St. Petersburg's First Private Art Museum Opens

Earlier this month the Novy Museum opened in St. Petersburg. The city's first private art museum is the brainchild of Aslan Chekhoev and his wife Irina. The museum is devoted to Soviet underground and Russian contemporary art and centers on the Chekhoevs' collection of nearly 300 paintings, works on paper and photographs assembled over the past five years. The Checkhoevs, who have been active buyers at major European and US auction houses, have purchased many notable pieces throughout the years (most significant: Komar and Melamid's "Yalta Conference: the Judgement of Paris," purchased at MacDougall's in London for several hundred thousand dollars).

The museum is located in a newly renovated 19th century building on the historic Vasilievsky Island, close to the St. Petersburg State University and the Russian Academy of Fine Arts.  The collection features the work of 69 artists - including Yevgeny Rukhin, Evgeny Mikhnov-Voitenko, Komar and Melamid and Oscar Rabin; the inaugural exhibition features a sample work by each artist. Checkhoev plans to rotate the Novy Museum's exhibition about three times a year and also hopes to collaborate with other art collectors.

When asked why he embarked on this ambitious project, Chekhoev responded,

"We see this as something for history and for St. Petersburg, because around 70% of our collection is comprised of important Moscow artists whose works are not well represented in our local museums."

LACMA's "Art of Two Germanys" wins Praise (and MORE)

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the largest art museum in the western United States, contains 100,000 items from the ancient times to present day. The extensive museum has hosted hundreds of noteworthy exhibitions since its founding a century ago, and its recent "Art of Two Germanys / Cold War Culture" exemplifies the greatness of LACMA and its associated curators and exhibitions.

LACMA curator Stephanie Barron has received top honors from the 900 + member Association of Art Museum Curators, for the exhibition. Co-curated with Eckhart Gillen, "Art of Two Germanys/ Cold War Culture" was named outstanding museum exhibition in the Pacific Time Zone for 2009. The show, which also received a first place award from the International Association of Art Critics in the category of best national thematic museum show, was an ambitious exhibition that included a wide range of mediums. Paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs and performance documentation from both East and West Germany from the end of WW II until the fall of the Berlin Wall were on view. The exhibition, on which Barron spent over six years developing, marked the culmination of the curator's decades of scholarship in modern and contemporary German art.

The exhibition introduced little-known artists from the East side of the divided country, whose work had never before been seen in the US - including that of Hermann Glöckner, who made small but powerful Constructivist-style sculptures. It also provided artistic and political context for familiar artists such as Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Georg Baselitz.

Bravo to Barron, Gillen and LACMA on their amazing achievement!

Click here to read the entire article associated with this post (including information on other AAMC winners and details of Barron's next big show).

Click here to see what's going on now at LACMA


Happy 10th Birthday to London's Tate Modern

This month marks a decade since the opening of London's Tate Modern. As the fourth member of the Tate "family" (Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives make up the entire family of Tate galleries), Tate Modern displays Britain's national collection of international modern art. Since it opened in 2000, 45 million people have visited Tate Modern, which has presented dozens of exhibitions containing art from both famous and lesser well-known artists.

Tate Modern's director - curator and art world staple - Nicholas Serota, recently sat down with the Guardian's Kate Kellaway for an extensive interview, during which the journalist asked him questions sent in from various members of the the art world and other curious Guardian readers.

Here are some highlights:

In response to artists' Jake and Dino Chapman asking what work of art Serota would save if the museum was on fire, the director responded:

"I could be flippant and say Jake and Dinos's works aren't on view at the moment, so I wouldn't have the luxury of saving one of them. Oh God – duty would compel me to try and save Matisse's The Snail. It is one of my favourite works, an incredible masterpiece. Or the Rothkos. So many things have become favourites in recent years – Rebecca Horn's Concert for Anarchy – the upside-down piano that hangs and disgorges its interior. The Gerhard Richter paintings we acquired three years ago. But on reflection I would probably choose work by Oiticica. A fire at the estate where Oiticica's work is kept destroyed an enormous amount of it. Little now exists in the world."

Artists Bob and Roberta Smith wanted to know what the painting or artwork hangs on Serota's wall directly across from his bed (and thus, which is the first one he sees each morning when he wakes up). He says its a small, early 20th-century Indian water color in a traditional miniature form - depicting two dancing figures.

The Lisson Gallery's Nicholas Logsdail questioned the director on what he will ask the next government to do in order to ensure the continued success and development of visual arts and culture across the UK. Serota emphasized the necessity of art education and putting more money into the collecting of contemporary art by regional galleries (so that people have more access to contemporary art - as they do at Tate Modern).

Artist Matthew Stone asked "Does art change the world?" To which Serota stated,

"It changes the way we understand the world. That is what artists do. It can't change political and social and economic circumstances."

Check out what else the art world (and society at large) has asked the director, who seems to put a lot of thought into his answers, giving readers and art lovers some interesting insight into not only the director's passion for the museum and art in general, but also his attention to how art affects different aspects of society and the world.

Happy Birthday, Tate Modern! (I'm sure it will be an exciting year - as Tate Modern takes on an ambitious £215 million extension)

See how you can celebrate Tate Modern's 10th birthday

Check out what else is going on throughout London this month

Helsinki's Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

Helsinki's Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, a lively cultural center and meeting place that seeks to provide visitors easy and unforgettable access to the vibrant world of contemporary art, is currently presenting its 11th collection exhibition. The museum, known for crossing boundaries and pushing art to the limits, has created a truly unique exhibition - one where observers play an active role.

The experimental show, titled "It's a Set-up" runs through early 2011 and displays art from 41 artists, whose works consist of themes like time and duration, the presentation and staging of artwork,and  performance and human relationships. Some of the works encourage the viewer to use senses other than those of sight and sound and attempt to enhance the viewer's experience of the artwork - and others even transform during the exhibition.  Part of "It's a Set-up" even takes place outside the museum's walls - such as "Story Cafe" by Johanna Lecklin. (Last week, the artist invited people to have a free cup of coffee with her and tell stories which she will incorporate into her artwork).

Other current exhibitions at the museum include the following:

"Adel Abidin" (on through April 25th) presents a series of new works by the Finland-based Iraqi artist who merges sound, moving image and sculptural elements in her installations.

"Jussi Kivi" (on through May 16th) displays a collection of Fire and Rescue by the artist, whose work represented Finland in the 53rd International Art Exhibition (the Venice Biennale 2009)

Click here to read what's coming up at this unique contemporary art institute

Michigan State University's Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum

Last week construction began on the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, which, upon completion, will be a three-level, 46,000-square-foot structure. The Museum's namesakes (and longtime supporters / alumni of the University) gave $28 million to the museum (the total project's budget is between $40 and $45 million).

With the assistance of architecture and design critic Joseph Giovannini, MSU facilitated a competition in order to choose which architectural firm would design the new museum. Out of around 30 applicants, 10 semi-finalists and then 5 finalists were chosen, and in 2007, the finalists presented their designs to the public and a jury at MSU's campus.

World-class architect, the London-based Zaha Hadid, known for pushing architectural boundaries and experimenting with new spatial concepts in order to intensify existing urban landscapes, won the competition. Thus,  she began the exciting - yet challenging fete - of designing a building that would stand out from the traditional brick Gothic campus and serve as a symbol of the university's trajectory into the future. At the same time, Hadid must honor the connection of old and new, incorporating mature specimen trees into a sculpture garden that will anchor the new building in its surroundings.

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum will be an iconic structure - made of steel and concrete and containing a pleated metal and glass exterior. The building will be ecologically sustainable and intends to maximize the amount of dedicated gallery space featuring special exhibitions, modern and contemporary collections (including new media, photography and works on paper), as well as a permanent collection of pre-1945 works.

The museum is an iconic art museum-in-the-making and will most definitely be a "top museum" once it's finished.

Athens Art Museums

If you're lucky enough to be traveling to Greece in the near future, be sure to check out some of Athens' best art museums.

The National Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 2000 as a solution to the city's decades long absence of an analogous institution for contemporary international art. Current exhibitions include:

Chronis Botsoglou: A Retrospective (through APRIL 18TH) - The exhibition displays an array of works by Botsoglou, one of the leading artists of late modernism - which reveal the artist's morphological experiments and conceptual explorations. Some of his images include themes of brutality, violence, cynicism, the naked body, and solitude.

Zoe Beloff and the Wooster Group: Where Where There There Where, 1998 (through MARCH 25TH)- Inspired by the Wooster Group's play "House / Lights" (which itself relates to Gertrude Stein's play "Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights"), this interactive CD-ROM Project displays theories of perception, logic and language (similar to Stein's) and uses digital media to interpret the radical restructuring of language.

The Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation, Museum of Cycladic Art is dedicated to the study and promotion of ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus, with special emphasis on Cycladic Art of the 3rd millennium BC. Current Exhibitions include:

Eros: From Hesiod's Theogony to Late Antiquity (through APRIL 5TH) - This is a major archaeological exhibition dedicated to Eros and its various manifestations in antiquity. There are over 250 artifacts on display from 50 museums across Europe.

The Frissiras Museum exhibits contemporary European Paintings and promotes and presents new artists and movements. Current Events include:

The Look of the Artist: Edouard Sacaillan (through MARCH 31ST) - The exhibition includes work from the museum's permanent collection and displays over 150 paintings. Other artists' works will also be on display - they include: Peter Blake, Leonard Cremonini, Jean Rustin, Chronis Botsoglou, Diamantis Diamantopoulos and Vladimir Velickovic to name a few.

Caravaggio, Va Bene!

The Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome, fashioned from the stables of the city’s Quirinal Palace, is currently displaying an exhibition that commemorates Baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, who revolutionized the art world with his realism and intensity.

To mark the 400th anniversary of Caravaggio’s death, the museum’s exhibition brings together two-dozen paintings from museums across Europe and the US. Curators chose the paintings, which are of undisputed authenticity, after a century in which many works of other artists have been falsely attributed to Caravaggio. Thus, the chosen paintings genuinely display Caravaggio’s masterful uses of light, shadow and emotion.


The Rome exhibition is organized chronologically and divided into the three main periods of the artist’s short career (he died at age 39 and is known to have had periods of intense creation interspersed with long periods of inactivity).


Click here to read more about the exhibition

See what else is going on at the Scuderie del Quirinale


Going MAD for the Museum of Arts and Design

The Museum of Arts and Design collects, displays and interprets objects that document contemporary and historic innovation in craft, art, and design. For nearly half a century, it has served as the country's premier institution dedicated to the collection and exhibition of contemporary objects created in media such as clay, glass, wood, metal and fiber. During its lengthy history (which includes a name change from the Museum of Contemporary Crafts and two location changes in NYC - in 1986 and 2008), MAD has presented over 560 exhibitions. The museum organizes over 75 major public programs per year and welcomes over 275,00 visitors annually.

I've always liked MAD because its concurrent exhibitions are always interesting, original and eclectic, yet seem to compliment each other.

MAD's current exhibitions include "Bigger, Better, More: The Art of Viola Frey," "California Dreamers: Ceramic Artists from the MAD Collection," "Slash: Paper Under the Knife," and "Permanently MAD: Revealing the Collection."

"Bigger, Better, More: The Art of Viola Frey" : This exhibition, on display through May 2nd, shows the sculptures of one of the most influential twentieth century sculptors. Frey emerged in the complex (and contradictory) art world of the 1950s. She studied and lived in New Orleans early in life, and later returned to her native San Francisco in the 1960s where she devoted herself to ceramics. Her huge bricolage sculptures were created by assembling knick-knacks (found at flea markets). With these tacky mass-produced acquisitions, Frey innovatively crafted unique pieces with themes that countered the sentimentality and kitschy quality of their pre-constructed existence. She also tackled issues of gender, power, and societal more of the mid-twentieth century American society with images of men and women.

"California Dreamers: Ceramic Artists from the MAD Collection" : This exhibition, on through May 2nd and displayed in conjunction with the Viola Frey show, gives a sense of the lively era in which Frey worked -  the 1950s and 60s art climate in California encouraged experimentation through promoting personal and artistic freedom.

"Slash: Paper Under the Knife" : This exhibit, which closes April 4th,  examines paper in its various creative forms, exploring artists' remarkably diverse use of such a seemingly simple media . "Slash" surveys unusual paper treatments and also focuses on artists who modify books, transforming them into sculpture. Some of the pieces on display also highlight the use of cut paper for film and video animations. The exhibition is the third in MAD's Materials and Process series, which looks at the renaissance of traditional handcraft materials and techniques in the contemporary art and design realm.

"Permanently MAD: Revealing the Collection" : The ongoing exhibition presents about 250 works from MAD's permanent collection. Many of the pieces are on view for the first time, and visitors are in for a treat as they will view phenomenal ceramic, glass, wood, metal, fiber and mixed media works.

PRIMI: Denmark's Collaboritve Endeavors in Plastics

The Center for Culture and Experience Economy recently gave a DKK 1.38 million ($261,078) grant to Copenhagen's National Gallery of Denmark to stimulate growth and innovation in the plastics industry and the art and museum worlds. With this funding, the museum is involved in a collaborative research project that will include various input from artists, designers, curators, art historians and representatives from the plastics industry. The project, called Plastics Research and Innovation for Museums and Industry (PRIMI),  will document and examine artist and designers' use of plastics in their creations as to propel innovation and growth in art and design, the plastics industry and museum conservation work.

Visual artists are known for their boundary-pushing methods and creations, causing a constant breeding ground for inventors who then improve the use of materials with respect to quality, aesthetics, usability and durability. Over the past 50 years, as advancements in plastic technology and the types and uses of plastic have increased, artists have correspondingly used more and more plastic in their work in nontraditional ways. Furthermore, PRIMI seeks to develop and test plastic materials in order to create new expertise and new methods to improve durability and preservation of plastic materials.

Jørgen Wadum, Keeper of Conservation at the National Gallery of Denmark recently expressed his excitement over the new project, as stated in an ArtDaily article. Wadum said,

"We are unbelievably happy that the Center for Culture and Experience Economy has agreed to work with us in such a brilliant way. PRIMI is without comparison a completely unique research project that gathers expertise and know-how from a series of widely different participants. This provides us with a strong foundation, and the results that we produce will in the same way increase quality not only in art and art conservation, but also in the greater and broader production of plastic materials,”

It certainly is interesting to see how museums and cultural organizations collaborate with government institutions and other socially relevant companies to help better humanity through joint projects.

Click here to visit the National Gallery of Denmark's Website, read more about PRIMI and see what else is going on at the museum.

Click here to see other art-related events and exhibitions going on in Copenhagen.

The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art contains extensive collections of nineteenth century American Art (including French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings) as well as European and American decorative arts from the late seventeenth century to the present. The museum is perhaps best known for its Contemporary Art collection, which displays film and video installations.

Currently, the museum is showing several noteworthy exhibitions.

Gods, Love and War: Tapestries and Prints from the Collection: View Renaissance tapestries and prints that once hung in Northern European castles. The elaborately decorated tapestries depict scenes and pictures with religious, hysterical and mythological themes and are boldly colored (and often highlighted with threads of silk, silver, and gold).
(see image above)

Past Meets Present: Decorative Arts and Design at Carnegie Museum of Art: Visit the Aisla Mellon Bruce Galleries to see a broad perspective on American and European decorative arts; pieces range from those created during the Rococo and Neoclassical periods of the 19th century to contemporary decorative art works created during the 20th and 21st centuries.

Palm Springs Modern: Photographs by Julius Shulman: Escape to Palm Springs! View photos of the architecture and luxury of the picturesque city from the mid-20th century. (see image, left)

Digital to Daguerreotype: Photographs of People: Take a look at the 70 + works from the museum's permanent collection and local private collections, which display how artists of the past 150 + years have explored and captured the human subject through various photographic practices.

Forum 64: Cecil Balmond: The exhibition features the artist's H_edge, created from 6,000 aluminum plates suspended between rigid stainless steel chains. Balmond, who has displayed the significant link between the engineer and contemporary architecture through his unique approaches in challenging definitions of architecture and engineering, tricks the eye and amazes the mind with his brilliant constructions. (see image, below)

So much to see! For specific gallery locations and exhibition dates, click here.

For upcoming exhibitions, click here.