Jori Finkel of the Los Angeles Times reports that Charles Young, former executive director of LA MoCA, sent an email to Eli Broad urging the removal of director Jeffrey Deitch. The Los Angeles Times obtained the email, in which Young writes about Deitch: “I hope that the four-alarm fire now enveloping MoCA has at least given you pause for thought about his appointment and your continued attempts to try to save him for a job for which many (including myself) believe he is unqualified. The resignation of dedicated, long-term trustees, and especially four highly respected artists of international acclaim should bother you, David [Johnson], Maria [Bell] and the other continuing members of the board. The question is ‘What is now to be done?’ I will do anything I can to try to right the MoCA ship, but nothing will work, in my mind, without a new captain/director.”
Young went on to question Broad’s “support for Jeffrey, when many about you are no longer willing to give him any credence as a director of a world-class museum, and indeed believe his tenure is likely to take LA MoCA into the abyss.” Finkel notes that Broad has considerable influence over the board as he pledged thirty millions dollars to the museum during “its near-meltdown in the fall of 2008.” Young has since confirmed he wrote the email.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art appointed two new curators within its department of photographs: Jeff Rosenheim as curator in charge and Malcolm Daniel to the newly created position of senior curator, both effective September 1. Daniel has led the department of photographs since 2003, joining this division in 1990. Rosenheim began his career at the museum in 1988 and, in 2007, was promoted to the position of curator in the department of photographs.
Said Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the museum: “The superb staff of the department of photographs has done outstanding work under the leadership of Malcolm Daniel over the past nine years. With this transition, Malcolm will once again be able to devote himself full time to the study of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century photographs . . . . Jeff Rosenheim will bring to the job his own expertise and scholarship, including his important contributions to the field of American photography. He has a keen interest in modern and contemporary photographs and their links to the museum’s encyclopedic collections. It is a perspective that will inform our future programming both in the main building and when we occupy the Whitney Museum’s Breuer building on Madison Avenue beginning in 2015.”
In conjunction with the bevy of recent resignations and terminations at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Art Newspaper reports that the touring Richard Hamilton retrospective will not be shown at the museum. The announcement comes on the heels of the departure of Paul Schimmel, MoCA’s longtime chief curator, who was abruptly let go at the end of June. Schimmel coorganized the exhibition with Vicente Todolí, the former director of London’s Tate Modern. The show was originally slated to travel to Los Angeles in addition to London, Madrid, and Philadelphia. The Tate Modern confirms that the show will continue to open as planned in London in spring 2014.
Artist Franz West has died at the age of sixty-five, according to the Franz West Foundation, Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Meyer Kainer, and Galerie Eva Presenhuber. West had an incredibly distinguished career; most recently, he was awarded the Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Biennale for lifetime achievement. Known for an extraordinary sculptural output and keen sense of humor, West attended school at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, where he made a goal to make art in reaction to Viennese Actionism. His sculpture and collage practice often used quotidian materials such as plaster and papier-mâché to dramatic and psychologically profound effect. Throughout his career he was a perennial figure at large art expositions such as Documenta and other international biennales. West once said about the function of art, “It doesn't matter what the art looks like, but how it’s used.”
According to Dan Duray in GalleristNY, the Luxembourg-based investment firm Redline will attempt to “lead a voluntary takeover” of Artnet, perhaps best known for operating a database of the prices of artworks sold at auction. The planned takeover follows the recent retirement of Artnet’s former CEO, Hans Neuendorf, in June. Neuendorf yielded power to his son Jacob Pabst, who shut down Artnet’s ten-person office and ceased its online publication. A spokesperson for Redline, which merged its shares with another party invested in Artnet to form a 10 percent interest in the company, said that the takeover was caused by a “poison-pill” restructuring proposed by Neuendorf and his allies. Neuendorf dismissed Redline’s threats to gain dominance as “unlaid eggs,” and stated that he was confident that shareholders would vote to give his family control of Artnet. “I know the votes, I know the majorities, I know who’s voting, and in which way,” Neuendorf said. “I’ve been heading this company for twenty years.”
Der Standard has conducted an interview with Karola Kraus, director of the Museum Moderner Kunst Foundation Ludwig in Vienna (MUMOK), who discusses the recent drop in attendance, the institution’s budget crisis, and her own desires for the museum’s future. With regard to the plummeting visitor numbers, she states, “The three-month closing due to remodeling was the reason for the decline. The new year has gotten off to a good start; the Claes Oldenburg exhibition counts among the most visited exhibitions since Mumok’s move to the Museumsquartier.” She went on to note that expenses are on the rise, which hurts the development of the collection and the museum’s ability to present younger artists. When the topic of conversation strayed to her personal art collection, Kraus said: “I have always been surrounded by art, and in this sense there’s no separation for me between my professional life and my private life. I can’t say: ‘At home, I’m not interested in art.’ In my free time art is the most important subject as well.”
Artist Olafur Eliasson and inventor Frederik Ottesen have been collaborating on a solar lamp that may revolutionize living standards in many third-world nations, reports Monopol. The lamp, Little Sun, resembles a sunflower and can be used as a ceiling, table, or bike light. After four hours in the sun, the six-by-six-centimeter module can give off light for five hours. Eliasson and Ottesen’s device, designed to last up to three years, could replace the ubiquitous kerosene lamp, which, among other things, gives off the stench of petroleum and is prone to starting fires. Perhaps we shall soon see entire countries illuminated by millions of small sunflowers.
The Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Photographie (ENSP) in Arles, France, founded in 1982 under the auspices of François Mitterrand and Jack Lang, will be celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year. Libération’s Sylvain Bourmeau spoke with François Hébel, director of Rencontres d’Arles, about the occasion. Hébel explained why he made alumni of the photography school the focus of the 2012 Rencontres d’Arles, stressing the uniqueness of the ENSP: “The instructors did not format their students for the market. On the contrary, ENSP develops a critical spirit. Whether they become photographers or experts (artistic directors, curators, exhibition makers, etc.), the former graduates have this rigor when looking at art history and the history of photography.”
TAZ reports on the genesis of a new art academy in Cologne, Akademie der Künste der Welt (AdKW), designed to increase the level of international discourse on art in the city. It already has an impressive array of board members, including Indian documentarian Madhusree Dutta, Samoan choreographer Lemi Ponifasio, German artist Rosemarie Trockel, Chinese writer Liao Yiwu (this year’s recipient of the Peace Prize of the German Booksellers), and Israeli curator Galit Eilat. It reportedly predicts that its success will be founded on four pillars: forty internationally renowned artists, an artist-in-residence program that will invite artists for up to a year, a “Best Practice Projects” which can be proposed by artists from all over the world, and a school for Cologne’s youth.
MoCA Mobilization, a group founded in 2008 to support the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and its staff, has issued a statement and petition protesting recent developments at the museum and demanding that the board of trustees address community concerns. A link to the petition is here; the full text, penned by artists Cindy Bernard and Diana Thater, has been reproduced below.
Statement in support of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, July 24, 2012
Organized by MOCA Mobilization, an independent community group formed in 2008 to support the Museum and its staff.
MOCA Mobilization endorses the statements recently issued by MOCA life trustees Lenore Greenberg, Betye Burton, Audrey Irmas and Frederick Nicholas, and resigned artist trustees Barbara Kruger and Catherine Opie, as well as the op-ed statements made by prominent national art critics including Christopher Knight (Los Angeles Times) and Roberta Smith (New York Times).
1. We demand that a search to fill the key roles of Chief Curator and the Senior position vacated by Philipp Kaiser begin within 3 months and that these positions be filled by experienced and respected curators who can provide the needed and necessary leadership roles at the museum. MOCA leadership has indicated that it does not intend to fill the currently vacant Senior and Chief curatorial positions. In-depth research and development, a thorough knowledge of the permanent collection and a considered approach to acquisitions requires the guidance of senior curatorial staff not burdened with fundraising and running the day-to-day operations of the museum. As stated in the Considerations for AAM Accredited Museums Facing Retrenchment or Downsizing: “Actions that are inconsistent with standards and best practices in the field, or with the criteria and characteristics of an accredited museum, include: Major staff cutbacks, protracted vacancies in key professional positions, or major changes in qualifications of staff that adversely affect the museum’s ability to fulfill its mission.”
2. We demand that the Board of Trustees recognize the historical importance of artists to MOCA and the need for continuing involvement of artists in museum governance. This must be acknowledged by the appointment of four new artist trustees, to replace the four who have resigned in protest, and by appointing an artist to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. MOCA’s relationship with the artist community at its core is broken. Artists were a driving force in the founding of MOCA, have sat on the Board of Trustees, sold works to support operating expenses and programming, donated works to the permanent collection and rallied to keep MOCA independent during the 2008 crisis. Artists are vital to the life of the Museum and the artist trustees must remain informed. As Barbara Kruger and Cathy Opie said in their resignation letter to the museum: “This requires honest and shared communication involving all the Board Members, not just a select few.”
3. We respectfully ask that MOCA’s Trustees examine their own role in contributing to the financial crisis in 2008 and the current turmoil rather than placing the blame on MOCA’s internationally recognized programming. The Board has named programming as the source of MOCA’s troubles and has inferred that MOCA’s internationally renowned record of exhibitions is irrelevant and elitist.
4. We demand that the Board of Trustees honor their role as custodians of MOCA, seek to educate themselves in non-profit governance as required by the Attorney General and act in the public interest in their stewardship of the museum. The Board of Trustees must be the ethical, financial custodians of MOCA and, as such, have fiduciary responsibilities that are specific to non-profit institutions. We are concerned that, despite the 2010 recommendations of the Attorney General who wrote that MOCA “required corrective actions,” they have not complied.
5. We continue to believe that an independent advisory panel comprised of museum experts, collection artists and community members with experience in non-profit governance is necessary to insure the integrity of MOCA's unique curatorial voice and its status as a world-class museum. We demand that an advisory panel be formed to insure transparency at MOCA. In 2008, MOCA Mobilization supported the participation of the Board of Trustees in a public review process as recommended by Antonio Villaraigosa, the Mayor of Los Angeles. Though a panel may have been convened, the public was never made aware of their findings.
We remain a vigilant public who care for the integrity and autonomy of MOCA. The Board of Trustees is the guardian of this great institution. It is the Board’s responsibility to insure the Museum’s financial health and preserve its programming and staff. We call upon the Trustees to honor MOCA’s mission statement:
Founded in 1979, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is the only museum in Los Angeles devoted exclusively to contemporary art. It is committed to the collection, presentation, and interpretation of work produced since 1940 in all media, and to preserving that work for future generations. In a remarkably short time, MOCA has developed one of the nation's most renowned permanent collections. Now numbering over 5,000 works and steadily growing, this invaluable cultural resource provides extensive opportunities for education and enjoyment to thousands of national and international visitors. Today the museum is housed in three unique facilities: MOCA Grand Avenue, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, and MOCA Pacific Design Center. MOCA's mission is to be the defining museum of contemporary art.
Cindy Bernard and Diana Thater, Collection Artists
On Behalf of MOCA Mobilization
Bloomberg’s Farah Nayeri reports that the consumer goods company Unilever has announced that its sponsorship of Tate Modern’s annual art installation in Turbine Hall has run out and that the corporation’s decision to extend financial support will be put on hold while the hall is closed for construction next year. Previous projects have ranged from Carsten Höller’s multistory slides in 2007 to Ai Weiwei’s massive installation of porcelain replicas of sunflower seeds, in 2010.
“We sponsored the series, and we then renewed that twice,” said Sue Garrard, Unilever’s senior vice president for global communications. “We were coming up to the point where we had to decide whether to renew.” The most recent five-year renewal of the sponsorship, in 2008, cost the company $2.8 million.
The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts has announced that Gretchen Wagner will be its next curator. Wagner, who succeeds Francesca Herndon-Consagra, will be responsible for working with director Kristina Van Dyke to oversee the institution’s curatorial program, organizing exhibitions, special projects, and collaborative initiatives. Wagner is currently assistant curator in the department of prints and illustrated books at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she organized “Gabriel Orozco: Samurai Tree Invariants; Thing/Thought: Fluxus Editions, 1962-1978” and “Projects 98: Slavs and Tatars.”