François Morellet died on Wednesday, just a few days after his 90th birthday. Parisian gallerist Kamel Mennour confirmed the French artist’s passing to Le Monde. Morellet is known primarily as a major figure of geometric abstraction and Concrete Art, working across mediums including painting, sculpture, and light-based art. Though he began working in the 1950s, the artist has explained that he had to wait decades before his neon works became in-demand enough to sell. Morellet was a central player in the founding of the significant Paris collective of the 1960s Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV).
Some 60 years after his practice began, Morellet received a major retrospective at the Center Pompidou in Paris, cementing his place in the country as one of the key artists of his generation.
Could this year’s Art Basel in Miami Beach see the worst traffic ever for the famously hectic art fair week? The city’s famously clogged roads are going to be even worse this December thanks to the closure of the Venetian Causeway.
One of three passages between Miami Beach and Miami, the Venetian Causeway helps relieve congestion on the MacArthur Causeway to the south or the Julia Tuttle Causeway to the north. Visitors to Art Basel in years past need no reminder of how difficult it can be to get from Miami Beach to say, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, or Wynwood when traffic slows to a crawl on the causeways.
The nine-month, $12.4-million project, which began in late May, will rebuild the causeway’s western drawbridge. Built in 1927, the historic span was patched with metal plates during a renovation in the late 1990s. The need for a better solution became clear in March 2014, when a plate was dislodged and a bus became stuck in the gap.
The city is offering other transit options, which will include water taxis as well as a free trolley service running along the length of Miami Beach that connects the main convention center to the Design District.
The city is also testing out a new “Miami-Dade Art Express” bus route, which is also free. Running every 20 minutes between 11:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., the bus will provide an alternate mode of transportation across the Julia Tuttle Causeway.
Nick Korniloff, head of two fairs in Miami (Art Miami and its sister fair CONTEXT) and one in Miami Beach (Aqua Art Miami), is hopeful that the effects of the closure won’t be too dramatic. “The Venetian was convenient up until a point,” he told artnet News via e-mail, “but never came close to being able to handle the bulk of traffic that the interstates [on the other causeways] do.”
1. FIAC Arrives in Paris
This past weekend saw the 42nd edition of the FIAC art fair at Paris’ Grand Palais. Director Jennifer Flay allowed only 170 participators from 22 countries to participate this year, tightening the selection by 21 entries from last year’s edition.
As a result, fair-goers — many of whom were enjoyed an extended trip fromlast week’s Frieze London — saw a more selective, curated display of works. And visitors reacted well to the more selective display of works, with participating galleries reporting strong sales throughout the fair. Hauser & Wirth gained attention for its presentation in honor of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks while Gavin Brown’s Enterprise alluded to its own exclusivity with an automatic curtain that separated it from the rest of the fair and 303 Gallery adorned its booth with an edition Jeppe Hein wallpaper. (You can read more about the fair’s best booths here.)
2. Wirths Top List of Most Powerful People in Contemporary Art
Iwan and Manuela Wirth have officially been recognized as the most powerful people in contemporary art in 2015. The Swiss couple, co-founders of international gallery Hauser& Wirth, topped ArtReview’s Power 100 list. The Wirths, who were ranked at 3rd last year, have ascended the list due to their innovations in “the model of selling and promoting art.”
Mark Rappolt, the editor in chief of ArtReview magazine, elaborated that Hauser & Wirth has managed to combine the “institutional operations” of the art world and the “lifestyle of collecting” to build a global brand that is both intelligent and sensitive to clients’ wishes. The Hauser & Wirth brand also shows no signs of slowing its international influence, with the recent opening of a gallery in Somerset and an impending museum in Los Angeles. Dealers David Zwirner and Larry Gagosian (the only other deal to ever rank number 1 on the list, which he did in 2004 and 2010) joined the Wirths in the top 10 as well alongside artist Ai Weiwei and Marina Abromovic.
3. UK Museums Go On High Alert For Theft
In the first warning of its kind, the Arts Council England has warned British museums of a “sever and imminent” threat — that of theft. TheUK’s National Crime Agency has learned of a threat to smaller pieces across British artistic institutions.
The Crime Agency is, “aware of a group who has made reconnaissance visits to a number of museums and other venues across the UK. It is thought that smaller, more portable items will be targeted rather than items such as large paintings.” While the Agency would not comment as to how intelligence came to light, some suspect it came from an embedded or underground source. The need for increased security comes at a difficult time for British museums, who were struggling to balance their budgets already.
4. #LegosForWeiwei Takes Off Amid Lego’s Atempt to “Censor” the Artist
This week, Ai Weiwei took to Instagram to discuss LEGO’s recent denial to send him a bulk order of plastic bricks for an upcoming exhibition in Australia. While Lego stated that it “cannot approve the use of Legos for political works,” Weiwei called the denial an act of “censorship and discrimination.”
Following the Chinese artist’s post, some became suspicious that Lego was attempting to defend its corporate interests in China (including a forthcoming Legoland in Shanghai) and a hashtag calling for lego donations for Weiwei had taken off. Weiwei is working on the logistics of how to accept lego donations from his supporters, but with the UK’s Chinese ambassador dismissing his work earlier this week and his new three-year visa from Germany, Weiwei definitely has enough to deal with.
5. Not Everyone Loves Renoir
Not even the most recognized masters of painting are safe from criticism it seems. After picketing the Museum of Find Arts Boston, the “Renoir Sucks at Painting” group recently demonstrated outside New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Holding signs that read “ReNOir” and “God hates Renoir,” the protestors demonstrated against the museum’s inclusion of works by Renoir, who they deem untalented and over-hyped. The protest’s leader, Max Geller, founded the movement with a “Renoir Sucks at Painting” Instagram account and a national petition to remove the Renoir paintings from the National Gallery. “I hate Renoir because he is the most overrated artist east, west, north and south of the river Seine,” explained Geller. “Renoir just sucks at painting.” Despite the group’s strong setiments, the Met has not responded with any plans to remove their renown Renoir paintings.