Joyce Pensato has been named winner of the 2012 Robert de Niro Sr. Prize, which annually honors a midcareer American painter. Pensato is the second recipient of the award and will receive $25,000. Said jury member Robert Storr: “For all the promotional talk about artists who just go at it their own way, there aren’t very many who really run that risk, and fewer still who run it year in and year out over decades. Pensato has and continues to do so. The results are full tilt, high gear, id-driven images that freely, even piratically take from popular culture but which, when she is finished with its icons, look like nothing we’ve seen before. Pensato’s work is a jolt of manic energy of a kind we desperately need, a kind that can’t be faked and that few have the strength to muster much less the stamina to sustain.”
Ellen Roberts has been appointed curator of American art at the Norton Museum in Florida. Roberts has spent nearly a decade at the Art Institute of Chicago, most recently acting as the associate curator of American Art. Jan Sjostrom of the Palm Beach Daily News reports that the museum has been quite particular in their search for a curator; the post has been empty since July of 2010. Said executive director Hope Alswang: “We wanted a person who would bring tremendous experience, training, and knowledge to the position and who would participate in bringing American art in all its dimensions to the entire community. Ellen is that person.”
Kevin Holden Platt reported in Der Spiegel that one of architect Zaha Hadid's designs is being pirated. Her Wangjing SOHO building—a grouping of three towers that resemble curved sails—is now being replicated in the Chinese city of Chongqing. Oddly enough, the construction of the copied Chongqing building may go up before the original, which is set to be completed in 2014. Platt noted that Hadid took a “philosophical stance” toward the rip-off, stating that it “could be quite exciting” if her designs were to undergo innovative mutations.
The Kunsthalle Zürich and Zürcher Kantonalbank will be forming a new partnership in 2013, following the kunsthalle’s two-year period of construction, which was completed in August of last year. This is the first time the Zürcher Kantonalbank—Switzerland’s fourth-largest bank—has collaborated with an art institution. Funding from the bank will support the kunsthalle’s cultural programming and the transition into its new, larger site at Löwenbräu.
The Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum in Egypt officially closed its doors two days ago, after seven years of exhibitions and projects. Discussing their decision to shut down the institution, organizers Bassam El Baroni, Mona Marzouk, and Mahmoud Khaled wrote, “We have come to the conclusion that . . . a balancing act between an open-minded approach to education, a quality-based presentation of art, and a context-based criticality is no longer sustainable as Egypt and Alexandria shifts and fluctuates both positively and negatively in a period of heightened political and social transitions.” They added that they hoped, “one day . . . [to reemerge] with fresh and strong ideas that would form the basis for a new and bold institution.”
Kosovo, which will be participating for the first time in the Venice Biennale, has selected artist Petrit Halilaj and curator Kathrin Rhomberg to represent the country, reports GalleristNY. Halilaj, who is twenty-six years old, will also have a solo show at the Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany in 2014. Rhomberg said of the artist, “Petrit Halilaj’s . . . practice is deeply rooted in a constant search of what reality is and how reality might be represented through art. His memories of a rural childhood, his personal experience of war, destruction, exodus, and displacement are the very basis of his reflections on life and the human condition.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Pia Catton reports that the American Folk Art Museum will have to give up more than two hundred works promised to its collection. The pieces, which the museum was currently exhibiting, were intended gifts from Ralph Esmerian—owner of the jewelry business Fred Leighton—who faces bankruptcy after being sentenced to a six-year prison term on wire fraud and other charges. Negotiating with a trustee of the case, the museum has thus far managed to keep 53 of the 263 pieces. The remaining works will be sold at auction. “These 53 were the most important to the museum because they would enhance the collection,” said museum spokesperson Barbara Livenstein. “We were eager to arrive at this compromise and get it behind us.”
Javier Pes reports in the Art Newspaper that Britain has named a group of artists, designers, and curators as new members of the Order of the British Empire. Artist Tracey Emin, curator and academic Dawn Ades, director of the Cultural Olympiad Ruth MacKenzie, and deputy director of the Tate Alex Beard have each been honored with a CBE. Illustrator Quentin Blake and designer Kenneth Grange have been knighted, and designer Stella McCartney has been given an OBE. Emin recently spoke about her recent drawings with artforum.com for the 500 Words column.
David N. Dunkle reports in the Patriot-News that the Susquehanna Art Museum has hired Laurene Buckley as its new executive director. Buckley, who holds a Ph.D. from the City University of New York, arrives just as the museum is raising funds to build a new seven-million-dollar building in the city’s midtown area. Buckley was most recently executive director of the Jersey City Museum, where, according to Dunkle, she struggled to overcome a budget gap and losses in support from the city government. She has also previously worked as director of the Queens Museum, the Tyler Art Gallery at SUNY Oswego, and the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University. “She is thoughtful, measured and very passionate about art,” board president Jack Scott said. “She had not only the credentials but the experience of managing museums and knowing how they connect to communities.”
Alan Kozinn for the New York Times reports that AXA Art Insurance, one of the largest art insurers, estimated that it would be paying out $40 million to New York art galleries that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Now, Reuters released a report that quoted industry estimates suggesting that insurance losses for flooded galleries and ruined art may come to as much as $500 million––the largest loss the art world and its insurers have ever sustained, which might cause insurance prices to rise by 5 to 10 percent.
Filippo Guerrini-Maraldi, the executive director of fine art at R.K. Harrison, a London-based insurance broker whose clients include several Chelsea galleries, told the Times that the industry-wide figure––which he estimated at between $400 million and $500 million––covers the physical damage to the galleries themselves as well as art losses. He states, “Chelsea got hit hard and there were other consequential losses. Because many of the galleries lacked power for a while, and because it then got cold in New York, things that needed to be in a controlled environment were affected. Works on wood, for example––we’re seeing those kinds of claims.”
The Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum, a nonprofit multidisciplinary arts institution founded in December 2005, has announced that it will close at the end of this month. “Undoubtedly, we believe that ACAF played an important role in Alexandria during previous years,” curators Bassam El Baroni, Mona Marzouk, and Mahmoud Khaled wrote in an email sent today. “But, we have come to the conclusion that this role—a balancing act between an open minded approach to education, a quality-based presentation of art, and a context-based criticality—is no longer sustainable as Egypt and Alexandria shifts and fluctuates both positively and negatively in a period of heightened political and social transitions.”