David Weinrib (1924–2016)

David Weinrib, Double Loops, 1965

David Weinrib, a sculptor and multimedia artist, has died. A close friend and former architecture professor, Richard Scherr, noted that Weinrib was actively making art until a week before his death.

In 1952, Weinrib was a resident potter at Black Mountain College; he became renowned in the 1960s for his hanging and mounted abstract sculptures, which were exhibited in a series of shows at the Howard Wise Gallery. Weinrib experimented with various forms of media including the cast resin sculptures he began making in the following decade. His more recent works consist of cut paper forms and three-dimensional acrylic collages, as well as assemblages that included photos of his own body. He taught students at Pratt Institute for thirty years and founded the school’s beloved sculpture garden in 1999, which displays about fifty works per year.

Weinrib’s work can be found in the collections of the Whitney Museum, the Walker Art Center, and LACMA. He was the recipient of Guggenheim, NEA, and Fulbright grants.

“David taught us that the creative act requires risk, constant change, and commitment; we will all miss his wisdom, friendship, and humanity,” Scherr said.

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May 26, 2016

James Richards to Represent Wales at the 2017 Venice Biennale

James Richards

The Arts Council of Wales announced today that James Richards has been selected to represent Wales at the fifty-seventh edition of the Venice Biennale, which will be held from May 13 to November 26 in 2017.

Richards works primarily with video, sound, and still images—often incorporating found footage, other artists’ works, and archival material—to create installations and live events. The Chapter Arts Center, located in the artist’s hometown of Cardiff, will curate his new work.

This is the Berlin-based artist’s first commission for an international biennale. For the 2013 Venice Biennale, his work was included in the Encyclopedic Palace, curated by Massimiliano Gioni. Richards has won the 2012 Jarman Award for film and video and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2014.

“I’m truly surprised and thrilled by the selection and very excited to start working on a new work for this unique event,” Richards said.

May 25, 2016

Russia’s National Center of Contemporary Art is Folded into ROSIZO

Russia’s National Center for Contemporary Art.

Little more than a week after Russia’s National Center for Contemporary Art announced the winners of its Innovation Prize—notably, without its main award, after the category was stripped in the wake of the organizer’s decision to ban Pyotr Pavlensky from consideration—minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky announced today that the NCCA will now be integrated into the structure of the State Museum and Exhibition Center, ROSIZO, as TASS reports. As part of the changes, NCCA Director Mikhail Mindlin will be relieved of his duties, though Medinsky adds, “We are grateful for his contributions to the development of the Center for Contemporary Art. He has had several interesting proposals, and I think we will soon see Mindlin in an interesting new role.” Medinsky adds that no other employees of the NCCA would lose their jobs, but rather “will be given new objectives.”

The change means that programs like the Innovation Award, the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and the Ural Industrial Biennial (organized by the NCCA’s Ekaterinburg outpost) will now be responsibilities that fall to ROSIZO, under the direction of Sergey Perov. Founded in 1959, the organization has, historically, primarily concerned itself with distributing art objects throughout the museum network of the USSR, organizing international traveling exhibitions in partnership with institutions abroad, and handling framing and restoration needs.

The reshuffle has sparked a general outcry from the Russia’s art scene. Artist Alexander Ponomarev told online news portal Artguide that the decision did not make any sense to him. “ROSIZO has always been an organization whose structure was designed for facilitating international exhibitions, while the NCCA is an organization that seeks to gather together the various trends in art and to promote them in our social and cultural space.”

State Russian Museum curator Olesya Turkin said, “I'm not at all happy about the prospect of this merger. For NCCA, what was always extremely important was its independent, ‘separate’ status. ROSIZO is not focused on contemporary art, it deals mainly with organizing exhibitions, which is also important, but contemporary art is a field with its own vocabulary, strategies and characteristics, which, in the wake of this merger, are likely to be lost.”

The NCCA was founded in 1992, but was not up and running until 1994. It was the first institution in the country to exhibit contemporary art on a regular basis. It currently maintains outposts in St Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kaliningrad, Vladikazkaz, and Tomsk.

May 25, 2016

Yuri Pattison Named 2016 Frieze Artist Award Winner

Yuri Pattison, the ideal (v. 0.2), 2015, Installation view, Bielefelder Kunstverein, 2015.

The Frieze Art Award has announced that the 2016 recipient of the prize is Yuri Pattison. The award, which is an open call for proposals of site-specific work from artists between the ages of twenty-five and forty, is part of the fair’s non-profit programming, Frieze Projects.

Raphael Gygax, curator of Frieze Projects, said, “Yuri Pattison is one of today’s most important young artists looking in a critical way at new technologies. As a member of the jury for the Frieze Artist Award, I’m very excited to offer this platform for Pattison to build upon his thought-provoking and increasingly relevant work, exploring cultures of ‘trending’ in the digital economy and the implications for human industry, creativity and control.”

The London-based artist’s winning proposal explores “trending data” and involves the installation of large monitors throughout the fair that will collect and present information. The screens will be used to explore the politics of data-driven systems. His project was chosen by a jury that consisted of artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Frieze Project curator Raphael Gygax, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam director Beatrix Ruf, and Kunstverein Hamburg director Bettina Steinbrügge. Artistic director of Frieze fairs Jo Stella-Sawicka served as chair. Frieze London will take place from October 5-9.

May 25, 2016

UC San Diego Plans to Shut Down University Art Gallery

Collective Magpie’s “Shared Gesture” at the UCSD University Art Gallery

The University of California San Diego will permanently close its University Art Gallery this summer, instead turning it into a classroom, reports Jacky To for the UCSD Guardian. The news came from executive vice chancellor Suresh Subramani and arts and humanities dean Cristina Della Coletta, who invoked the demands placed on the university as the “undergraduate population has grown by almost 1,700” over 2014–2015.

Not everyone is taking the news quietly: A group called the Collective Magpie—comprising artists and UCSD graduates Tae Hwang and MR Barnadas—is mounting what they deem a “shared gesture” at the gallery, including an “X” spray-painted across the gallery’s front door. They saw the closure as “devaluing the arts and disavowing, disrupting, and obscuring its rich artistic legacy.”

Jack Greenstein, the chair of the visual arts department, said he had already started planning shows scheduled for next year when he first heard inklings of the news. “I had been planning and working with people putting together a series of shows for next year, which we were going to ask for permission to hold, and I was discouraged from asking for that permission,” Greenstein stated.

UCSD will soon be the only UC campus without an official art gallery.

May 25, 2016

Art Basel and BMW Name Abigail Reynolds as BMW Art Journey Award Winner

Abigail Reynolds. From the series “The Universal Now”.

Art Basel and BMW have awarded this year’s BMW Art Journey to British artist Abigail Reynolds. Her sponsored BMW Art Journey project for 2016-2017, The Ruins of Time: Lost Libraries of the Silk Road connects the complex religious and secular narratives of Europe and Asia and the award will allow her to expand her working methods through an extensive multi-continent series of visits to historic and fabled repositories of books. The international jury selected her unanimously from a shortlist of three artists whose works were exhibited in the Discoveries section at this year’s Art Basel Hong Kong. Judges included on the jury were Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Claire Hsu, director of Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong; Matthias Mühling, director of Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich; Bose Krishnamachari, the president Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India; and Pauline J. Yao, the curator of visual art at M+, Hong Kong.

Reynolds studied English literature at Oxford University before pursuing fine art at Goldsmiths University.

The BMW Art Journey is a global collaboration between Art Basel and BMW that recognizes and supports emerging artists worldwide. The award is open to artists who exhibit in the Discoveries and Positions sectors of the Hong Kong and Miami Beach Art Basel fairs. BMW is a global partner of Art Basel and has been a longtime sponsor of Art Basel’s three shows in Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong.

May 25, 2016

Smithsonian Museum Holds Emergency Meeting to Halt Parisian Auction of Native American Artifacts

Governor Kurt Riley of the Pueblo of Acoma

According to Allison Meier in Hyperallergic, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian yesterday hosted an emergency meeting of tribal leaders, US government representatives, and NGO officials to call for a halt to an auction set to take place next Monday in Paris that includes human remains and sacred indigenous objects among its lots. The sale scheduled for May 30 was organized by the EVE auction house at Drouot Richelieu.

Governor Kurt Riley of the Pueblo of Acoma said at the meeting, “The whole world condemns the destruction of Palmyra by ISIS, the National Geographic cover story this month is about tomb raiders, and just as these things are happening worldwide, they are also happening in the United States with regards to the plundering of native cultures.” Riley pointed out an Acoma shield that’s to be included in the auction as a “sacred item which no individual can own” and would never have been sold, adding “how it left the pueblo we don’t know…However, its mere existence and presence outside of the pueblo tells us that an event occurred that violated Acoma law.”

Bradley Marshall of the Hoopa Valley Tribe in California also spoke, explaining that when “these objects are created for spiritual use within our community, a spirit goes into them. These objects are living beings to us, these objects are a part of our family, these objects are a part of who we are as a community.” A ceremonial deer from the Hoopa is also listed in the auction. The president of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, D. Bambi Kraus, protested against the selling of a warrior jacket that is purportedly made of human scalps, saying “in our world, if that’s human remains, you cannot sell human remains.”

Congressman Steve Pearce of New Mexico was in attendance to discuss the House Concurrent Resolution 122, which he introduced to congress and which asks the Government Accountability Office to “determine the scope of illegal trafficking in tribal cultural items and identify steps required to end such trafficking.” He called on governmental departments at the meeting “to consult with tribes and traditional Native American religious leaders in addressing this issue, to take affirmative action to stop these practices, and to secure repatriation of tribal cultural items.”

EVE’s Alain Leroy has stated that “all the items proposed are of legal trade in the US and in France,” adding “the public auction process allows the different tribes to acquire their past, and that is exactly what some tribes prefer to do, seeking efficiency and discretion.”

May 25, 2016

Russia’s Innovation Prize Winners Announced

Aslan Gaisumov, Volga, 2015.

On May 18, the Innovation Prize—a state-run contemporary art competition that is known as Russia’s Turner Prize—was awarded to artists and curators deemed the best of 2015 in the categories of Curatorial Project, Art Theory and Criticism, Regional Project of Contemporary Art, and New Generation. The prize also honors two nominees annually in the categories of Creative Contribution to the Development of Contemporary Art and Support of Russian Contemporary Art.

This year, Viktor Misiano’s large-scale exhibition “The Human Condition” won him the award for the best Curatorial Project. The show will run until 2018. Olga Shishko was awarded the prize for Art Theory and Criticism for her catalogue, titled Projections of the Avant-Garde. The 3rd Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art received the award for best Regional Contemporary Art Project. Aslan Gaisumov’s video Volga—in which he reconstructed the history of his twenty-one-member family who moved with one old Volga car in 1995 from war-torn Grozny to a village where the artist’s grandmother lived—won for New Generation. The winning nominees for the Creative Contribution to the Development of Contemporary Art and Support of Russian Contemporary Art were Boris Orlov and Leonid Mikhelson.

The prize for Work of Visual Art usually celebrates an artwork, however, it was not awarded this year following the controversial decision of the National Center for Contemporary Art—who established the prize—to not accept the nomination of a work by dissident Russian artist Pytor Pavlensky, as artforum.com previously reported.

Several members of the prize’s expert committee had abandoned a session this spring when they were informed that the NCCA director refused an application to promote Pavlensky’s work titled Threat, a performance piece in which the artist set fire to the door of the Lubyanka, the FSB headquarters in Moscow last November. Pavlensky was arrested shortly after the performance and is currently on trial in Moscow. General director Mikhail Mindlin had said that the work was rejected because it involved “breaches of the law and caused material damage.” As it so happens, Mindlin is no longer head of the organization. In an announcement today, the culture minister Vladimir Medinsky revealed that the NCCA will be integrated into Russia’s State Exhibition and Museum (ROSIZO) structure, under the direction of Sergey Perov. Medinsky said that the merger was logical and added that no other employees would lose their jobs as a result.

May 25, 2016

Eva Birkenstock Named Director of Düsseldorf Art Foundation

Eva Birkenstock

Eva Birkenstock, the current curator at Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, has been selected as the new director of the Düsseldorf Art Foundation, reports Monopol. Chosen from among forty international candidates, Birkenstock will replace Hans-Jürgen Haffner, the foundation’s director since 2011. Beginning her career in Hamburg, Birckenstock has worked in Lüneburg, New York, Basel, and finally Bregenz, where she has been since 2010.

The foundation praised Birkenstock for her “sharply focused exhibition practice” and her “excellent reputation.” The Düsseldorf Art Foundation, founded in 1892, is one of the oldest such entities in Germany.

May 25, 2016

Courtauld Institute Plans $73 Million Revamp

Somerset House, The Courtauld Institute of Art

Artforum.com announced yesterday that the Courtauld Institute will receive over $13 million from the UK’s Heritage Fund in the first stage of a renovation that will cost $73 million in total for a project titled “Courtauld Connects.” Phase one of the renovation will require about $44 million to complete, and will focus on the institute’s permanent collection as well as public outreach initiatives, both within the UK and internationally.

Phase two will cost $29 million, and it will be aimed towards creating top-of-the-line-facilities and resources for teaching and research. For this, the institute will be working with Stirling Prize-winning architects Witherford Watson Mann. Their upgrades to Somerset House, where the Courtauld has resided since 1989, will be expansive, but keep in line with its history and architecture.

Courtauld alumnus and director of the Tate Nicholas Serota says, “The Courtauld is a world class teaching institution allied to an outstanding collection. ‘Courtauld Connects’ is a bold venture that will open the resources of both parts of The Courtauld to new audiences in London, nationally and internationally. The improvements to the galleries and public facilities have been designed by architects with a deep sympathy for art and the needs of audiences.”