Hong Ra-hee, Director General of Seoul’s Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Resigns

Hong Ra-hee.

Hong Ra-hee, the director general of Seoul’s Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, has resigned from her post, writes H. G. Masters of ArtAsiaPacific. She will also step down from her directorship of the Ho-Am Art Museum, a private institution that houses Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul’s art collection. Hong is the mother of the Samsung Group’s acting leader, Lee Jae-yong, who was charged with embezzlement and bribery last week during the expanding corruption investigation regarding the impeachment of Park Geun-Hye, South Korea’s president.

This is the second instance of Hong leaving a directorial position at the museum while Samsung was engulfed in scandal. In 2008, she and her husband were charged with tax evasion, and it came to light that the couple had kept a $60 million slush fund that allowed them to purchase more than thirty costly artworks, including Roy Lichtenstein’s painting Happy Tears, 1964. After the scandal died down, Hong returned to Leeum in 2011.


July 27, 2017

Twenty-Six-Year Legal Dispute over Nazi-Looted Klee Masterpiece Is Settled

Paul Klee, Swamp Legend, 1919. Photo: Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München

The longest-running German legal battle over Nazi-looted art has finally come to an end. On Wednesday, July 26, the city of Munich settled with the family of a German art historian from whom a Paul Klee masterpiece was seized by the Nazis during World War II, Catherine Hickley of the New York Timesreports.

“It’s a scandal that it has taken so long, and a disgrace that we had no alternative to going to court,” said Gunnar Schnabel, a lawyer for the heirs, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers, the art historian’s wife.

City officials had argued that Klee’s Swamp Legend, 1919, belonged at Munich’s Lenbachhaus museum for decades, but finally succumbed to political pressure and agreed to reimburse the heirs of Paul Küppers, who is believed to have acquired the painting directly from the artist, by paying them a sum equal to the piece’s market value.

July 27, 2017

Dina Bangdel (1963–2017)

Dina Bangdel. Photo: the Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar

Asian art historian Dina Bangdel, who specialized in South Asian and Himalayan art, died in the United States on Tuesday, July 25, at the age of fifty-four. According to the Kathmandu Post, the scholar died of meningitis, which she contracted after undergoing surgery for sinusitis in March.

Bangdel was the director of the art history department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, which she originally joined as an assistant professor of art history in 2005. After earning tenure and a promotion to associate professor, Bangdel was appointed head of the program in 2012.

Her curatorial work often focused on the ritual performance and identity politics of Buddhist art in South Asia. She was also interested in issues of gender and identity in South Asian contemporary art and film. Among the numerous exhibitions Bangdel curated throughout her career are “Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2003), which was a finalist for the Alfred Barr Award for best exhibition catalogue; “Pilgrimage and Faith: Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam” at the Rubin Museum, New York (2010); and “Prakriti Speaks: Contemporary Nepali Art in Mumbai” (2011).

July 27, 2017

Katherine Brinson Named Guggenheim Museum’s First Daskalopoulos Curator, Contemporary Art

Katherine Brinson.

Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, announced today the establishment of a newly endowed curatorial position for contemporary art. Guggenheim curator Katherine Brinson, who joined the museum in 2005, will be the first Daskalopoulos Curator, Contemporary Art. The position has been created with the support of Dimitris Daskalopoulos, a vice president of the board of trustees and chairman of the collections council of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

“As an active board member, art collector, and patron, Dimitris Daskalopoulos is a preeminent advocate for the power of contemporary art to inspire and reflect creative forces in our society,” said Armstrong. “This generous gift to endow a position allows us to continue to advance a founding commitment of the Guggenheim to collect and exhibit the most thought-provoking and innovative art of our time.”

Brinson, who has previously organized exhibitions of work by artists including Anicka Yi, Doris Salcedo, Paul Chan, and Christopher Wool, is currently curating a mid-career survey of work by artist Danh Vo, which opens at the Guggenheim on February 9, 2018.

July 27, 2017

Arts Writers Rally Behind Village Voice’s Union

Cover of the Village Voice, October 26–November 1, 2016.

Arts journalists, writers, editors, and other cultural figures have signed an open letter addressed to Peter Barbey, the billionaire owner of the Village Voice, criticizing his leadership of the storied paper and accusing him of trying to weaken its historic union.

Since the last union contract expired on June 30, union members have been trying to negotiate new terms with the management team appointed by Barbey. Management, however, wants to make severe modifications to the contract, such as eliminating the paper’s diversity and affirmative-action commitments; terminating the union’s ability to bargain over healthcare (union members must accept whatever healthcare options management offers, without question); and reducing the amount of leave new parents can have.

Employees became quickly frustrated with management’s inflexible stance and their ignorance of the paper’s history. Over the years, the Village Voice has staunchly defended LGBTQ rights and was the first private company in the country to offer domestic/same-sex partner benefits in 1982. On June 21, union members peacefully protested outside the paper’s inaugural annual Voice Pride Awards gala—celebrating New York’s LGBTQ community—at the event space Capitale in the Bowery.

July 27, 2017

Opening of Menil Collection’s Drawing Institute Delayed

Rendering of the Johnston Marklee and Associates–designed Menil Drawing Institute, currently being built in Houston, Texas.

The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, has postponed the opening of its new drawing institute, which was originally scheduled for October 7, due to the need for additional construction work. As a result it has rescheduled previously announced exhibitions including, “The Condition of Being Here: Drawings by Jasper Johns;” “Think of Them as Spaces: Brice Marden’s Drawings;” and “Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw.”

“Over the past few weeks, it has become clear that we will need more time to complete the Menil Drawing Institute and the other exciting projects on our campus, such as the new public greenspaces, in a manner that meets our exacting standards,” director Rebecca Rabinow said. “Rather than rush to open the Menil Drawing Institute in early October, the trustees and I have decided to delay the festivities, to ensure that everything is perfect. We apologize for any inconvenience this change of date may cause, especially for those who have factored an early October celebration into their fall plans.”

Dedicated to the exhibition, conservation, and study of modern and contemporary drawings, the $40 million institute will be housed in a new 30,000-square-foot facility, designed by the Los Angeles–based firm Johnston Marklee and Associates.

July 26, 2017

Barry Till, Curator at Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Retires

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s longtime Asian arts curator Barry Till has announced he will step down after a thirty-six-year term. Till will be named as the gallery’s first curator emeritus when his retirement takes effect at the end of September.

“Barry is an internationally known and admired treasure in the field of Asian Art,” said director Jon Tupper. “Barry’s work and reputation have attracted donors, volunteers, and staff, including myself to the AGGV, he will be truly missed by all.”

The gallery’s first director, Colin Graham, wanted the AGGV to stand out from other institutions in western Canada and began acquiring Asian art. Graham originally hired Till as a part-time Asian arts curator in 1981. Since then, Till has grown the gallery’s holdings to more than 10,000 works, which make up 50 percent of its total collection. During his tenure, Till curated almost 200 exhibitions, twenty of which have travelled nationally or internationally.

July 26, 2017

Ei Arakawa’s Skulptur Projekte Münster Work Restored

Technicians repairing Ei Arakawa’s project, Harsh Citation, Harsh Pastoral, Harsh Münster. Photo: Sophia Trollmann

Organizers of the Skulptur Projekte Münster announced today that artist Ei Arakawa’s project Harsh Citation, Harsh Pastoral, Harsh Münster, which was targeted by thieves only one week after the decennial’s opening, has been repaired.

On June 17, one of the artist’s seven digital paintings, which consist of screened pixelated LED panels on hand-dyed fabric, was stolen. The works depict well-known pieces by other artists, such as Joan Mitchell, Gustave Courbet, and Amy Sillman, and there is an audio component to the ensemble as well. The perpetrators took the LED painting of a Jutta Koether work without causing the piece significant damage. According to the police, one of the installation’s glass vitrines was carefully opened and the power cords were severed in order to remove the work.

Ei Arakawa has since prepared a new LED panel. According to a statement issued by the exhibition, two technicians of the LWL-Museum für Kunstund Kultur installed the electronic screen into the deserted frame today and from now on the work will be on display for its regular hours, from Monday to Sunday, 10 AM to 8 PM, and on Friday, 10 AM to 10 PM.

July 26, 2017

Dana Schutz’s ICA Boston Exhibition Sparks Protests

Dana Schutz’s Big Wave, 2016, from the Barbara Lee Collection of Art by Women, which is currently on view at ICA, Boston. Photo by Matthias Kolb. © Dana Schutz

A local group of artists, activists, and community members are criticizing the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston’s decision to stage a solo show by artist Dana Schutz, whose Emmett Till–inspired work Open Casket, 2016, which was included in the Seventy-Eighth Whitney Biennial earlier this year, has created a furor in the arts community.

In a six-page open letter addressed to the institution’s chief curator Eva Respini and her team, the protesters criticized the ICA for not adequately addressing the concerns raised by critics of the Whitney Biennial and for failing to acknowledge how an exhibition dedicated to the artist may impact the African American community.

Among the signatories of the letter are Megan Smith, Allison Disher, Stephanie Houten, Pampi, and Vounds DuBuisson, who were invited by the institute’s staff to attend meetings regarding the show on July 13 and July 20. While the group thanked the institute for reaching out to the community and acknowledged that “such meetings are rare and require personal integrity and a tremendous amount of dedication to democratic principles of representation on the part of the institution’s head staff,” ultimately, the group does not think the ICA “is making a responsible decision.”

July 26, 2017

San Antonio Museum of Art Gifted Thirty-One Portraits by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, America Ferrera, 2011.

The San Antonio Museum of Art announced today that it is due to receive thirty-one portraits from American photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’s “Latino List” series, wherein the artist documents the struggles and the accomplishments of Latinos. The promised gift, from Houston-based dealer and collector Hiram Butler and his spouse Andrew Spindler-Roesle, will be exhibited at the museum in October 2017.

“Giving the ‘Latino List’ to the San Antonio Museum of Art memorializes old friendships and shared values,” said donor Hiram Butler. “This group of photographs is especially important to me, as I grew up in Eagle Pass speaking Spanish, and San Antonio was my connection to the larger world of culture. Museum trustee Banks Smith and I have known one another since we entered the University of Texas in 1970, while Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and I have been friends and worked together since 1979. I want my gift to acknowledge Banks and the friendship he has shown me—and to support an institution that does so much to share the art of cultures from around the world.”

Greenfield-Sanders began shooting his large-format portraits in the late 1970s. His works can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Public Library, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National Portrait Gallery, among others. In 2004, his series of seven hundred art world portraits was accepted into the permanent collections of New York’s MoMA and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.