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Artists Unite to Save Garden, Oppose Frick Expansion

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Much of the opposition to the Frick Collection's planned expansion (of which there has been a lot) has focused on the fact that it would mean destroying a pocket garden designed by architect Russell Page in 1977. "The garden exemplifies the sort of minor miracles New York manages to shoehorn into small spaces," archicritic Michael Kimmelman wrote, while architect Robert A.M. Stern told an interviewer, "Gardens are works of art. This one is in perfect condition ... and it should be respected as such." Now, a group of 51 prominent artists, including Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Chuck Close, and Sofia Coppola, have come out in opposition to the expansion and the removal of the garden in a letter to the city and the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

May 5, 2015
Dear Mayor de Blasio and Chair Srinivasan:
The residential scale of the Frick Collection exerts a special power over those who walk its halls. To have visitors experience the feeling of living with art was the intention of founder Henry Clay Frick as he envisioned his personal residence being opened to the public. Up until now, the Frick's fidelity to its founder's vision of a "house museum" has been laudable. Those of us in the art world who cherish the unique and tranquil ambiance offered by the Frick are urging the Frick to withdraw its proposed plan and consider alternative methods of expansion that would preserve the character essential to its appeal.
As professionals working in the art world (sculptors, painters, critics, journalists, dealers, gallerists, financiers, and more), we strongly believe that the Frick's effectiveness as a display space lies in its intimacy. Viewing highlights of the collection—whether the photorealism of Vermeer's Officer and Laughing Girl or the diffused softness of Renoir's La Promenade—we are transported by the gallery's serene environment, and encouraged to reflect on what it means to let art inhabit one's daily life. It's personal at the Frick, and that is a rare achievement.
The ensemble the Frick wishes to raze, composed of the Reception Hall Pavilion and the Russell Page-designed Viewing Garden on East 70th Street, is a masterstroke of the evolving museum's design, positioning the mansion in counterpoint to the Manhattan street grid, and optimizing the "house museum" experience. Replacing the hall and garden with an institutional 106-foot tower will indeed destroy the famed Frick experience for artists and art lovers around the world.
The Frick is revered for its wise curatorial and architectural decisions, and we hope that your guidance will ensure that it does not break with this tradition. Please deny the Frick's current expansion proposal and urge its leadership to consider the many worthy and reasonable alternatives for modernizing this one-of-a-kind gallery so beloved in the international art community.
Jeff Koons, artist
Chuck Close, painter
Rachel Feinstein, artist
John Currin, painter
Helen and Brice Marden, artist
Frank Stella, artist
Richard Prince, artist
Cindy Sherman, artist
Claude Lalanne, sculptor
Inez van Lamsweerde, artist
Vinoodh Matadin, artist
Ben Kinmont, artist
Deborah Kass, artist
Marie Lalanne, painter
Dorothea Rockburne, painter
Sean Landers, painter
Cecily Brown, artist
Walton Ford, artist
Lisa Yuskavage, artist
Rudolph Stingel, artist
Jessica Craig Martin, artist
Nird Hod, artist
Matvey Levenstein, artist
Richard Phillips, artist
Marianne Vitale, artist
James Capper, sculptor
Laylah Ali, artist
David Salle, artist
Makoto Saito, artist
Jackie Buechner, painter
Sofia Coppola, filmmaker
T.J. Wilcox, filmmaker
Marc Jacobs, fashion designer
Sarah Morris, artist
Paul Branca, artist
Julian Lethbridge, artist
Miranda Brooks, landscape architect
Simon Thoresen, architect
Irving and Jackie Blum, gallerist and art dealer
Zoe Lescaze, art journalist
Adrian Dannatt, art/architecture journalist
Nina Griscom, arts journalist
Paul Kasmin, director, Paul Kasmin Gallery
John B. Koegel, art law attorney
Barbara Chu, Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance
Offer Waterman, gallery director, London
Eric Zetterquist, gallerist
Allegra Thoresen, Di Donna Gallery
Courtney Conway, Di Donna Gallery
James Sharp Brodsky
Bruce and Maria Bockmann
cc: Senator Charles Schumer; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; Councilmember Daniel Garodnick;
State Senator Liz Krueger; Assemblyman Dan Quart; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer;
Manhattan Community Board 8; Margot Bogert and Ian Wardropper, The Frick Collection;

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen; Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris · Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, and Other Big Artists Push Against Garden-Killing Frick Expansion [Vulture]
· Landmarks Hearing Is Best Hope for Frick Expansion Critics [Curbed]
· The Frick Collection coverage [Curbed]