James Franco's "Gay Town" Exhibit, Artist Buries World's Ugliest Woman, and More

James Franco's "Gay Town" Exhibit, Artist Buries World's Ugliest Woman, and More
James Franco
(Photo: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com)

James Franco Shows Art in Berlin: Art person James Franco is at it again, debuting new work at Peres Projects's temporary project space in Berlin to coincide with the city's film festival. The exhibition, titled "Gay Town," features painting, video, drawing, film, sculpture, and photography. (ARTINFO's own Alexander Forbes reports that cows are a major theme.) According to a press release, Franco made "many of the works in hotel rooms, makeshift studios and other temporary locations whilst completing other projects, mainly motion pictures." [E! Online]

– Artist Gives Circus Performer Her Due: In a bizarre tale that really ought to be read in full, a 19th-century woman known in the popular imagination as "the ugliest in the world" will finally be laid to rest near her birthplace in Sinaloa, Mexico, more than a decade after her death. The dignified conclusion would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of a New York-based visual artist, Laura Anderson Barbata. [NYT]

– Prado Spots French Duke Hiding in Painting: Experts at Madrid's Museo Nacional del Prado have come across a rare image of the France's Louis of Orleans hidden beneath layers of brown paint in the corner of a 15th-century Biblical scene painting titled "Prayers in the Orchard." The duke, identifiable by the insignia on his sleeves, is only known to appear in a handful of extant artworks after many were destroyed during the French Revolution. The Prado is calling the discovery "one of the most important finds in French primitive painting." [AFP]

– Garage Taps New CuratorKate Fowle has been appointed the new chief curator of the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, a nonprofit art center opened in 2008 by Russian heiress Dasha Zhukova. Since 2009 Fowle has been the executive director of Independent Curators International, which honored Zhukova at its annual gala last year. The ICI's deputy director Renaud Proch will take over the executive directorship. [NYT, Press Release]

– Orsay Dismisses Discovery of New Courbet: The Musée d'Orsay, which has held Gustave Courbet's infamous "The Origin of the World" in its collection since 1995, dismissed as "fanciful" the alleged discovery of a new section of the work, despite its endorsement by art historian Jean-Jacques Fernier, author of Courbet's catalogue raisonné. "'The Origin of the World' has not lost its head," the museum said in a statement. "The painting that was visible in the home of the diplomat Khalil Bey, its first owner and likely commissioner, was indeed that of 'a nude woman, without feet and without a head.'" [AFP]

– Can Singapore's Art Scene Thrive Despite State Control?: The city-state's art community seems poised for enormous growth with forthcoming projects like the Gillman Barracks gallery hub and the construction of a National Art Gallery. But artists, dealers, and observers worry that the government's tight control over all aspects of daily life will stifle the scene. "The art is an adjunct, a barnacle to this whole tourist environment," Malaysian dealer Valentine Willie says. "You are in the most educated country in the region, the richest in the region, and yet you can’t speak freely... Art as commodity is their model." [Daily Beast]

– Ken Johnson Defends Himself: New York Times critic Ken Johnson was on the defensive this weekend at a panel at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The scribe, who was criticized last year for statements he made about women and African-American artists, sat down with Huffington Post editor Kimberly Brooks and artists Joyce Kozloff and Nijideka Akunyii to discuss the proper role of identity politics in art. "That was an exciting thing to think in the 70's," Johnson said. "But when it's institutionalized in academia and everybody has their own little identity turf, competing for funding with other identity stakeholders, and that leaks in the art world, I'm not happy about it." [NewsWorks]

– Seattle's Bruce Lee Museum Gets Fundraising Kick: A longtime plan to build a museum devoted to martial artist and action movie pioneer Bruce Lee in Seattle — which is where he lived during the 1950s and '60s, where he was buried following his death at 32, and where his daughter Shannon Lee, one of the champions of the museum project, still lives — took a major step forward on Saturday when it held a fundraising gala. "I applaud the Bruce Lee Foundation and the Hong Kong Association of Washington for working to preserve and promote the life of one of Seattle’s great cultural figures," Seattle mayor Mike McGinn said. “I can’t wait to visit the new museum." [Seattle Post Intelligencer]

Pierre Huyghe Wins $120,000 Prize: French multimedia artist Pierre Huyghe is the winner of this year's Roswitha Haftmann Prize, which comes with a substantial $120,000 cash purse. Huyghe, who also won the Guggenheim's Hugo Boss Prize in 2002, will accept the award at a ceremony at the Kunsthaus Zurich in May. Previous winners include Cindy Sherman and Carl Andre. [Artforum]

– Newcastle's Arts Funding Saved, For Now: The Labour council in Newcastle recently drafted a budget that would have cut all the city's arts funding by 100 percent, while slashing museum grants by 50 percent and library funding by 60 percent — but Labour leader and shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman has stepped in to stop the proposal — part of a planned £90 million ($140 million) in cuts the city will need to make by 2016 — from passing. "The reality is there is not going to be a 100 percent cut to the arts in Newcastle. Across the board, whether it comes to capital funding or revenue funding they will be supporting the arts," Harman said. [Guardian]


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