June 20, 2015

Owner Seeks to Demolish Iconic Malibu House Designed by Craig Ellwood

An iconic beachfront house designed in 1957 by architect Craig Ellwood is at risk of being demolished, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Christopher Hawthorne. Hawthorne writes that the Hunt House is “one of most important remaining modern houses in Southern California,” but that the building’s current owner has applied to the Malibu Planning Commission for permission to tear down the structure.

A concerned neighbor, according to a media information officer for the city of Malibu, “had her attorney write a letter saying that a study was needed to determine if the house was historically significant enough to prevent the demolition permit. The house owner’s lawyer agreed but never did anything after for which there is a record. The demo permit item is still listed as continued.”

June 20, 2015

MoMA Reaches Tentative Agreement with Union Employees

Representatives from Local 2110 announced to staff members at the Museum of Modern Art that belong to the union that a “tentative agreement” has been reached with the organization in the staff’s ongoing contract negotiations on Friday, according to M.H. Miller in Artnews. On Monday, staff members will vote on the revised contract in the Roy and Niuta Titus Theater at the museum.

Employees have been demonstrating over the past month, after they were asked to shoulder more of their healthcare costs in a round of contract negotiations with the museum that stalled.

June 19, 2015

ICA Boston Will Restage Long-Lost Merce Cunningham Dance

The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, with the Merce Cunningham Trust, will restage a long-lost performance by the choreographer, according to the New York Times’ Hilarie M. Sheets. Cunningham’s “Changeling,” performed in 1957, will be part of “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957.”

The piece originally premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and was Cunningham’s third solo involving chance. Most had believed that, decades later, the documentation of the choreography was lost and that only written descriptions, the red distressed unitard and skullcap designed by Rauschenberg, and a score by Christian Wolff remained.

But Alla Kovgan, who’s producing a film about Cunningham, became aware that a German TV station had filmed a performance of “Changeling.” “I thought, it’s German archives, they can’t lose anything,” said Kovgan, who requested unidentified film from the station and then combed through the results until she found what she was looking for.

“It was stunning to see clear footage of him dancing in his prime, especially one of these iconic solos we heard about for so many years,” said Patricia Lent, director of licensing at the Merce Cunningham Trust. One of the last dancers to train with Cunningham, Silas Riener, consented to master the dance.

June 19, 2015

Director of Frankfurt’s Ethnographic Museum Abruptly Fired

With no explanation, the city of Frankfurt has abruptly dismissed Clémentine Deliss, the director of the Weltkulturen Museum, an institution that features a collection of sixty-seven thousand artifacts from Oceania, North, South, and Central America, South East Asia, and Africa, according to Hyperallergic’s Benjamin Sutton. The German press has quoted everything from “problematic financial management” to an “extremely tense” dynamic between Deliss and the museum’s staff.

“She brought an exciting new approach to Weltkulturen Museum and above all brought to it a sense of living culture that I could only think benefitted the museum and its public, as well as its collections,” Juan Gaitan, the director of Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, told Sutton.

Gaitan was among many who seemed surprised by Deliss’s dismissal, given “the transformative impact she has had at the Weltkulturen Museum,” in Sutton’s words. Under Deliss’s leadership, the museum began the Weltkulturen Labor program, which grants residencies to artists and researchers.

June 19, 2015

Albany Museum of Art Names Executive Director

The Albany Museum of Art has made Paula Bacon Williams the museum’s permanent executive director, reports the Albany Herald’s Carlton Fletcher. As director from 1987 to 1993, Williams led the museum through its first accreditation. She’s served as the Albany Museum of Art’s interim director since August.

“In the nine-month period that she has been in the interim position, the museum has made major strides: with a sound financial footing, increased membership, and an exciting education and exhibition schedule for the upcoming year,” said museum president Kirk Rouse.

June 18, 2015

International News Digest

Musée d‘art et d‘histoire

JUNE 18

Geneva’s getting a renovated museum: The government has agreed to earmark around $143 million to revamp the Musée d‘art et d‘histoire, according to 20 Minuten. The space’s dire need for renovation has been unanimously recognized by elected authorities, though city council members have been arguing heatedly over budget details.

Many representatives objected to the fact that the Gandur Foundation for Art, founded by the businessman and collector Jean Claude, is donating around forty million dollars. Critics argued that it gives the foundation too much influence of the museum’s fate. Meanwhile, some conservative representatives took issue with the size of the expansion’s tab, while other left-leaning officials criticized the fact that the project’s architect, Jean Nouvel, would be overhauling a century-old building instead of preserving it.

The city’s mayor, Sami Kanaan said that while he’d have preferred a project on which everyone agreed, this project “even if it is not perfect,” had been assessed, evaluated, and funded.

Good news for women artists: The Contemporary Art Society and philanthropist Valeria Napoleone have launched a plan to fund an annual purchase and donation of one important work by a woman artist to a UK museum, reports Rebecca Atkinson in Museum Association. Sixty-seven member museums will be able to apply to the project beginning next April. After undergoing research supported by the society, the first work purchased will be exhibited at Camden Arts Center in January 2017 before becoming the centerpiece of a solo show for the artist at the recipient museum.

The Louvre was accused of anti-Semitism after its Sainte-Chapelle site failed to accommodate a visit by a group of Israeli students, according to Artnet’s Henri Neuendorf. Prosecutors in Paris are now investigating charges of discrimination after University of Tel Aviv professor Sefy Hendler brought a group of twelve students to see the museum, only to be told the museum had no availability. The group, which had tried to sign up over an automated system, then alleged that the same slot was allotted to a fake organization in a subsequent “test.”

But museum authorities have officially denied these accusations, saying an internal probe has ruled out the possibility of discrimination, because its reservation system is automated, reports Haaretz. “The first time slots requested by the University of Tel Aviv were not available at the time of the original demand. When an email request corresponds to a time slot already booked in the Louvre reservation software, an automatic reply is sent to inform of the non-availability,” a museum statement read. Regarding the “test” performed by the Tel Aviv group’s organizer, the museum said that the slot opened up after a cancelation.

Meanwhile, Israel’s first museum featuring Arab contemporary art opened yesterday, reports Al Arabiya. A joint project in collaboration with the mayor of northern Arab-Israeli town of Sakhnin, the Arab Museum of Contemporary Art occupies an old Arab-style building in the Galilee region.

“The aim of establishing the museum was for the world to get to know our artists— and there are so many here—and so that art in the region could develop and stimulate cultural and economic movement,” said Arab Sakhnin mayor Mazen Ghanayem. A set of traffic lights, in one piece on view in the museum’s opening exhibition, reads LOVE when switched to green.

June 18, 2015

Gavin Brown’s Enterprise to Move to Harlem

Gavin Brown’s Enterprise has announced that the gallery will be moving to Harlem later this year. The new gallery site will occupy a former brewery at 461 West 126th Street.

The space will be open to the public by late September, debuting with an exhibition of work by Ed Atkins. The final presentation at the current site of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise will open on June 24.

June 18, 2015

LACMA Names Two New Board Chairs

Elaine Wynn

Elaine Wynn and Antony Ressler have been elected as the new board cochairs of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Andrew Brandon-Gordon and Terry Semel, the previous cochairs, will now be cochairs emeriti, reports David Ng in the Los Angeles Times.

Wynn, a prominent art collector, joined LACMA’s board of trustees in 2011. With her husband Steve Wynn, she is cofounder of Wynn Resorts. She was appointed to the Kennedy Center’s board of trustees in 2010, and Ng reports that she’s allegedly the buyer of the $142.4 million Francis Bacon triptych of Lucian Freud in 2013—a record auction sum at the time. Ressler, meanwhile, has served on LACMA’s board for the past decade. Cofounder of the financial firm Ares Management, he has been vice chair of the museum’s board, as well as cochair of its finance committee.

June 18, 2015

Arts Philanthropy Surged in 2014, Study Finds

An annual report on charitable contributions released by Giving USA found that gifts of $200 million and over pushed Americans’ overall donations to the arts by 9.2 percent in 2014, reports the Los Angeles Times' Mike Boehm.

It’s the highest increase in nine categories tracked by the institution. Estimated donations to arts and culture totaled $17.2 billion, which was 4.8% of the $358.4 billion in giving that was tracked.