Robert Morris, Sculptor and Pioneering Minimalist, Dies Aged 87
In further news: badger-hair paintbrushes linked to animal cruelty; Sotheby’s India hit by #MeToo claims
Pioneering minimalist and multimedia artist Robert Morris has passed away at the age of 87. Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1931, Morris went on to study at the Kansas City Art Institute and the California School of Fine Arts. Starting out as a painter, following his move to New York, Morris turned his focus to sculpture. Exhibitions at Green Gallery in the 1960s of the artist’s early austere plywood sculptures painted in grey began to cement Morris’s reputation as a pioneering minimalist. ‘Simplicity of shape does not necessarily equate with simplicity of experience,’ he once wrote. Morris’s experiments in minimalism and sculpture, in which he zoned in on bodily and spatial experience, also cut across a wide range of disciplines, from scatter art and Land art to performance. One notorious 1974 exhibition advertisement showed the artist naked from the waist up, wearing a Nazi helmet, chains and sunglasses. ‘Morris was never the cut-and-dried Minimalist of legend,’ Mark Prince wrote in a 2012 review, ‘seen in overview, his career is characterized by its resistance to being reduced to any single narrative, whether empirical, political or formalist.’ New York’s Castelli Gallery is currently showing an exhibition of new fibreglass works by the artist, ‘Banners and Curses’, on view until 25 January.
The animal welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has called on art supply companies to cease the sale of badger-hair paintbrushes, after it was discovered that brush manufacturers in China were capturing, imprisoning and violently killing wild badgers for their hair. Speaking to Artnet News, PETA’s senior director of corporate affairs, Anne Brainard said: ‘Many painters may not realize it, but if they use badger-hair paintbrushes, they’re supporting terrible cruelty – buying them is no different from buying fur.’
Gaurav Bhatia, the managing director of Sotheby’s India, has agreed to take a leave of absence following anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct made against him. According to Reuters, a formal inquiry will now take place into the accusation, originally made on social media. In a statement, made just days ahead of Sotheby’s first auction in India, a spokesperson for the auction house said: ‘Harassment of any type has no place at Sotheby’s and we will thoroughly investigate these allegations with Gaurav’s full cooperation.’ Don’t miss Skye Arundhati Thomas writing in frieze on how as India’s #MeToo moment hits the art world, the price for people to tell their stories remains too high.
Tear gas used by border agents against asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border on Sunday has been linked to Warren B. Kanders, a vice chairman at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Multiple reporters have posted images of tear gas canisters, which are branded with ‘Safariland’ and ‘Defence Technology’ logos – weapons companies owned by Kanders, Hyperallergic has reported. The Whitney vice chairman has been affiliated with the Safariland since 1996 and purchased the corporation in 2012 from BAE Systems for around USD$124 million (GBP£97 million).
A landscape by Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir has been stolen from the wall of the Vienna auction house, the Dorotheum. In what Artnet News described as an ‘audacious heist’, thieves removed the painting, Golfe, Mer, Falaises Vertes (1895) – valued at between EUR€120,000 (GBP£107,000) and EUR€160,000 (GBP£142,000) – from its frame and swiftly exited the building undetected. Viennese police believe the thieves were professionals and have identified three suspects from video footage. Some reports have suggested that two of the men distracted the security staff while the third removed the work. Video footage appears to show two of the suspects carrying large shopping bags, which could have been used to conceal the painting, although police have not yet confirmed whether the painting was removed in this way.
Norman Foster’s new London skyscraper proposal, dubbed ‘the Tulip’ – and compared by its critics to a Q-tip and a cocktail cornichon – has been presented with a more serious obstacle than divisive Twitter commentary. Technical experts at London City airport have raised concerns that gondolas designed to circulate around the Tulip’s tip risk confusing air traffic control systems. London City have insisted that National Air Traffic Control should now be consulted, and construction must be held off until an impact assessment on potential interference on radar systems has been carried out.
The Louvre, Paris has announced that it will offer free admission to visitors one Saturday night per month, in an effort to attract younger and less wealthy people. The new night-time openings are due to start on 5 January and will include activities aimed at families. A statement issued by the museum said the new initiative aimed for a ‘democratization’ of the Louvre. The new Saturday sessions will run between 6 pm and 8:45 pm.
The overspend at documenta 14, the Kassel quinquennial’s 2017 edition, was EUR€2 million greater than originally thought, according to a final audit. This puts the deficit at EUR€7.6 million, which will have to be covered by the shareholders in the exhibition’s managing company: the city of Kassel and the state of Hesse. The Art Newspaper has the story.
In awards news: Daria Martin has been announced as the winner of the 2018 Film London Jarman Award, given to a UK-based moving image artist – she will receive GBP£10,000; American photographer Nan Goldin has won the Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society (RPS), while Edmund Clark, Mat Collishaw, Karen Knorr, Sarah Moon, Zanele Muholi and Vanessa Winship have been awarded Honorary Fellowships.
In gallery news: Hauser & Wirth have launched a New York-based research non-profit, Hauser & Wirth Institute, dedicated to scholarship and preservation around artists’s archives, led by Jennifer Gross; Lévy Gorvy is set to open new headquarters in Hong Kong in March to add to its flagship spaces in New York and London; Chelsea dealer Andrew Kreps will move to a new 930-square-metre space in Tribeca in May 2019; Glasgow’s The Common Guild is closing their exhibitions programme at 21 Woodland Terrace this month, focusing in the short term on projects and events, and in the long term on relocating to more accessible premises; Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates has joined Gagosian and the New York-based David Altmejd is now represented by White Cube.
Finally, in appointments news: The Glasgow School of Art has appointed professor Irene McAra-McWilliam as its new director, who will take on the role for one year prior to a full candidate search; Raqs Media Collective have been selected as artistic directors of the Yokohama Triennale’s 2020 edition; Timothy Taylor has appointed Nicole Calderón as director of its New York gallery; the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, has appointed Johanna Burton as its new director, starting in March 2019; and Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, will curate the second edition of the Lahore Biennale (LB02), Pakistan, in February 2020.