October 4, 2015

Ai Weiwei Discovers Listening Devices Hidden in Studio Walls

Image from Ai Weiwei’s Instagram feed

Has artist Ai Weiwei’s studio been bugged? The dissident artist, on social media, has been documenting what he believes are listening devices that were hidden in the walls of his building, according to William McLennan in The Independent. Ai had only recently arrived home after being in London last month for the opening of his Royal Academy exhibition.

Via his Twitter and Instagram feeds, he posted pictures and videos of one device (accompanied by the comment “ha ha”) and then later showed fireworks exploding in a bin next to the device, with the caption: “Can you hear this?”

His trip to London was his first time overseas in four years, after the Chinese government returned his passport three months ago, as Artforum.com previously reported here.

October 3, 2015

Catherine Taft Named Deputy Director at LA><ART

Catherine Taft

Catherine Taft has been named deputy director of LA><ART. A frequent contributor to Artforum, among many other publications, Taft was most recently assistant curator at the Whitney Museum in New York. She was also previously curatorial associate in the department of architecture and contemporary art at the Getty Research Institute, where she helped organize “Pacific Standard Time: Art in Los Angeles,” 2011.

LA><ART is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit art space. Founded by Lauri Firstenberg, it has operated for over a decade, and has recently featured exhibitions by artists including Zoe Crosher, Melanie Schiff, Mark Hagen, and Galia Linn.

October 3, 2015

University of Connecticut Eliminates Curator and Director Positions at Schlippe Gallery

Alexey von Schlippe Gallery

In another hit to college art programs, the University of Connecticut is eliminating the curator and director position at its art museum, the Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art, at Avery Point. Julia Pavone has held that post since she co-founded the gallery twenty-three years ago with David Madasci, reports The Day’s Kristina Dorsey. “It was such a shock,” said Pavone, who will stay on staff until August of next year, thanks to union rules.

The school’s dean of fine arts, Anne D’Alleva, attributed the changes to severe budget cuts due to the state’s monetary situation, which mean that UConn has to re-focus its efforts and funding to make sure students could complete their degrees.

“This is no way reflects on the value of the von Schlippe gallery. I think it’s done a wonderful job educating students and reaching out to the public,” said D’Alleva.

A permanent collection of 500 works was given to the gallery by the family of Alexey von Schlippe, who taught at the school. The school hasn’t yet determined in what form the gallery will continue once Pavone steps down.

October 2, 2015

Worcester Art Museum Receives $4 Million Gift to Endow Directorship

Jean McDonough

The Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts, has received a gift of $4 million from the Myles & C. Jean McDonough Foundation—on behalf of C. Jean McDonough—to endow its position of director. As a long-standing supporter of the museum, Jean McDonough’s gift to the museum is among a series of donations totaling $15.25 million being made by the foundation to cultural institutions throughout Worcester and central Massachusetts. The current director of the museum is Matthias Waschek, who will now officially be known as the C. Jean and Myles McDonough director of the institution.

October 2, 2015

MoMA Announces New Associate Curator of Film

La Frances Hui

The Museum of Modern Art today announced that La Frances Hui is their new associate curator of film. Hui comes to MoMA after fifteen years at the Asia Society in New York, where she was the film curator and associate director of cultural programs. While there, she curated film series that spanned a wide spectrum of Chinese cinema, Japanese documentaries, Japanese New Wave, contemporary Thai, New Wave Iranian, and popular Korean cinema. She also organized retrospectives on the work of directors like Tsai Ming-Liang, Jafar Panahi, Midi Z, and Shohei Imamura.

Rajendra Roy, MoMA’s chief curator of film, said of Hui’s appointment: “La's rich knowledge of Asian cinema, combined with her unique professional experience in program development and implementation, will afford us with critical opportunities to engage with a spectrum of moving image artists in ever more essential ways.”

October 2, 2015

Association of Art Museum Directors Establish New Protocol for Protecting Antiquities

Johnnetta B. Cole

The Association of Art Museum Directors announced yesterday that they have created new guidelines in the hopes of aiding cultural organizations and institutions to better understand how to shepherd works of art and archaeological objects of importance that are at risk of being damage, looted, or destroyed, according to a report by Serge F. Kovaleski in the New York Times.

Under the new plan, titled “Protocols for Safe Havens for Works of Cultural Significance from Countries in Crisis,” owners of works that are endangered because of terrorism, conflict, or natural disasters could request that the items be transferred to an association member museum until conditions improve enough for their safe return. These works would then be considered as loaned, to ensure that the pieces would be repatriated. The protocols also advise that museums providing safe haven should make the works available for scholarly research and also may exhibit them to the public depending on the wishes of the owners. The association is currently composed of 240 member museums across the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

This strategic plan on the part of museums comes in the wake of a disturbing, recent upswing in the destruction of historical sites and antiquities, as noted by Johnnetta B. Cole, president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, in a statement regarding the new protocols: “The scale of human suffering and loss of life that is taking place in Syria and other afflicted areas is devastating, and is compounded by the loss of unique works that are the record of different cultures and our shared humanity.”

October 2, 2015

Luc Tuymans Settles in Copyright Infringement Case

Luc Tuymans

Gareth Harris reports in the Art Newspaper that the artist Luc Tuymans, who had previously been convicted of plagiarism over a painting he made based on a photograph by Katrijn Van Giel, has reached an out-of-court settlement with the photographer. The exact terms of the settlement are confidential but a joint statement from the two described it as “amicable,” saying that they have decided “to settle their dispute, as artists and in an artistic way, rather than to allow it to be settled in a court of law.”

The painting at the heart of the controversy was a 2011 Tuymans work titled A Belgian Politician. Tuymans had previously tried to argue that the work was a parody, and therefore protected, but an Antwerp court ruled that the painting infringed Van Giel’s copyright. Van Giel’s lawyer, Dieter Delarue, has also stated that the painting, which is owned by the American collector Eric Paul Lefkofsky, can now “be sold and traded on the market again.”

October 1, 2015

Paul Reed (1919–2015)

Paul Reed, #1D, 1965

Paul Reed, “the last artist standing among the six or seven painters who brought the so-called Washington Color School to prominence,” has died, writes Kriston Capps in the Washington City Paper.

Part of a group of painters that also included Gene Davis and Morris Louis, Reed first gained notice for his “Disc” series, begun in 1965. His works can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Detroit Institute of Art, and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. He taught at the Corcoran School of Art.

Reed was among the artists featured in the “Washington Color and Light” exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 2011.

October 1, 2015

Cleveland Museum of Art and the Akron Art Museum Jointly Receive Gift of Over 700 Photographs

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Lightning Fields 128, 2009

The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Akron Art Museum jointly announced that they’ll be receiving a promised donation from collectors Fred and Laura Bidwell, who have built a collection of over 700 photographs. The Bidwells have also promised a portion of artworks they might acquire in the future, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Steven Litt.

“The institutions are free to keep, sell or refuse anything they like—although it’s highly likely both museums will happily accept whatever the Bidwells provide,” notes Litt.

Fred Bidwell is a retired advertising executive who serves as a trustee of the Cleveland Museum and was a former president of the board of trustees at the Akron Museum. Laura, his wife, is a photographer, and sat on the Akron’s board.

“Laura and I are of the philosophy that you die poor,” Bidwell said.