Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, December 1, 2016


Simon Starling’s works reveal deep histories.  “In a recent artist’s talk, Simon Starling spoke initially about, well, artists’ talks. The Turner Prize–winning, Copenhagen-based British artist characterized the illustrated lecture—a mainstay of art-world education—as a medium unto itself.It is, he said, a way of reconciling exhibited images and objects with “the realities that have driven their making”. His art practice could be described in similar terms. Much of what he does is interpret—or reinterpret—works of modern art and design by a long and probing journey through the social, political, economic, and material conditions of their creation and display. Given the complexity of Starling’s art and the depth of research and learning behind each piece, viewers are grateful for—even needful of—access to his process. For those who missed his low-key but fascinating description of the works in his exhibition at the Rennie Museum, there are tours by docents and explanatory labels to more fully open the art to our appreciation.”  Georgia Straight, November 30, 3016

Must-Sees This Week: December 1 to 7  They include: the Vancouver Art Gallery‘s new triennial exhibition “Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures” opening December 3 with works by 40 artists including Alison Yip, Charlene Vickers, Tamara Henderson and Lyse Lemieux, among others.  Presentation House Gallery hosts a chat between Jordan Wilson and Raymond Boisjoly about the institutional framing of contemporary Indigenous cultural practices and the West Vancouver Museum reflects on a decade of collecting art with a tour by curator Darrin Morrison, who will speak about the collection, which includes work by Christos Dikeakos, Fred Herzog, Gordon Smith, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and others.  Canadian Art lists more ‘must see’ events and exhibitions across the country.  Canadian Art, December 1, 2016

Poly Culture North America Launches Flagship Art Gallery Showcasing Rare Artifacts from Beijing’s Famed Summer Palace. Poly Culture Group, China’s leading art and culture company who manages the world’s largest theatre chains and operates the world’s third largest artwork auction house, today opens the doors of its flagship art gallery in the heart of downtown Vancouver.  This historic art installation and the special performance by the China Philharmonic Orchestra  at UBC’s Chan Centre this evening mark the official opening of Poly Culture Group’s North American headquarters in Vancouver. Canadian Newswire, November 30, 2016

Museum of Vancouver names Mark Richards as new CEO. The Museum of Vancouver has appointed Mark Richards as its new CEO.  Richards was most recently a director at the Museum of London, and has held positions at various national museums in the United Kingdom including the British Museum and the Science Museum in London.  Georgia Straight, November 30, 2016


Renowned local artist Chili Thom dies.  Local artist Chili Thom has died, Arts Whistler announced on Wednesday (Nov. 30). The 40-year-old had been battling cancer. “Chili was instrumental in the development of arts and culture in Whistler,” said Heather Paul, chair of the Arts Whistler board, in a post on the organization’s website. “He was a brilliant painter and an unwavering advocate for our community’s artists.”   Whistler Question, November 30, 2016


Little but Luxe: 5 Remarkable Boxwood Carvings. Why do miniatures provide such singular pleasure? They certainly make you feel a little bit like a god. And there’s a nostalgic element that recalls childhoods spent with small dollhouses and accessories. But the Art Gallery of Ontario’s new showing of Gothic boxwood miniatures provides another, perhaps more convincing, merit: museum-quality miniatures are intricate to the point of impracticality. In an era of life hacks, there is no luxury greater than an unnecessary expenditure of energy.   Canadian Art, November 30, 2016


Edmonton Journal arts section gutted. PostMedia announced in October it was going to cut staff across the board by 20%, voluntary buyouts first, layoffs if there aren’t enough volunteers. This comes in the wake of the announcement of a cutback of arts coverage in the Journal’s print edition to four days a week., November 30, 2016

Thunder Bay

Design unveiled for new Thunder Bay waterfront art gallery.  The proposal to bring Thunder Bay’s art gallery to the waterfront is one step closer to reality, after the preliminary design for the structure was unveiled at a public meeting on Tuesday night.  The proposed new 40,000 square foot, two-storey building would be located south of the Spirit Garden, on Tugboat Basin, and it would include an event hall overlooking Lake Superior, a cafe and a larger gift shop.  CBC News, November 30, 2106


The Future of NSCAD University. Times have been tough at NSCAD. Most everyone interviewed was nervous about this article, concerned over what another piece of possibly bad publicity could do. Recent salacious headlines of a lab tech convicted for child pornography and another prominent associate professor convicted for voyeurism at a Halifax gallery were salt in the wound of the school’s public image. While staff was in court, 18 administration and custodial staff—some of whom had worked at the school for decades—were laid off. In fall 2015, students threatened to drop classes over a “tuition reset” that means they’ll pay more than $8,000 for five courses in 2018, almost four times what their parents’ generation likely paid. Undergraduate enrolment dropped 15.5 per cent—about equal to the student body losing a leg. Canadian Art, November 30, 2016

Standing Rock, North Dakota

A Report from Standing Rock, Where Artists Listen, Learn, Inspire, and Heal. I also talked to two Native American artists, Rebecca Nagle and Graci Horne, who have come to Standing Rock to create a Healing Tent and to work on their Monument Quilt project, which addresses sexual violence. The latter is a project fashioned after the well-known AIDS Memorial Quilt. The pair have also organized women-only and Native women-only healing circles for survivors. They talked to me about the prevalence of sexual violence, assault, and stalking against Native American women, particularly in North Dakota, where many so-called man camps house temporary oil workers.  Hyperallergic, November 28, 2016

New York

Third Place? In Auction World, Phillips Is Making Strides.  Phillips’s forthright use of guarantees, as well as its roster of new specialists able to attract high-quality material, succeeded in making the auction house a player this season. “They definitely stepped up their game,” said Alex Rotter, who recently left Sotheby’s to become chairman of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s Americas. “They’re building something that needs to be seriously considered in the 20th-century and contemporary art world.” New York Times, November 30, 2016


Your Concise Guide to the 2016 Miami Art Fairs. There are more than 20 fairs in Miami this week, on top of the rich offerings at the city’s museums and private collections. Here’s a handy way to make sense of it all.  Hyperallergic, November 28, 2016


Robert Rauschenberg review – six sensational decades of work finally reveal the man in full. From first to last, Tate Modern’s Robert Rauschenberg show is almost impossibly rich and rewarding. Paintings made with dirt and paintings of nothing at all, images that encapsulate the achievements and disasters of 1960s America, a stuffed goat that looks like it has been feeding from a painter’s palette, and a mud-bath gurgling liquid cement like a lava pool. The exhibition moves through a life and career at gathering pace, from the early 1950s to the artist’s death in 2008. Room after room arrest us with yet another creative swerve, a shift in medium, scale, formal attack and presence. The Guardian, November 30, 2016

Modern-day Monuments Men wanted by the British Army.  The ministry of defence has tasked the army with creating a specialist cultural protection unit, MPs were told during a debate in Parliament in late October. The army, as well as the navy and air force, is looking to recruit between 15 and 20 people, such as archaeologists, with the specialist knowledge that the military lacks on the front line. “For the first time since the Second World War, the UK will have a specialised unit to protect cultural property wherever its forces are deployed,” says Peter Stone, the Unesco chair in cultural property and peace at Newcastle University.  The Art Newspaper, November 29, 2016


Cy Twombly review – blood-soaked coronation for a misunderstood master.  Twombly, an artist who was born in Lexington, Virginia in 1928 and moved to Italy in the 1950s, is in many ways very French. In the Salle des Bronzes Antiques at the Louvre museum in Paris, where ancient Greek armour waits silently for wars that will never come again, the room’s vast ceiling is painted by Twombly with a bright expanse of blue, its intensity illuminated by silver and gold suns and moons as if the light of the Mediterranean were infusing the museum with desire and danger.  The Guardian, November 30, 2016


Geneva Free Port: The greatest art collection no-one can see  The National Gallery in London has around 2,300 paintings in its collection – which might sound a lot, but is a piffling hoard compared to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which has gathered almost 200,000 artworks of varying types and quality.  That is properly impressive. But it’s not a patch on what you will find – reportedly – in an unprepossessing, windowless warehouse complex in south-west Switzerland.  I say “reportedly” because nobody actually knows exactly how many works of art are stored in the Geneva Free Port, but its chairman talks of “a million”, while the New York Times says the number is nearer 1.2 million.   BBC News, December 1, 2016


Van Gogh Museum criticises experts for ‘easygoing attitude’ towards authentication.  The battle between the Van Gogh Museum and two of the most experienced experts on the artist has intensified.  The museum’s latest statement on 29 November criticises Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov (the author) and Ronald Pickvance (who wrote the foreword) for their “excessively easygoing attitude… towards questions of authenticity”.  The Art Newspaper, November 30, 2016


Guggenheim Helsinki Museum Plans Are Rejected.  Plans to build a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki were defeated on Wednesday night, when lawmakers in the Finnish city voted down a proposal to pay for the $138 million museum with a mixture of private and public money.  New York Times, November 30 , 2016


An Artist Invites Viewers to Attain Stillness of Mind Together.  At the South Korean conceptual artist Kimsooja’s new participatory installation, Archive of the Mind — which is also the title of her exhibition at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul (MMCA) — I engaged in a strangely calming activity. Hyperallergic, November 28, 2016



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