Will Jeff Koons Plant His Controversial Tulips Near the Bataclan?
In further news: San Francisco decrees 30 percent of public art must depict women; Dutch museums find Nazi-looted art
An undeterred Jeff Koons is still searching for a Paris location for his 10-metre tall Bouquet of Tulips sculpture, conceived as a memorial to terror victims and a gift to the French capital. Paris’s deputy mayor for culture Christophe Girard told reporters that a site would be confirmed before the end of 2018. Koons’s piece has been the subject of furious criticism in the French art world since first being announced – its production and installation costs were not included in the artist’s ‘gift’ and critics voiced displeasure with the idea that the taxpayer would foot the bill. An open letter signed by several French arts professionals appeared in January of this year, with signatories including artist Christian Boltanski and former culture minister Frédéric Mitterand, stating: ‘We appreciate gifts, but free, unconditional, and without ulterior motives.’ In May, the ministry of culture announced that it had dropped plans to place it outside the Palais de Tokyo. But according to Artnet News, the artist is scouting out various alternative sites across the city this weekend, including in the Champs-Elysées gardens, and a spot in the 11th arrondissement, possibly near the Bataclan concert hall – the site of terror attacks in November 2015.
San Francisco’s board of supervisors have voted unanimously in favour of an ordinance that states that 30% of the city’s public art must depict non-fictional women. The ordinance, which was introduced in 2017, applies to monuments, statues as well ‘other works of art on city-owned property, public building names, and street names.’ A Women’s Recognition Public Art Fund was also launched in order to ‘accept gifts to pay for the design, construction, repair, maintenance, and improvement to public art depicting historically significant women,’ according to the public minutes. Currently, of San Francisco’s 87 public statues of non-fictional characters, just three are of women (nurse Florence Nightingale, artist Georgia O’Keeffe and senator Dianne Feinstein). Poet Maya Angelou is said to be the first monument under the new scheme, due to be erected by 2020 at San Francisco’s main library. ‘I am actually hoping we can get to 50 percent,’ said supervisor Catherine Stefani, who has sponsored the initiative. ‘The accomplishments of great women deserve to be recognized alongside the accomplishments of great men,’ Stefani told the San Francisco Examiner.
Dutch museums have discovered 170 artworks stolen by Nazis. The pieces were uncovered in Dutch museums as a part of a project to return artworks stolen from Jewish families by the Nazi regime. 42 of 163 institutions involved in the Museale Verwervingen project have sourced works that are suspected to have been stolen under duress. 83 paintings, 23 drawings and 13 Jewish ritual objects are believed to have been confiscated between 1933 and 1945. Some works have been returned to the owners or their families where the original claim has been validated by a restitution committee. Stolen pieces include Bild mit Häusern (1909) by Wassily Kandinsky located in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, and Salome with the head of John the Baptist (1861) by Jan Adam Kruseman, which was found in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Chris Janssen, a Museale Verwervingen spokesman, told The Guardian: ‘This research is important to do justice to history. A museum can only show a piece of art properly if the story and history behind the object is clear.’
The Studio Museum in Harlem has received a significant body of works from the collection of the late civil rights activist and educator Peggy Cooper Cafritz. In what is considered to be the largest-ever donation of contemporary pieces by artists of African descent, the recently deceased collector and arts philanthropist has left more than 650 artworks to Harlem’s Studio Museum and the Duke Ellington School of Arts in Washington, DC, which she cofounded in 1974. Cafritz died in February of this year at the age of 70. She was a noted advocate for black artists. Artists included in the gifts donated to The Studio Museum, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, include Kerry James Marshall, Nick Cave, Derrick Adams and Sanford Biggers. The Duke Ellington School of the Arts received around 250 works, which will form a research and display collection for students, with many of the artworks created by artists affiliated with the school such as Hank Willis Thomas, Jacqueline Maggi and Bill Harris. Studio Museum director Thelma Golden told Artnet News: ‘Peggy was a trailblazing champion of artists of African descent, and at her core believed deeply in the power of art […] Through her collecting and her support of artists, she quite literally transformed the way the world viewed black artists.’
Richard Meier has stepped down from his firm following sexual harassment allegations. The Pritzker Prize-winning architect has permanently stepped down from his role at Richard Meier & Partners Architects following harassment claims, four of which have come from former employees. His decision comes seven months after the New York Times published the allegations against him – he had taken a six-month leave of absence earlier this year. In a statement titled ‘Leadership Changes’, the company states that Meier will not be returning to his lead position and that associate partner Bernhard Karpf, who has worked at the practice since 1988, will take his place in managing the New York firm.
An open letter signed by 63 artists and art professionals has condemned the suspension of Ghent’s Museum of Fine Art director Catherine de Zegher. The Belgian museum suspended de Zegher in March citing a ‘loss of trust’ in her leadership, after the revelation that its exhibition ‘Russian Modernism 1910–30’ contained inauthentic artworks. Now various art world figures including Mona Hatoum, Giuseppe Penone and Luc Tuymans have called the claims against the director unfair and have criticized her ‘trial by media’, writing: ‘We affirm our full support for Catherine de Zegher as museum director and as curator.’
The European headquarters of Bloomberg in London has won this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture. Composed of two blocks with a connecting bridge, situated in the City of London, it calls itself the ‘world’s most sustainable office.’ RIBA President Ben Derbyshire called the Foster + Partners-designed building ‘a monumental achievement’, and ‘a profound expression of confidence in British architecture.’ It is the third time that the practice has scooped the award.
In appointments and representation news: Maria Seferian has been elected MOCA Los Angeles’s new board chairman; and Katie Hollander has been appointed director of LA’s Annenberg Space for Photography; Ryan Lee Gallery in New York now represents the estate of Vivian E. Browne and is planning a show of the artist’s work in February 2019; Pace Gallery has announced representation of the painter William Monk; and New York’s James Cohan gallery now represents Firelei Báez, with a solo exhibition planned for May 2019.