Author Archives: The Art Newspaper

São Paulo gallerist Luciana Brito is the latest Brazilian to launch a New York space

Luciana Brito
The So Paulo-based gallerist Luciana Brito launches her New York project spacea collaboration with the design firm Espaoon 6 September, with Ruptura, a group show of modernist Brazilian artists relatively little known in North America. Britos expansion follows that of fellow Brazilian galleries Nara Roesler and Mendes Wood DM, both of which have opened outposts in Manhattan in the past two years.

While Brito acknowledges that the political and economic crises in Brazil have pushed galleries to find new ways to show work, she points to the wave of attention that Brazilian artists have recently received in North America as the primary driver behind her new endeavour. Our first exhibition is a historical presentation of artists we work with, like Waldemar Cordeiro, Geraldo de Barros, Thomaz Farkas, and Gaspar Gasparian, which we thought made sense in this moment because there have been all these exhibitions of historical Brazilian artists in New York, Brito says. These include a 2014 Lygia Clark show at MoMA, and the Lygia Pape and Hlio Oiticica shows at the Met Breuer and the Whitney, respectively, this year.

In line with institutions and galleries paying greater attention to Latin American artists, Sothebys announced on 16 August that they will no longer hold separate contemporary Latin American art sales, folding the category instead into their marquee contemporary art sales each season.

Following Ruptura, Brito plans to present a group show of younger artists, such as Hctor Zamora, Caio Reisewitz, and Tiago Tebet. The idea is to show artists who arent represented in New York, Brito says.

Galeria Nara Roesler set out with the same intention of gaining international recognition for their artists two years ago and quickly built enough momentum to relocate from their original space in the Flower District to a 1,100-square-foot townhouse on the Upper East Side earlier this year. We opened in New York because we wanted to develop relationships with institutions here, says the gallerys associate partner Daniel Roesler. That has been very successful in the sense that we have a number of projects that are now in the process of being produced in different institutions in the US.

Meanwhile, Hic Svnt Dracones, an uptown project space run as a collaboration between Mendes Wood DM and Michael Werner Gallery has kept a lower-profile, despite ambitious exhibitions, like the recent one juxtaposing Sonia Gomes, an Afro-Brazilian artist in her 60s, and the German Expressionist A.R. Penck. While the world has fallen in love with Neo-concrete art, says the gallerist Matthew Wood, those artists have been dead for 25 years. What they did was singular and important, but we cant let their tardy recognition eclipse the fact that Brazilian artists in their 30s are making incredible work. My job is to make sure the American scene doesnt show up 50 years late to the party this time.


Solange’s take on black identity via Tate.org

Solange Knowles (courtesy SFMoMA)

The superstar singer Solange Knowles Ferguson, sister of Beyonc, reflects on black identity and womanhood in a striking new online interactive piece available on the Tate website. As part of the digital dossier, entitled Seventy States, Solange discusses what drove her recent album, A Seat at the Table, musing also on the significance of the Tate Modern show Soul of a Nation, Art in the Age of Black Power (until 22 October) and why artist Betye Saar, a pioneer of the Black Arts movement, matters. She writes online: There would be no hesitation should I be asked to describe myself today. I am a Black woman. A woman yes, but a Black woman first and last. Black womanhood has been at the root of my entire existence since birth. The intriguing digital composition includes a piece titled we sleep in our clothes, (because we're warriors of the night) (2017), created at Tate Modern and featuring the work Capsules (NBPx me-you) (2010) by Ricardo Basbaum. Go to: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/soul-nation-art-age-black-power/solange-knowl...

The Biennale de Montréal has cancelled its 2018 edition due to debt

Janice Kerbel and Isa Genzken, installation view at the Biennale de Montréal 2016 (Photo: Alison Slattery / BNLMTL)
There will be no 2018 edition of the Biennale de Montral due to a deficit of C$200,000 after the close of the last edition, Le Grand Balcon (19 October 2016-15 January 2017). Despite having had artistic successes, we had to cancel the biennale, the chairman of the board, Cdric Bisson, tells The Art Newspaper. The event first announced the cancellation in July.

Bisson says the board was given inaccurate figures by the management team during the event, and so they did not know the full scope of the financial difficulties until January, after the biennale ended. He says that issues with the management team, led by the Biennales executive and artistic director Sylvie Fortin, contributed to the deficit. Fortin, who took up her post in 2013, when the event was re-organised as an independent entity, resigned at the end of January after the issues came to light.

General management was not their forte, Bisson says of Fortin, a curator and editor, and her team. Fortin, meanwhile, told the Canadian news outlet La Presse that there was responsibility on both the management and the board for the financial problems, and that it was normal for an event on the scale of the Biennale to have unforeseen issues. (She could not be reached for comment for this article.)

The deficit boils down to three main factors, according to Bisson: management issues; some expected fundraising revenues that did not materialise; and unforeseen costs, such as transportation (although Bisson declined to go into detail).

Both parties agree that the event was an artistic success. Bisson says the management team did fantastic work in terms of the artistic component and that the board was pleased with the artistic impact. He names as an example the German artist Anne Imhof, the winner of the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the 2017 Venice Biennale, who staged the performance Angst III in Montreal on 18 October. The piece cost $70,000 alone for the falcons and performers, La Presse reports.

Another major problem is that some local artists and vendors had not been paid, as reported by Le Devoir in April, three months after the Biennale closed. Weve [since] paid a few [local artists and contractors], Bisson says. Theres still some local providers and some artists that havent been paid Were trying to do it as soon as possible, but I cant give you a timeline unfortunately.

Sponsors of the 2016 edition, including the Muse dart contemporain de Montral (MACM)which has partnered with the event since the 2014 edition and hosts many of the exhibitionsgovernment agencies for Canada and the province of Qubec and foreign governments, are still helping, Bisson says, but he declines to disclose whether they are covering the Biennales debts.

Responding to the question of whether the museum will take over organising for the 2020 edition, Bisson says MACM and the Biennale have a good relationship thats going well but there is no such plan as yet. I think it makes sense for us to work with the museum, he says, naming resources such as its curatorial team, but the relationship is still to be defined.

The board plans to consult with stakeholders, such as Canadian artists, financing partners, MACM and other museums, in the autumn, and so far, it seems that the Biennale is merely taking a hiatus until the 2020 edition. Bisson emphasises that everyone involved thinks it is important to continue to put on an event that mixes work by international and Canadian artists around a common theme, but says that there is a possibility it could become a triennial. Its just a frequency thing, he says.

After all, the Biennale has survived through several rough patches since it launched in 1998: it has split from its founding institution, the Centre international dart contemporain de Montral; lost two directors in two years; postponed its autumn 2013 edition; and replaced the MACMs Qubec Triennial, an event dedicated to contemporary Qubecois artists, when it teamed up with the museum in 2013. Or as Fortin described the events history at a press event in New York ahead of the 2014 edition: sometimes glorious, sometimes less glorious.

Russia and Ukraine’s battle over Crimean heritage heats up

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Tauric Chersonese State Historical Archaeological Museum and Reserve in August 2017 (Photo: Kremlin)
The struggle between Russia and Ukraine over Crimeas arts and culture heritage has recently ramped up, with Russian President Vladimir Putin this month proposing that Tauric Chersonese, a Unesco World Heritage site in Crimea, be promoted as Russias Mecca.

The ancient Hellenic site on the Black Sea, on the outskirts of the modern city of Sevastopol, is where Prince Vladimir of Kiev is believed to have been baptised in the tenth century, so it is culturally significant to both Russia and Ukraine.

Putin makes a regular pilgrimage to the site. It should become a Russian Mecca of a kind, he told a group of officials, scholars and cultural leaders during a visit to Chersonese on 18 August. The point is not just that Prince Vladimir was baptised here; what is more important is that afterwards the Russian state started to become centralised.

Tauric Chersonese was listed by Unesco as a World Heritage site in 2013, when Crimea was still part of Ukraine. Since Russias annexation of the penninsula is not recognised by most UN member states, it is still listed as a Ukrainian site.

And earlier this month, archaeologists working in Crimea uncovered a trove of jewellery which has been compared in quality to a collection of Scythian gold that both Russia and Ukraine have laid claim to. Those 565 objects were lent by four Crimean museum to the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam just as the annexation took place. After the show closed, a legal battle arose over where the cultural property belonged and a Dutch court ruled that they should be returned to Kiev, not Crimea. The regions museums have appealed the decision.

A new legal wrangle also erupted this month over a cache of around 50 18th- and 19th-century paintings by artists including Ivan Aivazovsky, Ivan Shishkin, and Isaak Levitan from the State Museum Fund of Ukraine,  that were illegally transferred to the Simferopol Art Museum in March 2014, according to a press statement from the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The works were recently put on Interpols wanted list of stolen art and are estimated to have a combined value of $1.3m.

The political stalemate, meanwhile, has left the regions heritage sites in limbo. Alexander Kuznetsov, the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Russia to Unesco told local media in July that Crimea has been totally cut off from the work of Unesco, although those people who had previously, when the peninsula was part of Ukraine, cooperated with this organisation, have remained in place. Right now all contacts with them have been halted since it is thought that continuing communication would be an indirect recognition of Russias sovereignty over Crimea. They categorically refuse any contacts.

At the same time, Ukraine parted with another kind of heritage. At the same time American cities were grappling over what to do with their Confederate monuments, the Ukrainian government announced that all 1,320 Lenin statues across the country had come down along with other Communist relics, in a movement to clear away Soviet symbols that gained speed during the 2014 Euromaidan revolution. Communist symbols remain, however, in Eastern Ukraine, which is controlled by pro-Russian rebels.


Andrea Zittel’s frontier spirit comes to Wiltshire

Andrea Zittel's The Flat Field Works, New Art Centre


A slice of southern Californias Mojave Desert can be experienced nestled among the green rolling hills of Wiltshire in the west of England. The US artist Andrea Zittel, who lives  in the desert 40 miles from Joshua Tree, has a solo show at the New Art Centre, the gallery in a country house setting at East Winterslow near Salisbury. East Winterslow is a long way from A-Z West, the artists ongoing experiment in living and working off-grid with coyotes for company. (Think dairy cows grazing at Roche Court rather than snakes rattling.) But Zittels The Flat Field Works on show at the New Art Centre (until 17 September) seem to radiate the deserts heat whatever the English weather beyond the orangery gallery. The works on show include earth coloured woven textiles in geometric patterns, Minimalist gouaches that bring the Bauhaus to the desert, and an impressive piece of sculpture/furniture. Bench (after Judd) #1, is Zittels nod to Marfa, west Texas, and Donald Judd, another US artist who had the frontier spirit and travelled well.  




Andrea Zittel’s frontier spirit comes to Wiltshire

Andrea Zittel's The Flat Field Works, New Art Centre


A slice of southern Californias Mojave Desert can be experienced nestled among the green rolling hills of Wiltshire in the west of England. The US artist Andrea Zittel, who lives  in the desert 40 miles from Joshua Tree, has a solo show at the New Art Centre, the gallery in a country house setting at East Winterslow near Salisbury. East Winterslow is a long way from A-Z West, the artists ongoing experiment in living and working off-grid with coyotes for company. (Think dairy cows grazing at Roche Court rather than snakes rattling.) But Zittels The Flat Field Works on show at the New Art Centre (until 17 September) seem to radiate the deserts heat whatever the English weather beyond the orangery gallery. The works on show include earth coloured woven textiles in geometric patterns, Minimalist gouaches that bring the Bauhaus to the desert, and an impressive piece of sculpture/furniture. Bench (after Judd) #1, is Zittels nod to Marfa, west Texas, and Donald Judd, another US artist who had the frontier spirit and travelled well.  




Moscow’s Pushkin Museum asks public to dig deep to buy Titian, despite stuttering economy

The Pushkin is crowdfunding to buy this painting previously thought to be a copy of Titian’s Venus and Adonis (Image: © Classica Fond)
The State Pushkin Museum's exhibition of Venetian Renaissance art (Renaissance Venice: Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese. From Italian and Russian Collection) closed on 20 August but one painting is still making waves. Previously thought to be a copy of Titians Venus and Adonis, experts at the Pushkin say it is the earliest surviving version of the work and now the Moscow museum wants to buy it through crowdfunding. It does not come cheap thoughthe painting is reportedly estimated to be worth between $10m-$20m. 

This is not the first time that the Pushkin has asked Russians to dip into their pockets. In 2015 the museum crowdfunded around $40,000 to restore an ancient Egyptian veil. The Venus and Adonis is significantly pricier but the Pushkin's director Marina Loshak is confident that the cash will be raised, regardless of Russias economic situation. 

Despite difficult times, the museum always feels the love and support of its visitors, friends of the museum, and donors, she says. We do not expect the fundraising to happen quickly. It will be a long process that requires great work and attention. The museum was reluctant to reveal how large its budget was for 2016-17, but in 2012 it received around $8m with 80% of funding coming from the government and the rest generated through tickets sales and donors.  

The painting was snapped up by a dealer in France in 2005 who thought it was a copy before selling it to the Russian collector Vladimir Logvinenko. The collector would not reveal how much he paid for the painting but said that it was much more than the 50,000-70,000 the previous buyer forked out. Logvinenko contacted the Pushkin's chief researcher and custodian of Italian paintings, Victoria Markova, to help restore the painting, but he was in for surprise. After a quick look, Markova judged the work to be by Titian. 

When a painting has three layers [of paint] its difficult to determine if its an original. Marina had a look at it, made certain technological and radiographic research, and concluded it was an original, Logvinenko says. However, Marina and I realised we couldnt restore the artwork in Russia as there arent enough Venetian art restorers here.

They sent the Venus and Adonis to Italy where the countrys Ministry of Culture, Gallerie dellAccademia in Venice, and Madrids Prado Museum backed up Markovas research. The painting was restored in a Venetian art gallery and eventually sold by Logvinenko to a group of collectors who are not Russian.

For a long time it was believed that Titians Venus and Adonis on show at the Prado Museum was the earliest edition still in existence, painted in 1554 for King Philip II, but this may no longer be the case. The Prado decided to study [the Moscow painting] and found a preliminary drawing under the colourful layer of the canvas, thus it should be considered the first version of the famous composition, which served as both the model for the Madrid canvas and numerous repetitions, Loshak says. 

Dmitry Butkevich, an art critic from the Kommersant FM radio station, said that that the Pushkin only has one chance, otherwise the likes of Sothebys and Christies will come knocking. Butkevich said: There are very few works of this level on the market...Im sure the list of those wanting to possess the painting is quite long.

Spencer Finch creates colour ‘portrait’ of disappearing Spiral Jetty

Spencer Finch installing his work Great Salt Lake and Vicinity (2017), which records the colours of the landscape in which Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty sits (Image: courtesy of Utah Museum of Fine Arts)
As Robert Smithsons Spiral Jetty has become more exposed due to drought in the past few years, debate has raged over whether the famous land art work should be preserved. But now a new site-specific installation by the US conceptual artist Spencer Finch has recorded the colours of the 1,500ft-long basalt rock work, as well as the 2,500 square mile Great Salt Lake in which Spiral Jetty sits.

Finch, who created a crystalline blue work to honour those killed in the 9/11 attacks, spent three days in June circumnavigating the lake by car, jeep and boat, armed with a book of Pantone colour swatches. He then matched the flora and fauna he sawevaporation pools, sagebrush, deerto the colours in his sample book to create Great Salt Lake and Vicinity (2017). 

The work, which consists of the colour samples installed in a line around the room with short captions scrawled in pencil beneath, is being unveiled when the Utah Museum of Fine Arts reopens after 19 months refurbishment on 26 August. 


A section of Spencers installation is a portraitin Pantone colour swatchesof Smithsons iconic earthwork and its surrounding landscape, says Whitney Tassie, the senior curator at the museum. Like the land artists of the 1960s and 1970s, Finch leans heavily on documentation to convey his work, in this instance a type of non-invasive intervention in a remote location.

Like the non-site works of Smithson, Finchs Pantone installation brings a specific landscape into the museum, but he uses colour and language, rather than rocks or sand, to create an experience, to engage the viewers memory and imagination.

In an interview with Tassie, Finch says he was initially underwhelmed when he first encountered Spiral Jetty. It sort of felt smaller and lower than I thought, he says. And then, walking out on it, I thought it was really great, and it felt more modest, and then I thought that was kind of great, you know?

He adds: It was made almost 50 years ago, and it has this kind of modesty, like an artist just got a guy with a dump truck, more or less. Not at all like something with a Jeff Koons production value. But just someone whos really determined to make something interesting. 

The consensus among the three organisations that look after Spiral Jetty (the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the Great Salt Lake Institute and the Dia Art Foundation in New York, which owns the work) is that there is no need to take direct action to protect it. Earlier this year, the sculpture was named an official state work of art by Utah.

I can't speak for the next 100 years, but right now the current thinking is to not attempt any sort of preservation beyond protecting the landscape, Tassie says. 

Palestinian Museum’s inaugural show focuses on contested city of Jerusalem

The Palestinian Museum. Photo: Iwan Baan © The Palestinian Museum
The Palestinian Museum opens its inaugural exhibition this weekend focusing on the holy city of Jerusalem, a city that both Israel and Palestine claim as their capital. The wide-ranging, overtly political show focuses on the realities of living in Jerusalem as well as the idea that despite being seen as the original global city, it also serves an example of how globalisation has failed worldwide. The museum in Birzeit, in Palestines West Bank, opened in May last year without an exhibition, due to a last-minute change of director and the cancellation of its planned show.
 
Jerusalem Lives (Tahya Al Quds) (27 August 15 December), is a participatory show that aims to focus on the living aspect of the city and support its people, says Reem Fadda, the curator of the exhibition and the former curator of Middle Eastern art for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Split into four chapters, it includes a central display of contemporary works and audiovisual materials by artists such as Rula Halawani and Simone Bitton, looking at the cultural, political, economic and ideological aspects of Jerusalem. What is going on and why are these exclusionary policies being accepted? How are peopleartists, organisations and civil societyworking against it? And how can we build together in doing something? are central questions, she says. The display also includes around 60 images selected from an open call on Facebook inviting people to send in photographs of themselves at landmarks in Jerusalems Old City. The idea is to show that this city is for everyone, Fadda says.


The second chapter includes around 20 large-scale commissions in the museums extensive gardens, based on ideas about land, openness and non-exclusion, created by leading artists including Oscar Murillo and Simone Bitton and Palestinian artists such as Mona Hatoum, Emily Jacir and Khaled Jarrar. This will be the first time that we see something of this grand scale within Palestine itself, Fadda says. The third part is offsite, with the museum supporting events and programmes at other Palestinian institutions, and the fourth chapter is a special edition of The Jerusalem Quarterly journal, which acts as a catalogue for the show, based on the lives of some the most important people from the city.
 
The show opens amidst ever-escalating tensions in the city. In July, fatal clashes erupted in the Old City over increased Israeli security at the Al-Aqsa mosque following an armed attack on two Israeli police officers. The Israeli government is also in the process of redefining the municipal borders of the city and, internationally, Donald Trump has made supporting Israels plans to move its official capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem part of his presidential campaign promises. I accepted the exhibition as I understand the urgency of dealing with the topic of Jerusalem. It is important to stand against such problematic and exclusionary policies culturally, Fadda says. This show is meant to demonstrate that this museum is about peopleits about connections, vitality and agency.