James Turrell Donates a Skyspace to Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory

James Turrell, Unseen Blue, 2002

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.

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September 19, 2017

Meredith Monk Awarded 2017 Gish Prize

Meredith Monk.

The trailblazing composer, singer, and interdisciplinary artist Meredith Monk has won the twenty-fourth Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. She will receive approximately $250,000 and will be honored during a ceremony celebrating her achievements at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on October 26.

Established in 1994 through the will of legendary stage and screen actress Lillian Gish, known as the “First Lady of Cinema,” the prize recognizes artists from any discipline who have pushed the boundaries of an art form, contributed to social change, and paved the way for the next generation.

“I am humbled and grateful to receive the Gish Prize,” Monk said. “It’s exceptional for being a prize that a great artist decided to give to other artists, and even more special for the values that Lillian Gish expressed when she said it should recognize contributions to ‘the beauty of the world.’ I believe, as she did, that art can be a healing force, a source of light during dark times. With boundless admiration for her, and profound respect for the artists who received this prize before me, I am thrilled to have been chosen for this one-of-a-kind award.”

September 19, 2017

Bronx Museum of the Arts Appoints Klaudio Rodriguez as Deputy Director

Klaudio Rodriguez.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts has named Klaudio Rodriguez, formerly the curator at the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University in Miami, as its new deputy director. Rodriguez will be responsible for assisting in the management of staff and the implementation of the museum’s exhibitions and public programming.

During his tenure at the Frost Art Museum, Rodriguez worked closely with the museum’s director and development officer to build membership, develop new revenue sources, and fundraise. He also helped organize surveys of art from Uruguay, South American geometric abstraction, and video works by women artists, as well as his most recent show, “Narciso Rodriguez: An Exercise in Minimalism” (2016–17). Additionally, Rodriguez serves on the diversity and mentoring committees of the Association of Art Museum Curators and he recently participated in the Getty Leadership Institute.

“I am thrilled that Klaudio is joining the Bronx Museum as deputy director,” noted executive director Holly Block. “The experience and expertise he brings will result in thought-provoking exhibitions and programs of local, national, and international significance, as well as new ways to more deeply engage with our community.”

September 18, 2017

Judy Baca To Expand Major Los Angeles Mural

Judy Baca, The Great Wall of Los Angeles, 1976, paint on concrete. Installation view, Los Angeles.

During last week’s slew of openings for the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative in Los Angeles, artist Judy Baca announced that her 2,754 foot-long mural, The Great Wall of Los Angeles, 1976, will be expanded in the coming years with new sections, according to a report by Jori Finkel in the Art Newspaper. Originally conceived in 1974, the mural was completed over five summers and employed more than 400 youths and their families, documenting California’s history up to the 1950s. Painted along a concrete wall of the Tujunga Flood Control Channel in the San Fernando Valley area of LA, Baca completed a restoration of the project in 2011 and is now planning to add hundreds of feet of new scenery to reflect recent history. The mural currently ends with images of Wilma Rudolph, who was an African American gold medalist Olympic athlete, and American Indian athlete Billy Mills, who won gold at the 1964 Olympics.

Baca stated that the next section of the mural will focus on images of radical protest from the 1960s. For example, the Olympic torch that Mills holds in the mural as of now will be altered so that it is shown falling into a circle that represents a generation on fire. Baca said of her intentions with the new imagery that “these semi-hippie, but not entirely hippie, my-generation people have fire in their chests and they are met by the Alabama hoses and the dogs, and yet they are people in total peace and calm recognizing they must stand for what they believe in…We’re hoping this is going to be an inspiration for the next generation.”

In collaboration with the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), which was founded by Judy Baca in 1976 and oversees The Great Wall, the artist plans to paint the additions indoors on a substrate and then transfer this material to installation outside. SPARC is now raising money for this next phase of the mural. Debra J.T. Padilla, the executive director of SPARC, noted “It costs about $600,000 a decade, and we have the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s to go”—in addition to the cost of a new studio for production of the piece’s extension.

September 18, 2017

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art Announces New Director

Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy

The supervisory board of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam has announced that Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy will serve as the public institution’s new director, starting on the first of next year. The previous director Defne Ayas, who has served since 2012, is leaving her position after having led the institution successfully for two terms of three years, the maximum for a director at Witte de With, according to the organization’s governance code.

Hailing from Mexico, Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy has been curator of contemporary art at the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros since 2011. Hernández Chong Cuy has also developed other exhibitions independently, including “The Neighbors” (2016−2017), an exhibition series at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, and “Let’s Walk Together” (2016), a survey exhibition of Mario Garcia Torres at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, a museum she also previously served as the director of, from 2009−2010. Hernández Chong Cuy was artistic director and chief curator of the ninth Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2013, as well as an “agent” of Documenta 13 (2012) in Kassel.

The outgoing director of Witte de With stated: “I am thrilled to see what we were able to achieve in the past six years, especially in the way we have become more of an open and inclusive place, and how we continued to be a site of excellence for exhibitions, while also transforming into a stage for global and national debate about the role of art and culture in society…I am grateful for the opportunity I was given here to work with some of the most generous and demanding artists, thinkers, and writers of our times. I will cherish this place and its people for the rest of my life. Sofía’s appointment aligns wonderfully with our ambitions to keep this center a continuously relevant one. She is someone who is conscientious and of uncompromising curatorial rigor, and, as such, the perfect person to lead this institution into the next, and possibly the most important, chapter of its evolution.”

September 18, 2017

Documenta 14 Artists Defend Exhibition in Open Letter

Documenta 14 artists and curatorial team prepare to perform Jani Christou’s Epicycle, 1968, at Athens opening of Documenta 14, Megaron, April 6, 2017. Photo: Mathias Völzke

Coming on the heels of the recent announcement that Documenta is in dire financial straits, and a letter from the fourteenth edition’s curatorial team responding to the situation, 212 of Documenta 14’s artists have now issued their own open letter defending the vision of the exhibition.

The letter can be read in full below.

September 15, 2017

Harry Dean Stanton (1926–2017)

Harry Dean Stanton

The actor Harry Dean Stanton died today in Los Angeles, according to a report from Anita Gates in the New York Times. Stanton, perhaps best known for his role in Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas (1984), also frequently worked with David Lynch, appearing in Wild at Heart (1990), The Straight Story (1999), and the recent revival of Twin Peaks, the latter of which Sarah Nicole Prickett recapped for artforum.com.

Born in West Irvine, Kentucky in 1926, he served in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II before attending the University of Kentucky, where he was drawn to drama. He dropped out after three years and moved to Los Angeles, studying acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. Stanton made his first television appearance in 1954 in an episode of “Inner Sanctum,” a syndicated mystery and suspense anthology series. His first film was Tomahawk Trail (1957), the first of many Western films and TV shows that the character actor appeared in earlier in his career. Paris, Texas, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival after its release, marked a breakthrough in his career, as he had generally been typecast into supporting roles prior to Wenders’s film.

Later in life, he had a leading role in the HBO series Big Love (2006–2011), playing a polygamous, self-proclaimed prophet, and played in the Harry Dean Stanton Band, which played rock, blues, jazz and Tex-Mex songs around Los Angeles nightclubs as well as on tour.

September 15, 2017

Aglutinador, Havana’s Longest-Run Independent Arts Space, Crowdfunds New Initiatives

Sandra Ceballos, founder of Aglutinador in Havana, Cuba, and Coco Fuso.

Cuban-American artist Coco Fuso has teamed up with artist and gallerist Sandra Ceballos, the founder of Cuba's longest running autonomous art gallery, to make the “real” story of Cuban art accessible to a broader public. By launching workshops in English, digitizing the arts space’s massive archive, and upgrading its communication systems, the two creatives intend to turn the gallery into an educational resource available to the local and international community.

In order to raise funds for the artists’ vision for Aglutinador, Fusco and Ceballos launched a Go Fund Me Campaign that has already raised more than $3,000. The gallery will continue its fundraising efforts through the end of 2017 and is hoping to hold its inaugural workshop next year. While Ceballos has been running the gallery out of her home for the last twenty-four years, she is unable to finance the space through the sale of artworks because she is not permitted to work as an art dealer in Cuba.

Over the years, Aglutinador has earned a reputation for being a space where artists can exhibit free from government interference. “Lots of people who travel to Havana are impressed by the island’s rich culture and its world class art schools, but the art that that most visitors get to see is limited to what state organizations will show them,” Coco Fosco said. “Contemporary Cuban art is often much bolder and much edgier than what you might find in a museum.” For Fusco, in order to engage with the “real” Cuban art scene, visitors need to go to galleries such as Aglutinador. The space features works by emerging artists and household names like Tania Bruguera and Carlos Garaicoa alongside artists who have been jailed and censored by the state.

September 15, 2017

Berlin Dealer Johann König to Open New London Gallery

Johann König. Photo: Ulrike Kuschel

König Galerie in Berlin, which was founded by Johann König in 2002, announced today that it will open a new space in London on October 5. Called König Archiv & Souvenir, the gallery will take over a former parking lot in the residential area of Marylebone in Central London.

König told Caroline Elbaor of Artnet that Brexit motivated him to expand to Great Britain. He said, “I think it’s important to be here because galleries are closing; there is instability. When I opened my gallery in Berlin, the market was in a downturn. In London, there is also a wider market—China, Russia. It’s very international and very business-driven. It’s not a Mayfair townhouse, so for London, we don’t have that intense pressure—we can play around.”

The venue will be the dealer’s third space, and his first outside of Germany. Its inaugural show, featuring installations and documents tracing the gallery’s history, will coincide with the debut of its new biannual magazine The German Surplus.

September 15, 2017

Istanbul’s Yapi Kredi Cultural Center Reopens after Extensive Renovation

The Yapı Kredi Cultural Center in Istanbul. Photo: HG Masters / ArtAsiaPacific

The Yapi Kredi Culture and Art Center in Istanbul, established by one of the first nationwide commercial banks in Turkey, unveiled its modern building’s new facelift when it reopened on Wednesday, September 13, after being closed for renovations for more than five years, HG Masters of ArtAsiaPacific reports.

Residents were surprised by the celebrated contemporary art space’s transformation since many neighboring structures along İstiklal Avenue, and within the Beyoğlu district, show signs of neglect. The side of the venue facing Galatasaray Square has been replaced with a wall of glass allowing passersby to view the artworks on display and much of its gallery space. The building’s makeover also includes a new bookstore since Yapi Kredi is also a major publisher of books on literature, history, culture, and art.

Currently on view at the center is Yapi Kredi bank’s collection, “Sarmal (Helix).” Curated by art historian Necmi Sönmez, the show features twentieth- and twenty-first-century artworks from Turkey, including pieces from the late Ottoman period.