Agnes Gund’s Art for Justice Fund Awards $22 Million in First Round of Grants

Agnes Gund.

The Art for Justice Fund, founded by philanthropist and longtime arts patron Agnes Gund earlier this year, announced today that it will award $22 million in its first round of grants to arts and criminal justice organizations working to fight mass incarceration in the United States.

Among the thirty programs that will receive grants ranging from $100,000 to $7.5 million are Color of Change, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and Alliance for Safety and Justice. Arts organizations that were awarded grants include the Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates, the Arizona University Poetry Center, the National Book Foundation, and the Actors’ Gang.

All of the recipients that were nominated for awards strive to advance one or more of the key objectives of the Art for Social Justice Fund, which is committed to reforming prosecutorial and bail practices; repealing excessive prison sentences; improving pathways to education and employment for former inmates; supporting artists and writers producing work on the injustices of mass incarceration; and investing in arts initiatives and other projects as a means of crime prevention.


January 16, 2018

LA’s Freedman Fitzpatrick Gallery Opens Paris Space

Alex Freedman and Robbie Fitzpatrick, the gallery’s proprietors. Photo: Reto Schmid.

Freedman Fitzpatrick, a gallery based in Los Angeles, is opening a satellite space in Paris, which will be located in the city’s fourth arrondissement at Eight Rue Saint-Bon. The gallery is inaugurating its new location with show of paintings by Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, opening February 8.

Andrew Berardini covered Lucie Stahl’s show at the gallery for the November 2017 issue of Artforum. Focusing on militaristic themes, Berardini characterized Stahl’s exhibition as one that “showed us bullets pretending to be bears, boys soldiers, and fascists patriots.”


January 16, 2018

United States Artists Announces 2018 Fellows

Still from Moonlight, 2016, based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, a 2018 USA fellow. Courtesy: United States Artists.

United States Artists (USA), the Chicago-based organization established by the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson, and Prudential foundations in 2006 to promote contemporary artists, announced today that forty-five artists and collectives, working across nine disciplines, have been awarded fellowships. Each recipient will receive $50,000 in recognition of their creative accomplishments and in support of their artistic practices.

“Our 2018 USA Fellows represent the remarkable breadth and depth of the American cultural landscape,” said United States Artists Board Chair Steven H. Oliver. “We are thrilled to be able to make these awards possible and to provide a windfall to help support artists so that they can continue to be keepers of our collective humanity.” Among this year’s recipients are artists Abigail DeVille, Vanessa German, Dread Scott, and Cauleen Smith; choreographers and performers Oguri, Okwui Okpokwasili, and Amara Tabor-Smith; playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney; and writers Molly Brown, Lucas Mann, and Fred Moten.

USA’s 2018 fellows were selected by a panel of experts in the disciplines of architecture and design, craft, dance, media, music, theater and performance, traditional arts, visual art, and writing, which were then approved by the organization’s board. They were drawn from a peer-nominated pool of over 500 applicants. To date, USA has distributed over $22 million to a diverse group of more than 500 artists and collaborative initiatives.

The full list of USA’s 2018 fellows are:

January 16, 2018

Joseph Seipel Named Interim Director of Richmond’s Institute for Contemporary Art

Joseph H. Seipel. Photo: Lindy Keast Rodman for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond announced today that Joseph H. Seipel, the dean emeritus of the VCU School of Arts, has agreed to serve as interim director of the school’s new Institute for Contemporary Art, slated to open in April. Seipel assumes leadership of the institution after former director Lisa Freiman revealed last week that she was stepping down as director to focus on scholarly projects at VCU .

“I look forward to working with the energetic and highly professional members of the ICA staff who already are well on their way to opening this world-class institute,” Seipel said. The arts professional, who retired from VCU in 2016, was an early advocate of the ICA, serving as the cochair of the committee that chose architect Steven Holl to design the building. Seipel also contributed to planning and fundraising efforts for the arts venue. Previously, Seipel served as the interim dean of the School of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and as a vice president of the Savannah College of Art and Design.

January 16, 2018

Markus Lüpertz Sculpture Stolen

Markus Lüpertz. Photo: DPA.

Markus Lüpertz’s Athena, a bronze sculpture that weighs more than five hundred pounds and is estimated to be worth several hundred thousands of euros, was taken from a foundry in Düsseldorf sometime between January 9 and January 11, reports the Westfälische Nachrichten. “He was shocked,” said the foundry’s owner of the artist. “Lüpertz has been our customer for forty years and one of my best friends. We poured hundreds of works for him.”

This is not the first time the artist has been a victim of thieves. Three years ago, around thirty pieces of art—including watercolors, drawings, and sculptures—were looted from his studio in Teltow, Brandenburg.


January 16, 2018

Artist Mohammed “Habshe” Yossef Arrested by Israeli Authorities

Mohammed “Habshe” Yossef. Photo: Decolonize This Place.

Palestinian artist Mohammed “Habshe” Yossef, a member of the art collectives Decolonize This Place and MTL+, was arrested by the Israeli military on January 9, report Andrew Ross and Yates McKee of Hyperallergic. He was taken from his apartment—located in Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp, where he’s a community organizer—on the morning of January 9 at 2 AM. His partner, Randa Shaheen, said, “The whole thing took fifteen minutes. They surrounded him in the living room so that I could not see him, and they started photographing the entire apartment. There was no explanation, no documents, nothing. To my every question they responded shakeit [or “shut up” in Hebrew]. They told me to bring his socks and boots, and then they took him. That was it.”

“The arrest of Habshe is an assault on the transformative potential and role of art as a practice of freedom,” said MTL +. “Israel understands that engaged artists and their ideas are more dangerous than bullets because they penetrate the soft core of its propaganda machine while bypassing state institutions, and they make new social relations on the pathway to liberation.”

Habshe’s arrest has been judged by some to be part of a larger plan by Israeli authorities to capture important members of “popular committees” that orchestrate regular protests and community care in Palestinian neighborhoods that are frequently attacked by Israeli military. Habshe is just one among many people throughout the West Bank who’ve been detained: for instance, sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamini, a well-known community organizer in the village of Nabi Saleh, outside Ramallah, was arrested for allegedly slapping an Israel Defense Forces soldier. Her associate at the Aida Youth Center (and chair of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee), Munther Amira, was captured towards the end of last year. Raids by the military on camps and villages have left numerous people injured or dead (Aida and Nabi Saleh’s committees have been specially targeted because they operate separately from the Palestinian Authority, which is not trusted by the populations it claims to stand up for.) The youth center’s Mohammed Abu Srour says the “preemptive attacks” are part of a larger plan by the Israeli government to destroy on-the-ground Palestinian resistance in the wake of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Habeshe, along with Amira and Abu Srour, have been in charge of cultural programming at various social institutions, such as the Aida Youth Center, for the last ten years.

January 16, 2018

Arts Professionals Accuse Ghent Museum of Exhibiting Unauthenticated Works

A group of collectors, curators, and scholars have penned an open letter in protest of an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent in Belgium. In the document, which was first published by the Art Newspaper, the arts professionals criticize the display of twenty-six works attributed to members of the Russian avant-garde that have allegedly never been seen before, and claim that the show is “highly questionable.”

Titled “From Bosch to Tuymans: A Vital Story,” the exhibition, which opened on October 20, 2017 and runs through February 28, 2018, is billed as a revised presentation of the museum’s permanent collection. According to its website, the show is a “new thematic display of two centuries of Western art, featuring unseen additions to the collection and new work created by three contemporary artists.” Yet, the signatories of the open letter argue that works attributed to artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich, pieces which are on display despite not being part of the museum’s collection, are not mentioned in any known scholarship and lack provenance information. The artworks were loaned from the Dieleghem Foundation, a charity started by the Brussels-based Russian businessman and art collector Igor Toporovski. The works will also be showcased in an exhibition of the art patron’s collection that will be staged at the museum at the end of the year. 

The authorship of the works was first called into question when the museum did not publish a catalogue and did not provide an exhibition history or any information related to their provenance when the show opened. Among the signatories of the letter are Vivian Endicott Barnett, who wrote the catalogues raisonnés for Kandinsky and Alexej von Jawlensky; Aeksandra Shatskikh, who is the author of several books on Malevich; and Natalia Murray, a Courtauld Institute of Art curator, who organized the exhibition “Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932,” presented by the Royal Academy in London last year.

January 16, 2018

Several High-Profile Artists Are Competing for Major Sculpture Commissions in San Francisco

Chakaia Booker, one of the artists in the running for the public sculpture projects in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Arts Commission and the Treasure Island Development Authority are overseeing a $50 million residential and commercial redevelopment project that will unfold across three hundred acres. On this large plot will be a public arts space, where a number of high-profile artists—such as Pae White, Ai Weiwei, and Chakaia Booker—are in the running to create the first three public artworks for the area, reports Gareth Harris of the Art Newspaper. The project is being funded by the “1 percent for art” initiative, which mandates that private developers save 1 percent of their construction costs for public art.

The sculptures, scheduled for completion by 2020, will be installed at the Yerba Buena Hilltop Park in addition to the Waterfront Plaza and Building One Plaza on Treasure Island, a manmade island in San Francisco Bay. Booker, White, and Ai are competing for the Building One Plaza project, budgeted at $1 million; Ai, Jorge Pardo, and Antony Gormley have stakes in the $2 million Waterfront Plaza commission; and Booker, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Andy Goldsworthy are on the shortlist for a piece that will be put up at Yerba Buena Hilltop Park.

“It is anticipated that proposals will be submitted in the spring,” says the San Francisco Arts Commission in a statement, “and will be placed on public view on Treasure Island as well as elsewhere in the city for comment and feedback before being voted upon by the Treasure Island Development Authority.”

January 15, 2018

Jan Baum (1928–2017)

Jan Baum in 2007. Photo: Carlos Chavez for the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles dealer Jan Baum, who helped bring the gallery scene to La Brea Avenue, died on December 25, 2017, after suffering a cerebral edema, Carolina A. Miranda of the Los Angeles Times reports. Baum opened the first gallery on the avenue in 1981, and within five years dozens more followed. She also operated Baum-Silverman Gallery in West Hollywood, which launched in 1977. While the arts space was only open three years, Baum and Iris Silverman, the late private dealer who specialized in African and Oceanic art, exhibited artists such as Betye Saar, a pioneer of the Black Arts Movement who continued to show with Baum until the late 1990s.

“She was open to women artists, to the political thing too,” Saar said. “She had the knack to mix contemporary art with ethnic art and it felt right. . .It was very open and friendly—like showing your work with friends.” Peter Plagens, the New York–based artist and critic, who has written for Artforum, added that she was “a steady rudder for the L.A. art world.”

Over the course of her career, Baum organized shows by a variety of artists including Jim Morphesis and Mel Ruben as well as Saar’s daughters, Alison Saar and Lezley Saar. Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1928, Baum studied medicine at the University of Wisconsin before she switched to art history. While attending school, she met her husband Richard Baum, and in 1952, they moved to Los Angeles. When asked about opening up her first venue with her friend Silverman, Baum said that it was “destiny.”

January 15, 2018

Nan Goldin’s Activist Group Holds Sackler Family Accountable

Nan Goldin, Pain/Sackler, Royal College of Art, London, 2017.

Nan Goldin, along with a new activist group she founded called P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), launched an online petition on Friday calling for the Sackler family and their private company Purdue Pharma to atone for their involvement in the opioid crisis by funding addiction education and setting up treatment centers and public dispensers of Narcan “on every corner in America.” The Sackler family, known for its philanthropic foundation that has made large donations to arts institutions across the globe, acquired their wealth through the sale of OxyContin, a highly addictive prescription drug.

Goldin writes about establishing P.A.I.N. in this month’s issue of Artforum, in which the artist confronts her own experiences with addiction. “I learned that the Sackler family, whose name I knew from museums and galleries, were responsible for the epidemic,” Goldin wrote. “This family formulated, marketed, and distributed OxyContin. I decided to make the private public by calling them to task.”

P.A.I.N. circulated the petition through its Instagram account, @sacklerpain, and is using the hashtag #ShameOnSackler to hold the institution accountable. “We intend to put pressure on museums, art spaces, and educational institutions to refuse future donations from the Sacklers,” the petition reads. “We intend to hold the Sacklers accountable, and put social and political pressure on them to respond meaningfully to this crisis.”