December 2, 2016

Protesters Call on South African Gallery to Remove Artwork by Artist Accused of Murder

Zwelethu Mthethwa

According to The Citizen, the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) is outraged by Iziko South African National Gallery’s decision to display the work of Zwelethu Mthethwa—a photographer who is currently on trial for the alleged killing of twenty-three-year-old sex worker Nokuphila Moudy Kumalo in 2013—in an exhibition intended to celebrate women.

Protesters are calling for the removal of the work from the show “Our Lady,” which coincides with 16 Days of Activism—a campaign to raise awareness about the high rate of violent crimes women and children. In a letter to the museum, human rights and advocacy manager Ishtar Lakhani said, “In their attempt to ‘celebrate empowered female capacity and artworks that counter and contextualize the current status quo’ the National Gallery has in fact served to prioritize the notoriety of the accused rather than respect for the victim, Nokupila Moudy Kumalo.”

The group suggested replacing Untitled (from Hope Chest series), 2012—Mthethwa’s photograph of a woman sitting on a large wooden box, which is part of a series of works exploring the relationship between women and their dowries—with a painting of Kumalo by local artist Astrid Warren.

December 2, 2016

Nam June Paik’s Nephew Donates $1 Million to Harvard Art Museums

Nam June Paik

The Harvard Art Museums has announced that it received a $1 million gift from business school alumnus Ken Hakuta, the nephew of pioneering video artist Nam June Paik, as well as ten of Paik’s works.

Director Martha Tedeschi said, “Ken Hakuta is dedicated to the legacy of his uncle, Nam June Paik, and the important contributions he made to contemporary art. Ken’s generous support will lead to groundbreaking scholarship that will benefit students and scholars around the world.”

The gift will establish the Hakuta Family Endowment Fund, which will support a two-year Nam June Paik Fellowship for the advancement of scholarship and research on the artist’s contributions to twentieth-century art. Hakuta said, “Nam June Paik was a real renaissance man. He was a global thinker, media visionary, composer, writer, video artist, painter, sculptor, performer, engineer, television producer, and much more; the research topics on Paik, including the conservation of Paik video art, are limitless.” He added, “I could not be more pleased that the Harvard Art Museums will be the center of Nam June Paik research for generations to come, working with other institutions globally with an interest in Paik and, most importantly, educating the next generation of scholars.”

December 2, 2016

John M. Miller (1939–2016)

Installation view of John M. Miller’s “Yesterdays” at Margo Leaving Gallery.

Artist John M. Miller, best known for his geometric abstract art and compositions of repeating angled, colored bars on unprimed canvases, has died in West Los Angeles at the age of seventy-seven, Christopher Knight of the LA Times reports.

In the February 2012 issue of Artforum, Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer writes: “For being abstract, these works—terse and dry, yet richly associative and redolent—picture so much. Absorbed into the fabric ground, Miller’s repeating, ever-expanding pattern doubles painting as printed textile and suggests that the canvas be experienced like freshly pressed linen, a stretched and tucked bedsheet to get wrapped up in.”

She added, “But beyond the referentiality of his geometric abstractions, what’s most dizzying about Miller’s paintings is the exuberant, ecstatic, unrelenting single-mindedness with which he has produced them, mantralike, for nearly four decades. And increasingly, it seems that the paintings aren’t so abstract after all, but rather are quite literal indexes of the persistence and mania that is their impetus. Ultimately, the artist’s labor and conviction in pattern—as an aesthetic mode and template for existence—are his real subjects.”

December 1, 2016

Hirshhorn Names Mark Beasley as Inaugural Curator of Media and Performance Art

Mark Beasley

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden announced today that Mark Beasley, a former curator and producer at Creative Time in New York, was appointed as the institution’s first curator of media and performance art. Beasley will be responsible for organizing exhibitions and acquiring works for the museum’s collection of new media art, including film, video, and performance.

Director Melissa Chiu said, “As one of the first contemporary art museums in the country to place significant resources around the acquisition of new media artwork, we are proud to further that commitment by establishing a fulltime curatorial position dedicated to this emerging and rapidly evolving genre of art.” She added, “Mark Beasley is one of the few experts of his kind, and as one of the leading curators of our time, his work has helped to shape this field over the past fifteen years.”

Previously, Beasley served as a curator for Performa, the British Council in London, and Creative Time. He has also worked as a curatorial advisor to the inaugural Okayama Art Summit in 2016, as a guest curator for the Sunday Sessions Greater New York performance program at MoMA PS1, and as a curator of a series of performances held in conjunction with the Mike Kelley retrospective at MoMA PS1 in 2011.

December 1, 2016

Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Announces 2016 Writing Grant Recipients

Grant winner Jeanne Vaccaro

The Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation has announced the 2016 recipients of is Arts Writers Grant program. Twenty writers have been awarded a total of $695,000. Established to create a broader audience for arts writing, the program aims to ensure that critical writing remains a valued mode of engaging the visual arts.

Ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, the grants support four categories of contemporary art writing: articles, blogs, books, and short-form writing.

The winners are:

December 1, 2016

Art Basel Miami Beach Appoints Philipp Kaiser as New Curator of Public Sector

Philipp Kaiser

Art Basel announced today that Philipp Kaiser, an independent curator and critic, will curate the Public sector of the 2017 edition of the Miami Beach fair. He succeeds Nicholas Baume, director and chief curator of the Public Art Fund in New York. The Public sector includes site-specific sculptures and performances created by emerging artists that are staged in the city’s Collins Park.

Noah Horowitz, director Americas of Art Basel, said, “Philipp Kaiser’s extensive curatorial background and deep knowledge of contemporary artistic practice will bring an exciting new vision and global perspective to this dynamic sector.”

Previously, Kaiser led the Museum Ludwig in Cologne as director from 2012 to 2014. He has served as senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the head of contemporary art at Kunstmuseum. The Los Angeles–based curator was recently announced as the curator of “Women of Venice—Carol Bove and Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler” at the Swiss Pavilion of the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale and will also curate the inaugural exhibition at the Marciano Foundation in Los Angeles next year.

December 1, 2016

Trisha Donnelly Wins Museum Ludwig’s 2017 Wolfgang Hahn Prize

Installation view of “Trisha Donnelly” at Serralves Villa, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto.

The Museum Ludwig in Cologne has announced that Trisha Donnelly has been awarded its 2017 Wolfgang Hahn Prize, which was established to honor contemporary artists who “have not gained the attention they deserve.” The award includes an exhibition organized by the museum, an accompanying catalogue, and an acquisition of the artist’s work.

The jury consisted of Suzanne Cotter, director of the Serralves Museum of contemporary art in Porto; Yilmaz Dziewior, director of the Museum Ludwig; Mayen Beckmann, chairwoman of the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst; as well as Gabriele Bierbaum, Sabine DuMont Schütte, Jörg Engels, and Robert Müller-Grünow, board members of the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst.

Cotter said, “Trisha Donnelly is without doubt one of the most compelling artists of our time whose work offers entirely new ways of experiencing and thinking about form, at once synaesthesic and disruptively transporting. As an artist she occupies a position of committed resistance to the easy appropriation of art as something contained and ultimately controllable. At the same time, the extraordinary generosity of her work, that touches on the visual—in particular the photographic—the spoken, the aural and the physical, is electrifying in its permission.”

Born in San Francisco in 1974, Donnelly received her bachelor of fine arts from the University of California, and in 2000 she earned her master of fine arts at the Yale University School of Art. Since 1999 she has taken part in numerous solo exhibitions, including shows at the Villa Serralves in Porto, the Serpentine Gallery in London, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago.

December 1, 2016

UK Exam Board Saves A-Level Art History Courses

Culture Minister Matt Hancock

Culture minister Matt Hancock said that he is “thrilled” to announce today that A-level history of art courses will be continued to be taught in high schools throughout the UK after Pearson agreed to develop an A-level exam, Christy Romer of Arts Professional reports.

Rod Bristow, the president of Pearson in the UK, said, “The response from the public, from teachers and from young people shows many people have a real passion for these subjects. We’re happy to help make sure they remain available.”

In October, the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), the last exam board in England offering A-level art history, decided to drop the subject citing a lack of interest—only 839 students took the exam this summer. As a result, students would not be able to study art history at the university level.

Shortly after the AQA announced that art history was being cut, arts workers mobilized. A petition on 38 degrees that states “to discontinue offering art history at AS and A level from 2018…is detrimental to students, teachers, and the cultural future of this country,” secured more than 18,500 signatures. Among the organizations campaigning to save A-level art history are the Association of Art Historians, the Courtauld Institute of Art, the University of York, the National Gallery, Tate, and the Royal Academy of Arts.

Munira Mirza, former deputy mayor for education and culture of London, said “Hopefully the arts sector is now galvanized to work even more proactively with teachers to promote this valuable subject. Art history should be part of a general education for all, not just a niche subject for the few.”

November 30, 2016

Helsinki City Council Shuts Down Guggenheim Museum Proposal in Final Vote

Design rendering of the Helsinki Guggenheim.

The Helsinki City Council debated late into the evening on Wednesday over whether to move forward with the building of a Guggenheim Museum on the city’s shorefront. In a final vote with fifty-three council members against the museum and only thirty-two in favor, the city rejected the project due to financial concerns.

The city of Helsinki and the Guggenheim Supporting Foundation had recently announced the funding proposal after the Finnish Government rejected the Guggenheim Foundation’s original plan to cover $45 million of the construction costs with taxpayers dollars in September. The new proposal, which was spearheaded by deputy mayor Ritva Viljanen, made the city the principal owner of the building. Last week the Helsinki City Board narrowly voted in favor of the more clearly outlined funding plan in an 8-7 vote.

Hours before the meeting started, dozens of people gathered in Senate Square to protest the project and call for the city’s money to be invested in its existing institutions. During the days leading up to the meeting there has been extensive lobbying from both sides involving former presidents and prime ministers, poster campaigns, and calls for demonstrations.