Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, January 5, 2017


Taiwanese-Canadian artist creates 252-metre long watercolour to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. John Chen, a Taiwanese-Canadian artist, has created a 252-metre long watercolour painting to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday this year. Chen’s painting is a combination of realism and imagination. It depicts travelling from his studio and house, overlooking big Douglas firs in a ravine on the West Side of Vancouver, to local landmarks such as the Museum of Anthropology at the University of B.C. and Stanley Park and then eastward to the Rocky Mountains. Vancouver Sun, January 4, 2017


Remai Modern gets noticed in New York Times.  The story, about various new galleries opening around the world, includes the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, the “first major contemporary art museum on the continent.”  Saskatoon is cited as one “surprising locale” for a “splashy new museum.” Star Phoenix, January 4, 2017


5 reasons to love the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  No need to worry that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a downer. This $351-million national museum dreamed up by the late media mogul Izzy Asper has become a game changer for tourism after just two years. Toronto Star, January 4, 2017


Internet Idols: The Ceramics of Kaley Flowers.  Like My Little Ponies updated for the Internet age, each candy-coloured ceramic creature by Kaley Flowers has its own unique personality. When I first saw Flowers’s work this summer at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, her tables strewn with a menagerie of small, blobby-bodied creatures, I immediately wanted to examine them and choose the one whose personality best suited mine.  Canadian Art, January 4, 2017

Telling tales with textiles.  Sheila Hicks is a curious combination of artist and anthropologist. She doggedly records her impressions of the places and people she sees and meets, doing so using an unconventional medium: textiles.   Hicks’s woven sketches, which she calls minimes (French for minimal, not a contraction of Mini Me), are currently on display as part of Material Voices, a retrospective of her work at Toronto’s Textile Museum – her first ever show in Canada.   Globe & Mail, December 28, 2016

San Francisco

The Making of Virtually Real Art With Google’s Tilt Brush. In 1949, a Life magazine photographer named Gjon Mili made a pilgrimage to the French Riviera to see Pablo Picasso. Mili had come up with a way to photograph trails of light, and he wanted to shoot Picasso “drawing” in midair with a light pen — a process that would leave no trace except on film. Picasso loved it. The result, published in Life and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, was Picasso’s celebrated series of “light drawings” of bulls and centaurs and the like — photographs that captured him in the act of creating the ultimate in ephemeral art.  Picasso is long gone. But some 68 years later, Google has been calling on dozens of artists, animators and illustrators with a high-tech update of Mili’s concept — a virtual reality setup that enables people to paint with light that actually stays where you put it, at least for viewers wearing a VR headset.  New York Times, January 4, 2017

Fort Worth

Amon Carter Museum of American Art Receives Historic $20 Million Gift The Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, has announced that it has been awarded a landmark $20 million gift from the Walton Family Foundation. The gift, which was made in honor of the institution’s longtime president of the board Ruth Carter Stevenson who died in 2013, will establish an endowment to support future exhibitions and programming.  Artforum, January 4, 2017

New York

Ken Weine Is Named Communications Chief at Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Having come aboard nearly four years ago at the New York Public Library to help that institution navigate its controversial expansion — which was ultimately scrapped in the wake of protests — Ken Weine is moving to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as chief communications officer, just when the museum is embarking on its own potentially problematic expansion.  New York Times, January 4, 2017

Shirin Neshat’s best photograph: an Iranian woman with a gun in her hairWomen of Allah is supposed to be sympathetic, but also disturbing. Every image tried to frame that paradox: the woman who gives birth, is attractive and believes in God, but is also very brutal, very violent, a killer.  The Guardian, January 5, 2017


Shamanic drumming, poetry, soundscapes: Barnes welcomes first-ever sonic installation.  This weekend, Andrea Hornick’s “Unbounded Histories” unfolds at the Barnes Foundation. It’s the first time the Barnes, that individualistic collection of Postimpressionist art, early modern paintings, African sculpture, and more, will host a sound installation.  Philadelphia Inquirer, January 4, 2017


Adrian Searle on John Berger: ‘Art for him was never apart from being alive’  I cannot overestimate John Berger’s importance to me. It wasn’t so much his critical opinions or insights I valued, so much as the man himself, whose vitality and receptiveness to the things about him had a force I have rarely encountered.  It was his freedom as a writer I admired most. He had both backbone and playfulness, approaching things at tangents but always illuminating his subjects in unexpected and often disconcerting ways.  John Berger obituary   The Guardian, January 2, 2017


Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s ‘Screwarch’: The Pop Art Bridge That Never Was  In 1977, artist Claes Oldenburg and his wife and collaborator Coosje van Bruggen created a proposal for a bridge intended to span the same Niewe Maas river in Rotterdam. From the start, the proposal was just theoretical, but, as it went along, the Pop Art duo created drawings, plans, and even a model in the hopes of convincing the government to bring it to life.  The Daily Beast, December 31, 2016.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong will build branch of Beijing’s Palace Museum.  Hong Kong branch of the Palace Museum in Beijing is due to open in the $3bn West Kowloon Cultural District by 2022. The museum will show works from the former Chinese imperial collections on long-term loan after an agreement was signed between the Hong Kong government and Palace Museum officials on 23 December, catching many by surprise. The Art Newspaper, December 27, 2016


Artist Heo Suyoung and the Magic of Capturing Time in Paint.  Korean painter Heo Suyoung’s canvases are slow, all-encompassing scenes that take a long time to enter as a viewer. With lush, richly layered foliage and dense brush, his images teem with the visual complexity of the forest and manage to collapse and scale the passage of time. The young artist carefully labors over these works for at least a year, aiming to capture the turning of the seasons in one single image.  Artnet News, January 4, 2017


Art to inspire: Ali Smith, Alain de Botton and others on the works they love.  Got the January blues? To kick off a series dedicated to culture that can uplift us in 2017, six writers and creators from the worlds of music, philosophy, fiction and art choose the works they can rely on to replenish their energy for life.  The Guardian, January 1, 2017


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