Aaron Betsky, director of the Cincinnati Art Museum for seven years, announced Thursday he’ll step down.
Cincinnati’s WVXU reported that the museum’s board will set up a search committee, and that Betsky will help pick his successor. Betsky, an architect, oversaw the first phase of a renovation for which he helped raise more $13 million, and increased the art museum’s endowment by 18 percent. His leadership was at times controversial, as when he oversaw an exhibit by artist Todd Pavlisko that included firing a .30-caliber rifle in the 132-year-old museum’s Schmidlapp Gallery.
“If Zaha is in Paris, ask her to text me and make an appointment.” So read the text message from Karl Lagerfeld to Naomi Campbell. La Campbell was having a sit-down with Zaha Hadid, who happens to be designing the supermodel’s new house outside Moscow. But this wasn’t a meeting to review floor plans—it was an on-the-record chat (including incoming texts) for the German edition of Interview magazine. The conversation ranged from the subject of Hadid’s new book (on the Russian Suprematist movement, one of her foundational influences) to 3-D printers.
Funnily enough, Campbell covers a lot more ground than architecture writer Aaron Betsky manages in his recent and rather fluffy profile of Hadid for Glamour magazine, which named the architect as one of its Women of the Year. Here, Betsky cites Mame rather than Malevich as an early influence: “My house was like Auntie Mame’s, with my mother redecorating every season,” said Hadid.
Nothing much to report from yesterday, as it was a day of formal openings when very little was in fact open to the press or public. It was mostly a day of introductory speeches by biennale directors and city and government officials. Frank Gehry presented some models, made a few brief remarks, and then everyone headed for the hallway, where we had our first free prosecco and great little appetizers. Journalists and media types stood around asking about where the best parties were to be had in the coming days (more on this later). Read More
Eavesdrop held a glass to the emergency-exit door of the Cooper-Hewitt and heard rumblings that a ten-member, Smithsonian-led committee was about to announce a new museum director to succeed Paul Warwick Thompson. It sounded as if the committee was down to two candidates—Paola Antonelli and Aaron Betsky. The latter volunteered to a source that he was not in the running, but we think he was merely trying to throw us off the scent. Our olfactory sense is too highly tuned to be distracted. Expect an announcement any minute. Read More
It is confirmed: Aaron Betsky fell into the canal. Friday, on his way to one of several august assemblages of the evening (See Guggenheim Villa, Darkside), Betsky pitched into the murky depths as he ascended the staircase of the Palazzo Polignac where Herzog & de Meuron were hosting a private dinner party. As confirmed by his sister, he was unable to answer his cell phone the next day, as rumors abounded that he went in after it. As we have also experienced a pitching sensation whenever near the water and handrails are few and far between in this fair city, we can sympathize. Later that evening, other diners noticed that Betsky’s spirits were undamped although his suit and shirt were.
From our roving correspondent Alex Gorlin, who was party-hopping the other night:
Among the guests at Aaron Betsky’s 50th birthday celebration on Thursday were Henry Urbach, curator of Architecture at SFMOMA, Laurie Beckelman, UCLA’s Sylvia Lavin (who was complaining to Jeff Kipnis about the mosquitoes), Susan Grant Lewin the PR Queen—she barely made the “haj” to the party—the Modern’s Barry Bergdoll with Bill Ryall, his partner, Reed Kroloff and Casey Jones. Last and certainly not least was Katherine Gustafson, the Zaha of landscape design, who appeared in a regally flowing white toga-like gown. The setting was her “Garden of Paradise” at the Arsenale, a coyly-renamed installation in the Garden of Virgins, with vegetables and flowers culminating in a swirling ridge of grassy mounds above which floated giant white ballons and what looked like the remains of a parachute. All in all, an elegant evening, although with no lights on, it was pitch black and so far away that one can only imagine half the guests, a little tipsy perhaps, falling into canals on the trek home.
The Bellinis, toasts, and information exchange about digital technology flowed freely at a reception and rooftop dinner at the Danieli Hotel hosted by David Rockwell, Aaron Betsky, Reed Kroloff and Casey Jones. Liz Diller, Ric Scofidio and Charles Renfro joined the celebrants after decamping from an equally glam—but apparently mosquito infested party at Villa Malcontenta—party hosted by Zaha Hadid celebrating collegue-divided-only-by-the-centuries Palladio. Lise Anne Couture and Hani Rashid stayed in the Villa’s formal gardens, Couture recounted, pretending they were in the characters in the classic flick, Last Year at Marienbad.
[Editor’s Note: This post was written Sunday.]
It is two days before the opening of the Venice architecture Biennale and as commissioner of the United States pavilion I have been in Venice for a week mounting the exhibition. The Biennale opens on Wednesday for “important media” and the next three days for the rest of the press and anyone else that can find a ticket. This always sets up a huge scrum at the entrance to the grounds between the haves (those with passes) and the have-nots in the media. Read More