in News | 19 OCT 18

New York Museums Drop Saudi Funding After Journalist’s Murder

In further news: Tate remembers London’s forgotten women heroes; Pop artist Mel Ramos dies aged 83

in News | 19 OCT 18

Ahmed Mater, Clock Tower (Mecca Time), 2015, c-type print, 1.2 x 1.8 m. Courtesy: © the artist

With an international crisis triggered over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who Turkish authorities claim was murdered by Saudi operatives, arts institutions have been forced into reconsidering their Saudi funding sources. Now both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum say they will not be accepting funding from Saudi sources. The Brooklyn Museum told the New York Times that it would not use Saudi funding for the exhibition ‘Syria, Then and Now: Stories from Refugees a Century Apart’, citing ‘recent events and in harmony with the international community’s concerns.’ The Met’s president Daniel H. Weiss said that it would now be funding an academic seminar itself, for which it had previously accepted USD$20,000 of Saudi money. Both projects came under the umbrella of the Arab Art & Education Initiative, which has received money from the Misk Art Institute, launched last year with the support of the Saudi crown prince. Meanwhile, Columbia University has postponed a talk by the Saudi artist and Misk leader Ahmed Mater. In the UK, London’s Natural History Museum came under fire for hosting an event for the Saudi embassy. Don’t miss Rahel Aima writing for us earlier this year on the limits to Saudi Arabia’s soft power push.

Tate Collective have unveiled 20 newly-commissioned public artworks celebrating London women in a collaboration with the Mayor of London. The Tate Collective, a scheme for 16-25 year olds, have been commissioned to create work featuring overlooked women who have played a key role in the city’s history, such as news reporter and lesbian rights activist Jackie Forster, nurse Mary Seacole and World War II heroine Noor Inayat Khan. Titled ‘LDN WMN’, the public exhibition also forms part of the Mayor of London’s year-long women’s equality campaign #BehindEveryGreatCity which marks the centenary of the first women in the UK winning the right to vote. Tate director Maria Balshaw said: ‘We are delighted that members of Tate Collective London team were invited to curate this exciting initiative, highlighting the creativity of emerging artists and celebrating exceptional women.’ Participating artists include Lakwena Maciver, Phoebe Collings-James, Joey Yu and Joy Miessi.

Frank Riester has replaced Françoise Nyssen as French culture minister as part of Emmanuel Macron’s cabinet reshuffle. Nyssen, who took up the post in May 2017, oversaw the implementation of a new national culture pass in which young French citizens could receive EUR€500 credit for cultural events, and also campaigned for copyright reform. Riester, who will be the country’s fifth culture minister in six years, was a former mayor of the town of Coulommiers and represents the Seine-et-Marne constituency in the Ile de France region around Paris. His background is not in visual arts, but in music and broadcasting. He was a former member of the centre-right party Les Republicains.

Gagosian gallery have responded to an amended suit filed by a collector who claims he is yet to receive three large-scale Jeff Koons sculptures despite paying millions for them in 2013. Last Friday, the dealers filed a motion to dismiss the suit claiming that the billionaire collector and MoMA trustee, Steven Tananbaum, is a ‘highly sophisticated art collector’ who knows that Koons is ‘a perfectionist who often takes years’ to complete works. Gagosian also argue that Tananbaum’s breach of contract claims are unjustified as completion dates are only approximate and are ‘often extended by multiple years’, as detailed in the filing. Tananbaum is now with a new attorney, Shannon Selden of Debevoise & Plimpton; in a phone interview with Artnet News, Selden said: ‘Gagosian’s tactics of selling multiple works for millions of dollars and then picking and choosing whether or not to deliver them on time, are unfair to buyers.’

Pop artist Mel Ramos has passed away at the age of 83. Best known for his depictions of naked women and consumer products, the artist’s cause of death was down to heart failure, according to his daughter and studio manager, Rochelle Leininger. His most famous works are paintings of pin-up models who are shown partially or fully naked rising out of candy wrappers. He was also one of 12 artists along with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein who featured in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s 1963 Pop art show that showcased the blossoming movement. Speaking to The San Francisco Chronicle, Martin Muller, gallerist and founder of Modernism gallery in San Francisco which represented Ramos on the West Coast for 38 years, remembered him as ‘a remarkable human being, artist and teacher,’ who across ‘various political and social trends in the art world over the past decades, […] remained focused on the act of painting, with passion, awareness and discipline.’ In later years, the artist’s sexualized imagery faced criticism for appearing to demean women.

Berlin’s Humboldt Forum, a huge EUR€595m museum and events space due to open next year, will confront Germany’s colonial past. The institution, which will open in the city’s reconstructed royal palace, will discuss the presentation of non-Western art and will house the city’s non-European ethnological collections and Asian art collections. The new culture venue which has been funded 80 percent by the federal government, aims to stage around 1,000 events per year. The building has a controversial legacy and was demolished by the Communist East German authorities in 1950 – it has recently become the focus of debates over the provenance of colonial-era artefacts. ‘This is a very important subject for the Humboldt Forum,’ director Hartmut Dorgerloh told The Art Newspaper. ‘If we are going to present these objects, we must also tell the story of their provenance. We are working with the communities of origin, with international experts and with a critical public to consciously address this subject.’

In awards news: Clément Cogitore has been awarded the 2018 Marcel Duchamp Prize; Alice Mann has scooped this year’s Taylor Wessing prize for her portraits of an all-female team of South African drum majorettes; Haegue Yang has won the 2018 Republic of Korea Culture and Arts Award in the visual arts section; the Studio Museum in Harlem has announced that Diedrick Brackens is the recipient of its Joyce Alexendar Wein Artist Prize; and Simone Leigh has been presented with the Guggenheim’s 2018 Hugo Boss Prize, which comes with a USD$100,000 award and show at the museum next year.

In appointments: Seattle Art Museum has appointed Theresa Papanikolas as curator of American art; Luke Syson, who has been chairman of European sculpture and decorative arts at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, is returning to the UK to head up the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.