last week's stories
newsletter sign up
VISUAL ARTS - February 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 February 28

  • CRACKING DOWN ON ILLEGAL ART IMPORTS: Until now, when the US Customs Office seized art it suspected was being illegally imported, it had to prove that the importer was not the real owner. Now, the US has collaborated with Italy to tighten import laws - from now on importers will have to prove they own the work, an important shift in the burden of proof. The New York Times 02/28/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • BINARY ART: San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art has opened "010101," an exhibit of virtual reality pieces, sculptures of robotic forms, and computer-animated video screen-based "paintings." But the museum insists that this is technology in the service of art, not the other way around. Wired 02/28/01
    • TECHNO-ART HAS A HISTORY: Although advances in computer power have expanded the range of palettes available to artists, technology-based art is nothing new. Futuristic exhibits were quite common even back in the 1950s. Wired 02/28/01
  • ARTIST AS FILM STAR: "No feature film about an artist is likely to tell us anything new about the artist. This is not to say that the genre is an unmitigated dud." And the new Jackson Pollock film is rich in possibility. "The annoying thing is that this may not be moonshine. Pollock is a great, writhing test case for a movie, because, for once, so many of the ripest and cheesiest conventions of the Hollywood bio-pic turn out, disconcertingly, to be matters of fact." The New Yorker 02/26/01
  • MORE BEANBAGS AND LAVA LAMPS WOULD HELP: New York's Museum of Modern Art has unveiled an exciting new exhibit of . . . office furniture. "Workspheres" purports to bring the future of personal work space to a cubicle-imprisoned public, but couldn't the designers have made the whole thing a little more, well, cosy? Newsday 02/28/01
  • A CURE FOR BLOCKBUSTERITIS: If museums get tangled up in themselves chasing the next blockbuster show, maybe a New World Order for museums is called for. Maybe something French perhaps? ArtsJournal 02/28/01

Tuesday February 27

  • TRAIN-STATION-AS-GALLERY: Some 14 percent of the artwork in the British national collection are not on display in the nation's museums or public buildings. Now a member of parliament proposes that the unseen artwork be brought out and displayed in train stations and airports. BBC 02/27/01
  • USING WHAT YOU'VE GOT: Pittsburgh's abandoned steel mills can be a desolate and depressing reminder of a bygone era of comfortable employment and worker prosperity. But now, Pittsburgh has carved out a new era of prosperity for itself, and is turning its attentions to considering whether its monuments to the steel age can be transformed into another piece of the city's artistic renaissance. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 02/27/01
  • NAZI-STOLEN ART IN AUSTRALIA: "The New South Wales Art Gallery, one of the first Australian institutions to review its collection, says nine of the gallery's 40,000 artworks could have been among the many paintings stolen by the Nazis." ABCNews Online 02/27/01
  • DUSTING OFF THE OLD V&A: London's beleaguered Victoria & Albert Museum, trying to shore up sagging attendance and public perceptions of incompetence, has hired a marketing company to work on the museum's image. A report earlier this month "attributed the museum's difficulties to poor marketing and an excessively highbrow image." The Guardian (London) 02/27/01

Monday February 26

  • PROVENANCE PROBLEMS: Art collections around the world have taken major strides in the last couple years to repatriate any artwork plundered by the Nazis. Now Australia is also taking a close look at its galleries’ holdings and has already found more than 100 major works with dubious gaps in their ownership. "It is unlikely that there is any major collection that has been active in acquiring in the last 50 years that doesn't have something that came from a [Nazi] source." Sydney Morning Herald 2/26/01
  • THE MUSEUM EVERYONE LOVES TO HATE: A National Audit Office report announced that London’s V&A Museum receives the lion’s share of government funding, although its attendance continues to dwindle. But has the media unfairly trumpeted the negative charges and overlooked the report’s more balanced claims? The Times (London) 2/26/01

Sunday February 25

  • SO, HOW'S THE ART? Lost in the media blitz over Rudy Giuliani's latest feud with the Brooklyn Museum of Art is the fact that there's actually a pretty good exhibition going on at BMA. "When the din dies down and the posturing is played out, what remains will be a stolid, serviceable exhibit that, without the jockeying of egos and the meddling of the media, would have remained on the periphery of public consciousness." Newsday 02/25/01
  • WHITNEY'S TRIPLE THOUGHT: The Whitney Museum's new visionary-for-hire, Rem Koolhaas, is revolutionizing the architecture of New York's museums, calling to mind an old catchphrase for historically informed art. "The triple thought is the realization that beauty is not some transcendant, eternal abstraction but something that arises from historical circumstances and that can enlarge the historical awareness of an audience." New York Times 02/25/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • MR. GEHRY GOES TO CLEVELAND: The city by the lake is not what you would call adventurous in its architectural preferences. Indeed, Cleveland's skyline, if you can call it that, consists of a few perfunctory towers and high-rises that seek more to divert the eye than focus it. So when a Frank Gehry-designed building begins to rise on a local university campus, it tends to attract attention. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 02/25/01
  • ART FROM THE LEFT BRAIN: Harvard physicist Eric Heller's new computerized art exhibit opened this week at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Compton Gallery. Heller is the latest in a growing line of scientists who are determined to bring the beauty of their microscopic and invisible worlds to the museum-going public. Boston Herald 02/25/01

Saturday Fenruary 24

  • WHAT WENT WRONG? The Italian avant-garde movement was dominant in the early part of the 20th Century. Furturism, a preamble of sorts to the later surrealist fad, was sweeping Europe, and Italy's artists were right in the middle of it all. But somehow, amid political chaos and extremist coopting of futurism's ideals, Italy got shoved to the curb. International Herald Tribune 02/24/01

Friday February 23

  • THE MOST EXPENSIVE MUSEUM IN LONDON: London's Victoria & Albert Museum "received more than £30 million worth of government funding last year, second only to the British Museum which was awarded £34.7 million." But attendance continued a slide, falling by 13 percent. "This represents a cost to the Government of nearly £24 for each visitor, the highest for any museum in London in the last seven years. It compares to £5.10 for each visitor to the National Portrait Gallery, £6.40 for the British Museum and £7.90 for the Tate Britain." The Independent (London) 02/22/01
    • MAYBE A REASON WHY? The National Audit Office (NAO), a government spending watchdog, said most people "have no idea" what is inside the Victoria & Albert Museum. "The museum, which once advertised itself as "an ace cafe with a museum attached", has responded by saying it can redeem itself." BBC 02/23/01
  • MUSEUM DIRECTOR HAULED BEFORE GOVERMENT COMMITTEE: The director of Australia's National Gallery has been hauled up before a government committee to answer charges by his former chief of Australian art that management of the museum is in disarray. The curator said Brian Kennedy's "management style had resulted in exhibition planning being in disarray. Art historians were bogged down in bureaucracy and morale among staff was abysmal." Sydney Morning Herald 02/23/01
  • RUDY'S MOTIVATION: So what's NY mayor Rudy Giuliani's motivation for attacking the Brooklyn Museum again? "If this isn't a media stunt for the exhibition, then it's a media stunt for Giuliani. What else can it be, when Rudy with a straight face says he is looking to pack his commission on decency with "decent people"? Does he mean that only religious leaders need apply? Or that he wants only people who think exactly like he does, who will vote the way he tells them?" New York Post 02/22/01
  • TOUGH TALK ON THE DOME: The man picked to rescue London's Millennium Dome is skeptical about its chances. Asked if the dome could ever be a viable attraction again, he said, "What do you mean again? It never was. It lost £131m as a trading entity in one year.... This place has been a victim of one dud financial estimate after another." The Guardian (London) 02/23/01
  • A GEORGE THAT COSTS MORE THAN A BUCK: For 33 years, the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington has been one of the best-known images at the Smithsonian Institution. But all that time it's been on loan, and now the owner wants to sell it. He's given the Smithsonian the first chance, but if they can't come up with $20 million, it will likely go elsewhere. Washington Post 02/22/01
  • MONUMENT UNDER GLASS: The 13th Century cloister of St. Michael's in the town of Hildesheim, about 19 miles south of Hannover, Germany was declared a World Monument by the UN. But the structure is falling down, being eaten away by the elements. The solution? Put the whole thing under glass. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02/23/01
  • ANCIENT MARINERS WERE BETTER THAN WE THOUGHT: Probing the Eastern Mediterranean for a lost Israeli submarine, an underwater search team discovered a 2300-year-old merchant vessel, 10,000 feet down and 300 miles from the nearest land. The discovery may revise theories of ancient navigation. "We’d always believed that ships hugged the coast and stayed in sight of the land. This is the nail in the coffin on that theory." MSNBC (AP) 02/22/01
  • BARBIE CAN HAVE A SEX LIFE. SORT OF: An artist in Utah has been using Barbie dolls "to critique the materialistic and gender-oppressive values he believes the doll embodies." Specifically, he takes pictures of the doll, sometimes in sexual positions. Toymaker Mattel wanted an injunction blocking his pictures, but a US Circuit Court of Appeals said he can continue, pending a fall trial. San Francisco Chronicle (AP) 02/22/01

Thursday February 22

  • MONUMENTAL DISINTEREST: Last December, the Korean government unveiled plans to build "The Ring of Seoul," a "200-meter-diameter ring structure made up of steel beams and glass panels. The Ring was to be erected next to the World Cup main stadium in Sangam-dong. More than half of the estimated budget was to come from the private sector. However, not a single corporation formally agreed with the foundation to provide funds." So the plans may be scrapped. Korea Herald 02/22/01
  • INCHING TO INFLUENCE: Why did New York mayor Rudy Giuliani attack the Brooklyn Museum last week? He had to know he couldn't win his argument, after losing last year in the courts over the BMA's "Sensation" show. "Giuliani may have lost his lawsuit over the 'Sensation' exhibition, but the museum lost the war, so to speak. Its authority, too—I mean as a serious art institution—has suffered irreparable damage, and its legal victory in the courts over the Last Supper photograph, if it should come to that, won’t do anything to save it. And this time around, it is doubtful that even Mayor Giuliani’s attack will do much for the museum’s box-office coffers." New York Observer 02/21/01
  • TEAMING UP: Two Connecticut musuems have joined forces to bring together a unique exhibit of American modernist art. That many of the paintings and sketches on display take Parisian life as their subject is a reflection of the global attitude towards American art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Still, Childe Hassam and Maurice Prendergast, the two artists on display, were integral in the process of gaining respect for serious American artists. Hartford Courant 02/22/01
  • STRUGGLING BLACK MUSEUMS: There are more black American museums now than a decade ago, but they're struggling. "Telling African-American history can often offend donors if they feel that the history isn't the truth or places a particular person or group of people in a bad light. If it is perceived that our museums are becoming corporately run, then the community can often respond negatively, and this shows in attendance figures. On the flip side, if a corporation sees that there is no community support, it may be reluctant to give." New York Times 02/22/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • A THANKLESS JOB: A last-minute appointee of President Clinton is poised to have a tremendous impact on the way Washington, D.C. looks, architecturally. Richard Friedman, the new chairman of the National Capital Planning Commission, will shape the look of any new monuments, have veto power over major buildings, and will probably find himself smack in the middle of the controversy surrounding the new World War II Memorial. Boston Globe 02/22/01
  • YOUTH MOVEMENT: The city of Pittsburgh, in an effort to continue the architectural and cultural renaissance that has swept over the city in the last decade, is staging a competition for young designers. The entrants will be asked to "come up with ideas for making eight historic public spaces in the city more attractive and more usable." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 02/22/01
  • A SIDE OF BACON: A large show of the work of Francis Bacon includes 900 items - including paintings, drawings and sketches. But there is some question whether Bacon made them all. "If a large number of the works are deemed to be doubtful, then the uncritical exhibition of this material will muddy our comprehension of Bacon's achievement. What is at stake is Bacon's artistic identity. For, until you first determine what is and what is not by an artist's own hand, you cannot say anything else meaningful about him." The Telegraph (London) 02/22/01

Wednesday February 21

  • NEW STORIES OF AUSTRALIA: After two decades in the planning, the new National Museum of Australia will soon open. It will be Australia's first "cultural history" museum and pledges to portray the stories of the Australian people. The Age (Melbourne) 02/21/01
    • A COMPLICATED JOB: The new National Museum of Australia is "a sort of satirical embodiment of Australia - a comfortable collection of the past, a cynical view of the present, and a closed view of the future - and maybe that's what museums should do." The Age (Melbourne) 02/21/01
  • BLOCKBUSTERITIS: Museums are more and more obsessed by the blockbuster show, the need to program "event" exhibitions designed to pull in the crowds to prove their success. It's long been debated whether such shows serve art. But do they even serve the institutions themselves? ArtsJournal 02/21/01
  • LIKING THE ODDS: A slug of National Lottery arts funding in the past five years has resulted in a wealth of projects in Scotland. "A total fund of just under £85 million has been spent on 83 building projects to March 2000," and the diversity and scope is remarkable. The Scotsman 02/21/01
  • THE PROPER CONTEXT: Should "indigenous art, once removed from the context of its making, should be assessed within the dominant Western canon of art history? While the sway between ethnographic and imperialist positions still exists, the primary emphasis in critical visual assessment now comfortably rests on surface quality." Sydney Morning Herald 02/21/01

Tuesday February 20

  • URBAN RENEWAL? One of Boston's most heavily-traversed bridges - the Longfellow, spanning the Charles River - has come in for some unsolicited visual upgrades recently. Specifically, someone is slowly covering it with multi-hued paint splotches. Vandalism? Maybe. "But let's imagine, for a minute, that it was meant as something bigger. A statement of rebellion. An artistic expression. Imagine that these splotches, love or hate them, have some meaning." Boston Globe 02/20/01
  • 200 OTHER PHOTOS: Giuliani’s latest run-in with the Brooklyn Museum of Art has drawn visitors and media attention to Renee Cox’s "Yo Mama’s Last Supper" - but what about the hundreds of other interesting photographs on display, and the lost significance of the fact that "it’s the first ever large-scale museum exhibition devoted solely to the work of African-American artists"? Newsweek 2/17/01
  • THOROUGHLY MODERN MET: In the midst of all the controversy surrounding The Whitney's "American Century" exhibition, MOMA's reshuffling of it's collection, and the Guggenheiming of the world, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has quietly offered up an extensive, if somewhat conservative, collection of 20th Century art. Arranged chronologically and presented as being basically no different from art of any other era, the Met's "Development of Modern Art" exhibit is perhaps the most accessible collection currently on the scene. New York Press 02/20/01
  • SNICKERING FROM THE GRAVE: The French painter Balthus, who died Sunday - and spent a good portion of his career defending his own work against charges of pornography - would likely have relished the recent dust-up between Giuliani and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. "Balthus's American legacy is one illustration of how our puritanism and hypocrisy get us into cultural binds. Like many Europeans, Balthus found ridiculous the American assumption that art is a moral occupation." New York Times 2/20/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • COULD BE FRAUD: Scotland Yard has begun a fraud inquiry into the British Museum’s purchase of the wrong, cheaper kind of limestone for its new #1.7 million South Portico in 1999. "The council could now order the portico to be pulled down and rebuilt using the right stone [or prosecute for a breach of planning laws." The Independent (London) 2/20/01
  • THE EROS PERIOD? Three hundred of Picasso’s most graphically erotic paintings, drawings, and engravings are going on display this week at the Picasso Museum in Paris. Many of them have been hidden in cellars and bank vaults and never before publicly exhibited. The show will travel to Montreal and Barcelona, but "the brothel scenes, rape and voyeurism are considered indecent in countries such as the United States, where there are no plans to stage the exhibition." The Times (London) 2/20/01

Monday February 19

  • MASSIVE ART SWINDLE: It's looking like Michel Cohen's multi-million-dollar swindle of Sotheby's and several of the world's top art dealers isn't $50 million as previously reported. "Now it looks like even that record figure will go higher considerably. One dealer in the know even pegs the figure at potentially double that amount." 02/19/01
  • THE USUAL SUSPECTS WEIGH IN: Vistors packed the opening of the Brooklyn Museum of Art's photography show attacked by New York mayor Rudy Giuliani last week. Reverend Al Sharpton defended the controversial photo attacked by the mayor: "This has nothing to do with Jesus. This has something to do with censorship." New York Post 02/18/01
    • THE NEW VICTIMS: New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's attack on Renée Cox's "Yo Mama's Last Supper," a 15-foot photograph patterned after Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper," in the new Brooklyn Museum photography show uses the language of victimhood. "It's become increasingly common for those who resent criticism of Christianity and the Catholic Church to play the victim, portraying themselves as targets of hate speech and even hate crimes." Salon 02/18/01
  • THE LANGUISHING FRENCH ART MARKET: France is one of the great storehouses of great art. Yet its sales of art at auction are small - about 13 percent of the world trade. "France is continuing to haemorrhage art to overseas salerooms, while its bureaucrats twiddle their thumbs over reforming its protectionist art market." The Telegraph (London) 02/19/01
  • TOO MUCH LOVE? It takes some kind of balls to bring the life of the genius behind that painting to the screen, and Ed Harris' directorial debut, 'Pollock,' is clearly a labor of love, tempered with a healthy amount of respect - perhaps too much. Yet there's so much measured delicacy to "Pollock" that it's almost the antithesis of who and what Pollock was." Salon 02/18/01
  • READING POMPEII: When Vesuvius erupted on Pompeii, it reduced libraries of documents into lumps of undeciperable charcoal. Now "American scientists have developed a technology for reading the carbonized papyri excavated in the 18th century from the magnificent seafront villa owned by Julius Caesar's father-in-law." It could be "the most significant rediscovery of classical literature since the Renaissance." Discover 02/18/01
  • WHAT IF IT WERE MINE? Artist Michael Landy's project in which he systematically destroys everything he owns has captivated British critics. "I began to imagine what would happen if this was everything I owned. Everything I had ever written. Every photo of a loved one. Every work of art on my walls." Sunday Times (London) 02/18/01
  • BALTHUS DEAD AT 92: French-born painter Balthus, considered one of the 20th century's finest realist painters, has died in his home at Rossiniere in Switzerland." The New York Times 02/19/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • SHOE-IN: Former Philipines first lady Imelda Marcos has opened a museum to showcase her shoe collection. She's gathered "220 of her finest sets of footwear to be resurrected and turned into a tourist attraction, prompting a remarkable change in Mrs Marcos' fortunes." The Independent (London) 02/18/01

Sunday February 18

  • MUTED OPENING: Plain old curiosity and not moral outrage appeared to have brought a stream of retirees, tourists and art enthusiasts to the Brooklyn Museum. No protesters screamed to be heard like the ones who lined up by the dozens two years ago, some to chastise the mayor's stand and others to protest the artwork itself." The New York Times 02/17/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • YO! FAME: Renée Cox, the 43-year-old artist who has drawn the mayor's ire, has been a minor artist. "She has courted attention before, and she knows a thing or two about the celebrity business, having been a fashion photographer." The New York Times 02/17/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • ART AS SHOW BIZ: "Artists agree that they are no longer content to be recognized only by their peers and a small circle of critics, curators, collectors and dealers; rather, they want to participate in a larger cultural arena. Looking at art is no longer a private elite event. It has a huge public audience. After all, the Phillips Collection is going to Las Vegas! The audience for modern art has multiplied, and people like spectacle. Art has become part of popular entertainment." The New York Times 02/18/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • LIFE LITE: Artist Michael Landy's art project destroying all of his possessions systematically has stirred up an enormous reaction in Britain. "When I told people about 'Break Down' some laughed and a few were angry. 'Anger? That's good.' There is no end product, for the artist or the art market. By February 24, Landy will have nothing left but his memories, and the ladder to the gantry which he bought himself for a little more than £400." The Guardian (London) 02/17/01
  • WHITNEY TO CLOSE OUTPOST? The Stamford branch of the Whitney Museum will likely shut its doors after 20 years on March 31. "The Stamford branch's fate has been in question since Champion International, which gave the Whitney a free lease in its building for 18 1/2 years and funded museum programs, was acquired by International Paper last summer." Stamford Advocate 02/16/01
  • BUILDING BUILDING BUILDING... The arts building boom isn't over in London, where the plans keep on coming - here's a list of another couple-hundred-million-pounds worth of projects this year. The Sunday Times (London) 02/18/01
  • MICHAEL GRAVES WINS GOLD MEDAL: Architect Michael Graves wins the coveted Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects. "Graves is a ranking member of an exclusive club of famous architects whose services are in constant demand. There is no definitive membership list, nor an established set of standards to get in. It takes a combination of talent, vision, ambition, discipline, savvy, a sense of timing, and sheer luck." Washington Post 02/17/01

Friday February 16

  • ANOTHER DECENCY DEBATE? New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has once again denounced an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art as "disgusting," "outrageous," and "anti-Catholic." Giuliani has declared that he would appoint a commission to set "decency standards" and keep such work out of museums that receive public money. "That sounds like Berlin in 1939." New York Times 2/16/01 (one-time registration required for access)
    • DRAWING FIRE: The Brooklyn Museum of Art was the site of last year’s "Sensation" show, which led the mayor to freeze the museum’s city subsidies, a decision which was later overruled in federal court. The current artist in the mayor’s sights is Renèe Cox, whose photo of a nude black woman as Christ at the Last Supper is part of the current exhibit of contemporary black photographers. Giuliani has threatened to take his complaint all the way to the Supreme Court this time. Cox says, "Get over it. I don’t produce work that necessarily looks good over somebody’s couch." Yahoo! News 2/15/01
    • COX RESPONDS: "There's nothing sexual about it. If we are all made in God's image, why can't a woman be Christ? We are the givers of life!" Salon 02/16/01
  • CANALETTO TO THE RESCUE: Climate-change specialists and preservationists hoping to save Venice from damaging floods and sinking are studying Canaletto’s 18th-century paintings for clues to what the city’s sustainable water levels should be. Canaletto painted his cityscapes using a camera obscura, and thus they are a remarkably accurate measure of optimal flood levels. BBC 2/15/01
  • WHEN IS BIG TOO BIG? Berlin’s colossal new Chancellery building, more than 1,000 feet long and the brainchild of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, raises questions about how the city should best rebuild and reinvent its civic identity. "With the reconstruction of a united Berlin now about half complete, the city is still enmeshed in debate over whether the capital should exercise dutiful restraint or is now free to give exuberant expression to German power, as this Chancellery might suggest." New York Times 2/16/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • GIANTS IN THE EARTH: Archaeologists have found extraordinary treasures, and perhaps a medical mystery, in the tombs of an extinct Peruvian culture. The Moche, who thrived between 100 and 800 AD, were artistic, scientific, and - some of them at least - uncommonly tall. National Geographic 03/01

Thursday February 15

  • EDIFACE COMPLEX: What do large buildings say about their owners? "Great buildings seem linked to the faltering fortunes of overweening egos. The pattern: Giant buildings go up, markets go down. The Singer (1908) and Metropolitan Life (1909) buildings marked the depression of 1907-1910. Three of Manhattan's greatest corporate landmarks – 40 Wall Street (1929), the Chrysler Building (1930) and the Empire State Building (1931) – coincided with the beginning of the Great Depression." The Standard 02/12/01
  • CALDER - HANGING AROUND: The family of sculptor Alexander Calder has chosen the late artist's birthplace, Philadelphia, as the site of a museum dedicated three generations of the Calder family of artists. "Although the three Calders will be represented, the new museum is expected to focus largely on the most important of the sculptors, Alexander "Sandy" Calder, inventor of the mobile." The $50 million project will be designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando and is scheduled to open in 2004. (Calder Foundation: Philadelphia Inquirer 2/15/01
  • BREAKDOWN PALACE: Artist Michael Landy’s "Break Down" show, in which he invites visitors to witness the "public destruction" of his life ("feeding his clothes, furniture, love letters, car, artwork, passport, etc, into an industrial granulator") "certainly engenders a good debate in the pub afterwards. One mover in the art world told me: ‘We've just seen the death of British art.’" The Guardian 2/15/01
  • A WALKING CONTRADICTION: Arthur Erickson has been hailed as a visionary, and derided as pompous and out-of-touch. He has lived high on the hog, and lost everything. He has built architectural wonders for use as low-income housing, and designed a grand concert hall widely considered to be the ugliest and most acoustically inferior in North America. In fact, it is the inconsistency of the man that makes him so interesting. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 02/15/01

Wednesday February 14

  • THE GREAT GRECO: Worldwide, which artist drew the biggest crowds last year? Cézanne? Van Gogh? Nope, it was El Greco. At the National Gallery in Athens, he drew 7000 people a day. The Met, Guggenheim, and Whitney drew the biggest US crowds; in the UK, it was the National Gallery. The Art Newspaper 02/14/01
  • DECONSTRUCTING MY LIFE: Artist Michael Landy is deconstructing his life. Literally. "First, he's made an inventory of the 7,006 things in his possession - everything from his car and fridge to his bed, CD player, art works, records, clothes, personal papers, toothpaste, soap . . . everything. Once listed (the mind-boggling inventory hangs on one wall of the store), each item is placed in a clear plastic bag, which is then numbered and put in a yellow tray. In due course, the tray is placed on a moving conveyor belt which snakes and loops around the department store like a miniature roller coaster. What with the blue uniforms and yellow trays, the whole scene really looks rather festive. But it's not. The ultimate destination of the conveyor belt is a machine that grinds anything put in it into fine powder." The Telegraph (London) 02/14/01
  • WHAT HAPPENS IF NOBODY WANTS THE JOB? Before London's Victoria & Albert Museum selected its new director last week, headhunters had offered the job to several international candidates, but had been turned down. "It is known they encouraged quite a number of people to apply from all over the world. It subtly undermines the candidature in the end." The Independent (London) 02/11/01
    • JONESING FOR THE V&A: Many believe that the Victoria & Albert Museum needs a charismatic figure to pull it out of a prolonged slump. But Mark Jones, named last week as new director, "is seen as a subtle networker, a scholarly figure, adept at behind-the-scenes politicking but unlikely to stamp his personality on the V&A in a radical shake-up. Yet that is exactly what some critics claim is needed to save the 149-year-old museum from dwindling attendances and a nightmarishly bureaucratic way of working." The Guardian (London) 02/13/01

Tuesday February 13

  • ONBOARD AUCTIONS: "Art auctions, once a rarity on the high seas, are finding a berth on most every cruise line these days. In an era of fare slashing, art sales have become an on-board profit center. On some ships, you can't walk down halls without tripping over easels of works for sale." USA Today 02/12/01
  • PAINTIN' PUTIN: Russian president Vladimire Putin has become an object of art. "It's a cult of personality. Indeed, the paintings are similar to the hagiographic works of socialist realism that proliferated in the Soviet era. Although Putin has publicly asked not to be immortalized in works of art, he has inevitably become the object of eulogistic pop culture since becoming president — and the forms have been as varied as a children's book, plaster busts and even a nature walk in the northwestern town of Izborsk that traces every step he made on his short visit there." Moscow Times 02/13/01
  • CASTING A BACKWARDS GLANCE: There was a time when plaster casts of art objects were a big thing. Artists learned from them, collectors prized them. Then they went out of fashion, as the art world prefered to collect only originals. Now "there is renewed interest in plaster cast collections. Their historical and aesthetic value have been rediscovered. Collections that were destroyed or heavily damaged during World War II are being restored and enlarged in Berlin and Munich." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02/13/01
  • IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: The debate over the worth, or lack thereof, of public art (murals, outdoor sculptures, etc.) is not easily resolved. Even in a city like Philadelphia, which is swimming in such art, there is little evidence either way on whether the culture boosting has any effect on the public. Nonetheless, the experimenting continues... Philadelphia Inquirer 02/13/01

Monday February 12

  • WHAT IF THEY GAVE AN AWARD AND NOBODY CAME? Canada's Millennium Prize for visual art offers a $50,000 award, and, hopefully, some attention for the artists who compete for it. But the exercise has received scant attention at home, even though the homegrown artists chosen for the shortlist have acheived more attention outside the country than in it. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/12/01
  • FINDING RELIGIOUS ART: A new cathedral in Los Angeles faces a problem - where to find artists who can make the religious images for the project. "These artists were not selected for their connection with the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, most of the nine commissioned to date say that although they consider themselves to be religious, or spiritual, they are not church-going." Los Angeles Times 02/11/01
  • MELBOURNE MUSEUM STAFF UPSET: Workers at the new Melbourne Art Museum are angry about news Legionella bacteria was found in the museum's air systems. The workers' union says the museum "had mishandled news of the discovery - the latest in what it said was a long line of problems involving working conditions." The Age (Melbourne) 02/12/01
  • A FAIR SETTLEMENT? Experts are endorsing the recent $512 million settlement in the Sotheby's/Christie's lawsuit. "The structure of the settlement, the experts concluded, would help to stave off the risks of insolvency for both companies, especially the publicly held Sotheby's, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange. They calculated the chance of a default by Sotheby's over the next five years at 9.16 percent, a probability that would more than double if the company's bonds, now rated at junk status, were downgraded further." The New York Times 02/12/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • AFGHANI ART DESTROYED? Afghanistan's National Museum lost much of its art during the country's civil war. But now reports say the ruling Taliban have destroyed more than a dozen ancient statues in the museum. "The Taleban minister of information and culture has denied the reports but has refused to allow journalists to enter the museum to check them. Reports started to circulate last week that the Taleban were destroyed non-Islamic artefacts in the museum, including statues of the Buddha dating back nearly 2,000 years." BBC 02/12/01
  • GREEK ARTIFACTS RETURNED: In 1990, 274 ancient Greek artifacts were stolen from the Corinth Archaeological Museum. They later found their way to the United States, where some of them were sold by Christie's auction house in 1997. That Christie's "failed to recognize immediately that the antiquities they were dealing with were stolen is surprising because the theft was widely publicized." Now the pieces have been recovered and returned to Greece. Archaeology 02/01

Sunday February 11

  • ART DAMAGED IN QUAKE: Some of India's monuments and historic sites have been damaged in last week's earthquake. Los Angeles Times 02/10/01
  • HOPE FOR THE V&A? London's Victoria and Albert Museum has been a mess for decades. Now "the reliably clumsy V&A trustees have finally announced the name of the new director. The result could be good news. It could be terrible news. Who knows? Mark Jones may not be an entirely unknown quantity - he has been running the National Museums of Scotland since 1992 - but he is untested at the highest level and was certainly the darkest of the three horses in the race." The Sunday Times (London) 02/11/01
  • THE NEW ATHENEUM: Hartford's Wadsworth Athenium Museum has chosen Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos of UN Studio, based in Amsterdam as architects for its ambitious new makeover. "Van Berkel, an architect with an eye for seamless, flowing lines and modernist geometric patterns, and Bos, an art historian and writer and the articulator of the firm's working philosophy, will design the plans for a new building and for the extensive renovations of the museum's five contiguous, historic buildings on its scenic but crowded downtown campus. Confusing internal geography has become a quirky trademark of the Hartford museum, America's oldest public art museum in continuous operation." Hartford Courant 02/11/01

Friday February 9

  • $50 MILLION SWINDLE: A New York dealer may have swindled Sotheby's and several of the art world's most savvy art dealers for as much as $50 million, which would be one of the greatest art swindles of all time. The auction house loaned Michel Cohen millions of dollars to buy blue chip art, but Cohen evidently got behind in the stock market and was unable to pay back the money. 02/08/01
  • SO MUCH FOR THE FREE MARKET: Until now, Austrian museums were taken care of by the state - "the state distributed budget money and each year collected the income earned by the museums, instead of leaving it to the institutions themselves for subsequent projects. Now it is the museums' turn to prove that they are successful, to overcome antiquated forms of organization, to show entrepreneurial imagination and successfully come to grips with the ever greater need for financing in the art world." And they don't appear to be succeeding at it. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02/08/01
  • AUCTIONEERS ALARM AUSTRALIAN DEALERS: Auction houses in Australia have moved into contemporary art sales in a big way. "The latest move by the two international salerooms to seize another slice of the Australian art market, however, has alarmed some dealers. With the auction rooms now acting increasingly as retailers of art, their impact on commercial dealers has in some cases been catastrophic." Sydney Morning Herald 02/08/01
  • WHITNEY BIENNIAL CHOOSES ORGANIZER: For the first time in its history the last Whitney Biennial chose a group of curators outside the museum to put together the show. For the next biennial, Larry Rinder, the Whitney's curator of contemporary art, has been appointed chief organizer for the next Biennial, set to open in March 2002. New York Times 2/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • STRUGGLING TOWARDS SOLVENCY: The Barnes Collection is one of those museums that seems destined to spend eternity fighting for its financial life. Based in a small suburb of Philadelphia, and displaying an extensive collection of American impressionist art, the Barnes has been near death recently. But a series of grants, all announced in the last four months, promises new life for the foundation. Philadelphia Inquirer 02/09/01
  • ART OR SCHADENFREUDE? fAMOUS is the title of a new exhibition in San Francisco that is made up entirely of defunct dot-coms. Screens show abandoned web sites, and sculptures represent the decline of the dot-com culture. There's a certain sick voyeurist feel to it all, but it's kind of fun, too. NPR's Morning Edition 02/08/01 (RealAudio file)
  • CH-CH-CH-CHIA! The hottest new thing in New York hotel architecture? Grass. Inside. Seriously. Not to mention bamboo, ficus, and ferns, all of them carefully planted and maintained not as decorative add-ons, but as an integral part of the building design. In a city with precious little greenery outside, an architect is leading the movement to bring nature into new construction. USA Today 02/09/01

Thursday February 8

  • "ROSEBUD IN WINTER"? Los Angeles' Latino Museum has restructured in an attempt to revive itself. "The financially strapped institution, which opened its doors in 1998, has not mounted an exhibition or presented other public programming since August, when claims surfaced indicating that the museum was out of money and owed nearly $500,000 to creditors and employees." Los Angeles Times 02/07/01
  • "UNRATIONALIZING" THE HOLOCAUST: Berlin's new Holocaust memorial will consist of 2700 gray stone pillars, scattered over a a four-and-a-half acre site. Architect Peter Eisenman says he wanted to do something "that was not either kitsch or nostalgia or representational. I hated Schindler's List.... I hated any of these things that attempt to sort of make a theme park out of the Holocaust." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 02/07/01
  • SANTA FE SHAMS: Georgia O’Keeffe’s reputation has waxed and waned for decades, yet last year’s discovery that 29 of her "Canyon Site" watercolors were actually fakes wrought greater havoc on her legacy than anything ever had. Herewith a detailed look into the mystery of the false attributions. The Telegraph (London) 2/08/01
  • THIRD AND RISING: In an effort to rival the major players in the highly competitive auction business, Phillips - the third-largest auction house - has bought a prized collection of 19th-century paintings and drawings that includes Cézannes and van Goghs. The seven works (including Cézanne’s signature "Montagne Ste.-Victoire") are expected to bring more than $80 million at auction this spring. New York Times 2/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • WHAT'S A MUSE WORTH? PICASSO'S DRAWS £3M: A 1942 Picasso portrait of Dora Maar sold at auction for more than £3 million, about £1 million more than had been expected. Maar, an established artist herself, was for nine years Picasso's lover and muse. The painting, called "Buste de Femme", was one of those about which the artist said, "I have no doubt that the war is in these paintings." BBC 02/07/01
  • BRITISH MUSEUM MIGHT CHARGE: The British Museum has warned the government it might start charging admission for the first time in its history if the museum doesn't get some help with a large VAT tax bill. London Evening Standard 02/08/01

Wednesday February 7

  • THE MODERN MUSEUM...ER, FUN HOUSE: Time was when art museums were temples of decorum, staid, stately and places in which to be contemplative. "But the “blockbuster” mentality that began developing in the 1960s helped to transform many art museums into all-purpose cultural emporia. Increasingly, success is measured by quantity, not quality, by the take at the box office rather than at the bar of aesthetic discrimination." New Criterion 02/01
  • THE TASK OF REINVENTION: Mark Jones, director of the National Museums of Scotland, was appointed Monday to head London’s Victoria & Albert - a museum with flagging admissions, a stalled £80 million redesign, and an obvious need for artistic leadership. "His next task is to polish this Victorian jewel and make it appeal to the modern eye. A museum cannot ossify and be left to decay. It has to reinvent itself." The Herald (Glasgow) 2/07/01
  • END OF THE BOOM? The Australian art market experienced an unprecedented boom in 1999, with paintings, prints, and drawings selling for more than $90 million. But as a slowdown is already being felt in the economy this year, perhaps the swell has passed? "The big question is what will happen to the Australian economy, and how the art market will stand up to a general downturn." The Age (Melbourne) 2/07/01
  • WHAT LIES BENEATH: A bomb in 1998 at a Sri Lankan Lankan temple called the Temple of the Tooth unexpectedly uncovered some priceless murals which scholars say change the understanding of Sri Lankan art. "The Temple of the Tooth is the final resting place of the Buddha's tooth, which was first brought to Ceylon in the fourth century AD." BBC 02/07/01
  • MORE THAN POSIES FOR THE PROM: The annual orchid festival starts Saturday at Kew Gardens in London, with very tight security. Some of the blooms are worth thousands; to some people, worth even more. An orchid hunter who had been kidnapped for nine months by South American guerrillas insists, "I thought we were going to die but it was worth it." National Post (Canada) 02/07/01

Tuesday February 6

  • INVITATION TO FRAUD: A series of 29 paintings attributed to Georgia O'Keeffe that were shown last year to be fake after being acquired by the Kemper Museum, have an odd and tangled history. Moreover, they reflect some of the inherent flaws in the art market where provenance is not always what it purports to be. The Kansas City Star puts together a 13-part investigation of the O'Keeffe fiasco and looks at larger artworld problems that allowed it to happen. Kansas City Star 02/04/01
  • UPPING THE ODDS OF SURVIVAL: Battered by the financial markets and dwindling online art sales, companies are banding together to stay afloat. Online fine-art retailer announced its merger with competitor Visualize, an online seller of limited edition art prints. The new company will be based in San Francisco. CNET 2/05/01
  • THE ARTIST AS ASPARAGUS: The French painter Edouard Manet was, at heart, a populist, using his talent to turn common aspects of life into profound allegories. The curator of a new Manet exhibit in Baltimore thinks that the work that best demonstrates this technique is "Bunch of Asparagus." NPR's Morning Edition 02/05/01 (RealAudio file)

Monday February 5

  • LOOTERS RUIN AFGHANI ART: International concern is growing for the safety of artwork in Afghanistan. "The frescoes behind the Great Buddha at Bamiyan are being hacked from the walls by locals living near the site. Although it is doubtful whether any reputable Western dealer would risk purchasing such well recorded frescoes, these unique paintings have been irretrievably damaged. They now risk disappearing forever into the hands of individuals who have few scruples about owning such artefacts." The Art Newspaper 02/02/01
  • BASQUE BOOST: The Bilbao Guggenheim has transformed Bilbao since it opened three years ago. The museum has had 3,625,000 visitors to the museum since October 1997, while 5,000 jobs were created and $600 million’s worth of economic activity was generated." The Art Newspaper 02/02/01
  • TO PAINT YOU IS TO LIKE YOU? Is it true that to paint a woman you have to like her? But "for millennia, men have grown used to working for other men for whom they have scant affection. Their behavior is governed by a common understanding that they have to get along for the purpose in hand. A man can paint another man in a state of emotional indifference. However, most male artists would find it difficult to paint women in this unmoved state." The Age (Melbourne) 02/05/01
  • ONLINE ART SALES: Cyber art sales in the UK seem to be going well, even as prominent online art sales ventures such as NY-based E-artgroup fold owing creditors money. "A new breed of cyberspace art dealers is fuelling a huge upturn in sales of contemporary work, slashing the cost of famous artists’ products and earning attention from millions of people who would never have ventured into a gallery. One gallery, Eyestorm, has sold almost its entire collection of 500 prints of Damien Hirst’s Valium at £1,700 a piece, little more than a month after they went on sale, while rival site took 100 orders for prints by his contemporary Gary Hume the first day they went on sale." The Scotsman 02/04/01
  • COLLUSION QUESTIONS: As lawsuits against auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's are settled and "lawyers begin winding down their work, questions remain, particularly in the criminal investigation, about the collusion between Sotheby's and its competitor, Christie's." The New York Times 02/05/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • CORCORAN EXPANSION: Two America Online execs give $30 million for the Corocoran Gallery's new Frank Gehry extension. The New York Times 02/05/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • SPENDING THAT MERGER MONEY: Two America Online executives have pledged $30 million to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., a record donation for the 132-year-old museum. The money virtually assures construction of the Corcoran's new Frank Gehry-designed addition, expected to cost $120 million. Washington Post 02/05/01
  • RESURRECTING A FORGOTTEN MUSEUM: Albert C. Barnes was the collector responsible for creating a gallery of impressionist art in suburban Philadelphia that has gained international fame. But Barnes was equally proud of his "second collection," an impressive accumulation of antique furnishings and artwork from all around rural Pennsylvania, housed in a long-forgotten farmhouse called Ker-Feal. Philadelphia Inquirer 02/02/01

Sunday February 4

  • VIVA KITSCH: "Today, many of those who label anything they don't like as kitsch don't understand what the term means, which leads to problems, especially since so much of the best art of our time takes kitsch or the products of popular culture as its starting point." San Francisco Chronicle 02/04/01
  • GOYA REGROUPED: Goya made close to 600 drawings. "This month, London's Hayward Gallery will exhibit nearly 120 of these drawings, more than one fifth of this large but little-known part of the artist's production. Astonishingly, this will be the first time that so many have been seen together since Goya's death in 1828." The Telegraph (London) 02/03/01
  • HATING THE TATE: "Oh dear. The first exhibition at Tate Modern is a disaster. But in keeping with the gallery's innovative display policies, it is, at least, a new kind of disaster, a progressive disaster." Sunday Times (London) 02/04/01

Friday February 2

  • WARNING SIGNS: "Art experts at auction powerhouse Christies failed to spot two warning signs that a 15th century painting might have been stolen from a famous Dutch art dealer by Nazi air minister Herman Goering, according to the Art Loss Register." Iwon Money (Reuters) 02/01/01
  • CRACKING DOWN ON SMUGGLING: The U.S. is the latest in a long line of countries to agree to restrictions on imports of certain Italian archeological artifacts. It seems that the U.S. has become the world's leading market for stolen Italian archeological material, which is often laundered first in Switzerland. U.S. Customs officials will be adopting tough new regulations for importers in an effort to stem the tide. The Art Newspaper 02/02/01
  • THE GREAT LABEL DEBATE: "Do you arrive at a ballet, ready to be lectured on the ideas behind the choreographer's working methods? With the exception of TS Eliot, has any poet ever published notes to accompany and explain their verses? So why do the visual arts so often insist on these Coles Notes to steer your path through their creations, indeed to explicate them at all? And does it matter if they do?" The Independent (London) 02/02/01
  • CREATING ART UNDER FIRE: Hot on the heels of two 1998 exhibitions that aimed to break down the cultural wall between China and the West comes a new exhibit that examines the progression of Chinese painting in the last century. The paintings on display, and the biographical sketches of their creators, offer a rare glimpse of the experiences of artists attempting to navigate an era of seemingly endless turmoil. New York Times 02/02/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • THE HOLY GRAIL OF HARPSICHORDS: In 1774, the Russian empress Catherine the Great commissioned a harpsichord from renowned British architect Robert Adam. The resulting instrument was a work of visual as well as musical art, like nothing designed before or since, but no one has seen it for over a century. The famous instrument has taken on mythical proportions over the years, and its legend has sparked considerable interest in other unusual harpsichords of the period, one of which goes on auction this week. New York Times 02/02/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • DON'T TRY THIS AT THE MET: Two Philadelphia curators have created an exhibit that they hope won't last long. "Steal This Art" asks the visitor to, well, do just that. Patrons who see a piece they'd like to own are permitted to make off with it (as covertly as possible), on condition that they later send a postcard "confession" to the gallery. Baltimore Sun (AP) 02/01/01

Thursday February 1

  • FAKIN' IT: A controversial new book charges that many of the most treasured items in the collections of the world's museums are forgeries. The author, an employee of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, claims that museums are co-conspirators in "the forgery culture," and are willing to allow fakes to hang on their walls in order to save themselves, and their rich benefactors, public humiliation. New York Post, 02/01/01
  • HOT FOR HAVANA: Americans flooded Cuba for the recent Havana Bienal. "There was the sense that the Bienal, which featured mostly installations by artists from more than 90 countries, wasn't what the Americans had come to see. They wanted Cuban art, which has been enjoying an international vogue lately. The real action was not in the exhibition spaces, but rather in the studios. American businessmen may fret about being excluded from the bandwagon, but art collectors have no such problem. In Havana, an American can pay for a $5,000 drawing with the wad of bills in his sock, roll it up, and carry it home. It's perfectly legal-art is exempt from the U.S. embargo." ArtNews 02/01
  • ON THE RISE: Photography may finally be getting the respect it deserves. After decades of playing second fiddle to the more "traditional" fine arts, photographers are commanding top dollar for their work, and collections of photo art are selling like hotcakes as the medium continues to evolve. Village Voice, 01/30/01
  • TELL US ABOUT OURSELVES: An Australian ad agency is launching a $1 million campaign to attract visitors to Sydney’s new National Museum of Australia, set to open in March. Television and print ads will "show Australians that they really don't know a lot about themselves." Sydney Morning Herald 02/01/01
  • TOP-TEN LIST: A look at 10 of the best paintings up for sale in next month’s London auctions. "It appears that last year's flight to quality - the trend where a few top paintings sell for record sums while many others fail to find a buyer at all - is set to continue." Forbes 01/31/01