On Friday, December 2, President Valdimir V. Putin met with film directors and artists and vowed that he would protect artistic freedom in Russia, Andrew E. Kramer of the New York Times reports. Putin called any interference with theater or exhibitions “absolutely inadmissible.”
During the same meeting, the Russian leader said that he agreed with a court ruling that sentenced Ukrainian director Oleh Sentsov to twenty years in jail in Siberia. Putin claimed that the Sentsov was not imprisoned because of his films, but for “in fact dedicating his life to terrorist activities.”
Artists appealed to Putin about their concerns relating to the power of conservative groups and recently censored arts shows, including the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography’s decision to shut down an exhibition by US photographer Jock Sturges and a theater in Omsk’s cancelation of a performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” both of which were protested by right-winged groups.
Putin defended the religious rock musical and said that it should not have been canceled, but also said that as artists they have a responsibility to not offend people’s religions. He cited the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the deaths of twelve people, as why it is important to “not split the society.”
The University of Chicago’s Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry has announced that artist Zachary Cahill has been appointed as the institution’s new curator. Cahill will be responsible for developing a range of partnerships between artists, scholars, and the community; cultivating Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships; and ensuring that the center continues to be a place of creative experimentation.
For the past several years, Cahill has worked with the university to produce arts programming. From 2007 to 2016, he served as the open practice committee coordinator and as a lecturer in the department of visual arts.
Since 2009, Cahill has been working on a longterm exhibition-based project, “USSA,” which explores concepts of nation building. His artwork has been featured in solos shows at numerous institutions including the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. He also recently participated in the group show “Broken Flag” at Iceberg Projects in Chicago and the Goethe Institut’s Kultursymposium in Weimar. A widely published author, Cahill’s writing has been featured in Afterall, Artforum, The Exhibitionist, Frieze, and Mousse. He earned his BFA in sculpture from Cornell University in 1995 and his MFA from the University of Chicago in 2007.
Sculptor Ousmane Sow, known as the Auguste Rodin of Senegal for his large-scale sculptures of Africans, died in Dakar today at the age of eighty-one, William Grimes of the New York Times reports. He was the first African artist elected as a foreign associate member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France.
Born in Dakar in 1935, Sow traveled to France in 1957 and earned a degree in nursing. He worked as a physical therapist for the majority of his life acquiring an intimate knowledge of the human body. He returned to Senegal shortly after it gained its independence in 1960, where he planned to continue his practice as a therapist, but gave it up in his fifties to become a fulltime sculptor.
Inspired by German photographer Leni Riefenstah, Sow’s sculptures of African peoples, including the Masai, Zulus, and Fulanis, as well as Nuban wrestlers, have been widely exhibited. He participated in Documenta in 1993 and the Venice Biennale in 1995. Many of his works feature heroic figures from history, including his installation of the Battle of Little Bighorn, which was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2003 and his Toussaint L’Ouverture and the Old Slave, a seven-foot-tall sculpture of an eighteenth-century Haitian revolutionary, presented in “African Mosaic” at the National Museum of African Art in Washington DC in 2011. Director Johnnetta Cole described the work as “our Mona Lisa.”
Three sculptures located in a park in Shanghai have been dismantled after UK artist Wendy Taylor claimed that one of the works was a copy of her sundial sculpture, which is located on the banks of the River Thames in London, AFP reports.
Taylor’s Timepiece, 1972–1973, was created as a local tribute to dock workers in London. The lookalike, which landowners Shenjiang Co. admitted was a copy by an unnamed artist, was erected in 2006. Taylor was made aware of the Chinese sculpture after a tourist asked her if she was the artist who had created it.
“At first I just couldn’t believe it, then I was totally shocked and upset,” Taylor told The Telegraph. “I am obviously extremely pleased that the sculpture is going to be removed and hopefully destroyed.”
Two other statues were also being removed. One resembled a public sculpture in Stockholm, Lute Being Played by Evert Taube, and the other looked like a Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial in Glouster, Massachusetts.
Last year, British artist Anish Kapoor criticized China and threatened legal action after he discovered a statue that looks strikingly similar to his Cloud Gate in Chicago was constructed in the city of Karamay.
According to The Citizen, the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) is outraged by Iziko South African National Gallery’s decision to display the work of Zwelethu Mthethwa—a photographer who is currently on trial for the alleged killing of twenty-three-year-old sex worker Nokuphila Moudy Kumalo in 2013—in an exhibition intended to celebrate women.
Protesters are calling for the removal of the work from the show “Our Lady,” which coincides with 16 Days of Activism—a campaign to raise awareness about the high rate of violent crimes women and children. In a letter to the museum, human rights and advocacy manager Ishtar Lakhani said, “In their attempt to ‘celebrate empowered female capacity and artworks that counter and contextualize the current status quo’ the National Gallery has in fact served to prioritize the notoriety of the accused rather than respect for the victim, Nokupila Moudy Kumalo.”
The group suggested replacing Untitled (from Hope Chest series), 2012—Mthethwa’s photograph of a woman sitting on a large wooden box, which is part of a series of works exploring the relationship between women and their dowries—with a painting of Kumalo by local artist Astrid Warren.
Curator Kirsty Cockerill said that the organizers were aware of the accusations against the artist and decided to include because it would “open up dialogue rather than pretend these problems in society don’t exist.” She added, “curators are not judges, and museums are not courtrooms.”
The Harvard Art Museums has announced that it received a $1 million gift from business school alumnus Ken Hakuta, the nephew of pioneering video artist Nam June Paik, as well as ten of Paik’s works.
Director Martha Tedeschi said, “Ken Hakuta is dedicated to the legacy of his uncle, Nam June Paik, and the important contributions he made to contemporary art. Ken’s generous support will lead to groundbreaking scholarship that will benefit students and scholars around the world.”
The gift will establish the Hakuta Family Endowment Fund, which will support a two-year Nam June Paik Fellowship for the advancement of scholarship and research on the artist’s contributions to twentieth-century art. Hakuta said, “Nam June Paik was a real renaissance man. He was a global thinker, media visionary, composer, writer, video artist, painter, sculptor, performer, engineer, television producer, and much more; the research topics on Paik, including the conservation of Paik video art, are limitless.” He added, “I could not be more pleased that the Harvard Art Museums will be the center of Nam June Paik research for generations to come, working with other institutions globally with an interest in Paik and, most importantly, educating the next generation of scholars.”
Artist John M. Miller, best known for his geometric abstract art and compositions of repeating angled, colored bars on unprimed canvases, has died in West Los Angeles at the age of seventy-seven, Christopher Knight of the LA Times reports.
In the February 2012 issue of Artforum, Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer writes: “For being abstract, these works—terse and dry, yet richly associative and redolent—picture so much. Absorbed into the fabric ground, Miller’s repeating, ever-expanding pattern doubles painting as printed textile and suggests that the canvas be experienced like freshly pressed linen, a stretched and tucked bedsheet to get wrapped up in.”
She added, “But beyond the referentiality of his geometric abstractions, what’s most dizzying about Miller’s paintings is the exuberant, ecstatic, unrelenting single-mindedness with which he has produced them, mantralike, for nearly four decades. And increasingly, it seems that the paintings aren’t so abstract after all, but rather are quite literal indexes of the persistence and mania that is their impetus. Ultimately, the artist’s labor and conviction in pattern—as an aesthetic mode and template for existence—are his real subjects.”
Born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in 1939, Miller served in the Air Force before he earned his bachelor of arts from San Diego State University in 1967 and received his master of fine arts from Claremont Graduate University in 1972. From 1981 to 1983, Miller taught at Minneapolis College of Art and Design and then at UCLA from 1987 to 1991.
While traveling through Europe in the 1970s, Miller decided to abandon figurative painting and began to produce his often monochrome, lattice-like canvases of alternating lines. He presented his first solo exhibition at Westwood’s Broxton Gallery, which is now Larry Gagosian Gallery, in 1976.
Miller’s work was recently presented in “Under The Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981” (2011) at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, and has been included in various other group exhibitions, including “Driven to Abstraction: Southern California and the Non-Objective World, 1950-1980” (2006) at the Riverside Art Museum in California; “Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty” (2000) at The Getty Center in Los Angeles.
Miller has been the recipient of numerous awards, including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in Painting, and his paintings can be found in the permanent collections of institutions such as the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, SFMOMA, and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden announced today that Mark Beasley, a former curator and producer at Creative Time in New York, was appointed as the institution’s first curator of media and performance art. Beasley will be responsible for organizing exhibitions and acquiring works for the museum’s collection of new media art, including film, video, and performance.
Director Melissa Chiu said, “As one of the first contemporary art museums in the country to place significant resources around the acquisition of new media artwork, we are proud to further that commitment by establishing a fulltime curatorial position dedicated to this emerging and rapidly evolving genre of art.” She added, “Mark Beasley is one of the few experts of his kind, and as one of the leading curators of our time, his work has helped to shape this field over the past fifteen years.”
Previously, Beasley served as a curator for Performa, the British Council in London, and Creative Time. He has also worked as a curatorial advisor to the inaugural Okayama Art Summit in 2016, as a guest curator for the Sunday Sessions Greater New York performance program at MoMA PS1, and as a curator of a series of performances held in conjunction with the Mike Kelley retrospective at MoMA PS1 in 2011.
The Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation has announced the 2016 recipients of is Arts Writers Grant program. Twenty writers have been awarded a total of $695,000. Established to create a broader audience for arts writing, the program aims to ensure that critical writing remains a valued mode of engaging the visual arts.
Ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, the grants support four categories of contemporary art writing: articles, blogs, books, and short-form writing.
The winners are:
Leon Hilton, “Come Aboard Our Ship of Folly: Kate Millett and the Feminist Aesthetics of Anti-Psychiatry”
Sarah Hromack, “@Artist: Performing the Digital Self”
Soyoung Yoon, “The Evidence of Things Not Heard: On Mendi + Keith Obadike’s Numbers Station”
Emily Colucci, Filthy Dreams
Alicia Guzman, Tierra
Laura A. L. Wellen, Piedrín
Ania Szremski, I'd prefer not to
Claire Bishop, OS XXI: Contemporary Art and Attention in the Twenty-first Century
Tatiana Flores, Art and Visual Culture under Chávez
Michael Ned Holte, Too Small to Fail: Art and Microinstitutions in Los Angeles
Ming-Yuen S. Ma, There is No Soundtrack: Theorizing Aural Cultures Through Experimental Media Art
Paul Stephens, The Visual Poetry of Robert Grenier
Andrew Uroskie, The Kinetic Imaginary: Robert Breer and the Animation of Postwar Art
Jeanne Vaccaro, Handmade: Feelings & Textures of Transgender
Annie Godfrey Larmon