Kapoor Says UK Art Scene Is "F*cked," NPG Gets Choir-in-Residence, and More

Kapoor Says UK Art Scene Is "F*cked," NPG Gets Choir-in-Residence, and More
Anish Kapoor
(Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

– Kapoor Calls U.K. Arts Scene "Fucked": As he prepares a major solo exhibition at Berlin's Martin-Gropius-Bau, British artist Anish Kapoor is finding Germany's art culture far more accommodating and ambitious than the U.K.'s. "In Germany, it seems that the intellectual and aesthetic life are to be celebrated and are seen as part of a real and good education, whereas in Britain, traditionally – certainly since the Enlightenment – we've been afraid of anything intellectual, aesthetic, visual," he said. "In the UK, while the arts are the second biggest sector after banking, they probably form less than one tenth of 1% of government spending. It's completely scuzzy. The UK has two things, the arts and education, and both of them it pushes into the corner… In short, Britain's fucked." [Guardian]

– Portrait Gallery Gets Choir-in-Residence: The National Portrait Gallery in London now has the U.K.'s first-ever choir-in-residence, fittingly dubbed the Portrait Choir, a 22-member group that will commission and perform one new song every year in the institution's galleries responding to exhibitions and even specific portraits, beginning on June 28. "It has long been an ambition of the National Portrait Gallery to have a choir in residence," said Pim Baxter of the NPG, adding that the program will show "how portraiture and the human voice can complement each other." [BBC]


– Interpol Seeks Qaddafi's Art: As part of its Stolen Asset Recovery (or STAR) initiative, which aims to track down late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's multi-billion-dollar family fortune, Interpol is searching for the former first family's art collection, with an eye to repatriating the Qaddafis' many overseas assets. "Art was probably bought through other organisations not affiliated with the regime or through investment groups," s spokesperson at the Libyan embassy in London, Ghazi Gheblawi, said. "It is something that should be investigated." [TAN]

– Protesters Occupy Ludwig Museum: A group of some 30 activists who are angered by the Ludwig Museum's handling of a search for its next director has been occupying the Budapest institution, which is housed in the city's Palace of the Arts, since May 9. The protesters criticized the lack of transparency of the Ministry of Human Resource's endeavor to replace former director Barnabas Bancsik, whose contract expired in February, especially when four of the six people on its shortlist of candidates were members of the Ministry. "The functioning of Hungarian public administration lacks transparency and, for this reason, does not serve the needs of its citizens," the protesters wrote in a statement. "But it’s not just about the Ludwig Museum," said a participant in the protest, Reuben Fowkes. "It’s about the fact that amateurs and politicians are taking over the arts; about the way things are being done in Budapest, not just what is being done." [TAN]

– Poland Demands Soviet-Looted Art Be Returned: The Polish culture minister Bogdan Zdrojweski has renewed calls for the return of artworks that were stolen from Poland by the Soviet Red Army in 1945 at the end of the Second World War, including pieces by Pieter Brueghel and Hans Holbein currently on view in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. "Of 31 official restitution requests by Poland, 18 concern works located in Russia," Zdrojweski said. "Only a few years ago, our restitution claims were dismissed as unfounded. Today, our requests are no longer called into question." [AFP]

– Mayan Pyramid Pulverized in Belize: Late last week a construction company leveled one of the largest Mayan pyramids in Belize's 2,300-year-old Nohmul complex to turn it into gravel for a nearby road-building project. "It's a feeling of incredible disbelief because of the ignorance and the insensitivity… they were using this for road fill," said Jaime Awe, the head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology. "It's like being punched in the stomach, it's just so horrendous… These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It's just bloody laziness." [AP]

– Cambodia Wants Its Antiquities Back: Following the recent return to two large statues from the Metropolitan Museum, the Cambodian government is calling on other American museums and collectors to look into the provenance of their Khmer antiquities, as many made their way out of Cambodia after 1970 during two decades of civil war that left the country's historic sites prey to looters. "We are calling on all American museums and collectors, that if they have these statues unlawfully or illegally they should return them to Cambodia," said a spokesperson for Cambodia's Council of Ministers, Ek Tha, who urged them to "follow the Metropolitan’s lead." [NYT]

– RISD Museum Hires Contemporary Art Curator: The Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design has appointed Dominic Molon as its new curator of contemporary art, a job he will take up in September. Since 2010 Molon has been the chief curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, prior to which he was a curator and the acting head of the curatorial department at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. He replaces the RISD Museum's inaugural and longtime curator of contemporary art, Judith Tannenbaum, who has left the position but will remain at the museum through 2014 as an adjunct curator. [Providence Journal]

– Di Suvero's Gold Medal: On Wednesday the sculptor Mark di Suvero was one of two honorees, along with novelist E.L. Doctorow, to receive a gold medal for the arts from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in Manhattan. Di Suvero joins other sculptors recognized by the 250-member Academy, including Louise BourgeoisRichard Serra, and Martin Puryear. [NYT]

– RIP Longtime Guggenheim Director Thomas M. MesserThomas M. Messer, who served as the director of the Guggenheim Museum from 1961 — two years after it moved into its iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building — until his retirement in 1988, died Wednesday at his Manhattan home at the age of 93. He was also the director of the Guggenheim Foundation from 1980 to 1988. Among the most distinguished achievements during his tenure, one of the longest at a major U.S. museum: he helped secure the Foundation's acquisition of the collections of Justin K. Thannhauser — a trove of Impressionist and early modern artworks — and Peggy Guggenheim, including her Venetian palazzo. [NYT]


Meet Dominic Molon



Christie's Rakes In $495 Million — the Highest Total for Any Art Auction, Ever

What You Need to Know About Canada's Chicken-Killing Performance Art Scandal

DiCaprio, Deitch and Others Turn Out for Brant Foundation's "Andy Warhol"

See the Participating Artists in Next Year's 19th Biennale of Sydney

For breaking news throughout the day, check our blog IN THE AIR.