May 20, 2016

Marciano Art Foundation Set to Open LA Museum in 2017

The building that the Marciano Art Foundation is turning into a private museum.

According to Janelle Zara of Artnews, the Marciano Art Foundation announced that its private LA museum will open in early 2017. The one-hundred-thousand-square-foot museum will be housed in a former Masonic temple, which the Guess cofounders and brothers Maurice and Paul Marciano bought in 2013 for $8 million, as artforum.com previously reported. Renovations are being led by the California-based architectural firm wHY—which said the space is being redesigned for the display, research, performance, and making of contemporary art and will include an open storage archive and a young artists forum.

Philipp Kaiser, curator of the Swiss Pavilion at the upcoming 2017 Venice Biennale and a former senior curator at Los Angeles’s MOCA, will curate the museum’s inaugural exhibition.

Maurice and Paul began collecting art around 1990. According to the New York Times, between the brothers’ personal collections, their joint collection, the Guess collection, and their art foundation’s collection, they own approximately one thousand works.

May 20, 2016

Wendelien van Oldenborgh to Represent the Netherlands at 2017 Venice Biennale

Wendelien van Oldenborgh

The Mondriaan Fund has announced that Wendelien van Oldenborgh will represent the Netherlands at the fifty-seventh edition of the Venice Biennale, which will take place May 13–November 26, 2017.

The Rotterdam-based artist’s winning proposal, called “Cinema Olanda,” will focus on unexposed facets of the Netherlands’ recent postcolonial past and their impact on the evolution of Dutch national identity. Curated by Lucy Cotter, the exhibition in the Rietveld Pavilion will include three new film works.

“I’m at a loss for words. It’s an honor, a great pleasure and a tremendous responsibility,” Van Oldenborgh said. “This will be a wonderful moment to share the current transformations in Dutch society with an international audience.” The filmmaker is known for exploring modern-day social issues in her works. She was the 2014 recipient of the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art, and she has exhibited at numerous international art fairs, including the 2009 Istanbul Biennial and the 2010 S„o Paulo Biennial.

The jury that selected the artist included the curator of the Dutch pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, Lorenzo Benedetti; the director of Showroom MAMA, Nathalie Hartjes; the artist and former Dutch pavilion exhibitor Aernout Mik; and the curator of contemporary art at Museum Arnhem, Mirjam Westen. The director of the Mondriaan Fund, Birgit Donker, served as the jury’s chair. The Mondriaan Fund is a publicly financed fund for visual art and cultural heritage.

May 20, 2016

Rebecca Rabinow Leaves Metropolitan Museum to Lead Menil Collection

Rebecca Rabinow

Longtime Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Rebecca Rabinow will join the Menil Collection as its new director. Rabinow is currently the Met’s curator of modern art and curator in charge of the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art. Since she came to the Met in 1990, she has dedicated her career as a museum professional to the institution. Rabinow will take the helm at the Menil in July, succeeding Josef Helfenstein, who recently departed after twelve years at the collection to head the Kunstmuseum Basel.

A committee chose the Houston-native after an extensive nine-month international search. Janet Hobby, president of the board of trustees, said that Rabinow “combines the highest level of curatorial and scholarly achievement with a proven record of museum leadership and lifelong ties to Houston and the Menil Collection. We could not have hoped for more.”

Among the numerous exhibitions Rabinow has curated for the Met are “Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection,” 2014–15; “Matisse, In Search of True Painting,” 2012–13; and “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde,” 2012. She also co-organized the 2007 renovation and reinstallation of the Metropolitan’s nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European paintings and sculpture galleries. She has authored various essays for catalogues and articles for publications.

Rabinow said that she spent a summer volunteering at the Menil Collection when she was a recent college graduate in 1988. There, she worked on a preservation project for which she placed the Menil’s archived correspondence in Mylar sleeves. “However cut-and-dried that might sound, their letters radiated such a sense of history, mission, and creativity that I was hooked on the first day. It is abundantly clear to me that the Menil set me on my career path.”

After receiving her BA from Smith College in 1988, Rabinow continued her education at the Sorbonne, where she earned her MA in 1990, and at New York University, from which she graduated in 1995 with a Ph.D. She is also a 2013 fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

The Menil Collection is the legacy of the philanthropists Dominique and John de Menil. The permanent collection consists of seventeen thousand objects. Established in 1987, the museum is the first building that architect Renzo Piano designed in the US.

May 19, 2016

Public Art Fund Appoints Daniel S. Palmer Associate Curator

Daniel S. Palmer

The Public Art Fund announced today that Daniel S. Palmer has been named associate curator. He will start the position on May 31. Palmer currently works as an assistant curator for the Jewish Museum in New York. He has curated numerous exhibitions including “Unorthodox,” 2015-2016; “Repetition and Difference,” 2015; and “Masterpieces and Curiosities: Diane Arbus's Jewish Gant,” 2014. He has also organized public programming such as AM at the JM, a breakfast salon featuring talks by contemporary artists and curators. Palmer has contributed to exhibition catalogs—including the Whitney Museum’s “Hopper Drawing,” 2013, and Kunstmuseum Bonn’s “New York Painting,” 2015—and various art publications such as ARTnews, Mousse, and Kaleidoscope. Palmer earned his M.Phil from the Graduate Center of the the City University of New York in 2012.

“Already helping to shape the conversation about contemporary art, I’m excited to see him engage a wide range of artists in thinking about and working with the public realm,” director and chief curator Nicholas Baume said.

May 19, 2016

Indianapolis Museum of Art to Pay Off Over $17 Million in Debt

Indianapolis Museum of Art

The Indianapolis Museum of Art has announced that it will be able to pay off more than $17 million in debt by the end of 2016. For the first time since 2004, the museum will owe less than $100 million. “We are on the road to financial stability,” chief financial officer Jerry Wise said. “Paying down the principal on our debt is a significant step in ensuring a sustainable future for the IMA.”

The museum currently pays approximately $3.5 million each year in interest payments. Director Charles L. Venable has worked towards substantially lowering this cost since he joined the institution in 2012. “Our significant interest payments hinder the organization, as they consume funds that otherwise could be used to fund IMA programs and staff,” he said. The board recently extended Venable’s contract with the museum to 2026. In the next ten years, he will be in charge of implementing a business model that should lower the rate at which the museum draws from the endowment fund to less than 5 percent. When Venable became director the draw rate was almost 8 percent. After cutting costs across the organization, the budgeted rate for the upcoming fiscal year is 5.25 percent. “We have been able to do more with less, and continue to grow with a record number of members. We are improving not only financially, but also qualitatively as an organization,” Wise said.

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, Venable inherited a museum that had lower-than-expected attendance rates, high operating costs, and an unhealthy dependence on the endowment. He has combated these problems by making large staff reductions, engaging with former donors, making strategic hires—specifically in the marketing and audience development departments—and spearheading a transition from an admission free organization to a charging institution.

“We want to be the epicenter of the visual art world in this state,” Venable said. “That means we have to reach out and, over time, figure out how to take this organization outside of our verdant campus. We won’t do it in six months, but ten to fifteen years is a time horizon where you can get a lot accomplished.”

May 19, 2016

Asian Art Museum Appoints Robert Mintz Deputy Director of Art and Programs

Robert Mintz

San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum has announced that Robert Mintz has been appointed the new deputy director of art and programs. He will be responsible for building the collection, overseeing education and public programs, and managing curatorial, conservation, and museum services departments.

Previously, Mintz has served as the chief curator of Asian art at Baltimore’s Walter Art Museum—where he organized shows covering topics including eighteenth century Japanese painting, Japanese decorative arts, and contemporary art from India, Thailand, Japan, and China. He also worked as a visiting professor at Central Washington University and the University of Washington, as well as gallery director and lecturer at Seattle University. His current research explores issues arising from the interrelationship of eighteenth and nineteenth century Chinese and Japanese artworks.

“I am excited to join such a dynamic organization, working with Jay Xu in supporting the museum’s vision of connecting visitors to the rich history and living traditions of Asian arts and cultures,” Mintz said.

May 19, 2016

Milwaukee Art Museum Names Marcelle Polednik Director

Marcelle Polednik

The Milwaukee Art Museum has announced that Marcelle Polednik will join the institution as its new director. Polednik—who is currently the director and chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville—will take up the position in August. She will succeed Dan Keegan, who is retiring this month.

“Following a year of transformative and groundbreaking projects, the Milwaukee Art Museum is embarking on a period of tremendous growth and opportunity. Our board sought a candidate who recognized that momentum, and could build on it and take the institution to the next level,” president of the museum’s board of trustees, Don Layden, said. The institution has just completed a $34 million renovation, reinstallation, and expansion project, and has recently acquired the nearby property for $28.8 million.

While at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Polednik shifted the institution’s focus from traveling exhibitions to self-curated projects. Polednik organized several curatorial initiatives, including “SLOW: Marking Time in Photography and Film,” 2012; “Abstraction over Time: The Paintings of Michael Goldberg,” 2013; “WHITE,” 2015; and “Hans Hofmann: Works on Paper,” 2017. Under her leadership, MOCA’s attendance increased by more than 70 percent and its budgetary growth was 40 percent. She also established “Project Atrium”—a series of site-specific commissions by emerging and midcareer artists. In January 2016, she oversaw the launch of MOCA’s rebrand, which places a greater emphasis on the museum’s digital platforms. Previously, she had worked at the Monterey Museum of Art as the chief curator and the Whitney Museum of American Art as an assistant curator. Polednik earned her Ph.D. in art history from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts.

The announcement of her appointment follows Donna and Donald Baumgartner’s gift of $8 million to endow new directorship at the Milwaukee museum, as artforum.com previously reported.

May 19, 2016

British Museum Shuts Down as Anti-BP Protesters Scale Building

The British Museum

The British Museum temporarily closed today after Greenpeace activists began to climb the building in order to hang banners protesting BP’s sponsorship of a new exhibition, Adam Vaughan of The Guardian reports.

The protesters are angry over the oil giant’s support of the institution’s latest show, Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds—which features about 300 artifacts from Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus, two cities lost to the sea by the eighth century. The twenty-seven-foot-long banners that the demonstrators successfully hung from the building’s columns bore the names of cities that are threatened by rising sea levels and climate change. They also featured a modified exhibition title: “Sinking Cities.”

A campaigner for Greenpeace, Elena Polisano, said, “The British Museum is an institution traditionally devoted to education, research and discovery, whereas BP’s focus is on building an oil-dependent culture.” Activists urged the museum—who is currently negotiating with BP about renewing its sponsorship deal—to end its partnership. Police were called to the scene, where about eighty-five protestors had gathered to support the climbers. According to the Art Newspaper, eleven people had been arrested for aggravated trespass. A spokesperson for the museum said that the institution remained closed for four hours because of “visitor safety reasons.”

The incident follows a demonstration at the museum that occurred on Tuesday, during a VIP and press launch for the show. Members of the group BP or not BP? staged an intervention, which involved a performance and a large installation. At one point, a group of performers occupied the museum’s Great Court drenched in water and chanting: “We do not accept BP’s vision of the future.”

In a promotional text displayed at the museum, BP likens itself to the archaeologists who discovered the cities featured in the exhibition. It reads: “For over fifty years BP’s underwater discoveries of oil and gas have been providing modern Egypt with energy, jobs, and economic development. Today we are pleased to help the British Museum share the discoveries from ancient Egypt’s lost worlds.” The show will run until November.

May 19, 2016

Russian Artist Pyotr Pavlensky Convicted of Vandalism in Moscow

Pyotr Pavlensky

A Moscow court found Russian dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky guilty of vandalism today, Dimitri Kozlov of the Associated Press reports. The artist was convicted for setting fire to car tires on Saint Petersburg’s Tripartite Bridge during a pro-Ukraine performance, titled Freedom, in February 2014.

While the court sentenced Pavlensky to sixteen months in prison, the artist will not have to serve the time because the statue of limitations on the crime has expired. However, he remains in custody for a second case in which he is being tried for burning the doors of a former KGB building in November 2015.

According to the Art Newspaper, prosecutor Anton Sizov said that the doors of the Federal Security Service in Moscow’s Lubyanka Square are a cultural heritage site because in the 1930s “leading figures of science and culture were imprisoned here.” Historian and architectural preservationist, Natalia Samovar, told Gazeta.ru that the doors don’t qualify for cultural heritage status since they are a replica made in 2008. If convicted for damaging a cultural heritage site, Pavlensky could receive up to six years in prison.

The artist was allegedly beaten by police, who supposedly cracked his ribs, as he was being transported from a hearing back to jail on May 16, as artforum.com previously reported. His partner, Oksana Shalygina, posted a handwritten letter Pavlensky wrote on Facebook in which he said, “Every breath gives me pain.”