Blogs Centerpoints

Centerpoints: Brave Thinkers, Life of Brian, Huyghe’s hermit crab

Today we’ve got a look at The Atlantic’s annual “Brave Thinkers” list (Ai Weiwei makes the cut), Pierre Huyghe’s hermit crab detained by customs, a check-in with Monty Python, and more.

The Atlantic‘s annual “Brave Thinkers” list – a “guide to the people risking their reputations, fortunes and lives in pursuit of big ideas” — this year includes several cultural figures, including Chinese artist/dissident Ai Weiwei, filmmaker Terrence Malick and Mad Men creator Matt Weiner. The top two vote-getters among readers: Steve Jobs and Barack Obama.

• When Monty Python made The Life of Brian, an irreverent story of a guy name Brian who was born next door to Jesus and mistaken for the Messiah, religion was “on the back-burner,” says company member Terry Jones. But since 1979, religion has “come back with a vengeance and we’d think twice about making it now.” The controversy surrounding the film is the subject of a new BBC4 program, “Holy Flying Circus.

• Experimental Jetset’s famed Beatles shirt gets yet another spinoff, for Occupy Wall Street, one of the many iterations of the Dutch design firm’s Helvetica-based design. The original, and its creators, will be featured in the Walker’s upcoming graphic design show, and the “John & Paul & Ringo & George”  shirt will be for sale in the Walker Shop.

The Art Newspaper: “A giant hermit crab destined to be the ‘star’ performer in Pierre Huyghe’s live ecosystem installation, Recollection, 2011, part of Frieze Projects (P6), has been stopped by US customs and transferred to an aquarium in New York after it was found to be inhabiting the shell of an endangered species.”

Kerning: The game!

Centerpoints: Zé, Beyoncé and beyond

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker on Beyoncé’s “plagiarism” of dance moves; Tom Zé’s birthday; the role of designers in solving Finland’s problem, and more, inside.

Happy Zé Day! Musician and key Tropicália figure Tom Zé turns 75 today.

• Choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, alerted that dance moves in Beyoncé’s new video look a lot like hers, responded, “I didn’t know anything about this. I’m not mad, but this is plagiarism.” The Guardian, looking at the similarities between choreography in “Countdown” and De Keersmaeker’s work, concludes on a softer note. The Belgian choregrapher, noting that Beyoncé was four months pregnant during filming of the video, said, “I can only wish her the same joy that my daughter brought me.

The Guardian‘s Justin McGuirk: “Most governments have a cluster of thinktanks and policy groups at their disposal to tackle their country’s challenges. But what’s different about Sitra [the Finnish Innovation Fund] is that it uses designers.”

• Top photography blogger Joerg Colberg looks at Gerhard Richter’s “Overpainted Photographs” “not as paintings or photographs but objects that address much larger ideas than that of themselves.”

Art224 post a nice animated video featuring the voice and graphic design of Paul Rand: “A work of art is realized when form and content are indistinguishable. When form predominates, meaning is blunted. But when content dominates, interest lags. Genius comes in when both of these things fuse.”

Tyler Green reflects on the “cantankerous” Clyfford Still. “Still, even more than Pollock or de Kooning, was the hermit-hero who irked – or outraged – seemingly everyone in his path.” From the Walker collection, Still’s Untitled (1950-C).

Wired looks at photography by Dornith Doherty, who documents the Svalbard “Doomsday” Seed Vault, an underground repository for seeds on the remote Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. The series captures “the logistics — and existential anxiety — behind the elaborate steps now in place to preserve the world’s crop diversity,” writes Pete Brook.

METRO Magazine‘s 2011 METRO 100 list is out, and at number two is the Walker’s dance programming:

Lucy Guerin’s Structure and Sadness, Morgan Thorson and Alan Sparhawk’s Making Music Series collaboration and Despair Be Damned, a showcase of music and dance from the Democratic Republic of Congo, are just three recent reasons we like the Walker Art Center’s dance programming—which now rivals the breadth of its already-diverse visual-arts collection. The recent (and gigantic) Merce Cunningham Dance Company visual-arts acquisition coupled with the company’s farewell performance … sees the Walker pushing the envelope even further.


Centerpoints: Art funding and social change, ‘ugly’ LA, purloined Picasso

A new report on arts philanthropy shows the majority of giving benefits large institutions serving wealthy, white audiences and dealing with western European art forms. That and more, inside.

• Troubling findings in the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s new report, “Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy”, which was released Monday:

[The majority of arts funding supports large organizations with budgets greater than $5 million. Such organizations, which comprise less than 2 percent of the universe of arts and cultural nonprofits, receive more than half of the sector’s total revenue. These institutions focus primarily on Western European art forms, and their programs serve audiences that are predominantly white and upper income. Only 10 percent of grant dollars made with a primary or secondary purpose of supporting the arts explicitly benefit underserved communities, including lower-income populations, communities of color and other disadvantaged groups. And less than 4 percent focus on advancing social justice goals. These facts suggest that most arts philanthropy is not engaged in addressing inequities that trouble our communities, and is not meeting the needs of our most marginalized populations.

• Mark Stevens on Willem de Kooning, in Smithsonian: “Of the painters who emerged in New York during the late 1940s and early ’50s—Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, among them—de Kooning, who died in 1997, remains the most difficult to capture: He is too vital, restless, jazzy, rude and unpredictable to fit into any one particular cup.”

• Having successfully made an 110-mile move, from Orono to Owatonna, Minn., Frank Gehry’s 1987 Winton Guest House is now part of the University of St. Thomas’ Gainey Conference Center. Said Gehry, who was in Minnesota this weekend, “As you can imagine, I was afraid to come today. I’ve never had a building of mine moved. I’ve had buildings torn down.”

• For works in his solo show at the Geffen Contemporary, An Epitaph for Civil Rights, artist-activist Theaster Gates reused salvaged objects, which he says contain “a mixture of pragmatism and poetry.” One piece, the Times reports, features “a nice neat row of industrial fire hose mounted on wood. There is just one rub: the fire hoses Mr. Gates has cut up were among those that the police turned on civil rights protesters in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963.” (Gates will perform at the Walker in March as part of Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s The Living Word Project; he also designed the sets.)

John Baldessari’s glowing endorsement of Los Angeles: “I live here because L.A. is ugly… If I lived in a great beautiful city, why would I do art? … I always have to be slightly angry to do art, and L.A provides that.”

• A man involved in stealing paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Modigliani and Leger from Paris’ d’Art Moderne last May now says he “panicked and destroyed the canvasses before throwing them into a rubbish bin.” The paintings were worth at least $136.5 million.

• Your moment of: Blade Runner, LEGO version.

Centerpoints: Occupy Wall Street roundup, von Trier’s troubles

• The Occupy Wall Street catchall: (re)Appropriation of revolutionary images, the documentary, an Apple-style commercial (“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels…”), artblogger James Wagner’s day-by-day chronicle of the NYC protests, and the art hook: Mark di Suvero’s sculpture makes an appearance in The (Occupied) Wall Street Journal‘s map as “Weird Red Thing.” […]

• The Occupy Wall Street catchall: (re)Appropriation of revolutionary images, the documentary, an Apple-style commercial (“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels…”), artblogger James Wagner’s day-by-day chronicle of the NYC protests, and the art hook: Mark di Suvero’s sculpture makes an appearance in The (Occupied) Wall Street Journal‘s map as “Weird Red Thing.”

• Director Lars von Trier — who made some bizarre comments about Nazis and Hitler at Cannes this year, apologized for it and then retracted that apology — says he was questioned by police this week over the controversial remarks. Police say no charges exist, but in a statement von Trier noted a “preliminary charge from the prosecutor in Grasse in France in August 2011, on a possible contravention of French law against the glorification of war crimes.”

• Photographer Brian Ulrich, who was in the Walker’s 2008 exhibition Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes, gives Design Observer readers a look at works from his new book Is This Place Great or What, which documents American consumer culture. In a 2008 audio slideshow, he told me about the series — and the work that eventually became the title of his monograph.

• German artist Neo Rauch has sealed a deal with his childhood town of Aschersleben to open an arts foundation. Opening in June, it’ll house all of his graphic works — which he describes as “accessories to my painting” — since 1992 and into the future. “I would practically have my own museum and be under constant pressure to produce high quality work,” said Rauch. “At the same time it will be a boost to the town’s cultural life.”

• Infographic: One designer’s creative process.

Carsten Höller to install a giant slide at the New Museum. The 40-foot high, 102-foot long transparent-plastic chute is scheduled to open Oct. 26.

• Two sides of Steve Jobs: Mailing out autographed computer chips to fans and flipping IBM the bird.


Centerpoints: RIP Steve Jobs, words with the ‘Paul Rand of Metal,’ Richter’s artworld rip

Artists and Apple fans respond to the death of Steve Jobs, a quick Q&A with black-metal logo designer Christophe Szpajdel, and sharp words for Gerhard Richter on the “daft” state of the art market if his paintings are selling for $9–14 million at auction.

• Within hours of news of the death of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, artists had already created homages, the first, surely, of many to come. And The Pop-Up City notices how Apple stores worldwide “have transformed into churches today,” with impromptu memorials appearing everywhere from San Francisco to New York to Beijing.

• The Centro Niemeyer in Avilés, Spain — an arts facility designed by and named after 103-year old Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer — has closed down after just six months amid governmental claims of accounting “irregularities” and concerns about maintenance costs for the $58.4 million center.

• Gerhard Richter says the fact that a painting from his “Candle” series is expected to sell at auction for between $9 and $14 million is “impossible to understand and it’s daft…. It’s just as absurd as the banking crisis.” Linking up the story, Animal NY asks if it’s “time to #OccupyArtWorld.”

Real Clear ArtsJudith Dobrzynski looks at audience participation in curation. Her take: With the Walker’s experiment in “crowdsourced curation” in the recent exhibition 50/50: Audience and Experts Curate the Collection – visitors selected half the show’s works, while Walker curators seleted the other half — “[t]here was value in comparing the two.” But she’s less fond of the Plains Art Museum’s show You Like This: A Democratic Approach to the Museum Collection, which put the public in control of curation, from voting on favorite works to include to placement of art based on each piece’s popularity. Dobrzynski says such choices “devalue the curatorial profession” and offers some analogous questions: “[S]hould we all vote on what is taught in primary school classrooms? Should people vote on the medical treatment of an ailing loved one? Do chefs let their clients vote each morning on what they should prepare?”

The New York Times on how Arab artists visualized revolution before it happened.

• News that Christophe Szpajdel, dubbed the “Paul Rand of Metal,” will be part of the Walker’s upcoming graphic design show sent me digging for this hilarious old Vice interview with the artist, who has hand drawn several thousand logos for black- and death-metal bands with names like Death Messiah and Nachtmystium. Check out the logos on his Flickr page (1, 2, 3), and look for more on Szpajdel on the Design blog as the exhibition (opening Oct. 21) nears.

Centerpoints: Brown’s Bessie, Richter’s hidden mural, Gaddafi graf

Choreographer Trisha Brown picks up a Bessie for lifetime achievement, an early Gerhard Richter mural depicting a socialist utopia will remain hidden in Germany, and AlJazeera looks at the crop of anti-Gaddafi graffiti that’s cropped up in Libya in recent weeks. These and other bits of art news inside.

• Fresh off winning the $300,000 Gish Prize last month, choreographer Trisha Brown picks up another honor — a Bessie award for lifetime achievement. Established in 1983, the award takes its name from New York dancer and teacher Bessie Schonberg and acknowledges “outstanding creative work by independent artists in the fields of dance and related performance in New York City.”

• President Obama, who selected an array of historical and modern paintings (including works by Ed Ruscha and Glenn Ligon) for the White House walls back in 2009, declared October National Arts and Humanities Month yesterday. The proclamation suggests no policy stance, but acknowledges the arts as a driver of the economy: “Millions of Americans earn a living in the arts and humanities, and the non-profit and for-profit arts industries are important parts of both our cultural heritage and our economy. ”

• Not unlike Candy Chang’s I Wish This Was project in New Orleans, artist Eve Mosher solicits feedback on public space use through big yellow fill-in-the blank arrows that read, “Insert ___________ here.”

The Guardian takes a look at Gerhard Richter: Panorama, the major Tate Modern retrospective that opens tomorrow.

• A ten-meter-wide Richter mural — “what is undoubtedly the most important early work by one of the country’s greatest living artists,” according to the Art Newspaper — will remain hidden in Dresden’s Deutsches Hygiene Museum. Richter says the piece, created by the artist at age 24 to celebrate life under socialism, is “not worth preserving.”

• Fourteen years after Andy Warhol created her iconic portrait, Elizabeth Taylor acquired the silkscreen. In a 1977 note, she thanked Warhol for “signing it so sweetly to me.”

• Of Calvin Tompkins, the New Yorker writer who’ll be honored for his artist profiles at the Whitney Gala tonight, John Baldessari says, “He’s not trying to impress with his use of language. I love him because he would rather say house than edifice.”

• The ouster of Libya’s four-decade dictator has sparked a creative renaissance… in anti-Gaddafi graffiti.

Centerpoints: Hanging with Cattelan, calligraphy bike, ROLU’s fragrance

It’s Monday, and our roundup of art and design news includes a look at Maurizio Cattelan’s forthcoming Guggenheim retrospective, a bike that writes poetry with water, furniture-maker ROLU’s thoughts on a branded fragrance, and more.

• The New York Times hangs (ahem) with Maurizio Cattelan, whose Guggenheim retrospective will gather many of his works from around the world and hang them in the rotunda of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed museum “like so many fat salamis in a butcher’s window.” The Italian artist claims it’ll be his last show.

Designboom looks at Beijing-based artist Nicholas Hanna‘s Water Calligraphy Device, which “interprets the Chinese tradition of using a water brush to write poetry in public spaces by transforming a flat-bead tricycle into a poetry-writing device.”

Unnamed, an Ai Weiwei-curated exhibition at the Gwangju Design Biennale, which is going on in Korea through Oct. 23, includes projects typically not associated with design, from computer code for a virus to protest strategies in Egypt.

• We know what ROLU’s furniture looks like (if you don’t, stop by — or walk by — the Walker Shop) — but if they ventured into a new field, what would their fragrance smell like?

• Artist Trevor Paglen, most recently part of our just-closed exhibition Exposed, speaks tonight at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.

• The Occupy Wall Street protests is now a tourist destination.