Augustus Casely-Hayford to Join National Museum of African Art as Director

Gus Casely-Hayford. Photo: Jaimie Gramston

Augustus (Gus) Casely-Hayford, a research associate at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, has been named director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. He will take up the post on February 5, 2018.

“Gus brings an impressive combination of knowledge, experience, communication skills, and passion to the National Museum of African Art,” said Smithsonian secretary David Skorton. “His presence at the museum will boost its already prestigious programs and compelling exhibitions and inspire more people across the nation and around the world to explore the rich cultural heritage of African art.”

Born in London, Casely-Hayford is an author, curator, and broadcaster, and has lectured widely on African art and culture. He sits on the board of the Caine Prize for African literature and is currently working on an exhibition that tells the story of the abolition of slavery through eighteenth- and nineteenth-century portraits for London’s National Portrait Gallery. Previously, he presented two series on precolonial African history for the BBC and wrote the six-part television series “Tate Britain: Great British Walks” for Sky Arts. He also delivered a Ted Global Talk on precolonial Africa this past summer.

“It is such an exciting time to be joining the team at the National Museum of African Art,” said Casely-Hayford. “African art is at another fascinating juncture as artists reconfigure our understanding of the medium, helping us to chart courses through the big issues of our time, while reminding us of the complex and long historical tradition upon which they stand.”

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December 13, 2017

Hugo Boss Prize Announces 2018 Shortlist

Simone Leigh, Untitled I (Anatomy of Architecture Series), 2016, mixed media, 30 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 10".

Six finalists have been announced for the Guggenheim Foundation’s 2018 Hugo Boss Prize. They are artists Bouchra Khalili, Simone Leigh, Teresa Margolles, Emeka Ogboh, Frances Stark, and Wu Tsang. The recipient of the prize will receive $100,000 and a solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The winner will be announced next fall, and the exhibition will take place in 2019.

“The Hugo Boss Prize remains a cornerstone of the Guggenheim’s contemporary programming, and we are thrilled to highlight the work of these six deserving artists, who are working at the vanguard of contemporary art practice, exploring urgent social issues, and providing new artistic vocabulary through which to examine personal and universal themes,” said Nancy Spector, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s artistic director. “We are pleased to join with Hugo Boss in this long-term commitment to celebrating the most important and impactful artists of their time.”

December 13, 2017

Twenty-First Sydney Biennale Reveals Participating Artist List

Director and CEO of the Biennale of Sydney Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker and artistic director Mami Kataoka with artists Yasmin Smith, Tuomas Aleksander Laitinen, Koji Ryui, Khaled Sabsabi, Mit Jai Inn, and Rayyane Tabet. Courtesy: Ai Weiwei Studio.

The Sydney Biennale has announced that seventy artists will participate in its twenty-first edition. Titled “Superposition: Equilibrium & Engagement,” the Biennale opens March 16 and runs through June 11, 2018.

“The artists in the Twenty-First Biennale of Sydney have been chosen to offer a panoramic view of how opposing interpretations can come together in a state of equilibrium,” artistic director Mami Kataoka said. “The history of the people of Sydney collectively reflects the history of the world in the twentieth century, in particular the movements and migration of people and cultures away from conflict. My hope is that the artworks in this Biennale will serve as a catalyst for thought for all of us.”

The complete list of artists is as follows:

December 13, 2017

Christos Joachimides (1932–2017)

Christos Joachimides

The Greek-born German curator Christos Joachimides has died, according to art historian and curator Sir Norman Rosenthal for the Art Newspaper. “He was nothing if not a controversial figure in the world of art,” wrote Rosenthal, “who both divided opinion and seldom himself sought consensus on matters of aesthetic choices.” 

Joachimides studied in Heidelberg and Stuttgart in 1953 before making Berlin a more permanent home. He traveled quite a bit throughout the 1960s, spending time in Paris and Rome, where he befriended artists such as Jannis Kounellis, Pino Pascali, and Balthus. In Germany he was drawn to Joseph Beuys and Wolf Vostell, and became especially interested in the painters who showed at Michael Werner Gallery, including Anselm Kiefer, Markus Lüpertz, and A.R. Penck. Joachimides went on to work with Rosenthal at the ICA London. There, they curated two exhibitions together: “Art into Society, Society into Art: Seven German Artists” (1974), where Beuys created a series of daily performances over the course of a month, which ended up becoming the piece Directive Forces, 1974–77; and a festival of contemporary Greek culture, “Eight Artists, Eight Attitudes, Eight Greeks” (1975), organized after the fall of Greece’s military junta. The latter show included Kounellis’s art—its first appearance in the UK. Joachimides also collaborated with Sir Nicholas Serota on an exhibition called “13⁰E: Eleven Artists Working in Berlin” (1978), an exhibition organized through the Whitechapel Art Gallery, which was staged in Germany. At the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Joachimides joined with Serota and Rosenthal on “A New Spirit in Painting” (1981), an exhibition that featured the work of German neo-expressionists such as Georg Baselitz and Kiefer. And at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Rosenthal collaborated with Joachimides on “Zeitgeist” (1983) and “Metropolis” (1991), among other exhibitions.

“Those were Christos’s truly great days,” said Rosenthal of their time together. “He expanded our outlook on the world, indeed as Nicholas Serota wrote to me on learning of his death that ‘he expanded our lives and education.’” 

December 13, 2017

Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam Draws Record Number of Visitors for 2017

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum has drawn a record number of visitors this year, making it the most visited museum in the Netherlands in 2017. Approximately 2,260,000 people were admitted to the institution over the last twelve months. And nearly 90 percent of its visitors, from more than 125 countries, rated their experience at the museum as either “very good” or “excellent.” Some of the museum’s most popular exhibitions in 2017 were “Prints in Paris 1900,” “The Dutch in Paris 1789–1914,” and “Van Gogh, Rousseau, Corot: In the Forest.”

 

December 13, 2017

Candice Breitz Urges Artists in National Gallery of Victoria Triennial to Join Protest Against Refugee Abuse

Candice Breitz, Love Story, 2017.

Artist Candice Breitz has changed the name of her artwork that will be displayed in the inaugural National Gallery of Victoria Triennial in protest of the institution’s employment of a security firm that has been accused of abusing refugees in Australia’s offshore detention centers, and she is asking other artists in the exhibition to do the same.

Asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat have generally been sent to either the island nation of Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, and then held in indefinite detention. Wilson Security, one of the companies that had been hired to monitor the camps, has faced intense public scrutiny since allegations emerged that its employees were involved in the sexual assault of women and children on the islands. Since the publication of more than 2,000-pages of incident reports, the company has been accused of lying about the conditions of the centers and the treatment of the refugees. The Manus Regional Processing Center on Manus Island was officially closed on October 31 by the Australian government after years of controversy dogged its existence, leaving its detainees and asylum seekers stranded with island locals.

In response to the NGV’s decision to hire Wilson Security, Breitz has temporarily renamed her seven-panel-video work, originally titled Love Story, as Wilson Must Go. The piece, which was previously on view in the South African pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, features Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore. The actors tell the stories of refugees in an attempt to use their celebrity status to make the migrants’ voices heard.

December 12, 2017

Art Matters Announces 2017 Grant Winners

Eve Fowler. Photo: Steven Perilloux.

Alex Greenberger of Artnews writes that Art Matters has announced its list of 2017 grant winners. Each artist and art collective will receive $7,500. “We are thrilled to support this extraordinary group of artists from across the US,” said Sacha Yannow, the director of Art Matters. “A diverse and expansive range of contemporary practice within various geographic and cultural contexts, their work engages justice and liberation issues and experiments with form. We feel their voices are important and through our funding, we hope to help amplify them.”

This year’s grantees are:

December 12, 2017

Paris’s FRAC Île-de-France | Le Plateau in Danger of Closing

View of “Pierre Paulin: Boom boom, run run,” 2017 at FRAC Île-de-France | Le Plateau.

FRAC Île-de-France | Le Plateau, part of the Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain, a consortium of twenty-three exhibition spaces across France that are funded by the state and the regions where they’re located, is in danger of being closed, writes Ingrid Luquet-Gad of Les Inrockuptibles. The City of Paris is planning on cutting off financial support to FRAC Île-de-France. This action will greatly affect the Le Plateau site, at 22 rue des Alouettes in the city’s Belleville neighborhood, which has hosted exhibitions for a variety of artists, such as Ryan Gander, Charles Avery, Keren Cytter, and Cao Fei, since 2002.

On December 4, La Libération published an open letter addressed to Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, asking her to not cut the city’s budget for FRAC Île-de-France. The letter has been signed by dozens of artists and arts professionals, including Sophie Calle, Philippe Decrauzat, Haris Epaminonda, Sylvie Fanchon, Camille Henrot, Corey McCorkle, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, and Xavier Veilhan.

December 12, 2017

Documenta Artists Launch Petition Demanding New Supervisory Structure

Redistribution of books to visitors during dismantling of Marta Minujin’s Parthenon of Banned Books at the closing ceremony of Documenta 14 in Kassel. Photo: Mathias Voelzke.

More than two hundred artists who have participated in past exhibitions of Documenta signed a petition against the growing obsession over the show’s profits. “We are compelled to write to propose an improved structure for Documenta that does not prioritize revenue above all other priorities, and defends its future artistic and curatorial autonomy and progressive political mission,” the document reads.

Artists who participated in the most recent iteration of the exhibition have already written two open letters defending Documenta 14’s curatorial model, its former CEO Annette Kulenkampff and artistic director Adam Szymczyk, and the exhibition’s autonomy. Despite repeatedly voicing that Documenta should remain free from political interference, the recent controversy over Documenta 14’s financial deficit prompted Germany’s far-right AfD party to sue the exhibition over its alleged “misappropriation of funds and other offenses.” The artists have now outlined steps detailing how Documenta should move forward without compromising its mission.

The petition states that the exhibition needs to implement a new supervisory structure in order to retain its autonomy. It stresses that the quinquennial is opposed to Eurocentrism and should have the freedom to hold events outside of Germany. It also states that Documenta needs to reaffirm its commitment to fighting institutional racism and insurgent fascism—the petition is critical of the board’s silence amid recent attacks by members of the AfD. The artists also declare that Documenta should maintain its nonprofit status and continue to fund the Documenta Archive, Documenta Institute, and its public art program, organizing these institutions based on “the trajectory set by documenta 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 that contributed to profound changes that impacted understanding of art in our age.”

December 12, 2017

Jon Seydl Named Director of Krannert Art Museum

Jon Seydl.


Art historian and curator Jon Seydl has been appointed the new director of the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign, Illinois. He succeeds Kathleen Harleman, who led the museum from 2004 to 2017. Under her leadership, Harleman championed underrepresented groups and spearheaded the redesign of the institution’s African gallery. Seydl, who is currently the senior director of collections and programs and the curator of European art at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, will take up his new post in February.

“As a curator, Jon Seydl brings a deep knowledge about artwork that forms a large portion of the collection. That knowledge, and his excitement about curation, education, collection management, and public engagement will make him an excellent director,” said Julia Nucci Kelly, the museum’s communications and marketing coordinator.

Seydl first joined the Worcester Art Museum in 2014. During his tenure there, Seydl organized a number of exhibitions and helped the institution make several key acquisitions, such as Otto Dix’s Pregnant Woman, 1919, and Miguel Cabrera’s The Virgin of Guadalupe, ca. 1740. He also launched an initiative to digitize the museum’s entire collection and served as the liaison for academic programs to twelve colleges and universities.