Dakota Nation Will Bury Sam Durant’s Scaffold

Patrick Greffin, of Minneapolis and Virgil Blacklance, from the Lower Sioux Reservatino, attending a protest near Sam Durant’s Scaffold sculpture earlier this year. Photo: Aaron Lavinsky

Following the four-day dismantling of Los Angeles–based artist Sam Durant’s sculpture Scaffold, which sparked a public outcry after it was installed in the Walker Art Center’s Sculpture Garden earlier this year, the Dakota Nation has decided to bury the controversial piece in a secret location in Minneapolis.

Before the anticipated opening of the center’s sculpture garden in June, more than one hundred American Indians called for the removal of the work, which was inspired by several gallows used in the United States between 1859 and 2006, including a former gallows in Mankato, Minnesota, where thirty-eight Dakotas were sentenced to death in 1862—the largest mass execution in US history.

The backlash prompted Durant and the director of the Walker Art Center, Olga Viso, to meet with several tribal members to discuss the impact of the piece on the community. They ultimately decided to let the Dakota people dismantle the work. Durant transferred his intellectual property rights for the piece over to the nation, and Viso apologized for failing to consult the Dakotas about the work beforehand. She also pledged to increase the center’s outreach to American Indian communities.


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, HG Masters of ArtAsiaPacific reports. A founder of Pond Society, and a known figure in China’s ’85 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 also featured in the controversial 1989 group show “China/Avant-Garde” at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, marking the artist’s move into the mediums of 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 the 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. Created in 2015 by François Pinault as a homage to his friend Pierre Georges Daix—a journalist who also became a biographer for the artist Pablo Picasso—the prize, along with a grant of about $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.

The jury was composed this year of Jean-Jacques Aillagon, former French minister of culture and former director of 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; essayist Alfred Pacquement, former director of the Centre Pompidou; and Marie-Karine Schaub, a historian and professor at the University of Paris-Est Créteil-Val de Marne.

December 11, 2017

Activists Protest BP Sponsorship of British Museum Exhibition

BP or Not BP? Protesters at the British Museum on December 9, 2017. Photo: Ashitha Nagesh.

Making good on their promise last summer to escalate protests against British Petroleum (BP)’s sponsorship of arts institutions in the UK, activists staged a flash mob in the British Museum’s marble foyer over the weekend, dressed as ice from the melting Siberian permafrost, reports Ashitha Nagesh for Metro.co.uk. The group behind the action, BP or Not BP?, sang about the melting ice and the oil company’s “greenwashing” through its sponsorship of the exhibition “Scythians: Warriors of Ancient Siberia,” which, focusing on the ancient tribes of nomadic warriors who existed in Southern Siberia from around 900 BC to 200 BC, opened in September and runs through January 14, 2018. Some visitors to the museum even joined in, and the prostesters also displayed a massive flag with the BP logo on it during their demonstration. Large “cracks” made of black paper were applied to the floor, to suggest the appearance of disappearing ice.

A representative from the group said that many of the Scythian artifacts on display in the exhibition were preserved by the permafrost, which is melting in part due to BP’s political lobbying and polluting activities. A British Museum spokeswoman told Metro the following: “The British Museum respects other people’s right to express their views and allows peaceful protest onsite at the museum as long as there is no risk to the museum’s collection, staff or visitors. The long-term support provided by BP allows the museum to plan its programming in advance and to bring world cultures to a global audience through hugely popular exhibitions and their associated public programs.”

In 2016, BP announced they would invest more than $10 million in the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, and the Royal Shakespeare Company over the next five years. Both the Tate and the Edinburgh International Festival decided not to renew their partnerships with BP that same year.

December 11, 2017

Police and Protesters Clash as Forty-Four Artworks Removed from Catalonian Museum

Protesters and police in front of the Lleida Museum. Photo: Thomson Reuters.

Spanish law enforcement, accompanying experts in the field of art and artifacts, entered the Lleida Museum in western Catalonia this morning as part of an effort to enforce a judicial order received at the end of last month by Spain’s culture minister, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, for the return of forty-four pieces in the museum’s collection, reports Sam Jones in the Guardian. A tussle between police and demonstrators broke out after around five hundred people gathered outside of the museum, located in the Catalan city of Lleida, to protest against the removal of the artifacts from the institution.

Some demonstrators shouted “Hands up! This is a robbery!” as well as other chants, while others expressed more generalized anger over the central Spanish government’s assumption of control of Catalonia, using article 155 of the nation’s constitution. The group of works at the heart of the controversy includes paintings, alabaster reliefs, and polychromatic wooden coffins that were sold to the Catalan government by the nuns of the Monasterio de Santa Maria de Sijena convent in neighboring Aragón in the 1980s, during the post-war dictatorship of General Franco.

The Aragonese authorities, arguing that the works were unlawfully sold, have been trying to recover the pieces through the courts since at least 2015, when a judge in that region ruled that the objects should be repatriated. Officials in Catalonia lodged an appeal that has yet to be ruled on, and as the area is currently under the control of the central Spanish government after powers in Madrid dismissed regional leaders following a referendum on the province’s independence, officials in Aragon asked the ministry of culture to intervene. Méndez de Vigo authorized the return of the disputed artifacts on behalf of the administration. The move has exacerbated the already heightened tensions in Catalonia prior to next week’s snap regional election.

December 11, 2017

Tony Gum Awarded 2017 Miami Beach Pulse Prize

Tony Gum at Christopher Moller Gallery’s booth, # S-105. Photo: Charles Roussel. Courtesy of BFA.com.

On Saturday, December 9, the Pulse Contemporary Art Fair announced that Tony Gum received the 2017 Miami Beach Pulse Prize, a $2,500 award given directly to an artist exhibiting in a solo booth at the fair.

For the thirteenth edition of Pulse Miami Beach, led by the fair’s new director, Katelijne De Backer, Gum was selected by a jury comprising independent curator Lolita Cros; Kathryn Mikesell, the founder of the Fountainhead Residency; Tommy Ralph Pace, the associate director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Roya Sachs, a curator at the Lever House Art Collection and the artistic director of Spring Place; and curator Piper Marshall.

“Pulse Art Fair’s commitment to presenting solo artist projects provides critical exposure for young and under-recognized artists,” Pace stated. Mikesell added, “I was very happy to see the tremendous diversity in the artists represented and the mediums in which they worked.”

December 8, 2017

Páramo Gallery Expands to New York

Páramo Gallery’s New York City outpost. Courtesy of Páramo Gallery.

Páramo, a Mexican gallery that launched in Guadalajara in 2012, has opened a New York City outpost on the Upper East Side. Led by Alexandra Garcia Waldman, the gallery will be open by appointment only. Upcoming shows at the gallery will feature artists such as Naama Tsabar, Eamon Ore-Giron, Francisco Toledo and Argentinean duo Faivovich & Goldberg.

“It is a thrill to be re-launching Páramo into, what we think, will be a distinctive gallery experience, bringing new artists to the gallery both established and new, further expanding the gallery’s global visibility by opening the new space in New York and collaborating on our artist residence in Mexico City,” Waldman said.

In collaboration with Casa Pedregal/Tetetlán, the gallery is also opening a residency in Mexico City. The residency will be hosted in Casa Prieto, an iconic residence designed by Luis Barragan. Commenting on the space, Waldman said, “Barragan is a pillar of twentieth-century Mexican aesthetics and being able to use it as a platform for artists to come into contact with Mexico City and Mexican culture is a very unique experience and one we are very excited about.¨

December 8, 2017

Boston Institutions Team Up to Plan Series of Exhibitions on Art and Technology

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, has announced that it will soon stage its largest show to date. Examining the Internet’s influence on various art mediums, “Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today” will premiere on February 12, displaying works by approximately sixty artists. Eva Respini, the chief curator at the ICA who conceived of the exhibition years ago, approached other curators about planning programming that would examine the relationship between technology and art at institutions across Boston. Now twelve organizations are teaming up to present shows.

“It wasn’t about me putting an idea on other organizations, but rather asking them what they’d been thinking along the same lines,” Respini told Malcolm Gay of the Boston Globe. “In most cases the shows are based on things that were already percolating at the other institutions.”

The Boston-area organizations organizing exhibitions are the Harvard Art Museums, MIT List Visual Arts Center, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Berklee College of Music, Boston Cyberarts, the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, Tufts University Art Galleries, the Rose Art Museum, the Harvard Film Archive, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.

Respini added that she thinks of the project as “non-hierarchal, like the Internet. . . .So we can all talk about the intersection in a more sophisticated and nuanced way than I’m able to do in just one exhibition.”

December 8, 2017

Editors of The Exhibitionist Resign over Sexual Harassment Allegations Made Against Founder Jens Hoffmann

Jens Hoffmann.

Following the sexual harassment allegations that were made against curator Jens Hoffmann last month, three editors of The Exhibitionist, a journal that Hoffmann founded in 2009, have resigned. Managing editor Liz Rae Heise-Glass announced on Facebook that she was stepping down along with editor at large Piper Marshall and senior editor Julian Myers-Szupinska.

“In our view it would be incongruous to continue to commission, edit, and publish as normal in these circumstances,” the statement reads. “We wish to make clear that we do not condone sexual harassment, intimidation, or abuse in any context, and that we support those who are coming forward in this profound moment of reckoning.”

Hoffmann was first accused of sexual misconduct by staff members at the Jewish Museum in New York, who came forward on November 30. Since then the Jewish Museum, as well as several other organizations Hoffmann was involved with, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the Kadist foundation, and the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, have suspended all ongoing projects that he was working on. With the exception of the Honolulu Biennial, which completely cut ties with Hoffmann, Artnews reports that the other institutions will reevaluate their relationships with the curator once the Jewish Museum completes its review of the complaints made against him.

The joint statement written by Liz Rae Heise-Glass, Piper Marshall, and Julian Myers-Szupinska reads:

December 8, 2017

Louvre Abu Dhabi Claims It Owns Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi

A tweet issued by the Louvre Abu Dhabi, claiming it owns the Leonardo da Vinci work, which recently sold for 0 million at Christie’s postwar and contemporary art evening sale.

Following contradictory reports about the identity of the mystery buyer who shelled out $450 million, the largest known sum ever paid for an artwork, on Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has issued a statement today claiming that it owns the work.

In a post on Twitter, the recently-opened institution wrote: “Louvre Abu Dhabi is looking forward to displaying the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo Da Vinci. The work was acquired by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi for the museum.”

The announcement comes a day after the New York Times revealed that the collector who purchased the work was the Saudi Arabian prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud. However, the Wall Street Journal has since published a report stating that Bader was only an intermediary, and that the crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman is the actual buyer of the work.