Ancient Temple Discovered Beneath Holy Site Previously Destroyed by ISIS in Mosul

An Iraqi soldier near the temple carvings. Photograph: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images.

Beneath the destroyed tomb of the prophet Jonah in Mosul, which was housed in the twelfth-century Mosque of the Prophet Jonah, Iraqi archeologists have discovered a previously unknown Assyrian temple, possibly dating back to the fifth or sixth centuries BCE, amid escape tunnels dug by ISIS militants, writes Maev Kennedy of The Guardian. Jonah’s mosque and tomb were blown up by ISIS in 2014. Experts at the British Museum believe that ISIS’s tunnels went so far underground that they managed to accidentally uncover the temple, which is cut into bedrock.

So far only poor-quality photographs are available of the temple, which depict, among other things, some carvings of figures participating in religious ceremonies. “The reliefs are unique, they have features which we have not seen anywhere else—they are not at all like the well-known Assyrian hunting and banqueting scenes such as we have in the museum,” said Sebastien Rey, the head archaeologist at the Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Program at the British Museum. “The archaeologists are incredibly brave,” Rey continued. “They are working in extreme danger, with the mudbrick [under which the temple is buried] in danger of collapse at any time. When it is safe to mount a full rescue excavation this will be a major operation, needing a great deal of resources which will certainly mean international support.” Layla Salih, head of the antiquities service for Mosul, also reported that more than one hundred pieces of pottery—found in reasonably good shape—have been hiding in a house in Mosul, likely stolen by ISIS as they were creating the tunnels.

Qais Rashid, the deputy Iraqi culture minister, reported at a UNESCO conference in Paris last month that ISIS has destroyed at least sixty-six archeological sites, some of which have since been turned into parking lots. But with troops poised to retake Mosul, there may be hope for heritage and archeological sites there yet.

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June 26, 2017

Merryn Schriever Appointed as Director of Bonhams Australia

Merryn Schriever

Bonhams has named Merryn Schriever as the company’s new director in Australia. She succeeds Mark Fraser, who recently left the auction house to pursue other opportunities in the art world.

“Merryn’s proven track record—as evidenced by the superb result for our June sale—makes her the perfect fit to assume the leadership for Bonhams in Australia,” Matthew Girling, global CEO of Bonhams, said. “Bonhams remains committed to holding sales in Sydney and I know that Merryn will continue to build upon our success.”

Schriever, who will be based in Sydney, joined Bonhams as a senior art specialist in 2013. She recently curated the $2.7 million sale of Australian and Aboriginal Art that included Brett Whiteley’s Hummingbird and Frangipani, 1986, which sold for $545,000. Prior to joining the auction house, Schriever worked for Deutscher and Hackett as an art specialist and was a member of the business development team at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

June 26, 2017

Judge Orders Exhumation of Salvador Dalí’s Body for Paternity Suit

Salvador Dalí. Photo: Wally Rizzo for Paris-Match Collection Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation

A judge in Madrid has ordered the exhumation of the body of Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí after a woman, who claims to be the artist’s daughter, filed a lawsuit in 2015 against the Spanish state and the Gala-Salvador Dalí foundation, Raphael Minder of the New York Times reports.

Born in 1956, Pilar Abel, a tarot card reader, says that Dalí had a “clandestine love affair” with her mother, Antonia Martínez de Haro in Port Lligat, the fishing village where Dalí and his wife Gala lived. Abel took legal action so that she could officially be recognized as the artist’s child and “after that, whatever corresponds to me.” Abel said that her mother, who worked as a maid at the time, told her as well as other people that Dalí was her father on several occasions. Commenting on her physical resemblance to the painter, Abel told El Mundo that “the only thing I’m missing is a mustache.”

According to the court, no other biological or personal effects of the artist remains, therefore Dalí’s corpse must be exhumed in order to obtain a sample of his DNA. Dalí was buried in a crypt below a theater and museum of his design in his hometown of Figueres. The artist’s foundation announced today that it will appeal the judge’s ruling. Dalí, who died in 1989, several years before Gala, had no children and left most of his works to the Spanish state.

June 26, 2017

German Collector Announces Plans for New Museum in Bavaria

Susanne Klatten

German art collector Susanne Klatten, BMW’s major shareholder and the richest woman in Germany, has announced plans to establish a foundation in Nantesbuch near Bad Tölz in Bavaria, Germany, according to Monopol.

The foundation will eventually house Klatten’s private art collection, comprising over six hundred pieces by artists such as Michael Beutler, Olaf Holzapfel, Kaarina Kaikkonen, Alex Katz, Anselm Kiefer, Karin Kneffel, and Robert Longo. The new museum is designed to exist in harmony with nature. Visitors to the site “should find a little distance from the unrest of the city,” Klatten said, adding it is “like the entrance into another world.”

Klatten did not disclose the construction or operational costs of the foundation. Artist Mischa Kuball has been commissioned to create one of the first new works for the foundation’s site.

June 26, 2017

New York State’s First LGBT Monument to be Designed by Anthony Goicolea

Anthony Goicolea's rendering of his design for the monument in Hudson River Park

New York’s governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday that the artist Anthony Goicolea has been chosen to design the state’s first official monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Cuomo created the LGBT Memorial Commission in the aftermath of the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida as a way of honoring the fight for equal rights and to remember victims of hate, intolerance, and violence.

The commission sent out a request for designs for the new memorial last October. Goicolea’s design, which features nine boulders, some bisected with glass that acts as a prism and can refract a rainbow, was inspired by sites like Stonehenge and Easter Island, as well as burial mounds and African stone circles. It will be installed in Hudson River Park near the waterfront piers.

The multimedia artist told the New York Times that his submission for the tribute was “a cathartic experience.” Having grown up in Georgia, Goicolea said that had “never seen his community reflected back at me” and called his first trip to the West Village “eye-opening.” Reflecting on his design, the artist said, “It feels like there are certain shapes and patterns that are encoded in our DNA as humans that transcend any particular culture and speak to how we are unified in the larger scheme. I wanted to create a space that feels familiar, even though it is new.”

June 26, 2017

Julia Joern Leaves David Zwirner Gallery

Julia Joern

Julia Joern, a partner at David Zwirner since 2014, has resigned after a decade of working at the gallery, due to health reasons. “[T]o a large extent, the way the gallery is perceived, both nationally and internationally, is a result of Julia’s immense talent and hard work,” David Zwirner wrote in an email that was sent to staff. “In a field where a great deal of business is still conducted in a very old-fashioned way, Julia has been a relentless innovator and pioneer, and in the process has created the very blueprint for all the marketing efforts that are now necessary to effectively run and grow a large-scale, international art gallery.”

Joern began working as a consultant for the gallery in 2004 after working on architecture and design publications at Rizzoli, Monacelli Press, Phaidon, and the office of Bruce Mau Design in Toronto. Zwirner was one of Joern’s first clients after she left Mau and started her own PR firm, mainly focused on architects and photographers. She joined Zwirner in 2008 to helm marketing and publicity for the gallery as well as work on their publications. Joern’s tenure there—overseeing marketing, publications, photography, research and archives, websites, media relations and social media, public outreach, and special events—was concurrent with the gallery’s expansion from a single venue in New York to multiple locations in the city, along with a space in London and plans for one in Hong Kong.

Before Joern announced her decision to leave, she and the gallery hired two additional staff to be a part of Joern’s department, both of whom will begin work next month. Susan Cernek, who previously worked at Elle magazine and Paddle 8, will become director of marketing while Ashley Tickle, who most recently worked on communications for Hauser & Wirth and the High Line, will serve as the new director of communications.

June 26, 2017

Hans Breder (1935–2017)

Hans Breder

William Grimes reports in the New York Times that the artist and educator Hans Breder died on June 18 in Iowa City. He is perhaps best known as the founder of an intermedia program, the first interdisciplinary art course of its kind, at the University of Iowa in 1968 where his students included artists such as Ana Mendieta and Charles Ray.

Breder was born in 1935 in Herford, Germany, and after studying with the Surrealist artist Woldemar Winkler in his late teens, Breder enrolled in the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, where he graduated in 1964. He came to New York on a foreign study grant and worked as an assistant to the kinetic sculptor George Rickey. Gallerist Richard Feigen organized a solo show of Breder’s early work—dominated by metal forms or plastic cubes placed over mirrors or stripes—in 1967 in Manhattan. A year prior to that, he began his lifelong association with the University of Iowa by teaching a drawing class in 1966. After moving to Iowa, Breder involved many major artists in his new education initiative, including Robert Wilson—who developed his mostly silent drama Deafman Glance (1970) at Iowa—Vito Acconci, Karen Finley, Hans Haacke, and Allan Kaprow, who joined the faculty at CalArts soon after his time at Iowa with Breder.

Breder was included in three Whitney Biennials, in 1987, 1989, and 1991, and served as the director of the intermedia program at Iowa until 2000. He was also a founder of the Center for the New Performing Arts at the university. An archive of the intermedia program is housed at the Museum Ostwall in Dortmund, Germany. For more on the artist and his work, see his contribution to the September 2012 issue of Artforum, which was part of the magazine’s focus on media for its fiftieth anniversary issue.

June 26, 2017

Marco Scotini Named Curator of Second Yinchuan Biennale

Marco Scotini

The Museum of Contemporary Art Yinchuan—the first contemporary art museum in northwest China—has announced that Marco Scotini, artistic director of FM Center for Contemporary Art in Milan, will curate the second edition of the Yinchuan Biennale.

“MOCA Yinchuan has been focusing both on the ecology issues and cultural crossroad between [the] East and West, therefore it is a great honor for us to appoint Marco Scotini as the curator of the Second Yinchuan Biennale, [due to] his extensive international experience in the curatorial field and his particular research on these specific topics,” artistic director Suchen Hsieh said.

Over the course of his career, Scotini has curated more than two hundred solo exhibitions. Since 2004, Scotini has served as head of the Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies Department at NABA in Milan, and since 2014, he has led the exhibitions program at the Parco d’Arte Vivente in Turin. Scotini is the author of a number of books including Politics of Memory: Documentary and Archive (2014) and is the founder of the bookzine No Order: Art in a Post-Fordist Society, published by Archive Books in Berlin. His ongoing video project, Disobedience Archive, which examines the relationship between artistic practice and political action, toured the globe for more than ten years.

June 23, 2017

Richard Benson (1943–2017)

Richard Benson, Texas Panhandle, 2006. Photo: Pace/MacGill Gallery

American photographer, author, and professor Richard Benson has died. The former longtime Yale University professor and master printer authored a number of books on photography, including The Face of Lincoln (1979); all four volumes of The of Atget (1981–1985); and The Printed Picture (2008); as well as printed photographs for renowned artists such as Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, and Lee Friedlander.

Born in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1943, Benson first discovered his passion for photography while working as a printer in 1966. Benson traveled extensively throughout the United States capturing photos with an 8 x 10 inch view camera, and later, a handheld high-end digital camera. The artist began teaching at Yale in 1979, and served as the dean of the School of Art, between 1996 and 2006. In 2008, he cocurated an exhibition at New York’s MoMA called “The Printed Picture,” which traced the changing technology of making and distributing pictures from the Renaissance to the present.

Benson is the recipient of numerous honors including two publication grants from the National Endowment of the Arts; two Guggenheim fellowships; the Rhode Island Governor’s Medal for the Arts; and a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum; New York’s MoMA; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven; among others.

June 23, 2017

Paulus Berensohn (1933–2017)

Paulus Berensohn. Photo: Neil Lawrence

Paulus Berensohn, a dancer, potter, and teacher, who is best known for his 1974 book Finding One’s Way with Clay, died on June 15 in Asheville, North Carolina, at the age of eighty-four, Jonathan Wolfe of the New York Times reports.

Born on May 14, 1933 in the Sheepshead Bay area of Brooklyn, Berensohn knew he wanted to be a dancer by the age of four. After only three professional dance classes he applied and was accepted into Juilliard. Berensohn joined the Juilliard Dance Division in 1954, but transferred the following year to attend Bennington College. He eventually left the school before earning his degree and moved to New York where he studied under Martha Graham. Berensohn also took classes at Yale University and Goddard College.

While his career in dance was accelerating, a short trip to the Gate Hill Cooperative, a haven for artists in Stony Point, New York, changed the course of his life. After watching ceramicist Karen Karnes using a kick wheel in her studio, Berensohn realized he wanted to work with clay. “What happened was a desire to de-professionalize my interest in art,” Berensohn explained. “As much as I admire the technical brilliance of my colleagues, I am very interested in the behavior of art rather than the achievement of art. I see all the arts as apprenticeships for the big art of our lives.”