The Mattress Factory, a contemporary art museum in Pittsburgh, will be receiving one of James Turrell’s signature “Skyspaces” from the artist himself, for its permanent collection, reports M. Thomas for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (Thanks to Artnews’s Hannah Ghorashi for the tip.) The installation will be worth an estimated one million dollars, and is the largest donation in the museum’s history.
“This work will not only be an incredible contribution to the Mattress Factory but also to the city of Pittsburgh,” said Barbara Luderowski, the museum’s codirector and president. The piece will be built for the museum’s fortieth anniversary celebration next year.
The Mattress Factory’s permanent collection already has three other pieces by Turrell, including Unseen Blue, a Skyspace the artist created for a 2002 exhibition.
The Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, has announced that Vincent Honoré will curate the thirteenth Baltic Triennial in 2018. The working title for the exhibition is “Give Up the Ghost.” Honoré said that the triennial “is one of the most experimental events of its kind” and that he is “eager to start a collective research that will deal with infiltrations, displacements and hybridizations as valid forms of production.” He added, “I expect the triennial to be a place of disorder, exploring definitions and identities through action.”
The selection committee consisted of Kęstutis Kuizinas, the director of the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius; Maria Arusoo, director of the Center for Contemporary Arts in Tallinn, Estonia; and Zane Onckule, program director of the Contemporary Art Center in Riga, Latvia. Kuizinas said that Honoré’s “proposal stood out, due to its acute take on contemporaneity and a distinctive approach to the format of the Baltic Triennial itself.”
A London-based writer and curator, Honoré is the founding director of the David Roberts Art Foundation, a nonprofit space in London that presents exhibitions, commissions, performances, discussions, and research. Previously, he worked as a curator at Tate Modern from 2004 to 2007 where he developed exhibitions and projects with Pierre Huyghe, Jeff Wall, Louise Bourgeois, Hans Haacke and Catherine Sullivan, among others. Prior to this, he worked in the curatorial department at the Paris’s Palais de Tokyo from 2001 to 2004.
The triennial, which was established in 1979, will be jointly organized by CAC Vilnius, CCA Tallinn, and CCA Riga for the first time and will take place across all three respective countries.
The Hyde Collection in Glen Falls, New York, has announced that it has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Charles R. Wood Foundation in support of the museum’s plan to build a new 1,500-square-foot gallery for modern and contemporary art. The Foundation also pledged to donate an additional $50,000 towards the project if The Hyde can raise $50,000 by June 30, 2017.
In August, The Hyde announced it had received a landmark $11 million gift from collector, architect, and Schenectady resident Werner Feibes. Feibes donated 105 artworks, valued at $10 million, and also made a $1 million cash donation to kick off a $1.5 million campaign. Karl Seitz, chair of the museum’s board of trustees, said he believed the donation would inspire others to give to the museum. “When an arts organization like The Hyde grows and succeeds, the entire community benefits.” The gallery will be named the Feibes and Schmitt Gallery, after Feibes and his late partner, James Schmitt.
The Charles R. Wood Foundation honors the legacy of local businessman, philanthropist, and longtime supporter of The Hyde Charles R. Wood, who served on the museum’s board of trustees and was named a trustee emeritus in 1985. He raised $1.4 million for the museum in 1987 after he donated Greta Garbo’s custom 1933 Duesenberg automobile for auction as well as another $3.5 million in 2005 when he bequeathed the museum a pair of Russian Imperial porcelain vases. The funds supported the construction of an education wing and the launch of funds for exhibitions and acquisitions. The Charles R. Wood Gallery, a 2,400-square-foot temporary exhibitions space, was named in his honor.
A series of severe storms that struck Albany, Georgia, on January 2, caused serious damage to the Albany Museum of Art forcing the institution to close its doors until further notice. Offices, galleries, and vaults on the museum’s second floor were flooded after high winds tore off sections of the building’s roof. On Thursday, January 5, Governor Nathan Deal declared Dougherty County as well as the surrounding counties a disaster area.
Museum director Paula Williams arrived at the museum on the morning of Tuesday, January 3, to assess the damage to the museum before calling staff members, the board of trustees, insurance companies, lenders, and volunteers for assistance. AXA ART, the museum’s fine art insurance company, sent a team from Chicago’s Conservation Center that night. Since then, the conservationists have been assessing the damage to loaned artworks and the museum’s collection. Works that did not need restoration were moved to a secure off-site facility.
In a statement, the museum said, “Countless individuals, organizations, institutions, and more have offered their support, which museum staff members greatly appreciate. We are waiting for assessments to be completed before we can work out a full plan of how to proceed and what our needs will be, but they will be considerable. We do not have time at the moment to respond to all of you who have pledged your assistance, but we are very thankful for the community, statewide and regional response.”
Russian dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky is applying for political asylum in France for him, his partner Oksana Shalygina, and their two daughters after actress Anastasia Slonina accused the couple of attempting to rape her in her St. Petersburg apartment, Katie Davies of the Moscow Times reports.
Pavlensky and Shalygina claim that their relations with the Russian actress were consensual and allege that Slonina was prompted to file a complaint by Russia’s security services in an attempt to remove Pavlensky from the country’s cultural scene. If the couple are convicted, they could face up to ten years in prison.
“We have only two options: to either spend our time in jail or head beyond the Russian borders. For me to submit to doing time, to go with all the humility of a sheep to the slaughter, would only help the state. I do not agree with that under any circumstances,” Pavlensky told the Russian media outlet Hromadske.
He added, “All of these years, the regime has trying to prove that I am a criminal or a madman—not an artist, but the destroyer of cultural values. The state machine has been able to execute this play successfully. But we will be careful, and life will show who has the last word.”
In addition to the sexual assault allegations, Vsevolod Lisowski, a producer and writer at the Teatr.doc group, said that he has video footage of Pavlensky beating an actor who tried to confront the artist after he began to take an interest in Slonina. Apparently, the actor arranged to meet with Pavlensky, who drove up with three other people and attacked the man.
Pavlensky is best known for his extreme performance art. The anti-Putin activist has sewn his mouth shut to protest the arrest of members of the Russian band Pussy Riot, hammered a nail through his scrotum in Moscow’s Red Square in a demonstration against annual police day, and most recently, set fire to the doors of Lubyanka’s Federal Security Service headquarters during a performance titled Threat.
In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Paris’s Centre Pompidou has announced that it will undergo a $108 million facelift, Kim Willsher of The Guardian reports. The renovation will include replacing the museum’s exterior escalator, known as “the caterpillar,” as well as other refurbishments. The appearance of the building will remain relatively unchanged.
President Serge Lasvignes said, “It will be a sort of construction game, but our aim is to stay open. That is the objective.” The museum plans to start construction in 2018 following a yearlong program of exhibitions that will be presented at the institution as well as cultural venues all over France. The first exhibition to kick off the year is a retrospective of American artist Cy Twombly, featuring one hundred and forty paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs.
The Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers–designed building has been highly criticized since it opened in 1977. Lasvignes said that former president Georges Pompidou looked over the architect’s proposal after commissioning the building and said, “Good grief, that’s going to cause a row.”
Today many people are still divided over the aesthetic of the architectural icon, which welcomed over 3 million people last year. While the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay reported a decrease in tourists after the terrorist attacks in 2015, the number of visitors to the Pompidou Center rose by 9 percent.
Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, a nonprofit organization in Portland, Oregon, has announced that its board of directors has dismissed founder and executive director Bryan Suereth due to conflicts over leadership, Richard Speer of Oregon Live reports. Cris Moss, director of the University of Oregon’s White Box Gallery, will serve as the interim director.
Suereth, who established the arts space in 2000, converted Disjecta to a nonprofit in 2004 and served as executive director under a board of directors from that point on. Since then, he helped launch a curator-in-residence program, organize a series of biennial exhibitions, and secure $170,000 in grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation.
Problems between Suereth and the trustees began when Christine D’Arcy became board chair in 2014. Suereth said, “When Chris came in, we lost structure and guidance.” He added, “She can be very terse in her mode of communication. She’s a systems-oriented, law-and-order type and I’m an impulsive but pragmatic rule-breaker.”
D’Arcy said that the situation is “not a result of a personality conflict” and cited Suereth’s job performance as the reason why the board let him go. “The board conducted a performance review of Bryan in late 2015. He was credited for his transformational role as founder, but one hundred percent of the board felt that stronger management skills were needed.” D’Arcy and another board member discussed keeping Suereth on as founding advisor with a paid stipend for the year, but said, “he did not wish to discuss the proposal.” Moving forward, D’Arcy plans on developing a business model that will increase revenue, maximize fees from rentals and events, and grow the art center’s audience to secure more financial donors.
The board announced that Suereth would be discharged at the end of the fiscal year on November 16, 2016. At that time, Suereth emailed the organization’s supporters the following statement: “It seems surreal that my tenure could end so tersely, behind closed doors, and without community input. ... I’ve sacrificed immensely to build Disjecta, and I cannot distance myself from the feeling that it is being stolen from me.”
A group of people including architect Daniel Kaven, artist Modou Dieng, and real estate developers Mary Hanlon, David Gold, and Ken Unkeles appealed to the board to keep Suereth at the helm of the organization. They promised to donate $150,000 over a three-year period and to campaign to raise an additional $150,000 if Suereth was allowed to stay on as director. The board arranged to discuss the offer in a meeting on December 20, and then turned it down. Kaven said, “I don't believe the organization will be able to function without Bryan’s brain trust.”
Suereth said, “I feel they’ve disrespected me and imperiled Disjecta in a way that didn’t have to happen. But I definitely have an inclination to stay involved in this community. I have an idea of starting an artist residency in the Gorge. I feel I still have an immense amount to give.”
Photographer Lord Snowdon, the ex-husband of England’s Princess Margaret, died on January 13, according to Mark Brown in The Guardian. Born Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1930, Snowdon went to Eton before going to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he studied architecture but failed his finals. He had already established himself as a fashion photographer prior to meeting Margaret in 1960, as he had joined Vogue magazine in 1956, going on to become its longest-serving photographer. Alexandra Shulman, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, said Snowdon was “one of the great photographers of the age.”
He was also a photographer for The Sunday Times from 1962–90 and the Telegraph Magazine since 1990. In 1995 he succeeded the Earl of Gowrie as provost of the Royal College of Art in London. In 2001, the National Portrait Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut, presented an exhibition of over 180 of his photographs. Snowdon gifted 130 original prints to the National Portrait Gallery in 2014, including portraits of actors John Hurt, Alan Bates, and Julie Christie, musician Yehudi Menuhin, writer Graham Greene, artist Barbara Hepworth, and historian Anthony Blunt. His portraits were also featured in last year’s “Vogue 100” show at the National Portrait Gallery. Snowdon’s son, David Armstrong-Jones, one of his children with Princess Margaret, is a cabinetmaker and the chairman of Christie’s in the UK.
A French tribunal of judges has cleared Guy Wildenstein—the de facto head of a family of art dealers—of charges that he laundered money by shielding a collection of artworks in a series of foreign trusts to avoid inheritance taxes, according to Doreen Carvajal in the New York Times. The case has been ongoing since at least last summer.
The lead judge who had presided over the trial last fall, Olivier Géron, announced the court’s decision on Thursday at the Palais de Justice. For an hour he read a ruling that he acknowledged could seem to “defy common sense” because Wildenstein and his family had demonstrated a “clear intention” to conceal their wealth across generations. Still, their behavior, according to the decision, fell into a gray area since France did not enact legislation that requires the declaration of foreign trusts until 2011.
Authorities had sought to fine Wildenstein about $267 million, but the case also involved his nephew and estranged sister-in-law, along with Swiss and French legal advisers and foreign trust companies. All were cleared in the verdict. Prosecutor Monica d’Onofrio had sought prison time for Wildenstein, calling the family’s financial operations “the longest and the most sophisticated tax fraud” in contemporary France. Wildenstein’s legal team had argued at trial that he was unaware of the complex terms of the trusts managed by legal advisers.
He was initially accused of underestimating inheritance taxes after his father, Daniel, died in 2001 in France. Prosecutors contended that Wildenstein and his brother, Alec, intentionally hid art and assets via complex trusts and moved millions of dollars worth of artworks to tax havens in Switzerland days after their father died. This case itself grew out of legal battles waged by women in the family who complained of having been excluded from the business and cheated out of inheritances. Sylvia Wildenstein, Daniel’s widow, sued her stepsons over his estate, claiming that assets had been hidden from her in the trusts.
Other legal hurdles in civil court remain, despite the verdict, including claims by the French state for about $534 million in back taxes in addition to other complaints regarding works seized by the police from the vaults of the Wildenstein Institute in Paris due to unclear ownership. Those works are still in police possession.
Jenna Ross reports in The StarTribune that the Walker Art Center’s artistic director Fionn Meade has resigned. According to museum spokeswoman Annie Gillette Cleveland, he left for “personal reasons.” Meade was named artistic director in 2015, a position that had then been newly established to reflect the multidisciplinary approach required of the institution’s chief curator.
During his three years at the Walker, Meade curated and cocurated exhibitions such as “Question the Wall Itself,” on view until May 21 and currently a Critics’ Pick, and led the team that organized a retrospective on choreographer Merce Cunningham, due to open February 8 and a featured preview in the January issue of Artforum.
Gillette Cleveland said that executive director Olga Viso won’t be filling Meade’s position anytime soon. Instead, the institution is focusing on several major upcoming projects including the Cunningham exhibition as well as the opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in June.