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Murals from 1933 and 1934 by the Italian Futurist Benedetta at home in a conference room in a post office in Palermo, Sicily. AGR/Riccardi/Paoloni

As a capstone to its coming show “Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe,” the Guggenheim Museum has managed a rare coup: securing the first loan of five major Futurist murals from the central post office in Palermo, Sicily, where they have hung since being commissioned for the space in the 1930s.

These rarely seen murals, which have adorned a conference room for decades, are both figurative and abstract, cast in shades of blue, with fluid and straight lines that play with perspective. They were painted in 1933 and 1934 by an artist, Benedetta Cappa, who went by only her first name. She was married to Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the poet who founded the Futurist movement in 1909 with a manifesto that rejected the past and called for an aggressive push toward the future.


Rachel Donadio
New York Times


A rendering shows a proposed new entrance to the Museum of Modern Art’s sculpture garden along 54th Street. (Museum of Modern Art)

Last week the Museum of Modern Art confirmed plans — as it expands to the west along 53rd Street in Manhattan — to demolish the former home of the American Folk Art Museum, a much-praised 13-year old building by New York architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.

MoMA and its director, Glenn D. Lowry, have since been roundly criticized in the press. So has the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which both helped MoMA evaluate the fate of the Folk Art building and is designing the expansion.

On Wednesday afternoon I spoke by phone with Elizabeth Diller, one of the firm’s founders. We discussed the almost uniformly negative reaction to the announcement as well as the details of DS+R’s proposal for MoMA, which is still in an early design phase.


LA Times
Christopher Hawthorne

(Photo: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times)

Unfinished paintings are enticing cracks in the facade of art history, lures along the path to a deeper understanding of artistic processes and impulses. For all the paintings that artists complete, countless others are left incomplete for any number of reasons — poverty or war, a change of plan or vision, the illness or death of the artist. While many of these works have been destroyed, and others forgotten, some are now recognized as significant works of art, accorded a special place in history and in an artist’s body of work, in part because they can bring us closer to understanding the mysterious process of painting, and, indeed, to painting’s future. After all, nothing inspires a young artist like a close look at how an earlier one worked.


Roberta Smith
New York Times

Katya Tepper, a painter and performance artist, is moving to Chicago when her Brooklyn lease expires in March.
Photo: Buck Ennis

Artists have long struggled in New York, moving into rough areas, gentrifying them and then getting forced out. But as the city has gotten increasingly expensive, there are few such neighborhoods left to move to, forcing a growing number of artists to abandon the city. Many had hoped the recession would bring down rents, making it easier for them to stay. Instead, rents have barely dropped, and the part-time jobs they depend on for survival have become harder to find. Without a strong arts community, New York risks losing its standing as a creative center, which could have a negative impact on numerous industries that depend on talented employees.


Miriam Kreinin Souccar

The Metropolitan Museum of Art plans to undertake a multiyear redesign and renovation of its plaza on Fifth Avenue and said it had selected a landscape architecture firm, OLIN, to lead the project. In a telephone interview the Met’s director, Thomas P. Campbell, said that the need to replace the museum’s two fountains, which have been turned off for several years, led to a broader discussion of the plaza’s layout. “Obviously the front steps are one of the great gathering points in New York, but the rest of the space is perhaps less successful,” he said. Apart from the steps, he said, the rest of the space, including the fountains, would be completely rethought. He would not specify a budget but said, “Obviously, it’s going to be an expensive undertaking.” A museum trustee, David H. Koch, has pledged $10 million for the project. The Met expects to complete the renovation by 2015.

Kate Taylor
New York Times

Lin Tianmiao at work in her studio in Songzhuang (Natalie Behring for The New York Times)

When you arrive in this town a fast 40 minutes on the expressway from Beijing, you pass under a modern version of an old-style Chinese pailou, or gate, inscribed in Chinese and English with “Songzhuang, China,” which would seem a rather grand way for an ordinary town on the North China Plain to describe itself.

And Songzhuang at first seems like a medium-sized town of no particular distinction, with its long, ramshackle main street lined by ordinary concrete storefronts — little charm here. Then you notice the Land Rovers and Mercedes sedans, the art galleries and exhibition halls, and you’ve arrived in what has become over the past decade one of the biggest and liveliest artists’ colonies in the world.

To be sure, the feverish, ever-changing and now internationally renowned Chinese art scene has other centers of activity, most famously Beijing’s Dashanzi, otherwise known as the 798 District, a sprawling warren of galleries, shops and artists’ studios often compared to New York’s Soho of about two decades ago.


Richard Bernstein
New York Times

Years in the works, a planned Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem took a significant step forward this week when the Simon Wiesenthal Center unveiled new architectural designs for the structure, saying that the museum is likely to be completed in four years.

The new design, which was created by the Israeli firm Chyutin Architects, calls for a six-story structure — three stories below ground and three above — with approximately 150,000 to 160,000 square feet of space. By comparison, the Center’s main facilities in Los Angeles total about 110,000 square feet of space.

The complex is expected to feature exhibition space, a theater, an educational center as well as an outdoor sunken area in front of the building with a garden and amphitheater.

With an estimated price tag of $100 million, the new museum is significantly less expensive than the one designed by Frank Gehry, which would have cost at least $250 million, according to the Center.

Earlier this year, Gehry and the Center decided to part ways on the project in part because the Center’s board of trustees wished to downsize the museum in response to the slumping economy.


Culture Monster
Los Angeles Times

Melbourne gallery owner Beverly Knight does not believe MeaghanWilson-Anastasios’s argument is sustainable. Picture: Stuart McEvoy Source: The Australian

The pursuit of cultural authenticity in Aboriginal art will make it harder for young artists to enjoy the success of the old masters.

New research into the sustainability of Aboriginal art claims the market for new works is already falling away, even for sought-after artists, because some indigenous works are still being treated as ethnographic objects.

A paper by Melbourne academic Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios says major artists such as Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Rover Thomas, are promoted as Aboriginal in a way that Pablo Picasso would not be labelled Spanish.

“To secure the future of the Aboriginal art market, it needs to expand and evolve so that a new generation of artists is cultivated and they are accepted as contemporary practitioners,” she writes.

“Marketing the first generation of Aboriginal desert painters as the genuine ethnographic article has the corollary effect of initiating a spiral of redundancy that makes it increasingly difficult to promote subsequent generations of Aboriginal artists.”


Ashleigh Wilson
The Australian

Best supporting act . . . the installation from Spanish architects Antón García-Abril and Ensamble Studio. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

The problem with architecture exhibitions, so it’s argued, is that they lack the one thing you really want to see: real-life buildings. I disagree. The problem with architecture exhibitions is that they fixate on trying to represent buildings that are missing. Photographs, drawings and pretentious wall texts only highlight the fact that yours is a second-hand experience. They place you in the there and then, not the here and now.

The Swiss architect Mario Botta got around this problem spectacularly in 1999 when, for the 400th anniversary of the birth of Francesco Borromini, he built a full-scale wooden model of a cross-section of the baroque master’s most famous church, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome. There it was in all its glory – well, half of its glory – on the shore of Lake Lugano.

Most architecture shows don’t have Botta’s titanic budget. But there is another way, as demonstrated at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. This is not an exhibition about what buildings look like. Gone is the blowhard shape-making and bad sculpture of the previous biennale, curated by Aaron Betsky in 2008. Neither is it didactic, like the 2006 version, curated by Richard Burdett, which was a blizzard of facts and statistics about cities – vital stuff, but rather like exploring a book pasted on the walls. Instead, this year’s show is much more about what should happen inside buildings, the pure experience of space.


Justin McGuirk

(Photo: Dwayne Senior)

If you had asked me 30 years ago what sort of career Anish Kapoor was going to have, I would have replied: a short one. Not because I am a bad caller of these things, and a lousy art critic, but because Kapoor’s early sculptures felt rather derivative. Providing you had been to India, that is.

Kapoor and I are more or less the same age. I remember his debut vividly. The first works of his to have an impact were bright heaps of unmixed pigment — red, yellow, blue — deposited on the gallery floor in Jungian clusters and looking as if they had been tipped out of giant cake moulds. The intensity of those unmixed colours gave away their Indian origins. Anyone who has ever approached a Hindu temple will recognise these startling hues from the stalls of the pigment pedlars lining the final mile. In India, temple stall after temple stall offers a Kapoor experience in miniature.

My mistake, and of course it was a huge one, was to imagine that quoting from his origins was all Kapoor would ever seek to do. It’s not that I did not respond to his unmixed pigments; the sight of them was electrifying, then and now. But, like one of those Booker Prize winners who writes a fine novel about their childhood in Calcutta, and that’s it, I thought he might not have a volume two in him, that his subtext would become his text. How wrong was I?

A selection of Kapoor’s colour shockers pops up in the first room of the Royal Academy’s impressive half-retrospective of his career so far. It’s half a retrospective because the RA is too small to accommodate the full beast, and because Kapoor is too alert and ambitious a sculptor to settle for nostalgia. When the RA invited him into its galleries, it invited him into a new range of sculptural possibilities, which he explores here with characteristic fierceness. This is a battle as much as it is a retrospective: Kapoor v the Royal Academy’s spaces. Why, there’s even a cannon in the show, firing splats of gooey Napoleonic wax at the gallery walls. Extraordinary.


Waldemar Januszczak
Times Online