Museums Shake Things Up by Mixing Old and New


Ms. Wagstaff oversees the Met Breuer, the museum’s branch on Madison Avenue and, in a telephone interview, she described her programming there as “consciously transhistorical,” a term she said she started using about six years ago.

“With a blending of history and contemporary art, we can reveal some of the puzzles at the centers of great art,” she said.

The Breuer’s 2016 exhibition “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible” presented incomplete paintings through the ages, from Titian to Lucian Freud, Gerhard Richter and Bruce Nauman. She followed up with “Like Life: Sculpture, Color and the Body (1300-Now),” on view until July 22, which takes a nonchronological look at 700 years of sculptures of the human body.

Including not only fine art but also wax effigies and anatomical models, the show opens with a hyperrealistic sculpture by Duane Hanson from 1984, jumps from a 15th-century Donatello sculpture to a Spanish Renaissance work by El Greco, and juxtaposes a modern android with a 19th-century effigy of Jeremy Bentham, made with the British philosopher’s bones.

“The idea with this show was to open it up and to expand the canon more, with work that could be seen in a more populist way,” Ms. Wagstaff said.

Suzanne Sanders, an art historian in Amsterdam, who organized conferences on “The Transhistorical Museum” in 2015 and 2016, calls transhistorical curating “the most urgent thing curators are doing in trying to reinvent the museum to create some sort of new paradigm.”

“It can be ‘trans’ in all these senses of the word,” she explained, “from across history, to transdisciplinary or queer, or just to represent things in an inclusive way, to find a balance between acknowledging and addressing points of view.”

But James Bradburne, director of the Brera Art Gallery in Milan, said the trend was just a new term for what curators have always done: “Try and bring people back to the moment when the art was contemporary.”

“We are always obliged to re-perform the art we have in our collections in a contemporary way,” he said, “just as an actor, when they perform Shakespeare, has to re-perform it for a contemporary audience, whether in mafia costumes or in drag.”

A year ago, M, a museum in Leuven, Belgium, rehung its permanent collection as “Collection M: The Power of Images,” presenting new comparisons, such as a 14th-century Pietà alongside a 16th-century Baroque painting and a conceptual art installation from 2009.

“We wanted to get out of this time-chain approach,” its director, Eva Wittocx, said by telephone. “Even people who know these works for a long time can find new meanings or new ways of looking at them.”

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Tullio Lombardo’s “Young couple,” left, from around 1505 has been placed alongside Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled (Perfect Lovers),” a work from 1987-1990, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

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Kunsthistorisches Museum; The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation, via Andrea Rosen Gallery

The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, whose permanent collection features art from Ancient Egypt to 1800, borrowed 22 works of contemporary art for “The Shape of Time,” which runs through July 8. A nude covering herself partly with a fur coat, by the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens in 1636-38, for example, is presented alongside a full-frontal nude portrait from the early 1970s by the Austrian artist Maria Lassnig.

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Peter Paul Rubens’ portrait of Helena Fourment next to a 1970s nude by Maria Lassnig in the exhibition “The Shape of Time.”

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Kunsthistorisches Museum; Maria Lassnig Stiftung

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When the Kunsthistorisches Museum posted a picture on Instagram of a painting by Rembrandt, left, next to one by Rothko, they received many comments. “Half them were saying ‘this is absolutely abysmal,’” said Jasper Sharp, a curator there.

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Kunsthistorisches Museum; Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS)

“I’d like to think that we are teasing out all of the ideas and concerns and dreams and nightmares that are buried in all of the historical works that we have,” said Jasper Sharp, who curates the museum’s program for modern and contemporary art. But he added that the curators spent a few years trying to figure out “what types of confrontations would be interesting, respectful,” he said.

Pairing Édouard Manet with Diego Velázquez, or bringing a Titian into conversation with a J.M.W. Turner seemed to work, he said, because “these are very well-documented admirations of younger artists looking at older artists.”

But other choices proved riskier. Scores of art lovers responded on Instagram to the museum’s juxtaposition of a Rembrandt self-portrait next to a Mark Rothko color field painting. “Half of them were saying ‘this is absolutely abysmal,’ or ‘Rembrandt must be turning in his grave,’” Mr. Sharp said. “Some of the connections knit together instantly; others reward more sustained looking.”

Ms. Demeester of the Frans Hals Museum pointed out that the history of art is cacophonous in its connections and influences — with “people talking to each other in salons and cafes and messing things up.”

“In creating more meaning and new stories for an audience, it’s important as a museum to think more like an artist,” she added. “An artist is more free, or less inhibited than an art historian, to make connections that go across time or across culture or across geography. To connect.”

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She Won the Turner Prize. Now She’s Using Her Clout to Help Others.


Ms. Himid has long championed the work of other artists. A leading figure in the British Black Art Movement of the 1980s, she organized important group exhibitions at public institutions in London.

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“Tenderness Only We Can See” (2017-2018), the title work from a recent series, carries a reference to Essex Hemphill’s poem “Between Pathos and Seduction.” A painting of a British carp, its muddy coloring transformed to exotic pink and yellow, decorates a wooden panel from inside a piano like a secret message.

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Courtesy of the artist and Hollybush Gardens

The exhibition at Sérignan will present works from eight series Ms. Himid made since the ’80s: All are talking points connected to Europe’s colonial past and wealth derived from slavery. “Cotton.com,” a series of 85 painting from 2002, recalls an incident from the 1860s when mill workers in northern England refused to process cotton grown in the Confederate States. The patterned panels imagine coded communication between black slaves on American plantations and British textile workers.

As part of her participation in the forthcoming Berlin Biennale, Ms. Himid asked the organizers to translate into German texts by the African-American poet and activist Essex Hemphill, and by Maud Sulter, a British artist and writer of Ghanaian and Scottish heritage. In Sérignan, a region where more than half the voters chose Marine Le Pen from the far-right National Front in the second round of the 2017 French presidential elections, the gallery will host, at Ms. Himid’s request, a conversation between Françoise Vergès, an academic known for her work on the legacy of colonialism and slavery, and the French-Cameroonian curator Christine Eyene. (“It will be hard-hitting,” Ms. Himid said.)

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“Cotton.com,” a series of 85 paintings from 2002, recalls an incident from the 1860s when mill workers in northern England refused to process cotton grown in the Confederate States. The patterned panels imagine coded communication between black slaves on American plantations and British textile workers.

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Courtesy of the artist, Firstsite and Hollybush Gardens

Ms. Eyene, artistic director of the International Biennial of Casablanca, Morocco, said in an interview that public conversations like these were important, particularly in France, where it could be difficult to discuss issues of race and the country’s colonial legacy.

Ms. Eyene recalled that while she was studying art history at the Sorbonne in the 1990s, “There were no black professionals in museums. I knew very early that there was little chance for me to get a job in a museum.” She noted that she still sees a tendency in France to favor work by black artists from outside the country over the work of French artists of color. “In France, when institutions do an African art exhibition they will look for artists based on the continent, or perhaps in other countries,” she said. “They’re not interested in bridging the gap between the diaspora and the Africans from Africa.”

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The central panel of Ms. Himid’s early work “Freedom and Change” borrows its composition from Pablo Picasso’s 1922 painting “Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race).” Early in her career, the artist was interested in political and street theater: some works from this period draw their improvised make-do energy from traditions of avant-garde performance.

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Courtesy of the artist and Hollybush Gardens

Two works on show in Sérignan refer to the French context of the exhibition. “Freedom and Change” (1984) borrows its composition from a 1922 work in the Picasso Museum in Paris — “Women Running on the Beach (The Race)” — a reference that in turn recalls Picasso’s own borrowings from African art that commenced in 1907 with the painting “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.”

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“Naming the Money” (2004) was inspired by portraits of black slave servants who were given as gifts to the king of France by the king of Spain.

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Courtesy of the artist and Hollybush Gardens

“Naming The Money” (2004), a throng of 100 life-size standing figures, was inspired by portraits of black slave servants who were given as gifts to the king of France by the king of Spain. Each figure bore a sash stating their name and occupation in the court: lute player, dog handler, dancer and so forth. Lavishly dressed, they were the glamorous face of exploited black labor and exotic status symbols.

Gabi Ngcobo, the Berlin Biennale’s curator, said that it was important to look at Ms. Himid’s work in the global context of creative practices giving voice to shared history that remains hidden or untold: “It is here that black artists working in different parts of the world can find a space in which they are not marked by an otherness but rather self-determination.” This year the Biennale borrows its title from the Tina Turner anthem “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” a call for “love and compassion” that Ms. Ngcobo said was reflected in the determined but generous way Ms. Himid has worked “as an artist, curator and cultural activist: quietly, forcefully whilst reaching out to many.”

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With Choice of New Director, the Met Gets a Scholar and a Showman


“You fulfill your programmatic ideas and then you do everything you can to find the funding to make that happen,” Mr. Hollein said in an interview at the Met.

A ‘Think Big’ Coach

This ability to strike a balance between art and business was a skill Mr. Hollein learned from Mr. Krens at the Guggenheim.

Mr. Hollein met Mr. Krens through his father, the prominent postmodern architect Hans Hollein, whom the Guggenheim had tapped for a branch in Salzburg that ultimately never materialized.

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The young Max Hollein, background, left, grew up in a creative household and attended the opening of the Museum Abteiberg in 1982 with his father, Hans Hollein, the building’s architect, and Joseph Beuys, the German conceptual artist. “My parents would have loved me to be an artist,” he said last week, “but I had no talent for that or inclination.”

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Udo Dewies

“You became part of the family,” Mr. Krens said. “We had a close relationship.”

Growing up in a creative household (his mother Helene was a fashion designer), Mr. Hollein became conversant in the art world and interacted with leading figures like Joseph Beuys and Claes Oldenburg. When Andy Warhol went to Vienna in the 1980s for a show of his late large-scale silk-screens, 12-year-old Max got the artist to sign every single page of Warhol’s exhibition catalog.

“Contemporary artists for other students were these out-of-this-world figures,” Mr. Hollein said. “For me, it was a friends and family background.”

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Hans Hollein, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect, in 1988 with a proposal (never built) for a suite of buildings that would have integrated Mies van der Rohe’s Nationalgalerie in Berlin.

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Günter Peters/ullstein bild, via Getty Images

When Max had to do a report on an artist at school, other students chose subjects like van Gogh and Monet; Mr. Hollein said he chose Naum Gabo, the Russian avant-garde sculptor.

“My parents would have loved me to be an artist,” he added, “but I had no talent for that or inclination.”

Mr. Hollein’s sister, Lilli Hollein, the director of Vienna Design Week, said her brother’s business instincts were apparent early on. “He once developed a game that had an economic background,” she said. “It was played with farm animals and people, and you had to buy cattle and stuff and then sell it.”

At the University of Vienna he studied under Konrad Oberhuber, an eminent scholar of drawings, and Hermann Fillitz, who directed Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum — but also, “as a revolution against my parents,” studied business.

When Max was 21, he came to New York to work as an intern at the Guggenheim and Mr. Krens invited him to return for a job after completing his education. He ultimately became Mr. Krens’s chief of staff and executive assistant, working closely on projects like the Guggenheim branch designed by Frank Gehry in Bilbao, Spain.

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Thomas Krens, then the director of the Guggenheim Foundation, in Bilbao, Spain, in 1997. As his chief of staff and executive assistant, Mr. Hollein watched Mr. Krens plan the export of the Guggenheim to Bilbao and other cities.

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Eric Vandeville/Gamma-Rapho, via Getty Images

“The reason that Max is so multifaceted and has had so many great opportunities in life has a lot to do with Tom Krens,” said Lisa Dennison, chairman of Sotheby’s Americas division, and a former director of the Guggenheim, who overlapped with Mr. Hollein. “Tom gave Max opportunities — he was building museums, he was thinking about technology and he told Max to think big.”

After five-and-a-half years at the Guggenheim, Mr. Hollein told Mr. Krens, “I have to leave here because I risk becoming a copy of you.”

What he took from Mr. Krens, Mr. Hollein said, was that he could push an ambitious agenda until the pieces fell into place and naysayers came around.

“One must not forget the success of Bilbao,” Mr. Hollein said, by way of example. “Two years before it opened there were large amounts of people who thought it would be a huge failure.”

Returning to Europe, Mr. Hollein imported the strategies and techniques he’d learned in New York. “He has this mixture of the European and the American know-how, and that’s a very rare thing,” said Renée Price, the director of the Neue Galerie and a fellow Vienna native.

In 2001, after impressing Frankfurt’s mayor, Petra Roth, at a dinner in New York, Mr. Hollein was named director of that city’s Schirn Kunsthalle, a non-collecting institution with such low attendance that local politicians were arguing for its closure.

Mr. Hollein quickly whipped it into shape, and was savvy about sponsorships, getting private corporations to help pay for exhibitions of Yves Klein and Pablo Picasso.

Attendance surged, and hipsters in Berlin began to take note of the upheaval underway in sleepy, big-money Frankfurt. By 2010, the weekly newspaper Die Zeit had called the Schirn “the most exciting exhibition hall in Germany.”

Ambitions Beyond the Rhine

Mr. Hollein was soon invited by trustees to take the director’s post at the Städel foundation, a more venerable institution, and home to one of Germany’s best collections of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque painting. He agreed to take the post, as well as the directorship of the neighboring Liebieghaus sculpture museum under a surprising condition: that he keep the Schirn as well.

This struck some as a power grab, and in Germany, a country whose citizens stick their academic titles on every surface, Mr. Hollein’s lack of a doctorate in art history caused additional concern.

Eventually, Mr. Hollein’s efforts began to speak for themselves. At the Städel, he helped expand the collection to include 20th- and 21st-century art by brokering unusual long-term loans with two German banks — Deutsche Bank and DZ Bank AG — that allowed the museum to retain the works in perpetuity.

Exhibitions of Cranach, Botticelli and Monet attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. An ambitious digital program — including art history video lectures in German and English — brought international attention to what was once a museum of only regional influence.

And at both museums, Mr. Hollein indulged his abiding passion for electronic music. At the Schirn, he backed exhibitions featuring experimental composers like Carsten Nicolai and Ryoji Ikeda; at the Städel, during a 2012 exhibition of Romantic and Symbolist painting, he invited the public to dance until 2 a.m. to D.J.s from the Berlin nightclub circuit.

Mr. Hollein’s progress gained attention on the other side of the Rhine. In 2013, he emerged as the odds-on favorite to become director of France’s leading modern art museum, the Pompidou Center in Paris.

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Max Hollein and his wife Nina, an architect turned fashion designer, in San Francisco on March 1.

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Drew Altizer

“Max, in Frankfurt, had been committed to very strong temporary exhibitions — blockbuster shows as well as more scholarly, researched, niche shows,” said Alain Seban, who was the Pompidou’s president from 2007 to 2015. He praised Mr. Hollein’s “capability to make the whole curatorial team participate in an exhibition strategy for the museum. And perhaps, considering the current situation of the Met, it’s something that he might have to do there as well.”

Mr. Seban would continue to hold the top job — a situation that closely parallels Mr. Hollein’s new arrangement at the Met, where he will report to Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s president and chief executive.

Yet leaks to the French press damaged his Pompidou candidacy, particularly reports that his requested salary was three times higher than expected. Mr. Hollein withdrew before the final selection. (The job went to Bernard Blistène, a Pompidou veteran.)

In his Met interview, Mr. Hollein said he felt that the French government couldn’t give him the freedom he needed to make significant strides.

“I draw a lot of energy where I feel I can move the institution forward,” he said, adding: “It clearly was not the money.”

Some people in the art world were surprised to see Mr. Hollein take the job in San Francisco, in part because of its powerful board president, Diane B. Wilsey, who has a reputation for being loath to relinquish control of the Fine Arts Museums.

Ms. Wilsey, 74, ceded the chief executive title after the museums paid a $2 million settlement to a former high-ranking executive who said Ms. Wilsey had her ousted for revealing alleged museum misspending.

But both Mr. Hollein and Ms. Wilsey said they have had a very productive working relationship. “He pushes the staff, but they like it,” Ms. Wilsey said in a telephone interview. “They’re energized by his energy and intelligence and ambitions.”

Indeed, Mr. Hollein managed to make an impact during his short tenure at the museum, balancing the budget and initiating shows like “Contemporary Muslim Fashions,” which is set to open in September. (Breitbart News Daily questioned whether it was “a celebration of subjugation.”)

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Protesting Artists Step Off the Streets and Into the Gallery


Katie Holten was at that march, wearing a “pussy hat” and carrying a homemade banner. The 42-year-old, an Irish citizen who lives in New York and describes herself as a “visual artist and resistance fighter,” took photographs at the Women’s March and the March for Science months later, which she assembled into collages titled “We the People,” featured in the Schirn exhibition.

In the past, Ms. Holten’s art focused primarily on environmental subjects. “I have kept away from economics and politics because that is not my personal interest,” she said in a telephone interview. But since Mr. Trump’s election campaign, that has changed, she said.

“Some days I was at six rallies,” she added. “It has never been like this before.”

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Katie Holten’s “Angela Davis,” from “She Persisted” (2017).

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Van Horn, Dusseldorf

Ms. Holten’s series of 10 pencil portraits, titled “She Persisted” (2017), features women who faced down adversity, including Anita Hill, Emily Dickinson, Chelsea Manning and Harriet Tubman. “My work has never included anything human before,” Ms. Holten says. “The portraits were a form of meditation, a way of taking a break from making signs and going out on the street. But it was also a reminder that there are people who have dealt with and are dealing with obstacles. There is hope.”

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Mark Flood’s “5000 Likes” (2015-16), a commentary on social media.

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Norbert Miguletz/Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt

The contribution of the Texas-based artist Mark Flood to the Frankfurt exhibition is more topical than he could have imagined when he created it. “5000 Likes” (2015-16) satirizes Facebook in a way that resonates today, as the company confronts the fallout from revelations that Cambridge Analytica exploited the data of up to 87 million Facebook users.

“A mere 70 likes are enough to allow a computer analysis to produce a personality profile,” the catalog says. In a parody of social media superficiality, Mr. Flood created thousands of small-format paintings bearing the word “LIKE,” and visitors to the exhibition are invited to place them in front of artworks that appeal to them.

Three Turkish artists featured at the Schirn remind us that political resistance can be dangerous in many parts of the world. Ahmet Ogut’s “The Swinging Doors” features two riot shields attached to either side of an entrance. They can be pushed open from either direction, like a classic saloon door. Leaning against the shields to pass through the doors gives the visitor a sense of what it is like to confront the police as a defenseless demonstrator. Returning in the other direction is to feel the fear of riot police officers facing mass protests with just a truncheon and a sheet of thick plastic as protection.

Nasan Tur’s video installation “Preparation No. 1” projects six films of a man energetically but meticulously getting ready for something, perhaps a demonstration. In furtive close-up shots, he packs a heavy chain, tests a megaphone and marks a map in the semidarkness of a room with lowered blinds, as though working undercover.

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Halil Altindere’s “Ballerinas and Police” (2017).

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Courtesy the artist and Pilot Galeri, Istanbul

“Ballerinas and Police,” a 2017 video installation by Halil Altindere, addresses the innocence of some of the demonstrators who took part in the wave of protests in Turkey that began in Gezi Park in Istanbul in 2013. Dancers in white tutus perform to Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” in a bleak urban setting. As heavily armed police officers — also wearing ballet shoes — try to disrupt the performance, the dancers continue to twirl.

“With the uprising, there was an immediate polarization,” Mr. Altindere said in an interview. “It started with the politicization of the young generation and it quickly turned into a more violent environment. I wanted to show innocence and oppression, the fragility of everyday life in that situation.”

Mr. Altindere publishes a contemporary art magazine in Istanbul, and his work, which has featured at the Documenta art exhibition in Kassel, Germany, and at the Berlin Biennale, focuses mainly on political themes.

“Censorship is highly possible” in Turkey today, he said. “But it is important that artists should not start exercising self-censorship. In this show, you can see that even in the most oppressed countries, artists manage to express their opinions.”

At one point in Mr. Altindere’s video, laser beams shooting from the ballerinas’ eyes appear to paralyze the police. It’s a hint at the power of art to confront authority and its ability to force change.

“It’s really hard,” Ms. Holten said. “ We just have to keep doing what we do.”

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Five Must-See Artworks at the Renovated Getty Villa


“There isn’t a bubble around the classical world, no hard and fast lines separating one culture from another,” said Mr. Potts, noting that Alexander the Great’s conquests included Central Asia, and that the Roman Empire extended as far as Afghanistan.

He was giving a tour of a new gallery called “The Classical World in Context,” which makes its grand debut along with the permanent-collection reinstall. This gallery relies on long-term loans from other institutions to help broaden the Getty’s horizons.

He pointed out prime examples of first- to third-century funerary relief portraits from Palmyra, the ancient caravan city in the Syrian desert, borrowed from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen.

“The destruction in Syria today makes the exhibition even more topical, but we didn’t choose this material for that reason,” Mr. Potts said. Rather, he added, he was interested in how these Syrian objects blend an array of cultural influences.

“Since Palmyra was on the borderland region between the fringe of the Roman Empire and the Parthian empire, the art reflects the coming together of two traditions,” he said, pointing out the Roman drapery on the limestone objects.

Here are five highlights of the re-envisioned Villa, not to be missed. Some are old favorites in new contexts. One comes fresh from long-term storage.

But one very prominent statue is no longer on view: the Getty Kouros, a larger-than-life sculpture of a naked young man once thought by museum leaders to be from ancient Greece. Soon after its purchase in 1985, scholars and scientists publicly doubted its authenticity. It was recently on view at the Villa, labeled “Greek, about 530 B.C. or modern forgery.” Mr. Potts is not waffling. “It’s fake, so it’s not helpful to show it along with authentic material,” he said. It will be accessible by appointment.

“The Beauty of Palmyra,” 190-210 A.D.

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The funerary relief called “The Beauty of Palmyra” at the Getty Villa. Considered a masterpiece by its curator for the carving and preservation of its true colors, a bejeweled female figure still has flecks of red in her hair and on her cheeks.

Credit
Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

Though time has stripped the statues’ color away, scholars now know that many classical Greek and Roman sculptures were originally not white but as vivid as contemporary works by Jeff Koons or Takashi Murakami. You can see evidence of this polychromy painting technique in the showstopper known as “The Beauty of Palmyra,” a limestone funerary sculpture. This heavily bejeweled female figure with Eastern headdress still has flecks of red in her hair and on her cheeks, with gold tints on her pendant necklaces. Kenneth Lapatin, the Getty’s curator of antiquities, considers her a masterpiece “both for the high quality of the carving and for the preservation of all the polychromy.”

Statue of a Victorious Youth (the Getty Bronze), 300-100 B.C.

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The Statue of a Victorious Youth, also known as the Getty Bronze, seen in the Hellenistic Gallery, was submerged until 1964. Ancient bronzes are exceedingly rare today because the metal was often melted down.

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Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

Ancient bronzes are exceedingly rare today because the metal was so valuable it was often melted down. But this sculpture, modeled in the style of Lysippos, was preserved by a cosmic accident: a shipwreck in the Adriatic Sea kept it submerged until 1964. Its modeling is powerful, its casting is expert, and the subject of the athletic youth has an illustrious lineage culminating in Michelangelo’s David. The sculpture has been the subject of protracted legal challenges from Italy, which has claimed the work because it was discovered by an Italian fishing trawler and brought back to Italian soil. The Getty has maintained that the piece was found in international waters and its own acquisition was legal. Asked about the status of the court battles, Mr. Potts did not have an update or resolution: “It just goes around the courts,” he said.

Caeretan Hydria (Water Jar) With Herakles and Iolaos Attacking the Hydra, 525 B.C.

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The Caeretan Hydra (Water Jar) is on display in the Etruscan Gallery at the Getty Villa. “It’s got everything you want a great vase painting to have,” said Timothy Potts, the J. Paul Getty Museum director. “Great subject matter, beautifully executed and distinctive local style.”

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Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

The drama comes straight from Greek mythology: Herakles is poised to smash one snakelike head of the hydra, while Iolaos holds a sickle to another. But the style of the vase is not traditionally Greek: The strange lozenge pattern on the rim, the stars right below it, and even the squared-off shape of the rim are typical of pottery from Etruria, in what is now central Italy. “It’s a Greek myth rendered in a way that’s unmistakably Etruscan,” Mr. Potts said. He praised the vase as one of the prized pieces in the collection, now on view with other Etruscan works: “It’s got everything you want a great vase painting to have: great subject matter, beautifully executed and distinctive local style.”

Frescoes From Villa Numerius Popidius Florus at Boscoreale, 1-79 A.D.

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A view of the Inner Peristyle garden at the Getty Villa, the original branch of the Getty Museum until 1997. The Villa is devoted to antiquities experienced in a setting modeled on the Villa dei Papiri, a Roman seaside estate.

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Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

From its gardens to its architecture, the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades was modeled on the Villa dei Papiri, a Roman seaside estate that was preserved by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. One new goal in the reinstall, Mr. Potts said, is to create a few moments where you can see what a great ancient estate like this might have contained. For example the walls would not have been painted a cool gray, as they are now, but covered in frescoes, with decorative flourishes and narrative details. These four frescoes fit the bill — they came from another Roman villa active during roughly the same period and were in Getty storage for years. One has a narrative element, but the identity of the figures is a mystery: Some speculate that it’s Socrates and his teacher Diotima. Others, judging by the man’s bare feet and unkempt look, say he is probably a Cynic philosopher, perhaps Diogenes.

Roman Statue of Draped Figure, 160-190 A.D.

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Reunited: The Statue of a Female Figure (left) with her newly-found head is on display in the Roman Galley at the Getty Villa.

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Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

If you visit this seven-foot-tall female figure, see if you can detect the break in her neck. When the Getty acquired the work in 1972, the head was missing — the sculpture consisted of a body covered in flowing drapery. But two years ago, after seeing a photograph of the intact sculpture during research for the reinstall, Jeffrey Spier, the Getty Museum’s senior curator of antiquities, immediately recognized an object on view at the Royal-Athena Galleries in New York as the missing head.

“I was at the gallery looking at something else Tim was interested in, and I turned around to see the head just sitting there,” he recalled. “I almost laughed, it was so perfect.” The museum acquired it and turned it over to conservators, who have worked to rejoin it to its body and fill the crack. “We had to come up with a new word for it: recapitation,” Mr. Spier offered, laughing. He never learned why the head was severed, but suspects it was easier to transport and sell on its own.

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Gillian Ayres, Abstract Artist Besotted by Paint, Dies at 88


Like other abstract artists, she did not discuss the meanings, if any, in her works. She insisted that she thought only about the shapes, the space and the colors.

“People like to understand, and I wish they wouldn’t,” she told The Financial Times in 2015. “I wish they’d just look. It’s visual.”

Gillian Ayres was born in London on Feb. 3, 1930. Her father was a part-owner of a hat factory whose customers included the British Army. Her mother, the former Florence Brown, was a homemaker. For a while, she attended school in an air-raid shelter in London.

When she was attending a girls’ school in 1943, books on van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne and Monet inspired her to paint. And at 16, she insisted on attending art school and was admitted to what is now called the Camberwell College of Arts in London.

Chafing at the rigidity of the teaching, she left shortly before taking the final exam. She got a job as a hotel chambermaid in Paris, then returned to London to work in an art gallery with Henry Mundy, a painter she had met at Camberwell. They married in 1951 and divorced 25 years later.

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“Bybios,” a 2017 work by Ms. Ayres.

By the mid-1950s, Ms. Ayres was a rising abstract painter, splattering paint on a canvas on the floor like Jackson Pollock.

“The whole idea of the canvas as an area in which to act, an area and what one does with it — I wanted to find out about that, obsessively,” she told The Telegraph in 2010.

Ms. Ayres came of age in Britain with abstract artists like Howard Hodgkin and Victor Pasmore. Roger Hilton, an older artist she admired, wrote a note to her in the early 1950s that she often referred to in the ensuing decades, she told The Independent in 1995. It described the abstract painter’s journey into the unknown, armed only with colors, shapes and space-creating powers.

“Can he construct with these means,” the note said, “a barque capable of carrying not only himself to some further shore but, with the aid of others, a whole flotilla, which may be seen eventually as having been carrying humanity forward?”

Ms. Ayres made her journey into abstract art in Britain as a woman among far more men.

“Nobody else was doing anything as adventurous or uninhibited, like throwing paint at the canvas, which only had parallels in America,” Alan Cristea, whose London gallery represents Ms. Ayres’s original prints, said in a telephone interview. “But she refused to be classified as a woman artist; she thought that was silly.”

Yet, he added, “She became sort of a role model for women of the younger generation.”

Her work has been widely exhibited in Europe, and when she had a show in Manhattan, at the Knoedler Gallery, in 1985, the New York Times critic John Russell praised her as a “full-bodied, adventurous and uncompromising painter.”

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“Dance of the Ludi Magni,” a 1984 oil painting by Ms. Ayres.

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Courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery, London

He later wrote, “Pushing the medium to its limits, she communicates a kind of reckless radiance that comes across in paintings large and small, square or round.”

Mr. Ayres taught at St. Martin’s School of Art in London and the Winchester School of Art in Hampshire, where she was the head of painting.

Mark Hudson, an art critic for The Telegraph and a former student of hers, recalled in an article on Friday how influential Ms. Ayres had been.

“Within months of her arrival,” he wrote, “a substantial number had stopped painting aimless landscapes and started producing large-scale, gestural, Ayresesque abstracts — a development that had more to do with Ayres’s force of personality than any kind of systematic instruction.”

In addition to her son Sam, Ms. Ayres is survived by another son, Jim Mundy, and a granddaughter. She continued to live with her former husband for most of the years after their divorce.

Ms. Ayres stopped painting about a year ago because of illness.

“I always knew in my heart of hearts that the day she couldn’t paint, she wouldn’t live very long,” Sam Mundy, also an abstract artist, said in a telephone interview. “I’m surprised she lasted a year not painting.”

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The Personal Data of 346,000 People, Hung on a Museum Wall


Last month, Robin Li, the chief executive of the search giant Baidu, set off a firestorm when he said that Chinese people were willing to trade privacy for convenience, safety and efficiency. In December, the software developer Qihoo 360 angered many internet users when a blogger discovered that the company was taking surveillance footage from restaurants and gyms in Beijing and broadcasting it without permission onto its platform.

The rising public anger is taking place amid a similar debate in the United States, over Facebook. But Beijing officials keep the volume lower because personal data is broadly available to another powerful constituency: the Chinese government. Tech companies cooperate with the police in handing over information, with few questions asked. Citizens are resigned to the fact that they are tracked by the government, and there is little pushback about the increased state of surveillance.

So six months ago, Mr. Deng started buying people’s information, using the Chinese messaging app QQ to reach sellers. He said that the data was easy to find and that he paid a total of $800 for people’s names, genders, phone numbers, online shopping records, travel itineraries, license plate numbers — at a cost at just over a tenth of a penny per person.

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Mr. Deng’s project, in which partly redacted personal data was visible only under a special light source, highlights a growing debate about the lack of privacy protections in China.

Credit
Deng Yufeng

He said he knew he was breaking the law. He wanted to prove a point.

“Artists are not merely aesthetic creators,” Mr. Deng said. “In the very complicated state of our world today, we should also bear social responsibility.”

At his exhibition, called “346,000 Wuhan Citizens’ Secrets,” he printed the pieces of personal data on sheets of paper using a special liquid solution. The sheets were hung in neat rows and columns on a wall. Museumgoers could only see the data under a special light source, and key identifying details were redacted.

According to Mr. Deng, plainclothes police officers took him away on April 6, two days after his exhibition opened. They told him that he was being investigated for the buying of citizens’ information online and was barred from leaving Wuhan. When reached for comment, a Wuhan-based police officer from the station investigating the case said she did not know anything about it and hung up.

Under Chinese criminal law, Mr. Deng faces up to seven years in jail. But Raymond Wang, a lawyer who specializes in data security, said he believed it was unlikely that Mr. Deng would be sentenced because there were no “damaging consequences.”

Whether Mr. Deng’s exhibit will catch the attention of China’s leaders isn’t clear. But Legal Daily, an official, government-run publication, said Mr. Deng’s project showed how the existing laws on the protection of personal information were weak and enforcement was poor.

“The organizer’s purpose was to call for the protection of personal privacy, and he himself violated the law to purchase personal information,” the newspaper wrote in an opinion piece. “Due to the complexity of the plot, it will make for a lively legal lesson.”

The privacy project is just one of Mr. Deng’s many works of art touching on social issues. He has gone undercover to investigate the kidnappings of children, a major problem in China. He has also worked on a project on how people buy fake identification cards and guns.

Mr. Deng pointed out that the lack of data privacy was also a global problem.

With the help of volunteers, Mr. Deng sent about 10,000 text messages to the people whose information he used in the exhibition, inviting them to come.

One of them was not amused, according to Mr. Deng, responding back: “You’re sick.”

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Even the Doors From the Chelsea Hotel Are Icons


One of the owners, Ira Drukier, said last month that 48 long-term tenants remained. He said the goal was to open rooms on the upper floors in a few months.

“We started from the top down,” he said. “We hope to have 10, 9, 8, 7 in operation before the end of the year.”

Last month the renovations reached the restaurant on the first floor, El Quijote. It will remain closed for several months while workers install support columns in the kitchen, among other things. And the tenants who are living through the renovation come and go through an unstylish vestibule that leads to a lobby that has all the charm of a construction site, although the ornate front desk is a transplant from the hotel’s earlier days.

Mr. Georgiou said he lived in the Chelsea from September 2002 to April 2011. He said he had been a principal in an internet start-up company, living on Chambers Street downtown, and witnessed the Sept. 11 attacks from his apartment. He moved out amid health problems and a financial drain, and ended up at the Chelsea.

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One of the owners, Ira Drukier, said the goal was to open rooms on the upper floors in a few months.

Credit
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

“When you move in there,” he said, “without getting ethereal about it, there is a sense of energy in the building.”

There was also what he called its “utopian spirit.” “They were running a business, for sure,” he said, “but there was eccentricity, kookiness, darkness, light, all of it colliding to make it a very interesting place.” That began to change after the longtime manager, Stanley Bard, was ousted in 2007 in a power struggle among the owners.

Mr. Georgiou said he had occupied Room 225, and of course it had a history. “I lived in Bob Dylan’s room,” he said. One of them, anyway. “He lived in three rooms: 211, 215 and 225,” he said.

Mr. Georgiou said he visited the building after renovations began and construction workers were in the corridors. “I said, ‘Do you guys realize what you’re doing here?’ ” he recalled. “I said: ‘This is history. I realize the building needs work, but tread lightly.’ One day I asked, ‘What are you doing with this stuff?’ They said, ‘Oh, we’re throwing it away.’ ”

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Art Review: Cy Twombly, Redefined by His Drawings


Once upon a time the Gagosian Gallery produced museum-quality shows at an unmatched rate — at least once a year. Then it seemed to cede this role to the well-oiled machine that is David Zwirner’s gallery.

But now Gagosian is back, with “Cy Twombly: In Beauty It Is Finished: Drawings 1951-2008,” a ravishing, revelatory and compressed overview of this great postwar career that more than makes up for lost time. Comprising over 90 drawings, collages and the occasional painting on paper at the West 21st Street gallery, this concentrated presentation spans over five decades and gives Twombly’s art a new pace and immediacy. No matter how well we may think we understand his achievement, it introduces an artist we haven’t quite seen before.

The show has been selected and organized by Mark Francis of Gagosian, with the help of Nicola Del Roscio from the Cy Twombly Foundation; its title is from a Navajo night chant that Twombly used in the title of a voluptuous unbound book of 36 paintings on paper (1983-2002) in the final gallery here. The exhibition, celebrating the publication of the eighth and final volume of the catalogue raisonné of his drawings, coincides with a presentation of his “Coronation of Sesostris,” a 10-part painting from 2000 at Gagosian’s Madison Avenue gallery, in commemoration of what would have been his 90 birthday on April 25.

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An installation view of the Twombly exhibition “In Beauty It Is Finished: Drawings 1951-2008.”

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Cy Twombly Foundation, via Gagosian

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A detail of an unbound book of 36 paintings on paper from 1983-2002. Its title, “Untitled (In Beauty it is finished),” is from a Navajo night chant.

Credit
Cy Twombly Foundation, via Gagosian

The gathering of works in Chelsea reconfigures the general sense of Twombly (1928-2011) as a lanky, slow-moving, ever-relaxed Southerner who worked in fits and starts and soaked up the good life on Italy’s Amalfi Coast or in Lexington, Va. — his birthplace, to which he returned in his later years. In its stead is a man driven by an almost demonic energy, who never stopped pushing and testing his aesthetic engine, drawing, making it ever bigger and more encompassing.

Paraphrasing Shakespeare, this show could be said to ask, “What’s in a line?” Everything: drawing, painting, language from vulgate to Olympian, mathematics, pictographs, architecture, writing in tongues, the body, the war between the sexes, myth and history, and nature, especially the sea.

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An installation view of works from the early 1970s.

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Cy Twombly Foundation, via Gagosian

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“Untitled,” 1970.

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Cy Twombly Foundation, via Gagosian

The show is densely installed and has an immersive feeling that becomes oceanic as the rhythms of Twombly’s hand expand. It begins with a startling vitrine of 39 drawings, which are being exhibited for the first time: tiny scraps mounted on index cards made in 1951. They show a range of quasi-abstract motifs resembling trees, fences, rows of flowers and — strangely — little sketches for Wiener Werkstatte broaches. They are about as precise as Twombly gets; the motif turns shambling in four larger oil paint drawings nearby.

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On the Verge: Meet the Mixed-Media Painter Inspired by Lil’ Kim



Slide Show

In the Studio with Eric Mack

CreditKyle Knodell


On a windy winter morning in the South Bronx, the artist Eric N. Mack stands in his light-filled studio, with delicate pieces of red and blue silk organza and brown polyester — all stitched together on his nearby sewing machine — spread out before him.

It would be easy to confuse the painter’s studio with a messy fashion atelier before a big show: Heaps of beautiful fabrics, photographs and ready-made art objects that serve as references line the floor. In a full outfit by the Japanese label Montbell, complete with a blue hoodie, Mack, 30, calmly moves about his studio, stepping around the textiles he forages on the street and sources from Mood Fabrics. Hanging from exposed pipes are mixed-media paintings in progress for his upcoming exhibition at Simon Lee Gallery in London.

“I think the show is going to be called, ‘Misa Hylton-Brim,’” Mack says, referring to the costume designer and fashion stylist — known professionally as Misa Hylton — who dated Sean “Diddy” Combs in the 1990s and extended the pop cultural legacy of Bad Boy Records beyond music by dreaming up iconic fashion statements for Combs, Lil’ Kim, Notorious B.I.G. and Mary J. Blige. Mack sees the 1990s — and Hylton’s designs — as a part of his formative years for understanding style and art. “It’s about a tribute, about a time period,” he says.

Mack grew up in Capitol Heights, Maryland, and both of his parents worked at the National Gallery of Art; he remembers wandering through the museum’s exhibitions at a young age. He also cites hip-hop music video sets and the fashions his father sold on the side in his discount clothing store as early influences. Mack moved to New York in 2006 to study at Cooper Union, and received his MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale University in 2012.

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Eric N. Mack’s “The Spring/The Wholy Ground,” 2018.

Credit
Courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery London/Hong Kong

Since then, he has been interested in quotidian objects (old photographs, rope, pegboard, folding fans) in his art-making: He generally uses an array of these materials and textiles as the surfaces of his paintings. Mack calls the works “fabric collages,” and styles them into sculptures and monumental installations that explore histories of both art and fashion and transform the spaces they take up. “I constantly think about how I could make a work in a space that would be as effective as like, a number of Lil’ Kim looks,” he says of the rap legend who challenged preconceived notions of beauty, dress and presentation when she famously wore a single nipple pastie (that Hylton created from Indian bridal fabric) to the MTV Video Music Awards in 1999.

The artist has shown some of these conceptual works in various museums — and earned a spot in the Studio Museum’s prestigious artist-in-residence program. His art has also caught the attention of the British designers Duro Olowu and Grace Wales Bonner. During the latter’s fall/winter 2018 presentation, models paraded past one of Mack’s fabric installations, which was inspired by nautical flags and African-American migration. Mack says that Wales Bonner’s consideration of her wearers and her interest in identity and fabric is “an affirmation to the language I’ve been working through this year.” (He recently collaborated with her on another blues-inspired piece for the retailer Totokaelo.)

A few feet away, spread across the floor of the studio, sits “Menagerie,” one of his signature fabric works, which is almost complete. Its surface is a blue packing blanket, which Mack found at U-Haul and dyed with red, blue and green abstract shapes. On top of it are paper media: images of his sister wearing a shirt he created, a photograph of a Richard Tuttle installation and a sly reference to Hylton’s styling prowess in the form of Mary J. Blige on a ’90s cover of Pulse! magazine.

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