October 8, 2017

Puerto Rican Arts Organizations Reopen to Help with Relief Efforts

Beta-Local, a San Juan–based nonprofit organization, that launched an emergency fund to help Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria.

After the devastation of Hurricane Maria, many Puerto Rican arts institutions have begun to reopen their doors and are pooling their resources to help their communities with emergency relief efforts.

According to the Art Newspaper, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico in San Juan is collecting necessities such as food, water, and medicine while organizing free music and dance performances along with other programming. “Today more than ever we are sure that art and culture will be important tools that will help our people cope and recover from this crisis,” the museum wrote in a Facebook post on September 30.

The Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña is also putting on public programming to aid the island’s healing process. Four days after the storm struck, the government’s employees were back at work and calling for volunteers to stage events to lift people’s spirits. So far, more than fifty artists have agreed to help.

October 6, 2017

Marina Abramović Cancels Plans for New York Performance Art Institute

Design rendering of the Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art. Photo: OMA

Performance artist Marina Abramović has decided to abandon her plan to convert a building she bought in upstate New York into a performance art institute after she was unable to raise the $31 million needed to fund the project, Cristina Ruiz reports in the Art Newspaper.

Billed as a space to “cultivate new kinds of performance while functioning as a living archive, preserving and hosting performances of historic pieces,” the Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art was meant to be a venue where artists and audiences could participate in and view long-duration performances, lasting six hours or more.

The artist came up with the idea for the project after the success of her exhibition “The Artist Is Present,” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2010. For the piece, she spent more than seven hundred hours sitting silently at a table while people took turns occupying an empty chair across from her in order to lock eyes with the artist.

October 6, 2017

Museum of the Moving Image Awarded $375,000 Grant

The Museum of the Moving Image in New York.

The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, has received a $375,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The funds will support the preservation and conservation of digital media. The grant project, “Born Digital: Pathways Towards Preservation,” will be led by Barbara Miller, senior curator of collections and exhibitions.

“Because they are made out of bits and bytes, these ‘objects’ are often created, manipulated, and viewed digitally, requiring brand new preservation strategies and technologies,” said executive director Carl Goodman. “We are honored by this award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For the past two decades, the museum has been at the forefront of exhibiting digital media works, from early video art to video games and animated GIFs. This grant will enable us, for the first time in our history, to have an infrastructure for the collection and preservation of such work.”

The Museum has partnered with Small Data Industries, a conservation studio and consultancy founded by Ben Fino-Radin, to conduct activities including reviewing current institutional practices; developing a pilot digital preservation repository for the collection; and facilitating dialogue with colleagues at other museums, libraries, and universities facing similar challenges in the conservation of born-digital art and cultural heritage.

October 6, 2017

Munich’s Haus der Kunst Hires Executive to Address Financial Struggles

Munich’s Haus der Kunst. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

In the face of financial turmoil, the management team of the Haus der Kunst in Munich has added a second top executive who will be responsible for curbing the institution’s deficit, Monopol reports.

Ludwig Spaenle, the Bavarian Minister of Culture, announced that Stefan Gros assumed the role of commercial managing director of the contemporary art institution on October 1. Gros will codirect the museum with director Okwui Enwezor for the next three months. “Dr. Gros has accumulated a wealth of experience in managing companies in upheaval,” said Spaenle.

The employees’ work council has welcomed the decision. “Over the last few months, we have supported the idea that Okwui Enwezor retains his role as artistic director, and that a commercial managing-director is given an equal rank . . . The goal now is to ensure that 2018 fiscal planning has the necessary checks and balances so that previous mistakes are not repeated,” said council chairman Anton Köttl. The museum’s current financial imbalance had arisen from an ongoing deficit between revenue and expenditure.

October 6, 2017

Jorrit Britschgi Named Executive Director of Rubin Museum of Art

Jorrit Britschka. Photo: Bob Krasser

The Rubin Museum of Art in New York has announced that Jorrit Britschgi was appointed its new executive director. Britschgi is currently the institution’s director of exhibitions, collections, and research. He succeeds Patrick Sears, who announced his plans for retirement in April.

“We are very pleased that Jorrit will be leading the Rubin Museum into the future,” board president Bob Baylis said. “Himalayan art has a lot to say about the issues of our time, and Jorrit will help the Rubin leverage the art’s voice in new, dynamic, and engaging ways.”

Before joining the Rubin in 2016, Britschgi served as head of exhibitions and publications at the Museum Rietberg in Zurich, Switzerland. In his new role at the Rubin, Britschgi plans to focus on growing its audience, launching philanthropic initiatives, and developing strategic partnerships. “As executive director, I’m excited to help the Rubin do even more to create a cultural space where visitors, rather than being simply presented with answers, encounter experiences that help them make their own discoveries,” Britschgi said in a statement.

October 5, 2017

Maine’s Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Receives $250,000 Donation

View of the Dean’s Studio on the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture’s upper campus. Photo: Santiago Forero

The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in rural Maine has announced that it was gifted $250,000 from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. The donation will be used to construct a new studio building that will be named after the artist, who served as a visiting faulty member at the institution in 1986.

“The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation gift is coming at a moment of critical development that Showhegan has been undertaking for the last twelve to eighteen months,” director Katie Sonnenborn told Andy Battaglia of Artnews, in reference to their campus-wide renovation that is in its early stages. “Their early participation in the development of this vision we think will be critical to its long-term success and viability.”

Sonnenborn described the refurbishment of the institution’s historic campus over the past five years as “not terribly sexy,” since it focused mainly on maintenance work, but she stressed that it was essential in order to allow the school to make sure its facilities fit the needs of artists working in the twenty-first century. Further proposals outlining the renovation of more buildings, as well as plans to construct additional facilities, will be presented to the school’s two governing boards later this month.

October 5, 2017

David Shrigley Named Guest Director of 2018 Brighton Festival

David Shrigley. Photo: Victor Frankowski

The Brighton Festival has announced that the Brighton-based artist David Shrigley will serve as the guest director of its next edition, which will take place from May 5 to May 27, 2018. Shrigley is the first visual artist to lead the festival since its inaugural guest director Anish Kapoor in 2009.

“The great thing about Brighton Festival is that you see things that are really thrilling and wonderful that you’ve never heard of before,” Shrigley said. “What I’m looking forward to about the role of guest director is having the opportunity to not only see a lot of stuff and program stuff but also make some artwork myself and have it presented in the place where I live. I think it’s a really nice way to communicate with people, to meet people, and to invite people to come to Brighton.”

Highlights of the event will include Calixto Bieito’s new production The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety and The Voice Project’s Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience in which audiences encounter a dreamlike, immersive night of music, stories, sounds, and images. More details about the festival’s programming will be announced in February.

October 5, 2017

Riga Biennial Announces Theme of First Edition

Aerial photo of Riga. Photo: Elena Spasova / the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art

The Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art has announced the curatorial concept for its inaugural edition, launching June 2, 2018. The exhibition will be titled “Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More,” referencing anthropologist Alexei Yurchak’s book of the same name, which discusses the collapse of the Soviet Union and the nature of change. Curated by Katerina Gregos, the biennial invites artists from the Baltic and Nordic regions, as well as international artists, to engage with the phenomenon of change as a constant and imperceptible process.

According to Gregos, the exhibition will focus on issues that range from the impact of rapid advancements in science and technology to the negotiation of crises of ecology, capitalism, and democracy. “Many of these changes have radically altered the way we experience the world and have undermined—or overridden—all of our senses except vision,” Gregos said in a statement. “A part of the exhibition will also thus refocus on the sensorium—the sum of the human organism’s perceptive tools—creating moments that trigger the senses that have been marginalized, allowing for a much-needed deceleration of perception. The first Riga Biennial aims to paint a political, but also personal and existential, portrait of the unprecedented times we live in and to relate the tectonic shifts that are taking place in the public as well as private realm today.”

October 5, 2017

Family Persecuted by Nazis to Receive Restitution for Lost Art

Bartholomäus Spranger, Mercury Carriers Psyche to Mount Olympus, ca. 1576. Photo: Christie’s

More than eighty years after Jewish museum director Curt Glaser sold his art collection under duress in order to leave Nazi Germany, his family will receive compensation for an artwork they thought had been lost.

Glaser auctioned Bartholomäus Spranger’s Mercury Carriers Psyche to Mount Olympus, ca. 1576, along with the rest of his collection, to finance his family’s immigration to the United States after he was forced into retirement in September 1933. Glaser was a respected collector and art historian who served as director of the State Art Library of Berlin from 1924 until his removal from office.

Art dealer Wolfgang Gurlitt acquired the painting during one of the auctions of Glaser’s belongings, which included his furniture and art library, at the Internationales Kunst- und Auktionshaus on May 9, 1933. Upon the dealer’s death in 1965, the painting was purchased from the Lempertz auction house in Cologne by German private collectors and has remained in their care ever since.