June 23, 2017

Richard Benson (1943–2017)

Richard Benson, Texas Panhandle, 2006. Photo: Pace/MacGill Gallery

American photographer, author, and professor Richard Benson has died. The former longtime Yale University professor and master printer authored a number of books on photography, including The Face of Lincoln (1979); all four volumes of The Work of Atget (1981–1985); and The Printed Picture (2008); as well as printed photographs for renowned artists such as Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, and Lee Friedlander.

Born in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1943, Benson first discovered his passion for photography while working as a printer in 1966. Benson traveled extensively throughout the United States capturing photos with an 8 x 10 inch view camera, and later, a handheld high-end digital camera. The artist began teaching at Yale in 1979, and served as the dean of the School of Art, between 1996 and 2006. In 2008, he cocurated an exhibition at New York’s MoMA called “The Printed Picture,” which traced the changing technology of making and distributing pictures from the Renaissance to the present.

Benson is the recipient of numerous honors including two publication grants from the National Endowment of the Arts; two Guggenheim fellowships; the Rhode Island Governor’s Medal for the Arts; and a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum; New York’s MoMA; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven; among others.

June 23, 2017

Paulus Berensohn (1933–2017)

Paulus Berensohn. Photo: Neil Lawrence

Paulus Berensohn, a dancer, potter, and teacher, who is best known for his 1972 book Finding One’s Way with Clay, died on June 15 in Asheville, North Carolina, at the age of eighty-four, Jonathan Wolfe of the New York Times reports.

Born on May 14, 1933 in the Sheepshead Bay area of Brooklyn, Berensohn knew he wanted to be a dancer by the age of four. After only three professional dance classes he applied and was accepted into Juilliard. Berensohn joined the Juilliard Dance Division in 1954, but transferred the following year to attend Bennington College. He eventually left the school before earning his degree and moved to New York where he studied under Martha Graham. Berensohn also took classes at Yale University and Goddard College.

While his career in dance was accelerating, a short trip to the Gate Hill Cooperative, a haven for artists in Stony Point, New York, changed the course of his life. After watching ceramicist Karen Karnes using a kick wheel in her studio, Berensohn realized he wanted to work with clay. “What happened was a desire to de-professionalize my interest in art,” Berensohn explained. “As much as I admire the technical brilliance of my colleagues, I am very interested in the behavior of art rather than the achievement of art. I see all the arts as apprenticeships for the big art of our lives.”

June 23, 2017

Art Gallery of Ontario Acquires 522 Diane Arbus Photographs

Diane Arbus, _Female Impersonators in Mirrors, N.Y.C., 1958. Photo: The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) announced today that it has acquired 522 prints of photographs by Diane Arbus, the first works by the artist to enter its collection. Selected by AGO and purchased through the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco, the collection spans the breadth of Arbus’s career. The museum’s new holdings include 221 prints made by Arbus and 301 prints made by Neil Selkirk, the only person authorized by the artist’s estate to make posthumous prints of her work.

The institution purchased rarely published or exhibited works such as Arbus’s early photographs from the mid-1950s, including Female Impersonators in Mirrors, N.Y.C., 1958, as well as works from the second phase of Arbus’s career—portraits of celebrities and luminaries like James Brown, Mia Farrow, Coretta Scott King, Norman Mailer, Marcello Mastroianni, Eugene McCarthy, and Mae West, which she captured for magazines such as Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar. Among the square-format photographs the museum purchased are Child with A Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C., 1962; Russian Midget Friends in A Living Room on 100th Street, N.Y.C., 1963; Puerto Rican Woman with a Beauty Mark, N.Y.C., 1965; and Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J., 1966.

“Diane Arbus is known for images that engage and entrance the viewer, revealing untold stories about her subjects but also making us think about ourselves,” said Stephan Jost, director, and CEO of AGO. “The expansion and development of our photography collection are a priority, and there is no better way to signal our intentions than with a transformational acquisition of this depth and breadth. We are incredibly grateful to our donors for their support, for a collection that is a gift to the AGO—and to the people of Ontario as well.”

June 23, 2017

UK to Digitize All of Its Public Sculptures by 2020

Brian Fell, All Hands, 2001, on Custom House Street in Cardiff. Photo: Katey Goodwin and Art UK

Britain has launched an initiative to digitize all of its publicly owned sculptures by 2020, making it the first country to create an online catalogue of its entire national sculpture collection.

This three-year initiative will make images of 170,000 sculptures from public collections in arts institutions, parks, and public squares available on the website of Art UK, the registered name for the Public Catalogue Foundation, which has been digitizing works in the country since 2002.

Art UK has partnered with the BBC, the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, Culture Street, Factum Foundation, the Royal British Society of Sculptors, the Royal Photographic Society, and VocalEyes to take on the project, which will focus on sculpture from the last one thousand years.

June 23, 2017

Julia Peyton-Jones Joins Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac as Senior Global Director

Thaddaeus Ropac and Julia Peyton-Jones.

Former director of the Serpentine Galleries Julia Peyton-Jones has been appointed senior global director of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Peyton-Jones will be based in London, where the gallery opened a new space, in Mayfair, earlier this year. She will assume her responsibilities, which will include the creative development of the gallery, on September 1.

“Julia Peyton-Jones is one of the most respected and admired figures in the art world with an unparalleled level of experience,” Thaddaeus Ropac said. “It will be an honor and a joy to work together and develop exciting new projects.”

After twenty-five years at the helm of Serpentine Galleries, Peyton-Jones resigned as director in October 2015. She first joined the gallery in 1991 and led the space as the sole director for fifteen years. In 2006, Hans Ulrich Obrist became a codirector. According to The Guardian, Peyton-Jones said her proudest achievements as director had been to maintain free admission to the gallery as well as to present contemporary art to a wide audience.

June 23, 2017

OMA Reveals Design for Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery Expansion

Design rendering of Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery expansion.

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), the Rotterdam-based firm that was selected to lead Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s $155 million expansion and renovation project, has announced its plans for the institution’s campus.

Dubbed AK360, the project is the museum’s first expansion in more than half a century. It was made possible after Buffalo-based billionaire Jeffrey Gundlach made a historic donation of $42.5 million, which helped the institution raise an unprecedented $103 million in the eleven weeks that followed the announcement of his gift.

Located in Delaware Park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the museum aims to better integrate its building with the landscape. “A key question we have been challenging ourselves and our architects with is where should we build,” museum director Janne Siren told Rachele Mongiovi of WIVB News 4.

Architect Shohei Shigematsu came up with a plan to expand the museum by fifty thousand square feet without compromising any of the parkland. The museum, which is currently only able to exhibit 2.5 percent of its collection at a time, will add two main galleries. One will be built above its sculpture garden, and the second space will be built underground, underneath the current parking lot, which will be transformed into an outdoor exhibition space. The new parking lot will also be constructed underground.

June 23, 2017

Benjamin Sullivan Wins 2017 BP Portrait Award

Benjamin Sullivan, Breech!, 2017.

Artist Benjamin Sullivan’s painting of his wife breastfeeding their eight-month-old daughter has won this year’s BP Portrait Award, the National Portrait Gallery in London’s top prize. Breech! is the artist’s thirteenth work to be shortlisted for the gallery’s prize exhibition. Sullivan will receive $38,000 and a forthcoming commission from the institution.

Sullivan said he wanted the portrait to celebrate the arrival of their daughter, as well as mark the difficult time his wife had while giving birth to Edith. It was painted over the course of several weeks when a “sense of calm descended” on the couple.

French artist Thomas Ehretsmann received the $12,000 second prize for his work Double Portrait, which depicts the head and shoulders of his wife, Caroline, who was eight months pregnant at the time, and Antony Williams won the $10,000 third prize for Emma, a portrait of the artist’s friend. The prize exhibition, which opened at the National Portrait Gallery on June 22, will run until September 24 and then will travel to Exeter, Edinburgh, and Sunderland.

June 23, 2017

London’s White Rainbow Gallery Closes Its Doors

Installation view of “Ingeborg Lüscher, It’s 1 o’clock and the Bell Tolls Eight Times” (November 2016–January 2017). Photo: White Rainbow

The Central London gallery White Rainbow, which opened in 2014, has announced that it will permanently close. “We thank all of our artists, who have challenged, inspired and motivated us throughout,” White Rainbow said in a statement. “The gallery would be nowhere without them.”

White Rainbow told artforum.com that it does not have any future projects planned at this time, but it will continue with its research activities. Over the years, the gallery presented a range of artists, with a focus on contemporary art from Japan. Often showcasing works by Japanese artists never before seen in the UK, the gallery aimed to raise awareness of Japanese postwar art history and its relationship to international art movements. “Minimalist Anyway,” an exhibition of works by Lydia Okumura and Kazuko Miyamoto, which closed on June 10, was the gallery’s final exhibition.

June 22, 2017

Congresswoman Wants to Forgive Arts Professionals’ Student Debt

Participants at a demonstration against the normalization of more than trillion in student debt, which took place at the Whitney Biennial on Friday, May 5. Photo: Occupy Museums

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez is working to help artists reduce their student loan debt by as much as $10,000. If the American Arts Revival Act is passed, it will also extend federal public-service loan forgiveness to cultural workers, museum professionals, and certain arts and humanities professors who work with children, adolescents, and seniors.

“Those working in the arts and related fields make invaluable contributions to New York City and to our entire nation,” Velázquez said. “Individuals that dedicate themselves to these professions enrich our culture and my bill would provide many of them with relief from mounting student loan debt.”

The average debt for a graduate specializing in art, music, and design averages at nearly $22,000. According to Occupy Museums—whose ongoing project Debtfair asks artists who are struggling to stay out of the red to share their experiences—artists today are grappling with a total running debt that exceeds $55 million.