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VISUAL ARTS - February 2000

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  • OWNERSHIP QUESTIONS: British report says some 300 works of art in UK museums have questionable WWII provenance and could have been stolen by Nazis from their rightful owners. The Guardian 02/29/00

    • NAZI LOOT: British museums and galleries announce a list of art they hold that was looted by the Nazis and never returned to rightful owners. So will the art be returned? Not necessarily. "Arts Minister Alan Howarth told the BBC's 'Newsnight' program: 'Just as it was wrong to take paintings off Jewish people in the circumstances of the Nazi era, so it would be wrong without a proper basis of evidence to take paintings off the national collections which are held for the public benefit.'" BBC 02/29/00

    • WHAT'S FAIR? "It is entirely proper that stolen pictures, especially those taken in the appalling circumstances of Europe under Nazi domination, should be returned to the families of their pre-war owners, but publishing lists of this kind invites false claims made, not with mischievous intentions, but through errors of recollection after 60 years or more - one Picasso looks much like another after so long a time. It is possible, even probable, that the list will provoke false memories, and once a false claim is made it may well be difficult for the gallery in question to prove or disprove the claim, leaving ownership in limbo." Evening Standard 02/29/00

  • A MATTER OF HONESTY: For all Al Taubman's fabulous success running Sotheby's these last 17 years, he forgot one thing, writes Thomas Hoving: "the basic point about what Sotheby's had to be. Honest. The opposite of caveat emptor. Clean. Never-a-scandal. Caesar's wife. Or, to quote from a renowned 1928 court of appeals ruling, 'Not honesty alone but the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive.' " 02/28/00

  • NO MAN IS AN ISLAND: The United Nations headquarters complex is falling down. The 50-year-old buildings currently feature leaking roofs, crumbling walls, and failing HVAC. The U.N.'s immunity from New York City building codes means asbestos remains throughout, there are no sprinklers, and wheelchair access is poor. According to The New York Times, saving the property could cost $800 million. The solution? An island getaway. Architecture Magazine 02/00

  • ALL DRESSED UP AND NO PLACE TO GO: "Arguably the third most important commercial art fair in the world after Basel and Chicago, ARCO is to Spain what the Venice Biennale is to Italy or the Documenta in Kassel is to Germany: the largest and most important art-related event in the country. I was surprised to see entire middle-class families at ARCO on the weekend; hordes of bongo-playing art students vegged out en plein air just beyond the pavilion doors, smoking hash cigarettes to their little hearts’ content. But all the optimism, booze, drugs and quick money–and of all these this year there was plenty–could not have made ARCO 2000 less of an artistic fiasco." New York Press 02/29/00

  • "CHUNKY PAPERWEIGHTS": Seattle entrusted the design of its new main library to architect Rem Koolhaas, who promptly turned around and presented an idea for a building that is...what, floating glass cubes, piled together in "a bazaar for books, computers, lectures and coffee, that augments the existing library of helpful reference librarians, children's story time and quiet reading nooks." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 02/29/00

  • PICTURE HOUSE: Getty Images says it will buy rival Visual Communications Group in a $220 million deal that would create the biggest commercial library of pictures, images, and film clips in the world - about 70 million. Wired 02/29/00

  • I REMEMBER SYDNEY: In 1964 Harold and LuEsther Mertz, a couple of rich American tourists, visited Australia. They decided to buy four or five Australian paintings but became so captivated by them they bought 148, assembling possibly the finest private collection of Australian paintings anywhere and shipped them off to America. Now they're for sale, and Australian auction houses are lining up for the privilege. Sydney Morning Herald 02/28/00

  • PAYING FOR PAST SINS: The Smithsonian has begun renting itself out - its experts, its expertise, its artifacts - in an attempt to earn money to make up for budget cuts. Why? "The federal contribution to our budget has declined to the point that, while it will pay for some (not all) maintenance of our buildings and for about 75 percent or so of our staff, it will not cover any of the costs associated with mounting new exhibitions or educational programs. We no longer have the staff to do work in-house; contracting it out is very costly. And yet the public expects us to continue as we have in the past, and the belief that taxpayers' money supports everything we do is widespread. It supports the infrastructure, barely, but nothing else. And from this deficit stems a great deal that is troubling, to those of us inside the institution as well as to outsiders like yourself." Washington Post 02/28/00

  • CHANGING TIMES: New leadership at the Harlem Studio Museum to forge new directions/definitions. New York Times 02/28/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • STATUE ON THE RUN: A statue stolen 11 years ago from the Montreal Children's Hospital, supposedly turned up last week as a prop on the television series "Due South." Now the hospital is taking its search to the internet to track it down. Ottawa Citizen 02/28/00

  • RETURN TO OWNERS: Germany and Russia finally come to terms on returning some of the art they looted from one another during the Second World War. ARTNews 03/00

  • BIG THINK: Rodin's "The Thinker" is being recast for the first time since the artist's death in 1917. The Art Newspaper 02/25/00 

  • PICTURE PERFECT: Portrait artists are seeing an increase in business. "I think the baby boomers have realized there's more and more that needs to be maintained, that a portrait is a gift you leave for future generations," says Toronto artist Gail Hill. Indeed, many of Hill's clients are women in their mid-40s to mid-50s: "We are the most beautiful we've ever been, the most powerful, the most confident and competent," she says. "And we're also able to buy art." Toronto Globe and Mail 02/27/00

  • NAZI RETURNS: On the eve of announcement of a British government plan for compensation to Holocaust survivors and their families for artwork looted by the Nazis now residing in British museums, a controversy erupts. Jewish community leaders and art experts are protesting that the plan is inadequate. London Evening Standard 02/025/00

    • Previously: LOOTED ART: Several prominent British art museums are expected to announce this week that they are in possession of artworks stolen by the Nazis in the World War II. The Tate alone is said to have 100 such works. Jerusalem Post 02/22/00

  • SO BIG THAT... Chicago's latest piece of public art is a $3 million sculpture, designed by London-based artist Anish Kapoor. It will look like a highly finished piece of seamless modern art that some have compared to a jelly or kidney bean. When built, it will be 30 feet tall, 60 feet long, and weigh 100-plus tons. City officials hope it will be a civic signature piece. Just one problem: how to get it from where it's built, across oceans, through canals and finally across town without crushing the pavement, bridges and other obstacles in its path? Chicago Tribune 02/25/00

  • WALKER GIFT: Minneapolis' Walker Art Center gets a $5 million gift of  20th-century paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings from the collection of Judy and Kenneth Dayton. The Daytons have been among the Walker's guiding lights. Minneapolis Star-Tribune 02/25/00

  • THAT OLD THING? A painting, found hanging on the wall in an old English country home turns out to be unrecognized Cimabue worth $3 million. Believed to be first Cimabue ever to be offered at auction. Times of India 02/25/00

  • SHOWING OFF YOUR STUFF: Showcasing your art on the web is getting easier and easier, with new websites dedicated to the promotion of creativity. Wired 02/25/00

  • GLASS HOUSE: At the Philip Glass Inc. studio, the background noise  "sounds more like a stock exchange than a creative haven. Assistants, collaborators, friends and journalists are yelling for the master's attention. 'The phone is always ringing off the hook,' he admits cheerfully. 'I always have more work than I can handle.' " Toronto Globe and Mail 02/24/00

  • EDUCATIONAL CHIC: A spate of new British college buildings bring a refreshingly fashionable sense of style to academia. London Telegraph 02/24/00

  • IS IT A TEAR? AN EGG? A UFO? No, it's Beijing's spectacularly daring new French-designed theater complex. "But fears that foreign design will nevertheless raise cultural hackles are so pervasive that Peking has imposed a media blackout on the topic, even though demolition around the site has started." The Independent 02/24/00

  • HERE A PLINTH, THERE A PLINTH... Public statues are a guarantee to oblivion. Who pays any attention to them? "Who could have named any of the occupants of Trafalgar Square - apart from Nelson - before the Royal Society of Arts launched its campaign to fill the fourth plinth, which has remained empty since Charles Barry laid out the square in 1829?" New Statesman 02/21/00
  • THE ABC OF "SENSATION"ALISM: Australia's National Gallery may have canceled a planned visit by the notorious "Sensation" show, but the Australian Broadcasting Corp. serves up another way to skin a cow in its new "This is Modern Art" series. Sydney Morning Herald 02/23/00 
  • FLAG OF CONVENIENCE: Irish artists have always felt ambivalent about London - the need to live there for career vs. resentment of the British omnipresence. The new generation of Irish artists working in London are finding national identity increasingly irrelevant. "Your nationality depends on who's giving you the grant." The Irish Times 02/22/00
  • NEW JEWISH MUSEUM planned for San Francisco and designed by Daniel Libeskind is unveiled. New York Times 02/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE ROCKWELL DEBATE: Was he artist or illustrator? Who cares, asks the Chicago Historical Society, on the eve of the opening of the blockbuster Rockwell show. The show was so popular in Atlanta they couldn't get all the people in who wanted to see it. Chicago Tribune 02/22/00 
  • SWING LOW: New Paris footbridge across the Seine opens, then closes quickly after disconcerting swaying and "weird and wonderful" movement. London Times 02/22/00 
  • TRADE IN HORROR: Museums and exhibitions dedicated to the Holocaust have seen a growing commercialization in artifacts from the Holocaust. Toronto Globe and Mail 02/22/00
  • MONUMENTAL FAILURE: A Lyons opera house, built in 1993 by leading architect Jean Nouvel, had to close its doors and the company cancel its season after a rash of structural and mechanical failures in the building. This is the latest mishap in a pattern of failure afflicting celebrated modern French buildings. The Opéra Bastille, the Grande Arche de la Défense, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Conservatoire of music have all suffered collapses and dysfunctions costing millions to repair. London Times 02/21/00
  • NOT US: Revelations that some US museums have asked for commissions on sales of work they exhibit leave other museums scrambling to deny they engage in the ethically-questionable practice.  New York Times 02/21/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • ART OF THE WEB: A symposium on art in digital media concluded Saturday with a roundtable of critics, historians and artists at the Berkeley Art Museum. While the internet may have buzz, here - just miles from the i-epicenter of Silicon Valley - the symposium's 15 panelists almost threatened to outnumber their audience. And though David Ross, director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, likened the artistic impact of the internet to that of the advent of photography, the panel could hardly even agree on how to define internet art. San Francisco Chronicle 02/21/00
  • ARTIST RESALE RIGHTS: British opponents of an EU plan to give artists a cut on the resale of their work say the plan will gut the English market and drive art-sellers to Switzerland or New York where the tax won't be collected. Is that any reason not to let artists share in profits on their work? London Telegraph 02/21/00
  • STEP IN STEP: A wave of lawsuits against Christie's and Sotheby's for price fixing amidst a pattern of seemingly lockstep behavior. New York Times 02/21/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE "TWO OLDEST GUYS AROUND": Metropolitan Museum director Phillippe de Montebello and Guggenheim Museum director Thomas Krens run two of the museum-world's powerhouses. They have very different ideas of the roles for their institutions in what some call the Golden Age for museums. New York Times 02/20/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • GOING FOR THE BIG "WOW:" Designing the modern museum show isn't simply a matter of glass cases and discreet tags any more. Award-winning museum designers Cel Phelan and Steve Simons make an Event out of some Europe's biggest exhibitions. The Irish Times 02/20/00
  • ENGLAND'S ARCHITECTURE: Nostalgic? You bet we are. "We're more than fond of our architectural heritage, and will do almost anything to preserve the least-deserving Victorian pile. Or streamlined 30s factory, 50s school, 70s office block." The Guardian 02/19/00
  • CHINESE LOUVRE: The People's Republic has included plans for a "massive national museum capable of housing the country's reserve of cultural relics reflecting the nation's 5,000-year history" to be built in Beijing. China Times 02/20/00
  • THE FACE OF GOD: It's difficult to love someone without a face. We all have an image of what Jesus looked like, even though there is no physical description in the Bible. Just how did the notion of what Christ looked like evolve? London Telegraph 02/19/00
  • WEBBY ART: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art teams up with the Webbys to offer $50,000 prize to digital artist with the most impressive work. Wired 02/18/00
  • RELUCTANT HONOR? The Austrian parliament has agreed that all works of art stolen by the Nazis should be returned to their rightful owners. But is the policy really being carried out? The Art Newspaper 02/18/00
  • WHERE'S THE BEEF? Over the past 30 years Japan has built thousands of new museums, some of them by prestigious architects. But what baffles some visitors is the lack of collections to go inside. The Art Newspaper 02/18/00
  • SAINTHOOD DESERVED? Georgia O'Keeffe has long been elevated to the role of secular American art saint, particularly by those in search of a great female artist to worship. New retrospective strips away decades of rhetoric to take a fresh look at the artist's work. San Francisco Examiner 02/17/00
  • NO PEOPLE ALLOWED: The Taliban reopened Afghanistan's National Art Gallery in Kabul this week, but no art depicting human figures was allowed, in keeping with the Taliban's strict interpretation of Islamic law. Times of India (AP) 02/18/00
  • MASTER DOUBT: An Old Master painting sold at auction in January was a rags to riches story. But now experts have come forward to say they had expressed doubts about the authenticity of the painting before it was sold. Why weren't those doubts disclosed by the auction house? New York Times 02/17/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • PAY-OFF: Detroit Institute of Arts pays artist Jeff Bourgeau $12,500 in compensation for canceling his controversial exhibition last fall. Detroit News 02/17/00  

  • NO MEMORY FOR DESIGN: Why aren't America's museums interested in collecting the archives of its famous designers and architects? New York Times 02/17/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • MUSEUM MONGER: The new chairman of the British government's new Museums, Libraries and Archives Commission has got the UK's museum world in an uproar. He's under attack for describing British museums as regressive, isolationist, afraid of change, and ignorant of technical advances. His critics contend he has only the vaguest idea of what museums are for, how they function, and what is actually happening in them today. "For someone who will be responsible for advising the government on the running of our regional museums, such ignorance gives cause for concern." London Telegraph 02/16/00

  • REVERSING FIELD: Britain agrees to go along with EU plan to grant artists resale rights on their work. Under the plan, artists would get a maximum of four per cent on the resale of their work on art worth up to £30,000, and smaller percentages for higher-valued work. British Art Federation chairman Anthony Browne says the damage to London's galleries would be "colossal". London Evening Standard 02/16/00

  • BASQUIAT.NET: The estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat threaten legal action against a Basquiat fan website and shut it down. 02/15/00

  • SLOW DOWN: In our frantic race towards modernization and productivity, we have begun to fear slowness - to equate leisure with the insidiousness of being idle.  In "Slowness of Speed" eight Korean artists examine the notion of time in the traditional Oriental sense - where the boundary between past and present is much less defined than in the West - and the conflict between traditional values and the needs of modernization. Korea Times 2/15/00

  • HOLOCAUST MUSEUM names new chairman - a provocative New York rabbi and a founder of the museum. Washington Post 02/16/00

  • PITTSBURGH'S Heinz Architectural Center has hired Joseph Rosa, an architect and architectural historian, as its new curator. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 02/15/00

  • PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES: A Scottish engineer says we're only just learning what glass can do as a building material. He envisions skyscrapers built entirely of glass. So why are so many critics skeptical? Metropolis Magazine 02/00

  • BUT IT'S JUST A FACTORY: American investors have bought a Russian porcelain factory, but encountered resistance when they went to take control of it. "The struggle for control of the Lomonosov porcelain factory has all the elements of Russia's own national struggle. It is a tale of Russians against foreigners, socialism against capitalism, the Kremlin against private investors, alleged Russian crooks against brazen interlopers - with a priceless imperial treasure as the prize." Toronto Globe and Mail 02/15/00

  • HAVE A COW: The New York Foundation for the Arts has pulled out of administrating a major city-sponsored art project this summer to paint and display 1,000 fiberglass cows. The city had sought to have the foundation impose a rule on artists stating: "Designs that are religious, political or sexual in nature will not be accepted." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (New York Daily News) 02/14/00  

  • GET YER RED HOT RODINS... Florida bargain hunter says she bought a Rodin drawing at a gift shop for $1.99. Yahoo (Reuters) 02/14/00

  • ALL ABE ALL THE TIME: Chicago bookstore wins "Niche-Of-The-Year" award by making a go of selling only books and memorabilia related to Abraham Lincoln. Publisher's Weekly 02/14/00

  • NAZI PLUNDER: The Nazis stole 600,000 pieces of art in Germany and the countries they occupied during Hitler's 12 years in power, says the U.S. government's top expert in stolen art from that era. The Oregonian (AP) 02/14/00

  • TIME-SHARE ART: London group gets together to buy art. Their combined funds and expertise about contemporary art give them a leg up on the market. London Telegraph 02/14/00

  • GAUGUIN OR BUST: A New Zealand gallery-owner is selling six paintings he maintains are by Paul Gauguin and worth a fortune. But critics say the paintings are fake, the work of master forger Karl Sim, aka C.F. Goldie. New Zealand Herald 02/09/00

  • "PEANUTS" CREATOR Charles Schulz dies, one day before his last strip was set to run. Boston Herald 02/13/00

  • FIRST LOOKS AT THE NEW TATE: The Tate Museum's new contemporary home in London opens in May. ''The Tate's ambition is to be one of the top three or four modern museums in the world. It's not as big a collection as the Museum of Modern Art's or the Guggenheim's. But the only modern art museum in competition with it in Europe is the Centre Pompidou in Paris." Boston Globe 02/13/00

  • OUT OF THIS WORLD: New York's newly rebuilt and expanded Hayden Planetarium is a monument to wonder. (A package of stories on the new facility, exploring the building, what's inside and how it was built.)  New York Times 02/13/00 (one-time registration required for access)

  • SCREEN TEST: The Smithsonian has entered the commercial movie business. The institution's experts are consulting on the latest Mel Gibson movie. Washington Post 02/13/00

  • DALLAS' NEW ARTS CENTER for the city's smaller arts groups is the product of an enterprising young developer who happened to be driving past an old Christian Science Church. Dallas Morning News 02/13/00

  • USEFUL...BUT IS IT ART? "In recent years, craft objects made by hand or machine have become popular everywhere. The techniques used to make them are taught at universities and professional workshops. And the objects produced are exhibited in museums and galleries and are collected with a fervor formerly reserved for Rembrandts and Rothkos. Increasingly, curators, collectors and creators in the crafts world ask whether these objects are art." New York Times 02/13/00 (one-time registration required for access)

  • WOUNDED MASTERS: In November three 17th Century Dutch Master paintings stolen from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco on Christmas Eve 1978 were recovered in New York. Now San Francisco's de Young Museum is showing the paintings in unrestored condition. They dramatically illustrate the effects of neglect on old master paintings. ``We know from their condition only that they've been kept in very adverse circumstances, probably someplace very damp,'' said Lynn Federle Orr, curator of European paintings at the Fine Arts Museums. San Francisco Chronicle 02/11/00

  • IN HONG KONG: Open space gets more protection than monuments and historical buildings in this land-strapped territory. The Art Newspaper 02/11/00

  • HAVEN'T HEARD MUCH from Azerbaijani or Ukraine artists. Now the curtain is finally pulling back. Not surprisingly, there's nothing that really qualifies as a unified art scene here. London Evening Standard 02/11/00

  • EXHAUSTED RESOURCES: Rudy Giuliani didn't cotton much to the idea of a field of naked people in Times Square posing for a photographer. So now the concept travels - maybe to Dublin? Irish Times 02/010/00

  • A NEW TEMPORARY CONTEMP...ER MODERN museum for Queens. MOMA picks LA architect Michael Maltzan to design the space in Long Island City. New York Times 02/10/00 (one-time registration required for access)

    • Maltzan worked as an architect in Frank Gehry's Santa Monica office during the late '80s and early '90s, where he was project designer for LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall. Since leaving Gehry in 1995, Maltzan has done a series of major projects in Los Angeles, establishing a reputation as a designer of remarkable rigor and maturity. Los Angeles Times 02/10/00

  • TURNING TABLES: A German court has issued an injunction to bar the return of a painting with questionable provenance to its American owner: the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The painting is "Bauhaus Staircase" by Oskar Schlemmer, painted in 1932, considered an icon of the Modern's collection and usually on view in the permanent-collection galleries. The painting had been on loan for an exhibition at the National Gallery in Berlin that closed on Jan. 9. Ironically the Modern has been in a similar dispute of its own over ownership of an Egon Schiele painting that had been lent to MOMA. New York Times 02/10/00 (one-time registration required for access) 

  • TRUST-BUSTERS: While the US Department of Justice investigates Sotheby's and Christie's for commission fixing, Christie's quickly changes its commission structure to "show its good intentions." 02/10/00

  • ANTI-DEFAMATION: Two Canadian artists created a monument to women killed by men. Now the murder conviction of the husband of one of the women named on the memorial is overturned, and the man's attorney threatens a defamation suit against the artists. CBC 02/10/00

  • A GRANDER VIEW OF THE UNIVERSE: The great accomplishment of New York's newly-rebuilt Hayden Planetarium is "to make the unimaginable understandable." Philadelphia Inquirer 02/10/00 

    • Previously: PLANETARY ADVENTURE: After six years of work, the Hayden Planetarium at New York's Museum of Natural History is set to open its ambitious addition. "Designed by James Stewart Polshek and Todd H. Schliemann, the $210 million space is glass enclosed and luminous, a bright contrast to the heavy neo-classicism of the rest of the museum. Newsweek 02/04/00

  • NEW VENICE GUGGENHEIM in 18th Century customs house will concentrate on contemporary art, leaving 20th Century to current Venice Guggenheim. Chicago Tribune (Reuters) 02/10/00 

  • BEYOND THE LOUVRE: A group of French museum directors begins a tour of American regional museums. Last fall officials from nine French and nine American art museums formed a consortium to promote exchanges of artworks, technical expertise and exhibitions. The organization is called FRAME, an acronym for French Regional and American Museum Exchange. Cleveland Plain Dealer 02/09/00

  • MORE THAN A MUSEUM: Pittsburgh's Andy Warhol Museum has become a major repository for the work of the pop artist. Now, "it wants to become an adventurous and vital cultural center that also hosts dance performances, plays, performance artists and concerts, offers lectures and symposia on topical issues, acts as an incubator for the region's avant-garde artists and serves as a gathering place for young people." Pittsburgh Post Gazette 02/09/00

  • CHRISTIE'S/SOTHEBY'S PRICE FIXING SCANDAL could have big repercussions for art Down Under. Sydney Morning Herald 02/09/00

  • ALOOF BALTIMORE MUSEUM reopens its front doors, redefines its mission and invites in the community. New York Times 02/09/00 (one-time registration required for access) 

  • TOWER OF TREASURES: The Chester Beatty Library, which holds one of the greatest collections of oriental manuscripts in the world, has been a more or less well-kept secret on Shrewsbury Road in Dublin. This week the library was relocated to the newly-renovated tower in Dublin Castle where number of visitors is speculated to increase 2500%. Irish Times 02/08/00

  • PORTRAIT OF INDIA: How paintings have defined the identity of a nation. Art India 02/00

  • WHERE'S THE ART? Four years ago San Francisco opened a brilliant new museum for modern art. But while SFMOMA's building was impressive, many wondered where the art to go inside it was. Wonder no more. "In less than two years the trustees have helped the museum acquire more than $130 million worth of art by contemporary masters like Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ellsworth Kelly and Mark Rothko. Their shopping habits -- paying top dollar for the best available -- are more aggressive than those of any museum in the world right now." New York Times 02/08/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • PLANETARY ADVENTURE: After six years of work, the Hayden Planetarium at New York's Museum of Natural History is set to open its ambitious addition. "Designed by James Stewart Polshek and Todd H. Schliemann, the $210 million space is glass enclosed and luminous, a bright contrast to the heavy neo-classicism of the rest of the museum. Newsweek 02/04/00

  • THE NEW NEW THING: So what new art trend is chasing New York's Chelsea galleries? Computers. New York Press 02/08/00 

  • NEW MILLENNIUM DOME CHIEF says he'll make the dome the hottest ticket in town. After all, he helped transform EuroDisney into a success. Times of India (AP) 02/08/00

  • STAN THE MAN LEE RIDES AGAIN: Comics legend Stan Lee ("Spider Man" Fantastic Four") has a prescription for fading comics. Take 'em to the web with a new way of making them: "simple online animated shorts Lee calls "webisodes." Designed to accommodate slower modems, they will run between 3 and 5 minutes--complete with bone-crunching, cape-swishing sound--and take between 1 1/2 and 3 minutes to download at 28.8K." Time 02/14/00

  • PORTRAIT OF WAR: During the First World War, Canadian artists painted war scenes, though not in the heroic European tradition. These are canvases to discourage the proposition of war. The canvases, packed away for decades, are now to be seen again. Maclean's 02/14/00

  • "A SCANDAL TO SHAKE THE ART MARKET TO ITS FOUNDATIONS": Christie's auction house has turned state's evidence and told anti-trust investigators from the United States Justice Department about an alleged deal with Sotheby's to limit competition on sellers' commissions. Watch for the lawsuits to start flying. London Telegraph 02/07/00 

  • FRENCH ART APRES LA GUERRE: Given the profound effect the First World War had on the future of French art, it's curious that so few attempts have been made to explore it. Now a "tentative, ultimately disappointing" show at the Museum of Modern Art. New York Times 02/06/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • NEW ERA IN BRITISH ARCHITECTURE: That's how interesting the new £21 million lottery-funded Art Gallery in Walsall is. "Here, at last, is an alternative to the ever-present high-tech of Richard Rogers and Norman Foster." London Times 02/07/00

  • MICKEY MOUSE TO THE RESCUE: London's Millennium Dome has been ailing - critics have been harsh and the crowds are staying away in droves. So the British government has sacked the Dome's director and replaced her with a Mouseketeer - a top executive from EuroDisney. London Sunday Times 02/06/00

    • DEPARTURE follows a series of shouting matches between Dome company executives and ministers ordered by the British Prime Minister to rescue the failing project and make it work. Relations between the company and the Government were said to have become untenable, as the Dome has turned into a major embarrassment for Tony Blair's Labour Party. London Telegraph 02/06/00

    • Just how did such a project get built? And who's to blame? (take credit?) BBC 02/07/00

  • PAINTING RETURN: "After confirming that one of its most prized paintings had been stolen by the Nazis during World War II from an Austrian Jewish art collector, the North Carolina Museum of Art announced plans this week to give the painting back to its rightful owners, two sisters in Austria." New York Times 02/06/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • REICHSTAG ROW: German conceptual artist's proposal for a project for the courtyard of the German Reichstag has created a furor. Die Welt 02/05/00 

  • PLAYING FOR ALL THE MARBLES: Cultural plunder has been going on for centuries. If the Elgin Marbles are finally returned to the Greeks, will the floodgates open with demands for other countries and museums to return what they took? Salon 02/06/00
  • GOING WARHOL: What's happened to David Hockney? In the past decade "he has refused to simplify his signature style, choosing instead to interrogate the rules of representation and reproduction. He's done photomontage art and fax art, and has written books on what it means to see. He has, in other words, gone Warhol, a wise PR move for an artist always erroneously (yet profitably) associated with Pop, but a disaster for one of the few living painters who can command respect for his traditional skills." Feed 02/04/00
  • THE NUMBERS ARE IN: The Art Newspaper surveys the international museum world of 1999 and tallies up the winners and losers. The most-visited show? "Van Gogh's Van Goghs" at the Los Angeles County Museum, with 821,000 visitors. The Art Newspaper 02/04/00
  • YOUR GUGGENHEIM HERE: Residents of the town of Greater Geelong in Australia describe their region as "Tuscany with beaches." Geelong has mounted a campaign to persuade the Guggenheim Museum to build a branch there. The building would cost $300 million and the town would invite Frank Gehry to design it.  "We just became sick of feeling sorry for ourselves," explains the Chamber of Commerce president, Peter Landers. "We have a good product here." The Age (Melbourne) 02/04/00
  • GETTING THEIR ACTS TOGETHER: Museums often don't get it together enough to win what they want at the auctions. But surprise - January saw some smart bidding by museums on Old Masters, and they beat out private collectors and dealers. 02/04/00 
  • MARBLE MAZE: Records of negotiations between the British Museum and the Greek Government over return of the Elgin Marbles have recently been declassified. In 1994 the Greek government seems to have been willing to end the dispute over the Elgin Marbles by accepting only a small number of those at the British Museum. The Art Newspaper 02/04/00
  • PORTRAIT GALLERY DIRECTOR RESIGNS: National Portrait Gallery Director Alan Fern, who recently lost a bitter public battle over how much space his museum would have in the building it shares, will retire. The gallery is part of the Smithsonian, and uses art to tell the history of people and events. Under Fern's direction, the gallery's collection doubled to more than 18,000 pieces and began including popular cultural and sports figures. Last year it had 432,000 visitors. Washington Post 02/04/00
  • MILLENNIAL BUST? Only 366,000 people - or 11,000 per day - visited London's much-mocked Millennium Dome in January. The publicly-financed Dome must attract 12 million visitors this year to break even financially. BBC 02/04/00
  • RETURN TO SENDER: The US Postal Service had to destroy 100 million stamps of the Grand Canyon because they placed it in Colorado instead of Arizona. Now, the corrected version is flawed... Singapore Straits Times (AP) 02/04/00
  • BLOCKBUSTERING: It was another great year for the museum blockbuster show. Record crowds everywhere, and the number of big-time shows increased. The numbers may be great, say some, but the challenge is to broaden interest beyond the wildly popular Impressionists and antiquities shows. New York Times 02/03/00 (One-time registration required for entry) 
  • THEFT-TO-ORDER: Police believe that the theft of a Cezanne from Oxford's Ashmolean Museum over New Year's was a theft-for-hire job. Such art thefts aren't unusual. Art is easily transported and convertible to cash, and the steal-to-order trade is flourishing. New York Times 02/03/00 (One-time registration required for entry)
  • ARTFUL ESTATE: You're an artist and you've worked all your life for fame, honor and sales. And you've had some success, selling a few important pieces to museums and collectors. But the vast majority of your works sit in storage racks in your studio, unsold and unloved, except by you. But if you die tomorrow, the IRS could assess devastating taxes against your estate, based on the proven market value of the few pieces you've sold. What's an artist to do? In Cleveland, a plan. Cleveland Plain Dealer 02/03/00
  • NEVER MEANT TO BE SHOWN: "Hitler practicing his oratory in front of a bedroom mirror; the Ayatollah Khomeini being stripped by souvenir hunters at his funeral; Parisians caught in a bomb attack on the Metro" - these photos, never meant to be seen, are part of a new show in London. London Evening Standard 02/03/00
  • HIGH RENT DISTRICT: Seattle rents are forcing out many of the city's artists. A new set of evictions points up a much more complicated problem than the traditional greedy-old-developer-against-helpless-artists scenario. Seattle Post-Intelligencer 02/03/00
  • THE NEW STORY OF ART: "Narrative," has lately acquired an almost mystical significance in museum circles, especially those most concerned with what we used to call the history of modern art. Top directors of modern art museums gather to explain the future of the "modern" art museum. New York Observer 02/02/00
  • SOFA-SIZE ART: Weekend oil-painting sales attract big crowds. The pictures sell for as little as $12. The Garden of Eden is big. So are purple mountains' majesty. And whales. Abstract pictures used to sell but not any more. What people are buying for their living rooms. Washington Post 02/02/00
  • "AN ATTRACTIVE NUISANCE": Badly neglected public sculpture "Marianthe" at Florida community college to be destroyed because of deterioration, despite protests of the artist. 02/00
  • LIVING IN THE FUTURE: The London of the future will have to support a much higher population density than the one- and two-story rowhouses currently house. Some architects take a shot at showing how it might be. London Times 02/01/00
  • THE REAL ARTIST: "For a painter whose name we're not even sure of, who aggressively discouraged imitators, whose stormy, rumbustious life was curtailed by an early death, partly as a result of his own violent, impetuous nature, Caravaggio occupies an extraordinarily important role in the history of European painting. It's hard to imagine Rembrandt's work without him, for example, and Rubens and Velasquez were among an army of admirers He was an arrogant, violent brawler and a sexual outlaw as well as an artistic and social revolutionary who changed our perception of space." Two new books shed new light on one of art's most important yet unknown characters. Irish Times 02/01/00