June 13, 2017

New York Gallery On Stellar Rays to Close and Reopen as Stellar Projects

Athanasios Argianas, Swimmer’s Arms Are Oars (striated vrs), 2017, currently on view at On Stellar Rays until June 25, 2017, for the artist’s exhibition “reading machines moving machines.”

The Lower East Side gallery On Stellar Rays has announced that it will close and reopen as Stellar Projects, reports Alex Greenberger of Artnews. The new space will host shows only from the gallery’s artists and will be open to the public by appointment only.

Currently located at One Rivington Street, On Stellar Rays has been in operation since 2008 and represents artists such as Debo Eilers, Rochelle Feinstein, Tommy Hartung, Ryan Mrozowski, and Alix Pearlstein. Colleen Apser’s exhibition at the gallery, titled “Nobody/Monobody,” was reviewed as an artforum.com Critic’s Pick last year by Yin Ho.

June 13, 2017

Artists Announced for 2017 Yokohama Triennale

The logo for the 2017 Yokohoma Triennale.

The artists and art collectives participating in this year’s Yokohama Triennale have been announced. The exhibition, titled “Islands, Constellations and Galapagos,” will “reexamine the state of global connectivity and isolation from various angles.” It is scheduled to open on August 4 and run through November 5, 2017, at three venues: the Yokohama Museum of Art; the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No. 1, a multipurpose event space; and the Minatomirai bus station.

The participating artists and collectives are:

June 13, 2017

Daniel H. Weiss Named CEO of New York’s Metropolitan Museum

Daniel H. Weiss

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s board of trustees unanimously voted to name Daniel H. Weiss, currently the president and chief operating officer of the institution, as its new CEO. Weiss will retain the title of president. In addition to the appointment, the Met announced that it will begin a search for a new director, who will report to Weiss.

Daniel Brodsky, the board’s chairman, said, “[We] couldn't be more confident in Dan’s ability to take the museum to even higher levels of excellence. He is a scholar of art history, he is a seasoned leader of complex institutions, and he is committed to the museum’s mission. His contributions as president of the Met during the past two years have been exemplary, both in supporting the museum’s vision and in establishing a sustainable path for our financial and managerial operations.”

“Leading the Metropolitan Museum of Art is an extraordinary honor,” said Weiss. “Our museum’s collections and professional staff set the world standard for exhibitions, scholarship, preservation, education, and public programming, and as thoughtful advocates for the importance of art in our culture. I am equally humbled and excited to continue working closely with the board and the museum’s unparalleled staff.”

June 13, 2017

Artist's Studio Vandalized by Animal Rights Group Angered by Documenta 14 Work

Aboubakar Fofana, Ka touba Farafina yé (Africa Blessing), 2017. Photo: Stathis Mamalakis.

Artist Aboubakar Fofana’s studio has been attacked for his work Ka touba Farafina yé (Africa Blessing), 2017, which features fifty-four sheep—each representing an African country—dyed different shades of indigo, writes Julia Michalska of the Art Newspaper. Fofana’s piece appears in the Greek section of this year’s Documenta. His Athens studio was vandalized with blue paint, and its windows were smashed. The group responsible for the attack addressed the artist in a blog statement, which read, “You choose to say nothing about [the sheep’s] confinement, nor the massive murders of the industry, and you added to the humiliation [by using them] as objects in the spectacle.”

Fofana stood by his work, saying, “I’m not treating [the sheep] badly. I’m not putting chemicals on them; it’s more like dyeing hair. In my culture, we use indigo and henna to dye hair black.” The work is meant to represent the “tragedy of migration,” with the sheep’s constant search for new pastures as a symbol of people risking everything for a better life. The artist said he was raised to believe that all living things, even plants, are created equal: “Every time we eat, the first thing we do is thank all the living beings who gave their lives to give us energy.”

Of course, this is not the only controversy dogging Documenta 14 of late: Last month an LGBTQI refugee rights group stole a work by Spanish artist Roger Bernat to protest what they perceived as the exploitation of asylum seekers in Greece, while in April, the group Artists Against Evictions published an open letter chastising the exhibition’s organizers for keeping quiet over raids that targeted refugees and over the evictions of artists from the live/work space Villa Zografou in Athens.

June 13, 2017

National Museum of Women in the Arts Receives $9 Million Bequest

Madeleine Rast

The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, announced today that it has received a $9 million bequest—the largest single gift in its history—from the estate of California businesswoman Madeleine Rast. The gift, which will bolster the museum’s endowment, coincides with the institution’s thirtieth anniversary.

“Madeleine was absolutely convinced of the importance of establishing a museum for women in the arts,” the museum’s founder, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, said. “Her conviction never wavered and, over time, she became a steadfast advocate for our mission as well as a dear friend. Her generous gift to the museum will enable future generations to enjoy the highest standards of exhibitions and programs and help make us more visible throughout the world.”

Born in Zurich in 1924, Rast moved to California as a young woman and worked in various clerical positions while pursuing a degree in accounting. She eventually became a successful management auditor in both the private and public sectors, as well as a savvy investor. Throughout her career, Rast knew that she was denied the same opportunities as men working in her field, and she advocated for gender equality. Before she died on January 29, 2017, at the age of ninety-two, Rast told the museum, “Giving is a very personal act, but if you believe as strongly as I do in advancing the cause of women, then there’s no question about it.”

June 13, 2017

New York’s Public Theater Issues Statement Defending Its Staging of Julius Caesar

A scene from the Public Theater’s staging of Julius Caesar. Photo: Sara Krulwich / The New York Times.

Bank of America and Delta Air Lines pulled their corporate sponsorship from New York’s Public Theater on June 11 after its staging of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, which offers up a rather Trump-like depiction of the Roman despot. A number of conservative media outlets, as well as the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., complained about the play in light of its famous and rather bloody scene where Caesar is murdered by his senators, report Liam Stack and Sopan Deb and Michael Paulson of the New York Times. “I wonder how much of this ‘art’ is funded by taxpayers? Serious question, when does ‘art’ become political speech & does that change things?” tweeted Trump Jr. The play has been in previews since May 23. It opened Monday at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as part of the Public’s Shakespeare in the Park festival.

“No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of Julius Caesar at this summer’s free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values,” said the airline in a statement. “Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste.” Bank of America announced that it will not fund the play but will continue supporting the theater, as it has for the past eleven years. Susan Atran, a representative for the bank, said, “The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in a way that was intended to provoke and offend. Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it.” American Express also released a statement, saying that its sponsorship of the theater doesn’t provide funding for Shakespeare in the Park and that it does not “condone the interpretation of the Julius Caesar play.”

On the evening of June 12, however, the Public Theater issued a brief statement defending its take on the play:

June 12, 2017

MoMA Film Curator Dave Kehr Awarded Insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters

Dave Kehr

Dave Kehr, author, journalist, film historian, critic, and curator of film at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, will be awarded the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by Bénédicte de Montlaur, the cultural counselor of the French embassy, on June 15 in New York. Kehr will receive this distinction in recognition of his achievements as a critic and curator with a focus on French cinema.

A native of Oklahoma City, Kehr earned his undergraduate degree in English at the University of Chicago. He began learning French in order to read the influential French film critics of the Politique des Auteurs school, pioneered in the journals Les Cahiers du cinema and Positif. Kehr began writing film criticism for the student newspaper at the University of Chicago and eventually became a film critic for the Chicago Reader, from 1974 until 1985, moving on to write for the Chicago Tribune before relocating to New York to become a critic and columnist for the Daily News and the New York Times.

He joined the Museum of Modern Art as adjunct curator in the department of film in 2013 and was appointed curator in 2017. Kehr curates programs for the museum’s extensive public exhibition program and works with the museum’s vast film archive on restorations and circulating programs.

June 12, 2017

Winners of 2017 Swiss Art Awards Announced

Vanessa Schindler

The federal office of culture in Switzerland has announced the eleven winners of the Swiss Art Awards and the seventeen winners of the Swiss Design Awards. The awards for art will be presented this evening in the presence of Isabelle Chassot, director of the federal office for culture, while the design awards will be presented tomorrow, Tuesday, June 13, in the presence of federal councilor Alain Berset. The art and design awards—which recognize achievement in the fields of art and architecture, critique, publication, exhibition, products and objects, fashion and textile design, graphic design, photography, and mediation and scenography—each come with a prize of approximately $25,790.

In addition, the winners of the Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim 2017—artist Daniela Keiser, architect Peter Märkli, and art and architecture historian Philip Ursprung—will receive their prizes at the ceremony scheduled today, where the accolades for art, architecture, critique, publishing, and exhibition will be presented. Those receiving the Swiss Grand Award for Design, jewelry designer David Bielander, illustrator Thomas Ott, and graphic designer Jean Widmer, will be given their awards tomorrow.

The works by the winners and the participants in the second round of the two competitions will be on display in the Swiss Art Awards 2017 and Swiss Design Awards 2017 exhibitions, which run in parallel with Art Basel. The winners in each category are as follows:

June 11, 2017

Agnes Gund Sells Lichtenstein Canvas to Start Fund for Criminal Justice

Roy Lichtenstein, Masterpiece, 1962. Photo: Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Arts patron Agnes Gund has sold a prized Roy Lichtenstein painting to advance criminal justice reform and is challenging other collectors to follow her example.

According to Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times, Gund parted with Lichtenstein’s Masterpiece, 1962, which hung over the mantel of her Upper East Side apartment, in order to establish the Art for Justice Fund. Collector Steven A. Cohen bought the piece for $165 million—one of the fifteen highest known bids for a work of art—through Acquavella Galleries in January. One hundred million dollars from the proceeds from the sale will support the fund, which aims to reduce mass incarceration in the United States.

“This is one thing I can do before I die,” Gund said. “This is what I need to do.” The collector’s campaign for social justice was partially inspired by recent police shootings of unarmed African American teenagers as well as by contemporary works that have shed light on the obstacles facing black communities today, such as Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010) and Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th (2016). On a personal level, Gund was motivated by her concern for her six African American grandchildren.