Brushed with Greatness: Vuitton and Koons Join Picasso and Tinterow at Houston’s MFAH

by Glasstire April 7, 2013

koonsTo kick off its new “Conversations with the Director” lecture series, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston is splurging on a big name: high-end artist Jeff Koons will discuss his “enduring fascination with Picasso” with MFAH Director Gary Tinterow on April 23 at 6:30 p.m., sponsored by high-end fashion house, Louis Vuitton. For only $35 ($25 if you’re a member, $15 students) you can listen in!

Partly, it’s a come-on for new members: people who sign up for a $60 membership to get the $10 discount for the lecture also get a free $20 ticket to the Picasso Black and White show and a year’s worth of other perks.

Up next: in June, Tinterow will chat with media sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.



Terry Mahaffey April 7, 2013 - 15:47

I received an email blast for this new series, and noticed that it was referred to as a “public program.” Is someone attempting irony here?

One of the broadest definitions of “public,” apparently not the one intended in this case, is “ordinary people in general; the community.” As an adjective, a public event is “one that is open to or shared by all the people of an area,” or one that is “of or concerning the people as a whole.” None of these seem to be what the MFAH had in mind when it set the entry fee for this event.

For many years, the art “market” has been expanding while serving a shrinking class of buyers. The thought that the same fate awaits even participation in the public discourse of art is upsetting. I thought about calling the museum to complain about the price, but didn’t. When I asked a friend over lunch what she thought – her reply was: “I would love to hear Koons speak, but I can’t afford it.” Therein lies the problem.

Now don’t get me wrong – I appreciate the fact that the MFAH goes to great lengths to provide access to the community as a whole, hosting many free events for families, and general admission is always free on Thursdays thanks to corporate sponsorship. But what happened with this event? It has a corporate sponsor, just like “Free Thursdays.” What gives? At a time when museums nationwide are trying to increase public access, why must this event be so exclusive? Alas, it appears for my friend and many like her – not only is Koons’ art forever beyond their reach, even hearing him speak eludes them.

This new program may be a come-on for new members, but it certainly is not a “public program.” It is a program meant only for people with the means to pay the cost of admission – exorbitant in this case – perhaps only for those who can afford to outfit themselves in the accoutrements of its sponsor.

Brushed with Inspiration April 8, 2013 - 08:04

‘Houston has Class!’


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