May 27, 2016

Spanish Court Denies US Extradition Request for Member of Knoedler Forgery Ring

A courtroom sketch depicting one of the fake Mark Rothko paintings bought by a collector.

On Wednesday, Spain’s national court cited health reasons when it ruled that José Carlos Bergantiños Díaz, an alleged member of the more than $80-million forgery scheme in which fake artworks were sold to Knoedler & Company Gallery, should not be extradited to the United States, Raphael Minder of the New York Times reports.

Medical reports detail a series of ailments that Díaz is suffering from including neurological conditions. The forty-three page ruling states Díaz could appear “before Spanish courts, with a level of success similar to that which could be reached before American courts.”

In February, the national court decided Díaz’s brother, Jesús Ángel Bergantiños Díaz, could be extradited to the United States where he faces charges of “wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and money laundering,” as artforum.com previously reported.

The brothers were the alleged partners of Glafira Rosales who commissioned Pei Shen Qian, a Chinese immigrant, to forge works by Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock among other artists, and then sold them to clients through Knoedler Gallery. Since it closed in 2011, Knoedler has made a number of out-of-court settlements with collectors who purchased the fakes.

May 27, 2016

Marianne Boesky Gallery Expands Chelsea Space and Closes Lower East Side Outpost

Marianne Boesky Gallery

Marianne Boesky Gallery will double its footprint at its flagship Chelsea location by expanding into an adjacent space, Dan Duray of the Art Newspaper reports. After the expansion project, the gallery will be 13,000-square feet. It is due to open on June 23 with an exhibition curated by artist and writer Chris Wiley that will showcase works by Jay Heikes, Thornton Dial, and Lee Mullican. Meanwhile, the gallery’s Clinton Street location in the Lower East Side will shut its doors.

“Experimentation with space and architecture in diverse NYC locations, from Chelsea to the Upper East Side to the Lower East Side, has been an essential part of our vision, evolving and growing to meet and complement the changing interests and needs of our artists," Boesky said.

May 27, 2016

Dutch Artist Claims Duke Riley’s Brooklyn Pigeon Performance Was His Idea

Duke Riley’s performance Fly by Night at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

According to Andy Newman of the New York Times, Dutch artist Jasper van den Brink said that when the news of Duke Riley’s well-received ongoing performance piece Fly by Night—which involves releasing thousands of pigeons with LED lights attached to their legs over the Brooklyn Navy Yard to illuminate the night sky—he thought, “How is this possible?”

Van den Brink was shocked because he alleges the idea of a light performance in which a flock of pigeons fly at night wearing LED lights was originally his idea. Except, it was supposed to take place in Stockholm. He described the project in the spring 2006 issue of the New York-based magazine Cabinet, but said he abandoned the idea because pigeons cannot easily fly at night. The artist’s lawyer sent a letter to Creative Time—who helped organize the piece—requesting that Riley and the organization credit van den Brink and agree to license his work.

In response, Creative Time’s executive director Katie Hollander said, “he has nothing to license.” Riley said he has never heard of van den Brink before now. He added that the idea to light up the sky using pigeons “has been something that’s been a reoccurring vision in my head for probably over three decades.” He had drawn what he imagined it would look like as a teenager and has sketches of the project from 1988.

Amy Adler, a New York University law school professor, confirmed that van den Brink has no case. “You can’t copyright an idea,” she said. “If you allowed anyone with an idea to stop other people from making work, creative expression would grind to a halt.”

May 27, 2016

Performance Space 122 Launches Search for New Leadership

Vallejo Gantner

East Village’s Performance Space 122 has announced that artistic director Vallejo Gantner will step down and a search for a new head for the non-profit organization is underway. Gantner, who has been at the helm of PS122 since 2005, will remain in the role until the institution can find a replacement. The board hopes to reveal the organization’s new artistic director before the end of the year.

Gantner said that he was “immensely proud” of what he, the staff, and the artists he’s worked with have achieved at the adventurous performing art space, but believes that when the organization moves back to its renovated First Avenue home in 2017 it will be time for him to exit. “I think cultural organizations, particularly those in the business of new work and ideas, must embrace change in order to remain vital,” Gantner said. “We artistic directors can often hang around a bit too long.” He added, “I’m looking forward to being a part of that transition and ensuring that PS122 remains an essential anchor of New York City’s culture life.”

During Gantner’s tenure at the contemporary performance art hub, he launched Coil, an annual performance festival; PS122 Global, an international touring project, which brings works produced by the organization’s artists to countries in Europe as well as Australia; and Give Performance Space, the organization’s largest and most successful fundraising effort. Before joining PS122, Gantner led Ireland’s Dublin Fringe Festival from 2002–2005, served as an artistic associate for the Melbourne Festival, and worked as a theater director and producer for various venues in Asia and the US.

PS122’s twelfth edition of the Coil festival as well as programming for 2017 will still be curated by Gantner.

May 27, 2016

Brant Publications Takes Full Control of Art Media Assets of Artnews S.A.

The cover of the current issue of ARTnews magazine.

Brant Publications, Inc. has announced today that as of May 25 it has taken full control of all assets of Art in America, LLC; BAM Modern, LLC; Antiques, LLC; and Artnews LTD from their Poland-based parent company, Artnews S.A. Peter M. Brant, art collector and owner of BMP Media Holdings LLC, is now the legal owner of the publications.

In 2015, Brant, the longtime owner of Art in America, Antiques, and Modern, had given up 100 percent of his holdings to Artnews S.A., the publisher of ARTnews, but became the largest controlling shareholder in the company. A few months later, ARTnews transitioned from a monthly publication to a quarterly. The CEO of the magazine, Isabel Depczyk, resigned four months later. In a statement about the 2015 merger, Brant said, “Under one umbrella, the combined company will have some of the most important cultural publications that together provide the complete content and history of decorative arts, classical arts and art-related news.”

In a statement about the recent reshuffling in ownership, Brant said, “The US magazines that BMP originally brought into this transaction, Art in America, The Magazine Antiques, and Modern, will continue their normal operation, as will ARTnews, under our management. This will allow us to begin to grow the US magazines.”

Founded by Brant in 1984, Brant Publications also owns Interview, the fashion and culture magazine created by Andy Warhol.

May 27, 2016

Artist Pyotr Pavlensky Plans to Give Prize Money from Human Rights Award to Russian Guerrilla Group

Pyotr Pavlensky

Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky plans to give the $42,000 he received when he recently won a human rights award to members of a group of men currently in prison for carrying out a series of attacks on the Russian police, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty reports.

On May 25, Pavlensky’s partner, Oksana Shalygina, announced his deicison to fund the group that calls themselves Primorye Guerrillas by reading a statement written by the artist when she received the 2016 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent on his behalf. Members of the guerrilla group are currently imprisoned and serving life sentences after they became angry about alleged police brutality in Russia’s Primorye region in the Far East and began attacking authorities. They shot a traffic cop and raided a village police station where they stabbed a policeman; both officers died.

Pavlensky was arrested in November and faces criminal charges for setting fire to a door of the Federal Security Service's headquarters (FSB) in Moscow during his performance piece titled Threat, 2015, as artforum.com previously reported. The dissident artist is known for creating numerous works that draw attention to the widespread control of the FSB in Russia.

The Václav Havel International Prize was also awarded to the Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani—who originally received a twelve year prison sentence for posting a political cartoon on social media—and photojournalist Umida Akhmedova—who is the first female documentary filmmaker in Uzbekistan. Akhmedova was accused of slander and damaging the country’s image when she published a series of photos depicting rural life in the country. Farghadani had been released and rearrested after she publicly spoke about being abused by authorities while in jail. She was officially released earlier this month. Founded by the Human Rights Foundation, the prize is jointly funded by grants from the Brin Wojcicki Foundation and the Thiel Foundation.

May 27, 2016

UC Berkeley Art Museum’s Chief Curator to Step Down

Lucinda Barnes

The University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive has announced that chief curator and director of programs and collections Lucinda Barnes will retire on June 29. “The past fifteen years at BAMPFA have been extraordinary for me—professionally and personally—inspiring, exciting, and gratifying,” she said. “Above all, most important to me at BAMPFA has been the extraordinary degree of creative imagination and collegial collaboration across the institution.”

After joining the staff of the museum and film archive in 2001, Barnes worked as a senior curator until she was promoted to chief curator and director of programs and collections in 2004. She organized a range of exhibitions for the musuem including “Joan Jonas: the Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things,” 2007; “Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection,” 2008; “Indeterminate Stillness: Looking at Whistler,” 2010; “Abstract Expressionisms,” 2012; and “Hofmann by Hofmann,” 2014.

Prior to coming to Berkeley, Barnes served as the executive director of the Boise Art Museum, a curator of collections at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and curator of modern and contemporary art at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. She has also worked at several other Califronia institutions including the Newport Harbor Art Museum (now the Orange County Museum of Art) and the University Art Museum at California State University Long Beach. Barnes received her BA from New York University and an MA from Williams College. She earned her Ph.D. in art history at the University of Southern California.

Barnes will conclude her tenure at the institution by preparing a major exhibition of work by the painter Hans Hofmann. Titled “Creation in Form and Color: Hans Hofmann,” the exhibition of approximately forty paintings and works on paper will open at Germany’s Kunsthalle Bielefeld this fall and will travel to the Musee national d'histoire et d'art in Luxembourg in 2017.

May 27, 2016

Pérez Art Museum Miami Receives Gift of 100 Artworks

Franklin Sirmans

Miami developer Craig Robins has gifted the Pérez Art Museum Miami one hundred artworks from his personal collection, including works by Jedediah Caesar, Patty Chang, and Rachel Lachowicz, Emily Cochrane of the Miami Herald Reports. The donation is one of the largest in the museum’s history.

Robins—who serves as the chair of the institution’s Collectors Council—had gifted the musuem 102 works in 2013. He said that he and his wife, Jackie Soffer, decided to make a second donation in honor of the musuem’s new leadership, Franklin Sirmans, who joined the PAMM as director in October. “I just think Franklin is an extraordinary person in the art world, and it’s a real coup that we were able to convince him to live and work in our community,” Robins said. “We wanted to celebrate his arrival.”

Robins’s gift has been one of many that the musuem has recently received. The museum’s namesake, Jorge M. Pérez, donated large-scale works by Ernesto Neto and Pablo Atchugarry that will be on view in PAMM’s sculpture garden. Other donors who recently gifted to the museum include David Hoberman, Deborah and Larry Hoffman, Beth Swofford, Joan Weberman, and the Knight Foundation.

May 26, 2016

A Member of Ai Weiwei’s Studio is Briefly Detained by Greek Police

Ai Weiwei

During the evacuation of the Idomeni refugee camp on the border between Greece and Macedonia, Greek authorities took Lu Hengzhong, a member of Ai Weiwei’s studio, to the police station in Polykastro, where she was questioned and released several hours later, Anny Shaw of the Art Newspaper reports.

On May 24, more than 400 riot police were sent to clear out the camp, which had thousands of Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghani refugees living there. Hengzhong was capturing footage at Idomeni’s train station when three policemen stopped her and forced her to shut off her camera before detaining her. Crews from various media outlets also reported that they were told to leave the camp or be arrested. Only state-controlled media agencies are being allowed to report from Idomeni at this time.

Hengzhong had been documenting the camp for the last twelve weeks for Ai Weiwei, who is making a feature-length film about the refugee crisis, which he expects to release in 2017.