International News Digest

OCTOBER 27

A conversation between Eva Blimlinger, director of Vienna’s Academy of Visual Arts, and Gerald Bast, director of the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, published in Der Standard, confirms that any reports that the two institutions might be merged because of lack of funding are fallacious. Mergers are fundamentally cost ineffective, the two directors agree. “Back in the day, fusions were basically an expression of contempt for art,” says Bast. “They didn’t dare say one should abolish art colleges—so they proposed mergers instead.” “Quite right,” responds Blimlinger. “Why doesn’t anyone propose the merger of agriculture and veterinary medicine? Because it makes no sense either!” In alignment with the European Union’s emphasis on the need for a “creative union,” the directors underscore that art schools are of prime importance as such institutions expand the creative sector. “We should say goodbye to the idea that we need to do the job we learned in school,” says Bliminger, “School is about developing skills that can be applied to all sorts of professions.”

Monopol reports that the Grand Palais called off the Robert Indiana exhibition slated to open November 21 weeks before its cancellation of Monumenta, reported on Artforum.com last week here—perhaps all indicative of the general lack of arts funding in Europe. While François Hollande emphasized during his election campaign that culture must remain untouched, the financial crisis has caused him to switch gears—France needs to save almost $37 million euro to remain within the Maastricht agreement. “No one can be spared,” said Alain Seban, president of Paris’s Centre Pompidou, which draws more than six million visitors a year. The Pompidou is currently dealing with funding cuts of between 2 and 2.5 percent, as is the Paris Opera, the Louvre, and the Musée d’Orsay. “This will affect the events program,” continued Seban, noting that he might very well have to cancel a major exhibition planned for 2013.

Michael Werner has bestowed 127 works of modern and contemporary art to the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris. The donation was facilitated by Fabrice Hergott, director of the museum. Hans-Joachim Müller of Die Welt states that many are “surprised” or “incensed” that Werner has chosen to gift to a Parisian museum the portion of his collection, which includes works by artists like Francis Picabia, André Derain, Eugène Leroy, and Lucio Fontana. “He had a predilection for late works,” notes _Le Monde, which adds that “there has to be a lot of patriotism involved if one fails to see that this totally incomparable collection will be no where be cared for better than in this equally incomparable museum.”

Die Zeit muses on increasing gender equality in the art world, noting that there have never been more female museum directors than today. While women outnumber men in art schools and prizes and grants are generally equally distributed amongst men and women, Die Zeit suggests that outside of institutions many women artists become “invisible” and where “men’s revenues rise, women’s income stagnates . . . . Every third artwork that’s being acquired by a museum is by a woman. While a male artist might earn ten thousand euro, a woman artist earns on average six thousand four hundred euro.”