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In further news: po-mo architecture in the UK gets heritage status; Kassel to buy Olu Oguibe’s monument to refugees

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Jeff Koons unveils his Seated Ballerina (2017) at the Rockefeller Center, New York, 2017. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Mike Coppola

Gagosian Gallery, Inc. and Jeff Koons, LLC have moved to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the collector Steven Tananbaum, alleging ‘non-delivery’ of three works by the artist. The motion filed in New York Supreme Court claimed that Tananbaum’s complaint was filled with ‘rambling and overwrought allegations.’ Tananbaum sued Koons’s studio and the artist’s dealer Gagosian in April, claiming that three sculptures he had agreed to buy had not materialized, with delivery dates regularly pushed back years, despite him paying over USD$13 million for them. The collector’s counsel alleged a Ponzi-like scheme, with the original complaint reading: ‘Behind the ostensible façade of Jeff Koons’ art world triumphs and record-breaking auction prices, lurks a well-oiled machine, more specifically an established, archaic System as old as the hills applied to the art world to exploit art collectors’ desire to own Jeff Koons sculptures.’ The counter-motion filed by Gagosian and Koons says: ‘the imperious demands of a multimillionaire who no longer wants to wait cannot trump the plain and unambiguous language of the Purchase Agreements, which do not require Mr. Koons to create the Works by any specified deadline.’

UK postmodern buildings have received protected heritage status. Seventeen buildings built between the 1970s and ’90s have been added to the National Heritage List for England. The newly protected buildings include London Docklands housing estate, China Wharf, a business school within the former Addenbrooke Hospital in Cambridge and Truro Crown Courts in Cornwall. Postmodernism can be categorized through its distinctive and emphasized use of brick, bright coloured cladding and distortions of classical scale and proportion. Owen Hopkins, the senior curator at London’s Sir John Soane’s Museum which is currently hosting an exhibition on British postmodern architecture, has described this era as ‘frequently written off as an expression of 1980s Thatcherism’, but believes this radical period demonstrates great creativity and innovation.

The city of Kassel has voted to buy Olu Oguibe's controversial monument to refugees. Titled Monument Strangers and Refugees, the sale of the Arnold Bode Prize-winning 52-foot work, which currently sits in the town square of Königsplatz, is contingent on the Nigerian-born American artist and the city reaching an agreement on 30 June about its location. The obelisk has sparked debate since last year’s documenta 14, where it had first been commissioned and exhibited. It touches on a timely subject matter regarding refugee policy and is inscribed with a biblical quote ‘I was a stranger and you took me in’ in various languages including Arbaic and Turkish. The work received a backlash from citizens and government members due to the initial EUR€600,000 cost of the sculpture, which was later lowered to EUR€126,000.

The Pasadena Museum of Modern Art in California is to close after 16 years. 13 members of the Museum’s board voted via email to cease operation after Chairman Jim Crawford recommended in a board meeting on 13 June that the museum close after its current exhibition season ends. Although no reasons have been given for the decision, Crawford wrote in a statement on the museum’s website, that the Board of Directors would like to ‘thank all of the donors, contributors, lenders, museum members, and especially our hard working, dedicated staff who have made this wonderful adventure possible.’ The museum was founded by Pasadena residents and philanthropists Bob and Arlene Oltman and first opened its doors in 2002 with the mission of presenting the breadth of California art and design.

The British Museum is to name a gallery after UAE Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who played an important role in preserving the Middle East’s unique cultural heritage. Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism and the British Museum have signed an agreement to rename Gallery 51 in the British Museum ‘Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Gallery for Europe and the Middle East’. Located on the upper floor of the museum, the gallery explores Middle Eastern culture and heritage and the development of farming between 10,000 – 800 BCE. The agreement also sets out a loan partnership in which Abu Dhabi’s Zayed National will showcase important objects from the British Museum.

Los Angeles will host a food-themed edition of its Current:LA triennial in 2019. The event will explore the city’s relationship to food and will be organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles’s curatorial team. Opening in the autumn of 2019, the culinary-centred exhibition will showcase public art projects and programmes in every council district in the city of Los Angeles and will feature 15 temporary artworks that delve into the topics such as agriculture and food diversity. In a statement, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said, ‘Los Angeles is a global cultural capital — a place where the world comes to showcase creative excellence and artistic diversity.’

Artist Banu Cennetoğlu has published a list of refugee deaths in The Guardian to mark World Refugee Day. In conjunction with her current Chisenhale Gallery show in London, the Istanbul-based artist distributed ‘The List’ online and in print, compiled and updated annually by antidiscrimination network, UNITED for Intercultural Action. Dating back to 1993, the file comprises the 34,361 documented deaths of refugees and migrants due to the ‘restrictive policies’ of Europe, detailing information relating to each death such as country of origin, age, gender and cause of death. Cennetoğlu has been incorporating lists of migrant deaths into her work since 2002, but this is the first time that the document will be available to the UK public. The Turkish artist told The Guardian, ‘As long as I have resources as an artist I will continue to make this list more visible.’

The Knight Foundation has launched a USD$500,000 grant for performance work. The Florida-based funder has initiated a new programme that will support the development and staging of performance arts in and around Miami. Intended to help the work of visual artists, playwrights and choreographers, winners of the open-call initiative will split the half-million-dollar pot and performances will take place from fall 2020 to spring 2021. The non-profit says that it is not looking to fund ‘nice’ or ‘safe’ ideas, but rather, works that have the potential to be groundbreaking. 

In appointments news: Deborah Cullen moves to The Bronx Museum as its new director after working at Wallach Art Gallery as director and chief curator since 2012. Cullen will take the role of Holly Block, who recently died of breast cancer aged 58 after serving as director at the Bronx Museum for 11 years. The announcement arrives after a rocky few years for the Bronx, in which two board members resigned over the museum’s finances and international aims. Lauren Ross has been named as executive director of the Laumeier Sculpture Park in Saint Louis, Missouri. The former curator of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute for Contemporary Art will steward the 105-acre park, its facilities and sculpture grounds in addition to overseeing exhibitions, educational programmes and collaborative partnerships.

In gallery news: Berlin’s Gillmeier Rech gallery will close its five-year-old operation on 31 August due to an ‘unsustainable working environment.’ White Cube have announced representation of South Korean painter Park Seo-Bo, born in 1931 and credited as being the father of the ‘Dansaekhwa’ movement.

In awards news: The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool has announced the five shortlisted artworks for this year’s biennial John Moores Painting Prize from a total of 2,700 entries. Shortlisted artists include Billy Crosby, Jacqui Hallum, Tom Howse, Joseph O’Rourke and Shanti Panchal; Sondra Perry is the inaugural winner of The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland’s USD$50,000 Toby’s Prize, which comes with a USD$25,000 cash prize, the other half going towards the production of a new work that will go on view at the museum in April 2019.