August 5, 2016

Peter Rodriguez (1926–2016)

Peter Rodriguez

Peter Rodriguez, founder of San Francisco’s Mexican Museum, died on July 1 at the age of ninety, Charles Desmarais of SF Gate reports. The abstract painter served for more than a decade as executive director and curator of the museum, which he established in 1975.

“No one contributed more to the Latino art community than Peter,” Andrew M. Kluger, chair of the Mexican Museum’s board of trustees, said. “He was a true visionary whose legacy is firmly established in our world-class museum, where future generations can learn about and be inspired by Mexican art and culture.”

Born in California in 1926 to parents who immigrated to the United States from Mexico, Rodriguez was one of eleven children. He was a self-taught artist who worked in advertising and fashion in San Francisco during the early 1960s. In 1968, Rodriguez moved to Tlalpan, a suburb of Mexico City, where he developed a passion for Mexican art and culture. Upon his return to San Francisco in the 1970s, he cofounded the Galeria de la Raza, a community-based arts organization. He also served as commissioner of the San Francisco Arts Commission.

August 5, 2016

Elderly Woman Solves Crossword Puzzle Artwork, Then Claims to Own the Copyright

Arthur Köpcke, Reading Work Piece, 1977.

According to Glyn Moody of Ars Technica UK, a ninety-year-old German woman filled out Fluxus artist Arthur Köpcke’s crossword-puzzle work during her visit to Nuremberg’s Neues Museum and is claiming that she is now a collaborator on the work and therefore holds the copyright.

Identified as Hannelore K., the puzzle-solver accused of vandalism by the museum said that she began to fill in the answers to the 1977 work that depicts a crossword puzzle because it instructed her to do so. The $89,000 artwork features English phrases such as “Insert words.” The retiree said if the museum didn’t want people to listen to the artist then they should have posted signs.

The institution has since removed the work from the exhibition and restored it to its original state. However, Hannelore K. believes her addition to the piece was in the spirit of the Fluxus art movement. She consulted a lawyer, who then wrote a seven-page brief arguing that, rather than having damaged the work, Hannelore K. had increased its value. The brief also declared that her addition to the piece gives her a copyright claim on the artwork and that, if she wishes, she could sue the museum. The art was on loan to the institution from a private collector.

August 5, 2016

Keith Haring Mural in Church-Owned Apartment Building Threatened by Developers

Keith Haring mural painted in apartment building owned by the Church of the Ascension. Photo: Ben Fractenberg | DNAinfo

A mural that Keith Haring painted on the walls of a former convent in the 1980s may be at risk of disappearing, as the Church of the Ascension, which now owns the converted apartment building, is facing financial difficulties, James Fanelli and Ben Fractenberg of DNA Info report.

Haring painted the series of dancing figures that gambol across three floors of the five-story building when Grace House, a Catholic youth organization, leased the convent beginning in 1977. According to the New York Times, around fifty kids were living there at the time and some of them were able to see the artist work.

“It was mesmerizing to watch him, and for me, I was very proud of having him there doing that,” Benny Soto, a former Grace House member, said. “I felt like it was for us.”

August 5, 2016

German Culture Minister Plans to Reform Restitution Panel for Nazi-Looted Art

Juan Gris still-life, now in the public collections of North Rhine Westphalia and claimed by the family of Alfred Flechtheim. Photo: Rolf Vennenbernd | AP Images.

Monika Grütters, Germany’s minister of culture, has announced plans to reform the Limbach Commission, a restitution panel that was established in 2003 to assess claims in Nazi-looted art ownership disputes, in order to address criticisms of its lack of transparency, its failure to appoint a Jewish member, and the low number of cases it has investigated, Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper reports.

Grütters and the panel were accused of anti-Semitism after she told the New York Times in March that the panel had decided against including a Jewish member because his or her voice “would be the only voice who would be prejudiced.” However, after Grütters met with Ronald Lauder, the founder of the Commission for Art Recovery and founder of the Neue Galerie, which is currently negotiating the return of a work with a questionable provenance from its own collection, she vowed to elect a Jewish member.

The panel, which is run by the former constitutional court judge Jutta Limbach, has only made thirteen recommendations. Austria’s equivalent of the commission has made more than 140 since 2002.

August 4, 2016

The Met Announces Record Attendance Despite $10 Million Deficit

“China: Through the Looking Glass,” 2015, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art attracted 815,992 people.

Despite the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s $10 million deficit, which has led to a hiring freeze, voluntary buyouts, and layoffs, the institution has announced that it has welcomed the highest number of visitors since it began tracking admission statistics forty years ago. During its past fiscal year, which ended on June 30, 6.7 million people visited the Met.

This is the fifth consecutive year that the number of museumgoers at the institution’s locations—the Met Fifth Avenue, the Cloisters, and now the Met Breuer—has exceeded six million. This year’s number is 400,000 more than recorded in the previous year.

Director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell said, “We are thrilled that the public continues to respond so enthusiastically to the Met’s exhibitions, collections, and programs.” He added, “We are delighted that our visitors have also embraced our expanded programming at the Met Breuer as an integral part of the Met experience.”

August 4, 2016

Following Student and Staff Defections, Roski School of Art Hires Five New Faculty Members

USC Roski School of Art and Design. Photo: Kyleen Hengelhaupt | Daily Trojan

One month after USC Roski School of Art and Design’s only MFA student abandoned the program, citing “a total absence of leadership,” the school has announced it has made a “transformative” group hire. Artists Suzanne Lacy, Edgar Arceneaux, Keith Mayerson, Kori Newkirk, and Patty Chang will join as faculty members this fall.

The school has struggled to keep students enrolled since it tried to make curricular and administrative changes in 2015. Seven students, who made up the incoming class of 2016, dropped out of the MFA program in May 2015. In an open letter to the institution, they listed a lack of studio visits, Roski’s MFA program director stepping down and not being replaced, and confusion over scholarship funding as a few of the reasons why they collectively decided to leave the institution. Several of the school’s faculty, including Frances Stark, A. L. Steiner, Charlie White, and Sharon Lockhart, also left after the controversial restructuring.

HaeAhn Kwon, the only incoming student in Roski’s MFA program last year, decided to leave in June. “I could not have anticipated the degree to which my entering this school would reaffirm the opinions of those who deem Roski to be on a downward spiral of predatory, wrongheaded, and woefully oblivious decision making,” HaeAhn said.

August 4, 2016

Cleveland Triennial to Launch in 2018

Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. Photo: Brent M. Durken

The first edition of FRONT International: Cleveland Exhibition for Contemporary Art, titled “An American City,” will take place between July 7 and September 20, 2018. Fred Bidwell, former interim director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, will head the fair as FRONT International CEO and executive director. Conceived by artistic directors Michelle Grabner and Jens Hoffmann, “An American City” will investigate “the complex processes by which Cleveland is being constantly undone and rebuilt.”

The first iteration of the triennial will have a nearly $5 million budget. It intends to present site-specific artistic interventions, public programs, artistic and curatorial residencies, a temporary academy, a web-based art journal for the Midwest, and a number of solo and group exhibitions featuring work by more than fifty international artists in various locations around the city, including the Cleveland Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, the Akron Art Museum, and the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Grabner and Hoffmann said that the fair will treat the city as “both paradigm and physical site” and “tease out the ways in which contemporary experiences of an urban location are shaped by historical and current events, and uncover how the city’s collective memory and sociopolitical imperatives can define artistic and curatorial production.” The artistic directors will assemble a team of regional curators and an international group of global delegates who will advise and help shape the curatorial program.

August 4, 2016

Jens Hoffmann Steps Down as Deputy Director of the Jewish Museum

Jens Hoffmann.

According to M. H. Miller of Artnews, Jens Hoffmann, who joined the staff of New York’s Jewish Museum as deputy director in 2012, has stepped down from his position so that he can pursue other projects.

In an e-mail, director Claudia Gould said that Hoffmann’s “passion has always been curating exhibitions and working closely with artists, and he has recently expressed his desire to refocus his attention more fully on these areas.” Hoffman will remain the museum’s director of special exhibitions and public programming. He will also serve as coartistic director of the inaugural arts festival FRONT International: Cleveland Exhibition for Contemporary Art, which will take place in 2018.

August 4, 2016

Anna Mecugni Joins Tulane’s Newcomb Art Museum as Curator and Coordinator of Academic Programming

Anna Mecugni

Newcomb Art Museum has appointed Anna Mecugni, exhibition assistant for contemporary art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as curator and coordinator of academic programming.

“I am thrilled to envision stimulating new ways that Tulane’s students, faculty members, and community partners could benefit from the Newcomb Art Museum’s resources and programs to their greatest advantage,” Mecugni said. “Becoming a catalyst for a broad, meaningful integration of the museum’s offerings with the school’s curriculum is a very exciting prospect.”

Mecugni has served in curatorial positions at New York’s MoMA, the Venice Biennale, James Gallery at the CUNY Graduate Center, and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College. She is a professor of art history, film studies, and Italian language and culture at Vassar College, Temple University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where she was granted the Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Recently, Mecugni coedited and authored the catalogue that accompanied the exhibition of the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.