November 11, 2016

Fort Wayne Museum of Art Receives $6.2 Million Gift of More Than 700 Works

David Shapiro, Clearing 87, 2008.

The Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Indiana has announced that it has received a landmark gift of seven hundred works valued at $6.2 million from the estate of American artist David Shapiro.

Made up of five hundred prints and two hundred paintings, the donation is the largest the museum has received in its ninety-five-year history. Charles Shepard, CEO and chief curator, said, “Before his untimely death in 2014, David Shapiro had already secured his place in the history of contemporary art by having major museums around the world add both his paintings and prints to their highly regarded collections. That said, the full impact of David’s contributions to the aesthetics of American painting and printmaking in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has yet to be recognized.”

In the past two years, the institution has been gifted three other major donations from artists, including 110 prints by Robert Kipniss, 95 prints by Katja Oxman, and 230 works by Steven Sorman.

November 11, 2016

Royal College of Art Taps Herzog & de Meuron to Design New South London Campus

Design Rendering of new campus.

The Royal College of Art in London has announced that Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron has won the international competition to design its new $136 million Battersea South campus.

The winning design features a 161,460-square-foot space with several floors of studios and a hangar space that can house large-scale works as well as an indoor garden. Chair of the architectural selection panel Paul Thompson said that Herzog & de Meuron was the “clear choice of the competition jury.” In a statement, the college said that Herzog & de Meuron “demonstrated a deep understanding of the potential for Battersea, making new connections and foreseeing the possibilities for sustainable place-making.”

Pierre de Meuron said, “The RCA set a challenging brief to look forward and visualize the spaces they will need to deliver innovation and expertise.” Senior partner Ascan Mergenthaler added, “We took our inspiration from the RCA ethos of experiment and making to explore the possibilities of spatial organization, and to test the physical expression of bringing together the worlds of science, art, design and technology under one roof.”

November 11, 2016

Museum of Fine Arts Boston Announces $24 Million Renovation

Conservator Rhona Macbeth working on Frida Kahlo’s Dos Mujeres (Salvadora y Herminia), 1928.

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston has announced that it is moving forward with a $24 million renovation project that will create a state-of-the art conservation center, with 22,000 square feet for six laboratories.

Director Matthew Teitelbaum said that the new center “will dramatically improve all facets of our conservation systems, improving infrastructure, technology, and facilities while fostering an environment of teamwork.”

Slated to open in 2019, the open floor plan will boast advanced technology for its paintings, objects, frame, and furniture conservation, conference rooms, upgraded freight elevators, and heightened ceilings to maximize natural light. In order to finance the project, the museum embarked on the largest fundraising effort in support of conservation in the institution’s 146-year history.

Over the past five years, the museum completed approximately 4,800 object examinations and 750 conservation treatments on objects. Founded in 1876, the MFA established one of the nation’s first museum research laboratories in 1929. Today, its conservation department has grown to more than sixty staff members.

November 11, 2016

Burt Barr (1938–2016)

Burt Barr, Self Portrait, 1991.

Burt Barr, best known for his humorous and understated video art, died on Monday, November 7. The New York–based artist’s works are characterized by their simple compositions, slow fade-ins and fade-outs, and focus on the mundane.

In the October 2008 issue of Artforum, editor David Velasco reviewed an exhibition of Barr’s works at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. He wrote: “It’s difficult to situate Barr within contemporary conversations about video art; his works seem unconcerned with the expressionistic, seemingly Ritalin-fueled hyperbole of artists-of-the-moment like Ryan Trecartin, Tamy Ben-Tor, or Erkka Nissinen. If anything, the videos’ languid pace and circularity brings to mind the Zen tranquility of a computer screen saver.”

Born in Lewiston, Maine, in 1938, Barr began making videos in the mid-1980s. His early works were shown at film festivals in Montreal, Berlin, Toronto, San Sebastian, Melbourne, and Rotterdam, as well as on PBS. He often collaborated with other artists for his videos, which feature his wife, Trisha Brown, Dorothy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Cecily Brown, and Willem DaFoe, among others. By 1993, Barr started to create installations that were exhibited at institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA PS1, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center in Istanbul.

For many years, Barr worked as a professor at Pratt Institute and New York University as well as a lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design, Parsons School of Design, the Museum of Modern Art, the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv, CAPC Musée in Bordeaux, and the Anthology Film Archives. Barr was awarded grants from numerous organizations, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Brooklyn Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the American Film Institute.

November 11, 2016

Germany Appoints First Jewish Members to Its Limbach Commission for Nazi-Looted Art

Monika Grütters

As promised, German culture minister Monika Grütters has appointed the first Jewish members of its Limbach Commission—a restitution panel established in 2003 to mediate ownership disputes over art seized by the Nazis––Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper reports.

As previously reported, Grütters announced plans to reform the panel and to add Jewish members in August after she met with Ronald Lauder, the founder of the Commission for Art Recovery and a champion of art restitution. She said that the panel originally decided against electing Jewish members due to concerns that they would be prejudiced.

Three new members will join the commission, two of which are Jewish. The appointments include Gary Smith, former director of the American Academy in Berlin; Raphael Gross, the director of the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture in Leipzig; and Marion Eckertz-Höfer, the former president of the Federal Administrative Court.

Moving forward, the commission will also limit members’ terms to ten years, publish the panel’s reasoning behind its rulings in dispute claims, and produce provenance reports. Grütters said these changes will ensure the panel “can continue to carry out a task that everyone recognizes as sensitive and difficult.” She added, “I expect all German museums without exception to be willing to subject disputes to the Advisory Commission as a matter of course.”

November 11, 2016

Paul Hamlyn Foundation Announces 2016 Winners of Awards for Artists

Cara Tolmie, Lucy Beech and Edward Thomasson, Rachel Reupke, Ailís Ní Ríain, Daniel Kidane, Heather Leigh, Lucy Skaer, and Sonia Boyce. Photo: Emile Holba

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation has announced the eight recipients of the twenty-second edition of its Awards for Artists, which was established to support visual artists and composers based in the UK. The winners of the Visual Arts Awards are Lucy Beech and Edward Thomasson, Sonia Boyce, Rachel Reupke, Lucy Skaer, and Cara Tolmie. The recipients of the Composers Awards are Daniel Kidane, Heather Leigh, and Ailís Ní Ríain. Each honoree will receive more than $63,000 over a three-year period.

Moira Sinclair, chief executive of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, said, “Supporting people to realize their full potential is at the heart of the Foundation’s mission. Our experience is that backing individuals can deliver unimaginable benefit and impact and that’s what Awards for Artists is all about.” She added, “There are no demands made, no strings attached, giving recipients the freedom to use the money as they wish to develop and sustain their creativity.”

Established in 1994, Awards for Artists has recognized more than one hundred and forty artists and has granted nearly $7 million in prizes. Previous award winners include artists Yinka Shonibare, Jeremy Deller, Ed Atkins, and Bonnie Camplin, and composers Sally Beamish, Tansy Davies, Shabaka Hutchings, and Brian Irvine.

November 11, 2016

San Francisco Art Institute Names Gordon Knox President

Gordon Knox

The San Francisco Art Institute has appointed Gordon Knox, currently director of Arizona State University’s campus art museum, as its new president, Sam Whiting of SF Gate reports. Knox succeeds Charles Desmarais, who left the institution to join the San Francisco Chronicle as an art critic. Knox will take up the post in January.

Board chair Chris Tellis said that enrollment at the institute has dropped to about five hundred students, which is almost two hundred less than the previous year, but he expects it to rebound under Knox’s leadership. “Art schools are supposed to be a place of inspiration and joy, and Gordon has the creativity and vision to be able to lead that kind of institution.” He noted, “The most significant aspect to me is that Gordon has left every institution better than he found it.”

Prior to his tenure at the Arizona State University Art Museum, Knox served as director of the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga and the Stanford Humanities Lab. As head of the San Francisco Art Institute he said he will aim “to rejuvenate student, faculty and staff culture around the core values of fearless disruptive thinking and sublime communication.”

Knox said, “I am a big advocate of the Art Institute. My sister went there, and I have a real recognition of the profound cultural role that the institution has played in the formation of what is San Francisco. It has to do with the creative culture that this city is the profound generator of, and at the heart of that culture is the Art Institute.”

November 10, 2016

Rosamond Bernier (1916–2016)

Rosamond Bernier at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on June 2, 1982. Photo: Jill Krementz

Writer, art lecturer, and fashion icon Rosamond Bernier has died at the age of one hundred, Robert D. McFadden of the New York Times reports.

Born in Philadelphia in 1916, Bernier studied in both France and England and at New York’s Sarah Lawrence College. She then moved to Mexico, where she learned how to pilot a plane and oversaw a small zoo. In 1946, she relocated to Paris for more than two decades. While working as the first European features editor for Vogue, she befriended numerous artists, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Joan Miró, Max Ernst, and Alberto Giacometti. Bernier left the publication in 1950 but continued to work as a contributing editor. She married French journalist Georges Bernier, with whom she founded L’Oeil magazine in 1955.

In 1970, Bernier divorced her husband and returned to the United States, where she reinvented herself and embarked on a career as a lecturer. Starting in 1971, she toured the globe, speaking in India, Israel, and France—at the Grand Palais, the Louvre, and the Centre Pompidou. She inspired audiences at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she gave more than two hundred and fifty lectures. In 1991, she published Matisse, Picasso, Miró—As I Knew Them, and in 2011, she released her memoir, Some of My Lives.

Bernier also collaborated on several television programs with her second husband, John Russell, a former art critic for the New York Times. In 1998, they were named Fellows for Life by the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, and in 2004, they were recognized as National Treasures by the Municipal Art Society of New York. In 1999, Bernier was inducted into the International Fashion Hall of Fame and was included in Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed List.

November 10, 2016

Arnold Mesches (1923–2016)

Arnold Mesches, The F.B.I. Files 56, 2003

Arnold Mesches, a painter whose political canvases and alleged ties to the Communist Party drew the attention of the FBI, died on Saturday at the age of ninety-three, William Grimes of the New York Times reports.

Born in the Bronx in 1923, the artist grew up in Buffalo, where he attended a technical high school to study advertising design. He received a scholarship from the Art Center School in Los Angeles but dropped out after two and a half years. “I didn’t want to be a commercial artist,” Mesches told the Brooklyn Rail in 2010. “I really wanted to say something personal with my life. The minute I decided to be a painter, Art Center took away my scholarship.” Mesches learned how to paint at his job producing film sets for a movie studio in 1946. “I knew nothing about painting,” Mesches said, “so I’d look over the other guys’ shoulders—when they made a stroke, I’d make a stroke.”

The FBI first started looking into the artist’s political activities in 1945, after he participated in demonstrations against Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1956, when his studio was broken into and more than two hundred of his works were stolen, Mesches suspected that the burglary was the government’s handiwork. From 1945 to 1972, the federal agency recorded his political and social activities, compiling a nearly eight-hundred-page dossier. After obtaining the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, the artist incorporated the materials in his “The F.B.I. Files,” a series of collaged paintings that was first exhibited by New York MoMA’s PS1 in 2003.