May 5, 2017

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Gifted $1 Million

Philanthropist Kenneth Griffin

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago announced that it has received a $1 million donation from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund in support of its educational initiatives. The gift allows the museum to develop new programs that will aim to provide broader access to the museum for underserved students and their families.

“Ken has been a committed supporter of education and the arts, especially in Chicago, and we are extremely grateful for this exceptional gift,” said Madeleine Grynsztejn. “These funds will increase the number of school groups that visit the MCA and ensure that our galleries are always filled with youth who can gather, observe, interact, and take part in the learning and enjoyment of contemporary art.”

With support from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund, the MCA will offer free bus transportation to all school groups that plan to visit the MCA during its fiftieth anniversary year. The gift will also allow the museum to expand its public outreach programming, host a day of teen creativity, and provide mentorship and internship opportunities through its youth program Teen Creative Agency.

May 5, 2017

Man Slashes Christopher Wool Painting in Aspen

Still from a surveillance video of the male suspect who attacked a Christopher Wool painting with a knife at a gallery in Aspen. Photo: Opera Gallery

A suspicious man wearing all black, including a hat and sunglasses, entered Opera Gallery in Aspen and, using either a knife or a razor blade, attacked a Christopher Wool painting before fleeing the scene, Jason Auslander of the Aspen Times reports.

Dealer Gregory Lahmi said the $3 million painting, Untitled, 2004, was destroyed. According to a gallery assistant who witnessed the crime, the man was alone and was inside the gallery for only about fifteen seconds. As he walked into the space, he put a block of wood in the doorjamb to prevent the door from closing, and then he went straight toward the painting and slashed it.

“It’s crazy,” Lahmi said. “First of all, I’m shocked for the work of the artist. It’s ugly to do that to a painting.” While Lahmi does not know the motivation behind the vandalism, he said he received three bizarre phone calls from a man inquiring about Wool paintings in the weeks leading up to the incident.

May 5, 2017

Philadelphia Museum of Art and Pinault Collection Acquire Bruce Nauman Works

Bruce Nauman’s video still of Walks In Walks Out, 2015. Photo: Bruce Nauman/Artists Right Society (ARS)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has announced that it has jointly acquired, in partnership with the Pinault Collection in Venice, two major video works by artist Bruce Nauman. The institutions purchased Contrapposto Studies, I through VII, 2015–16, consisting of seven large-scale video projections, and Walks In Walks Out, 2015, a single-channel video work with sound.

“These two recent works together interrogate the ways in which our perception constructs—or distorts—our relation to reality,” Carlos Basualdo, Philadelphia Museum of Art’s senior curator of contemporary art, said. “They also work on multiple levels, drawing both from art history and from Nauman’s own biography.” Director and CEO Timothy Rub added, “These acquisitions underscore the museum’s commitment to presenting the most significant art of our time. I am delighted that these works have found a home here and in Europe, as Nauman continues to exert a strong influence on a younger generation of artists throughout the world.”

Known as a pioneer of performance art, durational practices, and time-based media, Nauman works across sculpture, sound, installation, film, and video. His output often questions what constitutes art, the possibilities and limitations of the performing body, and the relationship between language and meaning, subject and object, and viewer and participant.

May 5, 2017

Portland Art Museum’s $50 Million Expansion Plan Sparks Public Outcry

Design rendering of the Portland Museum of Art’s Rothko Pavilion.

The Portland Art Museum is facing backlash after it raised more than $27 million to build its new Rothko Pavilion—a glass-walled building that will add 30,000 square feet of space—before it received legal permission from the city to move forward with the expansion project, Sophia June of Williamette Week reports.

“It’s a pretty big error in judgment,” said planning consultant Peter Finley Fry. “Control of the site is the most important critical first step. If you’re going to spend millions, you [must] control the property legally before you start.”

Yet developer and museum board member Jim Winkler said that PAM engaged in several informal discussions with former mayor Charlie Hales. “I think we will prevail,” Winkler said. “It’d be a huge black eye for the city.”

May 5, 2017

Russian Artist Pyotr Pavlensky Wins Asylum in France

Oksana Shalygina and Pyotr Pavlensky, Photo: Martin Bureau

After dissident Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky and his family fled to France following sexual assault allegations against him and his partner, Oksana Shalygina, Pavlensky obtained political refugee status, allowing him to remain in the country, AFP reports.

The couple and their two children left Russia in January after actress Anastasia Slonina accused them of attempting to rape her in her Saint Petersburg apartment. Pavlensky and Shalygina said their relationship with the celebrity was consensual and believe she was pressured to file a complaint by Russia’s security services.

Pavlensky and Shalygina were detained at a Moscow airport on December 14, 2016, as they returned from a trip to Warsaw. They were interrogated and then released. Pavlensky said that during questioning they were given two options: leave Russia or endure ten years in a prison camp. They left the country the following day.

May 4, 2017

Richard Mosse Wins 2017 Prix Pictet Prize

Richard Mosse, Grid (Moria), from the series “Heat Map.” Photo: Richard Mosse, Prix Pictet 2017

Irish photographer Richard Mosse has been awarded this year’s $100,000 Prix Pictet prize for “Heat Map,” 2016–17, a series of panoramic photos of refugee camps in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He captured the images with a high-tech military surveillance camera designed to detect people’s body heat, which is classified as a weapon by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

According to Mosse, the images fuse biology and politics, and the camera is a “technology of governance.” He said, “The camera translates the world into a heat signature of relative temperature difference, literally reading the biological trace of human life, imperceptive to skin color. Instead of individuals, it sees the mass . . . It elicits a sinister and invasive form of imagery, but also occasionally intimate, tending to both dehumanize and then rehumanize the ‘bare life’ (Giorgio Agamben) of the human figure of the stateless refugee and illegal economic migrant, which the camera was specifically designed to detect, monitor, and police.”

Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations and the president of the prize, announced the winner at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Thursday. An exhibition of works by the short-listed artists—Sergey Ponomarev, Sohei Nishino, Rinko Kawauchi, Thomas Ruff, and Munem Wasif—will be on view at the institution until May 28. Responding to the theme of space, the finalists’ work ranged from Michael Wolf’s images of Tokyo commuters crammed into the subway to Rinko Kawauchi’s photos of controlled agricultural field burning, an annual event which takes place in southern Japan. Chaired by Wang Shu, the jury comprised David King, Martin Barnes, Valérie Belin, Philippe Bertherat, Jan Dalley, Dambisa Moyo, and Sebastião Salgado

May 4, 2017

Museum of Fine Arts Boston Settles Lawsuit over Rare Porcelain Figurines

Eighteenth-century Harlequin figurines from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston's collection. Photo:

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston has reached a settlement with the estate of Jewish collector Emma Budge over seven porcelain figurines that were sold in Berlin during the Nazi regime, Malcolm Gay of the Boston Globe reports.

The estate has agreed to accept an undisclosed sum from the museum so that it can keep the eighteenth-century Harlequin figurines in its collection. The objects were put on view on Wednesday in the institution’s Angelica Lloyd Russell Gallery.

Budge’s heirs had originally sold the artworks in an estate auction following her death in 1937. The revenue from the sale was put into an account at the M.M. Warburg Bank in Hamburg. However, the bank was then sold to non-Jewish owners and Budge’s descendants were forced to flee Germany. While some of her heirs remained, they were most likely denied access to the account and persecuted by the Nazis.

May 4, 2017

New York’s National Academy School to Go on Hiatus

The National Academy School and Museum. Photo: Andy Ryan

The National Academy School in New York announced today that it will suspend classes this August and go on hiatus until it finds a new home for its education program and museum. The museum closed in 2016 in preparation for the sale of the academy’s two buildings on Fifth Avenue and East Eighty-Ninth Street.

The institution is working with the Art Students League, the New York Studio School, and the MFA studio art program at Montclair State University to transfer students to their organizations so that they may continue their studies without interruption.

“We are so appreciative of the talented and dedicated school staff, faculty, and students, and want to thank them for their understanding and support as we plan our institution’s bright future,” board cochair Tim Walch said in a statement.

May 4, 2017

Tate Modern’s Switch House to be Named After Len Blavatnik

Tate Modern’s Blavatnik Building

Tate Modern’s new Herzog & de Meuron–designed building, the Switch House, will be renamed after philanthropist Len Blavatnik in recognition of the lead donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation—one of the largest gifts ever made in Tate’s history.

“The transformation and extension of Tate Modern was hugely ambitious and relied on many people to bring it to fruition, but Len Blavatnik’s enthusiastic support ensured the successful realization of the project and I am delighted that the new building now bears his name,” director Nicholas Serota said. “The six million visitors who have already experienced the Blavatnik Building since it opened in June 2016 know what a huge difference it has made to Tate Modern and to London.”

Blavatnik, an international industrialist, has made major contributions to the fields of education and the arts. He funded the establishment of the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, programs at Cambridge for the Judge Business School, and the Blavatnik Israel Fellows. He also sits on the Board of Governors of the New York Academy of Sciences and sponsors the annual Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the US, the UK, and Israel to honor outstanding young scientists and engineers. In Britain, the Blavatnik Family Foundation has financed various arts projects and exhibitions for a wide range of institutions including the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Academies of Arts and of Engineering, the Royal Foundation, the Museum of London, the Imperial War Museum, the Royal Opera House, the British Museum, and the V&A. Blavatnik said, “My family and I are honored to support Tate, and to be linked to this exceptional building. Tate provides incomparable service to the arts, culture and education throughout the world.”