Cathleen McGuigan

Stories by Cathleen McGuigan

  • How To Succeed In The Art Biz

    Running a museum used to be the ultimate gentleman's profession; it took taste, polish and a passion for connoisseurship. Then things got grubby: museum directors started worrying more about balance sheets than provenances and spent more time wooing money out of politicians than heirlooms out of dowagers. But that era didn't completely vanish until last week, when the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C., named a successor to J. Carter Brown, the New England blue blood who'd been director for nearly 23 years. ...
  • Apres Mickey, Le Deluge

    When Mickey squeaked, Aldo Rossi lost his cool. The prizewinning architect was designing a hotel for the new Disney theme park opening next Sunday 20 miles east of Paris, when Robert Fitzpatrick, the urbane president of Euro Disney, made some criticisms. As Fitzpatrick tells it, a fuming Rossi wrote him a letter in which he told the story of the King of France who commissioned Bernini to build a palace. When the king's chamberlains asked for modifications, Bernini balked: build it the way I designed it, he said, or I quit. He quit. "I realize that I am not Bernini, " Rossi wrote. "But you are not the King of France. I quit. " ...
  • Catalunya, Here I Come

    A funny thing happened to Robert Hughes on the way to writing a book about Barcelona's modernista movement--the Catalan art nouveau architecture of Antoni Gaudi and his peers. Hughes got so deeply caught up in the roots of the city's history that he dug back nearly 2,000 years. The result is Barcelona (575 pages. Knopf $27.50), an epic about Spain's least Spanish city, with its own language--Catalan--and its own unique culture. Even in the hands of such an elegant and trenchant writer, the undergrowth of dense detail may nearly defeat many general readers. But a long historic look was probably inevitable: the periods of greatest cultural flourishing in Barcelona's history are also the moments of the greatest struggle for Catalan identity and autonomy. Barcelona is not the Spain of the flamenco and the bullring: the Catalonians were hardheaded, hardworking farmers, merchants, craftsmen and manufacturers, often conservative and deeply Roman Catholic. Hughes traces the history of...
  • Arne's Double Life

    Speaking of letting down your hair, wasn't that the button-down art dealer Arne Glimeher mamboing his heart out at New York's tatty Roseland the other night? At the premiere party for "The Mambo Kings," first-time film director Glimeher, along with stars Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas, boogied on-stage in a fevered rendition of the classic "Guantanamera. " It was only a few blocks from the pristinely elegant Pace Gallery, where Glimcher represents such blue-chip artists as Richard Serra and Julian Schnabel, as well as the estates of Mark Rothko and Jean Dubuffet, but it might as well have been the other side of the moon. This is the double life of Arne Glimcher. ...
  • The Arts' Political Scapegoat

    When John Frohnmayer, the embattled chairman of the National En dowment for the Arts, summoned his staff last Friday to tell them he was leaving, he did it in a very artistic way. The lanky Oregon lawyer, a baritone who once considered a singing career, launched into the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts": ...
  • All Those Old Familiar Places

    First try to imagine Melanie Griffith as a World War II spy who goes underground as a nanny in Berlin to find out about a secret German bomb with wings. Then picture Michael Douglas passing himself off as an SS officer even though he can't speak enough German to say Gesundheit. Shining Through, based on the Susan Isaacs novel, is implausible, silly and predictable. It's also pretty entertaining, if sometimes unintentionally. Griffith is the feisty Linda Voss, a half-German Jewish working girl from Queens who lands a job as secretary to upper-crust lawyer Ed Leland (Douglas); he's secretly working for the War Department. The two get cozy. They're listening to a symphony on the radio when Pearl Harbor is hit. "For me, there would be no more symphonies with Ed-just the sound of drums," says the breathless Linda on the voice-over. Faster than you can say Ich bin ein Berliner, Linda, who's learned everything she knows about espionage from movies, is on her way to spy in Nazi Germany.
  • The Barcelona Way

    When the great Japanese archi tect Arata Isozaki went to the opening of his Jordi sports palace on Montjuic in Barcelona, IN he was stunned by the turnout: 300,000 people--almost one fifth of the city--came to see what he'd done. Yes, he'd designed an amazing structure-a sports arena that wasn't a brute hunk of concrete but a huge, graceful mushroom of a building, with a soft, undulating roofline. The locals named it "the clever building" for the 100 blisterlike skylights that flood the place with daylight. "I never had such a strong response," says Isozaki. A slender, striking figure who dresses all in black, he spent three days at events celebrating the new $83 million arena, the architectural centerpiece for the '92 Summer Olympics. "Until then, my face was not known," he recalls shyly. "Afterward, everywhere I went, on the street, in a bar, in a restaurant, everyone recognized me. The general citizen is very fascinated and wants to talk about architecture." ...
  • They're Spookier And They're Ookier

    "The Addams Family" sounded like it might be one more movie to tap into boomer humor--Hollywood cashing in on our nostalgia for all the bad TV we watched in the '60s. What next--a movie version of "Petticoat Junction"? But fortunately, this film goes back to the original source: Charles Addams's deeply bizarre cartoons for The New Yorker. The opening sequence is a direct steal from one of Addams's most famous drawings, and it puts us in the proper holiday spirit: Morticia, Gomez and Lurch atop the tower of their spooky Gothic mansion, about to pour a steaming caldron on the heads of a sweet circle of Christmas carolers. Actually, every day is a holiday in the Addams house, only the holiday is Halloween. ...
  • How To Talk To A Brick

    The people at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles got the idea for the retrospective "Louis I. Kahn: In the Realm of Architecture" 10 years ago, but it didn't open until this month, in Kahn's hometown, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Thank goodness it took so long to put together--Louis Kahn might have bombed in the '80s. The late architect never built a skyscraper (though he designed at least two of them). He never used mirrored glass or put roofs that looked like hats on his buildings. What's more, he was a philosopher: he spoke about architecture in near-mystical terms. He even talked to bricks. ...
  • How Yesterday Saw Tomorrow

    The roaring '20s didn't last longer than any other decade, but after the exhibition "The 1920s: Age of the Metropolis," you'd swear it was an eternity. This vastly ambitious show at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is a huge, clanking machine: 700-odd paintings, prints, photographs, posters, architectural models, drawings, chairs, teapots, cigarette cases, a Bugatti automobile and a De Havilland 60X Moth airplane fill up the entire museum, evoking the jazz age in three prime capitals--Berlin, Paris, and New York. The images and objects in this immovable feast (the show closes on Nov. 10) make a rich but mostly stew. From whorehouse to Bauhaus, the show touches on decadence and utopianism, dada and constructivism, art deco and De Stijl, communism and cafe life. It is an age in which nothing was quite what it seemed: a side table looks like a high-rise, a cocktail shaker like a dirigible, a woman like a man. ...
  • The Thinking Man Of Design

    Architecture, unlike, say, tennis, is a profession for late bloomers. Even so, the career of Robert Venturi, 66, seems an incredible case of delayed gratification. It's been 25 years since his startling attack on the austerity of modern design, "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture," made him famous and jump-started the postmodern boom. In the book, he shot back at Mies van der Rohe's dictum, "Less is more" and said, "Less is a bore." Let's have "messy vitality," he argued, let's have ambiguity and a nod to architecture of the past. Those ideas influenced architects from Robert A. M. Stern, with his classical columns, to Frank Gehry with his street-smart materials. Everybody agreed Venturi was a brilliant thinker, but no one asked him to build skyscrapers or huge civic monuments. What his firm, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, did build didn't have an unmistakable "Venturi look": the beach houses were send-ups of fisherman's shacks; the campus buildings were brick...
  • A Maverick Master

    People used to pigeonhole Frank Gehry as a regionalist architect. That meant he was a flaky southern Californian whose far-out buildings looked like the scene of an earthquake the morning after. The first and most famous of these was his 1978 renovation of his own house on a quiet street in Santa Monica. He took a humdrum little pink-shingled Dutch colonial and wrapped it in corrugated metal, with big pieces of chain-link fencing and glass pushing up out of the structure. Inside, he ripped out walls, leaving a forest of bare studs, and the ghost of the original: an old bay window in the living room overlooked the new kitchen. "I had only myself and my family to please," Gehry recalls. ...
  • The Scoop On Kitty Kelley

    We were afraid we were going to have to do an unauthorized Kitty Kelley profile. We were very disappointed. We had wanted to get up close and personal with the plucky biographer who'd come up with such now notorious tidbits about her subjects' lives: that Jackie Onassis had shock therapy;that Liz Taylor aborted a love child by Frank Sinatra;that Sinatra once ate ham and eggs off the chest of a call girl. And now we had the deep dish on Nancy Reagan, including the allegation that (busy Ole Blue Eyes) the former First Lady had a tryst with Frank, too. So we wanted to see for ourselves the irresistible combo of charm and chutzpah that makes all her sources--old school chums, distant cousins, former White House staffers--spill the beans. We wanted to understand how "a real pushy-pants," as she once described herself, could even paw through someone's garbage in search of a hot clue. But last Thursday, Kelley's publisher, Simon & Schuster, abruptly canceled her promotional tour and...
  • Back From The Other Side

    Val Kilmer's uncanny incarnation of dead rocker Jim Morrison is the best part of "The Doors' ...