Massimiliano Gioni Named Curator of the 55th Venice Biennale

NEW YORK—Massimiliano Gioni, associate director and curator at New York’s New Museum, has been chosen to curate the 55th Venice Biennale. The announcement was made today by the Biennale’s board of directors.

The 37-year-old Gioni was promoted to associate director of the New Museum in 2010 after an organizing or helping to organize exhibitions such as the “Younger than Jesus” triennial and Urs Fischer’s ”Marguerite de Ponty,” as well as “After Nature,” which brought together a variety of art world inhabitants to form an exhibition described as a “visual poem.” Recently, he co-organized Carsten Höller’s “Experience” exhibition, and has teamed up with Maurizio Cattelan on a new pop-up gallery, opening at Anna Kustera Gallery in February.

As for the other components of the Venice Biennale, Italian composer Ivan Fedele will act as director of the music sector, while Alex Rigola will continue in his post as director of theater and Ismael Ivo will lead dance.

January 31, 2012

D’Amelio Terras Closes Doors

NEW YORK—Dealers Christopher D’Amelio and Lucien Terras have announced that they plan to officially close their gallery, D’Amelio Terras. A press release issued by the gallery yesterday states: “After fifteen years of collaboration we have decided mutually that it was time to end our partnership and pursue careers independently. We have enjoyed a successful partnership and are grateful for the loyal audience and good fortune that we have experienced over the years.” D’Amelio Terras has represented artists including Cornelia Parker, Polly Apfelbaum, Dario Robleto, and Matt Keegan. reports that D’Amelio plans to exhibit at the upcoming Art Basel as D’Amelio Gallery.

January 31, 2012

New Museum Reduces Price of Admission

NEW YORK—Randy Kennedy of the New York Times reports that the New Museum has lowered its admission fees. As reported here, this past December the museum raised admissions from twelve to sixteen dollars to “cover higher operating costs for the highly participatory show of the work of Carsten Höller.” Fees have now been set at fourteen dollars.

January 31, 2012

Art Institute becomes first U.S. museum to receive grant from Government of India

CHICAGO, IL.- The Art Institute of Chicago announced that the Government of India has given a major grant to the Art Institute in support of a new professional exchange program between India and the museum. The Vivekananda Memorial Program for Museum Excellence –the first grant ever made by the Indian government to an American art museum–honors Swami Vivekananda, who gave one of the most important speeches in modern religious history at what is now the Art Institute on September 11, 1893. On Saturday, January 28, 2012, the Art Institute will host an Indian delegation to sign this agreement and rededicate the site of Vivekananda’s landmark speech at the first World’s Parliament of Religions, held in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.

The Vivekananda Memorial Program for Museum Excellence is designed to foster professional exchange between the Art Institute and various museums in India. Under this four-year program, the Art Institute will serve as a resource center regarding best museum practices for museum professionals in India; will create fellowships across many different museum departments for colleagues from India; and will send a group of Art Institute staff regularly to India to conduct workshops, seminars, lectures, and courses.

The Art Institute’s relationship with India began in 1893. Concurrent with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in that year, a congress devoted to religious dialogue–the World’s Parliament of Religions–was held in downtown Chicago at 111 South Michigan Avenue in a building that is now the home of the Art Institute of Chicago. To recognize the relationship between the Art Institute and historic and contemporary India, a much more extensive memorial was designed for the site and will be dedicated on Saturday, January 28, 2012. This partnership represents the latest chapter in a longstanding relationship between India and the Art Institute of Chicago that has included the hiring in 2007 of Madhuvanti Ghose, the Alsdorf Associate Curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Islamic Art, the Art Institute’s first curator specifically dedicated to Indian art; the opening of the Alsdorf Galleries for Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Islamic Art in 2008; a major contemporary art installation by Indian artist Jitish Kallat, Public Notice 3 , which was on view from 2010 to 2011.

January 30, 2012

Italy Returns 2,000 Year-old Statue to Libya

LIBYA—Italy has returned to Libya the head of a 2,000 year-old statue that was smuggled out of the country in the 1960s. Prime Minister Mario Monti gave the sculpted head of Domitilla Minor, the daughter of Roman emperor Vespasian, to Libyan authorities during his trip to Tripoli on Saturday. The sculpture was taken from Libya’s northwestern city of Sabratha in the 1960s, and recently auctioned at Christie’s.

Monti was making his first visit to Libya since the death of longtime leader Muammar Gadhafi in October.

January 27, 2012

Thieves Rappel into Olympia Gallery, Steal Two Large Artworks

OLYMPIA, WA—Two large pieces of art were stolen from Matter Gallery in downtown Olympia late Friday, or early Saturday, by burglars, who rappelled into the gallery from a skylight they broke on the roof.

Gallery owner Jo Gallaugher said she had turned off the main breaker because melting snow had been dripping through the ceiling onto the junction box. That gave the thieves a blanket of darkness in which to remove two enormous artworks: “Tribute to the Concussed Skier,” by Jud Turner of Eugene, Oregon, 50 by 50 inches, valued at $800, and “Horizons II” by Jerry Williamson of Olympia, 56 by 40 inches, valued at $600.

Gallaugher said the burglars had to work hard to get to the pieces — gallery workers had moved most of the art to the front of the gallery due to water leaking in the back. She believes at least the ski piece was targeted.

“I have far more expensive pieces in the gallery,” Gallagher said Sunday. “The pieces they chose are the pieces that are most often admired by men in their 20s.”

Detectives with the Olympia Police Department are investigating the burglary.

January 27, 2012

Outsider Art Fair Celebrates 20th Anniversary

NEW YORK—The Outsider Art Fair, one of the most high-profile annual exhibitions of folk and self-taught artists, will be celebrating its twentieth anniversary this weekend.  The fair has long been a hotbed for presenting interesting outsider art from around the world and trends within the field, and from the looks of the schedule, this year’s fair – which opens Friday, January 27, and runs through Sunday the 29th – will be no exception.  A number of notable new exhibitors will be in attendance, including James Brett, the renowned outsider art collector whose critically lauded Museum of Everything will continue their first American excursion and host two of the fourteen panels.  New exhibitors for this year also include Switzerland’s Collection de l’Art Brut and local gallery MAKE Skateboards, among others.

A full list of panels, in addition to an exhibitor list and other information, can be found on the Outsider Art Fair’s website. AFC weighs in on the five must-see panels here.

January 27, 2012

Okwui Enwezor Plans to Transform Munich’s Haus Der Kunst Into a Collective Museum

GERMANY—Since 2002, when the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Arts moved from the Haus der Kunst to the Pinakothek der Moderne, the former has been in something of a state of flux. By no longer having a permanent collection, Haus der Kunst was not a museum in the traditional sense. And though it has housed many exhibitions since, the variation of these — from Tutankhamen to Gilbert and George — made the institution feel lacking in direction.

So, last year Haus der Kunst began working on a makeover, hiring Base Design to completely overhaul the museum’s visual identity and putting forth a new and very appropriate mantra for the institution: “Stretch Your View.” They also appointed celebrated curator Okwui Enwezor to direct the institution along its new path.

On Thursday, the one-year anniversary of his appointment, Enwezor announced the outline of how that program will look. Central to the new direction is a plan to transform the museum’s lack of a permanent collection into a strategic asset — turning Haus der Kunst, in some abstract sense, into a storehouse of collective knowledge. As such, he is vastly expanding the institution’s educational programs as well as orienting its resources towards scholarly and curatorial research, using these bases as the back pressure to push exhibitions forward rather than a massive collection of works themselves.

As such, Enwesor has proposed that the museum will be a “work in progress” over the next years, setting several key goals for its critical approach. Perhaps most notable of these is an explicit return to questioning Haus der Kunt’s historical positioning. The museum was initially constructed as a nationalist monument to German culture by the Nazi regime on the eve of World War II, a still-taboo subject of conversation across much of the country, yet one, as Enwezor has suggested, that can not be simply swept under the rug by a new Web site and branding team. To this end, Haus der Kunst will open “75/20” — referring to the 75 anniversary of the museum’s founding and 20th anniversary of its reinstatement in 1993 — an exhibition both celebrating and criticizing the institution’s history, especially focused on the troubled period from 1933-1955.

January 26, 2012

Whitney Museum in Talks with Art Handlers to Avert Whitney Biennial Strike

NYC—Art handlers at the Whitney Museum are in protracted contract negotiations with their employer. The discussions “have been cordial but difficult,” said Teamsters Local 966 manager James Anderson, who is negotiating on behalf of the art handlers. Unable to settle on a new contract, the museum has twice extended the old one, which expired in October. As it stands, the art handlers’ contract is set to expire again on January 31 — just before preparation for March’s Whitney Biennial kicks into high gear. Anderson hopes to bring an offer to the union members within the week — then, it’ll be up to them to accept or reject the proposal. If the art handlers reject it, “the Whitney could lock us out, we could go on strike, or the employer may agree to sit down and make some modifications,” he said.

Though the handlers are normally split between the Whitney’s Upper East Side gallery and its offsite storage facility, “everybody will be called uptown for the installation of the biennial in February, so if there was going to be a strike, that would be the time,” said another source close to the negotiations. The small band of Whitney union art handlers, which consists of around 10 people, is reportedly divided on considering such a dramatic move.

The negotiations center on wages and health care. The handlers are fighting to maintain their current health care contributions, though the Whitney has increased required contributions for non-union and many union employees from 10 to 20 percent museum-wide. The museum’s lawyers verbally suggested during negotiations that art handlers could make up for a loss of income by working more overtime, according to two people with knowledge of the negotiations. “The situation is different from Sotheby’s because the Whitney is a nonprofit that intends to represent American cultural values,” said one

January 26, 2012

New Timetables for Abu Dhabi’s Guggenheim and Louvre

UAE—The Associated Press reports that the developer behind the multibillion-dollar Saadiyat Island, a cultural district whose plans were unveiled five years ago, has outlined a new timetable for the project. The first attraction, an outpost of the Louvre, is now set to be ready for visitors in 2015, followed by a branch of the Guggenheim, now slated for 2017. The two buildings were originally scheduled to open this year. The Tourism Development and Investment Company provided no further details on the delays, but said that the new schedule is designed to give “each museum sufficient time to establish its own identity on the local and international cultural stage.”

January 26, 2012

MoMA Refutes Alleged Confiscation of Occupy Museums Banner

NEW YORK—During last week’s Occupy Museums protest at MoMA, a red and black banner was suspended by the crowd on the fifth floor landing into the museum’s atrium. Protestors claimed, to AFC, that the Director of MoMA Security quickly escorted the banner-danglers out of the building, asking several times for the banner, which was subsequently handed over by protestors. As Occupy Museums states, institutions nationwide are negotiating with OWS art groups to acquire archival materials, so in an open letter to MoMA, OM has declared terms for the artwork’s acquisition, which can be found here.

An official statement about the incident, from MoMA, has since been issued issued to AFC: “The Museum of Modern Art would like to correct the record about the Occupy Museums banner unfurled last Friday. It was not confiscated by MoMA security at any point, it was left behind by the artist. We have reached out to Occupy Museums and look forward to returning it to them.”

January 26, 2012

Students Occupy Former Cross Cultural Center at UC Davis

DAVIS, CA—Students at UC Davis occupied the former Cross Cultural Center midday on Tuesday – the center having moved to a new $22 million building. They have declared their solidarity with UCR, Egypt, the hotel occupation in San Francisco and Occupy Oakland – especially with their upcoming moving day on January 28th.

A link to their communiqué can be found here.

January 26, 2012

Prado Museum Tries to Fight Budget Cuts

SPAIN—The Prado Museum in Madrid has taken steps to mitigate budget shortages due to government cutbacks. By opening seven days a week and lengthening the duration of its highly visited exhibitions, the museum hopes to counteract the $7.5 million drop in its funds, reports Reuters. Director Miguel Zugaza, referring to the record number of visitors to the Prado last year, says, “Museums are affected by the crisis without being in crisis themselves.” These new hours are expected to generate an extra $2 million a year for the museum.

January 25, 2012

Two Art Fans Have Completed the Circuit of Hirst Spot Shows

LONDON/NEW YORK—A blogger and a magazine editor are the first two adventurers to complete Damien Hirst’s wacky spot challenge.

Before the much publicized retrospective of the British artist’s spot paintings opened at all of Larry Gagosian’s 11 galleries around the world — two in London, three in New York, one each in Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, Athens, Geneva and Beverly Hills, Calif. — on Jan. 12th, Mr. Hirst announced that anyone who visited every location before the show closes on Feb. 18 would win a Spot print personalized by the artist. So far, officials at the gallery said, 726 people had registered to take the challenge, a requirement to be a winner.

Valentine Uhovski finished first at the Davies Street gallery in London around 3:00 p.m. on January 20th (10:00 a.m. in New York). Co-founder of the blog Art Ruby, Mr. Uhovski said he embarked on the challenge because Mr. Hirst is one of his favorite artists. He was hesitant to say how much the journey cost, other than to explain he used many air miles and to say that “the trip was not just about the spots.’’

“I saw lots of other exhibitions which was great, including a 19th-century Russian art show in Athens.’’

The other winner, Jeffrey Chu, an editor at Fast Company, finished at 10:30 am on January 20th at Gagosian’s Madison Avenue gallery. It took him eight days and “not as much money as you think.’’ The experience, he said, “got people like me who wouldn’t normally set foot in a Gagosian Gallery to see his work.’’ When asked if he liked the spot paintings, Mr. Chu added, “They grew on me over the eight days.’’

January 25, 2012

Abu Dhabi Greenlights Its Mega-Museum Project

UAE—The executive council of Abu Dhabi announced through its website on Monday that it had approved construction plans for its multi-billion-dollar vision for a cultural tourist center to be constructed on an island just off the coast of the city, a hub that will include branches of the Guggenheim and the Louvre museums.

While plans were first announced several years ago, ground has yet to be broken on either of those museums and last October, as Abu Dhabi’s economy struggled, the city put the two projects on indefinite hold, a process the architect Frank Gehry, who is designing the Guggenheim branch, later described as painful.

On Monday, in a brief statement with no explanation for the reason, the council said that budgets and opening dates had been approved for the two museums – along with a new national museum and several projects for social services, housing and education – though the budgets and dates were not specified. The council said that the project would “rank Abu Dhabi as a world-class tourist destination.”

January 25, 2012

Filmmaker Robert Nelson Dies at 81

CALIFORNIA—Experimental filmmaker Robert Nelson, whose “films brought spontaneity, teasing, and wit to the often deadly serious arena of avant-garde moviemaking,” passed away at eighty-one years old, reports Bruce Weber of the New York Times. Nelson was originally trained as a painter, studying at the San Francisco Art Institute and Mills College. He was active in the San Francisco arts scene in the late 1950s and early ’60s, making films with artists including William T. Wiley and William Allan as well as groups like the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Notable works include Plastic Haircut, 1963, a “fifteen-minute film built around a mesmerizing, rapid-fire series of kooky visual images” and Oh Dem Watermelons, 1965, a “brazenly sardonic evisceration of racism that exploits its stereotypical symbol,” which shows watermelons being “gutted like a slain animal and being splattered or otherwise destroyed in various ways, set to a repetitive Steve Reich score that made vivid use of the antebellum songwriting of Stephen Foster.”

Weber writes that Nelson’s films were “confoundingly plotless but cleverly and energetically edited to render images in often poignant, often uproarious juxtaposition. Nelson’s movies are varied in tone and subject matter, but they all exhibit the subversive relish of a renegade, quirky wit.”

Of his artistic process, Nelson, who never received formal training as filmmaker, said: “The artists I knew at that time felt pretty genuinely that if the process got too heavy or ponderous or worried, if you weren’t having a good time at least part of the time, something was wrong. We were bent on having a good time.”

January 24, 2012

Getty Images fights copyright infringement ruling in French court

FRANCE—Getty Images is appealing a French court decision that could set a precedent affecting stock photographers across the world, BJP has learnt.The case was launched by Pernette Martin-Barsac and Jacqueline Jeanneret Gris, who are the respective holders of the hereditary and moral rights over the works of furniture designers Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret. Both designers worked with Charles-Edouart Jeanneret, also known as Le Corbusier, to create a series of armchairs and sofas that have become iconic items of the 20th Century.

“My clients, with the Le Corbusier Foundation, own the intellectual property rights to these pieces of furniture,” lawyer Dominique de Leusse tells BJP. “For the past 25 years, we’ve been fighting to stop the counterfeiting of these iconic objects – most of them coming out of Italy – but also against the reproduction in print of these art pieces.”
He adds: “These iconic objects are associated with the ideas of quality, comfort and luxury. And often, we see marketing agencies use them to promote computers, alcohol or even financial products. They try to associate the values these objects have with what they’re selling. And, the French courts have found that you can’t reproduce a work of art without autorisation.”
In recent years, de Leusse has found that the images used in these commercial originally came from Getty Images, prompting the lawyer to sue the stock library. “Getty Images is selling images representing these objects without authorisation and without mentioning the names of the rightful copyright holders,” de Leusse tells BJP. “The designers’ heiresses don’t want to see these objects become commonplace,” which could have an impact on their value.
Earlier this month, a French court of appeal found against the stock agency, arguing that the designers’ intellectual property should be protected, unless the objects were just accessories in the images sold. It wasn’t not the case here, according to the court.

January 23, 2012

Students set up camp and occupy UMass Boston

BOSTON—Borrowing a page from the nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement, about 20 students on Monday occupied the campus center at University of Massachusetts Boston to protest cuts in public education spending and hikes in tuition.

“Public universities were built for the 99-percent and we intend on maintaining that,” said Amanda Achin, a 22-year-old student of political science at UMass Boston. “We need to end the wars, tax the rich and fund public education.”

Setting up a few tents inside the campus center Monday, the group said they plan to camp there indefinitely.Distributing fliers, students occupiers said they supported many of the broad ideas put forth by the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston movement, but said this occupation really focuses on education.

January 23, 2012

Gagosian Sued for over $14m

NEW YORK—Larry Gagosian is being sued for more than $14 million for selling two works of art it’s claimed he had no right to sell. Gagosian has paid British collector Robert Wylde a $4.4 million settlement for selling him Mark Tansey’s $2.5 million “The Innocent Eye Test” in 2009, which Wylde later discovered was owned by Jan Cowles and had been promised to the Met. Now Gagosian is being sued by Cowles, 93. Court papers filed by Cowles last night state the Tansey, along with a $4.5 million work from Roy Lichtenstein’s “Girl in Mirror” series, were sold by her son, Charles, to Gagosian, “without her knowledge or consent” in 2008-2009. Court papers say the Lichtenstein, in good condition, was shipped to art fairs, then sold to a mystery buyer for $2 million in “damaged condition.” Cowles argues the work was not damaged and may have been sold in a “dishonest fashion.” Her lawyer, David Baum, said, “Gagosian’s conduct was blatant and egregious.” Gagosian’s rep declined to comment.

January 20, 2012

Christie’s and Sotheby’s Say Artists’ Suit Over Resale Royalties Is “Unconstitutional”

NEW YORK—When a group of artists, including Chuck Close and Laddie John Dill, filed a class action lawsuit against Christie’s and Sotheby’s for violating the California Resale Royalty Act, they probably knew they’d be in for a lengthy legal battle. But now the auction houses are looking to end the fight early. On Thursday, Christie’s and Sotheby’s filed a joint resolution to dismiss the artists’ suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in California. The law, they argue, is “unconstitutional, and therefore unenforceable.”

The resale act mandates that artists are entitled to five percent of the sale price of any artwork resold in California or by a California resident for over $1,000. As it stands now, California is the only state in the union to have such a law, and the act has been inconsistently enforced since it was passed in 1976 — not only by auction houses but also by galleries who deal on the secondary market. In the original suit, filed in October of last year, Close, Dill, the estate of sculptor Robert Graham, and the Sam Francis Foundation accused the houses of concealing the identities of California sellers so they did not have to pay the resale royalty fee.

The auction houses hinted at their plans to attack the constitutionality of the law back when the suit was first filed. Christie’s said in an early statement that “it views the California Resale Royalties Act as subject to serious legal challenges.” The motion to dismiss shows just what legal challenges they had in mind. The auction houses argue that the law is unconstitutional because it contradicts the Commerce Clause, which says that no state law should seek to regulate economic activity outside that state. To provide some backup arguments, they also allege that the resale law is preempted by the national Copyright Act, which “entitles a lawful owner of a copyrighted work to resell that work without restriction,” the Art Law Blog points out. California’s resale royalty law has been challenged in court twice before, according to the book “Art Law: The Guide for Collectors, Investors, Dealers & Artists,” and in both cases the law was upheld. Nevertheless, the book’s authors Ralph Lerner and Judith Bresler have said that “some question remains as to the constitutionality” of the law.

January 20, 2012

Glasgow School of Art Receives $180,000 “Glasgow Miracle” Research Grant

SCOTLAND—The BBC reports that Britain’s Arts and Humanities Research Counci has awarded the Glasgow School of Art a grant of over $180,000 to investigate why its home city has arguably produced so many successful contemporary artists, a phenomenon once dubbed the “Glasgow miracle” by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Partnering with Glasgow’s Center for Contemporary Arts, the art school’s professors will use the grant to comb through a photographic and audio archive that dates back three decades. The funds will also support a series of interviews with artist who have made Glasgow the art center that it is. Glasgow School of Art director Seona Reid noted that the project was important because understanding the “Glasgow miracle” could lead to the “subsequent building of a local arts infrastructure” in the city.

January 19, 2012

France Honors Gary Tinterow with the Order of Arts and Letters

FRANCEDallas Art News reports that Antonin Baudry, cultural counselor of the French embassy, will be honoring museum director Gary Tinterow with the insignia of Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters. Tinterow recently began his position as director at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Prior to that, he served as the chairman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s department of nineteenth-century, modern, and contemporary art—a department that, notably, the Met’s director Thomas P. Campbell recentlybegan reorganizing, moving the nineteenth-century works back to the department of European painting.

Tinterow’s tenure at the Metropolitan Museum of Art included well-received blockbusters ranging from “Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch,” 1999, to “Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” 2010. The International Association of Art Critics awarded him their Best Exhibition Prize twice, for “Origins of Impressionism,” 1995, and “The Private Collection of Edgar Degas,” 1997.

Created in 1957, the Order of Arts and Letters recognizes individuals who have furthered the arts in France and around the world. Previous American recipients include Paul Auster, Ornette Coleman, Jim Jarmusch, and Meryl Streep.

January 19, 2012

LA MoCA Launches New Video Channel

LOS ANGELES—The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles has announced that it will being its own online video channel where it will feature news and talk-show programs along with other arts-related programming. This endeavor is being launched in tandem with YouTube’s plan to compete aggressively with network and cable television by creating specialized programming for the Internet. Randy Kennedy reports for the New York Times that MOCA TV, as the channel will be called, will also feature studio visits with artists, an art comedy series, an educational series called “MOCA University,” and a show hosted by Ryan Trecartin, which he describes as a “post-reality and talk show.”

Jeffrey Deitch, the museum’s director as well as the channel’s executive, said, “Contemporary art is the new international language, unifying leading creators across art, music, fashion, film, and design. MOCA TV will be the ultimate digital extension of the museum, aggregating, curating, and generating the strongest artistic content from around the world for a new global audience of people who are engaged in visually-oriented culture.”

January 19, 2012

Boris Mikhailov Wins Spectrum Photo Prize

GERMANYArtinfo reports that the seventy-three-year-old Ukranian-born photographer Boris Mikhailov has received the eighth Spectrum Photo Prize by an international jury in Hanover. The award, given every three years and sponsored by the Foundation of Lower Saxony, carries with it a prize of $19,000, as well as an exhibition at the Sprengel Museum. Previous winners of the photo prize have included Martha Rosler, Sophie Calle, and Robert Adams.

January 18, 2012

Sackler’s Widow Gives Smithsonian Galleries $5 Million Endowment

WASHINGTON D.C.—Many philanthropists donate money to found an institution and then leave it up to officials to worry about the operating costs. Not Dame Jillian Sackler. On Tuesday, officials at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington announced that Ms. Sackler had donated $5 million to establish an endowment to fund the director’s post and programs at the galleries that are named, in part, after her husband.

The gift comes on the 25th anniversary of the Sackler which, together with the Freer, holds the Smithsonian’s collection of Asian art.

“This remarkable gift will ensure that the Sackler and Freer Galleries will have the best possible leadership into the future,” said Wayne Clough, who heads the Smithsonian.

The Sackler opened in 1987 with more than 1,000 pieces of Asian art received from the family’s collection. The gallery is also using the occasion to show a special exhibition of recently discovered artifacts from the Arabian Peninsula, “Roads of Arabia.”

January 18, 2012

Met Museum Reopens American Wing After 10 Years of Renovation

NEW YORK—Following 10 years of renovation and remodelling of the one of the most popular parts of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the newly designed American wing has finally opened its doors for art connoisseurs across the globe.

The elegant wing now showcases popular American painting and sculpture arranged in a thematic and chronological manner. The newly renovated area now contains 26 rooms in 18 of the galleries. This includes works by great masters, including John Singleton Copley,Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, Winslow Homer, Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins and John Singer Sargent among others.

According to Associated Press, new galleries dedicated to American neo-Classical arts opened in 2007 and the period rooms and light-filled Charles Englehard Court atrium with its monumental sculptures and Tiffany glass windows reopened in 2009.

January 18, 2012

Chinese Artist Zhang Daqian Replaces Picasso as Top Auction Earner

CHINA—Katya Kazakina of Bloomberg reports that Chinese artist Zhang Daqian has overtaken Picasso as top earner in international auction markets. According to a report by Artprice, which tracks a group of more than 450,000 artists, Zhang’s work fetched a total of $506.7 million in auction revenue in 2011. In comparison, Picasso generated $311.6 million. Kazakina writes, “The change reflects China’s growing strength in the global art market. Of the approximately $11 billion total world revenue for fine art last year, China’s share was 39 percent, up from 33 percent the year before. The United States ranked second with 25 percent.”

Martin Bremond, head economist at Artprice, noted that while artists like Zhang may not be “well-known on the art scene, they are the leading modern masters in China. They are on top because China is the number one country at auction and the Chinese are buying their own artists.”

January 17, 2012

Cyprien Gaillard Wins People’s Choice Award at Berlin’s Nationalgalerie

BERLIN—Artist Cyprien Gaillard has won the 2011 Publikumspreis (People’s Choice Prize) for his work Artefact, 2011, on view in the Nationalgalerie’s Young Art Prize exhibition. In September, Gaillard also received the museum’s juried prize, which was accompanied by a cash award of $63,000; runners-up included Klara Lidén, Andro Wekua, and Kitty Kraus. The museum’s director, Udo Kittelmann, stated of the prize’s competitors: “What is remarkable, as is often the case with this prize, is that all of these artists come from different countries, yet have all come to Berlin to live and work.”

January 17, 2012

Professors, Artists, Workers, and Activists Rally Inside MoMA

NEW YORK—On Friday night, Occupy Museums — in conjunction with Arts and Labor, 16 Beaver, and Occupy Sotheby’s – conducted an exceptionally clear and efficient GA under Sanja Iveković’s controversial feminist monument Lady Rosa of Luxembourg, while a small group from Arts and Labor demonstrated with OWS banners and a flugelhorn outside the museum. Though “this isn’t Wall Street” was the general response from museum visitors, articulate speakers pinpointed specific issues. Feasible goals were set.  The crowd, of about fifty people in the atrium and a combined sixty looking down from MoMA’s three landings, included a notable increase in women and academics.

Using the people’s mic, Occupy Museums co-organizer Natasha opened with the remark that museums often display the spoils of colonialism, explaining why there is so little gender and racial diversity amongst artists shown.

The decision to meet on a Target-sponsored Free Friday not only allowed everyone to meet within the museum, but also marked a historic concession made between the museum and an artists’ protest.  Free Fridays are the result of a campaign by the Art Workers’ Coalition in the early 1970′s for free museum admission; MoMA eventually granted one day per week, which is now Target-sponsored.

January 17, 2012

Met Sees Attendance Surge as MoMA’s Visitor Numbers Drop

NEW YORK—Attendance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has risen to a record 5.6 million. The Museum of Modern Art’s attendance, on the other hand, has fallen 11 percent in the last season to 2.8 million reports Bloomberg. This drop is thought to have occurred because of the popularity of MoMA shows from the previous year featuring Marina Abramović and Tim Burton. The Met, which had cut 14 percent of its operating staff over the course of 2008 to 2009, had a $1.3 million operating surplus last season. Membership income rose 7 percent to a record $25.5 million. Both museums also raised ticket prices by 25 percent to $25 last year.

January 16, 2012

Denver Art Museum Gets $3 Million Gift to Expand Textile Gallery

DENVER, CO—A $3 million gift from Lakewood’s Avenir Foundation means that more than 7,000 square feet at the Denver Art Museum can be reclaimed to showcase its textile art gallery.

Currently, that space is used for storage. When the reclaimed 7,000 square feet open for exhibit in summer 2013, long-hidden textiles will go on display alongside an in-gallery education and interactive space for visitors.

Textiles, from woven Chinese robes to primitive sandals, historically illustrate practical and fanciful aspects of cultural exchange and creative expression, said museum director Christoph Heinrich. ”The success of past exhibitions, such as Gees Bend and our current exhibitions, Threads of Heaven and Sleight of Hand, have shown the community’s interest in textile art,” Heinrich said.

The museum owns more than 5,000 textile objects, including a quilt made from the museum’s magazine and a portrait of woven newspaper.

January 16, 2012

New Wave of Student Protests in Sri Lanka

SRI LANKA—Buddhist student monks have joined thousands of other university students in a new wave of protests to hit Sri Lanka in recent weeks, forcing the temporary closure of at least two major universities this week and widespread disruption of classes.

Student monks at the seminary Buddha Shrawaka Bhikku University in North Central province staged a protest on 11 January, adding to a spate of demonstrations in universities that involved thousands of students in different parts of the country.

Student activists claim that the protests were provoked by the government in order to push a controversial private universities bill through parliament, taking advantage of university closures as students would be unable to gather for large protests. Student anger is still simmering over the bill, which they say heralds the end of free higher education in the country. Students arrested during protests over the bill last year and in 2010 are still awaiting trial.

January 16, 2012

Creative Capital Announces Recipients of 2012 Film/Video and Visual Art Grants

NEW YORK—Creative Capital has announced the recipients of its 2012 grants for film/video and visual art. The organization will provide this year’s awardees with up to $50,000 in direct project funding, plus advisory services valued at more than $40,000. Grantees are as follows:

Cam Archer
Robert Bahar and Almudena Carracedo
Amy Belk and Matt Porterfield
Brad Butler
Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
Eric Dyer
Daniel Eisenberg
Yance Ford
Brian L. Frye and Penny Lane
Sonali Gulati
Kenneth Jacobs
Nina Menkes
Akosua Adoma Owusu
Brian Pera
Rick Prelinger
Michael Robinson
Mark Elijah Rosenberg
Norbert Shieh
Stacey Steers
Deborah Stratman
Jesse Sugarmann
Christopher Sullivan
Jake Yuzna

Visual Arts
Janine Antoni
Raven Chacon and Nathan Young
Patty Chang
LaToya Ruby Frazier
Theaster Gates
Ken Gonzales-Day
Taraneh Hemami
Tahir Hemphill
Simone Leigh
Eric Leshinsky and Zach Moser
Phillip Andrew Lewis
Carlos Motta
My Barbarian (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade)
The Propeller Group (Matt Lucero and Tuan Andrew Nguyen)
Teri Rofkar
Paul Rucker
Connie Samaras
Lisa Sigal
Jim Skuldt
Kerry Tribe
Joan Waltemath
Women (Scott Barry and Neil Doshi)
Amy Yao

For more information on the grantees’ projects and the Creative Capital grant program please visit their website.

January 16, 2012

NADA Will Hold a Fair in New York City in May 2012

NEW YORK—The New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), the organization of galleries that holds its own art fair in Miami Beach each year during Art Basel, will be doing a fair in New York in May 2012, according to an e-mail sent out to its members. This is the latest in a series of expansions for NADA.

Back in July, NADA brought more than 50 galleries to Hudson in upstate New York (work was for sale, but Heather Hubbs, NADA’s director, called it an “experiment” instead of an art fair).  The organization has also announced it will be joining forces with Art Cologne in 2012, bringing 30 galleries to the Koelnmesse exhibition center in April.

NADA New York falls on the same month as the inaugural Frieze New York art fair on Randall’s Island. No more details have been released yet. According to the e-mail, an application and further details on the fair will be released in the next two weeks. Ms. Hubbs was not available for comment.

A number of NADA members–including James Fuentes, Jack Hanley and Nicole Klagsbrun–are already participating in Frieze, according to that fair’s massive list of participants. Frieze will have 170 exhibitors, but as one dealer told Gallerist, NADA New York is more than necessary: “There are enough good New York galleries that didn’t get into Frieze.”

January 13, 2012

Danish Culture Minister Declines to Visit Ai Weiwei on China Trip

DENMARK—On a recent trip to China to promote dialogue between the Danish and Chinese governments and to lay the groundwork for a program of cultural exchange, Danish culture minister Uffe Elbaek met several major Chinese artists, but left out one notable exception: Ai Weiwei. Now the minister is coming under fire in Denmark for his omission, and has even been summoned before the Danish parliament to explain his decision not to see the dissident artist.

Elbaek explained to his questioners that he did not wish to offend his hosts. “You can say what you will,” he told Danish newspaper Information, “but if you want a true dialogue, you must remain respectful of the people you are visiting.” The minister also said that meeting with Ai Weiwei was never discussed by the Danish delegation. But several Danish political parties see the omission differently, and have loudly criticized Elbaek in no uncertain terms.

“This shows that Denmark prioritizes its commercial interests over democracy and human rights,” fumed Stine Brix, cultural spokesperson for the leftist Enhedslisten party. A spokesperson for the Venstre party described the decision as “sad.” On the political right, the Dansk Folkeparti asked, “why do we need a culture minister if he doesn’t fight for freedom of speech?”

Elbaek, who has a background in the non-profit world, is a member of the Danish Social Liberal party.

January 13, 2012

Queens Museum of Art Announces Participants for Biannual Exhibition

QUEENS, NY—The Queens Museum of Art has announced the participants for the fifth edition of its biannual show, set to open February 4. Andrew Russeth of the New York Observer reports that the exhibition, “Three Points Make a Triangle,” possesses “the unique requirement that all of its participants must live or work in the borough.”

Participating artists include:

Tatiana Berg
Becket Bowes
Karen Y. Chan
Sam Clagnaz
Gintaras Didžiapetris
Sharona Eliassaf
Jesse A. Greenberg
Scott Grodesky
Angelina Gualdoni
Mikhail Gubin
David Kearns
Dieter Kuhn
Eleen Lin
Robert Lobe
Rachel Mason
Angel Otero
Eric Palgon
Claudia Peña Salinas
Carmelle Safdie
William Santen
Adam Shecter
Trevor Shimizu
Teng Chao-Ming
Scott Verhagen
Allyson Vieira
Palden Weinreb
Joe Winter
Brian Zegeer

Participating workshops include:

Matthew Buckingham
Alejandro Cesarco
Scott Hug

January 13, 2012

Smithsonian Museum Receives $5 Million for Asian Art

WASHINGTON D.C.—New York philanthropist Dame Jillian Sackler is donating $5 million to the Smithsonian’s Asian art museum that bears her late husband’s name. The gift announced Tuesday to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery creates an endowment to support the director’s position at the Sackler and Freer galleries of art. The gift marks the museum’s 25th anniversary.

The Sackler Gallery is planning special exhibitions throughout the year. They will include installations by contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was detained for three months last year for speaking against the government. The Sackler also will present the work of Iraqi artist Jananne al-Ani. A series of Japanese art exhibits are planned for Washington’s cherry blossom season.

The gallery was founded in 1987 with Sackler’s donation of more than 1,000 pieces of Asian art.

January 12, 2012

Sheena Wagstaff Hired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art

NEW YORK—Carol Vogel reports for the New York Times that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has recruited Sheena Wagstaff to head its new department of twentieth- and twenty-first-century art. Vogel notes that Wagstaff’s appointment accompanies the Met’s plans to move its modern and contemporary holdings into the Whitney Museum’s Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue in 2015, after the Whitney vacates it to move downtown.

Wagstaff, who in the 1980s was the first Briton to participate in the Whitney’s Independent Study Program, has been the chief curator at Tate Modern since 2001, after serving as head of exhibitions and displays at Tate Britain. She has organized major exhibitions ranging from “Edward Hopper,” 2004, to “Jeff Wall: Photographs 1978–2004,” 2005. Wagstaff has also worked at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, and the Frick Museum, where she was director of collections, exhibitions, and education.

By hiring Wagstaff and reorganizing, Thomas P. Campbell, the Met’s director, is reversing his predecessor Philippe de Montebello’s decision to devote one single department to nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century art. Campbell has said he will be moving nineteenth-century works back into the department of European painting, headed by Keith Christiansen. “I’ve been conscious since I became director that a timely recalibration of modern and contemporary art . . . was something we had to do,” Campbell said in a telephone interview. Calling Wagstaff the “most outstanding candidate,” Campbell added, “Sheena is knowledgeable and well respected in the community. There was chemistry.”

January 12, 2012

American Photographer Jan Groover Dies at 68

FRANCE—Jan Groover, an American photographer known for pictures that bear “more of a kinship with the work of Cézanne, Morandi, and Corot than with anything emerging from the darkrooms of her contemporaries,” died in France over New Year’s weekend, reports Richard B. Woodward of the Wall Street Journal. The artist, represented by Janet Borden in New York, was sixty-eight.

Groover was among one of the first photographers to be recognized in the 1970s and ’80s by major New York galleries, for example, Sonnabend and Robert Miller, which at the time generally favored painters and sculptors. In 1987, she received a solo show of her photographs at the Museum of Modern Art. Director of photographs John Szarkowski wrote in his catalogue essay that he was “interested in her work because she is so fastidious about excluding from her art any overt reference to autobiographical, much less confessional, materials.” He further stated that he sympathized with her insistence that “a work of art lives and has its meaning exclusively within the chalk lines of its own playing field.”

“You had to go back to Paul Strand’s Cubist-inspired abstractions or László Moholy-Nagy’s experiments at the Bauhaus to find photographs comparably austere, intricate, humble, perplexing, and sensual as Groover’s tabletop still lifes of kitchen utensils or her displays of colored pots and bottles,” writes Woodward. “For much of her career she seemed like an eccentric school of one.”

January 12, 2012

Dara Greenwald, Artist and Activist, Dies at 40

NEW YORK—The artist and activist Dara Greenwald has died at the age of 40 from cancer. She was a member of the Just Seeds artist collective and the co-editor of the book “Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures, 1960s to Now.”  Greenwald a media artist and Ph.D. Candidate in the Electronic Art Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, her collaborative work often took the form of video, writing, and cultural organizing around themes of social movements. She worked at the Video Data Bank from 1998-2005 and taught DIY exhibition at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago 2003-2005.

January 11, 2012

City of Helsinki Reviews Plans to Build a Guggenheim Museum

FINLAND—A yearlong feasibility study commissioned by the city of Helsinki to examine whether building a Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Finland would boost the city’s efforts to become a “cultural capital,” has yielded favorable results, reports Carol Vogel of the New York Times. The report was conducted by the Guggenheim and includes the following recommendations: “To build the museum on a city-owned site on Helsinki’s South Harbor waterfront, have an international architecture competition to decide who should design the building, create a midsize museum of about 129,000 square feet with 42,000 feet of exhibition space, and set it up largely as a noncollecting institution.” Vogel adds that the estimated cost of the museum would be approximately $178 million.

The city board and city council of Helsinki are set to review the report and come to decision on whether to proceed or not within the next month. Helsinki mayor Jussi Pajunen stated that “there is a lot happening in Helsinki right now and to have a Guggenheim Museum here would be a very valuable asset to art, culture, design, and architecture not just for the city but for the whole region.’’ If the city decides to go ahead with the plans, Vogel reports that it will commence with the architectural competition.

January 11, 2012

John McWhinnie Dies at Forty-Three

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS—John McWhinnie, rare book and art dealer, has died in a snorkeling accident while vacationing in the British Virgin Islands on Friday. He was forty-three. McWhinnie was the manager of Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, a gallery space and bookstore with sites in both Manhattan and East Hampton, for eight years before starting his eponymous project with the assistance of Horowitz in 2005, according to the East Hampton Patch. He was a champion of New York artists like Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Matthew Satz, Nicholas Weber, Peter Sabbath, and Jameson Ellis as well as a contributor to many publications. Weber said, “The only thing that eclipsed John’s intelligence is his heart. He loved artists, encouraged us to develop our work, and would become animated and inspired during a studio visit if he saw something good.”

January 11, 2012

Chinese Government to Review Ai Weiwei Tax Case

CHINA—Chinese authorities have agreed to review the $2.4 million penalty issued to Ai Weiwei for alleged tax fraud, reports the AFP. As reported here, shortly after his release from police custody this past June, the artist was charged with tax evasion linked to his company Fake Cultural Development Ltd., which is registered to the artist’s wife. In order to challenge the charge, Ai was given fifteen days to pay the guarantee, which he did, largely due to an outpouring of donations from his supporters. Last week, Ai’s lawyers turned in a nine-thousand-word document petitioning his case for review and “pointing out inconsistencies . . . including unregulated police involvement in Ai’s detention and violations of China’s tax code.” The Beijing tax bureau accepted the request yesterday.

Pu Zhiqiang, a lawyer for Fake Cultural Development Ltd., said, “They have two months to review the case. If we are not satisfied with the results, we can bring the case to court.”

January 10, 2012

Picasso, Mondrian Paintings Stolen in Greece

Thieves carried out a well-organised, predawn heist at Greece’s biggest state art museum on Monday, taking two oil paintings by 20th century masters Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian, police said.

A police statement said the burglars who entered through a balcony door also took a pen and ink drawing of a religious scene by Italian 16th century painter Guglielmo Caccia. It said a fourth work by Mondrian also was removed from the National Art Gallery in one of the best-guarded areas of central Athens, but the thieves abandoned it as they fled.

Museum officials were unable to immediately estimate how much the stolen works were worth.

Police said the heist took about seven minutes. The thieves had intentionally set off alarms on several occasions since Sunday evening without actually entering the building, prompting guards to disable at least one. The burglars still triggered a sensor in the exhibition area, but a guard only got there in time to see a man running off.

Among the stolen works was a cubist female bust by Pablo Picasso, which the Spanish painter had donated to Greece in 1949 with a dedication “in homage to the Greek people” for their resistance to Nazi occupiers during World War II.

January 10, 2012

Marc Jacobs Recruits Yayoi Kusama for Latest Louis Vuitton Collaboration

JAPAN—Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs has tapped the legendary Japanese polka-dot painter Yayoi Kusama as the company’s latest artist collaborator, most likely with an eye toward the Japanese market, one of the world’s largest for luxury goods.

Kusama worked with Jacobs (who visited her studio in Japan in 2006) on a line of Louis Vuitton products, including leather goods, ready-to-wear, accessories, shoes, watches, and jewelry, reports WWD. The items are scheduled to premiere at Louis Vuitton stores in early July, with window installations specially designed to mark the collaboration.

This year will be a big one for the 82-year-old Kusama. January 9 is the last day of a Centre Pompidou retrospective in Paris, which goes on view from February 9 to June 5 at the Tate Modern in London. From there, the survey will head to the Whitney in New York, where it will remain from July 12 to September 30. Both the Tate Modern and Whitney shows are sponsored by Louis Vuitton.

The multimedia artist, whose electric-hued wigs and bangs define her look, is known for her polka dots, phallic references (she covered ladders, chairs, and shoes with such protrusions in the ‘60s), nude performance pieces, and several novels, including “Double Suicide at Skuragazuka” (1989). Gagosian Gallery has shown her work in nine exhibitions since 2007.

January 10, 2012

Artists propose new plans for the future of Long Island City

NEW YORK—Imagine the striking red and white smoke stacks rising from the Trans Canada power plant in Long Island City (LIC), Queens, transformed into something that could help monitor the city’s move to green energy.  Noguchi Museum in LIC tasked four teams of artists with designing the booming area’s future look. They envision illuminated words and a gauge along the stacks showing how close, or far, the city is from its energy efficiency goals.
Nearly 30 years ago, artist Isamu Noguchi helped transform a blighted section of LIC’s waterfront into the Socrates Sculpture Park. As big box stores and luxury condos move in, the Noguchi Museum hopes artists will still play a role in shaping the culture and the environment. Landscape artist George Trakas pictures a waterfront boardwalk so close to the water “you can actually sit with water lapping at your feet.” New-media artist Natalie Jeremijenko suggests a zip line from the closest subway station a mile away into Socrates Park, providing a scenic trip flying through the sky attached to cables and with the help of fabric wings. A view of the old Con Edison power plant smoke stacks, now owned by Trans Canada, at sunset along the Long Island City waterfront. Artists have developed a plan to repurpose the smoke stacks, which has attracted some interest from officials and engineers.
Artist Mary Miss wants to trace out the natural features of the land, starting with a clearly marked trail along the Sunswick Creek, which winds from the East River through housing developments. Neil Logan, part of the team led by artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, envisions a community kitchen at Socrates Park for groups to use and share meals at. It could serve in place of cafes that are lacking in the area, says Logan, although he admits the plan might be no more than a pipe dream.
As the artists discussed their ideas at a gathering in the Noguchi Museum on Sunday, an audience member expressed skepticism. While she supports artist involvement in city planning, she thinks it is not likely to have any effect.
Con Edison power plant, “Big Alice,” in Long Island City seen from the East River. Artists have developed a plan to repurpose the smoke stacks, which has attracted some interest from officials and engineers. “They’ll do the waterfront their way. They’ll do the coffee shops their way. They’ll put up some sort of transportation from the subway to Socrates,” said the local resident.
Trakas pointed out that the artists showcased their plan for the Trans Canada smoke stacks to a room full of influential government officials and engineers who responded positively.The artists’ plans are on display at the Noguchi Museum through April in an exhibit titled Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City.

January 9, 2012

Changes in Copyright Laws for Artists

WASHINGTON— While the Stop Online Piracy Act (also known as SOPA) now pending in Congress has members of the technology and art world up in arms, a more subtle remedy for small copyright claims is also quietly being developed by the United States Copyright Office. At the end of October, Congress asked the office — a subset of the Library of Congress that maintains records of U.S. copyright — to study the problems surrounding small copyright disputes, as well as possible alternatives. The results, which involve the establishment of a small claims court, could have major implications for artists who use appropriated material as well as those whose material is appropriated by others.

Under the Copyright Act of 1976, all copyright infringement claims — whether they concern a blockbuster Hollywood movie or an individual photograph — must be brought to federal court. The exorbitant legal fees associated with this process often dissuade individual copyright holders from filing a lawsuit, and can bankrupt defendants. (In 2011, for instance, the median cost for litigating a copyright-infringement lawsuit with less than $1 million at risk was $350,000, according to the Federal Register.) When the reward is likely to be small, the protracted legal process doesn’t help, either: the median duration of a federal case that went trial in 2009 and 2010 was 23 months.

The copyright office is currently soliciting comments from the public through January 16 to help it write the report, which it will then pass on to the Congressional Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. In a preliminary notice on the issue, drawn largely from a 2006 hearing on the same subject, the office set forth several alternatives to the present system that would give artists and other copyright holders the ability to pursue a claim without hiring an attorney. (A relatively similar proposal in England, to establish a copyright small claims track in Patents County Court cases involving £5,000 or less, is pending there.

It’s unclear whether the report will have any tangible effect on law — when a similar matter was discussed in 2006, Congress failed to act.

January 9, 2012

Director of Museum of Fine Arts Speaks Out as City of Boston Requests $250,000

BOSTON, MASS—The Art Newspaper’s Erica Cooke reports that the city of Boston is requesting a $250,000 from the Museum of Fine Arts as part of a payment that nonprofits have to pay “in lieu of taxes.” Even more distressingly to the museum, the city plans to quadruple the bill, to more than one million dollars, by 2016.

The rising payments are part of a program called Pilot, or Payment in Lieu of Taxes, recently updated by mayor Thomas Menino. Under Menino’s new plan, the city’s nonprofits owning property worth more than fifteen million dollars must now give the city 25 percent of what they would pay in taxes as a commercial enterprise. The museum previously paid under $70,000 a year. Meanwhile, the Institute of Contemporary Art is now being asked to pay $17,000, an amount that will grow to $86,000 by 2016.

“For 140 years we’ve been serving the city of Boston,” protested Malcolm Rogers, the director of the Museum of Fine Arts. “We are a huge economic generator for the city and that’s why there should be investment in the arts, not taxation.” Added Ford Bell, the president of the American Association of Museums, “To say, ‘now we are going to tax them, but we’re not going to call it a tax,’ is very disingenuous.” Because nonprofits are exempt from taxes, the Pilot payments are technically voluntary. But as Cooke notes, any organization that resisted payments would put its working relationship with the city at risk.

January 6, 2012

Joan Mitchell Foundation Announces Grantees for 2011

The Joan Mitchell Foundation has announced the twenty-five recipients of its 2011 grant program for painters and sculptors. Each winner, chosen by artists, curators, and arts educators via a jury review, will receive $25,000. This year’s awardees are listed below:

Diana Al-Hadid, Brooklyn, NY
Nicole Awai, Brooklyn, NY
Keith Benjamin, Cleves, OH
William Cordova, Miami, FL
Cicely Cottingham, West Orange, NJ
Florine Demosthene, Brooklyn, NY
Daniel Douke, Fallbrook, CA
Julie Green, Corvallis, OR
Tommy Hartung, Ridgewood, NY
Janelle Iglesias, Provincetown, MA
Gary Kachadourian, Baltimore, MD
Simone Leigh, Brooklyn, NY
Andrew Lenaghan, Brooklyn, NY
Anne Lindberg, Kansas City, MO
Virgil Marti, Philadelphia, PA
Liz Miller, Good Thunder, MN
Jiha Moon, Atlanta, GA
Catherine Murphy, Poughkeepsie, NY
Sarah Oppenheimer, New York, NY
Kanishka Raja, New York, NY
Duke Riley, Brooklyn, NY
Chemi Rosado-Seijo, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Annabeth Rosen, Davis, CA
Jackie Tileston, Philadelphia, PA
Sarah Walker, Brooklyn, NY

January 6, 2012

Couple Donates Collection of African-American Works to Georgia Museum of Art

GEORGIA, USA—Part-time Atlantans Larry and Brenda Thompson, who have amassed one of the country’s major private collections of African-American art, are donating 100 works to the Georgia Museum of Art, with the promise of more in the future, and they also will fund a new curatorial position at the Athens museum.

A large touring exhibit drawn from the Thompsons’ collection helped open the museum’s $20 million, 30,000-square-foot expansion last year. And museum board Chairman Carl Mullis called the couple’s contributions, being announced today exclusively in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “transformative” for the official state art museum of Georgia.

“It is truly an amazing gift to the museum, to the University of Georgia and to all the people of Georgia,” said Mullis, an Atlanta attorney. Included in the donation are pieces by Hale Woodruff, Beauford Delaney, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Wadsworth Jarrell and Radcliffe Bailey.

It was Eiland’s idea that the couple endow the full-time curatorial position, the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of the African Diaspora. The yet-to-be appointed academic professional will oversee all the museum’s African-American and African art holdings, develop special exhibits and educational offerings, conduct research and publish.

January 5, 2012

Iranian House of Cinema Disbanded by Iranian Government

IRAN—The Iranian government’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance took steps to disband the Iranian House of Cinema (IHC) on Tuesday evening. The decision was announced by a letter sent to Farhad Tohidi, chairman of the IHC board of directors, who spoke with the Tehran Times. The ministry accused IHC officials of establishing the guild without heeding legal formalities, as well as carrying out “other illegal acts.”

This is the latest action in years of tension between the IHC and the Iranian government. In Iran, all arts and cultural institutions must obtain a license for operation and then have their charter approved by the Iran Public Culture Council. The Culture Ministry has filed a lawsuit against the IHC saying that they amended their charter without informing the council.

The organization has been told to cease all activities starting today.

January 5, 2012

The Louvre Displays the New Islamic Art Gallery in Paris

FRANCE—Founded in 2003 (compare to the museum’s 1793 opening date), Islamic Arts is the Louvre’s newest department, boasting a collection of 18,000 objects from the 7th to the 19th century, ranging in provenance from Spain to India. The department is set to open this summer, but its innovative, jewel-like roof (seen above) has just been completed in the museum’s Visconti Courtyard. The glass-and-metal structure is the most dramatic change to the Louvre’s architecture since I.M. Pei’s 1989 pyramid and 1993 inverted pyramid above the Carrousel du Louvre mall in front of the museum.

The undulating roof was designed by architects Rudy Ricciotti and Mario Bellini, who hail from France and Italy, respectively. Ricciotti poetically describes the 150-ton structure as a “golden cloud” and Bellini as a “dragonfly’s wing.” The diaphanous descriptions are appropriate for the roof’s design — as there was no satisfactory way to anchor it to the older, more traditional surrounding buildings, the roof is supported only by eight slim pillars anchored to the ground. The roof’s transparent composition allows light to pass through, revealing the museum’s classical architecture just beyond. When completed, the Islamic Arts gallery will stretch over 30,000 square feet, including two additional underground levels.

January 5, 2012

Russian Art Group Voina Claims Responsibility for Burning Police Vehicle

RUSSIA—A spokesman for the radical art collective Voina on Monday announced that its members had broken into a St. Petersburg police station on New Year’s Eve and used gasoline bombs to incinerate a police vehicle used to transport prisoners as “a gift to all political prisoners of Russia.” Amateur video posted online showed a figure tossing lighted objects under a large vehicle, which was then engulfed in flames and spewed smoke into the night sky.

The St. Petersburg police responded skeptically to the Voina claims, releasing a statement that described the fire damage to the vehicle as “insignificant” and noting that there were similar rumors of arson after a fire in August that forensics specialists determined had been caused by a short circuit.

All day, liberals bickered online over whether the arson attack on the police vehicle constituted “pure art,” as one commentator put it, or, as another maintained, “an act as idiotic as voting for United Russia,” the ruling party.

Voina, which was founded by a Moscow philosophy student in 2005, won a contemporary art award sponsored by Russia’s Ministry of Culture for a 2010 work that consisted of a 210-foot penis painted on the roadway of a St. Petersburg drawbridge, which rose to point at the offices of the F.S.B., the state security service.

January 4, 2012

David Hockney receives Order of Merit from the Queen of England

UK—He was the 1960s radical who turned British painting on its head, but on Sunday the Queen sealed David Hockney’s transformation into national treasure by appointing him to the Order of Merit.

Buckingham Palace announced that the 74-year-old Bradford-born painter and photographer would join the select group of individuals who have achieved distinction in the arts, learning, science and public service. Hockney’s appointment follows the death in 2011 of his friend Lucian Freud, the only painter in the order – which has no more than 24 members at one time.

Hockney’s selection appeared to confirm the establishment view that he is now seen as the leading British painter of his day. Augustus John and Graham Sutherland were previous members of the exclusive order, which has its own insignia featuring the crown, a laurel wreath and the words in gold lettering “for merit”.

Hockney, a smoker who has campaigned for smokers’ rights, responded to news of the honour yesterday with a self-deprecating joke. “No comment,” he said. “Other than it’s nice to know they are not prejudiced against the older smoker.”

He recently turned down a request to paint a portrait of the Queen, saying he was too busy painting landscapes, and in 1990 he rejected a knighthood.

Hockey also recently criticized Damien Hirst  for employing assistants to make his artworks. “It’s a little insulting to craftsmen, skillful craftsmen,” he told the Radio Times. The posters for Hockney’s upcoming Royal Academy of Arts show bear the slogan, “All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally.”

January 3, 2012

Louvre Conservation Experts Resign Over Botched Restoration of da Vinci Painting

FRANCE — Can an aging work of art ever be too clean? After a thorough restoration carried out at the Louvre, Leonard da Vinci’s “The Virgin and Child With Saint Anne” looks positively glowing, with luminous fabrics and bright skin highlights (particularly on those shiny cheekbones). But some specialists are arguing that the painting is now too bright — brighter than the Renaissance man ever intended it to be — and two conservation experts on the museum’s international advisory committee have resigned, reportedly in protest over the extreme cleaning.

Ségolène Bergeon Langle, a former Louvre conservator, confirmed her resignation to the Guardian and said that she would disclose her reasons for leaving in a meeting with Louvre director Henri Loyrette. Jean-Pierre Cuzin, previously head of paintings at the Louvre, also confirmed his resignation to the paper, but declined to comment on his motivation. A senior Louvre source who remains anonymous told the Guardian that Bergeon Langle and Cuzin considered the cleaning excessive and thought that it had been carried out without sufficient tests.

Vincent Pomarède, head of paintings at the Louvre, stood behind the cleaning, telling the Guardian that “rarely has a restoration been as well prepared, discussed, and effected, and never will it have benefited from such effective techniques.” However, the committee remains divided, with some approving of the cleaning and others maintaining that it was excessive. Experts are to examine the painting again today to help determine just how much cleaning is too much.

January 3, 2012

68 Occupiers arrested in NYC on New Year’s Eve

NEW YORK — Authorities said dozens of Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested as they tore down the barricades surrounding New York City’s Zuccotti Park just before midnight on New Year’s Eve. Police said 68 people were arrested during the scuffle. At least one person was accused of assaulting a police officer, who suffered cuts on one hand. Other charges include trespassing, disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment.

Protester Jason Amadi said he was pepper-sprayed when police tried to prevent the crowd of about 500 demonstrators from taking down the barricades. Amadi said the crowd piled the barricade pieces in the center of the park and stood on top of them, chanting and singing.

January 3, 2012

DeLand museum names new CEO

DELAND—George Bolge recently became the new Chief Executive Officer of the Museum of Florida Art here at 600 N. Woodland Blvd.  Bolge is recently retired after 16 years as executive director of the Boca Raton Museum of Arts. Prior to that, he served 18 years as executive director for the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art where he led the museum through a period of significant growth.

Bolge has a master’s of arts degree from the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University with a major in Greek and Roman architecture and a minor in museum studies and conservation.

He also is a Fellow of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from Nova University and received a lifetime achievement award from the Florida Art Museum Directors Association.

January 3, 2012

St Moritz Art Academy