Biennials & TriennialsInstitutions 10-04-2017

April 10 | Controversy over Crimea at the inaugural Russian Art Triennial

A month since its inauguration, the Russian Art Triennial, held at Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, is beginning to draw some heavy criticism regarding the inclusion of Crimea in its programming. In other news, 173 fellowships are awarded by John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, whilst Brazil’s SP-Arte draws minimal crowds.

Garage Museum faces backlash over inclusion of Crimea in Russian Art Triennial

The inaugural edition of the Russian Art Triennial opened on March 10 at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, and will show through May 14. The triennial has sparked controversy by including Crimea — a Ukrainian territory that was annexed by Russia — in the program, a decision supported by the Garage Museum’s director Anton Belov. Critics note that in doing so, organizers are implicitly accepting Russia’s claim to the territory.

Belov insists that it would be unfair to exclude Crimean artists on account of political tensions, highlighting that Crimean artists are often excluded from the Ukrainian art scene, and “it would be wrong to exclude artists from artistic life.” Nevertheless, there was disagreement within staff as to whether Crimea should be included, with Garage chief curator Kate Fowle initially opposed the idea. Now she believes it is important “to focus on the human aspect of what is happening as a result of politics.” Hence, the Triennial will explicitly address the issue, with several events devoted to Crimea, including a performance by the Crimean Free Dance Lab group, and a discussion on the involvement of Crimean artists — set to take place on April 23. Russia’s contemporary art scene, despite its unsteady footing, seems to be facing head-on the tricky topics at hand.


Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art at the Garage Museum in Moscow | Chto Delat?'s short film on Oleg Sentsov, a Crimean film-maker who opposed the Russian annexation and is now languishing in a Russian prison, entitled Safe Haven.



John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announces 173 fellowships

Selected from among 3,000 applicants, 173 scholars, artists, and scientists have been awarded fellowships by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation on April 6. Artists to receive the fellowship include Harry Dodge, Byron Kim, Mike Kuchar, Aaron Landsman, Leigh Ledare, Jennie Jieun Lee, Sandeep Mukherjee, Jeanne Silverthorne, and Zoe Strauss.

The competition takes into account the applicant’s prior achievements, as well as their potential contribution to respective fields. Over the course of its ninety-two-year history, the foundation has awarded more than $350 million in fellowships to over 18,000 individuals. Representing 49 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, the 2017 awardees range in age from 29 to 79. See here, for a full list of this year’s fellows.


Zoe Strauss, Oiled Water Coming Inland, Waveland, Mississippi, Early July. (2010)



Brazil’s São Paulo-Arte “festival” slowly recovers

In the wake of Brazil’s sharp economic recession, followed by political turmoil, organizers of South America’s largest modern and contemporary art fair, SP-Arte (April 5 through 9), knew before the fair had begun that sales were not going to be easy. Uncertainty was visible from the start, with 134 participating galleries tailoring their selections to meet the slump in demand, adjusting prices accordingly. Indeed, the word “fair” was even dropped from the title, instead calling it a festival.   

Registered sales dipped majorly last year by 45 per cent, and though the outlook for this year’s sales did not look much better, international dealers who made the trip remained cautiously optimistic. “We believe in the economy here. It’s an evolving market”, said Markus Kormann, a director at Thaddaeus Ropac. Details via The Art Newspaper


Installation view of Alexandre Heberte’s work at SP-Arte, 2017. Photo by Mark Rosen. 



Ownership of Nazi-loot Egon Schiele watercolours disputed in New York

Two watercolours by Egon Schiele, Woman in a Black Pinafore (1911) and Woman Hiding Her Face (1912), are at the center of a dispute in New York over their supposed Nazi loot history. Their 1930s owner, Fritz Grünbaum, was a popular Jewish entertainer residing in Vienna who died a Nazi prisoner in Dachau. Grünbaum’s heirs are seeking to recover works, valued together at around $5m.

The works were seized from London dealer Richard Nagy at the Salon + Design Fair in New York, November 2015. The case has raised questions over whether Grünbaum’s collection, much of which was sold in Switzerland by his sister-in-law in 1956, was really looted. However the case comes as an early assessment of the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act instated last December. Details via The Art Newspaper


Egon Schiele, Woman Hiding her Face (1912)



$1 million theft from International Art Center in Auckland

A break-in at the International Art Center in Auckland, New Zealand, saw two paintings stolen, estimated to be of a combined worth of $1 million, on Saturday April 1.

In a “ram-raid” attack, thieves struck the top Auckland gallery between 3:30am-4am. The Gottfried Lindauer paintings were dated 1884, titled Chieftainess Ngatai - Raure and Chief Ngatai - Raure, and were soon to be auctioned. Details via New Zealand Herald.

Gottfried Lindauer, Chieftainess Ngatai - Raure, Chief Ngatai - Raure (1884)
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