Gulf Labor Members Denied Entry to UAE, Under Security Scrutiny

Walid Raad.

Artists Walid Raad and Ashok Sukumaran, who are both involved in the activist group Gulf Labor, have both been denied entry to the United Arab Emirates by local authorities. Raad attempted to enter in order to attend the March Meetings at the Sharjah Biennial and to continue the research Gulf Labor initiated in 2010 about the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, but his passport was confiscated at the airport, then sent back with him to the US. Sukumaran, meanwhile, was denied a visa after repeated applications.

They were apparently prevented from entering due to “security” concerns, despite the fact that Raad had been in touch with government officials in the UAE, as well as officials from the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and Tourism Development & Investment Company, who were all aware of his intended visit. This comes after the recent barring of NYU professor Andrew Ross from travelling to the UAE after his criticism of labor conditions on Saadiyat Island.

Gulf Labor’s latest report on the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, where branches of the Guggenheim, the Louvre, and NYU are all being planned, will be made public on July 29 at the Venice Biennale at the invitation of Biennale curator Okwui Enwezor.

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March 29, 2017

UK Prime Minister Officially Enacts Brexit, Creating Widespread Uncertainty in British Arts Sector

A poster designed by Wolfgang Tillmans prior to the official referendum, encouraging people to vote against Brexit.

Today, March 29, Theresa May has “pulled the trigger”—as many news outlets have referred to it—on Article Fifty, the UK’s formal announcement on withdrawing from the European Union. Many within the British art community and beyond have expressed their concerns over how the departure will affect the international artworld, says Anny Shaw of the Art Newspaper.

Wolfgang Tillmans, Tracey Emin, and Damien Hirst are but a mere handful of artists residing in London who have been vocally opposed to Brexit. Anish Kapoor, speaking at his Lisson Gallery opening in London today, said, “It’s one of those things that goes against the flow of history. Frankly, nationalism diminishes [us]. We want more than that, we want a bigger, more open vision.” Kapoor has a team of thirty people who work in his studio—half of them are not British. He is very concerned about what will happen to the arts economy: “London is a great place for the art world, but most art buyers are not English. What will it mean for the whole . . . art world? Sadly, it really is a matter of small minds, small hearts.”

According to a recent poll taken by the UK’s Creative Industries Federation, 96 percent of its members do not support Brexit.

March 29, 2017

Centre Pompidou Cancels Fortieth Anniversary Party due to Strike

Centre Pompidou

Le Figaro reports that a VIP dinner to be held in the galleries of the Centre Pompidou in honor of the museum’s fortieth anniversary was canceled this week because of a workers’ strike. Eight hundred and fifty guests, among them French collector Maryvonne Pinault and Russian banker and collector Igor Tsukanov, were informed that the dinner will be rescheduled.

The event is one of the Friends of the National Modern Art Museum’s major fundraising efforts. Tables for the dinner were priced at roughly $9,700 and donors on the guest list included Russian arts patron Anastasia Potanina—daughter of Russian publishing mogul Vladimir Potanin—and the Chinese entrepreneur and collector Mao Jihong.

A notice on the Pompidou’s website today reads: “The Centre Pompidou will be closed 29 March 2017 due to a strike action following the implementation of a French governmental law.”

March 28, 2017

Julian Stanczak (1928–2017)

Julian Stanczak, Zip Me Up Please, 1995, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 50".

Julian Stanczak, a figurehead of the 1960s Op art movement, died at his home in Seven Hills, Ohio, on March 25, reports Alex Greenberger of Artnews. The artist’s paintings—sleek, scintillating, seductive, groovy—were said to have a “painterly expressiveness,” per Donald Judd, which made them stand out from other kinds of Op art production. Stanczak was featured in the seminal but critically maligned 1965 exhibition “The Responsive Eye,” a group show that attempted to make sense of Op’s currency and its historical precedents, organized by William C. Seitz at MoMA.

Stanczak was born in Borownica, Poland. The artist and his family were made to work at a Siberian labor camp during World War II. It was there that he developed encephalitis, which profoundly damaged his right arm. When he started making art, he could only use his left arm. It did not, however, impede his progress, as he was a prodigious maker of technically sophisticated and formally dense images. The artist managed to flee the camp and traveled through the Middle East and South Asia. He spent some time living in Uganda—the vivid coloration of his paintings was inspired by the sunsets he saw there. He went to the Cleveland Institute of Art for his undergraduate degree and received his MFA from Yale, where he studied under Josef Albers. He also taught at the Cleveland Institute from 1964 until 1995—Dana Schutz and April Gornik were among his students.

Stanczak’s paintings are in the collections of New York’s MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the San Francisco Museum of Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; the RISD Museum in Providence; the Milwaukee Art Museum; LACMA; and the Museo Tamayo and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City, among other institutions. He has had exhibitions at many venues throughout the United States, including New York’s New Museum, Danese Gallery, and Mitchell-Innes & Nash (who represents the artist); the Cleveland Institute of Art; the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art in Malibu; the San Jose Museum of Art; the Columbus Museum of Art; and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo.

March 28, 2017

Iranian Gallery Withdraws from New York Photography Fair over Travel Ban

A photograph from Bahman Jalali’s series titled “Iran-Iraq War,” 1980–88. Jalali is represented by Ag Galerie in Tehran.

Ag Galerie, based in Tehran, will not be participating in this year’s AIPAD Photography Show due to President Trump’s travel ban, which currently affects six predominantly Muslim countries, writes Joshua Barone of the New York Times.

Even though two federal judges ruled against the president’s travel ban, the gallery did not want to take any chances. Ag Galerie would have been the fair’s first Iranian participant. A note from the gallery on AIPAD’s website reads: “Due to the recent travel ban and the uncertainty of international travel from countries identified in the ban, Ag Galerie, Tehran, is unable to participate in the Photography Show this year.”

The fair’s president, Catherine Edelman, said, “We felt it was really important to acknowledge why they weren’t able to appear at the fair. [The note is] a quiet way of acknowledging what’s going on. It’s important for the art world to acknowledge the immigration ban and the effect it’s having on the arts.” The AIPAD Photography Show opens on March 30 and runs through April 2 at Pier Ninety-Four in New York City.

March 28, 2017

Smithsonian Asks LACMA Director Michael Govan to Join Board of Regents

Michael Govan. Photo: Stefanie Keenan.

Peggy McGlone of the Washington Post writes that LACMA’s director, Michael Govan, has been asked by the Smithsonian to join its board of regents. Roger W. Ferguson, the chief executive of TIAA, a financial services company, has also been asked to join the museum’s board.

Govan’s and Ferguson’s nominations were approved by the United States Senate yesterday. If the nominations are accepted by President Trump and the House of Representatives, the pair will take over from Shirley Ann Jackson, the president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and real estate developer Robert Kogod. Kogod and Jackson served on the board for two terms.

The Smithsonian’s board of regents has seventeen members, including John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States; Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States; three members from each the Senate and the House; and nine citizens. Philanthropist David Rubenstein is the board’s chairman.

March 28, 2017

Musée Camille Claudel Opens in France

Musée Camille Claudel

The Musée Camille Claudel opened on Sunday, March 26, in the small French town of Nogent-sur-Seine, southeast of Paris, reports Maev Kennedy of The Guardian. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of the artist’s works. Claudel’s career struggled under the shadow of Auguste Rodin, who was at one point her lover. (Constantin Brancusi, who was once Rodin’s studio assistant, famously said of working with Rodin, “Nothing grows under the shade of great trees.”)

Claudel’s family lived in Nogent-sur-Seine for only four years, but it was there, at the age of twelve, that she first began making sculptures from local clay. The town is also known for being the setting of Gustave Flaubert’s 1869 novel A Sentimental Education.

The museum, designed by Adelfo Scaranello architects, was paid for by the town—the new structure wraps itself around the old Claudel home. The interest in a museum dedicated to Claudel came out of a 2003 exhibition of the artist’s work in Nogent-sur-Seine. The show attracted more than forty thousand visitors to an area with a population of six thousand.

March 28, 2017

Zurich’s Galerie Eva Presenhuber to Open New York Space in May

Installation view of Oscar Tuazon’s show at Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Löwenbräu-Areal, Zurich, in 2017.

According to Andrew Russeth of Artnews, Zurich’s Galerie Eva Presenhuber has announced that it will open a third location. The new outpost in New York “will function as an important extension of the Zurich gallery.”

Designed by Selldorf Architects, the new space will be located at 39 Great Jones Street in NoHo. A show featuring Austrian painter Tobias Pils will inaugurate the gallery, which opens on May 5, coinciding with Frieze week. Presenhuber maintains two Zurich sites, at Löwenbräu-Areal and Maag-Areal, and currently represents artists such as Joe Bradley, Trisha Donnelly, Carroll Dunham, John Giorno, Henry Taylor, and Michael Williams.

March 28, 2017

Arts Council England to Start Inquiry into Benefits of Art for Children

Sir Nicholas Serota

Sir Nicholas Serota, in his new position as the chairman of Arts Council England, has announced that an investigation into the benefits of exposing children to art—referred to as the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education—will be one of the council’s first major projects under his leadership, reports Mark Brown of The Guardian.

The eighteen-month-long inquiry has been formed as a response to concerns that the opportunities to offer arts education to children has been damaged by the government’s English baccalaureate, or Ebacc, which does not make arts study mandatory. Serota says the commission will allow educators and administrators to “step back, review the evidence, see what has worked, and come up with some proposals.”

A protest letter delivered to Prime Minister Theresa May on March 15 underlining problems with the Ebacc was signed by more than one hundred leading figures in the British art world, including Tate’s new director, Maria Balshaw, who took over the position from Serota. The letter states that in 2016, the percentage of students enrolled in least one arts-related class declined considerably and that teaching hours and courses in the arts have dropped almost twice as quickly as in other subjects. On the matter, Serota said, “Even if they were to open the Ebacc to one arts subject, I don’t think that would be the complete solution. In my view, it would help, but it would only be a partial solution. What I think the Durham commission might do is come up with a number of ideas that would be applied across the country to ensure kids in all kinds of schools get the kind of opportunities that are currently available only in the best of schools.” The commission is expected to start its inquiry in September and have a report ready by the spring of 2019.

March 28, 2017

Library of Congress Acquires Civil Rights Photographer Bob Adelman’s Massive Archive

Bob Adelman, I Am a Man Strike, Memphis, Tennessee, 1968.

Allison Meier of Hyperallergic reports that the Library of Congress has acquired civil rights photographer Bob Adelman’s archive of 575,000 photographs, negatives, and slides. The collection was gifted to the library by an anonymous donor.

Adelman was born in 1930 and grew up on Long Island. He started taking pictures after studying law at Harvard and earning a masters degree in philosophy at Columbia University. He received a great deal of his training while working under Alexey Brodovitch, the famed art director of Harper’s Bazaar. He then volunteered his services as a photographer for the Congress of Racial Equality, an African American civil rights organization founded in Chicago in 1942.

Among the notable images from the Adelman trove are pictures from the first women’s liberation march in New York in 1970 and a photograph of Reverend Joseph Carter on his porch, in silhouette and brandishing a gun, wondering if the KKK would come to his home and attack him after he registered to vote in Louisiana’s West Feliciana Parish—the first black person in sixty years to do so. “I realized that my involvement [in documenting the civil rights movement] would be very dangerous, but I had a long think with myself and decided that this was something worth risking your life for,” Adelman said to the New York Times in 2014.