June 16, 2017

Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros to Gift 119 Works to Five Museums

Juan Pedro López, Tabernacle, eighteenth century. Photo: Blanton Museum of Art

The Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC) has announced that it will donate 119 pieces from its collection of colonial art, a broad representation of Venezuelan art from the middle of the seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century, to five leading institutions committed to the conservation and study of Latin American art. The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin; the Denver Art Museum; the Hispanic Society Museum & Library in New York; the Museum of Fine Arts Boston; and the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI) in Peru will all receive artworks.

“Gustavo and I have always considered ourselves to be temporary custodians of the objects in our care,” Cisneros told Maximilíano Durón of Artnews. “[We] decided that the collection would be best represented by being divided among different institutions. We looked at each museum’s existing collections and areas of interest, and chose works that we felt would deepen their collections.”

The University of Texas’s Blanton Museum of Art will receive eighty-three works, mostly paintings and furniture. The Denver Art Museum will receive twenty-five Venezuelan and Caribbean works. Boston’s MFA will receive seven works, including silver, furniture, and paintings, which were already on long-term loan to the museum, as well as two more gifts that are part of the touring exhibition, “Power & Piety: Spanish Colonial Art for the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros,” which will close in 2020.

June 16, 2017

Villa Romana Announces 2018 Fellows

The German cultural institution Villa Romana, located in Florence Italy.

Villa Romana has announced that its four fellowship recipients for 2018 are Jeewi Lee, Christophe Ndabananiye, Lerato Shadi, and Viron Erol Vert, reports Monopol. Villa Romana, one of Germany’s oldest cultural institutions, is located in Florence, Italy. It provides emerging German artists with the opportunity to develop their artistic practice during a prolonged stay in Italy.

A jury annually selects four painters and sculptors and awards them each a stipend of $1,800 and provides them with studio space as well as living quarters for a period of ten months. In addition, around ten international guest artists are invited to live and work there for two to three months at a time. Villa Romana presents five exhibitions that focus on the dialogue between German and Italian artists each year. The foundation also publishes artist books and annual catalogs featuring the work of the fellows.

Born in 1987 in Seoul, Lee studied painting at the Berlin University of the Arts and at Hunter College in New York. Lee produces site-specific installations, performances, and images, and often creates works that grapple with everyday traces that are not perceived, or are invisible to the eye. Rwandan-German artist Ndabananiye was born in 1977 in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Saarbrücken. Known for his series of self-portraits, Ndabananiye often explores family, home, language, and the trauma of exile in his works.

June 16, 2017

Khadija Saye (1992–2017)

Khadija Saye speaking at the opening of the Diaspora Pavilion at the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale.

Khadija Saye, a twenty-four-year-old emerging artist whose work is currently on view in the Diaspora pavilion at the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale, has officially been confirmed as one of the thirty victims who died in the horrific blaze that raged in the twenty-four-story Grenfell Tower in London on Wednesday.

Saye was the second victim of the fire to be named, the first was twenty-three-year-old Syrian refugee and civil engineering student Mohammed Al Haj Ali. The young artist, who lived with her mother Mary Mendy on the twentieth floor, wrote a message on Facebook around 3 AM that said she was trapped and could not escape her apartment because the smoke was so thick. She sent messages to her friend and mentor, artist Nicola Green, saying, “Please pray for me. There’s a fire in my council block. I can’t leave the flat. Please pray for me and my mum.” Saye’s mother has not yet been accounted for.

Green’s husband, Tottenham MP David Lammy, said that Saye was a “dear friend.” He wrote on Twitter: “May you rest in peace Khadija Saye. God bless your beautiful soul. My heart breaks today. I mourn the tragic loss of a young woman.”

June 16, 2017

New York’s Museum of Sex Appoints Serge Becker as Creative and Artistic Director

Serge Becker

The Museum of Sex in New York announced today that Serge Becker has been named the institution’s new creative and artistic director. Becker will spearhead a four-year plan that will broaden the curatorial scope of the museum as well as expand its architectural footprint.

“I’m excited to join Dan Gluck and his talented team,” Becker said. “My wish is to expand the curatorial scope of the museum to include more art, film, music, and technology, while also building a robust educational and community building program. This process will take a while as we’re also undergoing an ambitious renovation of the whole building. So we’re going to be patient and take it one step at a time and enjoy the journey.”

Born in Paris and raised in Zurich, Becker arrived in New York in 1982 after graduating from art school with a degree in graphic design. One of his first jobs in the city was as art director at the environmental art club Area, which produced several immersive plays each year. He eventually partnered with Area’s founder Eric Goode to open a string of restaurants in downtown Manhattan and direct music videos for artists ranging from Nine Inch Nails to Johnny Cash. In 1998, Becker opened the live music and performance venue Joe’s Pub with George Z. Wolfe and the Public Theater as well as the multidisciplinary design office Can Resources with architect Derek Sanders. Becker launched List magazine in 2000, and went on the build a ten-thousand-square-feet multimedia performance space, Volume, in Williamsburg. He also became a consulting partner with Simon Hammerstein’s The Box in 2007.

June 16, 2017

Paul O’Neill to Join Checkpoint Helsinki as Artistic Director

Paul O’Neill

Checkpoint Helsinki, the nonprofit contemporary arts organization founded in Finland in 2013, has announced that Paul O’Neill was appointed as its new artistic director. O’Neill, former director of the graduate program at Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies, will begin his new role in September.

“We are delighted to welcome Paul to work with us and we look forward to seeing where his vision and energy will take the organization,” board chair Kaija Kaitavuori said. “This is the first time a Finnish art organization has appointed a director who comes from abroad. It perfectly aligns with Checkpoint Helsinki’s mission to bring new models and fresh ways of thinking to the Finnish art scene.”

Over the last twenty years of his career, O’Neill has curated more than sixty projects and exhibitions and published in many books, catalogues, journals, and magazines. Among the books he’s penned recently are “The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s) (2012) and Durational Aesthetics: Time and Contemporary Art,” which will be released in 2018. He has served as a visiting international tutor in the de Appel Curatorial Program in Amsterdam since 2005, was an international research fellow with the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media in Dublin from 2010 to 2013, and from 2007 to 2010, he worked with Situations at the University of the West of England in Bristol, where he led the international research project Locating the Producers, that looked at durational approaches to public art.

June 15, 2017

Tracy K. Smith Named Poet Laureate

Tracy K. Smith. Photo: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

The Library of Congress has selected Tracy K. Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and a professor at Princeton University, to be the twenty-second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2017–2018. Smith succeeds Juan Felipe Herrera, and will assume her responsibilities in the fall.

“Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion and pop culture,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths—all to better understand what makes us most human.”

Smith is the author of three books of poetry, including “Life on Mars” (2011), winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; “Duende” (2007), winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award and the 2008 Essence Literary Award; and “The Body’s Question” (2003), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith also penned the memoir “Ordinary Light” (2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in nonfiction and selected as a notable book by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

June 15, 2017

Collector Bruce Berman Gifts 186 Photographs to J. Paul Getty Museum

Camilo José Vergara, Saint Peter’s Pentecostal Deliverance Center, 937 Home Street, South Bronx, 2002. Photo: Camilo José Vergara / The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today a major gift of photographs from collector and film industry executive Bruce Berman. The donation comprises 186 works by twenty-six artists, seven of whom are entering the Getty’s collection for the first time. Among the artists represented in the gift are Harry Callahan, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Camilo José Vergara.

Berman, a Los Angeles resident who serves as chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures, is a founding member of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Photographs Council. He amassed his collection based on an interest in the documentation of twentieth-century architecture, design, and lifestyles in Southern California, and sought out photographers whose work underscores a growing appreciation of documentary photography as an American art form.

“As an avid photographer in my teenage years, my appreciation for photographs has evolved into collecting unique snapshots of urban life,” Berman said. “It gives me great pride to share these wonderful works with the Getty and future generations of Los Angelenos.” Together with 550 photographs donated from 1998 to 2009, Berman has now donated more than seven hundred photographs to the museum.

June 15, 2017

Classicist Receives Death Threats from Alt-Right over Art Historical Essay

A painted terracotta cinerary urn, 150–100 BCE, from Chiusi, at the British Museum. Photo: Sarah Bond for Hyperallergic.

Sarah E. Bond, a scholar who specializes in Roman history and works as an assistant professor in the classics department at the University of Iowa, has received death threats and is being targeted by the alt-right for publishing an article on polychromy in the ancient world. “They viewed the piece as ‘liberal professor says that all white statues are racist,’” Bond told Lauren Cavalli of artforum.com. “And that is clearly not what the piece is about.”

Titled “Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color,” the piece discusses race and whiteness as social constructs. According to Bond, the Greeks and Romans of antiquity did not classify people as “white,” and many of the classical marble sculptures, sarcophagi, and stelae from the Mediterranean were originally painted—frequently in gold, red, green, black, white, and brown. As the pigments deteriorated over time, art historians, including Johann Joachim Winckelmann—an eighteenth-century scholar considered by many to be the father of the art historical discipline—perpetuated the idea that the white marble statues of ancient peoples represent an ideal beauty, a notion that still fuels white supremacists today.

Bond argues that we need to start seeing the ancient world in color. If Identity Europa, a nationalist and fascist group that uses images of classical statuary to advance their agenda, knew that the statues they are associating their brand with were most likely painted to represent a variety of skin tones, then its members might stop disseminating flawed art historical ideas. She also says that acknowledging the multiracial citizenry of the Greek and Roman empires could lead to greater diversity in the field of classics.

June 15, 2017

NEA Awards $84 Million in Final Round of Major Grants

Installation view of “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” which received a ,000 grant from the NEA. The exhibition is currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

The National Endowment for the Arts, which is currently preparing to shut down operations after President Trump slashed funding for the federal agency in the 2018 budget, has announced that it is awarding $84.06 million to organizations as part of its final major grant round for 2017.

The NEA’s legacy and ongoing influence are examined in pieces by Johnie Scott, Barbara Rose, Ed Ruscha, Maya Lin, and Ian Volner appearing in Artforum’s summer issue. The agency’s current round of 1,195 grants will support organizations that employ artists and cultural workers, and that provide programs for thousands of people from Idaho to Maine. “The American people are recognized for their innovative spirit and these grants represent the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA chairman Jane Chu. “I am proud of the role the National Endowment for the Arts plays in helping advance the creative capacity of the United States.”

The agency received 2,063 eligible applications for its last round of grant-giving. The projects that were funded were divided into four categories: Art Works II, Our Town, Research, and State and Regional Partnership Agreements. Art Works II, the largest category of proposals being awarded, funds the creation of art that supports public engagement with art, education initiatives, and community-based projects. Funding recipients in the Art Works II category include the Alabama’s Youth Ballet, which will use a $20,000 grant to provide free or reduced-cost equipment, clothing, nutrition, and professional instruction to underserved students enrolled in a summer dance program, and the Montana Office of Public Instruction, which in partnership with the Montana Arts Council will utilize a $30,000 grant to help teachers integrate arts into the classroom.