February 8, 2017

Artists and Arts Organizations Urge Trump to Overturn Immigration Ban

People protesting the immigration ban at JFK airport in New York. Photo: Craig Ruttle

The contemporary art world is uniting against President Donald Trump’s executive order banning citizens from Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States. After the order went into effect on January 27, people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen were denied entry and will not be allowed to visit America for one hundred and twenty days. Syrian refugees are being denied indefinitely. Nearly one hundred cultural figures and institutions have signed an open letter demanding that the “unjust” ban be overturned.

The letter states: “In addition to the humanitarian crisis exacerbated by these discriminatory measures, our fellow colleagues are being profiled based on race and/or religion. Should our colleagues have to leave the United States for any reason, they must not fear being denied return; nor should they have to cancel exhibitions or research because they cannot enter this country. Our field is dependent upon international collaboration and cross-cultural exchange, and these cross-border and cross-cultural collaborations benefit the general public; the ban thus affects all of us.”

Signatories include artists, critics, curators, galleries, museums, and collectors. Barbara Kruger, Laura Owens, Louise Lawler, Danh Vō, and Lawrence Weiner are among the artists who have added their names to the letter. Whole organizations have signed as well, including the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York; and Independent Curators International.

February 8, 2017

Spring/Break Art Show Presents Sixth Edition in Times Square Office Building

4 Times Square

Spring/Break Art Show has announced the theme and location of its sixth edition. The fair invites more than one hundred curators to participate by exploring the concept of “Black Mirror,” which the fair describes as “the dance of identity the artist undertakes—between hiding and showing the self—especially in the face of modern technology, political unrest, and glimmers from ghosts of art history’s past.”

Coinciding with Armory week, Spring/Break opens on March 1 at its new venue, 4 Times Square, the former home of Condé Nast. “We’re interested in engaging iconic, atypical environments where contemporary art is often absent,” codirector and cofounder Ambre Kelly said. “In past years this included the former Catholic school of one of the oldest cathedrals in Manhattan, then the decommissioned postal inspection offices of one of the city’s largest post offices. Our new space is an expansion of this—occupying the twelfth largest commercial building in Manhattan, and with it, a new space and seat of American culture to occupy.”

Organized by The They Co.—Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly—Spring/Break Art Show offers free experimental exhibition spaces for independent curators to exhibit works by emerging and mid-career artists.

February 8, 2017

South Korea Charges Former Culture Minister with Abuse of Power

Cho Yoon-sun

After her arrest last month, former South Korean culture minister Cho Yoon-sun was formally charged with abuse of power and coercion on Tuesday for creating a blacklist of nearly 10,000 artists who were not granted government support due to their political beliefs and criticisms of now-impeached President Park Geun-hye, AFP reports.

Filmmakers, authors, and painters are among the cultural figures who were put under state surveillance and denied access to state subsidies and private funding. Many had publicly opposed Park’s administration and blamed its failed rescue efforts for the deaths of 300 people who were on the Sewol ferry when it sank in 2014.

Former chief of staff Kim Ki-choon was indicted and two of Park’s former aides were also charged. The impeached president maintains that she had no knowledge of the list, but prosecutors were not convinced and named her as an accomplice.

February 8, 2017

Art Organizations in Anchorage Receive $100,000 in Grants

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz

Anchorage, Alaska, has granted nearly $100,000 to arts and cultural organizations throughout the city, Travis Khachatoorian of KTUU reports. At the beginning of 2017, the grant program was threatened by citywide budget cuts and funding for the arts decreased by 20 percent from last year.

“As long as I’m mayor, I’m going to do everything I can to support the arts,” mayor Ethan Berkowitz said. “Arts have done a tremendous amount for me, arts have done a lot for my family, arts have done a lot for the local economy, and arts do a lot to make sure Anchorage is a great place to live.”

Among the recipients of the cultural funding are the Alaska Dance Theater, Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alaska Sound Celebrations, Alaska String Camps, Alaska Chamber Singers, Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy, Anchorage Community Theatre, Anchorage Concert Association, Anchorage Concert Chorus, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Anchorage Opera Company, Asian Alaska Cultural Center, Cyrano’s, and Music Machine.

February 8, 2017

Sotheby’s Files Second Forgery Lawsuit

Portrait of a Gentleman, allegedly painted by Franz Hals

On Monday, Sotheby’s announced that it is filing a lawsuit against London art dealer Mark Weiss and collector David Kowitz, alleging that a work supposedly by a European old master painter that the auction house had previously bought from them and then sold at auction is in fact a forgery, according to Nina Siegal in the New York Times.

The auction house is seeking to recoup profits on a private sale of a Frans Hals painting, Portrait of a Gentleman, for which Weiss and Kowitz received $10.75 million. The suit was based on research conducted by Orion Analytical, a scientific firm acquired by Sotheby’s last year, and peer reviewed by John Twilley, an independent conservation scientist.

Sotheby’s previously filed a similar lawsuit against Luxembourg art collector Lionel de Saint Donat-Pourričres, who had used the auction house to sell a painting of St. Jerome. Analysis revealed that the work contained phthalocyanine green, a synthetic pigment developed long after the piece was allegedly painted.

February 8, 2017

Right-Wing Factions Protest Syrian Artist’s Installation in Dresden

Demonstrations against Manaf Halbouni’s Monument, 2017. Photo: Sebastian Kahnert /AFP.

An artwork by Syrian-German artist Manaf Halbouni, Monument, 2017, which was sponsored by the Dresden Kunsthaus and installed close to the city’s Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, is being protested by Dresden’s right-wing factions, writes Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper. Halbouni’s piece, made from a trio of destroyed buses turned upright, is based on a 2016 photograph taken in Aleppo of buses pointed skyward and joined with wire so that they could function as a barricade to protect residents from battle. Monument is a symbol of war and regeneration, much like the church it stands near, which was demolished during World War II and rebuilt when Germany reunified.

The work has incensed many in Dresden since it was publicly unveiled on February 7. The city is home to the right-leaning, anti-immigration movement called Pegida. About 150 protestors gathered near the work yesterday, chanting “traitors” and “get lost.” The artistic director of the Dresden Kunsthaus, Christiane Mennicke-Schwarz, said, “We have hit a nerve with this project—an important nerve. It shows how important it is to focus on this subject. We have to be open to the suffering of others.”

Pegida supporters and members of the populist Alternative for Germany party used social media to make their anger about the work quite clear. Many of them said Monument should be burned. They have also threatened Dresden’s mayor, Dirk Hilbert, with violence for allowing the work to go up.

February 8, 2017

Hans Haacke Wins 2017 Roswitha Haftmann Prize

Hans Haacke

Hans Haacke has been awarded the 2017 Roswitha Haftmann Prize in recognition of his life’s work. For more than fifty years, Haacke has examined systems—biological, economic, and social—in order to understand their meanings, machinations, habits, and failures. Haacke’s work has been featured at the 1993 and 2009 editions of the Venice Biennale. He has also had exhibitions at the Foundazione Antonio Ratti in Como, the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, the Generali Foundation in Vienna, Frankfurt’s Portikus, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, and at Paula Cooper Gallery—who represents the artist—in New York, among many other institutions and galleries throughout the world. He was also a professor at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City from 1967 until 2002. Haacke was featured in “Artists on Political Art,” a series of video interviews with seven artists made to coincide with the November 2016 issue of Artforum and the US presidential election.

The Roswitha Haftmann Prize is a cash award worth about $150,000.

February 8, 2017

Picasso’s Paris Studio Slated to Become Luxury Hotel

The exterior of the building that houses the attic where Picasso lived from 1936 to 1955.

Plans to transform a seventeenth-century building, where Picasso once had a studio, in Paris’s tony sixth arrondissement into a hotel are underway, Le Figaro reports. On February 7, the National Arts Education Committee (CNEA) filed an appeal to block a permit granted to a developer, the Helzear Group, by the Paris City Council in 2015. Although the attic where Picasso worked is classified as a historic monument and was painstakingly restored by CNEA to provide visitors a glimpse of the environment in which the artist worked (he painted his 1937 masterpiece Guernica there) and waited out the Nazi occupation, the building is still slated to be fully renovated and transformed into a hotel and residence.

CNEA has appealed directly to the French president through a letter signed by its ambassador, Charlotte Rampling, and president Marie-Christine Barrault. CNEA also has the support of Picasso’s daughter, Maya Picasso, who spent part of her childhood and adolescence in the studio.

February 8, 2017

Louvre Reopens After Machete Attack as Egypt Identifies Suspect

French patrolmen outside of the Louvre.

Less than twenty-four hours after the Louvre shut down, due to a terror alert caused by a man with a machete who attacked a French soldier guarding the building, the museum reopened to the public.

An Egyptian interior ministry official confirmed to the Associated Press on Saturday that the attacker is twenty-eight-year-old Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy, and said that he has no record of political activism or criminal activities.

Hamahmy yelled “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great!”) before assaulting the patrolmen who prevented the suspect from entering the Carrousel du Louvre with two large bags. The solider opened fire, shooting Hamahmy five times. The prosecutor’s office confirmed that his injuries are no longer life threatening.