Briefing

Linda Nochlin (1931-2017); 5,000 sign open letter against sexual harassment in the art world

Jenny Holzer, Untitled, 1982. Photo by John Marchael. Artwork courtesy of: Jane Dickson, Project Initiator and Animator ​Image Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY.

Jenny Holzer, Untitled, 1982. Courtesy: Jane Dickson, Project Initiator and Animator ​Image, Public Art Fund, NY; Photograph: John Marchael

Jenny Holzer, Untitled, 1982. Courtesy: Jane Dickson, Project Initiator and Animator ​Image, Public Art Fund, NY; Photograph: John Marchael

The groundbreaking feminist art historian Linda Nochlin has died at the age of 86. Her essay ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’ published in ARTnews in 1971, became a landmark text for feminist perspectives on art history, concluding that it was 'institutionally made impossible for women to achieve artistic excellence, or success, on the same footing as men, no matter what the potency of their so-called talent or genius.' Born in 1931 in Brooklyn Nochlin’s graduate work at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts focused on the French 19th century painter Gustave Courbet. Deeply influenced by second-wave feminism, Nochlin went on to contribute key works in feminist art history including Women, Art, and Power, and Other Essays (1988), doing much to reshape thought around the teaching and display of art, challenging notions of ‘white male genius’. She was a professor at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts from 1992 until her retirement in 2013.

An open letter responding to the sexual harassment allegations surrounding Artforum publisher Knight Landesman has been signed by 5,000 female, trans and gender-nonconforming artists, writers and curators, including photographer Cindy Sherman, artist and writer Coco Fusco and gallerist Sadie Coles. Shared across social media with the hashtag #NotSurprised (after Jenny Holzer’s 1982 work Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise), the letter calls on art institutions to act against discrimination: 'We are not surprised when curators offer exhibitions or support in exchange for sexual favors. We are not surprised when gallerists romanticize, minimize, and hide sexually abusive behavior by artists they represent. We are not surprised when a meeting with a collector or a potential patron becomes a sexual proposition.’ Following the news of the passing of Linda Nochlin, the letter also states that it is dedicated to her memory, ‘whose activism, spirit, and pioneering writings have been an inspiration for our work.'

Ireland’s EVA International Biennial has named the participating artists for its 2018 edition which will be curated by Inti Guerrero. Artists include Alejandro González Iñárritu, Laurent Grasso, Lee Bul, Liu Xiaodong and Trevor Yeung. Guerrero’s curatorial theme begins with the painting Night Candles are Burnt Out (1927) by Sean Keating which takes as its subject the hydroelectric dam built in 1925 in Ireland, Ardnacrusha, and its symbol of technological modernity. It runs from 14 April to 8 July 2018.

Kassel council members belonging to the German far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) are suing documenta over alleged financial irregularities, naming artistic director Adam Szymczyk and CEO Annette Kulenkampff as well as board members and past and present mayors – following the news that the organization ran EUR€7 million over budget in producing the 14th iteration of the exhibition. While there are valid questions over documenta's financial management, this is the latest in the AfD’s politicization of debate around the quinquennial exhibition – two months ago the AfD member and Kassel councillor Thomas Materner protested discussion of the city’s acquisition of a work by American-Nigerian artist Olu Oguibe, describing it as ‘ideologically polarizing, deformed art.’

Miami Beach’s Bass contemporary art museum has reopened after USD$12 million renovation works that began in 2015, doubling its exhibition and public space, with architect David Gauld working on the project. Works had been beset by repeated delays, but the museum now opens with a set of inaugural shows by artists Ugo Rondinone and Pascale Marthine Tayou, as well as a Mika Rottenberg exhibition scheduled next month to time with Miami Art Week.

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