January 24, 2014

$9.6 Million Gifted to Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Charles H. Schwartz has bequeathed $9.6 million to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut. Carol Vogel of the New York Times reports that Schwartz, a collector of old master paintings and European art who died in 1995, was neither a trustee nor a major donor of the Atheneum. After his partner Nathaniel G. Robertson died this past fall, the remainder of Schwartz’s assets were bestowed on the museum with the mandate that the funds go entirely toward the acquisition of European paintings, drawings, furniture, and other decorative objects from the eighteenth century or earlier. The gift comes as the museum commences a $33 million renovation, slated for completion in 2015. A new curator has also been appointed, Oliver Tostmann, previously curator of collections at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Said director Susan L. Talbott: “We had no idea this was coming. It is a transformative gift at a transformative time.”

January 24, 2014

Getty Research Institute Acquires the Kitchen’s Archive

The Getty Research Institute has announced the acquisition of the first three decades of the Kitchen’s archive, which includes thousands of videotapes, audiotapes, photographs, posters, and other archival materials documenting the exhibitions, performances, and events between 1971 and 1999. Nearly every performance at the Kitchen has been professionally documented and while substantial measures have been taken to preserve and digitize these recordings, a press release notes that most have rarely been available for scholarly use. Said director Tim Griffin: “For decades, the Kitchen’s devotion to supporting artists’ innovations has extended to the documentation of their work. Placing these invaluable records in the care of the Getty honors that commitment, both by ensuring their long-term conservation and access to a broader public, and by enabling the Kitchen to pursue its mission of supporting revolutionary work among artists expanding on their remarkable precedents today.”

Artists represented in the archive include Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Karole Armitage, Dara Birnbaum, John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Merce Cunningham, Philip Glass, Karen Finley, Simone Forti, Mike Kelley, Joan Jonas, Bill T. Jones, Sherrie Levine, Robert Mapplethorpe, Christian Marclay, Nam June Paik, Cindy Sherman, Bill Viola, and Robert Wilson among many others. “This archive is one of the most significant collections out there for the study of experimental music, dance, performance, video art, and the multitude of relationships between these disciplines,” said acting head of the Getty’s department of architecture and contemporary art Glenn Phillips.

January 23, 2014

Corin Sworn Named Winner of 2014 Max Mara Art Prize

Glasgow-based artist Corin Sworn has won this year’s Max Mara art prize, which recognizes a female artist biannually. As a component of her prize, Sworn will do a three-part residency in Rome, Naples, and Venice, respectively, producing a commission for the Collection Maramotti and the Whitechapel Gallery, which both provide support for the prize. Founded in 2005, the Max Mara art prize is the only visual art prize for women in the UK. The shortlist for this year’s prize included Beatrice Gibson, Melanie Gilligan, Judith Goddard, and Philomene Pirecki.

January 23, 2014

Catherine Murphy Wins Robert De Niro Sr. Prize for Painting

Dan Duray in GalleristNY notes that artist Catherine Murphy has won the 2013 Robert De Niro Sr. prize. The award, founded by actor Robert De Niro in honor of his father and administered by the Tribeca Film Institute, recognizes “a midcareer American artist devoted to the pursuit of excellence and innovation in painting.” The Poughkeepsie-based Murphy has won NEA grants and a Guggenheim fellowship, and is currently the chair of the visual arts program at Rutgers’s Mason Gross School of the Arts.

January 23, 2014

Martha Beck (1938–2014)

The founder of the Drawing Center, Martha Beck, has passed away, according to Paul Vitello in the New York Times. After beginning her career at the Museum of Modern Art as an assistant curator of drawings, Beck “became a phenomenon in the SoHo art scene of the 1970s and ‘80s for her ability to put together shows of major-museum quality” on modest budgets, writes Vitello. She established the Drawing Center in 1977, in a small ground-floor warehouse on Greene Street in Manhattan that cost $900 a month. The center went on to stage shows including exhibition of drawings by Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi—the largest such show outside Spain at the time—and “Sculptors’ Drawings Over Six Centuries, 1400–1950,” which included works by masters like Donatello, Rodin, Matisse, and Picasso. Ann Philbin, who succeeded Beck at the Center and is now director at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, said, “Amazingly, she would ask the most important museums all over the world to lend their precious rare old master drawings to this funky warehouse space in Lower Manhattan—and they would—because its reputation for innovation, connoisseurship, and excellence preceded it.”

January 23, 2014

Douglas Davis (1933–2014)

Douglas Davis, who made a name as both an art critic and artist, has passed away at the age of eighty, reports Daniel E. Slotnik in the New York Times. An art writer for Newsweek in the 1970s and ‘80s, Davis also penned several books including Artculture: Essays on the Post-Modern (1977) and The Five Myths of Television Power: Or, Why the Medium Is Not the Message (1993). In his work as an artist in the 1970s, Davis embraced newer forms of media—video and performance—and in 1977 collaborated with Nam June Paik and Joseph Beuys, staging satellite broadcasts of performance pieces to twenty-five countries as part of Documenta 6. Nearly twenty years later, Davis initiated The World’s First Collaborative Sentence, 1994, an online, participatory piece that solicited textual contributions from web visitors. For the next six years, writes Slotnik, some 200,000 people added their own thoughts. While the original piece eventually became obsolete, the Whitney launched a restored version last year that’s open to public participation. In addition to the Whitney, the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Museum of Modern Art in New York have all shown Davis’s work.

January 23, 2014

Emmanuel de Chaunac (1962–2014)

The executive director and deputy chairman of Christie’s, Emmanuel de Chaunac, has passed away. He began his New York career in 1983, when he created events-agency Tentation. Later serving as director general of Christie’s France, he eventually returned to New York as executive director and deputy chairman of the auction house. As Béatrice De Rochebouet notes in Le Figaro, de Chaunac was eventually made Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur. Francois Pinault, who chose him for his position, said of de Chaunac, “He embodied the French spirit at its best.”

January 22, 2014

Musée National d’Art Moderne to Tap Catherine David as Deputy Director

Catherine David will be named the new deputy director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Pompidou, according to Emmanuelle Lequeux in Le Monde. David, who will be replacing Catherine Grenier, was curator at the museum from 1981 to 1990. She has also served as curator at the National Gallery at the Jeu de Paume in Paris and the chief curator of the Musées de France. She was artistic director of the 1997 Documenta, and went on to direct the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. Subsequently turning her focus to the Middle East, she led “Représentations Arabes Contemporains,” a project comprising exhibitions, seminars, and publications throughout Europe. She served in 2009 as commissioner of the Abu Dhabi pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In her new role at the Pompidou, she will be charged with steering the museum vis-à-vis issues surrounding globalization; the position’s responsibilities “fit her like a glove,” notes Lequeux, who points out that David is the woman who once said in an interview, “I never thought that the world stopped at Saint-Germain-des-Prés.”

January 22, 2014

LACMA, Art Institute of Chicago among Museums Receiving $2 Million for Curatorial Diversity Initiative

Jason Foumberg reports for Newcity that the Mellon Foundation will contribute $2 million to the Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program. Over four years, five participating museums—the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and the High Museum in Atlanta—will provide mentoring and fellowships to college-level curators from underrepresented communities. Foumberg notes that the initiative is inspired by two reports by the American Alliance of Museums which found that over 80 percent of students enrolled in museum-studies programs are white. The program begins this summer and will provide support to twenty students in total.