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Wednesday, March 31

Today's Art - What A Peculiar Lot Where is contemporary art going? Martin Gayford is confused: "Is there a trend in contemporary art? At the moment, it just seems to be getting more and more peculiar. This year's Turner Prize - won, you may recall, by a transvestite potter - might have seemed slightly outre. But, in comparison with the Beck's Futures Prize, currently on show at the ICA, the tame old Turner looks positively mainstream." The Telegraph (UK) 04/01/04

Rehang This! (What's The Point?) Why do museums think it's a good idea to rehang the art in its collections? "I cannot believe that public understanding of art is increased by the endless shakings-up of displays, to which museums have become addicted. The curators are doing it for themselves: staging convulsions of taste and knowledge that impress their peers. No one nowadays wants to think their job is dull, but looking after a museum collection was, traditionally, one of the staider professions. Not any more. Now everyone is interested in museology, curating is an art form, history is widely recognised as a fiction and new displays have become as integral to public galleries as couture shows to the fashion industry." The Guardian (UK) 04/01/04

The Global (And Somewhat Garbled) UN Collection The United Nations is supposed to be a forum for international diplomacy, but over the decades of its existence, it has become something of an accidental museum as well. "As a collector and custodian of art, the United Nations occupies a unique, and uniquely awkward, position. Since much of its authority rests on the sovereign equality of its member nations, it cannot comfortably refuse a gift from any of them. The objects on display are therefore of wildly uneven quality and provenance, and cannot be easily organized in terms of medium, period, style, subject, technique or geographical origin. It is a kaleidoscopic, but not overly coherent, collection." The New York Times 03/31/04

The Mating Dance Of Art Acquisition "Today, buying art with income from endowments is next to impossible for most museums, even in the world of contemporary art, which used to be considered affordable. As a result, museums that want to grow their holdings must rely on collectors." But the collector targeted by one museum is likely being wooed by several others as well, and the result of this complicated dance is a curious blend of hypercompetitive gladhanding and subtle begging. Some in the art world bemoan this state of affairs, and long for a return to the days when museums could afford to simply buy the pieces they wanted to display. But some curators seem to live for the thrill of the gentrified chase. The New York Times 03/31/04

Tuesday, March 30

A Skylon In London's Future? "An ambitious plan to recreate the Skylon, the glittering spaceship-like spearhead which once rose over London as a symbol of Britain's postwar resurgence, has been put to the South Bank Centre. The structure, 88 metres (290 feet high) in internally lit aluminium-clad steel, would rise again near the Royal Festival Hall, upriver from the London Eye, only yards from where it stood as one of the two centrepieces of the Festival of Britain. The original Skylon, built in the last year of the postwar Labour government and immensely popular as a futuristic shape, was vengefully scrapped, cut in pieces and sold as ashtrays by an incoming Conservative administration." The Guardian (UK) 03/31/04

Emin Vs. The 8-Year-Olds, Part II Tracey Emin worked with a school class of 8-year-olds to create a quilt. The school wants to sell it, but Emin says it's not technically her artwork (thus making it less valuable). Nonetheless, she wants the school to give the quilt to her rather than sell it. And she's angry over the request to sell: "As a result of this incident Tracey has since declined any further requests to work with schools or with young people." The Guardian (UK) 03/30/04

Russian Court Refuses To Return Nazi-Looted Rubens The Russian government has ruled that a Rubens looted by the Nazis and now in Russia, should not be returned to Germany. "Its owners have included Frederick the Great, Joseph Goebbels' lover, a Red Army soldier and finally, and most controversially, Moscow real estate tycoon Vladimir Logvinenko. The German authorities desperately want it back but Russia's Prosecutor General's Office has ruled that Mr Logvinenko is the painting's rightful owner and that he did not break any Russian law in acquiring it." BBC 03/30/04

The Vettriano Debate Jack Vettriano's paintings are hugely popular in the UK, and are widely collected by ordinary folk and celebrity alike. So why does the art establishment dislike his pictures, and why don't they hang in museums? "Vettriano's work is not being suppressed; it is in every Fastframe shop you pass on the high street. Despite the legitimacy of the argument, I refuse to believe our curators should be bullied by public opinion. Fastframe and our national galleries should occupy different roles in society." The Observer (UK) 03/28/04

Art From 9/11 Dust Wins Prize "A handful of dust, gathered from the streets of New York in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, last night won the first £40,000 Artes Mundi prize for the Chinese artist Xu Bing." The Guardian (UK) 03/30/04

It's Emin Vs. The 8-Year-Olds Tracey Emin is locked in a dispute with a school of eight-year-olds. "The Britart star, whose first experiment with bed linen was snapped up by Charles Saatchi for £150,000, is demanding the return of a blanket made with eight-year-olds as part of an art project after the school involved tried to auction it." The Guardian (UK) 03/30/04

Painting Declared An Authentic Vermeer A Painting long dismissed as a fake has been "reattributed" as a Vermeer. "Young Woman Seated at the Virginals, to be auctioned at Sotheby's in July, will be the first Vermeer to come on the market for 80 years and is expected to fetch more than £3 million. Researchers have spent more than ten years studying the painting, which languished in near-obscurity after being "deattributed" to Vermeer in 1947." The Telegraph (UK) 03/30/04

Monday, March 29

Radical Architecture Collective Grows Into Its Time The British radical architecture collective Archigram found little success back in the 1960s, and it wasn't until decades later that theyy were appreciated. "Perhaps the fascinating thing about Archigram is what seems to be an instinctive recognition that if those involved truly wanted to be radical, they needed to steer clear of actual building. So architects became writers and artists. Ideas were developed and then allowed to work their way into the intellectual consciousness." The Telegraph (UK) 03/30/04

Aiming At Affordable Art (And Those Who Might Buy) There's a new breed of art fair, and it's doing quite well. The fairs offer "affordable art" aimed at the entry-level buyer. "Some buy for investment, calculating that as interest rates are low and the stock market is fluctuating then art should be a good long term home for spare cash. A survey this week revealed that 24 per cent of adults would consider buying art for this reason. But dealers and fair organisers say that most buy because they feel more confident than ever about doing so and because they want to spend disposable income on something for their home." The Telegraph (UK) 03/29/04

Let's Overhaul The Whitney Biennial Tyler Green writes that the Whitney Biennial is a fundamentally flawed enterprise. "The irony of the Whitney Biennial is that it brings a muddled exhibit of contemporary art to the city that needs it least. The Whitney's formula is especially tired: The Biennial most often takes already familiar art and simply institutionalizes it. No one deserves to be confronted with 108 artists in a single show; the exceptional artists suffer for being mixed in with the soon-to-be-forgotten middle, and in the end it all begins to blur. So here is how the Whitney Biennial can become the most important show of contemporary art not just in New York, but in America: Trim the Whitney Biennial down to eight to 12 truly fantastic artists." OpinionJournal.com 03/30/04

Giant Saddam Head In Scotland An enormous head from a statue of Saddam Husein has landed in the Scottish city of Aberdeen. "Since the head is thought to be the only one of its kind in Britain, museum officials are calling its arrival a coup for the city. But many citizens are outraged, accusing the museum of war looting. Weighing almost 136 kilograms, the head is from a statue believed to have come from the city of Basra, a British stronghold during the war." Edmonton Journal 03/29/04

Here Come The Russians Russian collectors are making their presence felt as they invest heavily in art. "A new elite is taking up the mantle of pre-Revolutionary collectors, the czars and industrialists whose collections became museums, including the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Tretyakov in Moscow. The Russian government has lifted taxes and duties to spur the return of works smuggled abroad by nobles or sold by the Bolsheviks after the Revolution of 1917. The authorities also want to encourage Russia's new multimillionaires to bring home the acquisitions they have been making, and keeping, outside the country." The New York Times 03/29/04

Ruddy Wins Archibald Portrait Prize Sydney artist Craig Ruddy has won the $35,000 Archibald Prize with his portrait of Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil. "Ruddy, who said he had wanted to paint Gulpilil for several years, is hoping the prize doesn't affect his work." The Age (Melbourne) 03/26/04

Sunday, March 28

Saatchi Being Investigated For "Monopolizing" The Art Market Collector/gallery owner Charles Saatchi is being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for allegedly monopolising the art market. "Charles Thomson, a gallery owner who has made it his mission to burst the BritArt bubble, has now taken the extraordinary step of submitting a formal complaint to the OFT. He claims that Mr Saatchi's pre-eminent commercial position as the key patron of dozens of young artists is monopolistic and anti-competitive." The Independent (UK) 03/28/04

The New Museum Paradigm Museums need to find new strategies for operating, writes Adrian Ellis. "Just as public collections will be reshaped over the next quarter century by the converging demands for restitution from an ever growing and more sophisticated set of parties, so the tensions between the enormous financial value of collections and the lack of liquidity of the institutions that own them are likely to manifest themselves in increasingly strange ways. The sector’s response to restitution shows every sign of being piecemeal, defensive and ultimately damaging to its long term standing in the eyes of the wider community in which museums operate." The Art Newspaper 03/26/04

The Art Gallery Of Ontario's Civil War "The Art Gallery of Ontario's "plans for a spectacular transformation, designed by the great architect Frank Gehry, have been put into limbo. The angry defection of long-time benefactor and board member Joey Tanenbaum has set off a chain reaction — resulting in waves of emotional and angry debate about what the AGO should do. At the moment, there is a long lineup of unhappy people." Toronto Star 03/28/04

Summing Up Cezanne Was Cezanne misunderstood? "Given his reservations about modernity, the grouchy old man might not be pleased to hear that he has since been generally accepted as the first modern painter. Would the iconoclast have preferred Mary Cassatt’s judgement that public taste had been perverted by him?" Times Literary Supplement 03/25/04

Catholic Churches Close Massachusetts Churches That Dominate Local Architecture The Catholic church is financially devastated in Massachusetts after the chuch's sex abuse scandals, and closing many churches. "The architectural landscape of Eastern Massachusetts, dominated in so many communities by church steeples and bell towers, is at risk of being diminished as the region's largest religious denomination, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, prepares to shutter a significant number of parishes, preservationists say." Boston Globe 03/28/04

Checkpoint Airport Art Wonder where those items confiscated from airline passengers at security checkpoints end up? An artist bought a few hundred pounds of the items and made art out of them. "In the massive Plexiglas case, wrapped in a heavy chain Maloney bought at Home Depot and hand-painted a rust color, are deer antlers, a tuning wrench for bongo drums still in its plastic case, his and her handcuffs, knitting needles, a decorative diaper pin, metal brushes, hair picks, a painted horseshoe, knives and forks, tweezers, meat thermometers and fishing hooks along with the lines and sinkers." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 03/27/04

Vancouver Museum's Limited Space The Vancouver Art Gallery wants to expand, but that is a complicated proposition. The museum's current site has little additional room, and there is no obvious alternative location. "The gallery, the fifth largest in the country, has a permanent collection of more than 8,000 works worth $100-million. But right now there isn't enough space to show the permanent collection, which includes extensive holdings of Emily Carr and of conceptual photography." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/27/04

Friday, March 26

No, No, We're Really Trying To Help While We Sell Off Your Biggest Assets Foundations want to sell a Lucien Freud and a Turner painting in a New Brunswick gallery - together the paintings could sell for $30 million. The foundations say they're helping the gallery. "When asked then, why virtually the entire board of the Fredericton gallery resigned, he replied: "Clearly they don't agree on the strategy." The strategy, he explained, would be for the foundations to sell art that has been on long-term loan to the gallery -- art they believe they own and that needs to be removed from a city of 48,000 and, in the words of one Canadian foundation member, made "more visible to the world." From these proceeds "[we] would give [the Beaverbrook gallery] a substantial donation" to help offset what Lord Beaverbrook calls its "substantial deficit." "We're trying to be helpful to them," observed Lord Beaverbrook, "but it's not always easy to do that, it seems." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/26/04

  • Previously: They're Worth How Much? Well, Give 'Em Back! "Two foundations set up by the late Lord Beaverbrook are claiming ownership of two paintings at a New Brunswick art gallery named in his honour, saying they're too valuable to remain there. The Montreal-based Canadian Beaverbrook Foundation and its British counterpart have an appraisal report from Sotheby's auction house that suggests two unnamed works among the 200 in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton should be displayed elsewhere." But representatives of the gallery don't want to give up the paintings, which they say were a gift to the province, and accuse the Beaverbrook estate of trying to reclaim the paintings because the family is in financial trouble. Toronto Star 03/24/04
Thursday, March 25

Art - A Popular Investment Once Again "After several years of seeing stocks and shares take a battering, more than one million Londoners have invested in art instead, researchers have found. Last year the capital spent more than £523 million on art. A quarter of Londoners questioned in a survey said they had bought into "alternative investments", such as art and antiques." London Evening Standard 03/24/04

Barnes To Sell Country Estate? Should the Barnes Foundation sell off a valuable country estate in order to raise money? "I don't think anyone relishes the thought of selling assets. But, do you abandon a gallery and art education program... or a farm house that [Barnes] used on weekends for a few years and the sale of which would save his trust?" Philadelphia Inquirer 03/25/04

Artist Paints Iceberg Red A Danish artist has painted an iceberg bright red. "Chilean-born artist Marco Evaristti mixed 3,000 litres of the red dye with sea water and used three firehoses, two icebreakers and a 20-person crew to spray a floating, 900-metre-square chunk of ice, located off the coast of western Greenland." CBC 03/24/04

Can Iraq National Museum Open In A Year? Iraq's culture minister says the country's National Museum could open within a year, so that Iraqis have a chance to see the museum's artwork before it is sent on worldwide tour. "The reopening of the museum will take place within a year to show Iraqis the treasures of Nimrod, which the people have never seen because Saddam Hussein hid them." Progress on reopening the looted damaged museum has been slow because of security concerns. Middle-East Online 03/25/04

Lots Of Money, Too Little Art So the art market has rebounded, and sales are strong. Only one problem - there isn't enough quality art to satisfy the demand. New York Post 03/24/04

Wednesday, March 24

Inside Zaha Hadid "The cult of obscurity that surrounded architect Zaha Hadid hardly distinguished her from her colleagues in the architectural avant-garde—or, for that matter, in the artistic or literary ones. For decades, architects like Hadid and their champions in the academy have discussed architecture in writing where jargon operates as a kind of code, keeping amateurs confused and thus, for the most part, comfortably out of the way. But Hadid took that disdain a step further: She walled off her work visually, too." Slate 03/24/04

They're Worth How Much? Well, Give 'Em Back! "Two foundations set up by the late Lord Beaverbrook are claiming ownership of two paintings at a New Brunswick art gallery named in his honour, saying they're too valuable to remain there. The Montreal-based Canadian Beaverbrook Foundation and its British counterpart have an appraisal report from Sotheby's auction house that suggests two unnamed works among the 200 in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton should be displayed elsewhere." But representatives of the gallery don't want to give up the paintings, which they say were a gift to the province, and accuse the Beaverbrook estate of trying to reclaim the paintings because the family is in financial trouble. Toronto Star 03/24/04

Gehry Strikes Back Ever since Frank Gehry unveiled his design for the reinvented Art Gallery of Ontario, the plans have been under attack from community groups and preservationists concerned about cost overruns and the detruction of the existing AGO. Gehry is not known as a fiery figure, but the piling on appears to have gotten his hackles up. He hotly disputes the notion, advanced by a prominent columnist, that his projects frequently come in massively over budget, inviting the writer to produce numbers to back up his claim. And as to the charge that his plans would wipe out a popular sculpture atrium added to the AGO in 1993, Gehry claims that his design will leave a large part of the atrium intact, and that the overall expansion will enhance the space. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/24/04

Tuesday, March 23

Looking At Beck's Futures This year's Beck's Futures Prize show is up. "The 10 shortlisted artists will split £40,000, while the overall winner with get an additional £20,000. There is a rumour going round the gallery that if he wins, Andrew Cross will spend the prize money on six and a half miles of model rail track. "No," he says. "I'm going to buy a Saab." The Guardian (UK) 03/24/04

Recreating The Parthenon Marbles The Parthenon Marbles are deteriorated and "strewn across 10 museums in eight countries" and wouldn't give much of a sense of their original condition even if they were reunited. But the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies is scanning the fragments and recreating them in full as computer models. "It has produced 152 high-resolution models of the sculptures, and produced images which show each in its original position." BBC 03/23/04

Monday, March 22

Museums Form Alliance Of Art Three American museums - in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles - are joining forces to "acquire finished works together and to organize shows as the cost of buying art and producing exhibitions has risen." The New York Times 03/23/04

France's New Rough And Tumble Art Market Three years ago France opened up its art markets to foreign sellers, ending a long-standing ban on foreign auction houses operating there. Many predicted that in the new era, the big international auction houses would swamp the French firms. "However, the reality has proved very different and in less than two and a half years Paris has evolved into the world's most unpredictable and fiercely competitive art market centre." London Telegraph 03/23/04

Vettriano - Popular But Scorned Jack Vettriano - the self-taught Scottish painter - is a hugely popular artist in the UK. But no public museums have interest in showing his work. Why? "The proposition that Vettriano cannot be slotted into a spectrum of art that runs from Titian to Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas is just risible. Why Pop Art but not Popular Art? If the National Theatre can reinvent itself by staging popular musicals and also populist shows like Jerry Springer - the Opera, then why cannot our galleries do likewise?" The Guardian (UK) 03/23/04

Why The Whitney Gets A Pass? "This year's Whitney Biennial may have escaped serious censure in part because there's no one at the Whitney to kick around anymore. In keeping with its sorry tradition of revolving-door directors, the museum lost its former head, Maxwell Anderson, last September and its affable new one, Adam Weinberg, bears no responsibility for this survey's selections. No one has yet been churlish enough to pummel the triumvirate of earnest, low-profile young female curators who made this year's picks." Wall Street Journal 03/23/04

Added Value (Of Art) How is the value of art determined? "Scholars, critics, researchers and historians all shape the value of art. You think you are pure, but you give an expertise and you are participating in the market. Your assessment of quality, authenticity or attribution makes you a player, like it or not. You go to graduate school and think about truth and beauty, but there's this whole other world that affects the truth-and-beauty factor."
Los Angeles Times 03/21/04

Hadid Wins Prizker "Zaha Hadid, whose dynamic designs often seem to defy laws of gravity, has won the Pritzker Prize, architecture's highest honor. It is the first time the prize has been given to a woman in the award's 25-year history." Los Angeles Times 03/22/04

Picasso - Patron Saint Of Today's Architects? "Today, many architects - bored of straight lines and right angles on the one hand, and of the kitsch post-modern design that did so much to dumb down city skylines in the 1980s on the other - have decided that they want to be Picasso, too. They want to imbue matter-of-fact buildings like office blocks and blocks of flats with the spirit of the great artist and sculptor." The Guardian (UK) 03/22/04

Jamming With Saatchi Charles Saatchi's new show is jammed full of art. "An emporium is what it feels like - piled high, stacked deep. If one more work was tacked to one more inch of wood-panelled wall, the building would surely collapse. The central pantheon that guarantees the box office remains more or less intact: the shark, the dung, Myra and the bloody head, dead dad and the famously unmade bed. But all the other rooms, halls and corridors are jammed. By my count, there are more than a hundred new works on display, plus several more classics from Saatchi's collection. You get three shows for the price of a ticket." The Guardian (UK) 03/21/04

Sunday, March 21

Feckless At The Royal Academy "Nowadays London's Royal Academy, for all its clever rebranding as friend to the Hirst generation, is a silly place: its summer show a trite exercise, its courting of the rich and famous (the newly restored rooms at its home, Burlington House, have been named after the man who gave the most money) a little crass, its style always tending to the posh and the phony. Yet the opening display from its art collection in the Fine Rooms is a powerful reminder that the Royal Academy once mattered, that it was once revolutionary." The Guardian (UK) 03/20/04

A Museum-Quality Thomas Kinkade? A show of Thomas Kinkade at a real art museum? Really? Fullerton's Main Art Gallery at California State University is hosting a show of the self-proclaimed "Painter of Light." "Having Kinkade at Grand Central is kind of like having McDonald's pitch its Big Macs on PBS, or having Pepsi and Coors Light throw a rock concert on Washington, D.C.'s Mall. 'There's no financial motivation for us to do this. It's for the sake of stirring things up, creating dialogue.' Apparently, the strategy has worked. CSUF students and faculty have been buzzing about the upcoming show, and many are furious." Orange County Register 03/21/04

The Greening Of A Freeway The route along the freeway in Boston that has been relocated underground (the Big Dig) is to become a greenbelt. As the old freeway is dismantled, Robert Campbell is taken with how big the space is. "It's just possible that the greenway site is more stunning today than it will ever be again. That's because of the way the remaining fragments of the old artery stand around in it, like mysterious wreckage from an earlier civilization. They may be junk, but -- as artists long ago discovered -- junk can be visually rich." Boston Globe 03/21/04

The Community Powers Of Weather Olafur Eliasson's Weather Project installation in the Tate Modern's vast Turbine Hall has been a phenomenal hit with visitors. But it's coming to an end and Eliasson reflects on why it appealed to people. "I wanted a subject that implied `community' and that was open-ended. Predicting weather is one way we collectively try to avoid the unforeseeable, which our lives are always about. The weather is a subject about which a community may also permit a high degree of disagreement: I can say `I hate the rain,' you say, `I love it,' and you may still think I am a nice guy." The New York Times 03/21/04

SF Museum Garage Construction Halted By Judge A San Francisco judge has halted construction of a parking garage in front of the de Young Museum, saying that the way the garage is being financed is not allowed. Delay in construction will cost the museum millions. "The de Young museum's summer 2005 reopening will be delayed until the garage is built, because a big hole will be created in front of the museum as the garage is being constructed. Museum officials now expect to open the facility next September -- three months late -- which means $3.8 million in lost revenue and added expenses, San Francisco Chronicle 03/20/04

Thursday, March 18

Schjeldahl: A Whitney Based On Good Instincts Peter Schjeldahl appreciates the instincts demonstrated by artists in this year's Whitney Biennial. "All of a sudden, artists are again plainly smarter in their bones than art intellectuals are in their brains. The operative word is 'plainly.' Painting and drawing are back. That’s the big news of this Biennial." The New Yorker 03/15/04

Rust-As-Art - Florida County Relents on Public Sculpture Officials in Tampa Florida have relented in insisting that an artist scrape the rust off a public sculpture he made. The artist - Bradley Arthur - insisted that the rust wasn't an error, but part of his artistic intentions for the piece. St. Petersburg Times 03/12/04

  • Previously: Florida County Wants Artist To "Fix" Rust On Sculpture Florida artist Bradley Arthur was hired to make sculpture out of melted guns. He did. But shortly after the sculpture was installed, it began to rust. "The county now contends Arthur has delivered a defective product. He must have done something wrong in making the sculpture. Officials with the county's public art program want him to 'fix' it. Arthur, 50, of Land O'Lakes, says there's nothing broken. Of course the pieces are rusting, he said, because they're made largely of gunmetal. He fully expected his artwork to rust in parts, and took that into account in his design." St. Petersburg Times 09/15/03

  • The Meaning Of Rust As public officials attacked his public sculpture because it was rusting, Artist Bradley Arthur suggests that the rust is part of the pieces' status as living art, a common theme in works subjected to the elements. He's a gregarious sort who loves discussing meaning and subtext and symbolism. He's given to making lofty statements that can sound pretentious to people less aesthetically minded. At the Ybor City sculpture, he kneels to rub off a reddish smudge. 'It's like the piece is crying,' he says wistfully." Weekly Planet (Tampa) 01/04

ROM To Get $25 Million Gift Canada's second-wealthiest family is set to announce a major gift to the Royal Ontario Museum, which is in the planning stages of a CAN$200 million expansion project. Galen and Hilary Weston will contribute as much as CAN$25 million to the ROM's capital campaign, a donation which will buy the Westons the naming rights to at least some part of the new expansion. The contribution means that the ROM should have all the cash it needs to go ahead with the first phase of its expansion. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/18/04

Wednesday, March 17

Thieves Hit Elvis Museum Thieves have raided the Las Vegas Elvis Presley Museum - known as Elvis-A-Rama. "Police said the suspects stole a tow truck and drove it into the museum's rear door, then used lead pipes to break open three Plexiglas cases. The bandits were in the museum less than five minutes, police estimated. Among the stolen inventory: a gold-plated handgun, a custom scarf, a bracelet and watch, Presley's Humes High School ring from 1953 and a Louisiana Hayride "E. Presley Day" ring from 1956." ABCNews.com 03/17/04

Brilliant: I'm Naked On A Plinth In Trafalgar Square After 150 years of debate, the sculpture for the fourth, hitherto empty, plinth in Trafalgar Square was chosen on Monday; the winning artwork was Marc Quinn's marble statue of Lapper, naked, eight months pregnant and as smooth and exposed as a newborn chick. 'I think it's absolutely brilliant. I don't feel the least bit embarrassed about everyone staring at me naked - I wouldn't have done it if I felt like that. I hope it opens their eyes'." The Guardian (UK) 03/18/04

Archaeologists: Stonehenge Tunnel A Bad Idea Archaeologists are protesting the British government's plan to build a £200 million 2.1km tunnel tunnel under Stonehenge. They charge that the project will result in "irreversible damage to the World Heritage site". Salisbury Journal 03/17/04

Whitney 2004: Anxious Art For A Dangerous Age Canadian journalist Sarah Milroy visits the Whitney Biennial looking for the state of the American soul, and finds an awful lot of anxious uncertainty: "If I had to choose a word for the show it would be 'tremulous' -- a tremulous biennial for a time of dramatic change, trauma and anxiety. A sense of fragility and flux prevails, reflecting the United States' sense of an uncertain future and its own unsteady place in the international arena." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/17/04

Why Shouldn't Science Be Pretty? "In 1993, two computer scientists devised a Java applet (PDF) to make energy fields not only visible, but really rad-looking. Each year, John Belcher at MIT holds the 'Weird Fields' contest among his physics students to see who can use the program to create the most aesthetically pleasing image by writing simple formulas for electromagnetism." The point isn't to create the most useful or efficient formula - just to come up with the one that looks the best. So what's the point? None, really, but Belcher believes firmly that his students benefit from a well-rounded approach to the world, and if that means using science to get them to create art, so be it. Wired 03/17/04

Tuesday, March 16

Living Up London's Art "London is home to many of the world's leading dealers, auction houses and museums, and Britain accounts for a quarter of the global art market worth $23.5 billion a year. But until now the city has never tried to promote its huge range and depth of expertise cohesively. That will change today, with the announcement of a major new initiative to celebrate London's unique place in the international art market." The Telegraph (UK) 03/17/04

Saltz: Another Whitney Biennial... Ho-hum Jerry Saltz visits the Whitney Biennial and comes away whistling ho-hum. "The art world is dying to like the 2004 Whitney Biennial. The opening was a lovefest. Previews in magazines and newspapers essentially implored, 'Can't we all just get along and love the biennial?' Nearly all trotted out the cliché 'the show everyone loves to hate.' Disliking exhibitions is seen by some to be disloyal or obstructionist. This is traceable to the fact that in America today criticism and even civil disagreement are implicitly discouraged." Village Voice 03/16/04

Foster Chosen For Smithsonian Project The Smithsonian has announced that Norman Foster has been selected to design a huge glass canopy that will enclose the courtyard of the Old Patent Office Building in Washington DC. "The building, which is home to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, is undergoing a top-to-bottom renovation." Washington Post 03/16/04

Monday, March 15

Survey: Swiss Have The Museum Habit A new survey reports that "half the Swiss population visits a museum at least once a month. A quarter of those polled said they had attended an exhibition at least ten times in the past six months." Neue Zürcher Zeitung 04/16/04

Berlin Biennial A Drag Berlin is a great art city. But its Biennial is oh so wrong. "The biennial is subtitled Complex Berlin, and it is a complicated affair. It supposedly deals with the city itself; with politics, economics, club scenes, subcultures and "sonic scapes"; the city as a leitmotif, migration as a metaphor, division, history, integration and paradox. You get more sense of this, of course, walking Berlin, doing the Walter Benjamin thing, losing yourself. This biennial is a grind." The Guardian (UK) 03/16/04

Royal Academy Row Over Destroying Art To Get At Art Below "A row has broken out among the guardians of Britain's cultural heritage over the proposed destruction of an acclaimed series of Victorian paintings on a ceiling at the Royal Academy of Art, to "reveal" an earlier masterpiece." The Guardian (UK) 03/16/04

Trafalgar Statue Chosen Judges have chosen the statue of a pregnant victim of thalidomide to occupy the fourth vacant plinth in Trafalgar Square in London. "Alison Lapper says her portrait, by the artist Marc Quinn, is 'naked, pregnant and proud'. Her portrait, made when she was eight months pregnant, was chosen last night by the judges to be created on a monumental scale, 4.5 metres high (15ft) in white marble, and take its place among the bronze generals and grubby pigeons on the fourth plinth which, despite more than 150 years of arguing, has been empty since the square was created." The Guardian (UK) 03/16/04

A Resale Fee For Australian Artists Proposed A proposal for Australian artists to receive 3 percent of the resale of art is on the table. "Unlike writers, musicians and composers, Australian artists do not receive royalty - or droit de suite - payments. This means that if an artist's work is resold at auction, or by an agent or private gallery for more than its original price, artists do not reap the rewards." The Age (Melbourne) 03/15/04

Is Aboriginal Art Boom Sustainable? "Aboriginal art is now worth $10 million a year to the salerooms - up from a mere $620,000 a decade ago. But Sotheby's has been taking 60 per cent or more of the total and its main competitors want to grab their share. Others have tried, however, and failed. And whether there are enough collectors in Australia or overseas to keep five big salerooms running profitably seems highly doubtful." The Age (Melbourne) 03/15/04

The Best, Worst And Indifferent Of This Year's Whitney This year's Whitney Biennial, writes John Perreault, doesn't adhere to the premise set out for it in the curators' catalogue essay. "The current biennial, they write, suggests an art 'sea change' as important as that delineated by the 1993 biennial (whatever that change was). The present change seems to have something to do with 9/11, corporate greed and dot-com collapse. Alas, although I enjoy the new biennial a great deal, I don't think this point is adequately demonstrated either by their text or their exhibition. All three, nevertheless, produced credible single-author essays, leading one to suspect that the introduction is a bit of an exquisite corpse..." Artopia (AJBlogs 03/15/04

Sunday, March 14

Gopnik: I love The Whitney Biennale, I Love... Blake Gopnik attempts the Whitney Biennale with a positive attitude: "If art lovers are almost always disappointed by the Whitney's survey, maybe the problem lies in our expectations rather than in the show itself. Though it features more than 300 works chosen from across the nation in something like nine months, we still somehow imagine that the biennial should be a tight, coherent show of excellent art. In fact, it can never be more than a grab bag of whatever work happens to have been made since the previous edition of the show. Great exhibitions come about when curators identify important art that speaks to them, and then spend many years shaping it into a show that will speak to us. The Whitney Biennial comes about because another two years have gone by and someone's got to pull something together, fast." Washington Post 03/14/04

Face Off - Learning To Love Portaits "The arts editor had a brilliant idea. He thought. A weekly series on portraits? I wasn't so sure. The National Portrait Gallery is my idea of hell. Hard-faced Tudors and luxuriantly eccentric Victorians are great. But the 20th-century galleries make your flesh crawl with their bad paintings, trite photographs, and affirmation that the interest of a portrait lies in its subject rather than creator. The NPG classifies portraits by the person, with the artist's name second. This is why portraits can seem the opposite of serious art." And yet... The Guardian (UK) 03/13/04

The Art Gallery Of Ontario's Pattern Of Woe Last week, the Art Gallery of Ontario's most important board member and benefactor quit. Disaster. "But this was only the latest in a series of plagues visited on the AGO over the past year. First there was plunging attendance, followed by its consequences: budget cutbacks and a confrontation with its employees' union. Meanwhile, interminable discussions with Gehry were conducted behind a veil of secrecy befitting the CIA." Toronto Star 03/14/04

Acropolis Museum Plans Criticized "Critics around the world are expressing outrage at the proposed design for the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, which many believe will fatally compromise the setting of the Parthenon. The issue has become so heated that it is thought to have contributed to the downfall of the Greek Government at last weekend's election." INTBAU 03/14/03

WTC - Contemplating The "Safest Building In The World" For a variety of oh-so-obvious reasons, project managers of the new tower to rise above the site of the World Trade Center say they're building the "safest building in the world." "In an attempt to live up to that very public promise — to overcome public fear, and reassure prospective tenants — the designers of the tower are carrying out a most unusual exercise that is in equal parts brainstorming, forensic analysis and Götterdämmerung-style what-iffing." The New York Times 03/14/04

Where The Art Is: Miami Miami is now home to some major contemporary art collectors. Some collectors have been so successful in their hording that they've even built personal museums for their collections. "When we arrived here Miami was acultural. Now there are all these energies coming together that give it the excitement of a frontier."
The New York Times 03/14/04

Friday, March 12

More Acropolis Museum Maneuvering (Will It Ever Be Built?) A day after the Greek government ordered a halt to constuction of the Acropolis Museum, "court sources yesterday said that a senior prosecutor has ordered that criminal charges be brought against senior Culture Ministry officials who approved the project." Kathimerini (Greece) 03/12/04

Thursday, March 11

Kimmelman: This Whitney Biennale Is A Winner That this year's Whitney Biennale is "the best in years," writes Michael Kimmelman, won't stop the usual carping and complaining. The Biennale's three curators "overcame the inevitable strains and nicely capitalized on their differences in taste, coming up with the most cogent and layered biennial in years." The New York Times 03/12/04

Saltz: A Moratorium On Projectors Please! "By now, almost everyone would agree that the traditional Warhol-Richter-Walter Benjamin defense of the use of photography in painting, the "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" argument, and the chatter about "interrogating representation" or "investigating the problem of the photograph," isn't just dated, it's shtick. We all know that photography is a remarkable and remarkably complex way of seeing and picturing the world; that the space between the photograph, the photographer, and the thing photographed is incredibly rich; that the graphic field of the photograph is often scintillatingly alive, specific, and very post-Renaissance; and that reproducing photographs in paintings once represented a significant repudiation of dearly held beliefs." But... Village Voice 03/08/04

Transforming Chicago's Urban Living Room Chicago is transforming Grant Park, at the center of downtown, into what mayor Richard Daley calls "one of the finest recreational and cultural spaces of any city in the world." When it opens next summer, the "re-christened Millennium Park will feature a 125-tonne steel sculpture by Anish Kapoor, a 220-foot-long video-fountain by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, a gleaming metallic bandshell by Frank Gehry, and a garden by landscapist Kathryn Gustafson, who won the Princess Diana Memorial competition for Hyde Park." The Art Newspaper 03/05/04

  • Chicago's Vastly Ambitious Millennium Park By the time of its opening in the summer, the park will have cost in excess of $400 million; more than twice the figure originally envisaged. The Independent (UK) 03/12/04

African-American Art Market Heats Up "Prices for African-American art have been steadily increasing as more and more lower-end black memorabilia have shown up in flea markets, antique shows and auctions for the past 15 years. While offensive items like vintage mammy and minstrel cookie jars, salt-and-pepper shakers and dolls may sell for up to $500 each, slave documents, books and other printed matter fetch four figures at auctions. At the top, art commands tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars." Forbes (Reuters) 03/11/04

The Best-Selling Artist Of All Who is the best-selling artist of all time? Picasso? Van Gogh? "The truth could hardly be more different or more surprising, at least according to the publisher HarperCollins, which says the world's bestseller is a Swiss religious artist by the name of Annie Vallotton. Even if the name is unfamiliar, chances are you may have seen her work or own an unopened copy of one of her books." BBC 03/11/04

Greece Halts Acropolis Museum Construction Greece has put a halt to building the Acropolis Museum. "The country’s highest administrative court ruled that a Culture Ministry decision approving plans for the 94-million-euro building could cause irreversible damage to ancient building remains found on the plot in Makriyianni, under the Acropolis." Kathimerini (Greece) 03/11/04

NY Dealer Charged In Art Fraud A Manhattan art dealer has been arrested on fraud charges for "a multimillion-dollar international art scam in which he bought up works by 19th century French artists, forged them and sold off the fakes through prestigious auction houses. The brazen forgery racket, which spanned the globe from New York to Paris, London and Toyko, involved more than 25 paintings by masters such as Monet, Marc Chagall, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Gaugin, court documents charge." New York Post 03/11/04

Wednesday, March 10

UK Museums - Victims Of Their Own Success So UK museums want a big block of added government funding. There's something horribly familiar about this cri de coeur, heard again and again from different parts of the arts community over the years. But they do have a strong case. Since the government-directed abolition of admission charges in 2001, museums have become victims of their own success." Millions more are coming through the doors, and it's put a strain on museums. London Telegraph 03/11/04

Art From The Racist Point Of View There is plenty of art done from the victim's point of view. But what about art from the racist's point of view? A Seattle artist has made work explores racism from the oppressor's point of view. His "flat style -- a blend of American Pop and Japanese ukiyo-e or "floating world" graphics -- gets inside his hot subject and gives it a deadpan edge." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 03/11/04

The Case Of The Overlapping Board Member Software magnate and collector Peter Norton has recently found himself split in two - as a member of the boards of directors of the Whitney and the Museum of Modern Art. ."In recent years, the Whitney, founded as a showcase for American art, has featured more international art, putting it in more direct competition with MoMA. Mr. Norton now serves on committees at both museums. What happens if both are bidding on the same acquisitions at the same galleries, or vying to get the same exhibitions? In the social order of generations past, it would have been unheard of to serve on the Whitney and MoMA boards at once." New York Observer 03/10/04

First A Helping Hand, Then A Slap To The Face Back in January, the Toronto city council voted almost unanimously to move the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art from its current home in North York to the center of a growing arts district in the city's downtown. But budget crunches are forcing the city to cut back all over, and one of the items slated for a serious fiscal blow is the MCCA's budget. Under the current plan before the council, the museum would lose more than a third of its annual budget, which will force it to curtail most of its programming for the year. Toronto Star 03/10/04

Modernism Meets The Assembly Line "What if modern architecture could meet up frankly, honestly with mass production the way that French architect Le Corbusier imagined it? What if you could actually afford to buy a house by award-winning architects? If the project of modernism took hold, North America might start to look like a place of gritty, tenacious promise and less like a bad copy of its past. To help undo the prevailing nostalgia for architecture, in which new houses typically look as dated as top hats and waistcoats, there is the Royal Q series of modernist homes or cottages designed by Kohn Shnier Architects." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/10/04

No Rodin For Barrie: MacLaren May Close "A multimillion-dollar deal to bring hundreds of bronze sculptures attributed to the French master Auguste Rodin to a small Ontario art gallery has collapsed, with the result that the gallery may be forced to close its doors as early as next month." The 510 bronze pieces, reportedly worth as much as CAN$135 million, were expected to be the linchpin of an ambitious art project which would have placed Canadian and international sculpture in and around the town of Barrie, Ontario, home of the MacLaren Art Centre. But questions cropped up about the proposed deal to bring the bronzes to Barrie, with some experts even questioning whether all 510 pieces exist. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/10/04

Tuesday, March 9

The End Of Photography? Not! So David Hockney has declared the end of photography. Oh really? asks Joel Sternfeld, winner of the Citigroup photography prize: "The Hockney argument is as simplistic as saying that any non-fiction book is truthful. You can never lose sight of the fact that it's authored. With a photograph, you are left with the same modes of interpretation as you are with a book. You ask: what do we know about the author and their background? What do I know about the subject?" The Guardian (UK) 03/10/04

  • Previously: Hockney: Photography Is Dead David Hockney says he believes that photography as an artform is dead. "Hockney says he believes modern photography is now so extensively and easily altered that it can no longer be seen to be true or factual. He also describes art photography as "dull". Even war photography, once seen as objectively "true", has now been cast in doubt by the ubiquitous use of digital cameras which produce images that can be easily enhanced or twisted." The Guardian (UK) 03/04/04

Long-Unseen Boticelli Goes On Display A long unseen Botticelli is among a collection of the master's work that goes on display in Florence this month. It's being called the largest show of the painter's work ever mounted. "The never previously displayed masterpiece is the last of four panels that make up one of Botticelli's most disturbing works - The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti." The Guardian (UK) 03/10/04

Why UK Museums Want More Funding Some 2000 British museums say that funding of museums hasn't kept up with costs in recent years. Museums generate £3bn for the economy and employ 40,000 people. And members of the public make 100 million museum visits per year - more than the total crowds at all the UK's live sporting events put together." BBC 03/09/04

  • A Museum's Chance In Hell (For Funding, That Is) So what are UK museums' chances of getting a 25 percent increase in their funding from the government? "If the words "snowball", "chance" and "hell" were in the air, a week before budget day and a few months before a tough spending review, nobody uttered them." The Guardian (UK) 03/10/04

Parliamentary Collection - Not Enough "Traditional Landscapes?" In Australia, "the future of the $85 million Parliament House art collection has been cast into doubt, with MPs considering proposals to curb purchases of emerging artists, stop temporary exhibitions, cut staff and hire a part-time corporate art curator." The government undertook a review of the collection last year after Government backbenchers' complaints that there were not enough "traditional" landscapes on offer to decorate their offices." Sydney Morning Herald 03/09/04

Board Member Quits To Protest AGO Gehry Makeover One of the Art Gallery of Ontario's most prominent board members has resigned and withdrawn his financial support for the museum. He's protesting the gallery's plans for a $194 million transformation by architect Frank Gehry. Joey Tanenbaum describes the Gehry project as "needless destruction" and "a blatant attempt to eradicate the recent history of the gallery." Toronto Star 03/09/04

UK MUseums: We Need Cash UK museums warn that they need an extra £115 million a year to keep up their services. "A Manifesto for Museums, launched on Tuesday, contained a warning that large London attractions may not be able to keep going at their present levels. BBC 03/09/04

Monday, March 8

Weak-Ankled David To Be Unveiled In May The cleaning of Michelangelo's David is more than half completed, and the scrubbed statue will be unveiled in May. "But tests will continue to explore one problem that emerged in the restoration - an apparent fragility of the statue's ankles, which support more than six tons of dead weight." CBSNews.com (AP) 03/08/04

At Maastricht - High Expectations This year's European Fine Art Fair opens in Maastricht. It's the world's top bazaar for prized paintings. Expectations always run high because the dealers exhibiting here are among the best in the world. Experts consider the fair a barometer of the art market, and many visitors come for the sheer fun of enjoying beautiful art and objects." The New York Times 03/08/04

  • Just How Big Is Maastricht? "The scale of the event is astonishing. When it opened last Thursday, the art on show had been insured for more than $1 billion and included an estimated 70 per cent of the important Old Master paintings available for sale in the world. The stock of one leading jeweller is so valuable that when it arrived, security men sealed off the building until it was safely inside." The Telegraph (UK) 03/08/04

Kiddieporn Charge Shutters London Gallery London's Spitz Gallery was shut down on Sunday night after detectives from Scotland Yard showed up in response to concerns by some patrons that a photograph by American Betsy Schneider featured a child in a pornographic pose. The photograph in question is part of a series of shots Ms. Schneider had taken of her daughter, from infancy through the age of 5. The child is nude in most of the photos, but the artist insists that there is nothing pornographic about them. The gallery is reportedly considering its legal options. The Guardian (UK) 03/08/04

Art, Fame, & Unintended Consequences Winning Australia's $35,000 Archibald Prize is one of the fastest ways for an artist to get a stunning amount of media exposure, so it's no wonder than so many enter. But as any Hollywood celebrity will tell you, fame ain't all it's cracked up to be. "Winning the annual portrait prize has many consequences for the careers and lives of artists, beyond the sudden fame. Doors open, certainly, and commissions might follow. But bruised egos, ruined friendships and a broken marriage have been among its unanticipated results." Sydney Morning Herald 03/06/04

Sunday, March 7

What Defines Good Writing About Art? Charles Saumarez Smith, director of London's National Gallery, has just become a juror for a new competition to find the best writing about art. But what defines good writing about art, these days, he wonders... The Guardian (UK) 03/06/04

Courting Oblivion - Are English Court Buildings In Danger? "A report by the conservation group Save says that Britain is in danger of throwing away a treasury of court buildings, usually the most important civic buildings - architecturally and socially - in their areas." The Guardian (UK) 03/06/04

Taking On The WTC Memorial - Critics Get Organized With a project so emotionally charged as the memorial at the World Trade center site, It had to happen of course; protests are pouring in about the winning design and the process to choose it. "The whole competition stinks of collusion, rule-breaking, and fraud," is the general tone of criticism. "At least one organized group hopes to stop the winning design from getting built. Called the World Trade Center Memorial Focus Group, it consists of losing competitors and is led by an employee of the New York City transit authority named Jeff Johns." Boston Globe 03/07/04

Another Whitney Whirl In The Wings It's time for the art world's every-two-years' food fight - the Whitney Biennial. "Some Biennials simply recap the commercial activity of the preceding two years. Others look ahead; the 2002 edition, for example, anticipated the current interest in youth culture, collectivism, sound art and craft-intensive, Pop-ish work. This year's show will probably do both. Although much of the work comes straight out of recent gallery exhibitions, a substantial chunk is brand new and being shown for the first time. A few pieces have even been commissioned for the occasion." The New York Times 03/07/04

Hey - Could Ya Turn Down That Art Over There? Contemporary art is getting noisier. "Almost regardless of medium, today's art comes with soundtracks, voiceovers, loudly moving parts or interactive elements. The computer and the Internet have brought out the inner polymath in many artists, who often play in bands and now sample and splice sound and music as easily as they once cut and pasted magazine images. Exhibition catalogs incorporate CD's. Speakers and headsets abound in museums, galleries and art fairs." The New York Times 03/07/04

Friday, March 5

WTC Office Park Design Unveiled "Design guidelines intended to give three-dimensional form to the World Trade Center redevelopment project - but not quite as exactingly as a draft prepared last year - are now being circulated for comment among planners, architects and officials." The plans focus on the 5-building office park that will surround the Ground Zero site, an aspect of the plan which lacks the glamour of the Freedom Tower and PATH station which garnered so much attention when they were unveiled several months ago, but which will have much to do with defining the eventual look and feel of the area. The New York Times 03/05/04

Protests Over Governor-General's Award "Some protests were logged yesterday with the Canada Council for the Arts, which recently selected the controversial artist Istvan Kantor (a.k.a. Monty Cantsin) as a winner of the Governor-General's Award for Visual and Media Arts. Kantor gained notoreity (and a lifetime ban from the National Gallery in Ottawa) for one specialty, using his own blood to paint on gallery walls." But Council officials insist that the number of protests they've heard is minimal, and that media interest is out of proportion to the actual size of the controversy. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/05/04

Hubble Paints A Van Gogh "Scientists say the latest image from the Hubble space telescope bears remarkable similarities to Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night, one of his most famous paintings and renowned for its bold whorls of light sweeping across a raging night sky." The Guardian (UK) 03/05/04

The Koolhaas Effect - Architecture Of The Unconventional Architect Rem Koolhaas is involved in aa series of unconventional projects across the globe. "His unorthodox choice of project reflects an impatience with the rules of a profession that he entered only late in life." Financial Times 03/05/04

Thursday, March 4

Iraq Exploration Will Rewrite The History Books There are so many archaeological sites in Iraq, and the technology for exploring them has progressed so much that if they are researched in the next decade, they will rewrite what we know about the history of the region. "A decade of research in Iraq could rewrite the books of archaeology, no question. There is just a phenomenal amount of history in this country and much of it is yet to be discovered. But over time it will be and we'll have to totally rethink what we know." Reuters 03/04/04

Wednesday, March 3

Hockney: Photography Is Dead David Hockney says he believes that photography as an artform is dead. "Hockney says he believes modern photography is now so extensively and easily altered that it can no longer be seen to be true or factual. He also describes art photography as "dull". Even war photography, once seen as objectively "true", has now been cast in doubt by the ubiquitous use of digital cameras which produce images that can be easily enhanced or twisted." The Guardian (UK) 03/04/04

Kandinsky - Prisoner Of Schoenberg? Kandinsky was very interested in music and admired Schoenberg, write Terry Teachout, "but he was also an idea-besotted intellectual manqué who followed many a half-baked notion down a blind alley, most spectacularly when he embraced theosophy, a pseudo-religion popular at the turn of the 20th century whose amorphous tenets played a part in his own turn to abstraction. Just as theosophy preached the unimportance of the material world, inspiring Kandinsky to portray in his paintings an "immaterial" universe of spiritual "thought-forms," so did Schoenberg’s break with tonality—a break that Schoenberg himself thought to be historically inevitable—seem to Kandinsky a necessary stage in the larger quest for a spiritual art freed from the shackles of materialism. Both men, however, were mistaken." Commentary 03/04

Architect Proposes Huge Moscow Artist Project A Dutch architect has proposed building "five blocks of luxury flats, each block decorated in the style of a Russian artist. While the mayor backs the project, architectural critics have panned it as another example of the scars millionaires are inflicting on the city's skyline." The Guardian (UK) 03/03/04

Preserving The (Recent) Past The future of the preservationist movement may be evident in a new trend which has seen several relatively "young" and unspectacular buildings saved from the wrecking ball by activists looking to preserve a piece of America's architectural heritage. "Good contemporary architecture, always a precious resource, is often a victim of the rush to replace. Too new to benefit from the power of nostalgia but already old enough to look dated and shabby, buildings become especially vulnerable when they reach their mid-20s." The trick, of course, is determining which examples of recent architecture are truly worth fighting for, but that anyone is fighting for them at all is an important step. Newsday 03/03/04

Tuesday, March 2

Australia's Blockbuster Sale "One of Australia's most prominent art collectors, John Schaeffer, has been forced to put his $30 million mansion and his entire collection of paintings and sculpture up for sale. Christie's claims next month's Sydney auction of hundreds of art works will be the biggest sale in Australia in decades." The Age (Melbourne) 03/02/04

Art Dealers And History Art dealers are just interested in making money, right? Earning their livings off the sweat of artists. Yet art dealers have made enormoug contributions to the history of art. "Over and over you find that interest in a new or unexplored area of art history in Britain was dealer- led. Like any profession, art dealing indeed has its rogues and scoundrels. But far more dealers are cultivated men and women who adhere to the highest professional standards. It is high time the contribution dealers make to art history was acknowledged and celebrated." The Telegraph (UK) 03/02/04

Help For UK Museums? The British Parliament debates the country's level of support for museums. Museusm are under budget pressure, and a change in the tax code will only make it worse. “It does seem rather odd to me that there is this shift away from museums in favour of other sorts of public expenditure ... at a time when so much more is being demanded of museums and galleries.” The Scotsman 03/02/04

Monday, March 1

The Art Of Art Damage Flies, mold, pets - artwork gets damaged in many mysterious (or mundane) ways. "Fine-art insurers say that most damage to art occurs during transport. But art is also damaged in other, more unusual ways—by destructive pets, careless storage, and improper cleaning methods." ARTnews 03/04

Doubts Increase About Missing "Cezanne" Cezanne experts are voicing more skepticism that a painting stolen last weekend in New South Wales was an authentic Cezanne. "Claiming the work appeared to have been painted in England in the 1920s," one expert says owner John Opit was "suffering from a case of 'mythomania'. 'I think it's just a case of the myth getting bigger than the man'." The Australian 03/02/04

Debating The Visual Culture "A disturbing though little publicized movement is afoot in American education to transform the study of art into what is termed Visual Culture Studies. It seeks to broaden the proper sphere of art education--the visual arts--to include every kind of visible artifact. In their rush to embrace Visual Culture Studies, art teachers who have been immersed in postmodern culture, and in the postmodernist work that now passes for art, have lost sight of the salient qualities of works of visual art. As a result, their interpretations are prone to error, blurring major differences not only between painting, sculpture, and other types of imagery but also between works of visual art and artifacts that are not images at all." Aristos 03/04

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