Charles Garabedian (1923–2016)

Artist Charles Garabedian

Artist Charles Garabedian has died, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Jill Leovy. Renowned for brightly colored paintings portraying scenes based on Greek literature and daytime TV, Garabedian “injected an imaginative California sensibility into contemporary art,” wrote Leovy. He earned a master’s degree at UCLA, where he later taught, and was featured in a solo show at the Whitney Museum in 1976. The next year, he was named an NEA fellow; he then received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1980.

In addition to the Whitney, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles have his work in their collections. Yet many of his supporters felt Garabedian often received less recognition than he deserved: “He makes no compromises,” said artist Ed Moses, an old friend. “He is just into the painting as painting.”

Critic David Pagel once wrote of Garabedian, “There is no escaping from his wily art.”

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December 12, 2017

Jon Seydl Named Director of Krannert Art Museum

Jon Seydl.

Art historian and curator Jon Seydl has been appointed the new director of the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign, Illinois. He succeeds Kathleen Harleman, who led the museum from 2004 to 2017. Under her leadership, Harleman championed underrepresented groups and spearheaded the redesign of the institution’s African Gallery. Seydl, who is currently the senior director of collections and programs and the curator of European art at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, will take up his new post in February.

“As a curator, Jon Seydl brings a deep knowledge about artwork that forms a large portion of the collection. That knowledge, and his excitement about curation, education, collection management, and public engagement will make him an excellent director,” said Julia Nucci Kelly, the museum’s communications and marketing coordinator.

Seydl first joined the Worcester Art Museum in 2014. During his tenure there, Seydl organized a number of exhibitions and helped the institution make several key acquisitions such as Otto Dix’s Pregnant Woman, 1919, and Miguel Cabrera’s The Virgin of Guadalupe, c. 1740. He also launched an initiative to digitize the museum’s entire collection and served as the liaison for academic programs to twelve colleges and universities.

December 12, 2017

In Open Letter, Artists Condemn Trump for Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

The city of Jerusalem.

The Guardian has published an open letter with signatures from more than one hundred artists, writers, film directors, performers, and designers—such as Vivienne Westwood, Thurston Moore, Mona Hatoum, Angela Davis, Hari Kunzru, and Mike Leigh. The statement denounces Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling the president’s move a “threat to peace” that “seeks to achieve through a declaration what Israel has been trying to do for fifty years through force of arms: to erase Palestinians, as a political and cultural presence, from the life of their own city.”

Trump wants to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; the Israeli Foreign Ministry reports that no country has an embassy located in the city.

The entirety of the letter appears below:

December 12, 2017

Salvador Dalí’s Digital Catalogue Raisonné Completed After Seventeen Years

Salvador Dalí, Portrait of São Schlumberger, 1965, oil on canvas, 45 x 35".

Salvador Dalí’s digital catalogue raisonné has been completed, reports Alec Evans of the Art Newspaper. After seventeen years of research, the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation has made more than one thousand of the Surrealist artist’s works—with the exception of his drawings and watercolors—available for free on the French, Catalan, English, and Spanish versions of the foundation’s website. Created by the Centre for Dalinian Studies, it is the first online inventory of its kind.

The first part of the catalogue was made available in 2004—featuring works created by Dalí between 1910 and 1929—to commemorate the artist’s one-hundredth birthday. The final section of the five-part document was finished on December 4. It contains artworks made from 1965 until 1983. The volumes between the first and last sections contain work from 1930–39, 1940–51, and 1952–64.

Now the foundation is working on organizing information about the artist’s sculptures and graphic works: areas of his oeuvre that have been polluted by forgeries. The first part of the catalogue raisonné for Dalí’s sculptures is scheduled for publication at the end of next year.

December 12, 2017

Chinese Ban on Korean Cultural Exports Is Removed

A view of the 2017 ART021 fair in Shanghai from the outside. Photo: Galerie Perrotin.

After South Korea and the US agreed to install an American anti-missile system in Seongju County in 2016—a response to North Korea’s multiple threats of nuclear attack—the Chinese government instituted an “unofficial” ban on all Korean cultural exports, such as art, pop music, and television soap operas, write Lisa Movius and Melanie Gerlis of the Art Newspaper. China felt South Korea’s move would imperil its own security. Now, the two countries have managed to settle the argument after a series of diplomatic talks on October 31. The ban lasted almost a year.

At the West Bund and ART021 art fairs in Shanghai last month, the only Korean artists being shown were with Arario, a Korean gallery with an outpost in Shanghai. Kukje Gallery in Seoul only exhibited its Western artists. International galleries were not allowed to display Korean art. “It is not surprising that exchanges in art are affected by political issues,” said Eun Yong Kwon, a visual arts planner at the Korean Arts Management Service in Seoul. “Diplomacy and politics are always stronger than art and culture. What was surprising was that, this time, the ban and embargo were so strong and visible.” An art dealer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to the Art Newspaper, said that he was told to remove the Korean names from his application for the ART021 fair. And a new private museum that had scheduled an exhibition of Korean-American artist Nam June Paik had postponed its inaugural May opening.

No one from the Chinese art community wanted to go on record about the ban. Suppression in China does not typically occur via direct mandate, often instead spreading through self-censorship and rumor. As a result, it can be hard to assess what exactly is happening. “It’s difficult for people to know [what’s going on] because on a Tuesday, the Chinese government could have a problem with Korea, then on Wednesday decide everything is fine,” said a specialist on the Chinese market.

December 11, 2017

Geng Jianyi (1962–2017)

Geng Jianyi.

On December 5, the artist Geng Jianyi died of cancer in Hangzhou, China, at the age of fifty-five, HG Masters of ArtAsiaPacific reports. A founder of Pond Society, and a known figure in China’s ’85 New Wave movement, Jianyi produced work across a multitude of media during his three-decade career.  

Jianyi first earned recognition with his oil paintings of deadpan laughing faces, such as The Second Situation, 1987, which was also featured in the controversial 1989 group show “China/Avant-Garde” at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, marking the artist’s move into the mediums of collage, photography, video, and conceptual installations. 

Born in Zhengzhou in 1962, Jianyi studied oil painting at Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Art) from 1981 to 1985. Together with artists Zhang Peili, Wu Shanzhuan, Wang Guangyi, and Wang Qiang, he explored Marcel Duchamp’s idea of “non-retinal art.” Jianyi and Peili organized the exhibition “New Space ’85” in 1985 at the Gallery of Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, a show which presented some of the earliest examples of installation art in China. They also cofounded Pond Society (Chi She), which staged collective works in outdoor locations.

December 11, 2017

Élisabeth Lebovici Wins 2017 Pierre Daix Prize

Élisabeth Lebovici. Photo: Henry Roy.

The 2017 Pierre Daix prize has been awarded to the art historian, journalist, and critic Élisabeth Lebovici for her book Ce que le sida m’a fait – Art et activisme à la fin du XXe siècle (What AIDS Did to Me: Art and Activism in the Late Twentieth Century), published this year by Editions JRP Ringier in collaboration with La Maison Rouge—Antoine de Galbert Foundation. Created in 2015 by François Pinault as a homage to his friend Pierre Georges Daix—a journalist who also became a biographer for the artist Pablo Picasso—the prize, along with a grant of about $11,800, is awarded each year to a work of modern or contemporary art history published during the previous year. Pinault presented the prize to Lebovici today at the Musée National Picasso in Paris.

The jury was composed this year of Jean-Jacques Aillagon, former French minister of culture and former director of Centre Pompidou; Laurence Bertrand Dorleac, an art historian, editor, professor, and director of the Laboratoire Arts et Société at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences-Po); Jean-Marie Borzeix, former director of France Culture; Jean de Loisy, president of the Palais de Tokyo; Emmanuel Guigon, director of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona; Brigitte Leal, deputy director of the Centre Pompidou; Laurent Le Bon, director of the Musée Picasso Paris; Alain Minc, chief executive officer of AM Conseil; essayist Alfred Pacquement, former director of the Centre Pompidou; and Marie-Karine Schaub, a historian and professor at the University of Paris-Est Créteil-Val de Marne.

December 11, 2017

Activists Protest BP Sponsorship of British Museum Exhibition

BP or Not BP? Protesters at the British Museum on December 9, 2017. Photo: Ashitha Nagesh.

Making good on their promise last summer to escalate protests against British Petroleum (BP)’s sponsorship of arts institutions in the UK, activists staged a flash mob in the British Museum’s marble foyer over the weekend, dressed as ice from the melting Siberian permafrost, reports Ashitha Nagesh for Metro.co.uk. The group behind the action, BP or Not BP?, sang about the melting ice and the oil company’s “greenwashing” through its sponsorship of the exhibition “Scythians: Warriors of Ancient Siberia,” which, focusing on the ancient tribes of nomadic warriors who existed in Southern Siberia from around 900 BC to 200 BC, opened in September and runs through January 14, 2018. Some visitors to the museum even joined in, and the prostesters also displayed a massive flag with the BP logo on it during their demonstration. Large “cracks” made of black paper were applied to the floor, to suggest the appearance of disappearing ice.

A representative from the group said that many of the Scythian artifacts on display in the exhibition were preserved by the permafrost, which is melting in part due to BP’s political lobbying and polluting activities. A British Museum spokeswoman told Metro the following: “The British Museum respects other people’s right to express their views and allows peaceful protest onsite at the museum as long as there is no risk to the museum’s collection, staff or visitors. The long-term support provided by BP allows the museum to plan its programming in advance and to bring world cultures to a global audience through hugely popular exhibitions and their associated public programs.”

In 2016, BP announced they would invest more than $10 million in the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, and the Royal Shakespeare Company over the next five years. Both the Tate and the Edinburgh International Festival decided not to renew their partnerships with BP that same year.

December 11, 2017

Police and Protesters Clash as Forty-Four Artworks Removed from Catalonian Museum

Protesters and police in front of the Lleida Museum. Photo: Thomson Reuters.

Spanish law enforcement, accompanying experts in the field of art and artifacts, entered the Lleida Museum in western Catalonia this morning as part of an effort to enforce a judicial order received at the end of last month by Spain’s culture minister, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, for the return of forty-four pieces in the museum’s collection, reports Sam Jones in the Guardian. A tussle between police and demonstrators broke out after around five hundred people gathered outside of the museum, located in the Catalan city of Lleida, to protest against the removal of the artifacts from the institution.

Some demonstrators shouted “Hands up! This is a robbery!” as well as other chants, while others expressed more generalized anger over the central Spanish government’s assumption of control of Catalonia, using article 155 of the nation’s constitution. The group of works at the heart of the controversy includes paintings, alabaster reliefs, and polychromatic wooden coffins that were sold to the Catalan government by the nuns of the Monasterio de Santa Maria de Sijena convent in neighboring Aragón in the 1980s, during the post-war dictatorship of General Franco.

The Aragonese authorities, arguing that the works were unlawfully sold, have been trying to recover the pieces through the courts since at least 2015, when a judge in that region ruled that the objects should be repatriated. Officials in Catalonia lodged an appeal that has yet to be ruled on, and as the area is currently under the control of the central Spanish government after powers in Madrid dismissed regional leaders following a referendum on the province’s independence, officials in Aragon asked the ministry of culture to intervene. Méndez de Vigo authorized the return of the disputed artifacts on behalf of the administration. The move has exacerbated the already heightened tensions in Catalonia prior to next week’s snap regional election.

December 11, 2017

Tony Gum Awarded 2017 Miami Beach Pulse Prize

Tony Gum at Christopher Moller Gallery’s booth, # S-105. Photo: Charles Roussel. Courtesy of BFA.com.

On Saturday, December 9, the Pulse Contemporary Art Fair announced that Tony Gum received the 2017 Miami Beach Pulse Prize, a $2,500 award given directly to an artist exhibiting in a solo booth at the fair.

For the thirteenth edition of Pulse Miami Beach, led by the fair’s new director, Katelijne De Backer, Gum was selected by a jury comprising independent curator Lolita Cros; Kathryn Mikesell, the founder of the Fountainhead Residency; Tommy Ralph Pace, the associate director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Roya Sachs, a curator at the Lever House Art Collection and the artistic director of Spring Place; and curator Piper Marshall.

“Pulse Art Fair’s commitment to presenting solo artist projects provides critical exposure for young and under-recognized artists,” Pace stated. Mikesell added, “I was very happy to see the tremendous diversity in the artists represented and the mediums in which they worked.”