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  • Top Arts News

  • - Top Arts Features

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Week of July 17 -  23


  • LOANERS, KEEPERS… In a victory for all museums hoping to borrow works of art from foreign museums, a federal judge has ruled that the U.S. government cannot force Austria’s Leopold Museum to forfeit an Egon Schiele painting that’s been proven to have been stolen from a Jewish family by the Nazis. On loan to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the painting had been seized in September under a new state law allowing prosecutors to seize artwork on display while its provenance is under investigation. MSNBC 07/19/00

  • GOING FOR VAN GOGH: "In the last decade, according to an ARTnews survey of scholars, museum curators, and art dealers in Europe and the United States, suspicions about fake van Goghs have tainted some of the most expensive paintings in the world, including the Yasuda 'Sunflowers', purchased in 1987 by the Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company of Japan for $39.9 million, at the time the highest sum ever paid for a work of art." ArtNews 07/00

  • VALENCIA'S MULTI-BILLION-DOLLAR INVESTMENT IN CULTURE: The Spanish city of Valencia is building Europe's most ambitious millennium project. "At an all-in cost of £2 billion the project eclipses the Dome in Greenwich and even the Getty in Los Angeles. The prodigious investment provides Valencia with a spectacular new Science Museum, an IMAX cinema, a music school, a magnificent new 1,800-seat opera house, seven kilometres of promenades and two streamlined road bridges." The Times (London) 07/18/00

  • HERITAGE ON SALE: The theft and destruction of Cambodian artifacts is massive. Reporters come across a man in the jungle selling green ceramic bowls. "They were 1,000-years old and from a kiln on top of the mountain. The seller wanted 10,000 riels for each bowl - a mere $2.50. We asked the seller whether he was afraid of breaking the law, and he said he didn't know there was any law. He had just dug them up in the jungle." Time Asia 07/12/00

  • BALLET COMPANY SETTLES SUIT WITH DANCER: The National Ballet of Canada and dancer Kimberly Glasco have reached a settlement on her charges of wrongful dismissal. Glasco gets money and won't return to the company as a judge had ordered. Glasco sued for unlawful dismissal when the National Ballet decided not to renew her contract after it expired in June last year. Glasco claimed she'd been fired illegally for speaking out as a dancer representative on the board of directors against artistic director James Kudelka's new Swan Lake." CBC 07/20/00

  • SERIOUS ABOUT STOLEN ART: The World Jewish Congress says it will step up its efforts to recover artwork stolen by the Nazis and never returned to rightful owners. "The WJC says it plans to claim thousands of works of art from American museums using lists that were made by the U.S. Army after the Second World War." CBC 07/20/00

  • IN THIS CORNER LEONARDO... Experts believe they have discovered a long-lost Leonardo fresco on a wall in in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. Problem is, there may be another wall in front of it with a Vasari fresco on it. Scientists are using thermographics to pinpoint the Leonardo, but if it's really there and in good shape do you remove the Vasari in front of it? The Age (The Telegraph) 07/18/00

  • LET'S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF: The New York Philharmonic and Ricardo Muti say that Muti won't be taking over as music director of the orchestra. Muti had been offered the job but concluded he didn't have the time to devote to leading the large American orchestra. New York Times 07/19/00 (one-time registration required for entry 

    • CONDUCTOR-HUNTING: Now that Ricardo Muti has turned down the job as music director of the New York Philharmonic, speculation turns to other candidates, with Pittsburgh's Mariss Jansons a leading candidate. Or might it be Christoph Eschenbach? Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 07/20/00

  • WASHINGTON DEBUT: Newly-named Kennedy Center director Michael Kaiser "was presented to the press, patrons and politicians...capped by a bipartisan dinner in the Capitol's Statuary Hall hosted by the four leaders of Congress. The accolades were lavish; in turn, the new arts center president promised to stay in the job for at least five years, which would be 'longer than I've ever been anywhere.' " Washington Post 07/20/00

    • NEW KENNEDY CENTER CHIEF: Michael Kaiser, who "helped rescue Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in London from a financial crisis, is about to be named president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a Kennedy Center official said." New York Times 07/19/00 (one-time registration required for entry 

    • Michael Kaiser: "Not only has he tremendous business savvy, but his passion for arts has made him a miracle man." Washington Post 07/19/00

  • WATCHING THE PAINT DRY: Louis Andriessen's opera "Vermeer", getting its US premiere at the Lincoln Center Festival is a long sit. "For all its visual beauty and technical slickness, this 100-minute opera (which ended its run on Saturday) is a dramatically neutral, philosophically and emotionally barren exercise in poststructuralist contemplation." Toronto Globe and Mail 07/15/00
    • "Vermeer": Luminous, but a mild disappointment. Los Angeles Times 07/17/00
  • WITCHING HOUR: Cameron Mackintosh's new £4.5 million production of "The Witches of Eastwick" opens in London to an enthusiastic audience. BBC 07/19/00

PLUS: The Venetian Hotel and the Guggenheim discuss building new museum branch in Vegas ~ Congressman Daniel Patrick Moynihan - one of architecture's friends, makes ready to leave US Senate ~ Rome's Coliseum to stage its first performance before a paying audience in 1,500 years ~ Famous photo thought to be of Oscar Wilde in drag turns out to be a Hungarian opera singer ~Annual ArtNews list of the world's biggest collectors of art is out ~San Francisco's dot-com industry leads to an explosion of "wall-scapes"



  • A MATTER OF HISTORY: The roar of protest over the distortions of history in the movie "The Patriot" has been deafening in recent weeks as the movie opened in Britain. So what is up with this month's Smithsonian Magazine article trumpeting how it helped the movie-makers get the details of history right? Has "the nation's attic" sold its soul? Washington Post 07/18/00  

  • WHAT ABOUT THE HISTORY THAT NEVER HAPPENED? "Provisional history, standby history, or simply outtakes: whatever the name, it denotes an existential sphere that is vast and growing. Think of all the newspaper stories that editors have decided to spike; the millions of words that have been cut out of books; the miles of footage yanked by directors from their movies. Think of all the caps, manufactured but never sold, proclaiming the Buffalo Bills to be the champions of Super Bowls XXV, XXVI, XXVII, and XXVIII." The Atlantic 07/00

  • THE POPULARIZATION OF JAPAN: "Pop culture is big business in Japan, with domestic 'J-Pop' alone racking up sales of nearly ¥40 billion ($373 million) a year. The most popular artists achieve sales of nearly 10 million copies per album. Volumes of manga (comics) as thick as telephone directories are read by children and balding salarymen alike. The best loved, 'Shuppan Shonen Magajin', sells 4 million copies a week." Now the rest of Asia is catching the Japan-pop bug. The Economist 07/21/00

  • DEAD CULTURE OR DEAD CRITICS? "Culture as this particular academic knows it is dead, buried, reincarnated only to walk the earth as a movie remake based on the original sitcom. The problem isn't dummy art or the proliferation of immoral pop culture, or even a house of mirrors assembly-line media. The problem resides in the inability of the majority of those who comment on the arts - journalists, academics, professional artists, producers, editors, information-age cultural critics - to come to terms with emerging new ways of living with and through mass culture. Toronto Globe and Mail 07/20/00

  • THE WAGNER CASE (AGAIN): "The notion that artists don't have to be as beautiful as the works they create is a commonplace now - except in the case of Wagner. But those who seek to exonerate Wagner by differentiating between the composer and the pamphleteer have another problem: the argument that anti-semitism underpins not only his philosophy, but his music." The Guardian 07/21/00

  • ORIGINAL CHAUCER ANYONE? In the 1560s Archbishop Thomas traveled England looking for the oldest books and manuscripts he could find to try to prove that the Church of England was the true church. That collection sat in a library in Cambridge, available only to scholars all these years. The school recently had the 500 manuscripts appraised and discovered they were worth about £500 million, forcing the school to try to build a proper home for the collection and open it to the public for the first time. Financial Times 07/20/00

  • HOW WE PAY FOR ART? Berlin is rebuilding, and signs of change are everywhere - physical and cultural. "In Germany, where government funding had never been an issue before, it seemed odd to hear people complaining about how excessive subsidies were creating an atmosphere of dependency and waste among their artistic institutions." The New Republic 07/15/00

  • POETRY IN THE FAST LANE: In 1992 the annual Poetry Publication Showcase was begun.  "In 1992 the mood was feisty but beleaguered: 'We few, we happy few, we band of poets' went the boast. Now there's a sense that poetry's making it, moving rapidly to the center(s) of our cultural life. Poets House executive director Lee Briccetti, who dreamed up the Showcase as a way to bring attention to a severely marginalized literary form, hopes the poetry world is poised to take advantage of what she terms 'a moment of cultural readiness.' " The Nation 07/17/00

  • IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES: "American poetry has never passed through such a scattered era. This diffusion may be a result of the deaths in the last few decades of so many of its ablest practitioners and guides (Eliot, Frost, Roethke, Bishop, Berryman—and these but begin the unhappy list), or perhaps it is tied to the larger directionlessness that seems presently to haunt so many of the arts." New Criterion Summer '00 (reprint from 1983)

  • REAL REALITY? "Though it was never a part of the show's design, 'Big Brother' is broadcasting in prime time many of the unresolved fears that stretch across the nation's racial divide. The series already is being labeled groundbreaking television, with the raw footage captured by the cameras that film around the clock generating heated discussions in cafes and Internet chat rooms across the country." Los Angeles Times 07/20/00

PLUS: The role of high-tech leaders in the depressing decline of the well-rounded citizen ~ Want to know the real theatre scoop? Talk to the ushers ~ Metropolitan Museum director Philippe de Montebello on the changing roles of curators, museums and collecting art ~ Harry Potter and's marketing success ~ Pianist Keith Jarrett talks about his battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ~ Imagining the future at Venice's Architecture Biennale


  • BEAR WITNESS: In recent years numerous museums and exhibitions commemorating the Holocaust have sprung up. But some argue that attempts to represent the Holocaust falsify it, making it an aesthetic rather than a history. "On the other hand, however uncomfortable academics may be with some of the popular representations of the Holocaust, few would question that films such as 'Schindler's List' and 'Life is Beautiful' have done more to raise public awareness of the Holocaust than a thousand scholarly tomes." New Statesman 07/17/00

  • NO TIME FOR THIS: "In his new book, 'The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics', Julian Barbour asserts that time simply doesn't exist. This by itself is not so shocking. My friend Artie, for example, has always insisted that there's only change, not time. Things move around; time may just be a way of noting that. But Barbour goes further. He says there's no such thing as motion either. Instead, Barbour sees a universe filled with static instants - instants that contain "records" that fool any conscious beings who happen to find themselves encased in one into believing that things have moved and time has passed." Feed 07/15/00

  • FEEL THE BEAT: Does anyone not respond to music in some basic way? "Some scientists have recently proposed that music may have been an evolutionary adaptation, like upright walking or spoken language, that arose early in human history and helped the species survive. The 'music gene' would have arisen tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago, and conferred an evolutionary advantage on those who possessed it." Toronto Globe and Mail 07/18/00



  • DON'T BE DISSING GRANDPA: Turns out Stalin's 28-year-old grandson is an artist - a painter - and judged a good one by those who have seen his work in London and Glasgow. Just one problem - what about those views of history he's all too happy to share? "Stalin was a truly great man," he says. "He was a great ruler like Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar. He cannot be erased as if he did not exist. I do not like it when people pretend he did not really happen in history." The Times (London) 07/21/00

  • YOU'RE INCREDIBLY SMART IF YOU READ THIS: "We've become warier, more ironic about praise in general. No one wants to seem like a smarmy suck-up. No one wants to appear too earnest. The language of superlatives has become worn out and phony. If Mike Ovitz is a visionary, what does that make Charles Darwin? If Donald Trump is charismatic, what does that make Martin Luther King? If every flavor-of-the-month actress is brilliant, what do you tell your seven-year-old daughter when she comes home with an 88 on her spelling test?" Time Europe 07/17/00

  • MR. LINCOLN HAS OTHER PLANS: Philadelphia has a thriving industry of "historical look-alikes" - people who dress up as Washington or Jefferson or Lincoln for parties or events. With the Republican National Convention coming to town soon, business figured to be booming for the bogus Abes, Toms and Georges. But it seems that Republicans are last-minute partiers, and now many of the portrayers are booked for other gigs. Philadelphia Inquirer 07/20/00

  • EVIDENTLY A BAD SCORE: Soprano Monserrat Caballe surprised her audience in Bucharest by ripping up the score belonging to the conductor accompanying her, after the orchestra twice fell out of step with her. The conductor later claimed a misprint in the score. Chicago Sun-Times (AP) 07/19/00