June 16, 2016

Norway Launches Art Foundation and Residency in World’s Northernmost Town


The Norwegian ministry of culture has announced that it will establish an art foundation and artist residency in Longyearbyen—one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas—which is located on an archipelago of four islands in the Arctic Ocean called Svalbard, Anny Shaw of Art Newspaper reports.

The Art in Svalbard Foundation will be funded by the ministry of culture in partnership with Tromso’s Northern Norway Art Museum, the Office of Contemporary Art Norway, and the Queen Sonja Print Award. The initiative is part of the government’s strategy to revitalize the coal-mining town, which is facing bankruptcy.

Although the foundation and residency are still in the initial planning stages, there have been discussions about hosting three to five artists at a time. For Katya García-Antón, director of the Office of Contemporary Art Norway, the residencies are “experimental.” He said, “Artists won’t be expected to turn up, make a work and leave. There’s a strong wish that things become more rooted.”

Longyearbyen is located on Svalbard’s largest island, Spitsbergen. The population of 2,100 people endures tough environmental conditions, including a period of four months when the sun doesn’t rise—dubbed “the polar night”—and rapid changes in weather, as well as the threat of being outnumbered by polar bears.

June 16, 2016

Israeli Artist Demands His Work be Removed From Israeli Government Building

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, 1966, at Knesset Plenum Hall.

Israeli artist Dani Karavan wants his site-specific sculptural relief at Israel’s Knesset Plenum Hall—where the Israeli government’s legislative branch assembles—to be removed in protest of culture minister Miri Regev’s decision to cut thirty-three percent of government funding to cultural institutions that won’t hold performances in the West Bank, Negev, and Galilee, Shany Littman of The Haaretz reports. The minister is also allotting an extra ten percent of funds to artists who do perform in these regions. The new funding structure is part of the culture minister’s campaign to “encourage cultural justice and reduce social gaps.”

Karavan views Regev’s new funding criteria as a way to punish organizations who refuse to perform in the occupied territories. On Monday, theaters, orchestras, and dance troupes were sent forms by Pilat, a company that collects data from cultural institutions for the culture and sports ministry, asking where they hold performances.

Noa Dar, choreographer and founder of a dance group, said that having to declare whether performances are scheduled in the occupied areas “is essentially a demand to tie my political opinions and my conscience to ministry funding.”

During a panel discussion on political art at the annual Herzliya Conference on Israeli national policy, Karavan said, “The wall in the Knesset, sometimes I am ashamed that I did it. I have asked many times that they move it or cover it up with a rug until the Knesset embodies the spirit of the country’s Declaration of Independence.”

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, 1966, serves as the backdrop when officials address parliament. It is made of Galilee stones that were worked by local stonemasons. Karavan is also known for creating a Holocaust memorial at the Weizmann Institute of Science and a memorial dedicated to the Sinti and Roma victims of National Socialism at Nuremberg’s National Museum.

June 16, 2016

MoMA Fires Assistant Film Curator Sally Berger After 30 Years at the Museum

Sally Berger

MoMA fired assistant film curator Sally Berger, who has worked at the institution for thirty years, possibly over her controversial decision to pull a documentary film about North Korea from a film festival hosted by the museum, Graham Winfrey of Indiewire reports.

The museum’s chief curator of film, Rajendra Roy, confirmed the dismissal. He wrote in an e-mail, “My actions reflect several complex and substantive issues, and are the result of a long and deliberative process that Sally has been part of. As painful as this decision has been, I stand by it.”

A spokeswoman for the museum, Margaret Doyle, said she could not discuss the details behind the decision. However, there has been much speculation on social media that Berger’s decision to pull the documentary film Under the Sun (2015) from MoMA’s 2016 Doc Fortnight festival in February could be the reason behind the museum’s decision.

According to the New York Times, MoMA apologized for dropping the film from its festival lineup this week, several months after the event. Supposedly, Berger had expressed concerns about screening the film in January. She was apparently worried that the museum would be targeted by North Korea in a digital attack similar to the 2014 hacking into Sony Pictures’ computer system after it released the satirical movie The Interview (2014), starring James Franco and Seth Rogen. The curator told the documentary’s distributor that the film “just simply came in too late to review all the possible ramifications of showing it here at MoMA.”

Roy said, “Under the Sun is a remarkable documentary that was wrongly disinvited.” He added that the decision was “made by the festival’s curator without my knowledge or input.”

Directed by Vitaly Mansky, the ninety-minute film follows a young girl and her parents as she prepares to join the Korean Children’s Union in Pyongyang. The North Korean government had to approve the making of the film in order for Mansky to have access to the country, but the crew was accompanied at all times by “minders.” The locations were pre-selected and the scenes were set up to reflect the patriotism of its subjects. However, Mansky was able to reveal how the country was manipulating the production of the film when he edited it. After its release, the documentary was widely criticized by the North Korean and Russian governments.

Supporters of Berger, such as filmmaker Su Friedrich, are incredulous that the decision to exclude the film resulted in the firing of the veteran curator. Friedrich remarked on Facebook, “This is insane!” Fellow curators, such as former MoMA film curator Laurence Kardish, have also spoken out about Berger’s dismissal. He said, “I no longer understand what goes on in my old stomping grounds . . . Doesn’t a curator have the right to pick and choose what is to be shown under his/her auspices?”

June 16, 2016

Artnews S.A. Files for Bankruptcy

Covers of Artnews, Art in America, Magazine Antiques, and Modern.

According to Investments, Artnews S.A.—the former Polish parent company of Artnews and the fleeting owner of Art in America, Magazine Antiques, and Modern—filed for bankruptcy on June 9. The announcement comes two weeks after collector and publisher Peter M. Brant and his company BMP Media Holdings, LLC, assumed “full control” of the four art publications, of which he is now the legal owner, as artforum.com previously reported.

Brant had owned Art in America, Antiques, and Modern for years, but in 2015 gave up his ownership of the magazines and announced that the media brands would be merged with Artnews S.A.’s Artnews. According to the New York Times, he sold Art in America for $17 million. Despite the reshuffling, Brant became the majority shareholder in the company. Shortly after the transition, Artnews went from a monthly to a quarterly magazine, and its issues became focused on thematic content such as its annual list of “The World’s Top 200 Collectors.” CEO of the magazine, Isabel Depczyk, resigned four months later, and was replaced by Vincent Fremont. When Brant Publications announced that it had taken full control of the brands on May 26, Brant said that the transaction “will allow us to begin to grow the US magazines.”

According to the Polish website that reported the news of the bankruptcy, the board of Artnews S.A. said that due to the “deteriorating financial condition of the company” it filed for bankruptcy when it realized financial restructuring would be “impossible.”

June 16, 2016

San Diego Museum of Art Appoints New Associate Curator of East Asian Art

Diana Y. Chou

The San Diego Museum of Art has announced that it has hired Diana Y. Chou as the institution’s new associate curator of East Asian art. Chou will take up the position on June 29. She will be responsible for overseeing a collection of 7,000 works, developing exhibitions, and contributing to the museum’s research and acquisition programs.

Chou has been a museum professional for more than fifteen years. She has organized exhibitions for museums throughout the United States and Taiwan, including the Cleveland State University Art Galleries, Dayton Art Institute, Taipei’s National Museum of History, and Taipei’s Museum of World Religions. She has also served as a consultant for the Carnegie Museum of Art when it reinstalled its Asian art galleries. Chou has been awarded two Summer Institute grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She was educated at Northern Illinois University, where she received a Master’s degree, and she earned her Ph.D. in Chinese art history from the University of Kansas.

“Ms. Chou’s breadth of experience and depth of scholarship on Chinese and Japanese art are impressive,” director Roxana Velásquez said. “She is a great complement to our dynamic curatorial team, and we are honored to welcome her to the museum.”

June 15, 2016

Birgit Jooss is Named Director of Documenta’s Archive

According to Andrew Russeth of Artnews, Birgit Jooss—an independent art worker, teacher, and writer—will head the Documenta Archiv, which consists of a library with over 100,000 volumes, about 5,000 film, video, and audio recordings, 60,000 photographs, and 1.4 million archival items from Documenta exhibitions one through thirteen. Jooss will succeed Gerd Mörsch, who led the archive for three years.

A press release states that the archive will “serve as the basis for the non-university Documenta Institut to be established in collaboration with the University of Kassel. The institute is expected to enhance the image of Kassel as a significant center for art and art research even during the years between Documenta exhibitions.”

Jooss has also served as director of the German art archive at Nuremberg’s National Museum from 2007 to 2015 and the archive director at Berlin’s Akademie der Künste in 2015.

June 15, 2016

University of Chicago Awards Artist Kerry James Marshall the 2016 Rosenberger Medal

Kerry James Marshall

The University of Chicago has announced that artist Kerry James Marshall was the recipient of its 2016 Jesse L. Rosenberger Medal for outstanding achievement in the creative and performing arts. Established in 1917, the Rosenberger Medal is an annual award given to a nominee who is recognized for achievements that benefit humanity.

Born in Alabama, Marshall grew up in the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles and graduated from Otis College of Art and Design with a BFA in 1978 and an honorary degree in 1999. When he was featured on PBS’s Art 21 series—which profiles twenty-first century artists—in 2001, he said, “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central [Los Angeles] near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility. You can’t move to Watts in 1963 and not speak about it. That determined a lot of where my work was going to go.” The artist, who currently lives and works in Chicago, is known for chronicling the African American experience, confronting racial stereotypes, and questioning history through comic book-style drawings, paintings, and installations, as well as collage, video, and photography.

Numerous solo exhibitions of Marshall’s work have been presented throughout Europe and North America. He has participated in multiple art fairs including the 1997 Whitney Biennial, the 2003 Venice Biennial, the 2009 Gwangju Biennial, and the 1997 and 2007 Documentas. In 2015, he produced his first public commission in New York, a large-scale mural for the High Line. In 2013, a major survey, “Kerry James Marshall: Painting and Other Stuff,” was featured at Antwerp’s Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, which then traveled to Copenhagen and two venues in Spain in 2014.

In a “Best of 2014” list compiled by curator Lynne Cooke in Artforum, Cooke highlighted the retrospective. She said, “Marshall’s shape-shifting roving across a dizzyingly broad range of mediums and genres attests to his refusal to be tied to the signature monumental paintings with which his reputation was secured, and to his relentless questing for idioms and vernaculars in which to voice his desire to insert African American narratives into mainstream American discourse.”

Marshall was also awarded Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst’s Wolfgang Hahn Prize in 2014, a 1997 grant from the MacArthur Foundation, and a 1991 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2013, he was appointed to President Obama’s committee on the arts and the humanities. An exhibition of his work, “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry” is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago until September 25. It will also travel to the Metropolitan Museum and LA’s MoCA.

June 15, 2016

Collector Leon Black Gets to Keep Picasso Sculpture in Ownership Dispute

Pablo Picasso, Bust of a Woman, 1931.

According to Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times, the details of the May settlement between collector Leon Black and a representative of the Qatari royal family, both of whom were vying for the ownership right to a Picasso bust of his famed mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, were revealed. Black will keep Bust of a Woman, 1931, and the Qatari royal family will be financially compensated. The sum they will receive was not disclosed.

The sculpture became the center of two court cases when it became apparent that Maya Widmaier-Ruiz Picasso sold the artwork twice. In January, Gagosian Gallery filed a complaint against a representative of the Qatari royal family in which it claimed the gallery bought the work in May 2015 for $106 million, as artforum.com previously reported. The gallery then sold the bust to Black, who was going to take possession of it when MoMA’s “Picasso Sculpture” exhibition ended in February. The agent of the royal family, Gay Bennett of Pelham Holdings, claimed that the sculpture had already been bought for Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz al-Thani for $42 million. A settlement was reached in court last month, but details of the agreement were not disclosed.

A spokesperson for Gagosian Gallery said, “Today’s settlement shows without question that Gagosian Gallery purchased and sold this sculpture in good faith.” A joint statement was also released: “Pelham Europe Ltd, Maya Widmaier-Ruiz Picasso, Diana Widmaier Picasso, Gagosian Gallery Inc., Lawrence Gagosian, Leon Black and Seydoux & Associés Fine Art SA are pleased to report that the parties have reached a good faith global settlement resolving all matters and actions relating to Pablo Picasso’s Buste de Femme (Marie Thérèse), Boisgeloup, 1931.”

June 15, 2016

Protestors Bring Focus to Exclusion of Ana Mendieta’s Art in Expansion of Tate Modern

Protestors on their way to Tate Modern. Photo: Charlotte Bell.

Hyperallergic’s Isabella Smith writes that members of the activist groups WHEREISANAMENDIETA and Sisters Uncut were protesting the exclusion of Ana Mendieta’s work—and the inclusion of Carl Andre’s—in the Tate Modern’s expansion. A preview for the exhibition of the new building was held the evening of June 13, 2016.

The protesters, who met on the steps of Saint Paul’s Cathedral before crossing Millennium Bridge to the museum, prepared chants, such as “Oi Tate, we’ve got a vendetta—where the fuck is Ana Mendieta?,” and “Andre, Andre, Andre, what you gonna do, what you gonna do when we come for you?”

The protestors pressed themselves up against the windows of Turbine Hall, interrupting the preview party, then went to the staff entrance behind the museum, where police were stationed. The protest ended without any trouble—the participants spoke on the life and work of Mendieta, and talked about violence as well as historical effacement.

Mendieta, who was married to Andre for less than a year, died in 1985 at the age of thirty-six after falling from the thirty-fourth floor window of an apartment she shared with the artist, where Andre still resides, located in New York City’s East Village. Andre was acquitted of Mendieta’s murder in 1988 after a highly publicized trial. Currently, the Tate owns ten of Andre’s works, and five of Mendieta’s.