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7 Responses

  1. Trungpa Ricochet

    Over the years it’s been pretty obvious to many that this museum panders to those with money and influence when deciding what to show. Local moguls get away with using the museum to showcase their collections in exchange for donations or other back room deals. This is just a variation on the theme. The person of influence is not local, nor is he a collector. He is, among other things, a painter. Not as good as say, Diebenkorn, but better than Schnabel.

    Whatever the man has to say as an artist is simply rendered toxic and void by his position in the government of Egypt, which has always been corrupt and oppressive. It’s just a couple of degrees away from imagining the Yale Art Museum giving Albert Speer a show of drawings some time in the late 1930’s. Speer may not have been such a bad guy, but we will never take him seriously as an architect…for several reasons, the most obvious one being the milieu in which he worked. (Today though, he might get a gig in Las Vegas or maybe designing the Bush Library.)

    The MFAH’s Golden Rule also extends to its acquisition policies regarding many contemporary artists. This being the case, watch for the museum acquiring at least one of these paintings as a gift from an anonymous donor. Everything has its price.

  2. GetsEclectic

    To completely discount whatever Farouk Hosny has to say as an artist because of his position in a government you don’t like seems a bit moralistic to me. As the minister of culture he has nothing to do with the policies of the government you disagree with. You could argue that by participating in his government he is complicit in their actions but that would be a stretch as you could argue with similar logic that anyone who participates in the American political process is complicit in allowing the torture of detainees.

    You may not agree with some of the policies of the Egyptian government but it is where he lives and he participates in government as a citizen his country. If you think he isn’t worthy of our attention because he isn’t doing enough to change the policies of his government, perhaps you should look in the mirror and consider whether you could be doing more to change our government.

  3. tobrienwriter

    I am unaware of any major museum that so consistently seems to involve itself in exhibitions that raise so many questions about money and influence. Of course museums by nature are going to be in positions where questions are raised, but time after time MFAH gets called out, and apparently for good reason.
    Britt’s review is in fact overly generous. Those paintings SUUUCK, and have nothing to say right now. Except how even mediocre hotel art can get a museum show if the right strings are pulled.

  4. Rainey

    That’s a worthy point: it’s not right to criticize the paintings of, say, Sylvester Stallone just because he’s a movie star. It is, however, right to criticize them because they’re bad. Same goes for Hosny’s work. When I glanced at Britt’s aforementioned article, I thought, what the heck is Britt giving attention to today?

    According to Britt, the MFAH has a Tut show planned in the future — I checked with the museum and nothing’s official at the moment. It is striking, however, that the Met, when they hosted “Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids” in 1999, concurrently showed “Farouk Hosny/Adam Heinen: Contemporary Egyptian Artists and Heirs to an Ancient Tradition.” How do you think they happened to make that decision?

    At the end of the day, this demonstrates the pressures on museums that want to show old stuff from Egypt: do they agree to show the Minister’s junky paintings, fluff up his ego as a contemporary artist, and chalk that up to the cost of doing business? Or do they take the high road and miss out on the chance to show some spectacular antiquities?

  5. _scott

    didn’t notice your link to it in the original post. so many embedded links in blogs i barely even see them anymore.

  6. Trungpa Ricochet

    In response to GetsEclectic, I must disagree. To say a minister in a government, even a minister of culture, has nothing to do with the policies of that government, is rather poor reasoning. For a minister to continue in his position for so long, he must pass the litmus test of loyalty to that government and the values that government holds. I am indeed being moralistic to say what I say.

    And, as a citizen of one country, I have considerably less leverage with my government than a minister does with his. I agree with you to the extent that we all could do more to change our government.

    Titus O’Brien made a couple of good points in a recent piece about TaDa of Tahiti, the Avatar of Avalon, who wants to be known as an artist. Why do so many people known in one field, for better or for worse, have a second gig as “an artist”? Is it because they think it’s easy and glamorous? Is that the same reason so many middle-aged women who “divorce well” open art galleries? I’m just saying that the MFAH often takes the easy way, too.

    I don’t think Hosny should stop painting, but I’d respect him more if he sold all his property, quit his day job, moved somewhere else, and just painted.

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