Artists and Museums Fight Trump’s Immigration Ban

Nancy Spector, artistic director of the Guggenheim museums and chief curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim.

Sarah Cascone of Artnet reports that while the Supreme Court is preparing to hear oral arguments next month over Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York is partnering with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) to recruit more than one hundred art institutions to voice opposition to the order, all in an attempt to bolster the current series of lawsuits challenging the so-called Muslim ban.

The museum commissioned amicus briefs last March—a type of statement filed in an appeal by a person or organization that is not a party in the case but is invested in the outcome—in two appeals cases now underway in Hawaii and Maryland that are seeking to overturn the ban. The documents detail the order’s negative impact on arts institutions across the country and were prepared pro bono by the law firm Davis Polk and signed by the AAMD, the American Alliance of Museums, the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, the College Art Association, and more than a hundred art museums across the country, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center, and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. The AAMD spearheaded the mobilization of museums to sign the document.

According to the brief: “Museums plan exhibitions and performances months, and often years, in advance . . . The uncertainty of whether artists or other necessary personnel will receive discretionary waivers, based on ambiguous and undefined criteria, will effectively prevent the amici museums from planning many exhibitions and performances that are dependent on persons covered by the Order.” The brief goes on to note that Trump’s executive order, originally signed on January 27, has already forced museums to cancel exhibitions of work by artists from the targeted countries. Some of the shows and individuals affected include a Persian art exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and a planned show at the Portland Art Museum featuring Syrian calligrapher Khaled Al-Saa’i. Iranian Canadian sculptor Parviz Tanavoli, who currently has a work on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, also opted not to visit the US partially out of fear of being detained upon entry, according to the briefs.


December 15, 2017

Dalit Matatyahu Promoted to Curator at Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Dalit Matatyahu. Photo: Tomer Appelbaum.

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art announced that it has appointed Dalit Matatyahu its new curator of Israeli Art. She will take up the post in May, when Ellen Ginton, who has been served as the institution’s senior curator of Israeli Art since 1987 retires.

Matatyahu said she was “delighted, anxious, and excited to take part in the processes of thought and definitions about Israeli art.” She added, “I believe in the power of the past and present art community to create a dialogue that begins with ‘self-appraisal’ and continues with action.”

Born in Jerusalem in 1969, Matatyahu has worked as an associate curator in the department of prints and drawings at the museum since 2010. She curated exhibitions such as “Yifat Bezalel: Tehilla” (2017), “Talush” (Rootless) (2016), and “Objektiv: Josef Albers, Oran Hoffmann” (2014).

Commenting on the appointment, Doron Rabina, the museum’s chief curator, said: “Dalit has a strong affinity to the written word and original perceptions of the visible. These will offer TAMA a fresh, fearless, and responsible touch with Israeli art.”

December 15, 2017

Caterina Avataneo Wins 2017 NEON Curatorial Award

NEON Curatorial Award 2017 winner Caterina Avateneo, with Whitechapel director Iwona Blazwick, NEON founder Dimitris Daskalopoulos, NEON director Elina Kountouri, and the 2017 judging panel. Photo: Rosie Kennedy. Courtesy: NEON and Whitechapel Gallery.

The Whitechapel Gallery in London has announced that Caterina Avataneo has won the 2017 NEON Curatorial Award, an annual prize established by the gallery and NEON, a non-profit organization in Athens, in 2012. The award recognizes curatorial excellence and gives each winner the opportunity to devise an exhibition proposal drawing from the D.Daskalopoulos Collection, which includes over five hundred contemporary artworks by 220 international and Greek artists.

Avataneo was selected for her exhibition proposal “And Yet They are Knocking at the Door,” which shares its title with a short story written by the Italian author Dino Buzzati in 1942. Bringing together works from thirteen artists, including Giovanni Anselmo, Mona Hatoum, Jenny Holzer, Cindy Sherman, Rebecca Warren, and Rachel Whiteread, the exhibition, which addresses notions of human existential anxiety, death, paradox, and fate, will be staged in the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery and will be accompanied by a publication.

Chaired by Nayia Yiakoumaki, curator and head of curatorial studies, at Whitechapel, the judging panel comprised Ben Eastham, dditor of the White Review; Nadia Schneider Willen, collections curator at Migros, Zurich; and Tina Sotiriadi, an independent curator at H+S Projects.

December 15, 2017

Ralph Rugoff Named Artistic Director of 2019 Venice Biennale

Ralph Rugoff.

The Venice Biennale announced today that Ralph Rugoff, the director of the Hayward Gallery in London, will be the artistic director of the fifty-eighth edition of the exhibition, which will run from May 11, 2019 until November 24.

“The Venice Biennale is the oldest and most prestigious exhibition of its kind internationally and I am really looking forward to taking on this new challenge alongside next year’s momentous reopening of the Hayward Gallery and upcoming exhibition program,” Rugoff said in a statement.

Rugoff first joined the Hayward Gallery in 2006. During his tenure there, he curated exhibitions such as “The Infinite Mix” (2016), “Invisible: Art about the Unseen 1957-2012” (2012), and “The Human Factor: the Figure in Contemporary Sculpture” (2014) and organized solo presentations by various artists including Ed Ruschka, Jeremy Deller, Carsten Holler, and Tracey Emin. He also served as curator of the Thirteenth Lyon Biennale in 2015 and the director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco from 200 to 2006. A prolific writer, Rugoff has penned artilces for publications such as Artforum, Frieze, Parkett, and the Los Angeles Times, and has contributed essays to books on artists such as Mike Kelley, David Hammons, Roni Horn, Luc Tuymans, and Paul McCarthy.

“The appointment of Ralph Rugoff confirms the Biennale’s primary goal, to qualify the exhibition as a place of encounter between the visitors, the art, and the artists,” Biennale president Paolo Baratta said. “An exhibition engaging the viewers directly with the artworks in such a way that memory, the unexpected, the possible provocation, the new and the different can stimulate their visions, their minds and their emotions, and offer them the opportunity for a direct experience.”

December 14, 2017

Alison Cole Named Editor of the Art Newspaper

Alison Cole. Photo: Alison Cole.

The Art Newspaper, an online and paper publication founded in 1990, announced today that Alison Cole has been appointed its new editor. Cole is an arts consultant, historian, and journalist who has previously worked as the executive director of advocacy and communications at Arts Council England, executive director of communications and publications at the Art Fund, and as editor of Art Quarterly magazine.

Cole has written features and arts criticism for a number of publications, including The Independent and the Arts Desk. Her latest books are Michelangelo: The Taddei Tondo (Royal Academy, 2017) and Art, Pleasure and Power: Italian Renaissance Courts (Laurence King, 2016). Cole also spearheaded the digital arts channel The Space, produced by ACE and the BBC, and is assisting Heni Talks with the creation of a new art history digital platform, fashioned after TED Talks. She has a master of philosophy in medieval studies from London University’s Warburg Institute.

December 14, 2017

Stedelijk Museum Teams Up with Rem Koolhaas to Rehang Its Permanent Collection

Installation view of Stedelijk Base, the Stedelijk Museum’s new presentation of its permanent collection. Courtesy: the Stedelijk Museum.

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam revealed today a major rehang of its collection of modern and contemporary art. The institution partnered with AMO architect Rem Koolhaas—who says the Stedelijk shaped his sense of aesthetics—and exhibition designer Federico Martelli to reconfigure its presentation of about seven hundred works by artists such as Piet Mondrian, Roy Lichtenstein, Gerrit Rietveld, Ed van der Elsken, Marlene Dumas, and Yayoi Kusama.

Dubbed Stedelijk Base, the arrangement of the works incorporates new architectural elements. One-hundred-and-eighty tons of steel were used to create thin freestanding walls, which are positioned to help create thematic zones of related artworks. Commenting on the layout, Koolhaas, who has visited the museum since he was twelve, said, “We did not want to create a rigid circuit for visitors. They’ll have the freedom to explore in different directions, and choose their own route, as adventurous as circulation through any city.”

Margriet Schavemaker, the head of collections and research at the Stedelijk Museum—who was jointly responsible for the selection of works and their presentation—said, “Stedelijk Base is our way of making the collection relevant today, in the twenty-first century. The presentation is crammed with surprising connections and associations, and also offers a clear chronology. This way visitors will always know which period of art history they have entered.”

December 14, 2017

Getty Research Institute Acquires Mary Kelly Archive

Mary Kelly in 1999. Photo: Kelly Barrie. Courtesy: the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London.

The archive of Conceptual artist Mary Kelly has been acquired by the Getty Research Institute in California. It will include her monumental project, Post-Partum Document, 1973–1979, as well as later works such as Interim, 1984–89, and Gloria Patri, 1992.

“Mary Kelly is an exceptionally influential artist whose art, teaching practice, and scholarship have shaped the conversation around feminism and Conceptualism since the 1960s,” Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute, said in a statement. “By adding her archive to our already strong collections representing American women artists and Conceptual artists, we are bridging contemporary practices in the US and Europe and providing valuable resources to any scholars or artists studying Conceptualism, postmodernism, psychoanalytic theory, or feminism.”

Prototypes of her work, audio reels of the Women’s National Liberation Conference in 1971, audiovisual material, journals on Marxism and feminism, flyers she collected while abroad, research and projection material, and ephemera are included in the archive, which will be catalogued and made available at the Getty in stages. Famous for her arduous teaching approach, the archive also features materials related to her influential work as an educator.

Glen Phillips, the curator of modern and contemporary art at the Getty Research Institute, said: “Mary Kelly is one of the leading artists from the postmodern era in the 1980s and one of the most influential figures to pursue feminist interventions into artistic practice. She was also one of the foundational figures to the development of both Conceptual art and feminism in Great Britain in the 1970s, a key figure in the transmission of poststructuralist and psychoanalytic theory to artists and arts scholars in the United States, and one of the most important arts educators of her generation. In short, she has been a step ahead of cutting-edge art practices for decades.”

Originally trained as a painter, Kelly was moved to Beirut, where she was exposed to Jacques Lacan and various threads of Marxist theory, to teach art. After the birth of her son, she drew upon Lacanian psychoanalytic ideologies to help her raise him and recorded her experiences in Post-Partum Document, which was published in book form by Routledge and Kegan Paul in 1982. Most of Kelly’s work in the 1970s was created through the Berwick Street Collective. The group was known for its sociological project Women and Work: A Document on the Division of Labour in Industry, which studied 150 women who worked at a metal box foundry from 1973 to 1975.

“Because my studio practice is project based, involving extensive research that often overlaps with interests in activism and pedagogy, the concept as well as the material form of an archive is central to the way I work. The Getty Research Institute’s curatorial vision not only supports this approach, but I believe, will enhance the discursive potential it implies. I am thrilled to be included in the collection and honored to be part of an ongoing collective legacy of such significance,” said Kelly.

December 14, 2017

Adrian Cheng to Expand K11 to Nine Cities in China by 2023

Adrian Cheng. Courtesy: K11 Foundation.

Adrian Cheng, the founder and honorary chairman of the K11 Art Foundation in Hong Kong, has announced that he is planning to expand K1, the retail arm of his his arts organizations, by opening Art Malls in nine Chinese cities by 2023. With locations in both Shanghai and Hong Kong, the Art Malls were first launched by Cheng to help increase dialogue and engagement between art and the public.

Cheng has recently been awarded France’s Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters for his efforts toward improving cultural exchange between France and China. Cheng is the youngest person in Hong Kong to receive this award since its creation in 1957. Nan Goldin, Anish Kapoor, and Iwona Blazwick, among others, are past recipients of the award.

“The cultural collaborations formed by the K11 Art Foundation with leading institutions such as Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, and Claude Monet Foundation have allowed French audiences to deepen their understanding of contemporary Chinese art and to expand international opportunities for outstanding Chinese contemporary artists and curators,” Cheng said in a statement.

December 14, 2017

Minneapolis Institute of Art to Establish Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts

The Minneapolis Institute of Art. Courtesy: the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art, or MIA, announced today that it is launching the first-ever Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts within an art museum. The institution will collaborate with scholars, philosophers, artists, and colleagues at other museums to explore “best practices to foster compassion and enhance related emotional skills.” Funded by a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the five-year project aims to build empathy in order to affect positive social change.

Commenting on the initiative, director Kaywin Feldman said, “A visitor to our museum has the opportunity to experience works of art made over the course of some five thousand years, from every corner of the globe. One of the most meaningful aspects of this encounter is the awareness it can awaken of a common humanity—an immediate sense of connection between the viewer and someone who may have lived in a very different time and place. Thanks to the Mellon Foundation, we’re proud to take the lead with partners across the country, in studying how to spark and nurture empathy through the visual arts, so that MIA and all art museums can contribute even more toward building a just and harmonious society.”

The first phase of this initiative kicked off in October, when MIA invited experts in the social sciences, empathy research, virtual reality, and neuroscience fields, in addition to museum curators and directors, artists, and educators, to discuss empathy and the art museum at the University of California, Berkeley—a partner in the research project.

December 14, 2017

Dane Mitchell to Represent New Zealand in 2019 Venice Biennale

Dane Mitchell.

The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa has announced that artist Dane Mitchell will represent New Zealand in the Fifty-Eighth Venice Biennale, opening in May 2019. Zara Stanhope and Chris Sharp were named as the curators of the pavilion.

“We are thrilled with Dane’s selection by unanimous decision,” said Jenny Gibbs, the New Zealand at Venice Commissioner for 2019. “Known widely for his innovative and challenging work, Dane presented a strong proposal and we’re excited to have such an original project at this highly influential event.”

Mitchell was selected from a pool of eleven proposals for the biennial presentation. He will create a new sculptural project featuring broadcasts around Venice that “give voice to invisible realms.” Commenting on the piece, the artist told the New Zealand Herald that “It certainly won't be anything abrasive or aggressive across public spaces. There will be multiple ways to tune into it.” The piece will reflect the artist’s interest in the invisible aspects of space and how they’re perceived by using modern technologies to transmit signals and sounds.