August 25, 2013

Canadian Filmmaker John Greyson and Physician Tarek Loubani Detained in Cairo

Two Canadian citizens have been arrested in Cairo under accusations of being part of the Muslim Brotherhood and participating in “bloody crimes of violence,” reports CBC News. Filmmaker John Greyson and physician Tarek Loubani stopped at a police station in Cairo to ask for directions to their hotel; they were then incarcerated. Loubani was passing through Cairo, heading to Gaza to train emergency-room doctors, and Greyson was accompanying him to do research for a possible film.

According to a document from an Egyptian prosecutor, the two men face allegations along with seven other foreign nationals that include belonging to an armed gang; threatening security and social peace; disabling public transport and communications; and possessing firearms, ammunition, and explosives. Greyson and Loubani have been ordered to remain behind bars for another fifteen days pending investigation. The Canadian government has been in talks with the Egyptian ambassador and reports that it will continue to engage at the “highest levels until the matter is resolved.”

A Facebook page featuring regular updates as well as details on petitions and letters can be found here.

August 23, 2013

International News Digest

AUGUST 23

Last year, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation announced plans to move the collection of works by old masters out of Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie to make room for twentieth-century art. The decision caused such an uproar that officials changed course; now, according to Catherine Hickley in Bloomberg, museum authorities have revealed plans to construct a new home near Potsdamer Platz for the modern and contemporary works. The new building will take up over 100,000 square feet, will cost around $170 million, and will open in 2022 if all goes according to schedule. German culture minister Bernd Neumann lauded the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation’s new plans, saying they showed “moderation and awareness of responsibility.”

Der Standard reports that an “invaluable” collection of works by El Greco and Goya have disappeared without a trace from a residence in Barcelona. The building where the works were stored had been donated to the city of Barcelona by its previous owner, the multimillionaire and collector Julio Muñoz Ramonet, who died in 1991. After a seventeen-year legal battle between his four daughters for the property, the keys were finally handed over to municipal authorities last month. However, the most valuable of the five hundred works in Ramonet’s collection are missing. Authorities suspect that one of the daughters may have smuggled the artworks out when an inventory was being done of the masterpieces.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 artifacts have gone missing in Egypt. The Mallawi Museum in Egypt was ransacked last Friday, and several museum guards were shot and killed, according to the Art Newspaper’s Julia Halperin, who notes that the lootings highlight the “security vacuum outside of the capitol city of Cairo, where protests against the removal of president Mohammed Morsi have been raging since August 14.” According to local reporters, Ahmen Sharaf, the head of museums for the antiquities ministry, has surmised that Muslim Brotherhood members—who have been behind the protests—are responsible for the attack. In a statement issued on Monday, Unesco’s director-general Irina Bokova said “This constitutes irreversible damage to the history and identity of the Egyptian people.”

August 23, 2013

Alex Gartenfeld Named Interim Director at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami

Michael H. Miller of the New York Observer reports that Alex Gartenfeld has been appointed interim director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, where he was hired as a curator earlier this year. Bonnie Clearwater, the museum’s director, resigned in July to assume a post at the Nova Southeastern University's Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale. The museum has announced that it will commence a “comprehensive international search” for a new director.

August 22, 2013

Rauschenberg Foundation Sued for $60 Million

Three trustees of Robert Rauschenberg’s estate are suing the Rauschenberg Foundation for $60 million, reports Patricia Cohen of the New York Times. According to the lawsuit, Bill Goldston, Darryl Pottorf, and Bennet Grutman claim to be entitled to fees amounting to the sum, which, according to an expert hired by the foundation, amounts to a $40,000-an-hour wage. In Florida, where the suit was filed, state law vaguely says that trustees are typically entitled to a “reasonable fee”; a lawyer hired by the foundation has filed an affidavit saying a reasonable fee would run close to $250 an hour, according to his calculations of the work involved. The affidavit also states that Pottorf had harrassed the foundation’s staff, inundating them with threatening phone calls that, in one week, resulted in more than seventy-five voice mails. To date, the trustees have each paid themselves $5.7 million of the $60 million in fees as well as $3.9 million for work they continue to perform on behalf of the Rauschenberg business.

August 21, 2013

Detroit Institute of Arts Risks Losing Funds If City Sells Collection

In further news related to Detroit’s dire financial straits, Randy Kennedy reports in the New York Times that officials in Oakland County in Michigan have voted to terminate the property tax they instituted last year to help fund the Detroit Institute of Arts, if the museum’s collection is used in any way to raise money for Detroit’s creditors. The resolution—which supports the publicly expressed desire of the museum’s administrators to keep its collection intact—comes at a time when Detroit’s emergency manager has raised eyebrows by hiring auction house Christie’s to appraise the museum’s art holdings. Kennedy also noted that, while relations between the city and the DIA may be tense, the museum announced on Monday that it would not file an objection to the city’s decision to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 9.

August 21, 2013

Studio Museum in Harlem Announces 2013–2014 Artists in Residence

Michael H. Miller notes in GalleristNY that the Studio Museum in Harlem has chosen Kevin Beasley, Bethany Collins, and Abigail Deville as its 2013–2014 artists in residence. Collins is a painter, while Beasley and Deville use a variety of media in their work. All three will receive $20,000 as part of their fellowship, as well as a materials stipend of $1,000.

August 20, 2013

Zhana Ivanova Awarded the 2013 Fiorucci Art Trust Fellowship

Zhana Ivanova has been awarded the 2013 Fiorucci Art Trust Fellowship. The performance artist was selected by a jury including Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Lucy McKenzie, Polly Staple, and Mark Nash. The fellowship will support Ivanova as a resident at the Rijksakademie. Established in 2010 by Nicoletta Fiorucci, the trust works across diverse platforms and disciplines to provide collaborative support for artist projects as well as publishing and exhibitions.

August 16, 2013

Tacoma Art Museum Receives $2 Million Grant from State

The Tacoma Art Museum has received $2 million from the state of Washington, subsidizing the institution’s current $15.5 million expansion project, reports Rosemary Ponnekanti of the News Tribune. The grant is part of the Department of Commerce’s State of Washington Building for the Arts program, which provides funding for twelve nonprofit cultural organizations. TAM will use the grant for the museum’s new Haub Western American Art wing and redesigned entry, scheduled to open on September 5 of this year.

August 16, 2013

International News Digest

AUGUST 16

Score one for artistic freedoms: As the BBC reports, Jonathan Meese has been acquitted of all charges, after he was hauled to court for performing a Nazi salute twice at an event called “Megalomania in the Art World” at Kassel University. Though public displays of Nazi symbolism are illegal in Germany, Meese and his lawyers successfully argued that his gesture, and his use of the swastika symbol, are meant satirically. “Art has triumphed,” Meese said after the verdict was announced. “Now I am free.”

Colta.ru reports that ArtChronika, a leading Russian art magazine, will be shutting down, according to the Baibakov Art Projects blog, which notes that the magazine drew attention to the Pussy Riot case with its iconic cover story. Founded in 1999, the magazine was taken over by Shalva Breus, who also established the ArtChronika Foundation, and has been led since 2011 by editor-in-chief Maria Roguleva. Word is the magazine’s staff has quit en masse, which has led to much speculation in the press.

In more news from Russia, Norman Foster’s architectural firm has resigned from its role in the expansion of Moscow’s State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts—a project that has stalled over disputes between officials and preservationists, reports Sophia Kishkovsky in the Art Newspaper. Foster’s resignation took place after a challenge from Moscow’s lead architect, Sergei Kuznetsov, “demanding that Foster take a more active role in the project and prove his commitment by coming to the Russian capital within a month,” notes Kishkovsky. But Foster + Partners asserted that it had already earlier quit the job, and specified that its name could not be used in conjunction with the project, because it had been elbowed out of project-development discussions. “This was despite numerous attempts by the practice to continue working with the museum,” said the firm.

Over in Brazil, the Museo de Arte de Sao Paulo has announced the winners of its annual awards, notes ArtNexus. Regina Silveira won in the “Whole Oeuvre” category and Odires Mlászho has been named “Artist of the Year 2012–2013”; both will receive around $86,000. Meanwhile, Rodrigo Braga, who’s been recognized in the “Emerging Artist” category, will win approximately $30,000.