Frida Kahlo Archive Drama

48901846The LATimesChristopher Knight reports on the archive of the “magnetic, self-mythologizing” Frida, little-known and drama enducing.

Barbara Levine displays the few pieces of ephemera by one of the biggest names in Mexico’s Modern art history here.

The findings include: “16 small oil paintings, 23 watercolors and pastels, 59 notebook pages (diary entries, recipes, etc.), 73 anatomical studies (some dated prior to Kahlo’s disfiguring 1925 trolley accident), 128 pencil and crayon drawings, 129 illustrated prose-poems, and 230 letters to Carlos Pellicer, the Modernist poet and Frida’s close confidant, many adorned with sketches — skulls, insects, lizards, birds… a small box holding 11 taxidermy hummingbirds. There are pistols, such as an ornate 1870 Remington; a tricolor Mexican flag, its central white panel altered to celebrate Leon Trotsky (“Troski”) and the Communist Party, to which Kahlo and Rivera belonged; hotel bills; photographs; receipts for sales of Rivera paintings; an embroidered huipil, a traditional Mayan blouse; an intimate diary, with one entry expressing Frida’s intense (and unrequited) erotic attraction to lesbian ranchera singer Chavela Vargas; a French medical text on amputation, painted over with blood-red pigments; and more.”

Saltz takes on MoMA

Louise BourgoisIn older news… The Guerrilla Girls may have their own count in protest of sexism in museums, but art critic Jerry Saltz confronts MoMA on their gender-imbalanced collection and curation on the 4th and 5th floors, via his Facebook page.  After his followers contributed to the conversation with over 500 comments and wall posts, Jerry had the opportunity to meet with Ann Temkin, the Museum’s Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture.  Edward Winkleman’s blog covers the original article by Saltz, which raises some important points in how to measure and evaluate the disparity at hand.  Do we consider just numbers? Or prominence of pieces, like Louise Bourgeois’s at the entrance of the 4th floor (which, on the 5th floor has long been occupied by Cezanne)?  And what about the artists themselves– even if Temkin intends to re-install the collection, does she actually solve any problem if the artists who are highlighted are as obvious as Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, and Eva Hesse? Ahem.. that’s still just a one-to-three ratio of women to men… essentially no different from the 19 of 383 works currently installed on the 4th and 5th floors of the permanent collection– women representing just 4%.

I’m a bit bored by the conversation that was sparked after this about the value of art and how art made by women sells in auctions compared to how art by men does.  Saltz concludes that if we can’t rely on an institution and space like MoMA for refreshing art, it’s up to the little guys, the smaller galleries throughout New York to bring unknown artists into the scope of “good art.” As Saltz used Facebook as a venue for this discussion, we’ll use this blog to display the treasures of art created by women mined from the internet and local galleries.  Stay tuned.

upcoming explorations in convergence: eileen quinlan at whitney at altria

In a case of either actual curatorial independence or too-good-to-be-true “synergy”, The Whitney Museum of Art at Altria (née Phillip Morris) has announced their upcoming exhibition Undone: Tom Holmes, Tony Matelli, Eileen Quinlan, and Heather Rowe, opening September 18.

According to the press release:

In Undone, the perceived completeness of form, space, or identity is defined by its own fragmented, unfinished, or unraveling condition. The works, commissioned for this exhibition, reference and subvert viewers expectations about medium and exhibition space. (PDF)

A “subversion of the viewers expectations about medium and exhibition space”?
Except that in this case, the exhibition space is funded by (and located inside of) the corporate offices of a tobacco giant and the artist Eileen Quinlan‘s medium is smoke (and photography).

Also from the press release:

Eileen Quinlan’s photographs of smoke reflected in broken mirrors offer an unusually literal disclosure of process that’s contradicted by their own aesthetic opacity.

An “unusually literal disclosure”? Indeed.

Unfortunately, it looks like this could be one of our last chances to write wildly speculative posts about our favorite museum-inside-of-a-corporate-headquarters.

if it ain’t burke, don’t fix it: get your chubby little fingers out of there

More from Potomac swamp country–Lawrence “I’m really not *that*” Small joins the aforementioned Sheila Burke in the conflict of interest scandal at the Smithsonian. Small and Burke both sat on the board of directors at Chubb Insurance Group during their time at the Smith’, and, what do you know, switched their venerable institution over to Chubb in what must have been an independent and lowest-bid scenario. For Small’s part, he’s collected $4.8 million from Chubb since 2000; Burke also netted over a million and was AWOL from her post at the ‘Sonian over 25% of the time.

The Smithsonian’s stated mission is “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Small and Burke, you learned us good.

The Smithpwnian: Burke ‘n’ stocks are comfortable

Sheila P. Burke, Deputy Secretary of the Smithsonian, resigned on Tuesday due to criticism about her outside earnings over the past 6 years (an estimated 1.2 million).

Quoth the post:

Burke’s resignation came on the eve of an independent report that sources said would criticize her extensive outside activities, including highly compensated corporate board seats, academic appointments, a federal commission that oversees Medicare, and numerous nonprofit organizations.