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Curator goes bonkers at Art Institute

I was at the Art Institute of Chicago yesterday, standing in a room with a Phillip Guston painting on each wall. I gradually became aware of a man shouting on the other side of a partition. You couldn't walk into the space, because they had placed a low barrier to allow staff to enter the space and also to signal to museum visitors that they were to keep out. But this meant that the conversation could be clearly heard right across the gallery. And when I peeped around the partition, I saw a curator (he was the one with the oversized black rimmed glasses) and two installers in blue  overcoats. They were standing in front of a series of framed photos by Christian Boltanski, which looked very like this (may even have been this):

The curator was tearing the flesh off the installers, metaphorically speaking. I heard him shouting: "Come on, Matt, I told you  and you just didn't listen. You can see that they'e not straight, man, you don't need a spirit level to see this, just use your eyes, it looks nothing like the reference photo, and then what's all this dust inside the frames? You didn't tape them off properly, did you? And now there's dust between the glass and the photos. Look, I'm blowing on it, and the dust isn't moving, man. The only way we're going to get rid of it is to take apart every single frame. And I told you if you drilled the holes that way it wouldn't work. Now we're going to have to do the whole damn thing again." Et cetera. The installers were clearly idiots - I only glimpsed around the corner, but in two seconds I could see that the spacing between the frames was wonky. But the curator was venting in a way that gave off an air of knowing that these men were his underlings, and there wasn't anything they could do but just stand there and take it.

Ah, the art world.

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  1. Art handlers in museums have a slow paced, high pay job compared to handlers in galleries. They should be able to take it in the rear from a pretentious curator.

  2. Thanks for the comment. You're probably right - I didn't want to imply that all installers are idiots, only these two. Personally, my experience with people handling my art has been nearly 100% professional and considerate.


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