POSTED February 29, 2016
The artist Gerhard Richter has written an open letter addressed to the mayor of the City of Leverkusen, located between Cologne and Dsseldorf, decrying the city’s announced plans to close the Museum Morsbroich and sell its collection to not only save on municipal costs but also to generate temporary revenue for the city. Richter, Rosemarie Trockel, Sigmar Polke, and Georg Baselitz as well as Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, Louise Nevelson, Andy Warhol, and Robert Motherwell have all held exhibitions at the museum. The institution was also named museum of the year in North-Rhine Westphalia on numerous occasions.
Richter sent his letter last Friday to the mayor, Uwe Richrath, after hearing reports of a possible sale written up by the business consultants KPMG, which suggested shutting down the museum as part of a municipality cost-cutting measure. The report, which was published last week on February 22, says that a closure would save around €778,450 annually. Richter’s letter in response states: “Museum Morsbroich is an institution of high repute whose exemplary work is taken notice of and prized far beyond the borders of the state. A public art collection is not a financial investment that can be plundered depending on the cash situation. It is a piece of art history and represents the cultural memory of its trustees.”
City council officials will decide the future of the museum on June 27, 2016.
February 29, 2016
The nonprofit cultural center Akbank Sanat in Istanbul has canceled an upcoming exhibition that was due to open March 2 at their space, citing ongoing political tensions in Turkey, according to Dorian Batycka at Hyperallergic. The show was to be titled “Post-Peace,” and was curated by the fourth winner of the gallery’s annual international curator competition, Russian curator Katia Krupennikova.
Akbank Sanat’s reasons for pulling the plug were stated as thus:”…over the course of our preparations, Turkey went through a very troubled time. In particular, the tragic incidents in Ankara are very fresh in people’s memories. Turkey is still reeling from their emotional aftershocks and remains in a period of mourning. In accordance with Akbank Sanat’s sense of responsibility in the Turkish contemporary art world and following various considerations regarding the delicate situation in Turkey, the exhibition has been canceled.”
Krupennikova disagrees however, and sees the gallery’s decision as an act of censorship. “I, along with the artists in the show, believe this to be a case of political censorship…I fully recognize the tense political atmosphere in Turkey right now, and the reasons why Akbank Sanat may not wish to be associated with the exhibition. But this is also why it is essential to have open discussions and a place for people to engage with different perspectives on issues relevant in the Turkish context and beyond.” The show was to include the artists the Stateless Immigrants, Ella de Brca, Anna Dasović, Yazan Khalili, Adrian Melis, Dorian de Rijk, belit sağ, Alexei Taruts, Anika Schwarzlose, and Anastasia Yarovenko; the writers Oxana Timofeeva, Ece Temelkuran, and Etel Adnan; and public programming participants Yaşar Adanali, Pınar ğrenci, Koken Ergun, and Jaha Koo.
February 29, 2016
Sophia Kishkovsky reports in the Art Newspaper that the Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky, previously arrested for setting the Russian FSB security service building on fire as a performance and whose nomationation for a major state prize for art was rejected, has had his stay of detention in prison lengthened until April 5, 2016. The artist is being charged with ideologically motivated vandalism, but has himself demanded that he be tried on charges of terrorism.
Pavlensky was reportedly flattered by the judge’s ascribing the motive of “ideological hatred” to him, since “I can’t imagine what other feelings one can have towards such an organization,” in reference to the FSB, which “began as a terrorist organization and continues to be a terrorist organization.”
Pavlensky was transferred this week from the Serbsky Center hospital, where he had undergone a month-long court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, back to the Butyrka prison in Moscow. Investigators have said the results of his psychiatric evaluation are not yet ready.
February 28, 2016
The father of Oblique architecture, Claude Parent, whose vertiginous approach to creating space influenced the work of Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, and of course, his protg, Jean Nouvel, died on Saturday, February 27.
While in his thirties, Parent, along with his friend the philosopher Paul Virilio, discovered bunker units built by the Nazis along the Atlantic Wall in France that, over time and during severe bouts of inclement weather, had unmoored themselves, which caused them to slip and tumble throughout the dunes. When Parent entered one of these topsy-turvy bunkers, his equilibrium was entirely thrown off: walls, floors, and ceilings blurred into one another; up and down were entirely confused, reversed. It was an experience so dizzying and profound that, from there on out, he decided to build his edifices on imbalanced, sloping grounds, as a way to radicalize a body’s experience within built structures. This idea, developed with Virilio in the 1960s, came to be known as Oblique architecture, a theory of architecture that, though lauded by artists and cultural theorists (he was invited to create a project for the French pavilion in the 1970 Venice Biennale), also aided in dampening a relatively lucrative commercial career.
Nonetheless, he received commissions: among them the Maison Drusch in Versailles (considered the first Oblique house); the Sainte Bernadette du Banlay church in Nevers; the Lyce Vincent d’Indy in Paris; and even a nuclear power plant in Lorraine. Parent was also the recipient of numerous French awards and honors: He was given the Grand National Prize for Architecture in 1979; made an officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honor in 1990, then a commander in 2010; and was inducted into the Academy of Fine Arts in 2005.
February 28, 2016
Artist Anish Kapoor, who has produced work using VantaBlack—the recently invented material created by Surrey-based company NanoSystems that absorbs 99.96 percent of light striking it—has now apparently been given exclusive artists’ rights to its usage, report Charlotte Griffiths and Ned Donovan for the Daily Mail. “A Surrey NanoSystems spokesman confirmed that only Sir Anish can use the paint. Sir Anish did not respond to requests for comment,” write Griffiths and Donovan. VantaBlack has been touted by its creators as the world’s blackest black.
“I’ve never heard of an artist monopolizing a material,” said artist Christian Furr, one of the artists upset by the news. “We should be able to use it. It isn’t right that it belongs to one man.” Meanwhile, Shanti Panchal, an Indian artist, told India’s Telegraph, “I have not known of anything so absurd—in the creative world, artists, nobody should have a monopoly.”
The Daily Mail notes that NASA scientists are developing a similar paint, so artists may have another means of accessing pure black.
Kapoor spoke about the material to artforum.com, saying, “When we imagine our own interiors, we have a sense that each of us carries a dark, inner, and quiet, or not so quiet, place within ourselves. To have that out there phenomenologically in the world is quite unnerving.”
February 26, 2016
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation has decided that it will now allow the public at large to reproduce the artist’s works under fair use. Its new policy gets rid of royalty fees, permissions, and license agreements for those reproducing Rauschenberg’s artwork for “noncommercial, scholarly, and/or transformative purposes” according to a foundation statement. The program has been expanded from a previous version in 2015 that issued pilot licenses to a few museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and Tate Modern.
“In keeping with Rauschenberg’s legacy, the Foundation is always looking to identify challenges and then provide solutions,” said Christy MacLear, CEO of the Rauschenberg Foundation. “Traditional notions of copyright and attempts to control images have proven incompatible with the nature of the digital age.”
February 26, 2016
The three-year-old class action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Saska v. Metropolitan Museum, has finally been settled in regards to its “pay what you wish” admission policy.
The suit was brought against the museum due to its seemingly misleading signage at its ticket desks and kiosks, where payment for general admission was listed under the rubric “recommended admission.” Visitors to the museum may make a donation of any amount for entry—a longstanding policy at the Met—but now that will be stated more legibly when the wording gets changed to “suggested admission.” This policy will stand at the new Met Breuer and Met Cloisters as well.
“All of our recent branding and marketing work has been aimed at simplifying our message of welcome to the public and emphasizing that we are accessible to the widest possible audience—now at three locations. The new admission signs will represent another step in this effort,” stated Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the museum.
February 26, 2016
After a steady stream of random visits from Vietnam’s cultural police, Sn Art Laboratory, a renowned residency program for Vietnamese and Southeast Asian artists, located in Ho Chi Minh City, announced that it will be closing, at least for the time being, on February 22, states Hyperallergic’s Ben Valentine.
The program, nicknamed the Lab, is a fully-funded, six-month residency that supports six artists annually with workspace, lodging, all living expenses, and $1000 towards the production of artworks. Nguyen Bich Tra, the Lab’s manager, believes the problems are due to various staff changes within the government’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. But, according to Tra, contemporary arts institutions, because they answer directly to the government for various licenses and funding, face a great deal of scrutiny within the country, where censorship is familiar.
“The discontinuation is only [temporary],” says Tra. “The Lab has proven essential for artists, and we’ll find the way to keep this support going by seeking legal advice and also re-strategizing the activities under given circumstances. Free expression is a right anywhere in the world; Vietnam should not be an exception.”
February 26, 2016
The United Kingdom’s minister of culture, Ed Vaizey, stopped the export of Alberto Giacometti’s plaster sculpture Femme, 1928–29, writes The Guardian’s Mark Brown. The reason: A foreign buyer purchased it for nearly $2.9 million, and the British government wants to hold it for a native collector or institution who can match the price so that it may remain within the UK.
“This Giacometti sculpture is not only a stunning example of his work but it also heavily influenced some our greatest artists. It is important that Femme is kept in the country so we can better understand and enjoy this pivotal period in modern British art,” says Vaizey.
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