The Essentials: Anish Kapoor’s Orbit Relaunches, Google Digitizes Angkor Wat, and More Art News to Start Your Week

Plus 60 Minutes covers the Gurlitt saga, and US museums crowd-source art billboards.

Photo by Gerard McGovern, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The Interview: The south section of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, which had been closed for redevelopment, reopened this weekend, meaning people can once again ascend to the observation deck of the ArcelorMittal Orbit, Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond’s sculptural billboard for sponsoring steel mogul Lakshmi Mittal—initially unveiled during the lead-up to the 2012 Olympic Games. “I can do sleek forms, but this is a determined and deliberate process and there is no doubt that the Orbit is an odd and strange form that doesn’t sit comfortably, and part of what I’m interested in is that it doesn’t sit comfortably,” Kapoor told the Guardian. “The public won’t know about these innovations behind the scenes and in the guts of it, but I think they will sort of sense them in the unusual elbows-sticking-outness of it. And I hope that quality of awkwardness is the thing that will give it life.”

The Feature: The New York Times‘s art critics fanned out for a group survey of the gallery offerings in five New York neighborhoods, with Roberta Smith tackling the Upper East Side, Ken Johnson basking in the Lower East Side‘s eclecticism, Holland Cotter mixing mega-galleries and smaller spaces in Chelsea, Karen Rosenberg seeking out SoHo’s galleries amid its mall-like shopping strips, and Martha Schwendener admirably covering all of Brooklyn, from gallery-dense Bushwick in the north to South Brooklyn’s Donut District.

The Review: The four films Ryan Trecartin showed at the 2013 Venice Biennale, collectively billed as Home Movies, were also recently shown at LACMA. But if you missed them, well, you may not have missed much. Art in America‘s Jonathan T. D. Neil is not a fan, though he does appreciate one of the four, Junior War, a movie made from footage Trecartin shot in 1999 while he was still in high school. Neil concludes: “Junior War, though far from Trecartin’s first work, is something like his ur-movie then, a kernel of raw affect and energy around which all of his other work, in all of its ornamented, camped-up absurdity, orbits, and to which one wishes it could find a way to return.”

The Must-Watch: Morley “Yes, But Is It Art?” Safer took a look at the Cornelius Gurlitt saga during Sunday’s night’s episode of 60 Minutes, speaking to, among others, the reclusive art hoarder’s Barcelona-based photographer cousin Eckhart Gurlitt, who comments: “His friends were his paintings, and for the last 60 years he was living with his paintings. That was his idea of life.” Thereafter, Safer begins to map out the case’s labyrinthine legal implications.

The Plea: Mark Swed, music critic at the Los Angeles Times, goes cross-disciplinary in his call for LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and LACMA to renew their focus on performance art and music, disciplines that were once so central to the programming at both institutions. “LACMA now supports only a poorly funded, poorly promoted, if intelligently run, music series and demonstrates little institutional memory of its history in performance,” Swed writes. “If it did, you would think someone there would add a mention of music in the museum’s Wikipedia entry.”

The Think Piece: On the occasion of MoMA’s decision to dismantle and store the façade of the former American Folk Art Museum, architecture professor Jorge Otero-Pailos argues in Artforum that architectural preservation ought to be considered a type of artistic practice in its own right. “Preservation, as a visual art, makes the evolving cultural status of objects apparent,” Otero-Pailos writes. “Usually this is achieved through some form of editing: emphasizing certain important parts of the object and downplaying other, less significant aspects. Preservation, in other words, involves questioning the perceived integrity of the object, taking it apart in some way.”


Angkor Wat on Google Street View.
Courtesy Google.

The Eye Candy: Is Cambodia’s ancient city of Angkor Wat on your must-do bucket list of life goals? Well, crossing it off just got a lot easier, because Google took more than one million photographs of the archaeological site, and now more than 100 of its temples can be explored on Google Street View, the AFP reports.

The Op-Ed: Bonnie Burnham, president of the World Monuments Fund, hopped on the Monuments Men bandwagon and wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the World War Two-era squad of Nazi loot-rescuing art historians known as the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program should be reactivated to assist in the safekeeping of cultural patrimony in conflict-riddled countries like Syria, Iraq, and Egypt.

The Crowd-Sourced Art Project: In typically American fashion, following the UK’s “Art Everywhere” project last year to put reproductions of famous artworks on billboards and in advertising spaces around the country in what at the time was billed as the world’s largest art exhibition, five states-side institutions are going to create an even bigger version of the project in the US, the Los Angeles Times reports. But they need your help. Starting Monday April 7 you may vote for your favorite artworks from the permanent collections of LACMA, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum, and the National Gallery of Art. From the 100 works up for votes—including pieces by Cindy Sherman, Bruce Nauman, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Georgia O’Keeffe—half will be selected by popular vote to appear in ad spaces across the country.

The WTF: Clayton Pettet, the performance artist and Central Saint Martins student who caused a furor last year with his project Art School Stole My Virginity—in which he aimed to lose his virginity as part of a performance art piece—finally went through with it, sort of, though there was no sex involved, just self-reflexive commentary on the whole media fiasco, elaborate ceremonial build-up, plenty of nudity, and lots of bananas. “I scrambled out and was guided to another gallery space, with three-foot-high canvases featuring cartoonishly bright, primitive illustrations of girls being fingered, hacked-off limbs, mirrors with cum on them, and self-portraits of Pettet,” Zing Tsjeng writes for Dazed Digital. “They were all available to buy on Instagram, a poster told us.” Gawker, as they tend to, summed it up with their headline: “Dumb Art-School Project About Live Anal Sex and Lost Virginity Is Dumb.”

The Extra-Curricular: In a profile tied to his return to the type of indie film that launched his career with the impending release of Joe, Nicolas Cage gets charmingly candid about the craft of acting, offering some especially insightful advice from an unexpected source that can be applied to any and all creative pursuits, from acting and writing to art-making: “A friend of mine once said, ‘Be as normal in your own life as you can be, so you can be as messed up as you want in your art,’” Cage told the New York Times‘s Robert Ito. “I think it was Rob Zombie.”

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