Makeda Best Appointed Curator of Photography at Harvard Art Museums

Makeda Best.

Robin Scher of Artnews reports that Makeda Best, currently an assistant professor of visual studies at the California College of the Arts, has been appointed curator of photography at the Harvard Art Museums. Her new position begins January 17.

Best received her master’s degree and Ph.D. from Harvard’s department of history of art and architecture. She previously taught at the University of Vermont and was an assistant curator and graduate fellow at SF MoMA. In a statement, Best said, “I am excited to return to Harvard and the museums’ vast teaching collections, which offer so many ways to explore the formal and conceptual challenges that photographers have faced and to consider how they’ve negotiated new technologies, processes, social factors, and trends in visual culture over time.”

Martha Tedeschi, the director of Harvard Art Museums, said, “Makeda’s deep understanding of photography as an art form—and as a social, cultural, and political force—will advance new and challenging ideas to support our teaching and learning mission.”

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July 21, 2017

Neil MacGregor, Director of Berlin’s Humboldt Forum, Extends Contract

Neil MacGregor.

After two years as director of Berlin’s Humboldt Forum, Neil MacGregor, the former director of the British Museum, has extended his contract, Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper reports. MacGregor will remain at the helm of the institution until its opening in 2019.

The museum and communication center, which will be housed in the refurbished palace in the center of the city, aims to bring diverse cultures together to examine contemporary issues such as migration, religion, and globalization.

MacGregor joined the institution in 2015 along with two other founding directors, Hermann Parzinger, the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, and art historian Horst Bredekamp. “Setting up this unique cultural project continues to be a wonderful task from my point of view,” MacGregor said, adding that he hopes to take on an advisory role after the Humboldt Forum opens.

July 21, 2017

Bavaria Returns Nazi-Looted Painting to Heirs of Jewish Collector

The Raising of Lazarus, circa 1530–1540, a Nazi-looted painting by an unknown German artist that was returned to an heir, Frank Winkel, at a ceremony in Munich on Friday.

After discovering one of the works in its holdings was looted by the Nazis then bought by Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering—the highest-ranking official of the Nazi Party charged at Nuremberg—the Bavarian State Paintings Collection retuned a painting to the heirs of a German banking family, Catherine Hickley of the New York Times reports.

The painting, The Raising of Lazarus, ca. 1530–1540, by an unknown German artist, has been in the possession of the state collection since 1961. Estimated to be worth $250,000, it was one of more than one thousand works that had been amassed by Goering and recovered by the Monuments Men when the United States military seized his holdings at the end of World War II. The family was alerted to the painting’s location by a company that assists families in their search for missing artworks. After negotiations with the descendants, the Bavarian State Paintings Collection agreed to buy back the piece.

James von Bleichröder, the son of the Jewish banker Gerson von Bleichröder, who served as the personal financial advisor to Otto von Bismarck, owned the piece before it was confiscated by the Nazis and auctioned in Berlin in May 1938. It was returned to Frank Winkel, who is a descendent of James von Bleichröder’s daughter Ellie—a Theresienstadt concentration camp survivor—at a ceremony in Munich. The heir of Maria Christina von Bleichröder, the wife of James’s son Wolfgang, is also a beneficiary.

July 21, 2017

Australian Center for the Moving Image Names Paul Bowers Director of Exhibitions and Collections

Paul Bowers.

The Australian Center for the Moving Image has announced that Paul Bowers, head of exhibitions, collections research, and the exhibitions division at Museums Victoria, has been appointed director of exhibitions and collections. He will take up the post on August 21.

“We are delighted that Paul Bowers will be joining ACMI in this key role,” ACMI director and CEO, Katrina Sedgwick, said. “Our exhibition and collections teams have been going from strength to strength, and as we begin the first stage of ACMI’s renewal, Paul’s extensive experience, his strategic and wholistic understanding of the museum sector, and his audience facing, progressive approach to the development and presentation of award-winning exhibitions will be a real asset to our leadership team.”

Paul joins the center’s staff as it begins to develop plans for a renovation project that, according to a statement issued by ACMI, will “transform the museum both physically and technologically, ensuring it remains at the forefront of twenty-first century museum practice.” The state of Victoria will fund the first stage of the museum’s refurbishment with a commitment of $5 million, which will be distributed over the next two years.

July 21, 2017

Baltimore’s Clayworks Closes Its Doors After Thirty-Seven Years

Clayworks, a nonprofit ceramics space in Baltimore.

After thirty-seven years in business, Baltimore’s nonprofit ceramics space Clayworks will close, Tim Smith of the Baltimore Sun reports. Last year the board of directors announced a plan to relocate and sell the center’s studio and gallery buildings in Mount Washington in order to pay off its debts, totaling more than $1 million, but it was unsuccessful.

“We’ve had to make the difficult decision to file Chapter Seven [bankruptcy] and shut down operations,” interim executive director Devon Powell said. “We’re sad about the totally avoidable and unnecessary loss of Baltimore’s jewel of a ceramics organization.”

A deal to sell the organization’s facilities to Itineris, a Baltimore-based nonprofit that provides job training for adults with autism, for $3.7 million fell through last week. An appeal to the public to raise funds only brought in 10 percent of its $50,000 goal. The Clayworks Community Campaign, a grassroots organization that formed after learning about the organization’s financial troubles, successfully raised $200,000, which it offered to Clayworks in exchange for representation on the board, but was turned down.

July 21, 2017

House Committee Approves Bill that Continues to Fund NEA and NEH

The United States Capitol.

A new bill that was passed by the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee may save the National Endowments of the Arts and Humanities from being axed by the Trump administration, Graham Bowley of the New York Times reports.

When President Donald Trump announced that he planned to eliminate the federal agencies from the 2018 federal budget in March, arts advocates across the country were outraged. In the months since he revealed his proposal for the nation’s spending priorities there have been protests, petitions, and calls to action to protect the endowments.

Ken Calvert, the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, drafted the bill, which was approved by a vote of 30-21. Totaling $31.4 billion, the bill also includes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service. It will award $145 million for each endowment—approximately $5 million less than their current budgets.

“It is a very solid rejection of the administration’s proposals to terminate the two agencies,” said Narric Rome, who is responsible for government affairs at Americans for the Arts, an advocacy group. “We consider the House number to be a very good starting point for the appropriations process.” The bill must be passed by the House before it can be presented to the Senate.

July 21, 2017

Private Museum of Arab Art to Open in Beirut

Basel Dalloul with works from his family’s art foundation.

The Beirut-based Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation is planning to build a new private museum dedicated to Arab art, Aimee Dawson of the Art Newspaper reports. The Beirut Arab Art Museum will be the latest addition to the capital of Lebanon’s rapidly expanding cultural sector, where the Renzo Piano–designed Beirut City Museum is currently under construction, and the Beirut Museum of Art, a private nonprofit institution, will open in 2020.

“There is enough demand to accommodate them all,” said managing director of the Dalloul foundation Basel Dalloul. “Lebanon is a cultural center in the region and it has always been considered that way historically. Downtown is the traditional hub of Beirut and it’s accessible [to] everyone.”

The 10,000 to 15,000-square-foot-building will house the foundation’s collection of 4,000 artworks. Dalloul’s father, the Palestinian businessman Ramzi Dalloul, bought his first pieces four decades ago, he has since amassed one of the world’s largest holdings of modern and contemporary art from the Middle East. While the location for the institution is still being determined, Basel Dalloul said that it will be free to the public and will present temporary exhibitions, organize educational programming, and provide space for conservation and research. Once the museum opens in 2020, it will begin to look for international partners such as the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

July 20, 2017

Pompidou Center Moves Forward with Launch of Shanghai Outpost

The West Bund cultural district in Shanghai

After more than a decade of negotiations, the Pompidou Center in Paris finalized a deal that will allow it to establish its first Chinese exhibition space. The Paris institution and the West Bund Group in Shanghai is calling their agreement “the most important cultural exchange project” to take place between France and China.

Set to open in a wing of the West Bund Art Museum in 2019, the museum plans to stage twenty exhibitions in its first five years. Designed by British architect David Chipperfield, the West Bund Art Museum is currently being built in Shanghai’s cultural district and is scheduled to open in 2018. The renewable five-year contract will be signed by both parties before the end of 2017.

Last year the Pompidou center mounted its first show in China. Titled “Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou 1906-77,” the exhibition featured works by Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, and other well-known artists at the Shanghai Exhibition Center.

July 20, 2017

Spanish Police Recover Three Francis Bacon Paintings from 2015 Heist

This double portrait is one of the five stolen Francis Bacon works.

Three of five Francis Bacon paintings that were stolen from a collector’s home in Madrid in 2015 have been recovered by the Spanish authorities, BBC reports. A police spokeswoman confirmed that they were found, but did not provide further information since the investigation to find the other two works is still ongoing.

Estimated to be worth more than $29 million, the paintings were taken from José Capelo’s residence along with a safe containing jewels in what is thought to be the biggest theft of contemporary art in Spain. Capelo, who was a friend of the artist, was in London when the burglary took place.

Seven suspects involved in the case were arrested in Madrid in May 2016. Another three suspects were detained in February 2017. Investigators tracked down one of the alleged perpetrators after they received a tip from a London firm that specializes in searching for missing artworks. A Barcelona resident had sent the company photographs of one of the works, which led the police to a suspect that they believe carried out the robbery as well as to an art dealer and his son, who may hidden some of the pieces.

July 20, 2017

Daisuke Tsuda Appointed Artistic Director of Aichi Triennale 2019

Daisuke Tsuda. Photo: OpenCU

Journalist and author Daisuke Tsuda has been named the artistic director of the Aichi Triennale’s 2019 edition, Karen Cheung of ArtAsiaPacific reports. The exhibition will be held in Nagoya, the capital of Japan’s Aichi prefecture. Dates have yet to be announced.

Tsuda, who is editor in chief of the web-based media platform POLITAS and the representative director of the activist group Movements for Internet Active Users, said that he is interested in examining the power of art and journalism as well the known and the unknown in the upcoming triennial.

The selection panel that made the appointment comprised Tohoku University Graduate School professor Taro Igarashi, Kyoto City University of Arts professor Akiko Kasuya, Tama Art University president Akira Tatehata, the National Museum of Art Osaka chief curator Yasuyuki Nakai, Yamaguchi University professor Fujikawa Satoshi, Nagoya City University professor Mikako Mizuno, and Tama Art University professor Chihiro Minato, who served as the artistic director of the previous triennial, “Homo Faber: A Rainbow Caravan,” which showcased more than one hundred participating artists.