Art News & Views

In the News, April 2012

Damien Hirst at Tate

London. Tate Modern is presenting Damien Hirst, the first major Damien Hirst exhibition in the UK from 4 April till 9 September, 2012. This is the first significant survey of his work in a British institution and brings together major works from over twenty years. The exhibition includes iconic sculptures from his Natural History series, including The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), in which he suspended a shark in formaldehyde. Also featuring are vitrines such as A Thousand Years (1990), medicine cabinets, pill cabinets and instrument cabinets in addition to seminal paintings made throughout his career using butterflies and flies as well as spots and spins. The highlights of the exhibition are the two-part installation In and Out of Love, not shown in its entirety since its creation in 1991 and Pharmacy (1992).

Whitney Houston Memorabilia Auctioned at Julien's Auctions

Beverly Hills, California. A collection of items worn by Whitney Houston was put up for sale as part of Julien's Auctions Hollywood Legends auction on March 31.

Several of her items were set to be included in this particular auction even before she was found dead on February 11. With her death, the price of the singer's possessions increased. There were a dozen of items up for sale, including a vest and two sets of earrings that she wore in The Bodyguard, several stage costumes, including a black lace pantsuit, a gold satin jacket and a beaded bustier; and a grey velvet gown that she wore to Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards party in 1996. The prices for the items ranged from about 500 to 2,000 dollars.

Italian Museum Burns Artworks in Protest

Naples. An Italian museum started burning its artworks in protest at budget cuts. Antonio Manfredi of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples, set fire to the first painting on April 17. The work was by French artist Severine Bourguignon who was in favour of the protest. Mr Manfredi plans to burn three paintings a week from now on, in a protest he has dubbed "Art War".

Artists from across Europe have lent their support, including Welsh sculptor John Brown, who burned one of his works, Manifesto.

He called the burning "a symbolic act" to "protest against the way the economic crisis is being dealt with". He said the latest protest will continue unless the funding situation improves.

Italy's debt crisis led to the resignation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi last year. Art institutions say they have been particularly affected by the country's economic woes.

A statement from the museum described the first burning as "political, necessary, and compelling in the face of these adverse circumstances".

Human Remains at Titanic Shipwreck Site

New York. A 2004 photograph, released to the public for the first time shows a coat and boots in the mud at the famous Titanic shipwreck site. The image, along with two others showing pairs of boots resting next to each other, were taken during an expedition led by NOAA and famed Titanic finder Robert Ballard in 2004. They were published in Ballard's book on the expedition. On April 14, 1912, after striking an iceberg, the ship is in international waters, limiting what the U.S. government can do. The New York Times first reported about the photographs on April 21. Filmmaker James Cameron, who has visited the wreck 33 times, told the newspaper that he had seen "zero human remains" during his extensive explorations of the Titanic.

Occupy Wall Street Plans Protest at Art Fair

New York. The Occupy Wall Street movement has moved from the financial world to the art world. Members of the subgroup, Occupy Museums, plan to stage a full-on protest at the Frieze Art Fair in New York.

The New York's Carpenter' Union has complained that the art fair is not using union labour on Randall's Island where the art fair is being held in May. A letter was sent to the art fair's main sponsor, Deutsche Bank, claiming that Frieze were using contractors who did not pay the area standard wages to all their employees. The Occupy Museum members are also demonstrating against what they call “the rampant financialisation of art”. The members state that there is a “one-sidedness” in the art world and that they wished to move away from the traditional art critique of these type of fairs and “un-Frieze art”.

This is not the first time the Occupy Wall Street protesters have supported local trade unions who have been mistreated by the art world establishment.

Indian American Women Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

New York. Two Indian American women, a history professor and an artist, are among 181 individuals who were named Guggenheim Fellows by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The winners were chosen from a group of about 3,000 applicants.

Named in the field of South Asian Studies was Mrinalini Sinha, Alice Freeman Palmer Professor in the History Department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Sinha has written on the political history of colonial India, with a focus on anti-colonialism, gender and transnational approaches.

Named a Guggenheim Fellow in the field of fine arts was New York-based visual artist Chitra Ganesh. The content of her works are drawn from her Indian experience, German Expressionism and Japanese wood-block prints, which all form the basis of her visual idiom.

2012 Guggenheim winners also include Asifa Quraishi-Landes, a Guggenheim Fellow in the constitutional studies category, composer Keeril Makan and New York-born photographer Fazal Ilahi Sheikh.

Dhaka Art Summit

Dhaka. The Dhaka Art Summit was designed to showcase contemporary Bangladeshi art to the world. Well-known critics, historians, curators and painters from art capitals came to participate in this event. The Dhaka Art Summit, launched on April 12, showcased 249 pieces of artwork by prominent and promising artists of Bangladesh.

The Summit was a result of collaboration between the Samdani Art Foundation (SAF), Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) and Bangladesh National Museum (BNM), and sponsored by City Bank and American Express. The final selection of works was made from a pool of 900 painters and featured mediums such as oil, acrylic, watercolour, prints (etching, acquaint, lino, litho, serigraph etc), installation, video art, videography, photography and sculpture. The Bangladeshi Master Artists Exhibition, showcasing 71 artworks by 27 renowned artists – including Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin, Patua Quamrul Hasan and S.M. Sultan -- was held at the National Museum. Additionally, 19 exhibitions at several private galleries -- including Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts and Dhaka Art Centre – also featured prominent works.

Public Art Installation Moved For Flyover

Bhilai. The Flight of Steel, an iconic art installation created by veteran painter and sculptor Jatin Das in 1996 was moved to a nearby zoo garden, Maitri Bagh, by the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) authorities to make way for a proposed flyover, without the artist's consent. For 16 years the installation stood at Murga Chowk in Bhilai. It was a 30 ft steel installation, depicting a rooster that gave the sight its name.

It is ironic that Das got the Padma Bhushan on March 1 and on March 22, he got the news that his sculpture, Flight of Steel, in Bhilai was completely dismantled and destroyed. Das had the copyright to the art and it couldn't be disfigured or destroyed by the owner.

The BSP management, which had commissioned the art work in 1996, however, claims that the sculpture was carefully removed, relocated and assembled in Maitree Bagh, a prominent garden in Chhattisgarh, visited by lakhs of people annually.

The artist claims to have found pieces of the sculpture in different locations at Maitri Garden zoo. The sculpture had been painted in many colours some years ago without his knowledge.

Das adds that his repeated attempts to correspond with BSP officials have been in vain.

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