Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, February 14, 2018


Why Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors is the blockbuster every gallery craves.  Herman Lo, the Art Gallery of Ontario’s director of visitor experience, sounds thoroughly relieved. Possibly, it has to do with his impending vacation, which will commence shortly after we get off the phone.  Or, probably, it has more to do with the reason he planned his vacation for this particular day – the last day of the AGO’s final presale for its upcoming exhibit Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. Lo’s job, as its name implies, is to oversee every aspect of the potential AGO attendee’s journey, from searching for opening times online to picking up your things at the coat check – a job that lately has been excessively focused on making sure Infinity Mirrors is the blockbuster that every gallery so desperately craves.  Globe & Mail, February 9, 2018

Toronto’s new property tax subclass is a limited gesture but a first step toward the city we want.  So it’s finally here, not exactly as hoped, ever so slightly diminished and on a short, one-year leash, but the city’s newly minted creative co-location property tax subclass is a landmark acknowledgement by our local government of what we’ve all watched helplessly emerge for a decade or more: that the vast chasm that yawed open between what the market would bear and the burden borne by its citizens needs more than a little bridging. Toronto Star, February 13, 2018

Video: In the Studio with Madelyne Beckles.  Madelyne Beckles playfully takes the solemnity of second-wave feminist theory and redeploys it to poke fun at art history and popular culture. “The only things I had available to me when I started to make art were my body and my webcam and my phone and objects around my house, so that has informed the installation, the performance and the video aspects of my work,” the artist explains.  Canadian Art, February 8, 2018


The life and death of Sun K. Kwak’s art.  When Sun K. Kwak was a young girl growing up in Seoul, her trips to the art gallery could just as easily have been scenes from the film The Sixth Sense. While others went about their business marvelling at the array of figurative art, all she saw were dead people. Now, for the first time, her work has come to Canada with the site-specific installation, Untying Space_CUAG, a solo exhibition at Ottawa’s Carleton University Art Gallery.  Globe & Mail, February 12, 2018


What Happens (Or Doesn’t) at the Residency for Artists on Hiatus. In 2013, Shinobu Akimoto and Matthew Evans launched an artist residency that got rid of the art-making.  While the Residency for Artists on Hiatus can be viewed as a kind of critique of the art world and its demands for constant productivity and engagement, it has also been increasingly embraced by that world—until March 3, for instance, Akimoto and Evans are holding residency office hours and workshops at the DHC/ART Foundation in Montreal. (Workshop topics are explicitly “non-art” and include macrobiotic foods, guitar chords, functional origami and more.) Here’s what they’ve learned along the way…  Canadian Art, February 12, 2018


The Women Who Could Transform Acadian Art.  Two years ago, curator Elise Anne LaPlante began a research residency at the Galerie d’art Louise-et-Reuben-Cohen in Moncton. This past fall, the results went on view in an exhibition, “Tombées dans les Interstices: A Contemporary Look at the Contribution of a Few Women Artists to Modern-day Acadie,” that prompted viewers to pay careful attention to nine women artists whose work could transform contemporary Acadian art and cultural identity.  Canadian Art, February 13, 2018

Los Angeles

Here’s the ‘Made in L.A. 2018’ Artist List.  The 2018 edition of the Made in L.A. biennial at the Hammer Museum will present work by 32 artists. The exhibition, which will open June 3 and continue into September, is curated by Anne Ellegood and Erin Christovale, both curators at the Hammer.  ArtsNews, February 13, 2018

Bentonville, Ak

Is Crystal Bridges, in rural Arkansas, the most woke museum in America?  Insight into the museum’s audience, along with a sense that the museum needed a more flexible strategy than its original, encyclopedic approach, has led to ongoing changes at Crystal Bridges. The early American galleries are closed for renovation and will be opened with works by Native American artists intermixed with the original painting collection. Perhaps the most notable change, however, is the astonishing mix of work by artists who are not white men throughout the museum.  The Washington Post, February 10, 2018


Official Obama Portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald Were Just Unveiled.  Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveiled the official, highly anticipated portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama, painted, respectively, by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. The former first couple and the artists were in attendance at the ceremony, held at the museum, to mark a historic moment: the paintings — beyond capturing the first black president and First Lady — represent the first-ever official presidential portraits executed by black painters.  Hyperallergic, February 11, 2018.  See also: Teaching Activities for: ‘Obama Portraits Blend Paint and Politics, and Fact and Fiction’  New York Times, February 14, 2018


Our removal of Waterhouse’s naked nymphs painting was art in action.  The recent, temporary removal from Manchester Art Gallery of John William Waterhouse’s 1896 painting Hylas and the Nymphs, which depicts Hercules’ handsome male lover being lured to his death in a pond by seven long-haired, topless nymphs (pubescent girls), was an attempt to involve a much wider group of people than usual in the curatorial process.The Guardian, February 13, 2018


Plans for Grand Palais’s €466m facelift revealed: six new galleries and a Chanel-sponsored entrance. The Grand Palais in Paris—the historic exhibition and fair venue built in 1900 for the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair)—will close for almost three years for the most extensive revamp in its history.   According to detailed plans announced by the Réunion des musées nationaux (RMN), the government cultural body that runs the building, a new entrance will be unveiled leading from Square Jean Perrin into the refurbished Palais de la découverte, a science museum adjoining the Grand Palais. A new internal “pedestrian street” called the Rue des Palais will also be built, linking the different parts of the vast historic complex .  The Art Newspaper, February 13, 2018


The Precarious, Glamorous Lives of Independent Curators.  Asked what advice she has for her younger peers, independent curator Jacqueline Mabey laughed. “I don’t know if you should get advice from me,” she said. “I’m in my mid-thirties, with green hair and no savings!” Mabey—who is perhaps most widely known for her work with Art+Feminism, a project meant to tackle gender imbalances in Wikipedia’s arts coverage—isn’t alone in evincing a cheerful gallows humor about the state of her field.  Artsy, February 8, 2018


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