May 22, 2010

Alan Chong Leaves Gardner Museum for Directorship at Asian Civilizations Museum

Alan Chong has accepted the position of director of the Asian Civilizations Museum, one of the National Museums of Singapore. Successor to the Raffles Museum, founded in 1887, the museum is housed in Singapore’s former government center and an additional historical structure, the Peranakan Museum.

Chong has served as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s curator of the collection since 1999. At the Gardner, Chong developed scholarly exhibitions, publications, and programs based on the collection and Isabella Gardner’s legacy. Chong holds a PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Prior to his position at the Gardner Museum, he held curatorial posts at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

A statement from Anne Hawley and Norma Jean Calderwood director of the Gardner Museum states, “Dr. Alan Chong, the William and Lia Poorvu curator of the collection, brought imaginative scholarly leadership to the interpretation of the Gardner’s collections, history and its founder. He has been a true colleague and an exciting collaborator, bringing in the most talented curators from around the world to work on projects at the museum and attracting major support from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation. After more than a decade of outstanding programming we will miss him but are happy for this exciting new opportunity.”

May 21, 2010

New Curators Appointed for Guggenheim’s Panza Collection

Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum, today announced the appointment of Jeffrey Weiss to the newly established position of curator of the Panza Collection. Armstrong also announced the appointment of Ted Mann as associate curator of the Panza Collection, and the newly created position of Panza Conservator, which will be filled in the near future. The new positions are part of the Panza Collection Conservation Initiative (PCCI), which was announced last month along with a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of $1.23 million to support the first phase of this project. This phase will undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the Minimalist, post-Minimalist, and Conceptual artworks, from the 1960s through the 1970s, in the Guggenheim’s Panza Collection.

Said Armstrong, “Jeffrey’s experience and stature as a curator and scholar, and his expertise in Minimalist and post-Minimalist art makes this a particularly meaningful union. Jeffrey will help lead a team of curators, conservators, and scientists that will undertake an interdisciplinary study and dialogue as part of what is envisioned as a long-term plan of action to address all works in the Panza Collection.” Armstrong continued, “Many of the works in the collection, particularly those by Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and Bruce Nauman, are ephemeral, thus posing unique challenges to curators and conservators who strive to accurately exhibit and sustain the work for generations to come.”

Before joining the Guggenheim Museum, Weiss was an independent curator and critic based in New York. Between 2000 and 2007, he was curator and head of the modern and contemporary art department at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. From 2007 to 2008, he served as director of the Dia Art Foundation, New York, but left to return to academic and curatorial work. Since that time he has been teaching at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University’s graduate school of art history, where he will retain his position as adjunct professor of fine art. He was also the editor of Dan Flavin: New Light, a 2006 anthology of essays from Yale University Press. Widely published in various periodicals on modern and postwar art, Weiss’s writings are also regularly featured in Artforum. He is currently at work on a complete catalogue of the early object sculptures of Robert Morris and on Material Uncanny, a book concerning various topics in Minimalist and post-Minimalist art.

May 21, 2010

Orange County Museum of Art Announces 2010 California Biennial Participants

The Orange County Museum of Art has selected more than forty artists and collaborative groups to participate in the 2010 California Biennial, notes Karen Wada in the Los Angeles Times.

This year’s participants were chosen by OCMA curator Sarah Bancroft, who is curating the biennial. They represent the fields of drawing and works on paper, film and video, large-scale installation, painting, performance, dance, photography, sculpture, and text-based work.

Here’s the list of the 2010 California Biennial artists:

David Adey, Agitprop, b.a.n.g. lab, Gil Blank, Nate Boyce, Luke Butler, Juan Capistran, Zoe Crosher, Brian Dick, Dru Donovan, Mari Eastman, Carlee Fernandez, Finishing School, Eve Fowler, Rebecca Goldfarb, Katy Grannan, Alexandra Grant, Sherin Guirguis, Drew Heitzler, Violet Hopkins, Alex Israel, Glenna Jennings, Barry MacGregor Johnston, Vishal Jugdeo, Stanya Kahn, Andy Kolar, Jennifer Locke, Los Angeles Urban Rangers, Tom Mueske, Tucker Nichols, Camilo Ontiveros, Nikki Pressley, Andy Ralph, Will Rogan, Paul Schiek, Taravat Talepasand, Wu Tsang, Zlatan Vukosavljevic, Nina Waisman, Flora Wiegmann, Allison Wiese, Lisa Williamson, David Wilson, Patrick Wilson, and John Zurier.

May 21, 2010

Collector’s Motion for Court Order Against Gallery Is Denied

As Randy Kennedy reports in the New York Times, a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday declined to give immediate help to Craig Robins, an art collector who has been blacklisted by the highly regarded South African painter Marlene Dumas, prohibited by her from buying new works after he angered her by selling an older work.

Robins asserts in a lawsuit that he sold a painting by Dumas through the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea in 2004 with an agreement that the sale remain confidential. But the gallery, which took over representation of Dumas in 2008, told her about it, Robins asserts, causing her to add his name to the blacklist, even though he has an extensive collection of her works, twenty-nine in all, according to the suit. In court testimony, Dumas’s former dealer confirmed that the artist maintains a blacklist of collectors and dealers whom she believes to be speculating in her works or simply selling them too quickly after buying them. Robins says that the Zwirner gallery promised to help get him off the blacklist and to sell him new paintings but that the gallery failed to do so. The gallery has denied the claims.

Robins sued, asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the Zwirner gallery from selling three paintings in a show of new work, paintings that Robins contends he should have the right to buy. But Judge William H. Pauley denied the request for the restraining order, in part because Robins provided no written evidence that the gallery ever agreed to keep the 2004 sale confidential or promised to get him off the blacklist and sell him new works.

In the ruling Judge Pauley wrote that the case “offers an unflattering portrait of the art world—a world of self-proclaimed royalty full of ‘blacklists,’ ‘greylists,’ and astonishing chicanery.” In denying Robins’s request to prevent the sale of the paintings, the judge added that “collectors in this seemingly refined bazaar should heed the admonition ‘caveat emptor.’”

May 21, 2010

Chicago Approves Construction of Daniel Burnham Memorial

A design plan to honor famed architect and planner Daniel Burnham won the approval of the Chicago Plan Commission yesterday, giving architects the green light to move forward with the five-million-dollar tribute, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Erika Slife.

The Burnham Memorial, which will be privately funded, will be built just north of the Field Museum and include elements meant to celebrate Burnham’s vision for the lakefront by directing visitors to gaze out toward the cityscape of downtown Chicago.

The plan, which was designed by Chicago-based David Woodhouse Architects, includes a new landscaped campus lawn, two granite walls depicting Burnham’s plan for downtown Chicago, a statue of Burnham himself and a plinth centered on the north side of the Field Museum depicting the city’s evolution from natural prairie to beyond. Groundbreaking is expected to take place early next year. Planners hope the project is completed by 2012.

“One of the most iconic views of the city is best seen from our site,” said Woodhouse, whose winning design was announced last year four days after the one hundredth anniversary of Burnham’s Plan of Chicago.

May 20, 2010

Arakawa (1936–2010)

Arakawa, a Japanese-born conceptual artist and designer, who with his wife, Madeline Gins, explored ideas about mortality by creating buildings meant to stop aging and preclude death, died Tuesday in Manhattan, Fred A. Bernstein reports for the New York Times. He was seventy-three. He had been hospitalized for a week, said Gins, who declined to give the cause of death.

“This mortality thing is bad news,” Gins said by phone from her studio on Houston Street. She said she would redouble her efforts to prove that “aging can be outlawed.”

Arakawa, who was known professionally by his surname, and Gins explored their philosophy, which they called Reversible Destiny, in poems, books, paintings and, when they found clients, buildings. Their most recent work, a house on Long Island, had a steeply sloped floor that threatened to send visitors hurtling into its kitchen.

All of it was meant, the couple explained, to lead its users into a perpetually “tentative” relationship with their surroundings, and thereby keep them young. “It has to do with the idea that you’re only as old as you think you are,” Steven Holl, the Manhattan architect, said of the couple’s work, which he said was deeply rooted in Japanese philosophy. He added, “It may take years for people to fully understand it.”

Arthur Danto, the art critic and philosopher, who had known Arakawa for nearly forty years, said, “He really felt they were doing the most important kind of work, to overcome death.” But, Danto said, “How that was going to happen was never clear, to anyone outside Madeline and him.”

When Danto met Arakawa and Gins, they were focused on completing eighty-three large canvases called The Mechanism of Meaning. “It was considered by a lot of people I knew to be very important work,” he said. In 1997, The Mechanism of Meaning was shown at the SoHo branch of the Guggenheim Museum as part of a retrospective of the couple’s work.

May 20, 2010

Thieves Steal Picasso, Matisse, More from Paris Modern Art Museum

A lone thief stole five paintings possibly worth hundreds of millions of euros, including major works by Picasso and Matisse, in a brazen overnight heist at the Musťe d’Art de la Ville de Paris, the Associated Press reports.

The paintings disappeared early Thursday from the museum, across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower. Investigators have cordoned off the museum, in one of the French capital's most tourist-frequented neighborhoods. The museum’s security system was disabled, and a single masked intruder was caught on a video surveillance camera, according to Christophe Girard, deputy culture secretary at Paris City Hall.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the intruder was operating alone, Girard told reporters. He said three guards were on duty overnight but “they saw nothing.” The intruder entered by cutting a padlock on a gate and breaking a museum window, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

The prosecutor's office initially estimated the five paintings’ total worth at as much as €500 million ($613 million). Girard, however, said the total value was “just under €100 million.”

May 20, 2010

Yael Bartana Wins Fourth Artes Mundi Prize

The fourth Artes Mundi Prize for contemporary art of sixty-four thousand dollars was awarded to Yael Bartana from Israel at National Museum Cardiff on Wednesday, May 9.

Bartana creates complex visualizations with photography, film, video, sound, and installation using documentation and re-enactments. She divides her time between her homeland and Amsterdam and often focuses upon Israel and the Israeli situation.

The artists selected for Artes Mundi 4 were Yael Bartana (Israel), Fernando Bryce (Peru), Ergin «avuşoğlu (Bulgaria), Chen Chieh-jen (Taiwan), Olga Chernysheva (Russia), Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev (Kyrgyzstan), and Adrian Paci (Albania).

May 20, 2010

$2 Million Gift Enables Toledo Museum of Art to Expand

The Toledo Blade’s Tahree Lane reports that the Toledo Museum of Art will expand gallery space by six thousand square feet with a two-million-dollar gift from Frederic “Fritz” and Mary Wolfe of Perrysburg, longtime benefactors of northwest Ohio’s arts and education.

“We wanted to help renovate this space,” Wolfe, an art historian, said. “It’s a huge space.”

An East Wing-area that’s been empty for seven years will be rebuilt with a mezzanine. Glass had been displayed in this large room behind the Classic Court from 1969 to 2003, when the objects were packed away for conservation in preparation for the 2006 opening of the Glass Pavilion.

Upon completion, the Frederic and Mary Wolfe Gallery will feature contemporary and modern art, which has been squeezed in a series of smallish rooms adjacent to what will be their new home.

“It’s an opportunity for the museum to present its contemporary collection to the world,” said Rod Bigelow, the museum’s interim director.