March 3, 2017

Spencer Hays (1936–2017)

Spencer and Marlene Hays. Photo: Nicolas Krief

American art collector and businessman Spencer Hays, who pledged to donate his collection of more than six hundred works to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris last year, died Thursday at the age of eighty, AFP reports. The $381 million gift comprising works by artists Édouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, and Edgar Degas, among others, is the largest donation a foreign individual has ever made to a French museum.

In a statement announcing Hays’s death, French minister of culture Audrey Azoulay said the collector was “a great friend of France, a great friend of the arts, and of the Musee d’Orsay.” In October, President François Hollande named Hays and his wife, Marlene, Commandeurs de la Légion d’Honneur, the highest order of France.

The couple’s love for France inspired them to build a replica of the eighteenth-century Paris Hotel de Noirmoutier in Nashville, where they lived. The Hays started their collection with the purchase of a small Old Master work and with canvases by several American artists, which they added to during their regular trips to Paris.

March 3, 2017

Mariane Ibrahim Gallery Wins Armory Show’s $10,000 Presents Booth Prize

Installation view of Mariane Ibrahim Gallery’s booth at the Armory Show, 2017. Photo: Adam Reich

The Armory Show announced that its inaugural Presents Booth Prize, which honors exceptional and innovative gallery presentations, has been awarded to Seattle’s Mariane Ibrahim Gallery. Founder Mariane Ibrahim-Lenhardt will receive $10,000 for her presentation of works by Ghanaian German multidisciplinary artist Zohra Opoku, who often explores the sophistication of textile cultures and the political and psychological roles that fashion plays in African history.

“We are deeply humbled and honored to receive this prize,” Ibrahim-Lenhardt said. “I’d like to dedicate it to the presented artist, Zohra Opoku, whose commitment and excellence in her art practice has helped bring new narratives into an exciting global narrative. And, this Presents Prize also aligns with the recognition of African descent contributions in the arts industry.”

Presents is a platform for young galleries no more than ten years old to showcase recent work from emerging artists. Benjamin Genocchio, executive director of the Armory Show, said, “We are so thrilled to have this exceptional jury of curators and collectors here supporting this initiative and [are] thankful to Athena Art Finance for their generous and enthusiastic support. Each of our participating Presents galleries deserves recognition for their outstanding presentations this year and for their enduring contribution to the fair’s overall quality and experience.”

March 3, 2017

Facing Pressure from China, Macau Gallery Cancels Tibetan Artist’s Performance

Tashi Norbu at a live-painting event in Toronto. Photo: Tashi Norbu

Iaohin Amber Gallery in Macau, an autonomous region on the southern coast of China, canceled a performance by Tibetan artist Tashi Norbu only a day before it was scheduled to take place, the Hong Kong Free Press reports. The artist was told that it was “too risky” to continue with the event after Beijing authorities informed the gallery that he was not permitted to enter Macau SAR (Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China) and could face deportation or detention.

When he received the news, he was about to board the ferry to Macau from a port in Hong Kong. He said, “I was very sad, because I am very much focused on my art, and focused on showing the artistic culture of my country.” He added, “In my art there’s no political issues.”

Simon Lam, Iaohin Amber Gallery’s curator, said in a statement: “I am personally very disappointed with authorities’ attitude to arts and seeing it as a threat, banning what is nothing else than pure art performance. This is not what Macau should be doing, censorship is simply wrong, and in this case it simply cannot be justified, as Tashi has been allowed to perform in Hong Kong last week without any problems.”

March 3, 2017

Director Mohsen Makhmalbaf Smuggles His Censored Film Out of Iran

A scene from The Nights Of Zayandeh-rood, directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

Leading Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf has smuggled The Nights of Zayandeh-rood (1990)—a narrative that addresses issues such as suicide while chronicling the lives of an anthropologist and his daughter during the 1979 Iranian Revolution—out of Iran twenty-six years after he produced the film, Saeed Kamali Dehghan of The Guardian reports.

Shortly after it screened at Tehran’s annual Fajr festival in 1990, the work was confiscated and banned. Makhmalbaf, who is living in exile in London, said, “I succeeded in stealing it but I can’t possibly give more details about how it was done.”

The arthouse cinema Curzon Bloomsbury, which is screening the film in London on Saturday, stated, “It’s a miracle it got made in the first place and that it still exists, albeit in a fragmentary form.” Censors had removed parts of the originally one-hundred-minute film.

March 3, 2017

Following Criticisms, US Collector Defends His Refusal to Sell Pontormo Painting to London’s National Gallery

J. Tomilson Hill

American collector and philanthropist J. Tomilson Hill has responded to the “false statements” made over his decision to reject London’s National Gallery’s $38 million bid for his sixteenth-century Jacopo Pontormo painting, Dalya Alberge of The Guardian reports. Claiming that he has been “battered” by criticism since his refusal to sell the painting after the National Gallery raised enough to match the original offer, Hill said the amount the institution bid was $10 million short due to the decline of the value of the pound post-Brexit.

Hill discovered Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap, 1530—one of only fifteen surviving portraits by the Florentine painter—while it was on loan to the National Gallery between 2008 and 2015. The canvas’s owner, the Earl of Caledon, informed Hill that the work was available for a cash sale. After purchasing the portrait, Hill applied for an export license, which was denied. The culture minster temporarily placed an export bar on the work to give UK institutions time to match the price. Hill said he “would not accept a value for the picture lower than my cost” and that export guidelines state “an owner is entirely free to reject an offer.” He added, “If they had come up with the $48 million, I would have sold the picture.”

Culture secretary Karen Bradley said that Hill must keep the work or sell it in the UK, but he cannot apply for another export license for at least ten years. For now, the work is in storage, but Hill has already been contacted by museums in the UK and abroad requesting that he loan the piece.

March 3, 2017

Boaz Vaadia (1951–2017)

Boaz Vaadia

Israeli-born artist Boaz Vaadia, best known for his figurative sculptures which he made by carving and stacking stones that he found in the area surrounding his New York studio, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan at the age of sixty-five, Daniel E. Slotnik of the New York Times reports.

Vaadia said, “I work with nature as an equal partner . . . That’s still the strongest thing I deal with today, that primal connection of man to earth. It’s in the materials I use, the environments I make and the way I work.”

Born in Gat Rimon in 1951, Vaadia grew up in a rural community where his parents, Nissim Vaadia and Rivka Horozlaski, farmed strawberries. In 1968, he enrolled at the Avni Institute of Fine Arts in Tel Aviv but was drafted into the Israeli Army just a year later. After completing his service, he returned to school and began teaching there after graduating. In 1975, with a grant from America-Israel Cultural Foundation, he relocated to New York, where he studied at the Pratt Institute. The artist said he thought the move was “the worst mistake of my life,” but “within one week I actually recognized that the urban environment of New York is as natural as my village.”

March 3, 2017

Martín Ramírez Show to Inaugurate New ICA LA in September

An undated collage-drawing by Martin Ramirez. Photo: Tom VanEynde / Collection of Jim Nutt and Gladys Nilsson

The new Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles—formerly the Santa Monica Museum of Art, which revealed its new name and plans to move to downtown LA last May—has announced that the first major LA exhibition of works by twentieth-century artist Martín Ramírez will inaugurate its new space.

Considered an outsider artist, Ramírez was a Mexican migrant worker who immigrated to California in 1925 but was institutionalized for the majority of his life, due to his schizophrenia. While confined to the hospital, he produced more than three hundred drawings depicting tunnels, animals, and men on horseback. Created on examining-table paper, the drawings were in poor condition and are being restored by a Chicago-based paper conservator. Fifty of the works, some of them as long as seventeen feet, will be featured in the exhibition.

“His work has mostly been discussed within the context of Western art, outsider art,” ICA LA director Elsa Longhauser told Carolina A. Miranda of the LA Times. Instead, the upcoming exhibition, which will also serve as the institution’s Getty Pacific Standard Time series contribution, “will look at his work through the lens of Latin American imagery, Latin American culture, and the contemporary issues of migration and incarceration.”

March 2, 2017

Artist and Curator Ingrid LaFleur Announces 2017 Bid for Mayor of Detroit

Ingrid LaFleur Photo: Sarah Rose Sharp

Artist, curator, and Detroit native Ingrid LaFleur is running in the city’s upcoming mayoral race, Sarah Rose Sharp of Hyperallergic reports. On February 28, the arts professional announced her 2017 bid during a party at the headquarters of art collective O.N.E. Mile, calling herself a “concerned citizen” with an in-depth understanding of the city’s needs.

She said, “The truth is, my experiences as a creative and as a Detroiter have led me to this decision . . . As a curator, I observe, research, investigate, and then bring together the elements to make a cohesive statement and/or action. As an artist, I tend to focus on out-of-the-box ways to resolve issues that I face. I am using all of those skills to create a healthy, sustainable city.”

After growing up in Detroit, LaFleur left the city to attend New York University and engage in the contemporary art world. She interned at the Museum for African Art, worked for galleries in New York, and traveled the world, viewing art in London, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro. LaFleur curated exhibitions in Atlanta and lived in Pittsburgh, where she established an artist-in-residency program with the Andy Warhol Museum called “Homewood,” along with cofounding an art organization in Sewickley.

March 2, 2017

Sculpture Park Cologne Names Chus Martínez Curator of “KölnSkulptur #9”

Chus Martínez

Sculpture Park Cologne has announced that Chus Martínez, the head of the Institute of Art of the FHNW Academy of Arts and Design in Basel, will curate the ninth edition of its exhibition program. Titled “KölnSkulptur #9,” the two-year show, opening on October 15, coincides with the park’s twentieth anniversary.

Founded by Michael and Eleonore Stoffel in 1997, Sculpture Park Cologne has commissioned more than one hundred and fifty artworks by major artists such as Rosemarie Trockel, Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Isa Genzken, Dan Graham, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, and George Condo. In 2005, the Michael and Eleonore Stoffel Foundation set up the Sculpture Park Cologne Foundation, which began funding exhibitions.

Born in Spain, Chus Martínez has a background in philosophy and art history. She has served as chief curator at El Museo Del Barrio in New York and El Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA). She was the head of the department of artistic direction and a member of the core agent group for Documenta 13, directed the Frankfurter Kunstverein, and worked as the artistic director at Bilbao’s Sala Rekalde. She also curated the Cypriot Pavilion at the Fiftieth Venice Biennale in 2005 and, in 2010, was the curatorial advisor for the Twenty-Ninth Bienal de São Paulo. Martínez lectures and writes regularly for Artforum as well as other publications. Sternberg Press recently published her book Club Univers (2016).