December 7, 2007

Huber Involved in Legal Dispute, Accused of Conflict of Interest

Geneva dealer Pierre Huber may be forced to step down as artistic director of the ShContemporary fair, which launched in Shanghai in September, writes the Art Newspaper's Georgina Adams. Huber is involved in a bitter legal dispute with the Parisian dealer Enrico Navarra, who has accused Huber of conflicts of interest, citing the ShContemporary catalogue cover, which features a work of art from Huber's gallery. Navarra also says Huber took VIPs to artists' studios and then suggested purchases should be made through him. Huber's lawyer has said that these claims are motivated by financial disagreements between the two men. “We cannot have a situation where the artistic director of a fair has a conflict of interest,” said Lorenzo Rudolf, cofounder of the fair. ShContemporary was the first international art fair held in China; it attracted 120 dealers. “No decision has been taken, but we are in discussion to resolve this matter,” said Rudolf.

December 7, 2007

Zeisler Bequeaths Collection of Major Works to Museums

Until his death in March, Richard S. Zeisler kept such a low profile that few people in the art world beyond museum circles knew his name. A private investor who lived in Manhattan, Zeisler quietly amassed more than 110 works by twentieth-century masters like Joan Miró, René Magritte, Max Beckmann, and Francis Bacon. Zeisler, who passed away in March, has bequeathed his collection—valued at around one hundred million dollars—to sixteen institutions. Carol Vogel reports in the New York Times that the beneficiaries include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and the Museum of Modern Art, where he had been a board member since 1979. The Met received particularly important works, including Bacon's Head I, 1947–48, and Miró's pastel Woman, 1934. The Modern received the biggest gift—more than thirty works—including a 1928 painting by Magritte, a 1909 landscape by Kandinsky, and paintings and works on paper by Miró, Picasso, and Joseph Beuys. The Guggenheim received fewer works, but its gift was closely tailored to complement its existing collection and includes the museum's first Beckmann self-portrait, a painting done in 1938; Miró's Two Figures and a Dragonfly, 1936, a gouache from a period not covered by the museum's Mirós; and Chill, 1964, an abstraction on paper that is the Guggenheim's first work by Bridget Riley. “It was old-fashioned philanthropy,” said Nancy Spector, the Guggenheim's chief curator. “He was a classic, modernist collector.”

December 7, 2007

Restoring the Armory; More Space for American Folk Art Museum

Wade F. B. Thompson, a collector and chief executive of Thor Industries, has donated thirty-five million dollars to the restoration of the Park Avenue Armory, reports the New York Times' Carol Vogel. Thompson founded the Seventh Regiment Armory Conservancy in 1993, which has begun renovating and transforming the space so it can be used for diverse arts events, including part of the Whitney Biennial. “The revitalization of the building is a balance between heritage and innovation,” said Thompson.

Vogel also reports that a donation of one million dollars from Joyce Cowin, topped off by one hundred thousand dollars from Frances Martinson, has enabled the American Folk Art Museum’s branch on Columbus Avenue to renovate the space and begin an exhibitions and education program. “We have the challenge of limited space on Fifty-third Street,” said Maria Ann Conelli, the director of the museum’s main building, which opened in 1989. “So we see this as not just a branch but an extension of the museum itself.”

December 6, 2007

Nasher Family Gives $1 Million to Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

Nancy A. Nasher and her husband, David J. Haemisegger, will give one million dollars to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University to endow the Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curatorship of Contemporary Art, named after Nancy Nasher's late parents. Raymond Nasher, who died in March, was the museum’s founder and namesake. The gift brings the total to more than eleven million dollars given to the museum by members of the Nasher family and its foundation. Raymond Nasher, a 1943 Duke graduate and former Duke trustee emeritus, provided the largest gift, $7.5 million, toward the new building. The Nasher Foundation of Dallas subsequently donated another $2.5 million in honor of Raymond Nasher. “My father would often remark that art is like air and water—it is needed to survive and to enjoy life to its fullest,” remarked Nancy Nasher, a graduate of Duke Law School and a member of Duke’s board of trustees. “David and I are proud to support my father’s vision for Duke to have one of the best university art museums in the world. It has become our own vision.”

December 6, 2007

Phillips Collection Names Next Director

The board of trustees of the Phillips Collection announced today the appointment of Dr. Dorothy Kosinski, senior curator of painting and sculpture at the Dallas Museum of Art, as the museum’s new director. Kosinski assumes her post next spring and succeeds Jay Gates, who announced his retirement in June. Kosinski joins the Phillips at a pivotal time; the museum's board of trustees and staff recently adopted a five-year strategic plan that outlines its programmatic and financial priorities. “Dorothy Kosinski, with her very impressive credentials, represents an ambitious choice on the part of the Phillips Collection,” says George Vradenburg, chairman of the board of trustees. “We believe we have found an inspiring and passionate leader for the Phillips, as we move into the next phase of our development.”

December 6, 2007

Manray Hsu and Vasif Kortun to Curate 2008 Taipei Biennial

Although most biennials scheduled for 2008 formally announced their curators at the Venice Biennale in June, the Taipei Biennial, having just made the formal announcement last week, is a bit late, reports the Taipei Times. Yet now it has been revealed that next year’s exhibition will be curated by Manray Hsu and Vasif Kortun. Taiwanese curator Hsu is no newcomer to the biennial. He was cocurator for the year 2000 event, titled “The Sky Is the Limit,” and cocurated “Naked Life” at the Museum of Contemporary Art last year. Vasif Kortun is director of Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center in Istanbul and received an award for curatorial excellence from Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies last year. He also served as director of the Istanbul Biennial in 1992 and 2005. Taipei's biennials usually open in November, but next year's will take place in September in order to coordinate with the seven other biennial cities: Guangzhou and Shanghai, China; Busan and Gwangju, South Korea; Yokohama, Japan; Singapore; and Sydney, Australia.

December 6, 2007

New Director for Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Comeback for Brooklyn Art District

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art has announced the appointment of a new director, Larry J. Feinberg, reports the Santa Barbara Independent. Formerly of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was a curator in the department of medieval through modern European painting and sculpture, Feinberg is especially well known for his publications and exhibitions dealing with Italian Renaissance art and for a major retrospective of the work of Gustave Moreau. Feinberg will officially begin work at the museum on March 1. Coming after several years of financial retrenchment under outgoing director Phillip Johnston, Feinberg’s mandate from the trustees is to bring the museum further into the national limelight.

For years, Harvey Lichtenstein, the impresario who turned the Brooklyn Academy of Music into an internationally known site for innovative productions, has dreamed of transforming the parking lots near BAM into a thriving cultural district, reports Terry Pristin in the New York Times. Last month, Carlton A. Brown, a Harlem-based developer with roots in Brooklyn, was chosen to lead the team that will build the cultural district’s centerpiece. The $385 million project, opposite BAM’s Harvey Theater, will include a forty-thousand-square-foot choreographic center to be anchored by the Danspace Project. Brown’s company, Full Spectrum, will develop the project with two architectural firms: Studio MDA of New York and Behnisch Architects of Stuttgart, Germany. In addition, work is scheduled to begin early next year on the nearby Theater for a New Audience, designed by Hugh Hardy and Frank Gehry.

December 6, 2007

Robert O. Anderson (1917–2007)

Robert O. Anderson, a legendary philanthropist who founded Atlantic Richfield Oil Company and used his clout to support an array of major cultural organizations, from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to Harper's magazine, passed away on Sunday, reports Elaine Woo in the Los Angeles Times. Anderson guided ARCO to play an important civic and philanthropic role in the city. The company donated three million dollars toward the cost of a new building for modern art at LACMA. The building, which opened in 1986, is named for Anderson, who served as a lifetime trustee of the museum. “Robert O. Anderson ensured that his corporation played an active role in the cultural institutions of Los Angeles,” said Melody Kanschat, LACMA president. Anderson also had an unusual range of interests, which encompassed enterprises as varied as the London Observer and Harper's magazine, each of which he helped rescue when they faced financial insolvency.

December 5, 2007

Court Gives Art Sale's Opponents More Time; Winners of Chinese Prize Announced

Opponents have won more time to bar the financially pinched Randolph College from selling four paintings from its collection of American art, reports Lawrence Van Gelder in the New York Times. The Virginia Supreme Court extended the deadline until February 15 for raising one million dollars to keep in place an injunction against the auction. Monday had been the cutoff date for raising the money, and Anne Yastremski, executive director of Preserve Educational Choice, said that opponents had raised slightly more than five hundred thousand dollars from 650 donations. “We didn’t have immediate plans to sell the artwork before the circuit court makes the decision on the merits of the case,” said Brenda Edson, a spokeswoman for the college. “That doesn’t mean the need to sell the artwork has gone away, but we’ve been concentrating on moving the college forward.” The school had expected to realize at least thirty-two million dollars by selling four paintings last month to increase its endowment.

The winners of this year’s Chinese Art Prize by Yue-Sai Kan, formerly the Dragonair Emerging Chinese Artist Award, were announced Sunday in a ceremony at Art Scene Warehouse, reports Artinfo. Mao Yanyang took home a cash award of sixty-six thousand RMB (nine thousand dollars), a significant sum in China. The winners were selected by a panel headed by Art Cologne director Gerard Goodrow and included Jeff Kelley, curator of San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum. Established in 2005 by the Shanghai-based gallery Art Scene China, the award, the first of its kind from a commercial gallery in China, aims to promote Chinese contemporary art and increase exposure for young Chinese artists. Sponsor Yue-Sai Kan, a longtime contemporary art collector and friend of Art Scene China director Elisabeth de Brabant, took over funding of the award in part to honor the memory of her father, Wing-Lin Kan, a well-known ink painter. Often called the most famous woman in China, Kan is the owner of Yue-Sai Cosmetics, which was purchased by L’Oreal in 2004.