Saturday, 20 April 2019

Reading list, 20 April 2019

Lined up for post-deadline listening: Hrag Vartanian interviews two artist estate managers about how families should cope with a dead artist-relative's legacy.

Also on Hyperallergic: a write-up of a new transcription project from the Smithsonian, focused on female figures from 19th century art history, including the diaries of Anna Coleman Ladd, an American sculptor who made custom prosthetics for soldiers injured during the first world war.

Anne Pasternak, director of the Brooklyn Museum, has the most tricked-out office I've seen to date.

Another "must read later" - The Happy Museum project's list of tools and resources for measuring organisation's impacts on social wellbeing.

I'm sure you used to be able to download the AAM annual TrendsWatch survey for just the cost of your email address? At least you can still download the exec summary. This year's five key trends - "truth and trust, blockchain, decolonization, homelessness and housing insecurity, and self-care".

A nerdily detailed article on the review and decommissioning of minimal and conceptual artworks from the Panza collection at the Guggenheim museum.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Reading list, 14 April 2019

One of the recent issues of The Gray Market newsletters (looking at how museums in England and the US refusing sponsorship from the Sackler Foundation, now deemed too toxic for brand association) introduced me to the concept of the Overton Window, from media theory, which describes the 'window of discourse' in which a politician can suggest policy changes (the window of discourse on military-style weapons in New Zealand, for example, has shifted dramatically following the attacks in Christchurch). When yet another article about an art museum selling collection items off to finance more diverse additions (this time the Art Gallery of Ontario) floated across the transom, it made me reflect that the window of discourse on this particular topic has shifted markedly in recent months, from radical to acceptable, possibly almost sensible (though without a concerted collective decision from the sector, still falling well short of policy).

A similar shift (and dramatic increase in publicity) has happened on the subject of repatriation from museums collections over the last couple of years. The latest piece I've read is by museum curator Chip Colwell, a letter to the editor in the NYT that talks about what museums have to gain, rather than lose, from repatriation.

Ticketed for future reading: Response to the 2018 Sarr-Savoy Report: Statement on Intellectual Property Rights and Open Access relevant to the digitization and restitution of African Cultural Heritage and associated materials

I learned a massive amount from this NYT article, which describes how 12 linked exhibitions in Spain are exploring the art of its former colony Peru (which gained independence in 1821):
“This is the first time we’re showing a painting from colonial America,” Miguel Falomir, the Prado’s director, said in a telephone interview. The Prado owns “between 15 and 20” paintings made in Spain’s former colonies, he said, but they are kept by the ethnographic Museum of the Americas. They have never been shown alongside European old masters. 
For centuries, “we’ve considered this art as second-class,” Mr. Falomir said. “That, thank God, has changed.”
Smart work at SFMOMA: Tracing the Roots of Photo Sharing, From Mail Art to Instagram

One of curator Okwui Enwezor's final interviews: “There are code words to push back against change”

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Reading list, 6 April 2019

A history of working class protest: Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest at the People’s History Museum, Manchester, via the Guardian

Farah Nayeri, 'A Museum Tackles Myths About Jews and Money' in the New York Times, on a new exhibition at the London's Jewish Museum.

Siri Hustvedt on why Duchamp's urinal should be correctly attributed to Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.

Susan Tallman's 'Painting the Beyond' for the New York Review of Books:
But the claim for af Klint as an inventor of abstract art runs into two serious problems. The first is that it doesn’t seem to match how she thought the work should function. The second is that abstraction was “invented” in the same sense that the Western Hemisphere was “discovered.” Millions of people knew about both for millennia, just not the people who counted. It is a myopia that art historians have helped sustain through their habitual “canvas or it didn’t happen” bias, but once you look beyond easel painting, it becomes clear that af Klint’s seemingly unprecedented visual language had been circulating for centuries in the diagrams, illustrations, and serial formats of books and prints.

Ela Bittencourt's review of Abigail Solomon-Godeau’s new anthology Photography after Photography: Genre, Gender, History for Hyperallergic

The Art Institute of Chicago has pulled a show of Native American pottery:
"The principal thing that we have not accomplished is to have an aligned indigenous perspective, scholarly and curatorial, with the project,” [president and director James Rondeau] said. “And I think that ultimately for us has been the crucial realization that our ability to reflect back what we were learning needed to be done in multiple voices, not just our voice."


Saturday, 30 March 2019

Reading list 30 March 2019

A show at the Musee d'Orsay temporarily retitles works after their previously anonymous black models. Kehinde Andrews responds in the Guardian: " n the most part, we remain subjects oppressed to the margins of the canvas."

A diorama at the American Museum of Natural History, depicting an imagined 17th-century meeting between Dutch settlers and the indigenous Lenape people, has been marked up to show its biases

A lawsuit against Harvard University asserts that photographs of slaves should rightfully belong to their descendants.

Olly Wainwright reviews the immense and dramatic new National Museum of Qatar, designed by Jean Nouvel.

Julia Morgan designed more than 700 buildings, died in 1957 aged 85 and has just had her obituary, by Alexandra Lange, published in the NYT's 'Overlooked' series.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Reading list, 23 March 2019

My dormant nerdy art historian side really enjoyed the quiz that accompanies this lengthy NYT piece on deaccessioning from American art museum collections, where you can try to guess which of three artworks from the Indianapolis Museum of Art's collection has been ranked by its curators as of lower importance than similar works.

In repatriation news: 16 German states have joined in issuing guidelines and releasing funding for repatriation of art and artefacts stolen or looted during the colonial period; the Rijksmuseum begins talks with Indonesia and Sri Lanka to return items; the Dutch National Museum of World Cultures (NMWC) has published guidelines last month for countries wanting to repatriate from the three co-managed institutions that make up the museum, though these have been criticised for centring the museum.

Taylor Whitten Brown's statistical analysis for Artsy: Why Is Work by Female Artists Still Valued Less Than Work by Male Artists?

So interesting to see what Olga Viso is advocating following leaving the Walker after the Sam Durrant affair: here, writing about the need for changes in leadership style and focus; Finding Resilience in Challenging Times

The Sackler Trust has withdrawn the offer of a long-discussed 7-figure donation to the English National Portrait Gallery to avoid embarrassment to the institution. The New York Times article on the decision (fascinatingly worded) also links to the NPG's donations and grants policy.

I hadn't been aware of this aspect of the Metropolitan Museum's introduction of entrance charges: Met Admission Fees Will Send $2.8 Million to Over 175 City Cultural Groups.

May we all receive such a generous obituary when our times come: Vale Edmund Capon

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Reading list, 16 March 2019

On artists:

An interview with American painter Betty Tompkins, once shunned and now celebrated for her 'porn' paintings:
“Everybody says to me, ‘Oh, you were so ahead of your time!’ You cannot be ahead of your time. You can only be in your time. Your today is the same as everybody else’s. What you can be is rejected by your time, and I was rejected.”
On the future of experiences in (or near) cultural institutions:

The Library of Congress wants to attract more visitors. Will that undermine its mission?

French museums operator Culturespaces has opened the Bunker des Lumières in South Korea, following on from the Atelier des Lumières in Paris, a "30-minute immersive audiovisual experience of Gustav Klimt’s paintings, featuring mural projections of the images set to music by Wagner, Strauss and Beethoven" (images here)

A Former Guggenheim Director Thinks Museums Need to be More Like Theme Parks

On arts journalism:

Niemann surveys 300 visual arts writers for a new report, Newsroom Pressure and Generational Change

On gosh, about time:

Oxford museum rethinks famed display of shrunken heads

On data:

Price comparison of various leisure activities, from art museums to the Superbowl

On copies and attributions:

‘It is for art historians to decide who painted this picture’ (a depiction of Judith and Holofernes that may be attributed to Caravaggio)

The Imitation Game (on objects in Washington D.C. museums that may not be as 'original' as they are displayed to be)




Sunday, 10 March 2019

NAVA's gender equity resources

Australia's NAVA (National Association for the Visual Arts) is releasing some terrific documentation at the moment as they build out their Gender Equity Resources.

This morning I read their latest set of guidelines, Clear Expectations: Guidelines for institutions, galleries and curators working with trans, non-binary and gender diverse artists in Australia, written by Spencer Messih and Archie Barry and supported by The Countess. It's an excellent, simply and clearly explained, informative and actionable set of guidelines that institutions of any size could use.

The previous set of guidelines to this is Anonymous “Speak Up” Protocol: A guide for boards, designed for boards that are responding to an allegation of gendered harassment.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Reading list, 9 March 2019

Mega-dealer Marc Glimcher interviews by artnet on the art gallery of the future (and why painting came roaring back in the 1980s)

I recently finished Thomasin Sleigh's second book, Women in the field, One and Two, which is set in 1950s London and wellington and hinges on two (fictional) Russian modernist paintings purchased by an external art consultant for New Zealand's National Art Gallery. That sent me back to Holly Walker's interview with Sleigh for The Pantograph Punch, published earlier this year.

Hyperallergic on a suite of forthcoming solo shows across the Tate galleries that focus on women artists (course correcting some of the criticism around male-dominated programming at the institution)

I often think that simply having a history of free entry places New Zealand's visual arts institutions so far ahead of the American curve: Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland Will Become Free as Part of Inclusivity Initiative

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Reading list, 2 March 2019

Some interlinked reading and listening ...

A new academic study showing that the collections of 18 sampled US art museums' collections are hopelessly white and hopelessly male has been written up in many outlets - such as on Artnet. The study itself is also available online. Here's the method: 18 museums with their collections fully available online were selected by the researchers as credible and representative, then ...
We scraped the public online collections of 18 major U.S. art museums, retaining the
museum name, artist name, and a web link pointing to the artist’s entry in the
museum’s collection. Then, we deployed a large random subset of scraped records to the
crowdsourcing platform Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) and asked crowdworkers to
research the demographics of each sampled artist, using the web link as a starting point.
Crowdworkers reported their inferences of gender, ethnicity, national origin, and birth
year, along with a numerical rating of confidence in each inference. We put in place
multiple safeguards and checkpoints to ensure the quality of our data. Starting with the
data obtained from crowdworkers, we first eliminated records that did not correspond to
individual, identifiable artists. For each remaining record, we aggregated the inferences
of multiple crowdworkers and if their responses were sufficiently self-consistent, we made a final inference of each artist’s demographic characteristics.
In line with that - a piece of research from last year, co-commissioned by Art Agency Partners and Artnet, asked African American Artists Are More Visible Than Ever. So Why Are Museums Giving Them Short Shrift?

And the Art Agency Partners podcast this week was a recording of a panel discussion they held recently at Frieze art fair: Californian Museum Leaders on Expanding the Canon.

And some randoms ...

Adrian Ellis writes about the increased public scrutiny of museum boards in the social media age, the first in a new series for The Art Newspaper.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Reading list, 23 February 2019

A long write-up in the Sydney Morning Herald of the planned renewal changes to ACMI, including its permanent exhibition and rather discouraging reception areas, with discussion of "the lens", destined to be the new "the pen".


Saturday, 16 February 2019

Reading list, 16 February 2019

Three pieces on words ...

Nicole Martinez's A Lively Debate on the Value of the Term “Latinx”, for Hyperallergic

Aaron Bady's White Words for Popula (on the notion of "Eskimos having more than 50 words for snow")

And a 2018 publication from the Netherland's Research Centre for Material Culture, Words Matter, in which curators and museum staff write about art, word choice and communication in light of the rapid changes around the language used in art work titles and interpretation in the European context (much more interesting than I've made it sound)


Saturday, 9 February 2019

Reading list, 9 February 2019

This week's listening: Kim Hill interviews Gregggggggggorrrrrry Burke, incoming director of the AAG.

From a podcast that's new to me: Expectations and Epiphanies with [UK's National Portrait Gallery] Director Nicholas Cullinan. I'm also starting to mine the Art Agency Partners' (an arts agency that's a subsidiary of Sothebys, explaining their access) backlog of articles, including this one on the squishy (often icky) definitions of outsider / self-taught / outlier art.

It's gonna take me ages to to process this: Dan Hill's The city is my homescreen - "How design practice can work better for people, services and cities together, and not simply individuals".

I found this really thought-provoking: Johanna Jones of the Oakland Museum of California describes an evolution of her organisation's thinking on how to describe its value and mission, in What problem in our community is our museum most uniquely equipped to solve?

Lucie Paterson of ACMI on the development and testing of the physical/digital accompaniment to their exhibition WonderlandThe Lost Map of Wonderland — four months in (from August last year, but still really interesting).

Anne Helen Petersen just keeps banging it out. Here she is on a recent profile of Lorena Bobbitt, with bonus analysis of the 1990s and the cultural moment of postfeminist backlash.

"Either we say that improving health, wellbeing and social outcomes is our proper motivation, or we admit that the value of the arts is different to this." I don't think it's an either/or argument but Carter Gillies picks up here on something I've been thinking about in terms of how we position arts institutions and arts funding.

The German culture ministry has announced US$2.17 million for research into artifacts that entered German public collection in the colonial era. The eight member panel that will allocate the funding includes Bénédicte Savoy, co-author of the report on repatriation commissioned by French preseident Emmanuel Macron in 2018. It's striking to me that the German fund will be administered by the German Lost Art Foundation, established in 2015 to aid with Nazi-looted artworks; it's a reminder that repatriation and restitution look very different in every national/geographic/historical context.

Endearing. Gig posters for science talks - by a cellular biologist.