Week in Review


Curator Lynn Zelevansky has been hired as the new Henry J. Heinz Director of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA. She will leave her current position as the Terri and Michael Smooke curator and department head of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in order to assume her new role on July 15th. Zelevansky’s appointment marks the end of a search undertaken after the June 2008 departure of Richard Armstrong, who now serves at the Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden plans to sell three of its 220 works by 19th century American artist Thomas Eakins, including a study for “Portrait of Mrs. Charles L. Leonard,” in order to raise money for its acquisition fund. American industrialist and philanthropist Joseph Hirshhorn stipulated in his will that the museum could sell works in order to acquire new ones. Luckily, given recent controversies over such transactions, the Hirshhorn’s decision falls well within the bounds of the American Association of Museum’s policies. Christie’s will auction the paintings on May 20th, and each is estimated to fetch between $80 and $600,000. [Ed note: Tyler Green of Modern Art notes first reported on this story on April 23, 2009.] In acquisitions, LACMA has purchased Chilean-born artist Robert Matta’s Burn, Baby, Burn (L’escalade) (1965-1966). Matta made the work in response to the Vietnam War and Los Angeles’ Watts Riots, and it remained in his private collection until his death.

Economic gloom continues to loom large: A $4.2 billion reduction in the value of its endowment will force the J. Paul Getty Trust to cut 205 jobs and delay exhibitions and acquisitions at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles in order to slash spending by 24-percent by July 1st, the beginning of its new fiscal year. Sotheby’s plans to slash its dividend to 20 cents per year from 60 cents, and will further reduce its global headcount by a further 5 percent; executive salaries will be nixed by at least 10 percent. Needless to say, perhaps, money “[will be] topic A, B, C, and D,” according to a spokesperson for the American Association of Museums, which holds its annual conference in Philadephia this week.