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VISUAL ARTS - April 2002

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Tuesday April 30

BRITISH MUSEUM TO CUT 150: Because of budget problems, the British Museum is cutting 150 workers. " It is hoped that the job losses - 7% of the total staff - will come through voluntary redundancies and retirements, but the museum says some compulsory redundancies may be necessary. The London museum says it hopes its 'core values' of free access and maintaining collections will not be cut back in the run up to its 250th anniversary year in 2003." BBC 04/30/02

ANOTHER SOTHEBY'S SENTENCE: A week after ex-Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman was sentenced to jail and a $7 million fine, Diana Brooks, the auction house's ex-CEO was sentenced to "three years probation for her role in conducting a price-fixing scheme with the rival auction house Christie's. Mrs. Brooks, 51, was also ordered to serve six months of home detention, perform 1,000 hours of community service and pay a fine of $350,000." The New York Times 04/30/02

AN ODE TO...CONCRETE: Concrete is not the kind of material that inspires warm affection. But the nearly completed Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is made of concrete and already drawing admiring looks (well, maybe not from the builders - "every joint and corner is exposed. Mistakes can't be camouflaged; they remain for all to see. This has produced a run on Valium by the contractor and structural engineer.). Architect Tadao Ando "is the Leonardo of architectural concrete, investing it with an elegance and refinement that rivals only dream about." Dallas Morning News 04/30/02

THE ART OF POLITICS: The new Scottish Parliament building has seen its budget climb from £40 million to £295 million ("and which is confidently expected to break the £300 million mark by the close of business"), when it opens next year. "The trick now is to ensure its artistic content mirrors the national ideals expressed in the structure that has at last begun to punctuate the Edinburgh skyline." The Scotsman 04/30/02

Monday April 29

DEATH OF A GREAT COLLECTOR: Hans Heinrich von Thyssen-Bornemisza, one of the world's great art collectors, has died in Spain. He "ruled uncontested among the art collectors of the past century. A Swiss national of German-Hungarian descent, he resisted the pull of Modernism and recreated the whole universe of Western art in a collection that embraced everything from the Italians of the trecento. Yet people tended to look down on Thyssen as nothing more than a rich hedonist, a lady's man and a dandy. In the world of art, however, this head of a huge international conglomerate was a great pioneer." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 04/28/02

THE "MEANING" OF ART: "Most people engaged with visual art believe, like Mondrian, that it can produce experiences, even awakenings, that are real but not necessarily available to objectivity. Skeptics appear to believe that anything unavailable to objective study must be merely subjective, therefore only a step away from chicanery and private fantasy." An art critic and a physicist argue about the search for meaning. San Francisco Chronicle 04/28/02

BLEAK FUTURE FOR SOTHEBY'S: Despite last week's conviction of Sotheby's ex-chairman Alfred Taubman, "neither Sotheby's nor Christie's are out of the mire in which they landed themselves by fixing their commission charges in breach of anti-trust laws." Further legal action is coming, and as Taubman moves to sell his stake in the company, its financial condition looks suspect. The Telegraph (UK) 04/29/02

HOW DO YOU SELL DIGITAL ART? "As interest in online art has increased, artists have been stymied in their efforts to get paid for digital creations. Museums have commissioned and, in a few cases, acquired such virtual works. Mostly, though, online pieces have been a labor of love." Now one artist has sold shares in an online artwork that is the visual equivalent of the online chatroom. The New York Times 04/29/02

AN ITALIAN MOUNT RUSHMORE? The mayor of a Sicilian town wants to build an Italian version of South Dakota's Mount Rushmore, replacing US presidents with Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, and the recently beatified priest Padre Pio. "Unlike their American counterparts which are carved into a mountain in South Dakota, Mayor Cristaldi is proposing that the Sicilian effigies be made in resin and glued onto the side of a mountain near Segesta in Western Sicily." The Art Newspaper 04/26/02

Sunday April 28

SHORT TERM MEMORY: Los Angeles is a transitory place, a place fixed on the moment. "But even by the standards of a region notorious for its short-term memory, the recent spate of landmark demolitions is stunning. In the last year, half a dozen Modernist works have been destroyed or severely disfigured." Los Angeles Times 04/28/02

INTRIGUE IN VENICE: Confused about the political antics of this year's Venice Biennale (and who isn't)? Here's a good map of the political comings and goings of leadership at the top and who's winning and who's losing in the art world's biggest soap opera. The Art Newspaper 04/26/02

MILLENNIUM LANDMARK: Denver opens a new suspension bridge, and already critics are wondering if it might turn out to be the city's signature architectural piece. "The most eye-catching facet of the suspension bridge is a 200-foot-tall mast, which can be seen from almost any direction as one approaches the north side of downtown. It's painted white to set it off from everything around it." Denver Post 04/27/02

BUDDHA FIND: Where did the 400 Buddha statues, made 1500 years ago and found buried in a pit south of Beijing for 1000 years, come from? "The Qingzhou fragments may be the exhausted, stylistically obsolete statuary that the monastery wished to replace with new art but could not bear to destroy completely; or the pieces may have been buried for safe-keeping during one of China's periodic anti-buddhist purges; or they may even have been swept from sight in a fit of iconoclasm." The Guardian (UK) 04/27/02

Friday April 26

LONG-TERM HURT: Though attendance at New York museums has rebounded since September 11, long-distance tourists still haven't returned. "After enjoying roughly five million annual visitors apiece in recent years, the museums are now welcoming around one million fewer visitors. That decrease, of course, has a direct impact on admission receipts, as well as on income from sources like restaurant and gift shop sales." The New York Times 04/24/02

SORTING OUT SFMOMA: In the 90s the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art seemed to be a high flyer, opening a swank new building and collecting expensive works. But for the past few years the museum seems to have been drifting, and with the Dotcom crash and resignation of high profile director David Ross, the museum has been struggling. Now big things are expected of  new director Neal Benezra, late of the Chicago Art Institute. The New York Times 04/24/02

AUTO SHOW: Daimler Chrysler has built a car museum in Stuttgart, one that puts the car at the center rather than fancy architecture. "It was clear that the Mercedes-maker would spare no expense with the construction of this museum, and it came as no surprise that the future 'Mercedes Valhalla' would cost euro 60 million ($53 million), not including the museum extension. The already existing Mercedes-Benz Museum is one of the most successful in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, with annual attendance figures of almost half a million." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 04/24/02

BLOCKING CONSERVATION: A new Scottish report says that conserving some of that country's most endangered historic buildings is being blocked by property owners. "The Scottish Civic Trust (SCT) said people who wanted to restore historic buildings were being rebuffed by owners seeking unrealistically high prices. The trust’s Buildings at Risk bulletin lists some of the most endangered among 1,300 properties on file. Among them are castles and mansions, churches, cinemas, and hospital buildings." The Scotsman 04/26/02

Thursday April 25

A WORLD AWAY: Performance art of the 60s and 70s - "happenings" - seems so far away now. "What a world, it seems now – and what a world away, in its extremity, its sincerity, its optimism. These acts, sometimes wildly spontaneous, sometimes painfully methodical, generally involving nudity, sticky messes (paint or blood), embarrassing intimacy, actual suffering, degradation and violence, duration and endurance, often trying to pull the audience in and put them through it – they were staged as purgation rites, caustic, ecstatic, mind-blowing. (Some of them were funny, too.) They weren't shows to be spectated; they were experiences, and after one or two outings they weren't repeated or revived. Performance art wasn't meant to last." And yet, last week some of the most famous stunts were reprised. The Independent (UK) 04/24/02

STATE OF CONTEMPORARY ART? "For several decades, wealthy Missourians have been competing with one another to build collections and then arrange for them to be viewed publicly. If some people on the East and West coasts still think they have a greater intrinsic interest in vanguard art than their brethren in the Midwest, the flowering of these museums suggests they may be mistaken. Their collecting has spurred the growth of art schools and helped create a steadily expanding crop of museumgoers. This mini-boom may be turning Missouri into a destination for art lovers from around the Midwest. Museum administrators say they are seeing an increasing number of patrons from states nearby, some of which offer very little in the way of contemporary art." The New York Times 04/24/02

PRICE FIXING SCANDAL SNARES ANOTHER: "Sir Anthony Tennant, the chairman of the Royal Academy Trust, is to stand down after being implicated in the Sotheby's auction house price-fixing case... Sir Anthony, 71, who was chairman of Christie's auction house from 1993 to 1996, was named in court as the partner of Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman in a deal to fix the commission on art sales." BBC 04/25/02

PUTTING A NUMBER TO ART: There is nothing some artists hate more than being quantified. Art is art, say the high-minded, and statistical analysis simply doesn't apply. Don't tell that to David Galenson, who recently "came up with a notion about modern art, a notion born of the unlikely fusion of economic analysis and creative epiphany." Chicago Tribune 04/25/02

ARREST WARRANT FOR HUGHES: An arrest warrant has been issued in Australia for art critic Robert Hughes after he missed a court date to face charges of dangerous driving. "The charges stem from a crash in which Hughes, the art critic for Time magazine, was almost killed in May 1999 while in Australia filming a documentary for the BBC." BBC 04/24/02

Wednesday April 24

TOO BIG? "From Los Angeles' Getty to the Tate Modern in London, many of the prominent museums to open in the last four of five years are about as big, and as impersonal, as airports. Making slow progress through their hangarlike halls, you brace yourself for the news that the exhibit you came to see has been moved to far-off Terminal D or delayed by bad weather in Chicago." Where museums are concerned, bigger isn't always better. Slate 04/23/02

ARE GALLERIES THE NEW MUSEUMS? "There has always been a relationship, even interdependence, between the commercial world and the museum. If galleries test the water, museums are supposed to develop the context for works of art. But what has changed is that the commercial galleries in London are starting to resemble the museums." London Evening Standard 04/23/02

ACKNOWLEDGING THE NEW: For 'traditional' art museums, the notion of collecting and exhibiting the work of living artists has long been anathema. But as the 20th century fades into the past, museums nationwide have had to confront the reality that a continued snubbing of contemporary art would degrade their status as displayers of the world's great works. In Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts has made a decision to reverse the long-standing 'nothing new' policy, and other museums may follow. Boston Globe 04/24/02

TAKING DOWN THE deYOUNG: San Francisco may well be the most beautiful city, architecturally speaking, in America. So when a beloved structure has to be demolished, as is about to happen to the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park, damaged irreparably by a 1989 earthquake, it is something of a local tragedy. "The building was supported for the past decade by a truss of steel beams, a stopgap effort to prevent the structure from collapsing in another big tumbler. It will be replaced by a sleek $165 million building designed by the Swiss architectural team Herzog & de Meuron, expected to open in 2005." San Francisco Chronicle 04/24/02

TELLING THEIR SIDE: The 1915 slaughter of a million Armenians in Turkey has long been the Armenian equivalent to the Holocaust, and just as Jewish leaders are determined to keep alive the memory of those murdered by the Nazis, Armenian activists (who are more influential than you might think) have waged a non-stop war of words with the Turkish government, which continues to deny that a massacre of such magnitude took place. Most Americans are unaware of the conflict at even its most basic level, but a new Armenian Genocide Museum planned for Washington, D.C. may change that. The New York Times 04/24/02

RESTORING THE LONGEST MURAL: The longest mural in the world - Roots of Peace - which is 530 feet long and "covers one wall of a tunnel that passes under buildings of the Organization of American States" in Washington DC, is being restored. Changes in humidity, along with infrastructure repairs, passing mail carts and graffiti writers - have inflicted considerable damage over the years." Nando Times (AP) 04/23/02

Tuesday April 23

PAYBACK: Alfred Taubman, Sotheby's former chairman and principal owner has been sentenced to one year in prison and fined $7.5 million by a federal judge in New York. Taubman was convicted of colluding with Christie's former chairman Anthony Tennant to fix prices. "Prosecutors accused Mr. Taubman and Sir Anthony of running a price-fixing scheme for six years that violated federal antitrust law by eliminating competitive choice, which ultimately cost customers millions of dollars." The New York Times 04/23/02

  • NOW EUROPE TAKES ON AUCTION HOUSES: Having already been prosecuted for price fixing in the US, Sotheby's and Christie's are under threat by the European Commission. "Although the commission conceded that the cartel had now been dissolved, it said the case was so serious that it was launching a full investigation which could lead to either firm being fined tens of millions of pounds." The Guardian (UK) 04/21/02

A STEALING STRATEGY: Over the weekend, nine Expressionist works were stolen from a public gallery in Berlin. "The claim that some works of art are unsellable probably arises out of a bourgeois misconception about how well-educated the upper crust really is. We would like to suppose that every art theft is motivated by bonafide connoisseurship, even if it is only that of a super-rich but lonely madman, who retires every evening into the basement hideaway of his cliff-top villa to be alone with his fragile Cranach maiden. Most cases of art theft, however, are just crude blackmail." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 04/23/02

LOST TREASURE: "A five-year-old voluntary scheme to encourage thousands of amateur metal detector users to report all finds, has been a tremendous success." The program has uncovered "a treasury of objects lost, buried or hidden over 5,000 years of British history, along with thousands of sites previously unknown to archaeologists." But Portable Antiques, as it is known, might be discontinued without some government funding from the UK lottery. The Guardian (UK) 04/22/02

Monday April 22

CHINA'S GREATEST ART FIND? In northeast China, a trove of 400 Buddhist statues dating for the 5th and 6th centuries. "At the time these statues were made, it could hardly have been further from the hub of Empire. Yet there is nothing provincial about them, nothing clumsy or crude. For these are among the greatest sculptures ever discovered in China." The Observer (UK) 04/21/02

VAGUE TO GREATNESS: The Victoria & Albert Museum's new £150 million plan is vague as vague can be. "This must be one of the least masterful masterplans ever produced, in that it prescribes very little about what might go where. It's basically a map of the museum with areas coloured in to show where exhibits might go, but then again, if curators change their minds, might not." London Evening Standard 04/19/02

  • DAUNTING TASK: "The £150 million plan is more expensive than Tate Modern, until now the UK’s largest museum or gallery project and costing £134 million (although a further £32 was spent on the Centenary Development at Tate Britain)." The Art Newspaper 04/20/02

LOGISTICS OF MOVING A MUSEUM: When you're moving a museum, you don't just toss the art in the back of a truck and cart it across town. New York's Museum of Modern Art is moving to Queens while its Manhattan campus is being expanded. "Nearly 100,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints and other works of art eventually will make the trip to Queens. (The objects that don't make the return voyage to Manhattan in 2005 will remain there in storage.) And that's saying nothing of the museum's nearly 600 employees, most of whom will be swept up in the borough-hopping, too." Newsday 04/22/02

PAINTING OVER LEONARDO: A year ago the Uffizi found itself at the center of controversy when it wanted to perform a restoration on Leonardo's The Adoration of the Magi, a work many art historians considered to fragile to be worked on. Now one of the experts who consulted with the Uffizi say that "None of the paint we see on the Adoration today was put there by Leonardo. God knows who did, but it was not Leonardo.'' New York Times Magazine 04/21/02

SPIT CLEAN: So you're a museum and your valuable art collection needs a periodic cleaning. What do you use? A little spit. Spit cleaning is a common "conservation technique, used for centuries. "Scientific analysis supports the use of saliva as a good, safe way to remove certain kinds of grime, particularly on varnished surfaces. In essence, the proteins in saliva that break down food also break down dirt and grime." Minneapolis Star Tribune (Newhouse) 04/22/02

Sunday April 21

HOW ABOUT A HARLEY AD AT GUGGENHEIM VEGAS? As automakers seek to attract an upscale demographic to their more expensive models, advertisers have found a secret weapon to making the cars look even more impressive on TV: architecture. Prominent buildings around the country are popping up in adds for Porsche, Audi, and Infiniti, to the delight of those in charge of the buildings. Not only do the ads afford much-desired exposure, but there's a tidy profit margin for the use of the facilities as well. Chicago Tribune 04/21/02

WALKER EXPANSION DRAWS GOOD REVIEWS: The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis could have found a less controversial way to expand - it plans to demolish the historic Guthrie Theater to make way for a parking lot, for one thing. But the Walker, which is one of the nation's most celebrated modern art museums, is winning rave reviews for its $90 million expansion plans, which will include the replacement of a particularly ugly office building next door with "new galleries, a restaurant, a 350-seat theater, new-media sites, a special-event facility, a 'learning arcade' and a series of informal lounges intended to serve as a 'town square.'" Minneapolis Star Tribune 04/21/02

WILL THE SUN BE BIDDING? "Their affair scandalised Britain and Ireland. He was the Dubliner who was the most celebrated and highly paid portrait painter in Edwardian England, knighted for his work; she was his mistress, a willowy wealthy heiress to an American banking fortune married to an Anglo-Irish aristocrat. Now their love letters - many illustrated by intimate line drawings - are to be sold at Sotheby's auction of Irish art on May 16 and are expected to fetch in excess of £150,000." Ireland on Sunday 04/21/02

A LEGACY OF HIT-AND-MISS? Norman Foster is to Britain what Frank Lloyd Wright was to the U.S. - a beloved creator of buildings, an icon of architectural prowess. But time opens as many wounds as it heals, and success attracts critics like death attracts flies, the upshot being that as Foster approaches the last years of his career, his legacy is far from assured. The Guardian (UK) 04/20/02

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE: Many would argue that it doesn't matter, and they may be right, but new evidence suggesting William Shakespeare may have been gay has been turned up in the form of a portrait of the third Earl of Southampton, "Shakespeare's patron, the 'fair youth' addressed in his sonnets," and very likely his lover. The discovery is unlikely to sit well with vehement defenders of Shakespeare's legacy. The Observer (UK) 04/21/02

Friday April 19

SOTHEBY'S, CHRISTIE'S FACE ANTITRUST ACTION: The European Commission is charging the world's two largest art auction houses with collusion and anticompetitive practices. Sotheby's and Christie's are said to have formed a 'cartel' nearly a decade ago. The charges come on the heels of former Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman's conviction on price-fixing charges in the U.S. BBC 04/19/01

  • TAUBMAN MIGHT GET AWAY WITH IT? Former Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman could face a "maximum three-year term and a fine of at least $1.6 million to $8 million for leading a six-year antitrust conspiracy with Sotheby's rival, Christie's" that cost sellers as much as $43 million in overcharges. But the US Probation has recommended Taubman serve no prison time. The New York Times 04/19/02

THE PROBLEM WITH ROBERT HUGHES: It looked for a time earlier this year that critic Robert Hughes would direct this the visual arts component of this year's Venice Biennale. So why didn't it happen? " 'Because of a series of complex problems with Hughes, the Biennale would not even have got underway,' says the director of the Biennale. 'He's a specialist in gratuitous polemics. He insulted the Italian Government. He said Australia should be allowed to sink into the sea'." The Age (Melbourne) 04/19/02

SEIZING SCHIELE: "In a stunning reversal, a federal court in New York has ruled that the US Government may seek to confiscate an Egon Schiele painting claimed to be stolen property illegally imported into the US." The painting had been loaned by an Austrian museum to the Museum of Modern Art in 1997 and had been held in limbo there ever since while the legal process has ground on. The Art Newspaper 04/15/02

FIGHTIN' WORDS: "The head of London's National Gallery is slowly 'killing off' the institution, according Julian Spalding, a former director of Glasgow's museums. Mr Spalding said [National director] Neil MacGregor has done a deal with Tate boss Sir Nicholas Serota so the National does not show work dated after 1900." BBC 04/19/02

CAN'T PLEASE EVERYONE: Austria's new Cultural Forum building in Manhattan has been drawing rave reviews from architectural observers. But not everyone is happy with the ultra-skinny, ultra-sharp design: "This isn't a "Wow!" building, like Frank Gehry's edgy but exuberant Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. It's an "Ow!" building, a structure of implied violence that grows from the questionable proposition that beauty and danger are inextricably linked." Chicago Tribune 04/19/02

  • NOTHING WRONG WITH MODERNITY: "In architecture, the history of ideas is more reliable than the history of forms. It was almost worth suffering through postmodernism to absorb this simple lesson... In contrast to the lucid rationality of the modern glass tower, the [Austrian Cultural Forum] projects the idea that serious disturbances may lie beneath a relatively smooth appearance. Call this a psycho-building: every skyline goes a little crazy sometimes." The New York Times 04/19/02

THE AHISTORICAL COMMISSION? Philadelphia's Historical Commission recently has begun behaving as if it has something against history, handing over aging and historic properties to developers who intend to tear them down. The latest victim is the Sameric Theater, an old art deco movie house in Center City. "The actions of [the commission,] whose members are appointed by the mayor, are likely to cost it some credibility. After leaving to fate a building as beautiful and significant as the Sameric, how is it going to look when the commission tells property owners in the historic districts that they can't even add rooftop additions or modify their facades?" Philadelphia Inquirer 04/19/02

NOLONGERFALLINGWATER: No one ever accused Frank Lloyd Wright of lacking a sense of drama in his architecture, but excitement very nearly met gravity when the Fallingwater house outside of Pittsburgh began coming undone. "After months of work, Wright's sagging architectural masterpiece is standing on its own again with the help of an innovative system of steel cables buried under the home's stone floors. Dramatically cantilevered out over Bear Run, Fallingwater still tilts a bit toward the stream but is no longer in danger of falling in." Minneapolis Star Tribune (AP) 04/19/02

Thursday April 18

DIFFICULT TO REBUILD: Despite some claims, there is little consensus on how Lower Manhattan ought to be rebuilt. "We are, after all, dealing with a heavily contested site. History has different claims upon it, as well as organized special-interest groups, and little effort has been made thus far to sort out those claims, or even identify them. Until such an effort is made, I see scant reason to hope that a modern equivalent of Brunelleschi's dome will arise in Lower Manhattan." The New York Times 04/18/02

V&A GETTING A NEW LOOK: "London's Victoria and Albert museum is to undergo its biggest redevelopment in 50 years with a £150m revamp. The museum's bosses are planning to redesign the layout and construct new areas in a bid to make it more modern and visitor friendly... New developments outlined in the 10-year plan include a central garden which will have galleries surrounding it." BBC 04/18/02

THE SCIENCE OF THE AVANT GARDE: A professor of economics has applied statistical methods to the analysis of avant-garde painting - "treating aesthetic innovations as, in effect, a function of the labor market among bohemians." But though he has written a book on his findings, and submitted papers to leading journals devoted to the scholarly study of art and aesthetics, it seems no one in the art world is interested. Chronicle of Higher Education 04/15/02

FEAR OF THE FUTURE? What has happened to the idea of revolutionary art? "Among the unexpected silences of today, the most significant to me is the lack of sustained interest in ideal, perfected, or revolutionary states of being. Where are the social utopias, the celebrations of a transformed consciousness, the visions of renewal and rebirth? Given the new millennium and the extraordinary scientific advances of this time, it seems strange that so few contemporary artists have a hopeful or otherworldly gleam in their eyes. Today, the future is typically regarded with dread." New York Magazine 04/15/02

Wednesday April 17

LONDON'S HOT NEW ART PRIZE: In only its third year, the Beck's Futures Prize has gained a popular following in London's contemporary art scene. "The marriage between a brand of beer and Britain's hot new art prize is already so successful that when art students mention 'the Beck's' it's the prize they're talking about and not the beer they are inevitably holding in their hand." London Evening Standard 04/16/02

  • ANOTHER BECK'S (ER...TURNER?): So isn't the Beck's Futures Prize a retread of the Turner? They both exist for more or less the same purpose. "So what, if any, are the differences? Beck's Futures has more artists on its shortlist: 10 against the Tate ration of four. Also, on the whole, the Beck's crowd are less well-known. The Turner Prize shortlist, although it generally includes at least one figure whom nobody has ever heard of, is made up mainly of the already quite famous. Out of 10 on the Beck's shortlist, only two are represented by a commercial gallery, and most are in their twenties." The Telegraph (UK) 04/17/02

BORING BORING BORING: "Heavy on video, film, computer-generated work and sound pieces that require audiences to don earphones, the largest Whitney Museum survey of contemporary American art in 30 years is also the most readily forgettable.The biennial retains its reputation as a barometer of current trends even so. Much of what audiences witness – a dearth of painting, a predominance of performance-based work, a preference for things requiring little concentration – is typical of what's going on around the country." Dallas Morning News 04/17/02

REM AND ROBERT TOGETHER: Star architect Rem Koolhaas comes to Philadelphia for a meeting with Robert Venturi and a tour of the latter's most famous house. The two get to talking about their work and each other. Philadelphia Inquirer 04/17/02

Tuesday April 16

AN ART RESTORER'S DREAM: Restoration of an altarpiece in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome has uncovered an art historian's dream. "When two wax stoppers were extracted from the relief heads of the Madonna and Child, the restorers found two unknown silk bags with relics and a note describing their contents." Along with a story about the art, the piece turns out to be a full century older than previously thought. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 04/15/02

REINVENTING THE PRADO: Madrid's Prado is one of the world's great museums. But it has fallen into great disrepair. Now the museum's new director has plans to modernize and overhaul how the museum is run and how its art is shown. "Although it is Spain's most visited museum, and home to works by Goya, Velazquez and El Greco, less than 10% of its 15,000 works of art is actually on display." BBC 04/15/02

MENIL LOSES DIRECTOR: "For the second time in three years, the Menil Collection has lost a director and named an interim chief to manage the museum and help find a replacement." Houston Chronicle 04/12/02

THE CONSTRUCTION THAT NEVER ENDS: Miami's Bass Museum has been closed for renovations for four years. "The Bass' renovation was expected to take just 18 months when it began in February 1998, and now the museum's extended closure is producing operating deficits. This year's $500,000 shortfall was covered with cash reserves, but those reserves could be exhausted by September. Among the reasons why the Bass' opening has been delayed are shoddy construction and administrative lapses. Miami Herald 04/16/02

MEMORIAL AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT: The twin beams of light evoking the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan are due to be shut off soon. But some are wondering if a way to keep them lit might be possible. "The lights were always intended to be temporary, and no one expected that they would become an instant landmark, the best abstract monument in this country since Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in Washington D.C." The New Yorker 04/15/02

RUSH TO COMMEMORATE (STATUATE?): With Britain's Queen Mum dead, the call for a statue in her memory is predictable. But "to rush up a statue in the heat of the populist moment or to whip up the prejudices of readers of a newspaper is not a good idea. Few sculptors can rise to the occasion as Caius Cibber or Charles Jagger or even Thornycroft did in past centuries. London plinths, old and new, have been disgraced in recent years with statues easily outclassed by Madame Tussaud's waxworks. Doubtless there will be a memorial of some sort to the Queen Mother, but why the hurry?" The Guardian (UK) 04/12/02

ROY ROGERS FOR SALE: The Roy Rogers/Dale Evans Museum is losing money and is up for sale. "Museum officials said they will stay open unless they receive an offer for the property and the 33,000-square-foot building estimated to be worth $8 million. The contents of the museum, including Rogers' stuffed and mounted horse Trigger, and dog Bullet, are not included in the sale." Houston Chronicle (AP) 04/16/02

Monday April 15

AUSSIE TAKES PRITZKER: Australian architect Glenn Murcutt has won architecture's biggest prize - the Pritzker. "The prize, which carries a $100,000 grant, is to be presented at a ceremony on May 29 at the Campidoglio in Rome." The New York Times 04/15/02

AFGHAN SALVAGE: Experts are examining the artwork in Afghanistan shattered by the Taliban.  "Archaeologists and other specialists, evaluating the damage to see what can be salvaged from a centuries-old culture, say the destruction by the Taliban and, in particular, their allies in Al Qaeda, was even more methodical than previously realized.The pillaging in the museum storeroom, as well as at Bamiyan are regarded as crimes against Afghanistan's cultural patrimony that are all the more chilling for their deliberate and efficient execution." The New York Times 04/15/02

CURATING VENICE: After months of controversy over who would direct this year's Venice Biennale, Francesco Bonami was recently chosen. So who is he? Mr Bonami, 47, is a senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and former editor of the magazine Flash Art. "I always remind myself that the names in contemporary art are written in pencil. It is extremely easy to rub them out, and one may grow either more anxious or much calmer by flipping through some back numbers, five or six years old, of authoritative magazines such as Art Forum or Art in America, and seeing how many names have disappeared already." The Art Newspaper 04/12/02

SERIAL SELLER: "Once upon a time, there was a very wealthy man. One day, he sold almost everything he owned to dedicate himself to the world's poorest people, the children of Africa. He arranged for this generous relief work to be continued after his death by establishing foundations in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which he endowed with a handsome fortune, including an imposing art collection. The twist in the tale is that Gustav Rau sold this selfsame art collection valued at up to  euro 500 million ($440 million) several times over." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 04/15/02

NO NUDES IN SCHOOL? "The reality of life modelling is starkly-lit classrooms, dusty feet, and water retention. But it has a sufficiently erotic image to be a matter of controversy in schools. A scheme in the west of Scotland in which artists and highly trained life models visit secondary schools to allow fifth and sixth-year pupils to experience life drawing has been blocked by Glasgow City Council. The news has caused dismay among those who consider life drawing an important part of an artistic training. It has also ignited a debate about the need, or otherwise, for such moral policing." Glasgow Herald 04/14/02

Sunday April 14

WHAT HATH GUGGENHEIM WROUGHT? When the Guggenheim launched not one but two satellite museums in the cultural wasteland of Las Vegas, critics clucked, art aficionados rolled their eyes, and everyone agreed that the project was doomed. Unfortunately for the Guggenheim, which is facing severe financial shortages, the naysayers appear, so far, at least, to be correct. "Far from 'bringing art to the masses,' the Guggenheim has brought corporate branding to an anticipated public that has thus far failed to show up." The New York Times 04/14/02

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE WHITNEY: The Whitney Biennial always comes in for plenty of critical scorn, if mainly because it tries to be so many things at once. But some critics found this year's installment, well, fun. "This exhibit is amazing simply because initially it seems so underwhelming. Think about it: We're so used to sensational art scandals - animal parts floating in tanks of formaldehyde, nude Jesuses - that if a show doesn't shock, insult and offend right away, we're apt to think it must not be the real thing." Baltimore Sun 04/13/02

ARCHITECTURE AS CULTURAL PR: "With a steeply raked glass facade that appears to fall like the blade of a guillotine, the Austrian Cultural Forum is one of the most striking buildings to have gone up in New York in decades. It's also a dramatic, 24-story, $29 million embodiment of how nations use culture to polish their image." The New York Times 04/14/02

NATIVE MUSEUM GETS A BOOST: "The Oneida Indian Nation, a small New York tribe that operates a casino, a newspaper and a textile factory, yesterday gave $10 million to the National Museum of the American Indian... Since the plans were announced for the museum in the 1980s, three tribes have contributed $10 million each to the project." Washington Post 04/13/02

HENRI, PABLO, AND GERTRUDE? Gertrude Stein is not what one would call a beloved figure in intellectual circles. While no one would deny her influence on early-20th century literature and criticism, her impact has often been said to be limited to her own era. But as a new exhibit of paintings by Matisse and Picasso prepares to descend on the UK, Stein's name keeps popping up in connection with the century's (arguably) most important visual art movement. The Guardian (UK) 04/13/02

ARCHITECTS AND ENVIRONMENTALISM: A few years back, Oberlin College, a respected liberal arts school in rural Ohio, announced plans to design and build a new environmental studies center that would revolutionize the way such structures use and distribute energy. Some even claimed that the building would produce more power than it used. But an Oberlin professor is claiming that the architect ignored the objectives, and that the college decided to follow form over function, defeating the very purpose of erecting the center. The architect claims that the project is still a work in progress, but some at Oberlin are not so sure. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 04/14/02

Friday April 12

THE BMA'S DIRECTOR SPEAKS: The British Museum is an unwieldy institution to try to run. "No issue is clear cut, every one compressed into a gritty snowball of money, art, politics and ethics, tossed between governments, curators, media and sometimes the public. Cup of tea too pricy? Great Court stone the wrong colour? Galleries closed (though each is open part of every day and any can be opened on request)? Blame the director." London Evening Standard 04/11/02

COVER UP: The Glasgow Council has banned nude drawing classes offered to students at three schools by the Royal Academy of Art. "Organisers claim it is the first time the project, which has been running since 1989 and has visited more than 1,500 schools, has been hit with a blanket ban. Teachers involved in the one-day workshops in Glasgow denounced the ban as prudish, claiming it deprived pupils of the chance to include nude life drawings in their portfolios - a pre-requisite for entrance to most art colleges." The Scotsman 04/12/02

Thursday April 11

SELLING TO THE MASSES: The Glasgow Art Fair is "about to invite the public, and their wallets, inside. The Art Fair, now in its seventh year, is hugely significant for raising awareness of art and, more importantly, selling it. Last year a record 15,000 visitors came through the doors, and takings came in at more than £500,000, an average of £13,300 each for the 40 galleries represented. While this is encouraging for Scotland’s art economy, it is tempered by the fact that the highest prices are generally commanded by artists who are, not to put too fine a point on it, dead." The Scotsman 04/10/02

FRANKFURT LUMINALE: Frankfurt's mostly post WWII architecture is ugly, and there's not much that can be done to dress it up. Nevertheless, the city is staging a "luminale," lighting up its buildings at night. "Among the special effects will be the illumination of individual buildings, light projections and art installations that together will create a 'panorama of light culture'." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 04/10/02

A BIENNIAL THAT SHOULD KNOW BETTER: Art biennials are everywhere these says. But "in the process, the exhibitions themselves, once key cultural events, have become almost routine, with the same cast of star artists featuring again and again like players on the tennis circuit. The Sao Paulo biennale is old enough to know better. Modelled on that of Venice, the first and oldest in the world, it was the brain child of Italian immigrant turned business man and patron of the arts." Financial Times 04/11/02

Wednesday April 10

NEW TWIST ON THE TURNER: "The Turner prize. It's hard to think of anything more of our cultural time in its capacity to inspire vitriol and curiosity, each condemnation generating new publicity, another twist to the spectacle, more people who want to go and see for themselves. This year, there's something new. For the first time, a nomination form for the Turner prize is being published in a national newspaper. The Guardian (UK) 04/10/02

WELLESLEY CLEANS HOUSE: Wellesley College's well respected museum has a new director. And now two of the museum's three long-serving curators are leaving and the third is in negotiations for her job. "The three curators made up a team highly respected in the world of academic museums." Certainly new directors bring in their own teams, but "the departures have that world wondering why Wellesley is fixing something that wasn't broken." The situation points up some of the current tensions in university museums. Boston Globe 04/10/02

PARTNERING ANDY: The Andy Warhol show closed at the Tate Modern last week having drawn 220,000 people, the most successful show at the museum since it opened. "The Warhol show achieved its success not by contention, but by smart partnerships and great timing. For two months we saw Warhols writ large upon all of London's main thoroughfares." London Evening Standard 04/09/02 

WHERE WILL THE CRITICS GO? America has a strong tradition of art criticisicm. But "few institutional structures have existed, however, to support and legitimize the profession. The number of publications critics can write for has decreased along with pay, which has declined from a onetime industry standard of $1 per word. At the same time, the Internet has not proven to be a significant new space for independent art criticism." American Art 04/02

AT WHAT COST FAKE? The Korean government plans to build a replica of a shrine built in the 8th Century to try to protect the original. "The new building is to be used as a museum featuring life-size replicas of the entire shrine structure and other multimedia exhibition items to help protect the ancient structure from being damaged as a result of the frequent traffic of tourists." But protestors call the plan a "folly that would inevitably defame the shrine's integrity and destroy the natural environment surrounding it." Korea Herald 04/10/02 

Tuesday April 9

WHAT AILS THE NATIONAL: One critic sees disturbing signs of London's National Gallery in a steep decline. "The National Gallery is beginning to die, and the tragedy is that it is being killed off. It began to ail in 1998, when it was decided, without any public airing of the consequences, that the gallery's collection would no longer grow as the art of painting itself grew, but would be terminated at 1900." New Statesman 04/08/02

REVIVING PUBLIC ART: Percent-for-art programs are common in the US, where developers are required on some public building projects to spend a percent of their budgets on artwork. In the UK the idea was tried but fell away with the first economic downturn. But a project in the bowels of Glasgow's grimey inner city has created "one of the most unexpected art projects in the country" and may revive the percent-for-art idea. The Guardian (UK) 04/08/02

JUMBO (OR IS THAT DUMBO?)-SIZE ART: Artists Komar and Melamid are at it again. This time the duo, who like to challenge ideas about what is art, are getting elephants to paint. "Elephant artistry provokes reactions ranging from curiosity to amusement to outrage. Yet as the artists point out, inventiveness is not restricted to human beings. 'The nature of creation is a much more common thing in the animal kingdom," says Komar, who brings up the example of beaver dams as a "fantastic style of architecture." Contra Costa Times 04/08/02

Monday April 8

THE TATE'S BRAIN DRAIN: Jerry Lewison, the Tate's director of collections, is leaving the museum. "Although Mr Lewison did not wish to elaborate further on the whys and wherefores of his decision to quit such a powerful post for a more precarious—albeit stimulating—freelance existence, coming as it does after the departure of Tate Modern’s Director Lars Nittve last July, the abrupt move at the beginning of last year by Iwona Blazwick, Tate Modern’s Head of Exhibitions and Displays to run the Whitechapel, and Tate Liverpool Director Lewis Biggs’ new appointment to oversee the Liverpool Biennale, the departure of yet another major Tate figure sends out ominous signals about Tate’s ability to keep its top personnel." The Art Newspaper 04/05/02

DEREGULATED BUT HARDLY FREE (THE MARKET, THAT IS): The French art market has been opened up to international auction houses. But so far the biggest change has been an increase in fees the French auctioneers charge. "In the short term this situation is resulting in a massive transfer of value from collectors and dealers to the auction houses." The Art Newspaper 04/05/02

SUNSET FOR THE PAINTER OF LIGHT? "Thomas Kinkade's annual meeting with the men and woman who have invested heavily to open Thomas Kinkade Signature Galleries nationwide is supposed to be a feel- good affair, with the millionaire artist outlining his plans for new works and Kinkade-themed projects. But this year, according to gallery owners and insiders at Kinkade's Morgan Hill company, Media Arts Group, the focus will be on increasingly slack demand for Kinkade's output and persistent rumors that Kinkade is angling to take publicly held Media Arts private." San Francisco Chronicle 04/07/02

  • Previously: WRITER OF SLIGHT: Thomas Kinkade sells schlocky landscape paintings, "sold in thousands of mall-based franchise galleries nationwide," and earning "$130 million in sales last year." "According to Media Arts Group, the publicly traded company that sells Kinkade reproductions and other manifestations of 'the Thomas Kinkade lifestyle brand,' including furniture and other examples of what the company's chairman memorably called 'art-based products,' his work hangs in one out of every 20 American homes." Now Kinkade's "written" a novel, a "shamelessly money-grubbing little bait-and-switch" aesthetically in line with the rest of the Kinkade empire. Salon 03/17/02
  • PAINTER OF LIFESTYLE: Kinkade has his name on a housing development north of San Francisco that promises the idyllic kind of life depicted in his paintings.  "What is surprising, though, is just how far short of the mark it falls. I arrived at Kinkade's Village expecting to be appalled by a horror show of treacly Cotswold kitsch; I was even more horrified by its absence." Salon 03/17/02 

Sunday April 7

GAMBLING ON A MUSEUM: The Pechanga Indians in California have become rich because of their casinos. Now the tribe is looking to be known for more than its casinos. "If the tribal membership approves and the plans pan out, the tribe will build a museum here, roughly midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, and borrow thousands of artifacts from the Southwest Museum, an underfunded but widely respected institution founded by Los Angeles collectors in the early days of the 20th century. Not everybody is ready to embrace the idea. But together, the Pechangas' money and the Southwest's collection could yield one of the foremost Native American museums in the country." Los Angeles Times 04/07/02

THE IDEA OR THE WORK: Is a good idea for a museum show enough? "Don't good ideas for museum shows come from seeing great stuff? If a curator notices that a number of mediocre artists are independently making mediocre art that shares a particular image in common - Nazi paraphernalia, say - is that fair cause to organize a show? Probably not. The most obvious lesson of Mirroring Evil [at New York's Jewish Museum] is the futility of attempting to make a productive exhibition from lousy work." Los Angeles Times 04/07/02

OFF THE WALL: The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is retoring an 11-foot-tall wall fresco displaying in one of its galleries. ''The Crucifixion,' by an early Renaissance artist known only as the Master of the Urbino Coronation, is too big to be restored in the MFA lab," so the work is being done in public. "For a work originally painted directly on the wall, this Crucifixion has led a particularly peripatetic existence." Boston Globe 04/07/02

HALLMARK CONCEPT: The Atlanta Symphony is building a new concert hall. So it invited six leading architects - Spaniard Santiago Calatrava; Bing Thom of Vancouver, British Columbia; Atlantans Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam; Morten Schmidt of the Danish firm Schmidt, Hammer & Lassen; New York designer Steven Holl; and Boston-based Moshe Safdie - to come give a public lecture on their philosophies of building a concert hall. So what is a concert hall? Ideas range across a spectrum "from the sculpture to the box." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 04/07/02

CITY ON A HILL: The Yorkshire town of Barnsley has decided to reinvent itself as a Tuscan village. And thanks to a government initiative to revitalize towns outside of London, the village has £150 million with which to make it happen. The Guardian (UK) 04/06/02

Friday April 5

THE VARIABILITY OF CHROMATIC EXPERIENCE: What we see when we look at old artwork may be very different from what the artist painted. For example, "Van Gogh's Sunflowers today little resembles the way it looked when it was first completed. The chrome yellow pigment that figures heavily in the work was, at the time, a vibrant, brilliant color — in keeping with Van Gogh's more typically lurid color schemes. But over time it faded to the lusterless brown-yellow that it is today, transforming the overall feeling of the work. As for the thickness of the paint... one might as well 'lay them on ... crudely,' he wrote in a letter to his brother, because 'time will tone them down only too much'." The Atlantic Monthly 04/04/02

DECAYING TREASURE: "It's been 30 years since a $7 million program paid for a rebuilding of San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts' original wood-and-plaster structures, using concrete and steel to give them new life. Until then, architect Bernard Maybeck's vision of Greco- Roman grandeur was gradually crumbling into ruin." But the place has deterioated alarmingly once again, and an efficient plan to save the unique structures seems out of reach. San Francisco Chronicle 03/31/02

DATING POTTERY AND STONEWARE: Physicists now can determine the age of many art objects by measuring thermoluminescence (TL), which is the light an object emits when it's heated. "Geological clay emits a strong TL signal. Once the clay artifact is fired by the potter, all the TL drains away. If a new artifact is heated a short time after it has been fired, no TL is observed, however, if heated after many years have elapsed, a TL signal is again seen." The process has roused the interest of museums and auction houses. Discovery 04/04/02

Thursday April 4

ANOTHER SMITHSONIAN CASUALTY: The Smithsonian has lost yet another director. Dennis O'Connor, the undersecretary for science at the Smithsonian Institution and acting director of the National Museum for Natural History has quit. "His departure is the latest in a series of resignations from the Smithsonian's upper ranks since Lawrence Small took office as secretary of the institution 2 1/2 years ago." Washington Post 04/04/02

Wednesday April 3

CONFLICTING ETHICS: The practice of archeology is changing rapidly as ethical concerns play more and more of a role.  "Archaeologists' investigations frequently pit their interests against those of other people, and the concerns of the present against the possible concerns of the future. As ethical considerations come to matter more, there has been a change in the way the public sees archaeologists, and the way archaeologists see themselves. “We went through a period when we thought ‘Hey, we're scientists, we should be the number one priority here. But most of us have now come to see it differently.” The Economist 03/29/02

FRICK'S NEW FLACK: Pittsburgh's Frick Art & Historical Center, one of the city's premiere cultural institutions, has hired William B. Bodine Jr., chief curator of the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina, to be its new executive director. Bodine has a long and distinguished resume, and the Frick is hoping he'll bring a renewed sense of vigor to the organization. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 04/03/02

DOES ANYONE CARE ABOUT ARCHITECTURE CRITICS? It is a curious thing that while we have book reviewers and film reviewers and theater reviewers, we do not have architecture reviewers—only critics. [Chicago Tribune architecture critic] Blair Kamin writes in the preface to his new book Why Architecture Matters that 'the very term ‘architecture critic’ may be a misnomer. We are, Kamin writes, urban critics as much as architecture critics. In this sense, then, an 'urban critic' can hardly be a 'reviewer'.” New Criterion 04/02

ENOUGH FOR ITS OWN GALLERY: "A Dutch businessman's vast art collection valued at £15m and includes works by Degas, Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet and Cezanne is up for auction... The 1,300 pieces will be split between London and Amsterdam... The auction, which starts on 9 April, includes a Van Gogh portrait of the Sien and a dune landscape, each with estimated price tags of up to £180,000." BBC 04/03/02

SHASTA LA VISTA: Last year after a wind storm, a classic 40-by 100-foot 1950s-era ad for Shasta Cola was uncovered on the side of a San Francisco building - a real piece of Bay Area-history. The artists who painted such ads were "known at the time as a 'wall dogs,' so named because they hung onto rickety scaffolding with paintbrushes and chalk in hand." Now the building's owners have  decided to cover the vintage piece with a giant Nike ad, and history buffs are protesting. San Francisco Chronicle 04/02/02

Tuesday April 2

STEALING JAVA: Indonesia, and in particular Java, has a rich trove of cultural artifacts. But while most countries now have controls on the removal of artifacts, Javanese treasures are being looted wholesale.  "In the cross-hairs are dozens of magnificent Hindu-Buddhist temples on the island." The Art Newspaper 03/28/02

MORE BIENNIAL CONTROVERSY: The 25th edition of the Sao Paulo Biennial opened last week, and the critics aren't happy. Sao Paulo has always had a "historical nucleus" mixing new work with Cezannes and Magrittes or Van Goghs. But this year, the biennial has gone all-contemporary. Its curator defends the move: ''Sao Paulo has always been the only biennial among the 50 that exist worldwide to have a historic nucleus. To eliminate it is not revolutionary, it's very obvious.'' But the country's biggest weekly newsmagazine dismissed the event with a snide swipe at Jeff Koons: "The main attraction are the works of Cicciolina's ex-husband.'' Miami Herald (AP) 04/02/02

FEMININE DESIGN: It's been about 30 years since female designers entered the field in significant numbers. For some 70 years feminist theorists have "argued that female designers would use their über-compassionate and collaborative natures to rid the field of its arrogant and exclusionary practices. Well, you can certainly say that design has changed significantly since the 1970s, and many of those alterations have stemmed from women. But I'd argue that it's not female designers who have had the transforming effect as much as female consumers." Metropolis 04/02 

ART FEW WILL SEE: Turns out some microchip designers are also closet artists. A few years ago a senior research engineer was peering through a microscope at a microscope when he thought he saw a micro-picture of Wldo the cartoon character. Since then he's found dozens more, etched on the chips by their designers. "The images include everything from chip designers' names, renderings of favorite pets, cartoon characters like Dilbert, and planes, trains, and automobiles. These images are fabricated along with the transistors and interconnects on one or more metal layers overlying a silicon wafer." Now - of course - there's a museum... IEEE Spectrum 04/02

NATURAL HISTORY PALACE: The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has got the building bug. The museum is planning a $300 million (yes, that's three hundred) renovation/expansion of its campus. And yes, the usual suspects are vying to design it. "The firms are David Chipperfield Architects, and Foster and Partners, both of London; the Swiss-based Herzog & de Meuron; New York's Steven Holl Architects; and Boston's Machada and Silvetti Associates." Los Angeles Times 04/02/02

Monday April 1

ANGKOR WAT THEME PARK? Developers have submitted plans for a sound-and-light show at Angkor Wat, with laser images and smoke effects; a 10-story yellow sightseeing balloon, to be permanently tethered next to the temple; and a scheme to provide visitors with nubbly-bottomed rubber overshoes to better scale the crumbling stonework. At nearby Phnom Bakheng temple mountain, they plan a zigzag escalator. Purists may shudder, but as Cambodia gropes its way toward a functioning economy, the Angkorian temples are about the best card the government has to play." Washington Post 04/01/02

WHERE GOES ART: Critics are often tempted to make sweeping conclusions about the artworld as they assess the latest biennale. Here's Roberta Smith's conclusion after walking through this year's Whitney Biennial: "The biennial offers evidence that museums are moving toward a state of irrelevance as far as the contemporary-art world is concerned, showing work that is either unimaginative or ill-suited for a museum setting. This tendency may go beyond curators and directors; it reflects the changing character of boards of trustees, the people who hire and fire directors, choose architects and have a big role in setting the agendas of the institutions." The New York Times 03/31/02

LINKAGE - ART AND INSANITY: "For nearly 100 years, a few psychiatrists and art historians have surveyed the art of the so-called insane and come up with mostly anecdotal readings of it. The subject raises questions about the nature of the creative mind and its relationship to the world out of which it comes. How does the atypical brain experience the world we share? In what respects does art made by these individuals reflect the different realities they experience? To what extent, and in what aesthetic terms, do their works embody the fear and bewilderment they may endure?" The New York Times 03/31/02 

BYE BYE MOMA: For the first time in 70 years, the Museum of Modern Art will be gone from Manhattan. For three years the museum will move to Queens while its new home on 53'rd St. is being built. "With less than two months left before the closing of the Midtown museum, the Modern's directors find themselves nervous about bowing off the Manhattan stage. Three years is a long time to be away, and Queens, while close, is not quite the same." The New York Times 04/01/02

IN THE BUILDING SHADOW: In recent years museums have gone chasing after big-name architects to design showy new homes. LA Times architecture critic Nicolai Ourourssoff writes that "architects have welcomed this attention as proof of the profession's growing cultural relevance. But many art world insiders are skeptical. Increasingly, architecture has become the central focus, and, in the process, it has pushed art into the background."  Los Angeles Times 03/31/02

PASSED OVER: Twelve years ago a critic was served up the Britart story readymade. But after a look or two at Damien Hirst and friends, she didn't get what they were trying to do and wrote about other artists. And missed the biggest art story of the 1990s. So much for critical acument... The Telegraph (UK) 04/01/02