MoMA Acquires John Cage's 4'33", Milan Gargoyles Up For Adoption, and More

MoMA Acquires John Cage's 4'33", Milan Gargoyles Up For Adoption, and More
A gargoyle on Milan's Duomo cathedral
(Courtesy lobstah1977 via Flickr)

 MoMA Acquires Cage's Silence: The score that launched a thousand art history jokes, John Cage's silent 4'33'', is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. New York financier Henry R. Kravis purchased the earliest extant version of the legendary work in honor of his wife, Marie-Josée, MoMA’s president. Kravis bought it from the artist Irwin Kremen, to whom Cage had given the score as a birthday present in 1953. "It’s between music and art, a score but also a drawing as well," said Christophe Cherix, MoMA’s chief curator of prints and illustrated books. The score will go on view at the museum next summer. [NYT]

Duomo Asks Cathedral Enthusiasts to Adopt a Gargoyle: Milan's Duomo cathedral — the fourth-largest in the world — has put its 135 gargoyles up for adoption in a quest to raise £20 million ($32 million) for essential renovations. Donors who contribute £80,000 (about $127,000) to the gothic building will have their names engraved underneath a gargoyle. The fundraising campaign was introduced to make good a shortfall caused by cuts to the Italian culture budget. Still, the scheme begs the question: If you love gargoyles enough to adopt one for £80,000, do you really want to alter it forever by adding your name? [BBC]


– Queens Foundry Owner Accused of Johns ForgeryBrian Ramnarine, the owner of a foundry in Long Island City that does a great deal of fabrication work for artists, has been accused of attempting to sell for $11 million a forged bronze sculpture he made using a mold Jasper Johns trusted him to store. Ten years after being convicted of making and selling forged sculptures, Ramnarine is again suspected of selling an unauthorized work — and even forging provenance documents for the metal flag sculpture and claiming Johns gifted it to him in 1989. [NYT]

– Met Taps Tate Curator Nicholas Cullinan: The current curator of international modern art at London's Tate Modern, Nicholas Cullinan — whose previous jobs have included stints at the Guggenheim and MoMA — will return to New York in the spring to begin his tenure as a curator in the Metropolitan Museum's department of modern and contemporary art. "He is a formidable scholar who has established himself with distinction in the field of modern and contemporary art over the past decade," Met director Thomas Campbell said, "particularly through his work on Cy Twombly, Arte Povera, and a range of contemporary artists internationally." [Press Release]

– Bond Villains Commandeer D.C. Museum: Washington, D.C.'s International Spy Museum is marking the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise in a deliciously evil way. Its exhibition "Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains" brings together 007's arch-nemeses — from Dr. No and Octopussy to Jaws — in a bacchanal of Bond baddies. "That’s what give the movies a lot of their power,” said guest curator Alexis Albion. "They are drawing from real-life fears... They are anchored in a sense of real threat." [Washington Post]

– World-Class Photo Collection Sale to Benefit Homeless: Just two decades after he bought his first photograph — Alfred Stieglitz's 1920 close-up of Georgia O'Keeffe's hands — 82-year-old philanthropist Henry Buhl is sending his 1,100-piece collection to auction next month at Sotheby's. Most of the proceeds will go to the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless. The Buhl collection, which was the focus of an exhibition at the Guggenheim in 2004 and includes works by Man RayIrving Penn, and Gilbert & George, is expected to bring in some $12 million. [Telegraph]

D.C.'s National Galley Acquires Glenn Ligon Work: The National Gallery of Art has purchased a 1988 text painting by Glenn Ligon, a favorite artist of the President and First Lady. The work, "Untitled (I Am a Man)," is a reinterpretation of the signs carried by many of the 1,300 African-American sanitation workers striking in Memphis in 1968. It also comes with a Washington connection: Ligon was inspired to create the painting after seeing one of the actual signs in Representative Charles B. Rangel's office years ago. The piece was previously part of the artist's personal collection. [NYT]

– Renoir Found in Flea Market Reopens Old Wounds: Susan Helen Adler, the great-great-niece of Saidie Adler May — who donated Pierre-Auguste Renoir's 1879 painting "Paysage Bords de Seine" to the Baltimore Museum of Art, from where it was stolen in 1951 before turning up in a flea market earlier this year — says her great-great-aunt's donations are not sufficiently well highlighted in the institution's permanent collection galleries. "Saidie spent her life dedicated to art and educating the public, but other people have made the decision about her legacy," Adler said. "The museum has hundreds of her items in storage. I don’t even know what they have." [Washington Post]

Belgium Taps Berlinde De Bruyckere for 2013 Biennale: The sculptor and installation artist has been selected by the Flemish Minister for Environment, Nature and Culture to represent Belgium at the 2013 Venice Biennale. De Bruyckere, who specializes in haunting images of mangled bodies, received the Flemish Culture Prize for Visual Arts in 2009. An exhibition putting her work in dialogue with deceased artist Philippe Vandenbergh is currently on view at the Museum De Pont in the Netherlands. [Press Release, Gallerist]

Court Documents in Knoedler Motion Questioned: The twisted tale of the now-defunct Knoedler Gallery and its cache of allegedly forged modernist masterpieces keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. In a recent motion to dismiss a lawsuit over an ostensibly forged Mark Rothko painting, the gallery and its former director Ann Freedman submitted a letter that claims the piece was viewed and approved by ten experts on the artist. But one of the men on the list, Dedalus Foundation president Jack Flam, was astonished to find his name listed. "I'm not a Rothko expert, and I don't remember seeing the painting," he said. "If I did see it, it was probably behind someone's desk." [TAN]


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