Edmonde Charles-Roux (1920–2016)

Edmonde Charles-Roux

Edmonde Charles-Roux, editor-in-chief of French Vogue from 1954 to 1966, and author of the novel To Forget Palermo (1966), which won the Prix Goncourt, France’s largest literary prize, that same year, died on January 20 in Marseille, according to William Grimes of the New York Times.

Charles-Roux started writing for Elle in 1946 after serving in World War II—she fought with the French resistance and was a decorated nurse. She started writing for Vogue in 1948 and, six years later, became its editor-in-chief. She quickly placed her imprimatur on the magazine by publishing the writings of Violette Leduc and Alain Robbe-Grillet, and featuring the photography of Guy Bourdin and Irving Penn. She also endorsed the fledgling careers of fashion designers Yves Saint Laurent and Emanuel Ungaro. In 1966, however, she was fired from the magazine for reasons that were never made clear.

Charles-Roux received the Prix Goncourt only months after her departure from Vogue for To Forget Palermo, a story about “an American career woman, the editor of the fictional fashion magazine Fair, who marries a tough New York politician,” and the eventual destruction of their marriage. “When I was fired, I didn’t even know the book had been accepted for publication,” Charles-Roux mentioned to the Times in 1966. She also wrote an acclaimed biography of Coco Chanel, which came out in the United States in 1975, titled Chanel: Her Life, Her World—and the Woman Behind the Legend She Herself Created. She followed it up with a sequel in 1981 called Chanel and her World.


August 31, 2016

Thieves Steal Nearly $2.6 Million in Materials from Artist Anselm Kiefer’s Paris Studio

Anselm Kiefer

On Sunday, August 28, German artist Anselm Kiefer’s Paris-based studio was robbed of about $2.6 million worth of materials, Victoria Stapley-Brown of the Art Newspaper reports. The thieves made off with a lead sculpture of a stack of books that weighed ten tons and was valued at $1.45 million and twelve tons of marble that cost over $1 million.

The authorities arrested two women on charges of attempted theft after they were discovered trying to carry off lead that had been dropped after the burglary took place. In Meaux criminal court on Tuesday, August 30, the two women claimed that they went to the location to rummage through trash and that the lead was too heavy for them to take. Their lawyer argued that there is no evidence proving the women are the perpetrators of the crime. The presiding judge ordered them to be released from custody, but prosecutors plan to appeal.

As Artforum.com previously reported, Kiefer’s Barjac in Gard property in France was robbed in 2008. Burglars stole thirty of the artist’s sculptures.

August 31, 2016

Students Petition Pacific Northwest College to Reinstate MA Program

People protesting Pacific Northwest College’s decision to suspend one of its six MA programs.

According to a petition signed by 288 supporters on change.org, Pacific Northwest College in Portland, Oregon canceled its Master of Arts in Critical Theory and Creative Research program a week before classes were scheduled to begin.

The petition calls this a “shocking” and “unethical” action. Five students met with president Don Tuski, who only took the helm of the school in June, to discuss his abrupt decision to suspend the Master’s degree for the 2016–2017 year in which seventeen students were enrolled. “Many students have collectively spent thousands of dollars and countless hours preparing their applications, reading, quitting jobs, and relocating to Portland,” the petition reads.

Tuski told Brian Boucher of Artnet that “I didn’t want to have to make this decision but I had to demonstrate fiscal responsibility.” According to Tuski, “PNCA had been in a tough budget situation to begin with, and the program was going to run at a loss.” The school claims only five out of the seventeen students who had been recruited paid deposits. The president cites a recent relocation and renovation project that cost the school $32 million as contributing factors. “When the school moved to a bigger building, enrollment didn’t follow suit fast enough,” Tuski said.

August 31, 2016

Bronx Museum Appoints Interim Executives After Board Resignations

Bronx Museum of the Arts

The Bronx Museum of the Arts has announced that it has named new interim board executives after a wave of resignations was sparked by disagreements over the museum’s leadership.

Joseph Mizzi, president and chief operating officer of New York–based Sciame Construction Co. and former board secretary at the museum, will serve as board chair and Joan Krevlin, founding partner of BKSK Architects and board member since 2007, will take up the position of co-vice chair.

Former chair, Laura Blanco, and vice chair, Mary Beth Mandana, resigned last week, along with four board members, due to the director’s “lack of transparency” regarding recent international projects.

August 31, 2016

Venice Avoids Being Placed on UNESCO’s List of Endangered Sites for One More Year


The Art Newspaper’s Anna Somers Cocks writes that Venice was not put on UNESCO’s list of endangered world heritage sites during the organization’s World Heritage Site Committee meeting in Istanbul this past July. The decision for whether or not the city will make the list is being postponed—despite UNESCO’s highly critical summary on the city’s condition—until the next meeting in 2017. If Venice gets added to the list, it would be humiliating to the Italian government, as Italy often uses its conservational expertise on matters relating to foreign policy (fifty-five sites are on this list so far, with only three being located in the West). Also, getting added to the list means more careful scrutiny from UNESCO officials, which the Italian government would likely not welcome.

In 2014 UNESCO gave Italy a warning that by 2016 it had to act, or at least have an outline of solutions, for Venice’s various issues, such as the effects motorized water vehicles have on the city’s architecture and lagoon ecology; its shortage of ideas for making tourism sustainable; the large cruise ships that go through the city; construction, infrastructure, and navigation projects in the lagoon hurting the city and the lagoon; and a united effort in safeguarding the city so that it remains a place of “outstanding universal value,” UNESCO’s benchmark in declaring a place a World Heritage Site.

In 2015, the International Council on Monuments and Sites went to Venice to investigate on UNESCO’s behalf, reporting that no major actions had been taken by the Italian government to fix any of the city’s problems (Venice’s city council even tried stopping ICOMOS from meeting representatives from the civil society, who’ve been more vocal about Venice’s many issues in recent years). The report from this mission was sent to Italy for review, but it was buried among other documents, which means that the report’s more critical commentary was probably never read by Italian officials, who would’ve objected to UNESCO’s suggestion that Italy submit another report by 2017—in other words, escape an “endangered” categorization for one more year.

August 31, 2016

Artists, Museum Directors, and Educators Sue Israel’s Ministry of Culture

Miri Regev

Members of Israel’s artistic community, including artists, museum directors, and arts educators, filed a lawsuit against the ministry of culture in July due to increased threats to freedom of speech, Lauren Gelfond Feldinger of the Art Newspaper reports. The complaint also calls for the ministry to make their policies and criteria regarding appointments and decision-making transparent to the public.

Decreasing funding to organizations exercising their right of freedom of speech could be a “death blow to culture institutions that rely heavily on public funding,” an unnamed petitioner in the lawsuit said.

Since Miri Regev, an Israeli army brigadier-general—who has referred to Israeli artists as “instigators,” “ungrateful,” and “tight-asses”—was named the minister of culture in 2015, protests against freedom of speech violations have been on the rise. Controversial policies have been introduced by Regev, such as initiating a loyalty test, which will allow the government to defund or limit funding to artists whose work or actions dishonor state symbols or challenge Israel's identity as a democratic and Jewish state.

In July, professor and artist Larry Abramsom resigned as the head of Shenkar College, an interdisciplinary art school near Tel Aviv, as a statement to make “my most significant educational contribution to my students and to young artists in general, who, sadly, will be facing ever-growing infringements upon their freedom of expression in years to come,” he told the Art Newspaper.

Despite her policies, Regev says she wants to support Jewish Middle Eastern culture. Regev also claims she’d like to see more money go to poor Jewish neighborhoods. And she reluctantly agreed to raise cultural funding for the Arab sector as well.

August 31, 2016

Funding Delays for UK Cultural Organizations After Brexit Vote

Chief secretary to the treasury David Gauke.

Despite being assured that the Brexit vote would not impact the funding applications of UK cultural organizations, the arts sector is experiencing delays in receiving promised financial support, Arts Professional reports. Following the referendum, institutions claim that the government is sending mixed messages concerning programming slated to receive European funding.

In an open letter to David Davis, the UK secretary of state for exiting the European Union, David Gauke, chief secretary to the treasury, has recently addressed the arts sector’s uncertainties. He reassured the public that multiyear projects scheduled to receive funds by European Structural Investment Funds, including the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, both of which support arts organizations, will be fully funded and that the support will not be interrupted after the UK leaves the European Union. However, these reassurances are only short term; they only apply to projects that have signed contracts or funding agreements before the treasury releases its autumn statement in the fall.

UK-based organizations will still be able to partner with EU funded multiyear projects, such as Creative Europe, the EU’s program to support the cultural, creative, and audiovisual sectors. (The initiative has $1.63 billion allotted for European projects scheduled from 2014 through 2020.) Gauge said, “The commission have made it clear that the referendum result changes nothing about eligibility for these funds. The treasury will underwrite the payment of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.” However, Creative Europe recently announced that deadlines for the UK’s culture subprogram of Creative Europe have been postponed and a new timetable is forthcoming.

August 30, 2016

Seattle Residents Protest Asian Art Museum’s $45 Million Expansion Project

Design renderings of Seattle Art Museum’s Asian Art Museum expansion.

Seattle residents have launched a petition protesting Seattle Art Museum’s $45 million expansion of its Asian Art Museum citing the museum’s lack of transparency regarding the project and its plans to encroach on a beloved city park’s space, Jen Graves of The Stranger reports.

In a statement, the Seattle Art Museum said that the overhaul will “allow us to expand onsite conservation care of our collections and to give additional emphasis to South Asian art, a critical area for future development.”

Designed by LMN Architects, the expansion project will boast of an additional 7,500-square-feet of space for exhibitions, an education studio, and art storage. According to spokeswomen Rachel Eggers, only 20 percent of the project budget will be spent on the expansion. The majority of the budget will fund the renovation of the institution’s 1933 building, which will include upgrades to the facility’s heating and A/C systems and bathrooms. The museum will also address its accessibility for disabled visitors and make seismic improvements. It plans to close its doors in the spring of 2017 to begin construction, which is slated to take eighteen months.

According to Capitol Hill Seattle, Seattle resident Jonathan Mark was critical of the museum’s takeover of part of Volunteer Park, a nearly fifty-acre city park in the Capitol hill neighborhood. He said, “This plan reduces critically needed open space and tree cover. The area is a lovely and well used part of the park, providing a quiet retreat away from the more social space formed by the triangle of the big lawn, conservatory, and water tower.”

August 30, 2016

Artists Plan to Turn Langston Hughes’s Home into Nonprofit for Harlem’s Cultural Legacy

Langston Hughes

Harlem-based artists launch initiative to convert poet laureate Langston Hughes’s house into a nonprofit dedicated to preserving Harlem’s cultural legacy, Tom Kutsch of The Guardian reports.

African American writer Renée Watson, who is spearheading the project, is hoping to raise $150,000 on the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo and has already received more than $78,000 in donations. Watson said, “For the past ten years, I’ve walked past the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived and wondered why it was empty. How could it be that his home wasn’t preserved as a space for poets, a space to honor his legacy? I’d pass the brownstone, shake my head, and say, ‘Someone should do something.’ I have stopped saying, ‘Someone should do something’ and decided that someone is me.”

As executive director of the I Too, Arts collective—a nonprofit organization committed to nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts—Watson aims to raise enough money to lease and renovate Hughes’s Harlem brownstone, where the writer worked from 1947 until he died in 1967.

“There has been an outpouring of support and encouragement from both the local community as well as the larger community of poets and writers,” Watson said. “In a place like Harlem, I believe it’s important to hold on to the tangible places where black artists lived and created.”

August 29, 2016

Baltimore Museum of Art Names Katy Siegel as Senior Programming and Research Curator

Katy Siegel

The Baltimore Museum of Art has announced that it has appointed Katy Siegel, curator at large at the Rose Art Museum, as senior programming and research curator. Siegel will be responsible for developing exhibitions, public programs, audience development initiatives, and partnerships. She will assume the role on September 1.

“As one of the most influential thinkers in the field of post-war art, [Siegel] will join an already vibrant team at the museum who will work within the institution and beyond its walls to set the BMA’s creative course for the next five to seven years,” director Christopher Bedford said.

Siegel currently serves as chair of Modern American Art at Stony Brook University. During her tenure as curator at large at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum she organized numerous shows, including “Pretty Raw: After and Around Helen Frankenthaler,” “Light Years: Jack Whitten, 1971–1974,” and “The Matter that Surrounds Us: Wols and Charline von Heyl.” Siegel is a contributing editor at Artforum and has authored several books, including The Heroine Paint: After Frankenthaler, 2015, and Since ’45: America and the Making of Contemporary Art, 2011.