Marina Abramovic Tries Ballet, Smithsonian's Sequestration Cutbacks, and More

Marina Abramovic Tries Ballet, Smithsonian's Sequestration Cutbacks, and More
Marina Abramovic
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO)

Abramovic Creating a Ballet: After conquering the worlds of cinema and opera, performance artist extraordinaire Marina Abramovic is trying her hand at ballet, collaborating with the Belgian choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet on a new version of Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" for the Paris Opera Ballet. "In my own work I am completely in control, but the interesting thing with collaboration is to give up part of yourself, the ‘I,’" Abramovic said. "When you are very tired or in pain, you have to find another energy, to break through to another level… I can’t help with making choreography, but I can help with how to channel energy to achieve another kind of state. Like Maria Callas said, when you perform, half of your brain has to be extremely conscious and the other half extremely free." [NYT]

Smithsonian Announces Sequester Closures: From May 1 through September 30, the Smithsonian Institute will be forced to close at least three areas at its Washington D.C. facilities due to budget cuts engendered by sequestration. The three closures announced thus far are the Commons room at the Smithsonian Castle, a room in the "African Mosaic" exhibition in the National Museum of African Art's permanent collection galleries, and sections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden's third-floor permanent collection galleries. [Washington City Paper]


Arte Povera Storms the Louvre: To launch "Counterpoint," a new series of contemporary art exhibitions, the Louvre invited Michelangelo Pistoletto, one of the founders of the Arte Povera movement, to install his works throughout the mega-museum and collaborate with its staff on a full program of events and performances. The exhibition, "Year 1: Earthly Paradise," includes a neon light work that reads "Love differences!" installed in the Louvre palace's oldest section, and a sculptural installation suspended inside the large glass pyramid greeting visitors as they enter. [Artdaily]

Van Gogh's Bedroom Walls Were Violet: When Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum reopens on May 1, its major exhibition "Van Gogh at Work" will reveal the fruits of an eight-year collaborative research project between the museum, the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency, and scientists from the oil company Shell, perhaps most surprisingly that the walls of the artist's room in the 1888 painting "The Bedroom," long thought to be a light shade of blue, were originally painted violet. "You discover more clearly that van Gogh was a very methodical artist, which runs counter to the general myth that he was a manic, possibly slightly deranged man who just spontaneously threw paint at the canvas," said the museum's director, Axel Rüger. "He was actually someone who knew very well about the properties of the materials he used, how to use them, and also he created very deliberate compositions. In that sense it’s a major insight in that it gives us a better notion of van Gogh the artist. He was very goal-oriented." [NYT]

Jewish Museum Buys Bronze Lion: Yesterday New York's Jewish Museum snapped up a North German bronze lion aquamanile (a vessel for pouring water, typically for washing hands) from Sotheby's sale of Judaica from the collection of Michael and Judy Steinhardt. "The piece is an engaging example of the lion aquamanile form, simple in its ornamentation but striking," said Jewish Museum curator Susan L. Braunstein. "There are currently only two other known aquamanilia from the medieval era bearing Hebrew inscriptions." [Press Release]

Artist Rolls Out "College Degree" Toilet Paper: For his latest irreverent project, the artist Leon Reid IV is selling rolls of toilet paper stamped with the words "College Degree" for $25, a not-so-subtle commentary on the costs incurred by contemporary college students. "I'm not trying to make a work of art, but a point here that this generation feels disillusioned that they spent so much money and time and effort and got little results," Reid said. "The work is totally functional." [DNAinfo]

Canada Researches Holocaust-era Art: Canada has begun its term as the leader of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance — a coalition of 31 countries — by launching a $190,000 initiative to research the provenance of Holocaust-era artworks at six of its major museums, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the latter of which just returned a painting by the 17th-century Dutch artist Gerrit van Honthorst to the heir of Hamburgian Jewish collector Bruno Spiro last week. "With the support of the Government of Canada, directors of Canadian art museums and galleries will develop their professional expertise and contribute to the international call for transparency, justice and closure, in one of the most sordid chapters of 20th-century history," said Canadian Art Museum Directors Association president Josephine Mills. [TAN]

Longtime MICA Prez Retires: Fred Lazarus IV, who has been the president of the Maryland Institute College of Art since 1978, has announced that he will retire at the end of the next school year, in May 2014. Under his tenure MICA has grown from a local institution to a nationally recognized art school, while its enrollment has doubled, its endowment has been increased by 25 times, and the size of its campus has grown tenfold. "I have been able to watch gifted young people come in as freshmen, graduate with all of the promise in the world, and then take their places as art and design leaders, business owners, and catalysts for societal change," Lazarus said. "Our amazingly accomplished faculty, dedicated staff, and incredible supporters have built this institution into a center for the reinvention of art and design education." [Press Release]

Saudi Arabia's First Artist-Run Gallery: The conceptual artist (and army colonel) Abdulnasser Gharem is planning to open the Amen Art Foundation in Riyadh, which would be Saudi Arabia's first artist-run art space, supporting young artists and promoting arts education. "We have so many good artists here. The galleries and, unfortunately, auction houses are starting to move in but there are no institutions or foundations here to help the younger artists," Gharem said. "This country is full of people who have the [necessary] money. But the problem will be getting the government's permission to launch the foundation. Such art foundations are not part of our culture." [TAN]


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