Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, December 19, 2019

This is our last Visual Arts News Digest post of 2019. We are taking a break from December 20 – January 6 and will publish again on January 7, 2020. Very best wishes to all our readers for peaceful and happy holidays!


What’s for – Decolonial – Dinner? For HUM’s last publication of 2019, Indigenous Canadian artist and curator Tania Willard explores the collaborative work of the BC Collective Aotearoa and Louisa Afoa, currently presented in the exhibition Transits and Returns, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. With a focus on Indigenous practices from Canada and beyond, the exhibition also includes the work of New Zealand artists Edith Amituanai and Ahilapalapa Rands and is co-curated by Lana Lopesi. This essay, which extends from our main coverage of European-based projects, signals our aspirations to further our reach to other geographical regions in 2020. HUM, December 18, 2019

Let Them Eat Crystal: Rodney Graham and the Bankruptcy of Ironic Art Celebrated Canadian artist Rodney Graham recently unveiled a new sculpture in Vancouver, a city I once inhabited until 2014. Dubiously touted as “public” art, the work, titled Torqued Chandelier (2019), comprises a massive chandelier, hanging from the underside of Vancouver’s Granville Street Bridge. The piece comprises six hundred polyurethane “crystals” and LED lights, armatured by stainless steel. Four years and 4.8 million dollars went into the chandelier’s making; when it spins, the faux crystals splay like an opulent dervish robe. Graham based its design on a chandelier from late 18th century France – from the Ancien Regime, whose relentless decadence helped galvanize the French revolution. Momus, December 17, 2019

Museum of Vancouver and UBC launch display about Chinese Canadian museum projectA new display space has been created in Chinatown to help visitors learn about a forthcoming museum dedicated to Chinese Canadian history. The Museum of Vancouver (MOV) and UBC, with support from the City of Vancouver and the B.C. government, have teamed up to launch a curated pocket gallery at the Chinese Canadian Museum project office located at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver (50 East Pender Street). The pocket gallery features an MOV exhibition curated by UBC history professor Henry Yu, PhD candidate Denise Fong, and MOV contemporary culture curator Viviane Gosselin… In September 2018, the City of Vancouver and the B.C. government announced their plans to create a Chinese Canadian museum. A year ago, the B.C. government launched public consultations about the project. On November 8 of this year, the B.C. government announced it would provide a $1 million grant for the museum, part of which was used to create the project office. Georgia Straight, December 17, 2019


Audain Art Museum acquires Emily Carr masterwork A 1912 Emily Carr painting that expresses a Kwakwaka’wakw community scene frozen in time has been acquired by Whistler’s Audain Art Museum, care of the Audain Foundation. Titled Street, Alert Bay, the vibrantly hued oil-on-canvas work was produced after the artist’s studies in France, carrying through the vibrant Fauvism colours that had inspired her across the Atlantic. But it is also highly significant for its subject matter, depicting Indigenous people amid two long houses on a street with two totem poles. Carr based the work on a 1909 watercolour by Carr entitled Alert Bay, Street Scene with Mother in Foreground. The Emily Carr painting sold in November for $2,401,250 at the most recent Heffel auction in Toronto. Georgia Straight, December 17, 2019


Contemporary Calgary’s transformation of old planetarium ready for the new year Contemporary Calgary has finished phase one of transforming the old planetarium into an art gallery, and announced it has lined up a series of exhibitions for the new year — one of which features art by Yoko Ono and John Lennon. The iconic 1967 landmark at Seventh Avenue and 11th Street S.W. underwent modernization, renovation and expansions this year. David Leinster, CEO of Contemporary Calgary, hopes Calgarians will check out the new space…Rather than focusing on a collection, Leinster says Contemporary Calgary will be made up of traveling exhibitions that’s “fresh and changes all of the time.” CBC News, December 16, 2019


Reimagining Museum Design, With Education at the Forefront Education departments — with their public programming, outreach, and artistic collaborations — have generally been the most imaginative, responsive, and inclusive arms of museums. So, why are they not given the highest consideration in new museum building planning? Looking at the recent museum architecture in New York City and elsewhere, we identify a general pattern. For instance, both the New Museum and the Whitney have education “floors,” which are under-designed and do not offer significant zones for social gatherings, critical reflection, or teaching. Similarly, at the brand new, Museum of Modern Art building, the education “rooms” appear to be an afterthought rather than an integral part of a grand $450 million architectural vision. So, how should we reimagine a museum today in spatial terms?… It is time to imagine museums as social, educational centers with libraries, classrooms, gathering spaces where everyone — especially young people — love to hang out. Hyperallergic, December 18, 2019

New York

Canadian Cree artist reframes history with commission to hang in the Met’s main entrance When he accepted a commission from Metropolitan Museum of Art, Toronto-based Cree artist Kent Monkman says he was excited by the opportunity to reframe one of the greatest collections in the world with an Indigenous perspective. As throngs of visitors pass through the main entrance of the New York institution in coming months, many will see a pair of paintings that may seem like familiar 19th-century European tableaus at first glance. But upon closer inspection, Monkman said they’ll find these tropes have been upended. “My project has been to challenge the work and look for ways to interject and intervene with this art history that has largely excluded us from the telling of the story of this continent,” Monkman, 54, said by phone from New York. CTV News, December 17, 2019

Celebrating the History of Parisian Couture Spread between two galleries Paris, Capital of Fashion, thoughtfully curated by Dr. Valerie Steele, traces the ascent of French fashion and its subsequent preeminence for the past five centuries (although though the majority of the examples date from the late 19th and 20th century). The first gallery analyzes the impact of Paris in a global fashion market and its ongoing interaction with — and, as the exhibition brochure states, “soft power” over — other fashion capitals. The main gallery, by contrast, is a pure celebration of Parisian couture. Hyperallergic, December 17, 2019


The Smithsonian Just Discovered Four Yayoi Kusama Paintings It Had No Idea Existed…Hidden in the Museum’s Own Files Now, another Smithsonian museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, has stumbled upon four Kusama paintings that, strange as it may seem, were already on the museum’s grounds, and are now the first Kusama works to formally enter its collection… Archivist Anna Rimel came upon the four pieces, executed in watercolor, ink, pastel, and tempera paint, in a manila envelope while sifting through the museum’s Joseph Cornell Study Center, where they were hidden among correspondence and ephemera, said Melissa Ho, the museum’s curator of 20th-century art. Artnet News, December 18, 2019


London’s National Gallery Raises $25.5 Million to Buy Its First Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi’s Father, Orazio Gentileschi It took nearly 25 years, but London’s National Gallery has finally acquired Orazio Gentileschi’s masterpiece The Finding of Moses (early 1630s), which has been on display in its galleries for so long that many assumed it was already part of the collection. Today, the museum announced that it has raised the final £2 million ($2.6 million) needed to purchase the painting, which is worth £22 million ($28.8 million), but is being sold to the museum for a reduced price of £19.5 million ($25.5 million) thanks to a deal arranged with Sotheby’s London and London’s Pyms Gallery. Artnet News, December 18, 2019


Rotterdam’s Boijmans museum wants to make entire collection accessible to visitors The Boijmans has been ahead of the curve in the trend to build huge new museum storage facilities that will also be accessible to the public. In October, the Centre Pompidou announced a 22,000 sq. m “art factory” opening in 2025 in Massy, a 30-minute train ride from Paris. And the city of Moscow unveiled an ambitious project to store the collections of 27 national and municipal museums in a 70,000 sq. m facility in the suburbs. London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is pressing ahead with its plans, announced in 2018, to move around 250,000 objects and 917 archives east to a site in the Olympic Park where visitors may view exhibits that have been locked away for decades… The 15,000 sq. m building—designed by Rotterdam-based architects MVRDV—will open its doors in 2020 as an empty shell, allowing the public to see the transformation as works of art are moved in from their current storage sites across the city. By the end of 2021, the depot will hold 151,000 pieces, of which 88,000 drawings and prints. These include works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Monet, a 15th-century Madonna and Child attributed to Fra Angelico, Salvador Dalí’s Mae West Lips Sofa and contemporary pieces by Andy Warhol and Olafur Eliasson. The Art Newspaper, December 19, 2019







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