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Wednesday, November 29

Visual Arts

ROM Reups Its Chief Despite Expansion Troubles "In a stunning vote of confidence, the Royal Ontario Museum's board has extended the contract of its director and chief executive officer, William Thorsell, until 2010, even though the Renaissance ROM expansion is about six months behind schedule and short by about $37-million."
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/29/06 Posted: 11/29/2006 6:22 am

Canadian Art Hot At Home A busy auction night in Toronto highlighted what has become apparent in recent weeks: that the art boom occurring on both sides of the Atlantic is even stimulating interest in (and higher prices for) works that might previously have been considered of only regional interest. "The fall auction season for Canadian art [hasn't] approached anything like the heat of international art auctions. [But this week's] sales looked like yet more signs that collectors' appetite for Canadian art, far from softening, is actually broadening."
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/29/06 Posted: 11/29/2006 6:16 am

Moral of the Story: It Ends Better When Everyone Plays Nice The Italian government has agreed to loan two valuable antiquities to New York's Metropolitan Museum and Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, in exchange for the museums having returned contested antiquities to Italy. The amicable settlements in New York and Boston stand in stark contrast to Italy's ongoing battle with Los Angeles's J. Paul Getty Museum.
The New York Times 11/29/06 Posted: 11/29/2006 5:57 am

  • Is Anyone Not Stealing From Italy? "Seeking to build on its success in bargaining with a few American museums, Italy has asked the New York collector Shelby White to consider returning more than 20 ancient artifacts that it argues were illegally mined from its soil... Rather than implicitly threaten legal action, however, as it occasionally has in pursuing objects in major museum collections, the government hopes to rely on moral suasion."
    The New York Times 11/29/06 Posted: 11/29/2006 5:56 am

Parsing The Sudden Popularity Of Chinese Art In this season of unfathomable auction records and price spikes in the art market, Asian art has been some of the hottest, and most surprising, work to be sold at auction. And it isn't just Western buyers who are looking to the East. "Wealthy buyers from China and other parts of Asia are now jockeying with European and American collectors to buy Chinese works that only five years ago were largely ignored by the international art market."
The New York Times 11/29/06 Posted: 11/29/2006 5:53 am

MoMA Finally Complete The newly expanded home of New York's Museum of Modern Art (all of it) is finally open to the public, and Nicolai Ouroussoff says that the last of the newly built spaces is "unlikely to appease those who feel the museum has become a soulless corporate machine. But at least it underscores what is most alluring about the museumís recent expansion... Seen from the street or the garden, the museum presents a continuous pattern of activity, reaffirming its public mission."
The New York Times 11/29/06 Posted: 11/29/2006 5:49 am

Critic To Artists: You're All Idiots A UK Art Fair recently polled 500 artists, asking them who their ten favorite artists of all time might be. The result was an eclectic list that left at least one critic distinctly unimpressed. "The artistsí artist Top Ten consists entirely of painters, and errs towards the splodgy and the splashy type much beloved by those who revel in the craft of oil painting... This is the Top Ten of an artist who thinks conceptual art is a con and that the ability to balance illusion with a love for gooey paint is paramount... It is the taste of an art student stuck in 1962."
The Times (UK) 11/29/06 Posted: 11/28/2006 8:48 pm

The Great Northern Spirit It sometimes seems as if all the great British artists come from (or at least have some connection to) the northern part of the country, which is somewhat surprising, since London, the great UK art capital, is in the south. "What is it about the North that gets everyone painting, sewing or puddling about in clay before carving chunks out of marble or timber? Time was when you could blame unemployment or even the rainy weather keeping people indoors, but neither of those seem convincing reasons any more."
The Guardian (UK) 11/27/06 Posted: 11/28/2006 8:28 pm

It's Not How Much You Spend, It's What You Spend It On Much is being made of the disparity in acquisition budgets between UK museums and those in continental Europe and the U.S. But some in the UK arts world say that what's of greater concern than the raw budget numbers is the value system used to judge which art is worth acquiring. "Is an Italian painting that was obtained by a British milord in the 19th century an integral part of 'British heritage'? It is part of the history of British collecting, but that is not the same thing."
The Guardian (UK) 11/27/06 Posted: 11/28/2006 8:24 pm

Is This The Golden Age of Museumgoing? Museum attendance is booming across the U.S., and while not everyone agrees on just why the public is suddenly so taken with art, museums are doing their best to make sure the ride doesn't end anytime soon. From new or renovated buildings to the scrapping of admission fees, museums "have emerged as the pre-eminent cultural institution, a means of shaping the identity of a city."
CNN 11/27/06 Posted: 11/28/2006 8:00 pm

Two NY Museums Going In Opposite Directions Ever since New York's Dia Center for the Arts announced that it was abandoning plans to renovate a Greenwich Village industrial space into 45,000 square feet of exhibition space, observers have been wondering what the Dia's long-term future is, if any. "We need Dia, and Dia needs to do something decisive soon, even if it's only to open a temporary space." Meanwhile, buzz is continuing to build for the arrival of the New Museum, which has a $50 million home under construction in the Bowery.
Village Voice 11/22/06 Posted: 11/28/2006 7:34 pm

So Much For Cooperation Lee Rosenbaum says that the war of words between the Getty Museum and the Italian government is evidence that "a cautiously cooperative relationship has degenerated into an adversarial one. It now appears that that the objects that the Getty had hoped to return in exchange for a far-reaching accord, including loans of Italian antiquities, may instead be used as courtroom evidence against the Getty's former curator, Marion True, now on trial in Italy on charges of trafficking in illegally excavated antiquities."
Culturegrrl (AJ Blogs) 11/27/06 Posted: 11/28/2006 7:25 pm

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Smooth Sailing (And A Surplus) At Canadian Opera The Toronto-based Canadian Opera Company rode a $600,000 boost in ticket sales and a $1.5 million increase in fundraising to a balanced budget for fiscal 2006. "The COC eked out a $20,000 surplus on the year, without receiving a penny from its foundation, which added $1-million to its treasury. Nor did the company take any 'transition funds' from its continuing capital campaign, which saved it from recording a loss in 2004." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/29/06
Posted: 11/29/2006 6:23 am

Maazel Wants Barenboim To Succeed Him It has long been known that Loren Maazel would not be staying long as music director of the New York Philharmonic, and speculation as to who might replace him at the end of this decade has been rampant ever since Maazel took the job in the first place. Now, Maazel has made it known whom he believes his successor should be: former Chicago Symphony MD Daniel Barenboim. The New York Times 11/29/06
Posted: 11/29/2006 5:33 am

Baltimore To Get A Cool Million (That Could Become Two) The Baltimore Symphony has received an $1 million challenge grant from a longtime benefactor, which will match any contribution above $5000 that the orchestra can raise between now and the end of the 2007-08 season. The grant comes as the BSO attempts to bolster its endowment (which was tapped to pay off existing debt earlier this year) and restore itself to balanced budgets. Baltimore Sun 11/29/06
Posted: 11/29/2006 5:25 am

Carbon-Based Music The science of building a great string instrument has long been a subject of obsession for craftsmen and musicians around the world. Most believe that the secret to the old masters lies in the combination of great wood and perfect varnish. But if that's the case, why are some of today's hottest soloists trotting around with shiny black violins and cellos made from something called carbon fiber? Could there be such a thing as a great synthetic instrument? National Post (Canada) 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 7:54 pm

Pop Goes The Conductor The Boston Pops has fired its principal guest conductor, who had been with the ensemble since 1979. Bruce Hangen says he wasn't told the specific reason for his dismissal, but "speculated that perhaps he angered management by turning down Pops concerts to accept engagements with other orchestras." The Pops, which is operated by the Boston Symphony and made up mainly of BSO musicians, isn't commenting on the reason for the change. PlaybillArts 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 7:49 pm

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Arts Issues

Wales Review Proposes New Arts Board The debate over how major arts groups should be funded in Wales is continuing, as a review rejecting the notion of "direct funding" by the government is published. "Instead, the review recommends a new arts board with representatives from the arts council, assembly government and other public bodies. The board, chaired by the culture minister, would oversee arts strategy... Much of the practical element seems to amount to the creation of the new arts board - yet another committee, something we are all too familiar with." BBC 11/29/06
Posted: 11/29/2006 5:37 am

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Worst-Case Scenario "When Catherine Hewgill suddenly found her legs slipping from under her in the car park of the Sydney Opera House, her instinctive reaction was to protect her 300-year-old cello." She succeeded in that, but the principal cellist of the Sydney Symphony shattered something even more precious to a musician in the fall - her wrist. Doctors were convinced that her career was over. Fortunately, they never shared those convictions with Hewgill. Sydney Morning Herald 11/29/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 8:59 pm

Controversial Painter Emilio Vedova, 87 "The Italian painter Emilio Vedova, who has died aged 87, was a veteran of one of the 20th century's most bitter artistic conflicts - the 'battle of styles' in the 1950s between the neo-realists and the pioneers of expressive abstraction." The Guardian (UK) 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 8:31 pm

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Head Of D.C.'s Biggest Black Theatre Troupe To Leave "Jennifer L. Nelson, the founding artistic director of African Continuum Theatre Company, announced yesterday that she is stepping down from the top job at [Washington, D.C.'s] most visible black theater group. With the theater moving into a new phase with a permanent home, Nelson says its stability and visibility are giving her a chance to pursue her own creative interests." Washington Post 11/29/06
Posted: 11/29/2006 6:40 am

When Is A Revival Just A Rerun? Should a Broadway revival that's nothing more than a carbon copy of the original show be eligible for a Tony Award? The reemergence of A Chorus Line and Les Miserables in stagings that look identical to their originals has many in New York's theatre world asking the question, and the producers may not like the answer. New York Post 11/29/06
Posted: 11/29/2006 6:30 am

Still, You Know It Had To Be A Tense Room As anyone who's ever tried to co-write anything can tell you, collaboration can be more trouble than its worth. So why would anyone even try to write a play with four other people? "The playwrights were initially wary... Two things, however, won them over. Firstly, there were the social opportunities, [and] secondly, there was curiosity to see how other people write." The Guardian (UK) 11/29/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 8:35 pm

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Two Classic Bookstores Close. Will We Know Enough To Miss Them? Toronto is losing two beloved second-hand bookshops, and the closings are a reminder of just how quickly the bookselling business is evolving. "The venues for physically presenting books are being superceded. It's hard to imagine there will be any book collectors among young people, because they won't have the opportunity to handle older books and acquire a taste for it." Toronto Star 11/29/06
Posted: 11/29/2006 6:37 am

Canadian Mega-Chain To Offer Self-Published Titles "Canada's largest retail book chain, Indigo Books & Music, has agreed to carry a selection of books by self-published Canadian authors... There's a selection process for all titles and those chosen will be displayed in 'high-traffic areas' of Chapters, Indigo and Coles stores 'for at least 60 days -- longer if the book keeps selling.'" The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/29/06
Posted: 11/29/2006 6:20 am

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Awards Future Looks Bright For Crack Users & 8-Year-Old Beauty Queens The nominations are out for the Independent Spirit Awards, honoring low-budget and independent film, with offbeat comedy Little Miss Sunshine and drug drama Half Nelson garnering five nominations each. The late Robert Altman was also nominated for his last film, A Prairie Home Companion. BBC 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 8:13 pm

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Chilean Dance Pioneer Dies "Lola Botka, renowned dancer and co-founder of The National Ballet of Chile, died Monday at age 96, weakened by a serious battle with pneumonia. Botka and her husband, Ernst Uthoff, were important figures in the modern dance movement in Chile." Santiago Times (Chile) 11/29/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 7:43 pm

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