International News Digest


The German artist Thomas Schütte has been awarded the art prize of the city of Düsseldorf where he also lives and works. The fifty-five year old artist–who was honored with the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2005–was praised for the multifaceted nature of his interventions by Düsseldorf mayor Dirk Elbers. Schütte's installations and his staging of exhibition could be understood as an absurd world theater, said Elbers. “His work moves between an ostensible harmlessness and a profound monstrosity.” The Düsseldorf prize, which comes with seventy-four thousand dollars, has been previously given to Bruce Nauman, Marlene Dumas, and Rosemarie Trockel.


Agence France-Presse reports that Henri Loyrette’s contract as president of the Louvre in Paris has been extended. That’s good news for contemporary art, since Loyrette has renewed the stately museum’s relationship to the contemporary arts scene by inviting living artists, from Cy Twombly to Anselm Kiefer, to create works for the museum. The fifty-seven year old Loyrette, who has been directing the Louvre since 2001, was given a fourth mandate of another three years from the Conseil des ministres after being supported by the minister of culture Frédéric Mitterrand. In addition to reviving the role of contemporary art in the Louvre, Loyrette is supervising the construction of the Louvre-Lens branch, which will open in 2012, as well as the branch in Abu Dhabi. A specialist in nineteenth century French painting and drawing, Loyrette began as a curator at the Musée d'Orsay in 1978 and acted as director of the museum from 1994 until he was named to head the Louvre in 2001.


Pierre Soulages, Louise Bourgeois, and Anselm Kiefer have been chosen by artists in France as their top three favorite artists. As Agence France-Presse reports, the survey was run by the magazine Art Absolument in collaboration with the Maison des Artistes whose members took part in the query. Soulages, Bourgeois, and Kiefer were followed by Gérard Garouste in fourth place and Zao Wou-Ki in fifth as living favorites. As for favorite artists from the past, Pablo Picasso came first, followed by Henri Matisse, Rembrandt, Alberto Giacometti, and Francis Bacon. From the 13,500 members of the Maison des Artistes, 2,881 took part in the survey, which was run online through an email last February. The results have been interpreted as good news for the traditional media of painting and sculpture, which have been increasingly overshadowed by new media and technology in the last two decades. According to Art Absolument, painting and sculpture have many good days ahead of them.


The Canadian photographer Lisa J. Murphy seems to have accomplished the impossible: editing the world’s first book of erotic images created for blind readers: Tactile Mind. The Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Marten Rolff spoke with Murphy who transforms photographs into 3-D touchable images–a skill she learned in tactile graphics at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. “Pictures of nudes for the blind–that did not exist,” said Murphy, who begins with photographs and then develops them into 3-D forms with clay and paper mache. Tactile Mind includes a wide range of erotica, from space-age masks to shaved genitalia. “The reaction from friends or people who have purchased the book has only been positive,” says Murphy. To date, sixty-four people have purchased the book, which is priced at a hefty $229. That number is likely to increase. While Tactile Mind was published almost two years ago, the international press recently took interest after the book was dubbed “blind porno.”


Iceland's volcanic ash cloud has not only closed down airports across Europe but also stranded thousands of people working in the arts. Der Standard offers a survey of events that have been either canceled or delayed in the Austrian cultural calendar. At Vienna's Kunsthalle, the opening of the exhibition “Detroit” in the project space–an event originally planned for this Tuesday–has been delayed for one week until April 27. Not all of the participating artists in “Detroit”–nor all of the artworks–have been able to make the trip to Vienna. Artists John Corbin and Scott Hocking, who were bringing their artworks with them, had still not arrived. At the International Film Festival “Crossing Europe,” due to start in Linz also on Tuesday, seventy-five participants as well as the delivery of some films were affected by the flight cancellations. According to the report, most participants have been able to make the trip to Linz by train or automobile while only 5 percent of the films are still missing. “The festival will take place,” director Christine Dollhofer told Der Standard. “Almost everything is there.” The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester were both forced to cancel appearances in other cities while there have been cancellations in the Musikverein and in the literature calendar.