February 17, 2013

Director of Museo Del Barrio Steps Down

Margarita Aguilar, the director of El Museo del Barrio, New York, has left her position of two years amid controversy at the East Harlem institution, reports Felicia R. Lee of the New York Times. Since the beginning of the year, the museum has reduced its days of operation, from six to four, and has laid off 20 percent of its staff. The museum has struggled with its $5.3 million annual budget as revenues from fundraising have waned and visitor attendance has dwindled. Aguilar had been curator at the museum from 1998 to 2006 before going to Christie’s as a vice president and specialist in Latin American art. Upon her return to the museum, she inherited a freshly renovated building with a redesign estimated at $35 million, which included a new courtyard, galleries, and glass façade. “Like every other cultural institution, our revenues are down,” mentioned Gonzalo Casals, the museum’s deputy executive director. “We thought it was prudent to do the layoffs.”

February 15, 2013

Pratt Institute’s Main Building Catches on Fire

The top floor of the Pratt Institute’s main building in Brooklyn caught on fire this morning, reports Erik Badia of the New York Daily News. The incident, which began just after 2 AM, damaged the wooden interior and collapsed the roof of the historic structure that was built in 1886. Fire marshals are investigating the cause since the building, which houses the college’s student classrooms and fine art studios, is typically vacant after 9 PM. “My roommate lost four of her paintings, which she's been working on for about six months,“ commented a junior at the college. ”It's really detrimental to our coursework because we have so much time invested."

February 15, 2013

Head of Christie’s Asia to Step Down

Ken Yeh, Christie’s chairman for Asia, has announced his departure from the auction house after sixteen years there, reports Carol Vogel of the New York Times. Yeh will become director of the Acquavella Galleries and will oversee Asian sales. “We want to have more of a presence in Asia,” says William Acquavella, “and Ken’s the person to help make that happen.”

February 15, 2013

Queens Museum of Art Announces Completion of Expansion

The Queens Museum of Art, located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York, has announced the completion of its two-year-long redesign by international architecture firm Grimshaw, set to open in October 2013. Providing the museum with an extra fifty thousand square feet of space, nearly doubling its current size with new galleries, artist studios, public and special-event spaces, education classrooms, a café, and other facilities, the expansion will first welcome visitors to a new west façade that will feature a two hundred by twenty-seven foot glass wall that will also be used as a unique exhibition space with a multicolored lighting system for commissioned artist projects. The $68 million dollar redesign will also include a new second entrance with a generous skylit atrium. “In October, after years of design and construction,” states Tom Finkelpearl, executive director of the museum, “we will finally have the sort of exceptional space our community deserves, one that will allow us to continue to offer our innovative slate of exhibitions and programs.” The completion of the museum's new spaces coincides with its fall program that includes two new performance pieces, Pedro Reyes’s The People’s UN (pUN) and Peter Schumann: Black and White.

February 14, 2013

International News Digest


Sooner or later, it seems, Jean-Jacques Aillagon will have left his mark on every cultural institution in France: Aillagon has now been elected president of Les Arts Décoratifs, a nonprofit multisite museum of decorative arts in Paris. A close friend of Jacques Chirac, Aillagon became president of the Pompidou Center in 1996. From 2002 through 2004, he served as France’s minister of culture, and at the end of his term was named the director of Palazzo Grassi. He was then appointed president of the Château de Versailles in 2007. Said Aillagon in response to his appointment, “I would like to say that my action will be guided by my goal to ensure that this institution, in the Parisian, French, and international cultural landscape, will see enhanced visibility and will contribute to the development of the culture of decorative arts.”

Over in Russia, the collective Voina has sued filmmaker Andrey Gryazev over Tomorrow (2012), his documentary featuring the group, according to Artinfo. Voina’s members are seeking over $30,000 in damages from Gryazev. According to Voina, Gryazev promised that the footage he shot of them planning protests, urinating on cars, and shoplifting would only be used archivally. Upon learning that Gryazev’s documentary won him over $6,000 at Copenhagen’s documentary festival, Voina sent him a letter demanding payment of the sum. Voina also sued Dieter Kosslick, director of the Berlin International Film Festival, demanding that the film be pulled on the grounds that it used unauthorized footage. Gryazev, meanwhile, produced contracts, which Voina has since claimed used their forged signatures.

Publications around the world have given fresh life to debates surrounding masterpieces by Courbet and Leonardo, respectively. Last week, a French collector claimed to have found the head to Courbet’s Origin of the World. Courbet expert Jean-Jacques Fernier told Paris Match that he supported the hypothesis, believing that the artist separated head and body to protect the identity of the model, believed to be Joanna Hiffernan. Le Figaro seemed skeptical, citing other experts who doubted Fernier’s theory, and pointing out that no evidence has ever surfaced suggesting that Courbet’s Origin was part of a bigger whole. Responding to the possible revelation that Courbet’s nude had a head, Jonathan Jones wrote in The Guardian, “In fetishising The Origin of the World, art historians may have falsely invented a dada masterpiece instead of paying Courbet his due homage as an artist who saw life and death in all their grandeur.”

Meanwhile, The Independent reported that new tests have determined that the Isleworth Mona Lisa is indeed an early version of its famous counterpart. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich carbon-dated the Isleworth piece to some time between 1410 and 1455, refuting doubters who claimed it was a sixteenth-century copy. Italian geometrist Alfonso Rubino studied the proportions of Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man and found a similar geometry in the Isleworth piece. “When we add these new findings to the wealth of scientific and physical studies we already had, I believe anyone will find the evidence of a Leonardo attribution overwhelming,” said David Feldman, vice president of the Mona Lisa foundation. Of course, the case isn't quite airtight—and probably never will be.

February 14, 2013

Christie’s and Sotheby’s London Sales Exceed $240 Million

Paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Peter Doig, Gerhard Richter, and Francis Bacon were the auction stars in this year’s first major test of the demand for contemporary art, according to Scott Reyburn of Bloomberg, signaling that the market has been continually growing since its drop in 2009. At Sotheby’s in London on Monday, Bacon’s Three Studies for a Self-Portrait, 1980, once owned by the band U2, and Basquiat’s Untitled (Pecho/Oreja), 1982–83, contributed to the night’s $117 million sale. At Christie’s in London the following night, Basquiat’s Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown), 1983, lauded for its heavy use of text, along with Doig’s densely textured landscapes, and Richter’s pink and green Abstraktes Bild, 2004, contributed to the night’s $127 million sale, a record for the auction house. “People are looking to buy art at any cost,” Michael Kohn, the Los Angeles–based dealer, said to Bloomberg. “Thanks to the Internet, internationalization, and the growing divide between the rich and the poor, the market just keeps expanding.”

February 14, 2013

Sou Fujimoto Named Designer of Serpentine Gallery’s 2013 Pavilion

The Serpentine Gallery has announced that award-winning Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto will design a temporary structure for the gallery to debut this summer. He is the youngest architect to accept the annual commission, joining a lineage that includes Herzog & de Meuron (2012), Frank Gehry (2008), Oscar Niemeyer (2003), and Zaha Hadid (2000). Fujimoto’s pavilion will comprise a latticed structure made of steel poles that each measure less than an inch, occupying over 3,500 square-feet of the gallery’s front lawn from June 8 through October 20, 2013. “The delicate quality of the structure, enhanced by its semitransparency, will create a geometric, cloudlike form,” mentions the architect, ”as if it were mist rising from the undulations of the park. From certain vantage points, the pavilion will appear to merge with the classical structure of the Serpentine Gallery, with visitors suspended in space.” Born in Hokkaido in 1971, Sou Fujimoto studied architecture at Tokyo University and went on to establish Sou Fujimoto Architects in 2000. In 2012, he won the Golden Lion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. “We are thrilled to be working with one of the most fascinating architects in the world today,” say gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones and codirector Hans Ulrich Obrist. “A visionary, who has conceived an extraordinary response to our invitation to design the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, Sou Fujimoto has designed a structure that will enthrall everyone that encounters it throughout the summer.”

February 14, 2013

Dakin Hart Appointed Senior Curator of Noguchi Museum

The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, New York, has appointed Dakin Hart senior curator, effective February 2013, reports Michael H. Miller of GalleristNY. Hart, an independent curator and researcher, previously served as assistant director to the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas between 2002 and 2004. Most recently, he organized a retrospective of Davi Det Hompson that is on view at the ZieherSmith Gallery in New York. Hart will now be responsible for the museum’s “curatorial affairs, publication planning and logistics, and the care and interpretation of the collection,” which approaches its thirtieth anniversary.

February 13, 2013

Gabriele Basilico (1944–2013)

The Corriere Della Sera reports that Italian photographer Gabriele Basilico has passed away. Basilico first came to public attention for work featuring industrial Milan. In the mid-1980s he was commissioned by the French government to document changes in the transalpine landscape. Most recently, he created a series of photographs of all the pavilions in the Giardini of the Venice Biennale for “Common Ground,” the thirteenth edition of the architecture biennial. Wrote Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Biennale, “His contribution once again lives up to its extraordinary capacity as interpreter of . . . formal, architectural, psychological, historical, and artistic urban space and space in general.”