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Thursday, April 28

The Art Of Libraries The announcement that the New York Public Library will sell off some of its art brings attention to the fact that New York's public libraries have a lot of art in them... The New York Times 04/29/05

John Olsen Wins Archibald Prize Veteran Australian painter John Olsen has won the 2005 Archibald Prize for his painting Self Portrait Janus Faced. The Age (Melbourne) 04/29/05

Was Munch's "Scream" Burned? A report says Edvard Munch's "The Scream", stolen from an Oslo museum last year, might have been burnt. "The newspaper Dagbladet, quoting a criminal source, reports that the paintings have been burnt, in order to destroy evidence. The police denies any knowledge of this, but the newspaper also quotes a confidential police report which allegedly confirms that the investigators also have the same information." Norway Post 04/28/05

What Should The New Barnes Look Like? "If the Barnes Foundation is going to relocate and construct a new building, how should it interpret—or update—its founder's specific intentions about how the collection should be displayed? The best solution might be to not even try. Why not treat the galleries of the Barnes as an artistically significant artifact, and simply move them to the new location, burlap-covered walls and all? The result would resemble the transplanted historical interiors exhibited in many large museums." Slate 04/28/05

Barnes Move Cleared By PA Supremes The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has rejected on a technicality an appeal of the decision which cleared the way for the Barnes Foundation to move from its home in suburban Philadephia to the city's thriving downtown. The appeal had been filed by an art student, but the high court ruled that he waited too long to file it. Opponents of the move say that they will continue to look for ways to continue their fight, but they would appear to be out of legal options. Philadelphia Inquirer 04/28/05

New Generation Of Collectors Tilts Art Market Towards The New Spring auction season is almost upon us, and indications are that new will be the new old this year. "A decade ago the big money was primarily to be found in Impressionist and modern art. But during the next two weeks of back-to-back evening auctions, newer art is expected to be where hungry buyers will gravitate. Fueled in large part by a passionate group of multimillionaire hedge-fund managers, with deep pockets and a taste for the 20th and 21st centuries, they relish the competition of bidding at auction and will often pay whatever it takes to bring home the best." The New York Times 04/28/05

Monet For Money: The Boston-Vegas Art Exchange Continues "It was a gamble when [Boston's] Museum of Fine Arts decided to loan more than a dozen Monets to a Las Vegas casino gallery last year. Art critics and museum curators were not pleased, saying that it violated the mission of the nonprofit institution. But the MFA received a reported $1 million, and the show at the Bellagio Gallery of Art will draw about 450,000 people by its May 30 closing." So naturally, the Bostonians will shortly be sending more works to Vegas for the casino's next show, in exchange for a now-undisclosed amount of money. Boston Globe 04/28/05

Wednesday, April 27

Is Laocoon A Michelangelo Fake? The Laocoon is an iconic piece oif art, an ancient wonder. But "an art historian is claiming that the ancient masterpiece - which fascinated not just Michelangelo but Blake, who engraved it, and Napoleon, who seized it - is not what it seems. She says it was carved by Michelangelo himself. Can this be possible and, if so, what would it mean?" The Guardian (UK) 04/27/05

D.C. Museum Eliminates Guided Tours For Small Fry The National Gallery of Art is suspending its guided tours for groups of schoolchildren, and "reevaluating" its entire educational focus. The move won't save a lot of money, since the guided tours were given by volunteer docents, but museum officials had noted a sharp downturn in the number of students participating in the guided tours, and an uptick in the number of children wandering the museum on their own. Washington Post 04/27/05

Chicago's Art War This weekend, Chicago's annual art fair kicks off. And so does Chicago's other annual art fair. Oh, and the other one, too. In fact, the heated competition between two established fairs and one new upstart is garnering international attention, as lawsuits are filed, dates are juggled, and trash is talked. It's a full-fledged art war, and while no one seems to be sure whether such a thing is actually good for art, it's damned entertaining to watch. Chicago Sun-Times 04/27/05

Browsing A Globe's Worth Of Street Art "Not everybody can stroll the streets of Melbourne, Baghdad or Vilnius, Lithuania, looking for street art, but one website lets everybody do so virtually, by bringing international images of spray paintings, stickers, stencils and more to the masses. Known as the Wooster Collective, the New York City-based site houses an array of graffiti and street art from around the world. Artists and camera-happy passersby send in photos of their works and sightings, and site creators put them up in blog-style postings that ensure the pictures take center stage." Wired 04/27/05

Tuesday, April 26

Krens: Conquering The World, Guggenheim-Style Despite a showdown with his museum's biggest benefactor several months ago, Guggenheim Museum director Thomas Krens hasn't ratcheted down his ambitious plans. "The key to his business plan is hiring big-name architects to design buildings that will become tourist destinations in themselves, like the Guggenheim's Frank Lloyd Wright building on Fifth Avenue or its Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. And though the museum's new leaders express caution about the budget, they share Mr. Krens's vision." The New York Times 04/27/05

Mackie Wins Beck's Christina Mackie has won this year's Beck's Futures Prize for her sulpture and media installation. Mackie beat five other artists - Donald Urquhart, Luke Fowler, Ryan Gander, Lali Chetwynd and Daria Martin. BBC 04/26/05

Gossip Rules - Art Of The Buzz Jerry Saltz ponders the cult of personalities and gossip currently flashing through the New York art world. "Gallerist Kenny Schachter describes the phase we're in as "economics-ism" and "bottom-line aesthetics," by which I think he means that now art is considered successful if it's shown in a gallery or bought by collectors. Fitting in and conforming have become aesthetic criteria. Tautology rules. Many artists find all this depressing and regularly disparage the carousing and ask if it's possible to get their work out without behaving in bogus ways. Not to sound like a Creed song, but no matter how serious an artist is, it's almost impossible to behave this flippantly and still maintain one's credibility." Village Voice 04/26/05

Monday, April 25

Italy Returns Ancient Stele To Ethiopia "The funeral stone, or stele, is one of a group of six obelisks erected at Axum when Ethiopia adopted Christianity in the 4th century A.D. It was stolen by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in 1937 and turned into a symbol of fascist power during his short-lived efforts to revive the grandeur of imperial Rome." Discovery 04/25/05

Morgan Library Works On Makeover The Pierpont Morgan Library is undergoing an image makeover to match its $102 million building makeover. "Although the library has long had a vigorous program of exhibitions, organizing shows like "Master Drawings From the Hermitage and Pushkin Museums" that have attracted tens of thousands of visitors, its very name has long been misleading. Even some New Yorkers assume that it is a run-of-the-mill library, rather than the repository of a world-class collection of old master drawings and prints, medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts, and literary, historical and music manuscripts, in addition to rare books. Many believe that it is a private institution closed to the uninvited." The New York Times 04/26/05

Libeskind Takes His Tower West It doesn't look like Daniel Libeskind's tower for the World Trade Center site will get built. So he's traveled the plans across the country to California. "The architect’s plans for a 37-story condo tower named “Aura” in Sacramento, California, bear a remarkable resemblance to his original design for the second-tallest building at the ground-zero site. The 430-foot tower, to rise later this year, has the same geometric design at its pinnacle, with a sharply sloping downward angle on one corner. With the exception of its balconies, the tower is strikingly familiar." New York Magazine 04/25/05

Where Are Iraqi Artifacts? It's been two years since the Iraq Museum was looted. "To date, 3,000 have been recovered in Baghdad, some returned by ordinary citizens, others by the police. In addition, more than 1,600 objects have been seized in neighbouring countries, some 300 in Italy and more than 600 in the United States. Most of the stolen items are unaccounted for, but some private collectors in the Middle East and Europe have admitted possessing objects bearing the initials IM (Iraq Museum inventory number)." BBC 04/25/05

National Gallery of Canada Leaks Canada's National Gallery is in severe disrepair. "The imposing glass and steel structure, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, opened its doors in 1989. Sixteen years later, gallery director Pierre Théberge says he can't keep up with the cost of repairs. Currently, the gallery's annual $45-million budget allots $1 million for repair work. 'We would need ... between $4 [million] and $5 million a year ... to keep up with repairs over the next five or 10 years'." CBC 04/25/05

Liverpool Museum Takes On The World The former Liverpool Museum has expanded to nearly twice its size and been renamed World Museum Liverpool. The city is gearing up for its year as the European Capital of Culture in 2008. BBC 04/25/05

Sunday, April 24

Where Does British Art Stack Up? "British art, historically, has its charms. In addition to Gainsborough's perfumed rococo world, we have Constable and Turner. All three, if you have grown up with the swagging, blustering variability of British weather, are acute barometers of the national soul. But do their works make it into the world's top 10, or even top 100?" The Guardian (UK) 04/25/05

Chicago's Dueling Art Fairs "Chicago will be the site of not one but two big international contemporary art fairs starting their simultaneous four-day public runs on Friday. But out of sight at both will be three of this city's more prominent, high-end contemporary art dealers." Chicago Tribune 04/24/05

Dealer Massively Overcharged Sheikh For Art Why did Oliver Hoare, a leading London art dealer, invoice the world’s biggest collector Sheikh Saud Al-Thani of Qatar for massive overcharges? "On one occasion Mr Hoare invoiced Sheikh Saud £5.5 million for a jade pendant originally made for Shah Jahan. Ten months earlier the same object had sold at Sotheby’s for £454,500. Mr Hoare’s invoices are now being examined by Qatari authorities as part of the investigation into Sheikh Saud’s spending." The Art Newspaper 04/22/05

Expert: Famed Shakespeare Portrait A Fake "One of the most recognizable portraits of William Shakespeare is a fake, experts say. According to Britain's National Portrait Gallery, the image – commonly known as the "Flower portrait" – was actually painted in the 1800s, not while the Bard was alive." CBC 04/24/05

Friday, April 22

Barnes Doubles Admission Price The Barnes Collection is doubling its admission price to $10 in June. "The increase, the Barnes' first since 1995, puts its ticket prices at or below those of other major art institutions in Philadelphia and nationally. The Barnes said the price increase was necessary because of its 'precarious financial situation, inflation, and the rising costs associated with operating our facilities and maintaining the collection'..."
Philadelphia Inquirer 04/22/05

Bellevue Museum To Reopen With Crafts The museum world was shocked when the Bellevue Art Museum (in a suburb of Seattle) suddenly closed two years ago, only a couple of years after it had opened a fancy new Steven Holl building. Now the museum has reconsidered its mission and is reopening as a crafts museum. Will it work? Seattle Post-Intelligencer 04/22/05

Candidate Pulls Out Of Getty Director Search The leading candidate to replace Deborah Gribbon as director of the Getty Museum has said he doesn't want the job. William Griswold has been the museum's acting director. "The news has been the talk of the Los Angeles art world, as well as among Getty staff members, who would not speak for attribution. Mr. Griswold also declined to comment." The New York Times 04/22/05

Thursday, April 21

MCA/Denver Gets Closer To A New Home The Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver has raised $7 million of the $12-to-$15 million it needs for construction of its proposed new home. The museum is hoping to break ground for the 26,000-square foot building later this year, but must still do some additional fundraising before construction can begin. In particular, MCA/D is still looking for a lead donor to step up with $5 million. Rocky Mountain News 04/21/05

Wednesday, April 20

Saatchi Sells Off Iconic Work Charles Saatchi has sold Marc Quinn's Self, a cast of the artist's head in nine pints of his own frozen blood, one of the works most fiercely emblematic of Britart. The Guardian (UK) 04/21/05

The New Walker, Brought To You By... "There are a lot of good things you can say about the [Minneapolis-based Walker Art Center's] reopening--not the least of which is that it has reopened. This past Walker-less winter was a reminder of just how much a world-class arts institution adds to the life of our little metropolis; without it, Minneapolis might as well be Houston. And it's worth mentioning that, with a price tag of a mere $70 million... the Walker's new addition was a relative steal. [But] everything in this new wing seems to be sponsored by some corporation or another. You walk from the General Mills Lounge to the Best Buy Arcade to the U.S. Bank Orientation Lounge. In its proliferation of corporate sponsorship, the Walker is less MoMA than [Mall Of America]." City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul) 04/20/05

Getty Trust Gets Stark Sculptures "The late Hollywood power broker and producer Ray Stark and his wife have donated 28 masterpiece sculptures to the J. Paul Getty Trust to establish a sculpture garden at the Getty Center. The 20th-century sculptures include the works of Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, Barbara Hepworth, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Aristide Maillol, Joan Miro, Henry Moore and Isamu Noguchi." Baltimore Sun (AP) 04/20/05

Tuesday, April 19

Moscow Treasure Reopens After Fire A major architectural treasure has reopened a year after a damaging fire. "Built in just six months in 1817 under the orders of Czar Alexander I for the fifth anniversary of Russia's victory over Napoleon, Manege was considered architecturally unique from the start. Its recognizable neo-classical yellow facades and majestic white pillars were designed by the Russian architect Ossip Bovet, while its 150-foot-wide interior and triangular wooden roof were created by the French engineer Augustin Bétancourt. This hall could hold a regiment of 2,000 in addition to visitors and audiences. It was said to be the largest uncolumned interior space in the world." The New York Times 04/19/05

An Artist Pension Fund Plan Made Of Art A pension scheme for artists was unveiled in London Monday. Money for the fund would be generated by artists contributing artworks. "The UK trust would aim to cover 250 working artists, vetted by experts before they join the scheme. They would contribute 20 artworks over 20 years, to be sold when prices are judged to be right." The Scotsman 04/18/05

Spiritual Home Of Renaissance Art "When the cardinals convene today in the Sistine Chapel, they will be listening not only for the voice of the Holy Spirit but for those of Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli and other titans of the Italian Renaissance, whose paintings and frescoes adorn its walls and ceilings. No place is richer in spiritual inspiration and admonition than this – from Botticelli's Punishment of the Rebels to Michelangelo's Last Judgment, the most harrowing depiction of sin and damnation in Western art. The room has a vote." Dallas Morning News 04/19/05

Monday, April 18

Billionaire Cancels Museum Plans Outside Paris A billionaire businessman says he's canceling plans to build a spectacular new museum of contemporary art outside of Paris because of his annoyance over red tape and official inertia. "François Pinault, owner of one of the finest private contemporary art collections in Europe, is now likely to put it on display in a magnificent 18th-century palace in Venice." The Guardian (UK) 04/18/05

The People Who Lived Before Pompei Archaeologists have found a prehistoric village under Pompei. "Carbon dating shows that the finds are from prehistoric times, that is, from 3,500 years BC," Leander Touati said. It was until now believed that Pompei was first inhabited during the Bronze Age. The group of archeologists - part of a larger international project - were mapping a Roman neighbourhood of Pompei when they made the discovery." The Local (Sweden) 04/18/05

Back To The Human Figure Only a few years ago, the idea of artists gathering to paint from a model would have seemed impossibly old-fashioned and hokey - and if the model was female and nude, sexist to boot. Yet for nearly three years now, a number of artists - not students putting charcoal to paper for the first time, but successful artists with established styles and audiences of their own - have flocked to weekly invitation-only sessions. 'There's something kind of fun about doing something so geeky, so nerdy, so traditional. To do something so anti-conceptual and anti-Modernism feels really good, as if it were going to lead to helping you express things'." The New York Times 04/17/05

Art Institute - Taking A Whack At American Art History Before the middle of the last century, American art lived in the shadow of Europe. Now the Art Institute of Chicago is attempting to tell the story of American art in a more completely historical way. "In what may well be the first time in the history of the museum, American paintings, sculptures and decorative arts occupy a sequence of beautifully installed galleries that clearly and exclusively unfolds about 250 years of American art history." Chicago Tribune 04/17/05

Sunday, April 17

Vatican's Ancient Laocoon - A Forgery? A scholar has "suggested that "Laocoön," a fabled sculpture whose unearthing in 1506 has deeply influenced thinking about the ancient Greeks and the nature of the visual arts, may well be a Renaissance forgery - possibly by Michelangelo himself." The New York Times 04/18/05

Is Modernist Architecture A Mistake? "The history of modernist architecture is like a highway whose exits are abstract theories about what contemporary architecture should be. Instead of a home for architecture such as it knew when tradition ruled, each exit leads to a dead end. So the architect gets back on the highway to nowhere and heads for the next exit, and the next dead end. The result has been an extreme stylistic instability involving recurring discoveries of new modes of artistic dysfunction. You can't make a city more beautiful on these terms." Tech Central Station 04/15/05

Is Scratching The Paint Of Other People's Cars Art? An artist is making an exhibition of pictures of him scratching the paint of cars with a key in Glasgow and London. "They should feel glad that they've been involved in the creative process. I pick the cars randomly. got the idea when my sister and brother-in-law's cars were keyed. Is it jealousy that causes someone to key a car? Hatred? Revenge? There is a strong creative element in the keying of a car, it's an emotive engagement." BBC 04/17/05

Predock To Design $300 Million Human Rights Museum Architect Antoine Predock has been chosen to design the new Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg. "The $300-million museum aims to be the largest human-rights institution and education centre in the world. Scheduled to open in 2009 or 2010, the museum will be built at the historic Forks site in Winnipeg, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers." CBC 04/15/05

California's Venice Fights Over Nude Sculpture In usually free-wheeling Venice California, a controversy has sprung up over plans to erect a headless nude sculpture. "In keeping with the community's contrarian reputation, unexpected alliances have formed on both sides: Conservative church leaders have joined with staunch feminists in opposition; some old-guard activists have connected with ambitious developers to defend the torso." Los Angeles Times 04/16/05

Couple To Give Birth In Berlin Gallery A Berlin couple plan to deliver their baby in a local art gallery. The manager of the DNA-Galerie in central Berlin said the artistic couple wanted to challenge conventional norms. 'It's a bit of test to see if society can cope'." CNN.com 04/16/05

Thursday, April 14

The New Walker - Exhilarating "For decades now, the Walker has been one of the liveliest museums in the country, an institution that maintained a strong independent voice despite its ties to the mainstream art world. When the museum hired the Swiss team of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron to design a $67 million expansion and renovation of its existing 1970's-era building, it seemed like a match made in heaven. The architects had built their reputations on museum projects like London's Tate Modern and the Goetz Collection in Munich, known for their meticulously refined materials and a sense of inner tranquillity. The result is an exhilarating place to view art. The New York Times 04/15/05

Peru's Emergency Plan For Machu Picchu The Peruvian government has come up with an emergency rescue plan to save the ruins of Machu Picchu from erosion and tourists. "The $132.5m (£70m) plan is to be studied by Unesco and the World Bank at a three-day meeting in Lima beginning on Saturday. Machu Picchu is the most visited archaeological site in Latin America. It has been a Unesco world heritage site since 1983, but the UN's cultural organisation made it clear last year that if something were not done soon it would be put on the list of sites at risk." The Guardian (UK) 04/15/05

US State Department, NEA, Agree On Biennale Selection Process The National Endowment for the Arts and the US State Department have signed an agreement to create a new committee to choose American artists for international biennales. "The committee will comprise “up to seven people”, appointed by the NEA for terms of “no more than three years”. They will include curators, artists, museum directors, specialists in American contemporary art, and perhaps persons from outside the field as well. Important details remain uncertain, including the names of anyone who will serve on the newly established panel, precisely how the selection will take place, and how exhibitions will be administered and funded." The Art Newspaper 04/15/05

Dispute Over Mandela Artwork A legal dispute has scared buyers of artwork by Nelson Mandela. "The row has left a bitter taste - raising questions over whether the value of the art might plummet. Questions have also been raised over whether Mandela painted the series or merely endorsed them with his signature." The Star (South Africa) 04/14/05

MoMA Notches A Million Visitors The Museum of Modern Art has had 1 million visitors since its new building opened in November. "If the current rate of visits continues, the museum expects to have twice as many visitors this year as the 1.5 million it received annually in the mid-1990s, prior to the revamp." BBC 04/14/05

Wednesday, April 13

London's Painting Boom Contemporary painting is hot in London right now. "The popularity of painting often coincides with boom periods of art buying - the last time people spoke of painting as being "big", for instance, was during the 1980s. New collectors, in particular, attracted to a buoyant art market, tend to go for paintings. Their ease of display, combined with their historical legacy and their aura of originality and uniqueness, means that paintings are unrivalled not as works of art, but as commodities. Perhaps the best way to view the current status of painting, then, is not so much as an artistic phenomenon, but as an economic one." Financial Times (UK) 04/13/05

Marketing The Smithsonian - It's Big Business "Last year such marketing ventures grossed $156.3 million, returning $26.7 million in profit to the museums -- nearly half the Smithsonian's unrestricted funds, to be spent any way it pleases. Marketing has become so important that the Smithsonian now knows from surveys that the kids in the school groups that fly through the National Air and Space Museum each have about $5 to $10, and just about that many minutes to spend them. That's why the gift shop at the world's most visited museum is stocked with budget-friendly items such as military dog tags and marbles designed to look like planets. That's why last year 200,000 packs of freeze-dried astronaut ice cream were sold." Washington Post 04/13/05

What Defines A Modern Painting? "It used to be so simple: a painting was the mediated result of an artist’s application of wet paint on a flat surface. No more. Having absorbed high culture and low, painting has turned itself out in mixed-media assemblages that include both organic and synthetic materials and occasionally involve photography and digital printing. It has borrowed from commercial illustration and architectural, tattoo, and textile design, and exhibited itself as sculpture or in various combinations of all the above, in both abstraction and representation. At this point, even those distinctions seem quaint." ARTnews 04/05

Tuesday, April 12

Miami Art Museum Chief Steps Down The Miami Art Museum is losing the only director it has ever known, with Suzanne Delehanty stepping down after nearly 11 years. "Delehanty's resignation comes at a critical juncture for MAM: a $100 million bond issue passed in November will take the museum to a newer, larger home. And Miami's art scene has exploded in the last several years, with galleries and private collectors' warehouses popping up throughout the Design District and Wynwood, and Art Basel Miami Beach bringing thousands of collectors every December. The museum is in the midst of a $75 million fundraising drive." Miami Herald 04/12/05

The Walker's Bold Gamble The new $70 million Walker Art Center addition takes architectural chances. "Like much modern art, the 130,000-square-foot addition that opens April 17 takes a provocative stand. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron of Basel, Switzerland, its one-story glass-clad wing is topped by a six-story rumpled cube wrapped with squares of perforated metal mesh." Bloomberg 04/13/05

Secret Service Investigates Art Exhibit The US Secret Service is investigating an art exhibit at Columbia College in Chicago. "Two federal agents arrived at the exhibit’s opening night Thursday, took photos of some of the works and asked for the artists’ contact information. The agents were most interested in Chicago artist Al Brandtner’s work titled “Patriot Act,” which depicted a sheet of mock 37-cent red, white and blue stamps showing a handgun pointed at Bush’s head."
MSNBC (AP) 04/12/05

Fixing Rome's Modern Architecture Problem "Lackluster modern architecture in Rome is so pervasive that even the Italian government is doing its part to spark a revival. The Senate is examining legislation to promote better urban architecture after decades of economic expedience and careless design. The movement's centerpiece is Maxxi, the first national contemporary art museum. The 60-million-euro project was designed by Ms. Hadid, an Iraqi-born architect who has lived in London since 1972 and is known for her daring designs." The New York Times 04/13/05

Rockefeller Gives MoMA Biggest Gift Ever David Rockefeller has given the Museum of Modern Art $100 million for its endowment. "Mr. Rockefeller said the gift was intended to shore up public programs at the Modern, which just completed an ambitious $858 million expansion that more than doubled its size. Mr. Rockefeller, who is 89, said the museum would receive the money after his death. In the meantime, he said, he would give the Modern $5 million a year as if the money were already invested in the endowment." The New York Times 04/13/05

Chicago Art Institute To Expand The Art Institute of Chicago is acquiring land next to its current building so it can build a 230,000 square foot addition. "Art Institute officials last year placed the cost of the addition at $198 million, more than half of which they had already raised. They also planned to raise another $87 million for an endowment for the addition, which according to district documents will house modern, contemporary, Asian, Islamic and architectural collections. About 65,000 square feet would be dedicated to gallery space and another 15,300 square feet will be dedicated to educational programs." Chicago Tribune 04/12/05

Monday, April 11

Mona Lisa In Her New Home The Mona Lisa gets a new gallery home of her own, and crowds throng to the Louvre. "The Mona Lisa is not so much "hung" on its special wall as set, like a jewel, within it. With its stylishly brushed sgraffito surroundings, at once bare and luxurious, and its solitary magnificence behind glass, it's for all the world like a watch in Cartier's window. You need to be in the right frame of mind, but you can, for the first time in my memory, get a decent acquaintance with the Mona Lisa. Intimacy, even. So it's finally possible to ask yourself critically: is she worth it?" The Guardian (UK) 04/11/05

Reinventing The Walker The bigger Walker Arts Center is attempting to reinvent itself while it expands. "The Walker seems to be one of the few places in the world that tries tackling the progressive element of each art form. The MOMA doesn't do that, the Guggenheim doesn't do that, the Whitney doesn't do that." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 04/10/05

A Museum To Atomic Testing The Atomic Test Site Museum has opened just off the Las Vegas Strip. "The 8,000-square-foot museum, which opened in March, is the fruit of a decade of work by the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation. The ticket booth resembles the site's guard station; the movie theater looks like a bunker. "Countdown to next show," flashes an ominous red clock. A roar and a blast of air greet visitors in the concrete theater." OpinionJournal.com 04/12/05

In Art: 100 Naked Women And Some Scuffling To Get Close An Vanessa Beecroft art happening at a museum in Berlin featuring 100 naked women caused a commotion at its opening. "Scuffles broke out late last Friday as people tried to jump over the barriers to get closer to the women, aged between 18 and 65, wearing see-through stockings and greased with baby oil, who arranged themselves according to the instructions of US artist Vanessa Beecroft." ABCNews 04/11/05

  • Beecroft And The Case For Nude Women Vanessa Beecroft's performance in Berlin with 100 naked women is her biggest show ever. Certainly, there is plenty about Beecroft's work that is voyeuristic. The most interesting aspect of the new work is "its almost calculating cruelty: this evening's public performance lasts for three hours. Apart from the odd stretch and yawn, the women are instructed to remain as still and silent as possible. Towards the end they can lie down. Yesterday, at the preview, attended by dozens of journalists and TV crews, several of the "girls" as Beecroft calls them sat down exhausted. Most looked distinctly bored." The Guardian (UK) 04/11/05

Official Artist To The '05 Election If you can have a Poet Laureate write verse for official events, why not commission an artist to record an election? That's exactly what the British Parliament has done. "The artist, who was commissioned by an all-party parliamentary committee to present a unique portrait of Britain en route to the polls, will spend the next three weeks on the stump with politicians and plans to travel on both opposition battle buses. He is struggling to get access to Tony Blair's strictly-controlled entourage, however." The Observer (UK) 04/10/05

US Scientists Fight Legislation That Would Restrict Kennewick Man Study Scientists are opposing a bill in the US Congress that would "allow federally recognized tribes to claim ancient remains even if they cannot prove a link to a current tribe." That could block study of the ancient Kennewick man. "Scientists fear that the bill, if enacted, could end up overturning a federal appeals court ruling that allows them to study the 9,300-year-old skeleton, one of the oldest ever found in North America. The skeleton was discovered in 1996 along the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash., and has been the focus of a bitter nine-year fight." Newsday 04/11/05

NY Public Library To Sell Off Art The New York Public Library has decided to sell some of its art work so it can compete better in buying books, manuscripts and other works on paper and bolster its endowment. "Sotheby's, which has been retained by the library, estimates that the works will sell for $50 million to $75 million. The transactions will be handled either privately or by public auction." The New York Times 04/11/05

Sunday, April 10

An Arrest In The Munch "Scream" Theft Norwegian police say they've taken a man in custody for the theft of two Munch paintings from an Oslo Museum. "A man in his 30s was arrested Friday afternoon ... and charged with participating in the armed theft of the Munch Museum on Aug. 24, 2004," Oslo police said in a statement. CBC 04/09/05

Real Good, Fake Bad (But Why?) "So just what is wrong with a fake? Certainly not enough to stop forgery becoming a multi-million dollar business. Across Europe, America and Asia, anywhere from 15 per cent to a staggering 80 per cent (in Africa and China) of artworks offered for sale are thought to be fakes. Cases such as the gang of French and Belgian forgers jailed in 2001 for reproducing Cesar’s “compression” sculptures make headlines. And the Impressionist forgers John Myatt or Elmyr de Hory became so well known that their works are sought after because of the forger rather than the forged." Financial Times (UK) 04/09/05

Hide! The Art Cows May Be Coming To Edinburgh The art cows could be coming to Edinburgh, home to some pretty great art of its own. "There is no question that they [the cows] have been popular, attracting tourists and generating a buzz. So I’m sure you are wondering what grumpy cow would dismiss a herd that brightens up our streets and gives money to good causes. My problem with this exhibit is that it is one of many banal but inoffensive displays littering our public spaces." Scotland on Sunday 04/10/05

Heinz Kerry Makes Surprise Gift To Warhol Museum Theresa Heinz Kerry (wife of 2004 presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry) surprised the staff and management of Pittsburgh's Andy Warhol Museum with a $4 million endowment gift this weekend. The donation will go a long way toward helping the museum, "Pittsburgh's lively, provocative hub of contemporary art and popular culture," achieve its overall endowment goal of $35 million. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 04/10/05

Walker Expansion Almost Complete When the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis's popular avant-garde museum, set out to design a major addition to its building, it wanted the architecture to reflect the center's commitment to art that doesn't necessarily fit the traditional mold, but didn't want a building that would seem out of place in the Walker's existing neighborhood, which includes idyllic parks, historic churches, and a massive sculpture garden. The new addition, designed by Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, opens next weekend, "the first in a string of high-profile projects among Minneapolis cultural heavyweights to be completed. The Guthrie Theater, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and Children's Theater complex and a new downtown library with planetarium are all in progress on expansion or relocation efforts of their own." Minneapolis Star Tribune 04/10/05

  • Expanded Form, Expanded Function "Much of what distinguishes the expanded Walker won't even be seen by visitors. The complex sits atop an underground labyrinth that includes a 670-stall parking ramp and a network of art storage rooms, frame shops, photo labs and corridors linking the old and new buildings. Huge elevators will carry art from an enclosed loading dock at the south end of the complex to a 14-foot-tall subterranean corridor that parallels Hennepin Avenue. From it, art can be trollied into storage rooms or elevated nine or more stories to the top of the original Walker, one block north." Minneapolis Star Tribune 04/10/05

A Boston Renaissance "With more than $1 billion being raised for new museums and other arts facilities, Boston is in the midst of an unprecedented cultural boom, one that museum directors hope will elevate the city as a cultural mecca without overbuilding or saturating the market. The construction wave occurs a century after Boston's major institutions -- the Museum of Fine Arts, Symphony Hall, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum -- opened their current homes. This time, the projects are more varied, ranging from a contemporary art museum on the waterfront and downtown theaters to a pair of cultural centers slated for open space created by the Big Dig." Boston Globe 04/10/05

Friday, April 8

Magazine: Seven Modern Architectural "Wonders" Conde Nast makes a list of the seven modern architectural wonders of the world. What makes the list? Projects in Chicago, Seattle, Germany, London and Japan... Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 04/08/05

Bellevue Art Museum To Reopen The Bellevue Art Museum in a Seattle suburb plans to reopen in June as a crafts museum. When the museum abruptly closed in September 2003, the "museum was running out of money and faced low attendance after moving to a new $23 million building downtown in 2001. Some of the problems were attributed to lackluster exhibits, a cold, unwelcoming feeling inside the building, an unclear mission and poor management." Seattle Times 04/07/05

Pompidou Picasso Recovered A Picasso painting stolen last year from the Pompidou, has been recovered. "Following a tip-off, police traced the painting - worth 2.5m euros (£1.7m) - to a house in Paris where the painting was hidden behind a wardrobe. Cubist painting Nature Morte a la Charlotte, completed in 1924, was reported missing in May last year from a restoration workshop." BBC 04/08/05

Thursday, April 7

Kahlo Cache Discovered A two-year renovation project at the home-turned-museum of legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo has uncovered a vast wardrobe of previously undiscovered clothing and other valuable artifacts. ABCNews.com (AP) 04/07/05

Lifestyle Of Fake Architecture Forget malls. How 90s of you. Today's temples to shopping aggregation are called "lifestyle centers" (we kiddeth thee not). "While these new malls may appear to be public space, they're not public at all—at least if you want to do anything but shop. They represent a bait-and-switch routine on the part of developers, one that exchanges the public realm for the commercial one. They're also enormously successful—by the most recent count, there are about 130 lifestyle centers scattered around the country." Slate 04/07/05

LA County Museum In A Leadership Void What does Andrea Rich's sudden retirement running the LA County Museum mean? "Everybody is trying to put the best face on the sudden "retirement." LACMA still has tens of millions of dollars to raise for construction and endowment in its multiphase expansion plan, and now there are two big jobs to be filled, not just one. (Perhaps the nascent deputy will be promoted.) For that, unfortunately, LACMA will have to go to the back of a lengthy line; major director searches are already underway at heavy-hitters such as the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Cleveland Art Museum and the Minneapolis Art Institute. But what ended badly, started badly. The vacuum in professional conscience from both the boardroom (expected) and the director's suite (unexpected) means LACMA has been a rudderless ship for longer than a decade. Los Angeles Times 04/05/05

Architects, Pop Stars: Who Can Tell The Difference Anymore? How do you know when the whole architect-as-superstar phenomenon has gotten completely out of control? When Frank Gehry shows up to play himself on an episode of The Simpsons... San Francisco Chronicle 04/07/05

Wednesday, April 6

Will Resale Royalties To Artists Hurt UK Art Market? Staring next year artists in the UK will earn a percentage of the resale value of their work when it changes hands. "The measure would earn artists royalties of 4.5% on sales of up to £50,000, with a sliding scale coming into effect above that. However, royalties to the handful of artist millionaires would be capped at £9,000 for each sale. The payments would help some well-known artists." But some say that the plan will chase art sales out of the country to the US The Guardian (UK) 04/07/05

Texas Finds Its Muscle In The Art World "Until the last quarter of the 20th century, Texas hardly existed on the cultural map of America. Virtually every one of the state's major museums was built in the past 35 years. And, during the last decade or so, a new museum seems to open every year, inevitably designed by a leading international architect. Art follows money, and Texas money comes not only from oil but also from cattle, land development, banking, and insurance. You only have to set foot in a Texas museum to realise how generous wealthy Texans can be. But they are also sophisticated collectors who have filled their museums with works of art of the highest quality." The Telegraph (UK) 04/06/05

UK Government Committee: Art World Needs Code Of Conduct "Artists, art dealers, galleries and auction houses should have a set of rules to ensure all deals are fair, a committee of MPs has recommended. And public money should not be given to artists or art institutions unless they sign up, the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee said." BBC 04/06/05

Christie's Expands To Middle East Christie's is trying to tap into a wealthy Middle East market. "London-based Christie's, which had auction sales of $2.5 billion last year, will open as many as four offices in the Middle East during the next five years, starting with Dubai in the United Arab Emirates." Bloomberg 04/05/05

Tuesday, April 5

Scottish Art In Danger Of Devolution The director of the National Galleries of Scotland warns that a proposal to redistribute art across the country's galleries will backfire. "What will happen in Scotland unless we are very careful is that local authorities will say to themselves that they need to have a museum which they do not have already, so all the smaller galleries and museums in Perth, Dundee and Auchterarder - places like that - will all have art centres. If you do have a geographical redistribution of works of art in Scotland, it will mean that the relatively small metropolitan collections will be redistributed, or the monies will be redistributed from them, which will make them ineffective." Scotland on Sunday 04/03/05

Is Damien Hirst The End Of An Era? (Thank God!) Jerry Saltz hates Damien Hirst's new show of paintings. "In the end, Hirst is just another symptom of the hype, the hubris, and the money that have swamped the art scene lately. I love that weirdos and gypsies are rewarded in the art world. But Hirst and the many others who are currently riding the whirlwind aren't weird at all; they're official pitchmen and -women. Hirst's show merely brings us a step closer to the end of this profligate period. At his glitzy after-party, in an enormous tent on the roof of Lever House—amid dancing models, reveling stockbrokers, and the same successful artists and art world showboats you see at every one of these events—I thought I heard the Drums of Destiny on the horizon. Village Voice 04/05/05

Mona Lisa Gets A New Home The Mona Lisa is changing rooms at the Louvre. "Leonardo da Vinci's 500-year-old masterpiece will be hung alone on a wall in the museum's Salle des Etats. It will give the millions of people who come to see the Mona Lisa every year a better view of the painting. The Salle des Etats has had a 4.8m euro (£3.29m) renovation to provide a suitable home for the masterpiece." BBC 04/05/05

Tapestries Solved In Billions Of Numbers An attempt to clean and digitally photograph important tapestries from New York's Cloisters becomes a puzzle only solved when sophisticated mathematicians crunch the billions of numbers stored in digital images. "Each pixel had to be calculated in its relationship to every other nearby pixel, a mathematical problem, known as an N-problem, big enough to practically choke [a supercomputer]. This was a math problem similar to the analysis of DNA or speech recognition..." The New Yorker 04/04/05

Monday, April 4

The Moscow Biennale's Important First Steps It’s not clear if the first Moscow Biennale achieved its ambitious goals, but "visitors, Russian and Western, agreed that the biennale was the most important event in Russian art of the past ten years. And it seems that legitimization of contemporary art was at least partially achieved." ARTnews 04/05

Historic Britain - Have The British Fallen Out Of Love With The Past? "It is no secret that historic buildings have not been a government priority in recent years. While museums and the Sports Council have seen their grants rise, English Heritage has been starved of cash. Perhaps more importantly, the British public appear to be losing interest in our stately homes and grand buildings. Seekers of our country's cultural past are more likely to want to look inside the home where John Lennon grew up in Liverpool rather than an elegant country house." The Observer (UK) 04/03/05

Art Since 1900: Adding Up A Century The big new art history "Art Since 1900" is "formidably high-brow." It "is spectacular, gargantuan and painstakingly conceived so that it can be read in a number of ways. The authors have selected what they consider to be a defining event for every year and written essays about each one. But within those essays are signposts to other entries, so that if you were interested in a particular strand of thought, you could follow it throughout the century. The possibilities of this are endless and it's not long before you realise that the book could be not 700 but 7,000 pages long, depending on the historical maps you choose to draw up for yourself." The Guardian (UK) 04/03/05

Protesting Tibetan Treasures Show "For the first time, treasures from Lhasa's Potala Palace, the 300-year-old Vatican of Tibetan Buddhism, from the Norbulinka Summer Palace and the six-year-old Tibet Museum are being seen outside Tibet. Everywhere, the exhibition has been greeted with protests and demonstrations. On this third leg of the tour, an alliance of the Students for a Free Tibet, the Tibetan Women's Association and the Tibetan Youth Congress has denounced the exhibits as stolen "art from Chinese-occupied Tibet"." Financial Times 04/04/05

LA County Museum Director's Resignation A Surprise. Longtime director Andrea Rich's announcement was unexpected. "Her resignation comes just weeks after the museum announced that $156 million had been raised for an ambitious expansion and renovation, enough for construction to begin by year's end on the first round of architect Renzo Piano's plans for the Wilshire Boulevard facilities. That announcement marked a major turning point for the museum, which had to abandon an earlier, more sweeping plan for the museum complex after failing to raise enough money." Los Angeles Times 04/04/05

  • LA County Museum Director To Retire Andrea L. Rich, president and director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for nearly 10 years, will retire in November. "During her decade at the museum, Ms. Rich has beefed up the institution's public programming and more than doubled its endowment, to more than $100 million from $49 million. She has also added to the museum's collections." The New York Times 04/04/05

Sunday, April 3

A Plan To Pump £100 Million Into UK's Regional Museums A plan to spend £100 million on museums across the UK should make a major impact on regional museums say officials. "The money from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) - under the Renaissance banner - is intended to transform regional museums. he government created hubs in each of the nine English regions, consisting of a leading museum and up to three partner museums. The plan is that they would work together to provide leadership in museum practice and improve standards in the museums sector." BBC 04/03/05

Cleveland Expansion Means Short-Term Frustration "The $258 million expansion and renovation of the Cleveland Museum of Art, approved by trustees in March, ought to improve the museum vastly in six years. But in the near term, it means losing access to one of the greatest permanent collections in the country. By the end of this month, nearly 20 of the museum's 70 galleries are scheduled to be closed for renovation. By June, the museum's entire permanent collection will be out of sight for at least three years. Large portions of the collection will remain off-limits for another three years. Special exhibitions will continue through early January 2006, after which the museum will close completely for six months." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 04/03/05

What's Happening To Hirst? Damien Hirst has moved on from the days when he exhibited dead sharks and giant ashtrays, but has he really advanced his thinking at all? A new exhibit of Hirst's photorealist paintings seem like just so much rehashed rebellion, says Michael Kimmelman, "blithely lacking finesse, [ignoring] photorealism's first goals and [aspiring] only to be passingly ghoulish. And absent invention, they hang there like corpses... The era of the giant strutting ego as the amusing subject of art at this moment seems wincingly passé, supplanted by all those insouciant 20-somethings proffering their monkish, shuffling sort of virtuosity." The New York Times 04/03/05

The Booming Business of Art Prizes "Over the last few years, museums large and small have started awarding their own prizes, usually named after the institution and sponsored by a corporate donor, to capitalize on the glamour associated with contemporary art. To burnish their appeal, many of the new awards are modeled on the Tate Modern's venerable Turner Prize, which has evolved into a nationally televised event that attracts celebrity presenters like Madonna and habitually polarizes the British press... Indeed, the new art prize circuit has a circular quality, with many of the same artists nominated again and again, and many of the same jurors serving on multiple committees." The New York Times 04/03/05

Andy Slept Here Plans are afoot to renovate and restore the Pittsburgh home inhabited by a young Andy Warhol and his family. The house is in "terrible shape," and no one seems even to know who, if anyone, owns it. Even restored, it would likely not fetch much of a price. Still, Warhol's brother and his partners are hoping that the artist's name will be enough to spark interest in preserving the structure. Toronto Star 04/02/05

Friday, April 1

Why Philly Feels Conflicted Over Venturi Architect Robert Venturi has had a major career. So the question is: "why does an architect who helped break the harsh grip of authoritarian modernism provoke such extreme reactions in Philadelphians?" The city is his home town, and yet it's been ten years since Venturi's had a major commission there. Philadelphia Inquirer 04/01/05

Iraqi Art To Tour World For Five Years An important exhition of some of Iraq's most precious art will tour Europe beginning in October. "The Nimrud Gold, a cache of ancient jewellery which was rescued from a Baghdad bank vault, is to open on 23 October, at a venue in Europe to be announced next month. The show will then tour to 11 other cities in Europe, North America and the Far East, raising over $10 million for Iraq’s National Museum. The five-year tour is being organised by United Exhibits Group, a Copenhagen-based company." The Art Newspaper 04/01/05

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