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Week of July 3 - July 9, 2000

                                                    - Top Arts News
                                                    - Top Arts Features
                                                    - Of Special Note
                                                    - Just for Fun

  • TWYLA THARP'S NEW COMPANY: Tired of the administrative and financial burdens, twelve years ago Twyla Tharp dissolved her dance company and took to the road freelancing. Now she's back with a new company. New York Times 07/06/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • A LOGICAL APPROACH: The Art Loss Register, a private organization dedicated to recovering art looted during WWII, has located and returned art valued at $100 million. How? "The first is the moral argument, the second is the threat of embarrassing negative publicity, which affects both individuals and institutions, and the third is the claim that the work has become completely worthless from a financial standpoint because it can never be sold on the market as long as it remains on the list of looted Holocaust art." Ha'aretz 07/05/00

  • STOLEN ART IN BRITISH MUSEUM: A 12th Century manuscript in the British Museum is shown to have been looted from Italy. "The missal, from the chapter library of Benevento, was acquired by a UK army captain during World War II and bought by the British Museum library (as it then was) at Sotheby’s in 1947." The Art Newspaper 07/03/00

  • CALIFORNIA ARTS COMMISSION GETS BIG INCREASE: Legislature gives arts commission $12 million increase. The additional funds raise the council's annual budget from $20 million to $32 million and bring California's state arts spending to 92 cents per capita. The increase propels California from 42nd place into the top 25 states in the nation. Los Angeles Times 07/03/00

  • MUSEUM TAKES RISK, LOSES: After the heirs of one of its patrons decided to sell a Picasso to another buyer, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art sued the family for $18 million. Now a judge has thrown out the museum's claim (and other donors and potential donors have got to be feeling a creeping chill). San Francisco Chronicle 07/06/00

  • FASTER LOUDER STRONGER: The Sydney International Piano Competition opens. But criticism is rife, and charges of scandal abound. "No one, of course, will ever hear of any of the SIPCA prizewinners. They all seem to have had rather too close connections with various members of the jury, which in any case is mostly comprised of lacklustre teachers who ... wouldn't recognise good and original artistry if it jumped up and bit them." The Age (Melbourne) 07/03/00

    • CONTROVERSIES ALL AROUND: Resignations from the competition's executive and controversy about not using an Australian piano, mar the competition - and yes, all three Australian pianists competing made the quarter finals. Sydney Morning Herald 07/03/00

  • DEFENDING A "PORNOGRAPHIC THELMA AND LOUISE: French intellectuals, celebrities and movie makers took to the streets of Paris Wednesday to defend a hardcore movie panned by the critics and banned from general movie theatres by the French censors. The demonstration took place in front of an MK2 cinema in Paris' Latin Quarter. The theater is one of 20 that have been defying the State Council's ruling. Variety 07/06/00

    • CENSORSHIP WARNING: French Culture Minister Catherine Tasca warned that the court ruling raised the prospect of a return to state censorship. BBC 07/06/00

  • LOOKING FOR LEONARDO: In 1503 Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint a mural in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. But the image disappeared and conjecture is that rather than being destroyed the mural was obscured when a wall was built in front of it. Now scientists are on the hunt. "We will look through ancient walls using the most advanced technologies." 07/03/00

PLUS: Mother of Boston Ballet dancer who died of anorexia files lawsuit again the company ~ Employment for writers in Hollywood down for the first time in five years ~ Michelangelo drawing that inspired his statue of the risen Christ sells for $12 million ~ Vanity Fair investigates painter Francis Bacon's tax practices ~  Al Gore's investigation into why so many movie productions have moved to Canada postponed until after election ~ Tech market crash affects art gallery sales in dotcom-rich Seattle ~ 1526 version of the New Testament reprinted for the first time British Library ~ Filmmaker George Lucas hires choreographer to make scenes for the next "Star Wars" movie.


  • ARTISTS AND THE NEW ECONOMY: "For the first time since the 18th Century, some observers believe, the arts world is poised on the edge of a massive shift in the way artists earn their keep. Nudged by the Internet and other technologies, a new paradigm is evolving, one that may render irrelevant the familiar quarrel over government funding of the arts." Chicago Tribune 07/09/00

  • HAS AMERICA LOST ITS EDGE? Sure there's lots of new opera these days. But American composers look back to the familiar if they want a production. "There's a general notion [in Europe] that we've fallen so far behind in innovations. They say there's nothing happening in America anymore. I jump to the defense of our artists. But it's true that the primary institutions in the U.S. have been reluctant to embrace innovators. . . . Without a doubt, there's been a chilling effect." Philadelphia Inquirer 07/09/00

  • TOWERING AMBITIONS: "After a quarter of a century in which high-rise architecture was completely off the agenda, we have embarked on an unprecedented bout of skyscraper building. Cities determined to make their mark have decided that a crop of new towers, preferably as exhibitionistic as possible, is the way to get noticed. In urban-renewal projects, a conspicuous high rise is now regarded as one of the most effective ways to make the middle of nowhere feel like somewhere." The Observer (London) 07/09/00

  • RECONSIDERING WRITING OF THE SOUTH: "The field of southern literary studies has been dominated by a huge Faulkner industry that both overshadows and tames the terms we use for reading southern women's fiction. If we are to see this fiction in all of its power, we need to change the categories we use to think about southern literature." Chronicle of Higher Education 07/03/00

  • LOOKING BACK FOR THE FUTURE: The latest style in Moscow is what might be called reconstructivism. Wherever a historic building once stood but was destroyed, a more or less exact replacement now seems to be called for. Although not official policy, this growing attempt to re-create pre-revolutionary, pre-Stalin Moscow is largely driven by the office of the capital's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov. The Guardian 07/03/00

  • SAME ARCHITECT/DIFFERENT VISION: Twelve years ago David Childs designed a vast new project for New York's Columbus Circle. But the version he redesigned which is now being built differs substantially. "There is more than one way to interpret this difference: public opinion could be changing; Mr. Childs could be changing his aesthetic; or the difference could mean less than meets the eye." New York Times 07/09/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • BETTER HISTORY THROUGH THE INTERNET: Academic publishing is in dismal shape. Squeezed by the rising cost of science journals, libraries have been buying fewer academic monographs. In the early 1990s, in response to dwindling library demand, the number of new titles began to decline. So Princeton professor Robert Darnton has decided to do something about it. He has become a true believer in the Internet's potential to transform academic publishing - by helping university presses publish more monographs and maybe even by enabling scholars to produce better history. Lingua Franca 07/00

  • INDIA'S NEW GENERATION OF WRITERS: "Although their voices are being heard much more loudly in the West than in India, they are ushering in a new era for Indian literature in English. They are often called Midnight's Grandchildren in homage to another seminal Indian novel, Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children," the dark parable of Indian history since independence that won the Booker Prize in 1981 and in 1993 won a special Booker Prize as the best British novel of the previous quarter century. Now the new generation of writers have in many ways broken away from the magic realism that characterizes much of Mr. Rushdie's work. New York Times 07/03/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • TANGO TROUBLE: Composer Astor Piazzolla's distinctive tango music has become a world-wide phenomenon. But "while his music won an enthusiastic following in Europe, the United States, Brazil, and Mexico, Piazzolla was not widely appreciated in his native Argentina until a decade before he died in 1992. Instead, his tampering with a native form as sacrosanct as the tango earned an intensity of contempt from the music's old guard that may be difficult to fathom in this country, where disagreements over style and genre exercise only a handful of artists and critics." The New Republic 07/03/00

  • DOING THE CONTINENTAL SWING: Recent European jazz albums suggest that the innovation in jazz is coming from the Old World and not from America. "Almost without anybody noticing, European jazz, regarded for years by the Americans with the same kind of tolerant smile they reserve for Japanese baseball, seems poised to step to the forefront." The Times (London) 07/04/00

  • MONEYDANCE: "As a cultural phenomenon, Riverdance has been closely parsed from top to bottom, hailed by some as an expression of a confidently globe-conquering new Ireland, dismissed by others as a pile of Celtic clichés. What has been ignored, however, is the gargantuan financial muscle that promises to make Riverdance the country's biggest cultural export. The three Riverdance shows touring the world, along with their myriad merchandising spin-offs, have grossed an estimated £½ billion to date." The Sunday Times 07/09/00

PLUS:  Musical prodigies: it's not so much about how they play as how they look ~ Why is Howard University ignoring African-American writer E. Ethelbert Miller? ~ Savvy, erudite street-side booksellers ~ Ireland's festival devoted to gossip and idle talk ~ The upcoming Broadway season: serious theatre or a cheap weekend in Vegas? ~ Thomas Kinkade's paintings inspire love in America's mall-goers...and hate in the art world 



  • NO-BROW CULTURE: What really sustained the old distinctions between good taste and bad, high culture and low? What sustains them now? They can be, and have been, criticized. Were the cultural distinctions of yore merely "an upstairs downstairs affair … arranged to protect the real artists from the ravages of the commercial market place?" Boston Review Summer 00

  • SERIAL KILLER: When the history of post-war American music is written, which history will it be? "A widely held belief asserts that during these years a band of rigorous, cutting-edge composers, mostly based in prestigious East Coast universities, seized the intellectual high ground and bullied their colleagues and students into accepting serial procedures as the only valid form of modernism. Yet another, quite opposite take on that period holds that the 12-tone composers never wielded much influence, that they themselves were the beleaguered minority group marginalized by the majority of composers, who continued to write music that was essentially tonal and far more popular." New York Times 07/09/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • INFORMATION OVERLOAD: "Our ability to generate information has outpaced our ability to comprehend it. We're driven to make sense of it all, to shape and sort and classify information into systems we can use. From the days of writing on cave walls to the creation of XML, we've tried to do a better job of comprehending the information at hand. The thing is, we've become so good at creating information that it's piling up faster than promises in a political campaign." *spark-online 07/00

  • RECREATING CONTEXT: How faithfully should a museum try to reproduce the historical context in which pictures were originally made and shown? Do you distort or diminish a work of art by showing it in a way that the artist never intended? A new exhibition of Turner at the Tate Gallery tries for recreation but betrays the painter. The Telegraph (London) 07/05/00



  • AND THE JOKE IS ON... A lecturer who dislikes modern art decided to make his own. "He found a piece of scrap wood with grooves in from a cutting machine, painted it white and called it Millennium Dawn" and entered it in an art competition. Judges at Nottingham University awarded it a prize. Ananova 07/07/00

  • MERMAIDS IN NORFOLK, GIANT CORN IN BLOOMINGTON: Some three dozen US cities have deployed art on their downtown streets after Chicago reported a hit with its art cows last year. Now Chicago is talking about putting a twist on the idea next summer. "If Chicago can reinvent itself and come up with something even more inventive, I'd say we're up for a decade of things on parade." CNN (AP) 07/04/00