Birmingham Museum of Art Announces Major Promotions

Graham C. Boettcher

Robin Scher reports at Artnews that Alabama’s Birmingham Museum of Art has promoted Graham C. Boettcher, its chief curator, to the position of deputy director while the decorative arts curator, Anne Forschler-­Tarrasch, will take over the position of chief curator. Forschler­-Tarrasch will also maintain her current post in the decorative arts department.

Boettcher will assist the museum’s director, Gail Andre, with oversight over operations and helm several management roles in the education and conservation departments.


June 27, 2016

Peter Hutton (1944–2016)

Peter Hutton

The filmmaker Peter Hutton, who made over twenty films and was the Charles Franklin Kellogg and Grace E. Ramsey Kellogg Professor of the Arts at Bard College, has died. Born in Detroit, Hutton studied at the San Francisco Art Institute where he received both a BFA and MFA and taught at Hampshire College, Harvard University, and SUNY Purchase. He taught at Bard since 1984. His films stemmed from his time as a merchant seaman, when he spent nearly forty years moving across the globe, usually by cargo ship, to create cinematic studies of places such as the Yangtze River or a ship graveyard in Bangladesh.

A retrospective of his films was shown at MoMA in 2008 and he also had work shown in the Whitney Biennials for 1985, 1991, 1995, and 2004. Last year he was included in a two person show with James Benning at Miguel Abreu in New York. Throughout his life he received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, DAAD Berliner, Rockefeller Foundation, and a Dutch Film Critics Award as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship.

June 27, 2016

Hiwa K Wins Documenta’s Arnold Bode Prize

Hiwa K, Diagonal, 2009, C-print.

This year’s Arnold Bode Prize awarded by Documenta in Kassel has been given to Hiwa K. The artist, who was born in northern Iraq in 1975, lives and works in Berlin where he recently had a solo exhibition at KOW. Kassel’s mayor Bertram Hilgen announced the decision after the magistrate chairman of the Arnold Bode Foundation selected the recipient of the prize on the recommendation of its board of trustees. The prize will presented at Kasseler Kunstverein on Thursday, November 3, 2016.

Hiwa K graduated from secondary school in Iraq and continued his education in the self-educational circles of his home country with other visual artists, intellectuals, musicians, and theater artists. He was initially a painter but stopped working in that medium in 1998, going on to complete flamenco guitar studies with Paco Peña. He returned to visual art after six years of working as a professional guitarist.

The board of trustees for the award are, currently, Heiner Georgsdorf, who serves as chairman; E. R. Nele; Born Bode; Klaus Lukas; and the artistic director of Documenta 14, Adam Szymczyk. The honorary chairman of the board is Karl-Oskar Blase. Past winners of the award include Gerhard Richter, Edward Kienholz, Tony Oursler, Maria Eichhorn, Goshka Macuga, and Nairy Baghramian.

June 27, 2016

Frieze Announces Details of Fourteenth Edition of London Fair

Nicolas Trembley

Frieze has announced the participating galleries, curators, and artists for the fourteenth editions of Frieze London and Frieze Projects, as well as the fifth edition of Frieze Masters, all scheduled to take place October 6–9, 2016.

This year’s Frieze London fair will bring together more than 160 contemporary art galleries from thirty countries and include solo presentations by artists such as James Turrell and Philippe Parreno as well as a new gallery gallery section titled “The 90s,” organized by Geneva-based curator Nicolas Trembley and featuring recreations of seminal exhibitions from that decade, including Wolfgang Tillman’s first exhibition at Galerie Buchholz gallery in 1993 and a series of performances titled “Characters to be reactivated,” 1991–1995, by Pierre Joseph. The Frieze Projects series of artist commissions this year will include works by Coco Fusco, Julie Verhoeven, and Opendork Afrika, among others. In addition to the return of the Frieze Tate Fund, the Contemporary Art Society’s Collections Fund supporting a regional museum in the UK will also launch at Frieze.

Meanwhile, Frieze Masters will convene 134 of the world’s leading historical and Modern art galleries. Curators Toby Kamps, Menil Collection, Houston; Tim Marlow, Royal Academy, London; and Sir Norman Rosenthal will devise sections and programming dedicated to artistic discovery and connoisseurship. The fair will also feature solo presentations of the work of Anni Albers, Lynn Chadwick, Paula Rego, and Susan Rothenberg. The Talks schedule at Frieze Masters will feature Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Carroll Dunham as well as critic Alistair Sooke and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Sheena Wagstaff.

June 27, 2016

Italian Consumer Group Files Complaint Against Christo’s Floating Piers for Squandering Public Funds

Christo, The Floating Piers, 2016.

Today, Codacons—an Italian consumer group—filed a complaint with Lombardy’s Court of Auditors against Christo’s popular The Floating Piers that states the work “might be a waste of public resources,” the AFP reports. The group is asking the state to investigate how much the massive installation cost taxpayers.

The group claims that the yellow-brick road is a huge inconvenience: It caused disruptions in the country’s public railways, a buildup of trash in the immediate area, and in general, is a burden to the community that is hosting it. “We want to know how much taxpayers' money has been spent on a project which, until now, seems to have generated enormous publicity for the artist without bringing direct benefits to local entities and citizens,” the organization said in a statement.

Since the floating walkway that connects Northern Italy’s islands of Monte Isola and San Paolo with the mainland’s lake town, Sulzano, opened on June 18 it has attracted hundreds of thousands of people. Christo, known for realizing his visions of altered landscapes on massive scales, covered 220,000 floating cubes with a golden fabric to create a floating pathway so that people can feel as if they are walking on water. The project was first conceived by Christo and his wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, in 1970. It is the Bulgarian artist’s first large-scale project since The Gates, 2005, embellished New York City’s Central Park and since Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009. Open for only sixteen days, The Floating Piers is free to the public. Christo also intended the walkways to be open twenty-four hours per day, but organizers were forced to shut down the well-received work at night, as previously reported, so that maintenance work could be carried out. Brescia Oggi reports, that an estimated record number of 200,000 visitors came to see the work this past weekend, causing authorities to halt trains as early as 7AM to slow the influx of people.

June 27, 2016

La MaMa to Release New Digital Archive

La MaMA in the East Village

Joshua Barone reports in the New York Times that the La MaMa performance space in the East Village is releasing an expansion of its digital collections website today as part of its fifty-fith anniversary season. The collection includes photographs of Harvey Fierstein as he created his “Torch Song Trilogy”; a program from a Philip Glass opera; and ephemera from Andy Warhol’s Factory, among many other items. Some of the newly digitized documents hail from the earliest years of La MaMa, which was founded in 1961 by Ellen Stewart.

June 27, 2016

Kenworth Moffett (1934–2016)

Kenworth Moffett

The art historian and curator Kenworth Moffett has died. He was born in East Orange, New Jersey and earned his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 1960 and a doctorate in art history from Harvard University in 1968. He became a professor of art history at Wellesley College, where he taught from 1969 to 1978, and specialized in nineteenth and twentieth century art and art criticism with a focus on abstract expressionism and color field painting. He was the first curator of Modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) from 1971 to 1984. After leaving the museum, he spent five years as an art advisor for collectors interested in Impressionist, early Modern, and contemporary art before becoming the director of the Fort Lauderdale Museum from 1989 to 1997. He also helped found the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver in 1998.

Over the course of his career, he organized or supervised over a hundred exhibitions, including cocurating the first large exhibition of American art to tour China, and authored monographs on Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Fairfield Porter, and Odd Nerdrum in addition to the book New New Painting, which he coauthored with the Belgian critic Marcel Paquet.

June 25, 2016

Bill Cunningham (1929–2016)

Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham, the legendary New York Times fashion photographer, died on Saturday. The eighty-seven-year old had been hospitalized recently for a stroke. Jacob Bernstein writes for the New York Times that “Cunningham operated both as a dedicated chronicler of fashion and as an unlikely cultural anthropologist, one who used the changing dress habits of the people he photographed to chart the broader shift away from formality and toward something more diffuse and individualistic.”

Born in Boston in 1929, Cunningham’s love of fashion started at an early age. “I could never concentrate on Sunday church services because I’d be concentrating on women’s hats.” The accessory would later become his passion—in the 1950s he would drop out of Harvard to open a millinery store, William J., on Fifty-Second Street between Madison and Park Avenue. He refrained from using his surname, claiming his family members “were very shy people.” After being drafted for the Korean War, he began working for the Chicago Tribune and Women’s Wear Daily. He eventually joined the New York Times, where he was a contributor for over four decades, developing such columns as “On the Street” and “Evening Hours.”

Cunningham helped popularize street-style fashion photography, and he could often be seen hopping off his bicycle, which he rode for more than thirty years, while pedaling around Manhattan. The beloved photographer was awarded the Legion d’Honneur in 2008, named a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy in 2009, and was the subject of the documentary film, Bill Cunningham New York, which debuted at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010. In the film, Anna Wintour said, “I’ve said many times that we all get dressed for Bill.”

In a review of Bill Cunningham New York for Artforum’s February 2011 issue, Amy Taubin wrote that Cunningham—the forerunner to today’s fashion bloggers—produced one of “three extensive, unofficial imagistic histories of New York City,” the other two being Jonas Mekas’s 16-mm diaries and Warhol’s multimedia oeuvre. “[He wore] a chipper smile and evasive body language like armor, which is precisely how he thinks of fashion,” Taubin writes, quoting Cunningham: “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization.”

June 24, 2016

Tony Feher (1956–2016)

Tony Feher installing his show at the Lumber Room in Portland, Oregon in 2014.

The sculptor Tony Feher died today. His subtle, straightforward work, made with the most throwaway of things—plastic water bottles, berry cartons, jelly jars, or blue painter’s tape—upended Minimalist sobriety and Conceptualist cool with an intelligence that wholly embraced humor and charm.

Feher was born in Albuquerque. He grew up in a military family and had an itinerant childhood, with stints in Corpus Christi, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Florida. He received his BA in 1978 from the University of Texas in Austin. Around that time, he was told he lacked creativity, and that if he could even make it as a shoe salesman, he’d be lucky. So with that, he moved to New York.

He had his first solo show at Wooster Gardens in New York in 1993. Since then, he has had over forty solo exhibitions at numerous venues and institutions, such as Diverseworks in Houston; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Pace Gallery, and D’Amelio Terras in New York; ACME in Los Angeles; Anthony Meier Fine Arts in San Francisco; and The Suburban in Oak Park, Illinois. A midcareer survey of Feher’s art, curated by Claudia Schmuckli, opened at the Des Moines Art Center in 2012 and traveled to Houston's Blaffer Art Museum later that year; then to the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts in 2013; and finally the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Akron Art Museum from 2013–14.

“For years, I’ve felt Feher’s assemblages of found objects—domestic, utilitarian, cute—to be the most viscerally satisfying sculptures in this or any town,” said poet, painter, and critic Wayne Koestenbaum of the artist in his “Best of 2014” list from that year’s December issue of Artforum. “He collects and arranges his colorful foundlings with custodial precision—a kinky rigor that restores the dignity of those who overly cathect to household flotsam. Feher’s patterns reassure; he seems a model-maker, constructing maquettes of villages and bundled communities that imagine utopia by seceding from usefulness into gridded whimsy.”

June 24, 2016

Philipp Demandt to Lead Städel Museum and Liebieghaus as Director

Philipp Demandt

Frankfurt’s Städel Museum and the Liebieghaus have announced that Philipp Demandt has been appointed director and will join the organizations on October 1. The art historian and curator served as the director of Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie since 2012. Among the shows he organized during his tenure were “Rembrandt Bugatti,” “Impressionism—Expressionism: Art at a Turning Point,” and “The Monk Has Returned.” “I look back on five fulfilling years at the Nationalgalerie with deep gratitude,” he said. “I am greatly looking forward to Frankfurt—professionally because it has developed to become one of the most exciting art centers in Germany and beyond.”

Nikolaus Schweickart, chairman of the Städel Museum administration, said, “We are very happy about the fact that, so soon after Max Hollein’s departure, we have succeeded in recruiting one of the most creative minds in the German museum world to direct the two institutions.” Hollein left his position to head the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.