Folie to Head Generali; Metzel's Turkish Delight Sculpture Vandalized; Geneva Art Space in Trouble; Hoffmann Foundation in Arles


Der Standard reports that Sabine Folie has been selected to head Vienna's Generali Foundation. The head curator at the Kunsthalle Wien since 1998, Folie will take up her new position as artistic and managing director at the Generali in February 2008. Her responsibilities will include not only the Generali's artistic direction but also supervising board membership.

The hiring commission—whose members included MUMOK director Edelbert Köb, Albertina photography curator Monika Faber, and Roland Wäspe, the director of the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen—chose Folie from an international pool of applicants. Generali president Dietrich Karner praised Folie's “personal and professional qualifications,” predicting that these would be key to maintaining the institute's high level of programming and its collection under a “different framework of conditions.” That new framework—the fusion of the Generali with the BAWAG art centers—was the reason that longtime Generali director Sabine Breitwieser left her position. Since her departure, Breitwieser has become part of “a team of moderators” appointed by the Austrian cultural minister Claudia Schmied to debate the future of the nation's museums.


A public sculpture in Vienna by Olaf Metzel called Turkish Delight—a life-size bronze female figure wearing nothing other than a headscarf—has once again been vandalized. As Der Standard and APA report, the sculpture was unveiled on November 9 in front of the project space of the Kunsthalle Wien, near the Secession. As a security video shows, the sculpture was permanently damaged over the weekend when it was removed from its pedestal by two men. Earlier last month, Turkish Delight had been vandalized and also received a wave of negative reviews in the Turkish press, which claimed the work insults religious values.

According to the APA, Gerald Matt, the director of the kunsthalle, insisted that it is not clear whether Metzel's sculpture had been damaged by Turks living in Vienna. While Matt has announced “deep respect” for differences in both aesthetic opinion and religious feeling, he said that such debates should not occur through violent means. While the sculpture cannot be fully protected in public space, Matt claimed that its removal should not be understood as a “victory” for its critics. Metzel himself hopes that the work will be repaired and restored to its place. “The debate has not come to an end,” Matt told the APA. “It has just begun.”


Geneva's art scene is facing some major—not entirely positive—changes. As the Neue Zürcher Zeitung's Marguerite Menz reports, the Centre pour l'Image Contemporaine (CIC) will soon close its doors, while the Centre de la Photographie (CPG) will merge in a reduced form with the Centre d'Art Contemporain (CAC) and MAMCO.

“In June 2006,” writes Menz, “everything looked very different. In the Bâtiment d'Art Contemporain (BAC), the new halls—formerly occupied by the automobile museum Jean Tua—were opened. Finally, it seemed that the BAC +3 project was going to become a reality—a project that concentrates in one place, at the Quartier des Bains, the five most important contemporary art institutions subsidized by the city and in part by the canton.”

Dividing up the BAC +3 pie became a problem when MAMCO wanted to take the biggest slice. While the CAC began to question the new plan, the first to react was the Centre pour l'Edition Contemporaine (CEC), which returned to its old space on the rue Saint-Léger after one year of exhibitions in the BAC. The CIC—whose video collection has been promised to MAMCO—sent out a petition to the municipal cultural adviser expressing concerns about the merger. The CPG also offered a petition against its integration into the CAC—a move that would greatly reduce its own exhibition program.

As Menz notes, facilitating an agreement between the different parties has not been easy because the project is not a pure state institution but rather funded by private sponsors, foundations, and associations. “Now,” writes Menz, “the commission for art and culture in the municipal council has pulled the brakes and passed a motion that requires every political decision on this issue to be suspended for the time being. To be continued.”


Arles, France—home to the annual festival Rencontres de la Photographie—may soon become an important stop on the international contemporary art circuit. As Le Monde's Michel Guerrin and Emmanuel de Roux report, the small city may receive a handsome gift within the next five years: an art foundation designed by Frank Gehry and paid for by Maja Hoffmann, the Swiss pharmaceutical heiress and photography collector. Living in Zurich, Hoffmann supports several institutions around the world, most notably New York's New Museum. Now Arles's photography festival has become a focus for the collector. “I grew up in Arles,” Hoffmann told Le Monde. “I am very attached to the city. . . . I want to set up my foundation there. And this city needs a strong signal. Gehry's architecture is adapted to Provence.”

The new foundation will be located in an industrial zone near the old ateliers of the French national train service and a step away from the city's historic center. According to Guerrin and de Roux, representatives from Arles have already met with Gehry in New York. Hoffmann's foundation, Luma, was created in 2004 and has so far existed without a permanent building. In Luma's new home in Arles, Hoffmann would like to present “images in all their forms—photography, video, film, 3D.” In addition to programming exhibitions, the center could also present selections from Hoffmann's collection. Along with plans for artist ateliers, a conservation section for photography, an education and research center, and a sculpture park, Hoffmann hopes to offer the city's photography festival “a permanent space that it's currently missing.” If all goes well, Gehry's plan will be unveiled at the next edition in July.

Jennifer Allen