The artist Richard Artschwager has passed away at the age of eighty-nine. Artschwager began making paintings and drawings in the early 1950s, and moved to sculpture in 1960 when he received a commission from the Catholic Church to fabricate portable altars for ships. He began crafting small objects in wood and Formica, considering how to work artistically with utilitarian forms like tables, chairs, and cabinets. Five years later Artschwager had his first solo exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery, and exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Museum of Modern Art followed shortly thereafter. He became known as well for his blps, abstract forms that resembled enlarged punctuation marks, which he would install in unexpected places both inside and outside museums. Channeling the enigma characteristic of much of his oeuvre, he said of his blps, “Make a silhouette, but fill the inside, which is nominally empty, with something—something that should be as nothing as black, but something.”
Artschwager is credited with influencing artists ranging from Haim Steinbach and John Armleder to Ashley Bickerton. In 2009, Rachel Harrison paid homage to him at the Venice Biennale, recreating Table with Pink Tablecloth. The Whitney Museum staged a retrospective of his work, “Richard Artschwager!” that closed this past Sunday. Reviewing the show, Roberta Smith wrote of the artist that he was “at different times, identified with Pop, Minimalism, and Conceptualism, without landing squarely in any category.” Added Smith, “Part of his cachet was that no one quite knew what to do with him.”
Stephen Gleissner, chief curator of the Wichita Art Museum, has resigned from his post, effective today, according to Denise Neil in the Wichita Eagle. Gleissner, who has been on leave since November due to personal reasons, has been chief curator at the museum for over eleven years. Among other achievements, he coauthored Wichita Art Museum: 75 Years of American Art with Novalene Ross. As a glass specialist, he was responsible for acquiring 524 glass pieces for the museum’s collection during his tenure.
Artists Kaspars Podnieks and Krišs Salmanis will represent Latvia at the 55th Venice Biennale. The pavilion will be cocurated by director Anne Barlow and curator Courtenay Finn of New York–based nonprofit Art in General, as well as independent curator and art historian Alise Tīfentāle on behalf of KIM? Contemporary Art Center, which is based in Riva, Latvia. Said the presenting organizations in a press release: “Titled ‘North by North–East,’ the exhibition will present new site-specific works that explore the artists’ relationship to the natural and ever shifting man-made worldincluding perceived borders and centers in Europeand that investigate the concepts and conditions of identity, uncertainty, and the ‘in-between.’”
Kate Nesin has been named associate curator of contemporary art at the Art Institute of Chicago, reports Andrew Russeth of the New York Observer. Nesin has a doctorate in art history from Princeton University and is a former Mellon Fellow at the Toledo Museum of Art.
Yayoi Kusama has officially signed with David Zwirner in New York, reports Carol Vogel of the New York Times. Kusama left Gagosian Gallery this past November, following the departure of Damien Hirst and the announcement that Jeff Koons, also signed with Gagosian, would be mounting a solo exhibition at David Zwirner in the spring of 2013. Since that point, rumors have circulated that Kusama had joined Zwirner’s stable of artists but the union was not confirmed until today. A solo exhibition of Kusama’s new work is slated for the fall of 2013 at Zwirner’s Nineteenth Street location in Chelsea. Kusama will continue to be represented by Victoria Miro in London and Ota Fine Arts in Tokyo and Singapore.
Pierre Huyghe has been named winner of this year’s Roswitha Haftmann Prize, according to Der Standard. The award comes with over $120,000 in cash. Huyghe will be fêted at an award ceremony at the Kunsthaus Zurich in May. Previous winners span from Cindy Sherman and Carl Andre (who won in 2012 and 2011 respectively) to Walter De Maria, who in 2001 was the first artist recognized by the prize.
Meanwhile, a decidedly newer prize, the Marta Contemporary Art Award, has announced its first winner: Rosa Barba. According to Der Standard, Barba, who exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2009, receives about $30,000 and has been commissioned to create a piece for Marta’s collection.
Javier Pes and Ermanno Rivetti reported in the Art Newspaper that British museums have seen severe cuts in staff, as the museums restructure in the face of significan budget cuts. Thirty-two positions have evaporated at the British Museum since 2010, including two curatorial jobs, while forty-three and twenty-one posts at the Tate and at the Victoria and Albert Museum respectively have disappeared over the past three years. Meanwhile, in 2011 through 2012, twenty staff members at the National Gallery accepted “voluntary redundancy packages.” The director of the Museums Association, Mark Taylor, said, “I think it’s inevitable, as museums are so labor intensive,” adding, “Redundancies don’t happen with any great fanfare; you hear about them in whispers.”
Three paintings depicting Hindu gods and goddesses in the nude were removed last week from the art gallery of Chitrakala Parishath in Bangalore, in accordance with the demands of police and protesters. Arvind Sainath Krishnamani, the creator of the works, had rented the space from the gallery. According to the Times of India, a gallery administrator said, “On receiving phone calls from the public that they would stage dharna [peaceful protest] . . . if the paintings sacrilegious to Hindu sentiments are not removed, and [on] request from the jurisdictional police, we asked the artist to remove the three nude paintings.” The other thirty-seven works remain on view.
Kelly Scott of the Los Angeles Times reports that a Picasso portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, the artist’s mistress and muse, last sold in 1997 for $6.8 million, brought in $44.8 million dollars in series of auctions at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday. A different work of the same young woman, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, set a record in 2010 when it fetched $106.5 million at Christie’s in New York. Carol Vogel of the New York Times reports that the Picasso was the most expensive work in an evening that also saw strong prices for artists including Monet and Schiele. The sales continue at Christie’s in London on Wednesday evening.
Kimsooja will represent South Korea at the 2013 Venice Biennale, reports Zoë Lescaze of the New York Observer. Kim Seung-duk, director of international projects at Le Consortium in Dijon, France, has been named curator of the pavilion. Lescaze notes that Kimsooja’s plans for the biennale have been inspired in part by her experience during Hurricane Sandy and will involve her concept of “bottari,” a word that translates to “bundle” or “parcel,” and that Kimsooja sees as a “self-contained world.” The South Korean native is based in New York; this will be the artist’s fifth time exhibiting at the biennale.
According to James Adams in the Globe and Mail, Sotheby’s Canada has announced that it will no longer conduct live auctions, and will instead shift its focus to “private sales.” Explained Sotheby’s Canada president David Silcox, “We were trying to take nothing less than $8,000 or $10,000. But that still [didn’t] seem to do it. In fact, the profit at that level is minimal, making it hard to even justify the cost of holding a live sale.” Sotheby’s decision means that only two companies will be conducting live auctions in Canada: Heffel Fine Art and Joyner Waddingtons.