Museum Exhibitions and The Book

November 23, 2009 · Print This Article

51Dsc65rx7L._SS500_I’m fascinated (alas, only from afar) by the Louvre’s Special Guest program and in particular with its use of acclaimed novelists as guest curators. (I’ve posted on this program before, here). The Louvre has featured Toni Morrison in this capacity in the past; right now, the novelist and semiotician Umberto Eco is unveiling a series of exhibitions and other programs relating to the topic of “The Infinity of Lists” which draws upon his book The Vertigo of the List. This, along with an email from one of our readers (hi Elizabeth!), has got me thinking about the relationship between books and museum exhibitions – and in particular about what happens when novels are the inspiration for museum exhibitions – or even for museums themselves. Read more




Everyone’s a Curator.

October 7, 2009 · Print This Article

Even Umberto Eco. I love what the Louvre is doing by signing him on as guest curator (as they have previously done with writer Toni Morrison and composer Pierre Boulez). Eco’s theme for his work at the Louvre is “The List.” For example, he’s organizing a conference on 16th century Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder that looks at how the latter’s peasant subjects make for a kind of visual list.  There will also be a performance art piece that draws from lists found in works by Homer, James Joyce, Victor Hugo and Eco’s own oeuvre. I like that they’re using Eco to curate not artworks but institutional programming, which allows him greater reach and play.

J. Crew’s a curator now too. Their online catalog features a new “Designer Collaborations” series, one which promises “a HIGHLY EDITED selection of the top names out there–those who have truly perfected their CRAFT. You shouldn’t have to travel the world to find the very BEST.” Italics and bolded words most certainly NOT MINE.

Picture 17

The New York Times ran an interesting article last week about the attractions that the word “curator” holds for fashion, new media and marketing professionals, but that J. Crew blurb pretty much sums it all up: an offer of selectivity and exclusivity, of authoritative knowledge and insight into what’s considered to be the best that’s out there.

I like the fact that the word ‘curating’ has gone mainstream, although it does seem like most of the marketers who use the term “curate” are confusing its meaning with the idea of list-making, or worse, with personal shopping. Even if that list is meant to be a selective offering of the best whatever-it-is in your field, it’s still just a list of things you’re meant to go out and buy. Curating, as we know, isn’t exactly like that (although Whitney Biennial-type curating sometimes kinda is….). Curating for museum professionals is as much about cultural and historical contextualizing and recontextualizing as it is about discernment or “having a good eye” — a phrase that curators themselves throw around and which I always loathed, mostly because it tended to make me feel self-conscious about my shoes.




Wednesday Clips 7/29/2009

July 29, 2009 · Print This Article

from the Feral Houses series by James D. Griffioen

from the Feral Houses series by James D. Griffioen

Morning Glories ‘aint so f-cking Glorious when they’re crawling all over your backyard, swallowing everything else up in their huge pink maws. Part of this afternoon’s checklist of things to do involves going into my backyard and peeling those tenacious pieces of shite off of all the other plants that are trying to gain a tiny foothold on our postage-stamp sized plot of land. On a related note, check out an incredible photo series by James D. Griffioen titled Feral Houses (via things magazine). Here’s what else I’ve been reading about this week (with a bit leftover from last week).

*A chair inspired by obesity, designed by Charlotte Kingsnorth. Whoah. And, ick. (Dezeen).

*Louvre to open online database in English (NYT via Curated).

*Art Institute of Chicago now adding content to ArtBabble (New Curator).

*Cindy Sherman poses for Vogue’s “Age Issue” (via AO Art Observed), numerous pics of Sherman’s home are featured too. Somehow I always imagined her place would be messier.

*Most Unfortunate Headline Ever (but interesting article nonetheless): Stroke of Genius: 10 artists with abilities borne of brain damage.

*An Art Escort Service. This is a seriously good idea. Someone in Chicago should start up a company that tours out-of-town art lovers through our “underground” apartment gallery scene. Kissing on the lips verboten, of course. (via C-monster).

*“Invisible Books” aka books hidden within other books (NYT Book Review). Also, check out the archive devoted to this idea, compiled by the author of the Times’ piece, here.

*Jen Graves discusses the overweening vulva that is “The Dinner Party.”

*Cloud-seeding as art (we make money not art).

*Is the University of Chicago a secret portal to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts? Oh, if only it were so! (Culture Monster).

*What it was like to grow up in Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House.

*Props to my industrious little hometown: Valley Porn (boing boing).