Brussels Museums Shut Down After City’s Terrorist Attacks

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

Brussels Museums, public galleries, and libraries are all currently shut down in the wake of the blasts at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station that claimed the lives of at least twenty-six people, according to the Art Newspaper’s Anny Shaw.

The Brussels Center for Fine Arts, Bozar, said the museum is closed “due to today’s tragic events,” and that reopening would be considered on a “day-by-day basis.” And the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium’s website reads: “In the context of the current terrorist threat (level four) in the region of Brussels, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium are closed at the moment.” Meanwhile, the Cinquantenaire Museum and the Magritte Museum announced their closure via Twitter.

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May 31, 2016

MoCA Yinchuan Announces First Biennial

MoCA Yinchaun

China’s MoCA Yinchaun announced that it will host the city’s first biennale, scheduled to open on September 9 and run through December 18, 2016. The exhibition, curated by Bose Krishnamachari (cofounder and curator of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale) and titled “For An Image, Faster Than Light,” will feature over eighty artists from around the world. A partial list of artists has been released, which includes:

A partial list of artists has been released, which includes:

May 31, 2016

Seven Suspects Arrested for Theft of Francis Bacon Paintings

A photo from Spanish police of one of the stolen Bacon pieces.

Nadia Khomami of The Guardian reports that seven individuals in Spain have been arrested regarding the theft of five paintings by Francis Bacon, worth in total over $27 million.

The works, in addition to other valuables, were taken from the owner’s residence last July. In February British detectives with expertise in stolen art were emailed pictures of the paintings, along with a query as to whether or not the pieces were reported missing. The detectives then researched the photos and were able to figure out that they were taken by a rented camera from a photo equipment company. They visited the company and were given the renter’s information. This person, along with a Madrid-based art dealer and his son, were among the suspects taken into custody.

An art specialist who spoke with The Guardian anonymously said, ““It is not at all easy to sell a Francis Bacon, large or small, without that getting to the ears of those who pore over such a rarified sector.”

May 31, 2016

Significant Acquisitions for Pérez Art Museum Announced

Franklin Sirmans

Rachel Corbett of Artinfo writes that Miami’s Pérez Art Museum has received hundreds of major works for its permanent collection, via purchase and donation, the majority of which are by women and artists of color. Some of the artists represented by these transactions are Theaster Gates, Carmen Herrera, Romare Bearden, Patty Chang, Lorraine O’Grady, and Nari Ward.

The museum’s director, Franklin Sirmans, said “We’re entering our strategic planning process knowing that our visitors are returning time and again, that our board members continue to bolster our collection through their generosity, and that our peers around the country and the globe look to us for leadership in the field. I look forward to announcing this fall plans to take the museum into its next phase and beyond.”

May 31, 2016

Gwangju Biennale Participants for 2016 Revealed

The list of participating artists has been announced for the eleventh iteration of the Gwangju Biennale—curated by Binna Choi, Margarida Mendes, Michelle Wong, Maria Lind, and Azar Mahmoudian—which is scheduled to take place from September 2 through November 6, 2016. Over ninety artists are contributing to this year’s event, titled “The Eight Climate (What Does Art Do?).”

Those artists are:

May 30, 2016

LA’s The Smell Receives Demolition Notice

the Smell in Los Angeles with owner Jim Smith (right).

Southern California Public Radio’s KPCC and LAist report that the Los Angeles DIY arts venue the Smell received a demolition notice from the city on its building last Friday. The owner of the venue, Jim Smith, says the building housing the venue, and all of the businesses on the rest of the west side of Main Street between 2nd and 3rd streets in Downtown LA, received the notice. Located at 247 S. Main Street, the all ages and alcohol-free club—which has a longstanding policy of charging only $5 for its events—has been a mainstay of the arts in the city since 1998 and plays host to a major intersection of local independent bands, touring acts, and many artists associated with the city as well.

Smith told KPCC “It was a surprise…there’s been some signs that something is maybe in the works. Our building was sold a year ago to L&R and they bought the building down the block. I wasn’t aware until last night they also bought the Downtown Independent, our neighbor to the south.” The L&R Group of Companies operates various parking facilities in the city and, according to Smith, now own all of the land including and immediately surrounding the Smell. In April or May of 2015, L&R became the venue’s new landlord, and “raised the rent, like within a month or two. That’s been a little bit of a struggle because they really jacked it up. It went from $2,375 to $4,000 overnight, so almost a 70 percent increase right there,” said Smith. There are already several parking lots immediately surrounding the club.

Thought the club abuts the city’s Skid Row—a notorious concentration of the homeless crisis in Los Angeles—restaurants, hotels, and other high-end development have sprouted up or are currently in the works for the area. Despite the changes around them, Smith noted “We’d love to stay in downtown…the direction downtown is going, that might be impossible, but it’s definitely something we’ll explore. And if it can’t be in downtown, we’ll find another location and make our home there.” LAist reported that due to the Memorial Day holiday, “no information regarding the notice or plans for demolition has been made available yet, and won’t be available until at least Tuesday, as all governmental offices are closed for the Memorial Day weekend.”

May 30, 2016

Public Art Fund To Install David Shrigley Sculpture in Central Park

David Shrigley

Public Art Fund has announced that a new public artwork by British artist David Shrigley, a seventeen-foot-tall granite sculpture with a shopping list engraved on its surface and titled MEMORIAL, will be the next installation at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park. Located at the southeast entrance to the park, the plaza currently features Isa Genzken’s Two Orchids, which will remain installed through August 21. Shirgley’s work will be on view from September 8, 2016 to February 26, 2017.

Public Art Fund associate curator Emma Enderby, who organized the exhibition, said of Shrigley’s upcoming installation “Public monuments are familiar features of parks and plazas across the world and enable communities to celebrate, remember, or pay homage to great endeavors or individuals. In MEMORIAL, however, David has chosen to celebrate one of the most familiar acts in many of our daily lives: the jotting down of a grocery list…By memorializing a list in this way, the work pays homage both to no-one and to everyone —it’s a simple ode to humanity.”

The installation in New York will be concurrent with the artist’s Fourth Plinth Commission to be installed in London’s Trafalgar Square on September 29, which features a ten-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a “thumbs-up” gesture. David Shrigley lives and works in Brighton, UK and was previously a Turner Prize nominee in 2013. His most recent solo exhibitions have been at Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland Arts Festival, New Zealand (2015); National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia (2014–15); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany (2014); BQ, Berlin, Germany (2013); and the Hayward Gallery, London, England (2012).

May 30, 2016

Rijksmuseum Names New Director

Taco Dibbits

Nina Siegal reports in the New York Times that the board of trustees at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam have announced Taco Dibbits, the museum’s current director of collections, as the new director of the museum, replacing Wim Pijbes. Pijbes previously announced his resignation last March and will become the director of a new, private, contemporary art institution called Museum Voorlinden, set to open in September on a nature reserve near The Hague.

Dibbits has worked at the Rijksmuseum since 2002, and will take on his new role after Pijbes steps down on July 15. Dibbits joined the Rijksmuseum as curator of seventeenth-century painting, prior to the museum’s closing for an expansion that lasted a decade and cost about $415 million. He spearheaded the reinstallation of the museum’s collections and helped develop the institution’s digital strategy, which has made high-resolution images of works in its collection available to the public for free. Dibbits was promoted to director of collections in 2008.

He studied at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of Cambridge, and previously worked in London as the director of the old masters department at Christie’s.

May 30, 2016

Clifton Benevento Gallery Closes

Michael Clifton and Michael Benevento

Michael Clifton and Michael Benevento have announced they will be closing their gallery, located at 515 Broadway between Spring and Broome streets. The gallery’s last day open to the public is tomorrow, May 31.

A few of the artists exhibited in the last six years have included Zarouhie Abdalian—covered by artforum.com’s Wendy Vogel last month—Polly Apfelbaum, Gina Beavers, Zak Kitnick, Sofia Leiby, Jeanette Mundt, Martin Soto Climent, Wu Tsang, and Ned Vena. Other artists that have shown with the gallery throughout the years are Nina Beier, Luis Miguel Bendaña, Colby Bird, Phillip Birch, Patrick Brennan, Marieta Chirulescu, Peter Coffin, Aleksandra Domanović, Dan Finsel, Channa Horwitz, Sanya Kantarovsky, Marjorie Keller, Edward and Nancy Kienholz, Joshua Kolbo, Denise Kupferschmidt, Shio Kusaka, Eddie Martinez, Chadwick Rantanen, Kyle Thurman, Jeffrey Tranchell, Siebren Versteeg, Jonas Wood, Aaron Wrinkle, Mike Yaniro, Anicka Yi, and David Zuttermeister.

May 27, 2016

Spanish Court Denies US Extradition Request for Alleged Member of Knoedler Forgery Ring

A courtroom sketch depicting one of the fake Mark Rothko paintings bought by a collector.

On Wednesday, Spain’s national court cited health reasons when it ruled that José Carlos Bergantiños Díaz, an alleged member of the more than $80-million forgery scheme in which fake artworks were sold to Knoedler & Company Gallery, should not be extradited to the United States, Raphael Minder of the New York Times reports.

Medical reports detail a series of ailments that Díaz is suffering from including neurological conditions. The forty-three page ruling states Díaz could appear “before Spanish courts, with a level of success similar to that which could be reached before American courts.”

In February, the national court decided Díaz’s brother, Jesús Ángel Bergantiños Díaz, could be extradited to the United States where he faces charges of “wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and money laundering,” as artforum.com previously reported.

The brothers were the alleged partners of Glafira Rosales who commissioned Pei Shen Qian, a Chinese immigrant, to forge works by Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock among other artists, and then sold them to clients through Knoedler Gallery. Since it closed in 2011, Knoedler has made a number of out-of-court settlements with collectors who purchased the fakes.