Harvard Art Museums Names Martha Tedeschi the New Director

Martha Tedeschi

Harvard University announced today that Martha Tedeschi, former deputy director for art and research at the Art Institute of Chicago, will lead the Harvard Art Museums—the Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, and Arthur M. Sackler Museum—as the new director, the Harvard Gazette reports. She will take over for Thomas E. Lentz who served as director for over a decade and left the museum last July.

“Her expertise and leadership will elevate our extraordinary collections and integrate them more fully into Harvard’s intellectual life, challenging our community to grow as we seek to interpret and change the world,” Harvard president Drew Faust said. “The arts are essential to the University’s highest purposes, and I look forward to the ways in which they will continue to flourish under her direction.”

Tedeschi said, “the Harvard Art Museums have been brilliantly reimagined by the recent renovation and I am exhilarated at the prospect of leading them at this moment to realize their enormous potential.” The museums underwent an extensive renovation in the hands of world-renowned architect Renzo Piano, who aimed to make the 250,000-object collection more accessible. It reopened its doors in 2014.

A specialist in British and American art, Tedeschi also has expertise in printmaking of early modern Europe and served as the president of the Print Council of America from 2009 to 2013. Her career as a museum professional began in 1982 when she started as an intern for the Art Institute. She became a full curator in 1999, and since 2012 she has served as the deputy director for art and research, which was a newly created position. As deputy director she supervised a staff of nearly 225 people and was responsible for overseeing the departments most closely related to the museum’s commitment to research and scholarship: the conservation department, the publications department, and the museum’s libraries and archives.

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August 24, 2016

Italian Officials Work to Secure Cultural Heritage Sites in Wake of Earthquake that Killed Dozens

The Basilica of St Francis in Assisi. Photo: Flickr/Dennis G. Jarvis.

Hannah McGivern of the Art Newspaper writes that the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi has been declared safe after an earthquake that registered at a little over six on the Richter scale struck central Italy. The thirteenth-century basilica, filled with frescoes by Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini, and Pietro Lorenzetti, was damaged in an earthquake back in 1997.

The Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale, Italy’s art and antiquities police force, are looking over a number of cultural heritage sites throughout the Marche, Umbria, and Lazio regions. Officers will secure the sites against looting, and store any artworks that might be at risk. The culture ministry’s crisis unit will meet on August 25 to decide what courses of action must be taken to further secure other artworks and cultural heritage sites.

Thus far, sixty-three deaths have been recorded, says CNN. The most violent tremor, also the first, occurred near the town of Accumoli at 3:36 AM, followed by two more shocks. Accumoli and Amatrice, a mountain village about eight miles south of Accumoli, were hit the worst. The mayor of Amatrice said “Half the town no longer exists,” according to a report in the New York Times. Getting help to Amatrice is difficult because of damages done to a bridge and numerous roads. Many are digging through the rubble with their bare hands to help, trying to reach trapped people. A courtyard in the back of a palazzo in the town has been turned into a temporary morgue. Andrea Gentili, a civil protection worker, said to the Associated Press, “We need chain saws, shears to cut iron bars, and jacks to remove beams. Everything, we need everything.”

August 24, 2016

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art to Digitize Collection

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is working to digitize all of the works in its collection, including Pablo Picasso’s Artist and His Model, Andy Warhol’s Suicide, and Jackson Pollock’s Mural on Indian Red Ground, in order to feature them on its website, Zahra Alipour of |www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/08/tehran-museum-of-contemporary-art-tmoca-website-vault.html|Al-Monitor| reports. The museum will not organize any permanent displays from its collection until the project is finished due to a lack of space as well as security concerns.

In 2015, the culture ministry confirmed that twenty-seven artworks were stolen from the museum. After the works were successfully recovered they were put on display at a gallery in Tehran to assure the public of their safe return.

Speaking of the museum’s heightened security, Amir Rad, director of the new media center, said, “The museum vault is like a large box that is very safe. The bureaucracy seen in everyday dealings in Iran is even more intense at the museum. Removing or bringing in any work of art from the museum requires several rounds of communication and numerous permits. I think the vault is an untouched treasury.”

August 24, 2016

San Francisco Chronicle Raises Questions About SF MoMA’s Fisher Collection

Roy Lichtenstein, Figures with Sunset, 1978 on display at SF MoMA is one of the works included in the loan of the Fisher Collection. Photo: Santiago Mejia

In 2009, when SF MoMA announced that it would be housing the Fisher Collection, more than one thousand contemporary artworks amassed by Gap founders Donald and Doris Fisher, the museum said that it was entering into a “groundbreaking partnership.”

This “pioneering partnership” with the Fishers has raised questions regarding the level of influence private collectors exercise over public institutions. After investigating the stipulations of the deal, Charles Desmarais of San Francisco Chronicle reports that the museum has agreed to display no more than 25 percent of works from other lenders or donors in the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection Galleries on the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors. This means that the museum has to display the collectors’ works in about 60 percent of SF MoMA’s indoor galleries for the duration of the loan, which ends in May 2116, but can be extended in twenty-five-years increments.

While naming galleries after donors and exhibiting collections that were gifted or loaned to institutions are not unprecedented practices, many museums try to maintain transparency about conditions behind the exhibition of works. The stipulation the Fisher Foundation made with the museum means curators will need to include the Fishers’ works in a variety of shows.

August 24, 2016

Italian Government Will Give Every 18-Year-Old Over $500 to Spend on Cultural Activities

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Young Italians and legal residents turning eighteen years old in 2016 will each receive a “culture bonus” of roughly $560 from the federal government to spend on “cultural products and events.” The initiative will kick off on September 15, 2016 and run through December 31, 2017, El Mundo reports.

The total allocation, for which approximately 550,000 eighteen-year olds will be eligible, will cost an estimated $330 million in public funds. To receive the bonus, those born in 1998 must register on the website www.18app.it and download the “18app” app on their mobile phone. The money can be spent on books, theater, concerts, exhibitions, and museums, but not on the purchase of recorded music. This was immediately denounced by Enzo Mazza, president of the Italian Music Industry Federation, who said that the cultural bonus discriminates against the recording industry.

In an article published by the Corriere della Sera, government undersecretary Tommaso Nannicini stated that 18app sends a clear signal: “The message is that our community embraces your adulthood and reminds you of the importance of cultural consumption; not only for your personal enrichment but also to strengthen the country’s social fabric.”

Nannicini further emphasized that this cultural bonus “for once” will allow funds to promote culture and will not be “allocated through bureaucracy” but by the youths’ own decisions.

According to The Telegraph, prime minister Matteo Renzi announced the initiative last November, ten days after the terrorist attacks in Paris. After he declared the government would increase funding for security by one billion euros he decided to match that sum for euros spent on culture. “We will not give in to terror,” Renzi said. “We have centuries of history that proclaim the fact that culture will beat ignorance, that beauty is more tenacious than barbarism.”

August 23, 2016

Judge Rules in Favor of Peter Doig in Authentication Trial

The desert landscape painting at the center of the lawsuit.

After seven days of testimony in a Chicago courtroom, the federal judge presiding over the unusual authentication case––in which a former corrections officer sued artist Peter Doig for denying that he painted an artwork––ruled that Doig could not have authored the work.

Canadian Robert Fletcher was seeking nearly $8 million in damages after Doig said he did not produce an untitled desert landscape painting that Fletcher owned. The denial ruined Fletcher’s plans to sell the work for millions, since Doig’s canvases regularly raise more than $10 million at auction. Fletcher decided to sell the painting after a friend, who saw it hanging in his home five years ago, informed him that it was the work of a famous artist. Fletcher had consulted a Chicago dealer named Peter Bartlow to help him find a buyer.

Complicating the case was Fletcher’s claim that he met Doig in the 1970s while the artist was serving time in a correctional facility in Ontario for LSD possession. Fletcher said that he had paid Doig $100 for the work, which is signed “Pete Doige 76.” According to the Scottish-born artist, this was impossible since he has never been incarcerated.

August 23, 2016

Natalia Zuluaga Joins ArtCenter/South Florida as Artistic Director

Natalia Zuluaga

ArtCenter/South Florida has announced that Natalia Zuluaga has been appointed artistic director. She will collaborate with the executive director to oversee programming, artist residencies, and community outreach events.

“ArtCenter is at a pivotal crossroads, exploring new paradigms for the visual arts community in Miami and Natalia has already proven to be the perfect choice to help steer our new journey,” executive director Maria del Valle said.

Zuluaga currently runs [NAME] Publications. She has curated exhibitions and organized public programs at the Judd Foundation, the Hessel Museum, and CAM-Releigh. From 2007 to 2012, she worked for the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, managing its exhibition and publishing initiatives. Zuluaga earned her MFA in visual arts from Florida International University and her MA in curatorial studies from Bard College.

August 23, 2016

Curator Defne Ayas Leaves the Antarctic Biennale

Defne Ayas

On Facebook, the curator Defne Ayas announced her withdrawal from the first Antarctic Biennale. She walked away from the project because she claims a number of key decisions were not approved by her, including its overall framing, the text for the announcement, and the biennial’s age limit (the show’s open call states that they’re looking for “adventurous artists under thirty-five”).

Nadim Samman, another curator for the exhibition, says that “the Antarctic Pavilion is a long-term project, whose uncertain status vis-a-vis the Venice Biennale’s nationally overdetermined structure is a provocation: A quasi-institutional claim to represent a transnational sphere, out of line with the festival’s politics of territorial representation. It points to Antarctica as a Giardini of sorts, in which the sovereignty-obsessed cultural ambitions relevant two centuries ago still seem to hold sway—and proposes alternative futures.”

The biennial was started by the artist Alexander Ponomarev, who has a background in nautical engineering and has done a number of projects in Antarctica.

August 23, 2016

Miami’s Pérez Art Museum Appoints Three New Deputy Directors

From left: Adrienne Chadwick, Melissa Cowley Wolf, and Christina Boomer Vazquez.

The Pérez Art Museum has appointed three new deputy directors: Adrienne Chadwick in education; Melissa Cowley Wolf in development; and Christina Boomer Vazquez in marketing and public engagement.

Chadwick has worked at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Miami Children’s Museum, and the Young at Art Museum in Davie, Florida. She is coming to the Pérez from the Nova Southeastern University Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale, where she was the education manager. Wolf was most recently an executive director in the office of institutional advancement at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has also held development positions at the Parsons School of Design, the Noguchi Museum, and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture. Vasquez, an investigative journalist, received an Emmy for a consumer protection segment on Miami’s WPLG. She has received many awards for her journalism, including a regional Edward R. Murrow award; the USC Annenberg Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television, Political Journalism; and four additional regional Emmys.

Pérez director Franklin Sirmans said, “We’re proud to announce the appointment of these new directors. With decades of experience in some of the premiere institutions in the community and the nation, they will help the museum serve its public, whether through exhibitions, education, or general outreach—all necessary facets of a twenty-first-century museum.”

August 23, 2016

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Cutting Jobs and Closing Main Building Due to Expansion

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla.

Kinsee Morlan of the Voice of San Diego writes that the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, due to a major expansion, will be cutting twenty part-time and eight full-time positions. It will temporarily close its La Jolla site in January 2017.

The museum has three buildings on Kettner Boulevard in the downtown area in addition to the La Jolla space. After the expansion, the museum will be 40,000 square feet—three times the size of the original La Jolla building. Both areas host numerous exhibitions, educational events, and other kinds of public programming. Leah Straub, the museum’s marketing manager, said that the museum’s programming will be moved to the Kettner Boulevard buildings. She is not sure how long the La Jolla campus will be under construction, though the museum will give more information about the expansion this fall. “The cuts are less about savings and more about going from two locations to one, knowing that we will have half as many exhibitions, half as much space to program, etc., when we move downtown,” said Straub.

Layoffs are not uncommon when these types of expansions occur. Straub says the museum is not expecting to lay off any more people.