New York’s Metropolitan Museum Receives $80 Million Gift

Herbert and Florence Irving. Photo: Columbia University Medical Center

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced today that it has received a landmark gift of $80 million from trustee Florence Irving and her late husband, Herbert Irving. The bequest is the largest financial gift the museum has received in recent history. The funds will establish an unrestricted art acquisitions endowment fund as well as several endowment funds for the Department of Asian Art.

“The Irvings have been inspirational donors in building the museum’s collections and galleries of Asian art since 1987,” president and CEO Daniel H. Weiss said. “This additional gift is truly transformative for the Met, and will ensure that the legacy of scholarship, programming, and collection-building they have been so instrumental in building will continue to thrive.”

In recognition of the Irvings’ support over the past thirty years, the Met designated the Florence and Herbert Irving Asian Wing in 2004. In 2015, the couple donated their collection of more than twelve hundred works of art to the museum’s Department of Asian Art, and in 2011, they endowed the position of the Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asia, which is currently held by John Guy.

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December 13, 2017

Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam Draws Record Number of Visitors for 2017

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum has drawn a record number of visitors this year, making it the most visited museum in the Netherlands in 2017. Approximately 2,260,000 people turned up at the institution over the last twelve months. And nearly 90 percent of its visitors, from more than 125 countries, rated their experience at the museum as either “very good” or “excellent.” Some of the museum’s most popular exhibitions in 2017 were “Prints in Paris 1900,” “The Dutch in Paris 1789-1914,” and “Van Gogh, Rousseau, Corot: In the Forest.”

December 13, 2017

Candice Breitz Urges Artists in National Gallery of Victoria Triennial to Join Protest Against Refugee Abuse

Candice Breitz, Love Story, 2017.

Artist Candice Breitz has changed the name of an artwork that will be displayed in the inaugural National Gallery of Victoria Triennial in protest of the institution’s employment of a security firm that has been accused of abusing refugees in Australia’s offshore detention centers, and she is asking other artists to do the same.

Currently, asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat are sent to either the island nation of Nauru or Papa New Guinea’s Manus Island, where most are held in indefinite detention. Wilson Security, one of the companies that had been hired to monitor the camps, has faced intense public scrutiny since allegations emerged that its employees were involved in the sexual assault of women and children on the islands. Since the publication of more than 2,000-pages of incident reports, the company has been accused of lying about the conditions of the centers and the treatment of the refugees.

In response to the NGV’s decision to hire Wilson Security, Breitz has temporarily renamed her seven-panel-video work, originally titled Love Story, Wilson Must Go. The piece, which was previously on view in the South African pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, stars Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore. The actors tell the stories of refugees in an attempt to use their celebrity status to make the migrants’ voices heard.

In a statement posted on Facebook on Tuesday, December 12, the artist wrote: “The new title will remain in effect for as long as the work is on view at the National Gallery of Victoria, or when the work is exhibited in any other exhibition context on Australian soil, until the NGV severs its relationship with Wilson Security. Until that point, the work will continue to speak its objection to being under the surveillance of a security contractor that commits human rights abuses in Australia’s offshore detention centers.”

While the National Gallery of Victoria assured Breitz that the contract with Wilson Security is only temporary, Breitz said she felt it would be “morally remiss” if she didn’t act. “I trust that the NGV will receive this gesture as one of solidarity, solidarity with the Triennial’s focus on forced displacement, but more importantly, solidarity with all refugees and asylum seekers who have been or remain subject to the cruelty of the Australian offshore detention regime, as enforced by agents like Wilson Security,” she wrote.

According to The Guardian, the company is no longer working at the offsite detention centers. It left when its contract with the Australian government ended in October. Wilson Security was originally subcontracted by Broadspectrum to oversee the camps in 2012. Papa New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled that the Manus Island detention center was “illegal and unconstitutional” in April. Despite plans to close the facility, the Papa New Guinea and Australian governments have not yet decided where the people being detained there will go.

Candice Breitz’s statement, reprinted in full, is as follows:

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 Săo 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 South Korean Cultural Exports Is Lifted

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.