Mari Spirito Steps Down as Director of Alt in Istanbul

Mari Spirito

After joining Alt as director and curator of exhibitions just last year, Mari Spirito will step down from her position after February 28. The space originally opened on January 18, 2016. During Spirito’s tenure at Alt, the venue hosted exhibitions by artists such as Brian Eno, Mounira Al Solh, Ahmet Öğüt, and Rania Stephan.

She will continue her work with Protocinema—a nonprofit that organizes exhibitions traveling between Istanbul and New York—where she is the curator and founding director.


August 16, 2017

Yayoi Kusama Museum Will Open in Toyko this October

Yayoi Kusama Museum. Photo: Masahiro Tsuchido

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, is opening her own museum in the Shinjuku neighborhood of Toyko on October 1. David Zwirner gallery, which represents Kusama, confirmed the news. Her new series of paintings, “My Eternal Soul,” will be featured in the museum’s inaugural exhibition, “Creation Is a Solitary Pursuit, Love Is What Brings You Closer to Art,” which will run October 1 through February 25.

The New York Times reports that the artist commissioned the glowing lantern-like structure designed by Kume Sekkei years ago. While the five-story building was completed in 2014, Kusama has remained quiet about its purpose. She may have alluded to it in a interview with the Washington Post in February, when she was asked what had been the highlight of her career. “It’s still coming,” Kusama responded. “I’m going to create it in the future.”

The museum will be directed by the president of Tama Art University and director of the Saitama Museum of Modern Art, Tensei Tatebata. Dedicated to Kusama’s own work, the venue will mount two exhibitions each year. It will also house the artist’s popular “infinity rooms” and other installations, a reading room, and archival materials.

August 16, 2017

Duane Michals Wins German Society for Photography’s Culture Prize

Duane Michals. Photo: DC Moore Gallery

The German Society for Photography has awarded Duane Michals its prestigious Culture Prize, reports Monopol. The American photographer is best known for his personal, philosophical, and, at times, whimsical sequential images, which often incorporate text and depict scenes ranging from the surreal to the political.

Born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, in 1932, Michals studied graphic design at the University of Denver between 1949 and 1953. He then served in the US Army and was stationed in Germany. After his military service, Michals continued his graphic design studies at the Parsons School of Design in 1956. The artist’s interest in photography wasn’t ignited until he vacationed in Russia in 1958.

Michals’s early work was featured alongside Bruce Davidson, Lee Friedlander, Danny Lyon, and Garry Winogrand, in the 1966 exhibition “Towards a Social Landscape” at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. In 1970, MoMA staged a solo show titled “Stories by Duane Michals.” Today, the eighty-five-year-old artist continues to exhibit in museums and galleries across the globe, including, most recently, at the OSMOS gallery in New York.

August 16, 2017

Baltimore Removes Confederate Statues Under Cover of Night

Workers removing one of four Confederate statues during the middle of the night in Baltimore yesterday. Photo: Alec MacGillis

Following the deadly white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered the removal of four of the city’s Confederate monuments on Monday, which were carted away “quickly and quietly” last night, Nicholas Fandos and Russell Goldman of the New York Times report.

Pugh is the latest city official to relocate statues commemorating Confederate-era figures. The mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, also announced on Monday that two public works would be taken down. Other politicians from across the nation, including the mayor Gainesville, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and of Louisville, Kentucky, also responded to the alt-right rally organized as a protest of the removal of a monument of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park by denouncing racism, bigotry, and intolerance, and by calling for the review of the public artworks in their cities.

“For me, the statues represented pain, and not only did I want to protect my city from any more of that pain, I also wanted to protect my city from any of the violence that was occurring around the nation,” Pugh said. “We don’t need that in Baltimore.”

August 16, 2017

Blanton Museum of Art Acquires Trove of Leon Polk Smith Works

Leon Polk Smith, Untitled, 1950.

The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin has announced that it has been gifted seven works by American abstract painter Leon Polk Smith. The works come to the museum from the Leon Polk Smith Foundation and longtime Austin philanthropists Jeanne and Michael Klein.

“This concentration of works by Leon Polk Smith brings historical depth to our holdings of postwar American painting and allows us to highlight Smith’s pioneering role in the development of abstract painting in the United States, from the new dynamism he brought to geometric abstraction to his prescient shaped canvases,” museum director Simone Wicha said.

The seven works, which were created between 1942 and 1959, showcase the artist’s interests in line color, and the concept of space as “a positive force.” Three paintings—GWB, 1945/94, Moon,1958–59, and Yellow White Sun, 1958–59—will be displayed at the museum this fall and one of the works on paper will be part of an exhibition in museum’s Paper Vault gallery, opening in the spring.

August 16, 2017

Nassau County Museum of Art Appoints Charles A. Riley II as Director

Charles A. Riley II.

The Nassau County Museum of Art in New York has announced that its curator-at-large Charles A. Riley II has been named its new director, Long Island Weekly reports. Riley succeeds Karl E. Willers, who led the institution for seven years.

The writer, curator, and educator has authored thirty-two books on art, business, and public policy including the recently published Free as Gods: How the Jazz Age Reinvented Modernism (2017), Art at Lincoln Center (2009), The Art of Peter Max (2002), and The Arts in the World Economy (1994). His next book, a study of Rodin in Chinese and English, will be published by the Chimei Museum in the fall.

Riley previously served as a reporter for Time Inc. and Fortune, and as the editor in chief of WE magazine, a bimonthly devoted to people with disabilities. His writings have also appeared in Art & Auction and Art & Antiques and Antiques and Fine Art. Riley also worked for Doubleday publishing house and as a professor at the City University of New York.

August 16, 2017

London’s Garden Bridge Venture Jettisoned After $48 Million Thrown into Project

A digital rendering of the Garden Bridge. Image: ARUP.

Despite $48 million of public funding already spent on the Thomas Heatherwick–designed Garden Bridge project—a plan for a green pedestrian thoroughfare that was supposed to connect the north and south banks of London’s River Thames—the venture is officially being jettisoned, writes Roslyn Sulcas of the New York Times. The city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, who inherited the scheme from his predecessor Boris Johnson, refused to put aside money for the bridge’s annual maintenance costs, which would have amounted up to $4 million. Mervyn Davies, the chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust, said that Khan’s unwillingness to fully embrace the project, which in total was estimated to cost $260 million, had made it impossible to secure the necessary funding for the plan to continue. Khan was against the Garden Bridge idea well before assuming his mayoral post.

The idea for the bridge first came from the actress Joanna Lumley, who received Johnson’s support in 2012. The chancellor of the exchequer at that time, George Osborne, then put aside $78 million of public money for it. The remainder of the project’s costs was to be brought in from corporations and other various benefactors. But a review to determine whether or not the bridge was worth any more financial support from the government, ordered by Khan last September, concluded that it indeed did not, and recommended that the project be shut down.

The design called for 270 trees and more than 100,000 different plants to fill the 1,200-foot-long bridge. “The Garden Bridge would have been a unique place; a beautiful new green space in the heart of London, free to use and open to all, showcasing the best of British talent and innovation. It is a sad day for London because it is sending out a message to the world that we can no longer deliver such exciting projects,” said Davies in a letter to the mayor. Tom Edwards, however—the transport correspondent for the BBC—wrote on the network’s website: “This shambles is an embarrassing mess for the capital and it has already descended into finger pointing and a blame game over who is culpable for wasting . . . public money.”

August 16, 2017

Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiquities Unit En Route to Shutdown

New Scotland Yard

Martin Bailey of the Art Newspaper reports that Scotland Yard’s art and antiquities unit is on its way to being shut down. The three officers on the team—Sophie Hayes, Philip Clare, and Ray Swan—have been assigned to aid the Metropolitan Police investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire that took place on June 14, 2017, which killed more than eighty people, including the young artist Khadija Saye. Vernon Rapley, the head of the unit from 2001 until 2010, said that he is “worried that the closure of the unit is now being considered. I am very concerned that the Metropolitan Police is unable to give assurances on when the three detectives who have been temporarily reassigned will be returned to the unit.” Claire Hutcheon, the detective sergeant who oversaw the team, left last year and has not been replaced.

The art and antiques unit was founded in 1969. Its London Stolen Art Database, which contains information on 54,000 looted items, is the world’s most valuable national police register of art, second only to that of Italy’s Carabinieri.

A representative for the Metropolitan Police said that Hayes, Clare, and Swan have only temporarily been transferred to the Grenfell Tower case, which he said is “one of the largest in the Met’s history and involves the use of detectives from a range of different units.” He also went on to say that Scotland Yard is “maintaining ongoing relationships with key partners in this interim period and will continue to investigate any allegations of crime relating to art or antiques.” When asked for a guarantee that the unit will indeed not be dissolved, the spokesman restated that the trio of detectives has been “temporarily transferred to the fire investigation.”

August 16, 2017

Artist Advocacy Group Launches Boot Camp to Help Artists Run for Office

The Make America Great Again billboard along Highway 80 in Pearl, Mississippi, by For Freedoms, the first artist-run Super PAC and one of a number of arts organizations working with the Artist Campaign School. Photo: Wyatt Gallery

The New York–based arts advocacy group Fractured Atlas has launched a new initiative that aims to help artists learn the skills necessary to run a successful political campaign, Isaac Kaplan of Artsy reports. The nonpartisan Artist Campaign School aims to encourage more artists to run for public office. Around one hundred creatives will be invited to attend free classes in Detroit this October where they will learn how to fundraise, build a staff, communicate with the media, and write policy, among other things.

“I think artists are actually perfect politicians,” said Lauren Ruffinm, the vice president for external affairs at Fractured Atlas and the brains behind the project. According to Ruffinm, who realized the need for such an initiative during the 2016 presidential campaign, many artists are already equipped for a political career path. They are creative thinkers, problem solvers, and able to work collaboratively to realize projects. While programming for the school is still in its early stages, Ruffinm hopes to involve artists who have served as politicians in the training. Short-term goals of the school include flooding low-level positions with candidates.

The project received twenty-seven applications since its website went live last Friday. The accepted applicants will also be asked to work together to build a platform on affordable housing, healthcare, or arts in education. “You’re fed up. You want to get involved. We hear you,” the school’s website reads. “Whether it’s for the school board or Senate, learn what it takes.”

August 15, 2017

Tshiamo Naledi Letlhogonolo Pinky Mayeng (1993–2017)

Tshiamo Naledi Letlhogonolo Pinky Mayeng

Tshiamo Naledi Letlhogonolo Pinky Mayeng, a member of the female South African artist collective iQhiya, died on August 13, 2017.

“It is with great sadness and our deepest sorrow that we inform you of the passing of our beloved,” said the group in a recent Facebook post. “Her openness to the world touched the hearts of everyone she met. She was an artist, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, lover, and a mother to Neox the cat. Although she was the youngest member of the collective, she was fiercely independent and strong willed.”

A memorial service is scheduled to take place on August 21 from 5:30 to 6 PM at the A4 Arts Foundation on Twenty-Three Buitenkant Street in Cape Town. Donations to the artist’s family can be made at the memorial.