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The Art Newspaper

Nov 30 2016
Museo del Prado’s director Miguel Zugaza steps down after 15 years
Miguel Zugaza (Photo: © Ignacio Hernando Rodríguez, courtesy of the Museo del Prado)
The director of the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Miguel Zugaza, is to leave next year to return to his previous role in charge of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. In a resignation letter addressed to Spains minister of education, culture and sport, Zugaza said that after 15 years he considers the goals established during [his] term of office to have been fulfilled.

The Prado is now embarking on a new and exciting phase in anticipation of its 2019 bicentenary, Zugaza says. Last week the museum announced plans for a new wing designed by the British architect Norman Foster and the Spanish architect Carlos Rubioits second major building project after the 22,000 sq. m extension by Rafael Moneo in 2007. The Prado has enjoyed an exceptional year in 2016 thanks to its landmark Hieronymus Bosch exhibition, which attracted a record attendance of almost 590,000 visitors. 

The Spanish newspaper El Pas describes Zugaza as one of the most longstanding, diplomatic and effective managers in the recent history of Spanish culture and as the mastermind behind the 200-year-old institutions dramatic modernisation. Besides the Moneo-designed extension, Zugaza oversaw a transformation in the museums legal status in 2003, increasing its independence from the Spanish government and introducing a series of modernising initiatives. In the face of a deep recession, the Prado opened a new research and conservation centre in 2009 and extended its opening hours to seven days a week in 2011.

Zugaza now plans to resume his former position at a much smaller institution, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. A proud Basque, he was the director there between 1995 and 2001. His successor at the Bilbao museum, Javier Viar Olloqui, is due to retire next year.
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The Art Newspaper

Nov 24 2016
The true story behind BMW’s Art Cars
Jeff Koons designed one of BMW's Art Cars in 2010
Thomas Girst, 45, is head of cultural engagement for the BMW motor car group. Educated in the US and Germany, while at NYU he wrote a PhD thesis that Donald Trump has suddenly made of more than academic interest. It deals with art and literature during an earlier episode of shameful xenophobia, the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War.

A journalist, exhibition organiser and writer, Girst joined BMW in 2003 to develop its cultural role. With a strong emphasis of making the arts accessible, BMW backs contemporary music in museums, brain-storming on urban-living and the role of art, and two major museum partnerships: with the Tate in London and the Guggenheim in New York. 

The European agency that advises corporations on art sponsorship, Causales, has just awarded Girst the title of European Cultural Manager of the Year. Perhaps BMWs most famous cultural product has been the hybridisation of BMW cars with art. Girst revealed the story behind these cars to our sister paper, The Art Newspaper Russia.
 
Thomas Girst:

I knew about BMW's Art Cars even before I joined BMW. I've always been excited by the story behind them, and it was amazing to take over the project because it began thanks to the racing-car driver Herv Poulain rather than my colleagues in the PR department.
Poulain shared his love of racing cars with his passion for art by people such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, and Alexander Calder, all friends of his. BMW promised that if he joined their team, he would get his cars decorated by artiststhey never thought it would turn into anything serious, but the project became a success and Herv the public's darling.

When we select artists for the project, it doesn't mean that someone from BMW or I just talk to them; we have people who know a lot about contemporary art and we trust their judgement. We also aim to involve participants from all continents.

We give them the M6 GT3 racing car to decoratewe decided once and for all that this was the model to be decorated. The project usually involves one artist a year, but BMW celebrated its 100th in 2016, so we decided to choose two artists this time.

I think an extra twist in this story is that one of these two participants is the young Chinese artist Cao Fei and the other is one of the fathers of Modern conceptual art, John Baldessari, of the US. But this is a dream team.
 
Would it be possible for activists or, say, performance artists to join the BMW Art Car Project? You wrote a book about Dadaists, after all.
 
I've written three books about Marcel Duchamp. I think that art evolves and it's no longer about colouring carsCao Fei, for example, works with virtual reality. Because art evolves and our Art Cars Project evolves too, I exclude nothing. One thing I do know, though, is that we will continue to reject anything to do with pornography or racism; that is not the kind of collaboration we are looking for.
 
I think it's quite interesting that performance art is gaining so much momentum at a time when we literally live on social networks. It seems as though the public and pundits have a huge need to see, feel, and even smell; to be part of something human, something that creates an impression. What can be more beautiful than choreography, the movement of body in space? But BMW has partnered with London's Tate Gallery, where we run the BMW Tate Live Programme, which is all about performance art, so I imagine that performance artists will want to join this programme rather than work with cars.
 
How about the look of the car, from engine to hood? Is it design or is it art?
 
This is a question of terminology. As a journalist, you must have noticed that some words are used just about everywhere these days; for example, everyone is curating something. The same goes for art. I personally believe that the making of a car is more of a design thing. As our designer Karim Habib puts it, a car is a great deal of teamwork by hundreds and thousands of interior and exterior parts and materials. To some extent, design is dictated by engineering and to some extent, by us. This is why, when a car manufacturer starts talking about cars as an art form, I find it a bit presumptuous.

At the same time, I have no problem with artists talking about the art of car-making. The Manifesto of Futurism said a racing car that "seems to run on shrapnel" is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.

Here at BMW, we certainly see Art Cars as rolling sculptures. There is a century-old history of artists being fascinated by mobility, speed, and sound, all attributes of the car. Apart from our Art Cars Series, there are hundreds of other examples of how great artists worldwide work with this subject, so of course its art. As the corporation's employee, I do believe that a car is a form of art. We create some of the greatest designs on the planet, so why not call a spade a spade?
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The New York Times

Jan 19 2017
Critic's Notebook: The Outsider Fair Made Art ‘Big’ Again
Our critic on fairs of the past, and on what they have meant for the art world of today.
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The Guardian

Nov 23 2016
Francis Picabia: the art 'loser' who ended up winning it all

An extravagant new retrospective of the avant-garde French-Cuban artist highlights often troubling yet always distinctive work

The president-elect’s favorite term of abuse is “loser” – lobbed more than 200 times from his toxic Twitter account, at victims from Jeb Bush to Rosie O’Donnell. When people like him are winners, “loser” might be an insult worth reclaiming. There’s a photo-collage from 1920, the first Francis Picabia ever made, in which the French artist tears apart his face, sutures it with hastily pasted papers, and brands his chin with the all-caps word RATÉ: a loser, a failure, a man defeated. And yet he flashes a crafty smirk, peeking out from under one of those pasted scraps. A “loser”, claimed Picabia in the years after the first world war, was the finest thing you could be; it meant you had failed to obey the dictates of a society that had lost its collective mind.

Related: Dalí in a diving helmet: how the Spaniard almost suffocated bringing surrealism to Britain

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The Guardian

Oct 06 2016
Stik in Shoreditch: the artist’s hidden tribute to a sold-off London – video

Last year, the street artist Stik got permission for a major new mural in his neighbourhood, an area of the East End of London that now embodies gentrification at its most extreme. So he asked the denizens of Old Shoreditch – the vicars, artists and paupers – what he should paint in response ... before the wall is hidden again by a billboard

  • WARNING: Strong language
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The Art Newspaper

Dec 05 2016
Iconoclasm rejected “by all God-given religions”, declares the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
Attendees of the conference on safeguarding endangered cultural heritage, held on 2 and 3 December in Abu Dhabi. Full caption at bottom of article
The United Arab Emirates have led Islamic countries in unequivocally condemning iconoclasm carried out in the name of Islam. At the conference on safeguarding endangered cultural heritage, held on 2 and 3 December in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, said, The destruction of heritage sites by terrorist groups, and illicit trafficking by groups that aim to obliterate the international heritage of humanity, are rejected by all God-given religions and human nature.

Hitherto, there has been only muted condemnation in the Middle East of the destruction wrought by fundamentalist Islamists over the past two years at Palmyra, Nimrud and in Timbuktu, to mention only the most famous sites. Middle Eastern media reveal that this is partly due to anger at the West apparently caring more about stones than flesh and blood. A minority have publicly expressed support for  Isils view that these monuments are haramforbiddenbut the number of actual sympathisers  with this point of view is not known and must vary very much between Lebanon at one extreme and Wahabi Saudi Arabia at the other. 

It was therefore highly significant that the Grand Imam of Al Azhar mosque in Cairothe closest that Sunni Islam gets to an accepted voice of authoritygave his support to the conference the day before it opened. Ahmed Al Tayeb said, ''I am delighted at this generous initiative, which incorporates the cultural meaning and human values that bring the East and the West together to seek to repair the damage caused by the barbaric terrorism and destruction by extremists.''

The conference was organised jointly with President Hollande of France, who said at the event, "This work is part of the battle led by France and the UAE against obscurantism, for openness and culture. It is also the reason for the creation of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. This great Franco-Emirati project opening next year will be the first universal museum in the Arab world."

Speakers came from the Middle East and North Africa; from Mali, Germany, France, Poland, Switzerland, Greece, Bosnia-Hergovina, Japan, the US and elsewhere. Among them was the general of the recently formed unit of the Italian Carabinieri specialising in the protection and care of monuments in times of war, and the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldaeans, one of the most ancient sees in the Catholic Church, who spoke of the total loss that monasteries have suffered in Iraq.

The head of the cultural section of the Swiss federal civil protection described a former arms store near Zurich that would be suitable for housing works of art, and the new law (Art 12 CPPA) that would enable Switzerland to take on works of art, under the aegis of Unesco, that needed a safe haven until their own countries were able to have them back.

This was relevant to one of the two main objectives of the conference, which was to propose a network of safe havens for the safeguarding of cultural property endangered by armed conflicts or terrorism on their own territory, or if unable to be secured at a national level, in a neighbouring country, or as a last resort, in another country. The conference heard about a precedent for this, which was the evacuation of the contents of the Prado to Geneva during the Spanish civil war.

The other main objective was the establishment of an international fund for the protection of endangered cultural heritage in armed conflict, which would help finance preventive and emergency operations, fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural artefacts, as well as contribute to the restoration of damaged cultural property, to quote the formal declaration at the end of the conference. 

France has started the fund off with $30m, the UAE has added $15m, and it is expected that public and private contributions will take it to at least $100m. In this regard, a promising statement was made by the delegate from Chinas State Administration of Cultural Heritage, He Liu Yuzhou, who said that China shared the sufferings of countries whose heritage was being destroyed, and that it would support the fund with contributions that corresponded with Chinas status.

The money will be vested in a foundation to be based in Geneva and the model of governance may well be that of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, whose counsel, Glen Atay Newton, explained how this public-private foundation operated both centrally and on the ground.

These two aims were formally stated at the end of the conference in the Abu Dhabi Declaration, with a clear affirmation of support also for the role of the United Nations and its institutions, particular Unesco, and an appeal to the UN Security Council to support the achieving of these goals.

Full image caption: (Front row L-R) The Aga Khan, Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani , representing the Emir of Qatar, Prince Khalid al Faisal, governor of Mecca Region, Saudi Arabia, Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-presidentof the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Franois Hollande, president of France, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, emir of Kuwait, Abdrabbuh Mansour, president of Yemen, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, president of Mali, Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister of Ethiopia, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, of the Bahraini ruling family, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, foreign minister of Oman, (R, 2nd row) Alexis Tsipras, prime minister of Greece (3rd L), Denis Zvizdic, chairman of the council of ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina (4th L), Jack Lang, president of the Institut  du Monde Arabe (5th L), Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (6th L), Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO (7th L) and other dignitaries, during the Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage Conference in Abu Dhabi. The UK sent an under-secretary from the Department of  Culture, Media and Sport, Tracey Crouch (3rd row, 4th R)
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The Guardian

Dec 09 2016
Matthew Lanyon obituary

Matthew Lanyon, who has died of cancer aged 65, was a Cornish painter whose passion for the landscape and cultural legacy of his beloved county ran as vibrantly as ore through his work. He made an immeasurable contribution to the art of the region.

His first major solo show, at the Rainy Day Gallery in Penzance in 2007, included a painting seven metres long entitled Journey to the Stars. In recent years, he continued to push the scale of his paintings towards the truly monumental, and had begun to experiment with architectural glass and tapestry. His final exhibition, In the Tracks of the Yellow Dog, held at the New Craftsman Gallery in St Ives in September, dealt with the grief he felt following his mother’s death in 2015. It was one of several exhibitions on which I had the pleasure of working with him.

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The Art Newspaper

Jan 23 2017
Giacometti plasters created for 1956 Venice Biennale to be reunited for Tate Modern show
Alberto Giacometti with his works at the 1956 Venice Biennale (Image: © Alinari / Roger-Viollet)
A group of six tall spindly female nudes created in plaster by Alberto Giacometti for the Venice Biennale in 1956 are to be reunited for the first time in 60 years at Tate Modern this spring. The Women of Venice plasters will be shown alongside two further sculptures from the same series, which Giacometti unveiled at the Kunsthalle Berne that year.
 
Giacomettis emaciated bronze figures are considered among the most important sculptures of the 20th centuryhis 1947 LHomme au doigt (Pointing Man) became the most valuable sculpture to sell at auction in 2015, fetching 91m. But his plaster and clay works are less well known, something Tate Modern hopes to redress.
 
We always think of Giacometti as an artist in bronze, but of course bronze was the final outcome of a process that began with more informal, liquid materials, says Frances Morris, the director of Tate Modern and a co-curator of the retrospective (10 May-10 September). He started making bronzes because people wanted to collect his work, but he wasnt terribly interested in the casting process, which his brother Diego oversaw.
 
It took Giacometti roughly three weeks to mould each of the Women in Venice figures in clay before casting them in plaster and reworking the surface with a knife. He then painted some of the sculptures in red and blackdetails that are lost in the bronze versions.
 
The plasters, modelled on Giacometti's wife and muse Annette, are being restored ahead of the show by the Paris-based Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacomettione of the foundations most ambitious conservation projects to date. After the exhibition the plasters will go back to Paris where they will be available to scholars, but they wont tour, Morris says.
 
Other revelations in the exhibition include Giacomettis deep engagement with art history and his relationship with decorative art. He had an extraordinary library, which he would return to every day, Morris says. Theres barely a page that he didnt annotate with drawings. He was constantly looking at African, ancient Egyptian, Cycladic and Renaissance sculpture; he saw the world through examples of the past.
 
More than 250 works spanning five decades are to go on show, from early works such as Head of a Woman (Flora Mayo) (1926) to classic bronze sculptures such as Walking Man I (1960). It will also include examples of Giacomettis Surrealist and abstract works, which were heavily influenced by African sculpture.
 
There has been a long association between the Tate and Giacometti dating back to the 1940s when the then director John Rothenstein made the bold decision, Morris says, to buy a bronze, Pointing Man (1947), just two years after it was created. The acquisition put the Tate ahead of French museums, which were yet to collect Giacomettis work. The purchase, which demonstrated the Tates early commitment to risk taking and innovation, paved the way for the 1965 exhibition of Giacomettis work at Tate Gallery.
 
Morris describes the retrospective as a long time coming, noting that Giacomettis generosity following his 1965 exhibition allowed the Tate to acquire eight sculptures and two paintings for just 30,000. We are indebted to Giacometti for helping us with our holdings and contributing to our history, Morris says. This retrospective is a posthumous thank you.
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 28 2017
Ibrahim Mahama presents a portrait of Ghana told through its objects
Ibrahim Mahama in front of an installation made from the wooden boxes used by shoe repairmen in Ghana to hold their tools. The work is now on view at White Cube
The Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama, 29, has joined White Cube in London. He is the first artist born and based in Africa signed by the gallery. His arrival follows the departure of the British duo Jake and Dinos Chapman, who left White Cube earlier this month after 20 years with the gallery to join Blain Southern, and shows the continuing internationalisation of the White Cube roster.
 

The memory of objects


Mahamas debut exhibition at White Cube, and his first solo show in the UK, opens to the public tonight (28 February). It includes five wall hangings made from the jute sacks which are used to transport goods in Ghana. Their history illustrates the complex trade networks of the global economy and post-independence Ghana. 
 
Made in Bangladesh and India, the sacks are imported to Ghana and used to move cocoa beans, one of the countrys leading exports, to the ships which will transport them to international markets. Because cocoa beans are a fragile luxury export, the sacks will move the product first and only once. They are then used multiple times to take crops such as rice, millet and maize around the country for domestic consumption. Finally, they are used to shift coal. Mahama and his collaborators acquire the sacks at the end of their working life, sewing them together to create massive tapestries which the artist has draped over buildings in Ghana such as theatres, museums, luxury apartments, and social housing projects, among others, and abroad (for the 2015 Venice Biennale he covered two external walls of the Arsenale with 300-metre-long hangings).
 
On some of the wall pieces at White Cube, Mahama has also added fragments of the tarpaulin which is first used to cover food transport trucks in Ghana and then recycled to protect metal objects such as engines. In another tapestry he has added discarded leather seat covers from trains, alluding to the deterioration of the railways in post-independence Ghana. 
 
Im interested in looking at the artistic and political implications of these materials. What happens when you pick several different objects from different places with specific histories and memories and put them together to form a new object? Mahama asks.

  

Shoe repairmen


Another cycle of work focusses on the wooden boxes used by shoe repairmen in Ghana to hold their tools. Working with a team of collaborators around the country, Mahama has assembled thousands of these boxes, exchanging them for new ones built by his assistants. At White Cube, Mahama has constructed a massive wall out of these boxes, carefully slotting them together with no external supports. Every time the piece is dismantled and re-assembled elsewhere, its composition will change, explains the artist.
 
The boxes contain a multitude of objects such as the original tools used to repair shoes and the slippers worn by the repairmen to do their work as well as new objects inserted by Mahamas assistants, for example, old issues of the Economist magazine. The wall contains a narrative of post-independence society, explains the artist, and deals with issues such as political crises and gentrification: many of the boxes were originally made with materials found on building sites or in houses slated for demolition to make way for new developments. A lot of residues come out of those spaces, says the artist.
 
The boxes represent the failure of a system, a failure we havent yet acknowledged. The structures of global capitalism shift things such as the cosmopolitan life of the city and the structures that are built around it. Now they have a new life as a work of art in a high-end gallery. The potential of these structures when you look at them beyond the chaos and the crisis is also interesting, says the artist.


 
Also on display are archival photographs of a paint factory set up by the Ghanaian State, then privatised in the 1990s, and later abandoned. Mahama found the images in the factory when he set up a studio there for the shoe box project. Also at White Cube, a two-screen film shows the installation of Mahamas massive jute-sack tapestries on buildings such as the National Theatre in Accra. Drone footage surveys the sites from above while hand-held cameras follow Mahamas collaborators as they laboriously carry the massive objects up to the roof.
 
This ongoing project has often been compared to the work of wrap artist Christo. But, Mahama finds the comparison lazy. You cant reduce art just to aesthetics and what you see. There is a deeper, political meaning to it.


 
Ibrahim Mahama: Fragments is at White Cube Bermondsey until 13 April
 
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The Telegraph

Mar 23 2016
The Kray twins: unseen pictures of Ronnie and Reggie
Described as the most dangerous men in Britain, the Ronnie and Reggie Kray were never shy about posing for the cameras. And as these unseen images show, they revelled in their reputations right from the start. These photographs, which feature in a new book on the brothers, were drawn from the private collections of friends of the Krays. The book: The Krays From the Cradle to the Grave has been released in what would have been the twins' 80th year.
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The Guardian

Jan 20 2017
Terry Cryer obituary
Photographer admired for his pictures of jazz greats and for his skill in the darkroom

Terry Cryer, who has died aged 82, was a photographer who took portraits of jazz and blues musicians in the late 1950s. He produced sparkling prints with a depth that recalled Victorian and Edwardian photographic values, working in the darkroom with the verve and spirit of someone who had learned speed-printing at a Butlin’s holiday camp and with a cavalier attitude to chemical reactions nurtured in a life led without fear of the consequences.

His switch from skilled hack to artist came about through a chance remark by John Lennon. Cryer was commercially successful but disenchanted with his work when Lennon told him: “If you’re ever any good, you’re always good. It’s always there. You’ve just got to find it.” Cryer took heed and began studying early photography, immersing himself in pictorialism and the work of Stieglitz, Weston, Coburn and Brandt. He experimented in the darkroom, teaching himself long-forgotten toning techniques and learning how to get the best out of modern papers, increasingly depleted in essential chemicals. His work became sought for exhibitions and private and public collections.

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The Guardian

Jun 13 2016
Lucian Freud childhood drawings and unseen sketches go on display

The archive donated to the National Portrait Gallery in lieu of £2.9m inheritance tax also includes artist notes

Drawings going on display for the first time at the National Portrait Gallery really do look like a child did them, albeit a talented one.

“They are really accomplished,” said the gallery’s curator Sarah Howgate of the lively drawings by a possibly seven- or eight-year-old Lucian Freud. “The colour is so vivid.”

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The Art Newspaper

Feb 22 2017
Bowie to be honoured in Brixton with three-storey steel ZiggyZag
How the ZiggyZag would look in situ
London seems set to get a new landmark with the announcement yesterday (21 February) of plans to raise a permanent memorial to David Bowie in his Brixton birthplace. It will take the form of a 9m-high steel rendition of the famous blue and red makeup flash from the cover of Bowies 1973 Aladdin Sane album.

Called ZiggyZag, the three-storey monolith will be situated directly opposite Brixton Underground Station and beside the existing Bowie mural, which has become an impromptu shrine since his death last year. This ultimate piece of Bowie bling has been designed by Charlie Waterhouse. He is the creative director of This Aint RocknRoll, the agency that also designed the award-winning Brixton Pound paper currency, which features Bowie on its B10 note.

That image from the cover of Aladdin Sane has become the de facto symbol for David Bowie, who never did the same thing twice, Waterhouse said at yesterdays ZiggyZag launch at the Royal Festival Hall in London, where Bowie performed on many occasions. If anywhere can be crazy enough to have a 9m-high red and blue lightning bolt embedded in the pavement, then its got to be Brixton.

The race is now on to crowdfund just under 1m in 28 days for this striking addition to the south London landscape. Your correspondent (who also happens to be a Brixton resident) sees it as infinitely more appropriate than any attempt to capture this most mutable of musicians in a more conventional portrait sculpture. Apparently the memorial has been developed in full consultation with Bowies team in New York and London, and has the support of Lambeth Council. Whether Bowies widow Iman, whose Iman cosmetics line can be purchased in Brixton department store Morleys, will be contributing to the campaign is not known.

At the time of writing the pledges are said to be flooding in, as fansand perhaps family tooare keen to honour one of Brixtons greatest local heroes.
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The Art Newspaper

Nov 30 2016
Argentina’s art scene comes to the fore in Miami
Top of the heap: the Argentine artist Matías Duville’s Arena Parking (2016) is on display in the fair’s Public sector this week (Image: Vanessa Ruiz)
VIPs on the hunt for the next big thing at Art Basel in Miami Beach would do well to train their eyes on Argentina. As the Prez Art Museum Miami presents the first US survey of the Mendoza-born Modernist Julio Le Parc and the Buenos Aires-born developer Alan Faena unveils his new cultural centre in Miami Beach, the country seems poised for a breakthrough.

It is not all down to luck. Argentinas newfound presence in Miami is part of a concerted effort by galleries, government officials and philanthropists to carve out a place for the country in the international art scene.

Until now, Argentinas artists and galleries have been a comparatively minor presence in Miami. Although international dealers bring biennial regulars such as Toms Saraceno to the fair, the weak peso has been a barrier for many homegrown dealers. Mexico and Brazil are so present in the contemporary art conversation, but thats not the case for Argentina, says the collector Federico Castro Debernardi, who created the Fundacin Arte in 2014 to address this imbalance.

Taking its turnat last



Judging by the historical offerings at Art Basel, the ongoing reappraisal of regional Modernisms is finally turning to Argentina. Jorge Mara, of Galera Jorge Mara-La Ruche in Buenos Aires, says that during his seven years participating in the fair, we have seen changes in perspective and appreciation of Modern Argentine artists. In the past, most of Maras sales in Miami were to institutions; this year, US collectors placed reserves on paintings by Sarah Grilo ($50,000-$150,000) before the opening, a development he calls unprecedented.

Several international galleries are presenting work by Argentine artists. Espaivisor of Valencia is showing Graciela Carnevales El encierro (Confinement) (1968). Forty photographs document a performance in which the artist locked an audience inside an empty gallery to protest against repression by the government. Espaivisors co-director, Mira Bernabeu, calls it one of the most important works in the history of Latin American art and is offering the final two full editions (priced from 125,000).

Londons Stephen Friedman Gallery is showing work by Manuel Espinosa, a pioneer of Concrete art who, unlike his contemporary Le Parc, was not shown widely outside Argentina during his lifetime. At Art Miami, Cecilia de Torres of New York is exhibiting paintings by the abstract artist Ins Bancalari.

Contemporary dealers have had a harder time breaking through. Nora Fisch, one of seven Argentine dealers at Untitled, is bringing paintings by Juan Tessi, who showed at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires this year. He has this amazingly complex, mature approach, yet he costs about the same as a recent graduate from Columbia [University], Fisch says.

Recipe for success



There are encouraging signs. After almost 12 years of protectionist policies that resulted in an economic crisis, Argentina elected Mauricio Macri, a market-minded reformist, as president in 2015. His administration sees the arts as a potential economic engine. This year, 43 dealers formed an alliance, Meridiano, partly to lobby for revisions to tax policy.

Historically, artists were seen as potential enemies, Mara says. The government has done a lot in the short time that it has been in power to repair that mutual distrust. Six of the seven galleries at Untitled received government funding for their stands, and Buenos Aires launched a partnership with Art Basel earlier this year; the city is paying the firm to advise on cultural programmes.

The mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodrguez Larreta, is due to take part in a panel at the fair on Thursday about the citys efforts to cultivate a cultural economy. The cultural consultant Andrs Sznt, who is moderating the discussion, says: To integrate into the international art world, you need strong institutions, strong artists, collectors who are able to give that initial boost and a regulatory environment that invites the art trade. Argentina fulfils only the first three, he says, but it does have a sense of momentum. It reminds me of Eastern Europe after 1989that sense of turning the page.

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The Art Newspaper

Dec 31 2016
New Year Honours: architect of African American museum knighted
Architect David Adjaye, left, with the artist Theaster Gates. Photo: Kelly Taub/BFA.com, courtesy of Rebuild Foundation
David Adjaye, the lead architect of the Smithsonian's new museum of African American History in Washington, DC, will receive a knighthood. A frequent collaborator with artists, past projects include working with Chris Ofili on the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo and The Upper Room installation (1999-2002). Ofili is also recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours list: the Turner prize-winning artist will receive a CBE.

The veteran photographer, Don McCullin, who recorded conflicts in Cyprus, Vietnam and Africa in the 1960s and 70s and recently returned from Syria, will receive a knighthood from the Queen.

A CBE will go to Jenny Waldman, the director of 14-18 Now, for leading the UK-wide artistic commemoration of the First World War, which has resulted in high profile commissions by artists including Jeremy Deller and Peter Blake, among others.

Among those receiving an OBE from The Queen for their services to the arts are the co-founder of Lisson Gallery, Nicholas Logsdail, and the artists Bob and Roberta Smith and Ryan Gander.

Anna Wintour becomes a dame for services to fashion and journalism. The editor-in-chief of Vogue has been a longstanding supporter of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and chair of the annual Met Gala since 1995.
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The Guardian

Feb 02 2017
Mechanical silver swan that entranced Mark Twain lands at Science Museum

An 18th-century automaton admired by US writer to be star attraction at London museum’s Robots exhibition

A robotic swan that entranced Mark Twain and generations of other viewers will be a star attraction at the Science Museum’s Robots exhibition when it opens next week.

The banal truth behind the piece – the nuts and bolts, levers and cogwheels that for almost 250 years have powered a lifesize silver swan to play music and catch a golden fish out of a crystal stream – has been laid bare in a workroom at the west London museum.

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The Guardian

Mar 26 2012
Growing up black: Dennis Morris's portrait of the 70s
The photographer's pictures of black Britons during the 60s and 70s capture a period of seismic change that we can only really understand now

'The way we see things is affected by what we know and what we believe," wrote John Berger in Ways of Seeing. "The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled."

We know that Britain's official story – the one it keeps telling itself – is that it is a tolerant country with regards to race. This tolerance is not regarded as a work of progress but as an enduring expression of Britain's innate genius. This toleration had limits. It endured the presence of "different" kinds of people so long as they didn't make a difference.

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The Art Newspaper

Jan 12 2017
Five must-see shows at Condo 2017 in London
Jan Kiefer's Skiing Snowman (2016) will be on show at Union Pacific for Condo (Photo: courtesy of the artist and Union Pacific, London)
The second edition of Condo opens this weekend (until 11 February) with 15 London galleries hosting 36 of their international contemporaries. Galleries, from as far away as Shanghai and Guatemala City, will bring works by their artists and put on exhibitions in London spacesall for a fraction of the price of showing at an international fair. I was particularly interested in proposing Condo as one alternative model because I feel that the current structure galleries are expected to operate in favours big galleries that act as corporations, says Vanessa Carlos, the director of Londons Carlos/Ishikawa gallery who started Condo last year.

The London-wide exhibition has grown with the addition of seven more host spaces, including a number of more established galleries such as Sadie Coles HQ, Maureen Paley and Greengrassi. Cornelia Grassi came last year and said shed love to take part in the following year, which really surprised me. Before then it hadnt occurred to me to invite established galleries, Carlos says.

Condo is still largely focused on younger galleries because as a young gallery myself it felt natural to approach my friends and peers, and because undoubtedly younger galleries could use more support than established ones as they obviously are under more strain financially.

Five shows to visit at Condo 


Greengrassi hosting Proyectos Ultravioleta (Guatemala City)

There are some great curated collaborations this year, Carlos says, and among them is Guatemalas Proyectos Ultravioleta showing at Greengrassi. This group show titled These Architectures We Make will look at how our energy for building things often surpasses our energy for caretaking, according to a press statement. Among the six artists on show will be the Guatemalan artist Naufus Ramrez-Figueroawho recently had a solo exhibition at Gasworks featuring a giant glowing fingeras well as colourful geometric textiles by the Chilean artist Felipe Mujica complemented by Elizabeth Wilds magazine collages.

Chewdays hosting Galerie Max Mayer (Dsseldorf)

This small gallery, around the corner from Damien Hirsts Newport Street Gallery, is run by the curator Tobias Czudej, who has previously oraganised shows for Pace. Chewdays will host Dsseldorfs Galerie Max Mayer, run by the son of Hans Mayerfounder of the prestigious German gallery of the same name. Suitably following this theme, the young gallery has organised a group show spanning generations: from the 82-year-old Belgian artist Jef Geys to the young German duo Henning Fehr and Philipp Ruhr. The show also includes Nicols Guagnini, whose slide projection The Middle Class Goes To Heaven lends its title to the exhibition. Expect pressed flowers, images of brutalist architecture and an exploration of the Wal-Mart funded Crystal Bridges Museum.

Union Pacific hosting Misako & Rosen (Tokyo) and Jan Kaps (Cologne)

Returning to London is one of Misako & Rosens more colourful artists, Ken Kagami, who was one of the hits of 2015s Frieze art fair with his rapid-response drawings of visitors genitalia based on their first name (and external appearance). Kagami will be showing Comedy Klein (Chucky) (2016), mixing the spirit of Yves Kleins anthropometries with the creepy doll of the Chucky horror movies. The Tokyo gallery will also be exhibiting Motoyuki Daifus photographs. Works by Gene Beery and Violet Dennison from Colognes Jan Kaps gallery, will be joined by a huge blow-up snowman by Union Pacifics Jan Kiefer and surreal paintings by the Swiss artist Yoan Mudry.

The Sunday Painter hosting Jaqueline Martins (So Paulo), Seventeen (New York/London) and Stereo (Warsaw)

The Amsterdam-based, Brazilian artist Adriano Amaralwhose quiet but powerful interventions and minimal sculptures proved to be one of the lasting memories from the Royal College of Arts sculpture degree show in 2014returns to his former home city with Jaqueline Martins. Amaral, who is showing work made from modified UV lamps, will be joined by the US artist Daniel de Paula; The Sunday Painters Emma Hart; Seventeens Justin Fitzpatrick; and Stereos Wojciech Bkowski. In terms of materials, this promises to be one of the most diverse shows of the lot, including ceramics (Hart), a table and paintings (Fitzpatrick), drawings (Bkowski) as well as lottery tickets and scratch-cards (de Paula).

Carlos/Ishikawa hosting Tommy Simoens (Antwerp) and ShanghART (Shanghai)

In our case, the idea for the collaboration came from the artists themselves which was really nice, Carlos says. The gallery will be showing work by the Colombian-born Oscar Murillo, one of their most successful artists, who is now also represented by David Zwirner. Murillo, who will have a major show at Pariss Jeu de Paume in June, returns to the gallery that started showing his work while he was still studying for his MA. He will be exhibiting works alongside the Japanese artist Yutaka Sone from Antwerps Tommy Simoens gallery and the Chinese artist Ouyang Chun who is showing with Shanghais ShanghART
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The Guardian

Oct 26 2014
The big-eyed children: the extraordinary story of an epic art fraud
In the 1960s, Walter Keane was feted for his sentimental portraits that sold by the million. But in fact, his wife Margaret was the artist, working in virtual slavery to maintain his success. She tells her story, now the subject of a Tim Burton biopic

There’s a sweet, small suburban house in the vineyards of Napa, northern California. Inside, a family of devout Jehovah’s Witnesses bustles around, offering me a cheese plate. A Siamese cat weaves in and out of my legs. Everything is lovely. Sitting unobtrusively in the corner is 87-year-old Margaret Keane. “Would you like some macadamia nuts?” she asks. She hands me Jehovah’s Witness pamphlets too. “Jehovah looks after me every day,” she says. “I really feel it.” She is the last person you’d expect to be a participant in one of the great art frauds of the 20th century.

This story begins in Berlin in 1946. A young American named Walter Keane was in Europe to learn how to be a painter. And there he was, staring heartbroken at the big-eyed children fighting over scraps of food in the rubbish. As he would later write: “As if goaded by a kind of frantic despair, I sketched these dirty, ragged little victims of the war with their bruised, lacerated minds and bodies, their matted hair and runny noses. Here my life as a painter began in earnest.”

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The New York Times

Feb 22 2017
Art Review: A Bumpy Journey From Havana to New York Ends at ‘Wild Noise/Ruido Salvaje’
Although it claims to explore contemporary art in Cuba from the 1970s on, this show isn’t a representative survey. Wild and noisy are exactly what it is not.
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The Art Newspaper

Jan 26 2017
British artist John Akomfrah wins £40,000 Artes Mundi Prize
John Akomfrah in front of his film installation, Auto Da Fé (2016) (Image: © Polly Thomas)
Since it was founded in Wales in 2002, the biennial Artes Mundi Prize has produced winners that live up to its title: arts of the world. Xu Bing, the first winner, hails from China, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, the second, from Finland, N.S. Harsha from India, Yael Bartana from Israel, Teresa Margolles from Mexico, while last editions recipient was the Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates. For the first time in its history, this years winner is the British artist John Akomfrah, though the themes of his workwhich include migration, colonialisation and the environmentcould hardly be more international.

Akomfrah was announced as the winner of the 40,000 prize at a celebration Thursday evening at the National Museum Cardiff, the host of the Artes Mundi exhibition, alongside another Cardiff-based arts institution, Chapter (until 26 February). He is showing a powerful, 40-minute, two-screen video, Auto Da F (2016), which muses on the theme of mass migration over a 400-year period. I wanted to focus on the fact that many people have to leave because something terrible is happening, its not just about leaving for a better life, many people feel they have to leave to have a life at all, Akomfrah says.

Auto Da F was filmed on the island of Barbados, but refers obliquely to eight migrations, from the expulsion of the Sephardic Jews of Brazil in the 17th century, to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. The seductive visual nature of the film was very important, Akomfrah says. The look is critical, I thought a lot about the way that film would be migrated into the gallery setting, and its formal qualities. The work is divided into chapters which can be watched individually, or as part of the overall narrative.

Born in Accra, Ghana in 1957, Akfomfrah was a founder of the UKs Black Audio Film Collective in 1982, and has gone on to have a distinguished documentary and art film career, becoming an artist trustee of the Tate in 2015. The other shortlisted artists include Neil Beloufa, Amy Franceschini/Futurefarmers, Lamia Joreige, Nstio Mosquito and Bedwyr Williams.


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The Guardian

Feb 17 2017
‘People wanted to meet me and the donkey’: my role in a bestselling children's book

Susanne Schäfer-Limmer recalls finding a donkey on Rhodes, and how her father turned the story into a simple tale

I grew up in a village on the Greek island of Rhodes. My parents moved there from just outside Cologne in 1966, when I was a year old. They had wanted a more simple life, and they had been to Greece a few times and fallen in love with the Mediterranean light and Greek hospitality. Our house had no running water and only a little electricity, but we lived by the sea and it was beautiful.

One day, when I was two, we found a young donkey in the village. It had probably been abandoned by someone who couldn’t afford to keep it. We christened it Benjamin. I don’t know whose idea it was, but my father, Hans Limmer, and a Swedish friend of his in our village, Lennart Osbeck, thought it would be fun to make a children’s book about it – neither of them had written one before.

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The Telegraph

Feb 29 2016
Oscars 2016 race row: How representative is the Academy Awards?
Outrage and the #OscarsSoWhite boycott have engulfed the acting world after two years passing without a black person being nominated for the top awards - but how representative is the Oscars?
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The Guardian

Oct 26 2016
Gigantic $3m stained glass window charts history of knowledge

Tom Holdman’s ambitious artwork features thousands of buildings and famous figures from Sir Isaac Newton to Mr Bean

Among thousands of figures, buildings and scenes jostling for space in one of the most spectacular stained glass windows made in the past century, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, the Gherkin, Stonehenge, Alice looking up at the Cheshire Cat grinning in his tree, Queen Victoria, and Mr Bean admiring the Whistler’s Mother painting have all found a place, alongside Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Joan of Arc and the Kangxi emperor.

Related: Canterbury Cathedral's medieval window frame restored

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The Guardian

Nov 04 2016
Richard Hamilton’s Portrait Of Hugh Gaitskell: pop art goes agit-prop

The ghoulish collage of Portrait Of Hugh Gaitskell As A Famous Monster Of Filmland heralded a new chapter for 1960s art

This modern monster collages a blown-up photo of the 1960s Labour party leader Hugh Gaitskell with a painted hybrid of monster magazine bogeymen: a Phantom Of The Opera mask and an eye from a Jack The Ripper flick. The comically prim mouth and buckled chin are very much the politician’s own.

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The Guardian

Oct 28 2016
Carel Fabritius’s The Goldfinch: an unravelling illusion

The Delft School artist’s meta bird painting from 1654 found superstardom thanks to a 19th century critic – and Donna Tartt

This little bird is one of art history’s superstars, thanks to Théophile Thoré-Bürger, a 19th-century critic whose writing cemented the posthumous rep of its painter Carel Fabritius and fellow Delft School artist Vermeer. Most, however, will know it from Donna Tartt’s best-seller, though for much of the novel the painting is under wraps, more concept than object.

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The Guardian

Dec 02 2016
Rose Wylie’s Brazil Nut Choc: a rebel watercolour without a cause

The critic-riling octogenarian artist from Kent continues to paint whatever takes her fancy

Rose Wylie’s little chocolate brazil nut is round, shiny and appealing. However, it’s also a provocation, a rebel watercolour likely to rile any traditionalist critics who might condemn her work as worthy of a four-year-old – as Brian Sewell once did.

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The New York Times

Jan 26 2017
Art Review: When Predator and Prey Are One: A Brazilian Artist’s Fish Tale
Jonathas de Andrade’s video “O Peixe” depicts fishermen who use an uncommon technique to kill their catches. But this is not a show about fishing.
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The New York Times

Feb 06 2017
Making It: Valentine’s Day Inspiration: Pressed Flowers, on Paper
How the artist Kate Cadbury applies dried, homegrown petals to found photographs.
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The Guardian

Feb 10 2017
‘Quiffs were a must’: teddy boys and girls in London, 1955

Ted Burton and his friends pose for Ken Russell, the photographer and film director

This was taken when I was 16, near the Seventh Feathers Club in north Kensington, London, where we all lived. A sort of youth club run by well-to-do ladies, it was our world. I’d make a beeline for it every night of the week; I had left school a year earlier and was working on a site in west London, knocking down a bomb shelter.

At the club, we’d play table tennis until 8pm and then dance until 10. There was no alcohol, just soft drinks. I remember walking down the alley towards it and hearing Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis for the first time. It was so different from anything else; it was like being hit by something.

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The Guardian

Jan 13 2017
V&A's choice of Tristram Hunt seems less risky after a look at his CV

He is not steeped in museum management, but Hunt is a skilful communicator, and there is precedent for this type of appointment

Tristram Hunt’s appointment at the V&A is a surprise, particularly since he has no experience running a large organisation. But does that matter?

The answer is yes and no. Certainly Hunt will have to be a fast learner in getting to grips with the labyrinthine complexities of the world’s largest museum of art and design. The V&A’s vast collections are striking in their diversity, from a 1,000-year-old Egyptian rock crystal ewer to the original Joey puppet from the National Theatre’s production of War Horse.

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The Art Newspaper

Feb 03 2017
Associate Curator Medieval Art and Cloisters


THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART




 




EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES


_______________________________________________________________________


 





Associate Curator



 


GENERAL STATEMENT OF RESPONSIBILITIES & DUTIES:



The Associate Curator will either specialize in late medieval art (13th-16th century) or the arts of the Mediterranean world in the late antique through medieval periods. The ideal candidate is expected to be active as a scholar in his/her area of expertise, have a global perspective, interdisciplinary interests and a willingness to engage in diverse media. In addition, s/he will be required to work broadly across the collection in support of departmental and museum activities and have a demonstrated interest in comparative research and projects. As part of the curatorial team responsible for collections and programs at the Metropolitan Museum and at The Cloisters, s/he and will be responsible for performing all curatorial duties, including: researching, studying, interpreting, and publishing works in the collection under her/his curatorial responsibility; contributing to permanent collection installations; recommending acquisitions; reviewing and recommending loan requests; proposing future exhibitions and publications; and building and maintaining positive relations with colleagues in the museum/academic world, collectors, and patrons.


Primary Responsibilities and Duties:



      Participate in departmental assessment and acquisition initiatives, and collaborate closely with departmental colleagues on related aspects of collection development and stewardship


      Plan, research and stage exhibitions in cooperation with colleagues in the department and across the museum


      Lead scholarly research on and interpretation of objects under his/her curatorial responsibility, and work closely with collections and conservation staff on maintaining collection records and reviewing treatment recommendations


      Propose and contribute to departmental publications, including catalogue essays and entries, as well as other texts, printed and online


      Foster and maintain excellent working relationships with donors, patrons, collectors, colleagues from other international institutions and the scholarly community, dealers and other individuals involved with the interests of the Museum


      Participate in departmental fundraising as appropriate


      Contribute to departmental programs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters, including the Visiting Committee and other donor or supporter events


      Answer correspondence relating to collection in field of expertise; assist the public and visiting scholars with inquiries


      Interest in working closely with or mentoring fellows and interns


      Contribute to the Museum's public and educational programs (Learning, Volunteers, Digital Media, etc.)


      Collaborate with colleagues inside the museum on museum-wide programs and projects, including committee service.


      Other duties as assigned.



Requirements and Qualifications:


Experience and Skills:



      Minimum seven years' experience in a museum or academic institution required


      Demonstrated scholarly achievement including evidence of original research in field of specialization


      Demonstrated experience in conceiving and organizing exhibitions


      Excellent interpersonal and communication skills with museum colleagues, donors and general public


      Ability to create and maintain precise and widely researched records, proficiency in TMS desirable


      Demonstrated commitment to broad international engagement and learning


Knowledge and Education:



      PhD in Art History with a concentration in relevant field required


      Recognized achievement for expertise and scholarship in the field required


      Good working knowledge of appropriate languages required


      Strong record of publications in the field required


 


 


Please send cover letter, resume, and salary history to careers@metmuseum.org
with Associate Curator, Medieval Art and The Cloisters in the subject line.


 


 


The Metropolitan Museum of Art provides equal opportunity to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, mental or physical disability, pregnancy, alienage or citizenship status, marital status or domestic partner status, genetic information, genetic predisposition or carrier status, gender identity, HIV status, military status and any other category protected by law in all employment decisions, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, compensation, training and apprenticeship, promotion, upgrading, demotion, downgrading, transfer, lay-off and termination, and all other terms and conditions of employment.  AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and national service alumni encouraged to apply.


 
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 20 2017
Avian architecture at the Broad MSU
A male Purple Finch, a species that lives in Michigan from September through May (Photo: Cephas/Creative Commons)
Marc-Olivier Wahler, who took up the reins as the director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University (Broad MSU) in East Lansing last year, discussed a very unusual type of museum visitor at a press conference in New York last week: birds. The museum plans to partner with ten top architects this year to design and build birdhouses on the grounds of the museum and in the surrounding community, aiming to continue the project with a total of 50 architects over the next five years. The various species of migratory birds that pass through Michiganmany of which are now endangered due to climate change, habitat loss and pollutionare the intended (part-time) residents of these designer dwellings.

The museums plans for its human visitors include Wahlers dbut exhibition as director, The Transported Man (29 April-22 October 2017), which will feature works by 50 contemporary artistsincluding as Ugo Rondinone, Ryan Gander and Fernando Ortegathat question perception and belief. Wahler also hopes that the Broad MSU will expand in the future to have more space for exhibitions and education, emphasising the value of facilities where students can learn from real works of art rather than images on a screen or textbook, and has his sights set on existing spaces within walking distance of the museum.
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The Guardian

Feb 23 2017
'Wanton vandalism': why Neville and Giggs' Manchester towers are despised

With its flawed design and lack of affordable housing, the footballers’ St Michael’s project faces fierce opposition. But an investment-hungry council isn’t listening

From their Cheshire mansions’ bathroom taps to their radiant spray-tans, it’s a running gag that footballers have a thing for bronze. But now Manchester United heroes Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs want to take their love of lustre one step further and bestow on their home city a pair of colossal bronze skyscrapers, right opposite the town hall.

Related: Giggs and Neville skyscrapers 'threaten Manchester's heritage'

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artforum.com

Feb 16 2017
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The New York Times

Feb 24 2017
London Sales Will Gauge Art Market’s Health in Trump Era
Auctions of Impressionist, modern and Surrealist art at Sotheby’s and Christie’s will be the first major test of buoyancy since the inauguration in the U.S.
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The Guardian

Feb 24 2017
‘You do gush sometimes’: secrets of an Oscar engraver

Alex Yust on engraving Oscars for Alicia Vikander, Colin Firth, Anne Hathaway and other Hollywood stars

The Oscar bar, as I call it, has been going since 2010. As soon as the ceremony is over, the winners head upstairs from the theatre to the Governors Ball to have their statues engraved. There are a million press photographers taking pictures, and the A-listers’ people are trying to hurry things along, so there’s a lot of pressure. But the winners could not be more happy and relaxed. This is one of the best nights of their lives, the ultimate goal.

We wouldn’t have time to engrave each Oscar on the spot, so we pre-engrave the name of every nominee on to plaques beforehand. Each statue is given a serial number and, during the awards, one of the team records the number of each winner as it comes in.

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The Guardian

Feb 04 2017
Santiago Calatrava, the man redesigning Greenwich peninsula

The flamboyant Spanish architect whose Peninsula Place will be the centrepiece of a new £1bn development has a chequered history that includes swelling budgets, leaking roofs and falling tiles

In Dave Eggers’s novel The Circle, about a tech giant – an Apple-Google fusion – whose power runs out of control, you learn early on that its utopian campus includes a fountain by Santiago Calatrava. This detail is bang on. It tells you that the company wants an abstract symbol of progress, content-free art, the appearance of a benign patron, and has money to burn.

Calatrava is a maker of trophies, popular with cities keen to raise their profile with structures like bridges and railway stations whose functional purposes become the occasion for the display of curving, flying, hanging, waving shapes that he likes to compare to skeletons, or birds, or trees, or other things of nature. Sometimes his buildings have moving parts, roofs that open or sunshades that unfurl.

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The Guardian

Aug 19 2016
Art Aids America review – gay artists channel anguish, anger and intimacy

Bronx Museum, New York
Aids hit America’s artist community hard, and the suffering of the plague years of the 1980s is brought vividly to life in a flawed but vital exhibition

At first they called it Grid: a “gay-related immunodeficiency”, which started to appear in New York and California in 1982. That year 853 Americans, mostly gay men, died of a syndrome that President Reagan’s spokesman publicly dismissed as a joke. The next year it killed 2,304 people, and then 4,251. In the year 1985, more than 5,000 Americans died from complications from Aids, while a small group of activists and artists faced down governmental, medical and public indifference. “There are,” said one exhausted volunteer, “no success stories.”

No one has a fully convincing theory as to why gay men are so overrepresented among artists, writers and performers. But we are and, in the 1980s and early 1990s, Aids scythed through the American cultural landscape, wiping out a generation of creators and inspired others to mourn, memorialize, organize and fight back. Art Aids America, an exhibition on view at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, revisits those harrowing, death-trailed years, and argues that Aids changed the course of art history, not only through its casualties but through the response it galvanized. (The show was first seen at the Tacoma Art Museum, in Washington state.) It is far from a perfect exhibition, but it is a powerful one.

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The Guardian

Dec 01 2016
Guggenheim Helsinki museum plans rejected by city councillors

After five-hour talks, councillors vote 53-32 to kill off €150m addition to Guggenheim museums in Venice and Bilbao

Venice and Bilbao will remain the only Guggenheim museums in Europe for the foreseeable future after Helsinki finally buried a controversial plan for a striking new shrine to modern and contemporary art on the city’s waterfront.

After a stormy five-hour meeting lasting into the early hours of Thursday morning, city councillors voted by 53 to 32 to kill off the project, which had been fiercely contested in Finland since it was floated in 2011.

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The Guardian

Aug 13 2016
Liverpool Biennial 2016 review – it’s not up everyone’s street
Despite the city’s fine locations, the Liverpool Biennial is a bit of a mess – but a few jewels gleam amid the litter

For the edgy 21st-century arts curator, mad for site-specific installations, Liverpool is inordinately blessed with remarkable locations. A 19th-century oratory designed to resemble a Greek-Doric temple; a disused Victorian brewery beneath which there lies a lake some 40ft deep; a long abandoned art deco cinema, its ruby interior frozen in time as if its patrons, dressed in their Saturday best, might return at any moment: these are just a few of the city’s more extraordinary buildings, beautiful and mournful in almost equal measure. And also, more to the point, empty and available. But therein lies the catch, of course. If art is not to be upstaged by architecture, the work must either be truly extraordinary, or so powerfully bound to its site that the two can hardly be separated.

At my feet swirled little piles of litter: plastic bottles and cigarette butts, receipts and ringpulls

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The Guardian

Nov 21 2016
Monica Bonvicini review – S&M gear has kinks ironed out

Baltic, Gateshead
Between the power drills, leather tassels and saucy builders’ humour, Italian artist Monica Bonvicini lets sadomasochism hang heavy in the air. But the audience frustratingly ends up neither master nor slave

A Murano glass strap-on gleams under fluorescent light, in a play area with the gear all waiting: chains and black leather, a dangling noose and a body harness slung from the ceiling. I have been in S&M clubs like this, and so too has Monica Bonvicini. Since the 1990s such places have provided inspiration for her art. So too has the building site, the power tool and hardware store. As fetishistic as it is fun, muted as it is aggressive, her art is a kind of invitation. Her Baltic exhibition is a series of rumpus rooms, dark corners and sudden shocks. What are we waiting for?

But where have all the kinksters gone? Perhaps they have taken the advice given by the sculpture Bonvicini made for the 2012 London Olympics. The outdoor sculpture, in huge mirrored and LED-lit letters, just said “RUN”.

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The Guardian

Mar 04 2016
New York's Oculus transit hub soars, but it's a phoenix with a price tag

Gleaming and ambitious, Santiago Calatrava’s newly opened World Trade Center transportation hub is a symbol of optimism, but the project is beset by flaws

I despised the new World Trade Center transportation hub before I even saw it. It’s $2bn over budget, has suffered from construction problems and design compromises, it’s seven years late and still incomplete, and its architect, Santiago Calatrava, has left a trail of lawsuits and angry clients around the world.

Related: Inside the Oculus: World Trade Center transportation hub opens – in pictures

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The New York Times

Feb 03 2017
Virtual Reality Has Arrived in the Art World. Now What?
The latest technologies promise to uproot artistic conventions, but we’ve heard that before.
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