Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by Vancouver Art Gallery Library, April 12, 2016

Vancouver Art Gallery auction raises $1.2 million for future exhibitions and education programs  This past Saturday (April 9), the Fairmont Pacific Rim housed the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Art Auction 2016, where more than 200 guests and donors helped contribute $1.2 million to the gallery’s future exhibitions and education programs. Private collectors, galleries, and artists donated close to 70 works to be auctioned off at the event. Jeff Wall’s The Pine on the Corner sold for over $100,000 more than its appraised price of $170,000, at $275,000. A new painting by First Nations artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun was appraised at $60,000 but sold for $100,000. The Georgia Straight, April 11, 2016

Opinion: New Vancouver Art Gallery plaza design creates event-friendly space  The European, piazza-like open space design was made public last fall by the municipal government for the development application’s public consultation phase….Events and festivals will greatly benefit from the new open and flexible space design, in addition to event infrastructure including power connections at several locations and tall light poles on either side of the plaza. Any seating within the core space will be moveable to allow for larger events. Vancity buzz, April 11, 2016

Documentary follows experimental art project, Wreck City In April of 2013, more than 100 artists took over a block of houses near the garage art gallery, 809 Gallery, that were earmarked for destruction by a Calgary developer. During the “10 days of craziness” that followed, more than 10,000 spectators checked out the project, a short-lived gold-mine of art that covered every medium and tone imaginable, from irreverent graffiti, to functioning tube-slides to (fake) blood-splattered bathtubs… “That idea became part of the artwork,” says [Ramin] Eshraghi-Yazdi, who will screen the world premiere of his film Friday as part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival. The Calgary Herald, April 10, 2016

Who uses offshore tax shelters? One of Canada’s richest women Louise Blouin has been called one of the richest women in Canada — in the upper half of the country’s one per cent. You have likely never heard her name. But over the past 15 years, the Montreal native rose to the pinnacles of the international art publishing world, building an empire that included five secretive offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands, according to documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and Süddeustche Zeitung and shared with the Toronto Star. The Toronto Star, April 9, 2016

Gardiner Museum Ceramic Sculpture Competition Announced The Gardiner Museum’s Ceramic Sculpture Competition is challenging artists from across the country working in all mediums to create a new Toronto landmark using clay… The winning sculpture will be selected by a five-person jury made up of artist and novelist, Douglas Coupland; Director of the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Gaëtane Verna; Associate Dean of OCAD University, Michael Prokopow; Gardiner CEO and Executive Director, Kelvin Browne; and Gardiner Chief Curator, Meredith Chilton.

Los Angeles
What the world misunderstands about artist Agnes Martin and how her biographer unearthed her story  Martin was fiercely private. She destroyed early works, actively discouraged the publication of monographs about her art and made friends swear that they wouldn’t talk about her after her death. (She died in 2004.) This presented some serious challenges to her biographer, writer and critic Nancy Princenthal, who published the first full-length biography on the artist last year. “Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art” nonetheless tells a compelling, nuanced story about an artist of modest means dedicated to fulfilling her artistic vision… The Los Angeles Times, April 12, 2016

New York
Stan Douglas’s ‘The Secret Agent’ Offers a Refracted Vision of History and Terrorism  For more than 30 years, the artist Stan Douglas has performed a similar kind of flight pattern with his lush, eerie photographs and films, collected by the Tate, the Museum of Modern Art and many other institutions around the world. But it has often seemed as if Mr. Douglas’s own viewpoint were less that of a subjective human than of historical consciousness itself, peering down on the streets of Vancouver, where he has lived and worked his entire life… His newest film, “The Secret Agent” — based on Conrad’s unusual 1907 novel about a terrorist plot to blow up the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England — is in many ways one of the most straightforward pieces ever made by Mr. Douglas… The New York Times, April 11, 2016

Brooklyn Museum Puts Artwork from Its Critics on Display It has not taken much time for Anne Pasternak, the socially progressive new director of the Brooklyn Museum, to register her influence there. A current exhibition, “Agitprop!,” which shows how artists have used their work to press for political change, was planned well before her arrival in September. But a recent dispute with local artists over a connection between the museum and a real estate conference persuaded Ms. Pasternak to open the show this week to new pieces inspired by the community debates. The New York Times, April 8, 2016

Theaster Gates wins Germany’s Kurt Schwitters Prize  The Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates has won the 2017 Kurt Schwitters Prize, which will culminate in his first solo museum show in Germany. The international jury for the award said they chose Gates for his “urban projects” in places like Chicago and Kassel and his ability to “activate socio-political energies that can alter entire neighbourhoods”. Gates has yet to start work on the exhibition, due to open at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover in late 2017, but visitors can expect more of the same from the self-described “social practice installation artist”. For his Dorchester Projects, begun a decade ago, Gates has been rebuilding his South Side neighbourhood, which had previously been gutted by poverty and crime. The Art Newspaper, April 12, 2016

Artist opens subversive supermarket in Shanghai  The Chinese artist Xu Zhen has taken his Xu Zhen Supermarket project to the streets of Shanghai—to the bewilderment of many a Chinese granny. The conceptual art supermarket, which has “Fill the void” as its sales slogan, is a spot-on recreation of China’s ubiquitous mini-marts, peddling soft drinks and booze, junk food, cigarettes, condoms, and other familiar products. All of the branded packages have been emptied of their products, however. On Friday, 8 April, the store opened its doors at 1386 Yuyuan Lu of Changning District, a lively residential and business neighborhood. It is due to remain in business until 29 April. The Art Newspaper, April 11, 2016


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