SEONNA HONG TO KAIKAI KIKI
Takashi Murakami’s multivalent art enterprise, Kaikai Kiki, has signed its first U.S.-based artist for an exhibition at the firm’s new Tokyo gallery -- Seonna Hong, the figurative artist who is known for simple but colorful images, often made in cel vinyl on wood, chronicling the fairy-tale adventures of a young Korean-American girl. The show is set for early 2008.
Born in Los Angeles in 1973, Hong has exhibited at Sixspace in Los Angeles and Oliver Kamm / 5BE Gallery on West 27th Street in Chelsea, where a show of new works opens Apr. 27-May 26, 2007. She was a recipient of a 2006 Joan Mitchell Foundation grant, and had her first solo museum show at the Knoxville Museum of Art in 2006. Kaikai Kiki, which has offices in New York as well as Tokyo, works with several artists in addition to Murakami, including Chiho Aoshima, Chinatsu Ban, Mahomi Kunikata, Mr., Rei Sato and Aya Takano.
KEIFER IN THE GRAND PALAIS
The French Ministry of Culture is following the lead of the "beefeaters" across the channel -- i.e., the Tate Modern's practice of commissioning major new works for its soaring Turbine Hall -- by launching a new program to install major contemporary artworks in the grand nave of Paris’ recently renovated Grand Palais. The series is dubbed "Monumenta," and the first major installation is by Anselm Kiefer, May 30-July 8, 2007. Titled "Sternenfall" (Falling Stars), the new works were made by the Neo-Expressionist artist expressly for the space, and are dedicated to poets Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann.
The next two "Monumenta" installations scheduled for the Palais are Richard Serra (for 2008), and Christian Boltanksi (2009). The series is curated by José Alvarez. More info is available at www.monumenta.com/2007
ART NEWS, WITH STYLE
Amid all the airy trend pieces and celebrity spotting in the Sunday "Style" section of the New York Times -- an irresistible concoction -- readers found a font of art-related stories in the section on Apr. 8, 2007. Does this have larger meaning? You decide. First up was the long story revealing that Pace Prints is opening a Chelsea outpost at 521 West 26th Street next fall, under the direction of 28-year-old art dealer Jacob Lewis and Jeremy Dine, son of the artist Jim Dine, and that they have lured hot young artist Ryan McGinness into the fold for an exhibition there. Pace Prints chief Dick Solomon expects to spend about $125,000 a year on rent and $250,000 on renovations of the third-floor space, according to the report.
Another story -- the section’s famous focus on someone’s favorite design object, dubbed "Possessed" -- featured a 19th-century wooden desk that painter Carroll Dunham inherited from his grandfather. The artist likes the desk, he said, because it makes him feel connected to tradition. Dunham himself, the story notes, "dresses as he speaks -- quietly and well." The paintings in his new exhibition at Gladstone Gallery are all sold at $95,000 and up.
Last but not least was a note in the "Weddings" section -- the first listing, in fact -- announcing the marriage of photographer Thomas Struth, 52, and writer Tara Bray Smith, 36, at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York. The author of West of Then: A Mother, a Daughter and a Journey Past Paradise (Simon & Schuster, 2004), Smith grew up in Hawaii with what she called "hippy parents." The two met at an opening of Struth’s exhibition at Marian Goodman Gallery.
HERB RITTS GALLERY AT MFA
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has something to crow about with the latest addition to its $500 million "Build the New MFA" fund drive -- the Herb Ritts Foundation has donated $2.5 million, along with some 189 photographs by the celebrated fashion photographer, the largest donation made to date by the relatively new L.A. foundation. For it’s part, the Boston MFA plans to make a "Herb Ritts Gallery for Photography" in the space currently occupied by the "Sharf Information Center" (named for patrons Jean and Frederick Sharf). The gift leaves the MFA with only $137 million to raise.
FINE ART FAIR FRANKFURT GOES WALL-LESS
The Fine Art Fair Frankfurt is shaking things up for its second outing, Apr. 13-15, 2007. Set to fill Hall 9 of the Frankfurt fairgrounds, and described as a "curated" fair, FAFF features 50 galleries, largely from Germany, and is allowing only sculpture to be displayed. Consequently, the exhibition design, by Berlin-based architecture office of Kühn/Malvezzi, does away with walls entirely, centering the action around a lounge in the center of the exhibition hall. The fair’s theme is "Quality Street®" (the name of a line of sweets by Nestlé -- hence the registered trademark sign). For more info, see www.fineartfairfrankfurt.info
SP ARTE IN BRAZIL
São Paulo is hosting the third-annual SP Arte, Apr. 19-22, 2007. This year’s fair presents 59 galleries specializing in modern and contemporary art in the city’s "Bienal Pavillion" in Ibirapuera Park, an historic building designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1957. Participants are predominantly Brazilian, but include galleries from Argentina, Chile, France, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay. For more details, see www.sp-arte.com
HURRICANE SURVIVORS AT ART LEAGUE HOUSTON
The Texas non-profit Art League Houston is launching "Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston: Who We Are," Apr. 30-June 15, 2007, an exhibition of photographs and audio installations focusing on some of the Houston-based evacuees from 2005’s deadly hurricane season. The portrait photos of survivors, printed large-scale on canvas, are taken by Alice McNamara, an artist who herself fled Hurricane Katrina. Each picture is accompanied by a recording of the individual depicted telling their story.
The show is part of the much larger documentary initiative "Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston: A Survivor-Centered Storytelling and Documentation Project," co-directed by folklorists Pat Jasper and Carl Lindahl, which seeks to empower some of the 100,000 evacuees still residing in Houston by letting them tell their own stories. To date, some 300 of a projected 1,000 interviews have been conducted, with the stories and accompanying photos ultimately to be shared between the Library of Congress and the University of Houston. For more details, visit www.artleaguehouston.orgCUTS HIT DENVER ART MUSEUM
Six months after unveiling its spectacular new building designed by Daniel Libeskind [see "Rocky Mountain High," Oct. 16, 2006], the Denver Art Museum has slashed its staff by 30 employees, bringing the total to 230 people, for a savings of $2.5 million, or 10 percent of the annual $25.5-million budget. The museum had increased staffing levels to handle the traffic brought in by the new building, according to a report in the Denver Post, and the cuts represent a return to more sustainable levels. Outgoing employees were offered a "voluntary-resignation program" that gave two months of pay and benefits as severance. DIRECTOR FOR JAPAN SOCIETY GALLERY
Joe Earle has been appointed director of Japan Society Gallery on East 47th Street in Manhattan, and vice-president of the organization. An Oxford grad who has worked at the V&A and organized a number of major Asian art exhibitions, Earle currently heads the Department of Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He assumes his new post in the fall.
DEBORAH DRIER, 1948-2007
Deborah Drier, 59, New York art editor and writer whose writings addressed issues of fashion and gender among other subjects, died after a long illness at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York on Apr. 9. She had been battling lung disease for over a decade, and received a transplant a little over three years ago. Drier graduated from Syracuse University and attended NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts before taking an editorial position at Random House. She worked as an editor and wrote for ARTnews, Art in America and Artforum magazines, where she was celebrated for her sophisticated and playful approach to subjects both mundane and political. Later she became editorial director of Guggenheim Magazine, and helped edit museum publications, including the catalogue for Rebecca Horn’s 1993 retrospective and the museum’s 1995 exhibition of works by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. A Camille for the Nineties, Drier’s wry 1995 essay on the erotomania of lung disease, can be found online at Lacanian Ink #10.