September 23, 2016

Albright-Knox Art Gallery Receives Historic $42.5 Million Gift

Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery announced today that it has received a landmark gift of $42.5 million from art patron and investor Jeffrey Gundlach for the institution’s expansion project.

Gundlach, a native of the Buffalo area, made the single largest donation in the gallery’s history a challenge gift in order to rally the community to support the cultural institution. Donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations allowed the gallery to raise $125 million.

Led by architect Shohei Shigematsu of OMA, the expansion project will provide additional space for exhibitions, educational programming, and dining areas. The capital campaign will also be used to complete various renovations and to increase the endowment for operating costs.

The board of directors of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy unanimously voted to change the name of the institution to the Buffalo Albright-Knox-Gundlach Art Museum in honor of Gundlach’s gift.

September 23, 2016

Nicole Smythe-Johnson Named Curator for Inaugural Tilting Axis Fellowship

Nicole Smythe-Johnson

Nicole Smythe-Johnson, a Jamaica-based writer and independent curator, has been selected for the first Tilting Axis curatorial fellowship, a yearlong program between the Caribbean and Scotland that aims to support the curatorial practices of Caribbean-based organizations.

Tilting Axis, an international project that aids working artists in the Caribbean by strengthening the art community’s networks, developing programming, and increasing fund-raising opportunities, was created by ARC Magazine, a Caribbean art and cultural publication, and the Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., a Caribbean artist-run nonprofit organization.

The new fellowship was conceived by CCA Glasgow, David Dale Gallery and Studios, Hospitalfield, Mother Tongue, and Tilting Axis during the Tilting Axis meetings that took place in 2015 at Fresh Milk, located in Barbados, and in 2016 at the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

September 23, 2016

Activists Boycott St. Louis Museum for Exhibiting “Racially and Sexually Charged” Works

Kelley Walker, “schema,” Aquafresh plus Crest with Scope, 2003.

Artist and activist Damon Davis is urging people to boycott the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis due to its “racially and sexually charged” exhibition “Kelley Walker: Direct Drive,” which opened on September 16, Jenny Simeone of St. Louis Public Radio reports.

Organized by chief curator Jeffrey Uslip, the show is Georgia-born, New York–based artist Kelley Walker’s first solo exhibition in a US museum. Among the works on display are Walker’s “Black Star Press” and “Schema” series, for which the artist appropriates photographs of civil rights protests and of black people being brutalized by police and then smears whitening toothpaste and chocolate, among other materials, on the images.

In a Facebook post, Davis writes, “This work is offensive to black people, black women in particular, and the black struggle for freedom that us and our ancestors have been engaging in since this country was founded.”

At an artist talk hosted by the museum, Davis tried to question the artist about the works. Davis said, “When confronted with an actual black person, Walker became flustered and angry and had no actual answer for why he was using these images. When he couldn’t answer my questions, the curator, Jeffrey Uslip, interjected and tried to explain for him. If you are an artist and you are making work that is specifically racially and sexually charged, if you use black people for props in your work, then at least be ready to explain yourself.”

September 23, 2016

Teodoro González de León (1926–2016)

Teodoro González de León

Teodoro González de León, a Mexican architect who designed modernist buildings that reference Mesoamerica’s ancient cities, died on September 16 in Mexico City at the age of ninety, Elisabeth Malkin of the New York Times reports.

“The No. 1 goal of architecture is to create useful objects,” González de León said. “We create useful objects for the city to experience them—but also so that those objects move us.”

Born in Mexico City in 1926, González de León studied at the National School of Architecture, where, as students, he and two peers won a design competition for the university’s new campus.

From 1948 to 1949, he worked as a draftsman in Le Corbusier’s Paris studio. Throughout his career back in Mexico, González de León designed government facilities, universities, office buildings, and museums, including the contemporary art museum Rufino Tamayo in 1981 in partnership with architect Abraham Zabludovsky.

September 22, 2016

Nanjing International Arts Festival Reveals Theme and List of 315 Participating Artists

Baijia Lake Museum

China’s annual Nanjing International Arts Festival announced today that 315 artists have been selected to explore the theme of “Historicode: Scarcity and Supply” for its third edition, which is scheduled to run from November 12, 2016, to February 12, 2017.

Chief curator Lu Peng said, “The theme reflects on a shift of perception and production in the art world in recent years—namely after the 1990s. Artworks and artists have been affected by the role and place the art market has taken. What are the codes for art assessment and what makes art history in this time frame is the question I wanted to address through ‘Historicode.’”

Among the participating artists are Qiu Anxiong, Lee Changwon, Joseph Beuys, Zeng Fanzhi, Claire Fontaine, Yue Minjun, Adrian Paci, Pratchaya Phinthong, Chim Pom, Li Shan, and Santiago Sierra.

Chief curator Lu Peng and curator Letizia Ragaglia led the selection committee, made up of Heidi Ballet, Du Xiyun, Fu Xiaodong, Katie Geha, Gu Chengfeng, He Guiyan, Lee Janguk, Carol Yinghua Lu, and Nathalie Boseul Shin.

Yan Lugen, chairman of the Nanjing International Art Festival and founder of the Baijia Lake International Culture Investment Group, said, “Bringing such a diversity of exemplary works to Nanjing, we aim to share a slice of recent art history with the local audience as well as to bring Nanjing to the attention of the art world at large.”

More than four hundred works will be displayed in the new Baijia Lake Museum, a former residential and commercial building that was repurposed into exhibition spaces and a research center.

Participating Artists List:

September 22, 2016

Firefighters Battle Blaze that Engulfed Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Art

Firefighters working to extinguish a blaze that ignited on September 21 at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.

Swedish firefighters worked through Wednesday night trying to extinguish an out-of-control fire that was still raging at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Art this morning, The Telegraph reports.

After cardboard boxes and garbage on the fourth floor of the institute caught fire yesterday afternoon, a plume of smoke could be seen across the capital. By 8:30 PM, police began cordoning off Skeppsholmen Island, where the building is located, and made a hole in the roof for ventilation. At least forty-six firefighters were working to save the building. Firefighter Johan Winsnes said that the threat to the surrounding buildings was minimal.

Established in 1735, the Royal Institute of Art offers undergraduate and postgraduate studies in fine arts and postgraduate studies in architecture.

September 22, 2016

Rhizome Names New Assistant Curator of Net Art

Aria Dean.

Rhizome has announced that the Los Angeles–based writer and artist Aria Dean will be its new assistant curator of Net art starting October 1. Dean will work with Rhizome’s artistic director Michael Connor and preservation director Dragan Espenschied on the organization’s efforts to preserve, present, and reperform Net art works from the 1980s to the present day. She will also organize events and assist with online publishing. Her appointment was funded by a grant from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation.

Dean graduated from Oberlin College in 2015 and codirects the project space As It Stands LA. She is also a contributor to, most recently penning a Pick on Alex Da Corte at Art + Practice in Los Angeles.

September 22, 2016

Venice Biennale Announces Title and Theme of 57th Edition

Paolo Baratta and Christine Macel

Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Biennale, and Christine Macel, the curator of the fifty-seventh edition of the exhibition, announced today the title of the 2017 biennial: “Viva Arte Viva.”

According to Macel, the title reflects the role and responsibility artists have in framing contemporary debates. Describing the biennial as an exhibition designed with the artists, by the artists, and for the artists, Macel said in a statement that it “aims to be an experience, representing an extroversion movement towards the other, towards a common place, and towards the most indefinable of dimensions, opening pathways to a neo-humanism.”

In addition to the pavilions, which will feature works by artists representing fifty-seven countries, each week an Open Table (Tavola Aperta) will be held, during which the artists will engage in conversation about their practices with the public.

When Baratta appointed Macel in January, he said she was “a curator committed to emphasizing the important role artists play in inventing their own universes and kindly injecting vitality into the world we live in.”

The biennial will take place from May 13 to November 26, 2017, in the Giardini and the Arsenale, as well as numerous satellite venues throughout Venice. In addition, there will be a number of “Collateral Events,” programming organized by various institutions throughout the city that will coincide with the exhibition.

September 22, 2016

Dutch Court Rules in Favor of Ulay in Dispute with Marina Abramović over Joint Works


Ulay, the former romantic and artistic partner of performance artist Marina Abramović, has won a legal battle against his ex, report Ben Quinn and Noah Charney of The Guardian. On Wednesday, a Dutch court ordered Abramović to pay Ulay more than $278,000 in compensation for the sale of their joint works.

When the couple ended their relationship in 1988, Ulay sold Abramović his archives, including negatives and transparencies of previous performances, so that she could create salable works at her discretion. Abramović agreed to give Ulay 20 percent of the profits and to inform him when works were sold. However, Ulay said he has received very little money despite the fact that their works have five- and six-figure price tags.

“There is a lot of money going through her accounts—and of course they have a very good accountant,” Ulay said. According to him, Abramović only paid him four times, totaling about $34,000. By bringing her to court, Ulay sought “every three months, a statement on sales and my royalties” and “absolute proper mentioning of my name.”

Among the artworks the couple created together are Breathing In Breathing Out, AAA-AAA, and Relation in Time, all 1977, as well as Nightsea Crossing, 1982, and The Lovers: The Great Wall Walk, 1988, in which the pair walked toward each other from opposite sides of the Great Wall of China in order to meet in the middle to say goodbye, symbolizing the end of their partnership.