Here's more on last week's Ingrid Schaffner lecture:
Ms. Schaffner referred to the Paul Schimmel curated Helter Skelter exhibition and it's becoming a surprise blockbuster, making mention of curators "feeling pressure to make museums entertainment zones". In showing slides of Damien Hirst's Gagosian exhibit, she said it was "not the individual works, but the installation, that makes the piece." She talked a lot about Matthew Barney's Guggenheim show, saying it was "not a survey" and that there was "not a critical or historical distance", that "the museum is presenting a major installation." She also said that show was "between a museum exhibition and a major installation" and that "the Guggenheim is one of the sets. You felt like you were an extra. It was very disconcerting."
Interesting facts learned about the subject of the talk, Dali's 1939 World's fair contribution Salvador Dali's Dream of Venus, were that it was backed and well publicized by William Morris - of the William Morris Agency - and burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee. Also that Dali was disappointed with what he felt was shabby craftsmanship and that he considered the whole thing a failure and an insult to the American people. Showing slides of the contemporary artists she was relating to Dali's pavilion, Ms. Schaffner did say that she doubted any of them were directly influenced or even aware of the Dream of Venus, but Dali and his pavilion do figure in Michael Chabon's prize-winning 2001 novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. An interesting interview with that author, plus many other author interviews, can be found here.
This same lecture was given last year at Swarthmore and blogged on Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof's inspiring Philadelphia artblog.