W.A.G.E. Writes Open Letter to the New Museum

New Museum

New York-based artist advocacy group W.A.G.E.—Working Artists and the Greater Economy—has issued an open letter to the New Museum regarding the announcement of its new expansion project. In the letter, the group urges the museum to become W.A.G.E. certified in order to ensure that artists are properly compensated.

W.A.G.E.’s certification program is voluntary and was conceived to guarantee artists working in the nonprofit sector fair pay and organizational support. According to the group, becoming certified would be a sign of an organization’s commitment to operate ethically with the artists they work with.

The museum announced last week that it had raised $43 million toward an $80 million capital campaign it launched in celebration of its fortieth anniversary and its tenth year on the Bowery, as previously reported by artforum.com. The fundraising efforts will be used to increase the museum’s endowment, and to renovate an adjacent property, which will double the museum’s exhibition space. For W.A.G.E., this also means the institution will double the amount of artists they will have to pay.

In the letter, the group offers its congratulations. It also informs the museum that had it been certified in the 2014 fiscal year the institution would have paid $301,000 to 184 artists, sixteen of whom participated in exhibitions and 168 of which were involved in programming. For the museum, this sum is the equivalent of 0.7 percent of the $43 million it has just raised. It is also almost exactly half of the salary of the museum’s highest paid employee.

This isn’t the first time that W.A.G.E. has written to the museum. In 2010, the group issued an “intervention” letter that was concerned about the institution’s “strategic waste of funds,” “belligerent disregard for ethics,” and engagement in a “public-private partnership of insider trading.”

The group’s most recent letter reads: “Today we write to you again with a simple suggestion. We are confident of your openness to it since your director Lisa Phillips was just quoted as saying that the expansion is ‘about trying to do things that museums haven't done yet or maybe even imagined.’ We suggest that you imagine becoming the first W.A.G.E. certified museum.”

W.A.G.E. signs off with “We’re here whenever you’re ready.”


March 23, 2017

Study Shows Ongoing Gender Disparity in US Art Museum Directorships

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The second iteration of a gender gap study spearheaded by the Association of Art Museum Directors and Dallas’s National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University finds that while there has been a 5 percent increase in female directorships since 2013, women still hold fewer than 50 percent of directorships in US art institutions.

Designed to deepen understanding of the gender disparity in leadership roles at art museums, the study uses 2016 data collected from AAMD member institutions and interviews with female museum directors and executive search consultants who specialize in recruitment for art museums. Researchers compared contemporary and historical factors that contribute to the gender gap. It revealed that the majority of museums with budgets of over $15 million are led by men.

The size of an institution’s budget also correlates with how much women get paid compared to their male counterparts. For museums with a budget of over $15 million, female directors earned 75 cents for every dollar a male earned, an improvement from 2013, when women earned only 70 cents per dollar earned by a man.

March 23, 2017

Executive Director of the Vermont Arts Council Steps Down After Twenty Years

Alex Aldrich

Head of the Vermont Arts Council Alex Aldrich has announced that he will resign after a more than twenty-year tenure. He will officially step down on April 14. Teri Bordenave will serve as interim executive director and will assist the board of trustees with a national search for a replacement.

“Working to preserve and advance the arts in Vermont for the past two decades has been exhilarating—challenging at times—and ultimately, deeply fulfilling. At this point in my career, however, my focus needs to be on my family’s real estate business, and I look forward to the new opportunities this transition will bring,” Aldrich said in a statement.

The Vermont Arts Council is the nation’s only nonprofit state arts agency. Established in 1965, the council has been the state's primary provider of funding, advocacy, and information for the arts.

March 23, 2017

Shia LaBeouf Moves Anti-Trump Work to Liverpool

HeWillNotDivide.US, 2017, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. Photo: Jeanmarie Evelly

On Wednesday, March 22, Shia LaBeouf moved his anti-Trump installation HeWillNotDivide.Us to Liverpool after safety concerns and a “lack of institutional support” forced the artist and his collaborators, artists Luke Turner and Nastja Sade Ronkko, to relocate the work several times.

“Events have shown that America is simply not safe enough for this artwork to exist,” LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner said in a statement. The project is now being exhibited at Liverpool’s Foundation for Art and Creative Technology gallery. Turner, who grew up in the North West of England, said, “We are proud to be continuing the project at FACT, an arts center at the heart of the community.”

The work originally opened at the Museum of the Moving Images in Queens, New York, on Inauguration Day. Consisting of a camera mounted on the exterior wall of the museum under the words “He will not divide us” in block lettering, the installation was going to livestream footage of passersby who were invited to repeat the phrase into the camera over the course of the next four years. After LaBeouf was arrested for quarreling with a man in front of the work, the institution shut down the project calling it “a flashpoint for violence.”

The artist group then moved the work to the El Rey Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on February 18. However, after gunshots in the area were heard on the livestream, the group dismantled the work. Commenting on the decision, LaBeouf said, “The safety of everybody participating in our project is paramount.”

March 23, 2017

France’s Musée National d’Art Moderne Names Florian Ebner Head of Photography Department

Florian Ebner

The Centre Pompidou has announced that Florian Ebner was appointed the head of the photography department at the Musée National d’Art Moderne. He will take up the post on July 1.

Over the course of his twenty-five-year career in contemporary art, Ebner has been at the helm of the photographic collection at the Folkwang Museum in Essen since 2012, and was previously director of the Braunschweig Photography Museum for three years. In 2015, he curated the German pavilion at the Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennale. Ebner studied photography at the École nationale supérieure de la photographie in Arles. In 2013, his exhibition “Cairo. Open City” at the Museum Folkwang was voted Exhibition of the Year by the German section of the International Art Critics Association.

The Musée National d’Art Moderne, housed in the Centre Pompidou, has one of the largest photography holdings in Europe, comprising 40,000 prints and 60,000 negatives. Around four hundred photographs are exhibited each year. In 2014, the Centre Pompidou opened the Galerie de Photographies to provide more space for its contemporary works.

March 22, 2017

Guggenheim Foundation Cancels Shanghai Exhibition of Middle Eastern Art

Installation view of “But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa in Shanghai” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation announced that it has called off its upcoming UBS MAP exhibition, which was scheduled to open at the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai on April 15.

A short statement released by the foundation on March 17 says that the Guggenheim and the museum “mutually agreed” on cancelling “But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa in Shanghai,” due to “unforeseen circumstances.”

The exhibition was hosted by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in April 2016 under the title “But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa.” Curated by Sara Raza, the show was the third installment of the UBS MAP Global Art Initiative—a program that aimed to increase access to contemporary art and education on a global scale and to diversify the museum’s collection. Showcasing eighteen works by seventeen artists, ten of whom released a statement criticizing the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for breaking off talks with Gulf Labor, the exhibition was originally supposed to travel to the Pera Museum in Istanbul in 2017. In February, it was announced that it would be displayed at The Rockbund instead.

March 22, 2017

The Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation Announces 2017 Grant Recipients

Daniel Joseph Martinez

The Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation has announced the recipients of its fifteenth annual grants and commissions program, which recognizes emerging, midcareer, and established contemporary Latin American artists, Maximilíano Durón of Artnews reports. The nine awardees will be part of an exhibition set to open at the CIFO Art Center in Miami on September 7.

Emerging artists recognized include Ilich Castillo, Alana Iturralde, Juan Carlos Osorno, Celia y Yunior, Katherinne Fiedler, and Ulrik López. Midcareer artists honored include Richard Garet and Fredy Alzate. Mexican-American multimedia artist Daniel Joseph Martinez was selected as the winner of the foundation’s achievement award. The Los Angeles–based artist, best known for his admissions buttons to the 1993 Whitney Biennial which read “I CAN’T IMAGINE EVER WANTING TO BE WHITE,” often explores issues of personal and collective identity in his works. His new pieces for the upcoming exhibition will be inspired by recent photographs he took of West Berlin and “iconic images of German left-wing militant Ulrike Meinhof.”

“CIFO is proud to have been part of the Latin American art scene since 2002,” said Eugenio Valdés Figueroa, director and chief curator of CIFO. “The CIFO grants and commissions program has been a platform for creation and reflection on the cultural problematics of the region during the past years. The program has awarded more than 120 artists and has dedicated over $1.5 million in funds to date.”

March 22, 2017

Anselm Kiefer and Mario Vargas Llosa Awarded J. Paul Getty Medals

Anselm Kiefer and Mario Vargas Llosa.

The J. Paul Getty Trust announced today that German artist Anselm Kiefer and Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa are being awarded J. Paul Getty Medals. They will be honored at a celebratory dinner at the Morgan Library in New York City this November.

“We shall honor two of the world’s great artists,” Maria Hummer-Tuttle, chair of the board of trustees, said. “Anselm Kiefer and Mario Vargas Llosa are both engaged in big ideas and historic moments, and they share with the Getty a passionate commitment to global culture.”

Since it was established in 2013, the J. Paul Getty Trust has only recognized six individuals for their extraordinary contributions to the arts. Past recipients of the award include Harold Williams, Nancy Englander, Jacob Rothschild, Frank Gehry, Yo-Yo Ma, and Ellsworth Kelly.

March 22, 2017

Documenta CEO Requests Additional State Funding

Annette Kulenkampff

Documenta’s CEO and managing director, Annette Kulenkampff, is asking for more government funding for the contemporary art exhibition, Monopol reports. Documenta 14, taking place in Athens (April 8–July 16) and Kassel (June 10–Sept. 17), has a budget of approximately $37 million. Half of the budget is publicly subsidized and comes from the state of Hesse, the city of Kassel, and the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (Federal Cultural Foundation). The remainder is raised by the exhibition. Kulenkampff says, “This is not sustainable in the long run.”

The success of previous Documentas has resulted in a surplus of funds, which are then reinvested in the next iteration of the exhibition. However, a large portion of Documenta’s finances is used to support the production of new artworks, which remain the property of the artist once the show ends.

While the exhibition is largely dependent on sponsors such as Sparkasse Bank and VW, according to Kulenkampff, competing with sporting events has made securing funding increasingly difficult. Kulenkampff also noted that Documenta receives less public financing than other art forms in Germany, such as theater productions.

March 22, 2017

Mike Kelley Foundation Awards $319,000 in Grants for 2017

Mike Kelley. Photo: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

The Mike Kelley Foundation has awarded a total of $319,000 in 2017 Artist Project Grants to eight Los Angeles–based nonprofits. "These artists and organizations exemplify the ambitious and imaginative spirit of this grant. From new works—such as Liz Glynn’s sculptural stage set of fire and steel—to the first-ever performance of the late composer James Tenney’s magnum opus, to critical examinations of art history, the projects reflect the remarkable scope and variety of artistic and curatorial practices in Los Angeles,” said Mary Clare Stevens, the executive director of the foundation.

Those awarded this year are:

Human Resources ($40,000), so that it may stage an exhibition of works and performances, titled “GesammttkkunnsttMeshuggahhLaandtttt,” by artist Charlemagne Palestine.

The Industry ($40,000), for director Yuval Sharon’s reimagining of Bertolt Brecht’s 1938 play Life of Galileo, which will take place on a beach in San Pedro around a gigantic sculpture by Liz Glynn.

La Plaza de Cultura y Artes ($40,000), towards the exhibition “¡Murales Rebeldes!: L.A. Chicana/o Murals Under Siege,” a collaboration between La Plaza de Cultura y Artes and the California Historical Society, as part of the Getty Foundation’s “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA” initiative.

REDCAT ($40,000), to fund the performance-based exhibition titled “Chalk Circles,” featuring artists such as Carola Dertnig, Joachim Koester, David Levine, Silke Otto-Knapp, and Kerry Tribe.

The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound ($33,000), which will aid in staging the world premiere of the late composer James Tenney’s 1985 theater work Changes: 64 Studies for 6 Harps.

The University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach ($40,000), for a solo exhibition by artist lauren woods, which will be made up of video and sound installations, film, site-specific works, and a public intervention.

Vincent Price Art Museum ($50,000), for the exhibition “Regeneración: Three Generations of Revolutionary Ideology,” a group exhibition that will examine the circulation of revolutionary and activist thinking between the United States and Mexico.

Pasadena Arts Council’s Volume Program ($36,000), that will fund Ron Athey’s performative installation Gifts of the Spirit: Auto da Fe, which will explore religious ecstasy, spiritualism, Pentecostalism, faith healing, stigmata, prophecy, and glossolalia.