July 14, 2013

International News Digest


A Turkish art historian and critic was taken into custody for six hours this past weekend while protesting the detention of Gezi Park demonstrators. Osman Erden, assistant professor at the department of art history at Mimar Sinan University—and president of the Turkish division of the International Association of Art Critics—was detained for six hours on a bus. He was allegedly physically abused before his arrest and during his detention. Sources have reported that critic/curator Ovul Durmusoglu and artist Volkan Arslan are among others who, while protesting, were hit with plastic bullets this past weekend.

Artist Jonathan Meese, no stranger to controversy, is facing his day in court this Thursday, after he saluted Hitler during a public appearance in which he was interviewed about “megalomania in art,” according to the Berliner Zeitung. Meese, who lifted his arm in salute while discussing the “dictatorship of art,” argues that his behavior is part of his artistic freedoms. Prosecutors aren’t buying it. While they moved to have Meese pay a fine in punishment for his use of “symbols of unconstitutional organizations,” courts instead scheduled a trial, where Meese could even be sentenced to imprisonment. “Of course I am totally innocent,” Meese told Der Spiegel. “What I do on stage and in the name of art, is covered by the freedom of art in the basic law.” He added, “It's not just about me personally, but also about what an artist can do on stage and what he can’t.”

Dealer Martin Klosterfelde has announced that he will be closing his Berlin gallery for personal reasons. Over the past eighteen years, Klosterfelde gallery has exhibited 104 shows. Andrew Russeth noted for GalleristNY that Klosterfelde, which opened in the city’s Mitte neighborhood in 1996, later moved to Zimmerstrasse in 2001, and then ended up at Potsdamer Strasse, in an emerging gallery district that’s also home to Blain Southern and Tanya Leighton. The gallery’s final exhibition, “In Search of the Miraculous” by Bas Jan Adler, will be open until August 10.

Der Standard took stock of the sluggish art sales in Italy, as demand in both the domestic sector as well as in world markets continue to decline. Some of the factors contributing to the standstill are the country’s strict laws—implemented to fight tax evasion—which limit cash purchases to only $2,000. The high 21 percent tax for art purchases (compared to only 7 percent in Germany) and the lengthy, bureaucratic export process have also not helped to facilitate sales. Meanwhile, both Christie’s and Sotheby’s in Milan have restricted their operations in the contemporary art sector, with Christie’s claiming semi-annual sales of around fourteen million dollars—eleven million of which was acquired from an auction in April. In spite of this declining demand, modern design remains one niche market that seems to be on the rise. The auction house Wannenes in Genoa increased its design sales by 150 percent in 2012.

July 12, 2013

Art Institute of Chicago Receives Major Gift

Boston collector Dorothy Braude Edinburg will gift nearly one thousand works to the Art Institute of Chicago, reports Carol Vogel of the New York Times. Edinburg’s bestowal consists of prints and drawings by artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Monet, and Léger; the collector, who has had a relationship with the institute since the early 1990s, is best known for her collection of works on paper. The gift is one of the most significant in the museum’s history. Said director Douglas Druick: “Her taste is very much in keeping with the taste of Chicago. In many cases, this gift builds on our strengths, and in some areas it fills important gaps she knew were missing.”

July 11, 2013

Museum Directors Demand Reinstatement of LA Times Art Reporter

The Los Angeles Times received a letter yesterday from the directors of museums of the southern California area requesting the reinstatement of art reporter Jori Finkel after she was let go in the newspaper’s most recent round of layoffs. The signers of the letter include Ann Philbin of the Hammer Museum, Timothy Potts of the Getty Museum, Michael Govan of LACMA, and Jeffrey Deitch of LA MoCA, among others. Finkel was the only staff reporter at the Los Angeles Times to specialize in art. In the letter, she is praised for her early coverage of the Getty’s “Pacific Standard Time” project, for breaking local as well as international art news, and for providing context for the rest of the newspaper’s art coverage. “Without a dedicated art reporter,” the letter asserts, “the competitive positioning of the paper is seriously undermined.” Before joining the newspaper in 2010, Finkel was a frequent contributor to the New York Times. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English from Columbia University and earned her MA in English and comparative literature from Stanford University.

July 10, 2013

New Chief Curator for DeCordova Museum

Jennifer Gross has been named the new deputy director for curatorial affairs and chief curator of DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Since 2000, Gross has worked at the Yale University Art Gallery, where she is currently the curator of modern and contemporary art. There, she was responsible for cocurating the Richard Artschwager retrospective jointly organized with the Whitney Museum, a show that has since traveled to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Prior to her work at Yale, Gross served curator of contemporary art at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Said Gerry Frank, the incoming president of DeCordova’s board of trustees, “The board is ecstatic with the appointment of Jennifer Gross. It signals a true commitment to the quality of the curatorial program and to moving deCordova boldly forward.”

July 10, 2013

Norman Parish (1937–2013)

The Washington Post’s Matt Schudel reports that artist and gallery owner Norman Parish has passed away. Early on, Parish was involved in a group of politically active black artists in Chicago. After moving to Washington, DC, he opened the Parish Gallery in Georgetown in 1991. It became, in Schudel’s words, “one of the country’s best-known black-owned art galleries, with a focus on works by African Americans and other artists of . . . the African diaspora.” He exhibited work by more than 170 artists, including Sam Gilliam, Richard Mayhew, Lou Stovall, E. J. Montgomery, and Wadsworth Jarrell. “He was well respected nationally,” Jarrell told the Post. “There will definitely be a void for African American artists because of the number of artists he showed. He gave everybody a chance.”

July 9, 2013

2013 FOCA Fellowship Winners Announced

Hilja Keading, T. Kelly Mason, and Kori Newkirk have been named recipients of 2013 FOCAFellowships. Each will receive an unrestricted grant of ten thousand dollars. Initiated by nonprofit organization Fellows of Contemporary Art in 2006, the biennial artist grant program was created to support midcareer artists who hold “an important place in the California community,” notes a press release. An exhibition celebrating the work of these three artists will take place in Los Angeles at the end of this month.

July 9, 2013

John B. Hightower (1933–2013)

John B. Hightower has passed away at the age of eighty. During the 1960s, Hightower acted as the head of the New York State Council of the Arts; he was appointed director of the Museum of Modern Art in 1969, a role that he held for two years. Of late, he is most credited with transforming the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia. Over the thirteen years he spent at the museum, he raised some thirty million dollars and, as Teresea Annas of the Virginian Pilot writes, he “prescribed an emphasis on storytelling throughout the museum, so that visitors could grasp the lifestyle of a Chesapeake Bay waterman or of a nineteenth-century sailor . . . . he wanted to make the museum experience real and vivid.”

July 9, 2013

Richard Phillips Playboy Sculpture Deemed Illegal

David Ng of the Los Angeles Times writes that an outdoor sculpture by Richard Phillips in Marfa, Texas has been deemed illegal by the Texas Department of Transportation because “it doesn’t have a proper permit for advertising.” The artwork includes a large-scale neon Playboy bunny next to a muscle car on a tilted platform. It was reported to authorities by citizens for being “too commercial.” Said Lineaus Lorette, a certified public accountant in Marfa who first reported the bunny and car: “I thought it was a sign—a corporate logo. And in Texas you can't put up signs without permits.” Playboy, which commissioned the sculpture, has responded that the piece is not an advertisement but a work of art: “Our legal counsel is currently looking into this matter and we hope to resolve this issue satisfactorily and as quickly as possible.”

July 9, 2013

Elizabeth Smith Named Executive Director of Helen Frankenthaler Foundation

Elizabeth Smith has resigned as executive director of curatorial affairs at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario to become the first executive director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in New York. Smith came to the Toronto institution three years ago; she previously served as chief curator and deputy director of programs at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. James Adams of the Globe and Mail writes that AGO director Matthew Teitelbaum lauded Smith for “sustained professional leadership” and “developing systematic collection reviews.”