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VISUAL ARTS - April, 2001

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Monday April 30

PAINTING FOR NATIONAL PRIDE: The National Gallery of Australia has bought a Lucien Freud painting from the artist for $7.4 million. "The significance of Freud's gritty figure painting After Cezanne is being compared by some to the gallery's 1973 purchase of Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles." The Age (Melbourne) 04/30/01

  • PRIDE GOETH BEFORE A FREUD: Is the world indeed made up of museums that have a Lucien Freud and those which don't (and it matters that much)? Clearly the Aussies take their acquisition of a Freud as a matter of national pride. The Age (Melbourne) 04/30/01

RUSSIAN ART THEFT: "Relatively rare during Soviet times, thefts of art, manuscripts and antiquities now bedevil Russian authorities. They occur not only at museums, such as the theft last month of a $1 million painting from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, but also at churches, government buildings and private homes across the country. Organized criminal groups adept at extortion and prostitution have added art theft to their repertoire." Chicago Tribune 04/29/01

GOOG ONLINE: In an attempt to combine art and e-commerce, the Guggenheim is planning to open a Web site this fall that will offer a range of cultural content and services — some of it free — in a visually exciting environment that is said to go well beyond most conventional museum sites. The New York Times 04/30/01 (one-time registration required for access)

REBUILDING AFTER THE WAR: Beirut is being rebuilt at an astonishing pace - and by a single company. "The real fight, the real battle, is one of identity: the identity of modern Lebanon. All this has crystallized in the excavations of downtown Beirut because this is the first time after the war that the people were faced with their own history." Feed 04/28/01

NOT ENOUGH PRESERVATIVES: "Like everything in the real world, digital art decays. The cave-paintings at Lascaux have lasted some 16,000 years but today’s electronic media will be lucky to enjoy a 1,000th of that longevity. The shelf-life of magnetic tape is about 20 years; digital recording media such as floppy discs and CDs fare little better." Computerized art's got even bigger problems. The Scotsman 04/28/01

IN BENEFIT OF MUSEUMS: The widow of Henri Matisse's youngest son has left a will that "stipulates that a Fellowship in foreign affairs be set up at a European university in memory of her diplomat father, who was assassinated. A Chair in art history, in memory of Pierre Matisse is to be created at a US university, and the rest of the estate, barring a few personal bequests is to be used to benefit museums anywhere in the world." The Art Newspaper 04/28/01

Sunday April 29

ALL ABOUT THE MARKETING? Almost 5.5 million people jammed into the new Tate Modern in its first year of operation (busting the 2-2.5 million pre-opening projections). "Ironically, being such a success has brought Tate Modern problems. Queues 200 deep for food; lavatories stripped of paper; grubby marks on the chic white walls; people saying you can't move, you can't get in." Just why are people so keen to get inside? The Telegraph (UK) 04/29/01

TIME FOR A CHANGE? "The time is certainly right for one of contemporary art's lurches into fresh aesthetics: it's been a while. And something ultimately convincing about the new selection at the Saatchi Gallery persuades me that a proper force for change is at work here. Let's get in there and identify its breezes." Sunday Times (UK) 04/29/01

NO BARE BREASTED VIRGIN: LA artist Alma Lopez's "digital photo collage Our Lady, which depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe clad only in flowers and held aloft by a bare-breasted female angel" has aroused complaints. "Archbishop Michael Sheehan of New Mexico has accused the artist of portraying the religious icon as a 'tart' and insisted the work be pulled from Santa Fe's Museum of International Folk Art. Hundreds of Catholic protestors have mounted prayer vigils against the photo they view as a desecration." SFGate 04/27/01

CENSORSHIP? Curators of a show chronicling the "20-year record of the Gay Men's Health Crisis in educating people about AIDS and combating the epidemic" are claiming censorship because officials of the Museum of the City of New York wouldn't let them include some sexual images. New York Post 04/29/01

ADDING UP BILBAO'S GOOG EFFECT: Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum has transformed the city. The city's investment has been reouped already, and "the regeneration of Bilbao and its hinterland reads like a Who's Who of modern architecture. Sir Norman Foster has designed Bilbao's new metro. Cesar Pelli, who built New York's World Financial Centre, has been put in charge of a 35-storey office tower on the banks of the river Nervión. Santiago Calatrava, one of Spain's leading architects, designed Bilbao's new airport as well as a delicate footbridge that spans the Nervión." Financial Times 04/28/01

CHICAGO ART INSTITUTE ADDS ON: The Art Institute of Chicago is tearing down the ajacent ex-home of the Goodman Theatre to make room for a $200 million addition to the museum, designed by Renzo Piano. Chicago Sun-Times 04/29/01

DISCERNING PIGEONS: A Japanese professor of cognitive science "has managed to get pigeons to recognize whether a painting is a van Gogh or a Chagall — even if they had never seen it before. He trained three pigeons for a month by showing them on a computer screen eight masterpieces by van Gogh and Chagall. Pigeons were fed when they pecked at pictures by van Gogh. They received nothing when pecking at a Chagall." Discovery 04/29/01

Friday April 27

CASHING IN ON ART: "For years synonymous with showgirls, gambling, and glitz, Las Vegas is reinventing itself: High culture is the gambit this time, and, in true Vegas style, there's nothing small about these new ambitions. "If you look at the history of art in the Western world, where the support is you are going to find art being made, whether that support is coming from banks or businessmen. Now, we're finding casinos with the money, and they are investing in art and culture." Christian Science Monitor 04/27/01

ANOTHER DOTCOM CASUALTY: Last year, as everyone was getting into the dotcom business, the Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Museum announced a joint web project. So where is it? The project's been dissolved... The New York Times 04/27/01 (one-time registration required for access)

OUT IN PUBLIC AGAIN: A Monet haystack painting unseen in public since 1895 has resurfaced and is to be sold at auction in June. The Telegraph (UK) 04/27/01

SMITHSONIAN TURMOIL: Lawrence Small, a former investment banker who was president of Fannie Mae, is only the second non-scientist to lead the Smithsonian in more than 150 years. But his leadership so far has riled almost everyone. "In the short 15 months since he assumed that office he has become what is surely the most reviled and detested administrator in the Institution's history." Washington Post 04/27/01

DR DEATH'S DISAPPEARING ACT: An exhibition of the paintings of euthanasiaist Dr. Jack Kevorkian has been canceled. The paintings were reported stolen earlier this week, but in fact had just been removed. The owner of the gallery where they were hund felt the show was too controversial. Hartford Courant 04/26/01

Thursday April 26

IS THE BUST A BUST? A marble bust on display at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art was suddenly and quietly removed a few weeks ago. Now some critics "want to know why, if the museum was so confident the bust was genuine, did it take the piece down so quickly and refuse to provide evidence to back up its claims?" 04/26/01

STEAMED BACON: Francis Bacon's estate has filed suit against the artist's former gallery, alleging "undue influence" and breach of duty in a claim which could be worth £100 million The estate claims Marlborough kept up to 70 percent of the revenue from sales it made. BBC 04/25/01

SUBLIME. INDEED. VERY SUBLIME: A few months ago, Robert Gober's drawing of a sink sold for $56,000. The sink itself sold for $830,000. "The sinks, without their metal plumbing, emphasize the plain forms that we come into contact with on a daily basis, but are largely unaware of. Gober's hand-made versions quickly put us in touch with the mundane, but somehow make us think of the sublime." 04/26/01

Wednesday April 25

NUDE CHRIST COVERED: Workers at a new terminal at New York's Kennedy Airport complained about a mural in the terminal that included a tiny naked Christ. So the artist has touched up the painting, covering the controversial anatomy. The New York Times (AP) 04/25/01 (one-time registration required)

HYPE OVER CRITICISM: How many Guggenheims are too many? Hard to say. Director Thomas Krens suggests there may one day as many Goog outposts as there are Starbuck's. The museum buildings themselves have become as big an attraction as the art inside. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 04/24/01

HOPING FOR A BLOCKBUSTER: The Art Gallery of Ontario is hoping that a new exhibition of pieces on loan from Russia's famed Hermitage museum will go a long way towards retiring its $6.24 million debt. But the gallery isn't simply hoping that the crowds will come - it is spending a bundle to make sure they do. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 04/25/01

A HIT WITH THE CROWDS: Though its former curator continues to criticize it, Australia's Museum of Contemporary Art had its most successful year last year, with a 74 percent increase in attendance. Sydney Morning Herald 04/25/01

3 = FUSCHIA: When Dan Robbins invented "paint-by-numbers" kits in the 1950s, he had no idea that his creation would become a cultural phenomenon, with everyone from young children to Hollywood celebrities getting sucked into the "make-your-own-Matisse" craze. The hobby fell out of fashion some time ago, but a new Smithsonian exhibition is evidence of a comeback. Chicago Tribune 04/25/01

ARE THOSE JELLY KRIMPETS? Anyone not native to Philadelphia is unlikely to see the allure of prepackaged, preservative-injected snack cakes being used as the subject of serious paintings. But to those who grew up with the endless varieties of Tastykake® available in the City of Brotherly Love, nothing could be more natural. Philadelphia Daily News 04/25/01

Tuesday April 24

FAKE STOLEN TURNERS: It looked like two Turners stolen from the Tate were finally about to be returned. But at the "drop" it was obvious the canvases were fakes. "They weren't just bad fakes, they were awful. It became clear the whole thing was just a scam by two chancers." The Guardian (UK) 04/23/01

THE BUSINESS OF MUSEUMS: "In recent years, California politicians have learned that providing the home folks with swimming pools and firetrucks would win them front-page publicity, which is why the state budget has been saturated with such items. But perhaps the most intriguing form of contemporary pork barrel spending is an explosion of state-financed museums commemorating one thing or another." Sacramento Bee 04/23/01

REMEMBER WHEN THIS WAS CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL? Even as schools across America continue to cut back on arts programs viewed as "frills," museums in the nation's capital are making a point of creating new ties with students, and strengthening existing programs. Washington Post 04/24/01

NUTTY GENIUS: Le Corbusier may have been a genius at architecture. But he was also completely nuts - indeed, it's amazing he ever managed to design anything, says a new book. London Evening Standard 04/22/01

HOMAGE OR OPPORTUNISM? The Metropolitan Museum of Art is featuring an exhibition of Jackie Kennedy's trinkets, gowns, and White House memorabilia in the name of celebrating the late First Lady's legacy. Even in death, Jackie O's appeal is undeniable, but is this really the kind of thing that musuems are supposed to be doing? New York Post 04/24/01

THE DOCTOR IS IN: Dr. Jack Kevorkian, incarcerated in a Michigan prison for helping multiple people to commit suicide, is not doing much to rehabilitate his image as "Dr. Death" with a new exhibition of six of his paintings at a Connecticuit museum. The works are horrifying, if cartoonish, glimpses into a world of terror, violence, and bloodlust, and even the museum's owner is taken aback by them. Hartford Courant 04/24/01

GLORIFYING BERLIN: Eduard Gärtner was one of the world's great urban landscape painters in an era before the world cared about urban landscapes. A massive new retrospective of his work, which fills a four-story gallery in Berlin, traces the rise of Germany's capital city in artistic and architectural terms. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 04/23/01

THAT WILD AND CRAZY ART... Steve Martin gets a show of his art collection in Las Vegas. What's it like? "The collection is uneven, as are most personal collections, so called to distinguish them from those formed with museum or other expertise. And it lacks focus, as many personal collections do. In fact, its scattershot quality might lead one to believe that Mr. Martin is very much an impulse buyer." The New York Times 04/24/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Monday April 23

AIN'T IT GRAND: Venice is planning a new bridge across the Grand Canal. "The design by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, combines an innovative shape with a span of 83 metres and a width of nine. It will be the only bridge in Venice to be illuminated at night." It should be completed by next year. The Art Newspaper 04/23/01

TV SHOW SETS UP ARTISTS/CRITICS: British TV show takes a decorator and gives him a four-week crash course in contemporary art, then passes him off to critics. They're fooled. The Observer (UK) 04/22/01

LOST TURNERS ARE STILL LOST: For seven years, the Tate Gallery has been hoping to recover the two Turners that were stolen while on loan in Germany. Then a call came, saying the thieves had been arrested and the paintings recovered, undamaged. One look at the recovered art work, however, was enough to convince experts that, whatever they were, Turner had not painted them. The Guardian (London) 04/23/01

CAN WE TALK? "In recent decades what one might have imagined as a conversation between those who look at a work of art and say, 'It's beautiful' or 'It's new,' and those who say, 'But what is beauty?' or 'But what is newness?', has become very different. Basically, there is no conversation. There is hardly even a debate. Instead there is a rancorous face-off. There are theorists on one side and appreciators on the other side, and when they look at one another all they see is cartoons." The New Republic 04/20/01

SHOULD COLLECTIONS BE OPEN? Few museums have more than a tiny fraction of their permanent collections on display at any one time. But some museums are trying to make more of their collections available. Some laud the new openness. Others think it a bad idea. "Big collections are treasures, but you have to put it in some context people can relate to. The public wants stories – they don't want row upon row of stuff." US News 04/30/01

LOSING THE INITIATIVE: Have other media surpassed traditional visual arts? Jean-Christophe Ammann, director of the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt thinks so: "The problem is that artists today react rather than act. With all the media available to them, they have somehow still failed to create valid and uniquely identifiable models." The Art Newspaper 04/20/01

Sunday April 22

NEW MUSEUM OF SPAM: Sited in a former K-Mart store in Austin, Minnesota, the 20,000sq ft museum will have a cinema telling the story of Spam and a cafe serving such delicacies as Spam fritters." The Telegraph (UK) 04/21/01

  • CELEBRATING THE TUBE STEAK: There are two kinds of American cities - those with a hot dog stand on every corner, and those without. Chicago is decidedly one of the "withs," and a local photographer has put together an exhibit memorializing thirty of the city's best. Chicago Sun-Times 04/22/01

MUSEUM DIRECTOR COMMITS SUICIDE: The director of museums in Merseyside, England, knighted by the Queen last year for his service, filled his pockets with sand and drowned himself. “He was desperately overworked. He was worried that he was not in control of everything that he should have been.” The Times (London) 04/21/01

CROSS-CULTURE SATURATION: The U.K. is about to be saturated with Japanese culture in a major way. A year's worth of exhibitions and festivals around the country will attempt to decipher the world's most enigmatic national combination of Eastern and Western traditions, and, in the process, win some new fans for Kabuki and Shinto. The Telegraph (London) 04/21/01

JUST TRY TO LOOK AWAY: Spencer Tunick is either an artistic visionary or a gimmicky phenomenon, depending on who you're asking. The photographer, who has gained notoriety in recent years for "performances" in which he snaps pictures of large numbers of naked models in public places, is bringing his act to Montreal, and the debate is on again over whether this is art. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 04/21/01

MUSIC IN THE BACKGROUND: A new installation art piece in Pittsburgh purports to use music as a context rather than a focus. The works on display look more like office furniture than the makings of a symphony, and the sounds produced by the dot-matrix printers, unmanned turntables, and other everyday objects, are music in the service of the visual message. Or is it the other way around? Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 04/22/01

Friday April 20

LOOTING WITH THE INTERNET: Archeological sites "across Florida have been looted over the years, but now some experts say the incidents may be on the rise, in part because of the Internet. Some Web sites offer detailed instructions where to find the artifacts and how to retrieve them." St. Petersburg Times 04/18/01

EXISTENTIAL ANGST: "Last year, for the first time ever, American museums attracted more than a billion visitors. As they have become more marketable properties, some museums have begun to behave in more commercial ways. And to the consternation of many old-school curators, it is a business strategy that seems to be working." The Economist 04/19/01

TOO MUCH AVANT, NOT ENOUGH GARDE: Most of the work by Russian avant-garde painter Lisitsky wound up in Europe and America. So the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg was delighted to get three Lisitskys for a current exhibit. Delighted, that is, until the experts started looking closely. Two of the three appear to be fakes. Moscow Times 04/19/01

PUBLIC ART AT A REMOVE: Twelve years ago a Bay Area artist erected "91 painted aluminum rods on a median strip in the middle of Contra Costa's largest city." The public art was panned, and the rods were removed for safety. But a California law prohibits removing public art without the consent of the artist, and the city, which wants to install a turning lane where the base of the rods sits, is negotiating with the artist. SFGate 04/18/01

THE NEXT BUILDING FAD? Architect Bill Price had an idea - transluscent concrete, and it may change the next new building you work in. "The need was that the translucent material be pourable - and that once solidified it support weight, absorb shock, insulate, and endure as well as or better than traditional concrete." Metropolis 04/01

Thursday April 19

RIGHTING ANOTHER WRONG: As the debate continues over whether museums have an obligation to "repatriate" works of pillaged, stolen, or smuggled art, another return is being made. Japan's Miho Museum (near Kyoto) will return to China a stolen Buddhist statue valued at $813,000. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 04/19/01

DEPARTMENT STORE ART (WITH A TWIST): For the month of May a London store will be "made over to deliver a Tokyo experience, from food to fashion, lift girls to a 24-hour convenience store. At the heart of the event is an art project, which brings together the work of some of the city’s leading contemporary artists in a show that explores the intriguing no-man’s-land between art and Mammon." The Times (UK) 04/19/01

TATE GETS A NEW LIBRARY: "A new library hosting thousands of letters, photographs and papers relating to British artists is to be built in the Tate Britain gallery. It will showcase previously unseen documents from leading artists of the past century." BBC 04/19/01

MEINE FREUD: Australia's National Gallery wants to acquire a Lucien Freud painting for $8 million. The museum has the Cezanne work on which the Freud is based. But is the painting only masking a host of problems with the management of the museum? Still, the painting is worth having, say some. Sydney Morning Herald 04/19/01

WELL WORTH THE WAIT: "It's taken 50 years. But after a handsome and intelligent $4 million renovation, the Baltimore Museum of Art's Cone Collection has emerged at last as a warmhearted treasure trove of modern art." Washington Post 04/19/01

RESTORE THIS: The 3rd-century wall in Rome that collapsed earlier this week was thought to have been restored last year. Turns out it had only been "cleared of weeds." CBC 04/18/01

SCOTTISH STRIKE: Scotland's national museums may be forced to close as attendants go on strike. The Times (UK) 04/19/01

THE HEADLESS PIPER: Are Scotland's castles haunted? Some "240 volunteers were sent into the cells of Edinburgh Castle — one time home of 17th century French prisoners of war — and cellars in the bowels of the medieval 'Old Town.' Nearly half the guinea pigs, drawn from visitors from across the globe, reported ghostly goings-on, although few were more hair-raising than a sudden drop in temperature, a few uncomfortable drafts or a feeling of being watched." Discovery 04/18/01

PARKIN' IT IN PITTSBURGH: "Too often, parking garages are a pox on the modern city -- self-centered, brutal intrusions that thumb their noses at neighborhood context and contribute nothing to the life of the street. They don't have to be necessary evils, as two recently completed projects on opposite sides of the Allegheny River demonstrate." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 04/19/01

Wednesday April 18

THE NEXT BIG THING? Some critics say there's no such thing as digital art. Some museums and curators say different. Now that digital has hit the Whitney and SFMOMA, can artworld credibility be far behind? 04/18/01

CONTEMPORARY ART AS VICTIM: TV commercials have found a new whipping boy: Beer, credit cards, and fast food are all taking shots at modern art, or modern artists. Why? Advertisers assume their audiences are people who "believe that art is pretty much one big scam put over on decent people by smirky East Coast cultural cadres." Slate 04/16/01

IF ONLY WE HAD A FREUD: Australia's National Portrait Gallery says the painting it is in most dire need of - something that will make its collection of 20th Century art - is a Lucien Freud. So it's trying to raise $8 million to buy one from the artist. "There's no doubt that Lucien Freud is one of the greatest 20th century figurative painters.'' The Age (Melbourne) 04/18/01

EBAY SHILL BIDDERS COP A PLEA: Two men who placed hundreds of bids on their own eBay offerings - including a fake Richard Diebenkorn painting - have pleaded guilty to fraud. They've agreed to compensate other bidders and to cooperate with federal prosecutors. A third man indicted in the scheme is still at large. CNET (AP) 04/17/01

LOVED AWAY FROM HOME: Last year the Smithsonian's American Art Museum closed for a four-year, $211 million renovation. The "often overlooked American Art Museum has been using its homelessness to take to the road with eight simultaneous traveling exhibitions featuring 514 of its most acclaimed works." And it's finding appreciation that it often hasn't enjoying back in Washington DC. The New York Times 04/18/01 (one-time registration required for access)

RETURN TO CHINA: A Japanese museum says "that one of its masterpieces, a rare Buddhist statue from China, is one that was stolen from Shandong Province, China, in 1994." It is returning the art to China. The New York Times 04/18/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Tuesday April 17

FALLING MUSEUM ATTENDANCE: A few weeks ago the British government released attendance figures for major national museums that showed business is booming. But when attendance for museums in general around the UK are measured, the numbers are down. In fact, the number of people visiting museums last year dropped about 7 percent - a "cause for concern." The Independent (London) 04/17/01

ALL PUBLICITY IS GOOD PUBLICITY: "Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan and other Roman Catholics on Monday urged the removal of a photo collage by Los Angeles artist Alma Lopez from Santa Fe's state-run Museum of International Folk Art, saying the work depicted the Virgin Mary as 'a tart.'" Los Angeles Times (first item) 04/17/01

THAT'S NOT MY MUMMY: A Persian mummy, discovered last October in Pakistan and thought to be 2,600 years old, has now been declared an elaborate and modern fake. The case has turned into a murder investigation. Time 04/16/01

ROMAN WALL FALL: A section of Rome's ancient city wall built in the 3rd century crumbled this week after heavy rains. BBC 04/16/01

PARTY ON DUDE: The Victoria & Albert Museum has been an underperformer in London's museum scene. Now a report charges that the V&A's security guards are routinely drunk and incompetent guarding artwork. "Security was so haphazard that at one private party visitors were seen sniffing cocaine off the base of Canova's sculpture The Three Graces, one of the most renowned in the museum and worth at least £10 million." Sunday Times (London) 04/15/01

Monday April 16

NY MUSEUM ATTENDANCE DROPS: The slowing US economy has hit New York museums. "At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there were 200,000 fewer visitors from November to February when compared with the same time a year earlier, an 11 percent attendance decline. Industry observers blame the economy, which has scared away penny-pinching tourists. Two years ago, museums were at full capacity even during off-peak months." New York Post 04/16/01

SMART TO STEAL ART: "Ever since puritanical Taleban rulers in Kabul began smashing ancient artefacts last month, smugglers and merchants have become the last line of defence against the extinction of a country's archeological legacy. Indeed, dealers are working overtime to make the most of Afghanistan's lost heritage, before the trail gets cold across the Khyber Pass." Toronto Star 04/16/01

MICHELANGELO'S ROME: An Italian art expert has reconstructed the Rome that Michelangelo knew, based on reading the artists notes and correspondence. “Michelangelo’s Rome has been altered radically since the Renaissance, but armed with contemporary records and maps Filippo Tuena has found doorways, chapels and tombs that have gone largely unnoticed in one of the most photographed square miles in the world." The Times (London) 04/15/01

ART WHOSE OWNERS YOU'VE HEARD OF: Celebrities selling off their art collections and getting good prices. "The numbers of actors who have great collections may not be enormous, but the number of actors and celebrities who can add glamour to mundane objects is considerable." The Telegraph (London) 04/16/01

TOWER OF POWER: In Romania, controversy mars the restoration of a prominent Brancusi sculture. New York Times 04/16/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Sunday April 15

ALL ABOUT THE CONTEXT: The British Museum's new show about Cleopatra and Antony promised to be a blockbuster. The art is spectacular. But "this is an oppressive and cynical exercise, an unholy alliance of marketing and scholarship. The degree to which this show makes a sow's ear out of one of history's finest silk purses is spectacular." The Guardian (London) 04/15/01

NEGOTIATING YOURSELF OUT OF A JOB: Declan McGonagle, the long-serving director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art has been at odds with the museum's board. Last fall he sued the board when they advertised his job. Now McGonagle has won a contract offer from the board, which he then turned down so he can discuss a separation agreement... Sunday Times 04/15/01

Friday April 13

AFTER THE BUST: In the 1980s rich Japanese investors bought up some of the world's highest profile art. But then the Japanese economy went bust. Now some of the treasures are coming back on the market. 04/12/01

HIP TODAY, GONE TOMORROW: It's difficult for galleries to keep up with their hipness quotient and still stay solvent. "These are difficult times for high-end galleries that not only want to make money (that seems to be the easier part, even in our days of downturn) but maintain some art-world street cred as well." MSNBC 04/12/01

TALIBAN, TAKE NOTE: Destruction of cultural property, acknowledged as a crime nearly half a century ago, has finally been sanctioned by an international tribunal. The International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia has found the Yugoslav air force guilty of the destruction of historic monuments for its bombing of Dubrovnik ten years ago. The Art Newspaper 04/13/01

SAVE THOSE OLD PAPER NEGATIVES: They aren't common in the US, but if you happen to find one in your attic (or someone else's), hang onto it. Paper negatives from the middle of the nineteenth century are highly-prized, and highly-priced. "Starting at $5,000, they can easily climb to $75,000 or above for especially early or rare examples." Forbes 04/11/01

Thursday April 12

O'KEEFFE CONTROVERSY: "A New Mexico man who once lived with noted western artist Georgia O'Keeffe has registered a copyright for 16 paintings once attributed to her. But there are significant questions about whether Jacobo Suazo or O'Keeffe actually painted the works." Washington Post (AP) 04/11/01

RIGHTING A MYSTERIOUS WRONG: "The National Gallery of Canada is about to return to China a stolen 1,300-year-old Buddhist limestone carving surreptitiously chiselled from the wall of a temple cave some time during the last century...The figure was vandalized from a full-bodied image of an arhat found in Kanjing Si Temple." Ottawa Citizen 04/12/01

ART AND THE UNHAPPY NEIGHBORS: New York's Metropolitan Museum is embarking on a 12-year $200 million renovation. Neighbors aren't pleased at the prospect of living with the construction. "And if their concerns run toward the mundane—they’re worried about noise, dust and the deleterious effects of an influx of construction workers (and their trucks) into the neighborhood—the Met’s executives have reason for concern. Their neighbors are angry, they are rich and they have lawyers." New York Observer 04/11/01

THE LOTTERY LOBBY: Are national lotteries the 21st-century’s answer to struggling arts sectors and the rampant export of cultural treasures? Pierre Rosenberg, who retires Thursday after seven years as director of the Louvre, has proposed creating a French lottery to help safeguard the country’s artistic heritage from being sold abroad. New York Times 4/12/01 (one-time registration required for access)

MARIA GAETANA MATISSE HAS DIED at age 58 in New York. Widow of Henri Matisse’s son Pierre, she was a longtime New York gallery owner and influential modern art patron. New Jersey Online (AP) 4/11/01

Wednesday April 11

DAMAGED LOANER: A Gainsborough painting on loan from the National Gallery of Scotland to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in the US was damaged while hanging in the Tennessee museum. The painting was on loan from Scotland's national collection in Edinburgh. The Guardian (London) 04/10/01

  • THE RENTALS: Scotland's National Gallery needs money. So "the colourful director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland, has rented out 50 of the country’s greatest masterpieces to America in a bid to fund a planned £26 million revamp of the Royal Scottish Academy. Works by Goya, El Greco, Gainsborough, Constable, Sir Henry Raeburn and Canaletto, have been sent to Memphis, Tennessee. Scotland on Sunday 04/08/01

HOME SWEET HOME: "If you want to understand an artist, first find out where he lived and worked, what he saw outside his studio window, and whom he might have met on his way to the pub. Only when you've located artists such as Hogarth, Sickert or Gilbert and George in Covent Garden, Camden Town, or the East End do you fully grasp what they are doing in their art." The Telegraph (London) 04/11/01

HE SAID/HE SAID: More stories about the squabbles among Australia's National Gallery leadership director Brian Kennedy and former curator John MacDonald. MacDonald's turn: "I am concerned that there's a perception that I am some sort of lazy or recalcitrant person when in fact I feel I was doing everything in my power. Things I did not do I avoided doing for what I thought were perfectly good and ethical reasons." Sydney Morning Herald 04/11/01

TOO MUCH ATTENTION: Is the Brooklyn Museum's Yo Mama photograph Catholic bashing? Not at all - it has more to do with a "form of zealous howling" going on in the media and elsewhere. Why is it so easy to get attention this way? American Prospect 04/23/01

£24,000 FOR BEAUTIFUL BLONDES: Britain's richest art prize goes this year to an artist who says he paints "beautiful blonde girls on park benches." Tim Stoner collects the £24,000 Beck's Futures Award. "His paintings depict a seemingly worryless world... a vision of consumerist paradise. But it doesn't take long before the dark undertones of his idealised world... become apparent". Guardian 04/11/01

BLIND ARTIST DOING WELL, THANK YOU: We have Beethoven to prove that a person can lose hearing and still compose music. But an artist who cannot see? "Lisa Fittipaldi is a rising star in the art world. Her work is sold through the biggest gallery in the United States and routinely fetches thousands of dollars. Many of those who buy her work are unaware that the artist has never seen it." The Telegraph (London) 04/11/01

TOO MUCH ATTENTION: Is the Brooklyn Museum's Yo Mama photograph Catholic bashing? Not at all - it has more to do with a "form of zealous howling" going on in the media and elsewhere. Why is it so easy to get attention this way? American Prospect 04/23/01

HIS ART, BUT NOT EXACTLY HIS IDEA: Glenn Brown's painting "The Loves of Shepherds 2000" was exhibited at the Tate as a candidate for the £21,000 Turner Prize. Then someone noticed it was an almost-identical copy of the cover art on a 1974 science fiction paperback. Now the paper-back cover artist is suing. The Tate, caught in the middle, explains that "Brown’s images were 'never direct replicas but have been cleverly manipulated', and that Brown merely appropriated ideas." London Times 04/10/01

SAARINEN'S TWA TERMINAL MAY COME DOWN: The TWA Flight Center at Kennedy Airport, an official New York City Landmark as well as an architectural milestone, may be demolished to make room for a new United Airlines Terminal. Beautiful it may be, says the Port Authority, but it's "totally undersized and not equipped to handle modern jets or customers". The Art Newspaper 04/11/01

Tuesday April 10

AFRICA DOCUMENTED: "Even among scholars, Africa often is dismissed as a continent lacking written records, one of the hallmarks of civilization." But a discovery of "3,000 manuscripts ranging from letters and fragments of works to complete books and covering a range of subjects that include theology, jurisprudence and history" is changing all that. Chicago Tribune 04/09/01

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: So the Mona Lisa now has a room of its own. What a good idea. It would be better if more paintings could get this kind of treatment. It's too difficult to see good art in a room crowded with other work... The Times (London) 04/10/01

AN OFFER THEY COULDN'T REFUSE: "Some of Canada's most successful artists...took advantage of a short-term program at the federal Art Bank to buy back their own works at bargain prices. A one-time, six-month, buy-back scheme ended March 31 this year and resulted so far in 36 artists issuing cheques totalling $225,000 to purchase works originally sold to the Art Bank." Ottawa Citizen 04/10/01

OUT OF JORDAN: "Hundreds of ancient archaeological sites in Jordan are being plundered by looters looking for treasures, which are then being smuggled out of the country and sold for huge profits in Western cities, including London." BBC 04/06/01

WHO COUNTS THESE THINGS? "North Carolina has at least 500 full-time potters, more per capita than any other state. For four days at the end of March, Charlotte was probably the ceramics capital of the world when it was host to several thousand potters, among them students and teachers from universities across the country, at the annual conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts." The New York Times 04/10/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Monday April 9

CHINESE CRACKDOWN? Avant garde artists in China, enjoying greater freedom in recent years, were attacked at the recent China National People's Conference. Cadres "condemned art in blistering terms as a 'social evil' on a par with the Falun Dafa cult, and urged that it be crushed in much the same way." The Art Newspaper 04/09/01

PONDERING VERMEER: Why are we so fascinated with the work of Vermeer? "You would think that veneration so exquisite, verging on the epicene, indicates an object of, well, recherché taste. But anyone with eyes can go goofy over this or that little patch of something in Vermeer." The New Yorker 04/09/01

WHAT STYLE IS THIS? Why do architects dislike talking about style? "While a writer or a painter can be applauded for stylistic ability, calling an architect a stylist is considered faint praise. And nothing enrages an architect as much as being categorized." Saturday Night 04/07/01

DIGGING DIGITAL: "Computer art promises the moon, and there is probably a segment of the public for whom that promise is more interesting than any work of art, computer-generated or otherwise, that they have ever seen." But what is it, exactly? The New Republic 04/09/01

  • DIGITAL CREDIBILITY: "Despite uncertainty surrounding what it means to own, exhibit, create, or simply view works, computer-aided art is gaining credibility from collectors and institutions, who are not only buying it but commissioning it too." ArtNews 04/01

THE COLLECTING GAME: No collectors' market for photography? Enter the concept of "vintage" print - prints made from a negative shortly after the image was created. Prices have zoomed. "For a market to thrive, purchasers have to feel that they are buying something special. Vintage prints are certainly rarer than more modern ones, but whether they are any better is open to question." The Telegraph (London) 04/09/01

SHIPWRECK ART HORDE: A discovery of a Chinese shipwreck from 1000 years ago is changing the story of Chinese art. 04/09/01

RUSSIAN CORPSES FOR ART? The Russian government is investigating whether some of the human bodies used by a doctor in Berlin for an art exhibit were Siberian prisoners. Moscow Times 04/09/01

  • Previously: DEADLY ART: In Germany an art exhibition of dead people preserved by plastination. "Plastination is a preservation process by which the body's water content is drained and replaced, first by super-chilled acetone, then by plastic. Over decades, von Hagens collected hundreds of corpses from voluntary donors, mostly from China, refining the plastination technique and honing his sculptural skills. The culmination of these scientific and artistic labors is Body Worlds, which has traveled to Vienna, Cologne, Basle, Tokyo and, now, Berlin." Feed 04/04/01

Sunday April 8

AUSSIE RIP-OFF? Architect Daniel Libeskind has accused the architect of the new National Museum of Australia in Canberra of copying his design for the Jewish museum in Berlin. "At first, I thought it was a joke. Not a proportion, not an angle of the Jewish museum has been changed." Canberra Times (Australia) 04/08/01

SAVE THAT ART: They can straighten the Tower of Pisa, save The Last Supper and bring color back to the Sistine Chapel. Are restorers the heroes of Italy's historic art? Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/07/01

ART OF AFRICA: African art has long fascinated Westerners. But how to display it, stripped of its context and intentions in a Western museum? Museums have a range of answers. Boston Globe 04/08/01

REMOVING OFFENSIVE MURALS: A British Columbia government report recommends removing murals depicting pioneer days from the walls of the provincial legislature. "Native leaders say the murals, which recreate scenes of white settlers and natives in British Columbia between 1795 and 1843, are historically inaccurate and offensive." Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/07/01

Friday April 6

OUT TO SILENCE THE CENSOR: Artists, academics, and free-speech advocates have banded together to publicly denounce New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s creation of a "decency commission" to evaluate all the art the city funds. "Giuliani has lost 20 of 21 First Amendment court cases during his two terms as mayor, and advocates said the mayor was pushing the envelope again. ‘He has the gall to start all over again,’ said artist Hans Haacke, ‘as if he had never been slapped down." ABC News 4/05/01

CHILLIN’ AT THE V&A: Facing increasing scrutiny from the UK culture secretary and hoping to "dispel its fusty maiden aunt image forever," the Victoria and Albert Museum gave the public its first glimpse of its plans for new £31m British Galleries, which are scheduled to open in November. "The most surprising change of all though will be a set of ‘chill-out’ rooms at the end of each block of galleries, where weary visitors can lounge ‘and let it all sink in.’" The Guardian (London) 4/06/01

GOT A GOYA? The director of Madrid’s Prado Museum has rejected claims raised by the museum’s top Goya expert that two of its famous paintings (both currently on loan to foreign exhibitions) are not the work of Spanish master Francisco de Goya. "Opinions to the contrary must come in scientific publications and a thoroughly worked catalogue." CNN 4/05/01

IT'S ALL IN HOW YOU LOOK AT IT: Think once you've seen a painting in a museum you've seen it? Maybe not. "Today, with modern-day museums' harsh, bright lights illuminating the works of artists, the colors and perspective are often lost, as well as the context of the time period in which the artists were working." Wired 04/06/01

A CENTURY AT THE CENTER: London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery celebrates its centenary this spring - a good time to reflect on the enormous role the gallery has played in promoting 20th-century British art. "It has the inestimable advantage of being daylit and is a favourite of artists who feel at home as if in some impossibly lovely studio." The Telegraph (London) 4/06/01

DEVOTED TO DIGITAL: When he steps down as Harvard’s president in June, Neil Rudenstine plans to devote his time to a project to create a mammoth digital collection of images of art, architecture, and design. "The aim was to create a kind of ‘public utility’ for art that would present high quality images, catalog them and link them to scholarly information." New York Times 4/05/01 (one-times registration required)

Thursday April 5

NO SALE: The Taliban say they will punish anyone trying to sell fragments of the destroyed Bamiyan Buddhas. "Taliban officials dismissed media reports that truckloads of rubble from the historic Bamiyan Buddhas were for sale in neighbouring Pakistan." CBC 04/04/01

VERMEER OR NOT VERMEER: Is there a new Vermeer or not? Hard to tell yet, but "why have the Vermeer people not learned the Rembrandt lesson? It is this simple: The lesson has never been taught. The Rembrandt Research Project has never come to terms in public with its original mistake." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 04/04/01

WELSH CENTRE GETS THE GO-AHEAD: After months of debate and delay, the Welsh Assembly has given its permission for construction to begin on a national arts centre in Cardiff Bay. The Wales Millenium Centre has an estimated price tag of £92 million. BBC 04/05/01

STERNER STUFF: Contemporary art is often not made of durable materials. So how to conserve? "The question is a hot one at museums around the country, as institutions ranging from Harvard University to the Whitney Museum of American Art to the Guggenheim grapple with the conservation of contemporary art." The New York Times 04/05/01 (one-times registration required)

CANADIAN FIREBRAND: Vancouver's Contemporary Art Gallery is getting a new leader, and if past performance is any indication, Christina Ritchie's reign will be anything but boring. "[W]hile Ritchie can come across as the very epitome of pre-Cambrian gruffness, she is also one of the Canadian art world's wittiest subversives, with a seductive voice that she uses to dish, always saying less than you long to know, but with a provocative lift of the eyebrow that keeps you waiting for more." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 04/05/01

MINIMALLY MOBY? "Critics have been, to say the least, divided about what happened to the art of Frank Stella. Right now, art is in a swing back to the minimalist objective art of the 1960s; artists are acclaimed for their starkness, and Stella's early work looks modern in a way that his later work does not." So why has he spent the last 15 years pondering Moby Dick? The Guardian (London) 04/05/01

VIRTUAL LANDSCAPES: "Yesterday representatives from [Mexico, the United States and Canada] launched an online art show called Panoramas: The North American Landscape in Art. This show doesn't really exist anywhere except in cyberspace. It brings together more than 300 works of landscape art from galleries in [the three countries]." CBC 04/04/01

MOVING MONA: The Louvre has moved the Mona Lisa to a room of its own. "The Mona Lisa is a pride and joy for us, but it's also a problem because the museum's 6 million visitors all want to see the painting." The hope is that the other paintings in the room Mona Lisa used to hang will now get some attention. Nando Times 04/04/01

DEADLY ART: In Germany an art exhibition of dead people preserved by plastination. "Plastination is a preservation process by which the body's water content is drained and replaced, first by super-chilled acetone, then by plastic. Over decades, von Hagens collected hundreds of corpses from voluntary donors, mostly from China, refining the plastination technique and honing his sculptural skills. The culmination of these scientific and artistic labors is Body Worlds, which has traveled to Vienna, Cologne, Basle, Tokyo and, now, Berlin." Feed 04/04/01

HOW TO DISPLAY A BLOCKHEAD: St. Paul, Minnesota will soon be covered with a veritable gaggle of Charlie Brown sculptures, the latest in the wave of copycat art-animal-parades. But what to do with all the little round-headed kids after the novelty wears off? A local columnist has a few suggestions, including a Brooklyn-style Chuck covered with elephant dung. St. Paul Pioneer Press 04/05/01

Wednesday April 4

GUGGENHEIM GOES SOUTH: "The Guggenheim Museum will erect arts facilities in four Brazilian cities, officials said Monday, bringing an end to heated competition for the first Latin American affiliate of the New York-based arts organization." Chicago Tribune 04/04/01

REINVENT, OR ELSE: Long criticized for its stuffy image and poor organization, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum has been officially put on notice. "Its new director has until October to convince the culture secretary that he has found a way of redefining the world's greatest and most disparate collection of decorative art so that visitors can make sense of it. Until then, the plan for a daring £80m spiral extension designed by architect Daniel Liebeskind - which has already missed out on lottery funds - should be put on hold." The Guardian (London) 4/03/01

STENCH OF DESPERATION: "The Academy of Art College has managed to insinuate itself into the consciousness of San Franciscans as a legitimate art school through advertising, prominent campuses, and a fleet of logoed, navy blue buses that endlessly plies the downtown area. But there's rot within... [and the] owners have assembled a family real estate empire by taking advantage of society's most desperate prey: those who dream of someday becoming artists." S.F. Weekly 04/04/01

THE POLITICS OF SAVING ART: The urge to conserve works art is powerful (witness worldwide outcries over the Taliban's destruction of art). But increasingly the question has to be asked: Conserve what? And for what? Conservation often has more to do with the present than the past. 04/04/01

THE IMAX EFFECT: Photographs seem to be getting larger and larger - witness recent exhibits by Andreas Gursky, Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans, and other contemporary photographers, in which prints measure in feet, not inches. "Although big photography isn't entirely new (Richard Avedon, who has been making outsize prints since 1962, first showed his life-size group portrait of the Chicago Seven in 1970), its ubiquity and prominence is. But when virtually everyone is striving for new levels of drop-dead monumentality, size loses its power to wow and becomes almost beside the point." Village Voice 4/10/01

SIGNS OF A SLUMP: New York’s annual Asia Week events - six Asian art auctions followed by two large Asian art fairs - are a good barometer of overall collector enthusiasm and willingness to spend. This year it seems the purse strings are gathered tight, perhaps in response to Wall Street’s recent slide. There are plenty of visitors and a lot of looking, but surprisingly little buying. Financial Review 4/03/01

CONVICTS’ CANVAS: A day after New York governor George Pataki ordered that violent criminals be banned from showing and selling their art at an annual state-sponsored inmates' art show, the work is up and creating quite a stir. Victims’ families are particularly outraged, since the convicts are entitled to keep 50% of the proceeds. Salon (AP) 4/03/01

ALWAYS AN ACTOR’S ACTOR: The contents of John Gielgud’s estate will be auctioned this week at Sotheby’s in London, followed by the sale of Ralph Richardson’s belongings on April 27. Proceeds from the two auctions will go mainly to charities for actors. New York Times 4/04/01 (one-time registration required)

"GARFIELD" THIS ISN'T: If you are already acquainted with Jimmy Corrigan (the smartest kid on earth, you know,) there is no need for you to click on this link. But if the graphic novels of Chris Ware are unfamiliar to you, read on to learn about the man who is simultaneously reinvigorating the world of alternative comics and taking the publishing world by storm. New York Times 04/04/01 (one-time registration required)

Tuesday April 3

MUSEUM ATTENDANCE SOARS: The British government releases attendance figures for museums. There was a "20 per cent increase in the number of visitors to the 17 national galleries and museums in England it is responsible for funding. The total number of visits rose from 23.7 million in 1999 to 28.4 million in 2000. But the Tate Modern accounted for 4 million of the extra 5 million visitors to the national collections last year." The Independent (London) 04/03/01

HOW TO COLLECT? Digital art seems to be gathering a critical mass with museums. "The commitment of these museums to new media has prompted debates on the issues of collecting and conserving digital media, even though there is currently little commercial support for the creation and production of net art. Without a real market for collecting on-line projects, some seminal works have changed hands for as little as $100 but also an indication of the economic uncertainty net artists face." The Art Newspaper 04/02/01

  • Previously: THE END OF DIGITAL ART? Digital art has hit the big time in terms of recognition now that major museums are showcasing it. But "just as was always a fatuous category, lumping together media, corporate services, and infrastructure companies into one 'industry,' digital art is a category of convenience that should be retired." Feed 03/27/01

YO MAMA'S NEXT OPPORTUNITY: Has the Mayor of New York - in a fit of religious indignation - managed to destroy the career of a young artist? Not likely. ArtNews 04/01

TALL TALES: London is about to get some seriously tall buildings, including Renzo Piano's 1000-foot-tall spire atop London Bridge Tower. But serious questions need to be asked. "Piano has designed more surpassingly beautiful buildings than any other living architect, but this design has yet to match the originality and sensitivity of his best work." The Times (London) 04/03/01

PROTECTING THE GIANT BUDDHA: Afghanistan's giant Buddhas may be destroyed, but China is taking steps to protect the world's biggest stone Buddha - 72 metres tall - located in Leshan, in Sichuan province. The restoration project will cost $30 million. BBC 04/03/01

NATIONAL CHARACTER: You can tell a lot about a country by its national museums. "New Zealand's public history is often characterised by a sense of unease, disapproval, and even guilt about our past." By contrast, Australia's new National Museum gives "a sense of respect for Australia's history, even its dark episodes, seeing it in a broader evolving context." New Zealand Herald 04/03/01

GOING FOR GREEK: It isn't just ancient Greek art that is prized by collectors these days. "Collectors are scrambling to get hold of paintings by 19th-century Greek artists, paying prices close to those commanded by European masters." MSNBC (Reuters) 04/02/01

Monday April 2

CONDONING LOOTING: "The world's leading cultural guardians have reversed a rigid 30-year-old policy. Unesco joined scholars and a handful of museum curators and cultural preservationists who are trying to take Afghan art threatened by vandalism and looting to safety beyond its borders." The New York Times 04/02/01 (one-time registration required for access)

ART LOOT AND DRUGS: Who's buying in Afghanistan's burgeoning trade in antiquities? "Most of the antiquities are nowadays bought with the proceeds of drug trafficking. Afghanistan provides up to 75% of the world’s heroin. Antiquities are a very useful way of laundering money, since the object is movable, retains its value and can easily be resold. Moreover the traffickers have international networks at their disposal to discreetly transport the antiquities anywhere in the world." The Art Newspaper 04/01/01

PRITZKER WINNERS: Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, who designed the new Tate Modern museum in London (last year's star architectural opening), have been chosen winners of this year's Pritzker, architecture's top honor. The New York Times 04/02/01 (one-time registration required for access)

HACKING DOWN HISTORY: Madrid's Prado Museum wants to expand. Last week "one of Madrid's few 17th-century edifices, the cloisters of the monastery of San Jeronimo el Real," which sit adjacent to the museum, was hacked to pieces to make way for the expansion. "The demolition raises serious questions about the Spanish government's ability and political will to protect historic monuments." The Guardian (London) 04/02/01

ENCOURAGING REGIONAL ART: British artists have a new prize, "the biggest visual art prize ever in Britain: £150,000. This prize, called Art to You, dwarfs the Turner, the Jerwood and the Hunting art prizes put together, but it is aimed specifically at regional galleries and museums." The Times (London) 04/02/01

THE DEFINITION OF GOOD: It isn't only architects who are responsible for a good building. It takes craftsmen who understand how to build. "The desire to build beautifully is unlikely to go away as long as there is someone around who appreciates taking a straight shaving off a plank, drawing a fine curve without faltering or laying a brick level in its mortar." The Guardian (London) 04/02/01

UNLIKELY COMMISSION: "Transforming London's South Bank Centre has proved to be the poisoned chalice of British architectural commissions. Despite its position on the great bend of the Thames, the centre has never really worked, largely because of its deeply flawed post-war planning and architecture. Turning it round has already flummoxed two of Britain's leading architectural practices." Can a small husband-and-wife team of architects succeed at the job? The Telegraph (London) 04/02/01

LAUGHING ONLINE: "Cartoonists who find it difficult to get picked up and distributed by a syndicate are going straight to the masses via the Web, where word of mouth can turn an unknown artist into a sensation in matter of days, if not hours." San Francisco Chronicle 04/02/01

Sunday April 1

SAVING THE BARNES? Pennsylania's Barnes Collection is in a tight spot. The small collection needs to raise about $50 million to keep going. But most of the proposals to save it would alter the collection's fundamental qualities. Should the museum be sacrificed to the tourists? Philadelphia Inquirer 04/01/01

TALL THREAT: "Conservation, particularly of historic buildings, was one of the great popular movements of the 20th century. Not a wave of ultra-tall buildings threatens to transform London as much as the whole-scale redevelopment of the Sixties and Seventies. If they are built, these towers, whose scale far exceeds anything so far built in the centre of London, will dominate the capital." The Telegraph (London) 03/31/01

HOW TO BE A CRITIC: Canada's Globe & Mail has a new art critic: "The critic, I think, has to give readers enough information that they can formulate some ideas of their own while they read. Also, they must be given a sense of what the work looks like. It's astonishing how often this gets left out of art reviews." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 03/31/01

GOOD GRIEF: Last summer St. Paul Minnesota lined its streets with fiberglass Snoopys decorated by artists. The city made money from them, so this summer it will put out Charlie Browns. "It's a continuation of our homage to Charles Schulz and what he created," says Mayor Norm Coleman. "It's a wonderful thing for the city." St. Paul Pioneer Press 04/01/01