Christine Macel Appointed Artistic Director of 2017 Venice Biennale

Christine Macel.

Christine Macel has been appointed director of the Visual Arts Sector of the fifty-seventh edition of the Venice Biennale, to be held May 13 through November 26, 2017, with press previews beginning May 10th.

Since 2000, Macel has been chief curator of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, where she has organized a number of exhibitions, including “Danser sa vie, art et danse aux XX et XXIème siècles” in 2011 and solo shows devoted to Gabriel Orozco in 2010, Philippe Parreno in 2009, Sophie Calle in 2003, and Nan Goldin in 2002. In Venice, Macel curated Anri Sala in the French Pavilion for the Biennale in 2013, and Eric Duyckaerts for the Belgian Pavilion in 2007. She also founded and heads the Pompidou’s department of contemporary art and prospective creation. “Collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner,” which she organized with Elisabeth Sussman of the Whitney Museum, travels to the Pompidou on June 10, 2016.

“In the wake of the Biennale Arte directed by Okwui Enwezor, centered on the theme of the rifts and divisions that pervade the world, and aware that we are currently living in an age of anxiety, La Biennale has selected Christine Macel as a curator committed to emphasizing the important role artists play in inventing their own universes and injecting generous vitality into the world we live in,” said the Biennale’s president, Paolo Baratta, in a statement.


October 24, 2016

Vasif Kortun to Step Down as Director of SALT in 2017

Vasif Kortun Photo: Adam Golfer

Vasif Kortun, the director of research and programs at Turkey’s SALT—a cultural institution comprising three venues in Istanbul and Ankara that house galleries as well as a theater, library, and archives—will step down in 2017, but will remain on the institution’s board of directors, HG Masters reports for ArtAsiaPacific. Kortun said that an official announcement with further details will be made by the end of the year. According to Masters, Meriç Öner, one of SALT’s associate directors of research and programs, is expected to succeed him.
“Kortun is an unabashed power broker on the Istanbul scene,” Kaelen Wilson-Goldie wrote upon the inauguration of SALT’s Beyoğlu space in 2011. He was the founding director of the Project Istanbul Museum of Contemporary Art and Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, which he established in 2001. He served as the chief curator and director of the third Istanbul Biennial and codirector of the ninth Istanbul Biennial, and from 1994 to 1997, Kortun worked as the founding director of the Museum of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. He also curated the Turkish pavilions for the 1994 and 1998 editions of the São Paolo Bienal as well as for the 2007 Venice Biennale.
Founded in 2011 with the support of Garanti Bank, SALT was the brainchild of the Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, the Ottoman Bank Archives and Research Center, and the Garanti Gallery. The cultural institutions closed to focus on creating the new contemporary art venue, which is spread across three locations—SALT Beyoğlu, SALT Galata, and SALT Ulus.
November Paynter, an associate director of research and programs, will also step down, Masters reports. Among other changes at the institution, SALT may be reopening its Beyoğlu building as early as mid-2017. The government shuttered the space in January due to “technical reasons,” one of which may have included a complaint filed against the renovation of the historical nineteenth-century building. It is currently undergoing construction that will bring it up to code.

October 24, 2016

Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Receives Grant to Digitize Collections

Robert Sperry at work, 195- / unidentified photographer. Robert Sperry papers, 1951–2002. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art announced today it will receive a challenge grant of up to $900,000 from the Walton Family Foundation in support of the digitization of the archive’s collections. The grant will be distributed over the course of three years and in three installments of up to $300,000.

“The task of digitizing the archives’ vast collections for broad accessibility requires a dedicated team of experts and time,” director Kate Haw said. “This challenge grant from the distinguished Walton Family Foundation allows us to expand both our technical and staff capacities to ramp up our pace beyond what we could have imagined. We look forward to getting underway to achieve our ultimate goal of making our collections available to anyone, anytime, anywhere and stimulating understanding and appreciation of American art worldwide.”

The grant will allow the archives to double the amount of images it’s able to digitize each year and will result in an additional 240 linear feet of archival material available online by September 2019.

October 24, 2016

Independent Curators International Names Miguel A. Lopez 2016 Independent Vision Award Winner

Miguel A. Lopez

The Independent Curators International announced today that Miguel A. Lopez, chief curator of TEOR/éTica in San Jose, Costa Rica, will receive the 2016 Independent Vision Curatorial Award, which includes a $3,000 prize in support of new projects.

Franklin Sirmans, director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, chose Lopez from a pool of twelve finalists who were nominated by arts professionals affiliated with ICI. Sirmans said, “Lopez’s vital ability to go back and forth between a variety of exhibitions as a curator between important monographic shows and more speculative presentations of works in thematically driven group shows is remarkable.” Sirmans added, “He is an important young voice whose past projects suggest a brilliant future.”

Lopez is a Peruvian writer, researcher, and cofounder of Red Conceptualismos del Sur—an international research platform that focuses on political experiences and Latin American art in the 1960s and ’70s. In 2012, he joined the Lima Art Museum’s Contemporary Art Acquisitions Committee and he is a founding member of Bisagra, a curators and artist-led project in Lima, which develops experimental programs and exhibitions.

October 24, 2016

American Collectors Make Historic $381 Million Gift to Musée d’Orsay

Spencer and Marlene Hays

France24 reports that the American couple Marlene and Spencer Hays have donated a large collection of nineteenth and some early twentieth century works to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. This is the largest gift to a French museum by foreign donors in over seventy years, and will be bequeathed upon their deaths. The collection comprises around 600 works and is worth an estimated $381 million, including works by artists such as Édouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, and Edgar Degas.

The Hayses donated an initial 187 pieces during an official ceremony presided over by French President François Hollande at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris over the weekend. French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay said of the gesture: “This donation, which is exceptional for its size and coherence, is the largest a French museum has received from a foreign donor since 1945.”

The couple donated the collection under the condition that the Musée d’Orsay exhibit the works in a single space. To accommodate this, the institution will move its library and archives to make room, according to the museum’s president Guy Cogeval. One of the motivating factors behind the donation is presumed to be that under French law museums are prohibited from selling off pieces donated to their collections.

October 24, 2016

Marwan (1934–2016)


The Syrian painter Marwan, who was considered one of the most important Arab artists of his generation, died in Berlin on October 23 at the age of eighty-two.

Born as Marwan Kassab-Bachi in Damascus in 1934, the artist lived and worked in Berlin since 1957. There, he studied alongside Georg Baselitz at the West Berlin Academy and became a proponent of the “New Figuration” in the 1960s. German art historian Jorn Merkert, a friend of Marwan’s, said he was “obsessed by faces because for him they are a means of expressing the dramatic depth of life.”

Marwan’s work has been shown at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal; the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; and many of his pieces are in the collection of the Berlinische Galerie. He taught for years during the summers at the Darat al Funun Khalid Shoman Foundation in Amman, Jordan and in 1994 he became the first Arab member of the Akademie der Künste in Germany.

The Saudi Arabian novelist, Abdul-Rahman Munif, was a friend and his book Journey of Art and Life (1997) was about Marwan. He said that the painter “belongs to a rare breed of artists who firmly believe that art is a moral act which links entertainment and joy with a search for truth.” Following Munif’s death in 2004, reissues of many of his books included images by Marwan, among them the five-part novel Cities of Salt (1984).

October 24, 2016

KW Institute Closes Until January 2017

KW Institute

According to Laurie Rojas at the Art Newspaper, Berlin’s KW Institute has closed its doors until next January to allow for a restructure and refurbishment. The city of Berlin doubled KW’s funding this year, but their building in Berlin’s Mitte district shut in September after the ninth Berlin Biennale.

One of the goals during the closure will be restructuring to allow for greater autonomy for both the institution—now directed by Krist Gruijthuijsen—and the biennial, which is directed by Gabriele Horn. Gruijthuijsen stated: “Both institutions achieved international relevance over the past decades…For us, it has been a logical consequence to rethink the organizational and financial structure to maintain the future sustainability of both institutions.”

KW will reopen on January 19, 2017 with some improvements to the building and the comeback of the Pogo Bar, which will host events every Thursday in a space designed by the Los Angeles-based artist Robert Wilhite. A grant from the Berlin Lottery Foundation, which owns the building, will fund additional renovations before the 2018 Berlin Biennale.

October 21, 2016

The New Art Gallery Walsall in England May Close Due to Funding Cuts

The New Art Gallery Walsall

The New Art Gallery Walsall located in the West Midlands of England is at risk of closing after the local council announced that it needs to reduce the venue’s funding by more than $610,000 between 2017 and 2020, Hannah Mcgivern of Art Newspaper reports.

The gallery currently receives a subsidy of roughly $1 million each year, which the Walsall Council has proposed reducing by $122,000 in 2017 and possibly as much as $476,000 in 2019. A spokesman for Walsall Council said it has to save $105 million by 2020.

According to a report released by the council, the free-admission gallery “will have to operate on a more commercial basis and become self-sustaining…or may close.” The final budget will not be decided until February.

The Arts Council England, which has a $760 million budget for the arts, grants the gallery around $977,000 annually. However, Peter Knott, the Midlands area director for Arts Council England, said, “we cannot use that money to replace funding lost from local authorities.” He added, “We remain confident that our partners recognize the great value of our combined investments into art and culture in Walsall.”

More than 1,300 people have signed a petition on protesting the budget cuts and are calling them “unethical.”

October 21, 2016

Edgar Munhall (1933–2016)

Edgar Munhall Photo: Derek Thompson

Academic Edgar Munhall, who was the first curator of the Frick Collection where he worked for more than three decades, has died in Manhattan at the age of eighty-three, Sam Roberts of the New York Times reports.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1933. Munhall earned his Bachelor’s degree in art history from Yale University in 1955. He received his Master’s degree from New York University before returning to Yale for his Ph.D.

From 1959 to 1965, he served as assistant curator of prints and drawings at the Yale University Art Gallery and taught art history. He joined the Frick Collection as its first curator in 1965. Previously, the role of curator was the responsibility of the director of the institution, which was founded in 1935. During Munhall’s tenure at the museum he worked under five directors. He was responsible for acquisitions, publications, conservation, lectures, and exhibitions.

The eighteenth-century scholar became known as the leading expert on the work of artist Jean-Baptiste Greuze. In 1976, he organized the first exhibition dedicated to the artist. Titled “Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1725-1805,” the show traveled from the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon. In 1996, he organized “A Portraitist for the ‘90s,” the Frick’s first exhibition devoted to Greuze, and in 2002 he curated the first show featuring the artist’s drawings at the institution, “Greuze the Draftsman.”

October 21, 2016

Jordi Colomer to Represent Spain at 2017 Venice Biennale

Jordi Colorer and Manuel Segade

Artist Jordi Colomer has been selected to represent Spain in the Fifty-Seventh edition of the Venice Biennale, which will be held from May 13 to November 26, 2017. Manuel Segade, director of the Center for Dos de Mayo Art Madrid, will curate the pavilion.

Jordi Colomer, who lives and works in Barcelona and Paris, is best known for his video installations, which explore urban spaces and how they influence human behavior. His work has been exhibited at the National Art Museum Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Jeu de Paume in Paris, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Argos Center for Art and Media in Brussels, Matadero Madrid, and the Santa Monica Art Centre Barcelona, among other places.

The winning proposal, titled “City of Pocket,” was selected from a shortlist that also included projects by artist Luis Bisbe and curator Alicia Chillida, artist Eugenio Ampudia, and artist Cristina Lucas and curator Gerardo Mosquera.