Massachusetts Reviews Berkshire Museum’s Plan to Sell Forty Artworks

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The Berkshire Museum’s plan to auction about forty works from its collection at Sotheby’s, in hopes of raising $50 million, is currently being looked over by the state of Massachusetts. A spokesperson for the Massachusetts attorney general’s office told Eileen Kinsella of Artnet that they are “reviewing the transaction for how it comports with applicable charities law.” The source did not provide any further details.

According to the guidelines of the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors’ (AAMD), institutions are only allowed to sell art when the funds raised are put toward future acquisitions. The Berkshire Museum board, however, says that the sales are needed to avoid a financial crisis and boost the institution’s endowment. If the plan is unsuccessful, the museum might have to close its doors in six to eight years.

On June 22, the museum informed the attorney general’s office of the anticipated deaccessioning and sale, even though notice was not required. “The Attorney General’s office does not second guess the decisions of boards of trustees, but it is appropriate for the office to look at how the board discharged its fiduciary duty in making the decision it did. The office is also vested with ensuring that the museum is correct that there are no restrictions on the objects to be sold. The museum has sent the Attorney General’s office documentation, as requested, to assist in that process,” said Mark Gold, legal counsel for the museum.

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September 20, 2017

Martin Parr to Open Foundation Dedicated to Documentary Photography

Martin Parr, Guadalajara, Mexico, 2013.

Martin Parr has created an eponymous foundation—dedicated to the study and exhibition of documentary photography—in the city of Bristol in southwestern England, writes Javier Pes of the Art Newspaper. The Martin Parr Foundation will open on October 25, 2017, with “Black Country Stories,” an exhibition of the artist’s own works. The show will run until January 2018.

“I don’t believe the V&A and the Tate believe in documentary photography as I do,” said Parr when asked why he decided to open his foundation, which was first established three years ago. Funded by the partial sale/gift of the artist’s 12,000 photo books to the Tate (which plans on naming a room after the artist), Parr’s institution will allow researchers access to his collection of documentary photographs from artists such as Bruce Davidson, Chris Killip, Roger Mayne, Gilles Peress, and Tony Ray-Jones. Support from the Art Fund and the Luma Foundation helped with the museum’s purchase.

The foundation is housed in Bristol’s Paintworks complex, which contains a library, gallery, studio, and archive space. In addition to being a research hub, Parr’s organization also plans on working with University of the West of England by giving students from its newly minted MA in photography program a space for their thesis exhibitions.

September 20, 2017

Florence Derieux Appointed Director of Exhibitions at Hauser & Wirth New York

Florence Derieux. Photo: Lisa Oppenheim.

Florence Derieux has been named the director of exhibitions at Hauser & Wirth New York. The curator and art historian comes to the gallery after being at the Centre Pompidou Foundation as its curator of American art and the institution’s curator at large, reports Caroline Elbaor of Artnet. Though a formal announcement from the gallery has yet to be made, Artnet spoke with Derieux and confirmed the appointment.

Derieux started at the Centre Pompidou Foundation about two years ago. Prior to her time there, she held positions at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and the Picasso Museum in Antibes. She was also the director of FRAC Champagne-Ardenne in Reims, where she organized exhibitions on artists such as Agnes Denes, Tom Burr, Sterling Ruby, and Lisa Oppenheim. And from 2013 to 2015, Derieux was the curator of Art Basel Parcours, a program where she invited artists to interact with historically significant sites throughout the heart of Basel.

September 20, 2017

Theaster Gates Wins 2018 Nasher Prize

Theaster Gates. Photo: The Nasher Sculpture Center

The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas announced today that American artist Theaster Gates has been awarded its 2018 Nasher Prize. In its third year, the prize recognizes living artists who elevate the understanding of sculpture and its possibilities. Gates will receive $100,000 and will be presented with an award designed by Renzo Piano, the architect of the Nasher Sculpture Center, at a ceremony in Dallas on April 7, 2018.

“Sculpture is a way to move between materials—to fight with materials,” Gates said. “This movement between materials and modes of making is what I want to spend my time doing. My work’s aim is to pay attention to a thing that has not had attention paid to it in a long time.”

The prize’s jury comprised Phyllida Barlow, artist; Huma Bhabha, artist; Pablo León de la Barra, Guggenheim curator at large, Latin America; Lynne Cooke, senior curator, National Gallery of Art; Okwui Enwezor, director, Haus der Kunst; Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Hou Hanru, artistic director, MAXXI, Rome; Alexander Potts, art historian; and Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of the Arts Council England.

September 20, 2017

Whitney Museum Reveals Plan for Hudson River Artwork

The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

The Whitney Museum of American Art is currently working to bring a permanent art installation by artist David Hammons to the Gansevoort Peninsula along the Hudson River, Robin Pogrebin and Charles V. Bagli of the New York Times report. The project was revealed shortly after media mogul Barry Diller decided to abandon his plan to convert Manhattan’s derelict Pier 54 into a 2.7-acre floating park equipped with multiple performance venues. The billionaire had been campaigning to build the public space since 2011.

Museum director Adam Weinberg confirmed Hammons’s project, which will be presented to the local community board on October 4. He also stressed that the Whitney’s proposal is in its “earliest stages.” Reflecting on the shipping history of Pier 52, the preliminary design for the artist’s installation includes a skeletal framework of the original pier that will be built on twelve pilings and will jut out over the water.

Following the controversy that halted Diller’s cultural pier, a major concern of the project will be its environmental impact since it will be constructed on a protected Hudson estuary. “We’re extremely mindful of environmental and community sensitivity,” Weinberg said. “We followed everything that happened to Pier 55.”

September 20, 2017

Graham C. Boettcher Joins Birmingham Museum of Art as Director

Graham C. Boettcher.

The Birmingham Museum of Art has named Graham C. Boettcher its new director. After a six-month national search, Boettcher was hired to replace Gail C. Andrews, who announced her plans for retirement in March after twenty-one years of service to the institution.

“Over the course of the interview process and indeed over the last decade of his service to the Birmingham Museum of Art, Graham has proven himself as a distinguished scholar of art history, a dedicated steward of our collection, and a highly-regarded community leader who is committed to realizing the mission and vision of our prized institution,” said board chair James K. Outland. “Graham has created new avenues for accessing art, from both a visitorship perspective and financial standpoint. We look forward to the possibilities his leadership will provide in elevating the Birmingham Museum of Art to even greater heights, as he builds on Gail Andrews’ incredible legacy.”

Boettcher was previously a curatorial fellow at the Yale University Art Gallery, and held research fellowships at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art as well as the Terra Foundation Summer Residency in Giverny, France. He joined the Birmingham Museum of Art in 2006, as the Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Fellow in American Art. In 2008, Boettcher was hired as the curator of American art, which was endowed that same year. After six years, he was promoted to chief curator and, in February 2016, he was appointed the deputy director. Among the many exhibitions Boettcher has curated are “A Masterpiece in Our Midst: Robert S. Duncanson’s A Dream of Italy” (2010), “Norman Rockwell’s America” (2012), and “The Look of Love: Eye Miniatures from the Skier Collection” (2012).

September 20, 2017

Chrysler Museum of Art Names Corey Piper Curator of American Art

Corey Piper.

The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia has announced that Corey Piper has been appointed the institution’s new curator of American Art. Piper joins the museum from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts where he served as a curatorial associate.

“Corey’s knowledge and experience in nineteenth-century art and culture match so well with the strengths of our collection, including his focus on painting and the natural world. We are so pleased to have him join the Chrysler team,” said director Erik Neil.

During his tenure at the VMFA, Piper worked on a number of exhibitions and gallery installations and served as cocurator for “Catching Sight: The World of the British Sporting Print” (2013–2014). He also previously held fellowships at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

September 19, 2017

Honolulu Biennial Announces New Appointments and Dates

From left: Scott Lawrimore, Nina Tonga, and Jens Hoffmann.

The Honolulu Biennial has appointed Jens Hoffmann as its artistic director. It has also named Nina Tonga and Scott Lawrimore as curators of the biennial’s second edition, scheduled to open on March 9, 2019, and run through May 5, 2019.

“Honolulu Biennial is an opportunity to position Pacific dialogs in global contexts that transcend nationalism, regionalism and isolationism. Hawaiʻi as our archipelagic point of departure—an intersection of cultures formed by distinct experiences of islands and island-nations and patterns of oceanic migration and exchange—offers an unstable though forward-looking lens in which to engage the world’s relationship to this place,” said Hoffmann, Tonga, and Lawrimore in a group statement. “We look forward to working together to present a second edition that builds on the successes of the first by expanding its reach to include artists from the Americas and Southeast Asia, a satellite site located on a neighbor island, new venues in Honolulu, and more public programming.”

The first iteration of the biennial, installed at numerous sites throughout the Hawaiian capital, ran from March 8 to May 8, 2017, and brought in 97,305 visitors.

September 19, 2017

Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Appoints New Board Chair

Henry Tang Ying-yen

Henry Tang Ying-yen has been appointed the board chairman of Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), writes Helena Halim of ArtAsiaPacific. Tang starts his two-year term on October 1.

Tang, who helps run a large family knitwear business, worked as Hong Kong’s chief secretary from 2007 until 2011. He also served as the WKCDA’s first board chair from 2008 to 2011. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said, “Mr. Tang has this very unique experience of working in the government and in the private sector . . . I have every confidence that under Henry’s leadership, the WKCDA project will be brought to new heights.”

Tang will have much to take care of once he steps into his new role, such as securing additional funding for the district’s development and catching up on delayed construction projects. There has also been a great deal of controversy surrounding the WKCDA: In February, the authority was criticized over its “secret” collaboration with the Beijing Palace Museum to build a new branch of the institution in the West Kowloon district without any consultation from the public. The museum hid certain costs from the WKCDA until after a construction contract between the two parties was secured.

September 19, 2017

Germany Creates Database to Help Prevent Looting of Cultural Property

The Temple of Baal in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, destroyed by ISIS. Photo: Sandra Auger / Reuters.

The German government has created an internet portal to support the country’s Cultural Property Protection Law, according to Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper. The law, which came into effect in 2016, was enacted to protect German national heritage and put an end to the illegal trafficking of looted art and antiquities. The portal offers information on artists, museums, archives, and cultural property regulations for collectors. There is also material on cultural heritage regulations from sixty other countries, including Egypt, China, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Dealers say German law protecting cultural property is made up severe regulations that are perhaps the toughest in the world. Any antiquity available for purchase in Germany requires an export license from the object’s country of origin. The law also mandates that exporters of cultural goods beyond a certain age and value need to have an export license from one of Germany’s sixteen states. Monika Grütters, Germany’s culture minister, says the law is one of her most significant achievements, especially in light of the ancient sites being looted and destroyed by terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

The new portal is accessible here. English and French versions of the site are in the works.