Recent links of note:

“Gillian Ayres: Abstract painter whose work was rooted in the beauty and colour of the real”
Michael Glover, Independent

Gillian Ayres, who died on Wednesday at the age of eighty-eight, was driven by a doggedly independent spirit throughout her sixty-plus-year career as a painter. Born in southwest London in 1930, Ayres began her artistic training at Camberwell College of Arts at the age of sixteen. Camberwell was then directed by William Coldstream, the founder of the naturalist and observation-intensive Euston Road School, who imparted his own rigorous and academic method of drawing on his pupils. Ayres found the method stifling and formulaic, and soon began to develop a personal language of colorful, decorative, Matisse-inspired abstraction. In post-war Britain, where abstract art was still widely misunderstood if not scorned, the career move promised little immediate acclaim. Decades later, the resolute modernist continued to uphold her core aesthetic values while the tacky and puerile “Young British Artists” took over the contemporary London art scene. The Royal Academy held a retrospective of Ayers’s work (which is held in the collections of the Tate Gallery, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others) in 1997, but perhaps the occasion of her death will prompt other institutions to consider organizing new exhibitions of this important artist.

“Curators vs. Meddlers”
Brian Allen, City Journal

The past month has been an eventful one in the museum world. Just this week, the Metropolitan Museum hired its new director, Max Hollein, late of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Frankfurt’s Städel Museum. In late March, the Brooklyn Museum announced the appointment of Kirsten Windmuller-Luna to a curatorial role in the institution’s collection of African Art. This latter appointment was met with controversy when it was discovered that Windmuller-Luna, who received her masters and doctoratal degrees at Princeton, and who recently completed a prestigious curatorial fellowship at the Met, is white. The Brooklyn Museum, which actually has one of the more racially diverse curatorial staffs of major museums in the country, was lambasted with accusations of “recolonization,” largely by those unfamiliar with both museum hiring practices and the field of African Art in general. The controversy mirrors Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “cultural plan” for the City of New York, which links city funding for arts institutions to diversity quotas for senior-level administrative and curatorial positions. Brian Allen, the former director of both the museum division of the New-York Historical Society and the Addison Gallery, Andover, discusses these troubling developments in an insightful essay for City Journal. Click here for Allen’s most recent article for The New Criterion, and here, for an April 2017 review of The Brooklyn Museum’s recent rehang of art works.  

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