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Thursday November 30

  • THE ABC's OF THE TURNER PRIZE: "The Turner Prize is probably the biggest advert for the British art world. Headline-grabbing exhibitions aside, it is the one time the esoteric world of the ‘YBAs’ - Young British Artists - meets the people. For all its outrageousness, once an artist is nominated for the Turner Prize, they become part of the establishment." Here's an annotated guide through the workings of the Turner. The Scotsman 11/30/00
  • DO THEY CALL THIS SUCKING UP TO YOUR BOARD? The director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art is taking the museum to court to prevent its board from advertising his job. The museum board recently failed to roll over the director's contract when it expired and propose to open the post up for competition. Irish Times 11/30/00
  • ONUS ON MUSEUMS: "Under the sweeping guidelines, which were approved last month by the American Association of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors, museums must research and disclose on their Web sites the backgrounds of all art works acquired after 1933, when the Nazis took power in Germany, and produced before the conclusion of World War II in 1945." New York Times 11/30/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • PLAYING IT SAFE FOR TURNER: Wolfgang Tillmans, who this week won the Turner Prize, "is on the fashionable cusp between photography, art, and fashion, and was a safe choice." Financial Times 11/30/00
  • BEFORE THE WATER COMES: China plans to spend $60 million on a new museum to house a treasure trove of relics being saved from the giant Three Gorges Dam." New Jersey Online (AP) 11/30/00
  • QUALITY SELLS: So how's the art market doing so far this season? "While the secondary market is looking sluggish, serious collectors are showing increased enthusiasm for major works by major artists. The result, according to many, is a feeding frenzy for top material." Forbes 11/29/00
  • MICHELANGELO'S FLAW: A long-lost statue of Christ made by Michelangelo has been discovered in a small church outside of Rome. "It is well known that Michelangelo worked on an earlier version which he had to discard because of a black line in the marble which appeared on the face of Christ. But its whereabouts were never known." The Telegraph (London) 11/30/00
  • AUSTRIANS TO RETURN KLIMTS: The Austrian government recommends returning paintings by Gustav Klimt stolen during the Nazi era. One of the paintings is worth $9 million "The artworks to be returned include 'Lady with Hat and Feather Boa', a showpiece of the Austrian State Belvedere Museum in Vienna. BBC 11/30/00
  • SMILING SCIENCE: A neuro-scientist believes the enigma of the Mona Lisa's smile might be due to an optical trick. "If you look at the painting so that your gaze falls on the background or on Mona Lisa's hands ... it would appear much more cheerful than when you look directly at her mouth." Discovery 11/30/00

Wednesday November 29

  • TURNER WINNER: This year's Turner Prize goes to a photographer for the first time. The £20,000 prize, which has specialized in controversy in recent years, was awarded to Wolfgang Tillmans, a "German whose special line is taking pornographic homosexual pictures." The Telegraph (London) 11/29/00
  • NEW YORK'S DISAPPOINTING FALL SEASON: For the first time in memory, collectively the major museum shows in Manhattan are a flaccid, uninspired disappointment. "Perhaps it's an anomaly. Certainly it's the first time in memory that not a single big fall show will be remembered as being of more than cursory artistic significance. Tourism is one of Manhattan's biggest industries, and cultural tourism is a linchpin to the city's economy. For art museums, the urge is strong to court a huge and churning general public that's more willing than ever to sample their offerings. While a single art season does not a watershed make, the fall 2000 season in the four big art museums certainly reflects an unmistakable long-term change. They've been aggressive in wooing the crowd." Los Angeles Times 11/29/00
  • LEGACIES: Why did New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani (not a politician particularly known for his love of visual art) go out of his way to get $67 million to the Guggenheim Museum for a new downtown museum? "Civic leaders have a responsibility to leave cities far greater and more beautiful than [they] were transmitted to us." Financial Times 11/29/00
  • NEW GUGGENHEIM NOT CERTAIN: For the $678 million project to go forward, the City Council has to sign off on it, as do the state and federal governments. The museum, of course, must raise hundreds of millions of dollars to build the project, which will include a performing arts center and public parks and plazas at three East River piers. New York Times 11/29/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • JERUSALEM'S OWN SPACE NEEDLE? An "almost 500-foot-tall tower rising above the old city that will have a restaurant close to the top and a synagogue for only 36 at the very top" is being planned for one of the world's most historic cities. Why is it necessary to mar the view of the city with a modern monstrosity? The Idler 11/28/00
  • THE BM'S GREAT GREAT COURT: The British Museum's new £100 million Great Court was birthed in controversy. But the critics are raving: "My overall impression is that Norman Foster has given us the most surprising, and most sensationally beautiful, space in London." But will success turn the venerable BM into a "recreational" museum like the Tate or Bilbao? The Telegraph (London) 11/29/00
  • CEZANNE AS BUSINESS MODEL: "University of Chicago economist David Galenson charts the sea change from artistic tradition to reinvention, using the auction prices of paintings as his measure of value. Correlating the price of a work of art with the age of the artist at the time of the painting's execution, Galenson mapped the patterns of success and innovation over the past century in art history. His essays describe French and American painting, but their relevance is much broader." Salon 11/28/00

Tuesday November 28

  • GUGGENHEIM MAKES DEAL WITH NYC FOR NEW MUSEUM: The Guggenheim Museum has reached an agreement with New York City on the site for its new $678 million 520,000-square-foot Frank Gehry-designed museum complex in Lower Manhattan. The project includes 279,000 square feet of public parkland, an outdoor sculpture garden and a 1,200-seat performing arts center. NY mayor Rudolph Giuliani is "also expected to announce that the city will provide the museum with $67.8 million — 10% of its total cost — in capital funds." New York Daily News 11/28/00
  • ATTENTION COUPON CLIPPERS: Sotheby's and Christie's have asked a judge to allow them to pay $100 million of the $512 million settlement against them with certificates good for buying art in the future. "Sellers, they said, could have up to five years to use their coupons and could transfer them through a jointly appointed certificate administrator, which they said would create a secondary market." The New York Times 11/28/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • CAN'T BE MADE TO SELL: Earlier this year the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art sued heirs to a $44 million Picasso, claiming that the trust that owns the painting reneged on a commitment to sell Picasso's 1932 masterpiece "Nu au fauteuil noir" to the museum for $44 million. Last week, a San Francisco judge threw out the case. San Francisco Chronicle 11/28/00
  • TIFFED OFF AT THE TURNER: What is it about the Turner Prize? "What gets up my nose most about the Turner is the downright dishonest way in which the whole exercise is presented as rigorous and objective. It would like to compare itself to the Booker, but unlike the book world, in which ultimately the public can have its say by either buying or not buying books, the much smaller art world is maintained largely by the patronage of art institutions and major collectors." The Independent (London) 11/26/00
    • EVEN BETTER THE SECOND TIME? Controversy precedes the awarding of this year's Turner Prize as it turns out one of the favorites - Glenn Brown’s canvas, "The Loves of Shepherds 2000," appears to be "a stroke-by-stroke copy of Anthony Roberts’s jacket illustration for the 1974 Pan paperback edition of a Robert Heinlein science fiction novel." The Times (London) 11/28/00
  • LEONARDO'S TOPLESS MONA LISA: Did Leonardo paint a suacy topless Mona Lisa? The Italian press has been hailing "the topless Gioconda", a nude pastiche of Leonardo's Mona Lisa that art historians now claim was copied from an original by the Florentine master himself. The painting is known as Monna Vanna, and experts argue that "Leonardo painted a lost saucy parody of the Mona Lisa for his patron Giuliano de Medici. The Guardian (London) 11/28/00
  • AN EXPENSIVE CHANGE OF HEART: An Australian art collector puts up a painting valued at $1 million for auction, but then has a change of mind and decides to donate the work, by an important Aussie artist, to the National Gallery. The change of heart may cost him though - he's still liable for Sotheby's seller's commission, estimated to be as mush as $200,000. The Age (Melbourne) 11/28/00

Monday November 27

  • VENICE UNDER WATER: This month Venice has recorded its third-worst flood since 1900, endangering the city's artwork and buildings. The city wants to work on building new barriers to keep the water out but environmentalists oppose the idea. The Art Newspaper 11/27/00
    • WHY NO BARRIERS? There is a fear that by closing them for 100-300 hours a year—and there are some 8,600 hours in a year—it would affect the exchange of water between the sea and the lagoon, and that the lagoon would become polluted. As the Special Law for Venice says that the lagoon is inseparable from the historic city, it is not possible to act on one part rather than the whole. The Art Newspaper 11/27/00
  • DESIGN TRIUMPH: The controversy that plagued the British Museum every step of its redesign - including the public outcry over its use of the wrong kind of stone in its new $97 million portico - seems to have finally subsided. "To visitors to the Great Court, this storm in a wine goblet will mean little if anything. In 10 years, few will know or care what all the fuss was for. What they will know, instead, is one of the most extraordinary covered squares to be found in any city, ancient or modern. The Guardian (London) 11/27/00
  • FEMINISM LITE: The US’s first women’s museum opened in Dallas last month, but visitors are unlikely to walk away with a broad knowledge of women’s accomplishments, artistic or otherwise. "[The Women’s Museum] is an institution as notable for what it omits as what it contains, a watery survey of female accomplishment that for the most part glosses over the conditions - i.e., a couple of centuries of sexual inequality and its attendant ills - that make such an institution necessary in the first place." Salon 11/27/00
  • THE ROWDY MUSEUM NEXT DOOR: Melbourne's new $290 million museum, which opened last month, has upset its neighbors. "They appear to be desperately reacting to their own financial difficulties by panicking into holding activities which will not only degrade the Museum of Victoria but also degrade the Carlton area and alienate the residents." Financial Review 11/27/00
  • NOT SO FAST: Just a few years ago the internet was being touted as likely to revolutionize the world of art sales. Its success hasn’t been nearly so pervasive, but "even the skeptics did not predict the problems that have since assailed art and antiques online sites. The weakest have closed, some are desperately in need of more cash from increasingly skeptical venture capitalists, others have seen their share prices plunge and even Sotheby's has been forced to amalgamate its two sites." The Telegraph (London) 11/27/00

Sunday November 26

  • WHERE THE MONEY IS: It's become fashionable to deride the big money in art. "But what's so special about art? People seldom climb into pulpits to lament that commodity broking, or insurance, or even interior decoration has become 'too money orientated'. Why is it that art alone is polluted by the appearance of cash in more than moderate quantities? And what, for that matter, is so very awful about largish rewards being handed out even for 'silly' works of art? More tragic things happen in the world than foolish artists getting undeservedly enriched." The Telegraph (London) 11/25/00
  • ALL ABOUT CONTEXT: The Museum of Modern Art's new temporary digs outside Manhattan promise to change the context of the art and the experience of seeing it. New York Times 11/26/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • REM KOOLHAAS: "His architecture is bracing and unsettling and even though nothing he has done yet has had the same popular impact as Frank Gehry's Guggenheim, he is clearly going to be the next big thing." The Observer (London) 11/26/00
  • MICHELANGELO'S ANATOMY: Scholars have argued for years over the unusual misshapen appearance of the left breast of Michelangelo's marble statue 'Night'. Experts have agreed that its unusual appearance is intentional and not due to an error but art historians and plastic surgeons have argued that it reflects the artist's supposed lack of interest in, or unfamiliarity with, the nude female figure. Now, experts propose that Michelangelo deliberately set out to portray a woman with breast cancer." The Independent (London) 11/26/00

Friday November 24

  • THE VERY GENEROUS KIMBELL: Fort Worth's Kimbell Museum, which surprised the art world earlier this year when it was revealed that the museum paid $1.5 million in salary to two of its board members, has finally filed its tax return for last year. "The generosity of the board toward Cline and the Fortsons was paralleled by the nearly $1.6 million dispensed to its favored charities - more than five times the amount it gave in 1998. Many of the charities' boards are heavily weighted with Kimbell board members, kinfolk, or employees, in spite of foundation claims to the contrary." Fort Worth Weekly 11/22/00
  • MOSES ONLINE: The cleaning and restoration of Michelangelo's "Moses" is being done live over the internet. Viewers can tune in any time and see how the project is progressing. "We don't just want to clean and restore the monument. We want to make it even more well known than it already is. People will be able to follow the whole process of restoration minute by minute and day by day. It's a way of letting them feel a part of it." 11/24/00

Thursday November 23

  • IN DEFENSE OF THE "DIFFICULT": In a televised lecture (excerpted here) on the state of contemporary art, Tate Modern Director Nicholas Serota champions work that is transgressive and beyond immediate understanding. "For me, the undoubted shock, even disgust, provoked by the work is part of its appeal. Art should be transgressive. Life is not all sweet." The Independent (London) 11/23/00

Wednesday November 22

  • MICHELANGELO RESTORATION: Michelangelo's statue of Moses in Rome is to get its first restoration in 200 years. Michelangelo worked on the statue in the early 1500s. New Jersey Online 11/21/00
  • SOME OF AMERICA'S EARLIEST PAINTINGS: A caver in Wisconsin discovered a series of drawings in a cave that turn out to be 1,100 years old. "Experts said among the cave paintings were the remains of a moccasin and birch bark torches that may have been used by ancestors of the Ho-Chunk tribe (which now operates a casino in southern Wisconsin). National Geographic 11/22/00
  • MAYBE IT'S BEEN LOST? A collector says he lent the New York Academy of Art a painting worth $1 million on the condition that the school return it to him when he asked for it back. But the school failed to return it and he's filed suit. New York Post 11/22/00
  • CAPITOL PLAN: A $265 million plan to expand the US Capitol building in Washington is taking shape. The large 588,000 suqre-foot addition will be underground. "The Capitol Visitor Center, containing auditoriums, a museum-size exhibition hall and space for future congressional use as well as the usual visitor facilities, will be the biggest and most significant addition to the Capitol in nearly a century and a half." Washington Post 11/22/00
  • PT BARNUM OF ART: In the first half of the 20th Century Chick Austin brought a showman's touch to American art. "Not only did Austin promote artists like Picasso, Balthus, Mondrian and Dali when they were virtually unknown in the United States, but he also amassed an important collection of masterworks (especially Baroque painting, Dutch still lifes and Poussin) on view at the Atheneum to this day. Alfred Barr, the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, told Austin: 'You did things sooner and more brilliantly than any one'." New York Observer 11/22/00

Tuesday November 21

  • STOLEN PAINTING RETURNED: Washington's National Gallery is returning a painting to the heir of a collector from whom the painting was stolen by the Nazis. "The painting, 'Still Life with Fruit and Game' by Flemish artist Frans Snyders, depicts a large basket of colorful fruit on a red tablecloth, surrounded by dead game, including birds and a small deer." New York Times 11/20/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • HITLER'S PRIVATE ART COLLECTION WAS LEGAL? During the Second World War Hitler set up a private museum in Linz and had it stocked with treasures. The last surviving member of the team that acquired the art says that it was all obtained legally and none of it was stolen. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 11/20/00
  • ATTORNEYS WHO WIN: The attorneys representing the 100,000 plaintiffs who sued Sotheby's and Christie's for price fixing stand to make $27 million for their work after negotiating a $512 million settlement. New York Times 11/20/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • GIOTTO OR NOT? Scholars are arguing about whether the bones found under the Duomo in Florence are those of Renaissance painter Giotto. Those who believe it's the painter base their identification on "an analysis of the skeleton. Reconstructing the face, they came up with a strong likeness to what may or may not be a Giotto self-portrait in a fresco." A planned reburial of the bones was put on hold while the identity got sorted out, but now it's on again for Jan. 8, the anniversary of the painter's death. Nando Times 11/20/00

Monday November 20

  • SWISS BANKS AND THE HOLOCAUST: Swiss banks plan to distribute $1.25 billion in reparations to Holocaust survivors. "Until just recently, Swiss bankers were demanding impossible-to-produce death certificates and other documentation before they would pay out claims." But many of the survivors or their heirs are contesting the settlement. New Jersey Online 11/20/00
  • BILBAO'S FANCY NEW AIRPORT: "As it yaws into view from the window of your incoming jet, the new Bilbao airport looks like a giant bird or plane that has made it to the ground shortly ahead of you. Perched on a virgin hillside site, untainted by the usual miasma of support buildings, Santiago Calatrava's operatic design, known locally as la paloma (the dove), is as precious as it is special. It has been designed - unlike, say, Heathrow or Gatwick, which have grown as if organically - as a gateway to the Basque capital, which in recent years has become a showcase for show-off contemporary architecture." The Guardian (London) 11/20/00
  • CHAGALL'S HOMETOWN CELEBRATES ITS SON: For decades the Soviet hometown of Marc Chagall acted as if the artist had never existed. Now, finally, the "Belarussian city has now embraced the artist, with two museums honoring his life and his work." Chicago Tribune 11/19/00
  • A NEW POMPEII: Last summer an international team of archeologists raced to save Turkish treasures from rapidly rising flood waters. "Some experts are now calling Zeugma, a 2,000-year-old Roman garrison on the banks of the Euphrates, a "second Pompeii." The floor mosaics that have been salvaged are among the most exquisite in existence, rivaling the collection at the Bardo in Tunis, considered the finest in the world." Chicago Tribune 11/19/00
  • BUT IS IT ART? An artist claims to have created the first "serious" art on a Palm Pilot. But is it really art? "While such pioneering work is often interesting, the question is whether novelty alone is a useful criterion for art or merely a great excuse for talking about technology." Wired 11/20/00

Sunday November 19

  • WHEN DESIGN ENTERS THE MUSEUM: "Leading curators all over are bringing design into their art galleries, in an effort to expand the scope of their programming, and of their audience." But, as in the Guggenheim's Armani show, why do it if all you end up doing is making an expensive commercial for a designer? The Globe & Mail 11/19/00
  • DEBATING ART PRIZES: Is the Turner Prize good for art? Is it valuable because it "gets people talking about creativity and ideas" or is is bad because it steers art in the directions championed by a select elite few?" The Observer 11/19/00
  • THE ACROPOLIS SUBWAY STRATEGY: In their latest attempt to get Britain to return the Elgin marbles to Greece, the Greeks have come up with a new tactic - a subway station at the base of the Acropolis. "The Greeks have chosen this subway station to send a message to thousands of people every day: The marble sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon should come home from London. To make the point, the inside of Akropoli station has been decorated with replicas of the Parthenon Marbles." Washington Post 11/19/00

Friday November 17

  • HELP FOR THE BARNES: The Getty Trust gives the Barnes Foundation $500,000 to help bail it out of financial difficulty. The help also includes some Getty staff. "The grant is the first large donation since the Barnes announced a $15 million emergency fund-raising campaign last summer, and it gave the Barnes' leaders new hope that they will be able to avoid closing the art-appreciation school in Merion and its world-famous gallery of Cezannes, Renoirs, Matisses and other works." Philadelphia Inquirer 11/16/00
  • ART OF FAITH: An Australian prize for religious art begs the question - just what does "religious" art mean today? "There are plenty of examples of modern religious art, but not too many that come bounding to mind. In part, of course, this is because of the loosening of religion's grip on the modern psyche. But, even more, it is because modern art put a lot of time, effort and rhetoric into becoming a religion of its own." Sydney Morning Herald 11/17/00
  • THE HUMAN BODY: "Though nudes are one of the most coherent traditions in photography of the last century, a serious public discussion about the motif of the human body, which has been used extensively in all forms of communication and especially in advertising, could not take place in such a codified area." But in the last century, medical-technical photography, which goes from X-ray images and video probes to the screening and scanning of single cellsit has delivered increasingly spectacular and at the same time abstract views of the human body. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 11/17/00
  • THE HISTORY OF THE FUTURE: Some changes in American art coincide with the changing of the millennium. Seven art scholars take a look back over the 20th Century and speculate about what is to come. American Art 11/00
  • FOOTBRIDGE FIX: Norman Foster's £18 million Millennium Footbridge across the Thames, which opened last spring and was immediately shut down because it swayed alarmingly when people were on it, will be fixed. The fix will cost £5 million and take six months. The Telegraph (London) 11/17/00
  • THE INFLATING CONTEMPORARY MARKET: A couple of years ago, when Christie's began selling work by young contemporary artists, some in the art world complained the move would falsely inflate the value of such work. Bidding at the contemporary auction Thursday night was vigorous and exceeded the high estimate for the session. New York Times 11/17/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Thursday November 16

  • SCULPTURE INTO THE SPOTLIGHT: Citing a lack of recognition and funding for sculpture - "the bridesmaid of the arts," the National Gallery of Australia has inaugurated an annual National Sculpture Prize. Sydney Morning Herald 11/16/00
  • THE BOOM GOES ON: Six records were set at Christie’s first sale of post-war art Wednesday night, which brought in a total of $59.7 million. The buyers? "They're selective, but they'll spend big, big money." New York Times 11/16/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • CONTEMPORARY RECORDS: A Rothko for $11 million, Calder for almost $4 million. 11/15/00
  • SPECTACULAR PHOTO COLLECTION: IN NEED OF A HOME: "Britain, the first country to take the photograph seriously, now gives it the shortest shrift in its national art museums. There is no central, authoritative public photography collection." Maybe the time has come to create one. The Guardian (London) 11/15/00
  • A MAN AND HIS DOME: Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, the former Disney exec brought in to run the beleaguered Millennium Dome after its shaky start earlier this year, announced in a radio interview that he will personally purchase the attraction if no one else can be found to come to its rescue. "I am telling you that, if it is not bought, I am going to buy it myself." The Telegraph (London) 11/16/00
  • PYRAMID PUZZLE REVEALED: The ancient Egyptians lined up the pyramids acording to the position of the stars at the time. Their ability to do that allows scientists now to pinpoint exactly when the structures were built. "These stars were important for religious reasons. The king hoped to join them for eternity after his death. It was their alignment in the sky that enabled the architects to align the pyramids with true north with the amazing accuracy that has been puzzling scientists ever since." Discovery 11/16/00

Wednesday November 15

  • A DAMNING REPORT: The British Museum is reportedly holding on to a report about the fiasco surrounding the use of the wrong stone for the museum's new portico. "Although it was supposed to provide transparency and soothe anxieties over the portico affair, informed sources say its disclosures are so embarrassing to the museum that the museum's chairman will not countenance its appearance until well after the Queen opens the Great Court on 6 December." London Evening Standard 11/15/00
  • MOVE OVER, GIOTTO: Recently discovered Roman frescoes by Pietro Cavallini have thrown into question the entire history of Western art, beginning with who actually painted the Assisi basilica, long considered Giotto’s masterwork. "Even in Italy, a country where it seems a priceless work of art is uncovered every other week, Dr Strinati's discovery was something of a surprise. The fragments found so far have been enough to cause the first tremors of what could turn out to be an earthquake in the history of art, dethroning Giotto from his time-honoured position as the creator of the realistic tradition of painting in Western art and replacing him with an obscure Roman artist." The Telegraph (London) 11/15/00
  • 100,000 PLAINTIFFS GET A VOICE: A federal judge in Manhattan ruled yesterday that a proposed $512 million settlement of the antitrust lawsuit against Sotheby's and Christie's could be submitted for consideration to the more than 100,000 buyers and sellers affected by the companies alleged collusion and price-fixing. New York Times 11/15/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE FALL AUCTION BOOM CONTINUES: Eleven records were set at Sotheby's New York sale of contemporary art this week. "On offer was consistently high-quality art from all periods - everything from Abstract Expressionist and Pop art to some 1990's artists new to the auction rooms. Of the 62 lots, only 12 failed to sell. The sale totaled $43.1 million." New York Times 11/15/00 (one-time registrationrequired for entry)
  • LOVE OF THE NEW: Phillip’s also saw sales beyond its high-bid estimates, taking in $10.6 million and setting records for several artists’ work including Damien Hirst. Warhol, DeKooning, and Basquiat were also top sellers. CNN (Reuters) 11/14/00
  • THIS IS PUNISHMENT? The elderly retired school teacher who defaced a Chris Ofili painting in last year's "Sensation" show at the Brooklyn Museum, gets a $250 fine for the act. Says the judge: "So long as he has paint in his hand, he is to stay away from the Brooklyn Museum." New York Daily News 11/15/00
  • GAMBLING ON ART: The Las Vegas Venetian Hotel is spending $20 million on its share of the new Guggenheim project that brings the museum to the hotel. "The 63,000-square-foot hall, being built between the Venetian and its parking garage, is slated to open in spring 2001." Las Vegas Sun 11/15/00
  • STOLEN PICASSOS: Police recover a fifth stolen Picasso in Turkey. New Jersey Online (AP) 11/14/00

Tuesday November 14

  • WHO GETS WHAT IN AUCTION SUIT: The some 100,000 plaintiffs in the class action suits against Sotheby's and Christie's reveal how they propose to split the $512 million settlement with the companies. New York Times 11/14/00 (one-time registrationrequired for entry)
  • THE LINE BETWEEN ART AND COMMERCE: More and more museums are showing commercial work sponsored by corporations. Commercial work as in motorcycles or clothes or advertising. The shows have proven popular both with audiences and corporate interests. But to what extent are museums selling their souls for such shows? Chronicle of Higher Education 11/13/00
  • SISTER WENDY DOES AMERICA: Sister Wendy has a new book out featuring her visits to six museums in the United States. While she can usually spot the best artwork, "it is difficult to dispel an air of humbug surrounding the whole Sister Wendy phenomenon, the way she has allowed herself, perhaps unwittingly, to be marketed to the public by savvy packagers who know they have a good thing going." New York Post 11/14/00
  • A DEALER'S MEMOIR: Chicago art dealer Richard Feigen sees art endangered everywhere — "by a misplaced egalitarianism, by a trendy, superheated market in contemporary art, by the fads that museums do not always have the willpower to resist, by trustees who wrest control from more knowledgeable museum directors and curators, and by opportunists who use collections for their own aggrandizement. Indeed, he provides plenty of scandalous examples of exactly these problems as they have affected major collections." Book Magazine 11/00

Monday November 13

  • STOLEN CEZANNE SEIZED: "The French courts have ordered the seizure of 'The sea at l’Estaque' by Paul Cézanne, currently on show in the Musée du Luxembourg as part of the exhibition “From Fra Angelico to Bonnard: masterpieces from the Rau Collection”, at the request of Michel Dauberville who claims it was stolen from his grandfather, gallery owner Josse Bernheim-Jeune, during World War II." The Art Newspaper 11/10/00
  • GETTING MORE SERIOUS ABOUT STOLEN ART: Christie’s announced that it has helped raise $500,000 for opening up Nazi documentation which is in Russian archives, while Sotheby’s is to assist the Council of Europe in setting up a central website on looted art. These moves reflect the auctioneers’ growing concerns over the problem of war loot. The Art Newspaper 11/10/00
  • THE OLD SUPPLY AND DEMAND PROBELM: Last week’s big auction sales in New York starkly reflect the problems of an almost overly robust art market: There are now so many wealthy buyers ready to throw their disposable income onto their walls that the auction houses are having trouble meeting demand with high-quality works. "Rich collectors are under no financial pressure to sell, and when they decide to do so they often have hopelessly unrealistic, some would say greedy, expectations of the prices they will get. This problem is compounded by the fact that three auction houses are now fishing in a pool where once only two cast their bait." The Telegraph (London) 11/13/00
  • WHERE ART AND VALUES COLLIDE: JSG Boggs travels the world racking up bills that he then offers to settle with his drawings of money at face value. Think this $100 bill isn't worth a $100? You'd be a fool not to take it. New Statesman 11/13/00
  • ANOTHER USE FOR CRAWL SPACE: With its collection bursting the seams of its main museum spaces, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has created a new Byzantine art gallery to be unveiled this week in the dark, brick-lined space beneath its Grand Staircase - nicknamed "the Crypt." New York Times 11/13/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • BUILD ON THIS: Promoting a movement called the "second modernity" Holland is considered to be Europe's top nation for architecture. Is it? The Independent 11/13/00
  • A BATH FOR ART: The owner of an seniors' home in the UK called his insurance company after a water tank drenched the lower floor of his house. "While counting the cost of repairs, they found the torrent had washed away a coat of grime which coated the dining room ceiling below. And to their amazement, they realised the panels were decorated with antique paintings, hidden from view for decades at the 250-year-old residential home. The paintings are worth £500,000. The Sun (UK) 11/13/00

Sunday November 12

  • BRITISH MUSEUMS GET EXTRA MONEY: "Museums and galleries funded by the Government are to receive an extra £46 million over the next three years. Some £22 million will pay for urgent repairs and improvements to many of the ailing buildings, including leaking roofs at the British Museum and the National Gallery." The Times (London) 11/11/00
  • BUILDINGS YOU HAVE TO LOVE: Has London gone back to the sixties? "London is again a swinging world capital, we have a Labour Government that wants to "modernise", the economy just goes on booming, billions of pounds are promised on roads programmes, immigration has returned as a political issue and architects can do no wrong. Today, Government ministers fall over themselves to praise new buildings and the public flock to each new excitement. As in the Sixties, it is no longer fashionable to be sceptical about modern architecture." The Telegraph (London) 11/12/00
  • THE BRITISH MUSEUM'S GREAT NEW SUCCESS: Controversy has dogged the new addition to the British Museum. "The project used the wrong stone; the museum was playing fast and loose with planning permission by building too high..." But now that the scaffolding is down and the building is about to reopen, the project looks brilliant. The Observer (London) 11/12/00
  • NOW THAT WE"VE DONE LAS VEGAS: Guggenheim officials arrived in Rio de Janeiro this week to look at possible sites for a Latin American affiliate - "a museum that Brazil hopes would become a must-see on the international art circuit." 11/11/00
  • CASSATT PAINTINGS SURFACE: Acollection of 204 paintings and drawings by American impressionist Mary Cassatt is being seen by the public for the first time. "Cassatt sold the drawings, prints and etchings to a Paris art dealer early in the 1900s. They have been in private hands ever since. 'These are so pure. It's as if they haven't even been out of the studio'." Dallas Morning News 11/12/00 (AP)
  • OXBRIDGE BUILDING BOOM: There's a building boom going on the campuses of Oxford and Cambridge. "Cambridge and Oxford are both as much modern architectural zoos as ancient seats of learning. A glance at the roll call of architects building new colleges and faculties, and extending old ones, in the two cities shows how jealously they observe and mimic each other's activities." The Sunday Times (London) 11/12/00

Friday November 10

  • A DOWN MARKET: The Picasso might have sold for $55 million, but otherwise this week's art auction sales in New York were major disappointments. Some 40 percent or more of the artwork failed to sell. New York Times 11/10/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • MATISSE SELLS FOR RECORD $17 MILLION: While works by Aristide Maillol and Berthe Morisot also set artists' records, featured works by Degas, van Gogh, Renoir and Cezanne failed to find buyers at the sale of impressionist and modern art. Only 60 percent of the lots were sold. Washington Post (Reuters) 11/10/00
  • BLOCKBUSTING: Are museum blockbuster shows ruining museums? One art historian believes so. "Masterpieces are shunted around the world, often against the advice of conservation departments, primarily to bring prestige to the lenders, publicity to the sponsors and paying customers to the host institutions. Small or penurious institutions are deprived of their treasures, and objects which, for one reason or another, cannot be lent are increasingly neglected: less and less attention is paid, for example, to large pictures and artists who specialised in them." The Economist 11/10/00

Thursday November 9

  • RECORD SALE: A rare Picasso from the artist's blue period sells at auction for $55 million. The price is a record for the artist at auction and the fifth highest price for any work at auction." New York Times 11/09/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • WALL PAINTING: "Frescoes nearly 2,000 years old have been unearthed near Pompeii in the remains of what experts say may have been an ancient luxury hotel." Chicago Tribune (AP) 11/09/00
  • GIOTTO REBURIAL CANCELED: "Plans to rebury the skeleton of Giotto, the father of European painting, have been canceled in Florence, Italy, following objections by Pittsburgh archaeologist and art historian Franklin Toker, who argues Giotto's supposed remains may be only 'the bones of some fat butcher'." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 11/08/00

Wednesday November 8

  • IN NEED OF SOME PR MAGIC: The Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago, with a collection valued at more than $100 million and works by many American masters, is woefully unknown to most Americans - art historians included. Now the museum’s board has been split by a venomous legal battle and the board has voted to sell off some of its prize portraits. New York Times 11/08/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • MILLIONS FOR MISTRESSES: Picasso’s portraits of his lovers consistently outsell work by almost every other artist who’s ever lived. In fact, four of the world’s most expensive paintings are of his mistresses, with another poised to join the list when "Femme au Bras Croisés" goes on the block at Christie’s in New York Wednesday. "Why are they wanted, Picasso’s women, at such vast sums? Are they simply rich men’s fantasies? Are their prices multi-million dollar love affairs - money without limit for sex without consent?" The Times (London) 11/08/00
  • THE COFFIN REOPENS: A team of Japanese researchers plans to conduct the first ever DNA analysis of the 3,300-year-old mummy of Tutankhamen to try to the establish the long contested cause of his death. Daily Yomiuri (Japan) 11/08/00

Tuesday November 7

  • THE BRITISH MUSEUM'S NEW GLORY: The fuss, in recent months, has been all about the British Museum's use of the wrong kind of stone for its new portico. "Yet now the scaffolding has been removed, it is evident that the critics have simply latched on to one mistake and failed to perceive the greater glory of the whole. Norman Foster’s treatment of the Great Court wonderfully ennobles the austere Greek Revival architecture of Sir Robert Smirke." The Times (London) 11/07/00
  • CLEMENT GREENBERG'S COLLECTION: "The persistent fascination with Greenberg, who died in 1994, extends to his art collection, the acquisition of which was announced last month by the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. Comparing the Greenberg acquisition, the second- largest in the museum's history, to "going from zero to 60 miles an hour," museum director John Buchanan added, 'I am a great believer that museum collections are built by collecting collections'." New York Times 11/07/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Monday November 6

  • A COPYCAT SHOW: A gallery called the Outrageous Art Gallery in Edinburgh claims "to have used a worldwide network of forgers to produce exact copies of works displayed in the Scottish Colourists exhibition" currently on display at Scotland's National Gallery of Modern Art. Curators at the museum are not at all happy. The Guardian (London) 11/06/00
  • GIOTTO OR NOT GIOTTO: Two months ago a team of scientists in Italy announced they had reconstructed a skeleton found 30 years ago under the Florence Cathedral. It was Giotto, they said. Now an an American art historian who led excavations under the cathedral in the 70s has written to the church's cardinal to debunk the claim. "For heaven's sake, your eminence, do not treat it as Giotto. You risk blessing and honouring the bones of a fat butcher." The Guardian 11/06/00
  • CHINA TAKING STEPS ON STOLEN ART: China is said to be near to signing a pact with the US on reducing the flow of smuggled art. "This would include obligations on the US to prevent museums and similar institutions from acquiring illegally exported cultural property from China; a prohibition of the import into the US of Chinese cultural property stolen from a museum, public monument, or institution; and the mandatory return of such items once found in the US." The Art Newspaper 11/05/00
  • DAMAGING THROUGH RESTORATION: India's Ajanta paintings, which easily rank among the world’s most precious heritage sites, are being restored. But a leading expert warns that "the cleaning methods employed at the caves and the level of skills of the workers engaged in the cleaning have seriously damaged the Ajanta paintings and led to a demonstrable loss of pigment." The Art Newspaper 11/06/00
  • RETHINKING THE CUTTING EDGE: "Artists who think they are up-to-date, just because they use digital technologies, are making a "critical error. Many new areas of research are bubbling that cry out for artistic attention, such as 'biosensors' that can alter the senses of touch and taste." Wired 11/06/00
  • A PRIZE NEEDS A POINT: The Britsh Stirling Prize for architecture has been awarded, and good luck to them all. "I don't want to sound curmudgeonly, but I don't get the Stirling prize and I'm not sure what good it does architecture. True, everyone likes a prize. Remember Alice in Wonderland, when the Dodo organised a caucus race for the animals? After they had run around in circles for a bit, the Dodo decided that 'everybody has won and all must have prizes'." The Guardian (London) 11/06/00
  • GERMAN ART AFTER THE WALL: "The world has spread the rumor that post-communist culture only uses its newly-won freedom to ape western strategies, that it is no longer fundamentally distinguishable from what we know as western art. The exhibition from Stockholm's Moderna Museet now on display in Berlin succeeds in proving the contrary. Eastern Europe is still a separate continent." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 11/06/00

Sunday November 5

  • THE NEW BREED OF ART SELLER: In Toronto, a quiet revolution in the way art galleries are presenting their work. "The new dealers tend to hunt out work they like, then simply hang it on the wall to see what happens." That means mixing artists and group shows. " Instead of having to come to grips with a single body of work, take it or leave it, customers now had a menu of art options to browse through, as in any other store. And that seemed to make them feel at home, and readier to buy." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 11/04/00
  • MUSEUMS MOST TRUSTWORTHY: "A recently released study shows that 43-percent of Americans consider museums to be 'more trustworthy' than any other information source." In second place, cited by 18 percent of the respondents, were books. Write News 11/05/00
  • DEFINING "HISPANIC?" The newly-opened National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque was "designed to show off the multiplicity of cultures gathered under the umbrella term 'Hispanic.' The design of the complex makes that clear with a melange of Aztec, Mayan, Pueblo, modernist and Spanish idioms." Dallas Morning News 11/05/00
  • MAKING OUR BUILDINGS WORK: "You can choose not to watch a television show. But bad architecture, whether it is a hulking condominium tower or a gargantuan "McMansion" home that looms over its neighbors, is much harder to avoid. And it doesn't go away for decades. That's why, in today's building boom, the fight to preserve the past is taking on urgent meaning. Instead of watching passively from the sidelines, more and more people are becoming involved in an attempt to control the character of their communities." Chicago Tribune 11/05/00
  • THE VALUE OF ART ON YOUR WALL: Two French boys who used pins to tack a "poster" to their bedroom wall, discover that the picture may be a previously unknown Delacroix and worth £3 million. The Mirror (London) 11/05/00

Friday November 3

  • WAS RED HIS FAVORITE COLOR? "Picasso as a Cold Warrior for the Evil Empire? Although the artist's membership in the Communist Party in the late 1940s and early '50s is well known, it has been largely ignored by scholars as a casual flirtation, with slight, if any, bearing on his art." A new book wonders if it really was so casual. ARTNews 11/00
  • PAINTING PEOPLE: "Portraits have in the past been marginalised from accounts of 20th-century art." But a new show at London's National Portrait Gallery makes one realis quickly "the extent to which great painters throughout the century have wanted to explore the challenge of representation even when it was unfashionable." The Telegraph (London) 11/03/00
  • DIA'S PUSH TO GROW: New York's Dia Center gets $50 million to help build a new facility, maintain its large-scale artwork and develop a national presence concentrating on art from the 1960s and 70s. New York Times 11/03/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • OKAY, SO MAYBE SOME OF IT ISN'T REAL, BUT... Earlier this year Canada's National Gallery was offered a $100 million gift of 1,800 Chinese and neolithic antiquities from a collector, but the proposed gift was withdrawn after experts questioned the autheticity of some of the art. Now Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum has stepped up to accept the stash, despite the experts' concerns. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 11/03/00
    • BUT WHAT'S REAL IS CHOICE: "It is the largest single donation to a cultural institution in Canadian history. The collection features work dating from the Neolithic period of 3000 BC through to the T'ang Dynasty of 900 AD. The 1,800 pieces will be packed up in Ottawa and shipped to the ROM next week. The museum plans to mount an exhibition by next spring." Ottawa Citizen 11/03/00
  • TIME CAPSULE: A wooden ship — perhaps 1,500 years old — has been found in the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey. The cold water it has sat in has kept it "remarkably preserved. Discovery 11/03/00

Thursday November 2

  • RETURN TO FOUNDER: The controversial founders of the McMichael art collection in Ontario are to be returned to control of the troubled museum after the provincial government passed legislation to end the gallery's ambitions to modernize its collection. Museum professionals across Canada have protested the move. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 11/02/00
  • ART FOR THE PEOPLE: A dealer is setting up a website to sell high quality digital print reproductions. "Among them will be paintings, watercolors, prints and photographs by artists ranging from Winslow Homer, Maurice Prendergast and Georges Seurat to Andy Warhol, Alex Katz and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The images are being licensed from museums, private collections, artists and the estates of Warhol, Man Ray and others. The point is to make high-quality works of art available at prices that beginning art buyers can afford - from $150 to $700." Washington Post 11/02/00
  • THE ART OF DIPLOMACY: American art from the official residence of Richard C. Holbrooke, the United States representative at the U.N., is currently on public display. "It was made possible by Art in Embassies, a little-known and much beloved State Department program. Started in 1964, the program is based on a simple idea: artists, collectors and museums lend artworks, old and new, to United States embassies and residences as a way of introducing foreign guests to American culture." New York Times 11/02/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE VALUE OF A GOOD APPRAISER: The estate of an Arizona woman sold a collection of her paintings for $60, unaware that they were worth much more - $1 million. "The estate sought to overturn the sale, arguing that it was based upon a mutual mistake regarding the paintings' value." The judge says no. CNN 11/02/00

Wednesday November 1

  • WILL THE KIMBELL MUSEUM LEAVE FORT WORTH? "Quietly, in little-noticed legal maneuvers over the past two years and with the silent blessing of the City Council, the social contract Kimbell forged with Fort Worth has been dismantled. Few noticed, but the change meant that the people no longer held ultimate claim to the museum and its collection." The final step came on August 15, when the Fort Worth City Council voted away protections that would keep the museum in town. Fort Worth Weekly 10/31/00
  • THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD NAME President Clinton has signed a bill to change the name of the National Museum of American Art to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which will affect all 22 museums and research institutes run by the Smithsonian Institution. "As we send more and more traveling exhibits across the country and create affiliations with museums in all 50 states, it's important for people to be able to recognize instantly that the Smithsonian has come to their town." New Jersey Online (AP) 10/31/00
  • BUYER’S REVENGE: In the midst of the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation, a class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Sotheby’s and Christie’s customers alleging price-fixing and collusion among both companies’ top executives. New York Times 11/01/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • COMING TO TERMS WITH THE PAST: Germany has only recently begun to come to terms with what to do with art stolen during the Nazi era. But finding solutions is problematic. "What was legal in this criminal era? Was there a semi-normality and a decent, civil art market in the early years of the Nazi regime? This might be determined on the basis of the prices obtained on the art market. Or should all sales of art owned by Jews after 1933 be regarded as 'a result of persecution'?" Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 11/01/00
  • THE WRITING ON THE WALL: Wall texts in museums have gotten completely out of hand. People spend more time reading the text than they do looking at the art. Is it time to cut back? A critic talks the issue over with a curator. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 11/01/00
  • TRIANGULAR COMPETITION: As the major auction houses gear up for their big fall sales over the next two weeks, a third player is giving them a run for their money. "The historical tug-of-war between Sotheby's and Christie's has turned into an expensive three-way fight. Since LVMH bought Phillips, the London-based auction house a year ago, it has been going after property at any cost, dipping into LVMH's deep pockets to become a major player." New York Times 11/01/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • WELCOME BACK, DEALERS: Once the center of the art auction world, France has handled only 5% of international art sales in recent decades due to an antiquated, protectionist system that has prohibited foreign auction houses from selling in Paris. But now imminent reforms will soon end French auctioneers’ monopoly and open the door to a more vibrant art market. "Many new foreign dealers have already opened branches in Paris in recent months and are eagerly awaiting the starting gun." The Age (Melbourne) (DPA) 11/01/00