June 29, 2007

Artist Luciano Fabro (1936–2007)

The artist Luciano Fabro, one of the principal protagonists of the Italian avant-garde movement known as arte povera, died Friday, June 22, at age seventy-one in Milan, reports the Italian site Teknemedia. Born in Turin, Fabro moved to Milan in 1959, continuing to live and work there until his death. In 1965, the artist had his first solo show, at Milan's Gallery Vismira, and in 1968 began his series of “Feet”—sculptures that used rich materials such as fine silk and marble, a sharp contrast to prevailing ideas about the arte povera movement. From the early 1980s, Fabro taught at the Accademia di Brera and the Casa degli Artisti in Milan. Fabro has had shows at numerous venues both in Italy and abroad, including the PAC Milano (1980), Castello di Rivoli (1989), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1992), the Centre Pompidou (1996), and Tate Britain (1997).

June 29, 2007

Gordon Brown Appoints James Purnell As Culture Secretary

James Purnell was appointed the UK's secretary of state for culture, media, and sport, succeeding Tessa Jowell, reports Bloomberg. The announcement comes a day after Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair as prime minister. Purnell, thirty-seven, was Blair's special adviser on culture, media, sport, and the knowledge economy between 1997 and 2001. In May 2005, he became parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport. His most recent appointment, earlier this year, was as minister of state for pension reform.

June 27, 2007

Lisbon's Contemporary Art Museum Opens

Lisbon's new contemporary art museum opened this week to grand applause and Portuguese satisfaction that their capital finally has an artistic home to rival the best of other European cultural hot spots, reports Reuters' Sofia Van Holle. The permanent display consists of 862 pieces belonging to local investor Joe Berardo's vast private collection and includes works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali, and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as local artist Paula Rego.

June 26, 2007

Photographer Bernd Becher (1931–2007)

Bernd Becher, known with his wife, Hilla, for photographing relics of industry in the changing urban landscapes of late-twentieth-century Europe and the United States, died on Friday, June 22, at age seventy-five in Rostock, Germany, reports Philip Gefter for the New York Times. He died after heart surgery, said the artist Thomas Struth, a former student. In 2004, the Bechers received a Hasselblad Award, one of the highest international honors in photography. Bernd and Hilla met in Düsseldorf, where, in 1957, they started working together on the record of the industrial landscape that became their life work. In 1976, Becher started teaching photography at the Düsseldorf Academy, where he remained on the faculty for twenty years. Before him, photography had been excluded from what was largely a school for painters. His influence as a teacher is measured by the success of well-known students like Andreas Gursky, Candida Hofer, Thomas Ruff, and Struth.

June 25, 2007

Gavin Turk Wins Charles Wollaston Award

Gavin Turk has come a long way since being denied his degree by the Royal College of Art. The Independent's Jonathan Brown reports that Turk was awarded one of the art world's most prestigious prizes yesterday. The sculptor and photographer won the Charles Wollaston Award—a prize worth £25,000 ($49,993)—for his work Dumb Candle, after it was singled out by judges as the most distinguished work in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Previous winners include David Hockney, Marc Quinn, and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

Dumb Candle, a sawn-off broom handle carved into the shape of an extinguished candle, was praised for both its simplicity and its subtlety. It was selected from a short list of six including works by fellow Academicians Gary Hume, Fiona Rae, and Basil Beattie. They were whittled down from 1,161 works created under the themes of light by professional and amateur artists presented at the exhibition, a landmark of the artistic summer season.

Bill Woodrow, who chaired the judging panel, said: “Dumb Candle is an imaginative work with subtle undertones that pick up on several significant art-historical moments.”

June 22, 2007

Spitzer Appoints Gund to State Plaza Art Commission; Lepik Heads to MoMA

Governor Eliot Spitzer Thursday announced the nomination of Agnes Gund to serve as chairwoman of the Empire State Plaza Art Commission, reports Empire State News. Gund currently serves as president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art and chairwoman of its International Council. She also serves as chairwoman of the mayor's Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission of the City of New York. Gund is the founder and a trustee of the Studio in a School Association, a nonprofit organization she established in 1977 in response to budget cuts that virtually eliminated arts classes from New York City public schools.

In other news, Artnet reports that Andres Lepik has become a curator in the department of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art. Since 2004, he has been curator at the Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in Germany.

June 22, 2007

New Getty Curator; New Dance Theater Workshop Director; New Records at Sotheby's

Nearly two years after the resignation of its embattled antiquities curator, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has named a successor: Karol Wight, a twenty-two-year veteran of the Getty. Wight, a specialist in ancient glass, has risen from intern to associate curator to acting curator, writes the New York Times' Ben Sisario. Wight assumed the post in October 2005, when Marion True resigned over what the museum said were improprieties involving a real estate deal. (True has also been on trial in Italy since November 2005, on charges of trafficking in illegally excavated objects.) In a statement issued Wednesday, the museum said that Wight had a major role in last year’s reopening of the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California. And as the Greek and Italian governments have laid claim to dozens of items in the antiquities collection, the Getty said, Wight has dealt with the issue “with steadfastness and calm authority—and a very clear vision for the future.” She will oversee a staff of eight, the permanent antiquities collection, and related exhibitions and programming at the villa, the museum said.

Also in the Times, Claudia La Rocco writes that Dance Theater Workshop, flourishing artistically but struggling financially, has named Stephen Greco as its executive director. Greco has worked as a marketing and branding consultant for corporations and arts institutions and is a journalist. He is editor at large of Trace, an arts and culture magazine, and has written for the New Yorker, The Advocate, and Dance magazine, among others. He is on the boards of The Kitchen and the Japan Society and has been a member of the New York Dance and Performance Awards Committee, or Bessies, since 1985. Greco, whose tenure begins July 2, replaces Marion Koltun Dienstag, who resigned in April.

Last night, Artdaily.org reports, Sotheby’s achieved its highest contemporary-art-sale total in Europe, when it sold £72,427,600 ($144,319,236) worth of art. It also made auction history when Damien Hirst’s pill cabinet, Lullaby Spring, soared to £9.6 million ($19.2 million), making Hirst the most expensive living artist at auction. Francis Bacon’s Self Portrait was sold to a private American collector for the spectacular price of £21.58 million ($43 million). On both occasions, the room broke out in spontaneous applause.

June 21, 2007

Japanese Company Donates Funds to Restore Munch Paintings

A Japanese company operating in Norway has pledged $670,000 toward the restoration of the Edvard Munch paintings The Scream and Madonna, which were damaged during a brazen daylight armed theft from the Munch Museum in Oslo in 2004, the New York Times reports. Oslo city authorities said the donation by Idemitsu Petroleum of Japan to the Munch Museum would be applied to restoration of, and research into, the two paintings, which were chipped, scratched, punctured, and harmed by humidity and are now undergoing repair. Three men suspected of participating in the robbery have been sentenced to prison and fined.

June 20, 2007

Andrea K. Scott Heads to the New Yorker; Whitney Appoints New Staff Members

Andrea K. Scott, who has been the editor of TimeOut New York’s art section for the last three and a half years, is leaving that publication to edit the art-listings section of the New Yorker. Scott has recently written for the New York Times and Parkett as well as evaluated applications to the Creative Capital and Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program.

In other news, the Whitney Museum of American Art announced today that director Adam D. Weinberg has appointed Jeffrey Levine chief marketing and communications officer and David Little associate director, Helena Rubinstein chair of education. Levine comes from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where he has worked since 1994, and Little arrives from the Museum of Modern Art. Both appointments are effective immediately.