News and Writing on Art and Art History | June 9th 2015

Image courtesy of the Art of Brandis twitter account @ArtofBrandis

Image courtesy of the Art of Brandis twitter account @ArtofBrandis

A round-up of some of the news and stories on art and art history from the past week.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney has cancelled their Marina Abramovic retrospective that was planned for 2016. In a comment made to Fairfax Media Abramovic  said ‘They say that it is complicated. One reason was there were two exhibitions in Australia. It was too much to make a third one. The trustees they didn’t want any more.’ Her work is the focus of two upcoming exhibitions, one in Sydney at Kaldor Art projects, and another at MONA. Is one reason (or even the main reason?) for the cancellation a symptom of our museums wanting exclusives?

A great article by Griselda Pollock in The Conversation UK that addresses the recent ‘Inventing Impressionism’ exhibition at the National Gallery (in London) and the ‘disappearing of women’. She takes issue with the exhibition’s failure to challenge the narrative of the ‘great man of history’ by attributing the birth of Impressionism to one man, the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. She say that they are ignoring half a century of scholarship that has challenged many of these ideas, and one of casualties of this ‘ignoring’ is the place of women in modern art, as both artists, collectors and patrons. You can read it here.

An article from last week in Art News looks at the facts and figures behind the representation of women in the US art world, noting that although things have improved there is still a great level of inequality. ‘The common refrain that “women are treated equally in the art world now” needs to be challenged. The existence of a few superstars or token achiever—like Marina Abramovic, Tracey Emin, and Cindy Sherman—does not mean that women artists have achieved equality. Far from it.” Full story here.

It was great to see Associate Professor Robyn Sloggett, the director of the Melbourne University-based Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours “For significant service to the arts in the field of cultural heritage management and preservation as an academic, conservator and adviser.”

News that The Frick in New York has cancelled its plans to build over the Russell Page garden at the museum. It seems that expansion plans are only on hold though.

The Grumpy Art Historian on whether the fetish for free admission to museums is leading to institutions such as the British Museum ‘hawking some of the most important works’ to other museums. “This trend has crept up on the museum world, albeit making rather a splash when the Louvre struck its own deal with Abu Dhabi. I think its impact has been greatly underestimated. As more museums get in on it, rental fees will fall. More worrisome, so will standards. Rented exhibitions rarely have much pretense of scholarly or artistic value, being rarely more than a few ‘highlights’ brought together under a marketing slogan (my favourite: ‘Tutankhamen, Caravaggio, Van Gogh’).” Full post here.

Stefano Pirovano in Apollo on the reforms planned for the Italian museum sector. The reforms are spear-headed by culture minister, Dario Franceschini, “who is substantively attempting to rescue them from the chronic illness into which they have slowly slipped in the past 20 years.” Some of the changes include greater financial independence for the largest institutions and, for the first time, the possibility that some major institutions may have non-Italian directors. Full story here. Some background on some of the issues facing Italian museums can be found here and here.

— Katrina Grant

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