James Rondeau Named President and Director of Art Institute of Chicago

James Rondeau

The Art Institute of Chicago has named James Rondeau its new president and director. A curator of contemporary art at the institute’s museum for nearly two decades, he has also chaired the contemporary art department since 2004. At the museum, Rondeau has organized shows featuring Charles Ray, Cy Twombly, and Jasper Johns, among other artists.

He was also crucial in brokering Stefan T. Edlis and H. Gael Neeson’s record-breaking gift to the museum, a gift discussed last year on artforum.com.


January 18, 2018

Anish Kapoor Donates $1 Million Toward Alleviating Refugee Crisis

Anish Kapoor. Photo: Jack Hens.

Anish Kapoor donated his $1 million Genesis Prize money to five organizations focused on mitigating the global refugee crisis on Wednesday, reports the Jerusalem Post. Last February, Kapoor won an award funded by the Genesis Prize Foundation, an annual prize that recognizes individuals “whose actions and achievements express a commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community, and the State of Israel.” Recipients are given the opportunity to donate $1 million to charities of their choice.

“Like many Jews, I do not have to go far back in my family history to find people who were refugees,” Kapoor said in a statement. Kapoor, famous for his ambitious public art projects, was born in Mumbai to an Indian father and an Iraqi-Jewish mother, and has long been devoted to social activism concerning refugees. In 1991, he created the Holocaust Memorial for the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London after winning the Turner Prize. “Directing Genesis Prize funds to this cause is a way of helping people who, like my forebears not too long before them, are fleeing persecution,” the UK-based sculptor said. Last May, the Kapoor canceled the Genesis Prize ceremony planned in Israel, explaining that a festive celebration of his contributions was inappropriate considering the ongoing violence happening close by in Syria.  

Kapoor’s grants will help support the International Rescue Committee, the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, HIAS (founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), Hillel International, and Help Refugees, organizations created to help migrants grappling with persecution, including those from Syria, Myanmar, and South Sudan, among other countries. Among the more than sixty-five million people displaced in 2016, more than twenty-two million were refugees, according to the United Nations.

January 18, 2018

Keorapetse Kgositsile (1938–2018)

Keorapetse Kgositsile. Photo: the Next 48 Hours.

South African poet and activist Keorapetse Kgositsile, who was a central figure in the United States’ Black Arts Movement, died in Johannesburg on January 3, Giovanni Russonello of the New York Times reports. The writer was seventy-nine years old.

Born in a mostly-white area of Johannesburg, on September 19, 1938, Kgositsile (also known as <span>Bra Willie) </span>spent most of his childhood reading. Rather than endure the apartheid regime’s discriminatory Bantu Education program, Kgositsile chose not to go to college. Instead, he began writing for New Age, a left-wing South African magazine, before he traveled to Tanzania in 1961 and then to the United States a year later as part of an African National Congress initiative that sent activists abroad.

Kgositsile studied at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania before settling in New York, where he would help found the Black Arts Movement, which promoted the work of African American artists, writers, musicians, and performers. The movement inspired people to found publishing houses; arts spaces such as the Black Arts Repertory Theater, which opened in Harlem in 1965; and Africana studies programs.

January 18, 2018

Dennis Oppenheim Sculpture Destroyed in South Korea After Complaints

Dennis Oppenheim's Chamber, 2010. Photo: Busan Biennale.

A conceptual artwork created by the American artist Dennis Oppenheim for the 2010 Busan Biennale in South Korea was demolished by the city's district office, according to the South China Morning Post. The city failed to notify Oppenheim’s estate about their disposal of the steel and plastic sculpture, which was nearly twenty feet high, cost $750,000, and was first unveiled at its seaside location in South Korea in March 2011, two months after the artist died of cancer at seventy-two. As the sculpture began to rust due to brine and a recent typhoon, the city started receiving complaints about the appearance of the work, which was titled Chamber and resembled a metal, concave flower.  

“We’ve sent the wreckage, mainly steel pipes and polycarbonate materials, to a waste dump,” Haeundae district official Shi Yun-Seok told the news service AFP. Shi said that the city did not alert Oppenheim’s estate, which holds intellectual property rights to the artist's work, before doing so. The installation's commissioners envisioned the work as a tourist attraction in which people walked between the sculpture’s steel petals and took photographs. “I’ve never heard of something like that happening before,” said Busan Biennale representative Moon Ju-Hwa. “I was deeply shocked and flabbergasted that this precious artwork was demolished in such a nonchalant manner.”

Oppenheim, whose works are in collections in the Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Pompidou, and the Tate in London, is considered a pioneering artist who worked within many movements during his extensive career. “During Dennis Oppenheim’s forty-plus years of artmaking, his idiosyncratic output was variously, if a little awkwardly, squashed into the categories of Land, Body, and Conceptual art, each of which he playfully mined and subverted,” Jo Applin wrote in the March 2014 issue of Artforum.

January 18, 2018

Developer Razes Frank Lloyd Wright Building in Montana

The Lockridge Medical Clinic in 2016. Photo: Adam Jeselnick.

A building in Whitefish, Montana designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1958 was bulldozed on January 10 by its owner despite efforts to save the historic property by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, a Chicago-based nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of Wright’s work. The Lockridge Medical Clinic, designed one year before Wright's death, is the first building by the architect in more than forty years to be demolished.

After the nonprofit offered to pay developer Mick Ruis a refundable deposit and his full asking price of $1.7 million within sixty days, Ruis demanded a fifty percent increase on the deposit and the full $1.7 million by January 22. The clinic was destroyed less than two hours after final negotiations fell through between the nonprofit and Ruis, who bought the premises in 2016 unaware of its cultural and historical status. The building, which also served as a bank and law offices, was just one of three sites in Montana designed by Wright, and has been listed on the Register of Historic Places since 2012. 

“The board of directors of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy agreed the owner’s proposals provided no realistic path to acquiring the building, short of an investor willing to put down $1.7 million cash without reasonable time to complete their own due diligence on the property,” said Barbara Gordon, the nonprofit’s executive director. “None of us are aware of why the owner changed his mind and moved up his demolition plans.”

January 17, 2018

Eighty-Five Artists Awarded MacDowell Colony Fellowships

2018 MacDowell Colony fellows. Photo: (clockwise from top left): Stacey Steers, Rashawn Griffin, Mary Ruefle, Koji Nakano, Amity Gaige, Basil Twist, Morgan Thorsen, and Eric Puchner.

The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, has awarded fellowships to eighty-five artists working in seven disciplines. The fellowships are for upcoming late-winter and spring residencies. Writers Rebecca Skloot, Elif Batuman, and Azmat Khan; poet Mary Ruefle; composer Evan Chambers, filmmaker Stacey Steers; and artists Starlee Kine, Basil Twist, and Carl Wilson are among the recipients. Each fellow will be awarded $10,000 and will be provided with a private studio.

“Once again, an amazing array of gifted artists have applied for MacDowell fellowships. These artists range in age from twenty to ninety-two, perhaps the widest range we’ve ever had,” executive director Cheryl A. Young said. “This generational span is a testament to our continued effort to help artists of all ages and at all stages of their careers. This mix also makes for a richer experience for those in residence.”

Also among this group are artists displaced by the recent natural disasters in Florida, Texas, and Mexico. MacDowell fellows who live in the affected areas were eligible to apply for emergency time if their studios, homes, or livelihood were impacted. The MacDowell Colony awards more than three hundred fellowships each year.

The 2018 fellows are as follows:

January 17, 2018

Nancy Wilhelms to Step Down as Executive Director of Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Nancy Wilhelms. Photo: the Anderson Ranch Arts Center.

The Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado has announced that Nancy Wilhelms, who successfully led the organization for five years, will step down as executive director at the end of the year. Wilhelms will continue to head the institution as it searches for a successor to ensure a smooth transition in leadership.

“During her tenure, Nancy has been instrumental in the successful growth of the Ranch,” board chair David Fuente said in a statement. While Wilhelms was at the helm of the organization, the Ranch increased its operating budget by 34 percent and its endowment by 27 percent. She also helped enhance programs such as the “Featured Artists Series,” which invited Frank Stella, Christo, Marina Abramović, Theaster Gates, Steve McQueen, Carrie Mae Weems, and Catherine Opie, among other artists, to the arts space, and she spearheaded the development of the new “Critical Dialogue Program,” the “Advanced Mentored Studies Program,” and other initiatives.

Commenting on her departure, Wilhelms said, “I am looking forward to pursuing new opportunities in arts and culture, and working with the board to help the Ranch enter the next phase of its growth. I plan to remain a very active member of the Ranch family and community.”

January 17, 2018

Moscow Judge Extends Russian Director Kirill Serebrennikov’s House Arrest

Kirill S. Serebrennikov. Photo: Operstuttgart.

On Tuesday, January 16, 2018, a Moscow court extended the duration for which Kirill Serebrennikov, the artistic director of the Gogol Center, will remain under house arrest. Serebrennikov has been accused of embezzling government funds. Supporters of the embattled director believe that the charges were brought against him in order to punish him for organizing performances featuring sexually explicit and politically-charged content.

According to the New York Times, investigators are now claiming that Serebrennikov embezzled $2.3 million—twice as much as they originally thought—through his theater company, Seventh Studio. If he is convicted, the judge may award the Ministry of Culture the same amount as compensation.

While cultural figures have spoken up in his defense and repeatedly petitioned for his release, President Vladimir V. Putin declared that Serebrennikov must secure his freedom through the Russian legal system. When testifying in court on Tuesday, the director alleged that he was falsely accused of the crime by the accountant for Seventh Studio, Nina L. Maslyaeva, who also named four others as collaborators. His trial is scheduled to take place in three months.

January 17, 2018

Yuki Terase Appointed Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Art, Asia

Yuki Terase.

Sotheby’s has named Yuki Terase as head of contemporary art, Asia, a department that is based in Hong Kong. Terase will lead be responsible for the auction house’s private sales of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and western contemporary art in Asia, and will contribute to the company’s business development efforts in Japan.

“Yuki’s depth of experience and relationships around the world make her a critical component of our contemporary art team and I’m thrilled to have her spearhead our efforts in such an important part of the global marketplace,” Amy Cappellazzo, chairman of Sotheby’s fine art division, said in a statement.

Since joining Sotheby’s in 2011, Terase has led a number of white-glove sales, including “Full Circle: Yoshihara Jiro Collection, Brushwork,” “From Asia to the World, Brushwork II,” “All the World’s a Stage,” and “Yamaguchi Takeo—Composing Monochrome.” She also initiated a sale in collaboration with street fashion designer Nigo, as well as one guest-curated by the K-Pop singer T.O.P. in October 2016. Previously, Terase worked for Morgan Stanley as a member of its mergers and acquisition advisory team in Tokyo.

January 17, 2018

Amy Sherald Joins Baltimore Museum of Art as New Trustee

Amy Sherald. Photo: Christopher Myers.

The Baltimore Museum of Art announced that contemporary artist and Baltimore resident Amy Sherald has been elected as its newest trustee. Sherald, who was recently commissioned to paint Michelle Obama’s portrait, will officially take her board seat on February 20. She joins thirty-nine other active trustees in guiding the institution.

“As we develop a new strategic plan, it is important to have the voice of artists like Amy on the BMA’s board of trustees,” director Christopher Bedford said. “Amy will bring a unique perspective to museum leadership, one that not only draws on her career as one of today’s most important artists, but also on her ties to the city of Baltimore itself.”

Commenting on her new post, Sherald said, “The BMA is pioneering the way for institutions to become more inclusive by championing contemporary artists from all walks of life. I am honored to be able to have a voice in helping move the museum forward.”