July 1, 2016

Peter J. Amdam (1971–2016)

Peter J. Amdam

Peter J. Amdam, an artist, cultural critic, writer, curator, and well-known performer of hardcore music, died Wednesday.

Amdam wrote extensively on contemporary art and theory and was an occasional collaborator with the artist Matias Faldbakken. He organized numerous shows, including “Refraction. The Image of Sense” (2014–15) and “Concatenation. Signature, Seriality, Painting” (2012), both at Blain|Southern in London; “Shattered Preface” (2014) at OSL Contemporary in Oslo; and “The Medium of Intensity” (2013) and “Awaiting Immanence” (2013), both at Carl Kostyál in Stockholm. Amdam had his first solo exhibition, “From the Depths of Separation,” in 2014 at Oslo’s Lynx, an artist-run project space.

Amdam was the frontman for the 1990s hardcore bands Onward, Sportswear, and For Pete’s Sake and served as editor of Fin Serck-Hanssen’s photographic history of punk and post-punk, In Between Pictures: Photographs 1979–1986 (2011).

July 1, 2016

FCA Establishes Award with $1 Million Gift from Ellsworth Kelly Foundation

Cauleen Smith, the first recipient of the Ellsworth Kelly Award.

The Foundation for Contemporary Art has announced that the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation has donated $1 million to establish an endowment for a new contemporary art award. The gift is the largest cash contribution the organization has received in its fifty-three-year history.

The $40,000 Ellsworth Kelly Award will support emerging, midcareer, and underrecognized artists by funding a solo exhibition of the winner’s work at a regional museum or university art gallery. “Ellsworth recognized that a museum exhibition can be transformative for an artist’s career, and this award is intended to provide that opportunity to artists,” Jack Shear, president of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, said.

The first artist honored with the prize is filmmaker and visual artist Cauleen Smith. An exhibition of her film, video, and sculpture, curated by Anthony Elms, will be presented at the University of Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art in 2018.

Every spring, the FCA will request proposals from a small group of US art institutions, alternating each year between organizations located on the East and West Coasts. Smith was chosen for the 2016 inaugural grant cycle on the East Coast. Honorees are selected by the FCA’s board of directors, which consists of Cecily Brown, Anthony B. Creamer III, Robert Gober, Anne Dias Griffin, Agnes Gund, Jasper Johns, Julian Lethbridge, Glenn Ligon, Kara Walker, and T. J. Wilcox. Jasper Johns, cofounder of the FCA, said, “The directors are pleased that Ellsworth’s longtime support of FCA has culminated in this imaginative award in his name.”

July 1, 2016

World’s Oldest Operating Photo Studio Closes After 150 Years

Bourne and Shepherd

Bourne and Shepherd, the world’s longest-operating photo studio, shut down earlier this month after the owners lost a fourteen-year legal battle over the space, Claire Voon of Hyperallergic reports.

British photographers Samuel Bourne and Charles Shepherd founded the studio in the 1860s. It relocated in 1910 to a building owned by the Life Insurance Corporation of India. “We only had the building on lease and due to a space issue, and a discrepancy on the rent, [LIC] wanted it back,” co-owner Jayant Gandhi said. “We filed a case in 2002 and finally lost the battle to the court order.”

Gandhi and his business partner, K. J. Ajmer, had tried to expand the studio’s scope of operations to include commercial shoots and processing services for 16- and 35-mm film but cited technology and a devastating fire in 1991, which severely damaged the space’s structure and devoured around two thousand glass negatives, as reasons why the business was struggling. Gandhi said that he wants to preserve the studio’s archives and equipment—including a massive camera originally used by Bourne—but is uncertain how to do so. A change.org petition was created, but it has only obtained about forty-five signatures so far.

Historian Hugh Ashley Rayner noted that during its heyday, “the company became the de-facto official photographers to the British Raj in India and produced portraits of successive viceroys and governors, as well as most high officials and major political events.” Shepherd primarily managed the commercial side of the business and did most of the printing, and Bourne traveled extensively, photographing India and amassing thousands of images. Rayner said, “His images recorded an India that was rapidly changing, and that has now largely disappeared.” Many photographers documented the landscape and culture of India before Bourne, but “he was perhaps the first to produce such a large and coherent body of work of such consistently high technical quality and artistic merit,” Rayner added. His photographs can be found in the collections of London’s National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Institution, among others.

July 1, 2016

K. G. Subramanyan (1924–2016)

K. G. Subramanyan

K. G. Subramanyan, a pioneer of Indian modern art, died in Vadodara on Wednesday at the age of ninety-two, The Times of India reports. Subramanyan lived in Baroda and worked as a painter, sculptor, muralist, print maker, and author of children’s books.

Born in 1924 in north Kerala, Subramanyan joined the Quit India movement in 1944 and was imprisoned for three years. While studying economics at Presidency College in Madras, he was told he should go to art school by Devi Prasad Rai Chowdhury, the principal of the Madras School of Art, after he discovered drawings by the artist and recognized his potential. Subramanyan first studied art at Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan under the instruction of Benode Behari Mukherjee, Nandalal Bose, and Ramkinkar Baij.

Over his six-decade career, Subramanyan was inspired by folk art and cubism. He would pull motifs from India’s various artistic traditions and reinvent them in contemporary contexts. He worked as a professor and lecturer and wrote extensively about Indian art. Subramanyan was awarded the Padma Vibhushan (2012), Padma Bhushan (2006), and Padma Shri (1975).

A retrospective exhibition of his work was held in 2003 at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi and Mumbai. Director Rajeev Lochan said, “The country has lost one of its legendary artists, pedagogue, theorist, and scholar.”

Subramanyan said in an interview about his work: “I do not want to be oppressed by the feeling that art is long, life is short. Life is certainly short—even a long life is not long enough for us to achieve all of what we want. But the language of art should emerge naturally, with ease and spontaneity, out of our responses to our environment and out of our inner vision.”

July 1, 2016

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and IDEA Selected to Build Obama Presidential Library

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien

The Barack Obama Foundation announced on Thursday that Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects have won a design competition to build the Obama Presidential Library planned for Chicago. The New York–based firm will partner with Chicago’s Interactive Design Architects.

“Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects stood out in their commitment to explore the best ways of creating an innovative center for action that inspires communities and individuals to take on our biggest challenges,” the foundation said.

The center, which will include a library containing Obama’s presidential archives and a museum dedicated to his presidency, will be built in Chicago’s South Side, where Michelle Obama was born and raised and where Barack Obama was first elected to the Senate in 1996. The $500 million project will be funded by private donations and is expected to open its doors in 2021.

Williams and Tsien said, “This has been a transformative presidency and we will work to make a center that embodies and expands the Obamas’ vision.” Other projects completed by the husband-and-wife duo include New York’s American Folk Art Museum, which was demolished by MoMA in 2013; Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation; the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago; and the Asia Society Center in Hong Kong. They are also currently designing the United States Embassy complex in Mexico City.

July 1, 2016

Ronald Perelman Gifts $75 Million for Performing Arts Center at World Trade Center Site

Ronald Perelman

Businessman Ronald Perelman announced on Wednesday that he has donated $75 million to move forward with building a performing arts center at the World Trade Center site, Michael Cooper of the New York Times reports. An arts complex at ground zero had originally been envisioned by architect Daniel Libeskind as part of his 2003 master plan for the site. The project was shelved for more than a decade due to setbacks in fundraising, delays in the construction of the new transit hub, and issues with the design.

“I think that this is a project that must happen,” Perelman said. “It is more than just a pure artistic center to serve a community. It is that, but at the same time it’s much more than that.” The former chairman of Carnegie Hall said that he believes in the redevelopment of the site and had gifted $5 million to the World Trade Center museum shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Maggie Boepple, the center’s president and director, said that Perelman’s gift, along with the $100 million in federal funds donated by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, brings the project another step closer to realizing its estimated cost of $240 million.

Rex, a Brooklyn-based architecture firm, was selected to design the project. The complex will feature cutting-edge technology and three flexible features that can seat either 499, 299, or 100 people, or 1,200 when the spaces are combined. While the types of programming the center will offer are in the works, it has been confirmed that it will host the Tribeca Film Festival each April. Jenny Gersten, artistic director of Massachusetts’s Williamstown Theater Festival, is currently a producing consultant.

Perelman, who expressed excitement about the immersive performances the theaters will be able to accommodate, said, “I would hope it is the first venue of choice for the Bruce Springsteens and the Bon Jovis and the Yo-Yo Mas and the Lang Langs, and at the same time it’s a place where we could have produced a Hamilton project or where we could produce a new ballet.”

June 30, 2016

Lisa Liebmann (1955–2016)

John Brooks Adams and Lisa Liebmann in 2012. Photo: Linda Yablonsky.

Lisa Liebmann, a contributor to Artforum for more than three decades and one of the defining figures of Ingrid Sischy’s tenure as editor in the 1980s, died Wednesday evening in New York.

An inspired and broad-minded critic, she contributed significant essays to the magazine on artists such as Nan Goldin, Keith Sonnier, and Eric Fischl. Liebmann also contributed regularly to Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Interview, and other publications, and wrote books including David Salle 1979–1994 (Rizzoli, 1994), Brice Marden Paintings on Marble (Steidl, 2005), and Ross Bleckner (Harry N. Abrams/Guggenheim Museum, 1995). She often collaborated with her husband, the writer Brooks Adams, and in 2012 they published a book of essays on the work of New York–based painter Deborah Kass with Griselda Pollock, Irving Sandler, and Eric C. Shiner.

Reflecting in 1993 on her earliest contributions to this magazine, Liebmann wrote: “During the very early ’80s my role at Artforum was actually somewhat ambiguous, complicated by the fact that I had been involved with this new editor, whose employment policies were rigorous in the extreme—to be a F.O.I. [Friend of Ingrid’s] could be a mixed blessing . . . As psychic handmaiden, my influence, I like to think, was important if subliminal.”

June 30, 2016

Guy and Myriam Ullens Look for New Owners for UCCA and Art Collection

Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

Guy Ullens, collector and founder of Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, has announced that he is looking to hand over ownership of the UCCA to someone who can continue to support and develop the institution in the years to come.

In a joint statement from the UCCA and the Guy and Myriam Ullens Foundation, the organizations confirmed that the center will still run under its current leadership. The Ullens will also be selling their art collection of more than two thousand works through private sales and at auction later this year.

“I have been a patron of the arts in China for over thirty years and have found this a hugely interesting and fascinating experience,” Guy Ullens said. “I’m now in my eighties and need to look at how to hand over the stewardship of the UCCA and my art collection to younger patrons of the arts.” Until a new benefactor is found, Guy Ullens said he will continue to support the UCCA and its team.

CEO May Xue said that the center respects his decision and is grateful for his support these past nine years, and that it “will stand strong and uphold our core values of highlighting artists from China and beyond.”

The center, which encompasses four main exhibitions spaces—more than 26,000 square feet—has welcomed more than three million visitors since it was established in 2007. Each year, the UCCA hosts around fifteen exhibitions and offers a wide range of programming that focuses on recent developments and historical movements in Chinese contemporary art.

Guy Ullens, whose father was a diplomat in China, was involved in various successful business endeavors in sugar and other food-related companies, including Weight Watchers. Since the 1980s, he has regularly traveled to China for his family’s firm.

June 30, 2016

Los Angeles’s Rosamund Felsen Gallery Closes

Installation view, Karen Carson, January 1982.

After almost four decades, Rosamund Felsen Gallery—which prides itself in representing artists who challenge and champion the culture of LA—has announced that it will close its doors. After first opening on La Cienega Boulevard in 1978, the gallery would relocate to West Hollywood and Bergamot Station before moving to downtown LA last year.

The gallery said it’s closing celebratory show, which opens on July 9, “will be paying tribute not only to all the extraordinary artists who have filled both the gallery space and the gallery’s identity over the years, but will also serve as a marking point for the current gallery artist’s ongoing careers.” The final exhibition will feature one work from each of the artists that the gallery currently represents, including Mindy Alper, Judith Barry, Les Biller, Jacci Den Hartog, Tim Ebner, Steven Hull, Nancy Jackson, Kim MacConnel, John Mils, M. A. Peers, Maureen Selwood, and C. K. Wilde. Although the physical location will be shut down, the gallery will continue to maintain an online presence.