Consternation has greeted the news of the staffs cuts made at the Cleveland Museum of Art, announced in July by the Museum's director, Katherine Lee Reid. Thirty seven curatorial, administrative and service posts were axed (this figure apparently includes two or three voluntary resignations) and eighteen vacant positions were eHminated. The cuts went across the board - from a carpenter and shop personnel to a distinguished, long-serving curator - in a purge that effectively represents about ten per cent of the Museum's total number of employees. Salaries (including the director's) have been frozen or cut; some trimming of events has been ordered; and the future exhibition pro gramme may not be so full; for the most part, however, 'the public will hardly see any changes'1 and the forthcoming major shows of Turner, Monet, and of the Barcelona of Dali, Picasso and Gaudi will presumably keep the cash tills ringing. The director's decisions, made with the full back ing of the trustees, are intended to stem a growing deficit in the Museum's finances, partly brought about by the haem orrhaging of its enviably large endowment fund through recent stock market losses. To account for all the factors involved is a complex business and this is not the occasion to do so; nor is Cleveland alone in such drastic belt-tightening (the Detroit Institute of Arts, for example, has also announced staff cuts in the wake of a huge drop in state funding). But the events at Cleveland, occurring while the Museum is fundraising for a massive rebuilding and extension plan which it hopes to begin in late 2004, can only put into sharp perspective the tug-of-war between presentation and objects, 'day out' amenities or curatorial expertise, crass commercialism or scholarly probity.
The reputation of Stuart Davis (i894-1964) as an American abstract artist was built upon paintings inspired by the modern urban environment, and some of his major works were derived from packages, signs and common household objects. When Davis was sixteen years old he left high school to become a student of Robert Henri, the leader of the Ashcan school of artists. People and scenes from lower-class sections of New York City were the young painter's primary subjects until he saw the 1913 Armory Show. Over the following years, the Philadelphia-born painter acquainted himself with modern art movements and changed his artistic direction. Davis's writings of the 1920s and 1930s demonstrate his devotion to perfecting his abstract style.
The expressive and stylistic extremes of Willem de Kooning's art are well known. On the one hand, the cataclysmic violence of his abstractions from the decade of the mid-1940s onwards, alongside the wrenching disloca tions in his more figurative work of the same period, provoked critics such as Clement Greenberg and Thomas B. Hess to perceptively describe their impact in terms of 'savage dissections' and 'Procrustean' methods.1 On the other, de Kooning's taste for grotesque caricature extended from the Seated man (clown) (Fig.24), through the 'Woman' series of the 1950s, to the mangled protagonists that populate the graphics (Fig.40), canvases and sculptures of his final twenty years or so. This second penchant evokes an altogether different impulse. It often strikes, willy-nilly, the keynote of what he called 'hilariousness'.
The galerie iris clert, inaugurated at 3 rue des Beaux Arts in Paris in February 1956, was one of the most important show places for European avant-garde art in the post-War decades, a position whose significance has only recently begun to be acknowledged.1 Two of its exhibitions, of work by Yves Klein in 1958 and by Arman in 1960, have been awarded a place alongside some of the most notorious and influential shows of the earlier twentieth century.2 In June i960, Iris Clert held the first one-man show in Paris of paintings by the American artist Ad Reinhardt (1913-67), consisting of works in red (Fig. 44), blue and black. Like her shows of work by Klein, in financial terms it was a resound ing failure but it and a subsequent show of his paintings in 1963 lent lustre to Clert's cosmopolitan and adventurous gallery programme.
Between 1966 and 1968, two exhibitions in the Netherlands provided Dan Flavin with the impetus, space and financial support to create the first two variations of his so-called Carrier' sculptures. 'I am pleased to be able to perpetrate ambitious schemes which were formerly prevented by lack of funds and insufficient concern among other persons to help facilitate them', he announced in a letter to Philip Leider, the editor of Artforum, in the autumn of 1968.1 Flavin was referring to 'modular projects pretending to contextual infinity', such works as Greens crossing greens (for Piet Mondrian who lacked green) (at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in 1966 (Figs.47 and 49), and the 1968 An artificial barrier of blue, red and blue fluorescent light (for Flavin Starbuck Judd) at the Gemeente museum in The Hague (Figs.48 and 50).2 Until recendy, historical accounts of minimal art have concentrated primarily on the debate surrounding the emergence of this work in the United States during the mid-1960s, bypassing an examination of the key European exhibitions and acquisitions which followed soon after.3 Against this framework, the genesis of Flavin's early barrier instal lations indicates the extent to which institutional support in north ern Europe during the late 1960s provided critical opportunities for these artists to expand and develop their work.