September 9, 2016

Grandchildren of Greta Moll Sue London’s National Gallery for Matisse Portrait

Henri Matisse, Portrait of Greta Moll, 1908.

Greta Moll, who sat for a portrait by Henri Matisse in Paris in 1908, is now at the center of a lawsuit. According to Harriet Alexander of the Telegraph, Moll’s heirs are suing the National Gallery in London for the painting of their grandmother, which they say was stolen from the family.

Oliver Williams, Margaret Green, and Iris Filmer are demanding either the return of Portrait of Greta Moll or $30 million in compensation. The relatives, based in Germany and England, filed the complaint in a Manhattan court. The lawyer representing the family, David Rowland, said, “The portrait is a family heirloom.” He added, “Greta Moll, its subject and owner, never sold or transferred title to the portrait to anyone, and it still rightfully belongs to her heirs, the Moll family.” She apparently entrusted the portrait with a former student of her husband’s for safekeeping in the aftermath of WWII, though it then disappeared.

The plaintiffs claim that the National Gallery did not look into the origins of the painting. Since its provenance sheet states that Moll owned the canvas until 1945, the heirs say that this should have been a red flag for the museum. The suit alleges that if the institution keeps the portrait, then Britain will be in violation of its UNESCO and Hague Convention commitments, which require Nazi-looted property be returned to its rightful owners.

In a statement issued today, the National Gallery said that it “will be defending itself against this legal action.” The institution claims it bought the portrait in good faith and claims that it is “the legal owner of the painting, which it holds for the nation.”

The National Gallery of London’s full statement reads:

September 9, 2016

Court Allows Construction of Manhattan’s Pier 55 to Continue

Design rendering of Pier 55.

New York State’s Appellate Division has ruled in favor of the Hudson River Park Trust and will allow construction of Pier 55, a cultural pier and public park on Manhattan’s West Side, to continue, Charles V. Bagli of the New York Times reports.

The City Club of New York, a civic group that promotes responsible urban planning, had filed three complaints against the $200 million project, claiming it was harmful to the environment and that the trust was not being transparent with its planning.

The court said that the trust “adequately considered the cumulative impacts” of the project. Barry Diller, media mogul and financier of the pier, said he was happy with the ruling. He added, “I’m sure we’ll continue to be tested.”

September 9, 2016

New York City Launches $1 Million Initiative to Fund Internships at Cultural Institutions

New York City hopes to increase diversity in the workforce of cultural institutions by financing internships for the City University of New York students who are minorities.

In partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs is launching a $1 million diversity initiative that will finance internships at cultural organizations, such as Carnegie Hall and MoMA PS1, Andrew R. Chow of the New York Times reports.

The city has funded eighty-five yearlong internships for City University of New York students who are minorities. The underclassmen will be able to intern at thirty-two institutions. The city is also working on starting a summer program.

The Department of Cultural Affairs commissioner Tom Finkelpearl said, “The idea is not to just expose people in the short term, but encourage the institutions to stay in touch with these young people, foster their growth, and maybe hire them in the long run.”

September 9, 2016

Pérez Art Museum Miami Receives Landmark Gift of 400 Works of Concrete and Visual Poetry

Guillaume Apollinaire, Peintures de Leopold Survage, 1917.

The Pérez Art Museum Miami has announced that it has acquired four hundred language-based artworks, including artist texts, avant-garde treatises, typewriter poetry, and experimental calligraphy, from the Miami-based Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry. The gift and purchase was made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the archive.

“Ruth and Marvin Sackner put together a singular, prescient collection, one that preserves the history of numerous distinct fields of twentieth-century art while celebrating radical experimentation,” PAMM director Franklin Sirmans said. “This is a unique resource, for the public and scholars alike. And, rightly, the bulk of this treasure, collected over several years by a very special collecting couple, will remain here in Miami.”

The museum will organize an exhibition of the donated works that will open in June 2017. Highlights from the gift include works by Carl Andre, Guillaume Apollinaire, Marcel Broodthaers, Augusto and Haroldo de Campos, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Jenny Holzer, and Tom Phillips.

September 9, 2016

Kamel Mennour to Open London Gallery Despite Brexit Fears

Kamel Mennour

Parisian contemporary art dealer Kamel Mennour has announced that he will open a small London gallery in October, Cristina Ruiz of the Art Newspaper reports.

“My London gallery is extremely intimate,” Mennour said. “I always said I would never open another branch abroad but then this opportunity came up and it was too good to pass up.” He will inaugurate the 60-square-foot space located at 51 Brook Street with a show of works by Moroccan-born artist Latifa Echakhch.

“Of course we are all worried about Brexit, but London is an extremely visited city and it is a second home for me,” Mennour said. “I visit two or three times a month—it’s so easy to get to from Paris—and I love the idea of the interconnection between these two big cities.”

In addition, dealer Almine Rech will open a new showroom at Grosvenor Hill in Mayfair on October 4 and New York dealer Per Skarstedt will open a new 4,000-square-foot space at 8 Bennet Street in St. James.

September 9, 2016

Art Basel Initiative to Partner with Buenos Aires for Inaugural Programming

Buenos Aires

Art Basel has announced that it will partner with the city of Buenos Aires for its Art Basel Cities initiative, a collaborative effort between Art Basel and its partner cities to produce arts programming that celebrates the local art scene and connects it to the international art world.

“This represents a major milestone for Art Basel,” Marc Spiegler, Art Basel’s global director, said. “The partnership will be the first example of Art Basel’s commitment to making further use of its significant experience in staging premier art events beyond the fairs. We aim to engage with cities, like Buenos Aires, which already have fascinating and multi-layered cultural scenes and are interested in amplifying their own commitment to arts and culture even further.”

The initiative is working with the mayor of Buenos Aires, the tourism board, the creative industries department, and the local arts district to develop a series of curated programming that will kick off in 2017.

September 9, 2016

Finland Cuts State Funding for Guggenheim’s Helsinki Museum

Design rendering of the museum by Moreau Kusunoki Architectes.

Last week, the Finnish government rejected the Guggenheim Foundation’s plan to cover $45 million of the cost to build a new museum in Helsinki with taxpayers’ dollars.

According to Reuters, Sampo Terho, the parliamentary head of the conservative Finns Party, said, “This is the end of the matter, we have ruled out state funding once and for all, for this government. We are not opposed to the project as such, we just don't think it is something that the state should participate in.”

Supporters of the project, which is estimated to cost between $134 and $156 million, believe that that the museum will give the city a financial boost and draw more tourists to the area in the same way that the Guggenheim Bilbao did in Spain.

Critics cite the struggling Finnish economy and a multibillion-dollar austerity measure the government is trying to pass in order to slow the growth of the public’s debt as reasons why the state should not foot the bill for the museum.

The Guggenheim Foundation said that it will continue to try to find alternative funding. Deputy director Ari Wiseman said, “We understand that it takes time. That said, we are disappointed that the project was not included in the budget.”

Ari Lahti, the head of Guggenheim Helsinki Support Foundation in charge of fund-raising efforts, said that because the foundation’s reservation on the waterfront site where the museum is slated to be built will expire they “do see the end of the year as a mental deadline for the project to move ahead.”

The Guggenheim Foundation originally proposed the project in 2012 and held an architectural design competition last year. Moreau Kusunoki Architectes, a firm founded in Paris in 2011, was selected as the winner in June. For more on the open-call design competition for the museum, see David Huber’s piece here.

September 9, 2016

Los Angeles’s Ibid Gallery Relocates to Boyle Heights

Design Rendering of Ibid Gallery’s new downtown location, featuring a work by Ed Ruscha.

Ibid Gallery has announced that it will move to a new space in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles. The gallery will boast 9,000 square feet across connected warehouses that will be converted into three exhibition spaces.

The gallery has organized three exhibitions to inaugurate the venue. The largest space, which will rotate programming organized by guest curators, will present the group show “Sleep.” Curated by Paolo Colombo, the exhibition will examine the abstract concept of sleep by exploring states of dreaming, surrender, trance, and slumber through works by Ed Ruscha, Rosemarie Trockel, Robert Gober, Jorge Macchi, Paul Thek, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Jānis Avotiņš.

The second gallery, which will be used to exhibit works of provenance, will present a restaging of artist David Adamo’s installation Untitled (Music for Strings). The work hasn’t been on view since the 2010 Whitney Biennial. The third gallery is dedicated to emerging artists in Los Angeles and will open with works by Devin Farrand.

Founder Magnus Edensvard established the first Ibid Gallery in London in 2004. He opened a second outpost in Los Angeles in 2014. Designed by Kulapat Yantrasast and the architectural firm wHY, the new downtown location will open on September 25. In addition to the renovated warehouses, the site also has a 4,600-square-foot annex, which Ibid Gallery will use for hosting international galleries, agencies, and independent curators. United Talent Agency’s Fine Art Division, which just launched its own flexible gallery space called UTA Artist Space will occupy the annex for the first year.

September 8, 2016

World Trade Center Arts Complex Reveals Design and Names Barbra Streisand Board Chair

The Ronald O. Perleman Performing Arts Center

Three months after businessman Ronald O. Perelman donated $75 million to jumpstart plans to build a performing arts complex at the World Trade Center site, officials have unveiled design renderings of the venue and announced that Barbra Streisand has been appointed chair of the board.

Originally proposed by architect Daniel Libeskind as part of his 2003 master plan for the redevelopment of the site, the project was in limbo until Perelman stepped in. Perelman said, “I think that this is a project that must happen. 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.”

In a statement, Streisand, a Brooklyn native, said that the Center will “vibrate with theater, music, dance and film, and bring life to this hallowed ground.”

Officially named The Ronald O. Perleman Performing Arts Center, the 90,000-square-foot space will boast three flexible auditoriums, rehearsal spaces, administrative offices, and a restaurant or bar. Slated to open in 2020, the facility will produce and premiere theater, dance, music, film, opera, and multidisciplinary works.

“Today the World Trade Center site stands as a monument to our nation’s ability to prevail in its darkest hour,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Perelman Performing Arts Center will highlight the values that make New York exceptional—the celebration of diverse cultures from every corner of the globe. This Center will help complete the renewal of Lower Manhattan and, on behalf of all New Yorkers, I welcome this institution and thank those who are working to make this vision a reality.”