Rochelle Steiner, a museum and gallery curator who served as the director of the Public Art Fund in New York, will assume the role of dean at the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Fine Arts starting August 1, the Los Angeles Times’s David Ng reports. USC said Friday that Steiner will replace Ruth Weisberg, who has served as dean of the school since 1995. A spokeswoman at the university said that Weisberg has decided to step down to devote more time to her career as a visual artist but will continue to teach at the school. A curator with international experience, Steiner was the director of the Public Art Fund from 2006 to 2009, during which time she oversaw the commissioning of various public art projects. The most well-known project during her tenure was Olafur Eliasson’s "The New York City Waterfalls", a series of large-scale outdoor water installations that opened in 2008.
- 27 The Warburg Institute of the University of London is facing an uncertain future. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Alexander Menden reports, the source of the problem is the original foundational agreement between the institute and the university. The institute’s library, which was created by the German art historian Aby Warburg, became part of the University of London in 1944 with the stipulation that the university maintain the institute as an independent entity while providing it with adequate furnishings and personnel. That clause has put a damper on the university’s recent plans to amalgamate its many libraries––a move that would have threatened the Warburg Institute’s unique cataloging system. While the Warburg Institute successfully avoided the library amalgamation––by citing its independence––there are new tensions. According to Menden, the university is seeking to annul the original agreement that guarantees the institute’s special status. “The university’s board of trustees is currently investigating possibilities to change fundamentally the relationship to the Warburg Institute,” writes Menden, noting that the minutes of a university board meeting show that a lawyer was contacted last October. The lawyer advised that the founding document be replaced with a new agreement which reflects the fact that “the circumstances of the university have changed since 1944.” A spokesperson for the university confirmed that there are plans to present a proposal to change the original agreement to the charity commission, which will decide whether or not a legal procedure is needed. Consulted by the institute and the university last year, the charity commission already came to the conclusion that there is a conflict of interest since the university acts as both a trustee and the main financer for the institute. That conflict seems to be benefiting the university’s finances. “The university has apparently decided to make up for financial deficiencies in other areas at the cost of the Warburg Institute,” writes Menden. Between 2007 and 2009, the Warburg Institute’s rent paid to the university increased more than 250 percent, from $437,750 in 2007 to $1.1 million in the following year. At the same time, the institute’s support has declined slightly from $2.1 million in 2008 to $2 million in 2009. “The increase in the rent,” writes Menden, “which now suddenly makes up around one third of the annual expenditures, have ‘led to an unsustainable deficit,’ according to an employee of the Warburg Institute.” There’s no comment from the university so far.
- 22 Daniel Birnbaum will be giving up his position as rector of Frankfurt's Städelschule. As the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung's Michael Hierholzer reports, Birnbaum—who has held the position for ten years—will likely continue at the art academy as a professor for philosophy and art mediation. Starting this fall semester, the new director of the Städelschule and its exhibition hall the Neue Portikus will be the architect, curator, and theorist Nikolaus Hirsch. Hirsch, who was born in 1964 and has been a professor for theory and practice at the Städelschule for two years, was selected for the position internally on Wednesday. Birnbaum—the artistic director of the last Venice Biennale and the curator for an upcoming exhibition of Olafur Eliasson's works at Berlin's Martin Gropius Bau—cited as one of the reasons for his departure an intention to participate more actively in curating in the future. “As the rector, I have done what I could do,” Birnbaum told the _Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung_. “Maybe others have completely other ideas.” Hirsch, who was a cocurator for Manifesta 7, participated as an artist in the Börneplatz memorial in Frankfurt and as an architect in the design of the Dresden synagogue. In addition to his teaching duties at the Städelschule, Hirsch lectures at London’s Architectural Association and the University of Pennsylvania.
- 21 Berlin's Freie Universität has gone live with an internet database documenting the fate of more than twenty-one thousand artworks condemned as ''degenerate'' by the Nazis and seized from German museums in 1937, according to The Age The website includes works by Franz Marc, Emil Nolde, Otto Dix, Marc Chagall, Max Beckmann, Wassily Kandinsky, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. As well as looting artworks from private Jewish collectors, the Nazis seized modern works from German museums, among them Paul Klee's _Sumpflegende_ (Swamp Legend), seized from Hanover's Provinzialmuseum. The mayor of Munich, which acquired the painting in 1982, has until now refused to return it to the heirs of the prewar owner, Sophie Lissitzky-Kueppers.The archive of artist Joe Deal has been acquired by the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. Along with work prints, negatives, and related material, Deal’s master vintage prints will all be reconstituted in the center's collection, which already comprises more than 80,000 works by 2,000 photographers, including the archives of luminaries such as Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Weston, and Garry Winogrand. In addition to Deal’s vintage prints, a complete set of the artist’s recent series, “West and West: Reimagining the Great Plains” has also been acquired by a private collector for the center’s collection. This body of work was first exhibited at the RISD Museum of Art and is currently on view at Robert Mann Gallery through May 8, 2010, after which it travels to CCP where it will be on view from June 5–August 1, 2010.
- 14 How far can one go using “art” as a legal defense? That’s what University of California San Diego visual arts professor Ricardo Dominguez seems bound to find out, writes Miles Manning in Artnet. Dominguez, a pioneer in the burgeoning field of “electronic civil disobedience,” recently helped launch an “online sit-in” against the website of University of California president Mark Yudof. The strategy had about four hundred participants visit Yudof’s website repeatedly for about ninety minutes, in an attempt to slow it down (similar to what is called a “denial of-service attack,” which floods a website with traffic, freezing it), as a protest against budget cuts to the UC system and the administration’s priorities. Now, Dominguez is wanted for questioning by university administrators, while the professor has publicly defended himself by claiming the right of free expression. “A new form of art is not a crime,” he told a crowd of about two hundred supporters who showed up to a rally in support of his actions. Though it seems a little odd to defend civil disobedience as “not a crime"—isn’t the whole point to break the law?—what is undeniable is that Dominquez’s stand has hit a chord on campus. Students wore black tape over their mouths and marched across the UCSD campus to the site of Dominguez’s hearing, which became the focus for an impromptu rally, with fellow professors and students decrying the university’s tactics. Dominguez was already a lightning rod for controversy over his work on the Transborder Immigrant Tool Project, a GPS application that could help undocumented immigrants to find “water stations” set up by activists in the desert, potentially saving lives. More information on the case, plus links to a petition defending Dominguez, is available here.The Smithsonian Institution has named Claudine Brown as its first director of education, according to the New York Times. Kate Taylor. Brown, sixty, who since 1995 has been the director of the arts and culture program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, will oversee the National Science Resources Center and the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, and coordinate the efforts of the education offices in all of the Smithsonian’s museums and science centers. Before going to the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Brown worked for the Smithsonian developing the plans for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is now scheduled to open in 2015. In an interview, Brown said that she was interested in exploring how to use new technology, including video games and apps for hand-held devices, to engage young people. “We want to be pretty aggressive about reaching young people where they are,” she said. “In the K-through-12 audience, a lot of learning is being done online, outside of the school environment.”
- 13 The Chicago Tribune blog reports that the University of Michigan has formally announced that the Joseph Rosa will direct its art museum. Rosa will leave his position at the Art Institute of Chicago as chief curator of architecture and design. The university's president, Sue Coleman, said in a prepared statement: "We are so pleased that Joe Rosa has agreed to lead the University of Michigan Museum of Art at this particularly auspicious and exciting moment in its history. A year after its landmark expansion and restoration reopened to the public, UMMA has more than lived up to its promise of becoming a dynamic meeting place for the arts, offering a diverse range of lively exhibitions, performances, and programs and boasting record attendance."
- 09 Fashion designer Zandra Rhodes has said she is creating her own ceremonial robes for her inauguration as a university chancellor. The flamboyant mother is due to be installed as chancellor of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), based in Kent and Surrey, next month. Rhodes said the designs were being kept a secret but revealed they would incorporate a "dramatic color scheme." Rhodes studied at Medway College of Art, one of the Kent and Surrey colleges that formed UCA last year. The designer, whose clients included Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury, will be UCA's first chancellor. She added: "My years at Medway were my formative years and shaped me into what I am today."For nearly fifty years, the Harlem School of the Arts has given generations of mostly black and Latino children entree into worlds often otherwise out of their reach, writes the New York Times. It put violins and other orchestral instruments in their hands, ballet slippers on their feet and Shakespeare on their tongues. But on Friday, the school’s building was quiet, closed by the board of directors, which told parents in an e-mail message on Thursday that the school was being shuttered because of a lack of financing. “We are virtually out of money, with no clear sources ahead of us,” John W. Corwin, the school’s interim executive director, wrote in the message. Financing for the nonprofit school, which has operated mostly during after-school hours and on weekends, has been generated through tuition, private donors as well as city and state arts grants. Corwin, who could not be reached for comment on Friday, wrote that the school would be closed until tomorrow, by which time the board will have determined if the school will be ended for good. He wrote that the board will “continue to tirelessly look for funds, in a much more public appeal than we have in the past.”
- 08 Cartoonist Henry Martin Donates Works to Princeton University LibraryThe cartoonist Henry Martin, a 1948 graduate of Princeton University, has donated nearly seven hundred original drawings along with some of his humor books to the Princeton University Library. Martin worked as a cartoonist and illustrator for more than fifty years, publishing in the New Yorker, Punch, Ladies’ Home Journal, the Saturday Evening Post, the Princeton Alumni Weekly, and many other magazines. His single-panel comic strip, “Good News/Bad News,” was nationally syndicated, and he wrote and/or illustrated more than thirty-five books. He retired in 1995. Among the volumes donated by Martin is a complete set of the humor books he illustrated for Peter Pauper Press, such as Comic Epitaphs From the Very Best Old Graveyards (1957), Salty Sayings From Cynical Tongues (1959), and Laundered Limericks From Wicked Pens (1960). One additional highlight is Martin’s placemat from the infamous Mahogany Table, where the writers and artists of Punch magazine met for lunch by invitation only. These newly donated works join a collection of more than three hundred Martin cartoons and more than one-thousand spot drawings already in the Graphic Arts Collection of Firestone Library. In 1998 an exhibition of Martin’s work was held in the library’s Milberg Gallery in honor of his fiftieth class reunion. That same year Martin curated an online exhibition for the library’s historical cartoon collection.
- 05 The Harvard Art Museum announced today the appointment of Mary Schneider Enriquez as Houghton associate curator of modern and contemporary art, effective April 5. Schneider Enriquez has been Latin American art advisor to the museum since 2002, working with its director and curatorial staff to identify collection and programmatic opportunities in Latin American art. She brings a long history of curatorial, academic, and administrative experience to the position, including undergraduate teaching, as well as independent curatorial and advisory work for institutions across the US. “I am pleased to welcome Mary to our staff,” said Thomas W. Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot director of the Harvard Art Museum. “With her long and varied background in the art world, especially in Latin America, and as someone who already has an intimate knowledge of the art museum and Harvard University, she brings a distinct perspective to this position.” Currently visiting lecturer in fine arts at Brandeis University, Schneider Enriquez is also completing her Ph.D. in Harvard’s department of history of art and architecture. She has served as a member of the advisory committee for Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies since 1995 and has been a member of the board of trustees at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, since 1999. “I look forward to the opportunity to work closely with Tom and the curatorial staff at this important moment in the history of the Harvard Art Museum,” said Schneider Enriquez. “In an institution with a remarkable collection and legacy of exhibitions, I welcome the chance to explore ways to continue to integrate modern and contemporary art from a broad range of cultures into the collection that will enhance the teaching and research mission of the museum.”
- 02 Artnet reports that French president Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy used the occasion of their recent diplomatic swing through New York to announce a new initiative of Bruni-Sarkozy’s recently formed foundation: an exchange program for "underprivileged French and American arts students." The program reportedly benefits about fifty students each year, twenty-five from each country, by sending them to study at partnered art institutions, including Juilliard, New York University’s Steinhardt School, the School of Visual Arts and the Fashion Institute of Technology, as well as the Sorbonne and the Ecoles Nationales Supérieures des Arts Décoratifs, on the French side. The first round of exchanges starts Fall 2010. The new cultural exchange program is funded by a €1.5-million gift from John Paulson, head of the New York hedge fund Paulson & Co., and the forty-fifth richest man in the world, according to Forbes (a graduate of NYU, Paulson insisted that the exchange program be New York-based). The motivation for the Bruni-Sarkozy/Paulson initiative is more than philanthropic, however. "President Sarkozy is acutely aware of the possibilities of arts and education in bringing governments together," his assistant chief of cabinet, Gregoire Verdeaux, told the Art Newspaper. "He thinks a lot like an American, and the concept of soft power does not escape him at all." Sarkozy has become increasingly unpopular with the French electorate, and the US trip was intended to give him a boost.