International News Digest

SEPTEMBER 3

Algerian artists are forming their own artist-run spaces and collectives. Assia Boundaoui of PRI took a look at their efforts, which are partly a response, Boundaoui wrote, to the “Ministry of Culture’s monopoly on the art scene.”

“We want it to be known that many Algerian artists are creating contemporary art." said Walid Aidoud, a graphic designer based in Algiers who’s one of the founding members of artist collective BOX 24—which hosts one of the country’s only independent art spaces. Boundaoui noted that the Ministry of Culture had a total budget in 2012 of $450 million, but that it tends to “host expensive, flashy exhibitions of well-known Algerian artists” while disregarding emerging younger artists, and ignoring art that explores topics like “corruption, unemployment, and the frustrations of Algeria’s youth.”

Back in Europe, an Austrian industrialist named Hans Peter Haselsteiner has stepped forward to buy the art collection amassed by Karlheinz Essl, according to Die Presse. Earlier this year, Essl made a failed bid to sell the collection to the state, as Artforum.com reported here. Haselsteiner is buying the collection for $131 million, which Essl will use toward keeping his BauMax empire afloat. The collection includes pieces by Austrians like Oskar Kokoschka and Hermann Nitsch, as well as international artists like Sam Francis and Anish Kapoor.

Austria may have turned down an opportunity to buy a collection, but the Southern French city of Carcassonne has turned down a gift of artworks valued at $5.2 million. Coline Milliard reported in Artnet that the Brazilian art dealer Cérès Franco had offered the town her collection—which comprises works by outsider and self-taught artists—but that a new administration had notified her the collection would be returned to her mother’s house, which currently serves as a private museum, saying that the government did not have enough money to maintain the collection, but also that interest in the artworks was lacking, according to an interview with Franco in the Dépêche du Midi. Others, however, allege the rejection of the gift was political. The local cultural councilor, Alain Tarlier, had spent the last two decades campaigning for the collection to stay in Carcassonne; he said he was deeply hurt. “I’m waiting for explanations,” he added.

As Scotland geared up for a referendum on its independence, The Spectator published several perspectives, first appearing in the Apollo Magazine, on whether independence would be good or bad for Scotland’s museums and galleries. James Holloway, director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery for over a decade, said that independence would hurt Scottish arts funding: “The whole sector depends on the generosity of an independent charity, the Art Fund. Will the Art Fund continue to give grants to Scotland if the country elects to leave the United Kingdom? Why should it continue to support the collections of a foreign country?” He summed up: “What is sure is that Scotland’s present position in regard to arts funding . . . would be certain to get worse.”

In contrast, Sandy Moffatt—who was head of painting at the Glasgow School of Art—said, “Independence is about the long view—what might be achieved when the cultural priorities of Scotland begin to take on a different shape from those at present.” He added, “Rather than diminish their role, independence offers museums and galleries an enhanced sphere of influence at the center of the nation’s cultural life.”

The Kunstverein Kestner Gesellschaft in Hannover named a new director: Christina Végh. According to Monopol, Végh will be the first woman directing the organization; she succeeds Veit Gorner, who’s held the position since 2003. After beginning her career at the Kunsthalle Basel, Végh went on to serve as director of the Bonner Kunstverein for a decade, where she worked with artists like Ed Atkins, Alexandra Bircken, and Christopher Williams.

Said Végh, “My focus is not on developing exhibitions that are simple successions of artworks being presented, but on putting forth this exhibition space as a place for research and knowledge, thereby integrating new methods of mediation and communication.”

Münster residents are counting down the days: The city’s Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kultur is preparing to reopen its doors on September 20 after a $66 million renovation, reported Der Westen. The museum’s holdings include everything from medieval artifacts from Westphalia to international modern contemporary art. Its exhibition spaces, after the renovations, will have quardrupled from 20,000 to 80,000 square feet. The architect, Volker Staab, designed the museum in such a way that most of the artworks can be viewed from various rooms and perspectives; the new museum also affords sweeping views of Münster’s city center.