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Thursday October 31

ON THE WHOLE, I PREFER HENRY MOORE, WOT? British culture minister Kim Howells took a walk through an exhibition of artwork by those chosen as Turner Prize finalists, and didn't hold back on his reaction to it. On a message board in the gallery at the Tate, he wrote: "It's cold, mechanical conceptual bullshit ... The attempts at contextualisation are particularly pathetic but symptomatic of a lack of conviction." The Independent (UK) 10/31/02

A NERVOUS ART MARKET: Whenever the economy goes down, the number of artworks up for auction goes up. "While the monetary total is not unusually high, the sheer number of works for sale this fall has increased. Some is being sold by people in financial distress, but many other sellers think this is the moment to cash in. The question is whether collectors will have the appetite, never mind the means, to buy." The New York Times 10/31/02

PLAYING KEEP-AWAY WITH RAPHAEL: "An appeal to raise £30m to save a Raphael masterpiece for the [UK] has been launched by London's National Gallery. The current owner of Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks, the Duke of Northumberland, has agreed to sell the painting to a US gallery to prop up his estate's ailing finances. But he is giving the National Gallery - where the painting has been on loan for the last decade - one last chance to keep it." BBC 10/31/02

ART OF NEWS: The Newseum unveils plans for a $400 million new home located on a prominent corner of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. It's a museum dedicated to the art of news and newsgathering... Washington Post 10/29/02

Wednesday October 30

SOTHEBY'S DRAWS BIG FINE: Sotheby's is fined more than 20 million Euros by the European Union for "operating a price-fixing cartel during the 1990s." Fellow partner-in-crime Christie's escaped punishment because the company came forward to provide evidence of price fixing. "The pair handle 90% of the auction market and have been under investigation by the commission for breaking fair trade rules. They were accused of inflating commission fees and defrauding art sellers out of £290 million." BBC 10/30/02

ANOTHER TURNER CONTROVERSY: This year's Turner Prize shortlist follows a tradition of nominating controversial art. It includes a work that is a graphic description of a pornographic movie. "The four shortlisted artists - Fiona Banner, Liam Gillick, Keith Tyson and Catherine Yass - will learn who has won the coveted prize, and with it a £20,000 cheque, in December." BBC 10/30/02

  • THROWING UP FOR ART: With Stuckists protesting outside at the absence of traditional painters on the Turner shortlist, inside art glitterati were upchucking after watching a movie by one of the finalists (and it wasn't the porn project). The Guardian (UK) 10/30/02
  • HANDICAPPING THE TURNER: The controversy, the noise, the predictable hype... the Turner is getting a bit boring. "It is all very undignified and divisive. The art itself gets kicked around like a football, in a game in which no one knows the rules. But it doesn't matter - the game's the thing!" Here come this year's entries. The Guardian (UK) 10/30/02
  • WHERE'S THE BUZZ? "Truthfully, as balanced and fair and good as the 2002 list is, it is also a tiny bit dull. So that's another thing then: when it comes to the Turner Prize, the Tate can never win." The Telegraph (UK) 10/30/02
  • DON'T CARE? This year "mention of the Turner seems to have stirred intense apathy. The Britpack caught the imagination. But once they had clicked into cultural place as neatly as the mechanisms of a semi-automatic taking dead aim at the lowest common denominator, they were commonly announced to be 'over'. And then no one seemed much to care what was upcoming for the Turner." The Times (UK) 10/30/02

BATTLE FOR THE BARNES: Lincoln University is a small black college with control of an art collectionworth billions of dollars. But the Barnes Collection, claiming poverty and an unworkable relationship with Lincoln has filed a petition for divorce and announced its intention to move to Philadelphia. The plan is a blow to the tiny college, and court battles over the Barnes' right to self determination figure to drag out a long time. The New York Times 10/30/02

ART ONLINE: Many museums have resisted putting images of their artworks online for fear that they would lose control of the images. A project in California seeks to put museum collections across the state online. "Users can search 150,000 images of artifacts, paintings, manuscripts, photographs and architectural blueprints from 11 public and private museums. But with more than 2,000 museums in the state, that's just scratching the surface. 'Our goal is to get every museum, library and archive in California to have their collections digitized and online'." Wired 10/30/02

SHOOT ME: An art exhibition in Soho is drawing criticism for its violent theme, particularly after the DC-area sniper attacks. "Shoot Me, by the multimedia artist Miyoung Song, features a basement shooting gallery that enables visitors to take potshots with a BB gun at random women, children and porn stars in the throes of sex as they flash by on a video screen equipped with a paper bull's eye." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/30/02

ART IN KIDDIELAND: "Parents may not be sure about dragging children along to see Art with a capital 'A', but the galleries are in no doubt at all. These days, public art galleries and museums have more kids' courses and activity weeks, more hands-on, child-friendly, interactive workshops, more family trails, more learning centres than ... well, Picassos and Matisses. It has got to the point that, for an art-loving adult, no visit to a gallery is free from the vague dread that an entire primary school class may be seated in front of your favourite painting, or gangs of adolescents ostentatiously tittering at the nudes on display." The Guardian (UK) 10/30/02

Tuesday October 29

PARIS MUSEUMS PREPARE FOR SUPERFLOOD: Paris' leading museums, including the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay are removing thousands of precious artworks from their basement storage because of fears about a hundred-year super-flood that could happen this winter. "We're not saying the great centennial flood is coming this winter, we're just saying we know it will come some time soon and the signs are not encouraging. We have to make sure we can deal with it when it happens." The Guardian (UK) 10/26/02

SCULPTOR REGRETS REMOVING CONTROVERSIAL ART: Last month sculptor Eric Fischl's bronze sculpture of a falling body commemorating 9/11 was removed from Rockefeller Center after a few people complained. Now Fischl regrets that he allowed the piece to be taken away so quickly. "I even regret caving in to Rockefeller Center so fast and saying: 'Yeah, take it away. I don't want to hurt anybody.' I'm sorry I didn't raise a stink over it. I hate this idea that there are some people who have a right to express their suffering and others who don't, that there are those in this hierarchy of pain who own it more than you do." New York Times Magazine 10/27/02

MILLION £ SOUP: Andy Warhol's screenprint of Marilyn Munroe sold for more than $17 million. But the artist's family is selling Warhol's iconic Campbell's soup can for only £1 million. The Guardian (UK) 10/29/02

BRITAIN'S WOEFUL PUBLIC BUILDING RECORD: Why are public building projects in Britain so woefully carried out? "In Britain we have become so used to the idea that any major public building project will be delivered several years late and costing some multiple of the figure originally predicted that initial projections are treated rather like the boasts of an imaginative angler." The UK has failed to invest in its educational infrastructure. What's needed is a massive education plan for engineers and architects... The Guardian (UK) 10/29/02

Monday October 28

A RECORD WEEK: "Sixteen auction records were broken in just over two hours at the 20th-century Italian art sales in London last week. But, bullish as this sounds, the reality was more sober..." The Telegraph (UK) 10/28/02

LOOKING FOR A DIGITAL HOME: Seeing how there are museums for just about anything, is there a possibility of a museum devoted to digital art? "Efforts to establish a one-stop shop for the digital arts — a Linkin' Center, if you will — have been, at best, modestly successful. Donors are tight fisted, especially when there are no tangible objects that they can call their own. As a result, while there are small high-tech art centers scattered around the country and virtual museums sprinkled across the Web, none fulfill the museum functions of organizing, commissioning, exhibiting, collecting, preserving art works and education. But two organizations are moving in the right direction." The New York Times 10/28/02

INVESTING IN SCOTTISH ART: The Scottish government has come up with a plan to help museums across the country buy contemporary art. Ten musems will share £350,000 to spend on new work. The government "believes the scheme will revolutionise local museums, and also provide an opportunity for award-winning artists such as Douglas Gordon, Calum Colvin, Callum Innes and Roderick Buchanan to be represented in Scottish collections." Glasgow Herald 10/26/02

MASS APPEAL: Over the next few years some 3.8 million new houses will be built in the UK. So "what might they look like, and what might they be like to live in? After a long sabbatical from the design of mass housing, British architects are making their way back. They are not finding it particularly easy." The Guardian (UK) 10/28/02

YE OLDE OBELISK TRANSPORT COMPANY: In ancient times hundreds of obelisks lined the Nile. But beginning in Roman times, foreign countries made sport of taking souvenirs, and it became fashionable to remove the giant stone obelisks and bring them back for placement in leading cities. One of the last taken was transported to New York in 1881 to Central Park, where thousands of New Yorkers waited... Archaelogy 11/02

THE MAN BEHIND REM, DANIEL, ANISH... Modern architects like Rem Koolhaas and Daniel Libeskind like to dazzle with theatrical structures. But Cecil Balmond is the engineer behind them who helps make the ideas possible. "Balmond's structures tend to look as if they have no business standing up. Instead of depending on massive walls and simple symmetry for their strength, they rely on what he presents as being a deeper understanding of nature. In his softly-spoken but determined way, Balmond is trying to shift the way that we see engineers, as well as engineering." The Observer (UK) 10/27/02

Sunday October 27

JESUS IN ONTARIO: "A 2,000-year-old limestone box that some believe provides the first archeological evidence of the existence of Jesus will have its international public premiere next month in Canada... The rectangular ossuary, which dates from about 63 AD, was excavated by an Arab villager about 15 years ago in a cave near Jerusalem, then sold to an antiquities dealer. He in turn sold it to an Israeli collector, who, in March of this year, brought it to the attention of Sorbonne scholar André Lemaire, one of the two experts who vouched for its great age." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 10/26/02

THE GREATEST ARTS PATRONS OF ALL TIME: It seems safe to say that the world will never again see a family like the Medicis, who held up the financial end of artistic achievement in Europe for more than 500 years. Without the Medici family, there would have been no Michelangelo, very little of Galileo, and the Rennaissance might have been little more than an average movement in the history of art. A new exhibit in Chicago focuses on the last glory days of the Medici, with more than 200 works on display. Chicago Tribune 10/27/02

EVERYTHING (EUROPEAN) MUST GO: As part of its new mission of focusing its collection on American art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is auctioning off 34 works by Europeans artists next week, with the proceeds to be used to beef up the academy's American collection. "The consigned works... are with several exceptions by relatively obscure and unfashionable artists, and only a few carry estimates of more than $100,000." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/23/02

HOW MUCH IS THAT AMERICAN NEA BUDGET, AGAIN? In Austria, a country with nowhere near the wealth and resources of the U.S., governmental investment in 'quality of life' is a societal mainstay. From subways to buildings to the Vienna Philharmonic, public money is the key component of success. In particular, the city's architecture, supported by government funding, is stunning, especially given how little of Vienna was left after World War II. Boston Globe 10/27/02

Friday October 25

DEFENDING THE COLLECTOR: "A group of American collectors has formed a new organisation to defend the interests of private and public collecting. They see threats to collecting coming from foreign countries, over-zealous law enforcement and a public debate, which, according to them, has been driven by the 'retentionist' bias of many archaeologists." The Art Newspaper 10/25/02

ART AS GLOBAL IMPULSE: Vicente Todoli takes over this month as the Tate Modern's new director. He observes that internationalism is an important artistic impulse. "Art has always been moved by individuals. Before businessmen, artists were the precursors in breaking down frontiers. Globalisation is the essential spirit of art. The world is wider today and art has always had an openness of viewpoints because that is its nature. The only problem today is tremendous commercialisation which is killing much creativity and controls the mind of some artists who take decisions dictated by it." The Art Newspaper 10/25/02

BIG NEW ART PRIZE: Wales has launched the world's most lucrative prize for visual artists. The £40,000 Artes Mundi biennial competition "will be open to artists from across the globe whose entries will in turn be shown in Cardiff at the National Museum and Gallery. The organisers are hoping the prize will give to the arts the same kind of stature that the hugely-popular Cardiff Singer of the World has given music." BBC 10/25/02

THE GREAT COVERUP: Two sculptures that Renaissance artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini made for a church almost 350 years ago, have finally been unveiled. "The two sculptures, which represent the virtues of Truth and Charity, were designed by Bernini in the 17th Century for the chapel of a Portuguese aristocrat, Roderigo de Sylva. They have been located in the chapel since they were completed in 1663, but were deemed offensive by religious leaders two centuries later, and covered up." BBC 10/25/02

THE PAINTING PACHYDERMS: Zookeepers have long observed that elephants like to pick up sticks and doodle in the sand. "Elephants are highly intelligent animals who don't particularly like to stand around all day." Now a group of Balinese elephants are painting and earning a following (and cash). "Their work has been exhibited at several museums worldwide. And recently, the handlers of a dozen or so painting pachyderms in Asia formed a website. Within two months, sales broke $100,000. Half of the profits go to elephant-rescue sanctuaries in Southeast Asia." Christian Science Monitor 10/25/02

Thursday October 24

REVOKING FREE ADMISSION? London's Natural History Museum saw a 70 percent increase in attendance last year after it dropped entry fees. In return for free admission, the British government promised museums more money. But "museum bosses have told MPs the extra volume of visitors is costing them £500,000 ($773,000) a year more than they receive in return for giving up charging." So the museum is thinking about reinstating the entry fees... More museums may follow, given the government's disappointing funding promises earlier this week. BBC 10/24/02

DEALING WITH THE BRITISH MUSEUM: The British Museum is getting a raw deal in the government's new funding plan, writes former Culture Secretary Chris Smith. But the museum's present predicament is not entirely a funding issue. "The museum has to put its own house in order too, and run itself more efficiently." The Guardian (UK) 10/24/02

LOOTING THE CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION: "Since Iraq's defeat in the Persian Gulf War in 1991, thieves have been stealing anything they can Because Iraq's antiquities bureaucracy collapsed after the war and even today only is a fraction of what it once was, the country's 10,000 known ancient sites - plus many more yet to be documented - have been easy targets for the last decade. The frenzy of looting has panicked experts on ancient Mesopotamia, long seen by scholars as the cradle of the first civilizations." Detroit News 10/23/02

STATUES DAMAGED BY CLEANERS: Four busts of Great Britons Isaac Newton, William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds, and John Hunter have stood watch over London's Leicester Square in central London for almost 130 years. They have survived war, pollution and the elements. But not, apparently, a restoration cleaning in the early 1990s. "It appears the cleaners used a highly corrosive, concentrated solution of hydroflouric acid. If the busts are left outside, they will continue to deteriorate. Within two decades they could be just meaningless lumps of rock." The Guardian (UK) 10/24/02

  • STATUES IN JEOPARDY: Oslo's famous Vigeland bronze statues are being destroyed by moisture. "At the same time, the original works are covered with a layer of dirt that cannot be removed without destroying the statues." Aftenpost (Norway)10/16/02

Wednesday October 23

MUSEUMS ATTACK LOW FUNDING PROMISE: UK museum directors fretted yesterday after a government announcement that £70 million in funding would be allocated to the country's museums. "A government-sponsored report found that, unless £167 million was found, many institutions with world-class exhibits would be pushed into irreversible decline. The response from museums was angry and swift." The Guardian (UK)10/23/02

  • Previously: BRITISH MUSEUM GETS CASH: The British government announces a £70 million funding package for the British Museum and regional museums. The BM's financial crisis has been so bad it has had to close galleries and reduce hours as it deals with a large deficit. "The BM will receive £36.8m, with an extra £400,000 in 2003 to re-open the Korean Galleries and others currently closed." BBC 10/22/02

GETTY CAN EXPAND VILLA: After the Getty Museum moved into its new home in 1997, the museum announced plans to add an outdoor theatre to the Getty's former headquarters in its Malibu villa. Neighbors sued to block the plan. Now a judge has ruled in the Getty's favor. In addition to the theatre, "the villa complex would grow to 210,000 square feet, including a new restaurant to replace the site's old tea room, expansion of the bookstore and renovation of museum galleries for display of the Getty antiquities collection." Los Angeles Times 10/23/02

MEMORIES OF EMPIRE: The British Empire is today referred to but seldom examined very closely. "Is it shame, guilt, post-colonial exhaustion or plain ignorance that has obliterated the memory of an empire that lasted 500 years and changed the face of the world? Probably all of these. But no one in Britain today can understand what has shaped our multiracial society, what links this country to the Commonwealth and what has made English the tongue of more nations than any other unless they understand the Empire." The Times (UK) 10/23/02

Tuesday October 22

BRITISH MUSEUM GETS CASH: The British government announces a £70 million funding package for the British Museum and regional museums. The BM's financial crisis has been so bad it has had to close galleries and reduce hours as it deals with a large deficit. "The BM will receive £36.8m, with an extra £400,000 in 2003 to re-open the Korean Galleries and others currently closed." BBC 10/22/02

AUSSIE ARTS COUNCIL EXPLORES ARTIST TRUST ACCOUNTS: The Australian Arts Council is investigating the idea of setting up trust accounts for artists. Gallery sales would be deposited into the accounts directly for the artists. "There are a whole range of other businesses and services that require that the intermediary - the real estate agent, the travel agent, the lawyer - holds funds in a trust account. The point is, if a work has been sold then the value of that work, less the agent's fee, is the artist's money." Sydney Morning Herald 10/22/02

THE GREAT PAINTING CONTEST: In the 16th Century on of the most extraordinary public art collaborations ever, teamed Michelangelo and Leonardo to paint side by side paintings in the Council Hall of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Art historians call the project "the turning point of the Renaissance." But Giorgio Vasari, the famous chronicler of Renaissance painters' lives, had the wall painted over, obliterating the art... The Guardian (UK) 10/22/02

THE VIETNAM WAR IN ART: "Vietnam had no great tradition of visual art before the 20th century, with even its sacred buildings austere compared to those of neighboring China. By the time the Vietnam War erupted, however, local artists had been shaped by two quite different imported traditions: what was known as poetic realism, introduced by French colonial teachers, and Socialist Realism, borrowed from the Communist regimes in Moscow and Beijing." The New York Times 10/22/02

Monday October 21

WHERE'S THE QUALITY WORK? The number of art and antiques fairs has zoomed in the past decade. But some of the fairs are starting to struggle. There are "too many events and not enough dealers offering the kind of quality material demanded by collectors in the market's present selective mood." The Telegraph (UK) 10/21/02

THE PRADO'S INVISIBLE RENOVATIONS: Madrid's Prado Museum is in the middle of a $45 million renovation. "The Prado will belatedly join a host of other museums, from the Louvre in Paris to the National Gallery in Washington, that have built annexes for art and assorted services. But the Prado is different: it wants its $45 million extension to go largely unnoticed." The New York Times 10/21/02

IN PRAISE OF THE BILBAO EFFECT - FIVE YEARS ON: Frank Gehry's Bilbao Guggenheim Museum is five years old. "The Bilbao effect is viewed by many as a triumph of style over substance, a type of global branding that used to be confined to items such as fashionable shoes and whatnot. And the style itself - especially the 'signature' buildings whose complex, odd-looking forms could never have been designed and built without the aid of advanced computer technology - is considered highly suspect." Washington Post 10/20/02

REMEMBERING LEWIS AND CLARK: Artist Maya Lin is designing a project to mark the voyage of Lewis and Clark across the American West. "Known as the Confluence Project, the $15 million effort scheduled to open in 2005 marks the last stops on Lewis and Clark's epic, cross-country journey that began on the Missouri River and ended up here, along the Columbia River. There could be as many as eight sites total." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 10/18/02

BEIJING'S NEW KOOLHAAS: Architect Rem Koolhaas has "just won the international competition to design the headquarters for China Central Television (CCTV) in Beijing. The project, costed at about €600m ($585m/£377m), will be the most prestigious the capital has seen for decades. It will be [Koolhaas's] greatest challenge to date: CCTV, the world's biggest television network, reaches nearly 300m households, or more than 1bn people, and runs 12 channels of programmes." Financial Times 10/21/02

Sunday October 10

IS MEXICO THE NEW CUBA? Mexico seems to be the hot place for art these days. At least that's what it seems like as planeloads of international curators descend. They're there, they say "because these artists have shown such wit, energy and international perspective - the sort of sophistication that the conventionally wise expect from art capitals like New York and Berlin. But these are artists schooled in skepticism, and some can't help but wonder: What if it's really just Mexico City's turn to be the art world's flavor of the month? Or worse, what if all this attention isn't really about art at all?" Los Angeles Times 10/20/02

COWTOWN TAKES THE STAGE: The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and its new 53,000 square-foot building will be the second largest museum devoted to art after World War II in the United States. What does it mean "when a place known as Cowtown suddenly takes the stage? After all, contemporary art is supposed to be a big-city sport, and Fort Worth is asking the world to rethink that concept." Dallas Morning News 10/20/02

ODDS AND ENDS: Is Matthew Barney "the most important artist of his generation? His art can feel like a bizarre conglomeration of everything that has come before, from Celtic myths to the Baroque and on to the most recent movies, novels, conceptual art and sculpture. Barney stuffs it all in, and leaves your head spinning." The Telegraph (UK) 10/19/02

A NEW LOOK FOR NY BUILDINGS: A big new hotel in Times Square has people thinking ugly. But perhaps it's just a change of aesthetic coming to a city that has rarely been touted for good-looking architecture. "The city's shifting demographic is one reason our architecture seems destined to become increasingly Latinized in the years ahead. A more important reason stems from the exhaustion of the northern European version of the Western tradition. That linear, 19th-century view of history has fallen apart as a measure of urban architecture. Post-modernism, a movement that tried to extend that line beyond its natural span, had the opposite effect of running it into the ground." The New York Times 10/20/02

Friday October 18

POLICE RAID ART: Police in Toronto raid a gallery to investigate photographs by AA Bronson, one of Canada's outstanding artists. "I asked to talk to an officer and he told me a concerned parent from the neighbourhood voiced a complaint and they had to bring in the sex crimes unit to take pictures of the window to determine whether it was obscene." Toronto Star 10/18/02

NEW HISTORY MUSEUM CHIEF: Brent D. Glass, head of the Pennsylvania Historical Commission, has been named director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The museum is "home to the original Star-Spangled Banner, Archie Bunker's chair, Duke Ellington's music collections and the wooden lap desk on which Thomas Jefferson composed the Declaration of Independence. Opened in 1964, the museum is now the third most visited in the world." Washington Post 10/18/02

JAPANESE SELL OFF ART: In the 1980s Japanese art collectors bought some of the world's most expensive and high profile art. When the country's economy tanked in the 90s, much of the high-priced art was quietly sold. "Now the Japanese recession is digging so deep that individuals and even respected museums are being forced to sell pieces acquired well before the Bubble period, including pieces officially listed as Important Art Objects." The Art Newspaper 10/15/02

TRACKING DOWN THE QUEEN'S WHISTLERS: By the time she died, Queen Victoria owned 157 Whistler prints - more than any British museum. Then they were sold off, and some experts believe that many of the etchings ended up in American collections. So what provoked the sell-off? The Art Newspaper 10/15/02

Thursday October 17

COMMUNAL BUY: There's a long tradition of museums sharing exhibitions and artwork for exhibitions. Now some are also sharing ownership of artwork. "Aside from economic considerations that lead museums to collaborate, the kind of art being produced today lends itself more readily to group ownership." The New York Times 10/17/02

MAFIA TURNS TO ARCHAEOLOGY: "Mafia groups in the Ukraine are pursuing a lucrative sideline in archaeology, looting valuable artefacts to be sold on the black market, in addition to their traditional criminal enterprises such as selling drugs, prostitution and protection rackets. Their latest target is Crimea, in the southern Ukraine, which is host to vast quantities of buried treasures from Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Bronze Age settlements." Scotland on Sunday 10/14/02

Wednesday October 16

POLL SAYS BRITS FAVOR RETURNING MARBLES: Forty per cent British respondants in a poll say that they thought Britain ought to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. Only 16 percent said they should stay in the British Museum. "The figures are almost identical to a similar poll conducted in 1988." BBC 10/16/02

NAZI LOOT ONLINE: How to track down artwork stolen by Nazis in World War II? "American museums now think that the Web can help in their attempt to uncover the Nazi loot that may still be hanging on their walls. In September 2002, the American Association of Museums received a $240,000 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Sciences for the creation of a Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal: a registry of objects in American museums of questionable ownership." Salon 10/16/02

BLAME IT ON THE COMPUTERS? "The buildings of the public realm in corporate New Britain are the stuff of dreary private finance initiatives, concerned with delivering numerical targets rather than creating beautiful spaces and buildings. When you look back to a time when architects, sculptors and writers got together to mull over the direction and design of new buildings, to challenge architectural orthodoxies and plan ideal solutions for public projects, it all seems so long ago, and so improbable, that it might as well be the stuff of fiction." The Guardian (UK) 10/14/02

Tuesday October 15

BRITISH MUSEUM CONSIDERS SELLING A BUILDING: The British Museum has a £6 million deficit after a major expansion and a decline in expected income. So the museum is considering trying to sell off one of its Central London buildings. "The building, a former post office just a couple of hundred yards from the museum's main site, is reportedly worth some £35 million. It has been derelict for some years." BBC 10/15/02

BUT IS IT ARCHITECTURE? The unorthodox Gateshead Millennium bridge has won this year's Stirling Prize for Architecture. Judges for the Royal Institute of British Architects' annual prize said the "simple and incredibly elegant £22 million bridge was not only an innovative and bold engineering challenge, but also the one piece of architecture that would be remembered by people this year." The Guardian (UK) 10/14/02

NASTY PICTURES: The Brooklyn Museum's show of Victorian nudes "is yet another chapter in the so-called culture wars," writes Roger Kimball. "Over the past decade or so, it has become increasingly clear that this war is a battle about everything the Victorians are famous for: the 'cleanliness, hard work, strict self-discipline,' etc., that one of the people responsible for this exhibition speaks of with such contempt. Do those values, those virtues, articulate noble human aspirations? Or are they merely the repressive blind for … well, you name it: narrowness, hypocrisy, the expression of a 'white, patriarchal, capitalist, hegemonic,' blah, blah, blah?" New Criterion 10/02

EXPANDING MASS MOCA: The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, (MASS MoCA), in North Adams, is expanding. The museum is renovating the complex at the former Sprague Electric Co. Within two years, they expect to add 45,000 square feet of commercial space at the site, and by 2008, 140,000 square feet of new galleries. Since it opened three years ago, Mass MoCA has spent $26 million of state money to open some 180,000 square feet of galleries and commercial space in a rehabilitated mill." Boston Herald 10/15/02

FRIDA FETISH: Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is "currently the height of radical chic, and is likely to be even more in vogue when Julie Taymor's movie Frida, starring Salma Hayek, opens next year. But it is hard not to feel that there is something distasteful and unhealthy about the way we like our artists - particularly if they are women - to suffer. Would there be half as much interest in Kahlo's paintings if her life had been half as colourful and tragic?" The Guardian (UK) 10/14/02

Monday October 14

DEFINING MOMENT: Connecticut arts leaders were surprised when Kate Sellers resigned as director of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art earlier this month in the middle of raising $120 million for an expansion. "Sellers' walking away from what would have been a career-defining moment, at one of the most pivotal periods in the museum's 160-year history, makes one wonder what was going on..." Hartford Courant 10/14/02

Sunday October 13

ATTACKING ART, LITERALLY: Cultural terrorism - the destruction of public art and artifacts in the name of political gain - has yet to reach American shores, but is a major concern around the world. "The shelling of the Bosnian National Library in Sarejevo in August 1992, by Serbian nationalists dug in the hills surrounding the city... and the fire it caused, destroyed thousands of priceless manuscripts and books, as well as gutting a historic and beautiful building." And who could forget the Taliban's destruction of the massive Bamyan Buddhas in Afghanistan as the world's cultural leaders pleaded with them to stop? Such acts of wanton destruction are often minimized when placed alongside terrorist attacks on human life, but the cold reality is that the cultural death toll may be more permanent than the human one. Toronto Star 10/12/02

NEW TRENDS AT THE AUCTION BLOCK: The new auction season is officially on, and some interesting broadening of views on old schools of art seems to be occurring in London. A Sotheby's auction of mainly modern masters this week "projected a new image of German Avant-garde trends in the first half of the 20th century by bringing out the continuity of mood from the Expressionism of 1908 to 1914 to the Abstractionism of the 1920s and 1930s. Most works shared an intensity in the color schemes, a thrust in the brush work, an energy bordering on fierceness and a sternness that was sometimes grim. Lighthearted subjects took on a gravitas at odds with their nature." International Herald Tribune 10/12/02

WHO SAYS JOURNALISTS ARE NEGATIVE? "Something has clicked in the consciousness of New Yorkers. After lying down in the waters of sorrow, New Yorkers are standing up to speak about the florescence of an idea. Architecture matters. The gaping wound of Lower Manhattan could never be healed by the conventions of real-estate development, in which parcels of land are arranged like slabs of meat on a plate. They see this now with a sanguine clarity even while the grief for their hometown still lingers. What the post-Sept. 11 city needs more than ever is architecture by the world's most intelligent creators -- that is what New Yorkers have demanded and that is exactly what is about to be dished out." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 10/13/02

GEHRY'S BUSINESS SCHOOL: "Dedicated Wednesday, the $62 million [Frank Gehry-designed] Peter B. Lewis Building for the Weatherhead School of Management at [Cleveland's] Case Western Reserve University is by no means a triumph like Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. But to measure every building by that epoch-defining structure is to set an almost impossibly high standard. Not every design can be a masterpiece. Some turn out to be steps along the journey rather than a final destination. This one certainly takes us on a trip. It marks a decisive break, at once flawed and fabulous, out of the typical B-School box." Chicago Tribune 10/13/02

A JETTY REEMERGES: "The most famous work of American art that almost nobody has ever seen in the flesh is Robert Smithson's 'Spiral Jetty': 6,650 tons of black basalt and earth in the shape of a gigantic coil, 1,500 feet long, projecting into the remote shallows of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, where the water is rose red from algae." The visual effect is stunning, when the coil can be seen, but it has been years since the murky waters of the lake yielded up Smithson's work to the eyes of visitors. But with drought sweeping the American West, the water level is lower than it has ever been, and the jetty has reappeared, at least for the time being. The New York Times Magazine 10/13/02

Friday October 11

ART SALES DOWN THIS YEAR: The Art Sales Index shows that the value of art sold in the past year declined 13-14 percent. "In the wake of 11 September, collapsing stock exchanges and high international tension, the art market has had a tough season, and while some stellar prices have been achieved, this has tended to obscure a very real weakness in the middle market." The Art Newspaper 10/11/02

TURNER FAMILY MAY WANT PAINTINGS BACK: William Turner's descendants are threatening to take back the painter's work from London museums. "Relatives say the Tate and the National Gallery ignored the artist's wishes that his collection, now worth an estimated £500million, should be kept in rooms specifically for his work. They are considering legal action to try to force the galleries to return the paintings." London Evening Standard 10/10/02

TAKE ALL YOU WANT. WE'LL MAKE MORE: "Guests at the Lake Placid Lodge, a longtime wilderness camp turned year-round posh resort on the shore of Lake Placid facing Whiteface Mountain (and the singer Kate Smith's former lakeside compound), don't have to confine themselves to taking a towel as a souvenir of their stay. They can take the whole antlered room. It's fine with the management. As long as they pay for it, of course. That's because the Lake Placid Lodge — where the 34 rooms and cabins go for $350 to $950 a night with breakfast and afternoon tea — doubles as an art gallery and what the owners call the largest showplace of rustic art furniture in the country." The New York Times 10/11/02

SCALING BACK IN L.A.: "The Children's Museum of Los Angeles has put on hold plans to build its $60-million museum in Little Tokyo, one of two new proposed branches, because of the weak economy, the president of the museum's board of trustees said Thursday... The decision to defer Art Park and focus the museum's resources on Hansen Dam was made last week after months of debate by the museum's board of governors." Los Angeles Times 10/11/02

Thursday October 10

UK MUSEUMS LOOKING FOR PROMISED HELP: UK museums are hurting. A survey last summer uncovered "a litany closures, decaying buildings, collapsing morale and inadequate acquisition funds," warning that "unless £167 million was found for museums outside London, the 'brain drain' from the provinces after years of underfunding would be hastened, driving many museums into irreversible decline." The government promised help. But months later, that help is not assured, and some are beginning to wonder... The Guardian (UK) 10/10/02

MISSING MORE THAN A RIB: Experts at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art are assessing the damage to a 15th-century statue depicting Adam eating the forbidden fruit, after the statue tumbled off its pedestal and shattered this week. Despite extensive breakage, the museum believes that it has "a good chance of returning the statue to public view with no signs of destruction visible to the untrained eye." BBC 10/10/02

ART STANDS IN FOR REALITY: Absent a decent picture for its cover a couple weeks ago, the New York Times Magazine hired an artist to transform a blurry photo into a clear portrait. "Times policy, like that of this paper and many others, forbids the manipulation of news photos... So the magazine had one of them turned into a more striking blurry painting, on the principle that fine art can rework reality any way it pleases, without answering to issues of journalistic ethics." But, wonders art critic Blake Gopnik, does calling it art solve the ethical issues? Washington Post 10/06/02

Wednesday October 9

SCOTLAND BUYS BEUYS: The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art has scored a coup. For £605,000 - "hardly enough to buy you the pickled hind quarters of a Damien Hirst" - the gallery has purchased a major collection of the work of Joseph Beuys. "The drawings, lithographs, photographs, books and sculptures amount to a third of the German artist's multiples, editionalised versions of his works he produced to bring his art to the widest public." The Guardian (UK) 10/09/02

AUSTRALIA FIRST: There seems to be consensus that this year's Melbourne Art Fair was a success. Except if you were a European gallery. There was plenty of buying, but sales were mostly by Australian artists, not Europeans. Is it parochialism? "Usually, in Europe, if you like something, you go for it, especially if it's affordable, because you trust your taste. And then you inquire about the artist. But here (potential buyers) need five people to tell them something is good. Here, collectors have, say, three artists. They know them forever and stick to them. It's very narrow-minded." The Age (Melbourne) 10/09/02

THERE ONCE WAS A PAINTING FROM GHENT... In 1934 a panel painted by van Eyck was stolen from in Ghent's St Bavo Cathedral. In the decades since, the mystery of its disappearance deepened. Was it hidden elsewhere in the church? Was it sold to a collector? Was it destroyed? Last week a taxi driver claimed to have some answers... The Guardian (UK) 10/09/02

MET STATUE CRASHES TO FLOOR: Sunday night a 15th-century marble statue of Adam by the Venetian sculptor Tullio Lombardo at the Metropolitan Museum in New York fell off its pedestal and crashed to the floor. "The museum has now tentatively concluded that the 6-foot-3-inch statue fell to the ground when one side of the 4-inch-high base of its pedestal apparently buckled, tipping over both the pedestal and statue." The New York Times 10/09/02

RETHINKING PICASSO: Was Picasso a "selfish, miserly old goat who destroyed the lives of those closest to him?" That's certainly been the picture painted of him. But the artist's grandson begs to differ. He's "tired of half-baked theories that misunderstand Picasso's life and work." The Telegraph (UK) 10/09/02

Tuesday October 8

FUN...BUT CONFUSING? The Seoul Media Art Biennale is opening, and organizers hope they've learned some lessons from the last biennale, which didn't draw large crowds. "But a general Korean audience, the target of the exhibition, may not be ready for the experimental pieces in the show. While many of the entries use fun, high-tech gadgets - DVD technology, video games, computer monitors and hard drives, digital photography, multiple television screens - and are visually entertaining, many invoke confusion, possibly distancing art further from the general public." Korea Herald 10/08/02

BIG DEAL: The Tate Modern is unveiling a giant sculpture created by Anish Kapoor for the museum. "The work, which measures almost 150m in length and is 10 storeys high, spans the entire entrance of the art gallery. 'It's a big thing because it needs to be a big thing. One hopes that it's a deep thing'." BBC 10/08/02

LONG ROAD AHEAD FOR THE BARNES: The Barnes Collection outside Philadelphia is trying to move inside Philadelphia. Though the Barnes has lined up plenty of support from civic leaders, funders and foundations, and though many in Philadelphia are anxious to get the Barnes to come to town, Albert Barnes' will must be challenged in court. "This is not something that will be decided in the court of public opinion. This is going to be up to the courts, and it could be a very long process." Washington Post 10/08/02

Monday October 7

ALTERED STATES: Just before the Royal Academy's new show Galleries opened last month, a work by the artist collective Inventory, an "anti-imperialist tirade, sprayed directly onto the RA’s walls", was sprayed over to cover up its anti-American references. Wasthe RA being tactful in removing "rude" material, or were the artists being censored? The Art Newspaper 10/04/02

THWARTING KHAN: The Aga Khan has been trying to buy property on the Thames in London to build a museum for his art collection - the largest collection of Islamic art in the English-speaking world. But the National Health Service wants the land (owned by King's College) so the hospital next door can expand. Though the Aga Khan offers more than twice the money for the property, the sale is likely to be made to the Health Service, prompting some to worry that the Aga Khan might take his collection out of England. The Observer 10/06/02

ANCIENT ASTRONOMERS: Three years ago looters in Germany, "equipped with a metal detector and basic household tools...stumbled upon one of the greatest archaeological finds of this century." It's a disc 30 centimeters in diameter weighing approximately 2 kilograms, and thought to be around 3,600 years old. "The disc shows that northern Europeans, probably Celts, made a science of astronomy at roughly the same time as the Stonehenge astronomical cult site was built in Britain." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10/04/02

Sunday October 6

THE DRAMATIC GESTURE: Of the seven finalists for this year's Stirling Prize for architecture, the oddsmaker's favorite isn't a building, but a dramatic bridge. "The Gateshead Millennium Bridge makes a great photograph, an elegant structure that perfectly marries engineering and architecture, it represents the epitome of design for the High-Tech generation." The Telegraph (UK) 10/05/02

ART AS A CONCEPT (FIRST): For 30 years Ronald Feldman's New York gallery has served up art that wasn't exactly the obvious sell. "Remaining on the edge for Mr. Feldman has meant staging ambitious installations and group exhibitions that could never recoup their costs. 'I didn't start with a concept or a business plan — I just did it. The real challenge was to see art in your time and become an advocate for it'." The New York Times 10/06/02

Friday October 4

TURIN FIRE WASN'T ARSON: In 1997, fire destroyed the newly-restored Chapel of the Holy Shroud. An investigation has finally conculded the fire wasn't arson. "Twelve cathedral custodians have been accused of sounding the alarm too late. Contractors undertaking restoration in the chapel stand accused of failing to switch the electricity off at the mains, a terrible oversight which is believed to have caused the fire. Experts say the fire was started by an electrical arc flash which set fire to the restorers’ wooden scaffolding crowding the baroque chapel." The Art Newspaper 10/04/02

SCULPTURE TO THE FORE: At Washington's National Gallery, the sculture collection has always taken a back seat to the museum's impressive displays of painting, possibly because of the physical and aesthetic difficulties of exhibiting large quantities of sculpture. But a suite of new galleries at the National has been carefully designed to showcase 800 three-dimensional works, and Roberta Smith, for one, is impressed. The New York Times 10/04/02

DEEP THINKING AT STANFORD: "After many nervous hours of careful maneuvering onto a pedestal Monday, The Thinker, one of the world's most recognizable sculptures, was home again at Stanford University's Cantor arts center after a three-year journey overseas. The contours of its freshly waxed bronze gleamed, heralding a confluence of events this week to honor not only the works of its famous creator, Auguste Rodin, but also the posthumous publication of a catalog of Rodin's work by one of his greatest advocates, Stanford art Professor Albert Elsen." San Jose Mercury News 10/01/02

Wednesday October 2

CUTS PLANNED FOR THE GUGGENHEIM: The Guggenheim is facing a budget crisis, even after laying off staff and closing its Soho branch last year. Now the museum is planning further staff cuts and reducing its exhibition hours in New York. "Asked to confirm reports that the museum’s operating budget was cut to $25.9 million in 2002 from $49 million in 2001," museum officials acknowledged big cuts but were “not comfortable discussing exact numbers.” There are also rumors the Guggenheim's Las Vegas museum might close in 2003. New York Sun 10/01/02

ITALY RETURNING PIECE OF THE PARTHENON: Italy plans to return a piece of the marble frieze from the Parthenon that it has held since the 1700s. "The fragment, held at a museum in Sicily, consists of a goddess’s foot and part of her tunic and once formed part of the frieze on the east side of the Parthenon." Italy's president calls the move a "gesture of friendship." The Times (UK) 10/01/02

BRITISH MUSEUM SAYS CLAIM IS "COMPELLING": The British Museum says there is "compelling evidence" that four Old Master drawings it owns were looted by the Nazis. The museum's trustees described the claim as 'detailed and compelling'. The artworks - thought to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds - are said to have been stolen between 1935 and 1945 from a collection owned by Dr Arthur Feldmann, of Brno, in the Czech Republic." BBC 10/02/02

WRITING'S ON THE WALL: In Milwaukee, Coca Cola is sponsoring an art contest in which winners designs are painted onto walls. But city officials aren't happy. Some believe that the art might encourage graffiti artists. "Some businesses may welcome a winning picture as a mural on a wall, but [one official] says the presence of graffiti-style art only inspires others to express themselves on other walls without permission." The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 10/01/02

AN AMERICANA (LAWSUIT) STORY: The Saturday Evening Post is suing a Connecticut museum to get back a painting by John Falter that was once used on the cover of the publication. The museum "got the painting as a gift in 1977 from Kenneth Stuart. The lawsuit claims that Stuart, the Post's art director from 1942 to 1963, took the Falter piece without permission and didn't legally own the work when he donated it. Stuart died in 1993." Hartford Courant 10/02/02

Tuesday October 1

LOOKING FOR ART THAT MATTERS: Jed Perl wonders about a cure for the malaise that has long dogged the artworld. "Although gallerygoers are stirred by contemporary art and museumgoers are having extraordinary experiences, there is a widespread belief that nothing really adds up, either for the artists or for the audiences. No matter how eye-filling the experiences that people are having, those experiences can end up feeling disconnected, isolated, stripped of context and implication. The art may not disappoint, but there is so much disappointment and confusion built up around the very idea of art that people find themselves backing away from their own sensations." So what is the answer? "What we find ourselves craving now is art's immediacy, art's particularity. But how do you build an aesthetic out of immediacy and particularity?" The New Republic 09/30/02

EARTHQUAKE DAMAGES SICILIAN MONUMENTS: Officials are toting up damages to monuments and buildings in Sicily after an earthquake September 6. Hundreds of buildings , including the home of the Sicilian parliament, have been declared unsafe. "Of about 40 damaged monuments in the province of Palermo, so far about 10 have been declared unfit for use" and the number could double, say officials. The Art Newspaper 09/27/02

CALL ON QUEEN TO RETURN RARE BRONZE: The former director of the Lagos [Nigeria] National Museum is calling on Queen Elizabeth to return a rare Benin Bronze given to her as a gift in 1973 by Nigerian President Yakubu Gowon. "General Gowon wanted to give something very valuable to The Queen and the fact it had been bought for our museum made it seem even more important. He gave the gift out of love for The Queen, but it was done out of ignorance.” The Art Newspaper 09/27/02

MORE THAN JUST A BATH: The painstaking year-long effort to clean Michelangelo's David is a sophisticated process. "The year-long campaign will include microclimatic surveillance and gamma-ray testing to reveal the exact nature of the atmospheric deposits, staining and erosion on the statue. Working in tandem with computer-generated models of the statue in a lab in Pisa, the intervention is the largest-scale study ever of what happens to monuments over time - sort of a gerontological study of public art." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/01/02