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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Photos: World's Richest Man Opens World's Flashiest Museum

In Mexico City, telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim, widely cited as the world's richest man, recently opened a new museum to showcase his extensive collection of over 60,000 works of art from all over the world. As NPR reports, Slim calls the museum a gift to his country; others call it an eyesore, "the pet project of a man who knows more about business than art."

Kate Delmling at ArtInfo rounded up the reviews of the museum, which has an investment of more than $800 million, finding: "critics deeming it eclectic at best, and, at worst, a totally incoherent grab bag of stuff a la William Randolph Hearst's notorious Xanadu."

The outside of the museum is a windowless, metallic, six-story structure shaped like a surrealist hourglass. Despite being designed by Slim's son-in-law, it drew some of the better reviews: Art + Auction's Benjamin Genocchio called it, "really spectacular... a cross between a spaceship, a mushroom, and a futuristic Mariko Mori installation." However, he found it derivative of the Guggenheim on the inside, down to the spiral ramp.

The Los Angeles Times' Christopher Knight wrote, "If you love Salvador Dalí's cheesy Surrealist bronze sculptures of the 1970s and 1980s, churned out for moneyed provincial buyers; posthumous (if authorized) casts of Auguste Rodin masterworks; or sentimental Victorian odes to childhood innocence, carved in marble, this is the place for you."

In positive reviews, The Wall Street Journal's Nicholas Casey was wowed by the architecture: "a few steps into the narrow entrance, the museum unfolds as an airy white gallery — a trick an architect tells me was used by Baroque builders to convey a sense of grandeur."

And back to the snarky: German newspaper Die Zeit brought up criticisms of Slim as an uninformed nouveau riche, along with "a persistent rumor that he has paintings hanging in his house with Sotheby's labels still on them."