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Thursday, March 31

Chinese Request For Art Import Ban Provokes Debate "Chinese officials have asked the State Department to impose the restrictions, on a wide range of artifacts from the prehistoric period through the early 20th century, because they believe that demand in the United States for Chinese antiquities has helped fuel a sharp increase in looting of archaeological sites and even thefts from museums over the last several years. The request has sparked an impassioned debate in the Asian-art world, in which many prominent archaeologists, preservationists and scholars have lined up to support the Chinese government, while many antiquities dealers and museum officials argue that the changes would be unfair, ineffective in stopping looting and devastating for the art market and for museums." The New York Times 04/01/05

Banksy - Using Art Against Curators Banksy's recent caper hanging paintings in four New York museums has those museums worried about security. But "what makes Banksy's exploits effective as attention-getters, however, is the degree to which he uses the tools of the curators against them. His paintings had ornate frames and the plaques that accompanied them mimicked those found in galleries. 'He's using their language, their style of presentation'." Christian Science Monitor 04/01/05

Delaware Museum Gets A Director The Delaware Art Museum has chosen a new director - Danielle Rice, who is currently an associate director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She'll have a challenge: staff layoffs and construction problems on a new $24.5 million expansion project have made the Delaware Museum a troubled place in recent months. Philadelphia Inquirer 03/31/05

UK Arts Leaders Unite For Manifesto Leaders in the UK visual arts world are banding together for a manifesto it is hoped will "transform the arts". "Arts leaders, bitterly disappointed that the Government has failed to follow through on its early investment in culture, have pledged to force politicians to accept that the public has a right to art. They are hoping that the united front, from a sector that has traditionally been fragmented, will place arguments about cultural entitlement firmly on the agenda for this election, for future spending rounds and beyond."
The Independent (UK) 03/31/05

Wednesday, March 30

In Store AT The Museum... Museum shops have become an increasingly important source of income. "The Metropolitan has long been the leader in museum marketing. Last year, sales at its 20 gift shops around the country generated $80 million of its $260 million in revenue. But as the bling binge soars, others are following suit, promoting jewels in shops, catalogs and on the Web." The New York Times 03/30/05

Museums - It's All About The Brand? Museums are increasingly turning to branding experts to redefine their image. "There's a realization that museums need to understand what the world thinks of them. Art is a code that can and should be broken and museums are not always good at communicating that code to the outside world," he said. "It's a translation process. We're the interpreters. We're not writing the script, but helping articulate the message." The New York Times 03/30/05

Museums Rethink The History... "In the world of politics, power is pretty upfront: you argue; you face off; you declare war. In culture, the playing out is subtler, but can be, in its way, no less ruthless and devastating. By excluding certain kinds of objects, or by presenting them as relics of a dead past, a museum can degrade a culture just as surely as time and weather can. Fortunately, a museum can also reverse this process. And that has been happening, sometimes with vigor, sometimes with foot dragging, in America over the last 20 years. Whatever the motivating trend - call it postmodernism, pluralism, multiculturalism - the status of non-Western art is beginning to change in mainstream institutions, including sleeping giants in New York like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the recently repackaged Museum of Modern Art, from obscurity to varying degrees of prominence." The New York Times 03/30/05

Renoir Stolen From Auction House A small Renoir painting valued at about 200,000 euros has been stolen from the auction house Tajan in Paris. "The theft of the artwork, entitled Tête de fillette (Head of a little girl), happened while it was displayed in a room of the auction house and not by breaking and entering the premises as police first reported." ABCNews.com 03/30/05

Public Art: Owning The Image As Well As The Art The City of Chicago is preventing artists from taking photos of the Anish Kapoor "Bean" sculpture in the middle of the park, saying that as public art, it owns rights to images of the work as well as the work itself. "According to attorney Henry Kleeman, who negotiated with park artists on the city's behalf, Chicago bought a 'perpetual paid-up license to reproduce the artwork for commercial purposes.' So only the city or its concessionaires may legally sell pictures of the Bean." Christian Science Monitor 03/30/05

Cleveland Museum Scraps Big Show Over Insurance Costs "The Cleveland Museum of Art has postponed indefinitely a major international exhibition scheduled for 2006 because other museums sharing the show couldn't afford terrorism insurance for artworks valued at more than $1 billion. The decision highlights an open secret in the art world: With art prices skyrocketing and insurance premiums rising to meet them, it's becoming harder for art museums to sustain the flow of blockbusters that have been a fixture of American cultural life for decades." Newhouse News 03/30/05

Koolhaas Tweaks His Dallas Design Rem Koolhaas's design for the theatre that will anchor Dallas's grand new Performing Arts Center has undergone its first round of retooling, and the results are impressive, says David Dillon. "The Wyly looks like nothing in the Arts District, or anywhere else for that matter, which is just fine with the adamantly acontextual Mr. Koolhaas. He likes buildings that are mysterious and hard to place, that might be anything and anywhere." Dallas Morning News 03/28/05

The Drama Of Authentication A new play running in Boston focuses on what outsiders might consider an unlikely profession when it comes to the creation of dramatic sparks: art authentication. Of course, the play isn't exactly an accurate depiction of the authetication business, any more than architects' lives resemble that of Indiana Jones, but the production does call attention to a little-known, but vitally important, corner of the art world, and sheds some light on the rivalries and internal politics that can affect it. Boston Globe 03/30/05

Tuesday, March 29

About Those 562 Stolen Picassos... "There are more than 160,000 missing works of art, according to the Art Loss Register, a London-based organization that tracks stolen and recovered art. The global trade in stolen art is estimated to amount to at least $5 billion a year, according to the Progressive Policy Institute, which reports by comparison that the legitimate art market is said to be about $25 billion annually." Newsday 03/29/05

Police Investigate Missing Boston Gallery Owner The owner of a venerable Boston art and prints gallery abruptly left the country about two weeks ago, setting off a criminal investigation into whether he absconded with hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sales of artwork left on consignment at his shop... Boston Globe 03/29/05

Monday, March 28

Artist To Tow, Melt Iceberg Off Ireland Rita Duffy, Northern Ireland's foremost artist, plans to tow a giant iceberg from the Arctic and moor it off Belfast. She says "allowing it to melt is about 'thawing' a place locked in a political and emotional deep freeze where divisions are firmer than ever. 'A huge big mountain of ice seems to be the most eloquent way of describing where we are. There is a certain type of madness in Northern Ireland society, a denial of what has happened to us. Maybe it's time to come out of denial and confront what has sunk us'."
The Guardian (UK) 03/29/05

Art Direct To Your Cell Phone "This month, a New York-based Web site that celebrates graffiti and other street art began testing a system" that would allow "art lovers to download images created by emerging artists onto the video screens of their cellphones. Calling it a "curated online art gallery for your mobile phone," the founders of the Web site, woostercollective.com, are hoping it will provide a new way for struggling young artists to make money, in much the same way that a songwriter can earn money from radio play or an actor from reruns." The New York Times 03/28/05

Moscow Art Exhibiters Fined For Blasphemy "A Moscow court has found the organisers of an art exhibition guilty of inciting religious hatred and fined them 100,000 roubles (£2,000; $3,600) each. The January 2003 exhibition called "Caution! Religion" was staged by the Sakharov Museum, named after the Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sakharov." BBC 03/28/05

Storing Art Out In Public The Brooklyn Museum's Luce Center for American Art is "among a growing number of visible storage centers in the world. Art experts say visible storage is a good option for museums to show the public the breadth of a specific collection, but they caution that it must be used to complement, not to replace, traditional exhibits. At the Brooklyn Museum, about 800 objects are housed in the Luce Center, including all American paintings not formerly on display. There are thousands more decorative objects, such as spoons, teapots and toasters, still in storage." CNN.com 03/28/05

Fire Consumes Moscow Art Market A fire Saturday swept through a sprawling Moscow art market noted for a wide array of Russian handicrafts and Soviet-era trinkets and replicas, leaving at least one woman dead and another injured. The Guardian (UK) 03/28/05

Sunday, March 27

Russia's Museum Culture War "Culture wars over blasphemous art, such as Andres Serrano's urine-dipped crucifix or Chris Ofili's elephant dung-decorated Madonna, have flared up periodically in the United States in recent years. A similar conflict is now raging in post-Soviet Russia. But there, the debate is not about whether taxpayer money should be used for museum displays that offend some people's religious beliefs. It's about whether a provocative exhibition at a privately owned museum should be a crime with harsh penalties for the accused blasphemers." Reason 03/23/05

Marlene Dumas - Setting The Pace What accounts for the astounding rise in fortunes of Marlene Dumas? Her work currently holds the record for highest-selling work by a living woman artist. "In 2002, the record for Ms. Dumas's paintings, only a few of which had come to auction, stood at about $50,000. Yet last month at Christie's in London, after a bidding war between two dealers, her 1987 painting "The Teacher," a rendering of a posed class photograph, went for a startling $3.34 million." The New York Times 03/27/05

Gossiping In Cleveland A controversial former Whitney Museum director, a well-liked London director known for his fundraising skill, an Asian art specialist from Australia by way of Richmond, and a recent director of L.A.'s Getty Museum are among the candidates said to be on the shortlist to head the Cleveland Museum of Art... The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 03/27/05

Wanna See The Art? Wait Here. The latest blockbuster exhibitions to hit London museums are drawing thousands of visitors who are apparently willing to spend hours waiting in the kind of lines one generally associates with Disney World. "Once inside, having paid £7.50 to see 16 paintings (or 47p a painting) visitors will share their view of each canvas with, on average, eight others. It is not, perhaps, the atmosphere of contemplative isolation that many regard as the ideal conditions under which to observe these masterpieces." Still, most museum-goers seem to have anticipated the delays and overcrowding, and few are complaining. The Guardian (UK) 03/26/05

Rescuing Cities From Themselves "Architects grab more attention with their imposing skyscrapers. But landscape architects are emerging as the heroes of modern urban existence. They reclaim the wastelands," of which there are certainly no shortage in America's big cities, and turn them into, well, whatever you like, really. "After 53 years, mountains of garbage piled 225 feet high on New York's Staten Island have begun a slow transition to parkland... In Duisburg, Germany, a derelict iron mill was reborn three years ago as a sort of theme park of the Industrial Age... In Beirut, a Garden of Forgiveness (Hadiqat As-Samah) is being constructed on a 5.7-acre site that was reduced to rubble by Lebanon's 16-year civil war." Washington Post 03/26/05

Beware The Ides of March. Or, Um, Steal Them. Three of the four bronze sculptures making up a Philip Pavia sculpture known as 'The Ides of March' have been stolen from the New York City office building in which they were being temporarily housed while awaiting transfer to Hofstra University. The theft cannot have been easy, as the three stolen pieces weigh 600 pounds apiece. 'The Ides' was originally commissioned by the New York Hilton hotel, which displayed it at its entrance for more than a quarter-century. The New York Times 03/26/05

Friday, March 25

Mona Lisa Takes A Holiday (What Will The Tourists Say?) The room at the Louvre that is home to the Mona Lisa is to be renovated, and for the first time in three decades, the painting will skip a day on show. "Now she is having her room renovated, to handle an average of more than 1,500 visitors an hour. She'll be off display for one day on April 4 while curators install her in the upgraded digs. The Louvre fears irate crowds if Japanese and American visitors turn up to find an apology hanging from Lisa's empty spot on the wall. While Rembrandts, Titians and El Grecos can all spend weeks in restoration, under study or on tour, the Mona Lisa has always remained on display." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (WSJ) 03/25/05

Barnes Says It's Running Out Of Money, Asks Court To Hurry Appeal The Barnes Collection has asked the court to expedite an appeal hearing on a decision that would allow the Barnes to move to Philadelphia. "The foundation's court petition said the Barnes could find itself short of funds by the end of 2005 because the appeal has delayed pledges from donors, and because the three foundations backing the move of its multibillion-dollar art gallery from Lower Merion to Philadelphia have stopped paying part of its operating expenses." Phiadelphia Inquirer 03/24/05

Queens Museum To Double In Size "A $28.5 million plan to double the size of the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is back on track. The city has announced Grimshaw Architects as the new architect for the museum's expansion and renovation." New York Daily News 03/25/05

Thursday, March 24

Christie's Sales Up 13 Percent Worldwide Christie's says auction sales were up 13 percent. "Worldwide sales totaled 1.4 billion pounds ($2.5 billion), up from 1.2 billion pounds in 2003, London-based Christie's said in a statement. Public auctions raised 1.3 billion pounds, and private transactions totaled 83 million pounds, Christie's said." Bloomberg.com 03/24/05

Philly Dali A Certified Hit "The Salvador Dalí exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is off to a flying start. During the show's first 34 days ending Sunday, the museum sold 195,624 tickets." The exhibit is scheduled to run through mid-May, with Philadelphia being the only North American stop. Philadelphia Inquirer 03/24/05

Ugly But Important? Choosing one's battles is always a difficult proposition for a preservationist, and by and large, most advocates for old buildings have not bothered to be too terribly vocal in their support for the Modernist structures of the mid-20th century. For one thing, Modernist architecture doesn't tend to be terribly eye-catching, which means that any attempt to preserve it inevitably embroils one in a debate of aesthetics vs. historical significance, an argument which can be seen as a lose-lose proposition for preservationists. But two ongoing battles in New York suggest that a movement may be afoot to start protecting important examples of Modernist architecture before they are all replaced by newer, more attractive buildings. The New York Times 03/24/05

Wednesday, March 23

16-Year-Old Canadian Arrested At Parthenon The 16-year-old Canadian girl was arrested on Sunday in Athens "while posing for a snapshot at the 2,500-year-old temple at the Acropolis. Guards reacted as fast as Hermes, the messenger of the Greek gods," when they saw her handle a shard of the Acropolis. She was charged with theft of an antiquity, her lawyer in Athens said. Canoe 03/24/05

Banksy Strikes The Met... And MoMA, And The Brooklyn Museum... "Over the last two weeks, a shadowy British graffiti artist who calls himself Banksy has carried his own humorous artworks into four New York institutions - the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the American Museum of Natural History - and attached them with some sort of adhesive to the walls, alongside other paintings and exhibits. Similar stunts at the Louvre and the Tate museum have earned the artist - who will not reveal his real name - a following in Europe, where he has had successful gallery shows and sold thousands of books of his artwork. But his graffiti has also landed him in legal trouble." The New York Times 03/24/05

National Gallery's Best Day Ever? The DC museum's East Wing opening of "Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre" draws more than 9000 visitors its first day. "Museum guards with clickers stationed at the entrance to the 10-room exhibition -- a kind of tour of Paris night life in the late 1800s -- counted 9,230 visitors. That easily surpasses the 6,190 who attended the opening of "Treasure Houses of Britain" in 1985 and the 3,340 who came for the first day of "Johannes Vermeer" in 1995. The West Building's attendance record was set in 1963 when an average of 19,205 visitors a day saw Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa." Washington Post 03/23/05

Authentication Committee Set Up For Canadian Artist Fakes of famed Canadian First Nations painter Norval Morrisseau abound. So a new official committee has been set up to authenticate work. "The committee, composed of five Morrisseau experts, will function much like the famous four-member Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, which has been the sole arbiter of genuine Warhols since the pop-art master's death in 1988: If you think you have a real Morrisseau but want to know for sure, you'll have to submit it to the committee for determination. And once you do, you'll have to sign a contract by which you absolve Morrisseau, his family and Milrad of any liability if the committee comes back and says, 'It's not a Morrisseau." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/23/05

Expert: "Fake" Cezanne Is Real An expert says a painting recently declared a fake is in fact a real Cezanne. "He based his assessment on the unsigned work, purported to have been painted by Paul Cezanne, being riddled with secret "signatures" left behind by the renowned French impressionist. The piece, Son in a High Chair, was among notable works said to have been taken from the home of eccentric NSW art restorer John Opit in February last year." News.com.au 03/23/05

  • Previously: Stolen Paintings (Said Worth $67 Million) Are Fakes Paintings stolen last summer in Australia which were "described at the time as Australia's biggest art heist" and "worth $67 million" are fakes. "The paintings – which included one entitled Son in a High Chair alleged to have been painted by French impressionist Paul Cezanne – were recovered from a Robina duplex last June. But Tweed-Byron police Acting Inspector Brett Greentree said experts consulted, including international art dealers Sothebys, had determined that the paintings were not genuine." The Herald-Sun (Australia) 03/18/05
Tuesday, March 22

Seattle Art Museum Embarks On Major Expansion The Seattle Art Museum this month "begins in earnest the $86 million expansion to the 1991 building that kicked off a regional arts building frenzy. The expansion is only one part of a three-pronged, $180 million overhaul – the museum has raised $124 million to date – including a sculpture park downtown and a new roof for the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park." Come January, SAM closes its main building for a year to accomodate construction. The News-Tribune (Tacoma) 03/22/05

Art History As A Theory A new history of art since 1900 is "the final ludicrous monument to an intellectual corruption that has filled contemporary museums and the culture they sustain with a hollow and boring, impersonal chatter. Art has been lost in a labyrinth of theory. If this sounds anti-intellectual, let me clarify. There is no good work of art that cannot be described in intelligible English, however long it might take, however much patience is required. And yet this book begins with four theoretical essays explaining the post-structuralist concepts the authors believe we need before we can meaningfully discuss a single work of art." The Guardian (UK) 03/22/05

Billionaire To Restore Henry Moore A billionaire art collector has offered to pay for the restoration of a Henry Moore marble arch. "The six-metre tall work, given by Moore in 1980 to the people of London, was removed from Kensington Gardens and dismantled in 1996 on safety grounds. The sculpture is unevenly weighted, and soon after it was installed it began to twist. In addition, travertine, the stone of which it is made, is susceptible to damaging cycles of freeze-thaw in cold weather. The Royal Parks, which manage Kensington Gardens, have estimated that to repair it - by inserting a steel "spine" - would cost around £300,000, which they say they cannot afford." The Guardian (UK) 03/22/05

Monday, March 21

Angkor Looting Increases Looting at Angkor Wat has increased in the past six months. "One of the astonishing aspects of the Angkor sites is their diminished nature at the hand of modern man. Amid the grandeur, empty pedestals, headless carvings and missing lintels cast an aura of indelible loss. The sudden cascade of tourists - one million foreign visitors came to Cambodia last year, a vast majority to Angkor - brings many risks: overcrowding, dwindling of the scant local water supply, a cheapening atmosphere." The New York Times 03/21/05

This Year's Beck's: The Anti-YBA's? Artists on this year's Beck's Futures prize shortlist have a show. "If there is anything that connects the six artists here it can be seen, as much as anything else, as a refusal of the market-affirming object-based practice of the YBAs." The Guardian (UK) 03/22/05

A Proposal To Save Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Can the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (based in Scottsdale, Arizona) be saved? "The foundation has been beset with financial woes, revolving-door management, turmoil on its board of directors and faculty and student turnover in its famed architecture school." One solution being proposed to to try to work with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy... Arizona Republic 03/19/05

Outsider Comes In "People still debate the relative value of art made to be used (crafts and design), and art made to be contemplated (painting, drawing and sculpture). It's the utilitarian versus the high art tradition. But why must high mean better? Why can't it just describe a certain history of techniques and practices? Given the adulation and money poured into the high art world by collectors and corporations, the notion of art for art's sake seems pretty passé." The New York Times 03/22/05

Michelangelo's Self-Portrait? Historians in Florence believe they have found a sculpted marble relief of Michelangelo that might have been carved by the artist himself. "The work speaks for itself: it is a very high-quality sculpture which depicts Michelangelo. The skilled chiselling on the back makes us think it might be a self portrait." Discovery 03/21/05

Mayne Wins Pritzker Thom Mayne has won this year's Pritzker Prize for architecture. "In its citation the Pritzker jury acknowledged Mr. Mayne's countercultural roots, calling him a product of the turbulent 60's who has carried that rebellious attitude and fervent desire for change into his practice, the fruits of which are only now becoming visible in a group of large-scale projects."
The New York Times 03/21/05

Sunday, March 20

Urban Planning, University-Style "Cities used to be planned by professional city planners. But the planning profession as we know it arose, to a large extent, as a response to the urban renewal legislation of the 1950s and '60s, when federal funds poured into cities. Now federal money has dried up. Planning agencies in most cities are underfunded and weak. They react to proposals, rather than initiating anything themselves... So who's doing serious planning? Look around. Harvard is planning a whole new neighborhood in Allston. Columbia, already the third-largest landowner in New York, has hired noted architect Renzo Piano to help mastermind its expansion into an area called Manhattanville. The University of Pennsylvania, the largest employer and largest landowner in Philadelphia, is reaching out to revitalize the city." Boston Globe 03/20/05

Independent At All Costs When Minneapolis's Walker Art Center opens its striking new addition to the public next month, it will likely be a big deal in the Twin Cities. But anyone looking for the locally popular Walker to capitalize on the attention by hosting huge touring shows shows and trying to draw massive crowds would be missing the point. "Welcome to the contrarian world of the Walker, a place that prefers artful provocation to blockbuster entertainment, privileges the obscure and experimental over the tried-and-true, and cultivates a willful insouciance about the forces that govern most big museum establishment... [The museum's] insistence on creative independence has meant turning down a chance at tens of millions of dollars in state support, despite a financial crisis that has crippled the Walker's endowment and led to painful staff cuts." The New York Times 03/20/05

Buren & Guggenheim, Together At Last More than 30 years ago, New York's Guggenheim Museum acquiesced to the complaints of a number of artists involved in the museum's sixth International exhibition, and removed a massive piece of installation art, which was supposedly blocking views of other works, from its center well. "An acrimonious debate about the work's removal continued long after the event had passed, leaving lasting antipathies between artists and leading to the departure of a curator, Douglas Crimp." This week, Daniel Buren, the artist responsible for the offending work, returns to the Guggenheim with his own show, and the centerpiece is a massive tower of mirrors that dwarf the piece the museum once felt compelled to reject. The New York Times 03/20/05

Friday, March 18

A Look Inside SF's New deYoung "Scheduled to open Oct. 15, the beautiful $202 million M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park, designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, is about 98 percent finished. The interior of the 144-foot-tall twisting tower, which will contain classrooms and a library, still needs work. And the exterior landscaping has yet to begin. But the main building of the 300,000-square-foot city-owned museum is all but done." San Francisco Chronicle 03/18/05

Getty Starts Museum Director Search The Getty is beginning its search for a new director of the Getty Museum. A ten-member search committee has been formed, and a timetable set... Modern Art Notes (AJBlogs) 03/17/05

Sotheby's Profitable Again "The group was aided by the sale in May of Picasso's 1905 work Garcon a la Pipe for $104m, making it the most expensive artwork auctioned. The company posted profits of $88m for 2004 on sales of $497m. That compares with a loss of $21m for the previous period." The Telegraph (UK) 03/18/05

Singapore - A Guggenheim In A Casino? A major US casino has produced plans to build a new casino In Singapore that would include a branch of the Guggenheim. "Sources say that the planned development would cost more than US$2 billion, making it one of the most expensive casino projects in the region." The project would be built by Las Vegas Sands, which "owns the Venetian hotel and casino on the Las Vegas strip. And the Venetian hosts the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, a venue for the presentation of exhibitions based on the collections of the Guggenheim and Hermitage museums." The Business Times (Singapore) 03/18/05

Thursday, March 17

Family Claims Painting In Montreal Museum Was Looted The heirs of a Dutch art dealer are trying to recover a painting hanging in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. They say it was part of a collection looted by Nazis. The museum says the work, called The Deification of Aeneas, will remain on its walls until it can be determined whether it was sold legitimately." CBC 03/17/05

Stolen Paintings (Said Worth $67 Million) Are Fakes Paintings stolen last summer in Australia which were "described at the time as Australia's biggest art heist" and "worth $67 million" are fakes. "The paintings – which included one entitled Son in a High Chair alleged to have been painted by French impressionist Paul Cezanne – were recovered from a Robina duplex last June. But Tweed-Byron police Acting Inspector Brett Greentree said experts consulted, including international art dealers Sothebys, had determined that the paintings were not genuine." The Herald-Sun (Australia) 03/18/05

'Gates' Fascination Outlives Actual Gates Christo and Jeanne-Claude's saffron-draped 'Gates of Central Park' may have been taken down weeks ago, but the national interest generated by the massive public art project has lived on, spawning several spoofs, a few serious imitators, and an exhibit of photographs of the display. "The criticism that the aesthetic quality of 'The Gates' didn't hold up compared with earlier Christo/Jeanne-Claude works doesn't seem to take into account a shift in focus that the artists began developing in the late 1970s or early 1980s," and such criticism certainly didn't hurt the installation in the eyes of much of the public. "By the participatory measure, "The Gates" was a success, both in terms of the estimated 4 million visitors it attracted and the continuing activity it's spawned." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 03/17/05

Met Acquires Gilman Photo Collection "The Metropolitan Museum of Art said yesterday that it had acquired the Gilman Paper Company Collection of photographs, an archive that includes hundreds of works from the medium's earliest years and that is widely considered to be the most important private photography collection in the world. The more than 8,500 photographs, some purchased by the Met and some donated by the foundation that owns them, will greatly strengthen the museum's photography holdings and make it, along with the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, one of the world's pre-eminent institutions for 19th-century photographs." The New York Times 03/17/05

Wednesday, March 16

Asia: Courting The Guggenheim Asian cities are still wooing the New York-based contemporary-art institution. For many, especially here in the greater China region, the specter of cloning Bilbao's boom is just too seductive. The Bilbao model has strong appeal in Asia, which is warming up to an idea the West realized long ago. Cities can prosper by attracting creative industries -- architecture, art, music and publishing -- and establishing themselves as animated places to live. Bloomberg.com 03/16/05

Armory Show Gives Up On Essential Ingredient "It’s hard to criticize a trade show for being, well, a trade show. Throughout its seven years as the Armory Show, and in its previous incarnation as the Gramercy International Art Fair, this beast has, at moments, been the largest and most realistic reflection of New York’s—and sometimes even the world’s—contemporary art commerce. Dealers never brought the best of the best—that stuff’s not for public consumption—but they’ve always tried to make themselves look good. That made it buzzy and fun: Once upon a time, the art was surprising, sometimes ugly and sometimes downright nasty—but better yet, the fair displayed enormous egos and riveting internecine political machinations. But the fun—like most of the paintings—is on hold." New York Observer 03/16/05

Can Whitney Make Its Case For Expansion Plan? The Whitney Museum goes to New York's Landmarks Preservation Board to get permission to demolish two brownstones for an expansion. But there is resistance. "When we are being asked to demolish a historic building, I think we should be shown that it is really necessary for the programmatic function - not just a design function. The Whitney doesn't seem to be making a compelling case for the loss." The New York Times 03/17/05

Smithsonian Plucks New Curator From Its Own Past "The Smithsonian Institution reached into its own history yesterday and selected Lonnie G. Bunch, a former Smithsonian curator, to be the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bunch, 52, is president of the Chicago Historical Society, where in the past four years he has led the museum through a reorganization and capital campaign." Washington Post 03/16/05

Who's Screaming, Exactly? "Edvard Munch's masterpiece The Scream has become a world icon of human anxiety, appearing on everything from T-shirts to blow-up dolls and causing endless debate among art experts. But what exactly is the surreal figure doing in the painting, with hands pressed to its head and open mouth: Screaming, or hearing a scream?" Munch himself described the moment that inspired the painting as a "scream from nature," and the figure in the painting appears to be covering his ears, as if to block out a scream, but most people believe that the figure is the one doing the screaming. Toronto Star 03/16/05

The Holocaust In Human Terms Israel's new Holocaust Museum takes a decidedly personal approach to one of the 20th century's great human tragedies. "Rather than relying on dry histories and photographs, the new museum uses more modern techniques of film and recreation of reality through artifacts, concentrating on the stories of individuals caught up in the horror of a previously unimaginable world." The New York Times 03/16/05

Whitney May Face An Uphill Battle For Expansion "Members of [New York's] Landmarks Preservation Commission suggested at a public hearing yesterday that the Whitney Museum of American Art had so far failed to persuade them of the need to demolish two Madison Avenue brownstones to make way for a museum expansion designed by the architect Renzo Piano." The commission wants the Whitney to go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan that doesn't require any demolition; the architect is apoplectic. The New York Times 03/16/05

Tuesday, March 15

LA County Museum To Expand The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has announced a $156 million expansion. "About $130 million will be spent for the first phase of the project, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, to expand, upgrade and unify the sprawling facility." Long Beach Press-Telegram 03/15/05

Leaders Gather For Israel's Holocaust Museum Opening World leaders are gathering in Israel for the opening of the new Holocaust Museum. "Over 40 heads of state and ministers will attend the opening of the museum which details the annihilation of six million Jews during World War II and also aims to reinforce Israel's message that its existence is essential to prevent a repeat."
Reuters 03/15/05

Monday, March 14

The Art Of £500 What's the best art you can buy for £500? "My first port of call is that of any lazy bargain hunter - eBay. At the rock bottom end of the price list are an awful lot of paintings of dogs and tulips. Indeed, should I so wish, my budget could get me 50 portraits of golden Labradors; but I suspect my walls would then be petrifying, rather than powerful. At the £500 mark, there are more exotic animals; a family of elephants drinking by a lake; a tiger with a soul-piercing gaze." Financial Times (UK) 03/13/05

Will Christo And Jeanne-Claude Move On To Colorado Project? "Since at least 1992, Christo and Jeanne- Claude have pursued "Over the River," a project to cover 6.7 miles of the Arkansas River between Cañon City and Salida with translucent fabric panels 10 to 23 feet above the water. But the controversial husband-and-wife artistic duo set it aside several years ago to focus on "The Gates." After a three-week display that New York City officials estimated drew 4 million people, including 1.5 million from outside the five boroughs, a question arises: Will the couple shift their focus back to Over the River?" Denver Post 03/14/05

The Google Artist "Since 2000, Dennis Hwang has marked events and holidays--American and international--with drawings on, around and through the Google icon on the site's home page. That's five Valentine's Days. Four Christmases. Four 4ths of July. Four Thanksgivings. The Olympics. The holidays repeat each year; Hwang's drawings never do. His work has reached cult status. There are Web sites and blogs devoted to Hwang and his work." Chicago Tribune (HC) 03/09/05

The Cleveland Museum's New Future The Cleveland Museum had a big week of life-changing announcements. "First came the awe: After a decade of planning, the museum's 26 voting trustees agreed unanimously on Monday to go ahead with a visually stunning, $258 million expansion and renovation designed by Rafael Vinoly of New York. Now comes the shock: The six-year construction process, which will start in September, means that the museum's spectacular permanent collection will be off-limits and out of sight for at least several years." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 03/13/05

Sunday, March 13

Do Art Dealers Have Too Much Impact On The Art World? "The era from the Renaissance through to the mid-19th century was one of patronage. But then the capitalist intermediary, the dealer, took over. And as early as 1871 the prestigious periodical the Art Journal was lamenting their part: 'The influence of the dealer is one of the chief characteristics of modern art… to him has been owing… the immense increase in the prices of pictures.' The pervasive influence of the dealers hasn't stopped since." The Telegraph (UK) 03/12/05

The Hotel And The Munches What kind of hotel has original Edvard Munch artwork on its walls? "Munch would seem the least likely artist to be at home among the chat and cheer of a posh restaurant overlooking Oslofjord, across the water from the village where he used to summer in the 1890s when he was painting The Scream and other images in his cycle The Frieze of Life. Yet here he is, watching over the business lunchers in the Hotel Refsnes Gods' Restaurant Munch (no pun intended)." The Guardian (UK) 03/14/05

Into Every Painter Of Light A Little Rain Must Fall Thomas Kinkade is making a crusade out of his career. "The 47-year-old painter sees himself as a fine-art rebel at war with elitism. He makes it sound downright radical to be the leading creator of easy-access art in the traditions of Walt Disney, Norman Rockwell and, believe it or not, Andy Warhol. 'My art is a populist form of art. The official art of our day - the art that our tax dollars pay for - is an art of darkness, it is an art of alienation from the public. ... What I create is very much a reaction to that system." Sacramento Bee 03/13/05

A Picture's Worth... "The art world, layered with prestige, the weight of history, serious scholarship and not a little pretense, has finally embraced photography, but the verdict is still out about the medium's position as an arriviste. Serious collectors of art are now seriously collecting photographs, but so are people with cash on their hands who view photography as just another status collectible. That status depends in part on the belief that these fantastic prices reflect some inherent worth, not just canny marketing. Do they?" The New York Times 03/14/05

Can Anyone Save ICA? London's Institute of Contemporary Art has changed leaders as well as leadership models. But observers say that what ICA needs is a complete change of direction, if it is to survive and compete in an increasingly competitive environment. "Caught between the huge ambitions of its founders, its limited resources, its militant amateurism and a vast expansion in the number of arts institutions competing for ideas, attention and resources, [ICA's new leadership team] faces quite a task." The Observer (UK) 03/13/05

Small Wonders "Ever since its earliest days, limning (to give miniature painting its original name) has been the subject of a certain status anxiety. Practitioners and commentators have worried that it is not art at all, but itsy-bitsy hackwork. Or, conversely, that it is not an artisanal craft suitable for men, but merely a hobby for ladies. Or that it is an instrument of the court, full of pomp but not much else. Or, that it is small and domestic, a toy art. Yet alongside this anxious babble is the work itself, an unarguable four centuries' worth of small marvels." The Guardian (UK) 03/12/05

Piecing Together A City's Art Index Members of a San Francisco synagogue has discovered a "treasure trove" of 19th-century art hidden in plain sight on its walls and ceiling. The discovery that two prominent local artists working in concert were responsible for the temple's beautiful, Renaissance-inspired interior has touched off a renewed round of interest in San Francisco's often cloudy art history. "The 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed public records and personal papers, erasing much of the city's artistic history from current memory." San Francisco Chronicle 03/12/05

Exhibit? What Exhibit? A new exhibition celebrating the legacy of photographer Larry Clark is opening in New York, and the organizers are treading very cautiously. Clark's body of work consists in large part of "stark, intimate photographs and movies of teenagers having sex, shooting drugs and waving guns," and there has always been debate over whether it can accurately be described as art. The exhibitors made a deliberate decision not to apply for any government money to back the exhibit, and the entire show seems to be intentionally flying well under the radar. The New York Times 03/12/05

Friday, March 11

Whose History Of 20th Century Art? A new history of art of the 20th Century suggests a new narrative, writes Eric Gibson. "Indeed, "Art Since 1900" is less a historical narrative than an extended piece of art criticism arguing for a particular point of view. In this one respect the book has something in common with Paul Johnson's recent "Art: A New History." The difference is that Mr. Johnson's approach is traditional and art itself is, for him, front and center; his insights grow out of his close look at the works of art that he is writing about. In "Art Since 1900" works of art are subordinated to one theory or another, reduced to little more than illustrations. And most of the theory itself is tendentious in the extreme, pushing a political "reading" of culture that amounts to a tired paean to Karl Marx and Walter Benjamin." The Wall Street Journal 03/11/05

College Selling Art To Cover Legal Settlement Facing large legal settlements with students who were sexually assaulted by a former teacher, Upper Canada College is selling millions of dollars worth of art and property. The art will be sold off primarily at public auction over the next few months. "The decision will be difficult for some people, but the art is not crucial to the education of the students here." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/11/05

Thursday, March 10

The Disfunctional ICA London's Institute of Contemporary Arts has a new director. But "what a strange, dysfunctional institution the ICA is. Part cultural department store, part youth club (where the vicar is the DJ), part Kunsthalle, part computer shack, part bar and restaurant ... But this is the problem: there are too many parts, too many players, too many conflicting ambitions and drives, everyone pulling in a different direction amid perennial resentments. It is a situation where identity crisis is the norm." The Guardian (UK) 03/11/05

Is Shanghai The New Paris? "China's commercial capital is starting to take on the chic of Paris, the sophistication of New York and the futuristic vibes of Tokyo. It already boasts the world's fastest train (the Maglev that takes eight minutes to run the 30 km from Pudong airport into the city), the longest underwater pedestrian tunnel (under the Huangpu river) and the world's tallest hotel—the 88-storey Grand Hyatt, complete with the world's highest swimming pool and longest laundry chute. Most interesting, it has Xintiandi, a two-hectare (nine-acre) complex of hip restaurants, bars and shops in an open, elegant, low-rise style that cost $170m to develop and is one of the first examples of China preserving its own architecture." The Economist 03/10/05

Wednesday, March 9

Foster's To Sell Corporate Art Collection For years, the giant beverage company Foster's has collected art. But the company has decided to sell off its collection. "Yesterday, the firm announced that Sotheby's would auction the about 70 pictures in Melbourne on May 23. The sale is being promoted as the biggest corporate art sell-off in Australian history, with estimates of the likely proceeds ranging from $9 million to more than $13 million." The Age (Melbourne) 03/10/05

Sellout: The Modern Museum, College James B. Twitchell argues that church, college, and museum have lately become "just one more thing that you shop for, one more thing you consume, one more story you tell and are told." No longer serving as "gatekeepers" to the worlds of spirituality, art, and higher learning, these institutions, Twitchell says, have collectively become mere "ticket- takers" peddling an experience of uplift and status-conferring affiliation, while individually laboring to project a distinctive brand "fiction." Seattle Weekly 03/09/05

Court To Hear Barnes Appeal A Pennsylvania court will hear an appeal of a judge's decision to allow the Barnes Collection to move to Philadelphia. "The court ruled yesterday that an appeal of December's Montgomery County Orphans' Court ruling, which allowed the Barnes Foundation to move its gallery and change several other key governing rules, can proceed. In yesterday's decision, the Superior Court ruled against a request by the Barnes Foundation to quash the appeal by a Barnes Foundation student." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/09/05

Art Fairs - The Game Of Getting In Early With the art market cranking at full speed, the competition to buy desirable work is fierce. And getting into art fairs early to see what's on offer has become a game. "From big machers on museum boards with millions to spend to relative nobodies with a few grand saved up, anyone who wants a leg up on the competition tries to see the merch first. Competition is so fierce because of a long-overheated art market in which nearly every gallery exhibition sells out and waiting lists are the norm. Since the Armory Show is arguably the most important contemporary art fair in North America, there’s a lot of work that collectors might not get a crack at otherwise." New York Observer 03/09/05

Is Philadelphia Museum's Thai Mask Stolen Art? Questions are being raised about a 22-karat gold, jewel-encrusted crown believed to have been made in Thailand in the 15th century, and owned for the past 23 years by the Philadelphia Museum. "The crown, which resembles a cylindrical helmet, is featured on the museum's Web site and in its collections handbook. Now, with the opening of an exhibition of Siamese art in San Francisco that includes the crown, questions have been raised in Thailand as to whether this regal object was removed from that country illegally nearly half a century ago." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/09/05

Does New American Indian Museum Make Too Many Compromises? Washington's new Museum of the American Museum tries for so much. But does it deliver? "Although architect Douglas Cardinal's building has powerful moments, and several of the exhibits are intriguing, the $220 million museum is mostly a disappointment, a casualty of political infighting, scholarly temporizing and curatorial confusion. But the exhibits are the bigger letdown, mainly because with 800,000 artifacts in its possession, including the fabulous Heye Collection, the museum is in a position to do something spectacular. Yet the exhibits are technology-rich and object-poor and so badly organized that it is difficult to know where you are or how one section or theme relates to another." Dallas Morning News 03/09/05

Tuesday, March 8

Qatar Sheik Loses Government Art Post "A wealthy sheik from Qatar who has emerged over the past three years as the world's single biggest buyer of art has been dismissed as his country's art acquisitions chief after a disagreement with the emir of Qatar over his spending habits, art world figures familiar with the case said." The New York Times 03/09/05

CT: Tut Not Murdered "King Tutankhamun was not murdered, but may have suffered a bad broken leg shortly before his death at the age of about 19, a CT scan on the 3,300-year-old mummified body of the pharaoh has revealed. Discovery 03/08/05

Baltimore Bid To Help Schools With Giant Crabs Baltimore city officials have a plan to raise money for schools. Art. Giant fibreglass crabs. "The goal is to put 200 of the sculptures around town -- and to raise $1 million from businesses, foundations and individuals for a city-sponsored campaign to make physical improvements in school facilities, including money raised from an auction of the sculptures after they have been on display through the spring and summer." Baltimore Sun 03/08/05

The Science Of Saving The New (Art) Restoration of old artworks has long been a refined science. But saving new artworks is getting to be a bigger headache. "Modern works crumble, get moldy or disintegrate as restorers try to keep them from falling apart. Thoughtlessness, new materials and unusual ways to work with them make sculptures, paintings and installations appear old or cause them to decay even before their creators have suffered the same fate." Deutsche Welle (Germany) 03/08/05

Nowegian Hotel Eager To Rehang Munch Art A spokesman for the hotel from which three Munch artworks were stolen last weekend says they are eager to get the work back and We will continue to hang art on the walls. "We haven't considered changing our product." The Refsnes Gods is an exclusive hotel, dating from the 1770s and known for its art, its gourmet kitchen and wine tasting seminars, and its location on the Oslo Fjord. Aftenposten 03/08/05

Is Defacing Public Art, Art? "Audacious and appalling when it's aimed at a museum masterpiece, the vandalizing of freely accessible, open-air artworks carries its own set of meanings and effects. Community murals, public sculpture and other forms of outdoor art are clearly more vulnerable than a museum's protected holdings. But public pieces also tap notions of shared ownership and mutual interest (or mutual distaste) to raise an ongoing, open-ended mingling of reactions, feelings and reconsiderations. The public space belongs to everyone and no one. Art that is placed there engages and enacts that idea." San Francisco Chronicle 03/08/05

Arrests In Munch Theft Nine arrests have been made in Oslo in the weekend theft of three Edvard Munch artworks. "A car chase ended when a police vehicle smashed into a vehicle in which the suspects were fleeing. The artworks were apparently found in a building in Oslo's Kampen neighborhood, less than a mile from the Munch Museum, from which armed robbers took one of the two painted versions of "The Scream" - the other is in the National Gallery of Norway - and another Munch masterpiece, "Madonna," on Aug. 22." The New York Times 03/08/05

Monday, March 7

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Needs Emergency $100 Million The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is in major disarray. "An Arizona Republic examination over the past year revealed that the foundation is beset with legal and financial mayhem, clashes over its mission and revolving-door leadership. The situation is so dire that the foundation's board of directors recently endorsed an emergency proposal to raise $100 million as part of the solution, a considerable challenge given that it has raised less than $2 million in donations over the past five years." Arizona Republic 03/07/05

Munch Artwork Recovered, Arrests Made Norwegian police have recovered three Edvard Munch artworks stolen over the weekend from a hotel restaurant. "It seems to be a fashion among criminals to steal Munch. How professional is it to steal art? Great value, big risk and hard to sell. They would have to be very slow in the head to do it." CBSNews.com (AP) 03/07/05

The World's New Tallest Building Taiwan is now officially home to the world's tallest building. "The official opening of the Taipei 101 Tower in December 2004, makes it — for now — the world's tallest building. In the 20th century, competition for this title was largely waged in Chicago and New York, but it has recently migrated to Asia." ArchitectureWeek 03/07/05

Is Graffiti Just Urban Noise? "Whether it's a simple, hastily scrawled tag on a laundromat's exterior wall or an extravagant, "wild style" mural of cartoon figures and gigantic bubble letters sprawled across a factory facade near the freeway, spray-can and paint-stick imagery is a constant presence. At the low end of our attention meter, it teases, nettles and tingles. At the other, it blares out and demands to be consciously seen, whether in loathing, admiration, perplexity or some confounding amalgam of the three." San Francisco Chronicle 03/07/05

Critics Assail Plans For Thai Tsunami Museum Critics have attacked the Thai Government’s plans for a tsunami museum. Particularly insensitive, they say, are plans to create the simulated tsunami attraction as part of a memorial museum.
New Zealand Herald 03/08/05

Will Henry Moore Arch Ever See The Light Of Day Again? What happened to grand marble arch created by sculptor Henry Moore that used to reside in London's Kensington Garden's area? "A note in the guidebook Buildings and Monuments in the Royal Parks says that the Arch (as the sculpture is officially called) has been "temporarily removed and dismantled for repair". But it has been broken up for nearly a decade. Nor is there much prospect that this grand piece, made in 1980 by Britain's most famous sculptor for the people of London, will be repaired - or indeed seen by the public again." The Guardian (UK) 03/06/05

Is The Museum Building Boom At An End? It seems like every museum in America has expanded in the past few years. But is all this growing sustainable? Is it warranted? Eric Gibson: "Every business sector goes through cycles, and there's no reason to believe museums are an exception. Instead of continuing to assume visitorship will grow indefinitely and that they should build accordingly, their officers should begin to imagine a future where demand slackens, as people find other ways to replenish themselves. It may already be here." OpinionJournal.com 03/07/05

On The Runway At Maastricht "What draws people to this, the world's largest art fair, is the expectation of seeing the best the market has to offer in every collecting category from old master paintings and sculptures to antique furniture, antiquities, silver and decorative objects. This year there were no $40 million paintings by Rembrandt or $15 million sculptures by Bernini as there have been in years past. Some dealers grumbled about the scarcity of objects coming to the market; others said they didn't bring any blockbusters, fearing that if they didn't sell they might be overexposed and therefore less desirable. Still, there was an impressive array of about 30,000 works being offered for sale by some 200 dealers from 14 countries." The New York Times 03/07/05

Going Out For Munchies - Thieves Strike Again Thieves have stolen three more works by Edvard Munch, this time from a hotel in Norway. "Thieves took a 1915 watercolor, "Blue Dress," and two lithographs -- a self-portrait and a portrait of Swedish playwright and novelist August Strindberg." CNN.com 03/07/05

Sunday, March 6

"Gates" - Does New Public Art Have To Be Banal To Succeed? The Central Park "Gates" are gone now, attracting upwards of 3 million people. "Give the artists credit for creating a spectacular public event. Yet as the 7,500 orange panels began to come down Monday, I couldn't help but wonder: Does public art now have to be bad to be effective, accepted, even loved? Because as art, the big-footed, 16-foot-tall "gates" - gallowslike frames hung with pleated fabric panels that arched over 23 miles of park walkways - defined banality. Yet the $20 million installation inspired what amounted to a worldwide pilgrimage to see the latest creation by the world's most famous wrappers of buildings and girders of islands." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/06/05

A Better Plan For London? "Despite all the hyperbole accompanying its Olympic bid, London remains dirty, inefficient and congested. It is aesthetically and architecturally incoherent, and, unlike Manhattan, Barcelona or Paris, essentially suburban. It is also, however, hugely successful and consistently fashionable. So why has London got such useless public space - and will it, indeed should it, ever change?" Financial Times 03/04/05

Collector Wins Suit Against Gallery For Not Selling Him Art Jean-Pierre Lehmann has won a $1.7 million judgment against a New York gallery he said refused to sell him art. "Mr Lehmann lent $75,000 to the gallery in February 2001 with no interest and no due date, receiving in exchange the right of first choice and price discounts on future purchases. Mr Lehmann sued the gallery in March 2004, claiming it had violated his contract by selling about 40 paintings by the Ethiopian-born US artist Julie Mehretu to just about everybody but him." The Art Newspaper 03/05/05

Critics: Conservators Ruined Gaudi Chapel "Architects and conservators say the Spanish government has caused irreparable damage to the Catalan architect’s Güell crypt. They describe the cleaning of the building as “brutal” and say that it was carried out with abrasive materials abandoned years ago by the conservation industry. They also say that a staircase which provided access to the roof has been removed and they say that the restorers have placed a large stone plinth commemorating their restoration inside the chapel. This distracts visitors and disrupts the circulation within the chapel intended by Gaudí. The restorers also cut down an old pine tree near the building, which Gaudí had deliberately left standing and which he had incorporated in his design for the chapel." The Art Newspaper 03/05/05

Two Museums, One Increasingly Tangled Mission Minneapolis's Walker Art Center is about to unveil its huge expansion, turning the city's modern art showcase into an even more prominent local landmark than it already was. But a few blocks away, the more tradition-bound Minneapolis Institute of Arts is preparing to open 27 new galleries, and it, too, will be putting the focus on recent art. "Officials at both the Walker and the MIA dismiss the notion of a rivalry, even though they clearly are fishing for donors in the same relatively small pool of big-time Twin Cities area art collectors." Minneapolis Star Tribune 03/06/05

Caravaggio, Brought To You By The Religious Right "Day after day the crowds flock to the National Gallery's 'Caravaggio: The Final Years' exhibition, fascinated in equal measures by the artist's debauched lifestyle and the power of his paintings... But what the crowds are unlikely to appreciate is that the acclaimed exhibition was made possible thanks to the generous donation of a reclusive US millionaire who bankrolled a fundamentalist religious movement founded by a man who endorsed the execution of homosexuals and adulterers." The Observer (UK) 03/06/05

Crafting An International Art Movement The Arts & Crafts movement began as a flat-out rebellion against an increasingly commercial world, and grew into one of the 20th century's most successful arts philosophies. But even as the movement became an international phenomenon, it didn't always work out the way its founders intended. "The sheer goodness of the movement, bound as it is to folk art and the quest for national authenticity, made it vulnerable to nationalistic exploitation." The Guardian (UK) 03/05/05

  • Has Arts & Crafts Lost Its Charm? "Although there are some very good things being made, the craft world at the moment is set up to preserve something that can't look after itself... Craft has lost its way and become precious; self-consciousness is one of its great cankers. Sometimes there are peevish voices in the craft world demanding respect from the contemporary art world. It is a bit like an Englishman in France shouting in English. If you want to be accepted in the contemporary art world, you have to accept its culture and speak its language." The Guardian (UK) 03/05/05

Friday, March 4

"Gates" Generate $250 Million For NYC New York City offisicals say the Central Park "Gates" added $250 million of revenue into the city's economy in the two weeks the project was up. "Hotel occupancy around the park jumped to 87 per cent during the two weeks, compared to 73 per cent the same time last February, and many stores, restaurants and other services in the area compared the crowds to those that gather during the holiday season." CBC 03/04/05

Thursday, March 3

Kiev's Battling Museums One of the Ukraine's richest men wants to build a museum of contemporay art. But the country's new president wants to build a historical museum on the same site. "Whether the government’s actions are motivated by animus for the controversial Pinchuk, or whether this is simply an honest misunderstanding and conflict between opposing visions, the government should reverse tack and let the businessman build his museum. First of all, Kyiv needs a museum of forward-looking contemporary art more than it needs a historical-cultural museum that, valuable as it may be, will inevitably be backward-looking." Kiev Post 03/04/05

Is Poluution Hurting Terra-Cotta Warriors? American scientists are collaborating with Chinese counterparts to study the effects of pollution on the terra-cotta warriors in Xian. "Based on continuous observation of the pollution and studies onthe change and chemical reaction mechanism of corrosive gas, aerated solids and dust, researchers will work out an evaluation report on the mechanism of pollutants' corrosion on the rare cultural relics. China View 03/03/05

More Nazi-Looted Art Returned (Why's It Take So Long?) There are very few legal statutes regarding the return of stolen art appropriated by the Nazis. While court rulings decide the fate of some, the majority of cases are fought on moral and ethical grounds and many victims of the Third Reich base their cases on emotional pleas. Deutsche Welle 03/03/05

Is Scotland's Most Famous Painting By A Frenchman? Sir Henry Raeburn's "The Skating Reverend" may be the country's version of the Mona Lisa. It is seen by many as one of the finest paintings by a Scottish artist in existence, but controversial new research has suggested that it is not in fact Raeburn's at all, but that of a little known French artist called Henri-Pierre Danloux." Scotland Today 03/03/05

Maastricht Art Fair (Old Masters R Us) Time for the annual Maastricht European Fine Art Fair. Prices keep going up as the supply of Old Masters goes down. "Old masters have appreciated about 17 percent since October 2003 after a 30 percent drop in the previous five years, according to Art Market Research's index of the 25 percent most expensive works sold at auction. The top-priced old master is owned by billionaire Ken Thomson, who paid 49.5 million pounds ($76 million at the time) for Peter Paul Rubens's ``Massacre of the Innocents'' at a London auction in July 2002." Bloomberg 03/03/05

Are The Nouveau Riche Ruining The Art Market? Art has always been a popular preoccupation amongst Wall Street's more successful high rollers, and a new generation of newly minted billionaires is making a significant mark on the collecting scene. In fact, some of the most aggressive specimens amongst the new breed of collectors are willing to pay almost any price for a piece they've set their sights on, and that is leading to accusations that such newcomers are creating an artificially inflated market for high-end art, and purchasing works more as trophies than anything else. The New York Times 03/03/05

Wednesday, March 2

See It, Feel It, Touch It - Art For The Blind Shouldn't blind people have art too? "Sense & Sensuality, at the Royal College of Art, is the first in a planned annual art competition and exhibition open equally to sighted and unsighted artists and launched by the new charity BlindArt. The charity has ambitious plans for a permanent national collection of art which can be stroked and listened to as well as looked at, equally enjoyable to sighted and blind and indeed to anyone in a wheelchair or with a disability that can make visiting galleries a nightmare." The Guardian (UK) 03/02/05

New (Positive!) Art Magazine Launches In China A new art magazine is launching in China. Called "Art", it will (promises its editors) be full of articles that "will be neutral and objective on the assessment of art works, while closely monitoring the movements of art market." Will it be readable? "The magazine will adopt a simple and vivid style," we're assured.
China View (Xinhua) 03/02/05

UK Police Bust Major Art Theft Ring UK police have busted an art theft ring responsible for millions of pounds of art thefts from homes and galleries in the past few years. Two men and a woman have been arrested and half a million pounds worth of stolen art recovered from the Flogg It auction house in east London and several other premises. But art worth some 30 million pounds taken in thefts over the past two years was still missing." The Guardian (UK) 03/03/05

Gehry's LA Concert Hall To Get A Bit Duller Los Angeles's glittering jewel of a concert hall, as designed by Frank Gehry, seems to be glittering a bit too much. Disney Hall will undergo a $90,000 exterior renovation this spring to dull the sheen on a convex section of the building's reflective outer walls, following extensive complaints from pedestrians and nearby residents about sun glare and excessive heat. Newsday (AP) 03/02/05

Tuesday, March 1

Today's Museums - Stepping Away From The Bilbao Effect? For a while now, museums have built flashy new homes intended to impress. "But eight years after Bilbao, a reaction is setting in. While art museums in the United States are expanding at a breathtaking pace, the desire to emulate Gehry’s Spanish miracle looks increasingly like the exception, not the rule. And while museum directors continue to justify large expansion projects in terms of the tourism and attention they attract, they’re talking less and less about spectacular architecture as a primary goal. Instead, they emphasize the importance of showcasing collections, creating larger spaces suitable for the demands of contemporary art, and serving local audiences rather than attracting tourists." ARTnews 03/05

Is Ancient German Star Map A Modern Fake? "One of Germany's most acclaimed archaeological finds - a 3,600-year-old disc depicting the stars and the planets - is at the centre of a dispute following claims that it is a modern forgery." The Guardian (UK) 03/01/05

"Gates" Worth? Depends On What You Want To Measure (And Why) There's been a rush to tout economic benefits to New York because of the Christo Central Park Gates. "Such governmental attempts to spin artistic value into financial value are calculated to persuade taxpayers and politicians of 'the value of the arts to our communities, our states, and our nation'." But what do these benefits really amount to? And what about the aesthetic value of the work itself? Wall Street Journal 02/28/05

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