Unidentified Assailants Fire Shots at Berlin’s Museum Dedicated to LGBT History and Culture

Schwules Museum*

On Monday, staff members noticed possible bullet holes in the windows and window frames of the Schwules Museum*—an institution devoted to communicating the history and culture of LGBT communities—in Berlin, the Berliner Zeitung reports.

The police confirmed that projectiles were found on the ground by the entrance to the museum, but the type of gun the assailants used is still unknown. The police speculate that the weapon may have been an air rifle. Officials from the police department for state security are in charge of the investigation and are looking into whether this crime was motivated by homophobia.

In a statement, the museum confirmed that its staff members are worried.
“Most of the people working at the museum are volunteers who are here because they enjoy being in a safe environment where they are accepted for who and what they are.”

Founded in 1985, the museum, which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary last year, has been at its current location since 2013.


June 29, 2016

Strong Results at Sotheby’s Contemporary Evening Sale Allay Post-“Brexit” Fears

Jenny Saville’s Shift, 1996–1997.

Sotheby’s evening contemporary sale sold 87 percent of its forty-six lots last night, bringing in a total of $69.4 million, according to the New York Times’ Robin Pogrebin and Scott Reyburn. The results, for many, put fears to rest that post-Brexit financial chaos would seep into the art market. The Long Museum, Shanghai, purchased a painting by Jenny Saville for about $9 million, setting an auction record for the British artist. Meanwhile, Keith Haring’s The Last Rainforest, 1989, sold for $5.6 million, going over its high estimate. It had been in photographer David LaChapelle’s collection. And artist Adrian Ghenie’s Self-Portrait as a Monkey, 2011, sold three times over its pre-sale estimate.

An art adviser, Elizabeth Szancer, said, “This evening, Sotheby’s did well, and Brexit was not in the auction room.” Meanwhile, a private art dealer, Alex Lachmann, told the Times, “Wealthy people make money in this kind of crisis and they’re looking to buy important things. The exchange rate was very important. There were a lot of American buyers.”

June 29, 2016

Stedelijk Museum Receives Major Donation of Art

Wolfgang Tillmans, Deranged Granny (Self), 1995, photograph, 84 x 56”.

Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum announced that it received a major gift of over 600 contemporary artworks from the German collector Thomas Borgmann. An exhibition featuring these works is slated for November 2017.

Some of the artists included in Borgmann’s donation are Cosima von Bonin, Cerith Wyn Evans, Jack Goldstein, Jutta Koether, Lucy McKenzie, Paulina Olowska, Jorge Pardo, John Stezaker, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Christopher Williams.

Said Borgmann about the gift, “I have closely followed the Stedelijk ever since my first visit in the 1960s; this museum felt like a natural home for these works. The Stedelijk has always impressed me with its thorough knowledge and high professional standards. The dedication and care for the collection are a wonderful combination with the dynamic and daring exhibition program. With this donation I would like to underscore my close relationship with the museum and Beatrix Ruf.”

June 29, 2016

Arrest Made for Theft of $250,000 Worth of Art from Trailer in LA

A picture of the stolen trailer that contained the artwork.

Following up on a story artforum.com reported on this past January, a man by the name of Robert Michael Slayton was arrested in Los Angeles’s Canoga Park neighborhood for the November 2015 theft of a trailer that had $250,000 worth of art in it by artists such as Chagall and Matisse, reports Veronica Rocha of the Los Angeles Times.

The trailer, which was stripped, was found in Slayton’s backyard. He was taken into custody on June 16, 2016 on suspicion of grand theft, then released only hours later on $70,000 bail.

Thus far, about $120,000 worth of the missing art was recovered.

June 29, 2016

Getty Research Institute Names Fiona Tan 2016–2017 Artist in Residence

Fiona Tan

The Getty Research Institute has announced that Fiona Tan will be the artist in residence for its 2016–2017 scholars program according to Robin Scher at Artnews. The institute’s annual research program will host forty-six scholars along with Tan at the Getty Center and Villa in Los Angeles, organized around the theme of “Art and Anthropology.”

Tan works in Amsterdam and her practice uses film and video to examine issues of identity, globalization, and collective histories. The program head Alexa Sekyra said in a statement about the residency: “In asking scholars open-ended questions about their disciplines, methodologies, and their relationships to other fields of research, we received top-tier proposals that span continents and eras. I’m excited to see the great work that will come out of this incoming group of exceptional researchers.”

June 29, 2016

Architect Michael Graves’s Residence and Studio Sold to Kean University

Michael Graves’s compound the Warehouse in Princeton, New Jersey.

Joshua Barone reports in the New York Times that three properties constituting the former residence and studio of architect Michael Graves will be bought by Kean University, where he helped to found the Michael Graves School of Architecture, for $20. The properties are in Princeton, New Jersey, where Graves founded his firm in 1964, and were originally gifted through Graves’s will to Princeton University but the institution rejected the gift.

The university said in a statement: “We were grateful to be able to consider the possibility of accepting Michael Graves’s properties, but concluded that we could not meet the terms and conditions associated with the gift.” The terms stipulated by his will included preserving the buildings and coordinating their use for educational purposes, a cost that Kean was apparently willing to take on. As the architect’s will stated that if Princeton did not accept the gift, it would be offered to another nonprofit, Graves’s firm approached Kean, which is located in Union, New Jersey, about purchasing the properties this year. That university’s president, Dawood Farahi, said that their annual maintenance was estimated at $30,000 to $40,000, and converting the buildings for students would cost about $300,000. The three properties have been appraised at a total value of nearly $3.2 million.

Collectively called the Warehouse, the house and studio will now be a resource center for studying the architect’s work as well as a space for lectures and studio education. It will also still be open to Princeton students, as the properties are adjacent to Princeton’s campus.

For more on Graves’s work and legacy, see our Passages column for pieces by Stan Allen and Glenn Adamson.

June 29, 2016

Australian Arts Community Protests $224 Million Cut to Federal Arts Budget

Protesters outside of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office in Sydney.

The Australian arts community has mobilized support for a nationwide campaign that is demanding a restructuring of the federal arts budget, Claire Voon of Hyperallergic reports. Over the past three years, the current Abbott-Turnbull administration has cut more than $224 million in arts funding. This year, the Australia Council for the Arts could only approve 50 percent of applications for funding from small and medium organizations, as artforum.com previously reported. The day the council announced the funding allocations was dubbed “Black Friday” locally.

On June 27, a demonstration was held outside of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office in Sydney, a petition on change.org obtained over 13,000 signatures, and artists hung a banner on Melbourne’s Nicholas Building—which houses numerous studios—that reads: “‘Straya—the Arts End of the World.” Protesters criticizing the government’s decision to cut funding to the Australian Council for the Arts and demanding financial stability in the arts sector are gathering across the state and will continue to call for change in the days leading up to the July 2 federal election.

Tamara Winikoff, the director of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA), which is helping to lead the Art Changes Lives campaign, said she has never seen the arts community come together like they are now. “This government lacks any cultural vision, understanding, or evidence base.” She added, “This has led to the ad hoc actions that have created the most terrible chaos across the Australian arts sector, and unless remedied, will seriously erode the cultural expression of this generation.”

June 29, 2016

ISIS Cause Severe Damage to Temple of Nabu in Northern Iraq

UNITAR satellite image of damages done to the main entrance at the Temple of Nabu. Photo: UNITAR-UNOSAT

The Art Newspaper’s Gareth Harris writes that the Islamic State has damaged the main entrance to the Temple of Nabu, a holy place built in the ninth century, located in the Assyrian city of Nimrud in Northern Iraq. UNITAR, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, revealed satellite images taken on June 3 of the destruction. The gate and walls of the main entrance to the temple were built centuries later.

Colin Renfrew, a member of the British parliament’s House of Lords and an archaeologist at the University of Cambridge stated “In general, it seems that they [ISIS] do not have the knowledge to distinguish between modern reconstructions of buildings and the ancient remains. They display a formidable ignorance. But when explosives and bulldozers are used, some serious damage can be done.”

UNESCO’s director general, Irina Bokova, said “Extremists cannot silence history and their attempt to erase the memory of this region can only fail. The deliberate destruction of heritage is a war crime and must be punished as such.”

June 28, 2016

Emma Sulkowicz Receives 2016 Woman of Courage Award

Emma Sulkowicz

William Hicks of Heatstreet writes that Emma Sulkowicz, the artist who garnered attention for Carry That Weight, 2015, her BFA thesis project at Columbia University for which she carried a mattress with her everywhere on campus for a year to protest the school’s treatment of her rape allegations against another student, just received the National Organization for Women’s 2016 Woman of Courage Award.

In response to the award, the artist said in an entry on her Instagram account: “Camille Paglia has publicly called my artwork a ‘masochistic exercise’ in which I neither ‘evolve’ nor ‘move on.’ She speaks as if she, a white woman, knew what was best for me, a woman of color she’s never met. Many people ask me how I’ve ‘healed’ from my assault, as if healing were another word for ‘forgetting about it,’ ‘getting over it,’ or even ‘shutting up about it.’ To expect me to move on is to equate courage with self-censorship. The phrases—suck it up, move on, and get over it—are violence . . . I dedicate this award to everyone who has not told me to get over it. Thank you for validating my fear and my way of handling it. Thank you for creating a world in which we can tackle the things that terrify us by doing the unexpected right thing.”

June 28, 2016

“Brexit” Causes Repercussions in Art Market

Phillips auction house in London

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has caused repercussions within the art market, writes Scott Reyburn of the New York Times. One of the aftershocks was felt most pointedly at a Phillips auction of twentieth-century and contemporary art held this week at its London headquarters.

Nearly $16 million worth of art sold last night from thirty-one lots (thirty-two percent of the lots went unsold), down from last June’s sale of equivalent works, which totaled more than $24 million from fifty lots (only sixteen percent of the lots didn’t sell).

Nonetheless, Morgan Long, a director of art investment at the Fine Art Fund Group, said, “They did a decent job, given this was the first sale of Brexit week. They dropped the reserves, buyers were thinking about currencies and there was deeper bidding on the some of the lots that sold than we’ve seen in a while.”