Artists Dump L.A. MOCA, Shepard Fairey Mural Sparks a Prank Call and a Lawsuit, and More Must-Read Art News

Artists Dump L.A. MOCA, Shepard Fairey Mural Sparks a Prank Call and a Lawsuit, and More Must-Read Art News
Barbara Kruger and Catherine Opie
(© PMc)

– Opie and Kruger Resign from MOCA Board: L.A. MOCA is hemorrhaging cred. Following John Baldessari's lead, artists Catherine Opie and Barbara Kruger have resigned from the museum's board in protest of its current leadership, particularly the recent departure of chief curator Paul Schimmel. In their poignant resignation email — which leaves Ed Ruscha as the only artist board member — Opie and Kruger say they want "a kind of transparency that allows for a Board of Trustees that is not surprised when bad things happen." [LAT]

– Prank Call Sparks Lawsuit Over Shepard Fairey Charity Mural: Hollywood entrepreneur Jeremy Larner (you may know him as the manager on MTV's skateboarding reality TV show "Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory") has filed a lawsuit against Art of Elysium, the non-profit that organized an auction to sponsor a Shepard Fairey mural in the children's wing of the L.A. County-USC Medical Center. After shelling out a $30,000 bid, Larner says that the organization kept him in the dark about details of the mural's completion, thereby making his sponsorship meaningless. The last straw, it seems, was a prank call from a "fellow art collector" posing as a hospital official seeking information on the mural. "Was it funny? Maybe a little," said Larner. "But I was extremely embarrassed and still am." [LAT]


– Amsterdam's Red Light District Becomes Art Zone: The effects of a massive rezoning and redevelopment  — helped along by  a €100 million ($122 million) budget — by the Dutch capital are becoming visible as brothels, smoke shops, and sex stores are giving way to art galleries and studios in the famed red light district. With all the storefront brothels now closed — one of them converted into a gallery by Afaina de Jong and Egberth Thomas — the city plans to shut down the first smoking café soon, while high-end restaurants, architecture firms, and other markers of gentrification move in to De Wallen. [NYT]

Authenticity of Recovered Klimt Fresco Disputed: Art dealer Josef Renz got a phone call last week from a man claiming that he'd found an early fresco by Gustav Klimt — whose 150th birthday was on Saturday — in a garage in northern Austria. Renz has since bought the piece, which he believes to be the long lost "Trumpeting Putto," but its authenticity is already being called into question by art historians like Alfred Weidinger of Vienna's Schlossmuseum Belvedere, who believes it is actually a piece by the artist's brother, Ernst Klimt. [Guardian, Reuters]

– Art Institute of Chicago's Lions Come to Life: The two enormous lion statues on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago are a favorite photography subject for tourists, who are told to stop climbing them all day long by museum guards. But when security staff heads indoors at night, they've begun monitoring the lion climbers via security cameras, then activating a heart-stopping roar followed by a recorded message whenever one scales the big bronze cats. [Chicago Tribune]

Turbulent Airline Hopes Art Can Soothe Its Finances: The troubled state airline Air India is looking to rent or perhaps even sell its valuable art collection — which includes both Indian antiquities and works by contemporary masters such as the late M.F. Husain — to raise money. Meanwhile, onlookers note that India's own museums can't afford to borrow or purchase the artworks and any effort to send them abroad would be met with fierce opposition. [FT]

Gwangju Biennale Releases Artist List: The six co-curators of the Gwangju Biennale have announced the 90 artists and collectives that will participate in the September event. Drawn from 44 countries, the list includes familiar names like Allan Kaprow, Simon Fujiwara, Jenny Holzer, and Rirkrit Tiravanija alongside artists who are lesser-known to Western audiences, like Sophia Al-Maria, Tintin Wulia, and Malak Helmy. [Press Release]

– Bonhams Plans Olympic Auction: The UK-based auction house Bonhams is hoping to cash in on Olympics mania by offering its first-ever sale devoted to Olympics memorabilia on July 25. The 215 lots, with estimates of a few thousand dollars apiece, range from a tattered 1896 photo of the Athens opening ceremonies to a Nazi propaganda ministry's festival invitation to dozens of athletes' medals, which we imagine mean less if you didn't actually win them yourself. [NYT]

– Whiteread's Secret Sculpture Series: Enigmatic sculptor Rachel Whiteread is searching for condemned buildings in abandoned places to create her next series. "They are forgotten buildings, and I'm going to fossilize them," she says of the structures, which already include a boathouse on a fjord outside Oslo and spaces in L.A. and Norfolk. Perhaps Tate chief Nicholas Serota will finally seize the opportunity to purchase one; he recently told the FT over lunch that he deeply regretted passing on her seminal sculpture "Ghost." [TAN]

– Santa Monica Anti-War Monument Ignites Controversy: A mushroom cloud-shaped public sculpture created in 1991 by Los Angeles Times political cartoonist Paul Conrad is the subject of a bureaucratic tussle. Ready to topple over after more than decade of wear, the sculpture was slotted to be removed permanently by the city's planning staff, but the Landmarks Commission voted unanimously to declare it a historical monument. [AP]


See the Art Institute of Chicago's signature lions roar (and threaten to call police) on passersby:



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