Getty Institute Acquires Allan Sekula Archive

A detail from Dear Bill Gates, 1999, a partial gift from Sally Stein, in memory of her husband Allan Sekula.

Los Angeles’s Getty Institute announced that it has acquired the Allan Sekula papers, ca. 1960–2013, comprising four hundred boxes of correspondences, illustrations, photographs, notebooks, and research materials that highlight his practice as an artist, writer, filmmaker, and critic. The institute is currently processing and cataloguing the collection.

An American documentary photographer, Sekula was heavily influenced by Conceptual art, postmodernism, and the history of photography. He often combined modes of photography, cinema, and literature, and addressed the impact of globalization in his works. Sekula served as a professor at the California Institute of the Arts from 1985 until his death in 2013. He was a prolific writer, and his essays were featured in a number of publications, including Artforum. His first book, Photography Against the Grain: Essays and Photo Works 1973–83 (1984), impacted the way in which the documentary function of photography was conceptualized. Sekula was the recipient of various fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Getty Research Institute, and the Deutsche Akademischer Austauschdienst, among others.

In a recent Critics’ Pick on, Andy Campbell discussed an exhibition of Sekula’s works at Los Angeles’s Christopher Grimes Gallery. Noting the artist’s interests in photographic deconstruction and Marxist ideas about labor, Campbell writes: “The photographs, like the text, swing wildly between moments of hilarious hamming and more caustic critique.”


July 20, 2017

Richard Prince’s Motion to Dismiss Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Is Denied

Donald Graham, Rastafarian Smoking a Joint, 1996 (left). Richard Prince, Untitled, 2014 (right).

On Tuesday, July 18, a Manhattan federal court judge rejected appropriation artist Richard Prince, Gagosian Gallery, and Larry Gagosian’s request to dismiss the copyright infringement lawsuit filed by photographer Donald Graham, Laura Gilbert of the Art Newspaper reports.

According to the suit, Graham claims that Prince used his photograph Rastafarian Smoking a Joint, 1996, without his consent. Prince incorporated the image into one of his Instagram series works, for his “New Portraits” exhibition, which was held at the Gagosian Gallery in New York in 2014.

Prince’s lawyers defended his work, Untitled, arguing that the artist’s use of Graham’s photograph was transformative, and therefore, qualifies as fair use. Judge Sidney Stein noted that Prince had cropped the original image and added comments below its subject, but then declared that “the primary image in both works is the photograph itself.” He added, “Prince has not materially altered the composition, presentation, scale, color palette, and media originally used by Graham.” Stein decided that he could not determine whether Prince’s piece added a new meaning to Graham’s work without consulting an expert in art criticism.

July 20, 2017

Tang Museum Awarded $160,000 in Grants

Karl Wirsum, Mighty Might in the Green Trunks (yellow trunks), 1968. Photo: Tang Musem

The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs has received two major grants totaling $160,000 from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Terra Foundation for American Art in support of the fall 2018 exhibition and catalogue “The Imagist Object: New Dimensions in Chicago Art, 1964–1980.”

On view at the Tang from September through December 2018, the exhibition will explore the sculptural work and dimensional paintings by Chicago Imagists, who invented their own kind of pop art. The show is organized by Tang Museum director Ian Berry and Chicago-based curators John Corbett and Jim Dempsey, who co-owner Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery.

The Terra Foundation for American Art has awarded $100,000 for the exhibition and catalogue as part of Art Design Chicago, a yearlong initiative in 2018 to explore Chicago’s role as a catalyst and incubator for innovations in art and design through exhibitions, publications, and public programs. The Andy Warhol Foundation gave $60,000 for the mounting of the exhibition.

July 20, 2017

NYC Unveils Cultural Plan to Expand and Diversify the Arts

Bill de Blasio. Photo: NYC Mayor’s Office

On Wednesday, July 19, Mayor Bill de Blasio released New York City’s first-ever comprehensive cultural plan, which examines issues ranging from equity and inclusion to the affordability of arts programming. Dubbed CreateNYC, the 180-page report, which includes input from more than 200,000 New Yorkers, both celebrates the city’s cultural scene and aims to strengthen it.

“This is a city of unmatched cultural richness that expresses itself on sidewalks, in storefronts, in museums, theaters and parks in every single corner of the five boroughs. New York City is the world capital of art and culture,” said Mayor de Blasio. “If we are going to continue to live up to that title we must use every tool we have to ensure that every resident, in every neighborhood, has the same access to cultural opportunities.”

Highlights of the plan include increased support for low-income communities and underrepresented groups, the promotion of greater diversity and equity in the workforce, financial support for individual artists, expanded access to cultural events for people with disabilities, and collaboration with arts organizations on sustainability goals.

July 19, 2017

Nazarian Family Gifts CSUN’s Valley Performing Arts Center $17 Million

Younes and Soraya Nazarian. Photo: Irfan Khan for the LA Times.

The Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge received a $17 million gift from first-generation Iranian immigrants Younes and Soraya Nazarian last Tuesday, Jeffrey Fleishman of the LA Times reports. The donation is the largest single arts gift ever awarded to the state’s university system.

Younes Nazarian, head of the Los Angeles–based Nazarian Enterprises, which invests in alternative energy, logistics technology, aerospace, and real estate, and his wife Soraya Nazarian, a sculptor who often works with Italian marble, fled their home in Tehran during the 1979 Iranian Revolution and migrated to California.

Four decades after the revolution, the Nazarians decided it was time to give back to their community. With their contribution to the 1,700-seat Valley Performing Arts Center, the couple hopes to boost the center’s visibility and strengthen its programming. Younes and Soraya’s daughter Sharon Nazarians, the president of the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, said, “Los Angeles is a very invigorating place to be in terms of art. It wasn’t always like that. When we first came from Iran, LA was not really well known as a mecca of the art world. But I think today we’re a serious player. The creativity California represents is penetrating the arts world.”

July 19, 2017

Biennale of Sydney 2018 Announces Artists and Theme

Chen Shaoxiong, The Views, 2016.

The theme for the Biennale of Sydney 2018 has been announced. Titled “SUPERPOSITION: Art of Equilibrium and Engagement,” the exhibition will highlight “the concept of superposition in quantum mechanics as a metaphor to link the notions of equilibrium and engagement and provide us with insights into the world today. We are surrounded by conflicting ideas across all levels of humanity: different cultures; readings of nature and the universe; political ideologies and systems of government; and interpretations of human history, including the history of art and definitions of contemporary art,” according to Mami Kataoka, the show’s artistic director.

Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, director and CEO of the Biennale of Sydney, said, “[The biennale] encourages us to consider how all things of this world interact with each other. [It] promises to be an inspiring and important means for us to contemplate our place in the world.” The show will run from March 16 until June 11, 2018 at multiple locations throughout Sydney.

The artists participating in the twenty-first Biennale of Sydney are:

July 19, 2017

Wall Street Journal Sued by Antiquities Dealer Over ISIS Story

Hicham Aboutaam

Hicham Aboutaam, an antiquities dealer, has brought a libel suit against the Wall Street Journal over an article published in May that claimed he and his brother were being investigated by Switzerland, France, Belgium, and the US for handling ISIS-looted artifacts, writes Barry Meier of the New York Times. It seems that the dealer’s reputation has been damaged since the story came out. A $50,000 donation to the Toledo Museum of Art for an antiquities-rich exhibition, “The Berlin Painter and His World”—given on his gallery’s behalf, Phoenix Ancient Art, based in New York—has been returned.

Colleen Schwartz, a representative for the paper, said in a statement that the piece was “thoroughly reported, fair and wholly accurate. We fully stand by the article and will mount a robust defense to Hicham Aboutaam’s lawsuit.”

Published May 31, the article said that the Aboutaams were not charged with any wrongdoing in regards to the investigations. The brothers are on a list of fifteen other dealers who are also being looked into by French authorities, but the people in that grouping were not named in the story.

July 19, 2017

Construction Begins on New Affordable Artist Studios in New York

Brooklyn Army Terminal. Photo: Nicholas Lemery Nantel.

Within the Brooklyn Army Terminal, a former military supply base built nearly one hundred years ago and located along the waterfront in the Sunset Park neighborhood, the Brooklyn-based nonprofit ArtBuilt has begun construction on fifty thousand square feet of new workspaces for artists and artisans of all stripes. According to Victoria Stapley-Brown of the Art Newspaper, around fifty tenants are set to move into the new spaces by the end of 2017. Each tenant will be provided with an affordable, long-term lease. The initiative is a part of New York’s Affordable Real Estate for Artists (AREA) program, in collaboration with other stage agencies—such as the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Department of Cultural Affairs—to create reasonably priced workspaces for artists throughout the city over the next ten years. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in 2015 that he’d deliver “five hundred dedicated affordable work spaces for the cultural community,” as a gesture to keep the city’s arts professionals happy and, indeed, within the boundaries of New York.

Studios for the incoming tenants will range in size from 250 to four thousand square feet. The Brooklyn Army Terminal has three million square feet of usable space—the City of New York has invested about $115 million for its refurbishment. Chashama, another nonprofit organization, has already renovated sixty thousand square feet of space for artists on the property. Esther Robinson and Guy Buckles, the executive codirectors of ArtBuilt, said in a statement, “New York would be a poorer place without its small-scale producers. We’re helping these vital but vulnerable economic generators stay in NYC, not just to survive but to flourish, for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”

July 19, 2017

Cultural Leaders Fight to Protect Free Movement of Artists Post-Brexit

Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England. Photo: Alicia Canter for The Guardian.

More than four hundred cultural, educational, and scientific organizations and representatives from across Europe have endorsed “Our Shared European Future,” a series of recommendations for Brexit negotiators in the European Union and the UK, which calls for the protection of cultural exchange across borders.

The document urges politicians to introduce measures such as cultural and educational permits, which will allow people and assets operating in the education, science, culture, and research sectors to continue to move with ease between the UK and the EU. It also calls for the UK to continue contributing to multilateral programs such as Creative Europe so that it may remain effective and UK institutions and individuals can remain eligible for inclusion in its programming. In addition, the cultural leaders are calling for the UK to guarantee residency for EU nationals working in the UK as well as British nationals working in the EU.

Other key recommendations include engaging with young people on post-Brexit policy-making; maintaining equal intellectual property and copyright laws between the UK and EU; and consulting with leaders and experts in the arts, education, science, and research fields in order to make informed decisions.

July 18, 2017

Off Vendome Closes in New York

View of “Lena Henke and Max Brand,” 2015, at Off Vendome.

Off Vendome will close its New York location at 254 West Twenty-Third Street by the end of this month. Originally founded in Düsseldorf in 2013, the gallery has shown artists such as Sam Anderson, Lena Henke, Max Brand, Ian Cheng, Talia Chetrit, Dustin Hodges, Jacob Kassay, Zak Kitnick, Bradley Kronz, Veit Laurent Kurz, Win McCarthy, Jeanette Mundt, Juan Antonio Olivares, Margaret Lee and Emily Sundblad, Kyle Thurman, and Ellie de Verdier. Off Vendome also recently participated in the first edition of Condo New York.