May 17, 2013

Lisa Freiman Appointed Director at Virginia Commonwealth University’s New ICA

Lisa Freiman has been named the first director of the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, reports Andrew Russeth of the New York Observer. Freiman is currently senior curator and chair of the contemporary art department at the Indianapolis Museum of Art; she notably served as commissioner for the United States pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, which featured a solo exhibition by Allora & Calzadilla. The ICA, which has been designed by Steven Holl Architects, is currently under construction and slated to open in 2015. Said Freiman about her new role: “Virginia Commonwealth University has established itself as a dynamic and diverse center for contemporary practices and I look forward to working with the university’s leadership, faculty, students, and patrons to realize the bold vision that they have put forth to build a leading center for contemporary art.”

May 17, 2013

Dominic Molon Named Curator at Museum of Rhode Island School of Design

Dominic Molon has been appointed curator of contemporary art the Museum of Rhode Island School of Design, reports Tatiana Pina of the Providence Journal. Said director John W. Smith: “Over the course of his career, Dominic has earned a highly respected and admired reputation for his rigorous, wide-ranging curatorial point of view.” Molon has served as chief curator at the Contemporary Art Museum in Saint Louis since 2010. He replaces Judith Tannenbaum who, as reported here, resigned this past December after over a decade at the institution.

May 16, 2013

Connie Butler Appointed Chief Curator, Aram Moshayedi Curator, at Hammer Museum

The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, has appointed Connie Butler as its chief curator, effective July, reports Carol Vogel of the New York Times. She replaces Douglas Fogle, who left the museum last year. Currently the chief curator of drawings at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Butler was already chosen to curate the Hammer’s 2014 “Made in LA” biennial with Michael Ned Holte prior to her new appointment. In her new role, she will oversee the museum’s curatorial department and its exhibitions, while also developing the museum’s contemporary art collection. In addition, Aram Moshayedi has been appointed curator at the Hammer Museum. He is currently associate curator at REDCAT; his position at the Hammer will be effective July 2013.

May 16, 2013

Christie’s Postwar and Contemporary Art Evening Sale Brings in $495 Million

Christie’s postwar and contemporary art evening sale Wednesday night brought in $495 million, the highest figure for any art auction, reports Carol Vogel for the New York Times. New records were made for twelve artists, including Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Jackson Pollock’s drip painting No. 19, 1948, also a record, was the top price of the night, fetching $58.3 million with fees. It was sold by Mitchell P. Rales and his wife, Emily, and went to an anonymous bidder on the phone with Brett Gorvy, chairman of Christie’s postwar and contemporary art department worldwide. “We are in a new era of the art market,” Vogel quotes Jussi Pylkkanen, the evening’s auctioneer, as saying.

May 16, 2013

Thomas M. Messer (1920–2013)

Thomas M. Messer, former museum director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, died yesterday at the age of ninety-three, reports Bruce Weber of the New York Times. Messer became director of the museum in 1961 and retired in 1988, making his tenure as director one of the longest at any major American art museum. During this time, Messer was responsible for acquiring the collections of Justin K. Thannhauser and Peggy Guggenheim, which significantly expanded the museum’s holdings of Impressionist, early modern, Surrealist, and Abstract Expressionist art.

Born on February 9, 1920, in Bratislava in what was then known as Czechoslovakia and is now Slovakia, Messer first studied chemistry in Prague and then in the United States at Thiel College in Pennsylvania. He would later go on to study modern languages at Boston University, graduating in 1942. He soon afterward joined the Army, serving as an interrogator for military intelligence in Europe. At the war’s end, he remained in Europe and studied art at the Sorbonne. Upon his return to the United States, he took a directorship in a small museum in Roswell, New Mexico and earned a master’s degree in art history from Harvard. Before joining the Guggenheim, Messer was the director of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

May 15, 2013

Records Broken for Barnett Newman and Gerhard Richter at Sotheby’s Spring Auction

Carol Vogel reports in the New York Times that, at last night’s Sotheby’s auction, Barnett Newman’s Onement VI, 1953 sold for $43.8 million, a record for the artist. Meanwhile, Gerhard Richter’s Domplatz, Mailand [Cathedral Square, Milan], 1968, went for $37 million with fees—a price that also broke the record for a Richter work. In all, the auction totaled $293.6 million, which was slightly more than its $283.9 million low estimate, but still significantly below an expected high of $382.9 million. Eleven of the sixty-four pieces went unsold, including a Francis Bacon painting and a Jeff Koons installation of four vacuum cleaners encased in acrylic.

May 14, 2013

International News Digest

MAY 14

To get a better picture of what’s in store for the Palestinian Museum—set to open late next year in Birzeit north of Ramallah—the Art Newspaper’s Gareth Harris sat down with the museum’s director, Jack Persekian. “[The museum] provides spaces and opportunities for Palestinians to shape their own historical narrative and to engage with it,” Persekian told Harris, diplomatically noting that it will be a “political symbol only insofar that it celebrates the accomplishments of the Palestinian people in arts and culture, and that it affirms the presence of Palestinians as a people who have agency, who are productive, who shape their own histories.” A significant virtual presence is planned for the museum, reports Harris. “One might argue that it is even more important given the Palestinians’ diaspora, but also given the fact that even for Palestinians living in the West Bank or Gaza, travel to Birzeit can be quite difficult and sometimes impossible because of geopolitical realities,” said Persekian. The new museum, which will cost eleven million dollars to build, will only be fully completed a decade from now. Its collection will range from nineteenth-century to contemporary art, and will be amassed through acquisitions and donations.

Der Standard reported on a few German architecture laurels recently. Lederer Ragnarsdóttir Oei—a Stuttgart-based firm—will receive nearly $40,000 as the winner of this year’s German Architecture Prize, for its design of the Ravensburg Museum, which German construction minister Peter Raumsauer called “a great plea for the careful development of the European city.” Meanwhile, the Mies van der Rohe Prize goes to the designers of the Harpa Concert House in Iceland: Danish architectural firm Henning Larsen Architects, Icelandic architecture firm Batteríiö, and artist Olafur Eliasson. The performing arts center’s designers will receive about $75,000.

What is it they say again about death and taxes? Der Spiegel reports that investigators recently raided the Bavarian home of artist Georg Baselitz, who’s under investigation for tax evasion. The investigators seized several crates of files after the artist’s name turned up on a CD with information on secret bank accounts that was bought by the the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia last summer. Baselitz apparently received advance warning of the raid and was already on the way to his other home on the Ligurian Coast in Italy by the time agents arrived, according to Der Spiegel. The paper also reported that, via his secretary, the artist denied owing millions of euros in taxes, and noted that there was no arrest warrant out against him.

May 14, 2013

Darren Bader Wins 2013 Calder Prize

Darren Bader has been awarded the 2013 Calder Prize, which includes fifty thousand dollars and a residency at Atelier Calder in Saché, France, reports Dan Duray of the New York Observer. The prize is granted to young artists whose work is seen as a continuation of Calder’s legacy. Barren’s output is highly conceptual; one piece outlines instructions for buyers to assemble their own photographs, for example, by gathering a live cow and bed and taking a picture of the ensemble in a meadow. The resulting image is then considered a complete Bader artwork. The prize will be formally bestowed to the artist during the Venice Biennale at the Peggy Guggenheim collection.

May 14, 2013

Meg Cranston Wins 2013 Artadia NADA Prize

Meg Cranston has been awarded the 2013 Artadia NADA New York prize for her installation at the second New York edition of the fair. Titled Emerald City, 2013, the work included a painting of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton), and was installed in the booth of galleries Fitzroy and Newman Popiashvili, which was painted the precise color of the dress worn by Middleton in the portrait. The four thousand dollar prize was last bestowed on Margaret Lee for her work at NADA Miami Beach this past December. Said juror Lia Gangitano of Lower East Side nonprofit Participant Inc.: “The booth made a strong statement and we’re thrilled that Meg is the recipient of Artadia and NADA’s generous support.”