French composer Henri Dutilleux has passed away at the age of ninety-seven. David Ng of the Los Angeles Times writes that Dutilleux’s style, singular voice, and iconoclastic tendencies were part of what caused him to be one the most significant composers of the twentieth century. Critics often compare his music to Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, and Bela Bartok. Duttileux was not a prolific writer and left the world with a modest output. Ng writes that on a rare trip to Los Angeles in 1989 to attend a premier of one of his symphonies, the composer commented on this: “Surely I regret it. It's a problem of temperament.”
Roger Nichols of The Guardian notes that Duttileux thought of composition as a quasi-sacred occupation—often alluding to magic—and “uttered hard words about composers who spent more time in front of television cameras then in front of their manuscript paper.” Discussing a 1978 composition, Dutilleux quoted Van Gogh’s letter to his brother: “I have terrible need for religion. So I go outside at night to paint the stars.”
Richard Koshalek has announced he will step down as director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. His resignation came yesterday after the board of trustees failed to decide the future of a temporary inflatable bubble, which is intended to be erected every fall to cover the museum’s interior courtyard, reports Graham Bowley of the New York Times. Koshalek told the board and his staff that he could not continue in his role without the full support of all trustees about moving forward with the bubble project. The board had gathered to discuss but were unable to agree: “Some members would like to proceed with the fundraising and others want to discontinue and focus on other museum priorities,” said the museum in a statement.
Designed by Diller Scofidio & Renfro, the bubble is expected to cost more than $12.5 million, of which $7.8 million has already been raised. Kriston Capps of the Washington City Paper reports that the bubble is not the only item informing the director’s decision, noting that sources have confirmed that “Koshalek resigned because he didn’t believe he had support for his vision for the Hirshhorn—not just the so-called bubble . . . but also a project to transform the lobby into an education center and another project involving Richard Serra.”
Hauser & Wirth has announced that curator and scholar Paul Schimmel has been named partner of the gallery, which represents over fifty established and contemporary artists and has locations in Zurich, London, and New York. Formerly the chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and codirector of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, Schimmel in his new role will develop and run the gallery’s new Los Angeles arts space, Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, set to open in 2015. “Los Angeles has been an essential part of Hauser & Wirth's history from the very beginning,” gallery founding partner Iwan Wirth said. “In 1992, our first year in business, I saw Paul Schimmel's LA MoCA exhibition 'Helter Skelter: LA Art in the 1990s,’ and for me it was a revelation. We have long dreamt of opening a space in Los Angeles and we are honored and delighted to have Paul Schimmel as our partner in realizing that dream.” Schimmel is a graduate of Syracuse University and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and received an honorary doctorate from the San Francisco Art Institute this past spring.
The University of Chicago has announced it will honor Susanne Ghez with the Benton Medal for Distinguished Public Service. Ghez, the current executive director and chief curator of the Renaissance Society, Chicago, is the twelfth recipient of the award, which recognizes individuals who have contributed to the field of education. The Benton Medal was created in 1967 to recognize Senator William H. Benton and his twenty-five years as the chairman and publisher of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Ghez celebrates her fortieth year at the Renaissance Society and a curatorial career that includes 160 exhibitions, notably featuring Louise Bourgeois, Jeff Wall, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Mike Kelley, and Kara Walker. She has also served as cocurator of Documenta 11 from 1999 to 2002 and has received honorary doctorates from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Art Institute. Ghez will be awarded with the honor at the University of Chicago’s 515th convocation on June 15, 2013.
Around thirty artists and activists were camped out in the entrance hall of the Ludwig Museum in Budapest, angry that the contract of the museum’s director, Barnabas Bencsik, was terminated. The group, “United for Contemporary Art,” has accused the committee formed to find a replacement for Bencsik of being “secretive and biased,” and for drawing four of its six members from the ministry of human resources and culture, according to Julia Michalska in the Art Newspaper. “The functioning of Hungarian public administration lacks transparency and, for this reason, does not serve the needs of its citizens,” the protesters said in a statement. The Ludwig Foundation, which loans the museum a major part of its collection, has also gone public with its disappointment in the ministry’s decision to search for a new director. Michalska writes that the controversial decision is but one in a string of what critics call “anti-democratic practices” in Hungary’s cultural landscape since Viktor Orban and his right-wing party came to power.
The Art Newspaper also reports that German galleries have successfully managed to block the proposed 12 percent increase in the value-added tax on original artworks. The European Commission has been trying it best to raise the VAT tax on works bought through galleries and dealers from 7 percent to 19 percent, closer to rates in the rest of Europe. But, for now, the Bundesverband Deutscher Galerien und Kunsthändler, the German federation of galleries and dealers, has managed to keep the tax increase at bay. If the federal assembly cannot agree again on June 4, it’s likely the lower tax rates will hold steady for another full year. A spokesperson of the BDGK, which has enlisted the help of cultural and economic policy experts in its lobbying efforts, said, “We still can’t predict anything concrete but this is what we’re hoping for.”
The winners of this year’s Ars Electronica prize have been announced, which recognizes digital and net art. Der Standard reports that the winner in the hybrid art category was Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen, who has worked since 1999 to breed a “cosmopolitan” animal which carries the genetic information of all chicken populations worldwide. In the digital communities category, the prize went to a Spanish project, El Campo de Cebada, for which citizens recreated, in virtual Internet space, a public square torn down by developers.
The board of Manifesta has announced that Zurich will be host to the biennial in 2016. Citing the city’s history of revolutionary political and artistic movements, Manifesta organizers noted in a press release, “After the white cube setting of Manifesta 10 in 2014, the Zurich bid presented an interesting counterpoint. Based on the concept of the ‘synthesis of the heterogeneous’, the Zurich bid provided a nuanced vision of the critical potential of Manifesta as a ‘collective experiment’ for Zurich.” Manifesta 2014 will be taking place in the State Hermitage Museum at St. Petersburg, Russia—the first time the biennial will be staged in a historical institution.
The Venice Biennale has announced that it has agreed to offer the United Arab Emirates a permanent pavilion in the Arsenale, in what organizers are calling a “hospitality agreement.” Currently, of the eighty-six nations to participate in the biennale in 2011, thirty are housed in permanent pavilions. Lamees Hamdan, the commissioner of the UAE’s national pavilion, stated, “By securing a ‘permanent pavilion’ for the UAE in Venice we hope to ensure that the focus of the nations international artistic programming remains centered on promoting and empowering our local Emirati talent at the highest level possible.” This year, the UAE’s pavilion is curated by Reem Fadda, and will feature the solo work of Mohammed Kazem.
Sharon Hayes has been named recipient of the 2013 Alpert Award in the Arts in the visual arts category. Worth seventy-five thousand dollars, the award is given by the Herb Alpert Foundation and the California Institute of the Arts to “midcareer artists” who take “aesthetic, intellectual, and political risks, and challenge worn-out conventions.” Hayes notes that the award is “very significant because it is a grant that comes from the perspective of an artist. It was Herb Alpert’s response to the decision by the National Endowment of the Arts to stop funding individual artists back in 1993.” Alpert, an American musician who gained notoriety as the front man of the band Tijuana Brass, began the awards in 1994. With the exception of a required weeklong residency at CalArts, the funds are unrestricted. “I actually haven't cashed the check,” said Hayes. “It will most likely be steered into production money and making work. I feel very grateful to Herb Alpert . . . very honored and humbled by the responsibility to fill what it is that they see in my work and the way my work engages with the world.”
Artists participating in the 2013 Lyon Biennale have been announced. Approximately fifty artists have been selected, all of whom will be exhibiting work based around the theme of storytelling. Artists including Neïl Beloufa, Trisha Baga, Helen Marten, Anicka Yi, Paul Chan, and Hannah Weinberger are listed next to Nate Lowman, Dan Colen, and the Bruce High Quality Foundation. Also included are Jeff Koons, Yoko Ono, and Matthew Barney. The curator of the biennale, Gunnar B. Kvaran, writes that “a whole range of stories, of all kinds and sorts, developed by these artists from lived experience or imagination, from anecdotes of everyday life as well as from social phenomena and significant historical events, will be spread out around the various host venues of this year’s biennale.” The press release notes that “80 percent of the works in the 2013 edition are new and specially created for the biennale.”