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Tuesday, August 31

Popular Choice To Head Australia's National Gallery Ron Radford is a popular choice as new director of Australia's National Gallery of Art. Radford is "known in Adelaide, where he has been director of the Art Gallery of South Australia for 13 years, as a boisterous, larger than life bon vivant with a wicked sense of humour and an easy ability to dissolve potential conflict with light-heartedness." Sydney Morning Herald 09/01/04

An Artist Collective In Beijing In Beijing, a group of artists (as artists do) clustered together, fixed up some space and set up 74 galleries and private art studios in a refurbished 1950's-era weapons factory. Some critics feel that an artist complex is not a good idea, but "the artists were supported by officials who said that a flourishing art scene would help Beijing become a vibrant city. Long Xingmin, the assistant party secretary of development and planning ministry for Beijing, visited the galleries in April, and the vice mayor of Beijing has weighed in to support the artists. Visiting dignitaries, including the president of Switzerland, have also stopped by the complex to offer support." The New York Times 09/01/04

Pumping Up Latin American Art "For decades Latin American art has been the poor cousin in the house of academic art history departments. Few universities offer an introduction to Latin American art on a regular basis. Asia and Africa have always received more attention, in part because of the ways their art was absorbed by European and American artists in the 19th and 20th centuries. What would Picasso and Matisse be without tribal masks, Oceanic sculpture and Japanese prints? Like American art and literature before World War II, Latin American culture has received less respect than it deserves." Now an attempt to change that... Wall Street Journal 08/31/04

Plundering Iraqi Art Iraq's cultural heritage is being plundered under American occupation. "Ironically, the bombing campaign of 2003 had not damaged archeological sites. It was only in the aftermath, during the occupation, that the most extensive cultural destruction took place. At first there was the looting of the museums under the watch of coalition troops, but that was to be followed by more extensive and active destruction. Active damage of the historical record is ongoing at several archeological sites occupied as military camps." The Guardian (UK) 08/31/04

The Secret Of the Mummy's Tomb? The mummy of King Cheops, resident of the Great Pyramid has never been found. But now, a new theory of a secret passage within the pyramid. "Using architectural analysis and ground-penetrating radar, two amateur French Egyptologists claim to have discovered a previously unknown corridor inside the pyramid. They believe it leads directly to Khufu's burial chamber, a room which - if it exists - is unlikely ever to have been violated, and probably still contains the king's remains." The Guardian (UK) 08/31/04

Does France Need A Second Louvre? The French government wants to build a "second Louvre" museum in the north of France. "Louvre II, conceived to display some of the main gallery's vast unseen collection while bringing some of the nation's finest heritage to one of its more dilapidated provinces, epitomises the French government's drive towards decentralisation. For many, it is an absurd and amateur proposal born more out of political correctness than common sense." The Telegraph (UK) 08/28/04

Monday, August 30

Inside The Mummy The British Museum is giving visitors an opportunity to look inside an ancient mummy. "Using the latest in medical technology, visitors see under the mummy's wrappings and flesh, catching researchers' insights into the art that went into its creation." USAToday 08/30/04

Guard Pleads Guilty In Dali Theft A Staten Island correction officer has pleaded guilty to involvement in the theft of a $250,000 Salvador Dali painting from Rikers Island jail. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Timothy Pina, 45, will be sentenced to five years probation and will resign from the Department of Correction. Newsday 08/30/04

Sunday, August 29

X Rated: Ugly Buildings? Knock 'Em Down An English architect preoposes a new classification for buildings. It's an "X" rating thta would be awarded for buildings considered public eyesores. "I want the government to introduce grants for destruction. How often has a bad piece of architecture marred a beautiful view? In every town there are three or four buildings that are universally disliked." The New York Times 08/30/04

Tate Janitor Accidentally Throws Away Artwork A janitor has thrown away a bag of trash that was "part of a Tate Britain work of art. The bag filled with discarded paper and cardboard was part of a work by Gustav Metzger, said to demonstrate the 'finite existence' of art." BBC 08/29/04

Myths Of Art-Theft-For-Order "Wherever The Scream is now, it is almost certainly not in a billionaire's study. Except in movies, thieves are seldom connoisseurs. In the eyes of a typical art thief, the most dazzling of paintings is simply a multi-million dollar bill hanging on a poorly guarded wall. Those who steal art are surprisingly casual about the details of how they might turn their newly acquired paintings into money. In my interviews with art thieves, they talked lightly about "Arab sheiks" or "South American drug lords" sure to want a bargain-price Van Gogh." Houston Chronicle 08/29/04

Understanding Bones Why is the care of Hawaiian ancestral remains such an emotional issue? Recent news of artifacts and remains being illegally sold on Hawaii's Big Island has reopened controversies. "This sanctity is violated, Native Hawaiians believe, when remains and artifacts are removed from the sacred caves, whether by grave robbers or archaeologists." Honolulu Advertiser 08/29/04

The Kennedy Years - Lots Of Heat, But... Brian Kennedy came to run the National Gallery of Australia in 1997, and filled the landscape with his controversial opinions. Now he's leaving and "colleagues and observers within the art world choose their words carefully to give a positive public summing-up of his time. Perhaps it was a cultural misunderstanding: humour in one national argot can be seen as brusqueness or querulousness in another. In any case, when he leaves his job tomorrow, after weeks of goodbyes, Kennedy will bequeath his successor an institution in need of artistic, political and social resuscitation." The Australian 08/30/04

Thursday, August 26

Theft Should Increase Munch Value Worldwide attention for the theft of Munch's Scream should increase the value of his work, say experts. The top price for a Munch work at auction was $7.7 million for ``Girls on a Bridge,'' sold in New York in November 1996, according to Sotheby's Holdings Inc. Bloomberg 08/27/04

Scream Robbery - Sign Of Thefts To Come? "Museum theft has historically been a genteel sort of crime, conducted, for the most part, with legerdemain and nimble-footed alarm evasion. But among those who follow the topic closely, the Munch robbery is seen not as an anomaly, but as a sign of things to come. Over the past decade, an increasing number of art thefts have taken place in the daytime during business hours." Slate 08/27/04

The Balance Between Art And Security "Art thefts, though not often as high-profile as the broad daylight robbery in Oslo, are persistently on the increase worldwide. This latest heist once again spotlights the holes in international law, the high costs of insurance and security, and the delicate balance that institutions must strike between protecting works of art and displaying them openly." Christian Science Monitor 08/27/04

Art Of The Copy? It's bad that The Scream was stolen. But even if it never turns up again, it's not like the image is lost. "It is not as if the world would forget what it looks like. The Scream is one of the most photographed and copied paintings of all time - and how many of us can honestly claim to be able to tell the difference between a good copy of a painting and the real thing?" The Telegraph (UK) 08/27/04

Wednesday, August 25

How European Art Theft Works... "Investigators specializing in stolen art - many of them based in London, the center of Europe's art markets - say that art thieves in Europe, where most of the high-profile thefts take place, tend to fall into two categories. Some are low-level criminals who are more likely to bungle the operation and dispose quickly of the works, often for a fraction of their value; others are members of organized gangs who use the paintings as collateral or bartering chips in underworld deals involving drugs, forged documents and weapons. In such cases, recovering the paintings, if they are recovered at all, can take years, even decades." The New York Times 08/26/04

Disputing Hockney's Optic Theory A couple of researchers test out David Hockney's theory that Old Masters used optical devices to assist in their work. They registered a van Euck painting using a computer. "If the two arms had been painted in perfect perspective they would align well; they did not. Therefore the Arnolfini chandelier is not painted in perfect perspective. If van Eyck had used a concave mirror to project an image of a chandelier onto his canvas and had then traced the image with a pencil, later covering over the evidence with paint, his chandelier should be really accurate. Why cheat if you can't get good results?" The New York Times 08/26/04

Royal Academy Under The Microscope London's Royal Academy is in trouble, and the outside world is peering in. Many are wondering if "a management structure that was created in the 18th century seems ill-suited to meet the challenges of today’s fiercely competitive London art world. Is an academy of 80 artists up to the job of running a staff of 200 and an annual budget of £18 million?" The Scotsman 08/25/04

Athens Breaks The Stadium Mold Athens' Olympic stadium, designed by Santiago Calatrava, has been a big hit, breaking with a dismal Olympic tradition. "The Athens approach—making an architecturally bold, camera-ready stadium an Olympic focal point—is less an anomaly than a sign of things to come. In the past, many host cities simply added a few thousand new seats to the biggest stadium they had; others used the games as an excuse to build a new home for a local pro franchise, as Atlanta did for the Braves with the less-than-exciting Turner Field. But these days, every potential host city's Olympic plan seems to include an attention-getting stadium designed by a well-known firm." Slate 08/25/04

Looking For The Legendary Lost Bamiyan Buddha The famed Bamiyan cliff Buddhas may be rubble, but what about the legendary lost giant Bamiyan Buddha? "It's hard to believe that the sculpture ever went missing. According to the writings of a Chinese pilgrim who reported seeing the reclining Buddha in AD 629, it stretched 1,000 feet. Today, the pilgrim's brief, 1,375-year-old account remains the most detailed description of the sleeping Buddha. Probably constructed in the late 6th century, the statue hasn't been seen in hundreds of years. And even experts who believe the sculpture exists doubt it is — or was — more than three football fields long." Yahoo! (LAT) 08/25/04

Pittsburgh Arts Center Owes Artists Money The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts closed this week, owing a lot of money. "According to a federal tax return filed by the nonprofit, the center took in $1.9 million in revenue in 2002 but spent $2.8 million. Local artists, who founded the center in 1945, were dismayed to learn of its closing and frustrated because many of them have been trying for months to obtain payment for their work." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 08/25/04

Parthenon Marbles - An Essential Story Why should the Parthenon Marbles stay in the British Museum? They're an essential part of the story of art. "Here in these rooms is the fundamental vocabulary of Western sculpture, the beginnings of Giovanni Pisano, Donatello and Michelangelo, the visual and practical storehouse of the Italian Renaissance. To destroy such a treasury of beautiful solutions by removing its heart would to my mind represent as much an act of vandalism as any ever perpetrated upon art." spiked-online 08/25/04

Stolen Art - A Long (Expensive) List The Scream joins about $5 billion worth of art that has been stolen and not recovered. "Most often, high-profile works of art are never recovered, insurance experts say. According to the Art Loss Register, which tracks stolen art worldwide, among the missing are 467 works by Pablo Picasso and 289 by Marc Chagall." Indianapolis Star (WSJ) 08/25/04

Fear For Condition Of Munch Paintings Not much progress in the Munch painting theft. The Oslo museum had had plans to upgrade security, but those plans hadn't been carried out. Meanwhile, witnesses say the thieves treated the paintings with violence as they were stealing them: "I saw the robbers kick, wrench and hit the paintings in order to loosen them from the frame. They didn't treat the paintings well and unfortunately I believe that the odds are high that the pictures were damaged or destroyed." Aftenposten (Norway) 08/25/04

Tuesday, August 24

Hundreds Of Dali Fakes Hundreds of works presented in a Finnish show marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Salvador Dali have been declared fake. "360 works supposedly by Dali were forgeries or tampered copies. A further 150 works purportedly by artists including Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, were also thought to be forged. Police were tipped off by "dozens" of collectors who bought suspected fakes." BBC 08/24/04

Tower Of Pisa's Condition Stable The Leaning Tower of Pisa isn't motionless, but its tilt at last has been stabilized. "Reporting on the present conditions of the monument at the 32nd World Geological Conference in Florence, Italy, Turin University's Michele Jamiolkowski, president of the committee for the protection of the tower, said that the famous tilt has been finally halted." Discovery 08/24/04

When The Storm Rages, Let The Stealing Begin A sculpture based on Michelangelo's "Pieta" was the target of the thieves, but it was the 100-mile-per-hour winds that triggered the alarm system. "Looters stole a Vatican-commissioned bronze bust of the Virgin Mary from a gallery in Florida during the height of Hurricane Charley." BBC 08/24/04

Bronze Hermes Stops Resting, Takes Flight It's been a busy month for art thieves. "The bronze statue 'Resting Hermes,' a remnant of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition that was stolen in the 1970s and quickly returned, disappeared in the dead of night from its base outside the University Club on California Street in San Francisco." San Francisco Chronicle 08/24/04

Artwork But No Archives For Denver's Still Museum The city of Denver is getting more than 2,100 artworks by the late abstract expressionist Clyfford Still, to go on display in a planned museum devoted to him. The artist's archives, however, are not part of the deal. "While the absence of the archives would have little effect on the general public's enjoyment of the museum, it would almost certainly prevent it from becoming a world-class research facility along the lines of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh." Denver Post 08/24/04

  • Previously: Denver To Build Clyfford Still Museum "After years of searching for a home for her husband's estate and realizing that time was running out, Patricia A. Still, 84, agreed to give 750 paintings and more than 1,400 works on paper to Denver on the condition it build and maintain a $7 million museum for them." Denver Post 08/15/04

Pittsburgh Center For The Arts Suspends Operations With $1 million in debt, the 59-year-old nonprofit has closed its doors and laid off its 13 staffers. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 08/23/04

In New York, Museum Security Won't Change "Although jolted by the daring daylight theft of Edvard Munch's painting 'The Scream' from an Oslo museum, New York museum and gallery officials said they had no plans to increase security or change their procedures in response to the theft." The New York Times 08/24/04

Inside The Minds Of Art Thieves "In the eyes of a typical art thief, the most dazzling of paintings is simply a multi-million dollar bill hanging on a poorly guarded wall." How to spend it is often a detail that comes later. The New York Times 08/24/04

Royal Academy: We Are Not In Crisis "A director at the Royal Academy of Arts has denied the arts institution is in crisis over the discovery of an unauthorised £80,000 bank account set up by Professor Brendan Neiland, the keeper of the Royal Academy Schools who resigned three weeks ago." BBC 08/24/04

Monday, August 23

Please Look After These Paintings "A day after the brazen daylight robbery of 'The Scream' and a second Expressionist masterpiece by the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, museum officials begged the robbers on Monday to show greater care for the treasures than they did while wrenching them free from the wall and smashing their frames." The New York Times 08/24/04

First You Steal The Famous Artwork. Then What? "When James Bond villain Dr No displayed Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington in his lair, he launched the myth of masterpieces being 'stolen to order' for criminal masterminds." But in reality, "there are limited possibilities for a thief with a famous stolen painting on his hands." BBC 08/23/04

(Another) Banner Ad Museum A Web designer has made her collection of 15,000 banner ad samples publicly available on her Web site. So what makes a good banner ad? (Is there such a thing?) Wired 08/23/04

Scientists Challenge Hockney Theory "In 2001, David Hockney ... published his theory that great artists including Jan van Eyck and Caravaggio used lenses and simple cameras to 'trace' images onto canvas. But at the International Conference on Pattern Recognition (ICPR) in Cambridge on Thursday, a group of leading computer experts will show that a central image that he used to prove his theory shows clear signs of human error." Sunday Herald (Scotland) 08/22/04

You Mean Dali Didn't Make Color Copies? "Finnish police said yesterday they were investigating a large-scale art fraud in which dozens of high-quality photocopies of works by artists such as Salvador Dalí were passed off as originals and sold for up to €10,000 (£6,700) each." The Guardian (UK) 08/24/04

'The Scream' Is Us It's no wonder that Edvard Munch's "The Scream" has such a strong hold on the public imagination, critic Adrian Searle writes. "The several versions of Munch's Scream have become a kind of shorthand of modern alienation and despair, icons of anxiety and hopelessness." The Guardian (UK) 08/23/04

  • Previously: Gunmen Steal "The Scream" While Terrified Visitors Watch Gunmen entered the Munch Museum in Oslo and ripped Munch's "The Scream" from the wall, stealing it. "Two masked thieves pulled the work and another painting, Madonna, off the wall as stunned visitors watched. One robber threatened staff with a gun before the pair escaped in a waiting car, a museum officer told the BBC." BBC 08/22/04

Greek Art: Not Just A Dig Site For cultural boosters in Athens, having the world descend on their city is a chance to show off the work of their artists -- and not just the dead ones. Alongside classical art, tourists drawn there for the Olympics are also encountering contemporary Greek art, which is very deliberately on public view. The Age (Melbourne) 08/23/04

Broad Vision - A Museum Donor Who Calls The Shots When philanthropist Eli Broad gave the LA County Museum of Art $50 million for its building project, he also won the right to pick the project's architect. "Relations between museums and donors get especially dicey during building campaigns, when dreams of grandeur call for creative fundraising and arm-twisting. But in a philanthropic culture that prides itself on snagging big money without ceding control, the L.A. museum's plan is a special case. The effort to transform LACMA's melange of buildings into an elegant unity strikes a precarious balance of power with the major donor." Los Angeles Times 08/23/04

Art Of The Hotel "Hotel art, once the mainstay of washed-out reproduced masterpieces and the butt of bad jokes, has recently acquired a bold new lease on life. Forget the Frette linens, celebrity chefs and Aveda bath products. To stay on top of the game, luxury high-end chains and boutique hotels must now provide their guests with cultural stimulation too, which is why a growing number of hoteliers in Canada and around the world are investing in serious modern-art collections to spice up their designer lobbies." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/23/04

Stolen "Scream" Wasn't Insured Edvard Munch's "The Scream" was not insured, says the Munch Museum, after the painting was stolen over the weekend. "The theft has highlighted gaps in the insurance of major works around the world, with a large number not covered against being stolen, according to some of the UK's leading art insurers. Many galleries and collectors cannot afford to pay for protection or do not think they will need it." BBC 08/23/04

  • Munch Museum Defends Security The director of the Munch Museum in Norway is defending the museum's security measures after Munch's "The Scream" was stolen. He said "a silent alarm went off and police arrived in minutes. 'We think of security problems all the time and work with security'." BBC 08/23/04

  • Fate Of The Scream? "Art experts said that given the fame of both "The Scream" and "Madonna," it would be nearly impossible to sell them to a collector. They speculated instead that the thieves would demand some form of ransom. That is what happened in 1994, when another version of "The Scream" was stolen and later recovered." The New York Times 08/23/04

Sunday, August 22

Donor Sues New Brunswick Gallery For Fraud The Beaverbrook Art Gallery's (New Brunswick, Canada) biggest patron is "suing the institution for fraud, claiming it lied or misrepresented the ownership of $200-million worth of disputed paintings. The Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation and a grandson of Lord Beaverbrook filed suit this week. The suit seeks $15-million in returned donations and punitive damages from the gallery." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/21/04

Underground Railway Center Rises The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opens in Cincinnati this week. Blair Kamin reports that the building is a mixed success. "The architecture of the Freedom Center rises and falls to the extent it exploits and expresses this tension. The museum is, in some respects, powerful and poetic, its undulating travertine walls symbolizing the indirect, often-torturous routes -- through mountains and forests, and over rivers -- that slaves took to freedom. The trouble is, this sort of poetry doesn't occur with enough consistency, especially inside, to make the museum the powerhouse combination of intellect and emotion, the visual and the visceral, it might have been." Chicago Tribune 08/22/04

Dino-Theft - Concern For Fossil-Poaching There is big demand for dinosaur fossils, and poachers have been taking advantage of their remote location to "chip the prints out of rock illegally and sell them to unscrupulous -- or unaware -- collectors. Worried that online sales are making it easier for poachers to sell their goods, lawmakers, geologists, and police are searching for ways to find these looters and stop them." Boston Globe 08/22/04

Where The Art Is... Today's Big Time Art World travels in a pack - jetting around the world to where the perceived action is. "At the center of this pack are wealthy patrons who enjoy traveling together, often in their own planes, to far-flung art destinations. Some take chances on untried artists; others embrace challenging work by well-established names. But all keep abreast of one another's choices. A purchase by one can inspire further interest from others, directly affecting the artist's market and stirring up greater critical discussion. Wherever they go, they are always shopping, even at ostensibly noncommercial venues like Site Santa Fe." The New York Times 08/22/04

Gunmen Steal "The Scream" While Terrified Visitors Watch Gunmen entered the Munch Museum in Oslo and ripped Munch's "The Scream" from the wall, stealing it. "Two masked thieves pulled the work and another painting, Madonna, off the wall as stunned visitors watched. One robber threatened staff with a gun before the pair escaped in a waiting car, a museum officer told the BBC." BBC 08/22/04

  • On The Trail Of The Stolen Scream Leads are coming in about the two Munch paintings stolen in Oslo this weekend. "On Sunday afternoon police found a painting frame near Carl Berners plass in central Oslo. Police believed the find could be linked to the Munch heist. One of the employees at the Munch Museum café told Aftenposten's Internet edition that she saw two men walking with the two paintings held between them." Aftenposten (Norway) 08/22/04

  • A Scream Twice Stolen "The Scream is one of the world's most recognisable paintings. Copies of the anguished expressionist work can be found in any major poster shop and it is even the name and symbol of a popular pub chain in the UK." It was stolen before - in 1994, and held for ransom, but was recovered before the money was paid. BBC 08/22/04

Dreaming Of A Classic Cathedral In 3-D Work began on Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí's Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona in 1883. "Though work resumed in 1952, it has gone very slowly. More than 50 years later, the church is still only 40 percent finished. (It now holds 4,000 people; when it reaches its final circumference, 295 by 196 feet, it will accommodate 14,000.)" It will take at least 30 years more to complete. But for those unwilling to wait to see what it will look like, a new 3-D projection has been completed. The New York Times 08/22/04

Friday, August 20

Baker: Parthenon Marbles - Send 'Em Back Kenneth Baker weighs in on repatriating the Parthenon Marbles to Greece: Few object when courts ordain the return of art treasures and other property confiscated from European Jews by the Nazis. But people seem to feel the ethical force of arguments for repatriation of valuable plunder less when they involve greater spans of time and differences in culture. After Tony Blair's mortifying alliance with the "coalition of the willing," an agreement to return to their origin the greatest surviving remnants of Greek classicism would go a long way to restore Britain's international prestige." San Francisco Chronicle 08/20/04

Graffiti Lives! (And Will Continue) The UK is cracking down on graffiti. But will threats of bigger penalties and stepped up enforcement deter graffiti? Not likely - the danger, the difficulty - it's all part of the allure... BBC 08/20/04

Georgia Science Museum To Close "After years of declining attendance and contributions, the Science and Technology Museum of Georgia is suspending operations this weekend. SciTrek has struggled financially for years, although its recent tax forms show a balanced budget of about $2.6 million. About 70 percent of its financial contributions came from local businesses, with the rest from city and state government." ABCNews.com 08/20/04

Thursday, August 19

Plans (Many Of Them) To Help Aboriginal Artists Australian Aboriginal art is very popular these days, and the market just keeps on going up. But the artists themselves live in poverty, so now some plans to improve their welfare. "Suddenly such conscience is manifest in several plans - complementary, competing, or controversial, depending on your view - initiated by dealers, auction houses, artists, and government." Sydney Morning Herald 08/20/04

Uffizi Faces Major Cuts Florence's Uffizi Gallery could see its budget cut by 25 percent next year, leading to severe cutbacks. "Premier Silvio Berlusconi's government has approved the cuts, which will be discussed by parliament in the autumn and are aimed at containing Italy's deficit within limits set by the European Union." 940News (AP) 08/19/04

Russia To Prosecute Artists For Lampooning Church The Russian parliament has ordered prosecutors to bring a group of artists to trial for allegedly "inciting religious strife" by lampooning the Russian Orthodox Church.
Canoe (CP) 08/19/04

Chinese Cultural Official Sentenced To Death "A Chinese official responsible for looking after cultural relics has been sentenced to death for stealing them. Li Haitao was found guilty of the theft of more than 250 antiques over a period of 10 years, state media said. The case is said to be the largest theft of antiquities since the start of communist rule in 1949." BBC 08/19/04

Wednesday, August 18

Filling The American Indian Museum Native Americans have had a big role in deciding what will go in the new National Museum of the American Indian, due to open in Washington DC next month. "What they did not want, museum officials found, was the static display of 10,000 years of tribal life and culture. Their ideal museum would celebrate the glories of the past, to be sure, but they also wanted their artifacts and their contemporary culture to be accessible. 'This is an important opportunity to show tribal people as participants in a living culture, not something in museums or in history books."
The New York Times 08/19/04

A Bilbao Effect For Churches? In Italy, big-time architects are being hired to design churches (like in the old days, remember?). "It is premature to say that Renzo Piano's spidery dome or Richard Meier's three sweeping concrete sails and glass facade will push Roman Catholic architecture into a period comparable to the glory days when churches were stylistic showcases for masters like Francesco Borromini and Lorenzo Bernini. But some church officials are hoping that a return to architectural splendor will help put people in the pews." The New York Times 08/19/04

Fighting To Keep Stone Henge From The Cars Preservationists are opposing a plan to put a car tunnel under Stone Henge. "For them, the proposals prove the government cares more about motorists than preserving the integrity of a centuries old landmark. 'Stonehenge has been there 5,000 years and the car was only invented 100 years ago. To cater to something that's been there for such a short time is patently absurd'." CNN 08/18/04

MAN: Taking Issue With A Collectors Group AJBlogger Tyler Green agrees with Blake Gopnik that Washington DC needs a contemporary art center. But he takes issue with an idea floated by Gopnik for a local collectors' collective. "Here are a couple problems with Gopnik's idea: The art world is global, moreso now than ever, and his idea is based on a narrow, artificial, regionalist construct. Furthermore, Gopnik's idea has nothing to do with art and everything to do with the mere geography of amalgamation. When the art world is becoming more interconnected, when group shows at even medium-sized institutions are filled with loans from two or three continents, why would we want something that is so internal, narrow and exclusionary?" Modern Art Notes (AJBlogs) 08/16/04

  • Previously: Collectors, Please Share With The Masses Critic Blake Gopnik outlines his plan for Washington, D.C., private collectors to exhibit the city's hidden plenty, serious contemporary art, in what he's calling the Washington Collectors' Project. "As the first project of its kind, the WCP would also help to put the city on the art-world map, and would likely lead to copycatting elsewhere." The Washington Post 08/15/04

  • Yes To Washington Collectors... Blake Gopnik's idea for a collectors group, floated in the Washington Post, is an intriguing idea. "Of course, we'd all get into an immediate and fun argument as to what "contemporary" means. To Blake it's obviously at least Arbus, Judd and Hirst - names that a lot of young curators and collectors may already find old and quaintly traditional -- that's what happens when one endorses the "new" rather than what's good. To some, Arbus, Judd and Hirst may already belong in the company of the Matisses and Oldenburgs." Washington, DC Art News 08/15/04

John The Baptist's Cave Found? "A quarter of a million pottery shards from small jugs, an underground pool, a foot-washing stone and wall carvings unearthed in a large cave west of Jerusalem could be the first archaeological evidence for the existence of St. John the Baptist, according to a forthcoming book." Discovery 08/18/04

Artist Tows Bus With His Toe As a protest an artist has pulled a London bus 30 meters with his big toe. "Mark McGowan, 38, dragged the 7.5 tonne vehicle on Wednesday in Camberwell, south London. The stunt was in protest against bus lanes and mayor Ken Livingstone's 'ridiculous traffic strategy'." Last year McGowan pushed a nut seven miles down raods with his nose to protest student debt. BBC 08/18/04

Collectors, Please Share With The Masses Critic Blake Gopnik outlines his plan for Washington, D.C., private collectors to exhibit the city's hidden plenty, serious contemporary art, in what he's calling the Washington Collectors' Project. "As the first project of its kind, the WCP would also help to put the city on the art-world map, and would likely lead to copycatting elsewhere." The Washington Post 08/15/04

Tuesday, August 17

The Royal Academy's Longest Summer London's Royal Academy is having a dreadful year. Divisions in leadership, accusations of mismanagement, and plenty of general squabbling have muddied the RA's reputation. "Now the talk in London's art circles is that the Royal Academy has lost its way." The New York Times 08/18/04

Peter's Bad Day At The Art Museum Cartoonist Peter Baage goes to a Seattle gallery and has a (figurative) shouting match with the contemporary art there. "95% of what they're hyping is pure crap, yet if you say as much out loud you'll be looked upon as a clueless Philistine!" Reason 08/17/04

Maybe They'll Find Leprechauns On Atlantis? People have been searching for the hidden city of Atlantis for generations. Many theories of where the legendary city was have emerged. The latest? "A geographer has claimed that Atlantis, first described by the Greek philosopher Plato as sinking under a tidal wave 12,000 years ago, was actually Ireland." The Guardian (UK) 08/17/04

Taiwan Goog Still On Track? The proposed Taiwan Guggenheim Museum is still a go, say Taiwanese officials, even though funding for the project has been bogged down for some time... Taipei Times 08/13/04

Monday, August 16

Aesthetic And Secure Why do security barriers have to be so ugly? All that brutal concrete... So four architects take a stab at designing barriers that are aesthetically pleasing. “One can create them so that they camouflage the brutality of what we have to deal with daily.” New York Magazine 08/16/04

Hawaiian Artifacts Recovered Valuable historic Hawaiian artifacts have shown up for sale in an antiques store. The question is: how did they get there? Honolulu Star-Bulletin 08/12/04

Jordan Seizes Iraqi Artifacts Said To Be Bound For France Customs officials in Jordan seized "two boxes of suspected Iraqi relics at Al Karama border crossing last week, following a routine search on a private car. The boxes, hidden in the boot of the vehicle, contained 18 statues, which the driver claimed were to be mailed to an exhibition in France." Jordan Times 08/16/04

Policeman Damages Royal Painting A police officer at St. James's Palace has damaged a painting. "The work, by a minor 19th century artist, was worth £1m before the incident. The officer was standing on a chair closing a window when he fell and damaged the painting. A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed the incident but said no action would be taken as it was an accident". BBC 08/16/04

Sunday, August 15

The Sad Saga Of The Acropolis Museum "Modern Greece may indeed be a last-minute culture, as so many Athenians have claimed in the rocky run-up to the Games. But in the case of the New Acropolis Museum, unlike the rest of the Athens 2004 construction projects, no amount of accelerated effort could get the job done. Today, the New Acropolis Museum remains little more than a series of foundation pilings. And the majority of the contentious sculptures they were to hold, a series of exquisitely sculpted marble friezes that once adorned the Parthenon, remain in the British Museum." Toronto Star 08/15/04

Denver To Build Clyfford Still Museum "After years of searching for a home for her husband's estate and realizing that time was running out, Patricia A. Still, 84, agreed to give 750 paintings and more than 1,400 works on paper to Denver on the condition it build and maintain a $7 million museum for them." Denver Post 08/15/04

New Indian Museum Attempts To Get History Right The Smithsonia's 16th museum - the National Museum of the American Indian - is opening in September. "The biggest difference between the new Smithsonian museum and others housing native artifacts is that Indians were consulted every step of the way. Even the most progressive museums have committed egregious errors in American Indian interpretation." Denver Post 08/15/04

Chicago Daily News Mural Held Hostage - Day 4000 A historic mural from the ceiling of the old Chicago Daily News Building was removed in 1993 after one of its panels was damaged. Its owner promised the mural would be restored and put back in place. But 11 years later... Chicago Tribune 08/15/04

New Blood For Venice Biennale “The Venice Biennale Foundation has announced that Maria de Corral and Rosa Martinez will co-direct the 2005 international art exhibition that opens next June, and that Robert Storr will organise the 2007 edition. The Biennale board seems to be concerned that the exhibition has become too sprawling and, in process, has lost its shape. They want to rejuvenate it and integrate it more fully into the overall Biennial programme (which includes architecture, cinema, and performing arts) and to achieve that they want the exhibition to have greater focus." The Art Newspaper 08/13/04

A Revolutionary Image Library Goes Online "A vast digital library of world art has gone online with its first 300,000 images. The project — known as ARTstor and financed by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — could eventually revolutionize the way art history is taught and studied. It is available for nonprofit institutions only." The New York Times 08/14/04

James Wood: Goodbye To Chicago Art Institute At the end of this month, James Wood leaves as director of the Chicago Art Institute. One thing he wishes he could have done during his time there? Drop the admission charge. "I still have this idea that in the best of worlds it would be awfully nice to have no charge for a museum. It is an important piece of our cash flow so it's not something under present circumstances that one could do without. But there's still a certain intimidation factor, and particularly for what I've called our local citizens, anything you can do to encourage people to drop in and use the museum on a regular basis is desirable." Chicago Tribune 08/15/04

Friday, August 13

Cityscape - Feel The Power? A proposed 60-story tower in Philadelphia that will require big zoning variances to make it work, has city planning officials pleading helplessness in compelling a better project. So what power do city officials actually have to make a more liveable city, asks Inga Saffron. Philadelphia Inquirer 08/13/04

Thursday, August 12

Fixing The Scottish Portrait Gallery "The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, conceived by the 19th-century writer and historian Thomas Carlyle, is said by its friends to be in urgent need of a facelift. Supporters say the gallery is closer to the search for Scottish identity than any other." So now a proposal for a fix-up. The Scotsman 08/12/04

Where Graffiti Went Wrong So Tony Blair's government is mounting a clumsy attack on graffiti. "The natural liberal response to this is to defend the richness and wildness of graffiti, the layers of rotting posters, scrawled secret language and spray-can calligraphy that makes dull walls speak hidden dreams in fat lurid lettering. To deny any connection between graffiti and art is not tenable, given the fascination it has exerted on serious painters since the second world war. In the 1980s the intellectualism of Twombly and Dubuffet spawned a far coarser appropriation of street painting by art dealers who fell over themselves to represent the graffitists Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. And that's when it all went wrong for graffiti." The Guardian (UK) 08/07/04

Seattle P-I Architecture Critic Quits Over Review After Seattle Post-Intelligencer architecture critic Sheri Olson wrote a negative review of a local housing project, the architects threatened to sue. Olson - a freelancer - asked the paper to "guarantee that it would represent her should [the architects]decide to sue." When the paper declined, Olson quit. Oddly, the architects - Weber + Thompson - didn't dispute the quality of the building; rather, they maintain that "most of the changes... have been out of our control." The Stranger (Seattle) 08/12/04

Scandale! - Manet Son Really Brother? A new documentary claims that Manet's father, "one of France's most esteemed judges, had an illegitimate son whom the painter brought up as his own." The Independent (UK) 08/12/04

Wednesday, August 11

Australian Aboriginal Artists Paint New Paris Museum "Australian indigenous artists will spend next year painting the ceilings of a new museum in Paris, the French embassy has confirmed. The Musee du Quai Branly, a museum of ancient arts and civilisations, is under construction on the banks of the Seine near the Eiffel Tower and the Australian embassy. It is expected to open in early 2006." Sydney Morning Herald (AFP) 08/12/04

Hilton Kramer On Henri Cartier-Bresson "No other photographer of his time lived and worked so long or commanded the admiration of so many artists, critics, editors, museum curators and connoisseurs of photography—not to mention the public at large—and none bore worldwide fame with a more appealing combination of intelligence, authority, insouciance and self-deprecating irony." New York Observer 08/11/04

Clyfford Still Estate To Denver Clyfford Still's estate paintings will go to the Denver Art Museum. "Patricia A. Still, the artist's 84-year-old widow, has chosen Denver as the repository for more than 2,000 works from the abstract expressionist's estate. Putting an exact value on the gift is difficult, because Still's paintings are rarely sold, but Mayor John Hickenlooper said the collection's value could be as much as $1 billion.
Denver Post 08/11/04

Coming To A Stamp Near You The US Postal Service produces only 35 new stamp designs each year. But a new service lets consumers design their own stamps. "PhotoStamps allows anyone to design their own image and emblazon a stamp with it. Thus, be prepared to see a wave of stamps with babies, cats, weddings and other personalized images and logos arriving in a mailbox near you." Wired 08/11/04

Tuesday, August 10

Edinburgh Artists: Where's The Art? Visual artists are attacking the Edinburgh Festival for not including visual arts in its annual lineup. "You are morally responsible for including visual art - or you mustn't call it the greatest festival in the world. Without the visual arts being properly supported you develop a misunderstanding of the purpose of art - you can't tell the whole story through music." The Guardian (UK) 08/11/04

The Concrete Renaissance Concrete is cheap, and efficient, and comparatively easy to work with. What it is not is attractive, and so it is understandable that architects and artists have not frequently embraced it as a medium. "But concrete has a rich history in aesthetics. Though it has been responsible for much that was dreary and utilitarian, it was also the glop that built the Pantheon in Rome. And now architects have returned to it as an aesthetic device." The New York Times 08/10/04

Monday, August 9

Missing The Point: The Architect As Superstar Frank Gehry's addition to the Art Gallery of Ontario is doomed to be a disappointment, says Christopher Hume, because Toronto has always refused to view Gehry as an architect when it can view him as a home-grown celebrity instead. "Not that Gehry's famous for being famous anywhere outside of Toronto. In some cities, he's famous for his buildings. Indeed, in some cities, his buildings are more famous than their creator. It's enough to make you feel sorry for the man. Sure, he's a celebrity, but he's also an architect, a great architect even. Even if it turns out brilliantly, the AGO addition was always too limited to give Gehry, the architect, the scope to do something major, something spectacular." Toronto Star 08/09/04

Adding To The Discussion Gottfried Helnwein is an artist whose work - "giant color portraits of stillborn babies, paintings that merge Nazi-archive photographs with pictures Helnwein has taken, enigmatic portrayals of apparently wounded or menaced children" - tends to provoke strong reactions, and in recent years, several individuals have expressed their displeasure with some of his images by defacing them. Helnwein confesses to being initially startled by the vandalism, but these days, he has decided that the viewer has as much to contribute to the larger discussion as the artist, and if people are moved to destroy what he has created, he can at least salute their passion. San Francisco Chronicle 08/09/04

Sunday, August 8

A Museum Of Natives, By Natives, For North America "When the new National Museum of the American Indian opens [in Washington, D.C.] on Sept. 21 amid a flurry of drumming, chanting, eagle feathers and sweetgrass ceremonies, it will mark the culmination of a debate that began in Canada in the 1980s over who gets to tell the aboriginal story... Most of the museum's staff boast native ancestry and the story the museum tells is in the first person." Toronto Star 08/08/04

  • Maybe Not The Best Metaphor To Use, Though The National Museum of the American Indian may be an architectural and societal triumph, but the man who designed it is so upset that he isn't even attending the opening. "[Architect Douglas] Cardinal was picked, along with the firm of GBQC in Philadelphia, to design it in 1993 but the museum's board wanted him to work under James Stuart Polshek, former dean of the Columbia School of Architecture, who is well connected in Washington... 'Polshek wanted me to be Tonto to his Lone Ranger — his sidekick,' says Cardinal. 'I told them I wouldn't work with that individual. He called me racist.'" Toronto Star 08/08/04

A Tale of Two Museums "Two new museums open in the Washington area during the last year or so. One, in suburban Virginia a good hour's drive from the Mall, lives up to hopeful expectations... The other museum, smack downtown and across the street from the new Convention Center, falters after just 14 months of operation... The reason for the difference? Wondrous stuff to look at -- or a puzzling lack of such." Washington Post 08/08/04

What To Do With The Spiral? Robert Smithson's legendary "Spiral Jetty" is once again visible just off the shore of Utah's Great Salt Lake. As the world's most prominent example of the Earth Art movement, the piece is attracting visitors from around the world. "It is, however, strangely changed. Three decades of immersion have coated the dark rock with sparkling salt crystals, so the Jetty and its surroundings now resemble a landscape from the frozen north. The rich, rusty waters coloured by moulting shrimp and algae have now turned pale pink. All of this poses a neat conservation dilemma for the Dia Centre for the Arts, to which the Spiral Jetty was donated in 1999." The Telegraph (UK) 08/07/04

The Way America Builds (Sloppily, and That's Bad) "As more high-profile buildings by foreign architects rise in the United States, and as computers allow architects to strive for engineering, design and construction complexities never before imagined, a gathering rumble can be heard across the profession about the way America builds. The country has garnered a reputation for overlooking gaping joints, sloppy measurements and obvious blemishes, and refusing to deviate from even the most outmoded standardized practices. Having exported its expertise, in the 80's and early 90's, to destinations from Singapore to Dubai, it is now facing stiff competition from Europe and Asia, where the building traditions favor singularity, craftsmanship and durability over speed and cost." The New York Times 08/08/04

Appraisal: Barnes Assets Only $50 Million "An appraisal has placed the value of the Barnes Foundation's 'non-gallery assets' of artwork and real estate below the $50 million that may be needed to keep the struggling institution viable" in its current home." A Judge had ordered the appraisal as he considers the Barnes' desire to break its founder's trust and move into downtown Philadelphia. Philadelphia Inquirer 08/03/04

A New Art Magazine? Magazine publisher Conde Nast, known for its consumer magazines, wants to get into the art magazine business. The company has "developed a prototype of a luxe and glossy fine arts magazine that he hopes to begin publishing in 2006." The magazine is designed "to bring visual art, or at least a magazine about it, to the masses. The magazine has no name yet, no business plan and no publication schedule. It does, however, have an editor." The New York Times 08/06/04

Thursday, August 5

Grotesque Beauty This year's Site Santa Fe Biennial is notable for its focus on art that is, well, decidedly ugly or disturbing. "The intent is to make a case that what is grotesque can also be beautiful, if viewed from the proper perspective. There's nothing really new or even strange about that concept. The grotesque is just a fuzzy catchall for what might also be called anticlassicism. It encompasses distortions of the body, hopped-up colors, cartooning, horror, the gothic, camp, burlesque — all forms of envelope-pushing, convention-busting expressionism, with its implicit strain of dark comedy. It has been around forever." The New York Times 08/06/04

Alpine Bliss Vs. Southern Pride "In terms of museums, the only thing better than an outstanding exhibition is an outstanding exhibition with a worthy opponent, a second show that energetically counters and contradicts its position. Such is the fruitful overlap, in time if not in space, achieved by 'Austria West: New Alpine Architecture,' at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Manhattan, and 'Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture,' at the National Building Museum in Washington. These shows reflect very different worlds, literally and philosophically, and are also housed in buildings that enrich their individual focus while accenting their differences."
The New York Times 08/06/04

Too Much of a Good Thing in Chicago? Even as Chicago struggles to preserve the reputation of its international art fair, Art Chicago, the stage is being set for a major "art war" in the Second City. As things stand now, Chicago will see not one, not two, but three major art fairs next summer, all within weeks of each other, and all insisting that they are the real Chicago art fair. A battle for top exhibitors and the high-rolling collectors they attract is already raging. Chicago Sun-Times 08/05/04

  • Previously: Chicago's Withering Art Fair "The Chicago art establishment, from museums to galleries to artists, still seems shaken by what it perceived to be the failure this spring of its internationally known contemporary art fair." In fact, Art Chicago has been gradually losing the interest of the international art community for years now, and the flurry of activity surrounding this weekend's much-ballyhooed opening of the city's new Millenium Park is meant in large part to put Chicago back on the map where art is concerned. Art Chicago's organizers insist that a comeback is imminent, but observers are skeptical, especially as the fair prepares to move to temporary quarters in a 125,000-square foot tent. The New York Times 07/17/04
Wednesday, August 4

Gehry Would Be Perfect For This Job... For years, London's South Bank Arts Centre has struggled with a plague of skateboarders. But the complex's latest management team has taken a new approach, trying to improve relations between the arts community and the skaters. Now, five "skatable sculptures" have been commissioned for the centre's undercroft, in the hope that skaters will embrace the idea of a designated area for their display of skills. The Guardian (UK) 08/05/04

Burial Grounds Or Just A Gravel Pit? A quarry operation in the North Yorkshire section of England is threatening the survival of several 5000-year-old "vast dumbbell-shaped earthen hedges" which archaeologists say are some of the most significant manmade constructions in the UK. More than 600 protests have been filed with the local planning commission. The Guardian (UK) 08/05/04

How Do You "Covertly" Install A 20-Foot Statue? "Guerrilla artist Banksy has covertly cemented a 20-foot (6-metre) satirical statue protesting at the British legal system into a central London square. Banksy, best-known for sneaking his work into the Tate, has depicted the figure of justice as a prostitute with leather boots and a thong... The location, an ancient green just outside the City of London, was chosen because it was the site of Banksy's last arrest." BBC 07/04/04

Tuesday, August 3

Defending Diana's Fountain The London memorial fountain for Diana has collected huge criticism. "The design was denounced as unworkable. Experts were found to say that algae would make the fountain green and slippery, that bacteria would make it unsafe. It was described as a storm drain, a cattle trough that thinks it's a toddler's waterchute, a hole in search of a meaning." Gustafson defends her work: "The fountain is a victim of its own success. We need to make some minor modifications to cope with that success, with the sheer number of people." The Telegraph (UK) 08/04/04

Libeskind: Architecture Is About The Long Haul Architect Daniel Libeskind would seem to be having a bad year. He's battling with the developer of the WTC site. And his "Spiral" addition to the Victoria & Albert Museum is likely not going to happen. But he's philosophical: "When you're a kid with artistic yearnings brought up in the Bronx, you don't get fed up too easily. It took 10 years to build the Jewish Museum in Berlin [his first building; overall, a critical success]. Nearly everybody said it would never happen. It was too crazy, too unrealistic. But it did happen." The Guardian (UK) 08/04/04

Turning Paintings To The Wall (Psssst - It's Conceptual) The Michaelis Collection at Cape Town's Old Town House is renowned for its collection of Dutch and Flemish masters such as Frans Hals, Jan Steen and Anthony van Dyck, and "is seen as one of the best of its kind outside the Netherlands." Next month the museum is opening a show that will flip these paintings with the faces to the wall. The exhibition "Flip" is "a conceptual art intervention" on one of the country's premier art collections. The Guardian (UK) (Reuters) 08/04/04

Write On! Study Says UK Graffiti A Big Problem Graffiti is a big problem in the UK, says a new study. More than £27 million a year is spent on cleaning it off public structures. "Organisers of the anti-litter campaign believe part of the blame lies with advertisers, pop stars and members of the art world who depict graffiti as part of a modern trend." The Scotsman 08/02/04

Edinburgh's Smart New Festival Art Space Edinburghers are proud of the new visual arts exhibition space for the annual Edinburgh Festival. "For more than 50 years, it has not been possible to complement the drama and music programme of the Edinburgh International Festival with a large-scale exhibition of visual art, because of the limited gallery space in the city. With the completion of the Playfair Project, that barrier no longer exists. Scotland now has a world-class exhibition space of the size to take the largest international shows, and mount them in perfect conditions." The Scotsman 08/03/04

Architectural Target? Is there anything in common about the architecture of the announced list of potential al Qaeda building targets? "As the list of targets revealed Sunday by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge demonstrates -- again -- when it comes to the grisly business of blowing up buildings, these media-savvy terrorists clearly prefer a certain kind of target: Big. Global. American." Washington Post 08/03/04

In Germany - Little Progress In Tracking Art Stolen By Nazis Five years after German politicians directed the country's museums to search their collections for artwork that might have been stolen from Jews by the Nazis, only a handful of artworks have been turned up. There has been little cooperation from the museums - "only about 165 of Germanys 6,000 museums have reported" that they have any suspicions of artwork that might have been stolen. Expatica (DPA) 08/03/04

Monday, August 2

US Rethinks Venice Biennale Representation American representation at next summer's Venice Biennale is in jeopardy. "The committee that recommends an artist to represent the United States at the Biennale has been disbanded by its overseer, the National Endowment for the Arts, which is rethinking its involvement with federal advisory committees. And the State Department, which is responsible for American representation at this and many other international exhibitions, is not only looking for someone to run it but also to help pay for it." The New York Times 08/03/04

Three Antiquities Thieves Convicted In Guatemala Guatemala has convicted three men for "stealing an eighth-century Mayan altar from an archaeological site and then threatening to kill anyone who told the authorities. The trial was Guatemala’s first criminal prosecution of antiquities thieves and the first of its kind in Latin America. Archaeologists and prosecutors hope the verdict and the prison sentences for the three men will have a powerful deterrent effect on the looting of the country’s many Mayan sites." The Art Newspaper 08/02/04

Turner Revealed A copy of a JMW Turner painting that has never before been on public view has been put on display. "The watercolour, showing the Gothic Cross over the lake at Stourhead, Wilts, has been in the Tate archives since it was bequeathed in 1856. A copy of the work, which was painted in 1798 when the artist was 23, is being exhibited at the National Trust-owned Stourhead house and garden this month." The Telegraph (UK) 08/03/04

Reopening A Bosnian Monument In July, Bosnia's famout Mostar bridge reopened after a decade of work. "It had been destroyed by Bosnian Croats in 1993, during the Bosnian War, to expunge a symbol of cosmopolitan Islam dating from 16th-century Ottoman times. Its destruction caused an uproar, and rightly so. Simultaneously, Bosnian Serbs were busy obliterating some 70% of the local Muslims' historic monuments. The Serbs then moved on to similar deeds in Kosovo. The bridge's reopening had been a belated triumph. Under the aegis of Unesco, countries such as Turkey, Italy and Croatia contributed to the project for a decade along with town residents..." OpinionJournal 08/03/04

Europe's Museums Spruce Up For 21st Century "Ambitious new plans for the future are transforming the dusty halls of some of Europe's most revered galleries. In Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain, museums are scrambling to create bigger, more-dazzling exhibition spaces, smart new restaurants and shops, study centers and inviting public areas. The push reflects a shift in how the public regards its artistic institutions. 'People want more than the old-style museum. We are driven to become more an arm of the entertainment and education industries rather than the academic institutions we used to be'." Newsweek 08/02/04

Can Athens Be "Fixed" Before The Olympics? The plan was to give Athens a makeover before the Olympics. "Greece has spent millions of euros building dozens of Olympic venues and is spending millions more to remodel Athens for the 2004 Games. So far, the fruits are impressive: a modern new airport, national highways, a new train and subway system, and the refurbishing of run-down neighborhoods. But the 24-hour growl, drill, and rattle of the massive project has also exhausted the city, especially in the hot summer. Olympic organizers had to rush to finish Olympic venues, leaving little time for the ambitious makeover of the city." Boston Globe 08/02/04

New Art In New China China's avant garde is flourishing. "Talk about a cultural revolution. It wasn't long ago that government censorship severely curtailed creative freedom in China. Everything from nudity and abstract art to rock and roll and literary erotica was taboo. No longer..." China Daily 08/02/04

Sunday, August 1

Can "Tolerance" Be Transfered? A new $200 million Museum of Tolerance in Israel designed b y Frank Gehry, is drawing skepticism. "In the culminating segment of a film made for the Center's facilities in Los Angeles and New York, for example, a middle-aged man says: 'Tolerance is based on a conviction there's room here for everybody.' That definition is a profoundly American one, reflecting the reality of a nation with vast space and no existential threats. It sounds irrelevant, even ludicrous, in an Israeli-Palestinian context. In this country, almost no one believes that there is enough land or political power for everybody to share equitably. Which may be why the proposed museum is already drawing withering and widespread criticism, years before its opening." The New York Times 08/02/04

Museums' Who-Knows Problem "Museums don't like to call attention to it, but many of the ancient artifacts in their collections are what curators delicately call 'unprovenanced' — that is, they don't know where the pieces came from because they were removed from their original "find-spot" unscientifically, at best, or illegally, at worst. It's not a new problem." Los Angeles Times 08/01/04

A Museum Everyone Can Hate Together In the Middle East, a building is never just a building, just as a national boundary is never just a boundary and a religious shrine is never just a tourist attraction. Frank Gehry is finding this out the hard way, as his design for the new Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance draws withering fire from both Israelis - who have called the design "so hallucinatory, so irrelevant, so foreign, so megalomaniac" - and Palestinians, who accuse Gehry of designing a building that calls to mind the Israeli destruction of Yasir Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. What everyone seems to be saying underneath the rhetoric, however, is that the museum is just too American. The New York Times 08/01/04

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