Lithuania Gets New Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

Daniel Libeskind’s rendering of new museum in Vilnius

Anny Shaw reports in the Art Newspaper that the first museum of Lithuanian modern and contemporary art will open in Vilnius, the country’s capital, by early 2019. Designed by Daniel Libeskind in partnership with Do architects and Baltic Engineers, the 33,400-square-foot concrete-and-glass building will, according to the architect, act as a “gateway” between the Medieval and eighteenth-century parts of the city.

Viktoras Butkus, former director of the biotechnology company Fermentas, and his wife Danguole Butkien, are the major funders of the museum, which will house 4,000 works from their collection dating back to the 1960’s. Butkus believes that given that many of the collection’s key pieces are from the Soviet era, they were previously thought of as ideologically inappropriate and thus not acquired by other major Lithuanian museums: “This collection is about the cultural legacy of the country…Lithuania has a lot of artists and their work appears in galleries and then fades away quickly.”

Butkus and Butkien previously founded another venue for contemporary Lithuanian art, the non-profit Modern Art Center, in 2009. Construction on this new museum is due to begin in 2017.

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September 23, 2016

Albright-Knox Art Gallery Receives Historic $42.5 Million Gift

Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery announced today that it has received a landmark gift of $42.5 million from art patron and investor Jeffrey Gundlach for the institution’s expansion project.

Gundlach, a native of the Buffalo area, made the single largest donation in the gallery’s history a challenge gift in order to rally the community to support the cultural institution. Donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations came pouring in, allowing the gallery to raise $125 million.

Led by architect Shohei Shigematsu of OMA, the expansion project will provide additional space for exhibitions, educational programming, and dining areas. The capital campaign will also be used to complete various renovations and to increase the endowment for operating costs.

The board of directors of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy unanimously voted to change the name of the institution to the Buffalo Albright-Knox-Gundlach Art Museum in honor of Gundlach’s gift.

September 23, 2016

Nicole Smythe-Johnson Named Curator for Inaugural Tilting Axis Fellowship

Nicole Smythe-Johnson

Nicole Smythe-Johnson, a Jamaica-based writer and independent curator, has been selected for the first Tilting Axis curatorial fellowship, a yearlong program between the Caribbean region and Scotland that aims to support the curatorial practices of Caribbean-based organizations.

Tilting Axis, an international project that aids working artists in the Caribbean by strengthening the art community’s networks, developing programming, and increasing fundraising opportunities, was created by ARC Magazine, a Caribbean art and cultural publication, and the Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., a Caribbean artist-run nonprofit organization.

The new fellowship was conceived by CCA Glasgow, David Dale Gallery and Studios, Hospitalfield, Mother Tongue, and Tilting Axis during the Tilting Axis meetings that took place at Fresh Milk, located in Barbados, and at the Pérez Art Museum Miami in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

September 23, 2016

Activists Boycott St. Louis Museum for Exhibiting “Racially and Sexually Charged” Works

Kelley Walker, “schema,” Aquafresh plus Crest with Scope, 2003.

Artist and activist Damon Davis is urging people to boycott the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis due to its “racially and sexually charged” exhibition “Kelley Walker: Direct Drive,” which opened on September 16, Jenny Simeone of St. Louis Public Radio reports.

Organized by chief curator Jeffrey Uslip, the show is Georgia-born and New York–based artist Kelley Walker’s first solo exhibition in a US museum. Among the works on display are Walker’s “Black Star Press” and “schema” series, for which the artist appropriates photographs of Civil Rights protests and black people being brutalized by police, then smears whitening toothpaste and chocolate, among other materials, on the images.

In a Facebook post, Davis writes, “This work is offensive to black people, black women in particular, and the black struggle for freedom that us and our ancestors have been engaging in since this country was founded.”

At an artist talk hosted by the museum, Davis tried to question the artist about the works. Davis said, “When confronted with an actual black person, Walker became flustered and angry and had no actual answer for why he was using these images. When he couldn’t answer my questions, the curator, Jeffrey Uslip, interjected and tried to explain for him. If you are an artist and you are making work that is specifically racially and sexually charged, if you use black people for props in your work, then at least be ready to explain yourself.”

September 23, 2016

Teodoro González de León (1926–2016)

Teodoro González de León

Teodoro González de León, a Mexican architect who designed modernist buildings that reference Mesoamerica’s ancient cities, died on September 16 in Mexico City at the age of ninety, Elisabeth Malkin of the New York Times reports.

“The No. 1 goal of architecture is to create useful objects,” González de León said. “We create useful objects for the city to experience them—but also so that those objects move us.”

Born in Mexico City in 1926, González de León studied at the National School of Architecture where he and two peers won a design competition for the national university’s new campus while they were still students.

In 1948 he traveled to Paris and worked as a draftsman in Le Corbusier’s studio. After returning to Mexico one year later, González de León would design museums, government facilities, universities, and office buildings throughout the course of his career, including the contemporary art museum Rufino Tamayo, which he designed with architect Abraham Zabludovsky in 1981.

September 22, 2016

Nanjing International Arts Festival Reveals Theme and List of 315 Participating Artists

Baijia Lake Museum

China’s annual Nanjing International Arts Festival announced today that 315 artists have been selected to explore the theme of “HISTORICODE: Scarcity and Supply” for its third edition, which is scheduled to run from November 12, 2016 to February 12, 2017.

Chief curator Lu Peng said, “The theme reflects on a shift of perception and production in the art world in recent years–namely after the 1990s. Artworks and artists have been affected by the role and place the art market has taken. What are the codes for art assessment and what makes art history in this time frame is the question I wanted to address through ‘HISTORICODE.’”

Among the participating artists are Qiu Anxiong, Lee Changwon, Joseph Beuys, Zeng Fanzhi, Claire Fontaine, Yue Minjun, Adrian Paci, Pratchaya Phinthong, Chim Pom, Li Shan, and Santiago Sierra.

Chief curator Lu Peng and curator Letizia Ragaglia led the selection committee, which consists of Heidi Ballet, Du Xiyun, Fu Xiaodong, Katie Geha, Gu Chengfeng, He Guiyan, Lee Janguk, Carol Yinghua Lu, and Nathalie Boseul Shin.

Yan Lugen, chairman of the Nanjing International Art Festival and founder of the Baijia Lake International Culture Investment Group, said, “Bringing such a diversity of exemplary works to Nanjing, we aim to share a slice of recent art history with the local audience as well as to bring Nanjing to the attention of the art world at large.”

Over four hundred works will be displayed in the new Baijia Lake Museum, a former residential and commercial building that was repurposed into exhibition spaces and a research center.

Participating Artists List:

September 22, 2016

Firefighters Battle Blaze that Engulfed Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Art

Firefighters working to extinguish a blaze that ignited on September 21 at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.

Swedish firefighters worked through Wednesday night to try to extinguish an out-of-control fire that was still raging at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Art this morning, The Telegraph reports.

After the fire started yesterday afternoon when cardboard boxes and garbage on the fourth floor of the institute started burning, a plume of smoke could be seen stretching over the capital. By 8:30 PM, police began cordoning off Skeppsholmen island, where the building is located, and made a hole in the roof to ventilate the smoke and heat from the flames. At least forty-six firefighters were working to try and save the building. Firefighter Johan Winsnes said that the threat to the surrounding buildings was minimal.

Established in 1735, the Royal Institute of Art offers undergraduate and postgraduate studies in fine arts and postgraduate studies in architecture.

September 22, 2016

Rhizome Names New Assistant Curator of Net Art

Aria Dean.

Rhizome has announced that the Los Angeles-based writer and artist Aria Dean will be their new assistant curator of Net art starting October 1. Dean will work with Rhizome’s artistic director Michael Connor and preservation director Dragan Espenschied on the organization’s efforts to preserve, present, and reperform Net art works from the 1980s to the present day, as well as organizing events and assisting with online publishing. Her appointment was funded by a grant from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation.

Dean graduated from Oberlin College in 2015 and codirects the project space As It Stands LA. She is also a contributor to artforum.com, most recently penning a Critic’s Pick on Alex Da Corte at Art + Practice in Los Angeles.

September 22, 2016

Venice Biennale Announces Title of 57th Edition

Paolo Baratta and Christine Macel

Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Biennale, and Christine Macel, the curator of the fifty-seventh edition of the fair, announced today that the title of the 2017 biennial is “Viva Arte Viva.”

According to Macel, the title reflects the role and responsibility artists have in framing contemporary debates. Described as an exhibition designed with the artists, by the artists, and for the artists, the biennial “aims to be an experience, representing an extroversion movement towards the other, towards a common place, and towards the most indefinable of dimensions, opening pathways to a neo-humanism,” Macel said in a statement.

In addition to the pavilions, which will feature works by artists representing fifty-seven countries, each week an Open Table (Tavola Aperta) will be held, for which the artists will engage in conversation with the public about their practices.

When Baratta appointed Macel in January, he said she was “a curator committed to emphasizing the important role artists play in inventing their own universes and kindly injecting vitality into the world we live in.”

The biennial will take place from May 13 to November 26, 2017 in the Giardini and the Arsenale, as well as numerous other satellite venues throughout Venice. In addition, there will be a number of Collateral Events, programming organized by various institutions throughout the city that will coincide with the exhibition.

September 22, 2016

Dutch Court Rules in Favor of Ulay in Dispute with Marina Abramović Over Joint Works

Ulay

Ulay, the former romantic and artistic partner of performance artist Marina Abramović, has won a legal battle against his ex, Ben Quinn and Noah Charney of The Guardian report. On Wednesday, a Dutch court ordered Abramović to pay Ulay more then $278,000 in compensation for the sales of their joint works.

When the couple had decided to end their relationship in 1988, Ulay sold Abramović his archives, including negatives and transparencies of previous performances, so that she could create saleable works at her discretion. Abramović agreed to give Ulay 20 percent of the profits and to inform him when works were sold. However, Ulay said he received very little money despite the fact that their works have five and six figure price tags.

“There is a lot of money going through her accounts—and of course they have a very good accountant,” Ulay said. According to the artist, Abramović only paid him four times, totaling about $34,000. By bringing her to court, Ulay wanted to ask the judge for “every three months, a statement on sales and my royalties” and “absolute proper mentioning of my name.”

Among the artworks the couple created together are Breathing In Breathing Out, 1977, AAA-AAA, 1977, Relation in Time, 1977, Nightsea Crossing, 1982, and The Lovers: the Great Wall Walk, 1988, in which the pair walked towards each other from opposite sides of the Great Wall of China in order to meet in the middle to say goodbye, symbolizing the end of their partnership.