Roundup: Kapoor's controversial sculptures plus art school infatuation with 'sophomoric' disruption

Roundup: Kapoor's controversial sculptures plus art school infatuation with 'sophomoric' disruption
Visitors walk alongside'Dirty Corners' by British artist Anish Kapoor in the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles outside Paris. The new piece has generated controvsery for its bodily connotations. (Kamil Zihnioglu / AP)

Protests at institutions on the both the East and West coasts, Anish Kapoor's sexy installations in France, and how women get written out of art history in the U.K. (and beyond). Plus: a soon-to-be demolished Modernist gem in Tokyo, the wild vernacular architecture of a Bolivian city and a fancy new bridge for downtown L.A. Here's the Roundup:

— "It's not about the sophomoric buzzword 'disruption'; it's about the actual disrupting of one's own social conditioning through the development of visual literacy and a profound, sometimes very upsetting, understanding of the political, social, and cultural paradoxes present in culture." Academic and critic Sean J. Carney on what arts education is supposed to be about, in a blisteringly insightful essay about the withdrawl of an entire MFA class from USC.


— In the last few months, the United Arab Emirates has denied entrance to artists and academics who are critical of labor practices on its Saadiyat Island cultural projects (which include Louvre and Guggenheim outposts as well as a branch of New York University). Now, 60 artists, curators, critics and editors — including the Tate's Nicholas Serota and the Museum of Modern Art's Glenn Lowry — have signed a protest letter to UAE agencies as well as Western cultural organizations operating there. One critic, however, says it's too little, too late.

— Speaking of protests: Staff at MoMA, one of the best endowed museums in the U.S., protested proposed healthcare cuts, at one of the museum's glitzy member parties. (Here's how those cuts could affect individual workers.) This was followed by the revelation that director Lowry's $2.1- million salary package is one of the richest for any museum executive in the U.S. — significantly more than Metropolitan Museum director Thomas Campbell's $1.3-million package.

— In other 1% art news: Larry Gagosian opens his 15th gallery, insurers warn collectors to protect their treasures during hurricane season, and a private art club is launched for people who have trouble buying their way into the art world on their own.

— Plus, Jonathan Jones at the Guardian thinks the art world's fashion house patrons need to stop being so darned boring. Co-sign.

—The Guardian also has several photos of the Anish Kapoor installations at Versailles — one of the works has offended French conservatives for vaguely resembling a part of the female anatomy. This has delighted the press, however, which gets to use a certain word over and over and over again.

— For museums, the cost of going free.

A must-read essay by historian Griselda Pollock on how the lone genius idea of art and art history wipes out the stories of women and others.

— My colleague Christopher Knight has a very interesting essay about the clichéd nature of Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair portrait.

A good video by animator and cartoonist Nina Paley on how all art references the work that came before it, which is interesting food for thought at a time when copyright is king.

— Onto the world of architecture and development: New York's Frick Museum has abandoned controversial expansion plans that would have eliminated an important piece of landscape designed by Russell Page. Good news.

— If there's one thing, above all others, that makes me want to book a flight to Tokyo right this minute, it'd be to see the Japanese Modern Hotel Okura before it is demolished.

— Also need to visit the ancient-meets-sci-fi buildings of El Alto in La Paz, Bolivia.

— The story behind Michael Maltzan's new 6th Street Bridge for downtown L.A., as told by Times colleague Thomas Curwen.

— Developer Geoff Palmer's latest building for L.A. is surprisingly un-fortress-like (but still a pile of derivative Renaissance tedium).


— Domes with breasts and a papaya fountain: Slate's design blog The Eye has the incredible story behind the unusual architecture of Cuba's sensuous, post-revolution art schools, which have since been abandoned. The story was also told in "Unfinished Spaces," a terrific documentary that premiered at the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival.


— This sounds fascinating: Artist Leo Saul Berk has an exhibition at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle that pays tribute to a very unusual house designed by Bruce Goff (of the famous Japanese pavilion at LACMA).

— A quiet neighborhood in Shorewood, Wis., may harbor a design by Frank Lloyd Wright — one that the architect didn't even know about.

— Your moment of John Waters. Here is his commencement address to the Rhode Island School of Design, with trigger warnings, foul language, off-color anecdotes and generally brilliant advice.

Find me on Twitter @cmonstah