Archive for February, 2010

A Medal for Montebello

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Bob Dylan, Robert Caro, Clint Eastwood, Milton Glaser, Theodore Sorenson, Maya Lin and Metropolitan Museum of Art director emeritus Philippe de Montebello were among the twenty recipients of 2009 national medals of arts and humanities, bestowed by President Obama at the White House yesterday. Montebello was praised for revitalizing the museum. I hate to rain on his parade but I thought that happened under his predecessor, the late Tom Hoving. But what do I know. Kudos, Phil.

What’s So Funny About Art, Knowledge and Understanding?

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“Tapestry Tom” Campbell, latest director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has just announced the latest fruits of its antiquities loan agreement with the government of Italy — a display of twenty silver objects found near Pompeii. “The presentation of these splendid works in New York, where they will be viewed by millions of visitors over the next four years, will deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of ancient art, and will contribute immeasurably to their understanding of its significance,” Campbell said. As is usual with the museum, its head did not explain how they got here, or mention the … Continue reading

Moguls in Lust, Wintour in Spring

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Molly Fisher at the New York Observer’s Daily Transom has uncovered the new subtitle and a bit about the new jacket that’s going on Rogues’ Gallery for its paperback edition, out in May. She writes, “Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money that Made the Metropolitan Museum has been recast as Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret Story of the Lust, Lies, Greed, and Betrayals that Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Lust and betrayals! And should those prove inadequately intriguing, the cover image of the Met will be replaced with a celebrity photo collage featuring Anna Wintour, … Continue reading

Me (and my big mouth)

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Blogger Father Tony from Queer New York was at my talk at Books & Books in Bal Harbour last week, and just posted the video above, introducing it this way: “In the video snippet… he is talking about a lady of mysterious pedigree [Jane Mannheimer, the future Jane Engelhard] but listen through to the end for the stunning revelation and the reason why a certain prominent NYC couple did their best to block this book.” Love that. I also love his description of Rogues’ Gallery as “something sweet and packed with carbo-facts rather than protein-stats.” Thanks, Father Tony and Happy … Continue reading

A note of explanation

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Janet M. Schrock, Ph.D., a docent at the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, wrote to say her docents’ book club had read Rogues’ Gallery, and were concerned about a passage on page 54, that describes Ringling’s purchase of antiquities of questionable authenticity from the Luigi Palma di Cesnola collection at the Metropolitan Museum decades ago. I described that as “fitting.” Why, Schrock wrote, “is it fitting that a circus owner (and one of the richest men in America during the 1920’s) should purchase Metropolitan mistakes? Is this a prejudice against circus owners, Floridians or people … Continue reading

Un-trust-worthy, perhaps (but refreshingly honest , too)

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“The secret to a long and happy run on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s board of trustees is MYOB,” — mind your own business — Staten Island’s outgoing borough representative on the cultural giant’s board, Allan Weissglass, told the Staten Island Advance last week in an astonishing but revealing burst of candor. “We try hard to not get in the way,” he was quoted as saying, explaining his belief that a trustee’s job is not to oversee operations. Weissglass, president of a New Jersey pigment-making company and a dairy that’s been in his family for generations, also seemed to reveal … Continue reading

Snow Days

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Gripebox will be back next week. Bon blizzard.

Shiny Happy People

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Shannon Donnelly, social columnist of The Palm Beach Daily News, aka the famous Shiny Sheet, heralded the Rogues’ Gallery tour’s coming circuit of south Florida in yesterday’s paper. “Certain PB folks with bones rattling in their closets are feeling skittish since hearing author Michael Gross is visiting,” she writes, before assuring them I’m not coming to report on them.

You’ve got to get up early…

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… to be director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas P. Campbell, the latest man in that job, tells the Wall Street Journal today, explaining that his toughest challenge has been starting work at 8 AM daily and not stopping until evening. Phew. The museum’s uphill PR campaign to make Campbell a compelling public presence continues, aided by the bedazzled local media, and for once, Campbell comes bearing some news, albeit not very new news, the appointment (last September) of Alejandro Santo Domingo, 32, to the museum’s board, and finally noting the obvious: “‘Going forward, a new generation of … Continue reading