Dallas Museum of Art Receives Collection of 138 Works

Dorace Fichtenbaum

Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times states that the Dallas Museum of Art will be receiving a gift of funding as well as art—in the form of 138 works—from the estate of collector and benefactor Dorace Fichtenbaum, who died in 2015 on July 11.

The pieces, mostly works on paper, are from a range of artists—Yayoi Kusama, Otto Dix, Jasper Johns, Eva Hesse, and Jean Dubuffet, among others—in addition to various African and Native American works of art. The museum’s senior curator of European and American art, Olivier Meslay, who is in charge of handling the bequest, said “For us it was a sudden wealth…a changing gift.”


August 22, 2017

Gogol Theater Director Detained by Russian Authorities for Alleged Embezzlement

According to the Nataliya Vailyeva of The Independent, Russian theater director Kirill Serebrennikov, a vocal critic of President Vladimir V. Putin’s regime, has been detained by Russian authorities in St. Petersburg over the alleged embezzlement of about $1.2 million in government funding from the Gogol Theater, of which he is a director (the amount was reported earlier as $21,000). Charges for the crime have now been brought against him. Serebrennikov, who denied any wrongdoing, was in St. Petersburg working on a movie about a Soviet-era rock star prior to being taken in.

Many see the director’s recent troubles as nothing more than harassment by the Russian government. In July, his gay-themed ballet about Rudolf Nureyev was shut down by Vladimir G. Urin, the general director of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, for supposedly not being up to snuff. And earlier this month, his passport was confiscated by Russian authorities.

After a series of raids related to the embezzlement, a senior manager and an accountant from the Gogol Theater are in custody. Another manager is under house arrest. Russian news media reported earlier in August that the accountant testified against Serebrennikov.

August 22, 2017

London’s Grenfell Tower Considers Plans to Project Children’s Artwork on Condemned Building

Grenfell Tower after the fire. Photo: ChiralJon / Wikimedia.

Gareth Harris of the Art Newspaper reports that London’s Grenfell Tower, which caught fire on June 14 and killed eighty of the building’s residents, might feature artwork by children.

The building will be covered with scaffolding by the end of this month so that workers can safely dismantle parts of the structure. Michael Lockwood, Grenfell Tower’s site and remediation manager, met with nearby primary school children who said that looking at the tower was disturbing. “I asked them if they would like to come up with paintings of what they would like to see on the building,” said Lockwood. The images would then be projected onto the scaffolding.

The artist Khadija Saye and her mother, Mary Mendy—both of whom died in the blaze—were honored at a memorial service at St. Mary’s Church in London’s North Kensington neighborhood last month.

August 22, 2017

Yves Klein Work Inadvertently Damaged by Museum Visitor

A tweet of the Yves Klein work being repaired.

Yves Klein’s Pigment bleu sec (Dry Blue Pigment), a shallow wooden container filled with a mix of sand and the artist’s famous pigment, International Klein Blue, was accidentally damaged by a visitor at the Center for Fine Arts in Brussels on August 16, reports Victoria Stapley-Brown of the Art Newspaper. The visitor walked through the piece at “Theatre of the Void,” an exhibition of the artist’s work (that has since closed, on August 20) leaving footprints in the art and blue material on the gallery’s floors.

“Even though we have several safety measures (warning signs, a partial barrier, and a guard), the man was too fascinated [with the other work] to notice all of that,” said a museum spokesperson about the incident. Nonetheless, Klein’s piece was easily restored the day it was disturbed: Museum staff simply added more pigment and rearranged the sand. After the incident, another visitor tweeted a picture of the artwork being repaired, saying, “I came for the paintings. But I stayed for performance art.”

August 21, 2017

Alt-Right Politician Protests Kassel’s Acquisition of Documenta 14 Artwork

Olu Oguibe, Das Fremdlinge und Flüchtlinge (Monument for Strangers and Refugees), 2017.

Kassel city councilman Thomas Materner, who is a member of AfD—a xenophobic nationalist political group—has threatened to organize a wave of protests at Olu Oguibe’s Documenta 14 work, an obelisk dedicated to refugees, should the city choose to acquire it, Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine reports.

Materner used language similar to the Nazi regime, who adopted the term “degenerate art” to describe modernist works, when he called the monument “ideologically polarizing, deformed art.” While discussing the acquisition of Documenta 14 artworks at a city council meeting, he said the AfD party will call for people to demonstrate in front of the piece “after each terrorist attack carried out by an immigrant.”

In response, Documenta 14’s artistic director, Adam Szymczyk, said he was “horrified” by Materner’s words about the piece. Titled, Das Fremdlinge und Flüchtlinge (Monument for Strangers and Refugees), the nearly fifty-three-foot work features a verse from Matthew 25:35, “I was a stranger and you took me in,” written in gold lettering in four different languages: German, English, Arabic, and Turkish. In a statement issued to Artnet, Szymczyk said, “I see no way how this quote from the New Testament should be read as divisive or controversial. It is simply human. In the history of the square, the reference to the difficult condition of being a stranger—or being taken for one, which is one and the same thing—appears as early as in Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s “Campagne in Frankreich 1792.”

August 21, 2017

Ramon Boixados Malé (1927–2017)

Ramon Boixados Malé.

President of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation Ramon Boixados Malé has died. The foundation’s board of trustees and executive committee confirmed the eighty-nine-year old’s passing in a statement that was released on Saturday, August 12, which called his death an “irreparable loss.”

Malé joined the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation as president in 1991. Under his leadership, he developed its reputation as a worldwide referential institution for the management and defense of the legacy of Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. On July 20, in order to comply with a court order, after a woman claiming to be the artist’s daughter won the right to a paternity test, the foundation successfully exhumed Dalí’s body from his crypt below the theater and museum, which he designed, in his hometown of Figueres, Spain.

A successful businessman, Malé was president of Renfe, the national railways of Spain, from 1983 to 1985, and also served as the head of a variety of companies such as Ibermutuamur; Exel logistics (Iberia) Group, S.L.; and Cálculo y Tratamiento de la Información, S.A. He worked as the general coordinator for the construction of the Olympic Games of Barcelona from 1989 to 1992, and as the managing director of Vila Olímpica, S.A. from 1986 to 1992. He was a trustee of the Olympic Museum of Lausanne, and a member of the board of directors at Hewlett Packard Iberia, the Madrid Palace Hotel, Hotel Ritz Madrid, and Fecsa, among others.

August 21, 2017

Wang Bing Wins Golden Leopard Award at Seventieth Locarno Film Festival

Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing. Photo: Locarno Festival

Chinese director Wang Bing was presented with the prestigious Golden Leopard award at the Seventieth Locarno Film Festival last week in Switzerland, Je-Seung Lee of ArtAsiaPacific reports. He was honored with the top prize for his ninety-minute documentary film Mrs.Fang (2017), which tells the story of an elderly sexagenarian woman who lives in a small southern Chinese fishing village and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. The work was screened at Documenta 14 in Kassel earlier this year.

Established in 1946, the Locarno Film Festival is one of the longest-running film festivals in the world. Wang Bing is the fifth Chinese director in the film festival’s history to receive a Golden Leopard. This year’s judging committee was led by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas.

In April, Wang Bing was awarded the third EYE Art and Film Prize in Amsterdam, and in 2012, he was honored with the Orizzonti Best Feature Prize for his documentary film Three Sisters (2012) at the Sixty-Ninth Venice International Film Festival. Wang Bing is best known for making works that experiment with narrative structures and telling Chinese stories that chronicle the lives of the poor and disenfranchised.

August 21, 2017

Hammer Names Associate Director and Senior Curator of Grunwald Center for Graphic Arts

Allegra Pesenti.

The Hammer Museum announced today that Allegra Pesenti has been appointed as the new associate director and senior curator of the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts. Pesenti returns to the museum where she had previously served as the center’s curator from 2007 to 2013.

“Her expertise in works on paper is a tremendous asset to the Grunwald Center, one of the country’s finest collections of prints, photographs, and artists’ books,” Hammer director Ann Philbin said. “We are particularly looking forward to the exhibition of Victor Hugo’s drawings that she is organizing with Cynthia Burlingham.”

During her seven-year tenure at the Hammer, Pesenti organized a series of major exhibitions including “Gouge: The Modern Woodcut 1870 to Now” (2008–09), “Rachel Whiteread Drawings” (2010), “Zarina: Paper like Skin” (2012), “Enrico David” (2013), and four installations of the museum’s Houseguest series. After the Hammer, she served as chief curator for the Menil Drawing Institute then as curator at large for the Menil Collection until July 2016. During her time there, she worked closely with Los Angeles–based architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee on the conception and design of the Menil Drawing Institute, the first freestanding center in America devoted solely to the collecting, research, conservation, and exhibition of works on paper.

August 21, 2017

ICC Orders Jihadist to Pay $3.2 Million in Reparations for Destruction of Cultural Heritage

Two tombs at the ancient Djinguereber mosque in Timbuktu, Mali, were damaged in an attack by Islamist extremists in 2012. Photo: Joe Penney/Reuters

The International Criminal Court ruled on Thursday, August 17, that Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, a member of a jihadist group linked to Al Qaeda, must pay $3.2 million in damages for destroying ancient shrines and damaging a mosque in Timbuktu, Marlise Simons of the New York Times reports.

Al-Mahdi was arrested in Niger in 2013 after French-led military troops recaptured Timbuktu. In 2016, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison in a landmark ruling. The trial marked the first time that The Hague treated the destruction of cultural property as a war crime.

Since Mahdi is penniless, the judges asked the court’s Trust Fund for Victims to pay the actual reparations, and declared that it will cover structural damages, economic losses suffered by the local residents, and possibly a memorial or community program.

August 18, 2017

Philadelphia to Install First Public Statue to Honor an African American

Octavius V. Catto. Photo: Wikipedia

Stephen Salisbury of philly.com reports that the city of Philadelphia will install its first public sculpture honoring the life of an African American. The city’s decision to install the statue follows a growing national protest against public Confederate monuments. The work will be a commemoration of educator, civil rights activist, and ballplayer Octavius V. Catto.

“Philadelphia has more than 1,700 statues on public land, which is more than any other city,” said Murray Dubin, a former Inquirer reporter and author, with colleague Daniel R. Biddle, of Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America (2010). “None of these statues are about named or individual African Americans. None.”

The twelve-foot-tall bronze will be erected next month where Catto was murdered on the southern apron of City Hall. Catto was shot and killed on election day in Philadelphia in 1871 while fighting for black suffrage. Behind the statue there will be five upturned streetcars made of granite. In front of the figure will be a stainless-steel ballot box resting on a table. These elements refer to Catto’s successful campaign to desegregate the city’s horse-drawn streetcars in 1867 and his fight for the ratification of the fifteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Excerpts from his writings will also be incised on the monument.