Legendary Sculptor John Chamberlain Dies, Trailer for Ai Weiwei Movie Released, and More

Legendary Sculptor John Chamberlain Dies, Trailer for Ai Weiwei Movie Released, and More
John Chamberlain with his sculptures
(Courtesy Getty Images)

– A Man of Steel: A sculptor who welded car scraps into an expressive, intensely American breed of abstract sculpture, and who counted the greatest artists of the second half of the 20th century as his peers (and sometimes antagonists), John Chamberlain passed away yesterday at the age of 84. He had been fighting illness for years, but worked indomitably to the end, helping put together an upcoming career retrospective opening at the Guggenheim next year — and even creating a daringly divergent body of new photo-based work, including images of his friends and family, that was shown at Steven Kasher Gallery this fall. (Read about seeing the work at his Long Island studio here.) A lengthier obituary is to follow. [NYT]

– Ai Weiwei Documentary Trailer ReleasedAlison Klayman released the first trailer of her documentary "Ai Weiwei Never Sorry," which was nearing completion even as the dissident Chinese artist was arrested earlier this year. The trailer hints at what will be a comprehensive look at Ai's life and work, a powerful reminder of his importance inside the art world and out. The film will debut at Sundance in 2012. [ITA

– Frank Who?: Twenty-seven architecture students at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Utah College of Architecture and Planning were charged with creating their own designs for the performing arts center planned for ground zero. Though starchitect Frank Gehry already presented his commissioned design, the students were not briefed on it. Gehry, who thinks the idea is “great,” added that “if they haven’t asked me for any help, they probably don’t want it.” [NYT]

– Armory Gets an Artistic DirectorManchester International Festival director Alex Poots has been appointed artistic director of the Park Avenue Armory, beginning early next year. The appointment signals the Armory’s plans to expand its arts programming with the completion of a $200 million renovation. [ITA

Wax Museum War: The iconic Madame Tussauds is mounting a vicious ad campaign against its local competitor, the Hollywood Wax Museum. The photos show Madame Tussauds's figures set against the (admittedly much inferior) Hollywood Wax Museum versions of the same celebrities. Decide for yourself which museum will win! [LAT

 – Christmas Card Clash: Sarah Palin doesn’t agree with the aesthetic choices made in the first family’s holiday card, designed by L.A. artist Mark Matuszak, which features first dog Bo lying in front of a fireplace in the White House library. Palin told Fox News that she found it “odd” that the card emphasizes the dog instead of traditions like “family, faith, and freedom.” [LAT]

– “Genius” Hunter Lays Down his Spear: The longtime director of the MacArthur Foundation fellowship program known as the “genius” awards, Daniel J. Socolow, will retire sometime in the coming months. [NYT

– Edinburgh to Host Major Culture Summit in 2012: Next August, the Edinburgh International Festival will invite ministers for culture from the countries attending the 2012 Olympics in London to develop and implement cultural policy. Artists and thinkers will join the ministers to come together in dialogue. [The Stage

– Fayetteville, North Carolina Museum to Dissolve: Board members for the Fayetteville Museum of Art announced plans to sell off its permanent collection as well as the property that once housed the local art museum, which was forced by financial burdens to close in 2010. [Fay Observer]


Seaport Museum to Reopen: After shutting its doors in March, the South Street Seaport Museum announced its plans to reopen on January 26. The museum was provisionally taken over by the Museum of the City of New York in September, but its financial problems were eased by a $2 million grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. [NYT]

– Italian Police Recover Major Artifacts: The Italian caribinieri recovered a cache of artifacts valued at €500,000 ($650,000) from the house of a developer on the outskirts of Rome. Meanwhile, an additional 27 artifacts valued at  €600,000 ($784,000) were found in the home of a bar owner after being spotted by the very officer who recovered them for the Museo Comunale di Terracina in 1993. [TAN]

– Shirin Neshat Confronts the Winter: For the New York Times's series of artist-created celebrations of the season (recent participants include Ed Ruscha), Iranian artist Shirin Neshat created "Winter," a short, elegiac video memorializing both pain and love in a series of black-and-white portrait tableaux. The video is accompanied by a poem by Persian poet Forugh Farrokhzad. [NYT

Ryan Gosling Stars in an Art Museum Internet Meme: "Hey girl, do you have an audio tour, cause I want to hear all about you!" In need of some art-world pick-up lines? This Ryan Gosling Internet meme, based around art museum lingo, has got you covered. Now we just need one for dealers. ("Hey girl, can I represent your estate?") [ITA