December 24, 2013

Julia Morgan is First Woman Ever to Receive AIA’s Gold Medal

Julia Morgan has been awarded the American Institute of Architects' most prestigious award, the gold medal. She is the first woman ever to receive the prize, which the institute began bestowing more than one hundred years ago. Morgan, most famous for Hearst Castle at San Simeon on California’s central coast, died fifty-seven years ago. Mike Boehm of the Los Angeles Times reports that this is the eighth gold medal to be awarded posthumously and that architects including Frank Gehry championed Morgan’s nomination. Said Nicci Solomons, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the institute: “It’s exciting that Morgan is the first woman, and it does open the door to many amazing women in the profession.”

December 23, 2013

Imprisoned Pussy Riot Members Released

CNN reports that two members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot— Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova—have been freed two months before their two-year sentences were due to end, thanks to an amnesty law introduced by Putin and backed by Russian lawmakers. Tolokonnikova and her husband Pyotr Verzilov, told CNN that she felt the amnesty law was as much a publicity stunt to burnish the government’s image before the February Winter Olympics. “President Putin obviously used this amnesty option to [brighten] up his image before the Olympic games,” said Verzilov, who added, “Two months out of the almost two years that the girls have served is not much. So the effect of this amnesty for Maria and Nadezhda is not really felt.” Under the amnesty law, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova qualified for early release because they both have young children.

December 21, 2013

Christie’s First India Auction Brings in Over $15 Million

Christie’s first auction in India—held yesterday evening at the Taj Mahal in Mumbai—brought over $15 million, which was double the auction house’s presale expectations. Serving as a centerpiece of the auction were works from the estate of Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, who ran a framing business and then in 1963 founded Chemould Gallery. Artists represented from their collection included S. H. Raza, Ram Kumar, and Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, whose Untitled (Landscape), 1949, sold for $3.7 million, the highest price ever fetched by a modern work of art in India. Said Hugo Weihe, Christie’s international director of Asian art, “It is hard to imagine the careers of the great names of modern art without the encouragement of the Gandhys and it is a measure of their vision in the early 1960s that their gallery, under the stewardship of their daughter, continues to show contemporary art today.”

December 20, 2013

Cleveland Museum Receives Major Collection of Indian Islamic Art

Randy Kennedy writes in the New York Times that the Cleveland Museum has acquired “one of the most important collections still in private hands of Deccan and Mughal painting from India’s major Islamic courts of the sixteenth century through the late eighteenth century.” The collection was built by Catherine Glynn Benkaim—a curator and scholar of Indian art—and her late husband, entertainment lawyer Ralph Benkaim. Ms. Benkaim’s decision to give to the Cleveland Museum was driven in part by the reopening of the institution’s Indian and Southeast Asian galleries (as part of its $350 million expansion) and its ability to keep the Benkaims’ collection intact. Kennedy notes that the gift comes as welcome news at the museum, whose last director, David Franklin, recently resigned after admitting to an affair with a museum staffer who later committed suicide.

December 19, 2013

Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Donates 200,000 Photographs to Five Institutions

The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation has announced it will give approximately 200,000 black-and-white prints, color photographs, negatives, contact sheets, transparencies, and slides to five major institutions, reports Ted Loos of the New York Times. The donation, which was culled from the Harry Shunk and Shunk-Kender photography collection, includes photographs of post-war artists and artworks taken by Harry Shunk and János Kender: Yves Klein’s Leap into the Void, 1960; ninety-two prints of Yayoi Kusama’s The Anatomic Explosion, 1968, and Mirror Performance, 1963; and documentation of MoMA’s 1971 exhibition, “Pier 18,” which showcased the work of twenty-seven artists including John Baldessari, Mel Bochner, Daniel Buren, Dan Graham, Gordon Matta-Clark, Dennis Oppenheim, Richard Serra, and Michael Snow; among others. Most of the collection will be given to the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. Four museums (the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Tate, London) will be given their own gifts and will be able to request the Getty’s holdings for academic use, creating a consortium between these institutions. The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation acquired the photographs between 2008 and 2012, when they were at risk of being scattered after Shunk’s death in 2006.

December 19, 2013

Andrea Lissoni Appointed Film Curator at Tate Modern

The Tate Modern, London, has announced that Andrea Lissoni has been appointed its film and international art curator, reports Artdaily. Lissoni will maintain his current role as curator of Pirelli HangarBicocca, where he has, since 2011, organized exhibitions on the works of Wilfredo Prieto, Tomás Saraceno, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Mike Kelley, and Ragnar Kjartansson, among others. “The two posts will allow me to contribute both to the activities of one of the most prestigious institutions in the world of art and to those of an Italian institution,” he said, “which, partly as a result of its international outlook, I am proud to say has become a leading player in Italy and abroad.” Lissoni begins his new position in March 2014.

December 18, 2013

New York Court Rules that Sellers at Auction May Remain Anonymous

Graham Bowley reports in the New York Times that the New York Court of Appeals has overturned a lower-court ruling which would have compelled auction houses to disclose the names of sellers in order for any deals to become binding. In the latest ruling, the state’s highest court unanimously found that William J. Jenack, the auctioneer of a nineteenth-century Russian box, had provided enough information to demand payment after the top bidder tried to walk away upon finding out that the seller would remain anonymous.

December 18, 2013

Philadelphia Museum of Art to Endow 29 Staff Positions

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is announcing today that it will be endowing twenty-nine staff positions after completing a five-year fundraising campaign to raise $54 million. The campaign began with H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest and his wife Marguerite offering a $27 million grant. Lenfest chairs the museum’s board of trustees, and also coowns the Inquirer. In the words of Timothy Rub, the museum’s director and CEO, the grant was “formidable when established, right at the very start of the recession when there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the world.”

December 18, 2013

New Curator at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft has announced that Elizabeth Kozlowski will serve as its curator, according to the Examiner. She will oversee all aspects of exhibitions, including curating original exhibitions, coordinating traveling shows, creating related programming and events, and managing curatorial staff. Kozlowski has served as Windgate curatorial fellow at the Arizona State University Art Museum, where she organized the traveling exhibition “Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft.”