Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, September 14, 2016


Why Art21 Thinks Vancouver is Canada’s Top Art City.  While each city across Canada has its own creative advantages, it’s difficult to deny that Vancouver’s art scene is the standout from an international perspective—and for good reason.  With artists ranging from Geoffrey Farmer (Canada’s 2017 Venice pick) to Jeff Wall, Vancouver artists are known far and wide for their excellence. And when Phaidon’s Art Cities of the Future came out a few years ago, Vancouver was the only city in North America (not just Canada) that made the list. So it’s no mistake that when the award-winning American TV show ART21: Art in the Twenty-First Century decided to branch out into Canada for the first time, it decided to focus on Vancouver.  Canadian Art, September 12, 2016

Artist Ken Lum likens potential closure of East Vancouver schools to collective punishment.  Celebrated international artist Ken Lum has joined a growing chorus of voices calling on the provincial government to save Gladstone secondary school in East Vancouver Lum is a Gladstone grad, who created the famous Monument for East Vancouver, known colloquially as the East Van cross.  Georgia Straight, September 13, 2016


Gay Liberation, Sex Dungeons, Gossip, and What We Want in Art.  To some people’s delight and some people’s dismay, identity politics are back, with a vengeance. While fashion and politics seem to come and go in 20-year cycles, repeating -isms ad nauseam, the return of the same systematic roadblocks is disconcerting for the generation who experienced their first full cycle. Speaking with Hazel Meyer and Cait McKinney about the reception of their current collaborative exhibition, “Tape Condition: degraded” at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, issues of disavowment perpetually rear their ugly heads.  Canadian Art, September 13, 2016


Montreal’s Médiathèque littéraire Gaëtan-Dostie braces for shutdown The Médiathèque littéraire Gaëtan-Dostie is a living archive, where you can peruse several small exhibitions, look at original manuscripts and illustrations and read rare volumes. But this dynamic not-for-profit collection faces a possible death sentence, delivered at the end of June by its landlord, the Montreal school board.  Globe & Mail, September 8, 2016

New York

Alec Baldwin Files Suit Accusing Art Dealer of Fraud.  The actor and celebrity Alec Baldwin sued the art dealer Mary Boone in New York State Supreme Court on Monday, asserting in court papers that he had been defrauded in the purchase of a painting from Ms. Boone in 2010.  The suit asserts that Ms. Boone deceived him by promising a painting, “Sea and Mirror,” by the artist Ross Bleckner, that had been sold at Sotheby’s to a Los Angeles collector in 2007, but in fact supplied another similar Bleckner painting, also called “Sea and Mirror.”   New York Times, September 12, 2016

The Tyranny of Art History in Contemporary Art.  The art world likes to ask big art-centric questions like “Can art change the world?” We usually answer “Yes.” I usually disagree. Art can’t stop famine in sub-Saharan Africa or cure Zika. But art does change the world incrementally and by osmosis. Typically by first changing how we see, and thereby how we remember.   Right now at the New Museum is a show that casts a much wider net, that gives weirder and more idiosyncratic work much more air to breathe — and which makes everything we’re used to seeing in museums (and even galleries) seem hemmed-in by comparison.  Vulture, September 12, 2016


Heirs of a Matisse Subject Sue National Gallery London for Return of Allegedly Stolen Portrait. A portrait by Henri Matisse hanging in the National Gallery of London is the subject of a lawsuit by the subject’s heirs, who claim that the painting was looted during World War II. They filed a suit in US District Court, Southern District of New York, for return of the painting on September 6, and claim damages in excess of $30 million. Artnet, September 9, 2016

Wifredo Lam review – Cuba’s last of the true surrealists.  Wilfredo Lam at the Tate Modern,  reflects the artist’s odyssey from Cuba to Europe and back again turned him from a disciple of Picasso into a feverish painter of gods, monsters, mystery and sex.  The Guardian, September 13, 2016

Zaha Hadid’s successor: my blueprint for the future.  Patrik Schumacher is an architect who thinks the world needs more unfettered capitalism, not less. He loves Brexit and the escape it offers from “the paralysing embrace of the EU’s interventionist regulatory overreach”. He wants all public funding of art schools to be stopped because “contemporary art is not justifiable by argument”.  The Guardian, September 12, 2016


Finnish politics play havoc with Guggenheim’s Helsinki museum plans.  A plan to build a Guggenheim museum on the Helsinki waterfront – joining the likes of those that grace New York, Bilbao and Venice – appears close to collapse because of a political row.  It’s all about money and austerity. The co-ruling nationalist Finns party has blocked state aid for its construction.  Reuters, September 6, 2016

São Paulo

São Paulo Biennial – artists react to Brazil’s political turmoil. The 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, which opened to the public this weekend in this glorious mess of a megacity, is the oldest such art exhibition in the world after the Venice Biennale. It’s a halting, tentative, exploratory show – and its hesitancy may be a natural response to the wild gyrations of this country, upended by a one-two-three punch of political, economic, and medical crises. The Guardian, September 12, 2016


What Does Art Do? Canadian Artists Make a Mark in Gwangju. Within the past week or so, three biennales have opened in Korea.  The oldest one, the Gwangju Biennale, is the largest and was at the forefront of the first wave of biennales in East Asia. Since its first edition in 1995, it has uniquely fostered curatorial practice in a socially and politically charged environment. Canadian Art, September 8, 2016


Art Collectors Wake Up To Investment Potential Of Contemporary Chinese Photography. Collectors in the West have been buying photography since the 70s, and it regularly appears on the auction block as a valuable investment, but the medium is relatively new to buyers in China. Asked why interest is growing now, founder of Photofairs and CEO of World Photography Organization Scott Gray replies, “It’s a really sexy medium…More and more people are wanting to buy art and with photography you can get something which is immensely collectable by a high profile artist for $50,000.” Forbes, September 12, 2016


As artists play the field, galleries are having to adapt.  “Mega-dealers” have wielded increasing cultural clout since the term was coined in 2010, but now the balance of power is tipping in favour of artists who are playing the field by exhibiting with galleries that do not represent them, or calling the shots in their long-term relationships. The Art Newspaper, September 12, 2016



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