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VISUAL ARTS - July 2001

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Tuesday July 31

THIEF TO THE STARS: Michel Cohen was a dealer to the dealers - someone the high-enders used "to sell their Picassos and Chagalls - secretly - to each other. Then he disappeared with nearly $100 million of their money. Had they trusted the charming Frenchman too much? Or their competitors too little?" New York Magazine 07/30/01

RAIN OF GLASS: Contrary to what the Melbourne Museum said last week after glass panels in the museum shattered, the museum did have people in it at the time. "Witnesses described hearing a loud explosion and shattering glass as the three-metre by 1.2-metre panel in the balcony, located on the lower-ground level, gave way at about 10.15am." The Age (Melbourne) 07/31/01

ADMIT FREE: How about making America's museums free? "Relieving every one of America's 8,000 museums of the need to charge admission fees - would cost $1 billion a year. From political Washington's perspective, that would be $1 billion sluiced out into every state and every congressional district. And it would be a visionary, big-tent gesture of magnanimity that would generate better press and far more good will than the Bush Administration will ever get from the income tax rebate checks hitting the mails right now." Public Arts 07/30/01

IMPRESSIONISM - IT KEEPS ON TICKING: A Renoir show at the Art Gallery of New South Wales has drawn the museum's highest daily attendance since 1994, when yes, another Impressionist show was on view. Sydney Morning Herald 07/31/01

MORE THAN A CURIOSITY: Australian Aboriginal art is widely purchased outside of the country. "But many Australians are deluded about the health of the international market for Aboriginal art, according to some experts." The work is not seriously collected. “Aboriginal art is often regarded either as an ethnographic curiosity or as an expression of mystic qualities associated with ‘new-age’ thinking.” The Art Newspaper 07/22/01

DUBUFFET AT 100: Americans are generally protective of their beliefs and priorities, and react badly against those who challenge them. So it is difficult to explain the success in the U.S. of an artist like the Frenchman Jean Dubuffet, who would have turned 100 this week. Dubuffet's art was/is beloved by U.S. collectors, and the devotion to his work is so great that his fans seem inclined to overlook the artist's frequent calls for the destruction of the American artistic canons. Chicago Tribune 07/31/01

Monday July 30

UNDESIRABLE JOBS: Regional British museums are having difficulty hiring directors. "While billions of pounds in public funding continue to pour into London and the South East, cuts in staff and opening hours are the reality for impoverished museums in the North." The Times (UK) 07/30/01

MAYBE THE KIDS DON'T LIKE IT? When San Francisco's Zeum Museum for kids opened three years ago, it was hailed as "a cross between the Guggenheim Museum and the Starship Enterprise, a place where thousands of teens could hang out and craft high-tech videos and digital portraits." But the museum has drawn less than a third of its expected attendance. Now "it now has a negative net worth. And its debt is equal to its annual budget." San Francisco Chronicle 07/30/01

SHOW AUSSIE: For the past 14 years, a Willem de Kooning sculpture has stood in the courtyard of Melbourne's Victorian Arts Centre. Now the center wants the piece removed - and the quicker the better. "The Victorian Arts Centre Trust's view is that they would rather have a major Australian piece at the front of the Arts Centre." The Age (Melbourne) 07/30/01

SAVING THE ART OF A NATION: "Since the 1890s, the British government has allowed owners of outstandingly important paintings and objects to offer them to the nation in lieu of tax - aware that unless such a mechanism existed, owners would sell their pictures abroad in order to pay death duties." One man has "saved" £150 million worth of art for the nation in this manner. The Telegraph (UK) 07/30/01

CACHING IN: German art experts are hoping that a cache of hundreds of paintings lost in World War II are safe. "They suspect that the 434 old master paintings, including three works by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, did not perish in a bunker in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain in May 1945 as long thought, and that the works of art are now in storage in secret U.S. depots." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07/30/01

SAVING AUSTRALIAN HERITAGE: "How best to preserve our cultural heritage is a constant behind-the-scenes battle at our museums and galleries. A recent Australian Bureau of Statistics report found that 41 per cent of all museum and gallery artefacts required some treatment. While conservators at several institutions question how such a figure was arrived at - virtually all artefacts require conservation, argues one expert - all acknowledge that keeping up appearances involves a difficult balancing act." Sydney Morning Herald 07/30/01

Sunday July 29

PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG CURATOR: Frederick Ilchman doesn't believe in cappucinos after the breakfast hour, insists his martinis be shaken, and likes to help women navigate the bridges of Venice. He's the new assistant curator of Renaissance art at Boston's Museum of Fine Art, and he seems to have come from a different time. Boston Globe 07/29/01

Friday July 27

BRITAIN WILL KEEP UNIQUE ART COLLECTION: The Wernher Collection - Old Master paintings and a massive collection of Renaissance jewellery - will stay in Britain and go on public display next year. The collection, which had been stored in a Christie's warehouse during negotiations, has been loaned to the nation for 125 years, ending fears it might be sold overseas. The Times (UK) 07/27/01

PROTECTING THE HOME TEAM: The director of Australia's National Gallery warns that Australian galleries better invest in Aboriginal art or it will be bought by foreigners and taken out of the country. "We'd better wake up. We are seeing before our very eyes one of the great movements of our time in contemporary art." Sydney Morning Herald 07/27/01

A FIBROUS DUFY: The Paris Museum of Modern Art has discovered that Raoul Dufy's giant 1930s mural La Fee Electricite is coated on the back with asbestos fibres. "The fibre will be removed from the back of the 250 wood panels that make up the 6,450 square foot masterpiece." 07/26/01

AS HARD TO DEFINE AS ART ITSELF: In New York, as in other cities, there's creativity everywhere. The question is, which parts of it are art? "The term 'outdoor sculpture' may have outlived its usefulness. And 'public art' or 'outdoor art' are only slightly more commodious, partly because of outside pressure. No matter what you call it, the category has expanded, but it is often overshadowed by the rising tide of what might be called accidental or inadvertent art." The New York Times 07/27/01 (one-time registration required for access)

MELBOURNE CLOSES: The Melbourne Museum is replacing a series of glass balustrades at the museum. "On Monday, a large glass balustrade in an interior balcony shattered, sending shards of glass falling on to the foyer on the lower-ground level." The museum was closed at the time. The Age (Melbourne) 07/27/01

Thursday July 26

OWNERSHIP DISPUTE: A prized work of art looted by the Nazis - Wassily Kandinsky's Improvisation Number 10 - has been the object of a protracted ownership dispute. "Negotiations over its ownership broke down last week when its current Swiss owner definitively chose to keep it after almost a decade of negotiation." 07/25/01

DOWN TO TERRA: Chicago's Terra Museum was considering moving out of the city (where it felt underappreciated). But a judge has ruled that the museum foundation and its $100 million collection must remain in Chicago (though the museum on Michigan Avenue can be closed and its collection moved or merged with another museum). Chicago Tribune 07/25/01

YOU WANT TO SAVE... THAT? The drive is on to save the Wilde Building, a glass-and-steel 1950s-era modernist office building in Connecticuit. Such structures are hardly the usual focus of the preservation movement - more often, they are the enemy. So why save such a dime-a-dozen corporate campus? "The Wilde is a gem of its kind. It's also important as an early and influential model for the age of great corporate campuses." Boston Globe 07/26/01

SKETCHING AMERICA: There may be no more quintessentially American art form than the political or celebrity caricature. From the Civil War to the turbulent 1960s to the present day, cartoonists have had their say, and then some. An exhibition at the New York Public Library highlights some of the best of the form. Nando Times (AP) 07/25/01

Wednesday July 25

SURE BEATS A BOX FULL OF PENNIES: UNICEF will be the beneficiary of an upcoming auction of modern paintings valued at $40 million from the collection of the late journalist René Gaffé. The items to be auctioned include Picasso's 1908 cubist Étude pour Nu dans une Foret and two large Joan Miró paintings, as well as works by Renoir, Magritte, and Braque. BBC 07/25/01

BACK TO BASICS: "Perhaps any talk of artistic 'rules' sounds anachronistic these days. But to go by the majority of artists featured in the graduate and postgraduate shows of the Royal College of Art, the Royal Academy Schools, and the Slade, the rules are being not only learnt, but positively embraced." The Times (UK) 07/25/01

IF ONLY SOMEONE COULD SOLVE THE "PIGEON PROBLEM": "Outdoor sculpture collections serve varied purposes and constituencies. By definition, more people will see them than will ever enter a museum. The sheer numbers of visitors mean the contents of these parks must be carefully thought through; too many of them end up as surveys starring the usual suspects. And those in charge must not knuckle under to the temptation to settle for the middlebrow so as not to offend a general audience." Boston Globe 07/25/01

ART IN FASHION: "Can fashion — by nature both ephemeral and functional — be on a par with fine art? Can an ad campaign be counted as culture?" London dealer Jay Jopling has recycled photographs seen in ads in magazines and made a show of them in his gallery. The Times (UK) 07/25/01

HOCKNEY IN L.A.: David Hockney is known mainly as a Pop Art painter with Matisse influences, but as a new exhibit making its only American stop in Los Angeles this summer shows, Hockney is also an accomplished photographer. Nando Times (AP) 07/24/01

Tuesday July 24

REM EVERYWHERE: Conde Nast has hired architect Rem Koolhaas. "Mr. Koolhaas, who is known for his sometimes controversial architecture, will not design a new cafeteria annex. Instead, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect and author — along with about eight members of his staff — will offer editorial and marketing advice." The New York Times 07/24/01 (one-time registration required for access)

BODY SCULPTING: Plastic surgeons have engaged a sculptor to work with them on their body reconstructions. "One of the surgeons at the end of the course said you can do plastic surgery quite easily but sculpting is really hard." BBC 07/23/01

DID GAUGUIN CUT VAN GOGH? Did Van Gogh really cut off his own ear in a fit of madness? Maybe not. A German art expert says that "Gauguin, his fellow artist and a keen swordsman, sliced it off when an alcohol-fuelled row degenerated into violence." Sunday Times (UK) 07/22/01

RENTING FOR DOLLARS: SFMOMA's rental gallery has long been a way to get art into people's homes at low cost and to give artists a trickle of income. Over the years, the gallery has earned $10 million in fees for artists. But the museum has big plans for the gallery and some Bay Area artists are upset. "They want it to be bigger and produce more income." San Francisco Chronicle 07/24/01

Monday July 23

BRITS FALL BEHIND: British museums are cash-strapped, underfunded by comparison to American and European institutions. "In Britain, museums and galleries have been left stranded between successive cost-cutting governments that no longer see art purchases as a priority and private sector funding that is well below that in the United States. "We have slipped from being in a position in the 19th century like the Getty to being among the poor men of Europe." The Telegraph (UK) 07/23/01

PLAYING NICE WITH OTHERS? Chicago's Field Museum has been aggressive in its own promotion, staging popular shows and scooping up lots of funding; the museum drew 2.4 million visitors last year, the most in Chicago. But relations between the Field and the city's other arts institutions have deteriorated... ChicagoBusiness. 07/23/01

THE GETTY'S DISPUTED COFFIN: "In 1977 the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, Calif., acquired a 6th century B.C. sarcophagus that sources in the art world say may have come from an illicit dig in Turkey in the mid-1970s." 07/20/01

THINNING THE HERD: "Does France have too many monuments? The situation of many castles and churches is extremely precarious, and there isn't enough money to keep them all up. Here is a modest proposal: Tear down 100 of the cathedrals. After all, who needs that many, and aren't a lot of them awfully ugly? Call it patrimonial euthanasia. In with the new!" International Herald Tribune 07/21/01

DIGITAL ARTS: "There is this lovely idea that the Internet is this medium where everyone can contribute and everyone has an anonymous personality. They'll be looked at as themselves for who they are as compared to what they are. In the digital art world, this may actually be taking place." The New York Times 07/23/01 (one-time registration required for access)

TOO MANY PAINTINGS: "Peter Howson, Scotland’s greatest living artist, appears to be suffering the ill-effects of market forces. Paintings which once fetched £10,000 can now be bought for £2,000, and his drawings are available for as little as the cost of a fortnight’s groceries. Art experts believe the award-winning artist may have been too prolific for his own good." Scotland on Sunday 07/22/01

MENAGE A TROIS ANYONE? A new film is about to reveal the wild bohemian lives of some of Australia's most prominent artists. "The movie, When We Were Young, will centre on the six years from 1942 which are billed as the start of the modern art movement in Australia." Sydney Morning Herald 07/23/01

Sunday July 22

SHOCK OF THE ME TOO: Shock art is in, but why? "Who decides what is art in an age when torture, necrophilia, and self-mutilation all pass for creative human endeavour? Is it up to the individual who creates the piece to declare it as art, or should society decide whether the work has any validity?" The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/22/01

HUMBLING OF THE THAMES: The Thames is one of the great rivers cutting through one of the great cities. But what has become of it? "For centuries it was the capital's great artery, and its pleasure beach. Today it is sadly underused, its banks lined with banal apartment blocks." The Telegraph (UK) 07/21/01

BLOCKBUSTER 101 - THE MAKING OF... It's taken 12 years of research and planning, and more than 200 museum employees for the Art Institute of Chicago to put together its Van Gogh/Gauguin show that opens this fall. Product research, catalogs, installation details, marketing...The modern blockbuster doesn't travel cheaply. Chicago Tribune 07/22/01

WHAT'S WRONG WITH CANADA: "Because of the way the tax system works here, and the low levels of funding, Canadian museums are not the best places to see the best Canadian art. The very best Canadian art is not affordable to us. The question is, why isn't this the big glittering Paris of Canada? Because it's treated as a way station. Real culture, real life happens somewhere else. We are still so colonized compared to the Americans. That is a huge disappointment." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/22/01

BUYING ART: "Buying art today is, for those who can afford it, easier than ever before. Dealers and auction houses are falling over themselves to be less perfumed and exclusive, now that the biggest wads of disposable income are in the hands of rich City boys rather than braying aristocrats from Chelsea." Sunday Times (UK) 07/22/01

Friday July 20

THE COLLECTORS: Each summer ARTNews ranks the top 200 American art collectors. You can't see the complete list online, but the top 10 is posted... ARTNews 07/01

DOODLING FOR STALIN: A new Top Secret Soviet file has been uncovered - it contains cartoons and doodles done by senior Politburo staff made during their meetings with Stalin. "Not only did Soviet leaders often doodle during their meetings, they also passed their drawings around the room for each other's comments. Stalin joined in the game too." The Telegraph (UK) 07/20/01

LENIN WAS A SOUP CAN? "A portrait of Vladimir Lenin by Pop Art pioneer Andy Warhol has been stolen from a warehouse in the German city of Cologne." Nando Times (AP) 07/19/01

THE MIGHTY VULCAN: A giant statue of Vulcan that stood over the city of Birmingham is awaiting restoration - a job that will cost $12.5 million. Statue advocates want some federal money to help pay the cost. But critics (surprise surprise) are blunt: "While the federal surplus is rapidly dwindling, why should federal dollars pay for a face lift of a statue of a Roman god in Alabama?" The New York Times 07/19/01 (one-time registration required for access)

THEY'RE DROPPING BARENBOIM NEXT: "A performance artist dropped a bloody, headless bull from a helicopter in central Berlin on Thursday after the city's highest court said it wouldn't stop the show, which had drawn criticism from animal-rights advocates and residents. Before the bull fell about 130 feet to the ground, Austrian-born artist Wolfgang Flatz hung motionless from a crane - naked and bleeding - with his arms outstretched cross-like as industrial music blared at a factory construction site." Nando Times (AP) 07/19/01

Thursday July 19

DR. GACHET'S RUSTIC HOME IN AUVERS-SUR-OISE: During World War II, works by Pissarro, Cézanne, Van Gogh and others were hidden there, to keep them from the Nazis. Sixty years earlier, Pissarro, Cézanne, Van Gogh and others were there in person. Next Spring, it will open as a memorial to Impressionism. MSNBC 07/18/01

IMPERIAL PAST: San Francisco city officials want to relocate statues of the city's colonial founder and his royal patron. But critics are decrying the art as "a symbol of imperialism and genocide" that shouldn't be given prominence. San Francisco Chronicle 07/19/01

DÜRER NUDES, LOST AND FOUND, LOST AND FOUND: "Women's Bathhouse," by Albrecht Dürer is worth probably $10 million. It was part of an art collection that went somehow from a castle in Nazi Germany to Soviet troops to the KGB to a museum in Azerbaijan to a Japanese wrestler... it's all very complicated. Anyway, the works now are going back to the Bremen Museum. The New York Times 07/19/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Wednesday July 18

JURASSIC MUSEUM: London's Natural History Museum has gone Hollywood, hosting three advanced robotic dinosaurs to thrill visitors. The museum has been packing them in; it "has invested £500,000 in the exhibition, most of which has been spent on the three animals, with the aim of attracting one million visitors over its 10-month stay." The Independent (UK) 07/18/01

A REAL MICHELANGELO: Experts in Rome Tuesday declared that a 53-inch tall colored wood crucifix was made by Michelangelo, settling a decades-old debate. The crucifix would have been made in 1493 when the artist was 18 years old. USAToday 07/18/01

PETTY THEFT OR HARSH CRITIQUE? Police in Scotland have recovered a valuable 15th century Rhineland tapestry stolen earlier this year from a Glasgow gallery. "Following a tip-off on Saturday, police traced the stolen textile to a litter bin outside an old cigarette factory." The Guardian (UK) 07/17/01

MUMMY TROUBLE: A New York art dealer has been charged with illegally selling an Egyptian mummy's head. "The 2,400-year-old skull of Amenhotep III was sold by Frederick Schultz several years ago to a London dealer for $1.2 million, according to court papers." New York Post 07/17/01

Tuesday July 17

ISRAELI MUSEUM SUSPECTED OF "STEALING BACK" HOLOCAUST ART: Bruno Schulz was a Polish-Jewish artist who was forced to paint murals on the walls of a Nazi leader's home. In 1942, he was shot. The murals were painted over and forgotten until six months ago. Now, the murals have vanished. Who took them? "In an ironic twist the Yad Vashem Museum in Israel, a guardian of the memory of the Holocaust, stands accused." Time 07/16/01

REAL RETURN: Returning art that was stolen by the Nazis is not just an easy matter of giving back. "The British Museum, like the National Gallery (of Australia) has got rigid legislative infrastructure which prohibits it in most circumstances from disposing of things. Many countries also compelled their galleries and institutions by law to not only retain and exhibit items, but restricted them from giving them back to victims." The Age (Melbourne) 07/17/01

EXPORT BAN: The Australian government imposed an export ban on seven Aboriginal paintings last week before their auction at Sotheby's. The ban resulted in lower sales prices as foreign collectors avoided the work. "The law prohibits the export of artefacts considered of national importance. Yet of the 950 applications over the past 13 years to take objects of significant cultural heritage out of Australia, only 29 have been rejected. Of these, 10 were Aboriginal paintings seven in the past two weeks." The Age (Melbourne) 07/17/01

PHOTOGRAPHIC DEEP FREEZE: Corbis, which owns the Bettman archive of 17 million historic photographs, is preparing to seal them up 200 feet underground in a deep freeze, after having them digitized. "But once they are interred more than 200 feet below ground, they will be out of reach, to the disgust of historians." New Statesman 07/16/01

NO. 3 IN THE PASSING LANE? Louis Vuiton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) confirmed it will merge the world's number three auction house, Phillips with Bonhams & Brooks, the world's number four. Phillips has been been expanding, trying to compete with the top two auction houses. The Art Newspaper 07/16/01

SOUNDS LIKE A MEL BROOKS MOVIE TO US: During the Russian Revolution some members of the Imperial family fled with whatever loot they could carry. "But some royals buried their heirlooms, hoping the 1917 uprisings would be short-lived. State Duma Deputy Konstantin Sevenard announced last week he knows the whereabouts of a long-lost royal cache in St. Petersburg." He's putting up $1 million of his own money to finance a search. The Moscow Times 07/17/01

Mondy July 16

THE ALLURE OF OLD MASTERS: London's Old Masters auctions racked up £46 million in sales last week. "The Old Masters market is becoming increasingly selective and polarised, with dealers and collectors fighting for the best pictures and rejecting anything sub-standard." The Telegraph (UK) 07/16/01

  • Previously: DRIVEN OUT BY INFLATION: Prices of Old Master drawings are soaring, but long-time connoisseurs are deserting the market, "driven away by the most phenomenal inflation ever witnessed where art is concerned." International Herald Tribune 07/14/01

MORE THAN CONCRETE BUNKERS: "Even the architecture of the early Middle Ages is more familiar to us today than that of East Germany. The public perception of the diverse architecture of failed state-controlled socialism is just as limited as ever." And yet, there are some bright spots among the prefab concrete building complexes. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07/16/01

CRITIC FROM AFAR: Peter Plagens "parachutes" into Dublin to hold forth on the Irish Museum of Modern Art and its recent directorship controversy: "In short, IMMA seemed to me a nice combination of connoisseurship and openness, of pride and intelligent modesty, a jewel of a place to contemplate art that's on a par with (to name a couple of my favourites) the Kunsthalle in Bregenz, Austria, and the Kimbell Museum (of Impressionists and Old Masters) in Texas." Irish Times 06/25/01

QUEEN BLAMED FOR LACK OF MICHELANGELO: The National Museum of Scotland recently wanted to buy a Michelangelo drawing. But the bid was prevented by funding officials who believed that instead of buying the work, the Queen might occasionally lend a Michelangelo from her collection to the Scottish museum. Sunday Times 07/15/01

Sunday July 15

FIGURATIVE BIAS: Anti-conceptual forces are on the rise. London's Tate Gallery is looking for a new curator of modern British art. But is there a catch? "The job that holds out the promise of 'recommending new acquisitions to Tate's director of collections' also guarantees you will be vilified by a growing movement of artists infuriated by the bias towards conceptual art largely dictated by Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota and his Brit Art cronies at the Saatchi gallery." Glasgow Herald 07/13/01

SAVING STONEHENGE: Stonehenge "has been a national disgrace for as long as anyone can remember." The World Heritage Monument is noisy and plagued with auto fumes and gawking tourists. A new plan to fix the site around the stones sounds promising, but why choose architects known more for their cement office towers than historic sensitivities? The Telegraph (UK) 07/14/01

A MASS OF EGO? Peter Moores has plunged a fortune into making a "museum for the masses" in an English country house. "Fair enough, but, of course, the big question with any benefactor is: what's he in it for, the art or the kudos? It may not matter, but one likes to know." Sunday Times (UK) 07/15/01

ANIMAL HOUSE: "In the old days, when we were still improving as a species, the Natural History Museum was a place to which we went in order to acquire a deeper knowledge of the natural world and to familiarise ourselves with a selection of plangent truths about it. We went in search of wonder, beauty, the unfamiliar, the extraordinary. But that was then. These days, we go for the rides, for the gore, and in order to push lots and lots of buttons." Sunday Times (UK) 07/15/01

DRIVEN OUT BY INFLATION: Prices of Old Master drawings are soaring, but long-time connoisseurs are deserting the market, "driven away by the most phenomenal inflation ever witnessed where art is concerned." International Herald Tribune 07/14/01

Friday July 13

A BARGAIN AT JUST UNDER $8.4 MILLION: "One day after a small sketch by Leonardo raised the world record for the artist to a £8.14 million ($11.47 million), a Michelangelo study of a woman mourning became the second highest Michelangelo drawing at £5.94 million ($8.39 million) . Far more beautiful than Michelangelo's study for 'The Risen Christ,' which sold last year at Christie's for a record £8.14 million ($11.49 million), the Michelangelo sold at Sotheby's was comparatively reasonably priced." International Herald Tribune 07/12/01

  • Previously: RECORD LEONARDO: A Leonardo sketch sells for $11 million, equaling the record for an Old Master drawing. "Prior to Tuesday's Old Master Drawing sale at Christie's in London, the auction house had been billing Horse and Rider as the most significant piece to come up for sale since the 1930s, being one of the last still in private hands." 07/10/01

CANADIAN STRIKE SETTLED: The 200 creative and technical staff at Canada's National Gallery have settled their strike against the museum. "The 63-day strike was often acrimonious. The gallery accused the strikers of harassing visitors to its major summer show, a retrospective of Austrian painter Gustav Klimt." CBC 07/12/01

RIPOFF: Three years ago a thief tore an $8 million James Tissot painting from its frame in the Auckland Art Gallery in a daring theft. The painting was later recovered and the thief jailed, but it has taken two years and $140,000 to restore the ripped canvas. Still, experts say the damage has resulted in a $4 million loss in its value. New Zealand Herald 07/13/01

PSYCH THROUGH ART: A British psychologist has developed a system of analyzing children's artwork to determine if they have psychological problems. "It uses 23 separate indicators to analyse drawings of individual figures and family groups by five to seven-year-olds. These include: omission of body parts, position of figures, whether the figures appear to be 'floating' in mid-air, whether they appear to be unusually large or small, and whether the child drew over the picture several times before getting it right." The Times (UK) 07/13/01

Thursday July 12

WANDERING IN E-SPACE: "The coming years promise a virtual flood as more and more institutions chase after the new-media bandwagon, eager to find and nurture the next avant-garde - if such a thing exists - and fearful of being left behind. But art and architecture have yet to convincingly define, much less master, this brave new world, and so what happens at their high-profile intersection - the new-media art space - is invariably experimental and often problematic." Metropolis 07/01

REINVENTING ARCHITECTURE: Twenty-five years ago America sowed the seeds of an architectural cultural revolution. "How could that ruling class of architects ever be overthrown by a renegade band of amateur philosophers and impudent pamphleteers?" The New Republic 07/11/01

REINVENTING SCULPTURE: If "painting is an art we have inherited from the past, is sculpture is an art that the modern age has been obliged to reinvent for itself?" New York Observer 07/11/01

Wednesday July 11

RECORD LEONARDO: A Leonardo sketch sells for $11 million, equaling the record for an Old Master drawing. "Prior to Tuesday's Old Master Drawing sale at Christie's in London, the auction house had been billing Horse and Rider as the most significant piece to come up for sale since the 1930s, being one of the last still in private hands." 07/10/01

  • NOT BAD FOR A SKETCH: "A drawing by Michelangelo, discovered last year in the library of Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, is expected to fetch up to £8m when it goes on sale on Wednesday." BBC 07/11/01

CUTTING THE COURTAULD: The renowned Courtauld Institute has been told by London University that it ought to consider affiliating with another institution. University officials believe that "the University of London is not big enough financially to act as the custodian of the Courtauld if the institute faced a real financial crisis." The Art Newspaper 07/07/01

SÃO PAOLO LIVES ON: The São Paolo Biennial is one of the most unlikely success stories of the art world. Plagued by government interference and general instability, the event has nonetheless survived for 50 years, and gained worldwide respect. "It is difficult to overstate the biennial's impact on Brazilian and Latin American art. As the first event in the Southern Hemisphere to gain a place on the international art calendar, it has molded two generations of artists, curators and collectors." The New York Times 07/11/01 (one-time registration required for access)

A SMALL INVESTIGATION: Controversial Smithsonian chief Lawrence Small has made a lot of enemies. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened an investigation into the private collection of Amazonian tribal art owned by Small. Washington Post 07/10/01

Tuesday July 10

RARE DA VINCI SKETCH MAY BRING $5 MILLION: "A Leonardo da Vinci sketch of a galloping horse is expected to fetch over $5 million when it goes under the hammer... which is over 500 years old, is the most significant to come up for sale since the 1930s, being one of the last still in private hands." CNN 07/09/01

SOMETHING FROM NOTHING: London has been experimenting with filling Trafalgar Square's empty fourth plinth with temporary artworks. "People, especially municipal councillors, have a problem with empty spaces and get itchy fingers every time they spot one." But Rachel Whiteread's commission for the plinth makes nothing of something - and maybe that's just what's needed. New Statesman 07/09/01

Monday July 9

IMPROPER SALE: A French court has convicted a New York art dealer over his purchase of artwork looted by the Nazis from a Jewish family in World War II. He purchased the Flemish Master painting in 1989 and the French court ruled he had not made the purchase in good faith. Chicago Tribune 07/08/01

YOURNAMEHERE.MUSEUM: Plans for a .museum domain name include provisions to certify which institutions can claim the domains, a kind of Good Housekeeping Seal for museums. But what are the criteria, and who gets to play? The New York Times 07/09/01 (one-time registration required for access)

A JARRING LANDMARK: "It is seven stories of a shiny greenish glass façade, through which massive tubes can be seen undulating through the building. It is the Sendai Mediatheque. Its goal was to put this north-central Japanese city, population about 1 million, on the world’s cultural map. And in a sense, it has succeeded. But at what cost?" Newsweek 07/09/01

MIES IS IN THE DETAILS: Two New York museums are simultaneously displaying exhibits of the work of architect Mies van der Rohe, he of the famous quotation, "God is in the details." Mies, as he is usually called, has been a favorite of museums for years, but many critics have called his buildings cold and distant, even as they acknowledge the brilliance of the overall design. So as for the current exhibits, "Why Mies? Why now? What are the cultural politics of this aesthetic rigging?" New York Magazine 07/09/01

IRREPLACEABLE: A large mural by Josef Albers created for New York's MetLife building has a significant modernist history. But the lobby of the building is being renovated and MetLife says it doesn't intend to rehang the mural. Preservationists are critical. The New York Times 07/09/01 (one-time registration required for access)

WHO OWNS ART? A former internee at Auschwitz was amazed to learn that seven of the paintings she had painted while in the concentration camp had survived. She wants them back. But "officials in Poland insist that returning the paintings could set a dangerous precedent that might threaten the museum’s very existence." Newsweek 07/16/01

GETTY GETS SOME NEW MONET: The J. Paul Getty Museum has often found itself under fire for some of its acquisition techniques, and the gallery's main curator has been feeling the pressure to score some major works that do not invite controversy. The new Monet ought to do the trick - the impressionist master's painting of the famed Notre Dame cathedral is one of 535 new acquisitions soon to be hanging in the Getty. Los Angeles Times 07/09/01

PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY: Imagine a world without photographs. In the modern landscape it's difficult - they're everywhere around us. So one can imagine what a revolution photography must have been back in the early 1800s... USNews 07/09/01

HIGH-TECH GOSPEL: "The Irish monks who labored 1,300 years ago to create the intricate illustrations of the famed Book of Kells would be surprised to know that their artwork can now be seen anywhere in the world, on a home computer. Until last year, when the ancient Latin manuscript of the four Gospels was put on a CD-ROM, the pages could be viewed only at the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin, where the 680-page volume resides behind thick glass and tight security." Philadelphia Inquirer 07/09/01

CAVE RIGHTS: French archeologists are ecstatic to have discovered ancient cave engravings that could date back 28,000 years. But French pride is dampened somewhat by the discovery that an English couple actually owns the land where the caves are located. "Their second home, bought for just over £100,000, could now be valued at millions of pounds by the French courts." The Times (UK) 07/08/01

ART ON THE RAILS: "With a scheduled opening three years away, planners of Houston's 7.5-mile light-rail line have engaged 11 artists to boost the project's aesthetics. The city's Metropolitan Transit Authority has set aside $500,000 of the $300 million cost to bring in painters, photographers and a sculptor to turn the line's 16 stations into works of public art." Dallas Morning News 07/09/01

CENSORING STUDENT ART: A Texas art teacher has filed a lawsuit against the administration of the school that fired him last year after he defended the work of some of his pupils. The controversy arose from a mural painted by students which depicted, among many other images, two men kissing. Despite a unanimous vote of support for the mural from the school's faculty, the school's administrator had the wall with the mural whitewashed, and fired the art teacher after he publicly stood up for his students. Dallas Morning News 07/09/01

Sunday July 8

DEALER GUILTY IN NAZI ART CASE: "A British art dealer has been found guilty by a French court of handling a Nazi-looted painting. Adam Williams, 49, who is currently in the United States, was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence." BBC 07/06/01

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY OF ART SCHOOLS: Trying to force something as fluid as art into a rigid curriculum is often a losing proposition, but nearly every successful artist these days has attended an art school. "Art has always been a difficult fit with school because making new art does not conform to objective criteria that schools can readily test and evaluate. That's one reason most art schools are Bad art schools. They emphasize technique because technique fits the demands of pedagogy and testing for the typical academic curriculum." Los Angeles Times 07/08/01

HOLDING ONTO NATIVE ART: Australia's Cultural Heritage Act requires that any Aboriginal art more than twenty years old not leave the country without an export permit. This week, two such works will be auctioned off, and the high level of foreign interest has reopened the debate over whether such export restrictions help or hurt makers and purveyors of aboriginal art. The Age (Melbourne) 07/08/01

Friday July 6

ALL ROADS LEAD TO LA? No city can dominate the art world like Paris in the late 1800s and New York in the 1900s. But Los Angeles is seeing a flood of artists moving in. "There is increasing consensus in the art world that there is more exciting new work coming from young artists in Los Angeles right now than in any other city in the world." Christian Science Monitor 07/06/01

KIDS IN THE HOUSE: A record number of children visited British museums last year. Why? Admission charges were dropped. "Since 17 of England's national museum abolished entry fees for children, attendance figures have grown steadily from just under 5m in 1998-99 to more than 6m in 2000-01." The Guardian (UK) 07/06/01

THE MAGAZINE RACK AS ART GALLERY: Why did photography have so little impact at the Venice Biennale? "For every terrific photo I see on a gallery wall, there are 10 in the pages of a magazine.... Many of these images would look great in a frame; most don't belong there. They were made for the printed page, often in an interlocking series, and outside of that hectic environment they often seem awkward, lost, pointless." Village Voice 07/04/01

Thursday July 5

A CHURCH IN LA: Los Angeles is awash in high-profile public buildings under construction. "But most exciting of all is the first major cathedral to be built in North America in a century. It is 11 stories high with 57,000 square feet of interior space and will seat 3,000 people. The interior is being decorated with six-story-high 'windows' of translucent Spanish alabaster through which muted light will shine. The extravagant church, which on its own costs $75 million, will contain more alabaster than any other religious structure in the world." New Times LA 06/28/01

NO APPETITE FOR NEW: Taiwanese artists protest turning a public contemporary art gallery over to a private operator. "Given the fact that contemporary art has not yet gained general approval in Taiwan, the running of a gallery featuring contemporary art is definitely not a profitable business." Taipei Times 07/05/01

REALLY OLD ART: Engravings dating back 28,000 years have been found in caves in western France. "Officials said hundreds of yards of detailed engravings in the Cussac cave depict animals - including bison, horses and rhinoceroses - and human figures." The engravings predate the Lascaux cave paintings, which were produced 18,000 years ago. New Jersey Online (AP) 07/04/01

NOW THAT'S RESOURCEFUL: An alternative gallery in Connecticuit is showing an exhibition of artwork by the state's prison inmates, most of whom had no access to traditional art supplies. For instance, the exhibit includes "a mock, working Ferris wheel fashioned from 11,472 pieces of potato chip bags." Hartford Courant 07/05/01

BIDDING ON HARRY: "Two original illustrations for the first Harry Potter book are to go on sale at Sotheby's auction house in London on 10 July. The watercolour of Potter himself is expected to fetch between £20,000 and £25,000." BBC 07/05/01

POPULATION PRESSURE: The ancient temples of Karnak and Luxor in Egypt are in danger of being eroded away by rising groundwater. "The water is a result of a poorly designed water disposal system constructed around the populated areas around the priceless ruins." Egypt Revealed 07/01

Wednesday July 4

FRIDA-MANIA: Overshadowed by her husband - famous muralist Diego Rivera - during her lifetime, Frida Kahlo is now a global cult figure. The feisty woman with the striking stare and tempestuous love-life has inspired ballets, operas, books, biography, films and plays. Dozens, if not hundreds, of websites pay homage. A religion, Kahloism, worships her as the one, true god. Kahlomania is about to hit Australia. The Age (Melbourne) 07/04/01

PICASSOS IN THE PIPELINE? In Britain it's National Children's Art Day. But is such a day likely to unearth child geniuses? "Unlike certain composers — Mozart being the most obvious example — none of the 'great' painters ever produced anything much of interest before puberty. Those precocious seven-year-olds that pop up occasionally, touted around as 'Picassos in the pipeline', are simply the creations of greedy dealers looking to turn gullibility into gold." The Times (UK) 07/04/01

ARTIST ROYALTIES: The European Parliament passes a law that gives artists royalties of four percent on work resold and valued at between $2,540 and $42,340 - and on a declining scale after that." But will the new law do anything to help less well-known artists? 07/03/01

Tuesday July 3

THE SILVER LINING OF CONTROVERSY: All too often buildings get thrown up without much input from the people who are going to have to look at them. So the furor over design options for Sydney's new Museum of Contemporary Art is something to celebrate - everyday people are becoming involved with what could be a significant building. Sydney Morning Herald )7/03/01

MURAL IMPERATIVE: Graffiti sprayers in Los Angeles used to stick to fences and walls for their canvases. But LA is home to more than 2,500 murals, and taggers have discovered authorities take much longer to wipe away their work if they paint over top of a mural. The state transportation agency is trying to figure out new ways of removing the paint without damaging the murals underneath. Sacramento Bee 06/27/01

MINING FOR MIES: Two big new shows of the work of architect Mies van der Rohe in New York lead to the obvious question - why now? New York Magazine 07/02/01

MAJOR AUCTION OF AFRICAN ART: A collection of African art, built over 30 years, has been auctioned in Paris for more than $10 million. More than 600 masks, statues, and pieces of furniture and jewelry were sold "during a two-day auction billed by art experts as the most important sale of African art in 35 years." Africast 07/02/01

Monday July 2

"BLOOD SWEAT AND WORSE": Vienna opened a new museum quarter this weekend. It is 15 acres large, making it one of the ten biggest cultural sites in the world. But though the project is a major accomplishment, it was marked by more than 20 years of squabbles to make it happen. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07/01/01

THE ART OF LAS VEGAS: Why is Las Vegas interested in art? This fall the Hermitage and the Guggenheim both open Las Vegas branches. "You have 35 million people or more coming to this market per year. The gaming component, while still important, is not the driving force for tourism in this city. The driving force is other things: great hotel rooms, restaurants, retail, great night clubs, shows, etc. From our perspective it’s a diversifier. It makes Las Vegas more interesting. It makes the hotel more interesting." The Art Newspaper 06/29/01

INVESTIGATING THE SMITHSONIAN: A celebrity commission has been appointed to evaluate the operations of the Smithsonian museums. The Smithsonian has been under attack for some of its director's recent policies for exhibitions. Chicago Tribune 06/30/01

FAKING OUT SOTHEBY'S: A forger faked out London's Sotheby's last month, passing off a fake Jacques Villon, which the auction house sold. "The ruse was discovered only after the buyer took the canvas to Paris where a Villon expert declared it was a forgery. 'It just shows how easy it is to get a fake through'." Sunday Times (UK) 07/01/01

THE LONDON AUCTIONS: A Monet haystack painting sold in London last week for $14 million, well above its auction estimate of $10 million. Americans were noticeably absent from this year's London season. The New York Times 07/02/01 (one-time registration required for access)

STEALING FROM THE CHURCH: "A new report says theft of artwork from churches is common. "In Italy, 89,000 objects have been recorded as stolen from churches since 1980. Ultimately the solution is in the hands of the customer or collector, and the situation cannot improve as long as objects continue to be purchased with no precise indication of their origin.” The Art Newspaper 06/29/01

Sunday July 1

PROGRESS IN BEIJING: The People's Republic of China does not have a particularly good record of promoting contemporary art. In fact, for the last several decades, artists whose work was seen to be questioning or criticizing the status quo were very likely to have their careers, and possibly their lives, ruined by the harsh Chinese cultural censors. So when Beijing's National Art Gallery agreed to sponsor a travelling exhibit of contemporary Chinese painting this year, it was quite a step forward. International Herald Tribune 06/30/01

STOP THE PRESSES - VERMEER NOT PERFECT: With British museumgoers lining up for blocks to purchase tickets to a rare exhibit of the works of newly trendy painter Johannes Vermeer, some critics worry that the buzz surrounding the exhibition will lead many patrons to be disappointed by the reality of what they find on display. London Evening Standard 06/29/01

YEAH, BUT HOW MANY CONTAINED ANY GOOD MUSIC? "Since its birth more than 60 years ago, the album cover has mirrored popular culture's obsessions, from jazz crooners to hot pants, from tattoos to all things digital. Now "The LP Show," one of the summer's most unusual and daunting exhibitions, surveys more than 2,500 of these cardboard icons from the past six decades." The New York Times 07/01/01 (one-time registration required for access)

STRIKE HAS AN IMPACT: "Two exhibitions scheduled for this summer at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography have been postponed indefinitely because of the continuing strike by workers at that museum and its parent organization, the National Gallery of Canada." Ottawa Citizen 07/01/01