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GERALD MATT TO REMAIN KUNSTHALLE WIEN DIRECTOR
Gerald Matt can look forward to another five years as the head of Kunsthalle Wien, in Vienna. As Der Standard and APA report, the announcement puts an end to recent speculation in the Austrian press that Matt might move to the prestigious Kunsthistorisches Museum, which houses old-master paintings. According to Thomas Häusle, the kunsthalle board's president, and vice president Siegfried Menz, Matt has guided the institution into its position as "one of the most successful" for contemporary art and expanded international collaborations with, among others, the Centre Pompidou, the Guggenheim, and Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. For his part, Matt claims that his heart "belongs to contemporary art." "I would like to take part in the discussions that determine our present," he said, noting his interest in artists who deal with the problematics and utopic visions of globalization.
WERNER SPIES QUESTIONS PARIS'S ROLE IN ART
What are Paris's chances of becoming the metropolis of contemporary art? Not very high, at least according to Werner Spies, former director of the Musée National d'Art Moderne at the Centre Pompidou. In an interview with Die Welt's Johannes Wetzel, Spies noted the dominance of the École de Paris up to and after 1945. While Paris still dominates French art, the international scene long ago moved elsewhere. "There are not enough possibilities for young artists to exhibit art," explained Spies. "In New York, London, Berlin, or Munich there are more, and many places where art is shown, far away from the official sites. France is missing the historical development of the Kunstverein—private engagement for artists. And ultimately, there are not enough collectors, which leads to too much state involvement. A touch of Salon art, of academicism, is on the rise. Even Gauguin, van Gogh, Cézanne, Picasso, and Surrealism cut away with that. For decades, no official dared visit ateliers anymore—which led to the fact that Picasso never sold a work to the French state during his lifetime."
NO TO NITSCH
Is Hermann Nitsch trapped in his own concept? After surveying the Austrian artist's latest exhibition at Galerie Beaumont in Luxembourg, Woxx's Luc Caregari is happy to report no censorship but disappointed to see the same old program. "His work is well known in the present, as in the past," writes Caregari. "And that's one of the great weak points of this artist: never to have changed." Caregari sees more of a press agent for gore than an artist who knows how to reinvent himself. "Nitsch has given himself a brand, identifiable and established," he writes. "Anyone who follows contemporary art recognizes the photographs of Nitsch's performances and, according to her or his taste, is for or against the work, but it's impossible to escape it." The interview itself seemed to get off on the wrong foot. "Nitsch still has to do some shopping this afternoon," explained the gallerist. "We have an appointment at the butcher's."
CRITICS TO BE REPLACED BY BLOGGERS?
Are art critics the latest victims of bloggers? Writing in The Guardian, Rónán McDonald considers the obsolescence of the critic in the era of Web 2.0, in which anyone can be an instant online critic via personal blogs or even on commercial sites such as Amazon. Far from welcoming the fall of the critic and the rise of a more democratic forum for judgment, McDonald believes that the critic still has a "vital" role to play in culture, especially in bringing controversial artists to a wider public. "The critic-as-instructor, as objective judge, and expert, has yielded to the critic who shares personal reactions and subjective enthusiasms," writes McDonald. Where bloggers prefer recommendations from people they know with similar tastes, McDonald sees the spread of "cultural banality and uniformity." He writes: "The public is relying on a reviewing system that confirms and assuages their prejudices rather than challenges them. An able and experienced critic, with sufficient authority, could once persuade readers to give unfamiliar work a second chance, to see things they did not see at first glance. In that respect, critics can be the harbingers of the new."
CHANGES IN POLISH ART
According to Polityka's Piotr Sarzynski and Eurotopics, Polish art has undergone a rapid development more evocative of an earthquake than an artistic movement. "The nineties were dominated by the so-called critical art," writes Sarzynski. "It . . . raised fundamental questions about physical and cultural identity." Yet since 2000, Polish art has become less serious, supplanted by playful references to pop culture, lifestyles, and consumerism. "Above all, art feeds on the personal experiences of the artist—his or her problems, contradictions, stress, or happiness," he writes. "While looking at reality, art either ridicules or calmly records but does not analyze reality. Art has switched to making subjective observations rather than giving objective accounts."
DIEGO RIVERA VERSUS FRIDA KAHLO
Diego Rivera's daughter Guadalupe Rivera sees no comparison between the work of her father and Frida Kahlo. "You can't compare [them]," said the eighty-three-year-old in a report from Agence France-Presse, "Frida was a mediocre painter." Rivera, who is a specialist in Mexican art history, noted that she often saw her father "finish Frida's paintings." "She didn't like to paint, and my father was always telling her, 'Friduchin, get to work.' Painting was neither a profession nor a necessity for her."
MATTHEW BARNEY WINS KAISERRING
Der Standard reports that Matthew Barney has been awarded the 2007 Kaiserring award from the city of Goslar. Praised by the jury members as "the greatest symbolist of the last fifty years," Barney is the thirty-second artist to be awarded the prize—a simple gold ring named after King Heinrich, who was born in Goslar in 1050. Barney joins a prestigious list of past winners, including artists Henry Moore, Max Ernst, Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Georg Baselitz, Christo, and Jörg Immendorff.