Charles Garabedian (1923–2016)

Artist Charles Garabedian

Artist Charles Garabedian has died, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Jill Leovy. Renowned for brightly colored paintings portraying scenes based on Greek literature and daytime TV, Garabedian “injected an imaginative California sensibility into contemporary art,” wrote Leovy. He earned a master’s degree at UCLA, where he later taught, and was featured in a solo show at the Whitney Museum in 1976. The next year, he was named an NEA fellow; he then received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1980.

In addition to the Whitney, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles have his work in their collections. Yet many of his supporters felt Garabedian often received less recognition than he deserved: “He makes no compromises,” said artist Ed Moses, an old friend. “He is just into the painting as painting.”

Critic David Pagel once wrote of Garabedian, “There is no escaping from his wily art.”


June 25, 2016

Bill Cunningham (1929–2016)

Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham, the legendary New York Times fashion photographer, has died on Saturday. The eighty-seven-year old had been hospitalized recently for suffering a stroke, which caused The Times to forgo publishing one of his photos for the first time in decades. Reporter Jacob Bernstein wrote that “Cunningham operated both as a dedicated chronicler of fashion and as an unlikely cultural anthropologist, one who used the changing dress habits of the people he photographed to chart the broader shift away from formality and toward something more diffuse and individualistic.”

Born in Boston in 1929, Cunningham’s love of fashion started at an early age. When he was young he said, “I could never concentrate on Sunday church services because I’d be concentrating on women’s hats.” The accessory would later become his passion—in the 1950s he would drop out of Harvard to open a millinery store, called William J. on 52nd Street between Madison and Park Avenue. He refrained from using his surname claiming his family members “were very shy people.” Even after being drafted into the Korean War, he returned to the US to continue his career making hats, but not long after, he began working for the Chicago Tribune and Women’s Wear Daily. He would later join the New York Times and contribute to the paper for over four decades. His work appeared in columns such as “On the Street” and “Evening Hours.” Cunningham said he began documenting the latest in the clothing industry during World War II using a box Brownie, but his interest in the medium had started to develop long before—he would often capture people with his lens during stays at ski resorts when vacationing with his family.

Cunningham helped popularize street-style fashion photography, and he would often be seen hopping off his bicycle, which he road for more than thirty years, while pedaling around Manhattan in order to snap an intriguing shot. The beloved photographer was awarded the Legion d’Honneur in 2008, named a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy in 2009, and was the subject of the documentary film, “Bill Cunningham New York,” which debuted at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010. In the film, Anna Wintour said, “I’ve said many times that we all get dressed for Bill.”

According to Vogue’s Hamish Bowles, “Well into his eighties, Bill maintained a child’s delight in the wonder and magic of fashion at its most inventive, provocative, and ground-breaking.” He added, “Bill exemplified everything about the fashion world that is to be cherished and celebrated.” A full-fledged celebrity, Cunningham was always modest about his status and work. In an essay he wrote for The Times in 2002, he said, “The problem is I’m not a good photographer. To be perfectly honest, I’m too shy. Not aggressive enough. Well, I’m not aggressive at all. I just loved to see wonderfully dressed women, and I still do. That’s all there is to it.”

In a review of “Bill Cunningham New York” for Artforum’s February 2011 issue, Amy Taubins wrote that Cunningham—the forerunner to today’s fashion bloggers—produced one of “three extensive, unofficial imagistic histories of New York City,” the other two she is referring to are Jonas Mekas’s 16-mm diaries and Warhol’s multimedia oeuvre.” She describes the icon as someone who wore a “chipper smile and evasive body language like armor, which is precisely how he thinks of fashion. (‘Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization.’)”

June 24, 2016

Tony Feher (1956–2016)

Tony Feher installing his show at the Lumber Room in Portland, Oregon in 2014.

The sculptor Tony Feher died today. His subtle, straightforward work, made with the most throwaway of things—plastic water bottles, berry cartons, jelly jars, or blue painter’s tape—upended Minimalist sobriety and Conceptualist cool with an intelligence that wholly embraced humor and charm.

Feher was born in Albuquerque. He grew up in a military family and had an itinerant childhood, with stints in Corpus Christi, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Florida. He received his BA in 1978 from the University of Texas in Austin. Around that time, he was told he lacked creativity, and that if he could even make it as a shoe salesman, he’d be lucky. So with that, he moved to New York.

He had his first solo show at Wooster Gardens in New York in 1993. Since then, he has had over forty solo exhibitions at numerous venues and institutions, such as Diverseworks in Houston; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Pace Gallery, and D’Amelio Terras in New York; ACME in Los Angeles; Anthony Meier Fine Arts in San Francisco; and The Suburban in Oak Park, Illinois. A midcareer survey of Feher’s art, curated by Claudia Schmuckli, opened at the Des Moines Art Center in 2012 and traveled to Houston's Blaffer Art Museum later that year; then to the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts in 2013; and finally the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Akron Art Museum from 2013–14.

“For years, I’ve felt Feher’s assemblages of found objects—domestic, utilitarian, cute—to be the most viscerally satisfying sculptures in this or any town,” said poet, painter, and critic Wayne Koestenbaum of the artist in his “Best of 2014” list from that year’s December issue of Artforum. “He collects and arranges his colorful foundlings with custodial precision—a kinky rigor that restores the dignity of those who overly cathect to household flotsam. Feher’s patterns reassure; he seems a model-maker, constructing maquettes of villages and bundled communities that imagine utopia by seceding from usefulness into gridded whimsy.”

June 24, 2016

Philipp Demandt to Lead Städel Museum and Liebieghaus as Director

Philipp Demandt

Frankfurt’s Städel Museum and the Liebieghaus have announced that Philipp Demandt has been appointed director and will join the organizations on October 1. The art historian and curator served as the director of Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie since 2012. Among the shows he organized during his tenure were “Rembrandt Bugatti,” “Impressionism—Expressionism: Art at a Turning Point,” and “The Monk Has Returned.” “I look back on five fulfilling years at the Nationalgalerie with deep gratitude,” he said. “I am greatly looking forward to Frankfurt—professionally because it has developed to become one of the most exciting art centers in Germany and beyond.”

Nikolaus Schweickart, chairman of the Städel Museum administration, said, “We are very happy about the fact that, so soon after Max Hollein’s departure, we have succeeded in recruiting one of the most creative minds in the German museum world to direct the two institutions.” Hollein left his position to head the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

June 24, 2016

Québec City Museum Opens New $80 Million Pavilion

Musée nationale des beaux-arts de Québec

Québec City’s Musée nationale des beaux-arts de Québec opened its new 15,000-square-foot pavilion today, Victoria Stapley-Brown of the Art Newspaper reports. “The world heritage site that is Québec City has just added a new emblem,” Line Ouellet, the museum’s executive director and chief curator, said.

The building, which is named for the institution’s chairman, Pierre Lassonde, was designed by the New York outpost of Rem Koolhaas’s Rotterdam-based architectural firm OMA—Office for Metropolitan Architecture. The five-story facility doubles the institution’s exhibition space and includes an auditorium, a café, rooftop garden, and an underground passageway that connects the pavilion with the three existing buildings on the museum’s grounds.

The museum broke ground on its new nearly $80 million building in 2013. Seven exhibitions of works curated from its permanent collection have been organized to inaugurate the new space.

June 24, 2016

Houston Center for Photography Appoints New Executive Director

According to Glasstire, the Houston Center for Photography has announced that Ashlyn Davis will take up the helm as its new executive director. She had previously served as the center’s director of development since June 2015.

Davis is a graduate of the University of Texas Austin and Pratt Institute. She has worked for various organizations, including the Aperture Foundation, Penguin Books, and Newspace Center for Photography. The members of the board said that Davis “brings to the position an intimate knowledge of the organization, rich experience in the non-profit photography community, and a deep passion for the medium of photography.”

June 24, 2016

Obama Names Stonewall Inn First LGBT National Monument

Stonewall Inn, the United States’s first LGBT national monument.

Today, President Obama designated Stonewall Inn, seen by many as the birthplace of the Gay Rights movement, the US’s first LGBT national monument. This step in commemorating LGBT history takes place at a fraught time: less than two weeks after the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando that left fifty dead and wounded fifty-three others, but also only two days before the first anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country.

Glennda Testone, director of The Center—New York City’s LGBT community center, which offers health and wellness programs, entertainment, and support services—said, “We thank President Obama for standing with us as a staunch ally and ensuring our place in the history books. After thousands of years of invisibility, LGBT contributions and culture will no longer be marginalized and our significance will be forever be a part of the story of the United States of America." She added, “By designating a home for LGBT history, we ensure that none of the lives lost in the fight for LGBT rights are forgotten. When people come to Stonewall National Monument, we hope they'll know that it was also the place where thousands of people gathered after the Orlando shooting to try and make some sense of a world where something so heartbreaking could happen. It is, and always will be, the place where our community members go to find each other in times of celebration, tragedy and to advance the fight for full LGBT equality.”

The new monument will protect the area encompassing Stonewall Inn, where the LGBT community fought back against police persecution on June 28, 1969.

President Obama said this addition to America’s National Park System “should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity, and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us.”

June 24, 2016

Cartoonist’s Widow Files Lawsuit Against Charlie Hebdo

French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Le Parisien reports that Gala Renaud, widow of Michel Renaud, one of twelve people killed by the Kouachi brothers at the Charlie Hebdo offices in January 2015, has filed a lawsuit against the satirical newspaper. Renaud alleges that after collecting millions of euros following the attack, the paper’s directors have not made good on promises to compensate families of the victims. The lawsuit specifically targets the new coeditor of Charlie Hebdo, Laurent Souriseau, also known as Riss, who was injured in the shoulder during the shooting.

Responding to Renaud’s accusations in an email addressed to regional newspaper La Montagne, a Charlie Hebdo representative wrote, “We are surprised and shocked. We have always said that the proceeds from the sale of the newspaper should be devoted to ensure its sustainability.” However, in February 2016, Le Figaro reported that contributions collected by the organizations Press and Pluralism via the website (which at that date amounted to nearly $3 million) and Friends of Charlie Hebdo ($1.7 million) should be donated to the victims of the attacks and the families of those killed.

Central France’s L’Espace Loup is currently exhibiting drawings by Philippe Honoré and Tignous (Bernard Verlhac), two staff cartoonists who were killed during terrorist attack. The show, which runs through August 14, is part of an international drawing festival held in Saint-Just-le-Martel each year.

June 24, 2016

Maxwell L. Anderson Named President of African American Art Foundation

Maxwell L. Anderson

Atlanta’s Souls Grown Deep Foundation—which documents, preserves, and exhibits works by self-taught African American artists from the South—has announced that Maxwell L. Anderson, the former director of the Dallas Museum of Art, was appointed president. The foundation also announced that Harry Arnett will succeed Paul Arnett, as the chair of the board of trustees. Paul Arnett will remain on the board.

In an interview with Randy Kennedy of the New York Times, Anderson said, “Our premise now is providing more major institutions—and then smaller institutions—with works that will allow them to be able to tell the story of these artists and these traditions, which were, if not suppressed, then almost unknown for so long—comparable to the work of many jazz and blues artists for more than a generation.”

For the newly created position, Anderson will be responsible for overseeing the foundation’s various initiatives and operations. Previously, Anderson has served as the head of Atlanta’s Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, Ontario’s Art Gallery, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He is also the executive director of the New Cities Foundation—a think tank for urban planning.

Founded in 2010, the nonprofit foundation acquired the majority of its works and archive from William Arnett, an art historian who began to collect artworks by undiscovered African American artists in the 1970s. The foundation’s collection consists of over 150 works by artists such as Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Joe Light, Joe Minter, and Purvis Young. In 2014, it gifted the Metropolitan Museum of Art fifty-seven artworks.

June 24, 2016

Paul Cox (1940–2016)

Paul Cox, an independent filmmaker known as the father of Australian art cinema, has died in Heidelberg at the age of seventy-six, Margalit Fox of the New York Times reports. The family confirmed the cause of death was cancer.

“I’m not a filmmaker out of ambition, I never thought I would be a filmmaker,” Cox said in a 1984 interview. “It’s pure compulsion. I have no option.” Among his best known films are “Lonely Hearts” (1982), “Man of Flowers” (1983), and “A Woman’s Tale” (1991). Cox has also worked on documentaries such as “Vincent” (1987), which tells the life story of Vincent Van Gogh as told through his brother Theo’s letters, and “Nijinsky: The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky” (2001).

Born in 1940 in Venlo, the Netherlands, Cox remembers the hardships the region experienced from World War II. In an essay he wrote, “I witnessed nothing but death and destruction. Half the population of the small town we lived in perished.” In 1965, he relocated to Australia where he worked as a photographer. Cox made his first feature film in the 1970s. After he was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2009, he was inspired to make “Force of Destiny” (2015), a film about a romance that develops between a couple who are both on a waiting list for organ transplants, and a documentary, “The Dinner Party” (2012), in which he interviews people who received organ transplants about the experience.The film critic Roger Ebert once said, “Paul Cox is a hero of the cinema, a man who lives in seclusion in Melbourne and turns out one extraordinary film after another.”