A New Guggenheim



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Portrait of Modesty
Read the Wall Street Journal article here.

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Carnegie International
The Carnegie International is the oldest exhibition of international contemporary art in North America, and the second oldest in the world.

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Indianapolis Museum of Art
Discover IMA.

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Frank Lloyd Wright
It's been 50 years since the famed architect designed the Guggenheim.

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Baroness Hilla von Rebay
A lady devoted to nonobjective painting: art without representational links to the empirical world.

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James Johnson Sweeney
Check out Ciarán Bennett's speech on Sweeney given at the Pollock Krasner Research Fellowship conference in New York City last year.

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A decade and counting!

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IMA Gardens
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Sprechen sie deutsch?

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Abu Dhabi
Coming soon!

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Jean Nouvel
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A New Louvre
Is France "selling its soul"?

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Art Czar
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Downtown Indianapolis
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The Whitney
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La Jolla
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2010 Whitney Biennial
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The Mattress Factory
Art you can get into.

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New York is Crowded?
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The Venice Biennale
Doing more than thrive since 1895.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Show
Running May 15 through August 23, 2009

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April 10–July 19, 2009

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Opening September 18, 2009

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The question and answer portion begins here.

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Art is Everywhere
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Known for its collections and museums in New York, Venice, Bilbao and Berlin, the Guggenheim has recently attracted a new leader with fresh ideas. Watch director Richard Armstrong and Maxwell L. Anderson, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the IMA, discuss plans for the Guggenheim’s New York headquarters and its satellite facilities around the world, including a new branch being designed by Frank Gehry for Abu Dhabi. Learn about Armstrong’s plans to reshape this cultural colossus into a more nimble, intellectually rigorous museum, and how he foresees juggling the global locations of his foundation. This conversation took place in the Toby Theatre at the IMA on April 30, 2009.

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00:00:01 I am Max Anderson. I am The Melvin and Bren Simon Director and CEO and greatful to have all of you here tonight. "A portrait of modesty"

00:00:10 is what the Wall Street Journal described this evening's guest as being, Richard Armstrong, in a profile that ran a few weeks ago

00:00:18 and he was answering a question about how he was fairing as the new director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum and he offered the following:

00:00:25 "I'm like any animal that’s new to the kennel you get to know the other animals and sniff out the corners." [Laughter]

00:00:34 So, the problem is that Guggenheim doesn’t have any corner. [Laughter]

00:00:43 I think you can see what kind of evening it’s going to be. [Laughter]

00:00:45 Well from his Kansas City origins and moving onto being a senate page and a museum goer in Washington, he moved on to France

00:00:54 and then the Whitney, La Jolla, LA MOCA, back to the Whitney as head of it's independent study program and a member of it’s curatorial staff

00:01:03 and then became curator of contemporary art at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh in 1992. He organized the 1995 Carnegie International,

00:01:12 became chief curator later that year and went on to be in 1996 appointed the Henry J. Heinz second director of Carnegie Museum of Art

00:01:21 and on his watch in Pittsburgh were enormous number of changes for the better, renovation of the Heinz’s galleries, the expansion of the Heinz’s architectural galleries

00:01:32 that allowed all of the museums curators to have more room to play in and present important and ambitious exhibitions among them aluminium by design, light, the industrial age 1750 to 1900,

00:01:44 and several Carnegie Internationals 95, 99, 04, and 08 and in 2003 the museum acquired the Charles Teenie Harris archive,

00:01:53 which is a collection of more than 80,000 negatives by Teenie Harris who photographed life in Pittsburgh in the African-American community from 1930s to the 1970s

00:02:04 and this was one of many.... many....many acquisitions that Richard made as the director of that great institution of material primarily the 19th through the 21st centuries

00:02:13 and tonight we will get into all of those facts plus some of the features of his expansive new kennel and so please join me in welcoming Richard to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Thank you for coming!

00:02:32 Thank you Max and thanks to everyone for being here.

00:02:34 There is the dog house and you know well... we don’t typically see it from this vantage point which I found kind of interesting, I mean I had known that when Frank Lloyd

00:02:43 Wright was commissioned in 1943 to do this museum, it took him 16 years to realize it. His idea was to put it up in the Henry Hudson Park in upper Manhattan

00:02:55 and have people drive there and have it on a hill which was his typical reaction to everything- Put it on a hill and drive to it.

00:03:04 His wife was the cousin of Robert Moses’ wife and they called each other cousin Frank and cousin Moses and it's Robert Moses who took him around the city

00:03:13 and ultimately helped him.... helped the family, which was in shock what they had unleashed with this architect, in building the institution because

00:03:23 that’s Mr. Guggenheim, son 5 in a big family of 7 boys and ultimately this is a family that controlled most of the mining in the world especially in North and South America

00:03:36 and probably ranked with just a few other families in terms of available capital. Not a distinguished collector but his wife

00:03:46 introduced him to this painter Baroness Hilla von Rebay who was sort of a groupie of some of the Bell House painters

00:03:57 and she herself painted Guggenheim’s portrait and they made an alliance certainly a spiritual one where his not very interesting

00:04:06 post impressionist picture suddenly became very important pictures by the artists like Kandinsky and other people that off

00:04:14 and together they started this thing called the museum of nonobjective painting on 53rd street, Manhattan.

00:04:23 So, this is a slide from 1940...39. When this institution began it had been a car showroom, Baroness Rebay had very definite ideas

00:04:33 not only by what was on view but how also it should been seen. You can recognize his pictures as unusually low. There are hanging on pleated velvet walls

00:04:43 and there is music being piped in. So, it’s a kind of a gesamtkunstwerk and peculiar and always thought of in New York as an excentric place to go visit art.

00:04:55 Remember the Museum of Modern Art was about 2 blocks away and had a very puritanical and very directed way of seeing contemporary art and modern art.

00:05:05 This on the other hand you could say is a kind of weird German fantasy in Midtown, New York.

00:05:13 So, in 1949, the family bought this building at 1071, 5th Avenue and then eventually the lot next door

00:05:23 and the museum in 1949 moved uptown to the location we know today for a few years. Mrs. Rebay was dismissed on the death of Solomon Guggenheim

00:05:34 as the director and she had taken the museum about as far as she could take it in her path and they elected John... James Johnson Sweeney

00:05:43 a very distinguished art historian as the second director and he quickly brought in new blood, new ideas including sculpture because in the first 10 years

00:05:53 Mrs. Rebay's position was that sculpture could never be nonobjective and therefore had no position in the collection. One of Sweeney’s first exhibitions was this Brancusi Retrospective

00:06:04 from which he bought 11 Brancusies for the collection. Then you’ll see by 1951 this corner lot

00:06:14 had become available and they tore down even more property. So, the drawings were evolving from 1943 all the way through the war.

00:06:22 Mr. Guggenheim isn’t interested immediately after the war in realizing the building because of inflation. So, there were... everything was put on hold.

00:06:31 Eventually, this is what happened when that building that they owned in 1949 was taken down and Frank Lloyd Wright really deviced 2 interlocking shapes.

00:06:39 One the ziggurat which is comparable in a way to a parking ramp and really grew out of an automobile museum that he had proposed outside Baltimore

00:06:49 and then another building to the right which we don’t... we have only just now opened up again to make clean which was called the monitor building

00:06:58 and we will see a better view that coming up but you see that it’s 2 peculiar but very energized shapes that intersect one another in an unlikely place.

00:07:08 I describe it when I am trying to be serious as alternating depending on your mood as either a springboard or a corset, the building.

00:07:17 So, there it is and for those of you in the audience who like technical stuff, this is the first big application of ganite. So, the entire thing is being blown on by big hoses into forms and they are removed.

00:07:30 Last year they spent 27 million redoing the facade and cleaning up the building because it’s not really a material that’s meant for the ages

00:07:40 but it’s the only one that allowed enough sort of fluidity of form that Wright could achieve the shapes that he was after. So, there it is in 1959.

00:07:50 It’s opening in 5th Avenue's 2-way street and you can see this monitor building on the left which hasn’t until very recently been so apparent

00:08:00 because it had been sort of built over as galleries and offices. Now it’s been reopened. So, the fenestration is proper, you know, then on the right the great ramp.

00:08:09 You should know that Wright imagined a tower, an 11-story tower behind this space from a very early point in its design.

00:08:19 So, the tower that Gwathmey Seagal added in 1992 which was in that first light really conformed both in shape and in fenestration with Wright’s drawing.

00:08:29 So, even though it’s not the happiest of spaces I frequently think I am going to squash court when I walk around those little galleries but it’s what Wright had imagined.

00:08:38 He saw it as apartments for artists which was another symptom of this you know eccentric approach. In the 1960s Peggy Guggenheim died.

00:08:49 She is the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim’s brother, Benjamin Guggenheim who died in the Titanic disaster and as we know she was herself an advance collector.

00:08:59 She had the great motto of "Buy a painting everyday" [Laughter] and she did it and they were frequently great pictures.

00:09:08 She came over after in the course or World War II and opened a gallery in Manhattan called art of the century, became a great patron, was herself allied in various ways with a number of artists,

00:09:20 Marie and Max Ernst, being Pollock's greatest patron for the first 10 years of his career. So, this collection which is where she spent the last 20 some odd years of her life

00:09:30 was the beginning of an insipian empire. There she is and there is the palazzo, which you recognize as being on the Grand Canal.

00:09:42 It was essentially a ruin when she took it over in 1951 and built it out to her own specification that was meant to be a 2-story house.

00:09:52 So, in a way the second story has never been added on but it’s quite profitable as a party space.

00:09:58 Then 11 years ago the museum contracted with the Government of Bilbao to build this big and a quite large institution in the city

00:10:12 that’s not unlike Pittsburgh, in fact I took a delegation of Pittsburgh people there 10 or 11 years ago at the very beginning to look at how another steel city was dealing with a changing identity.

00:10:25 So, this is Frank Gehry’s great masterpiece sheet in titanium and there you recognize the Jeff Conn’s puppy out front.

00:10:34 In 11 years that museum has been able to attract 12 million visitors. So, it’s a very heavily visited place.

00:10:43 This is a metropolitan region about 1.6 million people, so for them to have on average a million visitors a year it’s quite amazing stimulus to

00:10:53 the local economy and I also think it’s changed the psychology of the region which was mildly insular before this. We are now talking about an expansion of this building

00:11:04 35 miles away on the coast which would allow artists to be in residence in a way that may not have been achieved anywhere else because we would be incorporating

00:11:13 slow food, people, ecologists, and artists in a single site maybe a little bit like your are garden...... I made a mistake sorry.

00:11:24 There it is. So, this is the central river going through Bilbao. This is about 17 miles from the Bay of Biscay

00:11:36 and it was prior to this largely deserted steel mills and fabrication sites. Now happily there has been more in fulfill,

00:11:45 there is a great Rafael Moneo building and Ceaser Pelling building being put up in this neighborhood as well.

00:11:53 I also remember when I went there and I had now been a few times more recently. I thought the place was unconscionably big at the opening

00:12:03 and could never be filled in, I was actually offended by it particularly the big gallery that was larger than a football field with curving walls , which I thought was hateful

00:12:12 and now filled with Richard's era it looks like the most natural place in the world. This is the prelude to what I am about to show you in Abu Dhabi. So, I am not a good judge of scale.

00:12:22 What I discovered a few years later Deutsche Bank reclaimed it’s historic headquarters in East Berlin

00:12:32 and made a deal with the Guggenheim to have a 6,000 square foot space at ground level, a deign by Richard Gluckman on the interior

00:12:40 and the Bank commissions... well the museum commissions 2 artists a year to make exhibitions and the work is then given to the collection.

00:12:49 So, it’s turned out to be.... oops I just did it again sorry..... turned out to be very advantageous for the collection. Here is a fairly recent Jaff Conn’s exhibition.

00:13:00 So, the bank takes 1 or 2 works for its collection which was the largest corporate collection now in the world and the museum takes the balance of the work.

00:13:11 Then 2-1/2 years ago, the museum signed a contract with the Government of Abu Dhabi

00:13:23 to develop a cultural district on an island next to the city of Abu Dhabi and I have discovered that a lot of people don’t really now where Abu Dhabi is.

00:13:34 I certainly didn’t, so I put his map up to show you where the Gulf region is. You see Doha which is now famous as a cultural site

00:13:42 because of IM Pei's building and then go to the right and as you go to the right you would have driven through largely deserted Dubai that’s only 45 miles away.

00:13:53 So, Abu Dhabi is a city dating to about 1969. It’s not an old city and this Saadiyat Island

00:14:02 is about a 110 acres on another side of a nestuary that will be developed exclusively as a cultural district for this city.

00:14:13 So, that’s the Gulf on the upper right and left. And here is what it will look like. The Guggenheim at the far bottom on this newly built promontory point

00:14:25 designed by Frank Gehry what looks like an upside down, you know sled or dish... snow dish designed by Jean Nouvel

00:14:36 and that’s the rooftop of the Louvre. Next to that a performing art center by Zaha Hadid and to the right of that a Maritime Museum by Tadao Ando.

00:14:48 Perhaps more importantly on the immediate left is a giant 18-hole golf course by Gary Player [Laughter] and you will see that

00:14:57 there a great deal of infield that’s meant to be a kind of creative quarter ultimately housing 350,000 people in the city.

00:15:07 So, there it is from above and you can see that the Guggenheim sort of occupies this lighthouse position and the Louvre is slightly back

00:15:18 in a very advanced design, very good design by Nouvel. The President of France will be signing part 2 of the agreement on May 24th

00:15:28 and that will be a ground breaking in the next days. So, they are actually beginning construction for the Louvre. And here is Frank Gehry’s working model.

00:15:38 It’s a 480,000 square foot facility. The upper level of the central atrium is 30 stories high.

00:15:47 So, it’s an unusually big place. It’s about 2.6 times larger than Bilbao. It will be a center for 20th and 21st century eastern art,

00:15:59 middle eastern art, western art, and film design video. It has a very broad range of portfolio.

00:16:09 We imagine.... they imagine 2 1/2 million visitors annually and there it is from the sea in a very schematic way that will be finished...

00:16:18 they are signing the design documents in July, our ground breaking will be in October and I can invite you to the opening in 2013.

00:16:28 So, that’s the prelude and those are the buildings really probably what’s more important that you known from your experience here is that the building in an essense

00:16:37 only offers you a kind of what you call a grammar, you really need the vocabulary and something to express to make the whole sentence of art

00:16:49 and collecting art and design that persuades people. So, I think my charge at the Guggenheim is to make sure that these buildings are all taken care

00:16:58 of in a good way but that they are filled with important collections, exhibitions, and most importantly with lots of people. We offer an unusual site for socialization.

00:17:10 That’s the great charm of working in the museum and I think if the concept of globalization ever will have cultural application,

00:17:19 it’s very likely to be inside this enterprise at the Guggenheim has undertaken over the last 15 years and we hope will be successfully culminated in it’s next stage in just 4 more years.

00:17:31 [Quite a romp.] Yeah... [Richard thank you for getting us there and inviting us all, so mark your time in the calendar to join him in 2013.]

00:17:42 [Speaking of editor 4, it’s been about 4 months since he walked into 1071 5th as the boss

00:17:50 so, share with use your your biggest surprise in the first few weeks showing up there.]

00:17:57 Well it’s a very complicated building and I am a little bit like that dog.

00:18:00 I am poking around all the time and it’s hard to figure the building out. Also, I find it difficult in terms of presenting Art because

00:18:10 it’s a constant frontal presentation of the picture or the sculpture and if you need to go back and get as you do so beautifully in a building like this

00:18:19 get a different impression and come back to it, that’s not really possible in this building, so you have to think of it as a kind of content series of drive-bys and you have make it the best of that.

00:18:30 The real problem though was the finances aren't very secure, so we have been going through a number of iterations about how to become more solvent.

00:18:39 [We will get to that but I want to get back to the building because you did an interview with Time Magazine a couple of weeks ago and you described the Frank Lloyd Wright building as having a quasi-sexual feel to it, so please elaborate.]

00:18:50 [Laughter] Yeah, I was not so well spoken but one thing that’s charming about it is that chalkful of people and they are all looking at each other, so that leads to all kinds of happiness.

00:19:07 [When you arrived as the director though you had as you mentioned a fair number of challenges and you also have some neighbors in MoMA and Whitney and the new museum

00:19:18 so give us a feeling for how your planning and differentiating the Guggenheim from those museums.]

00:19:24 Well one we want to keep reasserting that global identity if possible

00:19:28 and by the way the visitorship of the Guggenheim is intensely global. It’s not really, and Max knows this as a New Yorker, it’s strangely not a New York institution.

00:19:38 It has very small membership and a relatively small visitation by people who live in the city. So, we want to change that because there won’t be nearly

00:19:46 so many people coming from Europe in the next few years we can imagine but also my goal would be and this is something that we both know from how we work at the Whitney.

00:19:56 There is no better imprimatur on a museum then artist saying that’s my place. So, we want to try and make it feel like it’s a place that receives artist

00:20:06 not only in a welcoming but in a challenging way and then I would say they have begun an Asian art initiative contemporary Asian art.

00:20:17 We are about to launch a Latin-American initiative. We will be collecting material from the Middle East. It will be.... I hope kind of a giant crockpot of ideas

00:20:27 and you know part of the great charm of it at this age in particular is watching the profession and the creative side and the visitorship become much younger.

00:20:39 So, we wanted to be a museum that’s really very oriented to a wide spectrum of visitors but the under 35 people need to feel like it’s in particular a place for them.

00:20:48 [So, that also means a lot of younger New Yorkers who as you say they flock there when possible but it’s not a constant destination for them the ways it is for Europeans]

00:20:59 [Well not Americans.]

00:21:01 It’s partly a little bit like you visiting downtown Indianapolis being on 89th street and having the psychosexual center of youth be on the lowery side.

00:21:11 They are not next to each other, so you have to figure out the way the people feel it’s a natural stretch to get up there and at that age there are not taking taxies. [Laughter]

00:21:20 So, we are not really that close to the subway either, which is a disadvantage but I see that it’s possible. The other thing wanted to do not to preclude what you are saying next is I feel like that

00:21:30 because of where we are it’s our obligation and opportunity to look north because people live from 90th street south have a lot of things to do.

00:21:41 Sometimes, people live in 90th street up to 190th street have fewer cultural offering. So, I want them to feel like it’s their neighborhood place.

00:21:49 [That’s great. That’s a great opportunity... and untact. Well lets back up and talk a little bit about where thing started. You are going to Kansas City tomorrow

00:21:58 your hometown]... Yeah... [celebrating your birthday as I am tomorrow...] Isn't that incredible? [Applause]

00:22:07 [So, give us give us the path what was the trajectory that got you to Lake Forest and...] Well, I went to Lake Forest because I couldn’t get into any other school.

00:22:16 You know I kind of regular upbring... we live very near by the Nelsons but we didn’t go there. We went to the Museum of Natural History because you know we were red-blooded kickers whatever.

00:22:28 So, I but my father was on the board of the Natural History Museum and I had felt that was a natural place to go to

00:22:36 and we lived nearby the art institute in Kansas City which was there school. So, I would smell turpentine a lot when I was growing up riding skateboards

00:22:46 and bikes through there and you know there turns out there was some eccentric creative people in the family and then I thought I was going to go into politics.

00:22:56 So, when I was in Washington because it was so hot I would frequently go to the National Gallery wherever that was air conditioned

00:23:03 and I started looking at pictures and I don’t know I just slipped. [Laughter] [And you started professionally really at.... at....at La Jolla in some ways.

00:23:14 So, tell us what that was about.] Yeah, really I would say I began at the Whitney because in the independent study program which was this you know great 1968 style experiment of bringing young people who thought

00:23:24 they might want to be curators and writers into the company of young artists for a year sharing a big loft space in lower Manhattan.

00:23:33 I went and did that because that was okay with my parents you know, to do and then I realized I liked being around artists and I liked this whole thing.

00:23:43 So, it just sort of took off after that. [Well the ISP was the pretty orthodox place when you were there as it still is in some respects.] It was a little less involved with theory

00:23:53 in my days I was more involved with beer and other stuff. [Laughter] [But you were also one of the few males.] Yeah.... yeah.... which was you know kind of a mixed blessing. [Laughter]

00:24:04 [And we will come back to the Whitney but then tell us...] So, Marshall Tucker was this very very advanced I think truly inspired curator.

00:24:14 She took a liking to me. She got me some jobs in New York where I would work with people in their studios like Nancy Graves, Al Held and artists.

00:24:23 So, I got to see people up close that way as well as get paid which was a real eye opener for me because I am telling you, I am from a really square background and to be around people who you know did what they wanted to do day and night was amazing.

00:24:36 So, at a ceratin movement, I did.... I worked for the Whitney for 1 year for the 1975 biannual and then she said you should get a job, a real job and you have 2 opportunities.

00:24:50 I had been to La Jolla as a kid because that’s where Kansas City west, so I went out there and it was fun and I had a... it was I made a really

00:25:02 concentrated effort to get to know the artist who were my age. So, I was about 24, I think or something, and I would just start going to studios.

00:25:10 You know Chris Burton, Alexa Smith, many people who are well known today but I learned so much by just going to studios and taking advantage of being in Los Angeles.

00:25:20 [So, you cut your teeth there and then back to the Whitney where you really got to work.] Yeah, I you know in the end California may not be where you want to live

00:25:30 because it’s really not about indoor sports out there so. [Laughter] So, it seemed like it was a good idea you go back east and they offered me a job.

00:25:39 In fact, they said would I run the independent study programs? So, I went back and did that. I did shows and you know it was a heavy moment in New York.

00:25:49 It was the 80s and it was the first time people have been rich for a long time and things seemed possible. [And you took on the Whitney Biennial not once, not twice, but 4 times.]

00:26:01 Yeah. [So what was that like your first one like and how did it change over time to be responsible for all of these needy artists?]

00:26:10 You know I saw it has a sacred opportunity and obligation

00:26:14 but if you look background, it's a bunch of log rolling because the curators were like trading, "I will give you 2 blues for a red." [Laughter]

00:26:22 So, you never really get your vision and that really showed me when I went to Pittsburgh that what you want is to be able to be autocratic and do it your way. [Laughter]

00:26:32 So, what I learned I think was to get out of that team mentality but I also you know I went to 100s of studios all over the country. It was unbelievable.

00:26:43 [So, you, your '92 was the last moment rally at the Whitney.] Yeah, and that was not a good show and that was further proof that that group of people

00:26:53 should not have been doing the exhibition. [So, you found your way basically then to the Carnegie, yeah....and you made such an important contribution

00:27:03 to a great institution in a city that’s very committed to culture and certainly the great institution that it’s from, tell us a bit about the landing there and how different it was to be a curator there from New York.]

00:27:14 Well I got to run the whole play, so it was great. I didn't have to.... It was a huge department spacially, they had a big endowment, they were ambitious, they were collectors.

00:27:25 The Warhol Museum was just getting going. So, I really didn't have any competition and for me it was just like perfect, plus I like the town from the very first day.

00:27:36 So, it all felt very natural, Warhol developed, became really a great compliment to the Carnegie. There was a great staff at the Frick,

00:27:46 which was you know the other big institution in town and then we had this great or they have a great alternative museum called the Mattress Factory.

00:27:53 So, in a not very big place there were many really ambitious people either helping each other or beating each other up all the time.

00:28:02 So, it felt like a nice big rowdy city-demanding place but I was there to do the Carnegie International.

00:28:10 So, instead of going to studios in Wichita suddenly I was in Tokyo. So, you know you stop being Huck Finn and start being something else

00:28:19 because I didn’t really I had been to Europe a lot but I didn’t know anything else really. [What do you miss about Pittsburgh? What do you miss of about the Carnegie?]

00:28:28 Well one thing and that’s the privilege as you all know from living here as you have impact. So, New York is just you know it’s very difficult to have impact

00:28:37 there unless you have I don’t know either a lot of money, a newspaper or gun. [Laughter]

00:28:46 But in places like this which operate on consensus then and you can be part of it. It’s very it’s energizing and you feel good about being a citizen in a place like this

00:28:56 and that’s what I liked about Pittsburgh. [I had breakfast in your house one morning a couple of years ago and we were both in in different situations but there was something very peaceful about that time

00:29:07 and the way you could make a change and have have an impact but are you saying that the Guggenheim is going to allow you a platform of sorts but it’s a very different platform.

00:29:18 So, how would you describe that?] Well it's crowded New York is very crowded. New York is also feeling very battered right now. You know not only that people wonder what

00:29:30 its future could be as a financial center, culturally it to be completely objective, it’s over built. So, there is going to have to be consolidation and change

00:29:39 to find out what the future of high culture can be there, what it should be, what’s affordable and sustainable, and right now it’s the.. the whole city

00:29:50 has a kind of like it feels like people are hiding. [Well Tom....] They are certainly hiding from me. [Laughter]

00:29:59 [You are rattling a tin cup like the rest of us, so I can appreciate that but well, when you stepped in after Tom Kranz left that’s a totally different mindset from Tom’s

00:30:09 which was very expansionist and very much in a different direction.] Yeah, he really epitomize different era which was he was doing what you said earlier. How you distinguish yourself from the Whitney and the modern

00:30:20 and he realized there was nothing he could do in New York, it had to be elsewhere. So, he became highly opportunistic in terms of going around the world and trying to find a partner

00:30:31 parts of that strategy worked and parts of it probably less impressive and I characterized to the board my duty is to rationalize all those decisions now.

00:30:44 [So, you are the grown up.] Yeah, although you know. [But it doesn’t suit you to be the grown up.] No... I am not sure I am the grown up.

00:30:56 What I would like to do is get the place that feels very buoyant and the next group is going to have a heck of a good time taking it into the next place. [So, the new museum though is... is buoyant]

00:31:07 Yeah... [it’s definitely grabbed a lot of attention New York, Yeah, of collectors who care about contemporary art more than perhaps its peer. So, how do you deal with that especially you know Lisa so well.]

00:31:16 Yeah, I find them highly complementary. They are internationalist. They have a disadvantage in that they have a new facility that’s overly constricting in my opinion.

00:31:27 The building is too small.... to really make a big case for what they are doing but other than that I find them you know tremendously refreshing and I would say complementary.

00:31:38 So, I don’t consider any kind of threat. This summer is a big summer for you in Venice with the Biennale what are the preparations and what is that involved for you?

00:31:48 You know, it's very social, so I am less interested in that but although it’s important you have good parties. [Laughter] We are going to be presenting a

00:31:59 Rauschenburg: Gluts show which should be I think quite elegant and an eye opener. It’s a part of the career that people don’t know well. It will be the 1 year anniversary of his death.

00:32:08 So, it has a kind of, I don't know, memorial feel to it. We are also hopeful expanding Venice, so part of the charge of the meetings

00:32:18 in June is to look around the room and say who can help us buy this adjacent villa so, the place can become bigger one of it’s limitations

00:32:30 is it’s frozen in amber and you know... [You cant build that second floor]... No, you don’t want to but the world didn’t stop in 1969. So, a very large private collection has been given to the museum

00:32:42 and now needs a place to show that and that's a museum of contemporary art. So, that will be the 1 expansion I think that we undertake.... I hope.

00:32:53 [Help us understand with the Guggenheim’s involvement in the American Pavilion. It goes back to a beginning point but it’s not clear to everybody what the relationship is.]

00:33:02 Yeah, the museum owns the American Pavilion. That’s all. We are just landlord and by the way, the we didn’t build it, we bought it, I think it was in 1958 or 9 as a... to be of some assistant and it’s for sale.

00:33:14 [Oh it’s for sale?] Yeah, if you would like to buy it’s all yours. [Laughter] [I don’t see any paddles being raised out there but...] I am not sure I own it

00:33:22 but I told them the other day I am selling it, so we'll find out. [Laughter] But you know it’s... whatever it is, but there is no reason in the world that a museum wants to own that.

00:33:32 [So, an Indiana artist, a visual artist Bruce Nauman will be there at this summer and we are lending to that display which we are very excited about.

00:33:41 What what would you say the role you hope to have down the road with Biennial’s, do you want the Guggenheim to be involved in the Biennial.... it’s an important?]

00:33:49 Well that little tiny place attracts 580,000 people a year. So, it has an enormous attendance. [Not everybody has been to it. How big would you describe it?]

00:33:58 It’s... you know it’s a... it’s a you saw it’s a house and there are 2 other galleries that are attached to it. So, I am not sure how many square feet it is quite modest. [Oh, I'm thinking of the American Pavilion?] Oh, the American Pavilion is not as big as this room.

00:34:09 It’s not even 5,000 square feet. It’s tiny. We want Peggy Guggenheim to be happy and prosperous and complementary to what goes on

00:34:20 both to the architecture Biennial which is becoming much more important in terms of intellectual influence as well as painting a sculpture Biennial.

00:34:30 So, we are going to change our program to compliment both of those operations. [Well, and the Flagship Building in New York then is a challenge, as you were saying in terms of installing to,

00:34:41 how do you see it going forward, is it the continued approach to spectacles engulfing the whole building or more traditional exhibitions?] I think it all probably be a little less ambitious.

00:34:51 We won’t be doing those 5,000 year surveys any longer. I see it as a museum that began in the 1880s and goes to the future

00:34:59 and that’s what the founder saw it has and honestly as you probably know as well the economy is such that the days of having 1 big thing after the other probably gone for a while.

00:35:11 So, we.... we will have Frank Lloyd Wright show this summer and then a Kandinsky show in the autumn and we'll change the metabolism to be a little less quick.

00:35:22 [Now if you are the rationalizer...] Yeah... [where is Asia in this strategy?] It’s missing and that’s a huge problem but I just don't know what... I can get on another plane. [Laughter]

00:35:34 [Well, you were saying you know if it’s Tuesday it must be...] Yeah... there is a whole lot of flying around. So, I am going to go take a little trip in October to see some people who want to be friendly.

00:35:44 [Oh I see.] Yeah. [So, the management by flying around in your case as opposed walking around may continue. So, you wouldn’t look a scan set seductive idea for Asia?]

00:35:54 No, I think, really if they claim that there are going embrace global culture, they need to recognize that you know 41% of the world lives in 1 part of it and we have no presence there.

00:36:02 [Who's the they?]... The board for example or the decision makers, my peers and betters.

00:36:11 [Are there any issues in the Gulf since the economic downturn that are prescribing somewhat... what the vision would look eventually]...Well Abu Dhabi seems to be strangely impervious to the whole thing.

00:36:21 So, my impression, we were together a few weeks ago in London, is they are quite excited and Saddiyat is only one of the things that’s going on

00:36:31 and they feel quite capable of realizing that. So, I am hopeful that it won’t slow down. [Tell us about what’s coming up something called Intervals

00:36:40 which you have described as "A new contemporary art series design to reflect the spirit of today’s most innovative practices."] Well unlike places like this which have

00:36:50 you know multiple chambers that you can present different scale exhibitions that museum really only allows itself to be seen in 1 or 2 ways.

00:37:00 So, that’s that courset of approach and this by the way predates me, this whole initiative, but I am in favor of it.

00:37:09 The curators are young and they are looking around saying why can’t I respect or why can’t I respond information I saw yesterday.

00:37:16 So, they deviced this thing called intervals and what it really is... is filling in places where we don’t normally show arts and so right now it’s an exhibition in a stairwell.

00:37:26 The next artist is taking over the landmark telephone booth. So, it’s going to be a way of using spaces that aren’t today

00:37:36 typically thought of as art presentation spaces but a while 30-year-old artist entray into a big institution.

00:37:44 [How big is your curatorial staff and what you imagining for the future?] There are 12 full-time curators. I am imagining ultimately having about 17 because we will be hiring.

00:37:55 Bilbao needs a senior curator. Abu Dhabi needs a few curators. You might try and get somebody looks from 1950 to 1900.

00:38:05 [1915... 1950 backward?] 1950 backwards yeah. [I usually go in forward but you are going to look backward yeah okay.] [Laughter]

00:38:13 [Speaking of looking backward, you have this extraordinary Kandinsky Retrospective coming up. What’s that going to consist of scale and?] It’s about 80 paintings as I recall.

00:38:23 It was a little bigger in Munich and it’s considerably bigger at the Pompidou right now. It’s the full sweep of the career. We also will be showing a fair number of prints

00:38:34 which is very eye opening because it turns out to be very tactile world that hs operating in and it will be you know a really classy presentation of Kandinsky

00:38:44 the whole ramp and all the galleries as well. [And is it traveling after New York or that’s the end?] No that’s it. It’s always Munich, Paris, and New York.

00:38:54 [It’s a good trendy.....and well going forward to there will be other shows of that scale that you are going to be announcing soon on your watch that you have developing.]

00:39:03 There are things in the pipeline and we are being cautious about them. Cash is king. [Cash is king.] Yeah we got to get some money

00:39:15 together before we started making big investments on these temporary exhibitions. [So, if cash is king though you draw the line at deaccessioning. I know some of Tom was up to cause some ripples,

00:39:25 are you planning on looking at deaccessioning in any ways?] Yeah, the collection needs to be shaped. It’s slightly misshapen.

00:39:33 [Laughter][Okay, how does that work? What does that mean?] One wonders does one need to own 114 Kandinskys for example. [Well, we were very interested in Kandinsky,

00:39:42 so if you are advertising.] [Laughter] I just think there is a way of deploying assets slightly differently. [Yeah...We had a conference call yesterday an AMD of the association of art museum directors

00:39:54 talking about deaccessioning and the protocols going forward and there... it’s a big challenging world today with pressures on museums to do things that were unthinkable even 5 years ago.

00:40:04 Where does your head take you in terms of the limits that we need to draw around deaccession?] I think people have to be practical. They have to be pragmatic. They have to stop being righteous.

00:40:14 They have to stop being proud of the fact that museum died but the collection is intact [Laughter] which is that’s where we are headed.

00:40:24 I am afraid the number of provincial places. We need a cultural policy from the government about how places from Detroit all the way down through Richmond can be tied it over

00:40:35 for the next few years because there are not going make it a lot of them and there are not going to make it in the way that we recognize. You are unusual because you have a considerable capital

00:40:44 but a lot of places haven’t and you have a big vibrant city that’s changing for the better and lot of these places were previously yeapiers are shrinking.

00:40:54 Pittsburgh is one of them. So, there needs to be I think an infusion of pragmatism.

00:41:02 [But with pragmatism there also has to come I think a degree of cautiousness about setting precedent. So, you are not suggesting we move into a world of deaccession that’s no holds barred I assume.

00:41:14 You have some...] I think I am. [You are?] Yeah. [Okay... [Laughter] So, if we were to define that differently though you look at museums that are struggling

00:41:25 but they could emerge down the road if they start depleting their collections in ways that are irreversible. That’s potentially a bigger problem, no?] Potentially.

00:41:34 [Okay, so you will be a cowboy on this and yeah. [Laughter] Okay I understand. Well speaking of cowboys, tell us about from your career

00:41:45 expertise and background there are lot of people watching tonight and here tonight who are interested in museum work and you... you have always given good advice.

00:41:53 So, give some advice to some of the people who might want to pursue that has a career.] I wouldn’t go to business school. [Laughter]

00:42:04 [Does that grandeous visions in ones head, is that what happens?] I just I think is diversionary. I think what is crucial is to be

00:42:14 you know almost irrationally attached to your subject and then if you want to go beyond that learn to how to add and subtract,

00:42:24 figure out how to get along with people because ultimately you are going be extremely dependent on other people thinking that you know how to add and subtract and you know your subject and then it all falls into place.

00:42:34 [Well, it fell in to place for you.] I think I does, and I think one of the challenges that people in my generation and yours as well is just to make sure that many doors keep opening.

00:42:43 You know we don’t need to over professionalize museum operation. It’s in an organic thing and it’s a collective. It’s not a hospital. It’s something else.

00:42:54 [Applause] [Well I hear some enthusiastic responses. So, lets get some questions from the audience for...] I have said all the wrong things. [Laughter]

00:43:15 I think that’s one way of looking at it

00:43:17 and that you might consider that a good thing or you might not. I will say we have 4 full time attorneys. So, there are a lot of rules that go along with this. Yeah.

00:43:26 But I think when I worked at the Whitney the first time, the Whitney opened a branch on downtown in Wall Street area, 55 Water street,

00:43:37 and it was accused of you know different kinds of things but if you believe strongly that art should be available to a big audience

00:43:45 and the audience for different reasons may not have access to the place where you are. You say to yourself 'is a worth going to them?' So, that might have been part of the motivation.

00:43:55 Also, I think given the success of Bilbao, I think it’s a difference of a model.

00:44:07 Yeah that’s a good point. They will through us be collecting art starting in September and they begun collecting art with the Louvre already.

00:44:15 So, they have a impressive acquisitions budget and you probably been to Bilbao or maybe not

00:44:24 but they have a collection as well. So, I would say the Abu Dhabi budgets many times that and I should think over the next 5 or 6 years a very credible collection will fill that place.

00:44:36 Remember those shapes look like cones in the plan or in the models, those are probably going to be sites where a single artist was commissioned to do something.

00:44:46 So, it will be 5 or 6 of these large cones that are site for 1 artist.

00:44:56 It’s not clear but we are... I think we are proposing 1950 onwards because in the collective of the Louvre is the Pompidou.

00:45:05 The French model has 19 museums and a collaborative to operative that facility. So, we are having a meeting with the Louvre in about 2 weeks

00:45:14 but they have great expertise until you know the 40s at least. So, we are thinking maybe let them do that and we will take over 1950 onwards.

00:45:28 It’s closed yeah.... That’s one... that’s one of the things I was eluding to earlier where the strategy sometimes bore fruit and sometimes didn’t.

00:45:37 but that one turned out to be not feasible. The sad part about that was that it was very close connection with the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg.

00:45:47 I never saw it. Anyway it’s closed.

00:46:01 Good point. I don’t... I am really bad at long division so. [Laughter]

00:46:07 You know that’s their ambition. We thought it was worth allowing ourselves to and I am sure you think about the same things I do which is there are only so many ways

00:46:18 that cultures can interconnect and one of them is to make wars and another one is to trade, then the one that we can have the most influence over is to influence each other intellectually.

00:46:28 So, if that.... if this is a worthy pursuit then it’s a darn big one I’ll say that.

00:46:39 I don’t... I didn’t really show on the map but ultimately if you thought of this in marketing terms, the catchment basin and for the Gulf region is India,

00:46:50 a large part of Eastern Europe, I mean there are the Russian sea, the Gulf region as a sunning spot. I think of it. I jokingly say it’s their palm springs.

00:47:01 So, there is a.... there is a considerable audience there that at present may or may not have access to intense cultural experience but is likely to.

00:47:15 I am, I am naive about this also but they think there are enough people to make it work.

00:47:28 Well let me be crass, I’ll tell you how I am now sort of looking out from my point of view.

00:47:33 First of all as Max knows directors really don’t get to do anything. We just have to obey the curators. So, in my case it’s a program that was relatively well formulated when I got there

00:47:44 and that show which some of you may have seen brought to together this generation of mostly European artists who have taken that kind of theoretical approach

00:47:54 to making art in a way that’s about provoking activity. So, we will have Tino Sehgal starting in January. Do you know that artist from Germany?

00:48:04 Well he hires actors to do things in the space. So there is nothing on the wall. Nothing on the floor. It’s just actors and they are engaging the audience or whatever.

00:48:15 So, we will have another version of that same sort of aesthetic going on but to be crass as I was saying earlier, now what I am telling the curators is

00:48:24 you know I kind of think that’s interesting and why don't we in this new scheme of things when we are not going to be having giant painting and sculpture shows,

00:48:33 think about sorbet course which for 5 or 6 weeks allows the museum to be experimental in a different way. So, Tino Sehgal will be one.

00:48:43 Now we have got another one sort of on the horizon with the young architect. So, what we.... the way it will work for us, this is the only way I can explain it to you as there would be the big painting show

00:48:53 and the big sculpture show but in between there would be 5 or 6 weeks where we do that more activity oriented thing.

00:49:03 Also, one of the things that we have discovered at the Guggenheim is people come to see the building. It can be empty and it will be at certain moments.

00:49:12 It’s a way that foreground the building and also to conserve resources.

00:49:19 [That seems like a good zen note and on Richard. Thank you very much for coming tonight!] Thanks to all of you.....!