The chairman of Arts Council England, Peter Bazalgette, has announced he will step down in January 2017. His departure comes at a time when the austerity program being enacted by the UK’s conservative government has resulted in major Arts Council funding cuts.
A television producer who led the global TV company Endemol, Bazalgette was knighted in 2014 (though critics have also targeted him for “debasing” television by popularizing UK versions of shows like “Big Brother”).
Speaking about Bazalgette, Darren Henley, the council’s chief executive, said, “He’s never been afraid to tell it as he sees it; to speak truths as well as to encourage; and to look for new solutions to old problems.”
The Swiss Institute announced that it will be moving into a 5,000-square-foot temporary project space at 102 Franklin Street before it relocates to a more permanent address in 2017. This new space will be known as Swiss In Situ and programming will focus on ephemeral formats surrounding, among other things, architecture and publishing. This is an expansion of the institute’s “One for All” series, which gave emerging artists their first institutional exhibitions within the United States.
New York–based artist Anne Chu, whose otherworldly sculptures and installations—classical figures merged with sundry modernist forms, gently pulverized, then charged with a spectral, deadpan humor—died yesterday, July 25, 2016.
Chu received her BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1982 and earned her MFA from Columbia University only three years later. Since 1991, she has had more than thirty solo exhibitions at a number of institutions and galleries throughout the United States and abroad, such as Victoria Miro in London; Monica De Cardenas in Milan and Zuoz; Donald Young Gallery in Chicago; Galerie Karlheinz Meyer in Karlsruhe; 303 Gallery in New York; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro; Marc Foxx in Los Angeles; and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Chu has also been the recipient of many prestigious grants and awards. Among them are a John and Simon Memorial Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 1999, and the Alpert/Ucross Residency Prize in 2009.
In regard to Chu’s exhibition at the Kunstmuseen Krefeld/Museum Haus Lange, critic Hans Rudolf Reust said in the March 2013 issue of Artforum, “Chu’s installation surprises with an array of cultural fragments whose amalgamation seems at once unconventional and natural. The return of ornamentality, a lascivious luxury in spatial geometry, is here more than the return of what modernism repressed. She creates a bucolic and hybrid world that will certainly leave its mark on our memories of the rooms of the Haus Lange, already shaped by so many important exhibitions.”
Anny Shaw of the Art Newspaper reports that Peter Ballantine, a fabricator who worked closely with Donald Judd and a former art supervisor for the Judd Foundation, has started a new fellowship program at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh that will focus on the creation of new scholarship surrounding Judd’s work based on the artist’s and Enlightenment philosopher David Hume’s thinking.
The program will run for five years and focus on overlooked aspects of Judd’s oeuvre, “such as abstraction, the image, precognition, objectness, delegated fabrication, and sustainability,” writes Shaw. A new fellow will be selected every year, and each fellow will be funded by the nearly $40,000 Judd-Hume Prize.
Professor emeritus at the University of Basel Gottfried Boehm will take the inaugural post, which will run from March to April of 2017. The fellowship will end with a symposium scheduled for May, along with the publication of Boehm’s research. Alva Noë, a professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley, has already been chosen for 2018.
Diane Wilsey, known by many as Dede, will be leaving her post as board president and chief executive of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, reports Jori Finkel of the New York Times. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which is made up of the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, is now being led by Max Hollein, the group’s new director. Hollein will be taking over some of Wilsey’s responsibilities.
These changes follow on the heels of a $2 million settlement that the board agreed to in regard to stopping a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed by Michele Gutierrez, the group’s former chief financial officer. Gutierrez said last year that Wilsey had given $450,000 of museum money to a retired employee without getting the board’s approval (Wilsey says the funds were to cover costs related to the former employee’s health issues). Gutierrez’s allegations caused some high-profile board members to resign, such as philanthropist Bernard Osher and Louise Renne, who used to be the city attorney.
Wilsey is an extraordinarily influential force within the group. She was the primary fundraiser for the completion of the de Young Museum’s building in 2005 (designed by Herzog & de Meuron) and played a large role in choosing Hollein as the group’s director.
According to a report from Agence France-Presse in the Guardian, Switzerland has seized a painting by Vincent Van Gogh and two by Claude Monet as part of a global investigation into Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund. Swiss justice ministry spokeswoman Ingrid Reyser said the works in question were taken into legal custody following a request from the United States, which is one of several countries involved in the investigation of a massive fraud scandal at the Malaysian state fund 1MDB. Reyser declined to comment on where the paintings had been found or the individuals implicated.
The US Justice Department filed lawsuits earlier this week in an attempt to reclaim more than $1 billion in assets linked to stolen or laundered 1MDB funds. The Monet and Van Gogh artworks were among the assets listed in the lawsuit filed at a California federal court. The Van Gogh work is the sketch La Maison de Vincent a Arles and those by Monet are Nympheas avec Reflets de Haute Herbe and Sainte-Georges Majeur.
The Art Gallery of Ontario has announced that Wanda Nanibush, a Toronto-based curator and activist, will serve as the institution’s first curator of indigenous art, Murry Whyte of the Toronto Star reports. Nanibush is Anishinabe from the Beausoleil First Nation near Penetanguishene and has been a guest curator on various projects at the gallery since 2014. She started in the position of assistant curator of Canadian and indigenous art on July 18.
“It was important for us to create a position that was both clearly identified as being focused on indigenous art but was also engaged in the wider program,” Andrew Hunter, curator of Canadian art, said. “Wanda was someone I felt would come in and be themselves, and be confident and be critical.”
Nanibush is known for her advocacy for indigenous rights and has helped organize protests as part of the Idle No More movement, a nationwide campaign established in 2012 to protest legislation that threatened both the rights of the First Nations and environmental protections. Her numerous curatorial projects include “KWE: The Work of Rebecca Belmore” (2014) at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery in Toronto; “Sovereign Acts” (2012) at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery; and “Mapping Resistances” (2010), a performance event in Peterborough. Nanibush has worked for various cultural organizations over the past twenty years, including ImagineNATIVE, LIFT, Optic Nerve Film Festival, and Reframe Film Festival, as well as the Ontario Arts Council, the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective, and ANDPVA in the roles of programmer, festival coordinator, aboriginal arts officer, and executive director. She earned her master’s degree in visual studies from the University of Toronto.
The Hindustan Times reports that the government’s move to grade the country’s artists and writers has provoked mixed reactions, with some calling for more clarity about the culture ministry’s decision. The proposed system of grading is part of a national cultural mapping project that the government is spearheading in an effort to create a national repository that could aid writers and artists. As part of a pilot project, artists are being graded according to three categories—outstanding, promising, and waiting.
Some who have participated in the project were against the grading. Anasuya Vaidya of the Delhi-based Akshara Theatre group, which was listed as outstanding, said, “There were artists from all over the country [in the project] . . . and a lot of them didn’t believe in the idea of grading of artists.” To participate, applicants responded to an advertisement by the culture ministry in November and December of last year. The dancer Geeta Chandran argued that “artists change; their abilities shift. We cannot give one grading and assume that that is for all time.”
On the other side, Kuchipudi dancer Shallu Jindal, who was graded in the promising category, said, “Any recognition is motivating and inspiring for artistes. A lot of artistes living in different parts of the country will get acknowledged through this. So the initiative of cultural mapping is a wonderful initiative.” A senior official in the ministry said the project will enable the government to streamline financial schemes for artists and cultural organizations and ensure transparency. A web portal is also being developed through the National Informatics Center for the collection of data directly from the artists as part of the project.
According to Georgina Adam of the Art Newspaper, Amedeo Modigliani scholar Kenneth Wayne has founded a nonprofit organization that will work to create a definitive database of the artist’s paintings amid a market that is saturated with forgeries and conflicting scholarship. The Modigliani Project’s mission is to research, document, and encourage appreciation of the artist and his works.
Modigliani’s paintings have been far surpassing their estimates at auction. At Christie’s in New York in November 2015, the artist’s Nu couché (Reclining Nude), 1917–18, raised more than $170 million, nearly $100 million over its estimate, which set the record for the highest amount paid for a work by Modigliani at auction. Five specialists on the artist have authored catalogues raisonnés; the only one accepted by auction houses is by Ambrogio Ceroni, which hasn’t been updated since 1972.
Complicating matters is a well-known dispute between experts Christian Parisot and Marc Restellini. Parisot, who penned one catalogue, was accused of knowingly authenticating fake works. French scholar Restellini stepped away from compiling works for his own database on the artist after he received death threats, but has decided to continue his work. The Paris-based Institut Restellini has announced that it will publish an online catalogue raisonné of paintings by the end of this year and will require payment in order to access it. Restellini is financing the project through consulting fees and issuing certificates of authenticity.
The Modigliani Project intends to be a comprehensive resource on the artist, and it will start by outlining Modigliani’s techniques and processes through scientific analysis, beginning with works from French public collections. Wayne, who has studied the artist for thirty years, said, “An exciting first step has been taken, with further news to come.”
Wayne, who has held various museum positions, including deputy director for curatorial affairs at the Noguchi Museum and chief curator at the Heckscher Museum of Art, will team up with a group of French curators and conservators including Brigitte Léal, the deputy director of the Centre Pompidou; Sophie Krebs, chief curator of the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris; and Cécile Girardeau, curator at the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris. The project leader is Michel Menu, chief conservator of Paris’s Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France.
David W. Dunlap reports in the New York Times that Fritz Koenig’s sculpture Sphere for Plaza Fountain, which survived the destruction of the World Trade Center’s twin towers on 9/11, will be reinstalled in the new Liberty Park near the St. Nicholas National Shrine, which is currently under construction, after a resolution to move it was approved last Thursday by the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The bronze sculpture, which is twenty-seven feet high and weighs about twenty-five tons, has resided in Battery Park for the past fourteen years since being removed from the wreckage at Ground Zero.
Koenig only learned last Tuesday that the vote on where to place his work was coming up. Stefanje Weinmayr, of the Fritz and Maria Koenig Foundation in Landshut, Germany, noted: “He is now ninety-two years old but still very interested in the fate of his ‘child’ . . . He was not happy with the last placement in Battery Park. The possibility of a better situation electrified him.” Sphere will overlook the plaza of the National September 11 Memorial.