April 24, 2017

LAXART Founder Opens Production Studio in LA

Future site of there-there at 4845 Fountain Avenue in Los Angeles.

After stepping down from her directorship of LAXART, which she founded in 2005, Lauri Firstenberg is creating a new art-production studio in partnership with Los Angeles–based artist Anthony James, according to a report by Nate Freeman in Artnews. Called There-there, it will be located in East Hollywood. The company will work with artists, institutions, and foundations in an advisory capacity while funding and producing work. The studio will also host exhibitions in a gallery that will be built into its prospective headquarters on 4845 Fountain Avenue, next to a Church of Scientology building.

Firstenberg said of the project: “Over the course of fourteen years things have evolved [in LA] tremendously, but some things haven’t changed . . . There’s so much to do if you think about so many international artists who have yet to work in Los Angeles.” She has also proposed that her initiative may bolster the trend away from the traditional model of gallery representation: “My generation of artists in LA, if you really break it down, a lot of their galleries have closed, they don’t have the support structure that they need—and so, they can come to there-there. And there’s a generation of emerging artists who have yet to come to LA and produce projects, and that’s something that I’ve been committed to since I started curating in my early twenties.”

The space will open this spring and programming will begin next September.

April 21, 2017

Economic Impact of the Arts Revealed in NEA Report

An infographic conveying the top arts and cultural exports in the United States in 2014. Photo: The National Endowment of the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Bureau of Economic Analysis have released a report that provides state leaders with data on the impact arts and culture has on the economy and the job market. Based on data from 2014, its research shows that cultural industries in the US have contributed $729.6 billion to the economy, and between 1998 and 2014 the contribution of arts and culture to the nation’s gross domestic product grew by 35.1 percent.

“Information from the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account has been invaluable for understanding the role of arts and culture in our economy, demonstrating that the arts are indeed part of our everyday lives,” said NEA chairman Jane Chu. “Now with the new state data, state leaders have a powerful tool to assess and advance arts and culture for the benefit of all their residents.”

According to the report, between 2013 and 2014 the growth in arts and cultural workers exceeded the national rate in seventeen states, with the largest growth in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Washington. New York, Washington, Wyoming, and Hawaii had the highest concentrations of jobs in the arts. Hawaii’s twenty-three museums and seventeen zoos and botanical gardens contribute to the state’s high museum employment, which is four times the national rate.

April 21, 2017

Buckingham Palace Honors Chris Ofili for His Services to Art

Chris Ofili

Artist Chris Ofili and actor, director, and playwright Mark Rylance were among the honorees at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, April 19, The Guardian reports. Rylance was knighted for his services to theater and Ofili was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).

The Turner Prize–winning artist said that the award was special due to his parents’ decision to relocate to England from Nigeria more than four decades ago. “We set up our life in England and it’s so special to be recognized for what I do in England and Britain, and for my parents that they made a great choice and invested so much in me,” Ofili said. “It feels as though I have achieved a lot.”

Among the other honorees were the heptathlete and Olympic gold medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill, who was made a Dame Commander during the ceremony; Victoria Beckham, who became an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her contributions to the fashion industry; and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Worsley, who died last year while trekking across Antarctica to raise money for the Endeavour Fund, an initiative that supports the recovery of wounded, injured, and sick servicemen and -women.

April 21, 2017

Man Defaces Painting at Metropolitan Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Photo: Jefferson Siegel

Just after 5 PM on Thursday, April 20, a man vandalized a student’s painting on view in the education center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Daily News reports.

Thirty-three-year-old Ryan Watson used a blue marker to write “Nazi art” on a work on display and then yelled, “Go back to your country,” after he was approached by a security guard. Museum staff called the police, who arrested Watson and charged him with graffiti and criminal mischief.

Met spokeswoman Annie Bailis said that every effort is being made to restore the piece, which is featured in the museum’s “Scholastic Art and Writing Awards” exhibit. She added, “The Met is grateful for the quick and effective action taken by security officers and the NYPD on this unfortunate incident.”

April 21, 2017

Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930–2017)

Magdalena Abakanowicz

Polish sculptor and fiber artist Magdalena Abakanowicz has died at the age of eighty-six, the rector of Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts said on Friday, April 21. Perhaps best known for her biomorphic large-scale sculptures of headless human figures made from thick fibers hardened with synthetic resins, the artist once said: “There is no tool between me and the material I use. I choose it with my hands. I shape it with my hands. My hands transmit my energy to it. By translating an idea into a shape, they will always pass on something escaping conceptualization. They will reveal the unconscious.”

Born on June 20, 1930, in Falenty, Poland, Abakanowicz began her artistic career as a painter and soon shifted to creating sculptural forms with textiles. Her soft sculptures made from dyed sisal fiber, known as “Abakans,” were exhibited at the 1964 International Biennial of Tapestry in Lausanne and won a gold medal at the 1967 So Paulo Biennial. She was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Award for Distinction in Sculpture from the New York Sculpture Center in 1993 and the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts in 1999. Abakanowicz was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, Poland, from 1965 to 1990, and a visiting professor at a number of institutions in Los Angeles, Berkeley, Boston, New York, San Diego, Sydney, and Tokyo. Her permanent installations can be found in Grant Park, Chicago; at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC; and in Warsaw’s Romuald Traugutt Park. The largest collection of her art is safeguarded by the National Museum in Wrocław in Poland.

In the November 1993 issue of Artforum, Marek Bartelik reviewed her shows at Marlborough Gallery and MoMA PS1. He wrote: “Vivid memories of World War II and four decades of communism inform the art of the Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz . . . In order to create her sculptures, Abakanowicz peels the bark, cuts off the limbs, and inserts metal devices into tree trunks, making them look like subjects of double torture, first by an unknown hostile force, then by the artist herself. Yet such ‘cruelty’ allows her to question the binary oppositions of victim and oppressor, love and hate, life and death, while preventing her from simplistically repeating therhetoric that so often surrounds themes of war, totalitarianism, or ecology.”

April 21, 2017

South African Galleries Refuse to Show Work by Convicted Murderer Zwelethu Mthethwa

William Booth and Zwelethu Mthethwa leaving the Western Cape High Court in in Cape Town on June 1, 2015. Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht

Following a court ruling last month that found photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa guilty of murder, several galleries and auction houses in South Africa have decided not to display or sell his work, Andrew Robertson of IOL reports.

“In a recent board meeting, the directors of Strauss & Co decided that the company would not be auctioning works by Zwelethu Mthethwa until further notice,” said Bina Genovese, the marketing and advertising officer of the auction house.

Mthethwa was convicted of killing the twenty-three-year-old sex worker Nokuphila Kumalo in 2013. His attorney, William Booth, recently postponed sentencing since he has been denied access to the prison and was unable to have a clinical psychologist and social worker meet with Mthethwa.

April 21, 2017

Otobong Nkanga Wins 2017 BelgianArtPrize

Otobong Nkanga

On April 19, Otobong Nkanga was honored with the BelgianArtPrize, a biennial award that recognizes the artistic achievements of mid-career artists. She will receive $26,000 and is featured in an exhibition at the BOZAR Center for Fine Arts, which will run until May 28.

The international jury said that it chose Nkanga because she “is an artist who records the social and topographical changes of her environment, who observes their inherent complexities and understands how resources such as soil and earth, and their potential values, are subject to regional and cultural analysis.”

Since 1950, the nonprofit organization La Jeune Peinture Belge, which describes itself as a group of art lovers, professionals, and collectors, has collaborated with the BOZAR Center for Fine Arts to organize the prize with the goal of supporting artistic talent in Belgium and offering artists an international platform.

April 20, 2017

Artist Pension Trust Pulls Eighteen Works from Sotheby’s

Ivn Navarro Victor, (The Missing Monument for Washington, D.C OR a proposal for a monument for Victor Jara), 2008. Photo: Artist Pension Trust

The Artist Pension Trust, a mutual assurance fund that provides long-term financial security for artists, withdrew eighteen lots from an upcoming auction at Sotheby’s London after several artists decided that the sale “was not in their best interests,” Colin Gleadell of The Telegraph reports.

Works by David Shrigley, Jeremy Deller, Richard Wright, Jane and Louise Wilson, Liam Gillick, Martin Boyce, and Douglas Gordon, among others, were featured in a catalogue that was released a month ago. The lots were estimated to bring in more than $250,000.

This year marks the first time APT chose to put works up for auction. The London sale was to follow a successful Sotheby’s New York auction last month. Only two out of fifteen works from APT failed to sell. A work by Chilean artist Ivn Navarro was one of the highest priced pieces of the group, netting $26,000. The sale raised a total of $231,000, which exceeded the original $160,000 estimate.

April 20, 2017

Emily Cormack to Curate 2018 TarraWarra Biennial

Emily Cormack

Australia’s TarraWarra Museum of Art has named Emily Cormack, a Melbourne-based freelance curator and writer, as curator of the next edition of the TarraWarra Biennial. Director Victoria Lynn said, “Emily curated ‘Primavera’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney last year to wide acclaim, and we look forward to her unique vision for the TarraWarra Biennial 2018.”

In addition to curating the twenty-fifth edition of “Primavera: Young Australian Artists,” an annual exhibition that recognizes artists who are thirty-five years of age and younger, Cormack has organized a number of shows for Melbourne’s Gertrude Contemporary and Adam Art Gallery in Wellington. She is also a cofounder and codirector of the independent art space Conical.

Established in 2006 as an experimental curatorial platform, the TarraWarra Biennial aims to identify new trends in contemporary Australian art. The 2016 edition, titled “Endless Circulation,” was a collaboration between the TarraWarra Museum of Art and the Melbourne-based contemporary art journal Discipline.