September 24, 2017

Nicole Eisenman Sculpture Defaced Again at Skulptur Projekte Münster

Nicole Eisenman with her work Sketch for a Fountain in the meadow alongside Promenade at Skulptur Projekte Münster. Photo: David Velasco.

Artist Nicole Eisenman’s sculpture at Skulptur Projekte Münster has been vandalized once again, this time with swastikas and other graffiti, according to a report by Artnews. Last summer, her piece in the exhibition, Sketch for a Fountain, 2017, a plaster and bronze fountain with four figures, suffered the beheading of one its figures, a defacement which was part of a series of several attacks on works in the exhibition. Police are investigating this new incident.

On her private Facebook page, Eisenman considered this crime in the context of the recent rise of the AfD—the far-right Alternative for Germany political party—ahead of the upcoming German election. The team behind Skulptur Projekte Münster released a statement today about the second act of aggression against this particular piece, as well as the graffiti discovered on a nearby statue of eighteenth-century feminist poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff: “We are deeply disgusted by such a violation and understand this as an attack against the values of the work.” They further noted: “Both artworks were exposed to a fascist form of violence, a violence that homo-, trans-, and intersexual people have to face in real life everyday in many places . . . We express our solidarity with people of any color or sexual identity and we strongly condemn the murderous propaganda of all right-wing parties.”

For more on Skulptur Projekte Münster, see Benjamin H. D. Buchloh’s take on the exhibition, and on the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale and Documenta 14, in the September issue of Artforum.

September 22, 2017

Artists and Museums Fight Trump’s Immigration Ban

Nancy Spector, artistic director of the Guggenheim museums and chief curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim.

Sarah Cascone of Artnet reports that while the Supreme Court is preparing to hear oral arguments next month over Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York is partnering with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) to recruit more than one hundred art institutions to voice opposition to the order, all in an attempt to bolster the current series of lawsuits challenging the so-called Muslim ban.

The museum commissioned amicus briefs last March—a type of statement filed in an appeal by a person or organization that is not a party in the case but is invested in the outcome—in two appeals cases now underway in Hawaii and Maryland that are seeking to overturn the ban. The documents detail the order’s negative impact on arts institutions across the country and were prepared pro bono by the law firm Davis Polk and signed by the AAMD, the American Alliance of Museums, the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, the College Art Association, and more than a hundred art museums across the country, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center, and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. The AAMD spearheaded the mobilization of museums to sign the document.

According to the brief: “Museums plan exhibitions and performances months, and often years, in advance . . . The uncertainty of whether artists or other necessary personnel will receive discretionary waivers, based on ambiguous and undefined criteria, will effectively prevent the amici museums from planning many exhibitions and performances that are dependent on persons covered by the Order.” The brief goes on to note that Trump’s executive order, originally signed on January 27, has already forced museums to cancel exhibitions of work by artists from the targeted countries. Some of the shows and individuals affected include a Persian art exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and a planned show at the Portland Art Museum featuring Syrian calligrapher Khaled Al-Saa’i. Iranian Canadian sculptor Parviz Tanavoli, who currently has a work on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, also opted not to visit the US partially out of fear of being detained upon entry, according to the briefs.

September 22, 2017

Documenta’s Parent Company Releases Audit Report, Announces Structural Changes

Mayor of Kassel Christian Geselle.

After last week’s revelation that the international edition of this year’s Documenta exhibition is facing a deficit of about $8.3 million, a situation that has been addressed by both the curatorial team and the artists in the show, an interim report put together by independent auditors for a board meeting of the parent company, Documenta gGmbH, was released yesterday, according to a report by Henri Neuendorf at Artnet. At a press conference following the meeting, representatives of two shareholders, the mayor of Kassel and board chair Christian Geselle, and Hessian minister for science and art Boris Rhein, disclosed some of the preliminary findings of the audit and announced structural changes within the organization.

The mayor noted that the budget for Documenta 14 between 2014 and 2018 totaled €34 million (about $40.6 million), including an allocation of €2 million (about $2.3 million) for the show in Athens. The more than half of the exhibition’s budget was provided by the cites of Hesse and Kassel as well as the German Federal Cultural Foundation while the rest—as per tradition—was to be raised by organizers of the quinquennial through ticketing, merchandising, and sponsorships. Geselle confirmed the previous reports that the primary source of overspending was due to the expansion of Documenta to Athens, noting that the company recorded a loss of €5.4 million (about $6.4 million) between January 1 and July 31, a period that coincides with the run of Documenta’s Athens exhibition from April 8 to July 16. Interestingly, Geselle noted that while revenues exceeded expectations, losses exceeded expectations as well.

The mayor emphasized that the figure of €5.4 million should be distinguished from the total projected deficit for the fiscal year, which has been estimated at €7 million (about $8.3 million) and first reported by the German newspaper HNA. In order to offset this projected shortfall, Documenta’s advisory board approved a loan guarantee of €8 million (about $9.5 million) to be shared equally between the city of Kassel and the state of Hesse, with an additional €1 million (about $1.1 million) as a buffer. Geselle’s statement insisted: “It’s not a loan, but a guarantee . . . We, the city of Kassel are not paying cash into the documenta gGmbH.” In other words, the guarantee means that Documenta’s parent company can now obtain a bank loan required to prevent the company’s insolvency—although the package must still be ratified by Kassel’s city council in a hearing next Monday.

September 22, 2017

Chinese Conceptual Artists’ Video at Guggenheim Museum Incites Animal Rights Activists

Collage of several scenes from Sun Yuan and Peng Yu's video Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other.

Matthew Haag reports in the New York Times that a video set to be included in an exhibition opening next month at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York is causing an outcry and inciting calls for the work to be pulled from the show. Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s video Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other is a seven-minute clip of a performance from 2003 where eight American pit bulls were each placed on a treadmill, so that the treadmills hold the animals back from contact as they charge at one another. There is currently a petition circulating to promote “cruelty-free exhibits” at the museum.

The artists themselves addressed criticism of the piece some time ago, with Peng saying, “Where is the soft spot in all of this?” She also questioned the claims of animal cruelty: “Were the dogs being abused? The answer should be no. These dogs are naturally pugnacious.”

The exhibition that will include the piece, “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World,” opens October 6, 2017, and will feature about 150 works by Chinese artists who work in a broad range of media, from Land art to painting and photography. The show will run for three months, and a statement released by the Guggenheim addressing the controversy is as follows:

September 22, 2017

KölnSkulptur Announces Artists for Ninth Edition

Bernar Venet, Four Arcs, 1999. Installation view, Skulpturenpark Köln.

After naming Chus Martínez as curator for the ninth edition, KölnSkulptur has announced the artists participating in the upcoming biennial. Titled “La Fin de Babylon. Mich wundert, dass ich so fröhlich bin!” (The End of Babylon. I wonder, that I’m so happy!), the exhibition will open on October 15 and run through 2019. It will be held at the Skulpturenpark in Cologne, an organization founded by Michael and Eleonore Stoffel in 1997 that, over the years, has commissioned more than 150 artworks by major artists such as Rosemarie Trockel, Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Isa Genzken, Dan Graham, and Peter Fischli and David Weiss. The Michael and Eleonore Stoffel Foundation has been funding exhibitions at the park since 2005.

The opening of the ninth edition coincides with the park’s twentieth anniversary. The participating artists are as follows:

September 22, 2017

Hauser & Wirth Opens New Location in Hong Kong

Rendering of the H Queen's development in Hong Kong.

Anny Shaw reports in the Art Newspaper that the gallery Hauser & Wirth—which has several spaces in the US, a couple in the UK, and another in Zürich—is adding a new branch, in Hong Kong, due to open next spring. Planned for the new H Queen’s development, Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong will occupy the fifteenth and sixteenth floors of a building designed by William Lim of CL3, along with other galleries including David Zwirner, Pace, and Pearl Lam. Architect Annabelle Selldorf, who has helmed the renovation of six Hauser & Wirth galleries in Zürich, London, Somerset, New York, and Los Angeles, will design the new 10,000-square-foot space.

Additionally, the gallery will also have offices in Shanghai and Beijing as of next month. Of the development, dealer Iwan Wirth noted: “Hong Kong’s multicultural spirit makes it an ideal base for connecting with the rest of Asia. Shanghai has a diverse and dynamic arts scene, and Beijing’s proximity to government and infrastructure makes it an important cultural hub and powerhouse of the future.” He added that he spent two years researching “the most appropriate ways” to expand in this region, “to become a fully present part of the art scene in China and engage meaningfully.” Hauser & Wirth currently represents one Chinese artist, Zhang Enli, although Wirth also said he intends to add more Chinese and Asian artists to their list.

A schedule of exhibitions for the new space has yet to be announced. Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong will be codirected by Vanessa Guo, who came from Christie’s in early 2016, and Lihsin Tsai, who, prior to joining the gallery, managed the exhibition space of the Shanghai collector and entrepreneur Qiao Zhibing.

September 22, 2017

Gerhard Richter to Donate Artwork to City of Münster

Gerhard Richter.

German artist Gerhard Richter told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur in Cologne on Wednesday that he wants to donate a multipart work to the city of Münster. The piece will be site-specific and will reference Foucault’s pendulum.

The eighty-five-year-old artist said that he has been visiting different sculpture projects in Münster with his friend Kasper König, the artistic director of the decennial exhibition Skulptur Projekte Münster, and will continue to do so until October. He hopes to install the artwork at the Dominican church in the Westphalian city’s old center, but first the city council must approve the donation and its location. More details regarding the gift are expected to be announced in the next few days.

To read more about the 2017 Skulptur Projekte Münster, which closes on October 1, check out Harvard University professor Benjamin H. D. Buchloh’s recap of the exhibition in the September 2017 issue of Artforum.

September 21, 2017

Mexico’s Arts Organizations Assess Damages as Death Toll from Major Earthquake Passes 250

The Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico City. Photo: Christian Uziel via Twitter

Following a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico early Tuesday afternoon, leaving at least 250 people dead and countless others missing, arts venues are banding together to assess their damages and help those in need.

According to the New York Times, the natural disaster occurred around 1 PM and caused prolonged shaking in the capital. Its epicenter was located about one hundred miles from Mexico City, where around forty buildings collapsed, trapping people under rubble and creating chaos for emergency workers. It hit only two weeks after a more powerful quake, which registered at a magnitude of 8.1, killing at least ninety people and destroying homes in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca.

Terremoto, the free bilingual quarterly print and digital publication based in Mexico City, announced that its office and staff survived the quake. It also sent out an open letter informing people where they can donate to help those impacted by the disaster. The New York Times also compiled a list of international organizations providing aid to the country, which can be found here. Among the organizations accepting financial support is Topos México, a nonprofit created in response to the 1985 earthquake, which killed around ten thousand individuals.

September 21, 2017

The University of the Arts and the Philadelphia Art Alliance Join Forces

The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Photo: Dave Jackson

The boards of trustees of the University of the Arts and the Philadelphia Art Alliance have announced that the two century-old institutions will merge. The agreement was finalized with a unanimous vote on August 28.

The Art Alliance will be incorporated into the University of the Arts, which will be renamed the Philadelphia Art Alliance at the University of the Arts. University of the Arts president and CEO David Yager will head the rebranded institution.

“We are thrilled that the Art Alliance will continue to be an active part of the future of Philadelphia’s cultural life as a result of this merger with the University of the Arts,” said Carole Shanis, chairperson and president emerita of the Art Alliance. “The Art Alliance has been a multi-disciplinary art center, guided by artists, since it was founded in 1915. While over the last ten years our focus has been on contemporary craft and design, we welcome the new resources and broader perspective that will come with this partnership.”