Jeram Patel (1930–2016)

Jeram Patel, Untitled - 13, 2006

Indian artist Jeram Patel has died, reports the Times of India. After studying at the Sir JJ School of Art, and later the Central School of Arts and Craft, London, Patel became one of the influential figures contributing to the emergence of the nation’s modern art scene in the late 1950s and ‘60s. He was a founder of the artists’ collective known as Group 1890.

Known for his high-contrast abstractions featuring bold brushwork and minimal forms, Patel also innovated a process involving blow torches directed at wood. He represented India at the Tokyo Biennale of 1963, and exhibited at the Sao Paulo Biennales of 1963 and 1977. A professor at Baroda University’s art school, he won multiple national awards from the Lalit Kala Akademi, and became a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts, London, in 1980. His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Bhopal, among other venues.

“He is one of the most underrated artists,” Ashish Anand, director of Delhi Art Gallery, told Indian Express. Anand added, “His hospital series in the 1960s is perhaps some of the best works produced by an Indian artist ever.”


May 24, 2016

Stedelijk Museum Looking for a New Contemporary Art Venue in Amsterdam

Beatrix Ruf

The Stedelijk Museum and Ammodo, an agency that “initiates and supports projects that stimulate the development of art and science,” are working together to find a new contemporary art venue in Amsterdam. This venue will be a “repositioning” of the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam—scheduled to depart its current residence on July 1, 2016—which was started twenty-three years ago to offer emerging artists and curators a platform to engage with one another.

Curators Emily Pethick, Sophie Goltz, and Eungie Joo have been appointed to oversee a search that will consult assorted art professionals in the Netherlands and throughout the international art world. The search will begin with a gathering at the Stedelijk from June 17 through 19. Here, current themes in regards to contemporary art will be discussed in a panel that will include Barbara Visser, artist and chair, Akademie van Kunsten, KNAW; artists Witte van Hulzen and Sander Breure; Vincent van Velsen, writer and curator; and Annet Zondervan, director of CBK Zuidoost.

“We feel it is vital to have a location in Amsterdam that augments our own program and acts as a bridge between major institutions like the Stedelijk and the contemporary field of art,” says Beatrix Ruf, director of the Stedelijk. “It must also enhance the city’s current program. The venue needs to reflect the city’s culturally diverse and international context, and connect with global art movements. Together with Ammodo, we look forward to investigating ways of creating an inspiring place that offers compelling artistic encounters in Amsterdam and contributes to city’s thriving artistic climate.”

May 24, 2016

New Commissions and Participating Artists Announced for SITE Santa Fe 2016

SITE Santa Fe / “SITE.lines.2016” has just announced some of the participating artists and new commissions for this year’s revamped biennial, curated by Kiki Mazzucchelli, Pip Day, Rocío Aranda-Alvarado, Pablo León de la Barra, and Kathleen Ash-Milby, under the direction of Irene Hofmann, Phillips director and chief curator of SITE Santa Fe. SITE Santa Fe is scheduled to open on July 16, 2016 and run through January 8, 2017. The title of the biennial, “much wider than a line,” is taken from Leann Simpson’s book, Dancing on our Turtle's Back (2011), about the people of the Nishnaabeg Nation.

Some of the artists participating include Xenobia Bailey (New York); Carla Fernández (Mexico City), Cildo Meireles (Rio de Janeiro), David Lamelas (Buenos Aires), Mariana Castillo Deball (Berlin), and Erika Verzutti (São Paulo). A partial list of the commissioned artists includes Jonathas De Andrade (Recife), Julia Rometti and Víctor Costales (Paris), and William Cordova (Miami).

For more information about the biennial, go to SITE Santa Fe’s website here.

May 24, 2016

Louvre and Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo Make Deal Regarding Antiquities

Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo

Gareth Harris of the Art Newspaper writes that the Louvre and the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo have made a deal to share resources and put on joint exhibitions after a suicide bombing in 2014 harmed the nineteenth-century Cairo institution, which forced it to close. No date has been set for the museum’s reopening.

As part of the deal, a group of curators from the Cairo museum will spend six weeks at the Louvre, starting this month, to work with the French museum’s department of Islamic art’s curators in regards to collection maintenance and archiving.

An exhibition at the Cairo museum, organized by the Egyptian curators with the Louvre, is set to open in Cairo sometime during 2017, and eventually come to the Louvre at a later date.

May 24, 2016

Lawsuit Over Picasso’s Bust of a Woman Settled

Picasso's Bust of a Woman, 1931.

According to Robert Burnson and Patricia Hurtado of Bloomberg, a settlement has been reached between a member of the Qatari royal family, Sheikh Jassim bin Abdul Aziz Al-Thani, and New York–based billionaire Leon Black, over Picasso’s sculpture of Marie-Therese Walter, Bust of a Woman, 1931.

The sculpture, which was owned by Maya Widmaier, Picasso and Walter’s daughter, was going to be purchased by gallerist Larry Gagosian for $106 million, and eventually resold to Black. The deal was put at risk, however, when Al-Thani and the Qatar Museums Authority said that they had already negotiated a deal, with Widmaier’s son, to purchase the sculpture in 2014 for about $47 million. Gagosian and Al-Thani filed their lawsuits this year in federal court in Manhattan.

US district judge William Pauley said “It having been reported to this court that these actions have been or will be settled, these actions are discontinued without costs to any party.” The judge added that either party can ask to reopen the suit within thirty days.

May 24, 2016

Courtauld Institute to Receive over $13 Million from Heritage Lottery Fund

Courtauld Institute of Art

The Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, one of the world’s preeminent study centers dedicated to art history, curation, and conservation, has just announced that the UK’s Heritage Lottery Fund will contribute over $13 million for phase one of a major renovation to the institute.

The Heritage Lottery Fund is supported by the UK’s National Lottery, and is the “largest dedicated funder of heritage in the UK,” according to the HLF’s website. This money will help the institute expand the Courtauld Gallery for its growing permanent collection; remodel the entrance to the institute for easier visitor access, and add a new Learning Centre for the public; among other additions and initiatives.

Professor and Märit Rausing director of the Courtauld, Deborah Swallow, said, “We are taking Samuel Courtauld’s vision of art for all and reimagining The Courtauld for the twenty-first century so that new audiences around the world can benefit from our work and his legacy.”

May 23, 2016

UCLA’s Fowler Museum Appoints New Chief Curator

Matthew Robb

Matthew Robb has been named the new chief curator at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, starting June 13. Robb previously served as curator of the arts of the Americas at the de Young, one of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Marla Berns, the Shirley and Ralph Shapiro Director of the Fowler Museum, said of the appointment: “I am thrilled that someone of Matthew’s strong scholarly background and excellent museum and curatorial experience will be joining us…Given the Fowler’s strong collections of ancient and historical arts from Mesoamerica as well as our stellar holdings of material from the Andean world, Matthew will bring fresh insights and expertise to future research and exhibition projects.”

During his time at the de Young, Robb’s research was focused on the permanent collection’s murals from the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan. In 2013, he was instrumental in bringing the Weisel Family Collection of Native American Art to the de Young. A specialist in the art and archaeology of ancient Mesoamerica, he compiled a database of over 500 examples of stone masks associated with Teotihuacan during his time as a scholar at the Getty Research Institute in the spring of 2015. Prior to joining the de Young, Robb was associate curator in the department of the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the Saint Louis Art Museum, where he began as an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral curatorial fellow in 2007. He has also previously served as a visiting curator at the Walters Art Museum and the Princeton University Art Museum.

Robb did his undergraduate at Princeton University, where he graduated in 1994, and earned a master’s degree in 1999 from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in 2007 from Yale University, where his thesis on the apartment compounds of Teotihuacan was received the Frances Blanshard Fellowship Fund Prize.

May 23, 2016

MAK Center Director Leaves for University Art Museum at Cal State Long Beach

Kimberli Meyer

After nearly fourteen years leading the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House in Los Angeles, director Kimberli Meyer is leaving to become director of the University Art Museum at California State University Long Beach. The director of MAK—Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art in Vienna, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, said of her “Kimberli’s tenure at the MAK Center has marked a period of exceptional growth and productivity, represented not only by the physical expansion of MAK Center properties, but also in exhibitions, publications and programming that have brought national and international notice to this unique public venture.”

Among the many exhibitions Meyer has spearheaded, curated, or overseen are “How Many Billboards? Art In Stead,” cocurated with Lisa Henry, Nizan Shaked, and Gloria Sutton; “Esther McCoy and the Heart of American Modernist Architecture and Design,” cocurated with Susan Morgan; “Yves Klein: Air Architecture,” curated by Francois Perrin; “Tony Greene: Room of Advances,” curated by Judie Bamber and Monica Majoli; “Everything Loose Will Land: 1970s Art and Architecture in Los Angeles,” curated by Sylvia Lavin; and “Routine Pleasures,” curated by Michael Ned Holte. The next exhibition at the MAK Center scheduled for 2017 is “How to Read El Pato Pascual: Disney’s Latin America and Latin America’s Disney,” curated by Rubén Ortiz Torres and Jesse Lerner.

Meyer worked with numerous artists, architects, curators, and scholars to develop and present projects at the MAK Center, including Carmen Argote, Michael Asher, Scott Benzel, David Burns, Sara Daleiden, Andrea Fraser, Renée Green, Katie Grinnan, Isaac Julian, Brandon Lattu, Simon Leung, Dorit Margreiter, Gunther Domenig, Steven Holl, Andrea Lenardin Madden, Christoph a. Kumpusch, Lebbeus Woods, My Barbarian, Vanessa Place, lauren woods, and Erwin Wurm. She also presided over the expansion of the MAK Center’s R.M. Schindler properties, including negotiating the gift of the Fitzpatrick-Leland House and overseeing the new Garage Top space at the Mackey Apartments. She also served as commissioner for the US presentation at the 11th Cairo Biennial, which presented the work of artist Jennifer Steinkamp.

May 23, 2016

Arts Commissioners Threaten to Defund Virginia Museum Over “Anti-Christian” Art

Mark Ryde, Rosie’s Tea Party, 2005.

Members of the Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission have threatened to cut future funding for Virginia’s Museum of Contemporary Art for including two works in the institution’s current exhibition that they believe are sacrilegious, Claire Voon of Hyperallergic reports. The museum has also received numerous calls and emails urging it to take the paintings down.

Titled “Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose,” the exhibition is a retrospective of San Francisco’s contemporary art magazine Hi-Fructose. It is also the museum’s largest show to date. Intended to celebrate the artists whose works have frequently appeared in the magazine, the exhibition features two canvases by Surrealist painter Mark Ryden. Fountain, 2003, depicts a young girl holding her own decapitated head while blood spurts from her neck. Rosie’s Tea Party, 2005, portrays another little girl wearing a cross and sitting at a pink table hosting a tea party for a kitten, a pink bunny rabbit, a baby, and a couple of rodents. In the painting she is cutting a ham that reads “Corpus Christi”—which is Latin for Body of Christ—with a saw. There is also a bottle of wine with a label depicting an image of Jesus and a framed print or embroidery hanging on the wall behind them that reads “Be Good.”

Arts commissioner Ben Loyola described the works as “very anti-Christian and anti-Catholic.” Commissioner Brian Kirwin said that he would “definitely consider zeroing [MOCA] out” by cutting future funding. According to museum spokeswoman Dot Greene, the commission allots $120,000 to the museum each year “to support hard cost exhibition expenses.” The sum amounts to 6 percent of the institution’s approximately $2 million operations budget.

Greene confirmed that the paintings will not be removed. “We do not find the work anti-Christian,” she said. “We recognize there are Christian symbols depicted in ‘Rosie’s Tea Party’ along with a myriad of others. Symbolism and religious iconography in art have a long and storied history, all of which are up for personal interpretation.” In response to the call for funding to be admonished, she said that the two commissioners are expressing “their personal opinion and not that of the Commission.”

The National Coalition Against Censorship’s director of programs, Svetlana Mintcheva, wrote the commissioners to remind them that “as government officials, you cannot use your power to control public money so as to impose your interpretation of the work on the community as a whole and discriminate against ideas with which you disagree.”

May 23, 2016

De Appel Arts Center’s Board of Trustees Resigns

De Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam

After Lorenzo Benedetti was fired as director of the De Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam in September 2015, and a Dutch court upheld his dismissal, the board of trustees at De Appel have now resigned “in part due to the developments surrounding the dismissal of director [Lorenzo] Benedetti,” according to an announcement on the center’s website. This is the same board that fired Benedetti after only a year with him as director. The Amsterdam District Court had ruled that different interpretations of the role of director were the principal reason for his firing.

The staff of the curatorial training program at De Appel—including Charles Esche, Elena Filipovic, and Beatrix Ruf—called for the board’s resignation and had boycotted their own program in protest. In an open letter, they said the institution was “brought low in the eyes of the national and international art community” by the board’s treatment of Benedetti.

The now ex-board consisted of Alexandra van Huffelen, CEO of Amsterdam transportation firm GVB, as chairwoman; treasurer Wouter Han, managing director at finance firm Lazard Benelux; Suzanne Oxenaar, artistic director at Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy, Amsterdam; Benno Tempel, director of the Gemeentemuseum, the Hague; and Hermine Voûte, an attorney with Amsterdam firm Loyens & Loeff.