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Friday, January 31

Corporate Donor Names In At Smithsonian The Smithsonian Museum has told Congress that it will stick to plans to rename its Imax auditorium after a large corporate donor. "Critics saw the move as one more step in the commercialization of the Smithsonian. Members of the House Appropriations Committee asked Smithsonian officials to reconsider the change," but the Smithsonian says it won't. Washington Post 01/31/03

Famous And They Make Art A surprising number of pop artists have also pursued second careers in visual art. "David Bowie, Ray Davies of the Kinks, and the late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia all pursued art before music. Joni Mitchell illustrates many of her album covers with Van Gogh-influenced self-portraits. The phenomenon is hardly limited to rockers. Crooner Tony Bennett has a second career as an artist. Jazz great Miles Davis began expressing himself visually late in life, but generated a compelling body of work." Christian Science Monitor 01/31/03

Thursday, January 30

Foster's Plan For WTC Dead? Norman Foster's plans for the World Trade Center site have been all but rejected. "A team of architects rejected his proposal of two crystalline towers because they felt it would not be practical to construct or find tenants to fill. The architects' recommendation will go to the panel which will make the final decision next week." The Guardian (UK) 01/31/03

Liverpool Nominated For World Heritage Liverpool's historic waterfront has been nominated to be a Unesco World Heritage Site. "Liverpool's historic buildings are a proud reminder that this was a hugely important maritime and mercantile city on the world stage." The nomination is also thought to boost the city's chances to be chosen as the European Capital of Culture in 2008. The Guardian (UK) 01/31/03

The Rembrandt Behind The Paint Researchers have discovered a Rembrandt self-portrait that was altered by an assistant 300 years ago. "The original portrait from 1634, painted when Rembrandt was 28, was later painted over, apparently by a student in Rembrandt's studio. The student added earrings, a goatee, shoulder-length hair and a velvet cap to make it appear to be a Russian aristocrat. The restored portrait shows the Dutch master with medium-length curly hair, a slightly upturned mustache and a beret. In it, Rembrandt's portrait has the familiar round chin and gentle eyes of many other self studies." Nando Times (AP) 01/30/03

Chicago Art Institute Cancels Nazi Loot Show The Art Institute of Chicago has canceled a show on ths history of Nazi art looting. Why? "We had hoped to present the topic in a way that would be informative and beneficial to the public, but we realized that if we couldn't do it properly, given the importance of the subject, we should not proceed." Nando Times (AP) 01/30/03

American Museums Boost Education Spending "The nation's museums spent more than a billion dollars in 2001 to educate schoolchildren, according to a survey released Wednesday. The Institute of Museum and Library Services reported that the median museum expenditure on K-12 programs increased to $22,500 in 2001, from $4,000 in 1996. The survey showed that museums dedicate about 12 percent of their median annual operating budget on K-12 programs, up from 3 percent five years earlier." Rocky Mountain News 01/30/03

Why Choose Just One Plan? As New York City prepares to choose one of the many plans submitted by some of the world's top architects to replace the World Trade Centers, Lisa Rochon says there's no reason not to combine two of the plans, each of which stands out for a different, and important, reason. Daniel Libeskind's design for the huge plaza would bring to the Ground Zero space "a carcass of stone that could become the most meditative public space in the world." And the Think team's design for two huge latticework towers could reach "beyond the security of a nation to a new security in our minds -- to an architecture that invites intellectual curiosity and the possibilities for cultural humility." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 01/30/03

Wednesday, January 29

Comparing Rubens' Models For the first time in a century, in London's National Gallery Rubens' "Massacre of the Innocents" will be on a wall beside another Rubens, 'Samson and Delilah", dated by scholars as being from the same time, 1609-1610. "The juxtaposition enables visitors to play a 'spot the same models' game." Rubens saved money by reusing models from one painting for the other. The Guardian (UK) 01/29/03

Tuesday, January 28

The Art World Converging On Fort Worth The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth has been a big hit since it opened in December. "Drawn by rave reviews in the press and by word of mouth, devotees of art and architecture are streaming here. More people turned up in one two-day period after Christmas than came in any entire month of 2001, when the museum was still in its 1954 building nearby. Taxis from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport bring passengers who have arranged layovers so they can spend an hour at the museum." The New York Times 01/29/03

Is UK Losing Its Masterpieces? More and more of Britain's great art treasures in private ownership are being sold abroad. "Experts fear that many other masterpieces in private hands will emerge on to the market and be sold to overseas collectors because owners are noticing the vast sums being fetched. Museums and galleries with paltry acquisition budgets are unable to compete." The Times (UK) 01/29/03

One Kind Of Art - Why Artists Specialize "Most contemporary artists remain specialists, and the reasons are plain to see. The intensity that we want from art usually emerges only when an artist knows a medium or a kind of structure or a certain vocabulary inside out. This has certainly been true in the past few months in New York." The New Republic 01/23/03

Model Behavior - Building Imagination Architects spend much time and money on models of projects they propose to build. Richard Meier says his firm spent more than $100,000 on its model for the World Trade Center site. "Drawings are abstract and precise - the medium of proportion and detail - and computer modeling engages the cinematic dimension of time, of fluidity, of movement through space. Only models, however, provide the "God's eye view," the luxurious sensation that a complex object like a building, or an entire development like the World Trade Center site, can be comprehended as a whole."

Monday, January 27

China's Fake Art Trade Enormous finds of art in China over the past decade have flooded the art market. But along with the legitimate finds, fakes of every description and sophistication have also appeared to tempt the gullible. "Most of those fakes come through Hong Kong, China's wildly capitalistic gateway to the world. Trying to quantify the trade in fakes is like trying to get your hands around an octopus. No one keeps records of the illegal trade." Seattle Times 01/27/03

Choosing A Plan For Ground Zero A decision could come this week. Herbert Muschamp casts his vote: "Public officials will be criticized no matter what they decide. People protested the Eiffel Tower, too. If it were up to me, I would pick the pair of latticework towers proposed by the Think group. It is a work of genius, a towering affirmation of humanism in modern times. This is a work of abstraction. It does not impose literal meanings on the viewer. Yet implicitly it embodies the theme of metamorphosis." The New York Times 01/28/03

Europe's Best Contemporary Art Museum? Here's a vote for the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands, which just reopened after a renovation that took five years. "Thanks to the efforts of curators who followed the founder's own predilection for visiting studios and hanging out with some of the best and most radical artists, the museum has one of Europe's key collections of modern and contemporary art - several thousand works - from 1900 to the present day. It contains many familiar international names, from Joseph Beuys to Donald Judd, Gerhard Richter to Bruce Nauman. And it displays their works in particular contexts: Russian suprematism, Dutch plasticism, and among fellow artists that were collected with the individual sensibilities of a succession of curators. This is not a generic collection. It has character, and it is a museum of surprises." The Guardian (UK) 01/28/03

Britain Stops Export Of Raphael Painting The British government has ordered a temporary hold on the export of a valuable Raphael painting to allow a "last chance" effort to raise money to keep it in the country. "The National Gallery is campaigning to keep it in the UK after the Duke of Northumberland, one of England's wealthiest land and art owners, accepted a £32m offer from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles." BBC 01/27/03

Sunday, January 26

The Forgotten Masterpieces A new book wonders about the wherabout of great works of art that for one reason or another disappeared and slipped from the pages of history. "Supreme among them is Michelangelo’s bronze version of David, a statue he worked on while carving his celebrated colossus of the same biblical hero." The Times 01/27/03

Blockbuster Time In Queens The Museum of Modern Art opens a blockbuster "Matisse Picasso" show in a couple of weeks. But MoMA is in a much smaller space (in Queens)than its longtime Manhattan home. Crowds "promise to be larger than anything the site has yet encountered, raising inevitable questions about how visitors will move through the building without clogging it and whether they will have room to appreciate the nearly 140 works by two of the 20th century's masters." The New York Times 01/27/03

Good-For-You (And The Environment) Housing A new eco-friendly energy-efficient way of building housing in Britain makes minimal impact on the environment. It's oh-so-good for you. Yet it's the style and aesthetics that win buyers. "It's ingenious: tapping into the power of the raw consumer, making eco-homes as easy to buy as an organic swede. Now, that's how real revolutions start, you see. By playing capitalism at its own game. By stealth." The Guardian (UK) 01/26/03

Torture By Art Was modern art used as a torture device in the Spanish Civil War? "A Spanish art historian has uncovered what was alleged to be the first use of modern art as a deliberate form of torture, with the discovery that mind-bending prison cells were built by anarchist artists 65 years ago during the country's bloody civil war. Bauhaus artists such as Kandinsky, Klee and Itten, as well as the surrealist film-maker Luis Bunuel and his friend Salvador Dali, were said to be the inspiration behind a series of secret cells and torture centres built in Barcelona and elsewhere." The Guardian (UK) 01/26/03

Asian Gallery Sells Fakes Backed By "Scientific" Claims Seattle Times reporters buy art purported to be Chinese antiques hundreds of years old from a local gallery. Turns out the art isn't hundreds of years old - it's only a few years old, practically new. "The pieces sold by Thesaurus Fine Arts are a trickle in the flood — but notable in that, unlike many fakes, they are purportedly backed by scientific evaluation. Experts say they know of no other art dealer in the United States that makes such sweeping claims on obviously phony pieces." Seattle Times 01/26/03

A $600,000 Tree Stump? John Davis saw a giant rootball unearthed in a tornado 27 years ago and decided to dig out the roots and make a sculpture out of it. After 2 1/2 years he was finished revealing the 14 foor-by 16 foot, 3000-pound piece. Then he listed it on Ebay for $2.7 million and got no offers. Now he wants $600,000, but the artworld doesn't seem interested. "From the photograph, it looks like an incredible object. A question that I'm asked a lot is, 'What is it really worth?' And there are different qualifications for intrinsic artistic value and what the art market will bear. ... On the art market, it's worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it." Dallas Morning News 01/26/03

City In The Sky (And Under) The World Trade Center project is about more than big buildings. "The process of thinking about this unique site expanded into an exercise in imagining a new future for the skyscraper in an increasingly dense and urbanized world. In a number of proposals, the towers are interconnected rather than autonomous, so that they work horizontally as well as vertically. In effect, they create another ground plane to accommodate the kinds of public spaces historically limited to the street: parks, gardens and cultural facilities. The nine diverse schemes all conceive of urban life as a vertical proposition - cities in the sky." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 01/26/03

Saturday, January 25

The Scottish Parliament Building Fiasco Hopes were sky high back in 1997 for the new Scottish Parliament building "designed by the Catalan architect Enric Miralles as 'the visual embodiment of exciting constitutional change'. How those hopes have turned to ashes. The Parliament, once estimated to cost between £10 and £40 million and scheduled to open last December, is now expected to come in at £338.1 million. Completion is not expected before November." It's all a big mess - so what happened? The Telegraph (UK) 01/25/03

Friday, January 24

Man Glues WTC Picture To Met Museum Painting A former museum guard defaced a famous painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Washington crossing the Delaware by glueing a picture of the World Trade Center's twin towers to the bottom of the famous Revolutionary War scene last weekend. The painting was undamages and has been restored. New York Daily News 01/24/03

Asian Museums Hurting For Money Japan's art museums are facing a serious cash crunch. As the economy has stalled, money for art has become scarce. "In the profligate 1980s, Japanese businessmen lavished money on art, and when in 1987 the Yasuda Insurance Co bought Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers for more than US$36 million the purchase rocked the global art market. Those days are long gone." Asia Times 01/24/03

Christo Project Warmly Greeted By New Yorkers Why, after 24 years of rejecting the proposal, did New York City agree to let Christo do his "Gates" project in New York's Central Park? “People don’t realise the reason for the rejection the first time was that the park was in deplorable condition. It was neglected and so worn out that most of us thought—whatever the merits of the project—the park just couldn’t stand it. Since then, the Central Park Conservancy has been established and now the park is in wonderful shape. The proposal has been scaled down and at this scale I think it can work and will be most beautiful.” The Art Newspaper 01/24/03

  • Previously: Christo Gets Okay For Central Park Project Since 1979 Christo has been trying to get permission for a big project in New York's Central Park. Now the city has approved it. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says "the project would attract some 500,000 visitors and generate $72 million to $136 million in spending. 'When our natural instincts are to retreat to the comfortable and the familiar, we have to reassert the daring and the creative spirit that differentiates New York from any other city in the world'." The New York Times 01/23/03
Thursday, January 23

Italy To Return Parthenon Fragment Italy will return a fragment of the Parthenon to Greece as a "gesture of goodwill". "The fragment is part of the statue of Peitho, the daughter of Mercury and Venus, which once adorned the eastern side of the Parthenon. A 14-by-13.6- inch piece of marble, it depicts the goddess's foot and a portion of her tunic. The frieze was regularly purchased by the museum between 1818 and 1820 from the widow of Robert Fagan, the British consul for Sicily and Malta" and has nothing to do with the Elgin Marbles. Discovery 01/22/03

Wednesday, January 22

Christo Gets Okay For Central Park Project Since 1979 Christo has been trying to get permission for a big project in New York's Central Park. Now the city has approved it. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says "the project would attract some 500,000 visitors and generate $72 million to $136 million in spending. 'When our natural instincts are to retreat to the comfortable and the familiar, we have to reassert the daring and the creative spirit that differentiates New York from any other city in the world'." The New York Times 01/23/03

Art Or Junk? Who Gets To Decide? "When art changes because of elemental forces, becoming what some would call an 'eyesore,' is it no longer art? Should it be removed? When the land on which a work sits, and for which it was designed, is needed for other purposes and the art is moved, is it the same work of art?" A dispute between a Florida temple that wants to remove a piece of art and the the artist who created it is forcing some answers to these questions. St. Petersburg Times 01/18/03

Boston ICA Gets New Leadership "Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art has hired a new curator, Nicholas Baume, a 37-year-old Australian who has been the contemporary curator at Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum since 1998. Baume, who assumes the job in March, replaces Jessica Morgan, who resigned from the ICA in November to move back to her native England, where she is a curator at London's Tate Modern." Boston Globe 01/22/03

Berlin's Troubling Deal For A Big Collection At virtually no cost, debt-ridden Berlin got the chance last month to "show one of the most distinguished private collections of its kind in the world — one that, moreover, has never been shown in its entirety to the public. Yet the collection has been unwelcome elsewhere because it belongs to Friedrich Christian Flick, the multimillionaire heir of a leading Nazi arms manufacturer. And for Berlin, a city that has served variously as the epicenter of the avant-garde and Nazi despotism, that fact presents a troubling dilemma." The New York Times 01/22/03

Tuesday, January 21

A Gallery In Your Room One of Scotland's "pioneering" online galleries has made a deal with a hotel chain to provide 1,500 works of art for hotel rooms. "We believe that art is part of daily life and we are challenging the way that people normally view and buy art." The Scotsman 01/21/03

Best In Show Outside New York The American section of the International Art Critics Association has chosen the "Eva Hesse" show, co-organized and launched on its tour by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as best monographic exhibition outside New York. San Francisco Chronicle 01/21/03

Monday, January 20

How Scotland Yard Recovered "The Scream" The colorful story of the recovery of Edvard Munch's painting "the Scream" back in 1994 is just now coming to light. "While it is known that the £50 million painting was eventually returned to the National Gallery in May 1994, following a trap set by Scotland Yard, it has emerged that the British strategy for finding 'The Scream' stretched the limits of international law and involved meticulous research, false identities and high risks for two unarmed officers. Twice, the operation was put in peril by the unlucky intervention of other police forces. Twice, the swift action of the undercover officers averted disaster." The Observer (UK) 01/19/03

Shanghai Express - Miracle Out Of Chaos "As an event, the Shanghai Biennial would seem a success. Major figures from Europe, America and Asia attended, although many, including a delegation from New York’s MoMA, were making a side trip from a curating conference organised by the Asia Society in Hong Kong. But the longer-term picture is cloudier, as the haphazardly installed, barely coherent Biennial—resembling, at times, an art fair—cemented a growing scepticism overseas about both Chinese art and the possibilities of mounting serious art exhibitions in China." The Art Newspaper 01/17/03

Star Turns - The New Celebrity Collectors "Celebrities and stars figure more and more in the art world. Indeed, Madonna, David Bowie, Elton John, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry are not only avid buyers but part of the group of patrons that supports young talent in Britain. ‘This group of pop and rock stars has truly put its stamp on the market. Such is its impact that it even affects artistic tendencies, but the phenomenon has to be seen as part of a whole movement that includes music, painting and all the arts'." The Art Newspaper 01/17/03

Thief Steals Art For Fake Gallery A man who took art from artists for a gallery that didn't exist, has been arrested in Florida. He portrayed himself as a Miami Beach gallery owner or lawyer, and "aspiring painters and sculptors sent him their work to be displayed in galleries. Several artists gave Evan Carter their credit card numbers to pay gallery dues or other fees, then noticed unfamiliar charges, police reports said." Nando Times (AP) 01/20/03

Sunday, January 19

Phillips Collection Begins Addition Washington DC's Phillips Collection is about to begin a $25 million, 30,000-square-foot expansion that will increase the cramped museum's space by nearly 50 percent. It will also create quarters for a new Center for Studies in Modern Art." Washington Post 01/19/03

They're Big - Are They Practical? There are similarities between all the proposals for replacing the World Trade Center. "Surprisingly, the appetite for gigantism that inspired the original WTC - impractical, inefficient, and ultimately hubristic - still runs strong. Of course this partly reflects a popular sentiment that yearns for restoration. 'Rebuild the towers exactly as they were to show the terrorists they haven't won,' was a frequent person-on-the-street response in the months after the attack." San Jose Mercury-News 01/19/03

Art In Vacant Places San Jose realtors trying to fill vacant storefronts in downtown were tired of looking at empty windows. So they came up with the idea of getting artists to show their work there. "People walk by and some of them like something and some of them hate it, but at least they're talking about art." San Jose Mercury-News 01/19/03

A Brilliant New Plan For An Arts Library "Here's a good cause for the New Year: a design by Enríque Norten/TEN Arquitectos for the proposed Brooklyn Library for the Visual and Performing Arts. Sleek, curvaceous, colorful and alive, this is New York's first full-fledged masterwork for the information age. More than any other recent New York project, Norten's design captures the spirit of the contemporary city." The New York Times 01/19/03

Art In Groups Art made by teams is popular again. "The collective impulse has never died out in American art; and now it is surfacing again, for the most part outside New York. In cities like Milwaukee, Providence, R. I., St. Louis and Philadelphia, as well as several in Canada, an old countercultural model, often much changed, is being revived, in some cases by artists barely out of their teens. Many of the new art collectives are virtual: they reside on the Internet, that intrinsically collective medium. They are fluid in size, and members may not even know the identity of other members." The New York Times 01/19/03

Picasso In Dispute Heir Claims Looted Painting "Last month, Thomas C. Bennigson, heir of the Holocaust survivor who lost control of a Picasso painting during World War II, sued Marilynn Alsdorf for $10 million, after negotiations between the parties broke down. The case has sparked claims and counterclaims regarding the painting's history, the nature of property law and the moral obligation of art collectors and dealers. And it has pitted Alsdorf against one of the most prominent art recovery organizations in the world, the London-based Art Loss Register, which first reported that the Picasso had been looted." Chicago Tribune 01/19/03

  • Previously: Grandson Sues to Get Looted Picasso Back A 1922 Picasso painting valued at $10 million is under dispute in the US - the grandson of the woman who had owned the painting before the Nazis stole it in World War II is suing the Illinois woman whose family bought the painting and is now trying to sell it. San Francisco Chronicle 12/27/02
Saturday, January 18

Institution On The Edge The Royal Ontario Museum is undergoing a massive reinvention. But "move inside and dig around for a couple of weeks and you discover an institution at a dramatic point of transformation, teetering on the brink of either spectacular triumph or spectacular failure. Curators decry their inability to fend off embarrassing professional gaffes, and tensions are running high as they contemplate the implications of the museum's dramatic building program." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/18/03

Friday, January 17

French Government Plan To Encourage Arts Sponsorship The French government is putting together a plan to encourage arts sponsorship and the creation of foundations. The government released figures showing that "France has few private donors and a pitiful number of foundations (only about 1,000, compared with 2,000 in Germany, 3,000 in England and 12,000 in the USA)." France spent $1.3 billion in 2001, or 0.09 per cent of GDP, compared with $230 billion (£142 billion) on the other side of the Atlantic, i.e. more than 2% of GDP. The Art Newspaper 01/17/03

Thursday, January 16

Toronto's Art Gallery Of Ontario Makes its Move For 103 years, the Art Gallery of Ontario has been a middling player on the global art scene. It has built a respectable international reputation and a loyal local audience by mounting innovative shows, such as a Yoko Ono exhibit, and by specializing in such areas as Canadian art. Its Canadian paintings include windswept pines, moody lakes, and rugged mountains by the Group of Seven, the landscape pioneers whose works are now Canadian icons. The museum has a solid collection of European art, and its grouping of sculptures by Britain's Henry Moore is considered one of the world's best." Now it's been given a major collection and is into planning for a new Frank Gehry building. Christian Science Monitor 01/17/03

Art In Groups "As more artists work collaboratively or in art collectives, the stereotype of the lone artist in a garret is fading. In place of the romantic ideal of the figure sweating in front of an easel is a growing teamwork ethos, particularly among young artists. As a result of a greater focus on the process than the product, 'do-it-ourselves' now seems more hip than do-it-yourself." Christian Science Monitor 01/17/03

When David Sat For Lucien Last summer David Hockney sat for a portrait by Lucien Freud. "Britain's two greatest living painters spent 3 months in each other's company, Freud sitting for Hockney for four hours before he became the subject of Freud's gimlet eye for considerably longer: 120 hours." The Guardian (UK) 01/16/03

A Fake Van Gogh In Oslo Museum? Is a famous Van Gogh self-portrait in Oslo's National Museum a fake? One expert says he can prove it. "The main arguments for it not being a Van Gogh are, first, it does not resemble other of his self-portraits and an x-ray examination has shown there is another painting beneath it - though this is not very unusual, and proves little." Aftenposten (Norway) 01/16/03

Morant Collection Goes To Banff The Whyte Museum in Banff, Alberta, "is thrilled by the generous donation it has received of one of Canada's most prized photographic collections. Thousands of personal photos taken by world-famous photographer Nicholas Morant, who died in 1999, were recently donated by Morant's widow, Margaret E. Morant, to the prestigious museum in the Canadian Rockies... The 'generous gift' includes 23,000 photographs and three metres of textual material. There are also sound recordings and hundreds of items related to Morant's photographic equipment, including virtually all of his cameras." Calgary Herald 01/16/03

Wednesday, January 15

End Of A Historical Line Art historian Sir Ernst Gombrich was "the last member of a formidable dynasty of philosophers and historians who, beginning in central Europe during the nineteenth century, devoted themselves to discovering the deep structures of human culture." Gombrich's narratives describe "the progress of art as a slow, successful conquest of the difficulties of perception. The problem with this view is that the tide of taste runs in absolutely the opposite direction..." Yale Review Of Books 12/02

Hell, No, We Won't Go! (But We'll Draw A Bit, If You Like) Where there is war, or the threat of war, there will always be anti-war protest, and a new exhibit examines the movement from an artistic perspective. From Vietnam-era posters depicting the My Lai massacre to T-shirts decrying the Bush administration's current Iraq policy, visitors can trace not only the recent history of American political demonstration, but the way in which contemporary sensibility informs the art of such protest. In Vietnam, shock value was front and center, but today's anti-war movement seems to rely as much as anything on the cynical humor often ascribed to Generation X. Los Angeles Times 01/15/03

The Archaeological Cost Of War One unintended casualty of the US government's preparations for war in the Middle East appears to be an extensive list of archaeological excavations scheduled for the region. "In any normal summer, dozens of excavations are conducted in Israel, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Yemen and elsewhere, tempting thousands of professionals and volunteers with the exotic mysteries of antiquity and the prospect of significant discovery." And it's not just the timing of the digs which are at risk: archeologists fear that a war could irreparably damage countless artifacts, just as the 1991 Gulf War did. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 01/15/03

Take That, New York! And the winner of the heated competition to be the only American city to be allowed to exhibit the Dead Sea Scrolls this year is... drum roll... Grand Rapids, Michigan? As a matter of fact, yes, and it may be more appropriate than you think. Grand Rapids, while certainly far from being a bustling metropolis, is a deeply religious community, and the exhibition, which will bring fragments of 12 manuscripts from the famous Scrolls to a local museum, is expected to draw visitors from all over the Rust Belt area of the Midwest. Curators hope that their coup will be a reminder to the arts world that people everywhere can appreciate art and artifacts - even people who don't live in New York or Chicago. Detroit News 01/15/03

Tuesday, January 14

Curators - The Season Of Their Discontent Curators are not a happy lot these days. Indeed, they're "the embodiment of demoralization, resentment, anxiety, stress, and alienation over what was happening in his or her museum." There is a mounting chorus of voices "articulating this critical disconnect in art museums. The gap is not necessarily between curators and their directors—though in some institutions that exists as well. Mostly the conflict is between the dramatically changing role of the art museum and the mounting pressures imposed by those changes on the people who have traditionally been the custodians, students, and interpreters of the art objects inside their institutions." ArtNews 01/03

Trials For SF Jewish Museum Facing fundraising obstacles and internal disagreements, San Francisco's Jewish Museum is looking at scaling back a design for a dramatic Daniel Libeskind museum. "We had become too ambitious in our planning for the new museum. The idea was to expose Jewish culture and thought to a wider public in 'an architectural gem' in the heart of the city's cultural district. Now we're thinking about a smaller building with a smaller operating budget. How that smaller building will look, I don't know. It's unlikely that it will be the Libeskind design as we know it." San Francisco Chronicle 01/14/03

Vying For The Richest Museum Prize Museums big and small across the UK are battling for the first £100,000 Gulbenkian prize. "The prize is worth almost £40,000 more than any other. It was intended to create a buzz in the museum world on a par with the Turner and the Booker prizes in visual arts and literature. The list is scrupulously balanced in scale and geography from Cornwall to Dundee." The Guardian (UK) 01/14/03

The Art World's Most Powerful - A List The British magazine ArtReview has made a list of the 100 most powerful people in the art world. "British collector Charles Saatchi is No. 1; Ronald Lauder, who just opened his own museum in New York, is No. 3; and No. 9 is former Sotheby's chairman and major stockholder Alfred Taubman, who is spending an enforced vacation at Uncle Sam's spa, convicted of price fixing." Only one artist cracks the top ten... San Francisco Chronicle 01/13/03

Monday, January 13

Duke Versus Gallery London's National Gallery and the Duke of Northumberland are disputing a Raphael painting the Duke's family loaned the museum and now wants to sell. "The Madonna of the Pinks has been on loan to the National Gallery for 10 years, and the gallery said it had a deal with the previous duke that would have given it first option on the painting. But the duke said neither side has evidence of such an agreement. He was also angered by stories saying proceeds of the sale would go towards a garden renovation, and that the painting had been hanging forgotten in a dusty corridor until a National Gallery expert spotted it." BBC 01/14/03

  • Previously: Selling A Raphael To Save Art Heritage After loaning his Raphael painting "The Madonna of the Pinks" for ten years to the National Gallery, the Duke of Northumberland decided to sell the painting to help pay for the upkeep of his estate. LA's Getty Museum agreed to buy the painting, and the Duke has faced a barrage of criticism in Britain. Unfair, he says. He's got to pay for his other obligations somehow. The Telegraph (UK) 01/13/03
Sunday, January 12

My Life As A Critic Village Voice art critic Jerry Saltz seems a little overwhelmed by by his job as an art critic. "It is a thrilling, humbling, weird business. You go to shows, sometimes as many as 40 a week, looking, always looking, and thinking, 'Is this the show I'll write about? Is this the one?' It's like wondering who you'll marry. You're constantly dangling the line of your responses into the stream of exhibitions. For better or for worse, shows usually choose you." Village Voice 01/013/03

Material Breach - Moden Art Falling Apart Modern art materials are falling apart in their cases and storage closets. "As the most adventurously made art ages, inherent vice has overtaken collectors and museums largely unprepared for its ravages. Fat is melting. Cellulose nitrate is powdering. Rubber is disintegrating. Nettles are crumbling. Dried mud is flaking and blowing away. The contemporary art conservator must be open to ingenious and humble solutions, not just technically sophisticated ones." Washington Post 01/12/03

Selling A Raphael To Save Art Heritage After loaning his Raphael painting "The Madonna of the Pinks" for ten years to the National Gallery, the Duke of Northumberland decided to sell the painting to help pay for the upkeep of his estate. LA's Getty Museum agreed to buy the painting, and the Duke has faced a barrage of criticism in Britain. Unfair, he says. He's got to pay for his other obligations somehow. "I employ hundreds of people, maintain a historic landscape and look after one of the most important art collections in the country, enjoyed by more than 100,000 visitors each year. The cost is astronomic, but the entire business is vital to the economy of the region in tourism and related employment." The Telegraph (UK) 01/13/03

  • Will UK Government Keep Raphael In Country? The British government is expected this week to grant a temporary halt to export of Raphael's "Madonna of the Pinks" to the US. "The new director of the National Gallery will then begin the fight of his life, to persuade the heritage lottery fund that saving Raphael's exquisite Madonna of the Pinks is worth paying £20 million to one of the richest men in the country. The fund has the money: despite the sharp fall in lottery ticket sales it will have about £300 million to give away this year, as well as the interest on grants which have been allocated but not yet paid out." The Guardian (UK) 01/13/03

A Hundred Years Of Buying Art "A century after it began with 53 members paying one guinea a year each, the National Art Collections Fund, now often known as the Art Fund, is Britain's leading independent arts charity with 90,000 members paying a minimum of £32 annually. During those 100 years, it has bought or helped to buy 477,384 objects for British museums and art galleries with grants totalling almost £38 million. If past funding is converted into today's equivalent sums, the NACF has helped public collections to the tune of £84,173,626." The Telegraph (UK) 01/12/03

Are Easter Island Stone Heads Authentic? Are two large Easter Island stone heads for sale in a Miami gallery really 1000 years old? "The Chilean government, which claimed the Pacific island in 1888, is investigating whether the pieces are genuine antiques smuggled from Chile or skillful reproductions. An expert on the island's archaeology says they seem to be carved from island stone with modern tools." Archeologists are on their way to investigate... The Guardian (UK) 01/11/03

Dallas Museum At 100 The Dallas Museum of Art is 100 years old. "The museum has grown enormously over the past century. From a tiny handful of paintings occupying one corner of a room in the Dallas Public Library, the collection has grown to 22,000 objects filling a building of 340,000 square feet." Dallas Morning News 01/12/03

Friday, January 10

Finders Keepers? Should big museums be considered "world" museums and be allowed to keep art they hauled off from other countries? Not surprisingly, the big museums think so. They signed a declaration asserting that policy in December. “So far the public debate has been conducted very much in terms of the value of restitution, but there has been much less debate about the importance of the context which a great museum offers.” The Art Newspaper 01/10/03

German Officials Defend Nazi Art Show German officials are defending the exhibition in Berlin of an art collection owned by the family of a major arms supplier to the Nazis by arguing the exhibit would "help heal the scars of Adolf Hitler's crusade against modern art." An official explains: "This altruistic gesture should not be overloaded with politics. It's a gesture toward a city particularly marked by the history of the last century." She was referring to the Nazis' hatred of modern art, which saw many works destroyed and others by the likes of van Gogh and Picasso displayed in infamous 'Degenerate Art' shows. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/10/03

  • Previously: Nazi Heir Art Collection To Open In Berlin The heir to a Nazi arms supplier has canceled plans to build a museum in Zurich to display his large art collection after protests there. Instead, it will be shown in Berlin next year. "The 2,500-piece collection was assembled by Friedrich-Christian Flick, a grandson of an industrial baron who helped arm Nazi Germany's war machine. The collection includes works by contemporary artists such as Bruce Nauman, On Kawara and Nam June Paik. It is to go on display in 2004 for seven years in a downtown Berlin exhibition space." New Jersey Online (AP) 01/07/03

Pearl Memorial Behind Closed Doors Jan Herman reports that while a memorial to murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has been decided on, access to it it will be in the WSJ headquarters, where the general public doesn't have access to it... MSNBC 01/10/03

Thursday, January 9

High Design - Too Violent To See, Evidently, But Not Too Violent To Be Nominated London's Design Museum is censoring one of the shortlisted finalists for its top design award. A violent video game was shortlisted, but the museum does not want to show it in its galleries. "A spokeswoman for the Design Museum said yesterday that visitors to the competition exhibition, opening in March, would see an explanation of the Grand Theft Auto design ethos, and be able to play other games designed by the Rockstars team, but not Vice City." The Guardian (UK) 01/10/03

Hilton Kramer Attacks Study of Visual Arts Critics Hilton Kramer is in a huff about a new study of visual arts criticism published by Columbia University's National Arts Journalism Program. He's pleased to see that in a name-recognition poll, he rates highly among fellow critics - an 80! But a few sentences later he reveals that he only earns a 12 - can you believe it? - among other critics for his influence on the field. In conclusion? "The Visual Art Critic is in every respect a perfectly useless enterprise—perfect, above all, in its flawless incomprehension of the subject it addresses..." So there. New York Observer 01/08/03

Forbes Unloading Victorian Collection As Money Woes Mount The Forbes family has amassed a major collection of Victorian art. But "next month, the bulk of that collection, which rivals the Tate’s and the Victoria and Albert’s collections—not to mention composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s—will become the latest chunk of the Forbes’ art and antiquities holdings to be sold off as the publishers of Forbes magazine struggle against a brutal economic downturn." New York Observer 01/08/03

Help Give California The Quarter It Deserves! No kidding. The state of California is trying to choose a design for the quarter that will represent it in the American money supply. The Chair of the California Quarter Committee (again no kidding) has summoned help in choosing. The field of quarter designs has been narrowed to 20, and you can vote for the quarter of your dreams on the quarter website. Maybe it'll be one of the eight - count 'em, eight - that depict the Golden Gate Bridge... California Quarters 01/03

Report Criticizes Smithsonian Research Efforts A special commission has issued a report complaining that the Smithsonian has let its research efforts become "unfocused and underfunded," and calling on the organization to "concentrate its scientific work in specific areas and make a major effort to raise more money." Newsday (AP) 01/08/03

Never Saw It Coming "People who make, teach and exhibit film in Pittsburgh were stunned yesterday by the Carnegie Museum of Art's announcement that it was eliminating its venerated film and video department as a way to save money." Even an organization which some viewed as a competitor to the Carnegie series was shocked by the move, insisting that the two series had the same mission - to bring top-quality international film to the Steel City. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 01/09/03

  • Previously: Museum Cuts in Pittsburgh "In an effort to trim its 2003 budget, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is eliminating its film and video section and permanently laying off 17 full-time and four part-time employees. In addition, six employees have resigned voluntarily and 22 vacant positions will not be filled. The loss of 49 total full-time and four part-time positions is expected to save the parent corporation $4 million this year." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 01/08/03
Wednesday, January 8

Liking What's Being Proposed For The WTC Architects proposing ideas for the World Trade Center site meet in a public forum to talk about their plans. How do you reconcile the ideas? Maybe collage the best of each and come up with something collaborative? "I came expecting a fight. Instead, everyone is so warm and fuzzy and self-congratulatory it distresses me." The New York Times 01/09/03

In Munich - A Museum That Puts Art Above Building In an era when museum buildings are asked to be works of art themselves (and the art inside can seem like an afterthought), Munich's new Pinakothek der Moderne is a white rextangle in which art is the star... The New Yorker 01/06/03

England's Historic Structures in Danger English Heritage has released a report that concludes that the country's "historic environment is 'a massively underexploited asset, which is under attack from all sides.' Threats include 'a skills crisis, incongruous development, half a century of unsympathetic agricultural policy, inappropriate tax regimes, climate change and natural erosion, and of course, a lack of funds'.”
The Art Newspaper 01/06/03

Is The Art Museum-Building Boom Done? "During the 1990s stock market bubble, every major arts institution planned to build or renovate. Some projects were completed (Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art), some started long ago remain on track (Museum of Modern Art in NY, Nelson Atkins in Kansas City), while others have scaled back (the Metropolitan), and still others appear to have stalled (Art Institute of Chicago, Boston Museum of Fine Art, Whitney Museum, Jewish Museum in San Francisco)." The Art Newspaper 01/06/03

Miami Art Show - City Of The Future? The first Art Basel Miami was a big success. Though "visitor sophistication may not have been high" and expenses were more than expected, there were plenty of sales. So much as to prompt the following speculation: "If Art Chicago is clearly doomed in the next decade, the real fight is now between the Armory Show of New York and Art Basel Miami Beach. Which of these cities, both packed with very different pleasures, will prove more lastingly tempting?" The Art Newspaper 01/06/03

Museum Cuts in Pittsburgh "In an effort to trim its 2003 budget, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is eliminating its film and video section and permanently laying off 17 full-time and four part-time employees. In addition, six employees have resigned voluntarily and 22 vacant positions will not be filled. The loss of 49 total full-time and four part-time positions is expected to save the parent corporation $4 million this year." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 01/08/03

Tuesday, January 7

All ****ed Up And On The Cover This week, London's Guardian newspaper asked five artists to produce cover art for the paper's features section. To illustrate a story on the nastiness of reality TV, Turner Prize winner Gillian Wearing produced a graffiti-like three words which would be considered rude in most newspapers. Here's the cover... The Guardian (UK) 01/07/03

  • Art Cover Provokes Reader Protests "While a handful of callers were supportive, the vast majority complained about the cover, which was designed to accompany a feature about the increasing nastiness of TV entertainment. Although the cover was designed to provoke debate about the coarseness of TV and of modern language, several readers took issue with the notion the cover design constituted art." The Guardian (UK) 01/07/03

  • Wearing Apologizes For Cover Art Turner Prize winner Gillian Wearing was one of several artists invited to design a cover this week for the front page of The Guardian's tabloid section. "To illustrate an article on the new reality game shows, her front cover consisted merely of the three words "Fuck Cilla Black" [Black hosts a reality show] in black felt tip pen surrounded by white space. The cover provoked more than 200 complaints," and today Wearing apologized. The Independent (UK) 01/08/03

  • The Guardian Explains "Some more cynical readers have suggested the outcry over the cover was just what we were after. 'Shock tactics designed to outrage people so you can belittle their ideas about art,' was how one reader saw it. But if we knew an image like Wearing's was bound to offend some of our readers, I can assure you there was absolutely nothing satisfying about the wave of anger and dismay that rolled into the paper yesterday." The Guardian (UK) 01/08/03

Nazi Heir Art Collection To Open In Berlin The heir to a Nazi arms supplier has canceled plans to build a museum in Zurich to display his large art collection after protests there. Instead, it will be shown in Berlin next year. "The 2,500-piece collection was assembled by Friedrich-Christian Flick, a grandson of an industrial baron who helped arm Nazi Germany's war machine. The collection includes works by contemporary artists such as Bruce Nauman, On Kawara and Nam June Paik. It is to go on display in 2004 for seven years in a downtown Berlin exhibition space." New Jersey Online (AP) 01/07/03

Monday, January 6

Holiday Surge Boosts Smithsonian Smithsonian Museum attendance was down 16 percent in 2002, continuing a post 9/11 slump. But, says the museum, things might be getting better - attendance increased by 53 percent in November and December compared with the same months a year earlier. Washington Post 01/07/03

Great Ideas Chasing A Flawed Concept Ada Louise Huxtable has studied plans proposed for the World Trade Center site. "The conceptual daring and advanced technology of these schemes - the sheer drama of their bold images - brings cutting-edge creativity to New York, where it is long overdue. Buildings like these have already changed skylines from London to Hong Kong. This is the architecture of the 21st century, and about as good as it gets. That's the good news. The bad news is that these provocative and beautiful presentations have also given us a stunning demonstration of how to do the wrong thing right." Wall Street Journal 01/07/03

Architecture's Wrong Turns And Faulty Values Philip Langdon is angry about the current championing of architecture that puts people and context in subordinate roles. "Unfortunately, the spirit of the ’60s is returning in building design; the tragedy of architectural arrogance is now being replayed as farce. Across North America, a rash of anti-social architecture is erupting. Public participation in design decision-making has blocked some of the worst ideas, but alienating buildings are rising in significant numbers. Indeed, advocates of 'progressive' architecture proclaim many as instant landmarks, and portray their designers as stars." American Enterprise 01/03

Sunday, January 5

Salle Forth - David's Back But Evasive As Ever David Salle is back with a new show in New York, back at Mary Boone's gallery, where he came to prominence in the 1980s. "Salle is right up there with Jasper Johns as one of contemporary art's all-time great question dodgers. Although he was initially viewed as a cynical provocateur, that characterization is no longer useful or even accurate. With the gift of hindsight, he seems more like an art Sphinx. His pictures feed at least partly off Mr. Johns's use of pop images, and their work is similarly confounding, a box of puzzle pieces that you keep trying to put together only to realize that six pieces are missing on the floor of your hall closet. The New York Times 01/05/03

Gehry Weighs In On The WTC Why wasn't Frank Gehry among the architects submitting plans for the World Trade Center site? He tells Deborah Solomon: "I was invited to be on one of the teams, but I found it demeaning that the agency paid only $40,000 for all that work. I can understand why the kids did it, but why would people my age do it?" The New York Times 01/05/03

Computer-assisted Art How is the computer changing the ways artists make art? We don't mean digital artists, but those traditional artists who have begun using the computer as a tool in their artmaking... Detroit Free Press 01/05/03

Picture Hunting - On The Hunt For Chicago's WPA Murals An effort to find and restore WPA murals in Chicago's public schools has turned up hundreds of them - many painted over or tagged with graffiti. "Others had tears and severe water damage. And all of them were covered with up to 70 years' worth of dirt and grime." So far the project has resulted in restoration of 400 heavily damaged and hidden murals, painted during the WPA (1933-1943) and Progressive Era (1904-1933). Many of the works are by prominent artists.
Washington Post 01/05/03

Thursday, January 2

What The Parthenon Marbles Would Look Like In Greece The campaign to put pressure on the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece is intensifying. The Greek goervnemtn is building a new museum to display the marbles should Britain return them. Now a high-tech exhibition in the British House of Parliament shows what the marbles would look like in the new museum. "The display includes a computer-simulated walk through the museum showing the reunited marbles displayed in glass cases." SkyNews 01/02/03

The Online Museum - Five That Get It Right The wrold's great museums are the world's great museums. But the online museum is a recent development. Here are Joseph Phelan's picks as the most interesting online art museum presentations... Artcyclopedia 01/03

Virtual Marbles The British Museum still doesn't plan to return the Elgin marbles to Greece anytime soon, despite growing support for such a transfer, but a new exhibit in the UK shows what the marbles would look like were both pieces to be reunited in Athens. The exhibit uses virtual reality technology to simulate the joining. BBC 01/02/03

Wednesday, January 1

WTC Glare - Too Much Publicity? The glare of publicity focused on choosing a building plan for the World Trade Center site is probably greater than on any other project in recent memory. But not all the architects involved are happy about it. "Many have privately expressed reservations about the designs' details, the handling of the competition and even the spotlight in which the contestants now stand." The New York Times 01/01/03

Peripheral Matters - Art Of Frames Many artists spend a lot of time agonizing over how their work will be framed. But frames get no respect. "The market in images has no room for frames. Magazines, newspapers, exhibition catalogues and art books act as if they don't exist, cropping them out of reproductions even when the painters saw them as integral parts of their work." The Guardian (UK) 01/01/03

V&A Attendance Up 111% In 2002 - Free Admission Has UK Museum Visits Soaring In the first year since admission charges at major British museums were dropped, attendance has soared. "The most dramatic increase has been at the V&A, which has seen a 111% increase, helped by the opening of its beautiful £31m British galleries. The effect at the other museums in South Kensington, west London, where a family visit would have cost around £30 in charging days, has been almost as spectacular. Numbers at the Science Museum and Natural History Museum have gone up 100% and 83% respectively." The Guardian (UK) 01/01/03

Shock Of The Old What's the next big thing in British art? "Prepare yourself to be truly shocked. For the next big thing in modern British art is the New Gentleness. And it involves lots of that supposedly endangered species, the painter. Massed watercolourists are not about to storm Tate Britain and ransack the Turner prize show, but something is stirring, though no one dares to use the word movement." The Guardian (UK) 01/01/03

The Problems With Museums Christine Temin believes American museums need help. "Museums in this country desperately need not just financial help but help in defining their mission, their audience, their ethics. Over the past couple of decades they've made considerable noise about trading elitism for accessibility, and that's certainly backed up by, among other things, a steep increase in education programs, some more effective than others. But $20 tickets to special exhibitions and $15 general admission - the current fees at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston - don't exactly make the museum more accessible." Boston Globe 01/01/03

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