Austrian Police Recover Sixty-Seven Stolen Works Worth $2.6 Million

Oskar Kokoschka, Zigeunermaedchen (Gypsy Girl).

Austrian investigators have confirmed that sixty-seven paintings stolen in 2014 from a private collection housed in Vienna-Hietzing were found in an unnamed suspect’s apartment last week, Der Standard reports. Works by Carl Moll, Koloman Moser, and Oskar Kokoschka are among the pieces, which are valued at a total of $2.6 million.

Perpetrators of the art heist made away with seventy-one works, and the remaining four works, estimated to have a combined worth of $53,000, are still unaccounted for. The crime was carried out while the seventy-three-year-old owner was away on vacation. The suspects gained access to the owner’s villa, located in an upscale neighborhood, by disabling the alarm.

An anonymous donor had offered a $265,0000 award for the safe return of the paintings—the highest award ever offered in Austria—but it did lead to any information. The works were recovered in good condition after an extensive investigation by the Federal Criminal Police Office and Europol. No arrests were made. While the identities of the suspects are unclear, police spokesman Patrick Maierhofer said, “We assume that this was an internationally active Eastern European criminal gang,” members of which are classified as dangerous. The works are currently in the custody of the police.


December 12, 2017

Art Matters Announces 2017 Grant Winners

Eve Fowler. Photo: Steven Perilloux.

Alex Greenberger of Artnews writes that Art Matters has announced its list of 2017 grant winners. Each artist and art collective will receive $7,500. “We are thrilled to support this extraordinary group of artists from across the US,” said Sacha Yannow, the director of Art Matters. “A diverse and expansive range of contemporary practice within various geographic and cultural contexts, their work engages justice and liberation issues and experiments with form. We feel their voices are important and through our funding, we hope to help amplify them.”

This year’s grantees are:

December 12, 2017

Paris’s FRAC Île-de-France | Le Plateau in Danger of Closing

View of “Pierre Paulin: Boom boom, run run,” 2017 at FRAC Île-de-France | Le Plateau.

FRAC Île-de-France | Le Plateau, part of the Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain, a consortium of twenty-three exhibition spaces across France that are funded by the state and the regions where they’re located, is in danger of being closed, writes Ingrid Luquet-Gad of Les Inrockuptibles. The City of Paris is planning on cutting off financial support to FRAC Île-de-France. This action will greatly affect the Le Plateau site, at 22 rue des Alouettes in the city’s Belleville neighborhood, which has hosted exhibitions for a variety of artists, such as Ryan Gander, Charles Avery, Keren Cytter, and Cao Fei, since 2002.

On December 4, La Libération published an open letter addressed to Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, asking her to not cut the city’s budget for FRAC Île-de-France. The letter has been signed by dozens of artists and arts professionals, including Sophie Calle, Philippe Decrauzat, Haris Epaminonda, Sylvie Fanchon, Camille Henrot, Corey McCorkle, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, and Xavier Veilhan.

December 12, 2017

Documenta Artists Launch Petition Demanding New Supervisory Structure

Redistribution of books to visitors during dismantling of Marta Minujin’s Parthenon of Banned Books at the closing ceremony of Documenta 14 in Kassel. Photo: Mathias Voelzke.

More than two hundred artists who have participated in past exhibitions of Documenta signed a petition against the growing obsession over the show’s profits. “We are compelled to write to propose an improved structure for Documenta that does not prioritize revenue above all other priorities, and defends its future artistic and curatorial autonomy and progressive political mission,” the document reads.

Artists who participated in the most recent iteration of the exhibition have already written two open letters defending Documenta 14’s curatorial model, its former CEO Annette Kulenkampff and artistic director Adam Szymczyk, and the exhibition’s autonomy. Despite repeatedly voicing that Documenta should remain free from political interference, the recent controversy over Documenta 14’s financial deficit prompted Germany’s far-right AfD party to sue the exhibition over its alleged “misappropriation of funds and other offenses.” The artists have now outlined steps detailing how Documenta should move forward without compromising its mission.

The petition states that the exhibition needs to implement a new supervisory structure in order to retain its autonomy. It stresses that the quinquennial is opposed to Eurocentrism and should have the freedom to hold events outside of Germany. It also states that Documenta needs to reaffirm its commitment to fighting institutional racism and insurgent fascism—the petition is critical of the board’s silence amid recent attacks by members of the AfD. The artists also declare that Documenta should maintain its nonprofit status and continue to fund the Documenta Archive, Documenta Institute, and its public art program, organizing these institutions based on “the trajectory set by documenta 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 that contributed to profound changes that impacted understanding of art in our age.”

December 12, 2017

Jon Seydl Named Director of Krannert Art Museum

Jon Seydl.

Art historian and curator Jon Seydl has been appointed the new director of the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign, Illinois. He succeeds Kathleen Harleman, who led the museum from 2004 to 2017. Under her leadership, Harleman championed underrepresented groups and spearheaded the redesign of the institution’s African gallery. Seydl, who is currently the senior director of collections and programs and the curator of European art at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, will take up his new post in February.

“As a curator, Jon Seydl brings a deep knowledge about artwork that forms a large portion of the collection. That knowledge, and his excitement about curation, education, collection management, and public engagement will make him an excellent director,” said Julia Nucci Kelly, the museum’s communications and marketing coordinator.

Seydl first joined the Worcester Art Museum in 2014. During his tenure there, Seydl organized a number of exhibitions and helped the institution make several key acquisitions, such as Otto Dix’s Pregnant Woman, 1919, and Miguel Cabrera’s The Virgin of Guadalupe, ca. 1740. He also launched an initiative to digitize the museum’s entire collection and served as the liaison for academic programs to twelve colleges and universities.

December 12, 2017

In Open Letter, Artists Condemn Trump for Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

The city of Jerusalem.

The Guardian has published an open letter with signatures from more than one hundred artists, writers, film directors, performers, and designers—including Angela Davis, Mona Hatoum, Hari Kunzru, Mike Leigh, Thurston Moore, and Vivienne Westwood—denouncing Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The statement calls the president’s move a “threat to peace” that “seeks to achieve through a declaration what Israel has been trying to do for fifty years through force of arms: to erase Palestinians, as a political and cultural presence, from the life of their own city.”

Trump wants to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; the Israeli Foreign Ministry reports that no country has an embassy located in the city.

The entirety of the letter appears below:

December 12, 2017

Salvador Dalí’s Digital Catalogue Raisonné Completed After Seventeen Years

Salvador Dalí, Portrait of São Schlumberger, 1965, oil on canvas, 45 x 35".

Salvador Dalí’s digital catalogue raisonné has been published, reports Alec Evans of the Art Newspaper. After seventeen years of research, the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation has made more than one thousand of the Surrealist artist’s works—with the exception of his drawings and watercolors—available for free on the French, Catalan, English, and Spanish versions of the foundation’s website. Created by the Centre for Dalinian Studies, it is the first online inventory of its kind.

The first part of the catalogue was launched in 2004—featuring works by Dalí from 1910 to 1929—to commemorate the artist’s one hundredth birthday. The final section of the five-part document was completed on December 4. It contains artworks made from 1965 to 1983. The volumes between the first and last sections contain work from 1930 to 1939, 1940 to 1951, and 1952 to 1964.

Now the foundation is working on organizing information about the artist’s sculptures and graphic works: areas of his oeuvre that have been polluted by forgeries. The first part of the catalogue raisonné for Dalí’s sculptures is scheduled for publication at the end of next year.

December 12, 2017

Chinese Ban on Korean Cultural Exports Is Removed

A view of the 2017 ART021 fair in Shanghai from the outside. Photo: Galerie Perrotin.

After South Korea and the US agreed to install an American antimissile system in Seongju County in 2016—a response to North Korea’s multiple threats of nuclear attack—the Chinese government instituted an “unofficial” ban on all Korean cultural exports, including art, pop music, and television soap operas, Lisa Movius and Melanie Gerlis write in the Art Newspaper. China felt South Korea’s move would imperil its own security. Now, the two countries have managed to settle the argument after a series of diplomatic talks on October 31. The ban lasted almost a year.

At the West Bund and ART021 art fairs in Shanghai last month, the only Korean artists exhibited were with Arario, a Korean gallery with an outpost in Shanghai. Kukje Gallery in Seoul only showed its Western artists. International galleries were not allowed to display Korean art. “It is not surprising that exchanges in art are affected by political issues,” said Eun Yong Kwon, a visual arts planner at the Korean Arts Management Service in Seoul. “Diplomacy and politics are always stronger than art and culture. What was surprising was that, this time, the ban and embargo were so strong and visible.” An art dealer who spoke to the Art Newspaper on the condition of anonymity said that he was told to remove the Korean names from his application for the ART021 fair. And a new private museum that had scheduled an exhibition of Korean-American artist Nam June Paik had postponed its inaugural May opening.

No one from the Chinese art community wanted to go on record about the ban. Suppression in China does not typically occur via direct mandate, often instead spreading through self-censorship and rumor. As a result, it can be hard to assess what exactly is happening. “It’s difficult for people to know [what’s going on] because on a Tuesday, the Chinese government could have a problem with Korea, then on Wednesday decide everything is fine,” said a specialist on the Chinese market.

December 11, 2017

Geng Jianyi (1962–2017)

Geng Jianyi.

On December 5, the artist Geng Jianyi died of cancer in Hangzhou, China, at the age of fifty-five, H. G. Masters of ArtAsiaPacific reports. A founder of Pond Society, and a known figure in China’s 1985 New Wave movement, Jianyi produced work across a multitude of media during his three-decade career.

Jianyi first earned recognition with his oil paintings of deadpan laughing faces, such as The Second Situation, 1987, which was featured in the controversial 1989 group show “China/Avant-Garde” at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, marking the artist’s move to collage, photography, video, and conceptual installations.

Born in Zhengzhou in 1962, Jianyi studied oil painting at Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Art) from 1981 to 1985. Together with artists Zhang Peili, Wu Shanzhuan, Wang Guangyi, and Wang Qiang, he explored Marcel Duchamp’s idea of “non-retinal art.” Jianyi and Peili organized the exhibition “New Space ’85” in 1985 at the Gallery of Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, a show which presented some of the earliest examples of installation art in China. They also cofounded Pond Society (Chi She), which staged collective works in outdoor locations.

December 11, 2017

Élisabeth Lebovici Wins 2017 Pierre Daix Prize

Élisabeth Lebovici. Photo: Henry Roy.

The 2017 Pierre Daix prize has been awarded to art historian, journalist, and critic Élisabeth Lebovici for her book Ce que le sida m’a fait – Art et activisme à la fin du XXe siècle (What AIDS Did to Me: Art and Activism in the Late Twentieth Century), published this year by Editions JRP Ringier in collaboration with La Maison Rouge—Antoine de Galbert Foundation. Established in 2015 by François Pinault as an homage to his friend Pierre Georges Daix—a journalist who became a biographer of the artist Pablo Picasso—the prize, with a grant of $11,800, is awarded each year to a work of modern or contemporary art history published during the previous year. Pinault presented the prize to Lebovici today at the Musée National Picasso in Paris.

This year’s jury included Jean-Jacques Aillagon, former French minister of culture and former director of the Centre Pompidou; Laurence Bertrand Dorleac, an art historian, editor, professor, and director of the Laboratoire Arts et Société at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences-Po); Jean-Marie Borzeix, former director of France Culture; Jean de Loisy, president of the Palais de Tokyo; Emmanuel Guigon, director of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona; Brigitte Leal, deputy director of the Centre Pompidou; Laurent Le Bon, director of the Musée Picasso Paris; Alain Minc, chief executive officer of AM Conseil; Alfred Pacquement, essayist and former director of the Centre Pompidou; and Marie-Karine Schaub, a historian and professor at the University of Paris-Est Créteil-Val de Marne.