The Tacoma Art Museum will reopen with its new 16,000-square-foot addition on November 16, 2014, reports Patricia Cohen of the New York Times. The new Haub Family Galleries were designed by Olson Kundig Architects. They will house approximately three hundred western American paintings, including works by Frederic Remington and Georgia O’Keeffe, donated by Erivan and Helga Haub to the museum in 2012.
Austria has decided not to buy the Essl art collection, after a proposal by the ministry of culture sparked a heated national debate. According to Die Presse, The collection was put up for sale by collector Karlheinz Essl in an effort save 4,000 jobs at bauMax, Essl’s chain of home-improvement stores. The radio station Deutschlandfunk’s Christoph Schmitz interviewed Thomas Trenkler, editor of Vienna’s Standard, about the decision. Trenkler summed up the concerns of many museum directors about the potential sale, noting that the collection, while full of big-name artists, didn’t necessarily include their highest quality or most significant works. Meanwhile, Julia Michalska reported in the Art Newspaper that Essl withdrew his offer and says he has reached an agreement with his creditors that will protect his collection in case of insolvency.
Turkish artists spoke out about growing fears of censorship to the Art Newspaper’s Gareth Harris. Their concern follows prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent election victory; in his campaign, Erdogan blasted social media and vowed to “wipe out Twitter,” even banning it on March 21, after users tweeted about government corruption. According to other reports, the government also blocked YouTube, after a tape surfaced on the site in which security officials considered deploying the military in Syria. “For artists, and for freedom of speech, it’s all over here, this is the finish line,” lamented the artist Taner Ceylan. Said the artist Ali Taptik, “Censorship is a universal dilemma but it is much more acute in Turkey. It is also important to remember that there are more journalists in prison in Turkey than anywhere else: We are in a race with Iran and China.”
Belgium’s Council of Ministers has given the go-ahead for plans to renovate the Vanderborght stores, right off of Brussels’s central plaza. La Capitale reported that, after their renovation, the buildings will house the modern and contemporary collections of the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts. The city will contribute over two million dollars to the external work on the building, and will lease the buildings to the museum for thirty years. “A modern and contemporary art is essential to the cultural influence of Brussels and is also the economy and tourism,” said the city’s alderman of culture, Karine Lalieux.
L’Express reporter Annick Colonna-Cesari sat down with Catherine Millet, founder of the magazine Art Press (and author of The Sexual Life of Catherine M.). Millet talked about the changes she’s seen in the art world, noting her magazine’s fortieth birthday last year. “The artistic field has expanded and opened in all sorts of directions.” Asked about whether contemporary art could encompass an infinitely expanding field of sources, media, and references, she said, “Art, today, cannot sustain itself alone; it draws from the epoque, from cinema, as we have seen, but also comics, TV, even video games or Google Earth, [but] I do not think the field of art is infinitely expandable. There will come a time, past the excitement of discovery, when art will be more selective.”
And in April Fool’s news, the activist political group GULF took the Guggenheim to task last week. In an action designed to foreground the issue of human-rights abuses that have accompanied the construction of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the pranksters spread around a press release and website purporting to represent the Guggenheim, in which the “museum” announced that it had “decided to rethink the design for its new branch in Abu Dhabi” in response to “overwhelming international concern about human and labor rights violations in the construction of the new cultural district of Saadiyat Island.” The press release announced an open design competition, seeking projects that address “areas where the first design fell short, such as fair labor.” Then, this past Saturday, the group invaded the Guggenheim’s main Manhattan site, and showered visitors with fake bills printed with imagery protesting the Abu Dhabi construction.
Op Art sculptor Mon Levinson has passed away at the age of eighty-eight. Levinson became known for his work with Plexiglas. Fusing congruent layers of the material incised with fine lines, he likened his artistic process to “discovering physics,” reports Roberta Smith of the New York Times. His work was first included in the “New Forms—New Media” exhibition Martha Jackson Gallery in New York in 1960; he later exhibited at the John Weber Gallery and Mitchell Algus Gallery. His art is included in public collections at institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington. In a 1971 review of Levinson’s work, Grace Glueck wrote in the New York Times that these works “are immaculately crafted and do no violence to the dictum that less is more.”
The artist Ai Weiwei will be starring in a short science-fiction film, The Sandstorm, set in a dystopian Beijing, according to Patrick Brzeski in the Hollywood Reporter. The project turned up on Kickstarter and is being shot by cinematographer Christopher Doyle. The director, Jason Wishnow, is head of video at the TED Talks lecture series, and first worked with Ai when the artist smuggled a secret TED Talk out of China. Because Ai’s under surveillance in China, Wishnaw said the film was shot in secret. “We told no one what we were up to. The crew used code names and ever-shifting modes of communication.”
The Drawing Center has appointed Margaret Sundell executive editor of the center's publication, the Drawing Papers. Sundell is currently editor-at-large of Cabinet and has taught art history and critical theory at Columbia University and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Some prior positions of hers include chief critic and art editor of Time Out New York and director of the Creative Capital Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program; she also contributes to Artforum magazine. Said executive director Brett Littman: “We are absolutely thrilled that Margaret is joining our team at the Drawing Center. She is someone I have admired for many years as one of the most accomplished editors and writers in the art world. Her intelligence, curiosity, and unique editorial skill set will be invaluable to our publications and institution.”
Shyam Oberoi has been named director of technology and digital media at the Dallas Museum of Art. Oberoi is currently general manager of collections information services at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an institution he joined in 2006, reports the New York Observer. Said deputy director Robert Stein: “I’m very pleased that Shyam Oberoi will join the Dallas Museum of Art next month. With his significant expertise and his successful track record of managing complex projects, I am confident that under his direction the museum will make major strides in reaching audiences with new digital initiatives while maintaining the museum’s tradition of excellence online.”
Judith F. Dolkart has been named director of the Addison Gallery of American Art at the Phillips Academy. Dolkhart is currently deputy director of the Barnes Foundation—an institution she joined in 2010—and previously acted as associate curator of European Art at the Brooklyn Museum. Andrew Russeth of the New York Observer reports that her resignation follows the departure of director Derek Gillman, who left the Barnes four months ago to become a visiting professor at the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University. Said John Palfrey, head of the academy: “We are delighted to welcome Judith to Phillips Academy and the Addison community. Judith is an accomplished curator and educator who believes deeply in visual literacy, cross-media learning, and the power of art to engage, persuade, and provide transformative experiences.”
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, has appointed Christina Nielsen as its curator of the collection and director of program planning, reports Andrew Russeth of GalleristNY. Most recently the assistant curator at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she's worked since 2003, Nielsen has also held positions at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art; the British Museum, London; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. She begins her new post in April 2014.
The Oregon Arts Commission has awarded $237,500 to seventeen arts groups, reports David Stabler of The Oregonian. The grants predominantly focus on helping groups upgrade technology, like office and radio station equipment. Grantees range from the Newspace Center for Photography, which will receive $7,900, to the Salem Art Association, which will receive $24,500. This round of grants is one of thirteen the arts commission awards each year.