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Thursday, July 31

Arrest In Fake Ossuary Case An Israeli art dealer has been arrested and charged with faking an ossuary that was thought to be the resting place of Jesus' brother. "The limestone box is inscribed in Aramaic with the words "Ya'akov (James), son of Yosef (Joseph), brother of Yeshua (Jesus)." CBC 07/31/03

The Skinless Child Of Edinburgh "Organisers of an exhibition involving the skinless body of a child have insisted it will go ahead today, despite being refused a venue by Edinburgh City Council. The professor, who claims that he turns human bodies into works of sculpture when he injects them with plastic to preserve them, faced criticism from politicians and bereavement support groups who called for a boycott of the exhibition." The Scotsman 07/30/03

Cambodian Cultural Sites Destroyed The pillaging and destruction of Cambodian temples has accelerated at an alarming rate. "As the latest holes testify, anyone wishing to pillage the remaining hidden riches will encounter few obstacles. Experts fear the decades-long looting for artefacts across Cambodia is now so rampant there will soon be little left outside the splendours of the Unesco world heritage site at Angkor. Almost all sites of antiquity and temples far from towns are being destroyed..." The Guardian (UK) 07/31/03

Art In Slow Motion In Laguna Beach, California people create living tableaux of great works of art. "This experience in trompe l'oeil (fooling the eye), an artistic extravaganza once featured on 'Ripley's Believe It or Not,' takes place not in Hollywood, but 50 miles south in the hilly coastal art colony of Laguna Beach. Quiet most of the year, and filled with white water, surfers, and artists, the village comes alive every summer as it hosts the Laguna Beach Art Festival and the internationally acclaimed Pageant of the Masters, where a cast of thousands have mastered the art of holding still - for about 90 seconds." Christian Science Monitor 08/01/03

Iraq Art To Tour US Having invaded and occupied Iraq, the United States is planning to assemble some of Iraq's greatest art treasures for a traveling exhibition to tour the US within the next six to eight months. Artwork will include "the so-called treasures of Nimrud, a collection of Assyrian jewellery dating back to the 8th century BC, which has never been shown abroad before." NineMSN (AFP) 07/31/03

Wednesday, July 30

Handicapping The Field - Who Will Lead Frick, Whitney? Two of New York's most venerable museums - the Frick and the Whitney - are looking for new leaders this summer. "Speculation about who will lead these two prominent Manhattan museums has become the hot topic in the art world during an otherwise quiet summer." The New York Times 07/31/03

A Soviet Icon Falls "Last week, the final guests checked out of the daunting Moskva hotel, for 70 years the gateway to Soviet Moscow, looming over one corner of Red Square. The better rooms of this heroic Stalinist pile may well have been bugged, but they did offer magnificent views over Red Square and St Basil's cathedral. From the 15th floor the views were the stuff of epic Russian films, while from the corridor windows you could just peep across the walls of the reclusive Kremlin. For some years a debate has raged in Moscow over the future of the 1,000-room Stalinist hotel featured on every bottle of Stolichnaya vodka and built in the early 30s." The Guardian (UK) 07/30/03

Art Is Where You Find It More than 1000 artists around the world are participating in the Found Art Project. "They make small artworks — sculpted figures, booklets of drawings, decorated mailing labels, collaged postcards and CDs, sidewalk chalk drawings, even 'fairy houses' made by kids and tied to trees — and 'release them into the wild.' They leave them at public places such as park benches, library shelves, hospital waiting rooms, grocery bulletin boards and malls. Those who find the artworks can keep them, throw them away or leave them someplace else." USAToday 07/29/03

Aboriginal Art Sales Records Australian aboriginal art has recorded record sales at auctions in Sydney this week. Most of the sales - an estimated 70 per cent of the works - were sold to international bidders. The Age (Melbourne) 07/30/03

Egypt Asks Museums To Loan Stolen Artworks Egypt is seeking the loan of artworks that were stolen from Egypt and are now in other museums, for an exhibition next year marking the 100th anniversary of Cairo's Egypt Museum. "Top of the museum's list is the ancient Rosetta Stone, which is housed in the British Museum, and a bust of Nefertiti from Germany." BBC 07/30/03

The US Military And Art "Each of the five branches – Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy – has a collection, consisting mostly of paintings and sketches. The Navy's is the largest, with about 17,000 works, followed by the Army's 15,000, the Air Force's 8,800, the Marines with about 8,000 and the Coast Guard with 5,000. They arrange exhibitions at bases and museums." Dallas Morning News 07/30/03

Tuesday, July 29

Are Prado Goyas Fakes? Goya's 14 "Black paintings" have delighted viewers for years and are a much prized part of the museum's collection. But new evidence arises that the paintings may not have been created by the master... New York Times Magazine 07/27/03

Graffiti Explained "Most art is unadmittedly competitive; graffiti is nakedly so. Writers vie for prominence of their works, their size, complexity, technique and above all their ubiquity. Elaborate etiquette regulates this rivalry, and competition is joined by overwriting a rival's work. When I accompanied a TV team to watch the well-known writer, Prime, produce a work on a quasi-official site, the most interesting and shocking act was his first - taking a large roller to the painting already there, entirely blotting it out. If convention governs the terms of rivalry and respect between writers, it also quite rigidly governs the look of graffiti." London Evening Standard 07/29/03

For Your Protection - Who Owns The Art For a long time museums turned a blind eye as to whether the art it was acquiring was attained legally. Now there are myriad laws passed to deter theft of cultural property from one country to another. "What prompted this shift in global attention, when the world often turned a blind eye in the past?" And are these laws doing what they were supposed to do? Slate 07/28/03

Art-On-Demand London's National Gallery has introduced a digitizing/printing system that allows visitors to print out copies of artworks in its collection. "The 'print on demand' technology will allow visitors to browse through and print in reproduction quality A3, A4 and A5 size prints. By 2005 the gallery hopes to have the whole collection available." BBC 07/28/03

Painterly Projections "One of the National Gallery's most extraordinary paintings, Jan van Eyck's Portrait of Arnolfini and His Wife, is at the centre of an increasingly ugly debate between scientists over whether the Flemish artist employed optical projections to help him paint it." The Telegraph (UK) 07/29/03

Monday, July 28

Why Christo And Central Park Are Made For Each Other A former New York City parks commissioner who denied permission for Christo to stage his "Gates" project in Central Park 22 years ago explains why he thinks the project is now a good idea. "Now there is both a time and a place for Christo and his 'Gates.' Now they cannot hurt the park or distract us, as they surely would have in 1981, from our duty to preserve and maintain it forever. 'The Gates' will visit the park briefly, like the New York City Marathon, which wends through and terminates there, or Joe Papp's Shakespeare in the Park at the open-air Delacorte Theater. And its colorful, whimsical embrace of the restored landscape will make us stare, laugh, gasp, prance, gawk, and say, to no one in particular, 'Isn't the park wonderful. . . . Isn't New York amazing'." OpinionJournal.com 07/22/03

The New Museum Playgrounds There was a time when museums were viewed as institutions of contemplative learning. No more. "Contemporary museums can often seem more like attention- grabbing playgrounds and amusement parks than the glass-cased, heavily labeled temples of old. Now, if a child or reasonably game adult doesn't get his senses bombarded, his hands and/or feet soaked and clothing streaked with some foreign substance at a museum, he might as well have stayed home and surfed the information-crammed Internet." San Francisco Chronicle 07/18/03

Sunday, July 27

Gehry's Next Project "Frank Gehry, the architect who created the stupendous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, has been given the go ahead to build the most outrageous set of tower blocks ever conceived for [the UK] on Brighton seafront." [Editor's Note for American readers: 'Tower block' is English for 'high-rise apartment complex.'] The buildings are said to look like "four giant transvestites caught in a gale," and will be built in the city of Hove, which has something of a history with cutting-edge architecture. The Guardian (UK) 07/26/03

A Different Sort Of Art Auction You can find pretty much anything for sale on eBay, of course, so it probably shouldn't be a big surprise that you can find an empty tube of toothpaste with a $41 asking price. Or a worn-out hairbrush. Or a human soul, won in a video game contest and now being resold. But there's a twist to these bizarre aucton items. "Meet Neal Livingston of Mabou, N.S., a 58-year-old maker of independent films, electricity and maple syrup who is currently using the world's largest on-line flea market as an incidental gallery for a new media project titled, appropriately enough, Junky Old Stuff." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/26/03

It Doesn't Have To Be British To Be Important Amidst all the brouhaha over the UK Heritage Lottery Fund's decision to spend £11.5 million to keep a 9-inch Raphael painting in the country is a debate over what constitutes "national heritage." To Charles Smith, the Lottery's attempt to keep a foreign work of art in London is a promising sign that Britons are finally beginning to get past the notion that a work of art must be thoroughly British to be important. Still, with budget cuts running rampant in the UK, such programs of national preservation are under threat, and Smith says that the nation would do well to remember the reasons for their creation. The Guardian (UK) 07/26/03

A Painting Worth $20 Mil - Or Five Bucks. We're Really Not Sure. Back in the early 1990s, truck driver Teri Horton purchased a drip painting for $5. Now, she wants to sell it: for $20 million. "This is the estimated value of what one forensic art expert has pronounced a Jackson Pollock. However, the prestigious International Foundation for Art Research does not think it genuine... Ms Horton, who is 70 and lives in Costa Mesa, southern California, thinks it is ugly. She kept it only because it would not fit through the front door of the friend for whom she bought it from a thrift shop." The Age (Melbourne) 07/27/03

Who Painted Goya's Black Paintings? "Venerated as the first modern artist, Francisco Goya produced nothing more abrasively modern than the series of 14 images known as the Black Paintings, which a half-century after his death were cut from the walls of his country house on the outskirts of Madrid." But when art historian Juan Jose Junquera tried to write a history of the set, he discovered a number of holes in the story of their creation, and, upon deeper examination, came to the conclusion that Goya could not actually have painted the works at all. The New York Times Magazine 07/27/03

Pioneering Denver Museum Falls On Hard Times "The private museum that helped transform a gritty Denver street into a cutting-edge spot for art galleries is in a deep financial and management funk. Museo de las Americas, an 11-year-old institution that two years ago had plans for a $10 million expansion, now finds itself running a bare-bones operation... The institution's executive director - who was working for free - resigned in June after less than six months on the job. Twelve of its 15 directors have left in the past year, and past-due bills are piling up. Salaries run about $21,000 per month and expenses run $15,000, but the Museo has only about $60,000 banked." Denver Post 07/25/03

Friday, July 25

Finishing What They Started The UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles has been mostly finished for a decade. When the building opened in 1990, a design for a theater was incorporated and roughed out, but never fully built. The Hammer Museum has now received a $5 million gift from the widow of director Billy Wilder, with the money to be used to complete the theater project. "The Wilder donation gives a much-needed boost to the museum's fund-raising campaign for its planned $26.5-million renovation." Los Angeles Times 07/25/03

Money Talks, Diversity Walks The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is absurdly dedicated to a tiny circle of seven specific artists, thanks to its stubborn founder, and yet it still receives an inordinate amount of backing from the provincial government of Ontario, says Sarah Milroy. "Attempts to gracefully loosen the grand vizier's grip of steel have come to naught, with the province appointing successive waves of like-minded souls to the board to defend the rough-hewn ramparts from the encroachments of contemporaneity. No sticky incursions of race will be welcomed in this Mighty Whitey chapel of Canadiana, thank you very much." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/25/03

Stash Of Paintings Unearthed In Minneapolis "In 2001, during the renovation of the council chamber at Minneapolis City Hall, staff members found five large oil paintings in a vault, amid a jumble of antique furniture. The paintings were not well-preserved; two of them were damaged, and all five were covered in grime accumulated over many years." Moreover, it is still unclear who some of the subjects and painters are, or how the paintings came to be stashed in a basement. Four of the works appear to be portraits of Minneapolis city officials, but the fifth is a classical painting of a pastoral scene by Italian painter Domenico Pennachini. Minneapolis Star Tribune 07/25/03

Maybe It's Time To Switch To Photographs? Pity the poor British royals. In an era when humans featured on canvas are prone to being portrayed as twisted, ugly shadows of themselves, royalty is still expected to go out and find an artist of considerable reputation to paint their portraits. It was Prince Philip's turn this year, and he chose portrait specialist Stuart Pearson Wright to commit his royal image to canvas. Royal spokespersons insist that Prince Philip had seen Pearson Wright's work before selecting him, but the prince was apparently horrified at the artist's first effort. No one is yet showing off that rough draft, but Pearson Wright's signature is to stretch his subjects vertically to distort their features. BBC 07/25/03

Thursday, July 24

Centuries Of Abuse Take Their Toll On St. Basil's "It is one of Moscow's most enduring landmarks. St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square survived Napoleon, the Nazis, and the rise and fall of the Soviet empire. But decades of military parades, and in more recent years, rock concerts, have all taken their toll on the 450-year-old cathedral." Adding to the problem is the government's plans to develop the area around St. Basil's, erecting a hotel and casino nearby. A new study warns that if something isn't done soon to reinforce the cathedral's foundation, the entire structure could collapse within the next century. The Guardian (UK) 07/24/03

Record Art Auction Anticipated "The largest and most valuable collection of Australian indigenous art assembled for auction is expected to bring a record result when it goes under the hammer in Sydney next week." Among the most anticipated works is a huge collaborative painting entitled Ngurrara Canvas 1, which is expected to sell for as much as AUS$500,000 (US$300,000). "Also up for auction are artefacts including rainforest shields and bi-cornial baskets, a rare Port Essington spear thrower, a Tiwi ceremonial dance wand and shields, boomerangs and pearl shells. Sotheby's expects an auction result of between $6.5 million and $9.7 million." Adelaide Advertiser 07/25/03

Anyone Want To Protest This One? "The noble Rodin sculpture The Burghers of Calais made an ignominious exit yesterday from its home of almost a century, hauled out of the gardens beside the Palace of Westminster by a crane, and shipped off to a conservation workshop. The sculpture is being restored to celebrate the centenary of the National Art Collections Fund, which bought it from Rodin as a gift to the nation in 1911." The Guardian (UK) 07/24/03

  • Previously: David To Get A Controversial Shower Despite international protests from art experts and preservationists, Italian authorities have announced that the cleaning of Michelangelo's David will go ahead using distilled water. Critics are concerned that water could remove some of the statue's distinctive coloration, and one restorer has already resigned from the project over the controversy. BBC 07/24/03

David To Get A Controversial Shower Despite international protests from art experts and preservationists, Italian authorities have announced that the cleaning of Michelangelo's David will go ahead using distilled water. Critics are concerned that water could remove some of the statue's distinctive coloration, and one restorer has already resigned from the project over the controversy. BBC 07/24/03

Wednesday, July 23

Getting Their Money's Worth? So now, the UK's National Gallery is free to pursue the purchase of the Duke of Northumberland's Raphael canvas. But was one painting really worth all the fuss, not to mention the £11.5 million the government doled out? The Guardian's arts editor says yes, calling the painting "a spellbinding masterpiece with all the concentrated beauty of a miniature, coupled with the grandeur of a major Renaissance painting." But the head of the National Art Collections Fund thinks it absurd to be spending such a wad of cash on "a piece of flagship culture," especially one which has no specific relevance to Great Britain, and particularly when the National Gallery already owns eight other canvases by the same artist. The Guardian (UK) 07/24/03

  • Savvy Art Deal Or Aristocratic Blackmail? There's little doubt as to the identity of the storybook villain in the battle to keep Raphael's 9-inch square painting in the UK. The Duke of Northumberland, one of the richest landowners in Britain, has positively cleaned up on the deal, and, by playing the Getty Museum against the UK's Heritage Lottery, he assured himself of a fat payday regardless of who won the ownership battle. For his part, the Duke has "denied that the cash will be used to pay for a £9 million Italianate garden his wife is designing at Alnwick as a part of what he calls a 'public regeneration project'. Nor he insists, did he renege on a family agreement to give the gallery the first option to buy the Raphael." The Guardian (UK) 07/24/03

  • How To Keep A Painting In Your Country It is now all but certain that Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks will be saved from the horrific fate of being exported out of Great Britain. But before the bidding war began, what options did UK officials have when the Duke of Northumberland first started talking about selling the Raphael to the Getty Museum? The answer is more complicated than you might think. BBC 07/23/03

Heritage Lottery Allocates £11.5 Million For Raphael The UK's Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed to contribute £11.5 million towards the possible purchase of a Raphael masterpiece owned by the Duke of Northumberland. The Duke has been planning to sell the painting to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, but agreed to give the UK's National Gallery a chance to buy it first, so as to keep the important work in country. The National Gallery had originally asked the Lottery for £20 million, then revised its request to £11.5 million after concluding that their higher request would never be met. The gallery will now need to raise another £9.5 million privately in order to offer a "matching bid." Even then, there is no guarantee that the Raphael would remain in the UK. BBC 07/23/03

Tuesday, July 22

Um, So, Thumbs Down, Then? Britain's National Portrait Gallery has been getting an architectural overhaul lately, and the results do not appear to have pleased Richard Dorment. "Architects hate art. If you let them loose near a museum or gallery, you have to watch their every move, because they will do their best to leave their own galumphing paw prints all over the place, and in the process stamp on the works of art. For several months now I've been hearing angry denunciations of the National Portrait Gallery's renovation of its once glorious Regency Galleries, but only last week, when I saw them for myself, did I register the full horror of what has happened there." The Telegraph (UK) 07/23/03

Maybe They Were Painted With Wide-Angle Brushes Those beautiful Impressionist realist landscapes that make you wish you lived in a place where, with once glance, you could look down on farms and streams, mountains and villages, may not be quite as realistic as they appear. The vast majority of such canvases, which are almost always painted as if the viewer (and the painter) are looking down from the heavens at the glorious lands below, actually tend to be impossible views, at least, if the artist is meant to be standing in one place as he paints. A new exhibition in Salford examines the varied reasons for such mild deceptions, which range from God complexes to public relations gimmickry to simple humor. The Telegraph (UK) 07/23/03

Rough Cuts At Cleveland Museum "The job held by veteran curator Michael Cunningham, a respected expert in Japanese and Korean art, has been eliminated by the Cleveland Museum of Art as part of its effort to balance its budget... The museum [has also] cut the jobs of four other members of the curatorial staff, all of whom were research or curatorial assistants. The museum, suffering from declines in the value of its endowment, is making the cuts to reduce expenses and trim its 2004 operating budget from $33 million to $29.7 million. A total of 37 jobs are being eliminated, a figure that includes the curatorial cuts, and 18 will remain unfilled." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 07/22/03

How To Make Your Museum More Fun Los Angeles's Museum of Contemporary Art has a new young fan of its exhibits, although, truth be told, he was built for the purpose. 'Charlie' is "an unassuming robot-child with a sweet disposition, inquisitive eyes and a blue tricycle slung low to the ground... Stand and peruse the webs of multicolored and metallic paints in Jackson Pollock's august 1949 drip-painting, 'No. 1,' and the little android with the prominent nose and the permanent grin might well pedal up silently behind you to join the fun. Then, with a twist of his head and a roll of his eyes he's off, riding into another gallery to check out what might be going on." Los Angeles Times 07/22/03

Monday, July 21

Hunt: We Must Never Negotiate With Art-Wielding Aristocrats As the British public waits for the UK's heritage lottery fund to make up its mind about whether it will try to purchase an important Raphael painting which is in danger of being sold to an American musuem, Tristram Hunt is wondering why exactly the government continues to play a game it can't win. "There is a long, ignoble tradition in this country of wealthy aristocrats blackmailing the state for cultural funds... The priority for the NHMF must be to look after the broader public heritage - not just 'British' art, which could produce some very uninspiring galleries, but art which speaks to a national or regional identity." The Guardian (UK) 07/20/03

  • Previously: And We Thought They Just Liked Art! Regardless of the decison the heritage lottery fund makes in the Raphael case, the larger problem will remain: at the moment, there is nothing to prevent wealthy citizens who happen to own artworks with 'national import' from selling them to foreigners. For several decades, the high levels of inheritance tax, from which such art is exempt, forced the aristocrats not to sell simply as a matter of investment strategy. But in the last 25 years, "all tax rates have come down, and the dukes have changed their tune. It is once again worth their while to sell, so they want to sell." The Telegraph (UK) 07/19/03

Big Boost For UK Museums "A cash injection of £2m has been handed to museums and art galleries to improve public access and presentation, the government has announced. A total of 14 institutions will receive grants from the government, with payments ranging from £3,000 to £400,000. The biggest recipient is London's British Museum, which will get £400,000 to improve major exhibition spaces and environmental conditions." BBC 07/21/03

Does The British Museum Have Anything That Really Belongs To It? The British Museum is facing yet another call to return an object that someone else thinks was illegitimately acquired, and this time, it isn't the Elgin Marbles. The Egyptian government is requesting that the museum return the Rosetta Stone. "The artefact is one of the British Museum's most prize pieces, helping to attract millions of visitors each year. The stone was discovered in 1799 at the mouth of the Nile and provided a key insight into hieroglyphics because it was accompanied by the Greek translation. The French yielded it to the British in 1801 and it has been housed in the British Museum since 1802." BBC 07/21/03

Painted Livestock Exhibit Called Off An exhibit of live cows, pigs, and sheep which had been painted head to hoof by a British graffiti artist has been shut down early after the animals, which had passed muster with the UK's SPCA, became "hot and distressed" from the combination of the sultry weather and human attention. Organizers insist that the early closure had nothing to do with the animal rights protesters who had descended on the exhibit. BBC 07/21/03

  • Previously: Making Art Until the Cows Go Home A new exhibition by a British graffiti artist features live sheep, cows, and pigs painted with various outlandish designs. "The exhibition includes pigs painted in police colours, sheep painted in concentration camp stripes and a cow covered in images of Andy Warhol's face." Animal control organizations have approved the exhibit, and the animal are all show animals used to being stared at. Still, it's probably a good thing that the sheep can't tell what's been painted on his back... BBC 07/18/03

The Map Pirates "Armed with nothing more than pencil sharpeners and baggy jumpers, Melvin Perry and Peter Bellwood plundered unsuspecting libraries across Europe, razoring thousands of priceless maps from medieval atlases." How they did it, and why, is a fascinating and horrifying tale of grossly inadequate museum security, crooked dealers, and simple human greed. The Observer (UK) 07/20/03

Sunday, July 20

Gambling With A National Treasure "The National Gallery has taken a giant gamble in its battle to keep Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks in Britain, slashing by a third the amount it will offer to stop the picture going to the Getty Museum in California. Heritage lottery fund trustees must decide on the issue tomorrow... The gallery had become convinced that the heritage lottery fund would never meet its original bid for £20m. However, the gulf between the National Gallery's potential £21m [with other funding sources included] and the Getty's £29m still seems ludicrously wide." The Guardian (UK) 07/21/03

  • And We Thought They Just Liked Art! Regardless of the decison the heritage lottery fund makes in the Raphael case, the larger problem will remain: at the moment, there is nothing to prevent wealthy citizens who happen to own artworks with 'national import' from selling them to foreigners. For several decades, the high levels of inheritance tax, from which such art is exempt, forced the aristocrats not to sell simply as a matter of investment strategy. But in the last 25 years, "all tax rates have come down, and the dukes have changed their tune. It is once again worth their while to sell, so they want to sell." The Telegraph (UK) 07/19/03

  • Previously: Saving Art For The Nation? Next week the UK's National Gallery will learn if it can get the money to buy a Raphael before it is sold to Americans. "Arguments have been raging over the fate of the painting with varying degrees of hysteria, sentimentality and anger since October. The Getty has been accused of 'baby-snatching'; there has been talk of "raids on the British patrimony". The language employed - including the nakedly over-emotional, quasi-evangelical notion of 'saving' - has not been helpful. Anyone would think that the National Gallery is protecting the picture from a gang of criminals, masterminded by evil geniuses in the guise of aristocrats, Sotheby's experts and ruthless foreign curators, intent on grabbing the Raphael and hurling it into the Thames." The Guardian (UK) 07/16/03

Urban Architecture, Sydney Style "Australia's biggest city might finally be mastering the art of medium and high-density living with a 'characteristically Sydney' style of housing. This is the verdict of the jury for this year's Royal Australian Institute of Architects' awards. But sometimes you have to look in unlikely places for this brave new face of Sydney." Sydney Morning Herald 07/21/03

If You Can't Beat It, Use It For too long, says Simon Beer, museums have viewed technology as an unfortunate competitor for their high-minded offerings, and computers as the brain-sucking mechanism that was forcing them to 'dumb down' their exhibits. But "the misconception that technology simply means computers is giving way to the realisation that using technology creatively can bring the nation's past to life and communicate with a much wider audience." The Telegraph (UK) 07/19/03

Taking On The Blockbuster Culture "A few decades ago, art lovers visiting an art museum for the first time would invariably ask, 'Where are the best pictures that you own?' But over the last 25 years or so, they've been trained to ask instead, 'What exhibitions do you have on view right now?' Museums have become more and more preoccupied, even obsessed, with their rosters of temporary shows... The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian Institution's repository for modern and contemporary art, has caught on to this new reality, acknowledged it as a problem, and set out to do something about it." Washington Post 07/20/03

Affirmative Action Needed At The Justice League? Comic books are a booming business, and despite technological and marketing advances in the decades since the genre first burst upon the scene, superhero stories are much the same as they ever were. Good battles evil, and good wins nine times out of ten. Brooding crusaders in masks and (let's face it) ridiculously inconvenient capes swoop about densely populated cities like flying cat burglars, and no one but the bad guys ever takes a shot at them. And after countless battles, endless fistfights, and millions upon millions of horrible puns, nearly all the heroes are still white, and most of the women are, to but it bluntly, ridiculously top-heavy. Will comic books ever get with the times? Wired 07/19/03

Art Held Hostage in Philadelphia The Barnes Collection, a stunning private-turned-public accumulation of Renoirs, Mattisses, and other masterpieces housed in a Philadelphia suburb, has been in dire financial straits for quite some time, and a new book details the chaotic mess that has led the Barnes to such a desperate state. But author John Anderson is not interested in merely laying out a history of mismanagement. His book also points towards what is yet to come - the likely appropriation of the Barnes treasures by the city's political and cultural elites, who have a history with this sort of thing, and who have long been strangely irked by the legacy left behind by Alfred Barnes. The Wall Street Journal 07/18/03

Guggenheim Expanding Again "The Guggenheim Foundation and the mayor of Taichung, Jason Hu, have unveiled a proposal for a new Guggenheim Museum in Taichung, Taiwan. Plans for a spectacular new building have already been designed by the world-renowned deconstructionist architect Zaha Hadid... [T]he museum would be part of a larger cultural complex to include an opera house designed by Jean Nouvel, who designed the proposed Rio de Janeiro Guggenheim, and a new Taichung City Hall to be designed by Frank Gehry... This is the Guggenheim Foundation’s fifth attempt to open a museum in Asia, four plans for Japan having failed, and is the latest of a series of proposed Guggenheim’s throughout the world." The Art Newspaper 07/18/03

Friday, July 18

LA Exhibit To Open Despite Court Challenge "The Los Angeles County Museum of Art said its upcoming exhibition of a major art collection from the State Pushkin Museum, Moscow, would open as planned July 27 — despite a lawsuit, filed against the museum by the grandson of a Russian aristocrat, which alleges that 25 of the works in the collection were looted from his family by Lenin's Bolshevik government in 1918." Los Angeles Times 07/18/03

  • Previously: Lawsuit Threatens L.A. Exhibit "In a legal challenge that aims to block an upcoming show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the grandson of a Russian aristocrat is arguing that 25 of the artworks — including paintings by Cezanne, Degas, Matisse, Picasso and Van Gogh — are stolen goods, looted from his family by Lenin's Bolshevik government in 1918 and later passed to Moscow's State Pushkin Museum." The lawsuit is a new tactic in a larger battle by the family of the Russian collector who owned the pieces to force legal recognition of the Bolshevik seizure. LACMA officials, presumably caught by surprise, aren't commenting just yet. Los Angeles Times 07/16/03

Jordanian Culture Comes To The Queen City "The Cincinnati Art Museum announced Wednesday a joint exhibition with the American Museum of Natural History in New York of 200 objects from the southern Jordanian city of Petra. Presented under the patronage of Queen Rania of Jordan, Petra: Lost City of Stone is the first major cultural collaboration between Jordan and the United States... The exhibition's more than 200 objects include stone sculptures and reliefs, ceramics, metalwork, stuccowork, ancient inscriptions and a selection of 25 paintings, drawings and prints from the 19th century." Cincinnati Enquirer 07/17/03

Making Art Until the Cows Go Home A new exhibition by a British graffiti artist features live sheep, cows, and pigs painted with various outlandish designs. "The exhibition includes pigs painted in police colours, sheep painted in concentration camp stripes and a cow covered in images of Andy Warhol's face." Animal control organizations have approved the exhibit, and the animal are all show animals used to being stared at. Still, it's probably a good thing that the sheep can't tell what's been painted on his back... BBC 07/18/03

A Guggenheim Lifeline? "The Taiwanese city of Taichung is the latest to pin its hopes for international cultural recognition and economic regeneration on the Guggenheim Foundation. The plan is for a trademark signature museum building, this time an eye-catching design with moveable sections by architect Zaha Hadid, an opera house and other cultural projects. The Guggenheim will decide in September whether to approve the plan, but these are uncertain times." BBC 07/18/03

Thursday, July 17

Simplifying Historic Protections The British government proposes to overhaul and simplify the complicated listings and protections of the nation's historic buildings, sites and monuments. "A single list, maintained by English Heritage, covering everything from Victorian horse troughs to Stonehenge, is proposed to replace the present separate registers of buildings, sites, gardens and battlefields. Buildings are listed, monuments scheduled and gardens registered, each with different criteria and grading systems." The Guardian (UK) 07/18/03

Miro Uncovered At The Guggenheim A large Miro mural not seen by the public since 1990 is on show at the Guggenheim this summer. "The 20-foot-long mural comprises 190 ceramic tiles, with the name 'Alice' in huge, exuberant letters surrounded by Miró's characteristic celestial shapes. The artwork was permanently installed in 1967, but it is usually hidden behind a false wall to accommodate the museum's array of special exhibitions." Philadelphia Inquirer (AP) 07/17/03

Wednesday, July 16

Saving Art For The Nation? Next week the UK's National Gallery will learn if it can get the money to buy a Raphael before it is sold to Americans. "Arguments have been raging over the fate of the painting with varying degrees of hysteria, sentimentality and anger since October. The Getty has been accused of 'baby-snatching'; there has been talk of "raids on the British patrimony". The language employed - including the nakedly over-emotional, quasi-evangelical notion of 'saving' - has not been helpful. Anyone would think that the National Gallery is protecting the picture from a gang of criminals, masterminded by evil geniuses in the guise of aristocrats, Sotheby's experts and ruthless foreign curators, intent on grabbing the Raphael and hurling it into the Thames." The Guardian (UK) 07/16/03

Cleaning Michelangelo No Joke "The row over how to clean David has been reported around the world as almost comic, but it is not funny at all. It is frightening because, ultimately, those involved will do what they want. And if they permanently damage the greatest sculpture in the world, that will just be tough. David is a global property, a defining achievement of humanity. Italy has no more right to damage its surface than the Taliban had to blow up Buddhist masterpieces. Anyway, this is not Italy-bashing; it is a Florentine who has sounded the alarm." The Guardian (UK) 07/16/03

Air & Space Museum Needs Money To Fly The Smithsonian's new $225 million Air & Space Museum still needs $97 million before it starts construction. But "when it's finished, the center will be the largest construction project in the Smithsonian's history and the only one built completely with private funds. The main hangar, which will house some 200 aircraft, will be the length of three football fields and 10 stories high. On June 12, the annex accepted delivery of an Air France Concorde. Work is also under way to refurbish another big draw, the Space Shuttle Enterprise. And a newly reassembled Enola Gay, the bomber that flew the missions to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, will be displayed as well." BusinessWeek 07/15/03

Lawsuit Threatens L.A. Exhibit "In a legal challenge that aims to block an upcoming show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the grandson of a Russian aristocrat is arguing that 25 of the artworks — including paintings by Cezanne, Degas, Matisse, Picasso and Van Gogh — are stolen goods, looted from his family by Lenin's Bolshevik government in 1918 and later passed to Moscow's State Pushkin Museum." The lawsuit is a new tactic in a larger battle by the family of the Russian collector who owned the pieces to force legal recognition of the Bolshevik seizure. LACMA officials, presumably caught by surprise, aren't commenting just yet. Los Angeles Times 07/16/03

And Watch Where You Rub That Washcloth! The cleaning of Michelangelo's David is turning into quite the public event, and a fierce argument has developed over the proper way to free David from his layers of grime. "The row centres on whether the statue should be cleaned using water to restore it to its original state or by a dry cleaning method which would be less radical and only remove the worst grime, according to UK press reports on Wednesday. A petition has been signed by more than 39 international art experts to stop Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia using their planned wet technique and demanding that an independent commission should decide on the best method." BBC 07/16/03

Tuesday, July 15

Unveiling The New Guggenheim Taiwan The Guggenheim has unveiled plans for a new Taiwan outpost. "The proposed museum, designed by noted architect Zaha Hadid, includes several sections of the museum that can change position on demand. The entire West Wing, a two-story structure with a 3,583 square meter base is designed to move either through a rail or air cushion system into three different positions, while the East gallery includes a 440 square meter platform which can move between the first and second floor galleries like a gigantic elevator." Taiwan News 07/16/03

German Looted-Art Commission Gets To Work A new German commission has been set up to work on disputes on looted art. "Germany has paid around £3bn to survivors of Nazi slave camps, and £30bn to victims of the Holocaust, but the issue of stolen property has not been resolved. The eight-member panel was set up after an agreement between the federal, state and local governments on its powers, but it can intervene only if both sides agree to let it act as an arbitrator. " The Guardian (UK) 07/15/03

'60s Edinburgh Built Today "Much of the cultural life of Edinburgh today was shaped in the 1960s. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art was opened, the Traverse Theatre was launched and world-class contemporary art arrived in the city, perhaps for the first time. It was enough to make a Morningside lady drop her teacup. Now, a snapshot of this eventful decade is on show..." The Scotsman 07/15/03

Cleveland Museum Makes Cuts The Cleveland Museum, trying to balance its budget, is laying off 37 full- and part-time employees, freezing salaries and reducing pay for senior administrators. In addition, "the museum is reducing loans of artworks to other museums, stretching the duration of special exhibitions, cutting its film program in half, closing its retail store at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and reducing other expenses, from staff travel to photocopying." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 07/15/03

Bush Administration Considers Offloading Archaeologists The Bush administration is considering offloading National Park Service archaeologists who oversee and protect America's historical and cultural heritage. "The administration says turning over the archaeology jobs to private contractors could save money, but critics charge that contractors are ill-equipped to cope with an array of endemic challenges, including influential outsiders trying to dictate Park policy, chronic congressional underfunding and serious personnel shortages that Park Service archaeologists mitigate by using thousands of volunteers - an option not open to a private company." Washington Post 07/15/03

Monday, July 14

A Bath For David It was inevitable, of course, that the cleaning of Michelangelo's 500-year-old David should spark controversy... "Should the marble colossus be restored to its original perfection or simply cleaned of grime? Or should it learn to live with the inevitable streaks and blotches of venerable old age?" The New York Times 07/15/03

That's The Picture Two dozen photography shows in London right now make this a summer of photography. "The London shows leave you with no specific definition of what photography is now, except that it is, fruitfully, many things at once, which is a functionally vague description of the medium. You can nevertheless get a fairly clear idea of the differences between a good photograph and a bad one." The New York Times 07/15/03

Emin: Leave Me Alone If You Don't Like It Artist Tracey Emin is tired of critics slagging off on her. "If you don't like me, leave me alone. I get completely slagged off by people whose mortgage I'm paying. They write 500 words about me, they pay their mortgage that week. Someone on The Independent called me a 'retard' which really wound me up. I responded. I'm not saying how, but I totally responded." The Observer (UK) 07/13/03

Putting Frames Around The Provocative.. Chris Burden has spent a career pushing at the boundaries of art. "Throughout a 30-year career marked by international fame and notoriety, each new artwork he has made has provoked new and ever more challenging answers to this simple question. But his own response, like so much of what he does, is unexpected. 'It's about trying to frame something. And draw attention to it and say, 'Here's the beauty in this. I'm going to put a frame around it, and I think this is beautiful. That's what artists do. It's really a pointing activity'."
Los Angeles Times 07/13/03

Report Blasts Australia's National Museum A report on Australia's National Museum of Art gives the museum low marks. "The NMA is short on compelling narratives, engagingly presented dramatic realisations of important events and themes in the Australian story. And there are too few focal objects, radiant and numinous enough to generate memorable vignettes, or to be drawn out into fundamental moments. The report warned the museum may be failing in its role to inspire and educate its visitors because of a problem of translating narrative into museum practice, particularly in areas dealing with post-European arrivals to Australia." The Age (Melbourne) 07/15/03

Turner Online The Tate Museum has put an enormous collection of JMW Turner images online. "The vast Internet resource includes color images and descriptions of more than 2,000 works by Turner, held in private and public collections in countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and Greece. The catalog also has 30,000 works bequeathed to the British nation on the artist's death in 1851." Chicago Tribune (AP) 07/14/03

We© Sue® You© - Get It? Artists have long borrowed trademarked imagery from corporations, holding them up in an effort to critique consumer culture. But today artists say that such commentary has been increasingly hard to pursue as corporations are quick to sue for infringements of their copyrights...
Boston Globe 07/14/03

War - An Excuse For Rampant Art Looting The Iraq war has resulting in extensive plundering of archaeological sites, and there doesn't seem to be much political will to stop the looting. Or to stop the worldwide sales of pillaged art. Unfortunately, the theft is business-as-usual. Everytime there's a war, looting is rampant... Archaeology 07/03

UK's "Best" Museum May Have To Close earlier this year Nottingham’s Galleries of Justice won the first £100,000 Gulbenkian Prize for Museums. Judges called the museum's outreach programme “astonishing and thrilling and frighteningly good”. Now the museum is facing closure because it can't pay its bills. "Without core funding, the future of the best museum in the country is in doubt and it is contemplating having to break up the teams of experts it has built." The Times (London) 07/14/03

Sunday, July 13

Gangs And Amateurs Rip Off Museums Theft from European museums is becoming a bigger problem. "Harried police investigators and heartbroken museum curators blame lackluster security guards, insufficient budgets and lenient laws for the rise in thefts. Problems have plagued not only grand institutions like the Louvre in Paris, but also lesser-known regional museums, churches and stately private homes. Thieves have increasingly targeted displays of diamonds, antique clocks, sculptures and rare furniture that can sometimes be sold more easily than well-recognized paintings by master artists. The trade is lucrative – some pieces of rare furniture are valued at $1 million or more." Dallas Morning News 07/13/03

Museum Board, Director, Resign In Selling Scandal The Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff was facing a $1 million deficit this spring, so its director and board decided to sell artifacts to finance operations. That has led to the forced resignation of the museum's board and director. "The museum's leadership came under fire after 21 of the museum's artifacts were sold to raise operating money, its geology department was closed and paleontologist David Gillette and his research staff were fired. Director Robert Baughman told members in June that the sale was necessary because the museum was so broke it had funds for only three weeks of operation." Los Angeles Times (AP) 07/13/03

Wave Of Personal UK Galleries Opening The success of Charles Saatchi's new gallery in London has spurred others, including Sir Elton John, to build and open their own public galleries. "Opinion is divided in the art world over the reasons for this sudden wave of philanthropy. While there are few who do not welcome the thought of these eclectic collections being made public, sceptics sense that the scale of investment being bestowed on the new galleries owes as much to vanity as it does to charity." The Independent (UK) 07/13/03

Whistler - So Tough He Responded To His Own Obituary In 1902 James McNeill Whistler collapsed from a heart attack and hung on to life for a week before recovering. But a local Dutch paper printed a premature obituary, promting a letter from Whistler: "May I therefore acknowledge the tender glow of health induced by reading, as I sat here in the morning sun, the flattering attention paid me by your gentleman of ready wreath and quick biography!" He recovered enough to go on to Amsterdam to see one of his paintings in the Rijksmuseum before returning home to London. And while never entirely well again, the world-famous artist lived another year, finally expiring 100 years ago this week, on July 17, 1903.
Chicago Tribune 07/13/03

Broad Gift Of $60 Million To LA Museum Philanthropist and art collector Eli Broad has given the Los Angeles County Museum of Art $60 million to build a new wing for art since 1945. "The cash gift, the largest in the museum’s history, will cover 'every penny' of a $50-million wing that will be named after Mr Broad and designed by an architect of his choosing, subject to board approval. Details are yet to be ironed out, but the rough outlines call for a 70,000-square-foot structure facing Wilshire Boulevard and bridging the gap between LACMA’s main campus and its under-developed annexe known as LACMA West." The Art Newspaper 07/11/03

Three Gorges Dam Floods Important Archaeological Sites "Nearly 1200 sites of historical and archaeological importance along the Yangtze River are now underwater as the first stage of China’s massively ambitious Three Gorges Dam hydro-electric project reached completion on schedule. On 1 June the waters began rising in the huge 375 miles long reservoir created by the 185 metre high and two kilometre wide dam. The archaeological findings have established that the Three Gorges region was one of the main meeting places between East and West in ancient China..." The Art Newspaper 07/11/03

Friday, July 11

Toronto Museum Cuts Staff, Programs While Working On Gehry Expansion Even as Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario works on an ambitious expansion with architect Frank Gehry, the museum is cutting staff and programming. The museum's workers are protesting. "Last week, the AGO announced the impending layoff of 29 workers, along with cuts to several programs including the cancellation of guided tours for school groups. The moves were a result of a 25% reduction in admission revenue projections for the current fiscal year due to larger economic woes, the AGO said. In particular, a SARS-related tourism decline has hurt the gallery." National Post 07/11/03

US Recovers Stolen Iraqi Art U.S. forces in Iraq say they have seized 5,000-year-old artifacts from a suspected smuggler and recovered 12 pieces stolen from a Baghdad museum. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/11/03

Report From Iraq: What I Saw Of Museum Looting How and why did the looting of the Iraq National Museum happen? ARTnews sent a reporter: "During a week in May in Baghdad, I interviewed about 30 people concerning the looting: Iraqi museum officials, the U.S. troops accused of failing to protect the museum, members of the U.S. team investigating the thefts, foreign archeologists who led international protests against the U.S. role, and more than a dozen people who lived in the neighborhood and who witnessed the looting and the combat that preceded it. The most striking fact to emerge from dicussions with those living or working around the museum is that, in the days before and during the looting, they saw the museum being turned into a major military defensive position by Iraqi forces. In plain violation of the Hague Convention of 1954..." ARTnews 07/03

Thursday, July 10

Impressionist Show Delayed In Florida Is the French government purposefully holding up loans of Impressionist paintings for a planned exhition in Orlando, Florida? Experts say that "the show, which could mean millions of dollars for the local economy, is being postponed in part because of tension between the United States and France, organizers said Wednesday. 'If it weren't a French-owned museum, I don't think we'd have these delays'." Orlando Sentinel 07/11/03

The Biggest Little Art Museum Garners Raves "With its single black staircase and a breathtaking rooftop sculpture garden, Reno - Nevada's 'biggest little city' - has a renovated art museum that takes the town a step beyond the gaming industry. The new Nevada Art Museum is a four-story, 60,000-square- foot black steel building that is reminiscent of a ship at sea. It is four times the size of its predecessor and includes a 180-seat theater, several galleries and a restaurant. But the feature that has drawn the most attention is the rooftop sculpture garden and its views of the snowcapped Sierra." Kansas City Star (AP) 07/10/03

'New' Rembrandt Goes For Nearly £7 Million "A Rembrandt self-portrait which lay undiscovered for centuries after it had been painted over has sold for £6.94m at auction in London. It was bought by US billionaire casino tycoon Steve Wynn during a transatlantic telephone bid at Sotheby's. The portrait, painted by the Dutch master in 1634 when he was 28, lay hidden under layers of paint for more than 300 years." BBC 07/10/03

Wednesday, July 9

Painting Is Back (C'mon, It Never Went Away) The art of painting seems to be refreshed, renewed, popular again... Or maybe it never really went away. Matthew Rose and Sabine Folie discuss the painting impulse. "The popularity of painting has neither to do with a market-oriented impulse nor with a retro-attitude of the artists. Painting was, and still is, a vehicle to think about the means of art. It is entirely conceived conceptually, and is in no way just a hedonistic, affirmative retro-academic salon activity. Painting may have been for a short time somehow denied by an overexposure of video-computer-art or photography, but in the end, its methods of representation and transformation were enriched by all those media and not diminished." art-themagazine.com 07/03

Eye-In-The-Sky Archaeology Scientists say that they have shown with tests that satellite imaging can show buried archaelogical sites from space. "Images from US space shuttle missions in the 1980s appeared to show ancient river drainage patterns beneath the Sahara desert. Satellites have revealed ancient river beds beneath the Sahara. Subsequent imaging turned up ring structures beneath the ice of Antarctica. But until now no-one has been entirely sure that these images definitely showed real objects." BBC 07/09/03

It's Official - It Seems No One Liked This Year's Venice Biennale Director Francesco Bonami had idealistic plans. He handed over the reins to 11 other curators, two of whom are artists. "He didn't create a team of co-curators working together but gave all of them complete autonomy to do their own thing. He bestowed an idealistic title on this exhibition of exhibitions: 'Dreams and Conflicts: The Dictatorship of the Viewer.' And somehow, despite the best intentions in the world, he fell, metaphorically, flat on his face with the biggest, sloppiest, most amorphous biennial ever. As we ought to know by now, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Am I the only one who hits a snag at the notion of the, uh, dictatorship of the viewer? Isn't that what happens at art fairs? Isn't that what Hitler proposed when he outlawed art criticism? Quite apart from that little conflict between the dream of individual freedom and the idea of dictatorship, the Abdication of the Director would have been far more precise." Village Voice 07/023/03

Stalling Out On DC's African-American Museum Seventy-seven years ago Congress authorized the creation of a new African American Museum in Washington DC. More recently the project has seemed to gain momentum in Congress. But that momentum may be illusory. "The main concern is an age-old one—location, location, location. The commission would like to put a new building on the Washington Mall, near the Capitol. But the Senate bill ignores the commission's existing recommendation, instead charging the Smithsonian's Board of Regents with picking a spot. Perhaps more ominously, it grants the board 18 months to make a decision, a lifetime given the ever-changing balance of power in Congress. Meanwhile, the uncertainty puts a crimp in any fundraising plans." Village Voice 07/09/03

Boston Wants More Public Art Boston is an old city, by American standards, and most of its public art seems to be nearly as old as the city itself. "Boston often is criticized for lacking a bold or effective plan to develop new public sculpture. But some long-overdue appointments could change that. In May, artist Sarah Hutt was named director of public art for the city. Hutt now oversees the Boston Art Commission, which recently has been revived with an all-new membership. The four-member commission hasn't been active since Director Mildred Farrell resigned two years ago. Even before that, the group frequently was criticized for a lack of discrimination and being out of touch." Boston Herald 07/09/03

Tuesday, July 8

Art, Instead Of Taxes Rather than selling their artwork abroad to raise money for tax bills, last year Britons donated art treasures valued at £40 million to British museums rather than paying inheritance tax. "Titian's masterpiece Venus Anadyomene, watercolours by Edward Lear and a Barbara Hepworth sculpture were among works handed over. The scheme has settled tax bills worth more than £6.5m during the past year." BBC 07/09/03

Iraq Museum Looting Count: Now 13,000 Objects? The director of Iraq's National Museum says that one-in-ten of the museum's artifacts is missing since the looting of the museum two months ago. "Dr Nawalaal Mutawalli told a press conference at the British Museum in London that some 13,000 objects had gone missing from the Baghdad institution's storage room in the days following the fall of Saddam Hussein." BBC 07/09/03

Art Of The Turnaround: Two Tokyo Museums Are Hoping Two expensive Tokyo museums - so-called "bubble babies" - operated by the Tokyo metropolitan government - the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography - are heavily in debt. "Faced with huge losses, the directors are doing everything they can to educate staff members to the concept of profit and loss, nudging them to be more customer friendly and cost efficient. While working with their employees, the directors have also been busy trying to create more compelling exhibits to attract a larger clientele." Asahi (Japan) 07/09/03

Archaeologist: Kill Iraqi Looters An American archaeologist said in London this week that the "systematic looting of major archaeological sites and the destruction of artefacts" in Iraq "may prove a greater disaster than the well publicised looting and destruction at the national museum in Baghdad, and the museum in Mosul." She urged that looters be killed if caught. "I would like to see some helicopters flying over these sites, and some bullets fired at the looters. I think you have got to kill some people to stop this." The Guardian (UK) 07/09/03

New deYoung Museum Rises In SF San Francisco's new deYoung Museum, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, and scheduled to open in 2005, is rising. "The structure of the $200 million city-owned museum, made with 2,122 tons of steel and 2,500 tons of rebar, is nearly complete. In the next few weeks, the twisting concrete tower that will afford panoramic views of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge and the ocean - a nod to the signature tower of the old Spanish-style de Young, demolished 14 months ago - will take shape." San Francisco Chronicle 07/08/03

Monday, July 7

Illegal Art On Purpose "Illegal Art, which opened last week at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Artists Gallery, showcases a variety of works that push the restrictions of current trademark and copyright laws. The exhibit is intended to illustrate the limits that such laws impose on artists' freedom of expression..."
Wired 07/07/03

Creativity W/O Skills? In his new book, Julian Spalding writes that art students are "under great pressure to be ‘creative’ and to ‘express themselves’, but they have not been taught the skills with which to do so, as it is no longer thought necessary to learn to draw, paint, carve or model. The divorce between art and craft is complete. No wonder there is so much angst and misery at these places..." The Spectator 07/03

Was Stonehenge A Giant Vagina? Why was the Stonehenge constructed? It's long been a mystery. "A University of British Columbia researcher who has investigated the great prehistoric monument for several years has announced he has uncovered its true meaning: it is a giant fertility symbol, constructed in the shape of the female sexual organ. 'There was a concept in Neolithic times of a great goddess or Earth Mother, Stonehenge could represent the opening by which the Earth Mother gave birth to the plants and animals on which ancient people so depended'." The Guardian (UK) 07/07/03

Sunday, July 6

Painting Turns Up After 300 Years An Italian Baroque painting lost 300+ years ago, has turned up. "The picture, The Montalto Madonna, has been copied many times by artists in Rome, both in painted and engraved form. It was last mentioned officially in 1672 by the biographer Gian Pietro Bellori but thereafter vanished without trace and has been considered lost ever since. When a client took a small copper panel bearing the familiar composition of The Montalto Madonna into Sotheby’s head office, the instinctive reaction was that it was not the real thing - or rather that it could not possibly be the genuine article after a lapse of more than three centuries. However..." The Scotsman 07/06/03

Art's Big Spenders - Who Are They? "Rated as number one spender on art this year is London resident Sheikh Saud al-Thani of Qatar. His interests range from antiquities, Islamic art, furniture and jewellery to Old Masters, Impressionist paintings and vintage photographs. The surprise entry is the London jeweller Laurence Graff, who is included in the top 10." The Telegraph (UK) 07/07/03

Sensational: The Mayor And The Elephant Dung "Four years ago, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani blasted a painting of the Virgin Mary that was decorated with elephant dung. In an exhibit that opened Wednesday, it's the portrait of Giuliani that has elephant dung painted in it..." Newsday 07/05/03

Dia - Will They Come? The new Dia home in upstate New York is big and comodious to large-scale art, writes Peter Plagens. And at the start it will get many curious visitors. But the flow will diminish and the question remain: Is there really an audience for the kind of art Dia advocates? Newsweek 07/03/03

Experts Criticize Iraq Exhibition Last Thursday, American authorities in Baghdad put objects from the Iraq National Museum on display. But only for two hours. "As propaganda stunts go it was not very successful. American archaeologists immediately accused the authorities of putting at risk the fragile 3,000-year-old golden ornaments by rushing them from the vaults of the Central Bank and back again to show that the looting of the museum had not been as bad as first claimed. 'I think it is an act of propaganda. It is to show that nothing really happened to the museum. No curator in the world would allow this sort of exhibition unless ordered to do so'." The Independent (UK) 07/04/03

Thursday, July 3

Guggenheim Returns To Its Roots It hasn't been a good year for Thomas Krens and his Guggenheim empire. The Las Vegas outpost so gloriously hyped when it opened has closed, and is likely to be demolished soon, and the plans for a massive new Gehry-designed home in Manhattan are on indefinite hold. The Guggenheim's latest exhibit of "classics" of modern art could be seen as just one more example of how the museum is being forced to retreat from the bold, avant-garde stance it adopted in the 1990s. But, says James Gardner, there's more to this new-old approach than just a reflection of hard times: "It's hard to find a single work among the 100 odd pieces in this show that is anything less than exemplary." New York Post 07/03/03

Wednesday, July 2

Rogues Gallery Wonder where those garish statues of former dictators end up? "Nearly 20 statues of leaders and heroes of authoritarian regimes occupy the rolling private garden of Harlan R. Crow, a Dallas real estate investor. Heavyweights like Stalin, Mao and Lenin stand among lesser-knowns like Klement Gottwald, the first Communist president of Czechoslovakia. Many of the statues, some as tall as 20 feet, were bought from the sculptors or from public officials as regimes crumbled. A few, like the large bust of Princip, were acquired as bullets whizzed by." The New York Times 07/02/03

Conflicts of Interest At The Barnes In a report withheld for three years, an audit of the troubled Barnes Foundation is deeply critical of the way the foundation was managed. It is particularly critical of former director Richard Glanton. "Under a section titled 'Conflicts of Interest,' the audit outlined a series of Barnes transactions that it said Mr. Glanton engaged in with outside business partners, without informing the foundation's board. It said he ran up more than $225,000 in travel and entertainment expenses; tried to barter the foundation's banking business for support on the board; and let two women live in Barnes properties under unusual circumstances." The New York Times 07/02/03

Canaletto For A Day A couple of London brothers have won a contest to hang a rare Canaletto painting in their home for a day. The program is intended to win new audiences for art, and the painting arrived with a curator and security guard. One of the brothers "admitted he had not been a huge fan of Canaletto before winning the painting. He said he now thought Canaletto was 'awesome'. Though the painting is returning home in the evening, Alex said the art fund was giving them a copy as a reminder of their day as blue-chip art collectors." BBC 07/02/03

Perrault Wins Mariinsky Theater Sweepstakes "Dominique Perrault, best known for designing the French National Library in Paris, and his team beat 10 other entries to design the new building for the Mariinsky Theater in the most important architectural event in Russia in 70 years." But not everyone is happy with Perrault's dome-based design, which involves a lot of black marble and gold glass, and looks a bit like a half-inflated hot air balloon. Most of the concerns are of the practical variety: how do we clean it, will all the snow collapse it, and how much will it cost to build? St. Petersburg Times (Russia) 07/01/03

Baltic Director Resigns "The man behind the Baltic - Europe's newest contemporary arts complex - has quit as its director. Sune Nordgren steered the centre for contemporary arts in Gateshead, through it's first turbulent year... The £46m project transformed the former Baltic Flour Mills, a disused 1950s grain warehouse, into an international contemporary arts venue." Nordgren is heading home to Norway, where he will become the director of the National Museum for Art, Architecture and Design. BBC 07/02/03

China's Great Wall Crumbles In Obscurity Chinese officials are scrambling to deal with the discovery that large chunks of the famous Great Wall are no longer standing, and more will likely be gone in the near future. "Of the portion built during the Ming Dynasty, less than 20 percent is still intact. A probe of 100 sections drew the alarming conclusion that a third of the structure has already vanished." Survey teams were shocked to find "local farmers living along the Great Wall simply unaware of what it is. They witnessed bricks being carted away by people to build houses, sheep corrals and pigsties. One 1,000-meter section in Hebei Province, which neighbors Beijing, vanished in the space of a year after locals took stones and foundation materials for repairs." Wired 07/02/03

Tuesday, July 1

ARTnews' Top 200 Collectors ARTnews names its annual list of the world's top 200 art collectors. ARTnews 07/01

Iraq Museum's One-Day Show "The Iraq Museum plans to hold a one-day exhibition Thursday — its first since the outbreak of war more than three months ago. The show is designed to ease the minds of those who worried that the museum's collections had been devastated by a frenzied, two-day looting spree in mid-April while American troops were fighting to secure the city." Los Angeles Times 07/02/03

CheckMate A new exhibition features chess sets made by artists in the 19th and 20th Centuries. "There are 19 sets on display, each one set out to illustrate a move in an apocryphal game played between Napoleon, playing as white, and General Bertrand on St Helena in 1820. Five new sets by contemporary artists Damien Hirst, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Paul McCarthy, Yayoi Kusama and Maurizio Cattelan mark out the climax of the game." The Telegraph (UK) 07/01/03

Olympic Dreams...But Can You Deliver? What should hosting an Olympic Games mean to a city? "Many Olympic cities have promised regeneration and few have delivered. From the Foro Italico in Rome to Homebush in Sydney, the world is littered with desultory, underpopulated Olympic zones that were once the subject of some planner's proud boast. If the Olympics automatically gave its sites a boost, then Wembley, where the games were held in 1948, would be the hottest place in north London. This time, London has to mean it, and it has to deliver." London Evening Standard 07/01/03

Anatomy Of A Public Art Project Planners of a project at San Francisco Airport hired Brooklyn artist Vito Acconci to make a piece of public art for the project. But five of his ideas were rejected before one stuck. And drivers coming out of the terminal might not even be aware that they're looking at public art... San Francisco Chronicle 07/01/03

Plans For WTC Memorial Pour In Monday was the deadline for plans to be submitted for a memorial at the site of the former World Trade Center. "By the 5 p.m. deadline, thousands of proposals, enough to fill a caravan of delivery trucks, had been received at the nondescript, six-story warehouse at 515 West 36th Street in Manhattan. Entries started being accepted on June 9, and the last ones trickled in for more than an hour after the deadline. The contest is expected to be the largest design competition ever, exceeding even the 1,421 designs submitted for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Little more is likely to be heard about the proposals until September, when about five finalists are to be announced." The New York Times 07/01/03

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