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VISUAL ARTS - July 2000

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Monday July 31

  • I LEFT MY ART IN SAN FRANCISCO (AT GATE B-2): Thanks to San Francisco's percent-for-art ordinance, $11.1 million of the $840 million main terminal expansion project will go to commissioning original artwork in the airport. Sponsored by the San Francisco Public Art Commission, many of the works deal with "the romance of travel, with themes such as meeting and greeting loved ones, saying goodbye, facing the unknown and the technology of flight." San Jose Mercury News 07/31/00

  • VIRTUAL ART FLEA MARKET: What kind of art can you buy online these days? "Curious about the growing and radical phenomenon by which people are buying art they can't see from sellers they can't see, I decided to shop for art online and assemble my own art collection. My budget: an even $1,000." New York Times 07/31/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • PAINTING THE ROYALS: For only the second time ever, the British Royal Family has its portrait painted as a group (in honor of the Queen Mum's 100th birthday). "It soon became clear it would be impossible for six people with engagement diaries as full as those of his sitters to pose together. Therefore, he was obliged to draw them separately." The Telegraph (London) 07/31/00

  • ALWAYS SIGN THAT CONTRACT: A competition to design Sydney's new Museum of Contemporary Art prompted confusion from the Japanese architect who thought she had been the job three years ago. Instead she got this reply: "I am concerned that Sejima does not know. If she is not being proceeded with, I think she should be encouraged not to abandon Australia altogether and perhaps consider the invitation to continue with a different employer." Sydney Morning Herald 07/31/00

  • NAKED ART: "Performance artists" Yuan Cai and Jian Ji Xi walked naked across London's Westminster Bridge with slogans written all over their bodies. The pair last "performed at the Tate earlier this year when they jumped onto Tracey Emin's bed. BBC 07/31/00

Sunday July 30

  • OUTSIDE THE BOOM: London's museums are booming these days. But outside the capital it's quite a different story. "It is no secret that many of our large regional museums - Bristol, Exeter, Cheltenham, Leeds, Leicester and, most important of all, Glasgow - are in serious financial difficulties, as indeed are many university museums." The Telegraph (London) 07/30/00

  • ONLINE ART REVOLUTION STALLS: It's been about a year since the online art-selling companies launched in a big way, promising to revolutionize the way is sold. How's business? "Looking back one year later, that boat looks something like the Titanic: imposing but doomed." (Art & Auction Magazine) 08/28/00

  • THE REBIRTH OF ART: "All over London, the words 'make it new' have lately been applied to museums." Art has the new buzz of the 21st Century. New York Times 07/30/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Friday July 28

  • ON BOARD AT THE KIMBELL: Fort Worth's Kimbell Museum has a stellar collection and reputation. But two of its board members have managed to pocket a rather large share of the museum's money, paying themselves about $1.5 million a year for their board services. "At $750,000 and $747,000 each, as reported on the private foundation's 1998 tax return, the Fortsons are paying themselves far more than they pay their museum director. They list their hours on the job as 'full time' even though they have a full-time and well-paid director in Potts, and Ben runs an oil business (albeit one that's not doing too well these days)." FW Weekly 07/27/00

  • FLORENTINE DILEMMA: Discovery of a long-hidden Leonardo fresco behind a Vasari painting in the Palazzo Vecchio has  put Florence’s art solons in a difficult spot. "Councillor for culture, Rosa di Giorgi, is not planning to rip the later fresco off the wall without strong evidence that the Leonardo is in good condition, for as she said 'Vasari may not have been Leonardo, but he is still Vasari'." The Art Newspaper 07/28/00

  • GONE TO THE DOGS (ER, COWS?): The most visible art in New York this summer is of the animal kind - from the Koons giant dog to cows on parade. New York Times 07/28/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Thursday July 27

  • THE "MIGHTY HANDBAG"? London's Victoria and Albert Museum has seen a dramatic fall-off in attendance in recent decades and it's been overshadowed by the city's other museums. Now it's being criticized for its plans for a dramatic £80 million extension designed by Daniel Libeskind. One critic likens Libeskind's revolutionary design to "the Guggenheim in Bilbao turned on its side and then beaten senseless with a hammer" (it is nothing of the sort)" Other "stick-in-the-muds will feel all the more justified in their belief that the V&A will be, as Dorment puts it, 'visually raped'." The Guardian (London) 07/27/00

  • THIS IS A PROBLEM? The Guerrilla Girls - those champions of getting women some power in the artworld - come to Philadelphia. "There's just one problem. More so than probably any city in the country, Philadelphia has an art world run by women." Philadelphia Inquirer 07/27/00

  • KNOW YOUR CLIENT: In the late 19th Century one of the greatest forgers of antiquities set up shop in Jerusalem. “The late 19th century was the beginning of modern tourism, following the invention of steamships, and it was also the beginning of archaeology. Wilhelm Moses Shapira was the first to recognize that archaeology could be a profitable business.” His career was derailed when he attempted to sell the British Museum what he claimed to be ancient Torah scrolls, and was exposed as a fraud. He killed himself soon after. The Jerusalem Report 07/31/00

  • APOLITICAL COWS ONLY: A federal US judge has allowed the rejection of a decorated art cow proposed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The animal rights group wanted to enter its cow - bearing anti-meat messages - from New York's art-cow parade currently on view in the city. Yahoo! (Reuters) 07/16/00

  • THE LOST CITIES: The waters of Abu Qir, off Egypt are yielding amazing archeological treasures this summer. "A team of French underwater archaeologists working in conjunction with the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has uncovered two sunken cities, believed to be the legendary Herakleion and Menouthis. 'This city is absolutely untouched. It's the first time it has been seen, that somebody could dive on it. You can see that everything remains as it was.' " Egypt Today 07/00

  • RESTORING THE TAJ'S GARDEN: A garden that flourished 350 years ago when India's Taj Mahal was built may be rebuilt as a way of protecting the Taj from development. The big question is: what exactly, did the garden grow? Chicago Tribune (NY Times News Service) 07/27/00

Wednesday July 26

  • COMBATING LOOTED ART: A committee of MPs in the English Parliament proposed laws yesterday to make it a criminal offense to trade in looted artifacts and stolen artwork. The move is to combat the growing illicit market for illegally exported objects, estimated at between £150 million and £2 billion a year. Suggested measures included setting up a national database of stolen art, expediting legislation to facilitate the return of Nazi-looted art, and allowing museum trustees to return human remains on display in British museums. The Guardian (London) 07/26/00

    • NEED HELP: "At present, there are no import controls on cultural property entering Britain unless they are subject to other controls, for example in relation to firearms – a position that many in the museums trade find untenable." The Independent (London) 07/26/00

Tuesday July 25

  • ROCKWELL REVISITED: While he was wildly successful as a commercial illustrator, Norman Rockwell was almost universally dismissed in his day as a shallow artist. So what are we to make of the current campaign to rehabilitate his reputation as a painter? “The present attempt to add Rockwell to the canon of American art is almost exclusively the work of critics. It is not the artists who have adopted Rockwell, but museum directors, curators, and writers on art.” New York Review of Books 08/10/00 

Monday July 24

  • A LITTLE-KNOWN PICASSO MUSEUM north of Madrid has sixty of the master’s artworks - all of which were donated by Eugenio Arias, the Spanish barber who cut Picasso’s hair for 26 years while both men lived in the south of France. It pays to barter - Arias always took his payments in trade. The Age (Melbourne) 07/24/00 (AP)

  • A HISTORY OF LOOKING AT SCULPTURE: "Most modern sculpture - and its sidekick, installation - occupies space in a quite aggressive way." Historically, sculpture didn't always do that. "From the Renaissance until the 19th century, statues tended to be placed flat against walls or in niches that neatly framed them. Viewers were expected to contemplate them from a relatively fixed position, as if they were pictures." New Statesman 07/24/00

  • ART IN PUBS? The chairman of Britain's Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries says British museums need to loosen up. "Pointing out that museums across the country have an average of 75 per cent of objects in store, he advised them to be 'less precious' about deaccessioning. Lord Evans congratulated the Museum of London, which has given boxes of Roman artifacts to primary schools. In answer to a query about his earlier suggestion that museums should lend to pubs, he argued that this might sometimes be appropriate for sturdy objects, such as agricultural equipment (“but not Canalettos”, he quickly added)." The Art Newspaper 07/23/00

  • EMBASSY ENVY: Why do embassies have a way of always bringing out the worst in architects? Britain’s newest embassies in Berlin and Moscow are leaving critics (not to mention the Queen) numb. “What is it that makes these buildings second rate? Is it the architects' failure of nerve, or the clients' desire for nothing too difficult or arty? Is it a bout of poet laureate syndrome when faced with designing for Britain?” The Guardian (London) 07/24/00

Sunday July 23

  • HERE FOR THE TINTORETTO: A Tintoretto painting is discovered in small town Pennsylvania. "From an art-historical standpoint, the discovery of the Tintoretto in Wernersville is not quite as significant as the discovery of Caravaggio's "Taking of Christ" in a Jesuit residence in Dublin in 1990. Yet the story of the Tintoretto painting is intriguing and involves several figures of ecclesiastical and historical prominence." New York Times 07/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • VISITING DANIEL LIBESKIND: Libeskind's proposal of a crumpled spiral addition between the thoroughly Victorian buildings of London's Victoria and Albert Museum was something of a scandal when it was unveiled in 1996. Now it looks like it may compete with the Bilbao Guggenheim for attention." The Telegraph (London) 07/23/00

  • A NEW KIND OF LIBRARY: Rem Koolhaas's design for a new Seattle Public Library has people talking. "The library is an audacious reworking of the conventional library, that archaic monument to civic glory." Los Angeles Times 07/23/00

  • ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE BLOB? "Computer technology is rapidly changing the environment for architects as well as for businesses and nations. How are they adapting to it? In what form will architecture survive?" New York Times 07/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Friday July 21

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

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

  • THE ANNUAL ARTNEWS LIST of the world's biggest collectors of art is out. "The market is very much dominated by Americans. What's especially healthy is that the whole speculative element of the '80s is gone. Now the buyers want to keep the works. They're not going into bank vaults." ArtNews 07/00

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

  • SOME FUTURE: Venice's Architecture Biennale is imagining the future. "The theme of this year's exposition is the deep sense of disorder affecting a society in rapid transformation, where the architect's reference points have been changed completely." Wired 07/20/00

Thursday July 20

  • READ THIS IN CZECH AND GET IN CHEAP: Several Prague museums charge foreigners between two and five times more for admission than they do local Czechs. The practice is against rules of the European Union and officially discouraged. But special signs written only in Czech signal that discounts are available. Prague Post 07/20/00

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

  • HAVING A COW: Improbably, the 300-plus decorated cows that spent last summer on display throughout downtown Chicago raised some $3.5 million when they were auctioned off for charity. So much money was raised, the decorated fibreglass animals-on-parade thing has swept dozens of other cities this summer. Just what became of the Chicago art-cows that were sold last summer? Chicago Tribune 07/20/00

  • RECORD YEAR FOR MINNEAPOLIS MUSEUMS: The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts had record attendance this year. Shows of Andy Warhol drawings and Man Ray photos ranked "in the top 10 in all-time attendance" at the Walker. Minneapolis Star-Tribune 07/20/00

Wednesday July 19

  • THE RIGHT RUN MUSEUM: Metropolitan Museum director Philippe de Montebello sits down with Anna Somers Cocks to talk about the changing roles of curators, museums and collecting art. "We have a pretty good sense what people want in the museum." The Art Newspaper 07/19/00

  • CUSTOMS AGENTS WHO AREN'T ART EXPERTS: The export of art - any art - out of St. Petersburg, Russia has stopped because customs officials at the airport there say the value of artwork leaving is too difficult to determine and therefore too tough to figure the taxes owed. St. Petersburg Times (Russia) 07/18/00

  • ARCHITECTURE'S BEST POLITICAL FRIEND? In his 24 years in Congress, Patrick Moynihan helped allocate billions of dollars to important building projects. He helped create the Pennsylvania Avenue Redevelopment Corporation, save Walt Whitman’s Long Island birthplace, and restore New York City’s Grand Central Station. But his crowning project is getting underway just as he is retiring from the US Senate - the conversion of New York's Central Post Office building to the new Pennsylvania Station. Architecture Magazine 07/00

Tuesday July 18

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

  • PLAYING WITH THE RULES: Britain has rebuilt its embassy in Berlin now that the capital has moved back there. But Hans Stimmann, Berlin's chief architect laid down very conservative architectural rules (no wonder Norman Foster dropped out of considering the project). The structure that has emerged, however, " pays formal lip-service to Stimmann's concerns but then deliberately subverts them by cutting a great hole in the centre of the façade and projecting through it an angular glass box and purple drum." The Telegraph (London) 07/18/00

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

  • MORE OBJECTIONS TO WWII MEMORIAL: National Park Service studies show that the site of a proposed $100 million memorial to veterans of the Second World War on the Mall in Washington DC is part of the historic grounds of the Lincoln Memorial. Washington Post (LA Times) 07/18/00

Monday July 17

  • GAMBLING ON ART: The Bellagio Hotel may have closed its art gallery and sold the art, but maybe the peripatetic Guggenheim believes in the culture of Las Vegas? Reportedly, the Venetian Hotel is talking with the Goog about building a branch next to the hotel. The museum is already sending a show to Las Vegas next year. Meanwhile, the Philips Collection is negotiating with the Bellagio. "I think Las Vegas could use a little culture." The Times of India (AP) 07/17/00

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

  • BUILDING ON ART: Shanghai is in the midst of a massive rebuilding effort trying to regain its center as the intellectual capital of China. And what about art? "A prickly individualism means Shanghai artists never banded together like those in Beijing, so what 'art scene' there is lies on the fringes of a more generalized underground. 07/14/00

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

Sunday July 16

  • THE ART OF COLLECTING: Collecting art for a museum is an "exhilarating, suspenseful, satisfying and frustrating" game. Some of the more interesting acquisitions come through unlikely means... Chicago Tribune 07/16/00 

  • ADDING ON TO DENVER: The Denver Art Museum wants to add to its building. But the challenge is how to make the $62 million addition fit in between its neighbors - the aggressively-profiled Gio Ponti main building and the Michael Graves-designed addition to the public library. Three finalists for the job present their ideas this week. Denver Post 07/16/00

  • NEW PROFILE FOR THE MENIL: People travel from all over to Houston to see the famed Menil Collection. But the museum has always thrived on being low profile. Now a new director and a new attitude. "Cab drivers don't even know where we are. What's wrong with publicizing the place? Maybe we'll get twice as many people in the galleries, which may mean 30 instead of 15." Dallas Morning News 07/16/00

  • REMEMBERING RUSKIN: What was it that made John Ruskin the greatest art and social critic of the Victorian age? A new book is great at exploring his life; less successful at capturing his rhetorical lightning. Boston Globe 07/16/00

  • NEW PLANS FOR BERLIN: The rebuilding of Berlin is apace. But the new structures are directed to fit into tradition, not reach for grand contemporary gestures. "But this is not the city that the Prussian monarchs built with the help of Karl Friedrich Schinkel; it is the product of developers led by Sony and Mercedes stumbling to fill the vacuum left by 50 years of uncertainty." The Observer (London) 07/16/00

Friday July 14

  • WHY DOES ART COST WHAT IT COSTS? "Art has always been a cyclical market. This is hardly surprising: the products may be beautiful, but can rarely be considered essential and are often driven by fickle taste. According to, the value of paintings sold peaked in 1990 at $4.5 billion dollars. From there, economies around Europe and America shrank by less than one percent, but art sales collapsed to less than $1.5 billion in less than two years." So what's driving today's prices? The Art Newspaper 07/14/00

  • VIRTUAL TATE: The Tate Modern takes to the internet with a commissioned piece that sets up a parallel Tate website universe. "Follow a link to the Tate Britain - a branch of the museum dedicated to 500 years of British art - and instead of grand Turner seascapes and Hogarth portraits, you'll see close-ups of canvases collaged with mud, scabby skin, and baggy eyes." Wired 07/14/00

  • TAX DISPUTE: The British Museum threatens to institute a £1 admission charge to compensate for taxes it loses on its operations. The British government threatens to reduce the museum's support if admission is charged. The Art Newspaper 07/14/00

Thursday July 13

  • CULTURAL BUYBACK: Chinese artifacts have been leaked illegally to the West for years, ending up in museums and collections around the world. Now "the Shanghai Museum has been quietly buying back treasures from dealer showrooms, mainly in Hong Kong. Nearly one third of the museum's famed collection of bronzes was acquired over the past 10 years through purchases and donations." South China Morning Post 07/13/00

  • THE ART OF NAZI FINANCING: Did Chase Manhattan bank help the German ambassador to France steal Jewish-owned artwork during the Second World War? The World Jewish Congress thusly accused the bank on Wednesday, saying that according to a U.S. Treasury Department report, Chase's French branch was actively aiding Nazi Germany in securing assets. "There is evidence that German assets were placed at Chase, which were used in transactions involving Jewish looted art." Yahoo (Reuters) 07/12/00

  • TOXIC PARKECOLOGY: Who says parks have to be in beautiful idyllic places? Artist Julie Bargmann creates parks on land no one would ever call pretty - on the site of a befouled abandoned mine. "Its central feature will be a stream of acidic water that will percolate out of the mine and course down a limestone-lined canal into aerating basins and finally to a wetland for a final rinse." Time 07/10/00

  • BUSY SIGNAL: Scotland is testing an ambitious new plan to make "information about almost every Scottish monument, museum exhibit or work of art available via mobile phones. All the background and trivia they ever wanted to know about a particular place or object will appear on the screens of their handsets." BBC 07/13/00

  • FOUNDING FATHER: It's been called Ontario's longest-running "culture war." A collector amassed a gallery of Group of Seven paintings and gave them to the province of Ontario in 1965. But gradually the patron was forced out of control of the collection, the gallery collected new work and became an important Canadian collection of contemporary art. Now the province's premier wants to give control back to the patron and let him do away with the contemporary work. Critics are "going ballistic." Toronto Globe and Mail 07/13/00

  • OUTLIVING ITS TIME: A statue erected 100 years ago of composer Stephen Foster in his hometown of Pittsburgh shows him with a slave sitting at his feet. Now a campaign to either remove or explain the statue. CNN 07/13/00 

Wednesday July 12

  • WALL RENOVATION: When the Berlin Wall came down 11 years ago, artists from around the world quickly covered what was left of the eastern side with more than 100 paintings, creating "the world's longest open-air gallery." Now that most of the artwork has deteriorated, city officials want the remaining wall torn down. But the artists have banded together to lobby for its restoration: "It is symbolic that when the wall fell the artists could paint in the east. It is necessary for a new generation to see this history of the division of the city." ABC News (Reuters) 07/11/00

  • WHEN EVEN THE CAPITAL DECAMPS: "For almost 30 years, 420 Broadway served as Soho's capital of contemporary art, headquarters for Leo Castelli, Ileana Sonnabend, and John Weber, as well as a string of other important dealers." But with most of the important dealers having folded their tents and headed to Chelsea, now the building "stands empty, with demolition crews tearing out the ghosts of exhibitions past to make way for luxury co-ops." Village Voice 07/11/00

  • RAINING ON THE COW PARADE: The 500 New York painted fiberglass cows and their "suburban cousins" in New Jersey and Connecticut won't be off the streets until fall, when they'll be auctioned off for charity. Here are seven reasons why that's way too long a wait. New York Times 07/12/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • A TRUNK FULL OF ART: For years a Minneapolis woman guarded a trunk full of old photos taken before World War I without caring much what they were.  When she finally went searching for their history she was "rewarded with a family story that involves murder, prison, an earthquake, royalty, musicians and the photographer's affair in Vienna with an Italian count." Minneapolis Star-Tribune 07/12/00

  • NOW THERE'S A THESIS TOPIC FOR SOMEBODY: "In March, Christie’s Auction House of New York City unloaded all of the 60 paintings created by artists that happen also to be elephants, including Sao (a former log-hauler in Thailand’s timber industry), whose work was likened by Yale art historian Mia Fineman to work of Paul Gauguin for its 'broad, gentle, curvy brush strokes' and 'a depth and maturity.' Fineman said she is writing a book on the three distinct regional styles of Thai elephant art." Cleveland Plain Dealer 07/12/00

Tuesday July 11

  • INSIDE JOB: At least 150 rare antiquarian books and artworks were stolen from the Japanese embassy in London, by the very man employed over the last three years to organize the valuable collection. Recovery will be difficult since the discovery came months after the collection had already been sold through auctions at Christie's. Japan Times 07/11/00

  • ART IN PICTURES: Until very recently, photography in Russia was regarded as a documentary exercise rather than an artform. Now the Hermitage has appointed its first curator of photography, and the daunting task of sorting through thousands of photos - just to see what's there - begins. Chicago Tribune 07/11/00

  • RESTORATION FOR THE REAL WORLD: The former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan is restoring Bukhara, a stop on the ancient 'Silk Road' trading route that became an Islamic center of learning. "Restorers desperately want to maintain the city's vitality and avoid the mistakes that turned the historic center of Samarkand, a Silk Road city 150 miles to the east, into a gleaming, but lifeless museum piece." CNN 07/10/00

  • HIRSHHORN'S NEW CURATOR: Washington's Hirshhorn Museum picks a new chief curator -  Kerry Brougher, an American who is director of the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, England. Washington Post 07/11/00

Monday July 10

  • FROM PAPER TO THE REAL WORLD: He's one of the world's most celebrated architects, but so far he hasn't had much built to show for it. Now Rem Koolhaas's buildings are starting to pop up everywhere and he's at the forefront of what has become "arguably the most exciting branch of culture." New York Times Magazine 07/09/00

  • MASTERFUL SALES: Usually London is not where the major action in Old Master paintings is to be found. But last week's sales racked up record after record. The Telegraph 07/10/00 

  • BEHIND THE BUBBLE: At a cost of $360 million, Beijing's Grand National Opera House, now under construction, figured to be controversial. Its bubble shape and the fact it wasn't designed by a Chinese architect makes for a triple whammy. But the real battle here is for the soul of the capital - protests erupt as old Beijing is cleared away to make room for the new. Washington Post 07/09/00 

  • GAUGUIN BY A HAIR? A New Zealand family contends it has a painting by Gauguin that the artist gave to one of their ancestors. Guaguin experts doubt the claim so the family is having four hairs embedded in the canvas tested for DNA to prove their case. Wired 07/10/00 

Sunday July 9

  • TOWERING AMBITIONS: "After a quarter of a century in which high-rise architecture was completely off the agenda, we have embarked on an unprecedented bout of skyscraper building. Cities determined to make their mark have decided that a crop of new towers, preferably as exhibitionistic as possible, is the way to get noticed. In urban-renewal projects, a conspicuous high rise is now regarded as one of the most effective ways to make the middle of nowhere feel like somewhere." The Observer (London) 07/09/00

    • THE MAN REMAKING LONDON: Architect Norman Foster got his "gherkin" tower approved by the City of London last week. "Foster is a tough cookie; some of his competitors might go as far as to say he is ruthless. None doubts his genius as a designer." The Independent (London) 07/09/00

  • LOOKING BACK AT WHAT? After years of indifference about its architectural past, Los Angeles is looking backwards. But how to preserve and protect? And what? "In the end, a city should be a repository of memory but not a graveyard for buildings. As Los Angeles grapples with what to preserve and how to preserve it, it must also preserve the openness of spirit that created the great architectural experiment that runs from Gill to Gehry." Los Angeles Times 07/09/00

  • SAME ARCHITECT/DIFFERENT VISION: Twelve years ago David Childs designed a vast new project for New York's Columbus Circle. But the version he redesigned which is now being built differs substantially. "There is more than one way to interpret this difference: public opinion could be changing; Mr. Childs could be changing his aesthetic; or the difference could mean less than meets the eye." New York Times 07/09/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Friday July 7

  • TELL ME MORE: Tate Modern has been harshly criticized by the director of another London museum for relying on insider jargon, failing to coherently contextualize its work, and explaining very little in fact about modern art. "I went to Tate Modern as someone who knows very little about modern art but is keen to learn. I left in exactly the same state. Why doesn't Tate Modern try to help its visitors learn techniques for assessing a piece of modern art instead of plonking the art in a gallery and hoping for the best?" The Independent 07/07/00 

  • THE SEARCH FOR KHAN: A Chicago attorney who has spent more than 40 years studying Genghis Khan, "claims to have found in an ancient book a vital clue that will take him to the tomb's location" and will lead a team to look for it. The whereabouts of the Khan's final resting place somewhere in Mongolia has been an enduring mystery. Discovery 07/06/00

  • EVERYONE LOVES A WINNER: The Art Gallery of Windsor in southern Ontario made a deal with the provincial casino. In return for renting the museum's old space, the casino paid $8 million in rent and built the museum a new $20 million home. Now the city council, eyeing the museum's good fortune, wants to discontinue the museum's annual $500,000 city support. CBC 07/07/00

  • A BIG NIGHT AT AUCTION: A rare collection of old master paintings, French furniture, silver, and sculptures from the collection of diamond merchant Julius Wernher (former governor of the South African conglomerate De Beers) sold at Christie's in London Wednesday night for $30.4 million, twice its $15 million estimate. New York Times 07/07/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 

  • AND THE JOKE IS ON... A lecturer who dislikes modern art decided to make his own. "He found a piece of scrap wood with grooves in from a cutting machine, painted it white and called it Millennium Dawn" and entered it in an art competition. Judges at Nottingham University awarded it a prize. Ananova 07/07/00

Thursday July 6

  • A LOGICAL APPROACH: The Art Loss Register, a private organization dedicated to recovering art looted during WWII, has located and returned art valued at $100 million. How? "The first is the moral argument, the second is the threat of embarrassing negative publicity, which affects both individuals and institutions, and the third is the claim that the work has become completely worthless from a financial standpoint because it can never be sold on the market as long as it remains on the list of looted Holocaust art." Ha'aretz 07/05/00

  • NO PAIN NO GAIN? Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small is in the middle of two more controversies - over the closing of a popular Woody Guthrie folk music exhibition, and over the possible confiscation of $16 million in research funds. In office only six months, Small has been controversial himself as he attempts a thorough shakeup of the institution. Chicago Tribune 07/06/00

  • MUSEUM TAKES RISK, LOSES: After the heirs of one of its patrons decided to sell a Picasso to another buyer, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art sued the family for $18 million. Now a judge has thrown out the museum's claim (and other donors and potential donors have got to be feeling a creeping chill). San Francisco Chronicle 07/06/00

  • ART FOR ALL THE PEOPLE: On the tenth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Museum of American History stages an exhibition complete with aids for those with disabilities. "The exhibit includes a telecaptioner for TV, a note-taker for the blind that uses the Braille alphabet, a CD for access to the Internet and two kiosks with computer monitors." The Times of India (AP) 07/06/00

Wednesday July 5

  • RECREATING CONTEXT: How faithfully should a museum try to reproduce the historical context in which pictures were originally made and shown? Do you distort or diminish a work of art by showing it in a way that the artist never intended? A new exhibition of Turner at the Tate Gallery tries for recreation but betrays the painter. The Telegraph (London) 07/05/00

  • MICHELANGELO DRAWING which inspired his statue of the risen Christ sold at auction Tuesday for a record $12 million. The Times of India 07/05/00

  • MODEL ARTISTS: Young good-looking 20- and 30-something American artists have been turning up in the pages of glossy magazines in the past few months. "Some people want to take these images as signs of the non-art world media's renewed interest in the art world, and therefore of the return of an 1980's-style art boom. But the glossified 80's artists were overwhelmingly male. The mediagenic artists of the oughties, as the current decade is sometimes called, are often women."  New York Times 07/05/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • MERMAIDS IN NORFOLK, GIANT CORN IN BLOOMINGTON: Some three dozen US cities have deployed art on their downtown streets after Chicago reported a hit with its art cows last year. Now Chicago is talking about putting a twist on the idea next summer. "If Chicago can reinvent itself and come up with something even more inventive, I'd say we're up for a decade of things on parade." CNN (AP) 07/04/00

  • UNDERWATER TRANSPORT: Singapore plans a new underwater subway station under the Singapore Art Museum. The roof of the station will allow sunlight to filter through into the 10-storey-deep Museum station. Those viewing the water from above can see the reflection of the museum in it. Singapore Straits-Times 07/05/00

Tuesday July 4

  • LOOKING FOR LEONARDO: In 1503 Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint a mural in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. But the image disappeared and conjecture is that rather than being destroyed the mural was obscured when a wall was built in front of it. Now scientists are on the hunt. "We will look through ancient walls using the most advanced technologies." 07/03/00

  • COME IN FROM THE LIGHT: The art world loathes Thomas Kinkade's precious paintings. But America's mall-goers can't buy them fast enough and have made Kinkade a wealthy man.  Reviled by the critics and scorned by galleries and agents, his work has been described as everything from 'pseudo' to 'a damning indictment of our society'. Some question whether what he does is art at all." Now Kinkade's taking his show to England. The Telegraph (London) 07/04/00

  • A SIDE OF BACON: Vanity Fair is said to be publishing a story claiming that painter Francis Bacon, who died in 1992 aged 82, was a tax dodger. The magazine alleges that Bacon avoided paying tax in Britain by failing to declare payments made by his dealers Marlborough Fine Art to a Swiss bank account. London Evening Standard 07/04/00

  • DOT-COM CRASH IMPACTS ART SALES: With much of Seattle's new wealth built on the dotcom boom, the recent downturn in the market has affected gallery art sales. "Everybody's afraid to bring it up, because everybody wonders at first if it's just us, if our business is down and everybody else is doing fine." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 07/04/00

Monday July 3

  • STOLEN ART IN BRITISH MUSEUM: A 12th Century manuscript in the British Museum is shown to have been looted from Italy. "The missal, from the chapter library of Benevento, was acquired by a UK army captain during World War II and bought by the British Museum library (as it then was) at Sotheby’s in 1947." The Art Newspaper 07/03/00

  • LOOKING BACK FOR THE FUTURE: The latest style in Moscow is what might be called reconstructivism. Wherever a historic building once stood but was destroyed, a more or less exact replacement now seems to be called for. Although not official policy, this growing attempt to re-create pre-revolutionary, pre-Stalin Moscow is largely driven by the office of the capital's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov. The Guardian 07/03/00

  • TAXMAN MAKES ARTISTIC DEAL: Instead of being the only Cimabue to ever have been auctioned, the rare panel painting will be accepted by the British government to pay the estate taxes of the current owner. The painting will join the collection of the National Gallery. The Art Newspaper 07/03/00

  • LADY DIANA IN A JEEP? When attempts to place statuary atop Trafalgar Square's fourth vacant plinth began last year, officials were surprised by how seriously Londoners took up the task. Suggestions ranged from a statue of Princess Di to a giant pigeon. A year of trading art on and off the pedestal has suggested a plan for the future. London Times 07/03/00

  • INDEPENDENCE TOUR: Norman and Lear and a partner who bought a copy of the Declaration of Independence on the internet last week, plan to tour it. "I don't want to see it sitting on a wall, I want to take it where Americans can see it. I made a film in Greenfield, Iowa, and that's a place I know well. If that living document came to Greenfield, people would come by the busloads." Los Angeles Times 07/03/00

  • STROKE SENDS ARTIST'S CAREER SOARING: Artist Katherine Sherwood was always an artist. But a debilitating stroke at the age of 44 transformed her career.  "Critics see a huge change in Sherwood's work. From the restricted, analytical style of the art professor she once was, she has been transformed into a vibrant, free-flowing painter. She has just finished a show at New York's prestigious Whitney Museum, and her abstracts sell for $10,000. "I have sold more paintings in the past few months than in 25 years as an artist," she says with a smile. The Times (London) 07/03/00

Sunday July 2

  • CRUMBLING TREASURES: Italy has a wealth of art treasures. But how to take care of it? "Art restoration in Italy is in a mess. It's not that we lack restorers of the highest ability. It is rather that the organisation of the whole, and the role of the government, is chaotic... The government may get involved when some world-famous building has collapsed, or a world-famous fresco starts peeling off its wall. But there's no interest at all in the thousands of buildings and churches that are quietly crumbling, along with the objects inside them, in the centres of Italy's ancient cities." The Telegraph (London)