May 31, 2013

Huntington Receives $32 Million from Charles Munger

Philanthropist and business magnate Charles Munger has bestowed the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens $32 million. It is the lead gift in the Huntington’s $60 million capital campaign for a new education and visitors center. David Ng of the Los Angeles Times reports that construction on the forty-three-thousand-square-foot center, which will also feature six-and-a-half acres of new gardens, has already begun. A spokeswoman from the museum notes that fundraising is “well underway” to meet their goal; the center is expected to open in 2015.

May 31, 2013

National Gallery of Art Adds Andrew M. Saul to Board of Trustees

The National Gallery of Art has appointed Andrew M. Saul to its board of trustees. Saul is currently chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board and has been a general partner in investment firm Saul Partners, L.P. since 1986. Andrew Russeth of the New York Observer reports he served on the museum’s trustees’ council from 2006 to 2010. There are nine members of the board, and each serve a ten-year term.

May 30, 2013

Velvet Underground Settles Lawsuit Over Warhol's Album Cover

The Velvet Underground has settled a lawsuit with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts over the rights to Warhol’s design for the cover of the band's most popular album, reports Nate Raymond of Reuters. The 1960s avant-garde band, founded by John Cale and Lou Reed, sued the organization in January 2012 after it was rumored that the foundation, which was set up by the artist to advance the visual arts, was planning to license the iconic image of the banana for cases, sleeves, and bags for Apple's products. The design was created by Warhol and used for the band’s first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, which was released in 1967. The settlement was filed yesterday in New York federal court and details of the agreement have not yet been disclosed.

May 30, 2013

Graham Foundation Announces 2013 Individual Grants

The Graham Foundation, which supports experimental projects on architecture and its role in the arts, culture, and society, has announced the recipients of individual grants for its 2013 cycle. This year, the foundation will be giving over $500,000 to sixty-one awardees, including Our Literal Speed, a Selma, Alabama-based collective, for an ongoing piece on the 1965 Bloody Sunday march; and Peter Hanappe, Bruno Latour, and Armin Linke, for a project that “develops new ways of dealing with visual archives and spatial concepts.” Since 1956, the foundation has funded over two thousand individuals, including Robert Venturi, Rem Koolhaas, and Ada Louise Huxtable. A full list of this year's winners can be found here.

May 29, 2013

Mark Masuoka Appointed Director of Akron Art Museum

Steven Litt reports in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Mark Masuoka has been appointed the new director of the Akron Art Museum. Masuoka, who succeeds Mitchell Kahan, managed the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, an artist-in-residence program, which he expanded and rescued from a budget deficit. In his new role, Masuoka will oversee scholarly exhibitions, but will also organize residencies for artists to create works on site, and collaborate with other institutions to create exhibitions staged beyond the museum's walls. Before his work at the Bemis Center, Masuoka served as director and chief curator of the Nevada Institute for Contemporary Art, and as executive director and chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver.

May 29, 2013

International News Digest

MAY 29

Who owns the rights to photos of performance art? According to Der Standard, a new ruling by the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe will allow the Beuys Museum in Schloss Moyland to display photographs taken of the artist’s fat and chocolate actions without first obtaining permission from his widow’s estate. The decision overturns a Dusseldorf court’s 2009 ruling that the museum’s eighteen photographs could only be exhibited with Eva Beuys’s approval. Now, according to the federal court, while the 1964 performance is protected under copyright, the photographs, which were taken by Manfred Tischer, are “unsupported material.”

Nils Jennrich, the Beijing-based general manager of Integrated Fine Art Solutions who was jailed by the Chinese government for one hundred days, is now returning home, according to Katie Hunt in the Art Newspaper. The German art shipper was detained, along with a colleague, for allegedly underreporting the value of art and evading a total of $1.6 million in taxes. While Jennrich has been free on bail since August of last year, he was barred from leaving the country. A lawyer representing him said that Chinese authorities permitted him to go back to Germany based on “humanitarian grounds”—his parents are sick and his fiance is pregnant. “It is really a diplomatic rather than legal solution,” Murphy said. “The German government has been raising this issue.” Though Jennrich has signed a letter agreeing to return to China, “it’s not clear by what means Chinese authorities could compel him to return,” reports Hunt.

Tate Britain is undergoing a reorganization of sorts: Director Penelope Curtis has announced that the museum will now be displaying its collection of British art in chronological order. The pieces, which span from the sixteenth century to today, will no longer be grouped by theme or school. “We want to offer a more neutral way of perceiving the collection,” Curtis said in Monopol. “We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.”

May 29, 2013

Otto Muehl (1925–2013)

The artist Otto Muehl has passed away. A cofounder of Viennese Actionism, Muehl also later became known for controversial portraits of subjects, including Hitler and Mother Teresa, depicted in shocking conditions and poses. Muehl studied at the University of Vienna, where he organized “actions”—performances that often involved blood, feces, and sex—including Kunst und Revolution (Art and Revolution), which he staged in 1968, with Günter Brus and Oswald Wiener, and which lead to a scandal in the press, as well as to their arrest for the violation of decency laws. Muehl became an art teacher, and in 1970 founded the Friedrichshof commune, which promoted shared property and sexual liberalism, according to the Art Media Agency. The Austrian Independent noted that, in its heyday, the commune had over six hundred residents in its two sites. But Muehl was eventually convicted for sexual offenses with minors, drug use, and influencing witnesses. After serving a six-year sentence, Muehl lived with the Art and Life Family commune in Portugal. In 2010, on the occasion of his eighty-fifth birthday, the Leopold Museum in Vienna featured his work in a solo exhibition. The artist died “peacefully in a circle of friends,” according to Daniele Roussel, head of the Muehl archive.

May 28, 2013

Rijksmuseum Offers Free Downloads of Images of Collection

Nina Siegal of the New York Times reports that the Rijksmuseum is offering downloads of high-resolution images of its collection at no cost, encouraging the public “to copy and transform its artworks into stationery, T-shirts, tattoos, plates, or even toilet paper.” The decision has brought a plethora of copyright issues—from maintaining control over revenues made off of posters and souvenirs to preventing forgeries—to the fore. Siegal notes that while museums are moving toward digitization (and if not through their websites, through partnerships with programs like Google Art Project), most tend to think of online collections as more a virtual catalogue and less a repository of images to be used for other purposes. To this, director of collections Taco Dibbits responded: “We’re a public institution, and so the art and objects we have are, in a way, everyone’s property. With the Internet, it’s so difficult to control your copyright or use of images that we decided we’d rather people use a very good high-resolution image of the ‘Milkmaid’ from the Rijksmuseum rather than using a very bad reproduction.” Since the service commenced in October, two hundred thousand people have downloaded images.

May 28, 2013

Kim Merker (1932–2013)

Kim Merker, an artisanal printmaker who made a life of publishing books, has passed away at the age of eighty-one. Paul Vitello of the New York Times calls Merker “a designer, typesetter, and printer of some of the most beautiful books made in America . . . . All were vessels for poems that he found promising, interesting, or indisputably excellent and about which he was usually right: Some of the young poets he published went on to achieve renown.” Philip Levine, Mark Strand, and James Tate were among these young poets, all of whom were largely unknown when Merker began working with them and all whom went on to win Pulitzer Prizes. Commenting on this, former chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts Dana Gioia said: “If you look at a list of important American poets today, a surprising number of them had their early work printed by Kim Merker.” Merker started two hand-press publishing imprints—Stone Wall Press in 1957 and Windhover in 1967—both of which he ran until 1999, when he suffered a stroke that ended his work.