November 9, 2017

National Gallery of Art Director to Step Down After Twenty-Five Years

Earl “Rusty” Powell. Photo: the National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, has announced that director Earl “Rusty” Powell will retire in 2019, after more than twenty-five years at the museum. Powell is the institution’s longest-serving director, and only its fourth in its seventy-six-year history.

Under Powell’s leadership, the National Gallery expanded both its West and East buildings, added the sculpture garden, grew its permanent collection, successfully completed numerous fundraising campaigns, and increased its public education initiatives.

“Thanks to the trustees of the National Gallery of Art, I have been privileged to helm a period of extraordinary growth,” Powell said. “For several years I had the honor of working closely with Paul Mellon, whose unparalleled contributions to the Gallery and the nation’s cultural life live on in infinite ways. I also wish to acknowledge with gratitude all of the Gallery’s trustees past and present and to express my profound appreciation for the service of the Gallery’s presidents with whom I am honored to have worked closely: Bob Smith, Vicki Sant, and now Rick Beinecke. Their leadership, support, and friendship have made my years as director a true pleasure.”

November 8, 2017

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Acquires Eight Hundred Photographs

Diane Arbus, Child with a Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C., 1962. Courtesy: the Nelson-Atkins Museum of

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, announced today that it has acquired eight-hundred photographs that span 190 years. The institution was able to add the works to its collection after it received a $10 million gift from the Hall Family Foundation.

The works, which were produced by nearly 150 artists, include an 1826 print by JosephNicéphore Niépce, who is often credited as the inventor of photography and a pioneer of the field, as well as works by Dorothea Lange, W. Eugene Smith, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, Ellsworth Kelly, Carrie Mae Weems, and Thomas Struth, among many others.

Around one hundred of the photographs will be on view this spring in exhibition “The Big Picture: A Transformative Gift from the Hall Family Foundation,” opening on April 27, 2018. The show will coincide with the foundation’s seventy-fifth anniversary.

November 8, 2017

New York’s MAD Creates New $50,000 Artist Award

Museum of Arts and Design, 2016. Photo: Gustav Liliequist Courtesy: Museum of Arts and Design

The Museum of Arts and Design in New York is launching a new annual $50,000 award. The Burke Prize will recognize artists working in and advancing the disciplines that shaped the American studio craft movement. Eligible applicants include United States–based artists under the age of forty-five, who work with glass, fiber, clay, metals, or wood.

“The Burke Prize is an important and remarkable gift to American craft," Shannon R. Stratton, MAD’s chief curator, said. “Not only does an unrestricted prize of this magnitude help sustain an artist’s practice, allowing for experimentation and growth, but it also makes a powerful statement about the continued importance of these artistic disciplines.” The winner of the inaugural Burke Prize will be announced in the fall of 2018.

November 8, 2017

Walt Disney Company Ends Ban on Los Angeles Times

Paul McCarthy, White Snow Dwarf (Bashful), 2011, pink silicone, 66 x 48 x 48".

Dave McNary of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Walt Disney Company has lifted its ban against the Los Angeles Times. The corporation originally told the paper that it would not allow its film critics to attend advance screenings of Disney produced and distributed movies over an article it had published investigating Disney’s troublesome financial relationship to the city of Anaheim, California, where much of the company’s business is centered.

But Disney seems to have changed its tune after representatives from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics, and the National Society of Film issued a statement condemning Disney’s actions. In the letter the organizations said that they “have voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until said blackout is publicly rescinded.” A continued boycott of this sort would've likely had devastating ramifications for the company during awards season. 

A spokesperson from the Disney went on to say the following: “We've had productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at the Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns, and as a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics.” 




November 8, 2017

Yale School of Art Receives $750,000 to Establish New Art and Social Justice Initiative

Marta Kuzma

The Yale School of Art has received an anonymous donation of $750,000 in order to establish a new art and social justice initiative.

The initiative has been created by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of the Yale School of Art, Marta Kuzma, as an acknowledgement that graduate art education needs to play a greater role in looking at art through social, cultural, and economic points of view. The donation will also help with scholarships, research, increased pedagogical offerings, student art production, and the exploration of commonsense approaches to critical and collective thinking around public dialogue and social engagement.

“This gift represents a level of generosity that enables the Yale School of Art to address one of the most important issues in society today—equity in graduate level education within which personal or social circumstances, race, gender, ethnic origin, or economic background, might in no way serve as an obstacle to higher learning. Additionally, this gift enlarges the platform on which the Yale School of Art addresses the cross section of art with current debates and issues plaguing society, both nationally and internationally,” said Kuzma.

November 8, 2017

Dread Scott Launches Kickstarter to Fund Slave Rebellion Reenactment

A rendering of the reenactment.

Artist Dread Scott has teamed up with Antenna, a New Orleans–based arts organization, in order to plan a reenactment of the 1811 Louisiana slave rebellion. The performance aims to include more than five hundred people who will march the twenty-six mile route that the slaves took along the east bank of the Mississippi River.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the revolt began at a plantation owned by Manuel Andry in a region called the German Coast of Louisiana. On January 8, 1811, slave driver Charles Deslondes led a group of slaves into the plantation owners’ mansion and injured Andry and killed his son Gilbert. Armed with muskets, cane knives, hoes, and clubs, they began a two-day hike to New Orleans, burning plantations along the way. On January 10, federal troops and the militia surrounded the enslaved at Jacques Fortier’s plantation, near what is now River Town in Kenner, putting an end to the uprising.

A Kickstarter campaign aims to raise $40,000 for the event. According to the website for the project, the reenactment will “culminate in a celebration featuring a public commemoration of the enslaved rebels who sacrificed their lives and a community celebration of Black cultural expressions of freedom through music and performance.”


November 8, 2017

Massachusetts Court Rules in Favor of Berkshire Museum’s Deaccession of Artworks

The Berkshire Museum.

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, will be allowed to move forward with its plan to sell forty artworks from its collection in a series of auctions at Sotheby’s, Larry Parnass of the Berkshire Eagle reports. The first group of works to be sold, including Shuffleton Barbershop—a Norman Rockwell painting expected to net $30 million—will be featured in a sale on Monday, November 13.

In a twenty-five page decision, a Massachusetts judge, John Agostini, ruled that the two lawsuits that had been previously filed by Norman Rockwell’s sons and current and former museum members in an attempt to halt the sale lacked legal standing. He also questioned the motives behind the Attorney General’s Office last-minute effort to stop the sale by adding the office as a plaintiff on one of the complaints.

“It is bewildering that the AGO would seek such an injunction, at such a cost, when its investigation has uncovered no evidence of bad faith, no conflict of interest, no breach of loyalty, no express gift restrictions, and yielded unconvincing evidence of implied gift restrictions or a breach of reasonable care,” Agostini wrote.

November 7, 2017

Mel Rosenthal (1940–2017)

Mel Rosenthal

Mel Rosenthal, a documentary photographer who traveled all over the world to places such as Cuba, Nicaragua, and Tanzania—but became well known for capturing gritty images of life in the South Bronx, his childhood home—passed away on October 30, writes Neil Genzlinger of the New York Times. He died from complications of dementia.

Rosenthal graduated from City College in 1961 and received a Ph.D. in 1967 from the University of Connecticut in English literature and American studies. Though he became enamored of photography when he was an exchange student in Rome, it was Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film, Blow-Up, about a fashion photographer in Swinging London, that really alerted him to his true calling.

After teaching for a number of years at Vassar College, the artist went to work as a medical photographer at a Tanzanian hospital. He then came back to New York in 1975 for a job at Empire State College in the Bronx, where he ended up working for thirty-six years. It was his return to the borough of his youth—and seeing how dramatically it had changed—that pushed Rosenthal to create In the South Bronx of America, a book of photos published in 2000.

Rosenthal had been in numerous exhibitions during his lifetime. Among them: “A Community of Many Worlds: Arab Americans in New York,” which opened at the Museum of the City of New York in 2002, not too long after the September 11 attacks, and “Refugee: The Newest New Yorkers,” a traveling exhibition that Times critic Holland Cotter reviewed when it was at the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in Philadelphia in 2001. Said Cotter of the show: “The American dream is still alive here; so are the conflicts it entails as contrasting cultures and values abruptly meet, and people struggle to adapt to a new present while maintaining a hold on what’s treasurable in the past. The dynamic is endlessly fascinating, and Mr. Rosenthal is an alert, patient, receptive artist and observer.”

November 7, 2017

Former Stedelijk Museum Director Beatrix Ruf Claims She Resigned over a “Misunderstanding”

Beatrix Ruf

Beatrix Ruf, the former director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, who resigned from the position after a Dutch newspaper reported that she was running a private art consultancy that brought in considerable sums of money, claims she stepped down from her post over a “misunderstanding,” writes Nina Siegal of the New York Times. Ruf says that the museum’s board approved all of her activities at the Stedelijk, and that reports of a conflict of interest are untrue. She began her directorship there in 2014.

Currentmatters, Ruf’s art advisory business, which she also started in 2014, earned about $1 million, which she claims was a parting bonus from a previous employer, Michael Ringier, the Swiss art collector and publisher, for work that had been completed prior to her time at the Stedelijk. Ringier paid off the bonus in installments during 2015 and 2016. This, of course, raised concerns as to whether her job at a public art institution—for which she was paid about $130,000 annually—would be negatively affected by the interests of her private clientele (people at the helm of prestigious institutions such as the Stedelijk can dramatically alter the market value of artists they choose to work with).

When the Times tried getting a statement from the museum about the situation, Madeleine de Cock Buning, the acting chairwoman of the Stedelijk’s supervisory board, said that two independent investigations have already been launched regarding the matter. She added, “We have decided not to answer questions of the media while the investigations are going on.”