Jeff Koons Feeds Stephen Colbert's Narcissism, Utah Town Terminates Contemporary Art, and More Must-Read Art News

Jeff Koons Feeds Stephen Colbert's Narcissism, Utah Town Terminates Contemporary Art, and More Must-Read Art News
Stephen Colbert interviews Jeff Koons on "The Colbert Report"

— Jeff Koons Visits "Colbert Report": Late-night satirist Stephen Colbert spoke to Jeff Koons on his Comedy Central show last night, introducing him as the "world's most expensive birthday clown" before getting to the heart of the Koonsian aesthetic by noting that he likes the artist's scultpures because "a lot of them are shiny, so when I look at them I can see me, and then I'm really interested in it." Koons took the gently mocking comment in stride, explaining that "the art isn't in the object... The art happens inside you, the viewer. And the art is your sense of your own potential as a person." [Comedy Central]

— Utah Arts Center Claims Eviction Motivated by Censorship: Last week, following a programing dispute, the Central Utah Art Center in Ephraim received an eviction notice from the town, forcing one of the state's only contemporary art spaces to suspend operations in a move it claims is an attempt to censor its exhibitions. "In general, I don’t think they want to have contemporary art," said Adam Bateman, the director of the gallery, who believes the move was ultimately triggered by last year's exhibition "Camera Vivant," a travelling show that featured Jack Smith's legendary camp-fest, "Flaming Creatures." [AFC]

— Chris Burden Skyscraper Rises in California: Legendary California artist Chris Burden’s “Small Skyscraper (Quasi Legal Skyscraper)” (2003) has been installed outside One Colorado, a shopping and entertainment venue in Pasadena, as part of an exhibition of imaginative living spaces organized by the Armory Center for the Arts. The four-story structure of plywood and aluminum will remain on view until November 11, and may be headed to New York next, where Burden would like to install it alongside its double, which he built in 2004 for Art Basel. [TAN]

— Vatican Museums Hire Priestly Docents: Beginning this month visitors to museums in Vatican City will have at their disposal two priests who can provide spiritual guidance, or information about nearby works by GiottoCaravaggio, and Michelangelo. As part of the program, devised by Vatican City governor general Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, the two devout museum staffers will be stationed at strategic points in the holy city's art institutions. [NYT]

— Leo Villareal Lights Up the Subway for MTA Commission: A major light installation by Leo Villareal in the expanded Bleecker Street subway station in downtown Manhattan will open to the public on August 7, distracting dazed commuters with its honeycomb ceiling pattern of colorful LEDs. The suspended light sculpture, aptly titled "Hive (Bleecker Street)" (2012), whose colors will shift hue at speeds not unlike those of passing subway trains. [Curbed]

— Tax and Lemonade Sales Could Save Detroit Institute of Arts: Supporters of the Motor City's foremost art museum are rallying any way they can ahead of an August 7 proposal to keep the Detroit Institute of the Arts open with a tax in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties amounting to $15 per homeowner per year that would also grant residents free admission to the ailing institution. "He didn't care about the money at all," said babysitter Zach Smith, whose young friend Harrison Hunger, 5, recently raised $22.50 for the DIA through his lemonade stand. "He just wanted to do what he could to help." [MichiganLive]

— Honduran Graffiti Vigilante Uses Art History to Address Violence: A masked figure known only as Urban Maeztro, who pastes images of iconic works by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and René Magritte on the streets of Tegucigalpa, adds details like pink guns and grenades to the canonical paintings in hopes of sparking awareness of and dialogue about the country's notorious violence. "The level of how common guns have become in this country has passed what is rationally admissible," the 26-year-old former advertising agency staffer said. "It doesn't seem to surprise anyone, but for me it continues to be madness." [SFGate]

— France Could Cut Benefits for Unemployed Artists: According to a state auditor the unemployment benefits that French artists have enjoyed, designed to help support them during down time between jobs, are "not sustainable." The benefits system — paid for by workers' contributions and employers, and only available to artists who've worked at least 507 hours in a ten-and-a-half month period — is up for review next year, and in the past talk of its abolishment has sparked some of the country's biggest strikes. [Guardian]

— More Details of Beijing Freeport: To accomodate the booming market for Chinese art and challenge Hong Kong's grip on the Asian art market, the Swiss logistics group Euroasia Investment SA is pouring $100 million into their tax-free storage facility next to Beijing Capital International Airport. The 893,000-square-foot facility, built in collaboration with the state-run Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group, is also part of a government-led effort to curb art smuggling, and should be open by the middle of 2014. [Bloomberg]

— William Morris Gallery Reopens After Major Overhaul: The museum located in the Arts and Crafts movement pioneer's one-time home in London's Lloyd Park reopened this week following a year-long, £5-million ($7.8-million) renovation, which included restoring the Georgian villa's original wall panels and creating a new gallery for temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. The new space inside William Morris's house has been inaugurated with a 50-feet-long tapestry by the similarly proficient artist Grayson Perry. [Telegraph]

— Taipei Museum Uses Visitors' Phones to Guide Them: A new collaboration between the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) in Taipei and tech company STMicroelectronics uses cell phones and other portable devices as locational tools to help direct visitors through the institution's galleries. The next-generation audio guide technology — debuting during the CAM's current exhibition on film director King Hu — means museum-goers won't have any difficulty following curator-prescribed routes through exhibitions, and will never be stuck searching frantically for a bathroom. [Reuters]


Jeff Koons on the "Colbert Report"

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