Pirro Cuniberti (1923–2016)

Pirro Cuniberti

Pirro Cuniberti, a designer famous for the highly sought-after “PR” floor lamp made for the firm Sirrah in 1970, as well as a painter of delicate and eccentric abstractions whose later works call to mind Giorgio Griffa and his hero, Paul Klee, died on Friday, March 4.

Cuniberti graduated from Bologna’s Academy of Fine Arts in 1948, where he studied under Giovanni Romagnoli and Giorgio Morandi. That same year he went to work for motorcycle manufacturer Ducati in their publicity department. Also that year, he went to the first Venice Biennale after World War II to see the work of Vincent van Gogh (whose work he discovered as a soldier during the war), and instead came upon Paul Klee—an experience so transformative to him as an artist that he referred to Klee from then on as his “daddy.” In 1957 he had his first solo exhibition at the Circolo Culturale in Bologna.

Other major exhibitions for Cuniberti include the Quadriennale of Rome in 1965 and 1972; the XII Premio Spoleto in 1966; a survey at the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara in 1991; and another survey at Bologna’s Museo Archeologico in 2003, which ended up traveling to the Casa del Mantegna in Mantova that same year. His first major solo exhibition in the United States was at New York’s ESSO Gallery in 2008.


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 increase the museum’s 3,000-square-foot footprint by 7,500-square-feet. It will boast of additional exhibition space, 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.

August 29, 2016

Craig Peterson Appointed New Director of Abrons Art Center

Craig Peterson

Joshua Barone of the New York Times reports that Craig Peterson, currently the director of programs and presentation at Gibney Dance, will be the new director of the Abrons Art Center starting this September. Peterson will be taking over for Jay Wegman, who’s leaving Abrons to become the senior director of NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Wegman is credited for profoundly reinvigorating Abrons’s programming over the last ten years.

Abrons is a branch of the Henry Street Settlement, a Lower East Side social services organization founded by nurse and activist Lillian Wald in 1893. “It’s clear that Henry Street is deeply invested in the success of its forward-thinking arts programming. I look forward to being a part of this organization’s incredible legacy of social change,” said Peterson.

August 29, 2016

Prince’s Paisley Park Will Become a Museum

Interior of Paisley Park

Prince’s 50,000 square foot estate, Paisley Park, located just twenty miles outside of Minneapolis, will be turned into a museum, writes Nate Freeman of Artnews. The future of the estate has been in limbo since the recording artist’s death on April 21, 2016.

Paperwork has been submitted to the City of Chanhassan, Minnesota for this change by the administrators of the artist’s estate—Prince’s family and Bremer Trust, a bank. The museum will open on October 3, 2016.

Prince’s family said in a statement, “The new Paisley Park museum will offer fans a unique experience, an exhibition like no other, as Prince would have wanted it. Most important, the museum will display Prince’s genius, honor his legacy, and carry forward his strong sense of family and community.” There will be guided tours of all the home’s facilities—recording studios, performance spaces—and his vast collection of awards and musical instruments.

August 29, 2016

Lisa Cooley Gallery Has Closed

Lisa Cooley Gallery on Norfolk Street.

According to Nate Freeman of Artnews, Lisa Cooley Gallery has closed. The last exhibition at the space, “Jeff Witscher: August,” ended on August 26, 2016. No other exhibitions are slated for the future on the gallery’s website.

Cooley has been on the Lower East Side for eight years. Her space on Norfolk Street, designed by the architectural firm Ashe + Leandro, was three times the size of her space on Delancey Street (Cooley opened her first space in 2008 on Orchard Street).

Cooley represented Trudy Benson, Alice Channer, Fiona Connor, Andy Coolquitt, Cynthia Daignault, Matthew Darbyshire, Josh Faught, Lucy Kim, Scott Reeder, Alan Reid, Sue Tompkins, Ben Vida, and Jennifer West. Artforum.com writer Yin Ho picked Tompkins’s exhibition at the gallery in March 2016, and Michael Wilson reviewed Fiona Connor’s show there in Artforum’s November 2015 issue.

August 29, 2016

Board Resignations at the Bronx Museum Due to Disagreements over Director Holly Block’s Leadership

Holly Block. Photo: Lisette Poole, The New York Times.

Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times writes that two executives and four board members from the Bronx Museum of the Arts have resigned over disagreements regarding director Holly Block’s leadership. It is the exhibition “Wild Noise,” a massive institutional art exchange between the Bronx Museum and Havana’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, and a costly gift for Cuba from the Bronx Museum, that have caused the resignations.

“Wild Noise,” which was scheduled to open this past spring, was postponed because the Havana museum did not deliver their works—they worried the art would be confiscated by the US government over Fidel Castro’s seizure of American properties during his rise to power in 1959 (the American claims on those properties total over $7 billion, as Artforum.com reported in June 2016). Also, the Bronx Museum is raising funds to build a $2.5 million replica of a statue of the Cuban revolutionary leader José Martí—the original sits on the outskirts of Central Park. The duplicate would be sent to Cuba as a symbol of solidarity between the two countries.

Laura Blanco, the chairwoman of the Bronx Museum’s board, and Mary Beth Mandanas, the vice chairwoman, in an email to the rest of the board regarding their resignations, said, “We are alarmed by the serious nature of these issues and by the lack of an unbiased mechanism for resolving them. While many of our comments concern the executive director and her lack of transparency, we are equally focused on the broader system that has been constructed to erode the power of the board.”

August 27, 2016

Jaime Davidovich (1936–2016)

Jaime Davidovich as “Dr. Videovich.”

Jaime Davidovich, a video and installation artist based in New York who, before many others, recognized the emergence of cable TV in the 1970s as a polymorphous medium that could serve artists—and viewers—in extraordinary ways, died today from pancreatic cancer.

Davidovich was born in Buenos Aires. He studied at the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, the University of Uruguay, and New York’s School of Visual Arts. Prior to video and television, Davidovich was a painter, exploring all the material and philosophical aspects surrounding the monochrome, which led to more expansive works investigating ephemerality and site-specificity. He moved to New York in 1964, and in 1976, helped found Cable SoHo and, in 1978, founded and was president of the Artists’ Television Network. These platforms for the distribution of avant-garde thinking and programming via cable access was a way of “get[ting] out of the claustrophobic traditional art world,” Davidovich told the New York Times in 1979. He was also the creator of Cable Soho’s The Live! Show, a variety half-hour hosted by the artist’s alter ego “Dr. Videovich,” that ran from 1979 to 1984. The Live! Show owed as much to Ed Sullivan and Ernie Kovacs as it did to Dada and Situationism, and featured projects and performances from a wide range of makers and personalities, such as Laurie Anderson, Eric Bogosian, Mike Smith, Tony Oursler, Tim Maul, Walter Robinson, Linda Montano, Ann Magnuson, and Richard Hell.

Davidovich received grants from the NEA (1978, 1984, 1990) and the New York State Council on the Arts (1975, 1982). He was also the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s “Creating a Living Legacy Artist” from 2013–14. In 2010 he was given a retrospective at ARTIUM, the Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporaneo in Spain. He has had many solo exhibitions at a number of New York galleries and institutions, such as the Bronx Museum of Art; Churner and Churner; Cabinet; and the American Museum of the Moving Image, and has participated in group exhibitions at New York’s MoMA and the Whitney Museum; the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles; the Long Beach Museum of Art; and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.

As critic Jacob Proctor said in the April 2015 issue of Artforum for the exhibition “Outreach: Jaime Davidovich, 1974–1984” at Chicago’s Threewalls gallery, curated by art historian Daniel Quiles, “From our contemporary perspective, it can be hard to conjure the sense of potential artists felt when they first gained access to video- and television-production facilities in the 1960s and ’70s. While many early artistic experiments in television took an explicitly oppositional stance toward the TV industry, Davidovich and his cohort devised clever ways to work with television rather than against it.”

August 26, 2016

Google Returns Literary Blog Data to Dennis Cooper

Dennis Cooper

Nearly two months ago Google disabled writer Dennis Cooper’s literary blog—a fourteen-year-long project hosted by Blogger—and his Gmail account without warning. On Friday, Cooper announced that following negotiations between the media company and his lawyers, the content of his blog will be returned to him.

DC’s, the beloved literary platform where Cooper posted writings, research, images, as well as his GIF novels, will be relaunched in a new location on Monday, August 29. Cooper will not be able to upload all of the data from his former blog at once, since he will have to repost each item by hand, but he will gradually work on the project until the blog is completely restored.

Allegedly, Google deactivated the account on June 27 in response to an almost ten-year-old post, titled “Self-Portrait Day,” for which Cooper invited readers to send him content such as writings, images, videos, or sound files related to a specific theme. He would then curate the submissions and post an entry.