Jeram Patel (1930–2016)

Jeram Patel, Untitled - 13, 2006

Indian artist Jeram Patel has died, reports the Times of India. After studying at the Sir JJ School of Art, and later the Central School of Arts and Craft, London, Patel became one of the influential figures contributing to the emergence of the nation’s modern art scene in the late 1950s and ‘60s. He was a founder of the artists’ collective known as Group 1890.

Known for his high-contrast abstractions featuring bold brushwork and minimal forms, Patel also innovated a process involving blow torches directed at wood. He represented India at the Tokyo Biennale of 1963, and exhibited at the Sao Paulo Biennales of 1963 and 1977. A professor at Baroda University’s art school, he won multiple national awards from the Lalit Kala Akademi, and became a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts, London, in 1980. His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Bhopal, among other venues.

“He is one of the most underrated artists,” Ashish Anand, director of Delhi Art Gallery, told Indian Express. Anand added, “His hospital series in the 1960s is perhaps some of the best works produced by an Indian artist ever.”


December 8, 2016

Oakland Mayor Annoucnes $1.7 Million Grant for Affordable Arts Spaces Following Warehouse Fire

A memorial for the victims of the Oakland warehouse fire. Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez

After thirty-six people were killed in a fire that engulfed a warehouse where artists were residing on December 2, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf announced that the city will create more affordable spaces for arts organizations with a $1.7 million philanthropic grant, Rachael Swan of SF Gate reports.

“The arts are at the center of vibrant and diverse communities, and are critical to neighborhood health and wellbeing, yet artists and cultural organizations are increasingly vulnerable to instability and displacement,” Schaaf said in a statement. “This public-private collaboration and investments are aimed at preventing displacement, growing the capacity of the city’s artists and cultural organizations, and enhancing municipal resources for the cultural sector over the long haul.”

The grant, which is funded by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Community Arts Stabilization Trust, will support a two-year pilot program that will focus on helping artists afford their existing studios or find financially sustainable workplaces. The city will also buy property and offer it to local artists at below market rates.

December 8, 2016

Leo Villareal-Led Design Team Wins Competition to Light Up London’s Bridges

Rendering of the winning Illuminated River project design. Photo: Leo Villareal and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced yesterday evening that a team led by US artist Leo Villareal has won the Illuminated River design competition and will create a public installation that will light up seventeen bridges along the Thames River in 2017. The team includes: lead artist Leo Villareal, lead consultant Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, curator Future\Pace, Atelier Ten, Beckett Rankine, Bradley Hemmings, Core Five, Futurecity, Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, Montagu Evans, Pentagram, and Price & Myers.

“We saw an incredible response to this fascinating competition,” Kahn said, “showing that London continues to inspire creatives from around the globe, and is open to all.” He added, “there were some spectacular ideas, and I can’t wait to see the winning design light up the Thames. Huge congratulations to Leo Villareal and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands on this fantastic achievement.”

One hundred and five teams in twenty countries submitted proposals for the free, permanent light installation. The six shortlisted concepts were exhibited at the Royal Festival Hall in November.

December 7, 2016

Chairman Brett Gorvy Departs Christie’s to Partner with Dominique LÚvy

Brett Gorvy

New York’s Christie’s auction house announced today that Brett Gorvy, the chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art, is leaving after twenty-three years to partner with gallery founder Dominique LÚvy. The flagship Madison Avenue gallery will now be known as LÚvy Gorvy.

The auction house issued a statement that said: “Brett will continue to work closely with Christie’s on special projects and consignments across the twentieth-century field, while operating independently as an art advisor and dealer within the global art market.”

Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie’s global president, told Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times that he was sorry to see Gorvy leave. “It’s a loss for us,” he said. “He’s deeply respected both by collectors and the people who have worked with him.”

December 7, 2016

Isolde Brielmaier, Victoria Mikhelson, and Michael Xufu Huang Join New Museum’s Board

Isolde Brielmaier, Victoria Mikhelson, and Michael Xufu Huang.

Director Lisa Phillips and president James Keith Brown of the New Museum have revealed that Isolde Brielmaier, Victoria Mikhelson, and Michael Xufu Huang have joined the museum’s board of trustees, just as the museum nears its fortieth anniversary.

Brielmaier is professor of critical studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts as well as director of arts and culture at Westfield World Trade Center in New York. Mikhelson, who received an MA in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute in London, serves as project manager overseeing V-A-C, a Russian foundation supporting contemporary art. Huang is an art collector and a cofounder of M WOODS, and has been a member of the New Museum’s International Leadership Council.

“We could not be more pleased that these three connected supporters of the New Museum will join our board at this time. Their passion, dedication, and intelligence will strengthen the diverse perspectives we champion,” said Phillips.

December 7, 2016

Worcester Art Museum Appoints Lisa Kirby Board President and Adds 5 New Trustees

Worcester Art Museum

Massachusetts’s Worcester Art Museum has announced that Lisa Kirby, the chair of the audience engagement committee and a four-year board member at the institution, was named the next board president. She succeeds Joseph J. Bafaro, Jr. who has completed his term.

“The board plays an important role in the sustainability of the museum—both financially and culturally,” Kirby said. “It is our responsibility, on a high level, to make sure the institution takes care of the collection and, through programming and engagement, remains relevant and accessible to a broad range of people.” As CEO of the Kirby foundation, Kirby has sponsored free admission to the museum for the month of August for the past three years.

In addition to the change of leadership, the institution added five new trustees: Susan M. Bassick, Andrew T. Jay, Dana R. Levenson, Ronald L. Lombard, and Anne-Marie SoulliŔre. Director Matthias Waschek said, “One goal of the museum’s 2020 long range plan is to strengthen our board by growing and diversifying it. I am delighted that our new class of board members will round out existing expertise in finance, art, and not-for-profit management.”

December 7, 2016

Jan Fabre Accused of Animal Abuse for Exhibition at Russia’s Hermitage Museum

A detail from Jan Fabre’s “Knight of Despair/Warrior of Beauty” at the Hermitage Museum.

Sophia Kishkovsky of the Art Newspaper reports that Belgian artist Jan Fabre has upset animal rights activists and Russian Orthodox fundamentalists over his exhibition “Knight of Despair/Warrior of Beauty” at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. The show features works made from taxidermied roadkill, such as rabbits, birds, dogs, and cats.

The exhibition, which runs through April 30, 2017, is part of the Hermitage’s project to showcase contemporary art at one of the world’s most renowned classical museums. Fabre intends these artworks to be statements about the horrors of animal abuse. A wall label for the show reads, “Abandoned, starving, hanging around near busy roads, these animals are afforded a final accolade in this art. Like an exorcist, Jan Fabre tries to bring them back to life in a carnivalesque set-up.” The general director of the Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovsky, said, “Everything is completely clear with Fabre. You don’t have to be a genius to understand what he’s saying, so he definitely does not deserve any accusation of mistreating animals.” Piotrovsky also went on to say that the amount of anger directed at Fabre “has shown the overall level of hatred that exists in Russia, hatred for the other.”

Nonetheless, Fabre’s been in trouble for using animals in his work before. The artist was criticized for tossing cats into the air for a 2012 performance in Antwerp.

December 7, 2016

Kader Attia Faces Backlash After Accusing French Rappers of Plagiarism

Kader Attia's Ghost, 2007.

Kader Attia, the French artist who recently opened a tri-level exhibition and events space in Paris and was awarded the 2016 Marcel Duchamp Prize, has accused two young French rappers of plagiarism. According to Attia, the silver foil survival blankets worn by the dancers in Dosseh and Nekfeu's music video infringes on his 2007 artwork, Ghost, a large installation of faceless kneeling figures shrouded in aluminum foil (now in the collection of the Pompidou Center.)

Among others, South African artist Kendell Geers has come to the defense of the two rappers. In an open letter to Attia, published by a blog belonging to Le Monde, Geers evokes famous art world appropriators and asks whether Attia “Would...have the books of Burroughs, Debord and LautrÚamont also removed from the library shelves? [And]...empty out the museums of every work by Richard Prince, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Sherrie Levine?”

Describing plagiarism accusations as a slippery slope, Greer writes: “If I were you, I would take it as a huge compliment that young French artists have decided to cut your work up into their online video.”

In response, Kader Attia commented: “As artists, we have to defend ourselves against unauthorized commercial uses of our artworks. We are constantly plagiarized by the music industry, or in advertisement, or fashion. Nobody has asked for my permission to reproduce the artwork Ghost in this video...Regarding Kendell Geers, I am appalled to see he had to resort to such low blows to draw attention to him.”

Attia told that he is filing a lawsuit against Universal Music. He said, “I won’t be scared off by nasty comments...I will fight the exploitation of my work.”

December 7, 2016

Strong Sales Reported at Art Basel Miami Beach Despite Post-Election Anxiety

Rirkrit Tiravanija, The tyranny of common sense has reached its final stage, 2016.

Attendance at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach may have dropped—77,000 people visited the five-day fair, compared to over 90,000 who stopped by last year—and its usual quick-fire pace may have slowed, but dealers report that sales remained strong with buyers making more deliberate purchases.

Brussels gallerist Xavier Hufkens said, “The steady flow of visitors and the level of serious collectors this year has allowed us to do very well. We were not overwhelmed with crowds and are very happy to have doubled our business from last year.”

Sadie Coles, the owner of Sadie Coles HQ in London, said, “We had strong sales throughout the week and were particularly delighted to see an exceptional range of collectors from China, South America, and Europe.” She added, “The response to Jonathan Horowitz, who engaged with the political zeitgeist as part of his ‘Dear Ivanka’ social media campaign, was extraordinary. Nova and Positions were also exceptionally strong—the younger generation of galleries put a powerful foot forward this year.”

A number of American galleries and artists seized the opportunity to respond to the United States’ polarizing election results. Los Angeles dealer Susanne Vielmetter featured a large portrait of Hillary Clinton by Karl Haendel, Blum & Poe gallery displayed a large orange lightbox by Sam Durant that read “End White Supremacy,” and Coles sold all five Jonathan Horowitz prints of president-elect Donald Trump golfing titled Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely, 2016.

December 7, 2016

15th Istanbul Biennial Explores What It Means to Be a Good Neighbor

Performance at 15th Istanbul Biennial press conference. Photo: Ilgin Erarslan Yanmaz

The fifteenth Istanbul Biennial has announced that its thematic concern, “A Good Neighbor,” will address the notions of homes, neighborhoods, and modes of living in the private and public spheres as well as how they’ve changed throughout the past decades.

A performance involving forty people asking questions about what constitutes a good neighbor kicked off a press conference that the biennial held this morning. Artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, who were selected earlier this year to curate the exhibition, discussed the biennial’s format and introduced its billboard campaign, which was created in collaboration with graphic designer Rupert Smyth. The artists will work with institutions worldwide to put up billboards featuring images and text related to being a good neighbor beginning in March.

Elmgreen told G÷kcan Demirkazık of that they were quite surprised when the biennial asked them to curate the show, after having solicited a proposal from them. He said: “If you dare to let us, we will do it.” The biennial will be held from September 16 to November 12, 2017.

Click more for a Q&A between Elmgreen and Dragset and contributing writer G÷kcan Demirkazık.