last week's stories
newsletter sign up
VISUAL ARTS - January 2001

Arts Journal Home Page
PublishingTheatreVisual ArtsArts IssuesPeople

common threadsarts watchletters
issues archive

October 02
September 02
August 02
July 02
June 02
May 02
April 02
March 02
February 02
January 02

December 01
November 01
October 01
September 01
August 01
July 01
June 01
May 01
April 01
March 01
February 01
January 01

December 00
November 00
October 00
September 00
August 00
July 00
June 00
May 00

April 00

March 00
Feb 00
Jan 00

Dec 99
Nov 99
Oct 99
Sept 99

yesterday's storiesArts BeatSearchContact Us

News Service Home`ServicesDigest SamplesHeadline Samples








Wednesday January 31

  • INNOCENCE ABROAD: A wave of lawsuits followed last year's US government investigations of price fixing by Christie's and Sotheby's. The auction houses made a costly settlement, but an American judge has now dismissed three suits dealing with cases outside the country. So are the auctioneers innocent abroad? Not really. The judge ruled that the overcharges occurred outside the US and had no substantial effect on the US; therefore, the court had no jurisdiction. BBC 01/30/01
  • TAKE A WEB OUT OF CRIME: At least two of 15 Greek stone heads stolen from University of Pennsylvania storerooms have been returned, thanks to the Internet. The sculptures, excavated at the Extramural Sanctuary of Demeter in Cyrene 20-30 years ago, were stolen from storerooms sometime in the past year. A website was established describing the figures, and two of them were recovered within a couple days. Archaeology 01/30/01
  • SPORTING CHANCES: One of the Royal Ontario Museum's prize pieces of art is a small 3450-year-old statuette known as Our Lady of the Sports. The ivory and gold figurine, in the collection for seventy years, was believed to be Minoan, from about 1450 BC. Now, several archaeologists claim it's a forgery. Museum officials deflect the claims: "If she's a genuine artifact, she's one of the great artifacts in North America, and even if she isn't, she's still very interesting." Ottawa Citizen (CP) 01/31/01
  • CHARTING THE MENIL: Nearly three years after the death of the Menil collection's controversial founder, the museum is still trying to find its artistic compass. "To me the Menil is the Garbo of museums in its elegance and allure, and its seeming desire to be left alone." The New York Times 01/31/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • RACING TO FAME AND GLORY: It was never much of a space. But "for a crucial decade between 1988 and 1998, City Racing was one of the main centres of the London art scene. It provided vital early exposure to some of contemporary art's leading names, and anyone who was anyone in Nineties British art would attend its famously packed Sunday evening exhibition openings." London Evening Standard 01/31/01

Tuesday January 30

  • $48 MILLION LATER, A 'NEW' GUIMET: Paris' Musée Guimet extraordinary collection of Asian art has long been loved, but its building was a dark ramshackle affair. Now, after $48 million and a five-year makeover, the physical Guimet seems to have caught up with the extraordinary artistic one. The New York Times 01/30/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Monday January 29

  • THE DAMN COWS ARE BACK - AND THEY'RE SUING TOO: The fibreglass art cows are coming next to London - 500 of them. The animals-on-parade shtick is turning up in cities everywhere. But now the Swiss that started it all are suing the Americans who ran with the idea and there are countersuits and... The Independent (London) 01/29/01
  • BUYING CUBAN: Cuban art is hot hot hot right now. "But has that interest been sparked by the quality of the art and the artists or by Cuba's forbidden allure, something given greater emphasis in this country by the island's status as a renegade outlaw, off-limits to U.S. citizens without special permission?" Miami Herald 01/18/01

Sunday January 28

  • DOING THE RIGHT THING (OR TRYING TO): The plundering of Jewish art collections by the Nazis and the subsequent redistribution of great works of art is now a matter of indisputable public record, and museums around the world have been scrambling to identify works in their collections that they may not have a right to possess. But it is an arduous process, and fine moral distinctions come into play. Chicago Tribune, 01/28/01
  • RECREATING A SOUL: Washington's National Gallery takes on a monumental task in its new show highlighting the legacy of the whirling dervish that was Alfred Stieglitz. The sometime-artist, sometime-curator, and full-time agitator put together some of the most forward-thinking and artistically significant galleries of the century during his career. Washington Post, 01/28/01
  • ART AND THE BARRIO: Carmen Lomas Garza is an artist whose work represents not only her own perspective on the world, but that of an entire culture. One of the pioneers of the Latino-American art world, Garza has made her work as much about civil rights as it is about the daily struggles of life in the notorious Texas slums known as "the barrio." San Jose Mercury News, 01/28/01
  • MAJOR COLLABORATION: The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and the Guggenheim Foundation have announced a collaboration that seems to go beyond what museums have done so far. The accord would involve exchanges of exhibitions, curators and know-how. The Art Newspaper 01/26/01
    • WORLD DOMINATION? "The response of the guardians of the American museum world is to cry "McGuggenheim!", and claim that Thomas Krens, the management-trained director of the New York Guggenheim, is rolling out the brand. The tie-up with the Hermitage and Kunsthistorisches are just part of a wider strategy for what looks increasingly like a bid by Krens for world domination." The Guardian 01/27/01
  • FUROR OVER FREE MUSEUMS: So British museums are to be free again? "In the 1980s, when museum charges were encouraged by the government of the day as part of a market-driven economy, museums and their collections were regarded as commodities. And the result? Those institutions that went down the charging route saw their visitor numbers plummet on average by a third. This approach failed to take account of the unique importance of museums: they are a crucial part of the fabric of the individual and of society, and everyone should have free access to them." The Guardian (London) 01/27/01
  • DESIGN ARMY: "Fabrica is an offshoot of the Italian clothing giant Benetton, as in United Colors of. Fabrica calls itself a communication research centre, but the term does little to contain the way in which it pulls in umpteen different directions at once. It could as readily style itself the arts and visual design arm of a company that has always made an effort to be seen as more than just the world's largest consumer of wool." The Telegraph (London) 01/27/01
  • DOME DISPERSAL: Major art from London's failed Millennium Dome is being dispersed. "Sadly, the story of how the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) dealt with art reflects the general ineptitude of its management. Although seven important sculptures were commissioned for the area between the Dome and the Thames, these were crassly displayed and a promised grant from the Henry Moore Foundation was needlessly lost." The Art Newspaper 01/26/01

Friday January 26

  • TOO FAMOUS FOR ITS OWN (AND OTHERS) GOOD: The "Mona Lisa" is being moved to a room of its own at the Louvre due to the mobs that crowd its current spot, which shows the painting in context among other works of the Italian High Renaissance. The Louvre has had to admit that there are limits to this approach and to place bullet-proof glass over the painting; and now it has ruefully accepted another failure that comes from celebrity, and it is removing the work to a raucous room of its own." The Independent (London) 1/26/01
  • MIES IN VOGUE: For the first time ever, the Whitney Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York are collaborating on complementary exhibitions examining the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. "Mies in Berlin" at MOMA will highlight his early career; "Mies in America" will tackle his last three decades in the U.S. "A show of this caliber is necessary now because of a heightened interest not only in Mies but also in modernism." New York Times 1/26/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • DOUBLE TROUBLE: London's Royal Academy is going to double in size, taking over an adjacent building. But a plan to move the Academy's students to new quarters is being panned by the students. Why do the artists like their present ramshackle digs, through which many famous artists have passed? “They boast the most perfect light in which to work." The Times (London) 01/26/01
  • BETTING ON REMBRANDT: In December a Rembrandt sold for a record $28 million. So will the prime Rembrandt portrait Steve Wynn is selling at Christie's bring that much? "The market may be disappointed. Christie's describes the painting as 'exquisite' and it certainly has an interesting history, which often affects value, having disappeared for 40 years until the early 1990s when it reappeared in a private collection. Yet some art world insiders argue that, unlike the December Rembrandt, this one will not soar in value." Forbes 01/25/01
  • FUNDING FEARS: One of Scotland’s premier arts awards ceremonies took place this week amid widespread fears that the government’s new arts funding scheme might curtail future grants to individual artists. "In recent years, because everything has become based on big hits, big bonanzas and the big image, it has got very worrying and you feel as if the [Scottish Arts Council] committees are withdrawing from artists." The Herald (Glasgow) 1/26/01
  • POLICE: LENNON HAD A "SICK MIND": In 1970 London police raided a gallery showing art by Beatle John Lennon, confiscating some of the work. Now internal police documents detailing reasons for the raid have been made public . "Many toilet walls depict works of similar merit. It is perhaps charitable to suggest that they are the work of a sick mind. The only danger to a successful prosecution, as I see it, is the argument that they are so pathetic as to be incapable of influencing anyone and therefore unable to deprave or corrupt any person. However I feel the great influence of John Lennon as a Beatle must be borne in mind." The Guardian (London) 01/26/01

Thursday January 25

  • ROYAL ACADEMY TO GROW: London's Royal Academy of Arts is to "double in size after agreeing to purchase the nearby Museum of Mankind, which it first tried to buy more than 100 years ago." BBC 01/25/01
  • POMPEII IN LONDON: An intact Roman mosaic built in the 2nd century AD has been unearthed in London. "This mosaic is comparable with those at Pompeii and, in Britain, with those in the Roman Palace at Fishbourne. The parallel with Pompeii continues in that, like that city hit by the eruption of Vesuvius, it was destroyed suddenly - in this case, by fire that collapsed the walls, bringing down shelves and cooking pots in the kitchen next door." London Evening Standard 01/25/01
  • BUT DON'T CALL HIM AN ARTIST... "Gary Greff is transforming his hometown of Regent North Dakota into the 'metal art capital of the world'. His vehicle for the journey is the inchoate 'Enchanted Highway': a series of four (out of a planned 10) colossal metal sculptures on the two-lane county road connecting Regent to the interstate 30 miles north. If you want to make Greff cringe, call him an artist. Though he receives grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the state arts council, Greff considers himself an entrepreneur." Salon 01/24/01
  • ART AND THE INTERNET: "Today, only 2% of international art sales, valued by the EC at $7 billion, are actually well known - and that's because those took place in public auctions. With the help of the Internet, that figure is sure to rise, since information can now circulate on a larger scale, allowing the value of art to be redefined and modernized." BusinessWeek 01/24/01

Wednesday January 24

CANADIAN COMPROMISE:  For years now, Canada's National Archives has begged and pleaded for a National Gallery displaying portraits of founding fathers and other national heroes. Also for years, Canadian politicians have agitated for a "Canada Gallery" to house historical documents and other artifacts. This week, a deal was struck to create a new nationalistic museum in Ottawa to serve both purposes. The site, ironically enough, will be the former American embassy. Ottawa Citizen 1/24/01

OH, HENRY!  The Henry Luce Foundation is donating $10 million to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum to "liberate" more than 5,000 artworks that would otherwise have been condemned to the warehouse. The museum closed last year for renovations to its home, the Old Patent Office building, and will reopen in 2004, utilizing the new "visible storage" display concept to exhibit the pieces the Luce grant will fund. Washington Post 1/24/01

PAHK THE CAH IN ALLSTON/BRIGHTON?  Harvard University is considering the building of a new museum of natural history on some of the hundred acres the school owns in the Allston/Brighton neighborhoods of Boston. The new museum, which would probably cost several hundred million dollars over five years, would draw on the collections of five existing Boston museums, and would prominently house the city's famed 4000-piece "Glass Flowers" collection. Boston Globe 1/24/01

E-ART CONSOLIDATION: As consolidation in the electronic art selling business continues, icollector and eBay form an alliance to sell art on the internet. "The deal comes as eBay revamps its high-end art site Great Collections, which is being transformed into a new art-and-antiques site, eBay Premier (" The Art Newspaper 01/24/01

SOON TO BE FREE? Talks continue between the British government and the country’s museum directors over plans to make admission to all the country’s museums free. "Sources say free admission at all national museums could soon be a reality." The Independent (London) 1/24/01

PORTRAIT OF THE COMMUTER AS AN ARTWORK:  Billboards have sprung up in Los Angeles declaring stretches of clogged freeways and cookie-cutter retail stores to be works of living art. The oversized labels are part of a promotional campaign by L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art. Desperate? Maybe. Lowbrow posing as highbrow? Perhaps. But people are talking about it. L.A. Weekly 1/24/01

RESTORING A MINOR POPE:  One of the side benefits of the economic boom of the last decade has been the newfound ability of cities to reinvest in their own beautification. Pittsburgh's Frick Park, long in disrepair, is undergoing a massive restoration, with particular attention being given to the unique neoclassic gates designed by the iconoclastic John Russell Pope. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1/24/01

Tuesday January 23

  • FREE FOR ALL: The British government is close to making a deal that will make all British museums free to visitors. London Evening Standard 01/23/01

    • NOT QUITE: Government spokesperson denies free museum plan. The Times (London) 01/23/01
    • PAY JUST A LITTLE? "The Treasury denied that it had made a deal, and the Department of Culture, which would subsidise the institutions, said a £1 entry fee would still be introduced in September. One of the government's long standing commitments has been to introduce free admission to museums and galleries for everyone." The Guardian (London) 01/23/01
  • THE POPULAR SMITHSONIAN: A record 3.1 million people visited the museums of the Smithsonian last year, a 9 percent increase over 1999, when 28.6 million people visited. The heavy traffic flow reflects a strong tourism economy, not to mention some popular Smithsonian exhibits, such as the Salvador Dali show at the Hirshhorn last spring and the Vikings display at the Museum of Natural History. Washington Post 01/23/01
  • ART CRISIS IN AUSTRALIA? Eighteen major Australian visual arts organizations met in Sydney for emergency talks on the state of the visual arts sector in Australia. "Cash-strapped state galleries are being forced to stage more 'blockbuster' exhibitions at the expense of Australian content and curatorial quality, while contemporary art spaces were also suffering as a result of static funding. Art colleges were closing courses or cancelling subjects because of funding cuts, which in turn affected the number of teaching jobs available for artists." The Age (Melbourne) 01/23/01
  • BUILDING CHARM: A new Renzo Piano building opens in Sydney. "Architecture is a whatever-it-takes profession. Few practitioners are guiltless in the blatant charm department. But Piano, for all his skill there, is hardly your standard developer's architect, being strongly ideas-driven, deeply committed to the integrity of the whole and notoriously particular about detail." Sydney Morning Herald 01/23/01

Monday January 22

  • PRESIDENT STEALS ART COLLECTION: The art collection (worth several million dollars) collected by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos and left at the presidential palace in Manila has gone missing after President Estrada was hounded out of the palace by crowds insisting he give way for a successor. The Times (London) 01/22/01
  • LEARNING FROM STAR BUILDINGS: Universities are commissioning big-name architects to design signature buildings for their campuses. But "although many of the new buildings have been acclaimed on aesthetic grounds, some educators question these latest signature buildings. The structures are expensive both to build and to maintain, and administrators are unprepared for the task of guiding, challenging, and controlling star architects." Chronicle of Higher Education 01/22/01
  • THE ARCHITECT WITHIN: Architect Daniel Libeskind's "early drawings are clues to his highly personal approach to architecture. Difficult to interpret at first, second and third attempts, they represent a search for that which ultimately cannot be spoken about, cannot be described. This is neither as odd nor as negative as it might sound; rather it relates to the prophetic strain of Jewish mysticism that informs Libeskind's work." The Guardian (London) 01/22/01
  • ART WINDFALL: The museums of France are about to get a trove of paintings given by a collector. "The Musée d'Orsay, the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence and other museums will share the 74 paintings, 27 graphic works, five sculptures and three artists' books executed at the end of the nineteenth century and in the twentieth century." The Art Newspaper 01/22/01
  • THE MEANING OF MODERN ART: "The idea of a discernible master-current in the art of the modern era is now much ridiculed in certain academic and museum circles, and the campaign to discredit it is one in which MOMA in this country and the new Tate Modern in Britain have taken the lead. And there are, to be sure, many reasons to reject the idea. It undoubtedly smacks of elitism, and certainly doesn’t conform to the strictures of political correctness. Aesthetic judgments about art are definitely not an equal-opportunity enterprise. And the very thought of a master-current inevitably suggests that many widely admired works of art would have to be considered—well, minor" New Criterion 01/01

Sunday January 21

  • LOUVRE EVACUATED: The Louvre Museum was evacuated Sunday after a bomb threat. "Some 3,000 to 4,000 visitors were forced to leave the famed art museum in central Paris following a suspicious telephone call at about 10:15 a.m." New Jersey Online (AP) 01/21/01
  • TO CATCH A THIEF: The Italian caribinieri has commissioned forgeries of 10 important works stolen from Italian churches, museums and private collections over the past three decades. They will be put on display in hopes that someone will recognize them and come forward with information on their whereabouts. The Independent (London) 01/21/01
  • CAUTIONARY FOR COLLECTORS: Gustav Rau, a 78-year-old German citizen, spent more than 40 years building his collection of almost 800 masterpieces, including paintings by Degas, Munch, Renoir and Fra Angelico, worth about £300 million. He set up three charitable foundations in Zurich and Berne, which were allowed to look after the paintings and organise occasional money-spinning exhibitions, the proceeds of which went to the developing world. But Rau decided three years ago to change charities, so the foundations sued to declare him incompetent. Not content with that, Dr Rau's former friends set about proving that the art collector had gone mad. The Telegraph (London) 01/21/01
  • A NEW FOREST OF TOWERS: In Chicago a new boom in modernist skyscraper office buildings. But it's modernism with a twist. Chicago Tribune 01/21/01
  • CLIP AND SAVE: Sotheby's argues in court that its proposal to pay $100 million of its $512 million settlement in its collusion case with coupons for further purchases will not shortchange customers. "Sotheby's argued that customers who sued the auction houses for overcharges from antitrust violations would benefit more from a settlement with coupons, which could have a higher aggregate value than an all-cash payment, than they would in a settlement without the coupons." New York Times 01/21/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • FRENCH AUCTION REFORM: France struggles to reinvent its auction laws in an attempt to revive the country's place in the international art sales world. The government proposes new laws governing auctions that should open up the business. Critics say the proposals don't go far enough. International Herald Tribune 01/21/01
  • GREEK ART RETURNED: "Nearly 300 ancient objects stolen from a Greek museum a decade ago have been returned to Greek officials, the FBI said. The objects, valued at more than $2 million, were stolen in April 1990 from the Archaeology Museum in Corinth, 50 miles southwest of Athens." 01/21/01
  • A NEW ZEITGEIST: Art buyers for the British government have traditionally bought classic art - Turners, Constables and the like - to decorate the offices of government ministries. But the Labour party has been directing the buying of contemporary art, including that by the controversial YBAs, and the Royal opposition is furious. The Independent (London) 01/21/01

Friday January 19

  • FORMER PRES GOES NON-PROFIT: The former Sotheby's president who resigned amidst collusion investigations of the company, has forfeited her stock options. "At the time she resigned, Ms. Brooks volunteered to give back all but a few of her options. The company then asked for the return of all the options as partial payment for damages stemming from her role in a price-fixing scheme that has cost the auction house tens of millions of dollars in fines and lawsuit settlements. It also ensures that she will not profit from any increase in Sotheby's stock." New York Times 01/19/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • WARTIME COMPENSATION: "A family that fled from Nazi Germany during the Second World War is to receive £125,000 in compensation from the Government because a painting they sold for food ended up in the Tate gallery." The Independent (London) 01/19/01
  • MUSEUM BAIL-OUT: A British government rescue of the beleaguered Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds "could end up costing the taxpayer £25 million. The museum, set up in 1996 to house 40,000 military artefacts, faced going into receivership two years ago after attracting less than half its target number of visitors." BBC 01/19/01
  • SCOTLAND LIKES ART: Scotland's National Galleries logged in a record one million visitors last year, 16 percent more than in 199 and 25 percent more than 1998. "2000 was a unique year for the Galleries - exactly 150 years after our foundation stone was laid in August, 1850. This fact definitely inspired us, and our enthusiasm must have been infectious." Glasgow Herald 01/19/01
  • DANGEROUS ROCKS: London's Museum of Natural History has plead guilty to putting radioactive rocks on display that were emitting radiation above permitted levels. London Evening Standard 01/18/01

Thursday January 18

  • NEW CALDER MUSEUM? The Philadelphia Museum of Art is about to announce it will build a new museum dedicated to sculptor Alezander Calder. The museum is also said to have picked a site and is close to selecting prizewinning Japanese architect Tadao Ando to design the building. Philadelphia Inquirer 01/18/01
  • LEAVING EUROPE BEHIND? A new tax on the sale of art in Europe has art dealers worried."If extra taxes make the trade in art more expensive in Europe, then that trade will leave. The business will migrate to the U.S., Switzerland, Japan and other countries exempt from the tax." Forbes 01/18/01
  • ART AND MOVIES: London's artists of the Damien Hirst/Tracey Emin genre are so famous at home that they compete with movie stars for space in the tabloid press. Now they'll be movie stars, as plans are revealed for a new film telling of their rise to prominence. The Scotsman 01/18/01
  • WE'RE AWARE WE'RE HERE: The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art has hired giant ad agency TWBA\Chiat\Day, the firm responsible for Absolut Vodka’s art-friendly ads, the Energizer Bunny, Apple’s “Think Different” campaign and “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” to create an "awareness campaign" for the museum. "Over the next month or so, and continuing through June, MOCA’s 2001 Brand Awareness Campaign will position 60 site-specific labels as billboards throughout the city. LA Weekly 01/18/01

Wednesday January 17

  • STOLEN ART INITIATIVE: American museums announced a plan to identify art that might may have been stolen by the Nazis in WWII. "Museums will be asked to disclose on the Internet the identity and chain of ownership of all works in their collections that changed hands during the Nazi years (1932-1945) and could have been in Europe during that period. This new agreement is the latest step in a worldwide effort to identify and recover art confiscated by the Nazis." Washington Post 01/17/01
  • THE CASE FOR NOT RETURNING THE ELGIN MARBLES: If art should be in the places where it can have the most impact and influence, isn't London the place? From Constable to Henry Moore and beyond, the sculptures from the Parthenon have had a major influence on British art. New Statesman 01/15/01
  • STONED AND DECEIVED: An investigation into the fiasco surrounding the British Museum’s use of the wrong kind of stone in its £100 million Great Court has found that the museum was indeed deceived by the masonry company that supplied the stone. However, the inquiry also determined that the museum should have acted more quickly to verify and then rectify the problem. The Times (London) 1/17/01
    • COURSE OF ACTION: Now that the report is out, what should be done next? "Camden councillors have been taking expert legal advice on what action they should take and one option being considered is that the museum should be prosecuted for breaching planning laws." London Evening Standard 01/17/01
  • THE POLITICS OF BIENNALE: For the first time Canada's representative at the Vennice Biennale will be from a gallery from Manitoba. But artists there are not rejoicing - the gallery has chosen artists from Alberta. And can it put together the money to make the biennale project work? The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/17/01

Tuesday January 16

  • SUPER MOVEMENT: " 'Superflat' is the best name for an art movement since - well, since Pop, from which it descends. Name-wise Superflat has it all over mid-1980s Neo-Geo, its most recent conceptual cousin. The name is market-savvy. It has retro-snap. It's wry. It takes the hoary critical arguments of the pre-Postminimal 1970s, which insisted on flatness as essential to the truth of painting, and gives them a shove: Oh, yeah? Superflat is more true. It's supertrue. And it's got something for everyone. Painting. Sculpture. Photography. Fashion. Porcelain sex dolls." Los Angeles Times 01/16/01
  • THE GOOG IN AUSTRIA: The Guggenheim has announced a new collaboration with Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, which builds on the New York museum’s already evolving partnership with the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The new three-way alliance will allow for shared exhibitions, co-curating, and shared resources. "You get much more marketing and picture power if you pool your resources." New York Times 1/16/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Monday January 15

  • TURBULENCE AHEAD: January is usually a quiet month in the art-sales world, when auction houses recover from the holiday boom, but not so this year when the turbulent events of last year show no sign of letting up. The price-fixing scandal is still being resolved, internet sales continue to perform poorly, and Sotheby’s has announced plans to layoff 8% of its international workforce over the next few months. "Only one thing is certain: 2001 will not be dull." The Telegraph (London) 1/15/01
  • FANS WILL BE FANS: It’s a well-known fact that groupies will spend top dollar for a memento of an idol’s greatness - think Madonna’s bustier, Michael Jordan’s jersey, etc. But now the trend has hit the contemporary-art world, with the first ever auction of "Britart memorabilia" being held in London this week. Nicholas Serota’s Tate Modern hard-hat, Michael Craig-Martin’s painting trays ("fresh from the studio") and Anthony Gormley’s overalls ("complete with ball-bearings in pockets") are all on the block." The Times (London) 1/15/01
  • INTERNET CZECH-UP: Following a government inquiry into the location and ownership of art and real estate since World War II, the Czech Cultural Ministry has launched a special Internet site ( to help locate art stolen by the Nazis. The committee was the first of its kind to be organized in a formerly communist country. Ha’aretz (Israel) 1/15/01
  • IDENTITY ISSUES: Given the fact that national identity trumps religious affiliation for many contemporary Jewish artists identifying themselves in today’s art world, a proposed Jewish Museum of Art in London raises interesting questions about the dedication of galleries and museums to select groups. "Why then should art by Jews be set apart? I do not know - but in my bones I feel that it should, at least until it is completely absorbed into the mainstream." London Evening Standard 1/15/01
  • A WELL-KEPT SECRET: With a $17 million building designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, and the distinction of being St. Louis’ first major new art institution since 1904, why does no one know about the newly built Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts? "In defying current museum trends to reach out to increasing numbers of visitors, the new foundation is harking back to the early part of the 20th century when wealthy private collectors created intimate, personal museums like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and the Barnes Foundation." New York Times 1/15/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • TAKEOVER DENIED: Reports that Glasgow's museums are to be nationalized were denied by the city and the Scottish executive. "According to reports in a Sunday newspaper, the executive was preparing to foot the £17m annual bill for Glasgow's civic arts collection, which is considered to be one of the finest in the world." Glasgow Herald 01/15/01

Sunday January 14

  • SHANGHAI SURPRISE: "The Shanghai Biennale 2000 - the third by the Shanghai Art Museum - leaves in its aftermath hope for a steady, if slow development of the city's art scene. By international standards, the Biennale was far from cutting-edge, but in a country where contemporary art continuously struggles against an indifferent public and a restrictive government, the exhibition was an important marker - the most open state organized art event since the 'China Avant-Garde' exhibitions in Beijing in 1989." International Herald Tribune 01/13/01
  • REASON TO COMPLAIN: Bilbao's ugly stains, Norman Foster's wobbly bridge; architects have recently been beaten up on for failures in their buildings. "When buildings leak or rust, it offers people who don't like contemporary architecture the same kind of weapon presented by the charges of plagiarism levelled at the Turner Prize short list last year. It's taken as positive proof that not only are contemporary architects incapable of designing buildings that are anything but a blot on the landscape, but they are conmen who can't even keep the rain out." The Observer (London) 01/14/01
  • THE NEW ARCHITECTURE: "Architects were villains in the 1980s: often they are heroes now. But it's not so much a style thing as the fact that architects are increasingly giving the public what it wants in another sense. It's to do with making nice places to hang out in. This is the age of the flâneur, that evocative and untranslatable French word roughly meaning someone who saunters about aimlessly but agreeably. Flâneurs need places to promenade. This is what architects like to provide. And, unusually, some of them have been given the money to do it." The Sunday Times (London) 01/14/01
  • THE FRENCH AUCTION THIRD WORLD: France's restrictive nationalistic hold on its art auction market cost it prominence internationally. "The price France paid was that the brightest of its citizens who dreamed of living in the world of art and auctions went over to the English auction houses. Ironically, their contribution was an important factor in the irresistible ascent of Sotheby's and Christie's." International Herald Tribune 01/13/01
  • GRAVES ON TARGET: "In the mid-1980s, after more than 20 years as an acclaimed architect, Michael Graves began designing household objects. In 1997, he was commissioned by the U.S. discount chain Target to create hundreds of products, this time aimed at the mass market. Sold through Target's more than 800 stores, these appliances and gadgets have brought Graves a greater level of fame among the public than perhaps any architect in history. Predictably, some of his peers play the girl's school headmaster and sneer, pronouncing him a prostitute. The more generous ones admit they are simply jealous of his success." The Globe & Mail 01/13/01
  • DECORATING BUILDINGS: In architecture "no aesthetic statement resonated more forcefully across the 20th century than Adolf Loos's declaration in 1908 that 'ornament is crime', echoed a few years later by Mies van der Rohe's 'less is more'." But now some small steps toward decoration? The Telegraph (London) 01/13/01

Friday January 12

  • HERMITAGE FIRE: New Year's Eve fireworks accidently hit scaffolding atop the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and started a fire. The scaffolding encased the Chariot of Glory on top of the Arch of the General Staff Building. "The wood and metal sheeting which enclosed it intensified the blaze inside, destroying most of the statue of Gloria, which stands on a chariot pulled by six horses." The Art Newspaper 01/12/01
  • ANCIENT RING: A mysterious ring of wood has emerged from under the sands on a beach in Norfolk in the UK. "The structure was discovered just 100 metres from the site where the famous Bronze Age monument known as Seahenge was uncovered more than two years ago." BBC 01/12/01
  • VATICAN ONLINE: The Vatican Library, founded in 1451 and the "world's oldest library," has only been accessible to church officials and scholars. But now the Vatican has made a deal with an internet company in California to sell "reproductions of manuscripts, coins, ancient maps, timepieces, scientific instruments, and art from its vast collection." Business 2.0 01/11/01

Thursday January 11

  • MOST CONTROVERSIAL: Since Brian Kennedy became director of the National Gallery of Australia in 1997, he has been a lightning rod of controversy. A "staff shake-up, resignations, criticism over the acquisition of a David Hockney painting for the equivalent of more than £2 million, allegations about the gallery's unhealthy air-conditioning system (subsequently unsupported) and cancellation of the controversial 'Sensation' show" have helped make him (and his museum) the most controversial arts organization in Australia. Irish Times 01/11/01
  • POST-POST-NEO-SOMETHING OR OTHER: How to sort out the neos from the posts and post-posts in the second half of the 20th Century? New York Observer 01/10/01

Wednesday January 10

  • FEWER PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY LOOKING: Enormous crowds at Tate Modern and the Royal Academy’s "Apocalypse" show have supposedly signaled a new level of public interest in art - but have they? London attendance records actually show numbers are down for many other solid, well-curated exhibits. "Could the over-promotion of selective versions of contemporary art be channelling the interest people have for it in ways from which it will never escape, and creating a new category of sold experience where only quality should count?" The Independent 1/09/01
  • REBUILDING BEIRUT: Now that Beirut is no longer a war zone, Lebanese officials and architects are considering how to best rebuild the 5,000-year-old city. "Should Beirut replace its old fabric with a new one? Should it conserve some old elements? And if so, which ones? Should rebuilding be true to the original, or would such "non-transformation" of buildings risk a transformation of social relationships?" Encompassing 19.4 million square feet of reclaimed land, it’s one of the largest urban development projects in history. Architecture Week 12/20/00

Tuesday January 9

  • RING AROUND THE BILBAO: Only three years after it opened, the Bilbao Guggenheim has discoloring brown stains on its shiny titanium exterior. Says architect Frank Gehry: "If they'd cleaned the building properly when construction was completed, the stains would not be there. It's normal: you finish a building and you clean it. But they didn't. It makes me angry because everyone points at the architect." The New York Times 01/09/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • ENDANGERED PAINTINGS: On the Caribbean island of St. Cristobal, limestone mining threatens thousands of ancient cave paintings left by the inhabitants who lived there when Christopher Columbus landed "Archaeologists believe the oldest drawings are up to 2,000 years old, but no one is certain because you would have to destroy them to carbon-date them. These caves have been compared to the pyramids of Egypt in terms of their importance to Caribbean native culture.” MSNBC (AP) 01/08/01
  • ROUGH TIME ONLINE: All in all, it's been a tough year for online sales of art. Sites have folded, and others are barely hanging on, pressured to turn profits. " While those observers who are skeptical of the Internet's potential as a marketplace for high-end art note the financial instability of the past year, optimists point to an increasing number of new collectors who have emerged online." ArtNews 01/01
  • BARBARIANS INSIDE THE GATE: London's Royal Academy annually hosts the Summer Exhibition, the largest open contemporary art show in the world — where "entries are occasionally criticised as too traditionally good-looking." But this year pop artist Peter Blake is curating. "He has served notice that the painterly event will be pepped up by the inclusion of works from more controversial artists such as Tracey Emin, notorious for a stained bed, and Damien Hirst, who specialises in pickling animals." The Times (London) 01/09/01
  • LOOSE CHANGE: A Scottish museum attendant managed to smuggle 150 coins out of the museum, "including one worth £100,000, from Perth Museum and Art Gallery, where he had worked for two years. The thefts were discovered when management updated the catalogue of the coin collection." The Times (London) 01/09/01
  • OLYMPIC ART BUST: A number of artists who shipped their work to Sydney for showing during last summer's Olympic games have yet to get their work or money back, leading some to consider legal action. The Australian 01/09/01
  • CONFESSIONS OF AN OUTSIDER ARTIST: "It can take guts to identify yourself openly as an outsider, as for many in the art world such an admission is tantamount to a credibility cop-out. A degree of cynicism is perhaps understandable when cutting-edge art has 'colonised' outsider regions repeatedly during the past century. And it's not unheard of for ostensibly mainstream artists to claim outsider status, further blurring the distinction between 'outsider' and 'insider'." *spark-online 01/01
  • GOYA MOVIE: Director Milos Forman is going to make a movie of Goya's life. The story will "center on Goya's life as a painter, a political figure and a lover. But this is more than a bio picture. It's about a whole era, which includes the Spanish Inquisition." Variety 01/09/01

Monday January 8

  • MORE ARRESTS IN SWEDISH ART ROBBERY: Two more arrests have been made in the case of the stolen Rembrandt and Renoirs. One of the suspects is said to be a lawyer. "He and another lawyer detained earlier are suspected of acting as go-betweens with the thieves in their efforts to obtain a ransom for the pictures." BBC 01/08/01
  • WHERE'S EUROPE'S BEST ARCHITECTURE COMING FROM? "Switzerland has produced several of the world's most original and respected architects in recent years, including Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron (best known outside their homeland for Tate Modern and the exquisite Dominus Winery in California's Napa Valley) and Mario Botta, who was, for a brief while, an assistant of the great Swiss architect Le Corbusier." The Guardian (London) 01/08/01
  • PANDERING? "Art museums these days are pandering to the lowest common denominator, confusing popular junk with high art, and failing their mission to set standards and educate the public. Or they're throwing over outdated and elitist concepts about art, making it fun, bringing more people into museums, and teaching them to see beauty in everyday objects. Either the barbarians are at the gate, or they're already in, and, hey, they're not barbarians." USA Today 01/05/01
  • THE NEW MUSEUM: The Guggenheim's Thomas Krens on criticisms of the museum's Armani show: "We’ve expanded the concept of what a museum/gallery is. You have to be flexible today. I see a museum as a research and education institution, as well as a theme park - I say theme park not in a pejorative manner. People come here for a visceral experience. I’m involved with objects of material culture - that’s about everything. So then you choose a hierarchy. "We look at the high practitioners in the field of material culture, be it motorbikes, paintings or clothes. Clothes and motorbikes have not got a frame around them but they reflect the aspirations of culture in an age of globalisation." The Scotsman 01/08/01
  • THE ART OF SELLING ART: "Art galleries often appear to be nothing more than underutilized museums, but their real purpose is to sell art. Compared with other retailers, they are spectacularly bad at what they do. Most people don't go to galleries, and thanks to the snobbery and traditionalism of some dealers, artists cannot effectively connect with the vast American public and its equally vast purchasing power. Art galleries sell art in the way that fancy stores sell luxury goods: they use high prices to suggest scarcity, quality and prestige." New York Times 01/07/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • SFMOMA'S DIGITAL INITIATIVE: Digital art represents a challenge to museums used to caring for objects they can hold in their hands. "For museums, which are collections of objects, the intangibility of digits raises some interesting questions. How do you register a work when it has no physical presence? How do you preserve an online piece that the artist continues to update?" New York Times 01/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • THE BUTCHER, THE PAINTER? Bones believed to be those of the artist Giotto are dued to be buried this week. But some experts contend the bones don't belong to the artist. One writes to the archbishop of Florence: "I can assure you that those bones have nothing to do with Giotto. If you officiate, you may find yourself blessing the bones of some fat butcher." The Telegraph (London) 01/06/01

Sunday January 7

  • ART ROBBERY CAPTURE: A seventh suspect is captured in Swedish Rembrandt/Renoir theft. "The man was detained on Saturday night and is suspected of being an accessory to blackmail in a scheme to hold the three paintings for ransom." CNN 01/07/01
  • LONDON CALLING: Last year was an architectural feast in London, with an array of important new buildings opening. "This year will be even more packed with new buildings and projects. What has yet to be seen is whether they will match the architectural panache of what we have just seen, and indeed whether the hundreds of millions of pounds involved has been wisely spent." The Telegraph (London) 01/07/01
  • TAKING THE 17th: "The 17th century - either in the form of the high baroque, or the classicism of Carracci and Poussin - is not big box office. The 20th century was in love with the 15th, with Piero della Francesca and Giovanni Bellini. Michelangelo remains the biggest art star of all (except perhaps Van Gogh). The Italian 17th century, in popular appeal, comes nowhere. But this general indifference - delightful to the 17th-century fan - may be in the process of changing." The Telegraph (London) 01/07/01
  • CONCEPTUAL ARTIST: Architect Daniel Libeskind has a number of projects in the proposal or construction stages. "for Libeskind, the point of architecture is not how it looks, but how it feels. He always saw his drawings as a necessary preparation for building, rather than theoretical speculation. The fact that they are not immediately comprehensible as architecture is no drawback for him." The Observer (London) 01/07/01
  • MAGNIFICENT MISTAKES: Is Victorian architecture in again as some suggest? "Any attempt to render Victorian architecture trendy is, of course, doomed to failure. It is both too common and – even when we do absorb it properly – too confusing to most post-modern sensibility, which likes reference, but not too much." Guess not. The Independent 01/05/01
  • SIGN ME UP: Three years ago Mark Murchison worked loading docks in Queens. After he got laid off, he took classes in handling art. Now he's working as an art handler moving the Museum of Modern Art's collection. How much to art handlers earn? "Up to $65 an hour at places such as Sotheby's, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MOMA. "I had this blue-collar thing happening back then, and now I'm working at one of the beacons of the cultural world." New York Daily New 01/07/01

Friday January 5

  • HISTORY DOESN'T COME IN NEAT PACKAGES: In preparation for its major renovations, the Museum of Modern Art sought to retell the story of modern art. Now the last segment of that retelling opens: "Of the 11 segments that make up this final chapter of MOMA's retelling of the story of modern art, six are tedious, formally obvious, and didactic to the core. Here, the extraordinary is rendered ordinary, the resistant made palatable; the discordant passes unnoticed. Little vision for the future is evident; next to nothing is said about contemporary art; positions aren't taken; outlooks are narrow; risk is nonexistent." Village Voice 01/03/01
  • NAZI FEARS: A prominent Gustav Klimt painting has been pulled from a show at Canada's National Gallery because of concerns it might have been Nazi plunder. "The painting is owned by the Belvedere, a state museum in Vienna, and is part of a current show there called Klimt and Women. The museum decided to rescind its agreement to lend the work after a panel of Austrian art experts advised the government in November to return that and another Klimt to the original owner's heirs." Ottawa Citizen 01/05/01
  • FASHIONABLE ART: The Guggenheim's show on Armani fashion is indicative of a shift in perception of fashion as art. The show "is a perfect example of the blend of fashion, art, commerce and academic analysis that marks the current cultural scene. How we dress now is a subject that engages semioticians, social historians, political analysts and gender theorists - 'fashion civilians', in the words of Colette's biographer Judith Thurman - as well as superstar designers, magazine editors, high-spending celebrities, and chic purveyors and curators of front-line style." London Review of Books 01/14/01
  • SUSPECTS IN REMBRANDT THEFT Police have arrested four Swedish men in connection with the December 22 theft of a Rembrandt self-portrait and two Renoir paintings from Stockholm’s National Museum. The artwork, valued at $30 million, is still missing. The Times (London) 01/05/01
  • ASWAN DAM DESTROYING ANCIENT TEMPLES? The Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities says that "waterlogging" has severely damaged stone foundations of the Temple of Karnak, "which is a stone’s throw from the Nile. Dr Gaballa explained that after the Aswan dam was built (1960-70), the natural drainage of the Nile valley had been blocked and buildings on both banks of the river have been affected." An investigation, undertaken with the help of the UN, has begun. The Art Newspaper 01/05/01
  • THE COMIC EDGE: "While cartoonists hardly need the validation of The New York Times to tell them what they are doing is important, the recent mass media acceptance of graphic novels is undeniably important, for countless reasons. But why are comics receiving this attention now? Anyone involved in comics on any level knows that now is one of the worst times economically for the art form." *spark online 01/01
  • FIGHTING THE HACK TRACK: Some of the superstars of architecture - Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano - are currently designing projects in Chicago. But design in the city "has become a two-track building boom - on the one hand, high-quality non-commercial projects by the visiting superstars; on the other hand, low-quality commercial and residential buildings (Nordstrom, One Superior Place and the like) turned out by hacks." Chicago Tribune 01/05/01
  • ART FOR RENT: An Edinburgh gallery has begun letting its customers rent artworks. "People come in, pick a piece, go home and hang it on the wall and if they're fed up with it they bring it back and change it for another piece." BBC 01/05/01

Thursday January 4

  • ART DOTCOM FALLOUT: A year ago online art selling was seen as the future of art sales. But a number of the online sellers who crowded into cyberspace have failed at the task. Add Artnet to the list. Artnet was "the first website to offer blue-chip works of art for on-line sale. Now, less than two years later, the company is cutting costs and reducing staff. In other words, the company has given up trying to sell paintings on-line, choosing to concentrate on prints and photographs." The Art Newspaper 01/03/01
    • THE REAL DEAL(ER): Why won't the internet replace the need for art dealers? "Selling dodgy art is as old as the art business itself. Whether the fakes look as good as the real thing or are merely shoddy knockoffs is beside the point. The point is that buyers will need expert advice now more than ever to guide them through the hazards of the art market." Forbes 01/03/01
  • SPILLOVER POPULARITY? London's new museums have been such a hit with audiences that elsewhere in England museums with construction projects are busy revising upwards their attendance projections. The Guardian (London) 01/04/01
  • HISTORY THROUGH A LENS: In the 1870s photography replaced draftsmen and artists as primary recorders of history; as in a series of photographs taken of Rome at the time that showed what pieces of antiquity interested the Romans. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 01/04/01

Wednesday January 3

  • TIME TO TAKE A CHANCE? London has scored great successes with the buildings errected with National Lottery money. So isn't it time that some bolder chances were taken, some adventurous turns that might result in brilliance? The Times (London) 01/03/01
  • THE ART OF DIGITAL: There are those critics (and you know who you are) who believe there is no such thing as digital art. Why? "Digital media are not easily written about as art. It is another leap that has to be taken. Until digital works are seen in an art context they will not be assessed properly - that's the biggest challenge. And no one knows how [or why] digital technology is art."  Los Angeles Times, 01/03/2001
  • KLIMTS RETURNED: Eight paintings by Gustav Klimt that were stolen by the Nazis and later turned up in an Austrian gallery, have been returned to the family from whom they were stolen and are on display in Canada. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/03/01
  • MORE PRESSURE ON THE BARNES: The Barnes Collection, near Philadelphia, is in a bind. It's broke. And its residential neighbors have long been unhappy with the crowds the Barnes generates. Now some neighbors want the Barnes to build a multi-million-dollar road to the museum that would take visitor traffic off local streets. Philadelphia Inquirer 01/03/01

Tuesday January 2

  • ART RANSOM: Thieves who stole a Rembrandt and two Renoir paintings from Sweden's National Museum on December 22 are ransoming the paintings for "several million crowns'' "Police have received a letter with photographs of the three art works, which are valued at about $30 million." The Telegraph (London) 01/01/01
  • CYNICAL BLOCKBUSTERS: "The art exhibition has become one of our favourite treats. Orgies of hype and merchandising, blockbuster shows are the cultural equivalent of a royal wedding or the World Cup - spectacles that make us feel part of a community of chat, deciding that yes, we really do all feel that late Monet is as fascinating if not more so than the Monet of the 1870s. Last year hardly a week went by without the opening of some absolutely unmissable show, and this year the procession rolls on, genuflecting before one modern or ancient master after another." The Guardian (London) 01/01/01
  • SO WHAT CONSTITUTES ART? The Los Angeles County Museum's show on California has been faulted for emphasizing history and pop culture as much as art. "Museums, like other institutions, are trying to make things relevant. The show cuts a broad path through the cultural landscape, touching on everything from surfboards to WWII Japanese internment camps, as well as the varying manifestations of spirituality. "It's all been a part of the growing democratization of the arts. Today you can say a word like 'multicultural' and people recognize it; you don't have to explain it anymore." Christian Science Monitor 12/29/00
  • A LITTLE SHOW BIZ IN BROOKLYN: The Brooklyn Museum had a reputation for its rich collection and stodgy ways. Then three years ago Arnold Lehman arrived as director and brought some show business to the place (including last year's "Sensation" show). "Mr. Lehman makes no apologies for his populist approach, saying that if the choice arose, he would have no trouble favoring a broader audience over deeper scholarly research, while bearing in mind that the mission of the museum is always about art." New York Times 01/01/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • SHANGHAI CENSORSHIP: The Shanghai Biennale, with "67 artists from 15 countries, is China's bid to join the club of biannual art extravaganzas led by Venice and New York City." But the censors have made a mess of the program. CNN 01/01/01
  • STOLEN PICASSOS: Police recover a fifth stolen Picasso in Turkey. New Jersey Online (AP) 11/14/00