Sofia Imber (1925–2017)

Sofia Imber

Sofia Imber, a journalist, television presenter, and arts administrator who transformed an auto-parts garage into the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art, died on February 19, writes Fabiola Sanchez of the Associated Press / Star-Tribune.

Imber was born in Soroca, Moldova, in the former Soviet Union. She immigrated to Venezuela in 1930 with her family and went on to graduate from the Central University of Venezuela. With her second husband, Carlos Rangel, she hosted the television program Buenos Dias from 1969 to 1993. She was famous for her no-holds-barred interviews with international leaders, artists, and writers, such as former US president Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

In 1971, when Venezuelan officials were trying to find a place to exhibit art, Imber said to them, “If you give me a garage, I will turn it into a museum.” A few years later, Venezuela had its first institution dedicated to modern art, exhibiting works from Venezuelan artists in addition to artists of international renown, such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Fernando Botero. In 2001, she was fired from her job as the museum’s director, as she was a fierce critic of late president Hugo Chavez’s socialist government. “The president forgot or did not want to recognize the courage and the dedication of this wonderful woman,” the artist Jesus Soto said to the Associated Press before his death in 2005. Prior her departure from the museum, Imber created a program to showcase art in some of Venezuela’s most remote territories. In 1967, she became Latin America’s first woman to receive UNESCO’s Picasso Medal. She also received awards from France, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, and Spain, among other countries.

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July 25, 2017

Merion Estes and Mario Martinez Given 2017 Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Awards

Merion Estes, Cautionary Tale, 2015, fabric collage, spray paint, photo transfers on fabric, 61 x 84".

The New York Foundation for the Arts has announced the winners of the 2017 Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Award, given to artists over fifty years of age who have maintained a steady studio practice and created an exceptional body of work. Merion Estes will use the funds to publish a catalogue raisonné that will accompany her exhibition at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles (scheduled to coincide with her eightieth birthday); and Mario Martinez, a New York–based artist, will use his prize towards expanding his work. Each will receive $10,000.

“Receiving this award is so cool because it is the first award of its kind that I’ve received from a mainstream arts organization. I’ve painted and drawn since grade school six decades ago, so this award is confirmation of better professional and artistic developments to come,” said Martinez. Responding to the honor, Estes said, “This is only the second grant I have received in my long career, and I am most grateful.”

Estes and Martinez were selected from a panel made up of artists Cynthia Carlson, Alan Michelson, and Sanford Wurmfiel; arts editor and educator editor Marcia E. Vetrocq; and poet, critic, and curator John Yau. Nominees were recommended by a group of unidentified US art world professionals. The prize, started by NYFA two years ago with the help of an anonymous donor, is named in honor of the late Murray Reich, a New York–based painter and who taught as an art professor at Bard College.

July 25, 2017

University of Chicago Library Receives Nearly Five Hundred Vivian Maier Photographs

Vivian Maier, Self-Portrait, Chicago Area, 1971.

Nearly five hundred photographs created by the late Vivian Maier were given to the University of Chicago Library by filmmaker and collector John Maloof, according to ArtDaily. The gift comprises never-before-seen vintage prints, along with some of Maier’s personal effects and one of her cameras. “As a new discovery in twentieth-century American photography, Vivian Maier’s work also offers fresh insights into the viewpoints and graphic styles of her contemporaries. This collection of prints will help researchers and students to understand Maier as a working photographer,” said the director of the library’s Special Collections Research Center, Daniel Meyer.

Maier’s work was discovered posthumously. Maloof ended up with more than 100,000 of the artist’s images after he purchased the contents of her storage lockers at auction in 2008. She worked as a nanny to support herself financially. A documentary about her, Finding Vivian Maier (2013), was cowritten and codirected by Maloof. “Vivian Maier herself is unique as a photographer because of her personal story and the remarkable quality of her work. Seeing these prints will help viewers to step back into Maier’s time and place and to explore her perspective,” said Brenda Johnson, the library director and university librarian at the University of Chicago.

July 25, 2017

Condo Fair to Launch in Mexico City and Shanghai Next Year

Vanessa Carlos. Photo: Carlos/Ishikawa.

Condo, a program that enables galleries to play host to each other nationally and internationally, will launch editions in Mexico City and Shanghai next year, writes Naomi Rea of Artnet. Condo—created, according to organizers, as an alternative to the costs and pressures of the monolithic art fair circuit—started in London last year, the brainchild of Vanessa Carlos (of the gallery Carlos/Ishikawa). It was so successful that it came to New York this summer, and now closes at the end of this week. Of the first New York edition, Carlos said, “It had the same communal atmosphere as the London edition, which was important to me, and it definitely achieved the aim I have for Condo of demonstrating an alternate way of exhibiting abroad, of focusing of collaboration and of proposing a good way for audience members to encounter international artists and galleries.” Condo New York was organized by Carlos, Simone Subal (of Simone Subal Gallery), and Nicole Russo (of Chapter NY).

July 25, 2017

Berkshire Museum Faces Uproar over Sale of Artworks from Collection

Norman Rockwell, Shuffleton Barbershop, 1950.

Two paintings by Norman Rockwell—Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop, 1940, and Shuffleton Barbershop, 1950—are among a group of forty artworks lined up to be sold at auction from the collection of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The proceeds from the sales will be used to fund the Berkshire’s $20 million renovation and $40 million endowment, report Helen Stoilas and Gabriella Angeleti of the Art Newspaper. Some say the venue, which belongs to the American Alliance of Museums, is violating the coalition’s code of ethics, as sales of this kind are typically done to support the purchase of other artworks for an institution’s permanent collection.

Laurie Norton Moffatt, the director and chief executive of the Norman Rockwell Museum—within close proximity to the Berkshire Museum—wrote in a recent op-ed for the Berkshire Eagle, “To think that selling the art will save the future is simply to push the challenge down the road while diminishing the strength of the institution. Disassembling the unique treasure that is our regional museum to save it, is not saving it. Selling these treasured assets actually poses a debilitating economic ripple effect beyond the museum, not to mention would be a profound spiritual loss to the community.” Museums that have engaged in similar types of deaccessioning in order to stabilize finances have been blackballed by peers. When the National Academy in New York sold a pair of Hudson River School pieces to cover its operating expenses in 2008, the Association of Art Museum Directors issued a censure of the institution—a first for the organization—telling all 180 of its members to stop collaborating with the academy. In 2010, sanctions against the academy were removed when it confirmed its financial solvency and said it would no longer sell off artworks to make ends meet.

The works from the Berkshire—which are going to be sold through Sotheby’s, New York. either late this year or in early 2018—are expected to bring at least $50 million.

July 24, 2017

Robert Loder (1934–2017)

Robert Loder.

The director of Gasworks and Triangle Network, Alessio Antoniolli, has announced that Robert Loder, the collector, philanthropist, and cofounder of the Triangle Network—an international consortium of small-scale arts organizations and projects that support and disseminate the work of emerging artists through artist-led workshops, residencies, exhibitions, and outreach events—has died.

Created with artist Anthony Caro in 1982, the Triangle Network started with an artists’ workshop in upstate New York in the summer of the same year and soon expanded its activities to South Africa, where Loder had previously founded the African Arts Trust to support black artists from the country in 1959. Starting in 1968, Loder became a trustee and then served a ten-year term as chair of the Mental Health Foundation. He was awarded the title of CBE for his service.

Loder was the treasurer of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and later became its chairman in the 1970s, but he will perhaps be best remembered for founding Gasworks, a nonprofit contemporary visual arts organization based in London, in 1994. As part of the Triangle Network, Gasworks has collaborated with over 250 artists from seventy countries, provided studios for London-based artists, commissioned many of the first major exhibitions in the UK for emerging UK-based and international artists, and maintained an international residencies program in London.

July 24, 2017

Fire at French Maritime Museum Destroys Three Paintings from the Louvre

Alexandre Casati, La Vente du Poisson (The Sale of Fish), ca. 1836, oil on canvas, 25 x 32".

After last week’s news that several works in the Louvre’s collection had been damaged by water from recent thunderstorms in Paris, Naomi Rea reports at Artnet that three paintings on longterm loan from the Louvre to the Maritime Museum on the French island of Tatihou have been destroyed in a fire most likely caused by lightning.

Located off the coast of Normandy, the Maritime Museum, also lost works ranging from Bronze Age furniture and historical objects such as artifacts from the 1692 shipwrecks during naval battle of La Hogue to paintings from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. “Several thousand ethnographic pieces related to the maritime have been destroyed or largely damaged by the fire,” Alain Talon, director of heritage and museums of the English Channel, said. “As for the paintings, about 200 works were totally destroyed, representing a financial loss of nearly two million euros.”

The three works on loan from the Louvre, Alexandre Casati’s nineteenth-century La Vente du Poisson (The Sale of Fish), as well as two anonymous, seventeenth-century Dutch paintings, are estimated to be worth roughly $46,000.

July 24, 2017

BAM Names Ashley Clark Senior Programmer of Cinema

Ashley Clark.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music announced today that Ashley Clark has been appointed senior programmer of cinema. Clark will work with BAM’s associate vice president of cinema, Gina Duncan, to curate and conceive independent film programs and series.

“Ashley’s passion for film is palpable and evident both in his curation and writing,” Duncan said. “I’m excited to have his insight and perspective as we create a more cohesive, accessible, and dynamic film program at BAM.”

Clark began his association with BAMcinématek on the series “Space is the Place: Afrofuturism on Film” in 2015, and has since curated “Behind the Mask: Bamboozled in Focus” and this year’s “Major League: Wesley Snipes in Focus,” which Nick Pinkerton covered for artforum.com. Clark is also the author of Facing Blackness: Media and Minstrelsy in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled (2015), and has written for Film Comment, Sight & Sound, and The Guardian.

July 24, 2017

University of Michigan Museum of Art Hires New Director

Christina Olsen

Lindsay Knake reports at MichiganLive that the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has hired a new director for its museum. Christina Olsen will run the institution for the next five years, starting October 30. The UM’s board of regents approved the appointment last week. Olsen has been the director of the Williams College Museum of Art in Massachusetts since 2012 and has a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Chicago as well as a master’s degree and Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to her tenure at Williams College, she worked at SFMoMA, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon. The previous director of the UM Museum of Art, Joseph Rosa, became the director of the Frye Art Museum in Seattle last summer.

July 24, 2017

Raymond Sackler (1920–2017)

Raymond and Beverly Sackler, 1999.

Raymond Sackler, the philanthropist and founder of the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, best known for its creation in 1995 of the synthetic version of morphine called OxyContin, has died, according to a report by Sam Roberts in the New York Times. Raymond and his wife Beverly financed the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery for Assyrian Art and the Sackler Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Freer and Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, as well as the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University, the Mortimer and Raymond Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Tel Aviv, and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Medical Research Center at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, among other institutions and cultural programs. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1995 for his contributions to science and the arts.

Born in Brooklyn in 1920, Sackler graduated from the borough’s Erasmus Hall High School and then earned a bachelor of science degree from New York University in 1938. He pursued his medical degree at Anderson College of Medicine in Glasgow, due to the imposed quotas on the number of Jewish students admitted to medical school in New York, and he also joined the British Home Guard and served as a plane spotter during World War II. Sackler eventually graduated from the since-closed Middlesex University Medical School in Waltham, Massachusetts. He and his brother Mortimer founded the Creedmoor Institute of Psychobiological Studies at the state hospital in Queens Village, NY, and along with another brother named Arthur they bought a small Greenwich Village drug manufacturer, the Purdue Frederick Company, in 1952, of which Raymond and Mortimer became cochairmen.

Their company began experimenting with generic oxycodone, which was originally invented in Germany during World War I, to create a time-release formula capable of spreading the analgesic narcotic’s effects across twelve hours and allow patients in pain to sleep through the night. Before their eventual development of OxyContin, they created MS Contin in 1984, an extended-release, morphine-based drug to relieve cancer pain.