Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, March 16, 2017


Affordable Vancouver: Five things to do under $50 in Canada’s west coast hub. Vancouver Art Gallery: It’s pretty outside and even more stately on the inside, with a glorious main rotunda and lots of natural light. There are some gorgeous works by stars such as Emily Carr, lovely First Nations art and cutting-edge photographic works. Current exhibits include a contemporary art display called Ambivalent Pleasures, with varied and wildly abstract works by 40 artists. There’s also a nice cafe.  National Post, March 14, 2017


Winnipeg Report: The Slippage of Memory. As Winnipeg tilts toward the annual false start of spring, artworks and exhibitions around here seem to be showing the lingering effects of the season. Though it’s cliché to mention the extreme weather in our sun-chilled city, the very real early darkness and isolating cold remain catalysts for seasonal-affective activities such as mental time travel. While this can be a worrying trend to apply to creative practice, as artwork concerning memory can often be heavy on nostalgia and light on conceptual rigour, Winnipeg artists are creating sensitive, complex and exciting work on this subject that can spark life into a dim winter brain. Canadian Art, March 15, 2017


Three left on the shortlist for Scotiabank Photography Award. The finalists for this year’s Scotiabank Photography Award, Canada’s largest annual peer-nominated and peer-reviewed photography award, are Montreal’s Raymonde April, an innovator in what the art-world illuminati call “auto-fiction”; fellow Montrealer Donigan Cumming, whose 2015 picture book Kerr’s Suitcase explored the myth of the artist who dreams of a life in photography; and Shelley Niro, a Mohawk visual artist from Brantford, Ont., hailed for her sensitivity, humour and stereotype-smashing photographs of Native American women.  Globe & Mail, March 15, 2017


How Will the Canada Council’s New $88.5 Million Digital Fund Be Spent?  In November, the Canada Council—Canada’s largest arts funding agency—announced that it was creating a new $88.5 million fund dedicated to digital projects. Now, at a major summit happening today and tomorrow in Montreal, the council is unveiling more details about how that money will be distributed to artists and arts organizations.  Canada Council CEO Simon Brault tells Canadian Art. “We don’t care who is presenting what; what we want are projects that are scalable, that have an impact [broadly], not just giving a potential edge to one organization.” Canadian Art, March 16, 2017

Montreal’s McCord Museum resurrects forgotten fashion moments of Expo 67.  Fifty years after Montreal hosted a world’s fair to mark Canada’s centennial, Expo 67 is generally remembered for art, architecture and infrastructure rather than miniskirts.  But that’s something Montreal’s McCord Museum is trying to change with “Fashioning Expo 67,” an exhibit that seeks to resurrect what its curator calls a “forgotten moment” in Canadian fashion.  National Post, March 15, 2017


The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia showcasing major photographic exhibition of Thaddeus Holownia’s work.  Mount Allison University fine arts department Head and visual artist Thaddeus Holownia launched a 180-piece photographic exhibition of his work on Feb. 3 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia — The Nature of Nature: The photographs of Thaddeus Holownia, 1976-2016.   The exhibition is described as the most comprehensive critical analysis of his practice to date.   Sackville Tribune, March 14, 2017

Los Angeles

Kerry James Marshall: ‘As an artist, everything should be a challenge’  Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Kerry James Marshall taught himself to draw and made his first paintings in Harlem YMCA. As a major retrospective opens in LA, he talks about taking on the Old Masters  The Guardian, March 15, 2017

New York

MoMA’s Travel Ban Protest Exposes a Legacy of Closeted Modernism. On January 27, the White House issued an Executive Order “protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry in the United States.” Within days, curators transformed MoMA’s galleries. Placards placed alongside works by artists from the banned countries read:  “This work is by an artist from a nation whose citizens are being denied entry to the United States, according to a presidential executive order issued on January 27, 2017. This is one of several such artworks from the Museum’s collection installed throughout the fifth-floor galleries to affirm the ideals of welcome and freedom as vital to this Museum, as they are to the United States.”  Many of the art works featured in MoMA’s protest against the travel ban were in fact acquired by the museum in the 1960s. Typically, the artworks were shown only once in exhibitions of recent acquisitions and then taken to storage where they remained for decades. I have called this art “a closeted modernism.”  Hyperallergic, March 15, 2017

United States

The Admission Fees Are Too Damn High.  Here is the dilemma: Museums continue to struggle with how to attract younger and diverse audiences while maintaining and enacting high admissions fees. Adults pay $25 at the Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, MFA and $27 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It is no less expensive to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York ($25), the Guggenheim ($22), the Whitney ($20), the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia ($22), the Art Institute of Chicago ($23), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art ($18) or the Los Angeles County Museum of Art ($15). And with Americans bent on restarting the manufacturing sector due to pockets of pernicious unemployment, those prices aren’t negligible for many… Museums do have huge expenses and admissions fees can help defray them, but these fees could be reduced or eliminated if these institutions reallocated other, and substantial amounts of, money that they are sitting on, which goes solely to buy more stuff.  New York Observer, March 14, 2017

US embassy art scheme should survive Trump  The Trump administration is considering cutting federal funding for the arts, among other spending programmes, in an attempt to reduce domestic spending. However, one US cultural initiative appears to be secure: the State Department’s Art in Embassies programme, which places works by US artists in embassies and ambassadorial homes around the world.  The Art Newspaper, March 7, 2017


Phantoms of Moscow: museum unveils city’s unrealised architecture.  Buildings christened “the phantoms of Moscow” – including a library which would have been the biggest in the world, and the Palace of the Soviets, which would have been topped with a statue of Lenin taller than the Statue of Liberty – are the stars of a new exhibition at London’s Design Museum.  The Guardian, March 15, 2017

Howard Hodgkin: farewell to a matchless master of colour.  Howard Hodgkin was a great artist of sex and death. Like the handful of British modern painters who are his peers – Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and David Hockney – he rebelled against the austerity of abstract art and instead put the human self, in all its desire and suffering, at the centre of his universe.  Unlike Bacon, Freud and Hockney, though, he did this in a poetic, indirect, allusive way that can be superficially mistaken for the very abstract art that he rejected, body and soul.  The Guardian, March 9, 2017


Maison Ruinart unveils new sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. Jaume Plensa, in Paris for the unveiling of a new sculpture commissioned by Maison Ruinart at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, is one of the most important players of the contemporary artistic scene. Best known for his signature sculptures that play with the relationship between words, signs and the human body, his primary interest is in the “biological condition of language” – and his works, including this latest commission, see multiple letter forms take on a human shape.  The Telegraph, March 15, 2017

A Shelter for Art Caught in the Crossfire.  Construction is scheduled to start this fall on a new building for the Louvre.  Costing an estimated 60 million euros ($63 million) and designed by the British architecture firm Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners, the building in Liévin, about 210 kilometers (about 130 miles) north of Paris, will be a storehouse and conservation base for 250,000 objects from the Louvre’s permanent collection. It has also been offered by the French government as a haven for artifacts at risk of looting and destruction in conflict zones of the Middle East.  New York Times, March 11, 2017

Is it art or television? New TV set can serve as both.   A Samsung representative led a contingent of international journalists into a gallery Tuesday at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, pointing out one wall covered with framed art. The challenge?  To pick out the 12 pieces on the wall that weren’t static artworks. Interspersed among the art were 12 television sets — a model dubbed The Frame — Samsung’s soon-to-be-released TV that represents a collaboration between the company and Swiss designer Yves Béhar.  Vancouver Sun, March 15, 2017


Statue of Amenhotep III, 66 of goddess Sekhmet unearthed in Luxor.  The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project has discovered a magnificent statue in black granite representing king Amenhotep III seated on the throne.  Ahram Online, March 8, 2017


The 10 Most Innovative Companies In Architecture 2017  For decades, architectural discourse was dominated by the notion that a single iconic building could reshape a neighborhood. Today, the best architecture firms are taking a more nuanced approach to the built environment. They’re using design and technology to tackle everything from climate change to social justice, and they are doing so not as lone geniuses toiling away in the dark, but in collaboration with clients, neighborhoods, and cities.  Fast Company, March 13, 2017


Fashion’s Attics.  In Italy, the state is weak and the family is strong, so it’s logical that, when it comes to preserving their histories, fashion houses—often second- or third-generation family operations—do it themselves. What to do with bolts of nineteen-fifties tweed so heavy that to wear it in a modern office would court heatstroke? Or fragile sandals made of straw, from the Fascist period, when leather was needed for soldiers’ boots? All’archivio!  The New Yorker, March 20, 2017

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