Briefing

A fresh dispute over the estate of Vivian Maier; Chris Ofili is made a CBE

A self-portrait by Vivian Maier, from the 2014 documentary Finding Vivian Maier, directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, Courtesy: Vivian Maier/Maloof Collection

The estate of Vivian Maier, the Chicago-based nanny and secretive photographer whose photos only came to light after her death in 2009, is at the centre of a new legal dispute. Chicago lawyers Marshall, Gerstein & Borun, working on behalf of Cook County who administers Maier’s estate, is suing Jeffrey Goldstein, a dealer who they say was exhibiting and selling Maier works despite having no official sanction to do so. The suit alleges that Goldstein gave around 17,000 negatives to Toronto’s Stephen Bulger Gallery whilestill  negotiating with the Public Administrator for the Cook County in charge of administering Maier’s estate. The estate of Vivian Maier has been hotly contested ever since she was forced to sell off boxes of negatives and film reels – unable to afford to pay for their storage  just prior to her death.

Claire Doherty has been appointed as the director of Arnolfini in Bristol, UK. Doherty who is currently the director of Situations, a public art commissioning body which she founded as part of the University of the West of England in 2002, will start at the the institution on 1 August. Among the projects produced by Situations was Theaster Gates’s Sanctum (2015) which took place in a derelict Bristol church – the artist’s first public art project in the UK; in 2016, Claire was appointed MBE for services to the arts in the south west of England. Doherty commented on her new role, saying, ‘I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead Arnolfini’s next chapter in Bristol – a city which is truly a crucible of brave, new ideas and creative talent.’ Previous interim director Kate Brindley left the not for profit last December to become director of collections and exhibitions at Chatsworth House.

Emily Cormack has been announced as curator of the next edition of the TarraWarra Biennial in Australia to be held in 2018. The Melbourne-based freelance curator and writer (who has written for frieze) curated the 25th edition of ‘Primavera: Young Australian Artists’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney last year and has organized a number of shows for Melbourne’s Gertrude Contemporary and Adam Art Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand. She is also cofounder and co-director of the independent art space Conical. Established in 2006 as an experimental curatorial platform, the TarraWarra Biennial, held at the TarraWarra Museum of Art in Victoria, aims to identify new trends in contemporary Australian art.

Several South African galleries and auction houses have decided not to display or sell the work of photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa who was found guilty of murder last month. ‘The directors of Strauss & Co decided that the company would not be auctioning works by Zwelethu Mthethwa until further notice,’ marketing and advertising officer of the auction house Bina Genovese said. Mthethwa was convicted of killing 23-year-old sex worker Nokuphila Kumalo in 2013.

Magdalena Abakanowicz has died aged 86. Born in 1930, in Falenty, Poland, Abakanowicz began her artistic career as a painter but soom began creating sculptural forms with textiles. Abakanowicz is perhaps best known for her biomorphic, large-scale sculptures of headless human figures made from thick fibres hardened with synthetic resins. Her soft sculptures made from dyed sisal fibre, known as ‘Abakans,’ were exhibited at the 1964 International Biennial of Tapestry in Lausanne and won a gold medal at the 1967 São Paulo Biennial. She won the Award for Distinction in Sculpture from the New York Sculpture Center in 1993 and the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts in 1999. Abakanowicz was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, Poland, from 1965 to 1990, and a visiting professor at a number of institutions in Los Angeles, Berkeley, Boston, New York, San Diego, Sydney, and Tokyo. The largest collection of her art resides in the National Museum in Wrocław in Poland.

Chris Ofili was made a Commander of the British Empire for services to art in the latest round of the Queen’s honours last week. The Turner-Prize-wining artist said that the award was special due to his parents’ decision to relocate to England from Nigeria more than four decades ago. ‘We set up our life in England and it’s so special to be recognized for what I do in England and Britain, and for my parents that they made a great choice and invested so much in me,’ Ofili said. ‘It feels as though I have achieved a lot.’ The tapestry the artist has created with the Dovecoat Tapestry Studio is on view as part of ‘Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic’ at the National Gallery, London, from 26 April to 28 August.

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Janiva Ellis, Catchphrase Coping Mechanism, 2019, oil on linen, 2.2 x 1.8 m. Courtesy: the artist and 47 Canal, New York; photograph: Joerg Lohse

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