Laurie Simmons Talks "Girls," Pro-Immigrant Art Censored in Alabama, and More

Laurie Simmons Talks "Girls," Pro-Immigrant Art Censored in Alabama, and More
Lena Dunham and Laurie Simmons
(Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Laurie Simmons Takes Revenge Via "Girls" Cameo: Artist Laurie Simmons chatted with Vanity Fair at the ceremony for the Robert De Niro Sr. prize Tuesday night about what her talented daughter Lena Dunham was like as a kid ("She definitely had special needs") and how it felt to guest star as a rude gallery owner on last week's episode of "Girls." "It's really fun to play that character, because I've cowered in my boots in front of that character for so many years," she said. "That's the artist's revenge in me." [Vanity Fair]

– Pro-Immigrant Art Censored in Alabama: An exhibition of faculty artwork by professors at Alabama's Troy University was canceled after board members refused to exhibit the artwork submitted by Ed Noriega, one of nine participating artists. His contribution — which included cans of Ajax relabeled with swastikas on the front — was meant to comment on HB 56, Arizona's controversial state immigration law. "When the board said they wanted my work pulled, the faculty agreed unanimously to pull the whole show, in solidarity," Noriega said. [Daily Home]

– Britain Picks Jeremy Deller for Venice: The British Council has selected Jeremy Deller, the Turner Prize-winning artist whose full-scale inflatable replica of Stonehenge toured the U.K. last summer, to mount a solo exhibition in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale this spring. "Wry, and very light on his feet, Deller has a great ability to draw together all sorts of people and communities and orchestrate them into unexpected patterns," said British Pavilion commissioner Andrea Rose. "He's a sort of pied piper of popular culture." [Press Release]

– Burning Artwork Causes Fire Damage: Firefighters crashed an event at Queen's Nails, a gallery on Mission Street in San Francisco, after the intentional burning of French artist collective Claire Fontaine's "American (Unburnt/Burnt)" — a sculpture in the shape of the United States made of matches — got out of hand, causing $5,000 in damage. "It was a piece of art that this person had lit up thinking it was not a problem," said deputy fire chief Mark Gonzales. "It turned out to be a problem... It was done more out of ignorance, not maliciousness, as far as we're concerned." [Bay City News]

– Rijksmuseum Dips Toe Into Abstraction: The Amsterdam museum has acquired its first abstract painting: the spare, symmetric, and colorful "Composition 1919" (which, confusingly, was probably made in 1917) by one of the artist-designers of the De Stijl movement, Bart van der Leck. The museum bought it at Christie's in November of last year for €217,000 ($289,000), and will put it on view alongside its other major De Stijl work — Gerrit Rietveld's white chair from 1918 — when it reopens in April. [TAN]

– Egypt's Artists Protest Censorious Constitution: Members of Egypt's art community are increasingly concerned that the lax language and vague terminology in the country's new constitution, which has already permitted ultra-concervative groups to censor the media, will soon give way to outright censorship of the arts. "The new constitution puts religion above the law and civil society," said Fatenn Mostafa, a curator and the founder of Art Talks Egypt. "The fear is that the Muslim Brotherhood will specify what is allowed and what is not allowed in art. The moment you put regulations on art, you kill it." [TAN]

– Queen's Portrait Misidentified in Art Historical Mix-Up: Academics preparing the exhibition "Making Art in Tudor Britain" at the National Portrait Gallery in London were startled to discover that a portrait from the 1520s long believed to depict Henry VIII's sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, is in fact of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The mix-up came to light when researchers realized the sitter's features and clothes were far more similar to paintings of the first Catherine, who was married to Henry VIII for nearly 24 years. The painting goes on public view in London on Friday. [Telegraph]

Eliasson Wins Wacky German Prize: Olafur Eliasson, who is currently showing off his "Little Sun" project at the World Economic Forum in Davos, has won the Goslar Kaiser Ring prize, given annually by the city of Goslar, Germany. If that name sounds a little J.R.R. Tolkien to you, get this: The prize is a gold ring depicting the Goslar-born Emperor Henry IV. The Goslar Museum will also purchase one of Eliasson's works for its permanent collection. Previous winners include Rosemarie Trockel and David Lynch. [Artforum]

Clinton Promotes Embassy Art: Hillary Clinton penned a little op-ed in Vanity Fair about the importance of art in embassies. The global program shares the work of more than 4,000 American and international artists annually in more than 200 U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world. This year, the State Department awarded the first biennial Medal of Arts to Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeff Koons, Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems. "Just think about what an exhibition of American and local artists means to someone across the world yearning to express herself or himself," Clinton wrote. [Vanity Fair]

– Arts Council England Gets Lucky With Lottery Grants: While the U.K.'s leading arts funding organization navigates an increasingly unstable cultural funding sector, at least one of its initiatives is running smoothly: a program giving capital grants of lottery money to arts groups for repairs and improvements to their galleries, theaters, and so on. To date, it has seen some £11.6 million ($18.3 million) distributed to 35 groups. [HuffPo]


A version of the "Burnt/Unburnt" performance that got Claire Fontaine in trouble in San Francisco, this one of the PIGS countries


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