Katerina Gregos Steps Down as Artistic Director of Art Brussels

Katerina Gregos

The artistic director of Art Brussels for the past four years, Katerina Gregos, will be leaving her position, reports Ryan Steadman for The Observer. Gregos curated the Belgian Pavilion at the fifty-sixth Venice Biennale, and also organized the fifth Thessaloniki Biennial. She has also curated the Danish Pavilion at the fifty-fourth Venice Biennale. At Art Brussels, she was responsible for introducing nonprofit institutions and launching a curatorial program in collaboration with the Flanders Art Institute.

Leaving this summer to focus on independent projects, Gregos told Steadman, “I come from the world of public institutions, large-scale exhibitions, and biennials, and this is the world I feel most comfortable in though as an independent curator one should always be open.”


January 19, 2018

Basel Art Museum Revisits Restitution Claim Made in 2008

Basel Art Museum in Switzerland.

The Basel Art Museum in Switzerland is revisiting a 2008 restitution bid, made by the heirs of Curt Glaser, a prominent collector who was forced to auction his works in 1933, after he was dismissed from his job as head of the Prussian State Art Library. The institution had originally rejected the claim, and said that there was “absolutely no evidence” that the works in question belonged to Glaser, but it has since backtracked.

According to Reuters, the discovery of new documents related to Glaser’s collection prompted the institution’s director to create a task force that will reopen the case and investigate the heirs’ claims. It will focus on gathering evidence and will look into how the museum arrived at its decision ten years ago. The museum’s holdings include 120 drawings and prints that were once owned by Glaser, including an Edvard Munch lithograph titled Madonna.

“We hope [the restitution claim] won’t be put on the backburner, so everybody forgets about it again,” said Valerie Sattler, a great niece of Glaser. A spokesperson for the institution said that it is working to arrange a meeting with the family. Felix Uhlmann, president of the museum’s art commission, said that it could take six months or more for the institution to make at a decision.

January 18, 2018

Ed Moses (1926–2018)

Ed Moses. Photo: Kwaku Alston.

Ed Moses, the rebellious postwar painter whose eclectic career spanned five decades and earned him legendary status on the West Coast, has died at ninety-one. Moses, who continued making art until his death, is considered one of the most innovative artists of his generation and a fixture in the Los Angeles art scene.

Born in Long Beach, California in 1926, he joined the US Navy in 1944 before enrolling as a pre-med student on the GI bill. He took up painting when he failed to qualify for medical school and had his first solo exhibition at Los Angeles’s Ferus Gallery in 1958. Moses belonged to the “cool school” of avant-garde painters that showed at Ferus, which opened in 1957. Along with his contemporaries—Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bengston, and Robert Irwin, among others—Moses helped transform the city into an arts hub that could rival New York.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Moses displayed an interest in gestural abstraction, often combining Asian and European influences. In addition to painting, he taught art at the University of California, Los Angeles, intermittently from 1968 to 1976. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in 1976 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984.

A theme of unruly self-reinvention occurs throughout Moses’s practice. “The rational mind constantly wants to be in charge. The other parts want to fly,” Moses said in a 1987 interview in the Los Angeles Times. “My painting is the encounter between the mind’s necessity for control and its yearning to fly, to be free from our ever-confining skull.”

January 18, 2018

Chana Budgazad Sheldon Named Executive Director of North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art

Chana Budgazad Sheldon. Photo: ProjectArt.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami announced that Chana Budgazad Sheldon, the Miami director and national program advisor at ProjectArt—a nonprofit organization that provides free afterschool programs for underserved communities—has joined the institution as its new executive director. She took up the post on Wednesday, January 17.

“Art and culture can transform lives and communities.” Sheldon said in a statement. “MOCA, through its exhibitions and programming, has for decades been a key hub of cultural engagement for the local community and beyond. My focus as the museum’s new director will be to facilitate that engagement and foster connections between artists, the local community, and the global dialogue in contemporary art about the issues of our time.”

Previously, Sheldon was the executive director of Miami’s Locust Projects, a long-running nonprofit and experimental exhibition space. During her eight-year tenure there, she produced over seventy exhibitions and initiated the organization’s first public art and educational programs.

January 18, 2018

John R. Alchin Elected to Barnes Foundation’s Board of Trustees

The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia announced today that businessman John R. Alchin has been appointed a new member of its board of trustees. He also serves on the boards of the Ralph Lauren Corporation, BNY Mellon Funds Trust, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Alchin served as executive vice president and cochief financial officer of the Comcast Corporation from 1990 until his retirement in 2008. Prior to that, he worked as the managing director of the Toronto Dominion Bank, where he founded the U.S. Communications Finance Group in 1980, which became the largest lender to the cable television industry.

“I find the Barnes’s progressive educational mission inspiring, along with its recent initiatives to make its renowned collection accessible to a wider and more diverse audience than ever before,” Alchin said in a statement. “It will be an honor to serve the Barnes’s many communities and support the significant work being done to ensure the Foundation’s future growth and success.”

January 18, 2018

United States Arrests Christie’s Employee Accused of Betraying CIA Informants

A 2014 sale at Christie’s Hong Kong. Photo: manhhai via Flickr.

The head of security for Christie’s salesroom in Hong Kong, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, was arrested at John F. Kennedy airport in New York on January 15 and suspended from the auction house due to an ongoing criminal investigation, reports Benjamin Sutton for Hyperallergic. Lee is a former CIA officer who is suspected of sharing the identities of the agency’s informants with the Chinese authorities.

Information provided by Lee may have potentially resulted in the death or imprisonment of dozens of informants. According to the New York Times, the collapse of the United States’ spy operations in China is one of the biggest intelligence failures since former CIA and the FBI agents Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen leaked intelligence to Moscow during the Cold War.

FBI agents previously discovered that Lee had classified information in his possession when they searched his luggage during a 2012 visit to Virginia. According to an affidavit, officials found a datebook and an address book containing the names of assets and covert facilities, but it is unclear why he was not arrested at the time.

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, Kapoor canceled the Genesis Prize ceremony planned in Israel, explaining that a festive celebration of his contributions was inappropriate considering the ongoing violence happening nearby 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 aid migrants grappling with persecution, including those from Syria, Myanmar, and South Sudan, and 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 Bra Willie) 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

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

An 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 its disposal of the steel and plastic sculpture. Titled Chamber, the nearly twenty-feet-high artwork 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 the age of seventy-two. After the sculpture, which had begun to rust due to brine, was damaged by a recent typhoon, the city started receiving complaints about the appearance of the work, which 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 in New York, the Centre Pompidou, and the Tate, 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.”