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The Art Newspaper

May 23 2017
Jeremy Deller's arsy anti-Tory poster
Political: Jeremy Deller's poster (courtesy @RichardBattye)

The mischief-maker behind a series of cheeky anti-Tory posters popping up across London in Peckham, Soho and Kentish Town has been revealed. The Turner prize winner Jeremy Deller is behind the hoardings which declare Strong and stable my arse, a reference to Theresa May, the Conservative party leader, who has parroted the strong and stable mantra as part of the UK election campaign. The posters, which were mounted by the FlyingLeaps organisation, are particularly timely as Mays leadership is under scrutiny following her recent U-turn on social care reforms. The street art is a big hit on social media with one tweeter expressing his admiration in no uncertain terms. Jeremy Deller young man, take a bow, says the impassioned poster fan. 
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artforum.com

May 23 2017
SLANT: Absolutely Fabulist
Jennifer Krasinski on Michael Portnoy's Character Assassination
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artforum.com

May 23 2017
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The Art Newspaper

May 23 2017
How the Royal Academy came close to selling its greatest treasure: Michelangelo's Taddei Tondo
Michelangelo's Taddei Tondo at the Royal Academy in the 1970s (Photo: Keystone Pictures USA / Alamy Stock Photo)
In the late 1970s the Royal Academy considered selling off its Michelangelo Taddei Tondo, which was then valued at 6mwell over twice what any work of art had ever fetched at auction. The record was held by Velzquezs Portrait of Juan de Pareja (around 1650), which had been bought by New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art for 2.3m in 1971. The academy valued its entire collection in 1977 for a total of 7.5m. The Michelangelo was then worth 5m, and its other 56 sculptures a total of just under 70,000. Constables landscape painting The Leaping Horse (1825), its second most valuable item, was valued at 800,000. By the following year, the Michelangelo valuation had been increased to 6m.

The academy was suffering serious financial problems at this time, and was seeking government support. In February 1978 the Queen, as the institutions formal patron, was warned: We could sell possessions, but this is a slippery slope. The only one which might solve the problem [the tondo] is looked upon by many as a national treasure.

In December 1978 the academys secretary, Sidney Hutchison, wrote to Drummonds Bank (with which it had a 675,000 overdraft): Very confidentially, if this official attempt for subsidy from the Government through the Arts Council should fail, my view is that the Academy would then have no alternative but to sell the Michelangelo Tondo for its worldwide market price, ie in the region of 6,000,000.

Lord Donaldson, the minister for the arts, pointed out that any assistance would have to come from the Arts Council, an arms length body. The council pleaded a shortage of cash and said grants could be given only if the government gave it extra money, which was not forthcoming. Fortunately, the academy took internal measures that gradually improved its financial situation and the sale idea was quietly dropped.

By this time, there had been a proposal to lend the Michelangelo to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, partly to help bring in donations from US supporters. The loan never happened, partly because of obstacles over a temporary export licence. Donaldson warned Hutchison that not only were there risks that the tondo might be stolen or damaged, but that the academy might receive and accept a substantial offer for the work from a US source.

The Michelangelo has still never been lent abroad, and probably never will be for conservation reasons, since there is a hairline crack on the reverse. There was considerable discussion with conservators about whether it could be lent to the National Gallery, but it was ultimately deemed safe. For its current loan, the tondo is covered by government indemnity. The sculptures value remains confidential but must currently be well over 100m.
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The Art Newspaper

May 23 2017
Pissarro painting in Gurlitt trove returned to heir of Max Heilbronn
An archival photograph of the Nazi-era art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, the father of Cornelius Gurlitt (Image: Photo: ROLF VENNENBERND/dpa)
A 1902 painting of the Seine by Camille Pissarro found in the Salzburg home of the reclusive hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt has been returned to the heir of Max Heilbronn, a Parisian businessman whose art collection was looted by the Nazis in 1942.
 
La Seine, vue du Pont-Neuf, au fond le Louvre was identified in 2015 as a looted work by researchers appointed by the German government to investigate the provenance of Gurlitts collection. It is the fourth work in the hoard to be returned to the heirs of the original owners.
 
It is good that we can return this work, the German culture minister Monika Grtters said in a statement announcing the restitution. We owe it to the victims of the Nazis and their descendants, because behind the history of every work of art there is a human history.
 
German customs authorities seized more than 1,200 works found in Gurlitts Munich apartment in 2012. Hundreds more were later discovered at his house in Salzburg. The elderly recluse had inherited the trove from his father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, an art dealer who worked for the Nazis and purchased looted art as well as buying from Jews who were desperate to fund their escape from Germany. Cornelius Gurlitt died in 2014 and bequeathed his collection to the Bern Kunstmuseum.
 
Research by a German government team so far indicates about another 150 artworks in the collection are strongly suspected of being looted or sold under duress, including works by Paul Czanne, Marc Chagall, Max Beckmann, Albert Drer, Edvard Munch, Max Liebermann, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas.
 
The Kunstmuseum and the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn plan to exhibit a selection of works from the trove in two shows opening in November.
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The Art Newspaper

May 23 2017
Prince Charles to support exhibitions about his two art-collecting predecessors
Anthony van Dyck's triple portrait of Charles I (1635-36) will be included in the Royal Academy show on Charles I (Photo: the Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)
The Prince of Wales, the future Charles III, is expected to accept an honorary role overseeing two exhibitions on illustrious royal collectors, Charles I (1600-49) and Charles II (1630-85). Although a decision has not been finalised, he is likely to head a committee of honour. The two shows are being separately organised by the Royal Academy of Arts and the Royal Collection. A joint launch event was held at Buckingham Palace yesterday (22 May).

For scheduling reasons, the Charles II show is opening first, with a Royal Collection exhibition at the Queens Gallery at Buckingham Palace (8 December-13 May 2018), to be followed shortly afterwards by Charles I at the RA (27 January-15 April 2018).
 
The RA show, Charles I: King and Collector, will reunite 150 works, of which 91 will be lent by the Royal Collection (its largest loan to a single exhibition since 1946). Most of the works owned by Charles I were sold off after the Stuart King was executed in 1649. Many ended up in foreign collections, and the Muse du Louvre in Paris and the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid are lending generously. Around a third of the foreign loans are works that are being reunited for the first time in nearly four centuries.
 
The other exhibition, Charles II: Art & Power, will comprise only Royal Collection works, since virtually all his paintings have remained there. Among key pieces will be a regal portrait of Charles II by John Michael Wright (around 1676), a Windsor Beauty portrait of Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland (around 1665) by Peter Lely and Pieter Bruegel the Elders Massacre of the Innocents (around 1565-67).
 
To accompany the pair of exhibitions, the art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon will be presenting a four-part BBC television series next year.
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The Art Newspaper

May 23 2017
Director








Director of the Whitworth and Manchester City Galleries


Competitive salary





The Whitworth Gallery, part of the University of Manchester, houses an internationally significant collection of modern art, textiles, watercolours, prints, drawings and sculpture. Extensively redeveloped in 2015, the Whitworth offers state-of-the-art facilities and is recognised as a leading cultural destination. Manchester Art Gallery, run by Manchester City Council, is one of countrys finest art museums. With more than 25,000 objects of fine art, decorative art and costume, it mixes works from the historic collections with the best international contemporary art.


Following the appointment of the current Director, Dr Maria Balshaw CBE, as Director of Tate, we are seeking an outstanding individual to lead the continued development of both galleries. Reporting to the Deputy President at the University of Manchester and accountable to the Deputy Chief Executive at the City Council, the successful candidate will be a well-respected artistic leader with a vision that will further the galleries regional, national and international reputation. S/he will be committed to making art accessible to all, and will instinctively understand and promote the galleries contribution to the higher education agenda and to supporting economic and social improvement.




Closing date:  Tuesday 20 June


For further details, please visit www.odgers.com/61996
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The Guardian

May 22 2017
Opening up: the HD floral erotica of Maisie Cousins – in pictures

Photographer Maisie Cousins brings irreverence and wit to the polite world of floral photography

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The New York Times

May 22 2017
Art Review: Venice Biennale: Whose Reflection Do You See?
This tame exhibition fails to capture the realities of a world that has changed drastically in recent months.
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The Art Newspaper

May 22 2017
This show is the bee’s knees
In 2014, the California-based artist Terry Arena began an on-going series of works based on the worrying phenomenon of colony collapse disorder, when worker bees disappear from a colonya crucial issue, since around one-third of food directly or indirectly depends on bee pollination. This dynamic relationship between insect, economics, and the dinner table is fascinating to me, she says in a statement. The series, called Symbiotic Crisis, includes intricate graphite drawings of bees, plants, fruits and various foodswhich Arena likens to nature studies and Old Master botanical drawingsmade on repurposed and gessoed food tins and platters. The Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, California is currently showing works from the project in the solo exhibition Not Just Bees (until 10 June). Arena is making new pieces for series during a concurrent residency in the museums adjacent studio space, where visitors can stop by and chat while she works. The artist has hit the 100-work mark in the series during her residency, and is progressively displaying the new works in the exhibition. The show is really an education, a spokeswoman says.
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The Art Newspaper

May 22 2017
Chris Killip’s chronicle of de-industrialised Britain
What I became, by default, was the photographer of the de-Industrial Revolution, says the artist Chris Killip, whose powerful black-and-white images of devastated working-class communities in northern England will be featured in a solo exhibition at the Getty Center in Los Angeles (Now Then: Chris Killip and the Making of In Flagrante, 23 May-13 August). The Getty owns a complete set of the 50 pictures in Killips 1988 book In Flagrante, which will form the core of the exhibition. Pictures from two related photo series, contact sheets, working prints and a documentary on Killip are also included.

Presented alongside the images from In Flagrante are three photographs that Killip chose to add to a 2015 re-edition of the book. One of those images shows a vandalised housing estate with children playing out front and graffiti that says: Bobby Sands Greedy Irish Pig. Killip rushed out to shoot the picture after learning that the hunger-striking Irish nationalist had died. I thought it was too much at the time, I didnt put it in, Killip says. Now, I just think its history.
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The Art Newspaper

May 22 2017
Santiago Sierra commemorates the Syrian war dead
Sierra's 120 Hours of Continuous Reading of a Telephone Book (2004)
The Spanish conceptual artist Santiago Sierra is staging a major performance that will last nine or ten days, during which the names of people who have died in the Syrian civil war will be read aloud. His new work, The Names of those Killed in the Syrian Conflict between 15th of March 2011 and 31st of December 2016, will take place in four locations. Pairs of Arabic speakers will read out a total of 144,308 names that have been compiled and verified by a team at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Sierra, who has produced two similar performances with the names of victims of war and occupation in Israel and Palestine, says he was inspired by the late Japanese artist On Kawaras One Million Years (1999)a memorial to everyone who has ever lived or will ever live. The work consists of a list of dates stretching one million years into the past and one million years into the future, compiled in books (a reading will take place at this years Venice Biennale).

Sierra says he was also moved by a deep shame about being European and seeing the infamy with which those fleeing from Syria or from any other disaster are treated. His work aims to honour the memory of those killed with a performance that is internationalist, monumental, radically pacifist and anti-militarist.

The performance began at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv on Sunday 21 May and continues at Wiener Festwochen in Vienna and Londons Lisson Gallery before concluding on 29 May in Buenos Aires at the performance biennial BP.17. The full performance is also being live-streamed online and at Padiglione dArte Contemporanea in Milan, where Sierras Mea Culpa survey is on show (until 4 June).

Lisson Gallerys space at 27 Bell Street will host a solo show of new work by Sierra on 7 July, and will remain open for the full 48 hours of the performance there on 25 and 26 May. Its a controversial subject as well as one that is live, says Emma Gifford-Mead, the gallerys head of exhibitions. Our location in London is close to Syrian communities and it will be interesting to see how they react to the performance.
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The Art Newspaper

May 22 2017
Dealer Perry Rubenstein cuts plea bargain, will serve jail time
Perry Rubenstein, 2013. Photo by Aleks Kocev/BFA/REX/Shutterstock
The art dealer Perry Rubenstein pleaded no contest to two counts of grand theft by embezzlement in a Los Angeles County court on 23 March, a deal that led to the dismissal of other ancillary charges, and his receiving, on 22 May, a sentence of 180 days in a private jail facility, and three years of formal probation. Rubenstein also paid $1,142,500 in restitution to two of his victims, Michael Ovitz and Michael Salke.

The criminal charges related to Rubenstein's bankruptcy, declared in 2014. Rubenstein had a successful career as a dealer in New York but, as his financial records now show, he got in over his head shortly after moving his eponymous gallery to Los Angeles in 2012.

The collector and entertainment executive Michael Ovitz was among those seeking money from Rubenstein after he failed to turn over the proceeds from the sale of two Richard Prince works for $975,000. Rubenstein and Ovitz settled in March 2016, but Rubenstein was arrested in relation to the Ovitz dealings one month later on charges that he had stolen the Prince paintings, as the collector reported on insurance claims seeking $4.1m.

Beginning in 2012, Rubenstein was the intermediary in the sale of a Takashi Murakami scroll painting from the collection of Michael Salke. The Broad Foundation bought the work for $825,000, but Rubenstein did not turn over all the proceeds to Salke.
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The Art Newspaper

May 22 2017
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The Art Newspaper

May 22 2017
Will the Royal Academy give Michelangelo's masterpiece the setting it deserves?
During its loan to the National Gallery, the Taddei Tondo has been prominently displayed in a better-designed case (Image: National Gallery)
The Royal Academys Michelangelo sculpture, one of the UKs greatest art treasures, is to remain on loan to the National Gallery until the end of the year. The Taddei Tondo, named after the Florentine owner who commissioned it, had been expected to return to the Royal Academy after the National Gallerys current Michelangelo & Sebastiano exhibition closes on 25 June, but the tondo is now scheduled to return home after the completion of the current building work at the academy. (This is only the second time since 1830 that the Michelangelo has been lent.)

For the past 26 years, the tondo, which depicts the Virgin, the Christ Child and Saint John, has been displayed at the academy near the entrance to its Sackler galleries, where it has been overlooked by most visitors. Further impeding its appreciation was the greenish tinge of the bullet-proof glass used to protect it. Now the National Gallery has finally given the work a proper display in a better-designed case.

RAs 250th anniversary



Over the past few months, there has been considerable internal debate at the Royal Academy over how the tondo should be displayed on its return. The initial idea was to place it in an underground passage linking the main Burlington Gardens building to Burlington House behind. This corridor will also be used to display casts. 

However, concerns then arose that Michelangelos only marble sculpture in the UK should not be presented alongside reproductions. Alison Cole, an independent art historian who has just written a book on the Taddei Tondo, says that as one of Britains greatest treasures it should be prominently displayed.

There has now been a change of heart and the Michelangelo is likely to go into the main collections gallery on the upper floor of Burlington Gardens. This will be opened in 2018 as part of the celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of the academys foundation in 1768. 

The tondo was commissioned by the Florentine nobleman Taddeo Taddei and made in 1504-05. It was bequeathed to the Royal Academy by the collector George Beaumont.
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The Art Newspaper

May 22 2017
ArteBA hopes to build on growing visibility of Argentinian art
El obrero caído (1953) by the Argentinian artist Antonio Berni
Argentinian art is gaining international recognition this year, notably featuring at the Venice Biennale, Documenta in Kassel and Pacific Standard Time LA/LA in southern California. On the commercial front, Argentina was the guest country at the Arco fair in Madrid in February, while Art Basel is partnering with Buenos Aires on its new Art Basel Cities initiative.

The organisers of the ArteBA fair, founded 26 years ago, hope to build on this newfound visibility on the international circuit. Fair director Julia Converti says the pulse of artistic production and the sex appeal of Buenos Aires is part of the international pull. Local support is multiplying, and so are new audiences who are interested in contemporary art around the world.

Fairgoers can expect a range of works by international and Argentinian artists, including paintings by the Argentinian figurative artist Antonio Berni (Galera Sur) and photographs by the Buenos Aires-based artist Toms Maglione (Ruth Benzacar Galera de Arte).

More than half of the galleries at ArteBA are international this year, similar to last year, with 17 countries represented. Newcomers include Steve Turner from Los Angeles, Klemms from Berlin, and Galera Cayn from Madrid.

Despite a flourishing art scene, Argentina has a relatively subdued art market thanks to a struggling economy. Figures from last years fair are cause for hope, however. The 2016 event drew 100,000 visitorsmore than Frieze London or Art Basel in Baseland 53 works were bought by 23 museums and organisations through the fairs acquisition programme.


ArteBA, La Rural, 2704 Sarmiento Avenue, 24-27 May
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The Art Newspaper

May 22 2017
Rediscovered Rodin sculpture surfaces at auction
Andromède (1887) by Auguste Rodin, consigned by the Lynch de Morla family, will be auctioned by Artcurial in Paris on 30 May 2017. Photo courtesy of Artcurial.
A marble Rodin sculpture, Andromde (1887), owned by the same family since 1888, will be auctioned by Artcurial in Paris on 30 May. The whereabouts of the small-scale sculpture, which has never been exhibited, had been unknown. For Artcurial, the salecoinciding with the centenary of Rodins death and an exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris (till 31 July)represents a rediscovery. Carved in Carrara marble, the piece is estimated at 800,000 to 1.2m.

The sensual sculpture of a young, nude woman draped over a rock, based on the Greek myth of Andromeda chained to a rock and rescued by Perseus, was a gift from the artist to Carlos Morla Vicua, a Chilean diplomat posted to Paris. Morlas great-grandchildren in Madrid are selling the sculpture after approaching Artcurial at the end of 2016.

They wanted to do an inventory and estimation of [works] in their possession, says Bruno Jaubert, Artcurials director of Impressionist and Modern art, who travelled to Madrid with Stphane Aubert, Artcurials inventories director, to see the Andromde and verify its authenticity. In the 1920s and 1930s, Georges Grappe, then curator of the Muse Rodin, knew about this Andromde, but didnt know if it had stayed in Europe or gone to South America, the US or Chile.

The history behind the piece harks back to Morla asking Rodin to produce a portrait sculpture of his wife, Luisa. The sculpture was exhibited at the Salon national des Beaux-Arts in 1888, and the French state wanted to acquire it for the Muse du Luxembourg. Morla agreed to relinquish the bust, which now belongs to the Muse dOrsay, and Rodin gifted the Andromde to him in thanks. (Rodin also gave Morla the scale model for a bronze equestrian statue of General Patricio Lynch, commissioned by the Chilean state but never realised; it also features in the Artcurial sale.)

The Andromde invites a 360-degree viewing as it is carved to be seen from every angle. The smoothness of the delicate body contrasts with the rawness of the base, which is adorned with cascades of water and foliage, and is inscribed with the year 1887.

Its a little marvel, says Jaubert. Whats beautiful is that each side is different. You have several sculptures at once and need to turn it around. Its intimate size is for the private sphere as it doesnt require much space.

Between around 1885 and 1900, Rodin made four other unique marble Andromde sculptures. Evoking feminine beauty, each was commissioned by a collector and differs from the others in detail. The first, initially owned by Roger Marx, is at the Philadelphia Rodin Museum. Another, commissioned by Maurice Fenaille, is at the Muse Rodin in Paris. A third, originally owned by Jacques Zoubaloff, is at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires. The fourth, formerly belonging to the Gabriel Hanotaux collection, was auctioned at Christies New York in 2006 for $3m.

Andromde is on view at Artcurial, Paris, from 26 to 30 May 2017.
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artforum.com

May 22 2017
500 WORDS: Martine Syms
Martine Syms discusses her Projects exhibition at MoMA
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The New York Times

May 22 2017
Mark Ryden’s Stage Confections at Paul Kasmin Gallery
Mr. Ryden designed the backdrops, props and costumes for the ballet “Whipped Cream,” and the Paul Kasmin Gallery is presenting an exhibition of his work.
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The New York Times

May 22 2017
Charles Ray Joins Ancient and Contemporary in Sculpture Debut in Rome
Mr. Ray, an American artist, showed two sculptures that he said had been informed by his reflections on two works of antiquity.
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The Guardian

May 22 2017
Hokusai Beyond the Great Wave – review: a genius imprisoned by his greatest hit

The Japanese master’s youthful works are sublime. So why is the British Museum’s show obsessed with his twilight years?

There is a moment in this exhibition when, without any fanfare or drama, you see the birth of modern art. It happens as naturally as a sudden gust or a spring shower. Afterwards people go on carrying bundles over bridges or chatting in the pleasure district, but everything has changed. A new kind of beauty is born.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) was one of the most renowned of Japan’s woodblock print artists, whose influence on European avant garde in the age of Vincent Van Gogh is famous. Yet these brilliant designers who emerged from the pleasure district of Edo (now Tokyo) in the 18th and 19th centuries remain curiously enigmatic. What were they really like as individuals? How did Hokusai develop, and how does his art express his life?

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The Guardian

May 22 2017
An 'impossible dream': Charles I's art collection to be brought back to UK

Most important British regal art collection in history, scattered by Cromwell, to be temporarily reassembled for exhibition

Artworks acquired by Charles I which were sold off by Oliver Cromwell’s republican government are to return to the UK for a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition of one of the most stupendous art collections ever created.

The Charles I exhibition, a collaboration between the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) and the Royal Collection Trust, will reunite spectacular works by artists such as Titian, Van Dyck, Rubens, Holbein and Mantegna, some of which are coming to Britain for the first time in nearly 400 years.

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artforum.com

May 22 2017
FILM: Who Runs the World?
Charlie Fox on Bruce LaBruce’s The Misandrists
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The Guardian

May 22 2017
Jeremy Deller behind 'strong and stable my arse' posters in London

Turner prize-winning artist says he hopes posters are self-explanatory – especially after Theresa May’s social care U-turn

Posters bearing the words “strong and stable my arse” which were spotted across London over the weekend are the work of the artist Jeremy Deller.

Passersby began tweeting pictures of the posters from Peckham to Soho to Kentish Town on Friday, but the question was: who was behind them?

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The New York Times

May 22 2017
Ai Weiwei’s Lego Portraits of Activists Head to the Hirshhorn Museum
“Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn,” a focused but sprawling exhibition of recent works, will open at the Smithsonian’s contemporary art museum on June 28.
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artforum.com

May 22 2017
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artforum.com

May 22 2017
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The Art Newspaper

May 22 2017
The art Donald Trump saw during his state visit to Saudi Arabia
Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud with US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania at an art exhibition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Image: Photo by Balkis Press/abacapress.com)
The Saudi Arabian government presented two exhibitions of contemporary art especially for Donald Trump and his wife Melania during their current official state visit. Both exhibitions coincided with the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh where Trump delivered a speech on Saturday (20 May), which focused on fighting terrorism. The General Entertainment Authority, Saudis government agency responsible for entertainment and leisure activities, is behind both exhibitions.
 
The Art Newspaper understands that the first exhibition was supported by officials at the King Abdulaziz Centre in Dhahran, eastern Saudi Arabia, the cultural institution funded by the Aramco oil conglomerate which is scheduled to open later this year.
 
The show, held in Riyadhs Royal Protocol Palace (Diwan al-Malaki), includes works by 17 mainly male artists, including Abdullah Al-Othman, and the high-profile Jeddah-based practitioner Ahmed Mater, known for his controversial photographic series Desert of Pharan (2011-13). Women artists featured include Dana Awartani and Nouf Semari. Some of the works were shown in the US last year as part of the Bridges initiative.
 
A source close to the Saudi art scene says: The artists understand the importance, and risks, in presenting their work. Its a very significant thing for the Saudi government to push artcontemporary Islamic art at the fronton Trump at this time. 
 
Al-Othman is showing a photograph of a site-specific work located in Al-Balad, Jeddahs historic downtown district which featured in the 21,39 contemporary art festival earlier this year. For the piece, entitled Suspended, Al-Othman wrapped an entire building, originally used as shelter for widows and divorced women, in tin foil.
 
Trump liked the piece, according to the artist. Were offering Saudi art to the world. Art opens doors to the social and political life of people. Presenting our art at the beginning of such an important event shows how art can play a powerful and influential part," Al-Othman says. 
 
Meanwhile, a second exhibition of contemporary art, organised by the independent curators Aya Alireza and Raneem Farsi, opened at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. According to a statement: Aya and Raneem tracked down iconic work of contemporary Saudi art from past exhibitions that took place over the course of the past ten years or so, some of which have never been exhibited in Saudi before; many more are seen in Riyadh for the first time. Works on show in the Retroactive exhibition include Maha Malluhs Abwab (2012) and Abdulnasser Gharems stamp painting In-Transit (2011). Ahmad Angawi is showing two versions of his lenticular photograph Wijha 2:148 in both exhibitions.
 
During the state visit, Donald Trump says he has signed deals worth more than $350bn with the Saudi government, including a $110bn arms deal. Trump has called for Muslims travelling from six countries to be banned from entering the US over security concerns (the list does not include Saudi Arabia). 
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The Art Newspaper

May 22 2017
Gilbert & George bring battle of cultures to Berlin church
Gilbert & George inside the St. Matthäus-Kirche Berlin (Image: © Daniel Biskup)
The British art duo Gilbert & George were not initially convinced it was a good idea to show their work in a church. They are generally anti-religion. But, as George points out, faith in the church is out there and to deny its existence would be futile.
 
What convinced us is that we could cover up the windows with our pictures, says Gilbert. Our pictures are like windows on the soul.
 
The couples Scapegoating Pictures, produced in 2013, are on display in the darkened nave of the 19th-century St. Matthews Church by Berlins Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz. They are part of an exhibition called Luther and the Avant Garde, in Berlin, Kassel and the eastern German town of Wittenberg from 19 May to 17 September. It is one of dozens of shows across the country marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
 
The mostly black, white and red images depicting the multi-faith, multi-cultural streets of Londons East End are filled with small bomb-like canisterssometimes raining down like bullets, sometimes neatly arranged in rows. The canisters are in fact used containers of nitrous oxide, a street drug sometimes known as hippie crack. Women in burqas also feature in the picturesas do the artists themselves, sometimes fragmented, sometimes complete but with their suits crammed with rows of canisters. Some works contain provocative texts, such as a call to fight Islamophobia, or an Islamic State proclamation of success in the Muslim takeover of Britain.

  
For Gilbert & George, dressed in tweed suits for the opening press conference, the dominant issue of our era is the clash between Islamic and Western cultures. Its not going to go away in a lifetime, George says, adding that the pair feel very privileged that we live in the turmoil.
 
Their home in East London is at the centre of their art. At one end of the street is the mosque, at the other end is the church, Gilbert says. He recalls that 30 years ago, the vicar of the church described the duo as sick, sad and serious. These days, the same church is available to rent for events at 8,000 an evening; the artists threw a party there after their Tate Modern show in 2007. It was a final revenge, George says, smiling.
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The Guardian

May 21 2017
Third culture clash: Mehdi Bahmed's identity crisis – in pictures

With troubling, dreamlike compositions, French photographer Mehdi Bahmed conveys the awkwardness of being caught between western and Arab identity

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The Guardian

May 21 2017
Great Australian photographs: Trent Parke – an audio essay

In the latest chapter in our audiovisual series on celebrated Australian photographs, we look at the images of Magnum member Trent Parke

Click on the audio buttons to hear conversations between the Guardian Australia picture editor, Jonny Weeks, the Guardian Australia photographer, Mike Bowers, the senior curator of photography at the National Gallery of Australia, Shaune Lakin, and the curator at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Pippa Milne.

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The Art Newspaper

May 21 2017
Another barn storm over Schwitters
Kurt Schwitters’ Merz Barn in the Lake District of Northern England might be sold (Image: © Littoral)
Kurt Schwitterss Merz Barn in the Lake District of Northern England is under threat of being sold on the open market after Arts Council England (ACE) rejected a funding application for the site for the fourth time.

The artists Ian Hunter and Celia Larner, who run and fund the site as the charity the Littoral Arts Trust, feel strongly that it should be maintained and kept open to the public rather than sold.

After three rejections by the ACE, Hunter and Larner were formally invited to apply for another round of funding by the former ACE president Sir Peter Bazalgette. They were paid 34,000 to take part in an independent study regarding future funding, 45% of which they had to match. The ACE has supported the project in the past to the tune of 240,000.

One of the main reasons that funding has been repeatedly rejected is that the only completed interior wall of the Merz BarnSchwitters intended to transform the whole building into a work of artwas removed in 1958 and placed in the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne as it was at risk of damage at its original location. 

In 2016, after the barn was severely damaged during a storm, Hunter launched an appeal and raised 65,000 for repairs. Gmurzynska Gallery donated 25,000 to the cause at the request of the late architect Zaha Hadid, the rest was donated by local foundations and international donors.

At that time, the Littoral Arts Trust had no funding and was supporting the project through artists' pensions and proceeds of the sale of one of the trusts founders homes. 

We were in a deficit situation then and we are in a deficit situation now and we are looking at using money from our pensions to support the project, Hunter says.

As a fourth application has now been rejected, the artists are looking to draw public attention to the Merz Barn and highlight its value as a cultural site by keeping it permanently open to visitors. Prior to this the site was open from 10am until 5pm when staffed and visitors could call ahead to ensure entry.

Schwitters built two complete Merz Barns during his lifetime. He constructed the first in his parents home in Hanover before he fled Nazi Germany in 1937 for Norway, where he built a second one near Oslo before he had to flee again when the Nazis invaded in 1940. Both were subsequently destroyed, the first in a bombing raid during the war and the second in a fire in 1950.

He embarked on the final incomplete one in Elterwater in the Lake District after his exile to England, where he lived out the rest of his life until his death in 1948. 

The Elterwater Merz Bau is considered to be one of the first art installations and it is also a poignant record of Schwitterss passage as a refugee from Germany, through Norway to the UK.

We put it to the Arts Council that if they keep turning us down for funding then we will have no other alternative but to sell the Merz Barn, Hunter says. 
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The Art Newspaper

May 21 2017
Matt Carey-Williams quits Phillips for Blain Southern
Matt Carey-Williams
Matt Carey-Williams, who joined Phillips from White Cube in 2015, is going back to the gallery world and will start at Blain Southern in London as a director in September. The move, only two-and-a-half years after Carey-Williams became Phillipss deputy chairman for Europe and Asia, is the auction houses first high-profile departure from London since Edward Dolman joined as chief executive in 2014.
 
Phillips is and will continue to be a vibrant part of the art world, but for me there is nothing that replaces the thrill of working with artists, Carey-Williams says.
 
The move to Blain Southern is something of a homecoming for him. He started working for co-founders Harry Blain and Graham Southern at Haunch of Venison in 2006, the year before they sold the gallery to Christies. Blain and Southern left in 2010 and Carey-Williams in 2012; Christies closed the gallery in 2013.
 
During his time at Haunch of Venison, Carey-Williams worked with artists including Mat Collishaw, Rachel Howard and Bill Viola, who are still in the Blain Southern fold. At White Cube between 2012 and 2015, he worked with Jake & Dinos Chapman, who moved to Blain Southern earlier this year. Carey-Williams says it was Jake Chapman who initially put forward the idea of working together again.
 
Phillips has mostly been the beneficiary of the shake-ups at Sothebys and Christies over the past 18 months, which have included several senior staff defections. Phillipss big-hitting hires have included Cheyenne Westphal, who joined as its chairman, having headed Sothebys contemporary art department, two months ago. Carey-Williams stresses that Westphals appointment was not a factor in his decision. I have the highest admiration for her, he adds.
 
Dolman says: Phillips would like to thank Matt for his many contributions over the last two years and we wish him every success for the future. He says that Carey-Williams played a strong role in the auction houses sales in New York last week.
 
Carey-Williams is currently in Hong Kong supporting Phillipss 20th-century and contemporary art and design sale on Sunday. He leaves the auction house at the end of this month.
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The Art Newspaper

May 21 2017
Life as a refugee: VR experience lined up for Lacma and Prada
Alejandro Iñárritu. courtesy: Bart Michiels

A seven-minute virtual reality piece by the Oscar-winning director Alejandro Irritu putting you in the shoes of Mexican refugees will be shown at the Fondazione Prada in Milan and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma). According to the trade magazine Variety, participants edge along the US/Mexico border pursued by border guards and helicopters in the disturbing VR piece, entitled Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible). The big mistake of VR is that it has been considered an extension of cinema, Irritu said. It has been considered a promotional tool. It has been devalued. This is an art in itself. Fondazione Prada and the media company Legendary Entertainment have funded the edgy VR work. The piece, unveiled last week at the Cannes film festival, will be shown at the Prada Foundation in Milan from next month (7 June-15 January 2018); timed tickets will be available for the Lacma stint which is due to launch 2 July. 
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The Guardian

May 21 2017
The celebrity passport photo office: ‘Errol Flynn just said, Yep! It’s me!’

From Uri Geller, who bent the shop’s only spoon, to the Beatles, Arnie and Joan Collins, a small London shop near the US embassy has been taking passport snaps for the famous since 1953

In a two-room, white-walled basement off Oxford Street in central London, behind the Dyson showroom, is a tiny portrait gallery, and if Philip Sharkey has a few minutes he will show you around.

“That’s Alec Guinness,” he says, pointing at a miniature print of the steely-eyed actor. “That’s Peter O’ TooleLena Horne. All four Beatles. Mia Farrow. Woody Allen is on a separate wall. Arnold Schwarzenegger. That was for his green card, in 1977.”

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The Guardian

May 21 2017
Sir Peter Blake: ‘All a country has is its culture; the rest is infrastructure’

On the eve of Sgt Pepper’s half-century, the pop artist shares stories of his classic album sleeve, snubbing Warhol and why he hasn’t paid a bill in Mr Chow for 50 years

I meet Sir Peter Blake in Mr Chow, the institution of a Chinese restaurant opposite One Hyde Park, where flats sell for £75m. Blake knew the restaurant’s eponymous owner in leaner times. He first met Michael Chow, he explains as we sit down, when the restaurateur was living on a camp bed in the garage of the painter Victor Pasmore by the Thames at Chiswick. Blake and his friend Richard Lin went to supper in the garage, a glorious meal that Chow cooked on a single paraffin burner on the dirt floor. Both Lin and Chow were artists and political refugees from Mao’s China, where Michael’s father had been a leading performer in the Peking Opera. Ten years after that meal, in 1967, Blake was a guest of honour at the opening of this restaurant; Chow later opened in Beverly Hills and New York.

To decorate the restaurant back then, Chow invited his artist friends to donate paintings for the walls in exchange for food. Blake was then at the height of his fame as a pop artist in the year of Sgt Pepper; among other things he made a portrait of Chow as part of his “wrestlers series” (Frisco and Lorenzo Wong and Wildman Mr Chow). The deal proved a good one on both sides. Blake’s paintings have only increased in value, and his tab has never run out. (The same cannot be said for another, nameless, artist. “He ate his share in two weeks,” Blake says. “He brought 20 people a night and drank the best champagne and that was that. With me, it has gone on for ever.”)

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The Guardian

May 21 2017
Photographer Susan Meiselas on documenting women’s refuges

The revered Magnum photojournalist spent several months in Black Country shelters, working with residents on a new book, A Room of Their Own

By her own account, it took Susan Meiselas, a celebrated Magnum photographer and former recipient of a MacArthur “genius” fellowship , some time to get interested in the Black Country. Invited by Multistory, a community arts charity based in Sandwell, near Birmingham, to seek inspiration there – the organisation has previously worked with other Magnum photographers, including Martin Parr – initially, she found herself just a touch underwhelmed.

“My first trip didn’t exactly give me the sense that I should return there tomorrow,” she says. “I couldn’t grab on to anything; nothing held me. But Emma Chetcuti [Multistory’s director] is persistent. The next year, she said: ‘Why don’t you give it another try?’ This time, I did some reading first, which is how I found out about the high rates of domestic violence in the region.” Finally, she felt she was getting somewhere: “This connected to a 1990 project of mine, when I worked on the same issue in San Francisco.” (Meiselas is American, born in Baltimore.)

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The Guardian

May 21 2017
In the shadows: your pictures on the theme of 'dark'

For last week’s photography assignment in the Observer New Review we asked you to share your photos on the theme of dark via GuardianWitness. Here’s a selection of our favourites

  • Share your photos on this week’s theme ‘vibrant’ by clicking the button below
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The Guardian

May 21 2017
Frank Lloyd Wright: fantasist or genius?

As an exhibition in New York marks 150 years since the birth of Frank Lloyd Wright, is it time for a reappraisal of this flawed hero of modernist architecture?

“June 8 1869 will for ever mark the beginning of a new epoch for the world,” gushed Olgivanna, third wife of Frank Lloyd Wright. On this day, she said, “a great gift was bestowed” – she meant her husband – a man who “led his fellows to the creative forms of a way of life which liberated man from being imprisoned in his own dwelling”. She was echoing an often-stated view, not least by Wright himself, that he was a great, great man, a genius.

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