POSTED March 2, 2016
Bernar Venet, Disorder: 9 Uneven Angles, 2015, steel, 25′. 2016 Bernar Venet/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
The French sculptor Bernar Venet has been named the winner of the 2016 Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award, which he received in New York in Monday. Venet was previously honored with the French government’s insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, and had his first retrospective at the New York Cultural Center in 1971. He participated in Documenta 6 in Kassel in 1977 and has also been included in the Paris, Venice, and So Paulo Biennales. His work is represented in many major collections, including that of MoMA, the Guggenheim, and Centre Pompidou.
Founded in 1991, the award recognizes sculptors who have made major contributions to the field of sculpture and is presented by the International Sculpture Center, based in New Jersey. Other past recipients of the award include Magdalena Abakanowicz, Fletcher Benton, Louise Bourgeois, Sir Anthony Caro, Elizabeth Catlett, John Chamberlain, Eduardo Chillida, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude. In New York tomorrow, March 3, Venet will unveil a new twenty-five-foot tall sculpture titled Disorder: 9 Uneven Angles in Union Square, where it will remain on view through June 2016.
March 2, 2016
A criminal ring comprising fourteen men have been convicted for targeting and stealing from museums and auction houses across the UK, including the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Oriental Museum in Durham, according to a report by Martin Bailey in the Art Newspaper. The robberies mainly focused on Chinese antiquities with a total value of up to $80 million taken in objects. Four men hailing from Cambridgeshire, and all part of the same family, were found guilty of conspiracy to steal: Daniel “Turkey” O’Brien, John “Kerry” O’Brien, Richard “Kerry” O’Brien Jr. and Michael Hegarty. They are all part of a group called the Rathkeale Rovers or the Dead Zoo Gang from Rathkeale in County Limerick, Ireland. Richard “Kerry” O’Brien Jr. and Hegarty hold previous convictions in the US for trying to buy rhino horns with the intent to smuggle them into Ireland. The prosecution has described them and their other convicted family memebers as the “generals” who worked behind the scenes and organized the persons who stole the objects for a growing Chinese black market.
Eight other men have previously been found guilty of crimes towards these museums in three recent trials, while two others have pleaded guilty. Their sentencing is expected in early April. A figure named Chi Chong Donald Wong, from south London, was also among those convicted and named in court as the person who was to sell the looted pieces on the Chinese antiquities market.
The convictions come on the heels of a national investigation set up by Cambridgeshire and Durham police called Operation Griffin, which has worked to solve a series of theft crimes that occurred in 2011-12. In addition to the burglaries at the Fitzwilliam Museum and Durham’s Oriental Museum, other attempted thefts occurred at Norwich Castle Museum—where a rhino horn was seized but dropped after visitors alerted the police—and the Gorringes auction house in Lewes, East Sussex—where a libation cup was grabbed but visitors were again instrumental in heeding the criminals.
March 2, 2016
Randy Kennedy reports in the New York Times that the Dia Art Foundation has named two new members to its board. The additions are James Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox and son of News Corporation’s founder Rupert Murdoch, and Jane Skinner Goodell, the former television reporter and anchor. Goodell is married to Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the N.F.L.
Murdoch and Goodell’s appointments will expand the board to eighteen members.
March 1, 2016
After twenty years as director of the Israel Museum, James Snyder will start as the first international president of the museum in January 2017, the Israel Times reports. In the newly created position, Snyder will further develop the institution’s international network of organizations, programming, collections, and facilities.
According to the museum, Snyder led the institution “through the most dramatic growth since its founding.” During his stint as director, Snyder successfully improved the museum’s infrastructure through various initiatives including fundraising enough money to complete a one million dollar renovation and expansion project, growing the museum’s collection by more than 55,0000 objects, and nearly doubling the annual attendance to more than 800,000 visitors. “James has transformed the museum in every way,” chairman of the board of directors, Isaac Molho, said.
Founded in 1965, the museum is Israel’s largest cultural institution. A search committee was formed to fill the soon-to-be vacant position of director.
March 1, 2016
The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is launching a twenty-five-million-dollar expansion project designed by Kulapat Yantrasast. The project will create a new twelve-thousand-square-foot exhibition pavilion, and will lead to a revamp of the museum’s galleries as well as its education and public programming spaces.
Sitting upon an existing lower-level wing on the museum, the pavilion will increase the museum’s exhibition space by around nine thousand square feet.
Yantrasast, who is originally from Thailand, said: “Our team has taken a thoughtful, integrated approach, and we are looking forward to seeing it bring a new dimension to San Francisco’s burgeoning cultural landscape.”
March 1, 2016
Jean Basquiat, The Field Next to the Other, 1981, acrylic, enamel spray paint, oilstick, metallic paint and ink on canvas, 87 x 158 in.
In a rare move, Christie’s is suing art investor Jose Mugrabi for missing the last two payments on a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting that were due on January 4 and February 15, the New York Post reports.
According to Christie’s Supreme Court filing, Mugrabi bought the acrylic painting The Field Next to the Other, 1981, last May for thirty-seven million dollars, but has only paid the auction house five million. Christie’s has banned Mugrabi from attending upcoming auctions.
A spokeswoman for the auction house said, “We repeatedly attempted to resolve the matter with Mr. Mugrabi. Unfortunately, our efforts failed and Christie’s felt it had no other alternative but to litigate.”
Mugrabi owns eight hundred works by Warhol, and in 2015 he was named one of the world’s most important art dealers by The Times.
The Basquiat painting, which depicts a figure leading a cow in a pastoral setting, was completed in 1981 when the artist was only twenty years old. Christie’s calls this year “crucial” for his development as an artist and says that this work “positioned Basquiat to become the artistic voice of his generation.”
Christie’s filed the lawsuit for the remaining balance of thirty-two million as well as 16 percent interest.
Mugrabi and his lawyer declined to comment to the Post.
March 1, 2016
Wim Pijbes, the acclaimed director of the Netherlands’ national museum of art and history, has his eye on a new institution—the Museum Voorlinden, the Art Newspaper reports. In July of 2016, Pijbes will start at the new 64,500-square-foot facility, which is still undergoing construction in Wassenaar, a town along the Dutch coast. The venue is slated to open its doors to the public in September. A pavilion will house the private modern and contemporary art collection of entrepreneur Joop van Caldenborgh, including a James Turrell Skyspace and a sculpture by Richard Serra. Besides showcasing his collection, the museum will host three to four exhibitions a year. Located on almost one hundred acres, the institution boasts that its space harmonizes with the surrounding landscape.
“I really look forward to launch a brand new museum for modern and contemporary art located in nature together with an enthusiastic team,” Pijbes said.
When Wim Pijbes joined Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum in 2008, it was closed for a major five-year renovation. Under his leadership, the museum’s staff roped in the 375 million dollar expansion project, steered it back on track, and reopened the museum in 2013. Since then, the museum has more than doubled its attendance.
The Museum Voorlinden will open with the first comprehensive exhibition of artist Ellsworth Kelly in the Netherlands since 1979.
March 1, 2016
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has received a donation of fifty pieces, including its first work by Edward Hopper, Road and Trees, 1962, according to the New York Times’ Robin Pogrebin. There are also works by Paul Thek, Cy Twombly, Philip Guston, Eva Hesse, and Albert Pinkham Ryder in the gift, which was left by Daniel W. Dietrich II, a philanthropist who died last year.
“When Hopper was painting, the museum wasn’t really focused on acquiring contemporary American art,” said Timothy Rub, the museum’s director. “Now, it’s almost too difficult for museums to acquire.”
Dietrich also donated ten million dollars for an endowment to support the museum’s work in contemporary art.
March 1, 2016
In a hearing that begins today, jihadi leader Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi will be facing charges in the Hague that he destroyed nine mausoleums as well as the fifteenth-century Sidi Yahia mosque in Timbuktu, according to the Art Newspaper’s Anny Shaw. It’s the first time anyone will be facing war crime charges for cultural heritage destruction. His acts also apparently included the destruction of Sufi shrines and tombs. The buildings he destroyed were part of the “city of 333 saints,” in the words of UNESCO.
Al-Faqi was reportedly associated with Ansar Dine, an Islamist group, as well as an anti-vice squad, Hesbah, which enacted sharia law in Timbuktu.
UNESCO has been reconstructing Timbuktu’s mausoleums in the intervening years. If the hearing determines there is enough evidence, the case will move on to a full trial.
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