The Emmett Till painting saga continues; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi ‘should be postponed or downsized’ says former director
The controversy over the Dana Schutz painting of the murdered black teenager Emmett Till that is included in the current Whitney Biennial, has taken a turn with Whoopi Goldberg and the panel of US TV show The View condemning artist Hannah Black’s call for the Schutz work to be destroyed. Goldberg told Black she needs to ‘grow up’. In a response, published by Hyperallergic, artist and teacher Coco Fusco argues Black’s arguments put forward in the open letter to the Whitney curators, published on Facebook, are wrongheaded. Fusco argues that Black ‘presumes an ability to speak for all black people that smacks of a cultural nationalism that has rarely served black women, and that once upon a time was levied to keep black British artists out of conversations about black culture in America.’ On a story that has now reached mainstream news channels, Adam Shatz writing for the The London Review of Books concludes that ‘what is most troubling about the call to remove Schutz’s painting is not the censoriousness, but the implicit disavowal that acts of radical sympathy, and imaginative identification, are possible across racial lines.’
Former director of the Guggenheim Foundation in New York, Thomas Krens, believes plans to build a Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi should be postponed or downsized. Speaking on the podcast In Other Words, produced by the art advisory firm Art Agency Partners, Krens said the project to establish a major cultural complex on Saadiyat Island with five new museums was conceived at a time when ‘people were far more naïve’ and the project ‘could never have happened’ today due to security concerns. ‘The world financial crisis and the Arab Spring has changed the equation radically … it may not be such a good idea these days to have an American museum … with a Jewish name in a country [that doesn’t recognise Israel] in such a prominent location, at such a big scale.’
Two reports have been published with different estimates of the value of the art market. The Art Basel/UBS art market report – authored by art economist Dr. Clare McAndrew, put the value of the art market at USD$56.6 billion, down 11% from 2015. Alternatively, TEFAF art fair’s new report-coordinator (TEFAF used to employ McAndrew), Maastricht University professor of art market & finance Rachel Pownall, put the overall art market worth at USD$45 billion last year – a modest increase of close to 2%. Art market data, aside from auction results, is notoriously slippery to determine accurately because galleries are not obliged to publish figures. Pownall’s data set is 21, 000 dealers compared to McAndrew’s 70, 000.
Zurich-based Galerie Eva Presenhuber has announced that it will open a space in New York. Opening 5 May, during Frieze New York, it will be located in NoHo, at 39 Great Jones Street, an address that has previously been home to fellow Zurich-based gallery Karma International and the studio of Ugo Rondinone. The first show at the new space will be by Austrian painter Tobias Pils.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) will open a new national architecture centre, RIBA North, on 17 June on the Liverpool Waterfront, designed by Broadway Malyan. As well programming temporary architecture exhibitions, RIBA North, will host a permanent display showcasing the history of Liverpool’s built environement and the RIBA Collections, a resource of of architecture drawings, photographs and prints, dating from the late 15th century.