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.


November 17, 2017

LGBT Archive to Open in Paris

Still from Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats per Minute, 2017.

In 2020, Paris’s city council intends to open an LGBT archive. It will chronicle queer culture in France from the 1960s until today. Recent acclaim for Robin Campillo’s film 120 Beats per Minute, which dramatizes the importance of the French AIDS activist group Act Up in the 1990s, has given new incentive to create the collection. Earlier this year, the work won the Grand Prix at Cannes.

Former mayor Bertrand Delanoë had attempted to open an archive twenty years ago, but it failed after disputes with LGBT organizations. Anne Sansom of the Art Newspaper reports that Bruno Julliard, who works as the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of culture, said: “The film's critical and public success has enabled us to accelerate the process, which has dragged on for fifteen years.”

Preparation is still in a preliminary stage, but the city plans to collect materials such as magazines and posters and have an exhibition space that will be accessible to researchers. The archive will also serve as a community gathering space with several meeting rooms. Additionally, Julliard mentioned that there is potential to partner with museums or other art institutions, to highlight the work of queer artists.

November 17, 2017

Lia Gangitano Awarded Bard College Prize for Curatorial Excellence

Lia Gangitano. Photo: Domenica Bucalo

Lia Gangitano is the winner of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College’s 2018 Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence. The annual $25,000 prize is granted to “individuals who have defined new thinking, bold vision, and dedicated service to the field of exhibition practice.” Previous beneficiaries of the award include Marcia Tucker, Alanna Heiss, Okwui Enwezor, Thelma Golden, Lucy Lippard, Helen Molesworth, and Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Gangitano founded Participant Inc., a New York arts nonprofit through which she has organized exhibitions by Kathe Burkhart, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, and Virgil Marti, in 2001. She has also worked as a curatorial advisor at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City and as curator at the now defunct Manhattan gallery Waxing Thread. Gangitano serves on the boards of Dirty Looks and Primary Information, and teaches in the curatorial studies program at Bard.

Tom Eccles, executive director of CCS at Bard, said that Gangitano was awarded in part for being “a curatorial pioneer presenting artists and artwork that have often been marginalized.”

November 17, 2017

Memphis College of Art to Close Its Doors after Eighty-One Years

The Memphis College of Art.

The Memphis College of Art announced that it will permanently shut its doors in 2020. According to Shelby Black at Hyperallergic, it would take a $30 million donation in support of the institution’s endowment in order to save the school. Established in 1936, the college cited declining admissions and increasing debt as the reason for the closure.

MCA Interim President Laura Hines also believes the university’s lack of digital and design programming may have contributed to the decrease in applications. However, Hines is optimistic the arts scene in Memphis will rebound: “One can hope that something new and different will rise that will sustain the visual arts after the college’s closure.”

For the next three years, MCA plans to fund operations by selling its real estate holdings. The fate of its building, located in Overton Park, is uncertain. Alumni of MCA include Valerie Jaudon, Emily Jacir, and Blake Nelson Boy.

November 17, 2017

Cuauhtémoc Medina Named Chief Curator of 2018 Shanghai Biennale

Cuauhtémoc Medina.

The Shanghai Biennale has appointed Cuauhtémoc Medina, the chief curator of Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporanea in Mexico City, as the chief curator of its twelfth edition, opening at the state-run contemporary art institution the Power Station, on November 10, 2018. The exhibition also announced that Shi Hanato will be the biennial’s chief coordinator, and He Huanhuan will be its head of administrative affairs.

Previously, Medina curated the ninth iteration of Manifesta in Genk, Belgium, in 2012; served as curator of Teresa Margolles’s presentation for the Mexican Pavilion at the Fifty-Third Venice Biennale in 2009; and, was the first associate curator of Tate Modern’s Latin American collection from 2002 to 2008. He has been a member of the Institute of Aesthetic Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City since 1992, and became chief curator of UNAM’s University Museum of Contemporary Art in March 2013.

“Biennales are large-scale exhibitions that, beyond offering a certain perspective on the potential of art and culture today, inscribe a city and an event as a provisory and symbolic artistic world center,” Medina said in a statement. “That Shanghai hosts an exhibition of that kind is most appropriate for it provides a clear image of the current decentering of our cultural narratives and the significance that China and Asia have in the cultural and economic circuits of today.”


November 17, 2017

Clark Ashton and Michi Meko Win Fifth Artadia Atlanta Awards

Clark Ashton’s GOD Will Smack YOU DOWN, 2015, and Michi Meko’s The Antique Blacks, 2016. Photo: Artadia

Artadia has announced that Clark Ashton and Michi Meko are the winners of the 2017 Atlanta Artadia Awards. They will each receive a $10,000 unrestricted prize. This is Artadia’s fifth year celebrating artists who live in the greater Atlanta area.

“Both choices for this year’s Artadia awards in Atlanta support individuals who concern themselves with object-making, commentary, and the idiosyncrasies and cracks between the art world and the real world,” juror Teresa Bramlette Reeves, director of curatorial affairs at the Zuckerman Museum of Art in Georgia, said.

Artadia is a national non-profit organization that works to advance careers of visual artists by providing unrestricted, merit-based awards. Since 1999, Artadia has awarded over $3 million to more than three hundred artists in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

November 17, 2017

Sotheby’s $310.2 Million Postwar and Contemporary Art Sale Led by Francis Bacon Triptych

Francis Bacon, Three Studies of George Dyer, 1966. Photo: Sotheby’s

The Postwar and Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s on Thursday night raised $310.2 million, selling all but three of its seventy-two lots. With a 95.8 percent sell-through rate, the auction’s results landed between its low estimate of $250.4 million and its high estimate of $343.4 million.

The star of the night was a Francis Bacon triptych, Three Studies of George Dyer, 1966, which sold for $36.8 million, followed by Andy Warhol’s Mao, 1972, which sailed over its low estimate of $30 million, securing $32.4 million. Other highlights include Lynette Yiadom Boakye’s The Hours Behind You, 2011, which set a new record for the artist after it sold for $1.58 million, nearly four times its high estimate; Roy Lichtenstein’s Female Head, 1977, which netted $24.5 million; and a Laura Owens work, which shattered her previous auction record of $336,500, securing $1.75 million. The piece will be loaned to the Whiney Museum of American Art in New York for its current retrospective on the artist.

In an unconventional move, not unlike Christie’s decision to include an old-master work in its contemporary art evening sale on Wednesday—the rare Leonardo da Vinci painting that brought in $450.3 million, setting a new record for the highest amount ever paid for an artwork—the auction house included what it called “another great Italian export:” a racecar. The 2001 Ferrari was driven by Michael Schumacher who won the Monaco Grand Prix that same year. The car fetched $7.5 million, $2 million more than its estimate.

November 17, 2017

Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale Totals $113.9 Million

Peter Doig, Red House, 1995–96. Photo: Phillips

While the Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale may not have had a shot at beating Christie’s record-smashing $785.9 million haul Wednesday night—which it owed to a rare Leonardo da Vinci painting that sold for $450.3 million—the auction netted a solid $113.8 million, surpassing last year’s total of $111.2 million.

With a 96 percent sell through rate, the Thursday night sale started strong with Pablo Picasso’s work on paper Portrait de femme endormie III, 1946, sparking a bidding war that ended with the work selling for $9.3 million, nearly nine times its estimate.

Peter Doig’s Red House, 1995–96, led the sale, selling for $21.2 million, which was within its estimate of $18 million to $22 million. The collector who consigned the work had previously bought the piece at Christie’s London in October 2008 for only $3.17 million.

November 16, 2017

Patrick Nagatani (1945–2017)

Patrick Nagatani in an undated photograph. Photo: Patrick Nagatani

Patrick Nagatani, who contended with the nuclear legacy of the United States through his work as a photographer, died of colon cancer on October 27 at his home in New Mexico, Sam Roberts of the New York Times reports. Nagatani’s family members were among the Japanese-Americans who were interned by the United States during World War II. He was born in Chicago on August 19, 1945, shortly after the bombing of Hiroshima.

Originally from Hiroshima, Nagatani’s parents were held in separate detention camps in California after the US declared war on Japan in 1941. They met in an early-release program in Chicago, and eventually returned to California where Nagatani’s paternal family had a farm. In a 2007 video interview for the University of New Mexico—where Nagatani worked as a photography professor—he spoke of the impact interment had on his grandfather: “It broke him, it just broke his physical psychological being. My grandfather left the country and went back to Japan and died a drunk.” Nagatani later described his usage of explosions and pollution in his “Nuclear Enchantment” series as a reminder of the “spiritual poverty of the technical age.”

While Nagatani was never technically trained in photography, he was first encouraged to pick up a camera by a Santa Monica Community College instructor when he was thirty-one years old and has worked in the medium ever since. Previously, he had earned his MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he flushed out the ominous themes, including the history of atomic weapons and their capacity for destruction, that would thread his life’s work. After graduating he worked in Hollywood where he made special-effects models for films like Blade Runner and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A documentary about his life and legacy titled, Patrick Nagatani: Living in the Story, is to be released next year.

November 16, 2017

New York’s Metropolitan Museum Receives $80 Million Gift

Herbert and Florence Irving. Photo: Columbia University Medical Center

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced today that it has received a landmark gift of $80 million from trustee Florence Irving and her late husband, Herbert Irving. The bequest is the largest financial gift the museum has received in recent history. The funds will establish an unrestricted art acquisitions endowment fund as well as several endowment funds for the department of Asian art.

“The Irvings have been inspirational donors in building the museum’s collections and galleries of Asian art since 1987,” president and CEO Daniel H. Weiss said. “This additional gift is truly transformative for the Met, and will ensure that the legacy of scholarship, programming, and collection-building they have been so instrumental in building will continue to thrive.”

In recognition of the Irvings’ support over the last thirty years, the Met designated the Florence and Herbert Irving Asian Wing in 2004. In 2015, the couple donated their collection of more than 1,200 works of art to the museum’s department of Asian art, and in 2011, they endowed the position of the Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asia, which is currently held by John Guy.