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VISUAL ARTS - July 2002

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Wednesday July 31

GREATER ROLE FOR ART: The Palace Museum in Taiwan holds some of China's great art treasures. But the museum was also a political statement, created by Chiang Kai-shek after fleeing from the mainland in 1949. But now, "with the Nationalist Party's fall from power in Taiwan, the museum has begun to change. Paintings and busts of Chiang Kai-shek have been removed. An ambitious construction project will soon begin, creating more space for tour groups and lectures instead of reception halls for diplomats and politicians. 'I hope to change this museum from political to art,' says the museum's new director." The New York Times 07/31/02

DESIGN THIS: Since the six proposed designs for the World Trade Center site have been pretty much unanimously discarded, officials overseeing the process have decided to solicit designers who may have been excluded before. "Many such groups were excluded from consideration for the first design contract because of their relative lack of experience working on big projects in New York. For instance, the firms were required to have 10 years of urban planning experience and to have worked on at least three $100 million projects." The New York Times 07/30/02

TRAGEDY THROUGH THE EYES OF ART: As the anniversary of September 11 grows near, New Yorkers are wondering how artists will mark the event. "There's an obvious desire to see how the city has changed over the past year through its art. After all, New York art was always so responsive to social upheaval. From the mid-Eighties, for example, the art community was profoundly affected by Aids and spoke articulately of the crisis... London Evening Standard 07/30/02

TATE IN SPACE... Think today's ambitious museums have lost perspective with their expansion plans? The Tate pokes fun at its ambitions. "First there was Tate Britain. Then there was Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives. Next, coming to a galaxy near you: Tate in Space - an extraterrestrial art-exhibition venue for space tourists in search of intergalactic cultural enrichment. 'In order to fulfill their mission to extend access to British and International contemporary art, the Tate Trustees have been considering for some time how they could find new dimensions to Tate's work. They have therefore determined that the next Tate site should be in space'." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/31/02

Tuesday July 30

NEW ATTENTION FOR WOMEN ARTISTS: As a group, women artists have not received nearly the attention of their male counterparts. But in Australia, a recent string of big sales of work by women artists has caught the attention of collectors. Sydney Morning Herald 07/30/02

FIXING UP STONEHENGE: Stonehenge is a world heritage site. Yet it shows to very poor advantage. "The monument remains imprisoned within wire fences, and clenched in the fork of two busy roads. It is 13 years since the parliamentary public accounts committee condemned the present arrangements as 'a national disgrace'." Now English Heritage has announced some funding to fix up the surrounding site. The Guardian (UK) 07/27/02

Monday July 29

ANOTHER AUCTION SCANDAL? Sotheby's is facing a crimminal investigation over a £49 million Rubens painting which was sold by an Austrian woman earlier this month. "Public prosecutors in Austria launched an inquiry after they were handed a dossier from an anonymous source claiming the company had conspired with the painting’s owner to conceal the true identity of the Old Master." The Scotsman 07/28/02

"WHAT IS HAPPENING IS A CRIME": Greece is building a museum at the base of the Acropolis to house the Parthenon Marbles, if Britain ever returns them. Greece is rushi9ng to get the $100 million museum open before the 2004 Olympics. But "a growing number of critics say the government is damaging other antiquities in a rush to make the museum ready in time. They charge that excavation at the museum's site at the foot of the great Acropolis citadel has uncovered substantial Roman, Byzantine and Stone Age ruins that provide vivid archaeological snapshots of ancient Athens, and that development should be delayed while the remains are studied." Washington Post 07/29/02

LOOKING AT DAVID: Michelangelo's statue of David is one of the most-recognized scultures in the world. Yet the statue has some problems with proportion. "Some of the oddities of the statue come from its curious history - Michelangelo was handed a huge block of marble that another sculptor had made a start on. More complexities are contributed by its contemporary meaning; it has often been thought that it had a specific political meaning for a Florence in the wake of Lorenzo de Medici's death and Savonarola's deranged austerity. The more one looks at it, the less familiar and comprehensible it seems." The Observer (UK) 07/28/02

BBC BUILDS FOR GREATNESS: The BBC may be a world leader in broadcasting, but its sense of visual style has never been great. That changes with the opening of a dramatic new headquarters. "The most dramatic feature of the building will be a vast newsroom - at 5,000 square metres the largest in the world - taking up virtually the whole of the lower ground floor of the main part of the building. It will be a symbol of the importance of the BBC in British, indeed world, culture." The Telegraph (UK) 07/29/02

REVERSE BEGGING: An artist in Colchester England is given £300 and had 24 hours in which to spend it. He began asking people on the streets if they'd like it. "Instead of asking people for spare change I said, 'Would you like some spare change, mate?' When people saw that image they automatically went into their beggar mode, and said, 'No mate'." BBC 07/28/02

Sunday July 28

LOOKING TO DIVERSIFY? Planners are trying to jam so much into whatever will replace the World Trade Center that the design proposals so far are a hodgepodge acceptable to no one. "Perhaps the real lesson for the planners of the World Trade Center site is the same lesson as that of the stock market, just a couple of blocks from the WTC site. Instead of putting all their eggs in one basket - instead of betting on all that office space - maybe the developers should look into diversification." Boston Globe 07/28/02

SFMOMA'S NEW MAN: The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has been on an amazing upward trajectory in the past 15 years. Fueled by dotcom money, the museum built a new home and acquired an impressive collection. But Neal Benezra, SFMoMA's new director comes into the job at a time of newly-imposed austerity. "SFMOMA remains in relatively good financial health - it has an $80 million endowment and continues to draw big crowds to shows such as last year's Ansel Adams exhibition - but it laid off a dozen staff members in January and faces a $1 million deficit." San Francisco Chronicle 07/28/02

Friday July 26

OLD TIME FRENZY: The biggest thing in New Hampshire each August? Antiques Week, a series of sales of American collectibles. Participants are a serious lot. "People come by the thousands. Customers line up at 2 a.m. the night before the show opens. These people are fanatics. They are so afraid they are going to miss something." The New York Times 07/26/02

CHAGALL RETURNS HOME: It was a curious theft - a Chagall stolen in June 2001 from the Jewish Museum in New York, where it had been on loan. "A group calling itself the International Committee for Art and Peace sent a note saying it would not be returned until there was peace in the Middle East." But it was later found in Kansas City. Now it's been returned to its home in St. Petersburg, Russia. BBC 07/26/02

PARKING IT IN PHILLY: Philadelphia has arguably one of the most beautiful city skylines in America. Colonial architecture dovetails with sweepingly modern skyscrapers in an unusually successful marriage of old and new styles. But a new threat to the city's architectural continuity has arisen, and is threatening to take over the city. "Philadelphia is a city where land is cheap but new construction is expensive. Because [parking] lots cost so little, they are a low-risk way to make money on open land until someone comes up with a better idea. Put another way, surface lots are a form of land speculation." Philadelphia Inquirer 07/26/02

POLITICS ON PARADE: Even to the least cynical observer, the whole "animals-on-parade" concept (which began with cows in Chicago and has spread to nearly every animal in the barnyard in various American cities) has grown a bit tired. But Washington, D.C. may have found the right way to embrace the fad - with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The district's parade of donkeys and elephants has a decidedly ironic feel - witness the "Florida Hybrid" elephant decorated with butterfly ballots. This being the nation's capital, however, politics is inevitably involved: the Green Party has sued in an effort to force organizers to include their party emblem as well (it's a sunflower - seriously) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is outraged that it isn't being allowed to display one of the elephants with a meathook in its side. Ah, Washington in summertime... Chicago Tribune 07/26/02

Wednesday July 24

APPROPRIATION IS THE GREATEST FORM OF FLATTERY? Artists have always looked to other artists for inspiration. But what about artists who borrow images from others and incorporate them into their work? "Perhaps we are coming close to the computer world's notion of the image as shareware. No one really owns it, it is constantly available, sometimes useful, sometimes disposable." London Evening Standard 07/23/02

VANISHING ART: A half hour north of San Francisco there is a cave with paintings inside dating back to 500 AD. But they are deteriorating quickly. "The paintings present California officials with a dilemma as they try to balance the desire for access with the need for preservation. It's an issue tackled at ancient sites around the world - from the Egyptian pyramids to national parks in the United States." New Jersey Online (AP) 07/23/02

WHAT THEY COLLECT: "Of the 497 billionaires on the Forbes list of billionaires, 36 singled out by The Art Newspaper are known as major art collectors, although a good number of the others decorate their properties with pictures. When it comes to taste, 22 of the 36 collectors go for Modern and contemporary. Impressionism lags some way behind, with only 8 collectors. Clearly those with ultra financial ambitions opt for the cutting edge." The Art Newspaper 07/19/02

OASIS AMIDST THE SPRAWL: An hour north of Philadelphia, an endless chain of strip malls and suburban sprawl gives way to a town small enough to be missed, but cultured enough to play host to an astonishing collection of American art. This is Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and from a poured-concrete castle highlighting some of America's most innovative tile art to a surprisingly high-profile museum housed in an old 19th-century prison (and named after longtime denizen James Michener,) it has managed to maintain a prideful grip on an impressive array of regional art of the type usually only found in cities and private collections. Washington Post 07/24/02

Tuesday July 23

BMA ON A DOWN CYCLE: The British Museum draws 400,000 visitors a month - a success by any standard. "But beneath its familiar exterior, the museum, Britain's most visited tourist attraction, is in turmoil. Even after several years of steep cuts, its budget deficit, growing steadily, is projected to reach almost $8 million in the next 18 months. A planned $118 million study center, once a cornerstone of the museum's long-term strategy to engage the public more directly, has been abandoned. At any given time the museum keeps more than a dozen galleries closed to the public, another way of cutting costs. Meanwhile morale there is at rock bottom." The New York Times 07/23/02

WORLD'S UGLIEST BUILDINGS: The ugliest buildings in the world? Forbes thinks it knows. These are buildings that cost a lot and should have been great - but aren't. Some are obvious - the Millennium Dome is no one's idea of great. But SFMoMA? Frank Gehry's Experience Music Project? Forbes 07/23/02

RECIPE FOR BOREDOM (AND MENACE?): Sydney is requiring use of a pattern book to guide designers of the city's apartment buildings. "The pattern book, naturally enough, standardises detail, material and composition. And there's the rub, since gains in taste are matched by losses in ingenuity and creative freedom. It yearns to improve design, but really just makes it plain that design is not a recipe game. But for it to be imposed from above, even on a nominally advisory basis, is menacing indeed." Sydney Morning Herald 07/23/02

THE NEW MEDICIS: Some of today's richest billionaires have taken a serious interest in art. "Their interest in the international art market is not just that of billionaires who enjoy the thrill of having an Old Master or a modern masterpiece displayed in the living room, however. As well as aesthetics and ostentation they are also encouraged by the continuing unpredictability of the stock markets. When share prices fall and the world's wealthiest investors stand to lose billions, it is not surprising that they look for other repositories for their spare cash. And, in a bear market, fine art is the place for money to be." The Independent (UK) 07/22/02

Monday July 22

THE ONE THAT ALMOST GOT AWAY: When a rare Van Dyck painting was recently offered to Tate Britain after the death of its owner, the museum jumped at the chance. Only one problem - the museum's acquisitions budget has been cut so much (like at most British museums), the painting almost got away... The Telegraph (UK) 07/22/02

IN SEARCH OF A CLIENT: Why do the plans for replacing the World Trade Center seem so flat and uninspired? "New York's finest skyscrapers have virtually all been the product of this synergy between an architect hitting his stride and a strong-willed client with a clear program and the ambition to make a mark. It's hard to imagine how such a relationship can arise in downtown New York today. Even as the six draft plans for the trade center site were unveiled last week, it remains difficult to pinpoint who the client is amid the byzantine lines of command. It is not just a question of how the architects were selected, it is the lack of clarity in the program. These are not conditions for creating lasting architecture." The New York Times 07/21/02

LATERAL MOVE? (AT BEST): Fifteen years ago Neil MacGregor took over the National Gallery in London and made a big success of the job. But apparently he needs a truly impossible job, so he's taking over the top spot at the troubled British Museum. Why? The Art Newspaper 07/20/02

NATIONAL AFRICAN-AMERICAN MUSEUM: Plans are moving ahead for a National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. "One possible location for the museum is the 120-year-old Arts and Industries Building of the Smithsonian Institution, which is used for temporary exhibitions. But a new building is a possibility, despite the limited space on the Mall. The museum will be paid for by contributions from the public, said officials, who added that a preliminary cost estimate will be ready this fall." The New York Times 07/22/02

WORSHIPPING AT THE ALTAR OF CALVIN KLEIN: When a group of Cistercian Trappist Bohemian monks went looking for an architect to design their new monastery they found themselves admiring a Calvin Klein store in New York. So architect John Pawson got the call. "If ever there were a marriage made in heaven, this was it. What the monks learned, to their delight, is that this was the commission Pawson had been dreaming of for decades." The Guardian (UK) 07/22/02

Sunday July 21

CLOSING THE PRICE GAP: "For the first time in recent auction history, the huge gap separating Impressionist and Modern paintings from Old Masters was almost bridged last week at a Sotheby's sale, where a Rubens set a record for the Flemish master at £49.5 million ($76.6 million). In fact, it could be argued that Old Masters are running ahead since the sale." An isolated anomaly, or a sign of auction reality to come? International Herald Tribune (Paris) 07/20/02

  • CROWDING OUT THE FIELD: Blockbuster sales like this week's record-setting auction of a Rubens at Sotheby's are exciting, certainly, but "the truth is that, although the price for the Rubens will raise the profile of Old Masters, it does not reflect what is really going on. The total for Sotheby's main sale was £67.5 million but, subtracting the Rubens, it was £18 million, with a third of the 83 lots failing to sell." The Telegraph (UK) 07/20/02

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL: The fault for the decidedly substandard proposals for New York's memorial to the victims of 9/11/01 does not lie with the city's developers alone, says Joel Budd. "Because of many conflicting pressures, the Development Corporation has not been allowed to make its decisions in peace. The families of those killed on September 11 have formed two pressure groups - September's Mission, and the Coalition of 9/11 Families - to try to prevent development on the site. They are opposed by three local organisations" which want mixed-use development on the site. In other words, politics has once again overshadowed real progress, but that doesn't change the basic reality that the six design proposals are just not good enough. The Telegraph (UK) 07/20/02

THE PEEP SHOW: Toronto's Harbourfront Centre has something of a PR problem on its hands following the gallery's efforts to shield its more sensitive patrons from a painting it feared would spark controversy for its explicit sexual content. The painting in question (which depicts a sexual act with racial and political overtones) was not removed from the Centre, but placed "on display" in a closed case with a small peephole in it, along with a warning about the content. The artist, surprisingly enough, is not thrilled with the arrangement. Toronto Star 07/21/02

PAINTING ON THE ROPES? "Judging from the two big international shows in Europe this summer, one might almost conclude that painting is no longer a viable art form. There's barely a canvas to be seen in either Documenta 11, the latest version of the global survey that takes over Kassel, Germany, every five years, or its no-frills, equally earnest doppelgänger, Manifesta 4, a short train ride away in Frankfurt. Instead, video — that sleek, cost-efficient, hypnotizing successor to installation art — and photography rule the international survey circuit. Perhaps quixotically, museums in two other European cities have taken the opposite tack, mounting exhibitions devoted to painting alone." The New York Times 07/21/02

NOT ALL RICH PEOPLE ARE JERKS: "Eli Broad is one of the richest people in America: His $5.2 billion fortune places him at No. 51 on this year's Forbes magazine list. He is also one of the nation's most charitable individuals: The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked him No. 5 last year, when he gave away more than $387 million. And he's one of the world's greatest art collectors: The current Artnews list puts him in the top 10. Another collector might build a Broad Museum. But this entrepreneur, who gives far more to public school causes than he spends on art, has instead created a ''lending library'' of the contemporary work that is his focus." Boston Globe 07/21/02

Friday July 19

CRITIQUING THE WTC MEMORIAL: The reviews are trickling in for the six proposals unveiled in New York this week for how to use the space formerly occupied by the World Trade Center towers. The biggest complaint seems to be the seemingly nonsensical decision to rebuild all the office space the towers contained, despite high existing vacancy rates and the city's stated desire to turn the area into a thriving residential neighborhood. "As the designs make clear, the money men... holders of the office and retail leases to the 16-acre site -- really are in charge. The plot's owner, the Port Authority, is only too happy to go along with their plans to rebuild all the commercial space contained in the old World Trade Center. Why? Because it would get $120 million a year." Chicago Tribune 07/19/02

FRAME-UP: David Thomson, the billionaire chairman of the Thomson newspaper group, was the winning bidder for Rubens' The Massacre of the Innocents last week. He paid a record £49.5 million, but is said to have been unhappy with the painting's frame. So he was busy this week putting together another £20,000 to change it. The Guardian (UK) 07/19/02

GERMAN BONANZA ON THE BLOCK: "A $20 million collection of German Expressionist and modern art that has been in the same Stuttgart family for three generations will be auctioned on Oct. 8 and 9 at Sotheby's in London. The sale includes major German and Austrian paintings by artists including August Macke, Wassily Kandinsky and Alexei von Jawlensky, along with watercolors and prints by Max Beckmann and Max Pechstein." The New York Times 07/19/02

ARCHITECTURE OF FEAR: Los Angeles is redesigning LAX, its airport. It's a long-overdue makeover. And yet it reflects the nation's apparent paranoia about security after last September 11. The plan "signals a significant shift in how we view the public realm. It sacrifices freedom of mobility for the illusion of invulnerability and the demands of continual surveillance. As such, it represents a new architecture of fear." Los Angeles Times 07/19/02

VIENNA COMES TO NEW ENGLAND: "Vienna in the Berkshires in the summertime sounds like a publicist's dream. And in a sense the series of cultural events called the Vienna Project, under way this summer in western Massachusetts, is exactly that. Nearly a dozen local museums, theaters and musical institutions are offering 20th-century Viennese fare, which means Strauss lieder, paintings of alpine landscapes and a "Sound of Music" singalong." The New York Times 07/19/02

Thursday July 18

GREAT WALL IN PERIL: Experts warned this week that the Great Wall of China is endangered by increased tourism, graffiti, and unauthorized construction. "Peddlers have put up unauthorized ticket booths and ladders and collect money from Chinese and foreign tourists venturing to its wilder sections." Discovery 07/17/02

THE RAPHAEL BEHIND THE PAINT: A Renaissance painting of a Madonna by a disciple of Raphael was in fact directed by the master himself. Scientists used an infrared device to peer behind the paint and discovered "the outlines of a picture almost identical to a Raphael sketch owned by Oxford's Ashmolean Museum. The original idea for the painting, its conception and the layout of the figures is almost certainly Raphael's." BBC 07/18/02

LONG ROAD TO HERMITAGE: A painting by Russian avant-gardist Kasimir Malevitch is now hanging in the Hermitage. The long and tangled story of how it got there begins with some potatoes. "Relatives of Malevich's wife, the story goes, had hidden the painting from the Soviet authorities in a crate of potatoes. When times changed, a young man from the family wrapped the painting in a blanket, put it in a gym bag and brought it to the bank, hoping to offer it as collateral for a loan..." The New York Times 07/18/02

OUT OF FASHION: Why is the British Museum currently in a funding crisis? Outgoing BMA director Robert Anderson says there's money for art - just not for traditional BMA functions. "The current financial restrictions are symptomatic of a broader problem: there is waning enthusiasm for the traditional functions of museums. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has plenty of money to give out, but collecting and interpreting the artefacts of human history is just not where it's at. The museums that get money today are those that play to the new government agenda of social inclusion: running projects to improve self-esteem or reduce prejudice, or using new technologies to increase community participation. There is little support for the idea that objects and knowledge have a value in and of themselves." Spiked-online 07/17/02

Wednesday July 17

REPLACING THE WTC: Six proposals were unveiled Tuesday for projects on the site of the World Trade Center. Each proposes multiple towers. None imagines any of them taller than 85 stories. Here's a look at the plans. New York Magazine 07/16/02

  • TALLER, BIGGER: With towers, some of the proposals envision structures taller than the old Twin Towers. Each would replace the commercial space of the former buildings. "The plans call for as much as 10 acres to be set aside for a memorial, although only four proposals preserve the tower footprints. Those plans envision taller office buildings and a denser development scheme than the two designs that build over the footprints." New York Daily News 07/17/02

HARVARD CANCELS MUSEUM PLANS: Harvard has canceled plans to build a new museum which was to have been designed by Renzo Piano." It's a body blow to the mood of robust expansion that had prevailed among Boston-area museums - at least until the recent dive in the stock market. It greatly weakens recent signs the Boston area was on the verge of becoming a significant center for contemporary art. It makes the new Harvard administration look like philistines and the community that opposed the museum look parochial and petty." Boston Globe 07/17/02

FOUR CONNECTICUT MUSEUMS TO CLOSE? Because of huge state budget cuts, four Connecticut historical museums may have to close. "The approximately 44 percent reduction in state aid means either the museums, which employ 12 people, or the Connecticut Historical Commission's preservation division will have to close. The preservation office works to protect the state's cultural resources and has 10 staff members." Hartford Courant 07/17/02

THE NBT'S (NEXT BIG THINGS)? So what is to take the place of the YBA's since the Young Brit Artists aren't so young anymore and their ideas are getting a bit too familiar? Richard Dorment thinks the Whitechapel Gallery's new show is a door to the future. "All five of the artists in the show are terrifically talented, but one in particular, 29-year-old Gary Webb, is the most original young artist I've come across in almost 15 years of writing art criticism." The Telegraph (UK) 07/17/02

UNABLE TO ACQUIRE: Britain's major museums have slashed their budgets for acquisitions of art. "Twenty years ago the five museums and galleries we examined received £7,897,000 in grant-in-aid specifically for acquisitions. This year they are allocating just £855,000—down nearly ten times. The fall in real terms is even greater, because of inflation. Art prices have probably tripled, which means that government grant in aid for acquisitions was effectively nearly 30 times higher two decades ago than it is today." The Art Newspaper 07/14/02

STAR ADDITIVE: There's been no official announcement, but architect Frank Gehry has signed on to design a major $150 million expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario in his hometown of Toronto. The announcement can be expected later in the summer after details of the deal are finalized and Gehry has a vacation. But now "one of the most intriguing questions at the moment: How will the AGO deal with the feisty neighbours who are steadfastly resistant to any expansion of the museum?" Toronto Star 07/17/02

MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY PICTURE: An astonishing 5.5 million visitors go to the Louvre each year to see the Mona Lisa. It's a great painting, sure. But its fame is the product of many things... The New Republic 07/15/02

Tuesday July 16

JACKHAMMERING ANTIQUITIES: Greece has been trying for years to get Britain to return the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum. Now the Greeks are building a swank museum at the base of the Parthenon to house the marbles and want to make it "so magnificent that Britain will finally bow to its demand to return" the statues. But to build the museum, authorities are destroying "a unique archaeological site" including "the impressive remains of an ancient Christian city and Roman baths, dating from the late Neolithic era to the post-Byzantine period. At the foot of the Acropolis. As bulldozers continued razing buildings surrounding the site yesterday, some 300 prominent Greek archaeologists and architects, and other leading lights in the arts and sciences, denounced the 'cultural vandalism' in a petition." The Guardian (UK) 07/15/02

A GIANT GLASS... London's distinctive new City Hall opens this week. "The striking circular structure once dubbed the 'glass testicle' by [London mayor] Ken Livingstone was designed by Lord Foster and cost £43m under a private finance deal. It is being hailed as one of the most inspired new buildings in Europe since the unveiling of the Pompidou Centre in Paris 25 years ago." The Guardian (UK) 07/15/02

THE RIGHT TO CRITICIZE: Earlier this year The Art Newspaper reported on destruction of World Heritage artifacts by the Israeli army in Palestine. "We reminded readers that the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage contravenes the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and that Israel is a signatory to this convention." The reaction of readers was immediate, and charges of anti-semiticism flew. Yet pointing out and criticizing behavior is not anti-semitic, writes Anna Somers Cocks, the Art Newspaper's editor. It is a responsibility. New Statesman 07/15/02

SUPPORTING THE STRIKE: Sir Timothy Clifford, director of the Scottish National Galleries, has surprised supporters of the museum by saying he sided with the museum's workers in their recently threatened strike against the museum. "For far too long, we have not been paying our museum staff enough. They work extremely hard and deserve to be paid properly. They are perfectly correct to stand up for their rights. Speaking from a personal point of view, I know I am the lowest-paid director of a gallery in the UK, so it is no bad thing that these concerns are being looked at." The Scotsman 07/14/02

Monday July 15

TO OWN A HITLER: Hitler was a painter - but one with modest talent. Nonetheless, "there is a busy and lucrative trade in Hitler's artwork mostly watercolours, a few oils, lots of hand-painted postcards (some of which were actually sent and include birthday salutations and wish-you-were-here vacation greetings on the flip side), and a few 1-by-2-inch miniatures that reveal an obsession with architectural detail. What does it mean now, half a century later, to own a Hitler, to hang it in a place of honour in your front hall, to want it so badly that you fight the government for decades for the right to call it your own?" The Age (Melbourne) 07/15/02

SEE GLOBAL BUY LOCAL: The world of fashion has been dominated in the past couple decades by global fashion houses - slickly marketed designer chic intended for the streets of Paris to Beijing. But there are signs that is changing, that the global fashionistas are giving up some ground to small distinctive designer houses. The Age (Melbourne) 07/15/02

AESTHETIC PROTECTION: Since the Oklahoma bombing and September 11, Washington DC's official buildings and monuments have been ringed with ugly barriers. "Walk the grounds of the Capitol and the Mall, as I do every day, and you can only be depressed by the spectacle of places once renowned for their beauty now ringed by fences and barriers and police cars, not to mention the ubiquitous presence of police officers, few of whom seem to have done any time in charm school." A new report suggests more aesthetic protection - we're in for the long haul. Washington Post 07/15/02

Sunday July 14

'TATE MODERN OF THE NORTH' OPENS: "The doors of the new £46m Baltic contemporary arts centre next to the River Tyne opened to the public at one minute past midnight on Saturday. Five thousand art enthusiasts queued for the opening of the gallery, dubbed the "Tate Modern of the north", which is housed in an old flour mill... The gallery aims to put the north east of England on the art world's map after many years of London hogging the limelight with big UK galleries." BBC 07/13/02

  • VERY PRETTY, BUT WHAT IS IT FOR? "Baltic has no permanent collection of art. Nothing ancient or modern, nothing contemporary, nothing famous or cherished or hated. This is one of its founding principles. Another is its avowed to decision to go it alone - no loaned sharks, no touring shows, nothing borrowed in any quantity from London." A risky strategy, perhaps, but one which the Baltic's directors hope will result in something more than just another regional museum. The Observer (UK) 07/14/02

THE COLLECTOR'S EYE: Art collecting is a delicate process for the investor who expects to see any return on his purchases. Artists fall in and out of fashion faster than Oscar dresses, and a must-have engraving in 1900 may be all but worthless a few decades later. So what is the trick to finding value in something as undefinable as art? It's a lot more complicated than "I know what I like," but one of Canada's top collectors seems to think that that's not a bad place to start. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 07/13/02

MORE FLAK FOR DOCUMENTA: This year's Documenta exhibit in Germany has been catching a fair amount of heat for being elitist, silly, and overly ambitious. Russell Smith is unsure of the worth of a show that requires the viewer to spend an inordinate amount of time reading dense academic explanations of obscure pieces. "Explaining abstract concepts in everyday language is far from a dumb activity; indeed it usually requires more intelligence than speaking in code does. That code is usually more vague than precise. It's the dialect that's a dumbing down." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 07/13/02

BRINGING IT ALL HOME: China has spent a good amount of time over the centuries being invaded, attacked, and plundered. One of the upshots of such a beleagured history is that a great many Chinese art pieces have been scattered to the winds, and have wound up, legitimately or not, in museums and private collections far from home. A new generation of collectors is attempting to repatriate many of the artifacts, and in the process, is driving up the cost of Chinese art worldwide. Philadelphia Inquirer (Knight Ridder) 07/14/02

NEW URBANISM AND THE BOSTON HIGH-RISE: New Urbanists are not really all that fond of urban landscapes at all. They tend to prefer small-scale construction to high-density city architecture, and they generally can't stand high rises. So what was the Congress for New Urbanism thinking when they gave an award to the gigantic Ritz-Carlton Towers in Boston? "What the New Urbanists have figured out is that a place such as the Ritz can be a city version of the tightly clustered, mixed-use, humanly scaled world they cherish." Boston Globe 07/14/02

LIBESKIND SPEAKS: The architect of the new Jewish Museum in Berlin explains his vision of what makes for good architecture in the modern world. "Buildings provide spaces for living, but are also de facto instruments, giving shape to the sound of the world. Music and architecture are related not only by metaphor, but also through concrete space." The Guardian (UK) 07/13/02

Friday July 12

MIA EXPANSION UNVEILED: The Twin Cities are packed full of unusual-looking museums, from the Walker Art Center to the Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Museum. But the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts has always been proud to be the museum that looks like a museum - solemn, staid, majestic, and with plenty of columns. Architect Michael Graves is in charge of MIA's upcoming expansion project, and the plans were unveiled yesterday. "The 117,000-square-foot addition will increase gallery space by 40 percent and add space for offices, art restoration, storage and framemaking. Inside, one of the most dramatic spaces will be a reception hall and a skylit dome that recalls the museum's main rotunda. Three floors of new galleries will ring the light well under the dome." The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 07/12/02

LATINO MUSEUM BACK ON TRACK: Being a niche museum is never easy, especially when the rock-bottom economy is giving even the biggest galleries fits. So it was something of a surprise this week to hear that LA's beleagured Latino Museum of History, Art, and Culture has managed to dig itself almost completely out of debt, and is readying for a new beginning. The museum had been forced to close in 2000, but reopened earlier this year. Los Angeles Times 07/12/02

Thursday July 11

RECORD PRICE FOR A PAINTING: "A lost masterpiece by Rubens last night became the most expensive picture ever sold, when a rare books dealer paid £49.5 million to acquire it for a private collector at a Sotheby's auction in London." The Guardian (UK) 07/12/02

TOP TEN COLLECTORS: ARTNews is out with its annual list of worldwide art collectors. "In any given year, there are at least five people spending at least $100 million a year on art." ARTNews 07/02

SUPERSIZE IT: Hilton Kramer isn't impressed with the Museum of Modern Art's new temporary home in Queens or with MoMA's expansion plans. "It is with mixed feelings that we face this bigger MoMA and the other overscale expansions now in the works for the Morgan Library, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the High Museum in Atlanta and, of course, the ever-expanding, ever-deflating Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The only thing we know for certain about this mania for perpetual museum expansion is that it has everything to do with money and ambition, and very little to do with the life of art." New York Observer 07/11/02

Wednesday July 10

FINDING MICHELANGELO: New York's Cooper-Hewitt Museum has discovered it owns a Michelangelo drawing. It was discovered in a box of light fixture designs. "The drawing, purchased in 1942, was one of five anonymous Italian Renaissance works for which the museum paid a total of $60." Its current value is between $10 million and $12 million, art dealers said. Washington Post 07/09/02

MAKE THEM STARS: How to build interest in historic buildings? How about a TV game show? "The BBC2 series, Restoration, is designed to interest viewers in historic treasures around the country and raise money to save the winning entry. Viewers will take part in regional heats over 10 weeks, voting for their favourite endangered buildings. The winner will be restored from cash raised by the programme." The Guardian (UK) 07/09/02

ART BY DESIGN: We depend do much on design for the modern museum experience. Design can help clarify art, help give it a context, help focus our attentions. But does design also overwhelm the art we care about? London Evening Standard 07/09/02

NEW TAKE ON WAR: Manchester's new Imperial War Museum, designed by Daniel Libeskind "opens a new chapter in the treatment of war as a museum subject. Museums of war can make up for much of the missing context. They allow us to see behind the headlines, to read the full ghastly menu of war - the private notes of soldiers, the mapped strategies of generals, the account sheets of civilian casualties. The tone of such museums has to be handled with great care, however: they can so easily become vehicles of vainglorious nationalism or monuments to human despair." Financial Times 07/08/02

Tuesday July 9

MURAL FIX: Fifty-one damaged outdoor murals in Los Angeles are awaiting repairs. "Many of the most heavily damaged murals were commissioned just before the 1984 Olympics by the Olympic Organizing Committee and local corporations, with the support of Caltrans. Most of the damage cited by the study was caused by vandalism, deterioration and dirt accumulation." But the state has allocated enough money - $1.7 million - to repair only about half the murals. Los Angeles Times 07/08/02

ROYAL ACADEMY MAY MAKE CUTS: London's Royal Academy is hurting for money, what with corporate sponsorships and ticket sales down since last fall. Now rumors that the RA may cut staff to save money. "The academy, which was set up in 1768 by artists for artists and counts David Hockney, Peter Blake and Norman Foster among its members, has become a £20m a year business." The Guardian (UK) 07/06/02

MOMA - MISSING THE POINT? Critic Jed Perl doesn't think much of the Museum of Modern Art's new temporary home in Queens. "In recent years, the Museum of Modern Art has mostly seemed to be aware of experimentation as a p.r. value. At MoMA QNS the gathering of classics suggests a trophy perched on the edge of a dumpster. And the arrangement of contemporary art feels like a twelve-step program designed by somebody who is trying too hard to be hip." The New Republic 07/08/02

Monday July 8

NEW ART EXAMINER DEAD? Is Chicago's New Art Examiner, the city's only visual arts magazine going out of business? The magazine is "said to be $150,000 in debt," and shut down operations in May. It "canceled the July/August issue, laid off the staff and closed the office. Just a year ago, at a cost of more than $100,000, the Examiner was 're-launched' following another financial crisis. The magazine has survived similar episodes in the past, but never has ceased publishing." 07/05/02

THE DIMMING LIGHT: Thomas Kinkade is the most-collected painter in America. "More than 350 galleries in the US are dedicated entirely to his work. The income from his painting last year was more than $150 million." Kinkade has also opened a housing subdivision based on his treacly paintings. But not all is going well for the "Painter of Light." :Last year, the company posted losses of $16.6 million, having turned in a profit of $16.2 million the year before. Shares that stood at $25.75 in 1998 are now $3.66." The Guardian (UK) 07/08/02

SAVING HAVANA: Havana's celebrated architecture is endangered. But how to keep the city working while protecting heritage? “Everyone agrees it’s a city covered in a veil of nostalgia, of beautiful, crumbling decadence. But we’ve always believed it’s also necessary to reveal it as a functional city, not just a museum piece. There’s no validity in creating a theme park. So we desperately need to look for the balance.” Newsweek 07/08/02

Sunday July 7

DOCUMENTA PIGEONHOLES ITSELF: The Documenta festival in Kassel, Germany, may have hit a wall of its own creation with this year's ultra-political edition. "It isn't the presence of a political agenda, though, that is the problem with this installment of Documenta, which has been mounted every four or five years since 1955 and, since a landmark presentation in 1972, has earned a reputation as the most significant international survey of contemporary art in the world. It's the near absence of diversity that grates. Through sheer numbers, Documenta insists that one kind of art--political art--is most significant today." Los Angeles Times 07/07/02

THE JEWISH EYE: "To be a great photographer, Garry Winogrand liked to claim during the 1970's, it was first of all necessary to be Jewish... As generalizations go, Winogrand's semi-serious barroom boast has a lot of evidence to back it up. In no other visual art form except cinema over the last 100 years were Jews such a shaping force. From first decade to last, in fine art, reportage, portraiture, fashion and especially street photography, a staggering number of influential figures have been Jewish." The New York Times 07/07/02

IT'S OUR BALL, AND WE'RE STAYING HOME: All around Europe, governments have been grappling with the issue of how to protect national artistic treasures obtained in times of war and pillage against the legal assaults of families who, quite legitimately, feel that the works belong to them. An exhibit of Czech works scheduled to be shown in France has been called back by the Czech government amid talk that a claim might be placed on the works by a French family. Calgary Herald 07/06/02

PURGING THE UGLY IN OHIO: "Kenyon is one of those small liberal arts schools that have won reputations far out of proportion to their size. Its curriculum draws applicants from around the country and beyond, and outside the classroom it boasts successes ranging from perennial champion swim teams to a highly regarded literary magazine, the Kenyon Review. But from the time its first permanent building was completed in 1829, Kenyon has taken almost as much pride in the look of its campus as in the quality of its education. The campus is mainly a collection of Gothic buildings, modeled after European churches and colleges. So now there is a campaign to cleanse it of architectural ugliness by tearing down buildings that people here call 'sixties boxes' or 'unfortunate sixties mistakes.'" The New York Times 07/06/02

Friday July 5

SELLOUT: Last month Italy passed a law that would allow the state to sell off its assets to raise money. Does this include museums and architectural heritage? The law's proponents say no. But there are nagging questions, and a few unsavory loopholes... The Art Newspaper 07/05/02

BLOOD SCULPTURE MELTS? Did workers at collector Charles Saatchi's house destroy an important frozen artwork by unplugging the freezer in which it was stored? "Rumours spread after suggestions that Saatchi had stored a blood sculpture made by Britart's enfant terrible, Marc Quinn, among his frozen peas. The work, Self, consists of Quinn's head cast in nine pints of his own frozen, congealed blood." The Guardian (UK) 07/04/02

CITY OF GLASS: Like many cities Tacoma is attempting downtown renewal through the arts. The city has opened a new $48 million museum dedicated to glass art. The Northwest is one of the centers of glass art and Dale Chihuly is the hometown boy. Still - the museum is hedging its glass bets by widening the museum's focus to include other contemporary art. A crisis of confidence in the museum's concept? Seattle Post-Intelligencer 07/05/02

  • BUILDING AS SCULPTURE: "With one grand gesture, architect Arthur Erickson did the $48-million museum a tremendous favor by creating an identifiable image, but he did an even larger service to the community by providing an urban living room for the city." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 07/05/02
  • Previously: TALE OF TWO MUSEUMS: A new international museum dedicated to glass art is opening in Tacoma Washington. The museum is a natural for the area, but it's competing with a new art museum being built just a block away. "Many in the arts community are wondering how the two museums ended up in a neck-and-neck rivalry for patronage and programming. Are they serving the best interests of the public? And how will they avoid the kind of competitive one-upmanship their opening exhibitions signal?" Seattle Times 07/01/02

Thursday July 4

WHAT RIGHT'S RIGHT? Artist Rick Rush painted a picture of Tiger Woods after he won the Masters. Woods sued, claiming that he had not granted the rights for his image to be used. Now the case has become a major test of where the rights of artistic expression and celebrity licensing intersect, with major corporations, news organizations and artists all weighing in. The New York Times 07/04/02

DONOR PULLBACK HURTS MOCA: Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art is having its best year ever attendance-wise, with a popular Andy Warhol show drawing in the crowds. But the museum is facing a financial challenge after a donor who had pledged $10 million notified that $6.9 million of the pledge might not be mae after all due to a downturn in the donor's business. Los Angeles Times 07/03/02

CRACKED EGG: Norman Foster's new London City Hall is a huge glass egg that screams importance. "In theory, this building, which will be opened by the Queen on July 23, is the most important to be erected in the capital since County Hall, former seat of the London County Council and Greater London Council. Except that, in this case, the building's message is sadly at odds with the reality of what is going to go on within it." The Telegraph (UK) 07/04/02

HARVARD'S LOSS: James Cuno's departure as director of the Harvard Museums to become director of the Courtauld Institute is "certainly not glad tidings for Harvard, with its famously ambivalent attitude toward art, especially of the contemporary sort that Cuno has championed. There is fear now that the progress Cuno has made will halt or even be reversed, that his agenda - including plans for a new Renzo Piano -designed museum on the banks of the Charles - will unravel." Boston Globe 07/03/02

Wednesday July 3

TAKE YOUR FIRST PRIZE AND... Last week Randwick, Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Arts building won Australia's top architecture award for public building. But the building's neighbors tell a different story, accusing the project of "poor design, aesthetic ignorance and political maneouvring. Randwick Council has denounced the NIDA site on Anzac Parade, Kensington, as an 'utter disgrace', claiming that the back of the building was causing problems for thousands of local residents. The height of the building had also created an overshadowing problem for residents whose backyards adjoin the site." Sydney Morning Herald 07/03/02

A MOVE AT THE RIGHT TIME: The Museum of Modern Art's temporary move out to Queens is more than a physical dislocation. "With a long-serving chairman of the board stepping down, and two of its curators gone to new jobs, this is a time of profound transition for MoMA in every sense. One of the ironies of its move to Queens is that it is there and in the borough of Brooklyn that the really interesting new art in New York is being made and shown." The Telegraph (UK) 07/03/02

NO REPATRIATION HERE: "A Swiss art gallery will be allowed to keep a Kandinsky painting looted by Nazis after reaching an out-of-court settlement with the artist's family. The deal brings to an end the long-running dispute between the Ernst Beyeler Foundation and the heirs of Sophie Lissitzky-Kueppers over Wassily Kandinsky's Improvisation Number 10." BBC 07/03/02

HARD TO LIKE, EASY TO ADMIRE: Lucien Freud is currently being celebrated at the Tate. "I find Freud's work hard to like and almost impossible not to admire. It constitutes a superb performance in a socially charged role. What this has to do with its artistic qualities is a question tangential to his prestige in England and among Anglophiles everywhere. One feels rather like a spoilsport—or an American, if that's not the same thing—for bringing it up." The New Yorker 07/01/02

  • ESTABLISHMENT WOG? "Lucian Freud, a seemingly misanthropic senior citizen who paints unflattering portraits of a chosen few in all their lumpy and lardy nakedness, has been proclaimed by the papers - again - as our 'greatest living painter'." But is his position in today's establishment better secured than his place in history? New Statesman 07/01/02

LACKING VISION IN TORONTO? The design for Toronto's new opera house is in, and musicians ought to love it. With the spectre of the acoustically miserable Roy Thompson Hall hanging over the city's music scene, architect Jack Diamond has taken great pains to insure a quality sound mix inside the new facility. But architecture critics claim that Diamond has sacrificed form to function, presenting a design that may be musically compelling, but lacks architectural focus. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 07/03/02

Tuesday July 2

THE RISE OF ZAHA HADID: Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid suddenly has some very big projects coming online. Like a megaproject in Singapore named "one-north - the city lies one degree north of the equator - the vast 200-hectare site will be home to a massive science and technology quarter. Costed at £14 billion, the masterplan will change the face of Singapore, and represents the boldest bid ever made by the sparkling city to plan for the future, to outsmart the awakening dragon of China." Financial Times 07/02/02

HOME-WRECKERS: Some 1,700 historic English country houses were destroyed during the 20th Century, a shameful carnage visited upon the nation's heritage. "The 1950s and 1960s were black decades for the country house. Just under 300 houses are recorded as lost during the 1950s, although the total is certainly higher; and the 1960s tells a similar sorry tale. Fire was frequently the cause, but demolition and deliberate abandonment, often by long-established families, was another reason for their demise." The Times (UK) 07/02/02

WINKING AT THE TAX MAN: Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski is being investigated for tax evasion on purchases of art he bought but for which he didn't pay sales tax, claiming that the work was being shipped out of New York. What gave him away? "Investigators had obtained a fax which listed some of the paintings that were being shipped to New Hampshire with the words 'wink wink' in parentheses, indicating that the objects were not going to New Hampshire but were instead going to Mr Kozlowski’s New York address." The Art Newspaper 06/30/02

Monday July 1

THE NEED TO BE #1: Why is New York's Museum of Modern Art going through the pain of relocation and rebuilding itself? "For most of the 20th century, MOMA was the most energetic and ambitious museum around, and was rewarded with many of the best Cezannes, Picassos and Pollocks. Now, the ample spaces of Tate Modern make a powerful pitch for their contemporary equivalents. The new Moma will counter this, by offering its finest and most prominent floor to contemporary art." London Evening Standard 06/28/02

TALE OF TWO MUSEUMS: A new international museum dedicated to glass art is opening in Tacoma Washington. The museum is a natural for the area, but it's competing with a new art museum being built just a block away. "Many in the arts community are wondering how the two museums ended up in a neck-and-neck rivalry for patronage and programming. Are they serving the best interests of the public? And how will they avoid the kind of competitive one-upmanship their opening exhibitions signal?" Seattle Times 07/01/02

WHERE WE LIVE: "Given that most of the world's population lives in cities, we do need to understand the lure and the ways, good and bad, of cities. Most academic studies are inaccessible to the majority of people. Not only is the subject huge, but the language used is all too often as dusty as a summer street in central Cairo. Television has yet to help." So how about a new museum? The Guardian (UK) 07/01/02

OUT OF AFRICA: Where was the first art made? Archaeologists have long thought it was Europe. But a South African archaeologist is "challenging the theory that artistic culture first developed in Europe about 35,000 years ago, after people had migrated out of Africa. He has dug up evidence which, he claims, shows that such behaviour evolved over 70,000 years ago—and in Africa." The Economist 06/28/02

ART OF SAFE INVESTMENT: Recent London art sales suggest that investors may be turning to art as a stable investment as the stock market sinks lower. The Telegraph (UK) 07/01/02