Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times states that the Dallas Museum of Art will be receiving a gift of funding as well as art—in the form of 138 works—from the estate of collector and benefactor Dorace Fichtenbaum, who died in 2015 on July 11.
The pieces, mostly works on paper, are from a range of artists—Yayoi Kusama, Otto Dix, Jasper Johns, Eva Hesse, and Jean Dubuffet, among others—in addition to various African and Native American works of art. The museum’s senior curator of European and American art, Olivier Meslay, who is in charge of handling the bequest, said “For us it was a sudden wealth…a changing gift.”
In celebration of the four-year anniversary of the 2012 Olympics, the London Legacy Development Corporation has released design renderings of the Victoria and Albert Museum's new building, which will be constructed in East London on the former site that hosted the games.
V&A East will be a seven-story structure that will boast of 194,000 square feet of space, which the museum will share with Washington DC’s Smithsonian Institution, as artforum.com previously reported. Designed by the London–based firm Allies and Morrison and Irish architects O’Donnell + Tuomey, the Cubist building featuring a brick and glass façade is part of a masterplan to develop a new educational and cultural district in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. V&A East will be located opposite of Zaha Hadid’s London Aquatics Center and adjacent to Sadler’s Wells, London College of Fashion, and the University College London.
Dubbed the museum for the digital age, the venue will allow the V&A to exhibit a larger portion of its over two million-object collection. It is expected to open to the public in 2021.
Susan Mulcahy of the New York Times writes that Hazel O’Leary, former president of the historically black Fisk University in Nashville, surreptitiously sold off paintings by Florine Stettheimer and Rockwell Kent a number of years ago during a financially tumultuous period for the school.
When Fisk tried selling works from its famous Alfred Stieglitz collection—a gift to the school from Georgia O’Keeffe, Stieglitz’s widow—it violated the terms of the donation. A deal, however, was worked out with Arkansas’s Crystal Bridges museum and the school to share the collection, which brought Fisk a necessary $30 million.
When the Stettheimer painting, Ashbury Park South, 1920, was sold—which, along with the sale of the Kent, took place prior to the arrangement Fisk made with Crystal Bridges—it was the first time that a major work by the artist had come onto the market in twenty years (the Kent work was one of the artist’s paintings of Greenland). Lyndel King, chair of the Task Force for the Protection of University Collections and director of the Weisman Museum at the University of Minnesota said “Shame on [Fisk]. It’s very much against the ethics of our profession.” The task force doesn’t have any control over universities in these situations, but it can reprimand schools that try making these sales to cover operating costs, as this kind of gesture, said King, “alienates donors and undermines the purpose of having a museum on campus.”
It has not been revealed how much the Stettheimer was sold for. It’s believed that Michael Rosenfeld, the dealer who bought the painting, paid in the low six-figures for it. Francis Naumann, one of the few art dealers who’ve actually sold Stettheimer works, said it could actually be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million, as it is an important piece from the artist’s oeuvre.
Following the announcement that the city of Venice will acquire the Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation and act as the institution’s executive manager, beginning September 1, the city’s artistic community responded with protests, culminating in a petition published on change.org.
The Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation was founded in 1899 when the duchess Felicita Bevilacqua bequeathed funds and real estate to support “young artists, who often lack access to major exhibitions.” The foundation currently provides local artists with workspaces and residences, presenting, as the petition states, a “coherent system of places, geographically spread throughout the city,” including twelve artist workshops, two guest houses for international artists, as well as two exhibition spaces, an historical archive, a library, and an archive documenting the work of over two thousand artists from the Triveneto region.
The government’s interference was met with an outcry, with a spokesperson for the foundation telling Artforum.com’s Lauren Cavalli, “The issue is political control and business-style centralization.” The petition, comprised of five demands to guarantee the foundation’s autonomy, is addressed to the Mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, the commissioners, and city councilors. Those who have signed include Elisabetta di Maggio, Maria Morganti, Tobia Ravà, and Caterina Erica Shanta, as well as Italian TV-host and writer Alessandro di Pietro.
The petition’s two main requests address the foundation’s board of governors–demanding that three should be appointed by the mayor at “the designation of the provosts or directors of the three public educational institutions in Venice, which work in the field of contemporary art, art critique, curatorship, and management,” including the Academy of Fine Arts and the Ca’ Foscari and IUAV universities—and also the nomination of a president or artistic director. Petitioners are demanding that the latter should be chosen via a public search and be appointed by a selection committee.
Emphasizing Bevilacqua La Masa’s significance to Venice’s role as a cultural and artistic center, the petition states: “Bevilacqua La Masa is one of its most important cultural workshops, a key element in the project—now increasingly threatened by mass tourism—to make Venice a cultural capital, open to the world and to today.”
Since the city has already stated that it is taking over management of the foundation because of Bevilacqua La Masa’s “waste” of its financial resources, many questioned whether the petition would have any impact. But Elisabetta Meneghel, director of the foundation, told Artforum.com, “Artists, people of the cultural world, friends of the Bevilacqua La Masa of different generations and public opinion in general, bipartisan, mobilized for the autonomy of the Bevilacqua La Masa, and at the end of the week the government withdrew their intention.” Michele Zuin, the city’s budget councilor, had originally proposed to cut funding to the institution, but yesterday he retraced his steps somewhat. He declared that the institution would not be abolished, but would need to become “more dynamic,” meaning that there will soon be changes. Meneghel confirmed that so far no measure to suppress the organization has been taken.
According to Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Institute of Arts has launched a multimillion dollar campaign to collect African American art. With this landmark initiative, the institution will strive to strengthen its commitment to African American art by also funding exhibitions, artist commissions, community partnerships, staff development, and internships.
Spearheading the campaign is museum director Salvador Salort-Pons, who aims to shift the organization’s programming and collecting priorities to make DIA more culturally relevant to Detroit’s African American population. A recently acquired David Hammons’s sculpture, Bird, 1990, is representative of the institution’s new direction; estimated to cost at least one million dollars, the work is one of the most expensive pieces of contemporary art the DIA has bought in the past two decades. The six-foot tall piece, consisting of a Victorian bird cage enclosing a basketball encased in chicken wire, will go on display in the fall.
On July 7, Paris’s High Court ruled in favor of Lady Gaga in a plagiarism lawsuit filed by French artist Orlan in 2013, Victoria Stapley-Brown of Art Newspaper reports. The court also ordered the artist to pay the pop star and her record label $22,000 for the legal proceedings.
In the complaint, Orlan alleged that Lady Gaga reproduced two of the artist’s works: Orlan Bumpload, 1989, a sculpture of the artist with disfiguring bumps, and Woman with Head, 1996, a severed head sitting on top of a table. Orlan also claimed that Lady Gaga’s recitation of The Manifesto of Mother Monster was too similar to the artist’s Orlan’s Manifeste de l’art charnel (Manifesto of Carnal Art). The artist accuses Lady Gaga of infringing on her image rights when she produced her “Born This Way” music video and album cover in 2011. Orlan had asked the court for $31.7 million, or 7.5 percent of the royalties from the album.
The court determined that the messages of the works differed and that the idea of transforming the human body into a hybrid does not belong to Orlan. The artist said that she plans to appeal the decision. Orlan filed a separate suit in New York in January, in which she is asking the court to subpoena the fashion director and makeup artist who collaborated on the “Born This Way” video with Lady Gaga.
The Swiss Institute announced that it will be moving into a 5,000-square-foot temporary project space at 102 Franklin Street before it relocates to a more permanent address in 2017. This new space will be known as Swiss In Situ and programming will focus on ephemeral formats surrounding, among other things, architecture and publishing. This is an expansion of the institute’s “One for All” series, which gave emerging artists their first institutional exhibitions within the United States.
New York–based artist Anne Chu, whose otherworldly sculptures and installations—classical figures merged with sundry modernist forms, gently pulverized, then charged with a spectral, deadpan humor—died yesterday, July 25, 2016.
Chu received her BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1982 and earned her MFA from Columbia University only three years later. Since 1991, she has had more than thirty solo exhibitions at a number of institutions and galleries throughout the United States and abroad, such as Victoria Miro in London; Monica De Cardenas in Milan and Zuoz; Donald Young Gallery in Chicago; Galerie Karlheinz Meyer in Karlsruhe; 303 Gallery in New York; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro; Marc Foxx in Los Angeles; and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Chu has also been the recipient of many prestigious grants and awards. Among them are a John and Simon Memorial Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 1999, and the Alpert/Ucross Residency Prize in 2009.
In regard to Chu’s exhibition at the Kunstmuseen Krefeld/Museum Haus Lange, critic Hans Rudolf Reust said in the March 2013 issue of Artforum, “Chu’s installation surprises with an array of cultural fragments whose amalgamation seems at once unconventional and natural. The return of ornamentality, a lascivious luxury in spatial geometry, is here more than the return of what modernism repressed. She creates a bucolic and hybrid world that will certainly leave its mark on our memories of the rooms of the Haus Lange, already shaped by so many important exhibitions.”
Anny Shaw of the Art Newspaper reports that Peter Ballantine, a fabricator who worked closely with Donald Judd and a former art supervisor for the Judd Foundation, has started a new fellowship program at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh that will focus on the creation of new scholarship surrounding Judd’s work based on the artist’s and Enlightenment philosopher David Hume’s thinking.
The program will run for five years and focus on overlooked aspects of Judd’s oeuvre, “such as abstraction, the image, precognition, objectness, delegated fabrication, and sustainability,” writes Shaw. A new fellow will be selected every year, and each fellow will be funded by the nearly $40,000 Judd-Hume Prize.
Professor emeritus at the University of Basel Gottfried Boehm will take the inaugural post, which will run from March to April of 2017. The fellowship will end with a symposium scheduled for May, along with the publication of Boehm’s research. Alva Noë, a professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley, has already been chosen for 2018.
Diane Wilsey, known by many as Dede, will be leaving her post as board president and chief executive of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, reports Jori Finkel of the New York Times. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which is made up of the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, is now being led by Max Hollein, the group’s new director. Hollein will be taking over some of Wilsey’s responsibilities.
These changes follow on the heels of a $2 million settlement that the board agreed to in regard to stopping a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed by Michele Gutierrez, the group’s former chief financial officer. Gutierrez said last year that Wilsey had given $450,000 of museum money to a retired employee without getting the board’s approval (Wilsey says the funds were to cover costs related to the former employee’s health issues). Gutierrez’s allegations caused some high-profile board members to resign, such as philanthropist Bernard Osher and Louise Renne, who used to be the city attorney.
Wilsey is an extraordinarily influential force within the group. She was the primary fundraiser for the completion of the de Young Museum’s building in 2005 (designed by Herzog & de Meuron) and played a large role in choosing Hollein as the group’s director.