Trisha Brown has died, aged 80; two new appointments at London’s ICA; controversy at the Whitney


Trisha Brown, 1970. Photograph: © Lois Greenfield

Trisha Brown, 1970. Photograph: © Lois Greenfield

  • Trisha Brown has died aged 80. Born in 1936, the pioneering American choreographer and dancer had been treated for vascular dementia since 2011. A contemporary of fellow choreographers, Simone Forti and Yvonne Rainer, Brown moved to New York in 1961 to study composition with Robert Dunn, who taught a class at Merce Cunningham's studio. Brown went on to train with dancer Anna Halprin and became a founding member of the Judson Dance Theater, a pioneering hub for post modern dance which ran from 1962-64.  In 1970 she cofounded the Grand Union, an experimental dance collective, and formed the Trisha Brown Dance Company. As well as her early – now legendary – works such as Walking on the Wall, Roof Piece and Accumulation (all 1971), she would collaborate with Robert Rauschenberg and Laurie Anderson, Nancy Graves and Donald Judd over the course of her career.  The last work she made in 2011, I’m going to toss my arms – if you catch them they’re yours, featured designs by her husband, the late Burt Barr, and music by Alvin Curran.
  • The ICA in London has appointed Katharine Stout as Deputy Director and
 Richard Birkett as Chief Curator. Stout, who as Head of Programme at the ICA since 2013 has been responsible for shows such as Richard Hamilton, Tauba Auerbach, Hito Steyerl, Prem Sahib, Betty Woodman and Sonia Boyce, starts her new cross-organizational role on 1 April. Birkett follows ICA director Stefan Kalmár to London – the pair having worked together at Artists Space New York for the past few years – and rejoins the ICA where he previously worked as curator between 2007 and 2010. He starts his new position in May.
  • A number of artists and writers have signed an open letter to the Whitney Museum of American Art, written by writer and artist Hannah Black, asking it take down and destroy a painting by Dana Schutz, currently included in the Whitney Biennale 2017. The work, Open Casket (2016), depicts a photograph taken at the funeral of African-American teenager Emmett Till in 1955. Till was brutally murdered in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman.  His mother insisted on having an open-casket funeral for her son, saying: ‘Let the people see what I’ve seen.’ The photograph of his disfigured body was published in Jet magazine and became a catalyst for the civil rights movement. A small-scale protest took place when the biennial opened last Friday, with a group of five or six people stationed themselves in front of the painting for several hours, blocking it from view.
  • South London Gallery’s (SLG) has started construction work on a second space, the former Peckham Road Fire Station, with a view to opening it as a mixed-use cultural centre in 2018. Gifted to the SLG by an anonymous benefactor, the refurbishment of the Grade II-listed building is estimated to cost GBP£4million. SLG has raised GBP£3.3m through a mixture of private and public money but needs a further GBP£700,000 to cover restoration costs and establish a fund for the future running of the building. The redesign is led by 6a architects, responsible for Raven Row gallery, Sadie Coles’s Davies Street gallery and the major ongoing expansion of Milton Keynes Gallery.
  • A Gainsborough painting was vandalized in the National Gallery in London last Saturday. Named as Keith Gregory, the man took a screwdriver to Thomas Gainsborough’s painting Mr and Mrs William Hallett (‘The Morning Walk’) (1785) before being detained by visitors and guards. A spokeswoman for the gallery said, ‘The damage is limited to two long scratches which have penetrated the paint layers but not the supporting canvas … The painting was removed from display and examined by the gallery’s conservators, who are now assessing next steps.’ Police have announced formal charges of criminal damage.

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