February 2, 2014

Rene Ricard (1946–2014)

Poet, painter, art critic, and Warhol superstar Rene Ricard has passed away, according to Kory Grow in Rolling Stone. After appearing in Andy Warhol’s films such as The Kitchen (1965) and Chelsea Girls (1966), Ricard later even played Warhol himself in Andy Warhol Story (1967), and then later drew attention for his role as a butler in Eric Mitchell's film, Underground USA (1980).

In the ‘70s, Ricard established himself as a poet whose work turned up in the Paris Review and Angel Hair, and also contributed articles to Artforum that helped catapult to fame artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Julian Schnabel, and Francesco Clemente. 1979 saw Ricard’s first anthology of poetry, René Ricard 1979–1980. That was followed by God With Revolver (1990), featuring Ricard's paintings of poems, and Love Poems (1999), which collected his poetry alongside illustrations by Robert Hawkins. An active artist as well, Ricard had turned to creating large-scale paintings featuring images and text in the years leading up to his death.

January 31, 2014

Director of Carnegie Mellon Art Gallery Fired

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has fired the director of its Miller Gallery, reports Melissa Daniels of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Astria Suparak joined Carnegie Mellon in March 2008. Students and professors are protesting Suparak’s dismissal from Carnegie Mellon, citing her curatorial work, like the recent “Alien She” exhibition, which she cocurated with Ceci Moss. And five chairs at CMU's college of visual and performing arts have signed a letter in support of Suparak, noting that Pittsburgh was “absolutely starving” for her skills, and commending her “strong and imaginative leadership.”

A university spokesperson, when reached for comment, only mentioned that the gallery would be heading in a “new direction.” Meanwhile, according to Daniels, Dan Byers—the Richard Armstrong curator of modern and contemporary art at the Carnegie Museum of Art—surmises that university officials put an end to Suparak’s job, in order to make way for a programming committee that will feature more student work. Said Byers, “[Suparak] ran the most exciting program in the city,” adding, “She had raised the profile of the Miller Gallery.”

January 31, 2014

Artist Files Suit Over Missing Empire State Building Paintings

New York–based artist Kysa Johnson has filed a lawsuit against the Empire State Reality Trust, reports Randy Kennedy of the New York Times. Johnson’s paintings, which were commissioned by the the Empire State building’s owners and installed in 2000, have gone missing. According to the suit, the trust informed Johnson that the paintings “could not be located, were likely destroyed, and therefore could not be returned.” Johnson’s claim that she retained ownership of the paintings under her commissioning contract is being pursued with the support of the Visual Artists Rights Act, a copyright protection law that safeguards the rights of artists against distortion, mutilation, or destruction of their work.

January 31, 2014

New Department Heads at Sotheby’s

GalleristNY reports that Sotheby’s has named several new department heads. Alexander Rotter and Cheyenne Westphal are the new worldwide heads of Sotheby’s contemporary art department, and Helena Newman and Simon Shaw will work as the new worldwide heads of Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art department. Newman led the Impressionist and modern art sales for Sotheby’s Europe, while Shaw worked as director of Sotheby’s Stockholm and orchestrated the record-breaking sale of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Rotter—who specializes in Pop and post-1980s art—previously served as director and head of Sotheby’s contemporary art department in New York, and Westphal was chair of the European contemporary art department, and oversaw every major contemporary art sale in Europe since 1999, according to Sotheby’s.

January 30, 2014

Courtenay Finn Named Curator of Aspen Art Museum

The Aspen Art Museum has announced that Courtenay Finn will be serving as its new curator. Finn spent the last three years working as curator of New York nonprofit Art in General, where she oversaw exhibitions and a residency program, and pioneered the institution’s “What Now?” conference in collaboration with director Anne Barlow. She also curated Art in General’s first international new commission with Lebanese artist Mounira Al Solh and cocurated the Latvian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale.

Finn’s not the only new hire over at the Aspen Art Museum: Michelle Dezember will also be joining the museum staff as learning director. In her new role, she’ll oversee all museum educational outreach and school and family programs, as well as public programming. She was previously deputy director for programming and special projects at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar.

January 30, 2014

Two New Curators at San Antonio Museum of Art

Elda Silva reports in the San Antonio Express-News that William Keyse Rudolph has been hired to fill the newly created position of Marie and Hugh Halff Curator of American Art and Mellon Chief Curator. Rudolph has previously held curatorial positions at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts and the Dallas Museum of Art. Also joining the San Antonio staff is Merribell Parsons, as curator of European art. As a curator, Parsons led the sculpture and decorative arts department at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She’s also served as assistant director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and director and CEO of the Columbus Museum of Art. “[It] means that we are preparing for the future of the museum,” said board member Guillermo Nicolas, of the San Antonio museum’s new hires. “Bigger, better, more in tune with the community we serve.”

January 30, 2014

Detroit Institute of Arts Pledges to Raise $100 Million

The Detroit Institute of Arts announced yesterday that it would raise $100 million on its own, in addition to $370 million pledged by foundations, as a way to help the city pay off a $3.5 billion shortfall in money owed to pensions. Randy Kennedy noted in the New York Times that, as part of the deal, the city would then pass ownership of the museum to a nonprofit. Museum officials originally called such a deal “completely unfeasible,” but have since reached out to corporate leaders and decided that the goal would be possible, though it would “stretch . . .fund-raising abilities to their capacity.” Said museum board chair Eugene A. Gargaro, “The DIA has consistently met its financial challenges and goals and will meet this challenge with enthusiasm and confidence.”

January 30, 2014

Roy Colmer (1935–2014)

Artist Roy Colmer has passed away. Born in the UK, Colmer studied at Hochschule fur Gestaltung in Hamburg and then moved to New York in 1967. Starting out his career with early acrylic paintings that experimented with references to the visuals of television transmission and noise, he began working with film and video in 1971, notably creating a closed-circuit TV- and video-feedback installation at the University of Cincinnati in 1972. Later, Colmer turned to photography, documenting New York City street scenes in particular. His work was included in exhibitions at venues including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; the museum at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe, Germany; and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

January 30, 2014

Wildenstein Sells New York Gallery to State of Qatar

Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York, has announced that it has reached an agreement to sell its gallery to the State of Qatar. This will mark the opening of Qatar’s permanent New York City consulate at the property. Although the property was not on the market, Wildenstein was contacted by a real estate firm representing Qatar for the sale. Wildenstein has sold works by artists such as Francesco Goya, Paul Cézanne, Jacques-Louis David, Paul Gauguin, and Claude Monet mostly to museums and other public institutions. The transaction is expected to close in April 2014.