May 26, 2015

Mary Ellen Mark (1940–2015)

Mary Ellen Mark.

Molly Eichel and Gabrielle Bonghi report in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the photographer Mary Ellen Mark died yesterday in New York City. Born in 1940 in Philadelphia, she received a bachelor of fine arts in art history and painting from the University of Pennsylvania in 1962 and a master's in photojournalism in 1964 from UPenn’s Annenberg School of Communication. Later in life she received honorary doctorates in fine arts from the institution in 1992 and 1994. Famous for her bracing documentary photography, she is best known for series like “Streetwise,” documenting the daily life of young prostitutes and runaways in Seattle, first published in 1983 in LIFE and later made into a book for the University of Pennsylvania Press in 1988.

Her photos have regularly appeared in publications such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Rolling Stone and have been featured in many exhibitions across the world. In 2014 she received the lifetime achievement in photography award from George Eastman House as well as the outstanding contribution photography award from the World Photography Organization. Her most recent project was based on New Orleans and is to be published later this summer by CNN to mark the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

May 26, 2015

Artist Group Blocks Entrances to Basel Museums

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Basel.

Last Thursday, brick walls were found blocking the entrances of several art museums in Basel, Switzerland, reports Henri Neuendorf at Artnet. A spokesperson at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Basel, where one of the walls was found, speculated that the piece was likely made by a collective of artists and squatters called Atopie.

The group recently organized a two-week series of exhibitions and talks in an abandoned property in central Basel that was shut down and evacuated by the police. Other institutions where the walls have appeared in front of the entrances include the Basel Museum of Contemporary Art and the Basel Architecture Museum in addition to the house from which the group was recently evicted.

According to their website, the group wishes to “claim space for society, culture, and alternative lifestyles,” and “demands space to live and exist in without consumerism and commercialism.”

May 26, 2015

Marquette University’s Haggerty Museum of Art Names New Director

The Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University has hired a new director: Susan Longhenry, currently director of the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico, reports the Journal Sentinel’s Mary Louise Schumacher.

A Milwaukee native and a specialist in modern and contemporary art, Longhenry has also held posts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. She‘ll begin the role in early August, as the first female head of the museum.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to lead the Haggerty Museum and to build upon the remarkable interdisciplinary work that has been nationally recognized,” Longhenry said.

May 25, 2015

Chief Curator of Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg Resigns

Jennifer Hardin.

Lennie Bennett reports in the Tampa Bay Times that the longtime chief curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg in Florida, Jennifer Hardin, unexpectedly resigned last Friday. The museum opened in 1965 on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront and Hardin became its curator in 1995 while she was finishing her doctoral degree at Princeton University. At that time the museum's collection included 3,700 works. During her tenure, the collection has grown to encompass more than 20,000 objects.

Hardin’s exhibitions for the museum include “Monet's London: Reflections on the Thames” in 2005, with 150 works lent from thirty venues throughout Europe and the United States, as well as a Georgia O'Keeffe show in the late 1990s. In 2012, philanthropists Bill and Hazel Hough gave $2 million to endow Hardin’s position, renamed the William and Hazel Hough chief curator.

May 25, 2015

Sharjah Biennial Artists Pen Open Letter in Support of Artists Denied Entry to UAE

Sharjah Biennial.

Mostafa Heddaya reports at Artinfo that participants in the twelfth Sharjah Biennial have issued an open letter to cultural institutions and authorities in the United Arab Emirates expressing their support for artists Ashok Sukumaran and Walid Raad, who were both recently denied entry to the country after attempting to travel there for a conference associated with the biennial. Both artists are members of Gulf Labor, an activist group concerned with workers’ rights on Saadiyat Island in the UAE.

The letter was signed by forty-four of the fifty-five biennial artists and collectives and includes the follow statement, “We feel that the work done by the Gulf Labor Artist Coalition is important and that transparency and dialog are essential to ensure that globalised cultural institutions like the Guggenheim, the Louvre and NYU are expanding responsibly, sustainably and without labor exploitation.” The signatories also “urge authorities in the UAE to lift entry restrictions for Ashok Sukumaran, Walid Raad, and Andrew Ross.” A full list of signatories and the entire open letter can be read here.

May 22, 2015

NYPD Sued by Art Collective that Protested Naming of David H. Koch Plaza

Projection by the Illuminator Art Collective on on the façade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 9, 2014.

Hrag Vartanian reports at Hyperallergic that members of the Illuminator Art Collective who protested the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s inauguration of the David H. Koch Plaza last September have this week filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York alleging false arrest and improper seizure of Illuminator Collective property by the NYPD’s Central Park Precinct.

The three members of the collective arrested, Kyle Depew, Grayson Earle, and Yates McKee, were released four hours after their arrests on September 9, 2014, but the police kept their projector as “arrest evidence” for an additional two months and ten days. They were charged at the time of their arrest with unlawful advertising, which was later dismissed by a Manhattan Criminal Court judge. In their court filing, the three Illuminator members allege that the unlawful seizure of their property constituted a restraint on speech and a violation of First Amendment rights.

The group says the seizure of the projector prevented members of the collective from participating in various planned protest actions, including the People’s Climate March in September 2014.

May 22, 2015

Frank Gehry Wins 2015 J. Paul Getty Medal

Frank Gehry.

Mike Boehm reports in the Los Angeles Times that architect Frank Gehry has won this year’s J. Paul Getty Medal, the Getty Trust’s annual award for leadership in visual art. Gehry is the first designer or artist to win the prize, launched in 2013 to recognize lifetime contributions in the various art-related fields that are part of the Getty’s mission, including philanthropy, art-history research, archeology and conservation of art and architecture as well as art practice.

Gehry previously won the Pritzker Prize in 1989, the year after he’d won a design competition for creating Disney Hall. He also recently designed the Foundation Louis Vuitton art museum in Paris, which opened last year. The architect has a strong presence in the Getty’s research collections, which owns his wood and styrofoam models for a 1980s home in Brentwood and a massive archive of papers, photographs, and sound and video recordings from the Disney Hall project.

The 2013 medal went to Harold Williams and Nancy Englander, the founding Getty Trust president and executive who initiated the Getty’s diverse mission and set into motion the building of the Getty Center in Brentwood, which opened in 1997. Last year’s winner, Lord Jacob Rothschild, was honored for his philanthropy in the arts.

May 22, 2015

Icelandic Pavilion at Venice Biennale Shut Down by Local Authorities

Christoph Büchel, THE MOSQUE: The First Mosque in the Historic City of Venice, 2015.

Cristina Ruiz and Lidia Panzeri report in The Art Newspaper that the Swiss artist Christoph Büchel’s installation THE MOSQUE: The First Mosque in the Historic City of Venice for the Icelandic pavilion at the Fifty-sixth Venice Biennale in Italy, which Venice authorities had previously threatened to shut down, has officially closed to the public as of today.

The mosque, which is Iceland’s official contribution to the Venice Biennale, opened only two weeks ago and was meant to stay open for the entire seven-month run of the Venice Biennale. A notice from the local council has been posted on the door of the tenth-century building of the Santa Maria dell'Abbazia della Misericordia, a former Catholic church, and the project’s organizers have sixty days to lodge an appeal with the supervisory court for the Veneto region.

The official reason for the closure is a breach of health and safety regulations, as the number of visitors has exceeded the capacity of the building on a number of occasions, according to city officials. They also say they had not granted permission for a mosque in the space, but issued permits only for the installation of an art exhibition. Different legal permission is required to create a space of worship in Venice.

May 22, 2015

Jacob Jensen (1926–2015)

Jacob Jensen.

The industrial designer Jacob Jensen, whose Minimalist style became known as Danish modern, has died, reports Bruce Weber in the New York Times. Jensen started designing regularly for the high-end Danish electronics company Bang & Olufsen in 1964, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York devoted an exhibition to the company’s stereo equipment and Jensen’s work in 1978. A dozen or so of Jensen’s designs are in the museum’s collection.

Born Jakob Jensen in Copenhagen in 1926, Jensen, after leaving school, trained as an upholsterer and designed chairs. He later attended the School of Arts and Crafts, now part of the School of Design of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and graduated in 1952. From then until 1958 he worked for the Copenhagen design firm Bernadotte & Bjorn, where he is credited with creating the Margrethe mixing bowl.

In addition to his work at Bang & Olufsen work, he also started his own company in the 1950s called Jacob Jensen Design. Jensen and his company designed hundreds of products including hearing aids, office chairs, phones, wristwatches, and kitchen hardware. The business now has studios in Shanghai and Bangkok, in addition to its headquarters in northern Denmark.