Gallerist Leslie Sacks has passed away. Sacks was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he opened a gallery, Les Art. In 1991, he moved to Los Angeles, and founded Leslie Sacks Fine Art, in Brentwood, California. He later acquired Bobbie Greenfield Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, turning it into Leslie Sacks Contemporary. Known for his focus on modern prints and works on paper, as well as African tribal art, Sacks also operated a publishing division, Leslie Sacks editions, which released a number of catalogue raisonnés and monographs. His galleries will remain open, managed by his widow, Gina Sacks.
The Center for Contemporary Art, Singapore—a national research center of the Nanyang Technological University—has appointed Ute Meta Bauer as its founding director. She will also join the university’s School of Art, Media, and Design as its art professor. Previously an associate professor of visual art at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, the founding director of the program in art, culture, and technology, and the director of MIT’s visual arts program, Bauer has worked concurrently as a curator for over twenty-five years, focusing on interdisciplinary formats. Most recently, she was the codirector of the World Biennial Forum No. 1, Gwangju, and in the last academic year she served as the dean of fine art at the Royal College of Art, London. She also served as the artistic director of the Third Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art and a cocurator of Documenta 11, Kassel. Bauer assumes her new role on October 23, 2013.
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand’s museum of contemporary art, has announced the return of Simon Rees as its director. Currently the head of programming at the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts and Contemporary Art in Vienna, Rees left his position as curator at the Govett-Brewster in 2004 for a temporary residency at IASPIS, Stockholm. He then was appointed curator and editor of the CAC/Interviu Magazine based in Vilnius, Lithuania, before becoming head of the exhibitions department there. The Govett-Brewster is currently engaged in an expansion program with the addition of its Len Lye Center—a permanent home for the collection and archive of works by the experimental filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye. Rees begins his new post in February 2014.
The Art Institute of Chicago’s department of museum education has received a one-million-dollar grant from Cari and Michael J. Sacks, according to Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribune. The money will go toward supporting a five-year collaboration between the museum and the Chicago public school system that will cultivate students’ engagement with the visual arts. In other news, the museum has also announced that Eve Coffee Jeffers will be its new vice president for development. In her new role, Jeffers will help supervise the museum’s fundraising programs and build its endowment. She comes to the museum from the University of Chicago, where, in her role as chief development officer, she oversaw over $450 million in fundraising last year.
Robin Pogrebin reports in the New York Times that Jenny Gersten will serve as the new executive director of the Friends of the High Line, the nonprofit which oversees the elevated railway that runs along the lower west side of Manhattan. Gersten currently works as the artistic director of the Williamstown Theater Festival, where she sat at the helm for three seasons that included the workshop production of David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim’s “Here Lies Love” at Mass MoCA and the world premieres of “Far From Heaven” and “The Bridges of Madison County.” Calling her new job offer “irresistable,” Gersten said, “The opportunity to work at the High Line provides me a way to offer service and imaginative programming to a very special part of a city I love—my hometown.”
Eyebeam, the Manhattan-based nonprofit art and technology center, has announced that it will be moving to downtown Brooklyn. The organization’s new facility will be built as part of the northern area of the cultural district being constructed near the Brooklyn Academy of Music by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “We are thrilled by this opportunity,” said Eyebeam board chair Jed Alpert. “The site is easily reachable by public transportation and is at the center of an exciting mix of nonprofit organizations, anchored by the Brooklyn Academy of Music.”
Richard B. Townsend has been named director of the Museum of Biblical Art, reports Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times. Townsend is a specialist in early modern European art with a focus on the Baroque. In the past he has acted as president and chief executive of the Museum of Latin American Art, deputy director for external affairs at the Miami Art Museum, and executive director and chief executive of Price Tower Arts Center. Board chairwoman Roberta Green Ahmanson notes that he brings to the museum “a history of helping a diverse range of museums extend their reach.”
Artist Wayne Thiebaud has donated one oil painting and a group of six prints to the Laguna Art Museum in California, reports David Ng of the Los Angeles Times. The oil painting, Jolly Cones, is from 2002 and the six prints date from 1964 to 2012. These are the first works by the artist to be added to the permanent collection of the museum, which held a retrospective show of Thiebaud’s work in 2007.
Though he was preliminarily being considered as one of the two heads of the discussion platform at the 2014 Kiev Biennale, art critic and theorist Boris Groys has announced that he’ll be withdrawing himself from negotiations with biennale officials, according to the Baibakov Art Projects’ blog. Groys, who would have overseen programming in cooperation with Tensta Konsthall director Maria Lind, published a letter in which he discussed his discomfort with the controversy surrounding the biennale. More recently, Lind told Artforum that, given the current cultural climate in Kiev, along with the fact that Groys was not on board, she had also decided to terminate negotiations with the biennale.
The Baibakov Art Projects blog made note of Groys’ decision in the context of a recent petition calling for a boycott of the biennale’s venue, after officials censored a painting shown there that depicted a pit of flames consuming Vradievka police officers, who’d made headlines for raping and beating a local woman. In Groys's letter, he wrote, “I have the increasing sense that the Ukrainian art scene is entirely focused on its own internal problems. Under these conditions, I do not see much possibility in organizing a serious, international discussion platform.” He added, “I regret that I have had to take this course of action. This decision does not mean that I subscribe to the call to boycott the biennale. On the contrary, I consider this call to be incorrect and harmful to art systems.”
Meanwhile, in the Gulf Region, the Qatar Museums Authority has been fending off criticism, just as a huge Damien Hirst retrospective—commissioned by the QMA—has opened in Doha. Georgina Adams reports in the Art Newspaper that the organization, which oversees Qatar’s present and future museums, has just recently completed its metamorphosis into a “private entity for public good” amid much controversy.
During the transition, the Al Arab newspaper published an opinion piece by a columnist, Faisal Al Marzoqi, who accused foreigners of dominating the authority, which, Al Marzoqi alleged, also granted “a marriage allowance to a gay executive,” hired “a yoga instructor to manage the cultural relations department,” and promoted “drinking and shamelessness.” While it was also rumored that the QMA’s chairwoman, Sheikha Al Mayassa, might be removed from her position, Al Mayassa circulated a letter rebutting the “false accusations.” She also described the organization’s privatization, saying that it would mean “more individual accountability and new contracts . . . setting clear individual goals.”
M+, the Hong Kong museum set to open in 2017, has a new high-profile curator joining its staff. According to the South China Morning Post, Lesley Ma—daughter of Taiwan’s president Ma Yingjeou—will be joining the museum as its ink art curator. Lesley Ma received a master’s in museum studies at New York University, and worked as project director at artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s studio from 2005 through 2009.
Singapore will be getting a new museum too: an outpost of the Pinacothèque in Paris. Florence Changy notes in Le Monde that the Singaporean branch will be housed in Fort Canning, a colonial building; while it’s being renovated, a “mini-museum” is temporarily housing works on loan from Paris, ranging from Botticellis to Rothkos. Georgina Adams reports in the Art Newspaper that the permanent museum will likely be built to a tune of $24 million dollars.