November 10, 2013

International News Digest


An old beer-brewing factory in Berlin will soon house a contemporary art center. The former Kindl factory has been undergoing an $8-million renovation. Unlike many of the city’s publicly funded arts institutions, this project is being financed entirely by the German-Swiss couple Burkhard Varnholt and Salome Grisard, who bought the building in 2011 and who intend to launch the finished center in 2014. Art in Berlin surmises that the Kindl building will be a challenging space to stage exhibitions, with its high ceilings and industrial interiors. According to Andreas Fielder, artistic director of the new center, the building’s seven-story tower would become artists’ studios, and added that Varnholt and Grisard wanted the Kindl building to be “not only a site of perception but also one of production.”

Paris, too, is getting a new art center. According to Le Monde, French department store Galeries Lafayette has plans to open a foundation for contemporary art in the Marais district. The foundation will occupy a 26,000-square-foot nineteenth-century building that’s being renovated by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA. The department store’s director of sponsorship, Guillaume Houzé (who is also an heir to the family business), sat down with Le Monde to discuss his vision for the space. He said that it was definitively not just “a jewelry box to display our collection of paintings.” Instead, he explained that he wanted the site to be “a meeting place of visual arts, design, and lively discourse” and wanted the foundation to “not just to produce works and objects, but also ideas.” The new institution is scheduled to open its doors in 2016.

In a packed press conference last week, German authorities released early details surrounding what is likely to be the biggest trove of twentieth-century art to have gone missing during the Third Reich. The New York Times reported that, while officials released some details regarding the 1,400 works that were uncovered in the midst of a tax investigation, their overall reticence at the press conference—no doubt in preparation for the wave of restitution claims soon to be filed by heirs of the works’ rightful owners—left many shaking their heads. The stash, which includes significant works by Matisse, Chagall, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Picasso, among others, was found in the possessions of Hildebrand Gurlitt's son. Though during the Nazi regime he was fired from two museum posts for having a Jewish grandparent, the elder Gurlitt was nonetheless one of the several dealers who received permission from Joseph Goebbels to sell artworks seized by the Nazi Party to foreign collectors. Said Meike Hoffmann, an art historian called in to appraise the collection, “These are truly museum-quality works, and you simply do not find these on the market anymore.”

Over in Austria, the legacy of Nazi-looted art led to an entirely different turn of events last week: Tobias Natter, the director of Vienna’s Leopold Museum, has stepped down from his position in protest against several members of the institution’s senior staff who reportedly have begun to work with a foundation associated with film director Gustav Ucicky, Klimt’s illegitimate son whose oeuvre includes Nazi propaganda. The Leopold Museum already has a controversial history; its collection included many looted works purchased by Rudolf Leopold, who fought restitution claims until he died in 2010. In an interview with Reuters, Natter noted, “It’s a sad truth that for years the museum was known worldwide as being synonymous with looted art. Why should we besmirch ourselves with this theme again?”

November 8, 2013

Skarstedt Gallery to Open Third Space

Skarstedt Gallery has announced it will open a new space in New York’s Chelsea district at 550 West Twenty-first Street. The gallery currently has two existing locations, one on New York’s Upper East Side and another in London. The gallery has enlisted Seldorf Architects to design the new six-thousand-square-foot space, which is intended to showcase historical exhibitions of modern and contemporary masters. Said Per Skarstedt: “We have an ongoing commitment to mounting key historical exhibitions. I’m delighted to open this new gallery space in Chelsea with an exhibition of incredible works by these quintessential modern masters. This approach suits the collaborative way we have always worked with artists and their estates.”

November 7, 2013

Alison Gass Appointed Broad Art Museum’s Deputy Director

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, has appointed Alison Gass as its deputy director, reports Lawrence Cosentino of the Lansing City Pulse. Gass served as the curator of the museum since it opened in 2012, and was responsible for the majority of the fourteen exhibitions staged at the museum in its first year. Prior to her work in the Broad, Gass was the assistant curator of painting and sculpture at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art.

November 7, 2013

John Smith Wins 2013 Film London Jarman Award

London-based artist and filmmaker John Smith has won the 2013 Film London Jarman Award. As the winner, Smith will receive $20,000 and a film commission for London’s televised program “Random Acts” on Channel 4. The 2013 shortlisted artists include Ed Atkins, Emma Hart, and Rachel Maclean. Smith’s latest work, Dad’s Stick (2012), won the Arte Prize for European short film at the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, Germany, and the Jean Vigo Prize for best director at the Punto De Vista International Film Festival, Spain.

November 7, 2013

New Arts and Crafts Museum for Florida

Art collector Rudy Ciccarello plans to establish the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement in St. Petersburg, Florida, reports Waveney Ann Moore of the Tampa Bay Times. The 90,000-square-foot, four-story facility will include galleries, a café, a restaurant, a retail store, and studios and will house Ciccarello’s collection, which is valued at $60 million and comprises 1,200 pieces of Arts and Crafts furniture, pottery, and decorative tiles from 1900 to 1920. The structure will be built by Tampa-based architect Alberto Alfonso, who also designed the space for the Chihuly Collection in St. Petersburg. The museum is projected to open in 2016.

November 5, 2013

Dallas Museum of Art Receives $9 Million

The Dallas Museum of Art has received nine million dollars, five million of which will be allocated to supporting the digitization of the museum's permanent collection. The remainder will subsidize its free admission policy, which took effect last January and which offers both general admission and membership free of charge. Since its inception, more than thirty-five thousand have enrolled in the program, 95 percent of whom had no prior involvement with the museum.

Said director Maxwell L. Anderson: “With this donation, the Dallas Museum of Art will become one of the world’s most open and accessible museums. This opportunity reinforces our deep commitment to serve as an important educational resource for our local and regional community, as well as for our growing online audiences worldwide.”

November 5, 2013

Fort Lauderdale’s Museum of Art Receives $1.5 Million

Fort Lauderdale’s Museum of Art, where Bonnie Clearwater was just named director, has received a $1.5 million challenge grant. The funds have been bestowed by the David and Francie Horvitz Family Foundation and are part of new fundraising plan. The capital campaign will take place over the next three years with an end goal of $3 million, reports Hannah Simpson of the Miami Herald. “For the last many years, I’ve been working on trying to get this museum to live up to its potential,” said David Horvitz, noting that appointing Clearwater was the first step toward this goal. Though the gift was just made public, the museum has already received $300,000 in donations, all of which will be matched.

November 4, 2013

Leslie Fritz Gallery to Close

The New York-based Leslie Fritz Gallery will close its doors a year after moving to its Lower East Side location, reports Zoë Lescaze of GalleristNY. Originally Renwick Gallery in Soho in 2007, the gallery relocated to 44 Hester Street last November at which time it grew its artist roster to include Andy Boot, Robin Bruch, Talia Chetrit, Meredith Danluck, Keith Farquhar, Ilja Karilampi, and Caitlin Keogh. The gallery has yet to comment on its reasons for closing. It will remain open to visitors through the end of November.

November 4, 2013

Xavier F. Solomon Named Frick Chief Curator

The Frick Collection, New York, has named Xavier F. Salomon as its chief curator, reports Carol Vogel of the New York Times. Previously a curator of Southern Baroque painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Salomon is an expert in the work of Renaissance painter Paolo Veronese and in the collecting and patronage of seventeenth-century Roman cardinals. Prior to working at the Met, Salomon was the chief curator of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. He begins his new role in January.