September 29, 2017

RIBA’s 2018 Royal Gold Medal Awarded to Neave Brown

Alexandra Road Estate. Photo: Martin Charles / RIBA Collections.

The Royal Institute of British Architects has given its 2018 Royal Gold Medal to artist and architect Neave Brown for being “a pioneer of quality public housing,” reports ArchDaily. The London-based Brown is known for postwar housing projects such as the terraced Alexandra Road Estate.

“All my work! I got it just by flying blind, I seem to have been flying all my life,” said Brown upon receiving the news. He added, “The Royal Gold Medal is entirely unexpected and overwhelming. It’s recognition of the significance of my architecture, its quality, and its current urgent social relevance.”

Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha and British Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid are the two previous recipients of RIBA’s gold medal.

September 29, 2017

Susanne Pfeffer to Lead Frankfurt’s Museum für Moderne Kunst

Susanne Pfeffer

Susanne Pfeffer will be the new director of the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, according to Der Spiegel. The curator of Anne Imhof’s Golden Lion–winning project at the German Pavilion of this year’s Venice Biennale, Pfeffer will succeed Susanne Gaensheimer, who is now the director of the North Rhine-Westphalia’s collection. A contributor to Artforum, Pfeffer became head of Kassel’s Fridericianum in 2013, where she explored posthuman futures with shows such as “Speculations on Anonymous Materials” (2013) and its sequels, “Nature After Nature” (2014) and “Inhuman” (2015).

September 29, 2017

Julia Gonnella Named Director of Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art

Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art

Qatar Museums has revealed that Julia Gonnella will be the new director of the I. M. Pei–designed Museum of Islamic Art. After receiving her Ph.D. in Islamic studies and social anthropology at Eberhard-Karls-Universität, Gonnella joined the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin in 1994 as the assistant to the chief curator. She became a curator at the museum in 2009 and was later appointed to her current position as director of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.

Gonnella has done fieldwork on German excavations in Raqqa, Syria, and coordinated the Syrian-German excavations of Aleppo’s Islamic citadel. Her books include The Citadel of Aleppo (2007). She was a curatorial exchange fellow at the Met in 2013.

“I look forward to leading this unique institution into its second decade, building on its extraordinary achievements, and opening up new stories of the treasures of Islamic art,” said Gonnella.

September 29, 2017

$130,000 Freelands Award Goes to Nottingham Contemporary and British Artist Lis Rhodes

Lis Rhodes.

This year’s Freelands Award will be given to Nottingham Contemporary to support the largest-ever solo show of the British artist and filmmaker Lis Rhodes, according to Anna Brady in the Art Newspaper. Rhodes herself will receive more than $35,000 of the prize money.

The award was first given out when Tate trustee Elisabeth Murdoch created her granting foundation in 2015. This year’s jury included Martin Clark (director of Camden Arts Center), curator Teresa Gleadowe, Jenni Lomax (outgoing director of the Camden Arts Center), and artist Cornelia Parker.

Murdoch said, “Whilst Rhodes’s influence is irrefutable, her work has never received the attention it most certainly deserves.”

September 29, 2017

Dealer Will Donate David Chipperfield–Designed House to Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation

Heiner Bastian’s house, designed by David Chipperfield. Photo: Arild Vågen.

Berlin art dealer Heiner Bastian has made it official: He will donate his David Chipperfield–designed house near Museum Island to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, according to the Art Newspaper’s Catherine Hickley.

The dealer had earlier made his intention to donate the building public, but had a change of heart in May, acknowledging his “emotional connection to the house.”

Now, the Bastian House will open to the public in 2018. Hickley notes that visitors to the 21,000-square-foot building will also receive an overview of Museum Island’s venues and their holdings. “The foundation will experiment with new forms of cooperation, communication, and inclusion—future-oriented tasks to which museums and culture politicians need to devote themselves more than they have in the past,” said Germany’s culture minister Monika Grütters.

September 29, 2017

ADAA’s Executive Director, Linda Blumberg, Steps Down

Linda Blumberg. Photo: Linda Yablonsky.

Linda Blumberg will be stepping down from her position as the Art Dealers Association of America’s first executive director. She has served in the role for more than eleven years. Following her departure, she will work in an advisory capacity and will continue to support the next iteration of the ADAA’s annual fair, the Art Show, which will see its thirtieth anniversary in 2018.

Blumberg oversaw eleven presentations of the Art Show during her tenure. During that time she initiated the Collectors’ Forum, a series of public talks and panel discussions. She overhauled the organization’s website, established its social media presence, and advocated for the ADAA with federal, state, and regional governments. In addition, she was integral to spearheading the ADAA’s Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.

September 28, 2017

Activists and Artists Publish Open Letter to Chris Dercon, Director of Berlin’s Volksbühne Theater

Chris Dercon

Since the April 2015 announcement that Chris Dercon, the former director of Tate Modern, would succeed Frank Castorf as the head of Berlin’s renowned Volksbühne Theater (Castorf led the institution for twenty-five years prior to Dercon’s arrival), the Volksbühne’s staff and much of the local theater community have roundly criticized the appointment as being inappropriate, even a “mistake,” as Klaus Lederer, Berlin’s senator for cultural policy, recently said.

The theater has been occupied by activists since September 22, who are protesting the gentrification of Berlin. Many of them see Dercon’s appointment as another step in the city becoming more expensive and, as a result, inhospitable to artists.

The global activist coalition Hands Off Our Movement, along with e-flux, recently posted an open letter to Dercon, challenging why he allegedly filed a criminal complaint with the local authorities to have the police “block the theater” and “evict the artists, actors, and others who were occupying it” on September 28.

The letter reads as follows:

September 28, 2017

Pompeii Plans to Amass and Exhibit Collection of Contemporary Art

Pompeii, 2013 Photo: Paul Kelley.

Pompeii is inviting artists to produce sculptural pieces that respond to artifacts from the historic Roman site, according to Hannah McGivern in the Art Newspaper. The director-general of the historic ruins, Massimo Osanna, envisions a permanent collection of new works that will be in dialogue with the old.

Osanna has a potential space for the commissioned works in mind: a former explosives factory acquired from the state last year. The building, more than two miles from the ruins, will potentially be a site for storage, education, and conservation programming. It may also house shows and even artists’ residencies. A push to restore the building will take at least two years, says Osanna.

In the meantime, Osanna has co-organized “Pompeii at Madre: Archaeological Material,” with Andrea Viliani, director of the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina. McGivern notes that the exhibition will feature “archaeologically inspired works” made by Jimmie Durham, Laure Prouvost, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Mark Dion, among other artists.

September 28, 2017

Akron Art Museum Receives $8 Million Grant from Knight Foundation

Akron Art Museum. Photo: Steven Litt.

The Akron Art Museum has received a new $8 million grant from the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Steven Litt. It will be the biggest single donation in the museum’s history. The foundation has invested a total of more than $18 million in the museum over twenty years, helping to support its 2007 expansion, among other efforts.

About half of the recent round of funding would go toward the museum’s $25 million endowment. The money will also support acquisitions, programming, collection digitization, and outreach. It would also allow the museum to commission outdoor artwork for the acre of plazas and terraces toward the south end of its property.

“It’s a big deal,” museum director Mark Masuoka said in response to news of the grant. He added, “We couldn’t get any better validation from the Knight Foundation on what we’re doing.”