Margalit Fox reports in the New York Times that photographer Saul Leiter has passed away. Trained as a rabbi and then a painter, Leiter made a name for himself with his photographs of New York City street life. His career began to gain momentum in 1953, when Edward Steichen included some of his work in the show “Always the Young Strangers” at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Fox notes that Leiter never quite became a household name like some others involved with the New York School of photography, including Weegee and Diane Arbus, though he was featured in a solo exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum in 2006, the same year a book Saul Leiter: Early Color put forth his work, along with a forward by historian Martin Harrison. Leiter’s photographs are in the collections of the Whitney Museum in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He had a retrospective last year at the Hamburg Deichtorhallen.
Leiter often downplayed the significance of his career. “I am not immersed in self-admiration,” he said in an interview. “When I am listening to Vivaldi or Japanese music or making spaghetti at 3 in the morning and realize that I don’t have the proper sauce for it, fame is of no use.” Leiter’s photography was featured in a portfolio in this year's June issue of Artforum.
According to NBC, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art is getting $1.8 million from the nation of Oman. The largest donation in the museum’s history, the money will go toward funding “Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa,” a series of programs that will focus on Omani arts and culture, and connections between East and North Africa and the Middle East.
Jacqueline W. Franey has been named director of development at the Dallas Museum of Art. Over the past two decades, Franey has worked at BNY Mellon Wealth Management and the Communities Foundation of Texas, reports Benjamin Sutton of Artinfo. Said Franey: “I am thrilled to be joining the DMA and working closely with the many generous and philanthropic donors who understand the vital importance of art institutions in our daily lives.” Franey will assume her new post on December 9.
Ryan McNamara has been awarded the second edition of the Malcolm McLaren Award for his work MEƎM: A Story Ballet About the Internet, performed at the Connelly Theater during Performa 13, reports Roberta Smith for the New York Times. The $10,000 prize, sponsored by The Vinyl Factory, was created in 2010 in honor of the late artist, designer, and music impresario Malcolm McLaren. Designed by Marc Newson, the award is “given to an artist who demonstrates the most innovative and thought-provoking performance during Performa 13.” This year’s edition also celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of McLaren’s groundbreaking album Duck Rock. The Vinyl Factory will release the remastered vinyl edition of Duck Rock next year.
Christian Marclay presented the award to McNamara during a ceremony at Performa’s HUB on Sunday, November 24. Lou Reed was the presenter of the inaugural Malcolm McLaren Award, to Ragnar Kjartansson, who received it for his work Bliss in Performa 11.
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has announced that five arts organizations, which were chosen by an anonymous panel, will receive grants from the foundation totaling $3.5 million. The organizations include American Repertory Theater, Cambridge ($1 million); On the Boards, Seattle ($300,000); Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland ($1 million); Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts, Middletown ($400,000); and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington, DC ($800,000). The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation was established in 1996 to support the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research, and the prevention of child abuse.
Tobias Meyer will depart from Sotheby’s after more than twenty years at the auction house. Meyer joined in 1992 as head of the contemporary art department in London, and five years later was appointed head of the worldwide contemporary department, based in New York. Said Meyer: “I will always cherish my time at Sotheby’s and look forward to the next chapter in my career.” Chairman Bill Ruprecht commented, “Meyer has been at the center of signature moments in Sotheby’s history for more than twenty years and we are grateful for all of his contributions. With Tobias’s contract soon expiring, we all agreed it was time to part ways. We wish Tobias nothing but good fortune.”
Film and video artist Mohamed Nasir Hashemi and installation artist Masooda Noora have been named joint winners of this year’s Afghan Contemporary Art Prize, while third place went to Mohamed Daud Hedayati for his ink drawings. In looking at hurdles faced by the prize contestants, Monopol noted that traditional art is gaining momentum again in Afghanistan, while modern and contemporary art continue to be rejected as un-Islamic. The head of the competition, Francesca Recchia, told the paper, “War, violence, and political instability have had a dramatic effect on the development of cultural production in Afghanistan.” Afghan artist Naseer Fedaee Tourkmani—one of the ten finalists—said that his photographic practice often jeopardized his safety, recounting incidents when people broke his camera and beat him up. “The people don’t understand art and artists.”
The Abu Dhabi Art Fair shut down yesterday—its second day—thanks to the worst storm seen by the region in over two decades, according to Anna Somers Cocks in the Art Newspaper. Cocks reports that the pavilion housing the bulk of the fair saw water leakage. At 3AM, workers from Hasenkamp art transporters were on the scene protecting the artworks. No reports of serious damage have yet been filed, and later the same day, the fair’s organizers reopened the adjacent Manarat Al Saadiyat—site of some booths and all the fair’s lectures. Programming there will proceed as planned, though the storm is expected to continue on.
The appointment of Bernard Blistène as the new director of the Musée national d’art moderne in Paris has provoked a range of responses in the European press. According to Le Monde’s Emmanuelle Lequeux, Blistène is “cut out for the post”: She calls him “a brilliant, cultivated mind” who is “capable of devious diplomacy as well as strokes of madness.” Meanwhile, Claire Bommelaer and Valerie Duponchelle, writing in Le Figaro, see Blistène as “an outsider” whose appointment was somewhat of a surprise, though they note that he was in contention for the job in 2000, but lost out at the time to Alfred Pacquement. And in an opinion piece for the FAZ, Jürg Altwegg was perhaps most critical. Calling Blistène “the new director nobody wanted,” he suggested that Frankfurt-based museum director Max Hollein was the favored finalist, but withdrew his candidacy in face of politics favoring a French director. “The resistance to a foreign director has ultimately led to a mockery of the post,” wrote Altwegg. “France remains a slightly xenophobic cultural-political monarchy.”
The former chairman of sporting goods company Puma will be housing his collection of contemporary African art in a new museum set to open in 2016 in the waterfront area of Cape Town, South Africa. Gareth Harris reports in the Art Newspaper that Jochen Zeitz, the sportswear magnate and art collector, will put up most of the money needed to build the 102,000-square-foot nonprofit that will be known as the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. It’s worth noting that the museum will receive a mix of public and private funding, and the V&A Waterfront development project is contributing nearly $50 million. The museum’s director and chief curator will be Mark Coetzee, former director of the Miami-based Rubell Family Collection.
While South Africa has a sneaker fortune to thank for its new museum, Mexico City’s just witnessed the launch of its own new museum with the help of a juice inheritance: Eugenio López Alonso, Jumex scion, inaugurated Museo Jumex this past weekend, according to Andrew Russeth of GalleristNY. The 43,000-square-foot museum houses his foundation’s 2,000-plus artworks. The building was designed by architect David Chipperfield, who according to Russeth called López’s project “a gift to the city that is quite extraordinary.”
Adam Szymczyk has been named artistic director of Documenta 14. Bernd Leifeld, executive director of Documenta and the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, stated that his appointment was a unanimous decision on the part of the eight-member supervisory board. Szymczyk is currently director and chief curator of the Kunsthalle Basel, a role he assumed in 2003. He spent the previous six years as the curator of the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw. Szymczyk was the recipient of the Menil Collection’s Walter Hopps award for curatorial achievement and organized the 2008 Berlin Biennial. Said board member Eva Kühne-Hörmann: “I am convinced that Szymczyk, a ground-breaking and idiosyncratic curator of art, will add new highlights to documenta.”
The Portland Museum of Art has received a gift of photographs including works by American artists like Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, Paul Strand, Eliot Porter, and William Wegman. The collection totals sixty-nine images and was bestowed on the museum by board trustees Owen and Anna Wells. Sarah Cascone of Art in America reports that the photographs document over eight decades of America history; a selection of forty-five will be on view as part of the museum’s upcoming exhibition, “American Vision: Photographs From the Collection of Owen and Anna Wells.”