Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, December 8, 2016


Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures sparks delight in dark times. “There’s such an exuberance of colour, texture, and form in Vancouver Special that the overall impression is one of delight.  Yes, there may be sombre subthemes swimming beneath the surface of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s ambitious new survey exhibition. And flickering shadows may be cast behind the paintings and sculptures, the installations and assemblages, the films, textiles, and text works on view. Still, despite these intimations of the dark times in which we live, the overall mood is life-affirming.”  Georgia Straight, December 7, 2016

Art in 2016: A View from Vancouver.  “When I was approached to write a year-end reflection on exhibitions and events in Vancouver, I puzzled over how such a tumultuous year could be framed and discussed without dissolving into trite optimism or outright nihilism. Moreover, reflecting on the city’s vibrant artist-run centre community, I wondered how I could possibly do justice to the vital and multifaceted discussions that have taken place and that continue to press on with even greater urgency today.  While major players like the Vancouver Art Gallery projected an image of stability during this time of crisis, looking towards an iconic past with heavy hitters like “Mashup,” a survey of modernist art strategies and their reverberations in contemporary practice, and Picasso: The Artist and His Muses, a perspective on the iconic artist through his various personal affiliations, other artists and exhibitions have problematized the traditional function of the gallery and museum, bringing to light alternative perspectives of history and experimental art practices, and giving voice to those whose voices have been denied for too long.” Canadian Art, December 7, 2016

Alliance for Arts and Culture seeks increased funding ahead of 2017 provincial election.  British Columbia’s leading data collector and resource for the arts is calling on the public to help get a message to the provincial government, ahead of the upcoming 2017 election.  The Alliance for Arts and Culture is seeking participation from members and supporters of the arts, culture, and heritage sectors in its strategy to request that the provincial government double the budget of the BC Arts Council over the next three years.  Georgia Straight, December2, 2016


Facing funding crunch, Toronto’s Luminato develops new business model.  After celebrating its 10th anniversary at a decommissioned Toronto power plant last summer, Luminato is heading back to the downtown core.  The trip from the Hearn Generating Station in the eastern Port Lands to downtown Toronto is not far, but festival cheif executive officer Anthony Sargent and his new artistic director, Josephine Ridge, are facing a tsunami of challenges along the way.  Globe & Mail, December 7, 2016

At the galleries: Willes taps into our nervous tension and Ostoff renders unremarkable domestic objects.  Other exhibits include Andrew James Paterson’s I Stand Corrected/Collected and Kelly Wallace’s Unman. Toronto Star, December 7, 2016


On Instagram, Archives and Architecture. “I’ve been obsessed with archives as of late, no doubt in response to the strange climate of the year. If 2016 has reminded us of anything, it’s that history does not always move in a straight line. It bends, circulates, diverges and often forces us to trip back over ourselves.  Social-media platforms are inescapably archival—the thousands of postings linked to hashtags are proof of this.”  Canadian Art, December 7, 2016

Show me the Monet: Why is Canada falling behind in terms of contemporary art? There are a lot of things to critique about the world of contemporary art. It’s elitist, self-congratulatory and – in its worst moments – unable to tell the difference between things that belong in the garbage and things that should sell for millions.  You no longer have to be a part of the inner arts circle to be able to name and recognize artists like Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami or Ai WeiWei.  In the midst of all this hype, Canadian artists have yet to truly make their mark. National Post, December 7, 2016

New York

For Its Whitney Biennial Project, Occupy Museums Is Calling on Artists in Debt to Share Their Experiences.  Each year, more American artists go to school to get M.F.A. degrees, and more people come out of those programs in debt. Becoming a successful artist may, in other words, come at a financial cost. “Debt,” the collective Occupy Museums writes in a manifesto on the website for its ongoing project Debtfair, “is the key to American art today.”  Artnet News, December 6, 2016


An Alluring Glimpse into Japan’s Embrace of Art Deco.  In the years between the 1925 Paris Exhibition (where the style became famous) and World War II, Art Deco became as popular in Japan as it did in any other prosperous country. “The cultural hybridity was, in a way, a reversal of the one that emerged in Western Europe in the late-19th century, when Japonism swept through the region, captivating the Impressionists in particular.”  Hyperallergic, December 5, 2016


Why is the Turner prize failing to engage with politics?   Let’s begin with the inherent art prize problem… One person’s genius is always another’s joker, and prizewinners almost always reveal more about the appointed judges’ sensibilities than anything else. The Turner, which will be awarded on 5 December, is no exception. But despite Tate’s rhetoric, the “best of British” isn’t what the prize is really about. Its true value lies in the Turner’s existence as a public institution that each year opens up and reintroduces the field of contemporary art to the nation.   The Guardian, December 3, 2016

Helen Marten wins Turner prize, securing second big award in a month. Helen Marten has sealed her position as one of the UK’s most exciting young artists after being named the winner of the 2016 Turner prize, her second big award in the space of a month.  The 31-year-old artist, who was born in Macclesfield, was presented with her £25,000 prize by the writer Ben Okri at a ceremony at London’s Tate Britain gallery.   The Guardian, December 6 2016

Sean O’Hagan’s top 10 photography exhibitions of 2016.  From Elton John’s ravishing collection to the early days of Diane Arbus and the beautiful worlds of Paul Strand, here are the best photography shows of 2016.   The Guardian, December 3, 2016

‘Once in a lifetime’ exhibition of Cézanne’s portraits to tour capitals.  The first exhibition devoted entirely to the portraits of Paul Cézanne, an artist hailed as “the father of us all” by Matisse and Picasso, is to be staged in London, Paris and Washington.  The National Portrait Gallery in London announced details of what it said would be a once in a lifetime exhibition.  The Guardian, December 7, 2016

New York artist gets green light to illuminate London’s bridges.   Leo Villareal, the New York artist behind the lighting up of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, has been chosen for a £20m project illuminating London’s 17 bridges.  Villareal and the British architects and urban planners Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands won from a shortlist of six for what is one of the UK’s biggest ever public art commissions. The Guardian, December 7, 2016

Tel Aviv

Golden ‘King Bibi’ statue causes guerrilla-art stir in Israel.  A gilded statue of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dubbed “King Bibi” by sculptor Itay Zalait, stirred condemnation from Israel’s culture minister and was toppled by an onlooker after a brief public appearance on Tuesday. The Israeli government and artists have been locked in a so-called “culture war” over steps by Culture Minister Miri Regev to withhold state funds from institutions that do not express loyalty to the state.   Reuters, December 6, 2016

2 thoughts on “Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, December 8, 2016

  1. What an excellent art news resource! Thanks for doing this. I’d love to be on your email list for these reports.


    Kirstie Lang

    VAG Public Programmes, 1995-1999

  2. Thanks for your positive comments! The best way to get the News is to follow us by adding your email address and clicking ‘follow’. That way you’re automatically updated as soon as we post anything new, including dates of our annual book sale and other news items.

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