Art Movements


Nari Ward, “Breathing Flag” (photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli, courtesy Creative Time)

Art Movements is a weekly collection of news, developments, and stirrings in the art world. Subscribe to receive these posts as a weekly newsletter.

A number of Confederate monuments were removed in the wake of last week’s deadly white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Protestors toppled a statue of a Confederate soldier in Durham, North Carolina, a 113-year-old statue nicknamed “Old Joe” was removed in Gainesville, Florida, and Baltimore’s City Council organized the removal of four statues during the early hours of Wednesday morning. Greg Fischer, the Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, announced plans to review city sculptures that “can be interpreted to be honoring bigotry, racism and/or slavery.” Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, announced a review of “all symbols of hate on city property” via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.

Jeffrey Beebe debuted his Kickstarter-funded sculpture, “Trumpy the Rat,” during Monday’s protest outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

A 17-year-old vandalized the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston — the second act of vandalism at the site in less than three months.

The NYPD are searching for three teenagers who vandalized headstones and spray-painted anti-Asian graffiti at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Queens.

Nari Ward’s “Breathing Flag” was hoisted at four museums across the US as part of Creative Time’s “Pledges of Allegiance” project. The work directly references the tri-color flag of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and includes a rendition of the Congolese Cosmogram. The symbol was drilled into the floor boards of the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia — one of the oldest African-American churches in the US — where it is thought to have doubled as air holes for runaway slaves passing below.

Philadelphia will unveil a statue of Octavius Catto next month — the first statue in the city to commemorate an African American.

The arts advocacy group Fractured Atlas launched “Artist Campaign School,” a nonpartisan initiative to encourage artists to run for political office.

The Dong-A transit company installed life-size statues of women in traditional hanbok dress on buses throughout Seoul. The statues refer to the abuse of “comfort women,” a colloquial term for the estimated 80,000-200,000 girls and women who were forced into sexual slavery during Japan’s 1910–1945 occupation of the Korean peninsula. Though Japan apologized for the women’s ordeal as part of a 2015 agreement, it has never accepted legal responsibility for the abuse.

Willem de Kooning, “Woman-Ochre” (1954–55) (courtesy University of Arizona Museum of Art)

Willem de Kooning’s “Woman-Ochre” (1954–55) was returned to the University of Arizona Museum of Art 32 years after it was stolen by an unidentified man and woman. The work was discovered by furniture and antiques dealer David Van Auke during a visit to an estate sale.

Vernon Rapley, the former head of Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Unit, told The Art Newspaper that he is “worried that the closure of the unit is now being considered.” The unit’s three detectives have been transferred to the Grenfell Tower investigation, with a Metropolitan Police spokesman refusing to say whether the detectives would return to the Art and Antiques Unit.

Chinese police forcefully evicted artists from the Iowa co-op in the Caochangdi art district in northeastern Beijing. According to ArtAsiaPacific, artists laid out a mock carpet for officials shortly before contractors began demolition work on the building.

London’s Garden Bridge project was officially scrapped after the Garden Bridge Trust announced that it had failed to raise private funding. London’s current mayor, Sadiq Khan, withdrew his support of the project — which was spearheaded by former mayor Boris Johnson — in April. A total of £46.4 million (~$59.7 million) in public money was spent on the abandoned project.

Big Ben will fall silent next week through 2021 as part of an essential restoration of Elizabeth Tower.

The memoirs of RB Kitaj (1932–2007) will be published in September, ten years after they were discovered among the artist’s possessions. The book includes a preface by David Hockney, a friend and fellow student of Kitaj’s, in which he condemns the “vicious [and] appalling” attacks leveled at the artist by critics.

The Norton Museum of Art announced the first exhibition of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney‘s sculptures since her death in 1942.


Leon Polk Smith, “Untitled” (1954), collage, 25 3/4 x 19 3/4 in, Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, gift of the Leon Polk Smith Foundation, 2017

The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas acquired three paintings and four works on paper by the artist Leon Polk Smith. The works are a gift from collectors Jeanne and Michael Klein and the Leon Polk Smith Foundation.

The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University received a $1 million gift from Lisa and Steven Tananbaum in support of its modern and contemporary programming.

The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester acquired Bill Viola’s “Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water)” (2014) [via email announcement].


Susan Dackerman was appointed director of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

Charles A. Riley II was appointed director of the Nassau County Museum of Art.

Jacqueline Silverman was appointed executive director of the San Diego Art Institute.

Daly Flanagan was appointed executive director of the Rockland Center for the Arts.

Salvatore Scibona was appointed director of the New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Julie Reilly was appointed director of ICA Art Conservation.

The National Gallery of Art, Washington, appointed Roger Lawson, Emiko Usui, and Kathleen Williams, as executive librarian, editor-in-chief, and chief archivist respectively.

Ilona van Tuinen was appointed senior curator of drawings at the Rijksmuseum.

Sarah Cartwright was appointed curator of collections at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The Brooklyn Museum appointed Aysin Yoltar-Yildirim and Ashley James as associate curator of Islamic art and assistant curator of contemporary art, respectively [via email announcement].

Dianne S. Harris was appointed senior program officer at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Arlene Watson was appointed director of public programs and engagement at the 2018 FRONT International Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art unified and rebranded its 152-acre campus as “Newfields.”

The David Roberts Art Foundation in London will close in early October. According to The Art Newspaper, David Roberts, the gallery’s owner, plans to open a 20-acre sculpture park in Somerset, West England.

Sandycombe Lodge, the country home of JMW Turner, was opened to the public following a £2.4 million (~$3.1 million) restoration.

Fotografiska plans to open a photography venue in Whitechapel, London.

The Yayoi Kusama Museum will open in Tokyo on October 1. The five-story structure was built in 2014, but its true purpose was only just announced last week.


Bo Bartlett, “The American” (2016), oil on linen, 88 x 100 in (via

Bo Bartlett was awarded the Gibbes Museum of Art’s 2017 Society 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art.

Martha Rosler was awarded the 2017 Hamburg Lichtwark Prize.

Duane Michals received the German Society for Photography’s Culture Prize.

The National Park Service awarded $517,471 in Tribal Heritage grants to 14 American Indian and Native Alaskan organizations.

The Design Museum announced the nominees of the 2018 Beazley Designs of the Year.


The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas (1970-72), designed by architect Gunnar Birkerts (via Flickr/Unfolding Pavilion)

Gunnar Birkerts (1925–2017), architect.

Joseph Bologna (1934–2017), actor, writer, and director.

Eduardo del Río (1934–2017), cartoonist.

Richard Gordon (aka Gordon Ostlere) (1921–2017), doctor and writer. Best known for his Doctor in the House series.

Tshiamo Naledi Letlhogonolo Pinky Mayeng (1993–2017), artist. Member of iQhiya.

Basilio Martín Patino (1930–2017), filmmaker.

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