Cornelis Zitman (1926–2016)

Cornelis Zitman, L'inconnue, 1972

Dutch-born Venezuelan artist Cornelis Zitman has died. After beginning his career as a technical draftsman, he began making sculptures and won Veneuela's National Sculpture Prize in 1951. His works are in the National Art Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas in Venezuela, as well as in the Musée Maillol in Paris. His art has appeared in the São Paulo Biennial, and in solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas and the Museum of Modern Art in Bogotá.

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August 24, 2016

New York’s Pavel Zoubok and George Adams Galleries to Join Forces

Installation view of “Lance Letscher: Real Life Drama,” 2014, at Pavel Zoubok Gallery.

In anticipation of the twentieth anniversary of its founding, Pavel Zoubok Gallery has announced that it will soon join forces with George Adams Gallery by relocating to a shared space on the first floor of Pavel Zoubok’s current location at 531 West 26th Street and adopting a “more flexible, collegial and intimate” gallery model.

“In bringing together our two distinct but congenial sensibilities, and our respective expertise, George and I look forward to redefining the role of the gallery as a dynamic venue for the presentation of contemporary and historical works of art,” Pavel Zoubok said in a statement. The two galleries will continue to work independently, but also in partnership, to acquire works and organize exhibitions as well as to launch a new series of monthly salon evenings that will feature artists, writers, and curators.

Established in 1997, Paul Zoubok Gallery began as a parttime public gallery located in a loft in SoHo before it moved to Madison Avenue and then settled into its current home in Chelsea. George Adams Gallery grew from the Frumkin/Adams Gallery which was founded in 1988. After Adams’s partner, Allan Frumkin, retired in 1995 it was renamed.

August 24, 2016

Steve McQueen Wins 2016 British Film Institute Fellowship

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen, the 1999 Turner Prize recipient and director of the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave (2013), has been named the winner of this year’s British Film Institute Fellowship. He is the youngest director to receive the Institute’s highest accolade.

“I first walked into the BFI library and cinema twenty-eight years ago,” McQueen said. “To think that I will now be a fellow and honorary member, with such a distinguished list of people, is mind-blowing. I’m humbly honored.”

Josh Berger, chair of the institute, said, “As winner of both the Turner Prize and an Academy Award, Steve is pre-eminent in the world of film and the moving image. He is one of the most influential and important British artists of the past twenty-five years and his work, both short and longform, has consistently explored the endurance of humanity—even when it is confronted by inhumane cruelty—with a poetry and visual style that he has made his own.”

August 24, 2016

Italian Officials Work to Secure Cultural Heritage Sites in Wake of Earthquake that Killed Dozens

The Basilica of St Francis in Assisi. Photo: Flickr/Dennis G. Jarvis.

Hannah McGivern of the Art Newspaper writes that the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi has been declared safe after an earthquake that registered at a little over six on the Richter scale struck central Italy. The thirteenth-century basilica, filled with frescoes by Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini, and Pietro Lorenzetti, was damaged in an earthquake back in 1997.

The Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale, Italy’s art and antiquities police force, are looking over a number of cultural heritage sites throughout the Marche, Umbria, and Lazio regions. Officers will secure the sites against looting, and store any artworks that might be at risk. The culture ministry’s crisis unit will meet on August 25 to decide what courses of action must be taken to further secure other artworks and cultural heritage sites.

Thus far, sixty-three deaths have been recorded, says CNN. The most violent tremor, also the first, occurred near the town of Accumoli at 3:36 AM, followed by two more shocks. Accumoli and Amatrice, a mountain village about eight miles south of Accumoli, were hit the worst. The mayor of Amatrice said “Half the town no longer exists,” according to a report in the New York Times. Getting help to Amatrice is difficult because of damages done to a bridge and numerous roads. Many are digging through the rubble with their bare hands to help, trying to reach trapped people. A courtyard in the back of a palazzo in the town has been turned into a temporary morgue. Andrea Gentili, a civil protection worker, said to the Associated Press, “We need chain saws, shears to cut iron bars, and jacks to remove beams. Everything, we need everything.”

August 24, 2016

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art to Digitize Collection

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is working to digitize all of the works in its collection, including Pablo Picasso’s Artist and His Model, Andy Warhol’s Suicide, and Jackson Pollock’s Mural on Indian Red Ground, in order to feature them on its website, Zahra Alipour of |www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/08/tehran-museum-of-contemporary-art-tmoca-website-vault.html|Al-Monitor| reports. The museum will not organize any permanent displays from its collection until the project is finished due to a lack of space as well as security concerns.

In 2015, the culture ministry confirmed that twenty-seven artworks were stolen from the museum. After the works were successfully recovered they were put on display at a gallery in Tehran to assure the public of their safe return.

Speaking of the museum’s heightened security, Amir Rad, director of the new media center, said, “The museum vault is like a large box that is very safe. The bureaucracy seen in everyday dealings in Iran is even more intense at the museum. Removing or bringing in any work of art from the museum requires several rounds of communication and numerous permits. I think the vault is an untouched treasury.”

August 24, 2016

San Francisco Chronicle Raises Questions About SF MoMA’s Fisher Collection

Roy Lichtenstein, Figures with Sunset, 1978 on display at SF MoMA is one of the works included in the loan of the Fisher Collection. Photo: Santiago Mejia

In 2009, when SF MoMA announced that it would be housing the Fisher Collection, more than one thousand contemporary artworks amassed by Gap founders Donald and Doris Fisher, the museum said that it was entering into a “groundbreaking partnership.”

This “pioneering partnership” with the Fishers has raised questions regarding the level of influence private collectors exercise over public institutions. After investigating the stipulations of the deal, Charles Desmarais of San Francisco Chronicle reports that the museum has agreed to display no more than 25 percent of works from other lenders or donors in the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection Galleries on the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors. This means that the museum has to display the collectors’ works in about 60 percent of SF MoMA’s indoor galleries for the duration of the loan, which ends in May 2116, but can be extended in twenty-five-years increments.

While naming galleries after donors and exhibiting collections that were gifted or loaned to institutions are not unprecedented practices, many museums try to maintain transparency about conditions behind the exhibition of works. The stipulation the Fisher Foundation made with the museum means curators will need to include the Fishers’ works in a variety of shows.

August 24, 2016

Italian Government Will Give Every 18-Year-Old Over $500 to Spend on Cultural Activities

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Young Italians and legal residents turning eighteen years old in 2016 will each receive a “culture bonus” of roughly $560 from the federal government to spend on “cultural products and events.” The initiative will kick off on September 15, 2016 and run through December 31, 2017, El Mundo reports.

The total allocation, for which approximately 550,000 eighteen-year olds will be eligible, will cost an estimated $330 million in public funds. To receive the bonus, those born in 1998 must register on the website www.18app.it and download the “18app” app on their mobile phone. The money can be spent on books, theater, concerts, exhibitions, and museums, but not on the purchase of recorded music. This was immediately denounced by Enzo Mazza, president of the Italian Music Industry Federation, who said that the cultural bonus discriminates against the recording industry.

In an article published by the Corriere della Sera, government undersecretary Tommaso Nannicini stated that 18app sends a clear signal: “The message is that our community embraces your adulthood and reminds you of the importance of cultural consumption; not only for your personal enrichment but also to strengthen the country’s social fabric.”

Nannicini further emphasized that this cultural bonus “for once” will allow funds to promote culture and will not be “allocated through bureaucracy” but by the youths’ own decisions.

According to The Telegraph, prime minister Matteo Renzi announced the initiative last November, ten days after the terrorist attacks in Paris. After he declared the government would increase funding for security by one billion euros he decided to match that sum for euros spent on culture. “We will not give in to terror,” Renzi said. “We have centuries of history that proclaim the fact that culture will beat ignorance, that beauty is more tenacious than barbarism.”

August 23, 2016

Judge Rules in Favor of Peter Doig in Authentication Trial

The desert landscape painting at the center of the lawsuit.

After seven days of testimony in a Chicago courtroom, the federal judge presiding over the unusual authentication case––in which a former corrections officer sued artist Peter Doig for denying that he painted an artwork––ruled that Doig could not have authored the work.

Canadian Robert Fletcher was seeking nearly $8 million in damages after Doig said he did not produce an untitled desert landscape painting that Fletcher owned. The denial ruined Fletcher’s plans to sell the work for millions, since Doig’s canvases regularly raise more than $10 million at auction. Fletcher decided to sell the painting after a friend, who saw it hanging in his home five years ago, informed him that it was the work of a famous artist. Fletcher had consulted a Chicago dealer named Peter Bartlow to help him find a buyer.

Complicating the case was Fletcher’s claim that he met Doig in the 1970s while the artist was serving time in a correctional facility in Ontario for LSD possession. Fletcher said that he had paid Doig $100 for the work, which is signed “Pete Doige 76.” According to the Scottish-born artist, this was impossible since he has never been incarcerated.

August 23, 2016

Natalia Zuluaga Joins ArtCenter/South Florida as Artistic Director

Natalia Zuluaga

ArtCenter/South Florida has announced that Natalia Zuluaga has been appointed artistic director. She will collaborate with the executive director to oversee programming, artist residencies, and community outreach events.

“ArtCenter is at a pivotal crossroads, exploring new paradigms for the visual arts community in Miami and Natalia has already proven to be the perfect choice to help steer our new journey,” executive director Maria del Valle said.

Zuluaga currently runs [NAME] Publications. She has curated exhibitions and organized public programs at the Judd Foundation, the Hessel Museum, and CAM-Releigh. From 2007 to 2012, she worked for the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, managing its exhibition and publishing initiatives. Zuluaga earned her MFA in visual arts from Florida International University and her MA in curatorial studies from Bard College.

August 23, 2016

Curator Defne Ayas Leaves the Antarctic Biennale

Defne Ayas

On Facebook, the curator Defne Ayas announced her withdrawal from the first Antarctic Biennale. She walked away from the project because she claims a number of key decisions were not approved by her, including its overall framing, the text for the announcement, and the biennial’s age limit (the show’s open call states that they’re looking for “adventurous artists under thirty-five”).

Nadim Samman, another curator for the exhibition, says that “the Antarctic Pavilion is a long-term project, whose uncertain status vis-a-vis the Venice Biennale’s nationally overdetermined structure is a provocation: A quasi-institutional claim to represent a transnational sphere, out of line with the festival’s politics of territorial representation. It points to Antarctica as a Giardini of sorts, in which the sovereignty-obsessed cultural ambitions relevant two centuries ago still seem to hold sway—and proposes alternative futures.”

The biennial was started by the artist Alexander Ponomarev, who has a background in nautical engineering and has done a number of projects in Antarctica.