July 26, 2013

León Ferrari (1920–2013)

Argentinian artist León Ferrari is dead at the age of ninety-three. Known for a provocative practice that fused erotic and violent imagery with religious iconography, Ferrari had raised hackles in his own nation—he spent nearly two decades in exile in São Paulo—as well as in the Catholic Church. He was the winner of the Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Biennale and in 2012 was given the Diamond Konex Award for Visual Arts, which honored him “as the most important artist in the last decade in his country.”

Javier Pes of the Art Newspaper writes that the artist used art-making as way to call attention to abuses of power by governmental and religious forces. In 2004, a retrospective of his work opened in Buenos Aires that attracted thousands before being terminated by a court order for its anti-Catholic content. While judges ruled that the artist’s exhibition incited religious hatred, the exhibition did reopen after widespread protests. Said Ferrari about this particular case of censorship: “For many years I have made art dealing with discrimination on various fronts: against gays, against women, against Jews, etc.—and against the tortures that the church promises en masse to ‘sinners.’ Christianity divides human beings into believers and sinners, condemning the latter to Hell, and I consider this a threat that violates human rights.” His work is included in collections at the Museum of Modern Art and the Tate among many others.

July 26, 2013

Walter De Maria (1935–2013)

Celebrated artist Walter De Maria has passed away, according to David Ng of the Los Angeles Times. Though early on he collaborated with La Monte Young on Happenings, and served as the drummer in a band with Lou Reed and John Cale, De Maria perhaps garnered most acclaim for his Minimalist sculptures and land art installations, which he began producing in 1968. These works range from The Lightning Field, 1977, maintained by Dia Foundation in New Mexico, to The 2000 Sculpture, 2012, installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His urban works include the Vertical Earth Kilometer, 1977, and The Broken Kilometer, 1979, as well as The New York Earth Room, a 3,600-square-foot room at Fourteen Wooster Street that De Maria filled with dirt. His work was featured in Documenta twice, as well as in solo exhibitions at the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, and the Menil Collection in Houston. “He’s one of the greatest artists of our time,” said LACMA director Michael Govan, who, as the erstwhile director of Dia in New York, had worked with De Maria for many years. “I think there's a quality to his work that is singular. It was sublime and direct.”

July 26, 2013

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Elects New Board Officers

New officers have been elected to the board of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Peggy P. Burnet is now chair; John Pappajohn, vice chair; Jane Lipton Cafritz, secretary; and Daniel Sallick, treasurer. Said Burnet, who joined the board three years ago: “The board is excited to face the challenges and embrace the opportunities at the Hirshhorn. We are enthusiastic about our role in supporting and advising the museum. I am grateful for the service of board members both past and present. I am fortunate to have worked, and to continue to work, with people who care deeply about the Hirshhorn and its mission.”

July 25, 2013

Foundation for Contemporary Arts Announces 2013 Grants

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA), a nonprofit arts organization founded by John Cage and Jasper Johns, has announced the recipients of its annual awards. Celebrating its fiftieth year, the organization will provide a total of $200,000 to sixty-one organizations dedicated to supporting contemporary visual and performing arts.

July 25, 2013

Abraham Thomas Appointed Director of Soane’s Museum

The Sir John Soane’s Museum in London has appointed Abraham Thomas as its director, reports Pac Pobric of the Art Newspaper. Previously curator of design and architecture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Thomas in his new role will be responsible for leading the next phase of Soane’s museum, which will open up the collector and architect’s private apartments that have not been viewable by the public since 1837. Thomas will begin his directorship on December 3.

July 25, 2013

House Committee Proposes Funding Cuts For NEA

A new bill approved by the House of Representatives’ committee on appropriations could cut funding for various cultural organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, reports David Ng of the Los Angeles Times. Part of the greater budget sequester calling for 19 percent reduction in federal spending, the NEA’s cuts would decrease its budget by 49 percent, bringing the agency’s funding down to a level not seen since 1974. Headed by Republican Representative Hal Rogers, the committee is also proposing slashing 19 percent of the funding for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art as well as eliminating any funding for the Eisenhower Memorial designed by architect Frank Gehry.

July 23, 2013

Director Jeffrey Deitch To Leave LA MoCA

After three years as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Jeffrey Deitch has informed the museum’s trustees that he intends to leave, report Randy Kennedy and Patricia Cohen of the New York Times. Previously the owner of the New York gallery Deitch Projects, Deitch was appointed director of the museum in 2010, two years after the museum came close to exhausting its endowment and resorting to a merger with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

His first exhibition for LA MoCA, a retrospective of the work of Dennis Hopper in July 2010, was poorly received by critics and visitors; it was in 2011, with the exhibition “Art in the Streets,” about the history of graffiti and street art, that Deitch’s leadership seemed to break ground at the museum, establishing a new attendance record at 200,000 visitors in four months. Disagreements with the museum’s staff, however, eventually led to a domino effect of departures at the institution: The museum’s long-time chief curator, Paul Schimmel, resigned, and artists on the museum’s board, including John Baldessari, Catherine Opie, Barbara Kruger, and Ed Ruscha, followed suit.

Deitch’s resignation comes at a time when the museum’s finances are finally stabilizing; a fundraising effort by the museum’s board members secured more than $75 million in donation pledges for its eventual goal of $100 million. The board will meet on Wednesday this week to form a search committee for Deitch’s replacement.

July 23, 2013

Noam Gal Appointed Curator of Photography at the Israel Museum

Noam Gal has been named curator of photography at the Israel Museum. He replaces Nissan Perez, who founded the department nearly forty years ago and is retiring. Gal is currently a professor of visual culture and theory of photography at Ben Gurion University and the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design; he also teaches literary theory and visual culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He will assume his new post September 1.

July 23, 2013

Jason T. Busch Named Deputy Director at Saint Louis Art Museum

Jason T. Busch has been appointed deputy director of curatorial affairs and museum programs at the Saint Louis Art Museum, reports Zoë Lescaze of the New York Observer. He is currently chief curator of decorative arts and design at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, a role he assumed in 2010. Said Bosch: “I am honored to join the Saint Louis Art Museum as the institution embarks upon an auspicious chapter in its history with the opening of the acclaimed East Building. The depth and breadth of the collection, as well as the high level of talent and scholarship of museum staff, is indeed impressive.” He will begin his new role in October, following the opening of the 2013 Carnegie International.