Heizer Boulder to Travel to LACMA

CALIFORNIA—Adam Nagourney of the New York Times reports that after repeated delays, Michael Heizer’s 340-ton boulder, known as Levitated Mass, is set to travel through the Los Angeles metropolitan area, scheduled to arrive at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on March 10. Last year, Heizer carved the rock out of a quarry approximately sixty miles east of the museum. Museum officials have since struggled to find an adequate route to accommodate the truck that was built to carry the monolith. The final course will take the boulder through four counties and twenty-two cities—an expected eleven-day journey; it will only travel at night. Nagourney notes that upon arrival to the museum, Levitated Masswill be positioned atop a 456-foot concrete slot. The exhibition is expected to open to the public within the next month.

February 29, 2012

Art Spending by UK Businesses Declined over 2011

UK—Companies based in the United Kingdom have cut arts spending by 7 percent over the past year, making for the fourth consecutive annual decline, reports Farah Nayeri of Bloomberg. According to a report issued by Arts and Business, a British organization that matches cultural institutions with donors, business investment dropped by $212.4 million in 2011.

“These figures reveal that there remains an acute need to drive increased private investment into the arts,” said Jonathan Moulds, president of Bank of America’s European unit, who chairs the Arts and Business Leadership Campaign. “The arts are not an optional extra.”

February 29, 2012

Sotheby’s caught in dispute over prized Cambodian Statue

CAMBODIA—The United States government has been asked for help in recovering a thousand-year-old statue of a mythic warrior that sits in limbo at Sotheby’s in New York and that some experts believe was looted amid the convulsions of the Vietnam War and the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge. Sotheby’s catalog from March 24, 2011 includes a photo of a statue from Koh Ker, Cambodia. Some experts believe it was looted. The statue, a sandstone masterwork with a catalog estimate of $2 million to $3 million, was pulled from auction at the last minute last March after the Cambodian government complained it had been “illegally removed” from the country.

The Department of Homeland Security has opened an investigation, but Cambodian officials say they have held off asking for the piece to be seized while they negotiate with Sotheby’s for a private purchase. The auction house says that the seller is a “noble European lady” who acquired it in 1975. Although it was severed from its feet and pedestal, which were left behind at a remote Cambodian archaeological site, Sotheby’s says there is no proof that it was taken illegally.Ms. Levine, a former federal prosecutor named last year to President Obama’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee, said Cambodia’s willingness to negotiate indicates it is aware that under American and Cambodian law it has no legal claim. She said Cambodia “did not identify any basis to contest the owner’s title to the property and did not allege that it would be unlawful for Sotheby’s to sell the statue.”

Originally, Ms. Levine said that Cambodia had been informed of the Sotheby’s sale “four to six weeks” before the auction. Late on Tuesday, however, a Sotheby’s spokeswoman said that Ms. Levine’s recollection had been “incorrect,” and that the auction house had notified Cambodia on Nov. 8, 2010, four and a half months before the auction date. The statue’s seller, speaking through Sotheby’s, declined to be identified or to comment.

February 29, 2012

Wang Shu Wins Pritzker Prize

CHINA—Chinese architect Wang Shu, forty-eight, has won the Pritzker Prize. Wang is based in Hangzhou, has never constructed a building outside of China, and runs his firm Amateur Architecture Studio with his wife, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was a visiting professor at Harvard University last year. The international jury was composed of United States Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer as well as architects Zaha Hadid, Yung Ho Chang, and Alejandro Aravena. Wang’s projects include the Ningbo History Museum—constructed from more than one million pieces of salvaged stone, brick, and tile—as well as a connected group of buildings at the Xingshan Campus of the China Academy of Art. The jury reportedly chose Wang due to his thoughtful alternatives to sleek, generic towers that typify the rapidly modernizing skyline of China.

February 28, 2012

Rashid Johnson Awarded 2012 David C. Driskell Prize

ATLANTA, GA—Rashid Johnson had been named winner of the 2012 David C. Driskell prize. Awarded by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the twenty-five-thousand-dollar prize is annually presented to an artist who is “in the beginning or middle of his or her career whose work makes an original and important contribution to the field of African-American art or art history.”

In a press release issued on Friday, the museum stated: “Rashid Johnson is a visual artist fully incorporating every available resource to create works relevant to both the past and the present. His ability to draw upon materials and visual sources that stand alone formally but have strong ties to the African diaspora and highlight African culture through his imaginative and distinctive art exemplifies the qualities of a David C. Driskell Prize recipient. We are pleased to support his vision and development through this award.”

February 28, 2012

Kenneth Price Dies at 77

NEW MEXICO—Artist Kenneth Price passed away on Friday at his home and studio in New Mexico, according to Christopher Knight in the Los Angeles Times. Knight writes that Price’s work “transformed traditional ceramics while also expanding orthodox definitions of American and European sculpture.” Price had just finished preparing for a fifty-year retrospective that will appear at LACMA this fall before traveling on to the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The artist’s post–World War II output reflected Constructivist and Bauhaus influences, and his decision to paint his ceramics with acrylics raised eyebrows initially, even as the technique developed and grew more widespread in later years. He undertook but never completed an ambitious mixed-media installation in the 1970s—Happy Ward (named for his wife)—which included nine cabinets of pottery, store display windows, “death shrines,” and the like. After living in Taos in the 1960s, Price and his family moved to Massachusetts, followed by Los Angeles, where Price taught at the University of Southern California. His work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; New York’s Museum of Modern Art; the Chicago Art Institute; and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, among other institutions.

“Price’s practice has remained resolutely original, challenging categorization and redefining contemporary sculpture,” said Stephanie Barron, senior curator of modern art at LACMA and organizer of the Price retrospective. “The observation that critic Lucy Lippard made in 1966 seems prescient: ‘It is a fact rather than a value judgment that no one else on the East or West Coast is working like Kenneth Price.’”

February 28, 2012

Mellon Center Preserves A Photographic Archive Trashed by Tate

UK—Dalya Alberge of the The Guardian reports that in 2008 the Tate had attempted to dispose of its photographic archive, which included photographs of artworks and “some items nearly a century old that were amassed by generations of curators, allowing them to trace changes of attribution, ownership, and condition. The images came from scholars, conservators, government departments, dealers, auctioneers, and owners.” Brian Allen, director of the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art, stated he received a phone call from a Tate employee who informed him of the institution’s plans to discard its archive. He recalls that the informant told him, “You might like the curatorial photo archive because we’re about to throw it in the dumpster.”

Alberge writes that Allen responded by “dispatching a van to salvage the hundreds of boxes and was taken aback to discover that they included confidential material—so confidential that he asked the Tate to take items back. These included sensitive documents relating to government committees and export applications.”

In response to the controversy that has arisen over these revelations, a spokeswoman for the Tate denied any plans to arbitrarily dispose of the archive and has confirmed it is now with the Mellon Center: “In 2008, the Tate decided it would be more useful for scholars if this photographic research material on British art, which had not been augmented since the 1980s and much of which is available online, were to be located with equivalent material at Paul Mellon Center.”

In related news, the Victoria & Albert Museum has recently admitted to “dumping” its photographic archive, which comprised of black-and-white photographs of “almost every item in the museum’s collection grouped by subject.” While a spokeswoman asserts it was not a mistake, Alberge reports that curators were not consulted.

Michael Daley, director of ArtWatch UK, states that such disposals are “scandalous”: “Photo archives are more important than documentary records because photos are taken by machines without motive or vested interests. For historians to destroy archives, it should be inconceivable. It’s just unforgivable.”

February 28, 2012

Whitney’s ‘Break with Corporate Sponsors’ Announcement a Hoax

NEW YORK—The Web page, at, looks official enough. The typeface matches the one used by the Whitney Museum of American Art, and it purports to offer the latest news about the museum’s upcoming Biennial exhibition. It even features links to exhibition listings and other information on the Whitney’s site,

But the page is actually a hoax, said the real Whitney Museum. Among the disinformation it includes is the claim that the museum has made the “difficult decision” to break with two of the Biennial’s sponsors—Sotheby’s and Deutsche Bank—because of the firms’ corporate conduct. The page refers to Sotheby’s decision to lock out its unionized art handlers after their contract expired in July 2011, and to accusations of fraud regarding Deutsche Bank’s mortgage-related business. After posting the news on Twitter Monday morning, wrote “Oops! Whitney says ‘break with corporate sponsors’ announcement is a prank—we should have known!” Artnet did not speculate about who might be behind the fake page, but it later tweeted a link to an open letter to the Whitney posted last week by Arts & Labor, a “working group” of Occupy Wall Street. The letter calls on the Whitney to end the Biennial because “it upholds a system that benefits collectors, trustees, and corporations at the expense of art workers.”

February 27, 2012

Sarah Sze to Represent the United States at the 55th Venice Biennale

VENICE—The Bronx Museum of the Arts will be featuring the work of Sarah Sze in the US Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Sze’s installation, titled Triple Point, will be a series of “constructed environments” filling the building and extending into the courtyard beyond. The forty-three-year-old artist’s project will seek to respond to the Palladian-style architecture of the US Pavilion, built in 1930 by architects William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich. Accompanying the installation, an online component created by the Bronx Museum will feature streaming video that will document Sze’s conception, fabrication, and installation of the piece. The New York–based Sze has had solo shows at institutions including the Whitney Museum in New York and the Malmo Konsthall in Sweden. Her most recent exhibition, at the Asia Society in New York, closes on March 25. She was a 2003 recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant.”

February 27, 2012

Occupy Wall Street’s Arts and Labor Group Calls for End to Whitney Biennial in 2014

NEW YORK—The Occupy Wall Street’s Arts and Labor group has published a letter to the Whitney Museum of American Art calling for the end to the Whitney Biennial in 2014. The Arts and Labor group claims that the Whitney Biennial “upholds a system that benefits collectors, trustees, and corporations at the expense of art workers.” They add that the Whitney Museum, “with its system of wealthy trustees and ties to the real estate industry, perpetuates a model in which culture enhances the city and benefits the 1 percent of our society while driving others into financial distress.” As a result, the group has called for the Whitney, in its centennial year, to “terminate its collusion with this system of injustice and use its resources to imagine sustainable models of creativity and culture accessible not just to Americans but to 99 percent of the people around the globe.”

February 27, 2012

Kickstarter Claims to Eclipse NEA in Funding Dollars

NEW YORK—Carl Franzen for Talking Points Memo reports that Yancey Strickler, cofounder of Internet startup Kickstarter, has announced that the group’s platform will generate over 150 million dollars in funding for artistic projects in 2012—exceeding cultural funding by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) 2012 fiscal year budget by four million dollars. While Kickstarter allows users to submit their own ideas for funding, as long as they fall under “projects with a creative purpose,” users are require to provide incentive for their their funders through rewards depending on their level of donation. The organization will take a 5 percent cut of successfully funded projects. The three-year-old website’s guidelines state: “Kickstarter can be used to fund projects from the creative fields of art, comics, dance, design, fashion, film, food, games, music, photography, publishing, technology, and theater. We currently only support projects from these categories.” Strickler tells Franzen, “We had previously gotten asked a lot when and what the first million-dollar project would be. We didn’t really care much. It’s an exciting milestone, but a project’s true value isn’t measured in dollars, but what it does in the real world.”

February 27, 2012

Ruscha, Weiner, Oursler and Others Transform Water Tanks into Works of Art

NEW YORK—Word Above the Street, a New York-based non-profit organisation, plans to transform 300 rooftop water tanks across New York City into works of art to raise awareness on the global water supply.

For 12 weeks during the spring and summer of 2013, the Water Tank Project will host works by artists including Ed Ruscha, Lawrence Weiner, Tony Oursler, Marilyn Minter and Carrie Mae Weems, as well as rapper Jay-Z.

The project is run by Mary Jordan, a film-maker and activist, with a curatorial team that includes Lisa Dennison, the chairman of Sotheby’s North and South America, Neville Wakefield, the senior curatorial adviser for MoMA PS1, Alison Gingeras, the head curator of François Pinault’s collection and Toby Devan Lewis, a trustee of the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Jordan plans to expand the initiative outside of the US, but no other locations have been confirmed. Supporters for the Water Tank Project include the Ford Foundation, the Agnes Gund AG Foundation, the Dorothea Leonhardt Foundation and private patrons.

February 24, 2012

Grand Egyptian Museum to be Built in Giza

EGYPT—The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has announced the construction of a new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. The project, which will cost around $810 million, was won by Irish architects Heneghan Peng after a competition held in 2003. The museum will be built between the modern city of Cairo and the iconic pyramids of Giza.

The ambitious project aims to incorporate the local, stepped landscape between the Nile and the desert plateau to create the building’s various levels. The building will be laid out in such a way that the visitor will arrive on a square on the level of the Nile valley floor, before climbing stairs up to the level of the plateau before finally accessing the exhibition galleries, which will give an excellent view onto the pyramids of Giza. The structure will be covered in layer of translucent stone the colour of which will appear differently depending on whether it is day or night.

The architects have envisioned an exhibition space with a surface area of 24,000 m2, the equivalent of four football fields, including a permanent exhibition space, a children’s museum, conference rooms, a conservation centre and gardens.

February 24, 2012

Christo’s Colorado Installation Delayed until 2015

COLORADO—The artist Christo’s project Over the River, an art installation which will comprise eight suspended-panel segments totaling 5.9 miles along a forty-two-mile stretch of the Arkansas River about three hours southwest of Denver, has been pushed back to August 2015––one year past its previous deadline. After numerous federal environmental impact studies and public hearings, uncertainties involving construction and permits are now responsible for delaying the project, which Christo has been working on for twenty years. Kirk Johnson for the New York Times reports that Rags Over the Arkansas River—a public interest group formed to oppose Christo’s planned endeavor—believes this will provide more time to research the impact on local bighorn sheep.

February 24, 2012

Battle Over $65-Million Rauschenberg Eagle May Hinge on Animal Trafficking Laws

NEW YORK—A legal battle is brewing between the estate of legendary dealer Ileana Sonnabend and the International Revenue Service over  Robert Rauschenberg’s famous assemblage “Canyon.” The 1959 artwork, which features an eagle with its wings spread wide hanging off the front, was valued at exactly zero dollars in the late dealer’s estate tax return. But the IRS thinks it’s worth more: $65 million, to be exact.

Forbes reports that the dispute hinges directly on the eagle. According to appraisals from Christie’s and other outlets, the presence of the bird makes the artwork impossible to sell: two federal laws bar possessing or trafficking in bald eagles, dead or alive. (The only reason Sonnabend was able to loan “Canyon” to museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it is currently on view, is because she got a special permit to do so.) The IRS, however, disagrees with the $0 valuation. It taxed Sonnabend’s estate as if the sculpture were worth $65 million, noting that it frequently applies tax to stolen or illegal goods based on black market value.

Sonnabend’s estate lawyer, Ralph E. Lerner, has now sued the IRS in tax court, and told Forbes he plans to “take it all the way.” He says the estate could never sell such an iconic piece on the black market, and has no plans to try.

February 23, 2012

Barney Rosset, Anti-Censorship Pioneer, Dies at 89

NEW YORK—Barney Rosset, the flamboyant, provocative publisher who helped change the course of publishing in the United States, bringing masters like Samuel Beckett to Americans’ attention under his Grove Press imprint and winning celebrated First Amendment slugfests against censorship, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 89. His son Peter said he died after a double-heart-valve replacement.

Over a long career Mr. Rosset championed Beat poets, French Surrealists, German Expressionists and dramatists of the absurd, helping to bring them all to prominence. Besides publishing Beckett, he brought early exposure to European writers like Eugène Ionesco and Jean Genet and gave intellectual ammunition to the New Left by publishing Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

He defied censors in the 1960s by publishing D. H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer,” ultimately winning legal victories that opened the door to sexually provocative language and subject matter in literature published in the United States. He did the same thing on movie screens by importing the sexually frank Swedish film “I Am Curious (Yellow).”

Mr. Rosset called Grove “a breach in the dam of American Puritanism.”

February 23, 2012

Police Raid Gang of Forgers

GREECE—The Art Newspaper’s Tina Lepri and Ermanno Rivetti report that police have raided the homes of a gang that allegedly forged thousands of Greek and Etruscan artifacts. The ringleader, Edoardo David—a renowned archaeologist who often worked as a consultant for a regional ministry of culture in Italy—is awaiting trial, along with his two main associates. Four more in their circle are under house arrest. The criminals notably treated the fakes they created with an X-ray machine so that thermoluminescence testing would not reveal the forged pieces’ contemporary origins.

February 23, 2012

Berkeley’s Artwork Loss Is a Museum’s Gain

BERKELEY, CA—Everybody misplaces something sometime. But it is not easy for the University of California, Berkeley, to explain how it lost a 22-foot-long carved panel by a celebrated African-American sculptor, or how, three years ago, it mistakenly sold this work, valued at more than a million dollars, for $150 plus tax. The university’s embarrassing loss eventually enabled the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, a large museum and research center in San Marino, Calif., to acquire its first major work by an African-American artist.

For the full story, reported by The New York Times, please click here.

February 22, 2012

Azerbaijan Hosts First National Art Fair

AZERBAIJAN—Julia Michalska of the Art Newspaper reports that Azerbaijan is set to host its first national art fair. The exhibition, which opens February 24, includes twenty local artists who have collaborated with historians and archaeologists to create site-specific installations within the ancient city of Baku. The projects will be unveiled every Friday until September of 2012.

“Particularly at this time of development and transformation in Azerbaijan, it is important to embrace Baku’s heritage,” says Aida Mahmudova, the founder and director of Yarat, a nonprofit art foundation that organized the fair. “The city’s history is being used to make contemporary art.”

February 22, 2012

Damien Hirst to Develop 500 “Eco-Homes”

UK—Damien Hirst is branching out into environmentally sustainable real estate, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Jamie Wetherbe. Hirst is investing in the development of five hundred new ecologically sustainable houses near North Devon, UK, where he resides. Wetherbe notes that the buildings will feature “hidden rooftop wind turbines, photovoltaic solar panels, and state-of-the-art insulation” among other features meant to set the standard for green design. Mike Rundell, Hirst’s architect, stated: “[Hirst] has a horror of building anonymous, lifeless buildings. He wants these houses to be the kind of homes he would want to live in.”

February 21, 2012

Dealer Marc Jancou Files Suit Against Cady Noland and Sotheby’s

NYC—Dealer Marc Jancou has filed a lawsuit against Cady Noland and Sotheby’s, claiming that the artist disrupted his sale of her work Cowboys Milking, 1990, causing the auction house to reject the consignment the day before it was to be sold. R. Corbett of Artnet reports that the previous day a Noland piece fetched $6.6 million, well past its high estimate of $3 million, setting a new record for a work at auction by a living female artist. Jancou is seeking $26 million in damages for the painting, which was estimated to be worth between $250,000 and $350,000.

In his complaint, Jancou states: “Noland tortiously interfered with the consignment agreement by persuading Sotheby’s to breach the agreement by refusing to put the work up for auction, despite there being no basis under the agreement to do so.” Sotheby’s has responded by pointing to a clause within the firm’s consignment contract, which stipulates that the auction house “reserves the right to withdraw any property before the sale and shall have no liability whatsoever for such withdrawal.”

February 21, 2012

Thieves Loot Greek Museums as Economy Worsens

ATHENS—While the unemployment rate of Greece rises past 21 percent, the crime rate is increasing as well, putting the museums of antiquity in many historic cities at great risk. On Friday morning, two masked gunmen stormed a small museum in Olympia in southern Greece and made off with dozens of objects up to 3,200 years old. The robbers stole sixty-five artifacts and tied up a forty-eight-year-old female security guard. The Washington Times reports that culture minister Pavlos Geroulanos submitted his resignation after the robbery, but it was unclear whether it had been accepted by prime minister Lucas Papademos. Yiannis Mavrikopoulos, head of the culture ministry museum and site guards’ union told the Washington Times “There are no funds for new guard hirings. There are 2,000 of us, and there should be 4,000, while many have been forced to take early retirement ahead of the new program of layoffs. We face terrible staff shortages. As a result, our monuments and sites don’t have optimum protection––even though guards are doing their very best to protect our heritage.”

February 20, 2012

Bloomberg’s plan to close 33 schools

NYC—More than 2,000 teachers, parents, students and community members faced off against New York Mayor Bloomberg’s Panel for Education Policy (PEP) February 9 in a heated protest against Bloomberg’s plan to close 33 schools for supposed poor performance.

The protest, held at Brooklyn Technical High School, was led by Occupy the DOE, a coalition of Occupy activists and teachers, parents and students, along with a variety parent and student groups organized by the Coalition of Educational Justice. Under pressure from its membership, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) later joined the protest as well, after union leaders abandoned their plan to hold a separate demonstration nearby.

Activists didn’t achieve their goal of holding their own “People’s PEP” by using the people’s mic. But the militant demonstration that united students, teachers and parents was a major step forward in building a movement to challenge Bloomberg’s school closings and his entire policy of corporate education “deform.”

February 20, 2012

Marina Abramovic Turns to Rem Koolhaas to Design New Performance Art Center

NEW YORK—The artist Marina Abramovic has selected the architect Rem Koolhaas’s firm, OMA, to design her new performance art center in upstate New York.

The deal, reported by on Wednesday, calls for the firm to transform a former tennis center in Hudson, N.Y., into the Center for the Preservation of Performance Art, a space devoted to pieces that may last several hours or even several days. Ms. Abramovic revealed the $8 million project on Tuesday night to a group of art collectors at a panel at Manhattan’s Core Club. Ms. Abramovic bought the site four years ago to turn it into a museum and theater, but other projects forced her to put it on hold.
Because the museum will be devoted to marathon performance art, it will feature customized chairs complete with wheels, dining tables and lamps. People who fall asleep will be rolled into a special sleeping area — considered part of the performance – and rolled back when they awaken.

February 17, 2012

Exhibition at National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Shut Down

UKRAINE—On February 10, 2012, the president of NaUKMA (National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy) Serhiy Kvit banned “ The Ukrainian Body,” an exhibition that explores the problematics of corporality in Ukrainian society, only three days after its opening. The entrance to the gallery [of the Visual Culture Research Center] was locked. Serhiy Kvit explained his action with the following reasoning: “It’s not an exhibition, it’s shit.”
The consequence of such an action, which some have have condemned as  an unacceptable act of censorship against a public space for dialogue.  The exhibition, which was slated to close on February 28, presents works by Ukrainian artists Anatoly Belov, Eugenia Belorusets, Oksana Bryukhovetsky, Alexander Volodarsky, Nikita Kadan, Volodymyr Kuznetsov, Liubov Malikov, Lada Nakonechna, Mykola Ridnii , and many others.
Organizers of the exhibition have expressed that they are hopeful that such a thoughtless act on the part of the university’s administration was the result of a misunderstanding that can be resolved. They are now petitioning to collect signatures to protest against artistic censorship within the walls of NaUKMA.

February 16, 2012

Le Corbusier’s Radiant City damaged by fire

MARSEILLE—One of France’s most important landmarks of modernist architecture, La Cité Radieuse housing estate in Marseille, built by the architect Le Corbusier, has been damaged by fire. Fire services fought for over 12 hours to put out a blaze that began on Thursday afternoon in a first floor flat in the nine-storey concrete complex which is protected by special heritage status in France.

Three apartments had been gutted and many others seriously damaged. Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, the Swiss-born architect better known as Le Corbusier, built what was hailed as the vertical village between 1947 and 1951.

Fire services fought for over 12 hours to put out a blaze that began on Thursday afternoon in a first floor flat in the nine-storey concrete complex which is protected by special heritage status in France.Envisaged as social housing, the building was quickly sold by the state. Some residents have lived there since its inauguration, while many recent inhabitants of the now sought-after apartments are middle-class teachers and architects.
All residents were evacuated late on Thursday night as fire services struggled to keep the blaze under control and five people were treated in hospital. It was not clear how

February 16, 2012

WikiLeaks banned from UNESCO conference on WikiLeaks

PARIS—WikiLeaks denounced UNESCO for banning WikiLeaks from tomorrow’s international conference about WikiLeaks. The large two-day conference, which has 37 speakers listed, is to be held UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. US organizers have stacked the conference with WikiLeaks opponents and blocked all speakers from WikiLeaks, stating that the decision to censor WikiLeaks representation was an exercise in ’freedom of expression… our right to give voice to speakers of our choice’.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange denounced the conference: ’UNESCO has made itself an international human rights joke. To use “freedom of expression” to censor WikiLeaks from a conference about WikiLeaks is an Orwellian absurdity beyond words. This is an intolerable abuse of UNESCO’s Constitution. It’s time to occupy UNESCO.’

WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson expressed consternation in a letter to UNESCO about the exclusion: ’UNESCO has a duty to assure that fairness and balance is secured in important discussions carried out under the banner of the organization. It is obvious that this will hardly be the case, given the selection of speakers. This is both a disgrace to UNESCO and potentially harmful to WikiLeaks.’

Julian Assange calls for an immediate investigation “UNESCO must conduct a full, frank and open investigation as to how its constitution, which tasks it to promote freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom of communication, has become a blunt instrument of censorship. UNESCO must demonstrate that cold-war style power-plays, by the United States, or indeed any other country, are no longer acceptable.”

February 15, 2012

McNay Art Museum Receives $5 Million Bequest

SAN ANTONIO, TX—The McNay Art Museum has received a bequest of five million dollars from museum trustee Nancy Blackburn Hamon, who passed away last year, reports Steve Bennett of the San Antonio Express News. Museum director William J. Chiego states that the endowment is intended for the Jane & Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions.

Said Chiego of Hamon: “She knew how expensive it was to operate a museum. Her gift allows us to use the income from the endowment to support the larger costs of operation that came when we built the Stieren Center. It’s the hardest kind of money to raise.”

In related news, Bennett writes that the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Witte Museum have each received eight hundred thousand dollars from the estate of Frances and Louis Wagner for endowments intended to provide annual support for their respective lecture series.

Katie Luber, director of the San Antonio Museum of Art, said that the bequest is “huge for us because it will allow us to bring internationally renowned scholars to San Antonio to address all kinds of really wonderful issues and opportunities in the art world.”

February 15, 2012

Lillian Bassman, Fashion and Fine-Art Photographer, Dies at 94

NEW YORK—Lillian Bassman, a magazine art director and fashion photographer who achieved renown in the 1940s and ’50s with high-contrast, dreamy portraits of sylphlike models, then re-emerged in the ’90s as a fine-art photographer after a cache of lost negatives resurfaced, died on Monday at her home in Manhattan. She was 94. Her son, Eric Himmel, confirmed the death.

Ms. Bassman entered the world of magazine editing and fashion photography as a protégé of Alexey Brodovitch, the renowned art director of Harper’s Bazaar. Her nonadvertising work appeared frequently in Harper’s Bazaar, and she developed close relationships with a long list of the era’s top models, including Barbara Mullen (her muse), Dovima and Suzy Parker.

In 1969, disappointed with the photographic profession and her prospects, she destroyed most of her commercial negatives. She put more than 100 editorial negatives in trash bags, putting them aside in her converted carriage house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

It was not until the early 1990s that Martin Harrison, a fashion curator and historian who was staying at her house, found the long-forgotten negatives. A full-fledged revival of her career ensued, with gallery shows and international exhibitions, including a series of monographs devoted to her photography.

A new book, “Lillian Bassman: Lingerie,” is to be published by Abrams on April 1.

February 15, 2012

Gerhard Richter Mobbed by Paparazzi as Retrospective Opens in Berlin

BERLIN—One day after his 80th birthday, the German painter Gerhard Richter on Friday unveiled a major retrospective at Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie. A planned walk by the artist through the exhibition space had to be canceled after he was mobbed by dozens of photographers more typically associated with the movie stars up the block at the Berlinale film festival, which opened the day before. Interest in Mr. Richter, already a superstar by art world standards, has surged in his native land around his birthday, and a series of exhibitions and lectures in Berlin and Dresden, the city of his birth, are taking place this year.

This exhibition, “Gerhard Richter: Panorama,” includes roughly 130 paintings and five sculptures, featuring both his abstract and figurative works and will be open to the public from Sunday, Feb. 12, to May 13. The retrospective wason display at the Tate Modern in London through January and will be exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Paris after it closes in Berlin.

February 14, 2012

Dance Awards Announced for Mikhail Baryshnikov, Michel Kouakou, and William Forsythe

NEW YORK—Mikhail Baryshnikov has been named winner of the Vilcek Prize for the Arts, which honors the contributions of foreign-born artists and scientists in the United States and includes a cash prize of one hundred thousand dollars, reports Julie Bloom of the New York Times. The Vilcek Foundation notes in a statement that Baryshnikov is being recognized for his “body of distinguished work and his legacy of advancing the field of dance.” The Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, worth twenty-five thousand dollars, was awarded to Michel Kouakou, a choreographer from the Ivory Coast.

Bloom also reports that William Forsythe has won the 2012 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, which includes a fifty-thousand-dollar prize and honors choreographers who have dedicated their lives to the creation of modern dance. Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Hanya Holm, Alwin Nikolais, Katherine Dunham, Alvin Ailey, and Twyla Tharp are among past recipients.

February 14, 2012

Finnish Museum Employees March to Parliament

FINLAND—Employees of the National Board of Antiquities in Finland, a organization which oversees the country’s museums, have staged a demonstration in Helsinki to protest proposed job cuts as well as the closure of the museums, reports YLE. The staff marched from the Finnish National Museum to parliament with a petition to request more resources as opposed to layoffs. They claim that the job cuts endanger Finland’s national heritage. Earlier this year, the government proposed that eight museums be closed and it has threatened to terminate forty jobs. This decision comes as a result of the four-million-euro budget slash imposed by the new government on Finland’s culture sector.

February 14, 2012

UC Berkeley cop cleared in federal jury civil rights ruling

CALIFORNIA—A federal jury has ruled in favor of a UC Berkeley police officer who was accused of violating a student’s rights during a 2009 protest.The San Francisco jury decided late Friday afternoon after deliberating less than five hours that Officer Brendan Tinney did not violate Zhivka Valiavicharska’s civil rights during the November 2009 demonstration near Sproul Hall.

Valiavicharska had claimed Tinney broke her fingers with a baton.The 2009 protest over University of California tuition hikes was among the first in a series of demonstrations at Berkeley and other campuses that has continued this year.  A UC Berkeley panel later concluded the university’s bad decisions had turned the mostly peaceful protest into “a raw power struggle” between police and demonstrators.

February 13, 2012

Hungary’s government tightens grip on arts

HUNGARY—The national conservative government, led by Viktor Orban, stands accused of systematically replacing key figures in cultural institutions, staging pro-government exhibitions, rethinking permanent museum displays and replacing historic statues to fit its political agenda.

There have been other government-instigated changes in personnel at leading institutions. Laszlo Simon, a Fidesz party MP and chairman of the parliamentary cultural and press committee, has become the head of the National Cultural Fund of Hungary—which up until now was a body independent of government, monitored by the culture committee. It is one of the most important organisations that funds Hungarian cultural institutions, including museums, libraries, theatres and archives.

Meanwhile, Gyorgy Szabo, the respected director of Trafo, a leading contemporary art centre, was ousted from his position in January and replaced by the choreographer Yvette Bozsik. The director of Budapest’s Uj Szinhaz theatre, Istvan Marta, was due to be replaced by the extreme right-wing actor Gyorgy Dorner as we went to press. “The government wants to disrupt the fabric of Hungarian culture, by having leading cultural figures disappear and replacing them with their own,” says the art historian Eva Forgacs.

February 13, 2012

Egyptian University students maintain place at vanguard of revolution

EGYPT—Cairo University students weren’t the only ones to bring the ongoing revolution into their campus. By late March, students across the country found themselves in direct confrontation with authorities. Students at Nile University, the only university in Egypt dedicated to research, joined the student movement when the state commandeered the university’s premises and forbade faculty and students from entering.

Large numbers of students also participated in November’s clashes on Cairo’s Mohamed Mahmoud Street, which left 41 dead and over one thousand injured.  Thousands of students from Cairo, Ain Shams and Helwan universities also marched to Tahrir Square to register their opposition to Egypt’s ruling military council. Nile University students, for their part, suspended all university activities for one day to show their solidarity with the protesters.

Not long afterwards, a security crackdown on a sit-in protest outside the Cabinet building in December left 19 dead and 750 injured. Alaa Abd El-Hady, a fifth-year medical student at Ain Shams University, was among those killed during the crackdown. Some 2,000 students planned to march from Ain Shams University to the defense ministry to protest the death of their fellow student, but were ultimately intercepted by military forces.

“Students have nothing to lose. We have nothing to do but bring down the military,” said Nile University’s Ibrahim. “There are millions of us. If we move, we’re going to have an impact.”Students across the country, meanwhile, are now calling for a nationwide general strike on Saturday.

February 10, 2012

Robert E. Hecht Jr. (1920–2012)

FRANCE—American art dealer Robert E. Hecht Jr. passed away died as his home in Paris on Wednesday. He was ninety-two.

Hecht has been involved with classical antiquity trading for several decades and was most recently the subject of a criminal trial in Rome on the charges of trafficking looted artifacts. The case against him focuses on an international network of smugglers, dealers, and collectors trading objects originating from Italian tombs. Along with former J. Paul Getty antiquities curator Marion True and Italian dealer Giacomo Medici, Hecht was accused of being a key figure in the trade scandal. Discussing the sources of his inventory of artifacts, Hecht told the Los Angeles Times recently, “I have no idea of where an object was excavated. It could have been excavated one hundred years ago; it could have been excavated an hour ago.”

February 9, 2012

Sarkozy Asks Louvre to Turn France’s Naval Headquarters Into a New National Museum

FRANCE—The Hôtel de la Marine was built by Louis XV on Paris’s Place de la Concorde in the 18th century and later became the headquarters of the French navy. Now that France’s naval offices plan to move to the still-under-construction “French Pentagon” in 2014, the building needs a new purpose. President Nicolas Sarkozy has decided that the historic structure will succeed its military career with a cultural one: the Louvre is turning the Hôtel de la Marine into a rotating exhibition space.

The new plan comes as a relief for those who opposed the for-profit privatization of such an important cultural landmark. There was a public outcry in late 2010 when news leaked that the government was considering turning the structure over to technology and real estate entrepreneur Alexandra Allard. Allard had proposed creating a cultural center called “La Royale,” but critics denounced this as a “money-making circus.” Historians and members of the military signed a petition against the plan, reported Agence France-Presse. In response to the new Louvre arrangement, Allard has said that Sarkozy’s decision shows that France is “rotten with conservatism,” according to Le Figaro.

The Hôtel de la Marine is expected to open to the public in 2015.

February 8, 2012

Antoni Tàpies (1923–2012)

SPAIN—Painter, sculptor, and art theorist Antoni Tàpies passed away on February 6th, according to AFP. His works ranged from abstract compositions on canvas to a ten-foot-high model of a sock with a hole in its heel. In 1948, Tàpies helped found the Spanish movement Dau al Set, closely affiliated with Surrealist and Dadaist movements. Over a decade later, he was active in resistance efforts against dictator Francisco Franco’s regime. In 2010, he was given the title of Marquess by Spain’s King Juan Carlos.

Tàpies’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions and retrospectives at institutions including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Guggenheim in New York, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, and in the Spanish Pavilion during the 1993 edition of Venice Biennale. He was represented by Pace Gallery.

February 8, 2012

MoMA Acquires Works by Feminist Artists

NEW YORK—This week the Museum of Modern Art said it had acquired important groups of work from the 1960s and ‘70s in a variety of mediums by Martha Rosler and Valie Export. Included are all Ms. Rosler’s original photo montages as well as a complete set of 20 color prints of her landmark series “Bringing the War Home,” which she created in the Vietnam era between 1967 and 1972.

“Bringing the War Home” deals with issues of how war enters lives. “We see these beautiful advertisements in magazines and next to them these horrifying war images,” Ms. Breitwieser said. “This is what she has connected. Until now most of these images were only shown in underground magazines, but they really belong in a museum.”

The works by Valie Export include videos, photographs and two early films. “It’s what she calls expanded cinema,” Ms. Breitwieser said. “It does not consist of the usual things like a screen and a projection; rather she has deconstructed elements about how a film is generated.”

February 8, 2012

Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei to Create 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

UK—Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei are set to create the 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. In a press release issued today, Serpentine notes that the pavilion will lead visitors to the space beneath the gallery’s lawn, allowing them to “explore the hidden history of its previous pavilions.” The work will include eleven columns characterizing each past pavilion and a twelfth to support a platform roof suspended approximately five feet above ground. The pavilion will be presented as part of the London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad.

Said Serpentine director Julia Peyton-Jones and codirector Hans Ulrich Obrist of the gallery’s selection: “It is a great honor to be working with Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. We are delighted that our annual commission will bring this unique architectural collaboration to Europe to mark the continuity between the Beijing 2008 and the London 2012 Games.”

February 7, 2012

Guggenheim to Close Berlin Outpost

GERMANY—Carol Vogel reports for the New York Times that the Deutsche Guggenheim will be closing at the end of 2012. Though neither Deutsche Bank nor the Guggenheim enumerated any concrete reasons behind the decision, the director of the Guggenheim Foundation, Richard Armstrong, stated: “Berlin today is a very different city from what it was when we began. We feel the time is right now to step back and reexamine our collaboration to see how it might evolve.’’ Over the course of its fifteen years, the institution has brought in 1.8 million visitors to a total of fifty-seven exhibitions. It has also commissioned seventeen artists to create works that made their debut in the space.

February 7, 2012

Design Selected for AIDS Memorial Park in Manhattan

NEW YORK—“Infinite Forest,” a design proposed by a team of architects at Studio a+i, has won a competition for an AIDS memorial park in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, reports the Associated Press in an article published on the Washington Post. The park was previously part of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital; after the institution’s bankruptcy, Rudin Management Company acquired the triangular piece of land and hosted the design competition. CEO and chairman Bill Rudin notes the memorial has received partial approval by the city. He adds that the design, which includes groves of trees and mirrored glass surfaces, will allow for “a commemoration of those impacted by AIDS.”

February 7, 2012

Students continue to speak out against budget issue

CALIFORNIA—It’s been two months since student protesters rallied in the quad at Cal State Fullerton to protest a soon-to-be-enacted nine percent tuition increase for the California State University system. The protesters then followed that up by “occupying” an area behind the Pollak Library for three days and nights.

The nine percent tuition increase passed and it is expected to be enacted in the Fall 2012 semester. The campus closed for fall recess and the short-lived makeshift “occupy” encampment was broken up just three days after it began. The fall semester ended shortly thereafter.“We’re going to try to open up the lines of dialogue with the new president and the administration on our campus, but for the most part if it comes down to nothing, which is what we’re expecting, then we’re probably going to see some sort of action in March,” said Inga.

Inga was present Wednesday at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach despite the absence of student protesters.

“If anything positive came from the meeting it was basically (California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s) response to the board of trustees and the fact that they’re not holding the interest of the university and the public,” Inga said.

With a state budget that seems doomed in the short-run, future additional fee hikes for public education are likely and more student-held protests and demonstrations on California campuses can be expected.

February 2, 2012

Artist and poet Dorothea Tanning dies at age 101

NYC— Artist and poet Dorothea Tanning, died peacefully in her home in New York City on January 31.  She was 101 years old.  For 34 years, she shared a loving partnership with her husband, Max Ernst, first in the United States and later in France.  After his death in 1976, she returned to New York and demonstrated that it is never to late to begin a new chapter in life.  In her mid-seventies, she became more productive than ever in her studio, and in her mid-eighties launched a new and successful career as a writer and poet.  She worked until her last days, publishing her second book of poems, Coming to That, in the fall of 2011.

February 1, 2012

Guards at London’s National Gallery on Strike to Protest Staff Cuts

UK—The Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery in London faces disruption by strikes action from this week. Security guards say cuts leave works vulnerable to damage or theft. They are planning two-hour stoppages on 19 and 28 January and 2 and 4 February, with other possible dates to follow.

The strike follows the gallery’s instruction to the guards — referred to in London as “warders,” now called “gallery assistants” – to each watch over two rooms rather than one. Warders claim this allowed a man to attack two Poussin paintings in July while the warder was in the adjoining room.

A gallery spokeswoman said: “The majority of galleries…throughout the UK, across Europe and far beyond, all employ similar systems. The National Gallery will endeavour to keep the exhibition open and fulfil its obligation to people who already have tickets for that day.”

February 1, 2012

Artist Mike Kelly reportedly dies at age 58

NYC—Mike Kelley, one of the most critically acclaimed artists of his generation, has reportedly died at the age of 58.  The Observer has reported that according to several sources close to the artist died, a cause of death has not been confirmed.

The artist had recently been selected for the 2012 Whitney Biennial, an exhibition that he has participated in seven times in the past. He had major one-person exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Louvre.

Mr. Kelley was born in 1954 in Detroit, and his childhood there provided material for many of his work. Beginning in the early 1970s, he played in the band Destroy All Monsters with Cary Loren, Niagara and Jim Shaw, producing noisy, metal- and punk-inflected music that has been an influence on generations of sound artists and noise musicians. Destroy All Monsters was recently the subject of two retrospectives, at the Prism Gallery in Los Angeles and at the Boston University Art Gallery.

February 1, 2012

US State Department and RISD Work Together on ART in Embassies

PROVIDENCE, RI—ART in Embassies (AIE), the US State Department, has began its inaugural art program in partnership with the Rhode Island School of Design. ART in Embassies: Morocco, which will be a winter-session studio art course, is being taught by artist Jim Drain as well as other RISD students and will culminate in a student-made large outdoor sculpture outside of the US Embassy building in Rabat, Morocco. The program will also involve classes taught by textile artist Soukaina Aziz El Idrissi of Morocco, dean of fine arts from RISD Anais Missakian, and interim associate provost Patricia Phillips. Chief curator of ART in Embassies Virginia Shore told the Wall Street Journal, “The mission of the ART in Embassies is to advance our nation’s cultural diplomacy through the international exchange of visual arts, culture, and ideas. While AIE has worked with more than 10,000 artists, museums, collectors, universities, and dealers over the past fifty years, this project with RISD is one of the most involved collaborations to date. Led by artist Jim Drain, along with ten RISD students, this project is engaging talented artists from both the US and Morocco. As part of our fiftieth anniversary, this project is representative of the culmination of our collective efforts, and one worth celebrating.”

February 1, 2012

Hauser & Wirth Announces Opening of Second New York Gallery

NEW YORK—Hauser & Wirth has announced the opening of a second location in New York City, a twenty-three-thousand-square-foot exhibition and project space located at 511 West Eighteenth Street. Set to open to in fall of 2012, the new location will serve “as a counterpoint to the intimacy of the gallery’s Upper East Side townhouse,” stated Hauser & Wirth in a press release issued today. Previously, the space was home to the Roxy roller skating rink and discotheque.

“New York is the world’s art capital and its cultural ecology is unlike that of any other city,” founder Iwan Wirth said. “We are excited to expand our capabilities as a social and cultural shop in such a rich, dynamic, creative environment. Hauser & Wirth’s entire global team is delighted and honored to be able to increase our participation in the life of New York City, and to create another special destination where the public can engage the work and ideas of the artists we represent.”

February 1, 2012

Royal Academy of Art, The Hague
Emily Carr
Parsons New School
School of Visual Arts
The Hong Kong Institute of Education