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.”

From 2012 to 2014, Kaiser led Museum Ludwig in Cologne as director. He has served as senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and as the head of contemporary art at the 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 he 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.

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 Museum Ludwig; Mayen Beckmann, chair of the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst; and 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 synaesthetic 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 art history courses will continue 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, which 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 were 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, the 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.

November 30, 2016

Museo del Prado Director Miguel Zugaza Departs to Lead Bilbao Museum

Miguel Zugaza

The Museo del Prado announced today that director Miguel Zugaza will step down from his post after fifteen years to join the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum as director. In a resignation letter addressed to the minister of education, culture, and sports, Zugaza said that he “considers the goals established during his term of office to have been fulfilled and expresses his thanks for all the support received.” He added that he considers himself “extremely fortunate” for the opportunity to return to the Bilbao Museum, which he led from 1995 to 2001, after its current director Javier Viar retires later this year.

Zugaza will remain involved with the planning of the Prado’s bicentenary project and the recently announced expansion project, for which architect Norman Foster will renovate a seventeenth-century royal house known as the Hall of Realms, until a new director is hired. The Prado and Bilbao museums will work together to make the transition process for both institutions as seamless as possible.

José Pedro Pérez-Llorca, president of the museum’s royal board of trustees, said, “the Museo del Prado will never be able to sufficiently express its thanks to Miguel Zugaza for his intelligence, wisdom and imagination, and the authority with which he has led the Museum,” and that “the results of his efforts, namely the great success of the Prado, speak for themselves.”

November 30, 2016

William Christenberry (1936–2016)

William Christenberry, Church, Sprott, Alabama, 1971, c-print, 3 x 5".

Matt Schudel reports in the Washington Post that the photographer William Christenberry has died. Best known for documenting his native Alabama, he began his career as a painter and for decades taught painting and drawing at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in Washington, DC. Initially working with a Kodak Brownie camera, he made three-by-five-inch images as color guides for paintings but began to prioritize photography after discovering the 1941 Walker Evans book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men in 1960, which was shot in Hale County, Alabama, where Christenberry spent every summer of his childhood.

Christenberry was born in 1936 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He received his first camera, the Kodak Brownie, in 1944 but studied painting at the University of Alabama where he graduated in 1958 and also received a master’s degree in 1959. In 1961, he moved to New York and introduced himself to Evans, who helped find him a job in the photo archives at Time-Life publications and encouraged Christenberry to continue using the Brownie for his work, which was not considered appropriate for serious photography at the time, saying, “Young man…you know exactly where to stand with that little camera.” From 1962 to 1968, Christenberry taught at what is now the University of Memphis, where he and William Eggleston also became close friends. Eggleston himself began photographing in color after seeing Christenberry’s work.

Christenberry returned annually to Hale County, even taking Evans with him in 1973, two years before the elder photographer’s death. He also began exhibiting in the 1970s, and continued to paint along with doing photography. He also made collages and small models of both real and imagined architectural structures that he called “dream buildings.” His works are in the collections of the Corcoran Gallery—now part of the National Gallery of Art—the Smithsonian American Art Museum, MoMA, and the Whitney, among others. A new exhibition of his work will also open December 9 at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

November 30, 2016

Miniature Balloon Dog Sculpture by Jeff Koons Shatters

The mirrored display where the little balloon dog once hung. Photo: Zachary Weiss.

Zachary Weiss of the New York Observer reports that a miniature balloon dog sculpture by Jeff Koons (Balloon Dog [Magenta], 2016) fell out of its wall-mounted display at the Design/Miami fair yesterday. It was hung in the booth owned by French porcelain maker Bernardaud.

Ally Shapiro, a collector who witnessed the incident, said “It just fell out of the display. The girl standing next to it had it cleaned up in five seconds.”

November 30, 2016

Zaha Hadid Architects Issues Open Letter Decrying Principal Patrik Schumacher’s Remarks on Privatization of Cities

Patrik Schumacher.

Zaha Hadid Architects, where Patrik Schumacher is the principal, has released an open letter distancing themselves as a firm from statements Schumacher recently made at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin, according to Joseph Giovannini in the New York Times. Referred to as his “manifesto” in the letter, Schumacher’s comments included a tirade on gentrification and the displacement of lower-income residents from urban centers—“When socially renting tenants are asked to move and offered a new place somewhere else, they are given these new houses for free…What a tragedy for them”—and he advocated that centrally-located parts of cities be used to house “the most economically potent and most productive users who serve us most effectively.” He also suggested that a new city could be built over Hyde Park in London: “How much are you actually using it? We need to know what it costs us!”

The open letter begins with “Patrik Schumacher’s ‘urban policy manifesto’ does not reflect Zaha Hadid Architects’ past—and will not be our future. Zaha Hadid did not write manifestos. She built them.” It was issued with the knowledge of the firm’s board, which Schumacher is a part of. He has come under fire for controversial remarks in the past, including his approval of Brexit.

Still, according to a spokesman for the office, their letter should not be taken to represent a rebellion within their ranks against Schumacher’s leadership: “Patrik’s contribution to the practice, now and in the future, has never been in question.”

November 30, 2016

Plans to Create Smithsonian Institution for Latino Art Gain Momentum

The Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building. Photo: Eric Long/Smithsonian Institution.

Charmaine Picard of the Art Newspaper writes that efforts to establish a branch of the Smithsonian dedicated to Latino art are picking up speed, especially after the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s well-received debut in Washington, DC, a few months ago. Bipartisan measures were revived in September to make the US capitol a permanent home for the National Museum of the American Latino. In 2011 and 2013, Congress considered proposals, but they did not pass.

Xavier Becerra, who sits on the Smithsonian’s board of regents and cosponsored the bill for the Latino museum in the House of Representatives, said, “There are some fifty-seven million Latinos who are essentially missing from the National Mall. The more we give people a chance to see the full depth and dimension of what it means to be American, the better off we are.” The urgency to accelerate progress on the museum has heightened, especially after the anti-immigrant rhetoric president-elect Donald Trump espoused during his campaign.

For now, the Smithsonian’s Latino Center is planning a larger presence on the National Mall with a 4,500 square foot exhibition scheduled to open in 2018 in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building.