Over $2 Million Gifted to Bass Museum of Art

Bass Museum of Art

Executive director and chief curator of Miami’s Bass Museum of Art Silvia Karman Cubiñá announced on February 20 that the museum will be receiving monetary gifts that add up to over $2 million. The benefactors are Bass board president George Lindemann, Paul and Trudy Cejas, and one anonymous donor.

“Trudy and Paul Cejas, George Lindemann, and our anonymous donor, are all exemplary leaders in both the international art world and of this community. Their generosity is a strong endorsement of the Bass and a clear investment in Miami Beach as the center of art and culture in Miami-Dade County,” said Cubiñá.

The museum is currently closed for renovations, but will reopen in November 2016.


May 26, 2016

A Member of Ai Weiwei’s Studio is Briefly Detained by Greek Police

Ai Weiwei

During the evacuation of the Idomeni refugee camp on the border between Greece and Macedonia, Greek authorities took Lu Hengzhong, a member of Ai Weiwei’s studio, to the police station in Polykastro, where she was questioned and released several hours later, Anny Shaw of the Art Newspaper reports.

On May 24, more than 400 riot police were sent to clear out the camp, which had thousands of Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghani refugees living there. Hengzhong was capturing footage at Idomeni’s train station when three policemen stopped her and forced her to shut off her camera before detaining her. Crews from various media outlets also reported that they were told to leave the camp or be arrested. Only state-controlled media agencies are being allowed to report from Idomeni at this time.

Hengzhong had been documenting the camp for the last twelve weeks for Ai Weiwei, who is making a feature-length film about the refugee crisis, which he expects to release in 2017.

May 26, 2016

Bahrain Backs Art Consultancy Firm’s New Initiative to Promote Bahraini Artists Abroad

Bahrain Art Across Borders—a new initiative created to raise the international profile of contemporary art from Bahrain—celebrated the opening of its inaugural exhibition on Wednesday evening at a launch event hosted by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Lizzie Lloyd of Artnet News reports. Featuring seventeen artists from the small archipelago nation located in the Persian Gulf, the contributors are in various stages of their careers. The show will be on view at Gallery 8 from May 27 to June 4.

Kaneka Subberwal, founder and director of Art Select—an art investing and consultancy firm—said that the initiative is about showing the world that Bahrain has serious artists. “BAAB is a work in progress,” she said. She added that bringing the work to a commercial gallery will “test the sturdiness of it.” For Subberwal, first the initiative needs awareness, then sales. “But for me, if people gravitate towards the work because they connect to it, that's enough.”

The idea for BAAB—a project of Art Select—started out as an art lounge and café in 2009. It then grew into Art Bahrain, an annual art fair that was established in 2015. Now, it is an annual international exhibition. The initiative seems to be driven by Art Select, but is also supported by a semi-government organization that works towards making Bahrain’s private sector a driver of economic growth, called Tamkeen. Subberwal said that she had done events in the region of Bahrain and was struck by the wealth of artists there. “Before seeing the works I would have assumed that because Bahrain is a small Kingdom and people retain their ethnic spirit there would be something like five calligraphers to choose from. But I was surprised to see that there was very cutting edge work.”

For the exhibition, the artists were chosen through an open call by a London gallerist and expert in contemporary Middle Eastern and Islamic art, Janet Rady, and an artist and curator, Aissa Deebi. “We were careful not to judge the work according to Western tastes,” Rady said. “The main criteria were strength and originality of composition and a sense of Bahraini identity being apparent in the work.”

For Subberwal, the success of the initiative will not be measured on this exhibition, but a few years down the road, she hopes that the artists will be more visible. “When people say Bahrain, I'd like their reaction to be, “Oh, they have some interesting artists.”

May 26, 2016

Thomas Duncan Gallery Will Close

Los Angeles’s Thomas Duncan Gallery announced today that it is closing its doors. Established in 2012, the gallery has featured artists such as Steven Baldi, Verena Dengler, Lucas Knipscher, Zak Prekop, Valerie Snobeck, and Jesse Willenbring. The gallery has exhibited at numerous fair's including Art Los Angeles Contemporary, Art Basel Miami Beach, and FIAC Paris.

In a letter, Thomas Duncan wrote, “I am extremely proud of the achievements of the past four and a half years - from debut and pivotal solo shows to larger curatorial endeavors within the space as well as the relationships forged with institutions and other galleries alike. To have been able to support these amazing artists and enable their work to be experienced by new audiences has been, quite literally, a dream come true. I will always be incredibly grateful to all those who have supported the program during its lifetime.”

The gallery’s current exhibition, titled “Sponsored by Homer,” which showcases the work of Jesse Willenbring, will be its last. It runs until June 4.

May 26, 2016

Bronx Museum of the Arts Plans Major Expansion

The Bronx Museum of the Arts

The Bronx Museum of the Arts announced today that it has launched a $25 million capital campaign to fund the institution’s renovation and expansion project and to establish an endowment for the first time, Randy Kennedy of the New York Times reports. “We’ve been very secret about this, because we didn’t want it to be public until we were sure,” director Holly Block said. “It’s so great for the Bronx to have any kind of capital projects like this. And we’ve been waiting a very long time.”

Designed by architect and dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University Monica Ponce de Leon—who is a cocurator of the US pavilion for the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture, which opens on Saturday—the expansion will add more galleries and spaces for educational and public programs. Block added that the building, which has never been cohesive, will soon be a visual and architectural whole. “When you walk or drive up the Grand Concourse it will be very clear what this building is,” she said.

The first phase of the project, which has already received $7 million from the mayor’s office, the New York City Council, and the Bronx borough president’s office, is slated for completion in 2020, with the museum remaining open while construction is underway. Mayor Bill de Blasio said his administration was “proud to invest in this project that will bring the talents of a remarkable architect to help build an even stronger institution.”

Founded in 1971, the museum saw a surge in visitor numbers after it ended its suggested $5 admission policy in 2012. Now that it welcomes more than 100,000 annually, the new endowment fund—which will be raised from private donations—will grant the institution financial stability and allow it to expand its programming.

May 26, 2016

The Jay DeFeo Foundation Adds New Trustee and Announces its New Name

Jay DeFeo working on her monumental painting The Rose, 1958-1966.

On May 25, The Jay DeFeo Foundation’s cotrustees Leah Levy and Jane A. Green announced that museum consultant Diane B. Frankel will join the organization as its third trustee. “I enthusiastically welcome [Frankel],” Jane Green, a longtime board member of the Berkeley Museum, said. “I know that her professional expertise will greatly serve to support and enhance the mission of the Foundation as it honors Jay DeFeo’s art and ideas, and makes her contribution accessible as a charitable resource.”

In the 1990s, Frankel served as the director of graduate programs in museum studies at John F. Kennedy University and headed the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington, DC. From 2000 to 2004, Frankel directed the Children, Youth and Families Program at the James Irvine Foundation. Since then, she has served as the interim director at the di Rosa Preserve, the executive director of the Artists’ Legacy Foundation, and an affiliate of Management Consultants for the Arts. She currently sits on the board of the San Francisco Art Institute and is a member of the Getty Photo Council.

The Foundation also announced that it had changed its name—it was previously know as The Jay DeFeo Trust. Established by artist Jay DeFeo as an educational resource for her art and archive, the organization believes the new name more accurately reflects its mission and its involvement in non-profit work. Executive director and trustee, Leah Levy said, “[DeFeo] had a vision for a place in art history for her own artworks and an instinct for philanthropy.”

Born in New Hampshire in 1929, DeFeo—whose career spans more than four decades—grew up in San Francisco, where she became an influential figure in the Bay Area’s art scene. She is perhaps best known for her monumental work titled The Rose, 1958-1966, which took her about eight years to complete. The painting is now in the Whitney Museum’s collection. The foundation joined the Whitney in a massive conservation effort to restore the work in 1995. DeFeo, who died of cancer in 1989 at the age of 60, provided for the establishment of a private trust to care for her own artworks and for the promotion of the arts in her will.

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.