András Szántó: But that is a very different measure of success compared to the one that
you were alluding to.
Ann Goldstein: I agree with my colleagues. But each of us has to figure out how to
measure success. I always had to feel compelled to do what is historically necessary and
that I can justify it. That I can justify it to artists, that I can justify it to people who know
best. But I would say that the people who support us, our trustees and our stakeholders,
do read the newspaper. They do look at the box office and are affected by numbers and
by that quantifiable part of things as a measure of success. I think we can’t ignore it. It is
wonderful to hear that we all don’t want to base our identity on it, but...
Klaus Biesenbach: I remember when Hans Ulrich Obrist, Nancy Spector and I did the first
Berlin Biennial, it was ’98, the first review came out and it said: 'Oh god, an exploded
children’s room!' And we were devastated, but then went to the party and everybody was
in a good mood and we said: 'Fine! '. I agree with Ann, of course you are devastated for a
day. But in the end there are different parameters that decide success. It is not numbers.
András Szántó: You are having a conversation in a space with the help of objects with a
public. How do you consider that public? I mean, we have acknowledged differences
between what the public has tolerance for in the U.S. versus Europe, and presumably
there are differences in the levels of education. When it really comes right down to it, let’s
say you were doing the same type of exhibition, starting from scratch, not a traveling
show, in Europe versus the U.S. – would that end up being the same exhibition? Or how
exactly would you approach it differently?
Klaus Biesenbach: I have an anecdote. The late Susan Sontag and I started doing an
exhibition together. She had been suffered through numerous illnesses and it was very
much about that. The exhibition was called 'Into Me, Out of Me' but more like infusion,
surgery and all of this. But then of course, she was very close to Mapplethorpe when he
was alive and so one gives the other, and then in was clear what the spectrum of the
exhibition would be about in the end. First I did it in New York and sadly, unfortunately,
Susan wasn’t around anymore. I thought: 'Can I do the show? – Yes, I will do that show.'
But I didn’t want to be afraid to include those pieces I knew were important for her. So I
put them all in, Peter Hujar, Robert Mapplethorpe, everything. And I knew that the
Mapplethorpe Foundation didn’t want to give me the 'X Portfolio' which is difficult. Then I
have shown them all the other images of the exhibition and then they said: 'You can have
the ‘X Portfolio’!' I was, because it was America, more aware about this. I kind of have
shown it very shyly .Then it travelled to Berlin and Rome and in Berlin I basically put
everything – Joseph Beuys, Robert Gober, Robert Mapplethorpe – I will not explain which
picture of Mapplethorpe – I put them altogether in the main space and I saw people being
really shy about it. So sometimes it is just your idea. You do things differently.
András Szántó: You edit.
Klaus Biesenbach: Yes, in Rome, all the pictures were gone. I was not the curator
anymore and I went to the show – I was like: 'Oh god, this is not the show!'
András Szántó: So we seem to end with anecdotes. Do you have similar stories? Where
you had to change the optics around the show, depending on where you were presenting
Lynne Cooke: One of the best thing I have discovered is the lack of barriers and security
devices placed in front of objects: active guards are a better option, I think. Hanging a
large show of Juan Munoz’s work, there was one piece that according to the loan form
needed a big barrier placed around it. The work was from an American private collection:
the barrier destroyed one’s experience of it I was at the point of thinking that I would take
the piece out. By a miracle the collectors, who had been stranded in Madrid airport,
unexpectedly walked in the museum and I was able to say: 'Please let us take the barriers
away, there are no other barriers around works in this whole show. We can station a full
time guard beside the work instead' and they said 'yes'. I wouldn’t have managed it if they
hadn’t been on site. But the fantastic thing is that although there are many people coming
through the museum, works do not appear to get damaged. There is a different kind of
traffic patterning from elsewhere perhaps. As a consequence access to works seems
much more immediate than in many institutions where there is a great deal of overly
anxious preemptive fear about what might happen if somebody did something.
Ann Goldstein: I am kind of preparing for the future, so I haven’t have the experience yet
of seeing how people and art mix in the museum. But we are in the midst of planning a
temporary public program in the Stedelijk Museum‘s old building for this fall. It is an
interesting process just to start to get the machine running, talk to all the different staff,
talk to those who protect the objects and want to talk about barriers, talk to those who
want to talk about education, talk to those who want to talk about language in the galleries
and so on, how to receive visitors when we haven’t received visitors in this building for six
years. So we are in a kind of very structural moment of preparing and I am very curious.
This fall will also be about re-inventing a museum, that has been absent for so many
years and what that is about. This is what we are very much trying to engage people in.
András Szántó: Maybe now it is time for the voice of the audience to be heard? Lady in
Audience: My name is Susanne Kaufmann, I am working for the Southwest Broadcasting
Company in Stuttgart, I am a radio journalist in the field of culture and I have two
questions for Klaus Biesenbach concerning the field public /private. The first one: In
Germany we actually have an increasing number of private museums. Just last week was
the opening of the Artur Walther photo collection, curated by Okwui Enwezor in Neu-Ulm,
we have the big 'Schauwerk' near Stuttgart with 3.000 tremendous works. The public
really didn’t know what to say anymore, especially in the contrast to what public museums
own. My question to you, Mr. Biesenbach, is there a similar development in the United
States, with private museums of private collectors or do private collectors in the States try
to get a powerful position in public museums, in the field of trustees?
Klaus Biesenbach: I answer with an artist. It is not a nice answer, but I am convinced.
When I drove into Basel, there is a Félix Gonzáles-Torres poster 'Es ist nur eine Frage der
Zeit' – I am absolutely convinced that it is only a matter of time. I am convinced that
important works of art should be in major public accessible museums and nowhere else.
Not on somebody’s couch and not in somebody’s private museum. These museums did
not calculate the next twenty years. Most of them don’t know about conservation, they
don’t know about different equipment needs, changing different works. Very, very few of
these private museums will grow and be institutions. It is only a matter of time. I think the
works will happily come back to the museums that are accessible for the public.
András Szántó: This is actually a very important question. Klaus said his strong opinion.
Would you agree?
Lynne Cooke: I think he has expressed it very well, I agree.
Klaus Biesenbach: And I say this to every collector: I don’t like important pieces on top of
somebody’s couch. They have to come back.
Audience: My name is Maria Verónica Léon, I am an artist from Ecuador, living in Paris
since ’98. I have two questions: Modern cultural differences between two continents,
institutional policy differences, or budget differences – I would like to know where and how
is the difference in terms of choice, curating, inviting artists. Do American museums and
European museums have a different repertory of art and artists in favor of their own
interest? I talk about the differences inside the institutions that you deal with. The
preference of the European cultural system, how does it affect your choice? This was one
question. And the second question: What is type of influence for you, who you are living in
Europe? Are you proposing different projects of organization or do you just follow the
policies of Europe some way imposed? And do you also think that your presence is also
the result of the necessity of an international exchange between Europe and America?
Klaus Biesenbach: I can only answer this because I have seen Patricia Sloane, who half a
year ago has shown me one of the possible futures of museums: A fantastically generous
and beautifully equipped museum in Mexico City, MUAC, that is connected to one of the
biggest university campuses in the world and they have 300.000 grad students there
every day. I have to say that I was so charmed first of all by the quality of the work, by the
approach of having the audience living with it and using it and I can only applaud Patricia
as a model that I would dream of for many more places. I think you have such a specific
question but you should really look at a place like this and you get so many answers.
Ann Goldstein: I think that coming as a new director everybody is looking for my vision,
asking what I am going to do. I want to make the transition and find the right way to listen,
to learn, to feel the environment. I have been coming into a situation that has been very
interesting to me, a closed museum, that was actually a very international institution in its
history. But it became in many ways much more inward-looking and Amsterdam has
become inward-looking. I am learning the culture of the institution, I am learning the
culture of a city, I am learning the culture of a country, that is in a very interesting complex
moment, culturally, so I am trying to take it in and I am not trying to make broad sweeping
changes, but to start to shift things and make the changes more on a case-by-case basis
that can start to transform the institution. I want it to be an international institution in
Amsterdam. But it is an institution of its city, it serves a local community and it serves an
international audience as well, I am finding my path.
András Szántó: It is time for us to let you back to the fair. I thought that we would only be
able to scratch the surface of our issue. But I think now that we were able to touch on
several dimensions. I myself am not sure if America and Europe are more different or less
different than I had originally thought. I certainly feel that we, perhaps, managed to dispel
some myths and stereotypes about America and Europe. With that, I would like to thank
each of the panelists and thank all of you. Have a wonderful time at the fair!