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The Art Newspaper

Apr 03 2017
No smoke without fire: Documenta 14 unveils first work in Kassel
Daniel Knorr's Expiration Movement (2017) is the first work to be unveiled for Documenta 14 in Kassel (Image: Bernd Borchardt)
After months of secrecy, Documenta 14 has given the public another glimpse of its exhibition programme with the unveiling of the first work in Kassel, Germany. The installation by the Romanian-born, Berlin-based artist Daniel Knorr marks the beginning of the prestigious quinquennial contemporary art exhibition, which this year is split between the cities of Athens and Kassel. It kicks off in Athens on 8 April (until 16 July) and in Kassel, where it was launched in 1955, on 10 June (until 17 September). In line with previous editions of Documenta, the full artist list is kept under wraps.

Expiration Movement (2017) will turn the tower of the Fridericianumthe shows main exhibition venue in Kasselinto a chimney, from which smoke machines will blow white smoke during the opening hours of the show in both Athens and Kassel. The idea is that its the opposite of inspiration, Knorr says, Its a moment of letting go. The smoking chimney is also meant to refer to the signal that a new pope has been elected as well as the conclave of Rothwesten, a secret meeting held near Kassel after the Second World War that resulted in the creation of the Deutsche Mark. The artist intends the work to remind viewers of the Nazis burning of books and the crematoriums at concentration camps. But [smoke] is also a sign of freedom, he says of his multi-layered concept. 

Knorr's work in Greece, meanwhile, entails collecting discarded objects from the streets of Athens, then inserting and pressing them into books. They will be sold during the show and will finance the production of the smoke in the Fridericianum in Kassel. The publications continue the theme of archaeology that he has explored in his previous work. For the books, which he has already produced in ten other countries, Knorr scoured the streets of Athens looking for everyday objects. His discoveries included a 22-millimetre gun, a gun holster, childrens drawings from the 1930s, but also more common objects such as empty coke cans and business papers. Some of these will go on show at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens and the Odeion Music School this week, while others will be pressed into the 16cm x 23cm books. 

The books will be on sale at both Documenta venues, and for those looking for a bargain, they will be priced at 79 in Athens but 99 in Kassel. Everything is cheaper in Greece, Knorr says.


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The Art Newspaper

Apr 03 2017
'Critics say Pop artists love their subject matter. Bullshit!' Remembering James Rosenquist
Pop artist James Rosenquist at his retrospective in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 2004 (Image: AFP PHOTO / RAFA RIVAS  (Photo credit should read RAFA RIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
In late 2003, the artist James Rosenquist who died on 31 March aged 83, told us about seeing his large-scale works return to New York for a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, which later travelled to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. He recalled first seeing Old Masters at the Art Institute of Chicago and earning a living in New York in the late 1950s painting billboards before he achieved success translating the imagery and scale of American advertising into memorable works on canvas, including a room-sized response to the Vietnam War, the 86-foor-long painting F-111 (1965). 

The Art Newspaper: After you studied at the Art Students League you earned a living painting billboards before becoming a Pop artist.  

James Rosenquist:
I was so sick and tired of painting advertisements; I wasnt celebrating it at all. You know, some critics say Pop artists love their subject matterBullshit! I just hated it. In 1957, I was working for General Outdoor Advertising having to paint this big whisky bottle above every candy store in Brooklyn. I got up to about number 50 and was so tired of doing the same shine on every bottle. There was a text on its label, This spirit is made from finest grains, and instead I wrote Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow. I painted 147 of the damn things. The other sign painters didnt know what I was up to. We were once on the Expressway, painting a huge billboard all grey. I was 23, the other sign-painters were old guys. Without them knowing, I put in a little bit of green paint, some red, some yellow, into each of their pots. When we walked away, I said Hey, you guys, look back there! It had this beautiful patchwork effect, it reminds me now of a Jasper Johns. The other sign painters went, Oh no! It must be some sort of weird chemistry! Well all get fired!

As well as the Guggenheim retrospective, you have four solo shows in commercial galleries. How does it feel seeing such a huge body of your work all over New York?

Well, I had my first retrospective at the National Gallery of Ottawa in 1967 and Ive had other retrospectives in Cologne and Chicago, but New York is the place. In 1991, I had a huge show in Moscow and the insurance for the whole damn show was only $58,000. [Guggenheim director] Thomas Krens asked me to have this show six years ago, when the economy was down; then there was the tragedy of the World Trade Center, so now insurance prices are sky high and the paintings have come from Europe each with its own individual courier. I look at these paintings of mine with these couriers, and its so funny that I sold them back then for $750, or maybe $1,000, and now theyre insured for $1 million. Thats really hilarious!

Presumably you have not seen some of these works for years?

Some Ive not seen for decades and Im amazed theyre in pretty good shape, because museums and people have really taken good care of them. Also, I use British oil paints that just last longer. At the 1963 Worlds Fair in New York Philip Johnson asked me to do a big outdoor painting. I tested various brands of paint to see how they would stand up outside; some yellows turned to brown over a few years. But Windsor & Newton stand up years later, they are still bright against wind and sand. So I have a limited palate now of just nine Windsor & Newton colours and one Dutch, and thats it.

Up close the texture of your paintings can be very lush, but in reproduction they look as if they could almost be done by spray can.

When I was young and hadnt yet seen any Old Master paintings except in reproduction, I hitchhiked to the Art Institute in Chicago and realised for the first time that these were smeary, sloppy, heavily brushed paintings. They certainly didnt look like that in the photographs Id seen, and that was a real revelation. As I tell young people, some of the finest paintings in the world were done merely with raw minerals mixed in oil with hair from the back of a pigs ear, with pig bristle. Some of the very finest drawings in the Albertina in Austria are made just with burnt wood on parchment. An amazing illusion can still be created from that simplicity.

This is an edited version of an interview by Adrian Dannatt that first appeared in The Art Newspaper in November 2003
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The New York Times

Apr 03 2017
The Veteran Photographer Making Stunning New Buildings
Hiroshi Sugimoto is creating architecture that looks great today, but will look even better later — in ruin, 1,000 years from now.
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The Guardian

Apr 03 2017
'The Dutch are doing us mischief': John Evelyn's diary returns to scene of Battle of Medway

String of events planned across banks of river in south-east England to mark 350th anniversary of Dutch raid on English fleet

In June 1667, the diarist John Evelyn sat on “the hill above Gillingham” watching the greatest humiliation ever inflicted on the English navy.

Many of the king’s best ships were burning, sunk or being towed away before his eyes, as the Dutch fleet sailed almost unopposed up the river Medway.

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The Art Newspaper

Apr 03 2017
Is Brad making art with Mr Houseago?
Brad Pitt  (2014; courtesy DoD News Features)

The movie star Brad Pitt is apparently busy making a sculpture in collaboration with the British artist Thomas Houseago. Mail Online reports that Brad has stepped away from the spotlight to spend time creating a sculpture under the direction of his friend [Houseago]. Pitt has been spotted leaving the artists studio in Los Angeles, according to the UK newspaper, where he has been working for up to 15 hours a day (Houseago, known for his monumental, figurative sculptures, is travelling and unavailable for comment). Pitt, who unveiled his own furniture collection in 2012, has been an art fair regular, attending events such as Design Miami. 
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The Guardian

Apr 02 2017
Clint, Christ and crocodile capitalism: the satirical collages of Ion Barladeanu

The homeless Romanian artist creates punchy mash-ups of pop culture and political comment

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The New York Times

Apr 02 2017
A Hushed Departure at the Met Museum Reveals Entrenched Management Culture
The museum formerly concentrated power and information in the hands of a few but is vowing to change.
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The New York Times

Apr 02 2017
No License Plates Here: Using Art to Transcend Prison Walls
A mural class is part of an initiative by the State of California to bring the arts to all 35 of its adult prisons.
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The Art Newspaper

Apr 02 2017
Museums take a loo break to celebrate Duchamp Fountain centenary
A version of Marcel Duchamp's ready-made Fountain (the 1917 original is lost) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
This Sunday, 9 April, museums around the world, from Kyoto to Jerusalem to New York, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the most influential artwork of all time (according to a 2004 poll of 500 art experts): Marcel Duchamps ready-made, Fountain, a porcelain urinal with no intervention but the signature R. Mutt 1917. The date is the centenary of the First Annual Exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York, which rejected Fountainsubmitted under the pseudonym Richard Mutt by Duchamp, who was on the event's committeedespite boasting no juryno prizes on its call for entries. In-the-know visitors who arrive at participating museums between 3pm and 4pm on 9 April will be granted free admission if they say Richard Mutt to entrance staff. Some of these museums, including the Staedel Museum in Frankfurt and the Philadelphia Museum of Arthome to the worlds largest collection of works by Duchampwill even turn selected mens restrooms into unisex spaces for holding impromptu Duchamp-themed readings, homages and performances that afternoon. So will these improvisational art venues continue to function as toilets during the Duchamp events? Anything can happen, says the Munich-based art historian and Duchamp expert, Thomas Girst, who proposed the multi-museum initiative. Urinating can become a performance.


Museums participating on 9 April include:


China: Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
France: Centre Pompidou, Paris
Germany: Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Staedel Museum, Frankfurt; Lenbachhaus, Munich; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart; Staatliches Museum Schwerin, Schwerin; Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Israel: the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Japan: the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto
The Netherlands: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Sweden: Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Switzerland: Kunsthalle Basel, Basel
UK: Serpentine Galleries, London; Tate Modern, London
US: the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
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The Art Newspaper

Apr 02 2017
Culture on the frontline: Penn Museum shows artefacts curators are fighting to save in Syria and Iraq
Several truckloads of sand bags were delivered 2014-15 to protect the Ma'arra Museum mosaics from damage caused by further attacks (Photo: courtesy of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center)
Many US museums have been closely monitoring the on-going destruction of heritage sites in Syria and Iraq. But few have had boots on the ground like the Penn Museum. The Philadelphia institutions curators and researchers have been on the frontlines of the battle to safeguard cultural heritage in conflict zones. Now, they have organised an exhibition that seeks to illustrate just how high the stakes are.

Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories From Syria and Iraq (8 April-26 November) presents more than 50 artefacts from the museums collection, including a funerary relief from Palmyra (1st-2nd century CE), a 16th-century glazed terracotta tile from Damascus and Arabic illustrated manuscripts on complex mathematics, music theory and astronomy. Many of the objects were originally excavated from areas that have been torn apart by the Syrian civil war. 

This is where writing was inventedand in medieval times, it is home to the first education centres, says the Syrian archaeologist Salam Al Kuntar, who co-organised the show. We want to give a brighter image of these places and remind people that this episode of destruction is brief in the course of history. 

The Penn Museum is home to on of the largest collections of artefacts from Iraq and Syria in the US. The show includes a Hebrew tombstone, an eye idol, and pages from the Quran to illustrate the religious diversity of the region, while glass pitchers, gold ornaments and ivories highlight its history as a trade hub. 

In an effort to connect the past to the present, curators have installed newly commissioned works by the Syrian-born artist Issam Kourbaj throughout the show, including an installation inspired by 5th-century Syrian boats. Documentation of the Penn Cultural Heritage Centers recent preservation efforts is also on view. The centre has proactively documented collections in northern Iraq and helped fortify 1,600 sq. ft of Roman and Byzantine mosaics at a museum south of Aleppo. 

Al Kuntar, who is originally from Syria, notes that US museums do not always effectively communicate the complex histories of ancient objects in their collections. She hopes that the more that visitors learn about where these objects came fromand how they ended up in the USthe more invested they will feel in the fight for preservation. 

I dont feel that Western museums can continue to exhibit artefacts that were taken in some kind of unethical way and to continue showing these objects with no connection to their place of origin, Al Kuntar says. The Penn Museum is lucky in a way because a lot of our collections come from proper excavations. But its important [to acknowledge the context from which these objects came]. What can an ancient artefact tell you if it doesnt tell you  who made it, where it was made, and what it was made for?
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The Guardian

Apr 02 2017
Skeleton cities and snipers: the shocking photographs that show the scale of Syria's loss

From the shelled-out mall that never opened to a family reclaiming their possessions from rubble, Pulitzer-winning photographer Sergey Ponomarev captured Syria’s tragedy from the inside

In the middle of 2014, after the Syrian government had retaken the city of Homs from rebel fighters, Sergey Ponomarev stood with his camera and surveyed the damage. The photojournalist found a family who had returned to their old flat and captured the scene: in a street buried in rubble and lined with destroyed buildings, they load whatever possessions they can salvage into a taxi. Their son wears a brightly coloured party hat he has found. It is at once mundane – the family calmly going about their business – and devastating.

In another photograph, four boys play amid the rubble. They have been burning the plastic from electrical cables they’ve found in shelled buildings – to get to the copper wire, which they can sell. Another shows a recently built shopping centre. Never opened, it is now crumbling and skeletal, a giant portrait of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad adorning the front.

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The Guardian

Apr 02 2017
The painting that has reopened wounds of American racism

New York art world bitterly divided over ‘cultural appropriation’ of 1955 photograph of murdered 14-year-old Emmett Till

It is one of the most powerful images to emerge from the racism that infected the southern states of America in the 1950s – the photograph of a badly beaten 14-year-old boy, lynched after being falsely accused of flirting with a white woman, lying in a funeral casket.

Now protests over a painting based on the photograph, included in a New York museum show, are dividing the city’s art world amid claims of racist exploitation and censorship.

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The Guardian

Apr 02 2017
Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life; Cerith Wyn Evans – review

Sir John Soane’s Museum; Tate Britain, London
Marc Quinn’s sculptures reduce classicism to blunt desire, while Cerith Wyn Evans’s Tate commission is an illuminated blank

Marc Quinn is in love, and lustily so. That is the main news at Sir John Soane’s Museum. If you didn’t know it from the flood of celebrity photographs of the 53-year-old artist in superannuated baseball cap embracing his girlfriend, the towering dancer Jenny Bastet, you could easily deduce it from this show of new sculptures specially made for the Soane. Every single one testifies to his adoration of her lithe body, nude and forming the central, full-frontal figure in a sequence of pas de deux in which his arms hold her tightly. Who knows where one lover ends and the other begins?

That’s certainly the first trick with these figures, cast from life but painted to look like classical sculptures in marble and bronze: you’re supposed to disentangle the bodies. Each stands upon two long legs, which might be male or female at first sight. Each has two sets of arms and shoulders, but neither heads nor feet. The immediate associations are with Greek warriors, Roman athletes and neo-classical lovers, twined in white marble embrace. Indeed, Quinn has been directly inspired by the fragments of ancient civilisations acquired by the Georgian architect John Soane, mounted floor to ceiling in the museum around you.

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The Guardian

Apr 01 2017
Ellen von Unwerth: ‘Let’s photograph girls enjoying life’

Blending old-world charm with a uniquely provocative eroticism, Ellen von Unwerth’s photographs are a riot of fun and sly subversion. Richard Godwin hears why we need to take ourselves less seriously

Ellen von Unwerth can’t stop laughing. The German photographer, 63, is bouncing around the Taschen gallery in West Hollywood in her sneakers, attempting to talk through the images from her latest exhibition and art book, Heimat.

If you go to a park in Berlin in summer, everyone is naked and playing frisbee

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The Guardian

Apr 01 2017
Boaty McBoathouse: a truly unusual seaside home in Poole

This architect’s holiday retreat is inspired by the upturned hull of a ship

Of the thousands of cul-de-sacs in Dorset, this one in Poole is unique. The two properties at this address are like nothing else.

My granddaughter said she’d demolish whatever I built here

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The Guardian

Apr 01 2017
James Rosenquist, pop artist who painted the famous F-111, dies aged 83

Pioneer of pop who painted immense F-111 canvas and followed a different path to Warhol and Lichtenstein died in New York on Friday, his family said

The artist James Rosenquist has died, it was announced on Saturday. He was 83.

With Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Rosenquist was a pioneer of pop art, the 1960s movement that made high art out of flat, bright representations of everyday items and images, often plucked from advertising and media. Such works proved immensely popular and helped to change the nature of contemporary art.

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The Guardian

Apr 01 2017
Tate Britain celebrates 50 years of gay freedom
This week an exhibition opens of ‘queer’ art whose specific perspective was not always recognised or accepted

It is not just the beauty of art, it turns out, that lies in the eye of the beholder, but also its “queerness”. Tate Britain is preparing its first show dedicated to “queer art”, a term long understood by art historians but which still has the power to bring the museum-going public up short. Does queer art, some ask, refer to a specific school of protest? Is it designed for a particular audience? And do paintings that might be described in this way really have a different perspective to offer? On the evidence of the work coming together for this landmark show, the answer is “yes, all of this and more”.

Related: Gluck: the lesbian rebel of pre-war painting – in pictures

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artforum.com

Apr 01 2017
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The New York Times

Apr 01 2017
James Rosenquist, Pop Art Pioneer, Dies at 83
Working as a sign painter by day and an abstract artist by night, Mr. Rosenquist imported elements of outdoor advertising into the realm of fine art.
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The Guardian

Apr 01 2017
When office space goes dada – in pictures

For his day job as creative director at Frankfurt design agency Büro Schramm, Sebastian Schramm composes perfectly polished large-scale images for his clients. But, in his spare time, the photographer and designer likes to take quick improvised portraits of his colleagues using objects found around the office: packaging, elastic bands, Post-it notes. “I do it so I can have a free head after, so I can do more complex things again,” he says. “Other people sit in the kitchen here and drink coffee – I do photography.” Influenced by dadaism and tribal masks, Schramm doesn’t like to impose a meaning on the enigmatic figures. “Most people who look at the images have their own stories.”

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The Guardian

Apr 01 2017
Portraits of a young Bob Dylan – in pictures

As Bob Dylan accepts his Nobel prize for literature this weekend, an exhibition of photographs of him on the cusp of international fame is planned to open in New York. The photographer Ted Russell first met Dylan in 1961 and his intimate pictures of Dylan performing, and at home, are the subject of a show at the Steven Kasher Gallery featuring dozens of images never before seen in the city. Bob Dylan NYC 1961–1964 opens on 20 April and will run until 3 June

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The Guardian

Apr 01 2017
'I like uncluttered design': in Essex homes, the only way is modern

Far from being the place that taste forgot, Essex has a radical past as the cradle of British modernism. We meet the owners of some of the county’s architectural gems

When it comes to the stereotyping of British counties, Essex beats them all, from Towie to fake tans, bleached blondes and brassiness. But Essex doesn’t need a makeover, only a bit of historical balance.

Last year, an initiative named Radical Essex sought to do just that, by retrieving the county’s progressive past. With its proximity to London and Europe, and relative lack of country estates, Essex in the early 20th century was fertile, affordable ground for grand plans, pioneering lifestyle experiments and, above all, modern architecture. Modernism had a difficult time crossing the Channel, but this is where it made the greatest inroads.

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The Guardian

Apr 01 2017
Original Observer photography: March 2017

Portraits of actor Cillian Murphy, artist Rachel Whiteread and actor Steve Coogan all feature in this month’s showcase of the best photography commissioned by the Observer

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The Guardian

Apr 01 2017
The 20 photographs of the week

Brexit officially begins, the offensive in Mosul continues and a bust of Cristiano Ronaldo – the news of the week captured by the world’s best photojournalists

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artforum.com

Mar 31 2017
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The New York Times

Mar 31 2017
The Cartoons of Jack Ziegler
Jack Ziegler’s satirical, silly and observational style enlivened more than 1,600 cartoons at The New Yorker.
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The Art Newspaper

Mar 31 2017
Russian state museum plans Washington branch in Trump Hotel
The Hermitage's new US director Brad Butin
The State Hermitage Museum is opening an outpost in Washington, D.C.The Art Newspaper understands.The institution, which last year scrapped plans for a branch at 725 5th Avenue in New York, has settled on space just down the street from the White House in the historic Old Post Office Pavilion, which is now a Trump International Hotel.
 
Ethics experts are now raising questions. The museum, which is funded by the Russian state, will be installed in a building administered by a US government agency. Asked about any potential conflicts of interest, John Barron, a press officer for the Hermitage, said: "We will build a big, beautiful museum, okay? Nobody builds museums better than we do, believe me."
 
The outpost's director will be Brad Butin, an expert on Soviet Socialist Realism and Constructivism who is relatively unknown in the US. Since 2011, he has been chief curator of the collection belonging to Russia's Federal Security Service, according to the Hermitage.

UPDATE: This is an April Fools Day story    
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The Art Newspaper

Mar 31 2017
Positive news from Egypt
A boy rides his his bicycle past a recently discovered statue in a Cairo slum that may be of pharaoh Ramses II, in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday 10 March 2017. Image: AP Photo/Amr Nabil
At first I thought it was just fake news: the former minister of antiquities for Egypt declaring last month that most ancient artefacts from his country across the world had been exported legally and should stay where they are. I cannot think of a more constructive statement for moving the antiquities debate forward because, finally, someone in a position of influence has acknowledged reality. Others may cavil at the intervention of Mamdouh el-Damaty, a renowned Egyptologist, professor at Ain Shams University and former director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, but it creates an opportunity to draw attention to what is really going on.

A new book highlights the official network of trade in antiquities that existed in Egypt during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, explaining El-Damatys view. The Antiquities Trade in Egypt 1880-1930: the H.O. Lange Papers by Frederik Hagen and Kim Ryholt lists more than 250 licensed dealers active in Egypt from the 1880s until the trade was abolished in 1983. How many people know that even the Egyptian Museum had its own saleroom during the 20th century? As El-Damaty argues, gifts to foreign dignitaries, as well as the partage system, where discoveries were shared between the state and investigating archaeologists, explain how significant pieces left Egypt legally over the years.

Paperwork for legitimate artefacts can be limited or non-existent. For instance, I have a copy of an Egyptian export licence from 1970 that refers to 111 Egyptian antiquities packed in nine cases, without pictures or individual descriptionsmeaningless now but perfectly acceptable then. This has created masses of Egyptian orphan works, and these cause most disputes.

Todays Egyptian government argues that artefacts without paperwork demonstrating clear legitimate provenance must be assumed stolen and returned to Egypt; guilty until proven innocenta legally flawed position. Until recently, Egyptian embassies in Europe and the US approached dealers and auction houses with unfounded claims that they were offering stolen Egyptian property for sale. This approach leads nowhere.

Antiquities have become far more newsworthy since the Syrian war. Egypts own crisis, following protests in early 2011, the so-called January Revolution, led to a collapse in tourism revenues, leaving the countrys archaeological sites at risk because government funding was no longer available to secure them.

The former minister of antiquities arguments propose a more constructive approach to help Egypt and countries like Italy, which are strapped for cash but face the heavy burden of preserving, conserving and storing vast quantities of minor objects. Lost labels and poor record-keeping, ironically, make these objects orphans too.

In 2015, a statement by Association of Art Museum Directors acknowledged the foolishness of this position and suggested that Italy open its borders to international sales of antiquities (with export licences) to raise revenues. Egypt could do the same.

It is also time the Italian authorities gave museums and the trade access to the Becchina and Medici archives, which list thousands of tainted (but not necessarily stolen) items. Anti-trade campaigners have used these archives for years to disrupt auctions and fairs by launching last-minute challenges over items in the catalogue. Its time to play fair: grant the same access to museums and the trade and they could include the archives in their due diligence process, just as they do the Art Loss Register and Art Recovery.

Our concerted aim should be protecting cultural property in situ by guarding find spots and educating local people. It is context that counts more than the objects themselves. Artefacts removed illegally from their context lose their value for archaeology. The International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA) has been campaigning vigorously to ensure appropriate policy is adopted. Our chief objective is to ensure that source countries meet their obligations formulated under Article 5 of the Unesco Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, thereby cutting off looting and illegal export at the source.

Looters cause nothing but trouble for legitimate antiquities specialists. The trade is only interested in working with legal objects that have been in circulation for decades or longer.

In 2009, Egypts then head of antiquities, Zahi Hawass, demanded the return of the Queen Nefertiti bust in the Neues Museum from Germany despite documents showing it had been acquired legally. El-Damatys rather different attitude may just be the beginning, but if it heralds a positive period of changing attitudes, it is significant indeed.

Vincent Geerling is an Amsterdam-based antiquities dealer specialising in Greek, Etruscan, Roman and Egyptian artefacts. He campaigns widely for the legitimate trade, and addressed Unesco and Europol conferences among others in 2016
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The Art Newspaper

Mar 31 2017
Cerith Wyn Evans: Light Fantastic
Hard at work: with major shows planned all over Europe, Cerith Wyn Evans is about to experience his busiest summer yet. Photo: courtesy of the artist


Cerith Wyn Evans first emerged as a key figure in the 1980s alternative scene in London, where he collaborated with the likes of dancer and choreographer Michael Clark, cult performer Leigh Bowery and the Neo Naturist group, while also making his own experimental films and videos. Since the 1990s, he has built a reputation for site-specific sculptural works that often use light and deal with notions of time, language and perception. This year is his busiest yet. He has been selected by Christine Macel for Viva Arte Viva at the Venice Biennale in May as well as for Sculpture Projects Mnster in June. Also in June, a show of new work opens at Marian Goodman in Paris. And he has just unveiled a major new work involving nearly two kilometres of white neon suspended throughout Tate Britains Duveen Galleries.


The Art Newspaper: In developing ideas for the Tate Britain Commission you have to consider the space and heritage of the Duveen Galleries, as well as your relationship to them and Tates collectionsand yours runs pretty deep.


Cerith Wyn Evans: Ive known the Duveen Galleries for many, many years. My first visit to the Tate was when my Dad drove me up to London to see the Rothkos for my 12th birthday present, but the Rothkos were not on display, which was something of a disappointment. Then Alan Bowness [who was later director of the Tate] wrote me a letter inviting me back to see the Rothkos and a few months later he met me in person and took me backstage downstairs. I think there were four that you could lift the polythene off.

You sound like a very advanced 12-year-old.


Growing up in Wales, in the shade, art was my only escape. Id read [Patrick Herons] Changing Forms of Art by the time I was 11 and I used to get Llanelli library to import Studio International and Flash Art for me; this stuff was my lifeline. From when I was a student at St Martins I worked as an invigilator at the Tate on and off for years, so I knew the collection inside out.

What were your thoughts about the Duveen space itself?


Making work on that scale is a challenge and you have to consider the implications on a narrative level of a space which, is, as the French call, enfilade: one going on from the other. Its very hard to remember how tall the Duveens is, so I wanted to work in the air and to occupy the volume of the space. I wanted there to be nothing on the floor and to challenge the notion of how you occupy the space sculpturally. I decided to carry through a strain that has run through my works of the past five years and attenuate the medium right down to just these white neon drawings in space. Ive been looking at Duchamp, Ive been looking at technical drawings, Ive been looking at the notion of The Illuminating Gas [part of Duchamps last work, tant donns]. Ive been reading [the artist and writer] Hito Steyerl, Ive been talking to Eric Alliez who wrote this extraordinary book, The Brain-Eye, and I hope is going to do an intervention-lecture. Then Im fully aware of the echo that your shoes make and Im also familiar with the vicissitudes of how the light falls into the galleries. The space is so golden in the afternoons on a sunny day, the walls are like honeycomb.

In the South Duveen there is just a single neon ring. Can this be seen as a giant peephole?


Its a peephole, a porthole and the circle with an arrow that signals you are here on old paper maps where successive fingers have worn out the space. Im playing with the idea of it being the literal hic et nunc, the here and now, like being told on the GPS exactly where you are. In a sense, the whole piece is a critique of the scopic field and hierarchies of scopic regimes. Im trying to interrogate very basic ideas around the tools of mimetic representation and lifelikeness such as one-point perspective. What I am saying is, lets look at looking again.

In the central Octagon space, three suspended neons take their form from the Oculist Witnesses in Duchamps Large Glass. In the Large Glass Duchamp takes a two-dimensional diagram lifted from an opticians eye chart and he stacks them on top of each other in a kind of volumetric sideswipe in space-time. What Ive done is upend the whole thing and knock them off register: theyre just spot off. So in the Octagon you have a kind of overture which looks at all the themes and leitmotifs. You also have the sightlines that go directly into the Tate collections to the left and right, as well as into the North Duveen where the structure becomes a different thing.

Can you talk about the origins of the dense, dangling mass of hanging lines, curves and circles in the North Duveen?


The forms originate from the Kata diagrams that are the movement patterns made for performers in Japanese Noh theatre. The diagrams show how to perform a particular role and specifically how to address the choreology [the notation of movement]: the footsteps, head gestures, the stamps on the floor, the flicking of the kimono, position of the fan. They look at the transformation that happens in every Noh play, between the person who is there to recount their story as if they were on earth who then transforms into the true spirit of whom they are. So its about these places where there is a hinge into a transformative mood, activated by the steps. The elements will be close enough that you can see the electrodes at the end of each neon gesture and line, and see that they are all connected electronically to other parts. The whole of the Duveen Galleries presents a kind of ethereal, subtle body which takes the notion of perception into visible and invisible realms.

Does the audience need to be aware of the works multiplicity of references?


There are many layers to it and multiple points of entry. Very importantly, my take is not the only take on it. If anything its a kind of zone for meditation and a place for reverie on the transference of energy. I feel theres an insufficiency of means to come to even a conventional description of what it is to live through a revolution in information technology and to look at the exchanges of energy that go across the surfaces of the earth, let alone what fantasies we might have about parallel realities. I want people to be in a place where they might be able to pick up on some of these things.

Youve said that you are never comfortable with facts, inviting one interviewer to come with me into this place of contradiction.


I feel theres a need to get into the thick of what our lived experience is at the beginning of the 21st century. Everyone is looking at a screen, everyone is being controlled by hidden hierarchies, energy power structures, globalisation, re-territorialisation and the trade of invisible stocks and bonds that we are all somehow subject to. Whats occluded by this call for clarity? What is this notion of fake news? For me a successful work is one that is un-photographable. My friend, the great artist and Duchamp scholar Molly Nesbit, talks about my work as a rendezvous of question marks, which I like very much.

What are you showing at Venice and Mnster?


Christine [Macel] has invited me to show my 1998 film Firework Text (Pasolini) in Venice [see sidebar] and Im making a new sound and light piece for Mnster. Theres an extraordinary Brutalist church that was built outside the city centre just after the war and Im installing an air conditioning device in the bell tower which lowers the temperature so that the bells will be ringing at a higher pitch, as if it was a freezing cold day in January. Ive also taken two sections of horizon from German Romantic landscapes that I have made in two slightly different shades of white neon. These will be upended and buried in a pale pink floribunda rose bush which grows against the church wall.


Tate Britain Commission 2017, Tate Britain, London, 28 March-20 August; Venice Biennale, 13 May-26 November; Sculpture Projects Mnster 2017, 10 June-1 October

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The Art Newspaper

Mar 31 2017
The healing power of great buildings comes at a price
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation has pledged £50m towards the running costs of its Renzo Piano-designed cultural centre in Athens. Photo: © SNF/Leonidas Kalpaxidis
This month, the art world looks to Athens, where Documenta 14 (8 April-16 July) is taking place. Later in the year, the Greek government will inaugurate another attraction: a magnificent 1,400-seat opera house and an elegant national library designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, set within a 42-acre park landscaped by Deborah Nevins & Associates.

The 673m cultural centre, financed entirely by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, is unusual among new cultural institutions worldwide in its on-time, on-budget completion. Last June, four days of boisterous celebrations marked the end of its construction, drawing more than 115,000 people: tourists keen to see the latest work by the great architect and locals eager for a diversion from their countrys problems.

The aesthetic success of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is undeniable; it remains to be seen if, once inaugurated this autumn, it can fulfil what Piano calls the therapeutic power of beauty. Piano and many others see beautyartistic beauty, for exampleas a means of escaping or even overcoming the trials of daily life. The Stavros Niarchos Foundations commitment to build, made in full awareness of the looming global financial crisis, hinged on the board of directors conviction that the gift could signal a turnaround of Greeces fortunes; that beauty would indeed have a therapeutic power.

Such was the case for the legendary La Scala opera house in Milan, which by popular demand was one of the first major reconstructions undertaken after the Second World War. And the idea endures. Today, a number of countries whose troubles surpass even those of Greece are building cultural institutions with the same belief in the redemptive power of culture and beauty.

The Palestinian Museum of art, history, and culture opened in May 2016 in war-torn Birzeit, on the West Bank, in a 19m building designed by Dublin-based Heneghan Peng Architects. Omar Al-Qattan, the museums chairman, inaugurated the museum even though it had no exhibitsbecause, he said, Palestinians were so in need of positive energy.

In the midst of Lebanons financial and political instability, at least five new museums are planned or under construction in Beirut. One of these, the David Adjaye-designed Ashti Foundation for contemporary art, is already operational.

In Paris, Franois Pinault, the French luxury-goods billionaire, will open his own museum of contemporary art in the centre of the capital in a former commodities exchange being renovated by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Referring to the recent terrorist attacks in the city, the art collector says: In the face of this barbarism, the only possible reaction is to move forward.

Last month, Pinaults fellow luxury-goods billionaire Bernard Arnault announced that Frank Gehry would transform the former Muse National des Arts et Traditions Populaires, which closed in 2005, into the Maison LVMH, a cultural centre to complement the Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton nearby.

Building as spiritual support in the face of adversity is not always completely successful. Piano missed the mark in his response to the devastating earthquake in the central Italian town of LAquila in 2009. His temporary, 240-seat concert hall fabricated in timber may have helped to revive the towns centre, but it failed as a prototype for inexpensive new construction. Local people opposed building in wood instead of the areas traditional stone.

Additionally, Rem Koolhaas cautions that as beautiful as the idea is, with other urgencies, [spending on culture] can appear to be an indulgence. Such is the case with Pariss project for the Seine Musicale, a classical concert hall designed by Shigeru Ban for an island in the citys river. Coming in the wake of the tremendously successful Jean Nouvel-designed Paris Philharmonie, the 143m, 1,150-seat building seems excessive: it would be Pariss sixth classical music or opera venue.

The same issue haunts Tate Moderns new 260m, ten-storey Switch House by Herzog & de Meuron, which opened last June. With a collection that barely fills the original, six-storey Boiler House building, the value of the addition, at a cost to the British taxpayer of 50m, is questionable.

Furthermore, the status of the 19bn of cultural facilities built from scratch or expanded in the US between 1994 and 2008 offers a sobering alert about the pitfalls of such enterprises. Embarked upon without adequate resources for maintenance and programming, these buildings now constitute what Joanna Woronkowicz, the co-author of Building Better Arts Facilities: Lessons From a US National Study, calls a landscape awash with arts organisations struggling to stay afloat. These include expansions of the Milwaukee Art Museum by Santiago Calatrava (2002), the Denver Art Museum by Daniel Libeskind (2006) and even Renzo Pianos Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago (2009).

Financial support for cultural institutions is subject in the US to the vagaries of private donors, and in Europe to those of politicians. In Athens, a newly appointed minister of culture has already summarily replaced the Greek National Operas artistic director of five years, Myron Michailidis. In Dallas, the failure of the trustees of the AT&T Performing Arts Center to complete on-time funding of the new, Foster + Partners-designed Winspear Opera Houses construction and operations has forced major compromises in programming.

The Greek governments deplorable record in managing cultural institutions does not bode well for the future of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. It has recently combined two existing art museums in Thessaloniki, and left unopened for more than two years a newly renovated contemporary art museum in Athens. Aware of the uncertainties of government support, the foundations directors pledged 50m for the facilitys first five years of operation.

In these divided times, the healing powers of art are more important than ever. Leading British artists and cultural institutions, for example, are reported to have Brexit on the brain. The conductor Simon Rattle, who wants a new concert hall for the London Symphony Orchestra in the City of London, has said: We need the arts to help make sense of where we are, which is historically a very, very strange time.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation shares similar reasoning: the directors are convinced that its cultural centre can offer the crack of light where the soul can find civility.

Victoria Newhouse is a writer and architectural historian. Her latest book, Chaos & Culture: Renzo Piano Building Workshop and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, is forthcoming from the Monacelli Press
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artforum.com

Mar 31 2017
FILM: League of His Own
Nick Pinkerton on Wesley Snipes
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artforum.com

Mar 31 2017
PASSAGES: Barbara Weiss (1960–2016)
Rainer Ganahl on Barbara Weiss (1960–2016)
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The Art Newspaper

Mar 31 2017
Step inside our rubbish skip (sorry, gallery)
The Skip Gallery in Hoxton Square

If you find visiting galleries a little intimidating, its worth heading to a rather novel, small-scale new venue in Hoxton Square in East London. The Skip Gallery is a.... gallery in a skip (to put it bluntly). The London-based artists Catherine Borowski and Lee Baker came up with the innovative idea after struggling to find an exhibition space last year. I was thinking of a moveable gallery and thats when I came up with the idea of a gallery in a skip and how it could be a series, Borowski told the Evening Standard newspaper. Visitors can step inside and see hundreds of spindles on show (the exhibition is a homage to Borowskis mother, Aliya, who died on the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca last year). The launch showNa, I Dont Want None of That Againruns until 2 April. We understand, meanwhile, that the Fourth Plinth artist David Shrigley will take on the skip challenge later this year (watch this space). 
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The Guardian

Mar 31 2017
Flooding hits north-east Australia – in pictures

About 20,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in northern New South Wales as flooding continues to engulf the area and south-east Queensland following Cyclone Debbie. The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, declared the Tweed, Lismore, Byron, Richmond Valley, and Kyogle and Ballina districts as natural disaster areas

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The Guardian

Mar 31 2017
Tate St Ives reopens as part of £20m revamp

Art lovers and locals welcome reopening of Cornish gallery after 18 months in first phase of huge refurbishment project

Tate galleries’ Cornish outpost, Tate St Ives, has reopened after a refurbishment project during which the gallery shut its doors for 18 months.

The gallery, which sits on the golden sands of Porthmeor Beach, Cornwall, and is just round the corner from the house once occupied by sculptor Barbara Hepworth, was due to be shut for only six months.

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artforum.com

Mar 31 2017
DIARY: First Time’s a Charm
Kate Sutton at the 1st Kathmandu Triennale
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The Guardian

Mar 31 2017
Queer painters, neon dreamers and a century of ceramics – the week in art

Cerith Wyn Evans’s neon installation illuminates Tate Britain along with a major survey of queer British art – all in your weekly dispatch

Queer British Art 1861–1967
This ought to be an exciting alternative history of British art and its sexualities from the age of Oscar Wilde and John Singer Sargent to the coming of David Hockney.
Tate Britain, London, 5 April–1 October.

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The Art Newspaper

Mar 31 2017
British Museum permanently installs first Caribbean art commission
Zak Ové's Moko Jumbie sculptures in the British Museum
The responsibility of being the first Caribbean artist to be commissioned by the British Museum (BM) is weighing heavily on Zak Ov. Imagine representing the whole of the Caribbean in one moment? he asks. I have to get this right, otherwise Ill never hear the end of it.

Ov was speaking at the unveiling of his Moko Jumbie sculptures in the BMs Africa Galleries on 30 March. The towering figures were installed in the museums Great Court in 2015 and have now become part of the permanent collection, displayed opposite a cabinet of masks made by, among others, the Yoruba and Igbo people of Nigeria, the Songye, Pende and Lega of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Bamileke of Cameroon. 

Its a homecoming. [My sculptures] are the children returning to their parents, says Ov, who was born in London to an Irish mother and Trinidadian father.

Moko Jumbies, a term derived from a combination of African and Creole languages, are stilt-walkers who represent West African deities or spirits. With the shipping of slaves, the ritual was brought to the Americas where it was disguised in masquerade and incorporated into carnival celebrations. 

The layered identities of the Moko Jumbie also appealed to Ov, who says he grew up feeling like I was neither one thing nor the other. Ov says his sculptures, which are made from found, cast and recycled materials, refer to the multitude of heritages found in Trinidadamong them Irish, Syrian and Chinese.

Its about bringing new world materials into dialogue with old world stories, and keeping that ancestry alive, the artist says. Its also important to continue the conversation about the hundreds of millions of people living in the African diaspora. What does it mean to be an African abroad?

Before becoming an artist, Ov made videos for musicians including Chaka Demus & Pliers, Lee Scratch Perry and PM Dawn. It was a natural fit for Ov, whose father Horace was the first black British film-maker to direct a feature-length film, Pressure, in 1975. 

Like his father, Ov is blazing a trail, but one that feels long overdue. You have to ask: why has it taken so long [to commission a Caribbean artist], he says. If it wasnt for slavery and the sugar trade, we wouldnt have some of the art institutions we have in London today.
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The Art Newspaper

Mar 31 2017
Contemporary art venue springs up at waterside Warsaw site
Museum on the Vistula (Image:Bartosz Stawiarski)
A new contemporary art space has opened in Warsaw on the banks of the Vistula River, which will host exhibitions and events organised by the citys Museum of Modern Art. The 1,000 sq. m structure, loaned for free by the Vienna-based Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) foundation, will remain in situ until the museums new headquarters open in Plac Defilad in 2020. The new venue, located next to the University of Warsaw library, is called The Museum by the Vistula.

The temporary structure, designed by the Austrian architect Adolf Krischanitz, was installed in the Palast der Republik site in Berlin from 2008 to 2010. The Berlin venue, known as the Temporre Kunsthalle, hosted 17 exhibitions dedicated to artists such as Simon Starling and Candice Breitz.  

The launch show, The Beguiling Siren is Thy Crest (until 18 June), includes works by Wolfgang Tillmans, Ellen Gallagher, and ukasz Korolkiewicz, among others. This exhibition, the first ever on this scale to discuss the siren, aims to portray and activate her potential as a symbol. It combines different takes on hybridity, national identity and mythology, says a museum statement. Meanwhile, the faade of the venue, which also houses a small education centre, has been designed by the Polish artist Slawomir Pawszak.

A new complex housing the Museum of Modern Art and the TR Warszawa Theatre is due to open in Plac Defilad in 2020. The new building, estimated to cost $86m, will be designed by the New York-based architectural practice Thomas Phifer and Partners. The temporary museum was previously located on Panska street in central Warsaw.
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The Guardian

Mar 31 2017
Magnum photographers' historic shots of New York – in pictures

As part of its 70th anniversary program, Magnum Photos is holding an exhibition of photographs taken in New York City during the early years of the agency, from 1947 to 1960. The show includes classic images from their archive, as well as pictures from their New York office. Early Magnum In & On New York is at the National Arts Club Grand Gallery until 29 April, can be viewed online and prints purchased through Magnum

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