Whitney Biennial Gets Oscar Nod, Rick Santorum's Shocking Record on Art, and More Must-Read Art News

Whitney Biennial Gets Oscar Nod, Rick Santorum's Shocking Record on Art, and More Must-Read Art News
(Illustration by ARTINFO)

– Whitney Biennial Gets a Boost from the Oscars: In an otherwise deadly dull Oscars telecast, art-lovers may have been cheered to spot oddball experimental filmmaker George Kuchar in the midst of the show's tribute to screen legends who died in the past year, somewhere between icons like Sidney Lumet and Liz Taylor. Kuchar, who passed away last year and who once said that his goal in life was to create "romantic, humpable experiences," is set to be featured in this year's soon-to-open Whitney Biennial, via his iconic meteorology-inspired series "Weather Diaries." The Whit, for one, was pleasantly surprised: "So glad that filmmaker George Kuchar was included in the 'in memoriam' Oscars montage," the museum tweeted. [Whitney Twitter]

– Maybe Rick Santorum Doesn't Hate the Arts: Though ARTINFO endorsed the now-sidelined Jon Huntsman as the most arts-friendly candidate in the 2012 Republican primaries, fire-breathing social conservative Rick Santorum might be giving him a run for his money. Believe it or not, the current GOP front-runner has voted to protect the NEA's funding every year during his stint in the House and for three consecutive votes in the Senate from 1997 to 1999, all through the early-'90s culture wars. [HuffPo]

– Kickstarter Overtakes NEA as Patron: The online fundraising tool favored by artists is on track to distribute over $150 million dollars to users' projects in 2012 — more money than the entire fiscal year budget for the National Endowment of the Arts, which is $146 million. "We view that number and our relationship to it in both a good and bad way," said Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler. [TPM]

– Kanye and Jay Z's Maybach Hits the Block: Car collectors, start your engines: the tricked-out Maybach 57 that appeared in the "Otis" music video with Jay Z and Kanye West will be auctioned off by Phillips de Pury & Co. on March 8. The sale of the ultra-luxury sedan will benefit Save the Children, and the presale estimate is $100,000 to $150,000. Not bad for a car that costs about $375,000 new. [WSJ]

– Chinese Government Won't Let Up on Ai Weiwei: Shortly after FT reporter Jamil Anderlini visited the dissident Chinese artist for an article on his home and studio, police summoned his wife to the station for questioning. Though she was released after a few hours, Ai believes she may have been called as punishment for him speaking to the media. [FT]

– Raising Money for a ManetÉdouard Manet's "Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus" (1868) has been in the UK since it was purchased by John Singer Sargent shortly after the French painter's death. But, following its purchase by a foreign buyer, Oxford's Ashmolean Museum has only six months to raise the necessary £7.83 million to keep the painting from leaving the country. [Telegraph]

 10 Downing Street Welcomes British Craft: The UK government is showing off its enthusiasm for craft — a sector that brings in £457 million ($724 million) annually — with an exhibition at prime minister David Cameron's residence mixing the likes of Ron Arad with young Royal College of Art graduates. "We are a much more artistic nation than people realize and always have been when it comes to craft," said culture minister Ed Vaizey. [Guardian]

– Larry Ga-ghost-ian?: The New York Daily News notices that Larry Gagosian has been noticeably absent from the recent controversy surrounding the estate of the late Cy Twombly, which is said to have evaded paying taxes to the Italian government totaling almost $40 million. "Nothing happens with Twombly unless Gagosian knows about it," a source told the News. [NYDN

– A Renaissance for Rammellzee: The graffiti artist and musician who fascinated the downtown art world in the 1980s and '90s is experiencing something of a resurgence. A bunkerlike re-creation of his studio Battle Station was included in MoCA's "Art in the Streets" show last year, and now the SoHo gallery Suzanne Geiss Company is showing two sets of works the artist called "letter racers," built from cast-off consumer goods like flip-flops an sunglasses. [NYT]

– Not Quite Crystal Bridges, But...: The Fonds Hélène et Edouard Leclerc — named after the founders of the supermarket chain E. Leclerc — will open next June in the former convent Capucins de Landerneau, in Finistere, France. Established to promote contemporary art in all its forms, it will be inaugurated with an exhibition by painter Gérard Fromanger. [Connaissance des Arts]

– Las Vegas's Art Community Takes the Spotlight: With the impending arrival of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, a new $470-million arts complex, Las Vegas is giving much-needed attention to its arts offerings. Other areas of growth include Emergency Arts, an abandoned medical center converted into a cultural haven which has attracted more than 40 tenants, and the Vegas Strip's CityCenter, which boasts a $40-million art collection. [AP]

– Safe Curator Choice at Tel Aviv Museum of Art: Confounding the expectation that the search committee would appoint an international figure to succeed former director and chief curator Mordechai OmerSuzanne Landau has been named head of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Landau has worked as curator for the Israel Museum in Jerusalem for the last 34 years. [Haaretz]

– Paris's Clandestine Preservationists Work Underground: A group of Parisians going by Urban eXperiment has been secretly (and illegally) restoring the city of lights's darkest treasures for the past 30 years. Members travel through the city's underground tunnels to restore its neglected artifacts, such as a 19th-century clock. [Wired]

– Japanese Artists Rally "Post 3/11": Takashi Murakami wasn't the only artist motivated to act after the earthquake and nuclear disaster that struck the country last year. Tsubasa Kato has been building a lighthouse from Fukushima rubble with the help of 300 residents, and collective ChimPom has made political performances criticizing Japan's reliance on nuclear power. “As artists we've had to rethink how we would present such a terrible story, and whether it was necessary to do so," said Manga artist Moeko Fujii. [Korea Herald]

– Rashid Johnson Wins David C. Driskell Prize: The American artist has been awarded the $25,000 prize by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, which presents the grant to an emerging or mid-career artist whose work contributes to the field of African-American art or art history. [Artforum]


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