May 13, 2017

Anne Imhof and Franz Erhard Walther Win Golden Lions at 57th Venice Biennale

Anne Imhof and Mickey Mahar during Faust. Photo: David Velasco.

The jury of the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale has announced the winners of the prizes for the 2017 exhibition. The Golden Lion for national pavilion goes to Germany for Anne Imhof’s Faust. The jury called it “a powerful and disturbing installation that poses urgent questions about our time. It pushes the spectator to a state of anxiety. An original response to the architecture of the pavilion, Imhof’s work is also characterized by precise decisions about objects, images, bodies and sounds.” Imhof also recently won a 2017 Absolut Art Award.

The Golden Lion for best artist in Christine Macel’s exhibition “Viva Arte Viva” went to Franz Erhard Walther, while the Silver Lion for promising young artist went to Hassan Khan, whose special project for Artforum, “Trusted Sources,” appeared on the cover of the magazine’s October 2013 issue. The same issue also featured an Openings by Victoria Camblin on Imhof’s first institutional solo exhibition at Frankfurt’s Portikus.

The jury awarded a special mention for national participation to Cinthia Marcelle of Brazil. Charles Atlas and Petrit Halilaj also received special mentions for their work in “Viva Arte Viva.”

The jury consisted of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía’s director, Manuel J. Borja-Villel (president of the jury, Spain); curator and writer Francesca Alfano Miglietti (Italy); cofounder of TheCube Project Space, Amy Cheng (Taiwan); Chimurenga publication founder Ntone Edjabe (Cameroon); and Tate Modern’s senior curator of international art, Mark Godfrey (Great Britain).

May 12, 2017

Michael Zwack (1949–2017)

Michael Zwack in his apartment and studio in Nolita, New York City. Photo: Grace Villamil

Michael Zwack, a New York–based artist who was associated with the Pictures generation, died of lung cancer on May 5. Zwack was born in Buffalo in 1949 and studied sculpture at Buffalo State College. Before moving to New York City in 1976, the artist cofounded Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center with Buffalo artists Cindy Sherman, Charles Clough, Nancy Dwyer, and Robert Longo.

Best known for his landscape paintings that incorporate ancient text and symbols and the natural world, Zwack said, “I want to seduce people into worlds that they may not ordinarily take themselves—into a world of morality, a world of humanity, where everything reverberates with potential meanings; a place where everything is alive, a place where it is difficult to deny reality.”

Zwack was one of the founding artists at Metro Pictures and was later represented by various galleries including Paul Kasmin. In the 1990s, he began learning about Haitian Vodou music and traditions and immersed himself in Haitian culture, eventually becoming the highest level of Vodou priest, a houngan asogwe.

In 2009, Zwack’s work was included in a survey of Picture generation artists at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among the other artists featured in the exhibition were John Baldessari, Sarah Charlesworth, Nancy Dwyer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Allan McCollum, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, and James Welling.

In the February 1996 issue of Artforum, Rosetta Brooks reviewed Zwack’s exhibition at Thomas Soloman’s Garage. She writes: “Part of a generation of artists in the early ’80s who appropriated mass media imagery, Zwack reconsiders the impact of the photographic on our way of seeing. He mines the photograph’s ability to capture the fugitive, to reveal the unexpected, and to create a reverberative depth, celebrating the slow metamorphic quality of the natural world and our apprehension of it. For him, the image is a cipher of the archetypal, a vessel that has the power to hold echoes of an ancestral voice. Echoing the floating, phenomenal worlds that characterize the Japanese painting tradition, Zwack’s work encourages a contemplative, almost trancelike relationship to the phenomenal world.”

May 12, 2017

Luis A. Croquer Named Director of Rose Art Museum

Luis A. Croquer. Photo: Dave Lewinski

Brandeis University announced today that Luis A. Croquer, the deputy director of exhibitions, collections, and programs at the University of Washington’s Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, will head the Rose Art Museum. He will take up the post on July 14. Croquer succeeds Christopher Bedford, who was named director of the Baltimore Museum of Art in May 2016. The Rose Art Museum and the Baltimore Art Museum are copresenters of artist Mark Bradford’s US pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which opened on May 13.

“With this important appointment, we celebrate the deep legacy and rich future of the arts at Brandeis,” said president of the university Ron Liebowitz. “The Rose has undergone a period of rebirth and renewal, and is now poised for even greater artistic prominence. Having a director with Luis’s extraordinary talents is a great gift, for our students and for the international art world.”

During his tenure at the Henry Art Gallery, Croquer has led a number of projects, including the first US retrospective of Franz Erhard Walther, as well as solo exhibitions by Paul McCarthy, Katinka Bock, Pablo Helguera, and Haegue Yang. Previously, Croquer was the inaugural director and chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the special projects assistant to the director at the Museo del Barrio in New York, and a senior curator at the American Federation of Arts in New York. He earned his master’s degree in modern and contemporary art history, theory, and criticism at the State University of New York at Purchase and has received Fulbright, Guggenheim, and Warhol Foundation fellowships.

May 12, 2017

Developer to Transform Former Spy Station in Berlin into Museum and Artist Colony

Teufelsberg in Berlin

Berlin real-estate developer Marvin Schütte is planning to convert the city’s Teufelsberg, an almost four-hundred-foot hill made from the debris of World War II, into a “natural place of culture” Monopol reports. Schütte announced the project on May 8, the anniversary of the 1945 surrender of the Axis powers.

During the Cold War, the Allies installed a large radio facility at Teufelsberg with which they intercepted radio signals from the Warsaw Pact countries. Amid the ruins of four giant antennas on the twelve-acre site, Schütte wants to create a museum, an artists’ colony, and a space for public gatherings. “It should be a place where things slow down,” he declared. In autumn, he plans to submit his first permit application for the project to Berlin’s Charlottenburg district. Schütte, who has already hired a six-person staff, said, “We want to preserve everything; we will not build anything new; we will not damage anything.”

Twenty-five thousand people visit the site annually, each paying a $10 entrance fee to view its sculpture garden, which was established by a former tenant. It is now considered one of Europe’s largest graffiti galleries. The 26,000-square-foot outdoor space is formed by a number of concrete walls. The terrain is currently being rented out as a film set, the revenue from which will help fund the overhaul of the site.

May 12, 2017

Massachusetts Seminary Under Fire for Its Handling of American Indian Artifacts

An early nineteenth-century fishhook from the Andover Newton collection at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Photo: Peabody Essex Museum

Andover Newton Theological School, the 210-year-old seminary in Newton, Massachusetts, is facing scrutiny from the federal government after it failed to adhere to a law that requires the repatriation of objects sacred to American Indian tribes, Leslie MacMillian and Tom Mashberg of the New York Times report.

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem notified the United States Department of the Interior two years ago that the school was planning on selling some of the artifacts from its holdings of 158 American Indian works, mostly collected by nineteenth-century Christian missionaries, during a period of financial difficulty. The artifacts have been housed by the museum for the past seventy years.

Under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, sacred items, objects of cultural significance, funerary items, and human remains must be returned to the appropriate tribes. Last week, federal officials warned the seminary via written letter that it had failed to comply with the law since it has not yet sent inventory lists of its objects to the tribes they originated from.

May 12, 2017

Samdani Art Foundation to Build First Permanent Space

Design rendering of Srihatta—Samdani Art Centre and Sculpture Park.

The Samdani Art Foundation, a Bangladesh-based private arts trust best known for its Dhaka Art Summit, will open an arts center and sculpture park as early as 2018, Sarah Douglas of Artnews reports. Founders Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani announced the plan for the one-hundred-acre park and art center at a dinner hosted by the foundation at the Cipriani Hotel in Venice on Thursday night.

Srihatta—Samdani Art Centre and Sculpture Park, the foundation’s new permanent venue, will boast 10,000 square feet of space for artist residencies; 10,000 square feet of plazas; and a 5,000-square-foot gallery designed by Dhaka-based Bangladeshi architect Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury and his firm URBANA. Located in Sylhet, a city approximately 150 miles from Dhaka, Srihatta will be free to the public.

“Like the Dhaka Art Summit, Srihatta was born from a long-time dream to innovate a new destination for South Asia in Bangladesh, one that revolves around art,” said Nadia Samdani in a statement. “Rajeeb and I are now realizing our dream—in the district where our families come from—to build a permanent home for the Samdani Art Foundation’s activities and a dynamic art center international in approach. We hope that with this unique endeavor, the people of South Asia as well as international visitors will find a haven amongst the remarkable works of art and profound landscape.”

May 12, 2017

Anne Imhof and Huey Copeland Win 2017 Absolut Awards

Anne Imhof and Huey Copeland

Absolut has announced the winners of this year’s Absolut Art Award. Anne Imhof was awarded the 2017 prize for an artwork, and Huey Copeland the prize for art writing. They will each receive roughly $20,000 as well as a budget to produce new work. Imhof will be granted $110,000 to fund her next project, and Copeland, a contributing editor at Artforum, will receive more than $25,000 for the development of a new art publication in collaboration with a leading publishing house. An award ceremony to honor the winners will take place in Stockholm in September.

Led by Daniel Birnbaum, director of Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the jury comprised Simon Castets, director and curator of the Swiss Institute in New York and cofounder of 89plus; Elena Filipovic, director and chief curator of Kunsthalle Basel; Polly Staple, director of Chisenhale Gallery in London; and Jack Bankowsky, critic, curator, and editor at large at Artforum.

The jury selected the winners based on their submitted proposals. Imhof plans to make a film in the salt desert in Death Valley, California. “Although drawing on previous performances, the work will represent the beginning of something new in Imhof’s career in that it exchanges the white cube for the Badwater Basin, pushing the production outside the parameters offered by an art institution,” the jury said in a statement. Copeland was recognized for his proposal for the book Touched by the Mother, a collection of essays that examines the various perspectives on the discourse around American art over the past fifty years.

May 11, 2017

Artist Urges Art Gallery of Ontario to Remove Work

Kate Hollett

Last month, artist Kate Hollett wrote a letter to the Art Gallery of Ontario requesting that it remove an artwork by Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak, due to copyright infringement.

Hollett claims Steele and Tomczak’s Love² copies her video project featuring people saying, “I love you,” directly to the camera. Titled I Love You Over & Over, the work was first exhibited in 2002. That same year, Hollett submitted it to V-Tape, a distributor of contemporary and historical video art, which Steele and Tomczak cofounded and still work for. V-Tape never distributed Hollett’s work.

Hollett alleges she spoke with Tomczak in 2007 about how to make her work interactive. Shortly thereafter, she learned from filmmaker Kathy Wazanna that Steele and Tomczak were working on project similar to her own. It was commissioned by the city of Toronto’s 2 Percent program for Dundas Square, a public square downtown. Steele and Tomczak were awarded $125,000 to complete the project.

May 11, 2017

Curator William Allman to Retire After Forty Years at the White House

William Allman Photo: Katherine Frey

White House curator William Allman has announced that he plans to step down, after forty years of service, Krissah Thompson and Jura Koncius of the Washington Post report. Allman’s retirement follows the dismissal of the chief White House usher Angella Reid, leaving vacant two senior positions of the White House’s permanent staff.

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve eight presidents and first ladies in helping to preserve and beautify the White House, and maintain and interpret its wonderful collections of art and furnishings,” Allman said in a statement. “As a steward of the museum component of an ever-evolving and ever-bustling home and office, I truly have had a dream job.”

Allman worked closely with first ladies Laura Bush, with whom he collaborated on the restoration of the Lincoln Bedroom, and Michelle Obama, with whom he redecorated the Family Dining Room by adding modern art by artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Alma Thomas, and Josef Albers. While Allman has been planning to retire for some time, he stayed on during the Trump family’s first days in the White House to help them through the transition. First Lady Melania Trump selected Tham Kannalikham, a New York designer who got her start at Ralph Lauren Home, to help her update the presidential mansion to her family’s tastes. “We thank Bill for all of his dedicated service and wish him the very best in his retirement,” she said in a statement.