August 22, 2014

Met Opera Reaches Deal With Unions

Michael Cooper reports in the New York Times that the Metropolitan Opera had, as of last night, settled labor disputes with the remaining unions representing among others its costume and wardrobe departments, hair and makeup artists, scenic artists and designers, and camera operators for their 2014-15 season. This comes after an earlier success this week wherein Met Opera management negotiated successfully with a stagehands union. Matthew Loeb, the international president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees which represented the stagehands, was previously quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying their agreement included “mandatory cost reductions from management” in addition to an independent monitor that will track the Met's budgets.

August 22, 2014

Getty Appoints Appoints Two New Senior Curators

Mike Boehm reports in the Los Angeles Times that the Getty Museum director Timothy Potts has appointed Jeffrey Spier to be the new senior curator of antiquities at the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades, and has selected Davide Gasparotto—the former director of the Galleria Estense Museum in Modena, Italy—as the new senior curator of paintings at the Getty Center in Brentwood. Gasparotto succeeds Scott Schaefer, who had retired in January of this year, while Spier fills an opening that the curator Claire Lyons has held in an acting capacity since 2011.

August 21, 2014

Wall Vandalized at Whitney Museum of American Art

A man was photographed vandalizing a gallery wall at the Whitney Museum of Art yesterday, creating a graffiti-like image of a red letter X dripping with paint along with scrawled black text underneath. The New York Times reports that he was quickly apprehended by security, removed by the police, and taken to a hospital for evaluation. The incident occurred on the third floor, where the Jeff Koons retrospective is currently on view. No art was damaged.

August 20, 2014

Ger van Elk (1941–2014)

The Dutch artist Ger van Elk has passed away, according to Galerie Bob van Orsouw. A photographer, painter, and filmmaker, van Elk made work that was often characterized as Conceptual and arte povera. He was winner of the J. C. van Lanschot Prize for Sculpture in 1996, and his work is included in the collections of Tate Gallery in London and Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. His art also appeared in Documenta 5, in 1972, and in exhibitions like “When Attitudes Become Form,” 1969.

“What I want,” said van Elk in a 1977 interview, “is a realistic depiction of unrealistic situations.”

August 20, 2014

Gwangju Biennale President Resigns after Censorship Controversy

Pac Pobric reports for the Art Newspaper that the president of the Gwangju Biennale, Lee Yong-woo, announced his resignation on Monday. The reason he decided to step down? Last month, biennale organizers had removed a painting by the artist Hong Seong-dam, which depicts family members of the children who died in the nation’s ferry disaster earlier this year confronting South Korean president Park Geun-hye. They claimed the painting’s removal was driven by logistics, but suspicions of politically motivated censorship led a group of Japanese artists from Okinawa to pull their works, and the head curator, Yoon Beom-mo, to resign.

On Monday, Lee, the biennale’s president, admitted that the mural vanished under political pressure from the Gwangju city government, which had poured $2.4 million into the event. His resignation will come into effect after the opening of the main biennale exhibition. “I am taking full responsibility for what happened,” he said.

August 20, 2014

New Curator for Tulane’s Newcomb Art Gallery

As Chris Waddington reports in the Times-Picayune, Tulane University has appointed a new curator for its Newcomb Art Gallery: Monica Ramirez-Montagut. Formerly a senior curator at the San Jose Museum of Art and an associate director at MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, Ramirez-Montagut also served as curator at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut. From 2005 through 2008, she was assistant curator of architecture and design at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

August 19, 2014

Hammer Museum Announces Winners of 2014 Mohn Awards for “Made in LA”

The Hammer has announced the winners of the 2014 awards for “Made in LA,” the museum’s biennial. Alice Konitz has received the $100,000 Mohn award for artistic excellence; Magdalena Suarez Frimkess and Michael Frimkess have received the $25,000 career achievement award honoring brilliance and resilience; and Jennifer Moon has received the $25,000 public recognition award, decided by public vote. Winners for the other two prizes were determined by a jury including Jack Bankowsky, independent curator, critic, and Artforum editor-at-large; Naomi Beckwith, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

Said Hammer director Annie Philbin: “These deserving artists capture the vibrancy and diversity of what is happening in Los Angeles today—from the inventive Los Angeles Museum of Art, a collaboration initiated by Alice Konitz, to the captivating and delightful ceramics of Magdalena and Michael Frimkess, to the hands-down crowd favorite Jennifer Moon. I am ever grateful to Jarl and Pamela Mohn who are the quintessential boosters and celebrators of LA artists across multiple disciplines and generations.”

August 19, 2014

Corcoran Gallery of Art to Merge with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University

The Superior Court in Washington, DC, has approved a merger between the Corcoran Gallery of Art with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University, effectively dissolving the 150-year-old museum. Judge Robert Okun noted the decision was “painful” but that it would be “even more painful to deny the relief requested and allow the Corcoran to face its likely demise.” Julia Halperin of the Art Newspaper reports that the Corcoran will turn over its Beaux Arts building and its College of Art and Design to George Washington University. The National Gallery of Art will assume a substantial portion of the Corcoran’s 17,000-work collection, which includes paintings by John Singer Sargent and Frederic Edwin Church as well as celebrated photography holdings. Over the next year, curators at both institutions will collaborate to decide which works they will keep. The remainder will be distributed to museums across the United States. An estimated one third of the Corcoran's 465-person staff stand to lose their jobs.

August 18, 2014

International News Digest


Israel has lifted the travel ban placed on Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar, who’s now been able to leave for Finland, reported the Art Newspaper. Jarrar went to Helsinki to work on a performance piece involving fifty volunteers that was based on his recent experiences. Perpetuum Mobile, the group supporting Jarrar’s recent project, noted that the artist managed to cross the Allenby Bridge to Jordan—the same bridge where he was stopped and sent home earlier this summer. He’d been trying to get to an opening at the New Museum in New York.

The Frankfurter Rundschau looked at the poor condition of the Prague Trade Fair Palace, which has been used by the National Gallery since 1995 for its collection of modern and contemporary art. The “masterpiece of functionalist architecture” was destroyed by a fire in 1974 (which was apparently the most destructive in Prague’s history, causing around $13 million in damage). After two decades of reconstruction, the building reopened in 1995. “The Trade Fair Palace is one of the most interesting and striking buildings in Prague. Built in the late twenties, it was influenced by political, social and cultural events of the era,” said Helena Musilová, the head of the collection of modern and contemporary art in Prague National Gallery which has used the building for twenty years.

But because its post-fire reconstruction occurred during Communist rule, when high-quality materials weren’t available, the building has seen the ravages of time. Glass roofs are leaking, the plaster is crumbling and rusting of steel frame parts. It’s up to the Ministry of Culture to provide missing funds needed for the building’s upkeep, and Musilová has issued an urgent call for renovation, due to the fact that energy costs currently gobble up about 55 percent of the National Gallery’s operating costs. But because the $12 million needed just to revamp the building’s energy system is more than the entire annual subsidy allocated to the National Gallery by the Ministry of Culture, Musilová’s also apparently considering the alternative of relocating to a new space entirely.

London’s National Gallery has lifted the ban on photography, allowing visitors to snap photos and film most of the paintings on its walls, reported Sarah Crompton in The Telegraph. By relaxing its former rule, the National Gallery is joining the ranks of Tate, the Louvre, and the Metropolitan, which all allow photography (but prohibit flash). Crompton is none too pleased by this development, writing, “Oh, how the heart sinks.” She added, “By allowing photography, galleries are betraying those who want to reflect rather than glance.”

Die Zeit’s Veronica Frenzel took a tour of the Thai art scene with the forty-three-year-old artist Natee Utarit, who said “Art has it hard in Bangkok! Most people have other things to do.” He said that galleries could hardly survive without the good will of businesspeople, in part because most artists “sell directly to collectors; they don’t want to pay any commission to intermediaries.” But there are significant institutions nonetheless, like MOCA Bangkok, which houses the collection owned by telecommunications tycoon Boonchai Bencharongku, and the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, which is remarkable because it exists thanks to the tenacity of a group of artists, who apparently, by insisting that tourists would be interested in contemporary Thai art, fought a government plan to replace the center with a shopping mall.