Solomon R. Guggenheim Deputy Director Ari Wiseman Steps Down

David Wiseman and Ari Wiseman at their new studio building in Los Angeles

Ari Wiseman, the deputy director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museums and Foundation, has announced that he is resigning and planning to relocate to Los Angeles to start an independent design studio with his brother, the artist David Wiseman, Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times reports.

Wiseman joined the Guggenheim in January 2010 and was responsible for overseeing strategic planning and acquisitions policies. He launched the foundation’s collections council and participates in the development of the global exhibitions program. Wiseman helped to manage the global activities of the foundation and museums while leading a variety of special projects, such as the Guggenheim Helsinki initiative, which was rejected by the Finnish government in November as previously reported.

Wiseman Studio, a 30,000-square-foot building in Los Angeles’s Frogtown district, will focus on exhibiting David Wiseman’s work; launching projects with galleries, museums, and other artists; and developing programs that foster dialogues around design. Ted Porter of Ryall Porter Sheridan Architects has been charged with the building’s redesign, which is slated to be completed by 2018.


January 19, 2018

Stedelijk Museum Calls Off Ettore Sottsass Retrospective

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Photo: Benthem Crouwel Architects.

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam announced today that it has canceled a retrospective of the late Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass. The institution cited disagreements with the gallery representing Sottsass and his heirs over the choice of the exhibition concept as the reason. The show, which was supposed to open this spring, would have been the first major Dutch overview of the Italian designer.

The museum had planned to present a thematic exhibition that would have showcased Sottsass’s designs from different decades and disciplines, highlighting his influence on younger generations and displaying work by designers who were members of the Memphis group, which Sottsass founded in 1980. However, Sottsass’s gallery and descendants decided they no longer wished to collaborate on the project and rescinded their offer to loan works as well as their consent to allow the publication of the designer’s texts. While the museum could have still staged the exhibition, since it owns eighty objects by Sottsass that span the spectrum of his oeuvre, it did not want to continue without the cooperation of all parties.

Commenting on the situation, interim director Jan Willem Sieburgh said, “I regret that the museum felt compelled to take this decision. We were looking forward to working with the heirs to produce an exceptional, public-friendly exhibition about Ettore Sottsass. Months of discussions, however, proved fruitless. As a museum, we cannot and will not allow the way in which we conceive our exhibitions to be dictated to us. The heirs and the gallery owner gave too little scope for interpretations we wished to explore in the presentation. When all is said and done, analysis and research remain at the heart of a museum’s core academic mission.”

January 19, 2018

French Village Urges Metropolitan Museum to Return Religious Bust

Reliquary bust of Saint Yrieix, ca. 1220-40.

Daniel Boisserie, mayor of the French village Saint-Yrieix-La-Perche, sent a letter to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on January 10 officially demanding the return of a thirteenth-century gold and silver reliquary which he claims belongs to the town, according to The Local. The piece, a jewel-inlaid bust that purportedly once held the bones of Saint Yrieix, was purchased by J.P. Morgan in 1907 from an English antique dealer before being donated to the Metropolitan Museum’s collection in 1917. One year before the religious artifact entered Morgan’s custody, it is thought that a parish priest replaced the original relic with a copy in Saint-Yrieix-La-Perche, whose population is around seven thousand. Until the 1950s, the village was unaware that its bust was a reproduction.

Boisserie asserts that the reliquary was seized from France illicitly and is hoping to resolve the conflict in an amicable way with the Met, which has not yet released a statement about the situation. “The sale and exportation outside of France of the reliquary of Saint Yrieix were carried out unlawfully around May 1906,” Judith Kagan, France’s bureau chief of conservation of moveable and instrumental heritage, told Artnet. Boisserie warned that if the Met fails to restitute the reliquary, the village might take civil action against the museum.

January 19, 2018

Bruce Weber Retrospective Canceled in Germany Following Harassment Claims

Bruce Weber.

A retrospective of Bruce Weber’s work at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg has been called off after fifteen allegations of sexual harassment and exploitation were directed at the fashion photographer, according to Artnet. Last week, the New York Times reported the accounts of fifteen former and current male models who described coercive sexual behavior and unwanted nudity while working with Weber. The accusations span the entirety of his four-decade career, but the seventy-one-year old photographer denies the allegations.

“We will definitely not show Bruce Weber this year,” Diechtorhallen spokesperson Angelika Leu-Barthel told the German newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt. “An exhibition planned with Bruce Weber is put on hold until allegations of sexual misconduct against him will be clarified,” she added in an email to Artnet.

Slated to open in late October and organized by the Hamburger Haus der Photographie, the exhibition was to be titled “Far From Home.” News of its cancelation comes days after Condé Nast announced that it would effectively ban Weber from working with its publications. As a substitute for the retrospective, the Haus der Photographie plans to mount an exhibition by the German-American photographer Michael Wolf.

January 19, 2018

Columbus State University Opens New Arts Center

Installation view of Bo Bartlett works at the new Bo Bartlett Center at the Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia.

The Bo Bartlett Center, an 18,500-square-foot interactive gallery space, was inaugurated at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia on Thursday, January 18. Located on the school’s River Park campus, the former textile warehouse turned arts center was designed by American architect Tom Kundig, owner of the Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig Architects.

The facility was conceived as a partnership between the university and American realist painter Bo Bartlett. In addition to a rotating program of exhibitions, lectures, and other events, the center will also offer an annual master class with the artist, to be offered every spring, and will develop a second master class with visiting artists to be offered in the fall. It will house more than three-hundred paintings and drawings by Bartlett as well as the complete archive of his sketch books, photographs, journals, and other objects related to his artistic practice.

“By combining the exhibition elements of a contemporary art museum with the master instruction of a living American painter of international stature, his major works and the insights of his archives, the Bo Bartlett Center will be an unparalleled resource for students, the public, and scholars of art,” the venue’s website reads.

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 artworks he owned 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 to dismiss the claim 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.

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.

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.