Monday, July 17, 2006


You Don't Need a Kimmelman to See Which Way the Wind Blows

Michael Kimmelman, in last Friday's NY Times, offhandedly demolished the Museum of Modern Art's Yoshio Taniguchi-designed building in a one-sentence putdown:
The sums that places like the Museum of Modern Art squander on mediocre buildings, which become obsolete the moment they open, are scandalous.

Come again? Here's the same art critic, reviewing the same building, at the time of its opening (Nov. 19, 2004):
By and large the redone museum, although more than a trifle like the new corporate headquarters of modernism, is a triumph of formal restraint and practical design---an eloquent reaffirmation, within its galleries, of the enduring beauty of the Modern's historic, albeit tendentious, account of modernism....

Mr. Taniguchi solved the problem of designing an immense museum by trying to make it disappear. Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian and Bonnard, not Mr. Taniguchi, are still the stars here, to Mr. Taniguchi's credit.

What made Friday's decision-reversing jab all the more startling was that it was gratuitously slipped deep into an article about the Neue Galerie's Klimt, to which it had no other connection than the expenditure of large sums. Do Kimmelman's reviews, like MoMA's "obsolete" building, have built-in obsolescence?

Mind you, I'm no fan of MoMA's new building, as CultureGrrl readers well know. But I was surprised by the manner in which Kimmelman chose to announce his new view. (Actually, to be fair, there was a previous, similarly unexplained, aside: On Christmas Day, 2005, Kimmelman opined that the new MoMA had "all the charm of the Cherry Hill mall on Black Friday.")

Maybe its time for a more considered article about what he REALLY thinks! Is it a "triumph," "mediocre" or just a bad day at the mall?

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