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Sunday September 30

HOW SHOULD ARCHITECTURE WORK? Is a building important mostly for how it looks or for how people interact with it? "Why are architects so obsessed with models, which always take pride of place in their offices? Why are buildings always photographed empty? Too often, the 'user' is seen as an annoyance who gets in the way of the rationality of the structure. But life is messy and buildings have to take account of that." The Guardian (UK) 09/29/01

A CALL FOR CAREFUL CONSIDERATION: It seems like everyone has a vision for the future of the World Trade Center space in New York. Memorials, new skyscrapers, and a massive public park have all been proposed. "This rush to design is worth thinking about. It will be months and years before the cultural meaning of the World Trade Center catastrophe comes into approximate focus. But the collective projection of architectural fantasies bears scrutiny as it is happening." The New York Times 09/30/01 (one-time registration required for access)

  • TOWERING LIGHTS: "A team of artists and architects is planning to erect a massive light sculpture to simulate the outline of the 110-storey World Trade Center. Beams of xenon light stabbing skyward would coalesce into a kind of apparition of the fallen twin towers." Toronto Star (first item) 09/29/01

A LAND NO LONGER THERE: "Written in 1977 by Nancy Hatch Dupree, An Historical Guide to Afghanistan is a painful read. The book evokes a country that has now completely vanished: of miniskirted schoolgirls cruising round Kabul; of fascinating Buddhist relics; and of donkeys plodding across the mountains loaded with the wine harvest. Most of the chapters are now redundant. The Taliban has pulverised the Kabul museum (chapter four) and dynamited the Bamiyan Buddhas ('one of man's most remarkable achievements', chapter seven)." The Guardian (UK) 09/29/01

DOING WHAT THEY CAN: The desire to help the victims of the attack in one's own way has been ultimately visible in the multifaceted artistic community of America's largest city. "In New York, imprompt memorials to those lost Sept. 11 are going up, created not only by artists but also by mourners and passers-by and children." Baltimore Sun 09/30/01

Friday September 28

SMITHSONIAN HIT HARD: The world's most-visited musuem complex has been crippled by the September 11 events. "Some days Smithsonian-wide attendance has dropped almost three-quarters from the same day last year. For example, last Sunday only 22,000 people visited the Smithsonian's museums on the Mall, compared with 75,000 on the same Sunday a year ago." Washington Post 09/28/01

THREAT OF SLOWDOWN: Generally, the New York terrorist attacks won't have a big impact on the art and antiques business. "The big problem will be the economic slowdown. Some dealers are already doing less business, and finding it harder to extract payment on antiques sold. Fairs will also suffer. The first victim was this week's new 20th-century art fair organised by the indefatigable London dealers Brian and Anna Haughton in New York." Financial Times 09/28/01

Thursday September 27

WHAT IS POSSIBLE: "What was possible in Berlin in 1995 after decades of preparation was no longer thinkable today. The euphoria has faded, disillusionment and skepticism have taken over. Also, discourse in art has struck more solemn notes in recent years. The gestures and services known as "social action" are preferred to singular, monumental works." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09/27/01

IS VAN GOGH ACTUALLY A GAUGUIN? Is a sunflower painting thought to be by Van Gogh really by Gauguin? "After examining letters between the two artists and other correspondence" a respected Italian art magazine says the painting "was copied by Gauguin from a genuine Van Gogh." National Post (Canada) 09/26/01

ART(ISTS) IN THE WTC: Few people knew that there were artists working in the World Trade Center. "For the last few years the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council had rented out floors to artists a few months at a time. There was always the occasional empty space in the towers because they were normally leased for 10 years at a time rather then piecemeal." At least one artist is thought to have died in the tower attack. The Art Newspaper 09/24/01

IF YOU AUCTION IT, WILL THEY BUY? Buyers, sellers, auction houses, show organizers - everyone is worried about the Fall art season. It's a half-billion dollar occasion, or it was projected to be one. Now with postponements of shows, disruption of travel and shipping plans, market jitters, and financial uncertainties, no one is sure what to expect. The New York Times o9/27/01 (one-time registration required for access)

TO POSTPONE OR NOT TO POSTPONE: The Canadian Museum of Civilization scheduled an exhibition featuring the work of 25 Arab-Canadian artists, then decided to postpone it. One of the artists complained that the museum had "missed an opportunity to promote understanding of Arab culture at a time Arabs need it most." In Parliament, an opposition MP and the Prime Minister both agreed. The next move is up to the museum, which has so far been reluctant to comment. CBC 09/27/01

POLITICS OF REBUILDING: There is still a mountain of rubble where the World Trade Center once stood, but already there are politicians and fund-raisers and businesspeople and historians and cultural critics and architects and Heaven-knows-how-many-others trying to decide just what ought to be built in its place. If anything. Washington Post 09/26/01

Wednesday September 26

THE ON-LINE HERMITAGE: With 3 million items spread over 14 square kilometers, Russia's Hermitage Museum is one of the largest - and least-fully-explored - art treasuries in the world. Many of its prized pieces from each period are now on display on-line, along with views of the inside of the museum itself. The Moscow Times 09/26/01

ENSURING ADDED COST: A new Australian law mandates that Aussie museums start getting commercial insurance for exhibitions. "The outsourced insurance policy supersedes a Commonwealth-managed, self-funded insurance program, Art Indemnity Australia, which for 20 years operated with internationally recognised success at almost no cost." The new commercial alternative will cost $1.5 million a year." Sydney Morning Herald 09/26/01

SCROLLING ON BY: The Dead Sea Scrolls were supposed to be put on display in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Olympics. But concerns over travel and the precious documents' security have forced cancellation. BBC 09/25/01

SIMPLE SHRINES AND STREET-CORNER ALTARS: In the wake of sudden and violent and public death, we are more and more finding simple shrines. "They are personal. They are peaceful. They are human. And they seem to be part of an increasingly common way of publicly mourning the dead in this country, in New York, in Oklahoma City, in Colorado, and in Chicago." Chicago Tribune 09/25/01

Tuesday September 25

WTC ART LOSSES: Estimates of losses of art (only in the destroyed World Trade Towers, not in surrounding buildings) are estimated at $100 million by AXA Nordstern Art Insurance, the world's largest art insurer. The Art Newspaper 09/24/01

POWER OF IMAGE: Looking at photographs of the World Trade Center destruction "I know that I am not the only person who is uneasy about the magnetic pull of these photographs, about the hold they have on us, about the need we seem to have to keep looking at them. What, I ask after a while, is the point of looking at such pictures, at least the point of looking at them so much? Perhaps some insight can be gained by thinking about the need that the English had to make a visual record of the calamities raining down on them, of the urge they had to record the weird horrific beauty of the Blitz." The New Republic 09/18/01

Monday September 24

THE GREAT AUCTION FRAUD: Now it can be revealed that a glittering art auction held 11 years ago, involving work by Picasso, Modigliani, Dubuffet, Derain and Miró and netting £49 million, involved a tangled story of embezzlement, paper companies, and "the exploitation of two elderly art lovers who entrusted their collection's disposal" to the respected Drouot auction house. The Observer (UK) 09/23/01

WHY HER? What is it about the Mona Lisa that has made it such a cultural icon? "The renown and meanings of the Mona Lisa have been the product of a long history of political and geographical accidents, fantasies conjured up, connections made, and images manufactured.There is no single explanation for the origins and development of the global craze surrounding this painting." New Statesman 09/24/01

Sunday September 23

ROTTEN RODIN: Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum major show of Rodin sculptures is likely to be remembered as Canada's most controversial and most frustrating exhibition of the year. Controversial because of the disputed nature of the sculptures and the show's lousyt scholarship. Frustrating because the art in this show gives no sense of its context. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/22/01

THE HORROR OF IT ALL: The last 50 years in British art have been a battle for realism. And violence. "It is no coincidence that two of the most important artists since the second world war should both dramatise extremes of violence in an attempt to heighten our awareness of our own mortality. In fact, you could argue that the most important British art of the past 50 years has been preoccupied with the subject." The Guardian (UK) 09/22/01

THE ARCHITECTURE OSCARS: What's wrong with a prize for architecture? "Like the Booker, which exists mainly to sell more books, or the Oscars, whose primary purpose is to decorate cinema posters, the Stirling Prize is mostly about marketing. The prize was dreamed up during one of those waves of self-pity to which architects are prone. What hurts is not that nobody loves them, it's that everybody ignores them. Enter the Stirling Prize, an event made to get architecture out of the ghetto. Let's get on television, let's show that we matter." The Observer (UK) 09/23/01

THE FUTURE OF SKYSCRAPERS: "Until September 11, the skyscraper enthusiasts felt that everything was going their way. In this country [England], they were confident of winning next month's public inquiry into the proposed Heron Tower at Bishopsgate in the City of London and of pushing through Renzo Piano's much higher tower intended for London Bridge. Now they are nervous, as can be seen in a statement Norman Foster put out on Tuesday this week, stressing the risks to all buildings with high concentrations of people, not just towers, and calling for a period of calm reflection and careful analysis." The Telegraph (UK) 09/22/01

HOCKNEY'S HERESY: David Hockney's theory that Ingres worked from a projection of an image brought the "predictable, dismissive response: Hockney was mad, he had a bee in his bonnet. To which the artist calmly replied when we recently spent an evening discussing the subject: 'Well, I know something that they don't.' Now, with the publication of this book, he lets the rest of us in on the secret. And his contentions are pretty astounding - not merely that some artists used certain bags of tricks, but that, effectively, the photographic way of looking at the world, through optical equipment, pre-dates, by centuries, the invention of photography itself." The Telegraph (UK) 09/22/01

Friday September 21

ART FAIR CANCELED: "The third annual International Art and Design Fair, 1900-2001, scheduled to open at the armory on Sept. 29, was canceled this week. The fates of dozens of other fairs are now in question, too, including the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show and others like it, which have been part of the New York social calendar for decades." The New York Times 09/21/01 (one-time registration required for access)

SELLING ART TO RAISE MONEY: The Church of England has decided to sell a collection of valuable paintings housed by the church in Durham since the mid-1700s. They're reported to be worth £20m. "They are works in the series Jacob And His Twelve Sons by the 17th Century Spanish painter Francesco de Zuberán, a contemporary of Velasquez and El Greco."Church officials say the sale will "raise much-needed funds, particularly for the north east." BBC 09/21/01

REBUILD, YES. BUT WHAT? "The urge to make buildings higher and higher has been fading for the last few years, for purely practical reasons. Constructing towers of a hundred stories or more isn't much of a challenge technologically today, but it is not particularly economical, either. It never was." In fact, "smaller buildings on the World Trade Center site might be necessary. After all, what businesses or residents will want to occupy the upper floors of replica towers, and what companies would want to insure them?" The New Yorker & ABCNews 09/24/01

THE MODERN REACH FOR THE SKY: The great modernist skyscrapers weren't built just to be big. They were meant as a statement repudiating decoration and clutter. "A building should not derive meaning and character from the historical motifs that cluttered its skin, but from the direct, logical expression of its purpose and materials. This was the edict of functionalism, that—as Louis Sullivan put it—'form follows function'.” The New Criterion 09/01

Thursday September 20

SAVING ANGKOR WAT: "Angkor Wat in Cambodia, said to be the world’s single largest archaeological site, is being worked on by a multi-national force of restorers. "In this free-for-all, there might well be the temptation to experiment on new techniques and chemicals, in the knowledge that there will be little monitoring of what is being done." But things are harmonious. "This is largely thanks to the efforts of UNESCO, which recognised Angkor as a World Heritage Site in 1992 and formed an International Co-ordination Committee (ICC)." The Art Newspaper 09/20/01

ANOTHER SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM DIRECTOR QUITS: Spencer Crew, director of the National Museum of American History, is leaving to become chief executive officer of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. Although he is "the fifth Smithsonian museum director to leave since Lawrence Small became secretary of the institution 21 months ago," Crew insisted his departure was "not related to the decisions or management style of Small." Washington Post 09/20/01

REBUILDING THE TOWERS - A COMPLEX ISSUE: The towers of the World Trade Center now are such a powerful image that there's already much discussion about re-building them. But is that a good idea? The record shows that, from the time they were proposed, many critics thought they were ugly, and worse. Another factor is our fascination with ruins. "Can a way of life that has been so fractured ever truly be put back together?" Boston Globe & The New Republic 09/20/01

ATLANTIS MAY HAVE BEEN RIGHT WHERE PLATO SAID IT WAS: A speculative survey of the coastline of Western Europe 19,000 years ago - when the sea level was 130 meters lower than now - shows "an ancient archipelago, with an island at the spot where Plato described Atlantis." It's just beyond the Pillars of Hercules, what we now call the Strait of Gibraltar. The New Scientist 09/19/01

A VENETIAN GUGGENHEIM, WITH SWISS HELP: "A deal has been brokered between the Guggenheim Foundation and the Banca del Gottardo, based in Lugano, Switzerland. Under the terms of the agreement, the Swiss bank will provide 'considerable', but as yet undisclosed, sums of money to fund the Guggenheim’s expansion plans in Venice." The Art Newspaper 09/20/01

Wednesday September 19

CONQUERING STATUE: A three-stories-high giant statue of a conquistador astride his horse is set to be erected in the Texas city of El Paso. "There's only one hitch. Don Juan de Onate is no graceful symbolic Lady Liberty welcoming the huddled masses but a real-life perpetrator of atrocities, who thought nothing of ordering his men to chop off the legs of uncooperative Indians and was eventually condemned by his own superiors for using 'excessive force'. More than four centuries after Onate forded the Rio Grande at what is now El Paso with 300 Spanish-speaking settlers hungry to make their fortunes, his name for many still has an ugly and bloody resonance." The Telegraph (UK) 09/19/01

YOUR INNER PORTRAIT: What could capture your essence better than a strand of your DNA? "London's National Portrait Gallery has unveiled its first entirely conceptual portrait - DNA of the leading genetic scientist Sir John Sulston." BBC 09/19/01

NEW YORK'S OUTSIDE(R) ART: Last week's World Trade Center tragedy "has already created, virtually overnight, a new category of outsider art: the astounding impromptu shrines and individual artworks that have proliferated along New York's streets and in its parks and squares. Alternating missing-person posters with candles, flowers, flags, drawings and messages of all kinds, these accumulations bring home the enormity of the tragedy in tangles of personal detail." The New York Times 09/19/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Tuesday September 18

38 MUSEUMS AFFECTED IN LOWER MANHATTAN: The American Association of Museums sets up a website to provide information on museums and staff in the affected area of lower Manhattan. There are 38 museums within the zone. American Association of Museums

THAT BURNING IMAGE: What images will come to symbolize last week's World Trade Center disaster? There were too many pictures all at once. "Typically, words precede the creation of iconic images. A story is told, then a picture forms. What is an icon, after all, but art's equivalent of the word made flesh. But the word comes first. Icons illustrate existing faith and doctrine, which is often inchoate until the picture comes along and suddenly sorts out the disarray. Then, a gathering critical mass of people sees the image and collectively knows, 'That's it!' " Los Angeles Times 09/17/01

$10 MILLION IN PUBLIC ART LOST IN ATTACK: "Experts familiar with the public art displayed in and around the World Trade Center estimated its value alone at more than $10 million. Among the prized works were a bright-red 25-foot Alexander Calder sculpture on the Vesey Street overpass at Seven World Trade Center, a painted wood relief by Louise Nevelson that hung in the mezzanine of One World Trade Center, a painting by Roy Lichtenstein from his famous "Entablature" series from the 1970s in the lobby of Seven World Trade Center, and Joan Miro's "World Trade Center" tapestry from 1974." San Francisco Chronicle 09/18/01

RENEGING ON ART: A man runs up a bill of more than $1 million at Sotheby's tribal art sales, then refuses to pay the bill later. What's an auction house to do? The Art Newspaper 09/17/01

ROYAL ART HISTORY: England's Prince (and future king) William's "decision to take history of art at university has created a major dilemma for the relatively small community of academic art historians in UK universities. William will focus an unprecedented spotlight on the discipline but, in doing so, he may only reinforce the stereotypes the subject is so desperately trying to rid itself of." The Guardian (UK) 09/18/01

Monday September 17

NEW NATIONAL GALLERY HEAD: The British Museum is said to be ready to appoint Neil MacGregor as head of the National Gallery. He has been "described as a national treasure for his inspirational stewardship of the Trafalgar Square gallery and leadership of the campaign to scrap admission charges." The Guardian (UK) 09/17/01

ANTI ART-EATING: Bugs are causing so much damage of museum collections, the British Museum is convening a major conference on what to so about the problem. "Moths, flees, booklice, woodlice and termites are among bugs that thrive on organic matter. Entire objects — even entire collections — have been lost in museums and libraries." The Times (UK) 09/17/01

AUCTION COMPETITION: No. 3 auctioneer Phillips is merging with English auction house Bonham. Together they'll make a formidable challenge to the auction world's rulers "with four salerooms and two warehouses in London, 64 premises in the provinces and 769 employees." The Telegraph (UK) 09/17/01

SINGLES NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art has reinvented. Forget art. While "in the past the MCA has been in the news mainly because of its hard-fought battles against financial ruin, now it suddenly seems to have become the new hot spot for the city's hip young singles." Sydney Morning Herald 09/17/01

HOLBEIN DISCOVERY: The Victoria & Albert Museum discovers it has a Holbein it didn't know it had. "This is an extremely important discovery in the context of the subsequent development of the English portrait miniature. When we cleaned the picture we realised it was of extremely fine quality." The Telegraph (UK) 09/17/01

Sunday September 16

OLD TRUTHS: How did great artists create masterpieces of enduring vitality when they were old? Mostly it was an abiding curiosity. "This curiosity about art assumed various guises. Some artists addressed their loss of physical prowess by changing their medium. When painters like Degas found themselves without the ability to masterfully wield a brush, they turned to sculpture. In turn, the sculptor Rodin turned to drawing." Christian Science Monitor 09/14/01

CARING FOR A MONUMENT: LA's Watts Towers have "endured a litany of indignities ranging from a 10,000-pound stress test—conducted by supporters in 1959 to prove that it wasn't a public hazard—to vandalism, inept restoration, political corruption, bureaucratic indifference and natural disasters." Since 1994 the towers have been closed after earthquake damage. But as they reopen, the question of who will look after them remains open. Los Angeles Times 09/16/01

Friday September 14

ASSESSING THE V&A'S NEW DIRECTOR: "With its 12 acres and more than 100 galleries the Victoria & Albert Museum is like a gigantic oil tanker that will take many years to turn round. Some of the galleries on its upper floors may linger in obscurity for a long time to come, but after a succession of flamboyant, pressurised and dogmatic directors the V&A seems to have acquired a steady hand for its traditionally jittery tiller." Financial Times 09/14/01

FIVE US MUSEUMS RETURN TLINGIT ARTIFACTS: A century ago, an expedition led by railroad tycoon E H Harriman plundered a Native American village at Cape Fox in what is now southern Alaska. "The settlement appeared abandoned, so Harriman’s party went ashore and helped themselves to totem poles, a decorated house, ceremonial blankets and other items, some of which later ended up in museums." This summer, five prominent US museums - Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum of Chicago, the Peabody Museum at Harvard, the Johnson Museum at Cornell, and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington - returned a large part of the Harriman plunder. The Art Newspaper 09/14/01

THE BIGGEST BUILDING JOB EVER: When it was planned, and for many years after it was built, the World Trade Center was the biggest architectural project on earth. A New Yorker archive profile details what went into the construction of that symbol whose destruction is now a major image in American history and culture. The New Yorker 09/13/01

Thursday September 13

WHY ARCHITECTURE MATTERS : "[D]estroying architecture for political reasons is nothing new. The more important and powerful its symbolism, the higher a building is likely to rank on the target list of a bitter foe. The reasons are always the same. Architecture is evidence - often extraordinarily moving evidence - of the past. Buildings - their shapes, materials, textures and spaces - represent culture in its most persuasive physical form. Destroy the buildings, and you rob a culture of its memory, of its legitimacy, of its right to exist." Washington Post 09/13/01

DRAWING AT HOME: The British government has banned a Michelangelo drawing from traveling outside the country. The drawing was sold to an American in 2000 and the government hopes to raise enough money to buy it and keep it in the UK. BBC 09/12/01

A QUARTER-BILLION DOLLAR HEADACHE IN SEOUL: The National Museum of Korea was designed to be the world's fifth-largest, and was scheduled for completion next year. But, "In the wake of a highly critical parliamentary report, NMK... is undergoing a comprehensive review. The report... called on the government to re-examine the entire project, stating that construction work so far had been shoddy and calling into question hastily-made decisions on the museum’s design and construction." The Art Newspaper 09/13/01

CRITICAL COLLECT: Critic Clement Greenberg spent a career collecting art, often art by artists he wrote about. "Such an easy give and take between artist and critic would be outrageous in the current art world, with its sensitivity to the slightest appearance of a conflict of interest. But this wasn’t the case in Greenberg’s day, though to be sure he must have thought about it." MSNBC 09/12/01

WATER DAMAGE: Monuments at Luxor and Karnak are in danger. "Scientists have determined the lower portions of the ancient stone monuments are slowly being corroded by water that contains a very high percentage of Sodium Chloride (salt). The water is a result of a poorly designed water disposal system constructed around the populated areas around the priceless ruins." Egypt Today 09/01

IN HIS LIFE: In less than a year, the John Lennon Museum has drawn some 200.000 visitors. It presents "a serious, almost scholarly look at Lennon's life, from his birth to his final days in New York. His widow, Yoko Ono, cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony and has provided the museum with about 100 of the 130 items on display." Remarkably, it's in a small suburb of Tokyo. International Herald Tribune 09/13/01

  • Previously: IMAGINE THIS: The world's first John Lennon Museum opens this week, and it's not in Liverpool, London, or New York. It's in a Japanese town 30 km north of Tokyo. Why there? "Could have something to do with money. Construction company Taisei Corp. reached an agreement with Yoko Ono last year to build the museum on two floors of the spanking-new Saitama Super Arena." Daily Yomiuri (Japan) 10/05/00

Wednesday September 12

CAN WE AFFORD OUR MUSEUMS? Artistic quality of our museums is increasingly measured in terms of its popularity. But "can we maintain the daily, costly and wide-ranging operation of our museums? Should individual items be sold off from collections to finance operations? Should we finally consider art collections as nothing more than a fund - a type of savings deposit - to be activated when necessary for superficial and alluring exhibition events?" Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09/12/01

TATE WAKES: "When it opened last year, Tate Britain tried its best not to be a great art museum. Thematic displays set aside nearly the entire collection in favour of a thin and unenthusiastic sample." Now the Tate has gone back to a conventional chronological presentation and the Tate seems to have greater confidence in its collection. The Guardian (UK) 09/12/01

TURNING AROUND THE V&A: The Victoria & Albert Museum has a problem with leadership. "It recruits directors like Henry VIII took wives. It bashes them around. Then it spits them out. Either the curators gang up on them, or the trustees do. Somewhere in the V&A’s seven miles of labyrinthine corridors a wicked fairy must lurk. Not for nothing is the place known as the Violent and Angry Museum." But the new V&A director believes he can turn things around. The Times (UK) 09/12/01

HOW TO BE A STAR: How does star architect Norman Foster turn out so many high-profile projects? It's the team, he says. "Employing 590 people, with a turnover of £35 million, the practice is currently working in 18 countries from its offices in London, Berlin and Singapore." The Telegraph 09/12/01

TURNING CRIMINAL PASTS INTO ART: "A group of longtime... prisoners, working with artists associated with the Village of Arts and Humanities, a North Philadelphia community organization, have created self-portraits, installations, monologues, videos, story quilts and poetry. Their works are being presented at four venues throughout the city under the collective title 'Unimaginable Isolation: Stories From Graterford.'" Philadelphia Inquirer 09/12/0

WHAT MAKES GOOD ABORIGINAL ART? "Aboriginal art is more than just ochres on bark or paper, or acrylic compositions on canvas. It represents a social history, an encyclopedia of the environment, a place, a site, a season, a being, a song, a dance, a ritual, an ancestral story and a personal history." So how do you judge it? "What is the beauty and what is the beast? This is the dilemma faced by judges of the annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (this year's winner will be announced in Darwin on Friday)." Sydney Morning Herald 09/12/01

Tuesday September 11

LESS WAS MORE: Berlin's Jewish Museum is finally filled with material after two years standing empty. Strangely, filling the building diminishes its impact. "The 20 painful years of waiting that preceded the founding of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the overpowering force of Daniel Libeskind's empty rooms, the absurd dimensions of the opening ceremony on Sunday evening: All these things were bound to raise expectations to insane levels." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09/11/01

ODD TIME TO QUIT: London dealer Anthony d'Offay is one of the most successful, unpredictable and powerful international art dealers. "One thing no one had foreseen was that, last Tuesday, the 50 or so artists represented by his gallery - who include Howard Hodgkin, Rachel Whiteread, Michael Craig-Martin and Ron Mueck - would each receive a pro-forma letter, delivered by courier, announcing their dealer's intention to shut up shop at the end of the year." d'Offay intends to shut his four London galleries. Financial Times 09/11/01

  • LONG LIVE THE KING: "While d’Offay’s name may be little known outside the art scene, he is its commercial emperor, and his gallery’s closure has the impact of an abdication." The Times (UK) 09/11/01

CLEVELAND PICKS AN ARCHITECT: "Rafael Vinoly, a 57-year-old native of Uruguay who gave up a career as a concert pianist to become a world-famous architect, has been chosen to design the renovation and expansion of the Cleveland Museum of Art." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 09/11/01

VENICE UNDERWATER: "The mean sea level in Venice is 23 cm higher than it was a hundred years ago, partly due to subsidence, partly due to a rise in the water level of the lagoon. By the end of this century, due to climate change sea levels generally are expected to rise by 20 to 60 cm." This means the city will be under water and uninhabitable unless something is done. The Art Newspaper 09/10/01

Monday September 10

REAL FAKE/FAKE REAL: Of two Rembrandt self portraits, one was considered authentic and the other a copy. But ten years ago, an expert concluded that the real portrait was the copy and the copy was real. Now they're sitting side by side in a Nuremberg museum so the public can judge for themselves. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09/10/01

JEWISH MUSEUM OPENS: "This opening of Berlin's Jewish Museum, more than 10 years in the making, brought the German president, Johannes Rau, the chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, and many others to what had become an unmissable event. It was a bizarre and redemptive mixture of social need and societal sorrow, so wrenching and compelling that it seemed to encapsulate Germany's paradoxes." International Herald Tribune 09/10/01

GETTING BIGGER TO KEEP UP: Sotheby's moves into enormous new quarters in London. "Millions of pounds have been spent on leasing and altering the premises in an attempt to win back lost ground in the middle market. Sotheby's needs to do this because it wasted time and huge amounts of money on an ill-judged internet auctions project, while Christie's traditional sales at its mid-market South Kensington saleroom increased by seven per cent to £99 million last year." The Telegraph (UK) 09/10/01

DEPARTING DIRECTOR TAKES SHOTS: Outgoing British Museum managing director Suzanna Taverne says the museum is in trouble and may have to "cut opening hours, restrict access to certain galleries and call off exhibitions because of a cash crisis." She also said her short tenure at the museum was due in part to outdated views by BM curators and board members about how the museum should be run. Sunday Times (UK) 09/09/01

VENICE DIGS UP THE PLAGUE: Venetian authorities are excavating a long-submerged island in Venice's lagoon to look at two ancient ships. "The island - the site of an abandoned 11th century monastery - became a mass grave for scores of thousands of victims of the plague, the Black Death, in 1348." BBC 09/07/01

FRESNO DIRECTOR RESIGNS: Dyana Curreri-Ermatinger, who became director of the Fresno Art Museum only six months ago, has resigned over differences of direction with the museum's board. "We're an institution trying to find a balance between being a sophisticated contemporary art museum and still connect with all segments of the population in an agrarian community." Fresno Bee 09/10/01

Sunday September 9

ART ON TV: An ambitious new PBS series Art21: Art in the 21st Century debuts this week. "Art21 rewrites the possibilities for art on television. Its true subject is inspiration, and its method scraps all the formulas by getting rid of narrators and allowing artists to tell us in their own words how they work and why they do what they do." The New York Times 09/09/01 (one-time registration required for access)

  • HOW WE DO IT: "The series features 21 contemporary artists, famous and little-known. It's refreshingly free of artspeak. The artists have been encouraged to talk plainly about what drives them to make their art and to show how they go about it. The series avoids traditional art terms that might help explain some of the work at the price of distancing viewers from it. Here there's no choice but to consider the art on its own terms without the security blanket of labels." San Jose Mercury News 09/09/01

JEWISH MUSEUM OPENS: Berlin's Daniel Libeskind-designed Jewish Museum opens tonight (Sunday). "The opening is being celebrated as a state occasion, attended by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and President Johannes Rau. Berlin's great Jewish tradition will certainly be mentioned on Sunday, not only because the new Jewish Museum grew out of the Jewish department of the Berlin Museum, but above all because it also reinforces the city's status as the old-new capital." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09/09/01

NAZI STOLEN ART SUIT TO PROCEED: A New York judge has ruled that a suit against the Wildenstein family can go on. "This is stolen property that turned up in the possession of the Wildenstein family 50 years later." New York Post 09/07/01

TATE RETURNS ORDER: Tate Britain, which 18 months ago unveiled a rehanging of its collection along thematic lines among great fanfare and critical irritation, has decided to return to the traditional chronological arrangement. "We never really thought the thematic arrangement would be anything other than temporary. In many ways it was like an extended exhibition forced on us by circumstance. But in terms applying it to the complete national collection, it is not a realistic way of setting it out." The Guardian (UK) 09/07/01

SEROTA DOES TATE: Tate Modern is still looking for a new director. But in the meantime Nicholas Serota is taking over the job. "Apparently, Serota misses running a gallery. He is even going to curate an exhibition himself, devoted to the American artist Donald Judd." Sunday Times (UK) 09/09/01

BRITISH MUSEUM DIRECTOR RESIGNS: The managing director of the British Museum has resigned. "She is the first and last person to hold this post, which is to be abolished. The trustees will now return to choosing a single director noted primarily for his or her scholarly and curatorial skills." London Evening Standard 09/07/01

Friday September 7

THE GREAT WWII ART CON: At the end of World War II a Yugoslav con man talked Americans supervising the return of art stolen during the war into turning over 166 art objects to him. Ante Topic Mimara claimed he represented the Yugoslav government, but shortly after he was given the art, he - and it - disappeared. Now it has turned up in museums in Belgrade and Zagreb... ARTNews 09/01

ANNENBERG GIFT: Walter and Lenore Annenberg give $20 million to the Philadelphia Museum of Art - the largest gift in the museum's 125 year history. "The Annenbergs gave the money through the Annenberg Foundation for the museum's current capital campaign, which is seeking to raise $200 million. To date, more than $128 million has been received." Philadelphia Inquirer 09/07/01

Thursday September 6

CLIPPING A CLASSIC: Eero Saarinen's swooping TWA terminal at New York's JFK airport is one of the city's architectural wonders. But a proposal to expand and preserve it by fitting an enormous bland collar around it is a defacement of criminal proportions. "The oafish design being proposed must be reconceived top to bottom: TWA can't be isolated as an object but has to be lived in - arrived at, walked through, flown from." New York Magazine 09/03/01

INCONCEIVABLE: What's wrong with conceptual art? "The sad and very pertinent fact is this: Conceptual artists haven't escaped the confines of media. They've simply chosen a very crude and rudimentary form of media—the artist statement—and they've chosen to channel all of their 'pure' ideas through that thin and puny medium. Without the artist statement, the concept simply ain't shared." *spark-online 09/01

MOTIVATED BY MEMPHIS: For designers in the 1980s, the Memphis group of designers was a revelation. Memphis has had a major influence on a generation of designers. "The whole point of Memphis was to demonstrate that design could mutate like bacteria, that it was as open to change as Pop art." But was it good change? The Guardian (UK) 09/06/01

"SUCCESSFUL" ONLINE AUCTION HOUSE APPARENTLY ISN'T: "The fine arts auctioneer eWolfs has suspended its business and laid off most of its staff. The company, which for 25 years was a classic auction house, went entirely online in 1999 and was often cited as one of the few success stories for selling art over the web." The Art Newspaper 09/04/01

A "NAZI LOOT" LAWSUIT WILL CONTINUE: "The heir of a Jewish art dealer whose collection is said to have been looted by the Nazis has won a round in his bid to reclaim the works." At stake are eight rare manuscripts in the possession of New York art dealers. A State Supreme Court judge has ruled that the lawsuit can continue, because the dealers have not submitted any proof of where they got the manuscripts. BBC 09/06/01

Wednesday September 5

OF ART AND SHOPPING MALLS: Artists rally to protest a plan by the Bangkok city governor to build a museum in a shopping mall. "No art museum in the world should be built in a shopping mall. The governor's new plan could cause an unpleasant impact on the pride of artistic beauty." Bangkok Post 09/05/01

INSTITUTIONAL THEFT? Are major museums acting against an ethics code in the ways they fail to rigorously nail provenance details for objects they acquire? "We have just published a booklet, Looting in Europe, and there is no completely safe museum—whether it be in Italy or Sweden." The Art Newspaper 09/01/01

CRACKING THE FORBIDDEN VAULT: During the 80 years of Communist rule in Russia, sex was a taboo topic, not fit for discussion, and certainly not an appropriate focus for the nation's artists and writers. But the Russian State Library has blown the lid off the Bolshevik claims of prudishness, revealing that for the better part of the last century, its walls have housed one of the world's largest collections of erotica, including work by some of Russia's artistic and literary luminaries. The New York Times 09/05/01 (one-time registration required for access)

JEWISH MUSEUM GETS ITS INSIDES: Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin has been a hit with the public, even though there's been nothing in it. "Opened to the public from the beginning of 1999 to the end of 2000, the Libeskind building—still completely empty—was visited by no less than 350,000 people." After two years of collecting, the museum is now ready to open with objects inside. The Art Newspaper 09/01/01

HOW TO BE A VEGAS MUSEUM: So the new Las Vegas Guggenheim Museum is delayed. There are plenty of other museums in the City of Fun. "The museums here reflect the obsession with fantasy that is the essence of Las Vegas. There is a gambling museum, a neon museum, and two that are devoted to performers who came to personify the city: Liberace and Elvis Presley. All four attract steady streams of visitors, many of whom pore over the displays just as intently as visitors to more conventional cultural attractions." The New York Times 09/05/01 (one-time registration required for access)

MAKING A HABIT OF ART: Sister Wendy is a phenomenon in her native Britain, a nun in full habit who has made it her life's mission to bring the fine arts to the masses. Her accessible descriptions of complex artistic endeavor have made her a hero to some, while her frank dislike of some beloved creators (Picasso, for example) has caused others to dismiss her as a Philistine. She brings her act to America with a public television series that begins this week. Baltimore Sun 09/05/01

Tuesday September 4

BLOCKING A LOAN? Italy's undersecretary of culture says Italy might prevent panels by the 15th century painter Masaccio from being loaned to Britain's National Gallery because "it would amount to 'sexual tourism' in which art was abused. Other paintings would be banned from travelling to the UK unless its museums and galleries became more generous in lending artworks to Italy, he said." The Guardian (UK) 09/03/01

PERUVIAN PYRITE: Over 20% of a Lima museum's prized 20,000-piece collection of Incan and pre-Incan gold is fake, according to a government investigation. How the fakes found their way into the collection is not known, but the museum is removing the offending pieces for "further investigation." BBC 09/04/01

STRAIGHT-UP TRADE: A new program promotes exchanges of art between regional French and American museums. "The American museums have been given the kind of access to the French system hitherto available only to major museums and, at the same time, are learning to cooperate regionally in this country themselves. The French museums are learning about the great cultural diversity of American collections, which range from antiquities to contemporary art (as well as about American-style fund-raising)." The New York Times 09/04/01 (one-time registration required for access)

TOO WEIRD TO BE BIG? Turner Prize finalist Mike Nelson is being touted as the Next Big Thing, successor to the YBA crowd. But is his art too weird to really make it big? The Guardian (UK) 09/04/01

OWNING AMERICANA: "Two lawsuits have been filed, one by a prominent Indianapolis family that controls The Saturday Evening Post and the other by the heirs of the magazine's former art director, disputing ownership of three Norman Rockwell paintings." Chicago Tribune 09/04/01

Monday September 3

SELLING ART TO LIVE: The Church of England has decided it must sell a valuable collection of art. The church says its "financial problems means it has not much option but to sell the collection of paintings by 17th Century Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran." Some fear the paintings will be sold outside the country. BBC 09/03/01

WEIGHING THE RISKS: London's National Gallery is opening a show that reunites the surviving panels of a 1426 altarpiece by Masaccio, one of the most important painters of the early Renaissance. The panels are being loaned from four museums, but a leading art historian charges that "the risks in transporting the works far outweigh any benefit to the public." National Post (AP) (Canada) 09/03/01

Sunday September 2

AGENTS TO THE NAZIS: A five-year study of Switzerland's conduct during World War II concludes that Swiss art dealers sold art plundered from Nazi victims to Hitler for his private collections. The report concludes that "Switzerland was a trade center for looted assets and flight assets from Nazi Germany and the occupied territories." Basler Zeitung (Switzerland) 08/31/01

CRACKING THE SPANISH THEFT: The $65 million theft of paintings in Spain a few weeks ago, the biggest art theft in Spanish history, still has police puzzled. "The thieves apparently had a shopping list of what they wanted to take from Spain's finest private art collection. The Spanish Ministry of Culture has said that many of the 19 works figured on an official list of national treasures, and it has called for a special effort to recover them. The police have offered a reward, hoping that underworld informers will betray the thieves." International Herald Tribune 09/01/01

SMALLER DEFINITION: New York's Museum of Modern Art is expanding. But first it has to contract while construction begins. "With so little space, time collapses, continuity is destroyed, and works usually hung galleries apart are brought into unaccustomed proximity." The New York Times 09/01/01 (one-time registration required for access)

A REINFORCING IDEA: Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater is one of the most famous houses of the 20th Century. But though Wright's engineer warned him that the house's beams weren't strong enough, the house was built according to the architect's plans. Now it requires $11 million of structural redesign, and the house's owners are charging admission to watch. Dallas Morning News (NYT) 09/02/01