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Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Chelsea Goes to Havana

Andrew Schoultz will be exhibiting with Morgan Lehman Gallery as part of Chelsea Visits Havana. Image: Pulse Art Fair 2009 via TheArtCollectors

For the first time in over twenty years, New York art galleries will have a presence in Havana, Cuba, at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.  The exhibition, Chelsea Visits Havana, opens March 28 as part of the 10th Havana Biennial, and will include twenty-eight NY galleries, along with thirty-five represented artists. The event was organized by Fundacion Amistad, a U.S. based non-profit dedicated to “fostering better mutual understanding and appreciation between the peoples of the United States and Cuba.”

As noted by The Art Newspaper, in 2004 the Bush administration heightened travel restrictions to Cuba, effectively ending cultural exchange programs. Since then, numerous Cuban artists have been denied visas to the United States to claim prizes or fellowship opportunities, and efforts by the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes to bring U.S. artists to the country have continually been blocked. Abelardo Mena, a curator at the museum, said, “I don’t believe this exhibition would have been possible under the Bush administration. I hope the new president and his secretary of state recognize the value of cultural diplomacy based on mutual respect, and the free exchange of cultural goods (Art Newspaper, March 2009).”

As a side note, The Art Collectors are particularly excited for Morgan Lehman Gallery’s participation in the exhibit with an installation by Andrew Schoultz, whose visual commentary on U.S. government, capitalism and the military industrial complex should be particularly appropriate. Stay tuned for pictures…

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Exhibition, Fairs, Politics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »


Friday, March 20th, 2009

Transparency in Deaccession

Image still from IMA’s online Deaccession Database

While the debate over museums’ rights to relinquish works of art continues, the Indianapolis Museum of Art has taken a step in the direction of full disclosure, launching an online database of deaccessioned or soon to be sold works from its collection.  Along with detailed sales records, the site also allows comments from the public, who wish to weigh in on the museum’s decisions.  As reported by Culture Grrl, IMA already has plans to improve these listings with information regarding how funds raised from the sale of specific works are applied to the acquisition of new art.

IMA Director and CEO, Maxwell Anderson commented on the endeavor, stating, “In light of the recent economic downturn and the resulting financial strain experienced by museums, the topic of deaccessioning has become a front-burner issue, making institutional transparency more vital than ever. This searchable database will evolve to include information regarding how the IMA uses funds from deaccessioned works to enhance and shape the Museum collection.” 

In a further mover towards transparency, the museum has published its Deaccession Policy, which clearly abides by the Association of Art Museum Directors code of ethics, stating that “funds received from all sales of works of art will be used for the purchase of works of art from the same period or culture.”

The IMA’s initiative comes in the wake of recent controversy concerning both the National Academy and Brandies University’s sale of art to meet operating costs. After The Academy sold two Hudson River School paintings this past December, The Association of Art Museum Directors implemented sanctions barring the institution from borrowing from other museums. Last week the AAMD met with National Academy representatives to discuss how they could achieve financial stability without further deaccession. A joint statement published 3/11 on the AAMD website, indicates the Academy “will begin a process to restructure its governance practices” to “include more rigorous fiscal oversight,” and halt the sale  of “additional works of art as was originally proposed.” 

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Market Talk, Museums, Politics, Uncategorized | Comment now »


Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Bill Would Ban Museum Deaccessioning


The New York Times reports that a new bill introduced to the New York State Senate on Tuesday would prohibit museums from selling off works of art to cover operating costs.  The bill was penned by Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky in collaboration with the New York Sate Board of Regents and Museum Association of New York, and comes in response to recent controversy over the deaccessioning of art by at least two major NY institutions – The National Academy, which did sell two Hudson River School paintings to help meet operating costs, and Brandies University, who announced plans to close its Rose Art Museum and sell off its collection. If passed into law, proceeds from the sale of works of art could only be used for the acquisition of new works or the preservation of an existing collection.

Read a copy of the bill here

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Legal, Politics | 1 Comment »


Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Plot Thickens Over Laurent Looted Art Controversy

One of the two controversial sculptures is auctioned at Christie’s in Paris, on Feb. 25th.
Image: Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images

The controversy over two Chinese relics looted during the second Opium War some 150 years ago, and sold at last week’s record shattering Yves St. Laurent auction, has taken an unexpected turn. Prior to the Feb. 25th sale, a Parisian court rejected the Association for the Protection of Chinese Art in Europe’s appeal to have the pieces returned to the Chinese government.

Now, it looks as if the winning bidder, antiques collector and Chinese auction house owner, Cai Mingchao, has no intention of making good on his $40 million purchase. It seems Mr. Cai’s actions are an intentional political manoeuvre, attempting to drum up publicity over the disputed statues and larger concern over the sale of looted Asian art. “I have done my part. I am not going to pay,” said Cai at a news conference in Beijing on Monday.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Cai advises the Lost Cultural Relics Recovery Foundation, which is overseen by China’s Ministry of Culture.  Yet, a spokesperson for the government agency overtly avoided any official stance on Cai’s actions, instead choosing to speak in broader terms.

“We ask that the relics be returned to China…I urge everyone to pay attention to what is the essence of this issue. These cultural relics belong to China, they were looted by the West in time of war and illegally taken abroad,” stated  Qin Gang, speaking on behalf of China’s Foreign Ministry.

Christie’s is holding the art in France and has not commented on its next move, which could include suing Mr. Cai for breach of contract and re-offering the tainted treasures at a lower price to the next highest bidder. Pierre Berge (Laurent’s lifelong partner who brought the 700+ lots to auction) on the other hand, has been quite vocal on the situation.

“I am prepared to offer this bronze head to the Chinese straight away, he said. “All they have to do is to declare they are going to apply human rights, give the Tibetans back their freedom and agree to accept the Dalai Lama on their territory. If they do that, I would be very happy to go myself and bring these two Chinese heads to put them in the Summer Palace in Beijing. It’s obviously blackmail but I accept that.”

Video coverage and extensive reporting of Cai Mingchao’s press conference, courtesy of China’s Xinhua news agency here

Read more here:
The Guardian
The London Telegraph
Wall Street Journal

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Auction, Europe, Politics, Uncategorized | Comment now »


Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Fairey on CBS / Live Debate in NY This Week


After debuting with a feature on KAWS last week, CBS Sunday Morning aired the second installment of their three-part series on graffiti artists-turned pro yesterday, this time focusing on Shepard Fairey. Watch the the video here or read a transcript here.


In other news, building off recent controversy surrounding the Associated Press’ claims of copyright infringement against Shepard Fairey, and the artist’s subsequent lawsuit against the news agency, The New York Public Library and Wired will host a discussion concerning intellectual property, and the legal and ethical concerns surrounding  “remix culture” in the arts and commerce.  The debate kicks off this Thursday, Feb. 26 at 7pm and will feature Fairey, legal scholar Lawrence Lessig and author Steven Johnson.

Remix: Making Art And Commerce Thrive In The Hybrid Economy
Feb. 26, 7pm
Celest Bartos Forum
The New York Public Library
5th Ave. at 42nd Street 
Tickets: SmartTix

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Events, New York City, Politics | Comment now »


Thursday, February 5th, 2009

AP Claims Copyright Infringement Against Shepard Fairey

Images: AP / Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey can now join the ranks of Richard Prince and Jeff Koons as another artist facing legal action for the appropriation of copyrighted material into his art.  The particular image in question is Fairey’s infamous Obama portrait (recently inducted into the Smithsonian and on view in Fairey’s museum retrospective). In a statement issued Feb. 4, The Associated Press states it “has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission.”  While AP is pursuing compensation and credit, Fairey and his attorney have stressed he received no money from the mass production and distribution of the image.

The case brings up the subjective legal arguments surrounding fair use of copyrighted material, which takes into consideration whether or not the secondary work is “transformative” and its impact on the original material. Undoubtedly lawyers on both sides will be looking to prior precedent to support their arguments.

After loosing several separate copyright infringement cases during the 90s, pop-art megastar, Jeff Koons, won a landmark 2006 battle, when the U.S. District Court of Appeals deemed his painting Niagra fell under the protection of “transformative use.” In addition, artist, Richard Prince, is currently in the midsts of his own copyright infringement case

More as the story unfolds…

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Artist Talk, Politics | 4 Comments »


Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Shawn Barber for Wall Street Journal

Shawn Barber took a momentary break from his well known tattoo portraits and appeared on the cover of the Tuesday, Jan. 20th edition of the Wall Street Journal, with a new portrait of Barack Obama. Barber will also participate in World on Fire, a Grammy Awards themed exhibit , featuring artist’s portraits of nominees. The show is slated for Feb. 2-8 at Pacific Lofts in Los Angeles. In the meantime, check Joshua Liner Gallery for more of Shawn’s work.

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Artist Talk, Politics | Comment now »


Monday, January 19th, 2009

Fairey Inducted into Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery

Image: National Portrait Gallery

A mixed media original rendition of Shepard Fairey’s Obama Hope image was inducted into the National Portrait Gallery, this past Saturday, January 17th. It is worth reminding readers that only a few months ago Fairey was arrested in Denver for postering around the Democratic National Convention.  Now his name will appear in the permanent collection of the government-sponsored Smithsonian Institute.

Fairey appeared on the Thursday, Jan. 15 edition of Colbert Report to discuss the creation of the now iconic image. With most of us are already familiar with the story behind the image, our favorite quote goes out to Cobert: “So you’re a criminal…that’s the sort of people who support Barack Obama.”

Watch the full episode here

The background of the National Portrait Gallery piece is worth mentioning. The stencil and collage portrait was a gift of Tony and Heather Podesta, whose contemporary art collection of nearly 900 works is regarded as one of the most significant in the United States. As noted by the Washington Post, Mr. and Mrs. Podesta have not only carved out an influential niche in the art world, but in the realm of politics as well. He is regarded as a powerful Washington lobbyist, and was retained by both Bill Clinton and John Kerry to spearhead presidential campaigns in Pennsylvania. His brother John served as President Clinton’s Chief of Staff and more recently as an Obama advisor.

Image: Warren Perry/National Portrait Gallery

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Artist Talk, Design, Editions, Interview, Politics | 1 Comment »


Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Fairey / Obama Rift

Image: obeygiant.com

Shepard Fairey has publicly spoken out against President-elect, Barack Obama’s, decision to have Evangelical minister, Rick Warren, deliver the invocation during Obama’s inaugural address.  In a message posted to his popular OBEYGIANT website earlier this week, Fairey said, “Rick Warren is against gay marriage and reproductive rights, and he does not believe in evolution (maybe he offers himself as proof of lack of evolution). I understand that Obama is trying to appeal to conservatives and evangelicals, but this move is symbolically a slap in the face to many people. Warren is not a uniter, but a divider… he is intolerant in many of his views. I still think Obama is the best choice for president, but I can’t condone Warren’s involvement in Obama’s inauguration, no matter how insignificant it is.”

In response, Fairey will be re-directing a portion of funds from his upcoming Obama inauguration poster to the movement to overturn Prop 8. Rather than pulling the porject all together, Fairey said putting money “into a cause I care about is actually more constructive. Plus, I wouldn’t want withdrawing the image to come across as a blanket boycott of Obama.”

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Artist Talk, Politics | Comment now »


Friday, November 28th, 2008

Bobby Hutton Benefit Featuring McGee, Swoon + more

The Bobby Hutton Memorial Benefit art exhibit opens tomorrow, Nov. 29, at the Luggage Store in San Francisco. Hutton was amongst the earliest members of the Black Panther Party, who lost his life at the age of 16 during a 1968 confrontation with police.  Proceeds from the show (not auction) will help fund the completion of a memorial sculpture which will be placed in Oakland California’s (the birthplace of the Panthers) De Fremery Park.

The exhibit includes works for sale by Barry McGee, Swoon, Rigo 23, Andrew Schoultz, Date Farmers, Monica Canilao, and many others. The Luggage Store opening will be followed by a party at On Six Gallery, and will feature a performance by Digital Underground.

Here’s a brief biography of Hutton, courtesy of Babylon Falling:

For those of you who might be familiar with the name but not the story, Lil’ Bobby Hutton was the first member of the Black Panther Party and was also the first Party member murdered by the police. Having joined the Panthers as a 15 year old, by the time of his death in 1968 (just two weeks shy of turning 17) Lil’ Bobby was the Treasurer of a rapidly growing organization. Although the circumstances leading up to the confrontation that resulted in his death are the subject of dispute, there is no confusion over the fact that members of the Oakland and Emeryville Police Departments gunned down (12 shots, the first to the head at point blank range) an unarmed black teenager who had surrendered and was in their custody. His murder was the catalyst that increased the urgency and the intensity of the implementation of the Black Panther Party platform.

Bobby Hutton Memorial Benefit
organized by Sham Saenz
Nov. 29
Art Show and Sale
8 – 10 pm
Luggage Store
1007 Market St. (at 6th)

After Party
10pm – 2 am
On Six Gallery
60 6th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103