The Whitney Biennial: 75 artists are in, and one dissenter steps out The Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz has withdrawn his participation in the Whitney Biennial, the New York Times reports. The Chicago-based artist has pulled out in protest at Whitney vice-chairman, Warren Kanders, who is the chief executive of a company that manufactures equipment, including body armour and tear gas, for law enforcement agencies and militaries.

The controversy around Kanders and his business interests has led to demonstrations at the Whitney, with employees and artists campaigning for Kanders to step down from his role at the New York gallery.

The newspaper states that the exhibition’s curators, Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta, said in an interview that they respected Rakowitz’s decision and regretted that he wouldn’t be involved in the biennial’s 79th edition. Rakowitz, whose sculpture The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist is currently on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, had been commissioned to recreate artifacts and locations destroyed in the Iraq war.

The news that Rakowitz has withdrawn came as the curators announced the 75 artists who will be taking part in this year’s biennial, which will open on 17 May 2019.

Described by Hockley as including “as broad a range of artists as we could in all kind of senses of that word, whether that’s medium-wise, interest-wise, geographically, demographically, generationally,” those taking part include: Forensic Architecture, Barbara Hammer, Josh Kline, Simone Leigh, Diane Simpson, and Martine Syms. The full list can be viewed here.


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Sentenced to nearly three years in jail for painting a single picture. #FREEzehradogan

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Artist and Journalist Zehra Doğan Released from Turkish Jail After Nearly Three Years The Kurdish journalist and artist Zehra Doğan has been freed from a Turkish jail after nearly three years in prison.

Doğan had attracted the attention of the Turkish authorities after painting a watercolor showing Turkish flags flying above a Kurdish district largely destroyed by Turkish security forces. The watercolour was based on an official photograph of the scene. The artist was accused of having links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the Turkish government considers to be a terrorist organisation. She was tr

Doğan’s cause has attracted international attention and in March 2018 the street artist Banksy created a large mural on the Houston Bowery Wall, New York calling for her release, bearing the slogan, ‘Free Zehra Doğan’.

On her release on Sunday 24 February from the Tarsus Closed Women’s Prison in south-eastern Turkey, Doğan remained defiant. Hyperallergic reports that, in a video published by Jin News, she said: “It is my field of work, of struggle. I have no excuse… I do not have the right nor the pretext to do nothing, I must act.”

All the UK’s 150,000 public sculptures to go online A project organised by Art UK is set to catalogue online the UK’s 150,000 publicly-owned sculptures by the end of next year. The first 1,000 entries have already been posted online.

The project will make the UK the first country in the world to have a register of all its public sculptures. Most of the 150,000 sculptures that will be catalogued are outside, with around 20,000 in museums and inside buildings. Art UK has already catalogued on its website around 200,000 oil paintings in UK public collections.

Mary Boone’s Manhattan galleries will close in April following her jail-time sentencing for tax fraud The New York art dealer Mary Boone, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison on 14 February on two counts of tax fraud, is to close her Manhattan galleries in Chelsea and 5th Avenue Midtown. The final exhibitions at the galleries (Julia Wachtel and Derrick Adams respectively) will open in March and close 27 April as planned.

In a statement to ARTnews regarding her galleries’ closure, she said: “I had 49 wonderful years in art. If I’m going to be the Martha Stewart of the art world, I would hope to do it with the same humility, humour, grace, and intelligence that she did.”

In September 2018, Boone pleaded guilty to falsely claiming around $1.28m in personal expenses as tax-deductible business expenses in 2011.

Michael Rakowitz, The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, Fourth Plinth commission. Photo: Caroline Teo

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