February 11, 2005

New Museum Prepares to Break Ground on New Home

In the fall the New Museum of Contemporary Art will break ground on its new home, designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the Tokyo firm Sanaa, on the site of a parking lot at the Bowery and Prince Street in SoHo, Carol Vogel writes in the New York Times. Two trustees who joined the museum's board in the last two years are Mitzi Eisenberg, a New Jersey collector, and Susan Feinstein, a collector from Brookville, N.Y. With their husbands, Warren Eisenberg and Leonard Feinstein, the co-founders and co-chairmen of the retail chain Bed, Bath & Beyond, the couples have pledged the lead gift for the new building, which is estimated at $10 million. The campaign's goal is $50 million, which museum officials say they intend to raise by the time the $35 million building is completed.

February 11, 2005

Record-Breaking Blockbuster at Tate Britain

Art lovers flocked to the Tate Britain yesterday for the first day of one of the most eagerly awaited exhibitions of the year, Louise Jury reports in The Independent. More than 28,000 advance tickets were sold for “Turner Whistler Monet,” which examines the influence of J.M.W. Turner on the two younger men, who were friends and rivals. The ticket sales total was more than double the previous Tate record—13,500 for Edward Hopper at Tate Modern. The show's recent run in Paris attracted more than half a million visitors. Organizers are considering opening for twenty-four hours towards the end of the run if demand supports it.

February 10, 2005

Freud Painting Breaks Record at Christie's

Lucian Freud's Naked Portrait of a pregnant Kate Moss sold for a hammer price of £3.5 million ($6.5 million) at a Christie's International auction last night, setting a record for a work by the UK artist, Bloomberg reports. That record was then broken by the sale for £3.7 million ($6.7 million) of Red Haired Man on a Chair, a work Freud completed in 1963 that shows art student Tim Behrens crouched on a chair in a studio lined with white rags. Both paintings were bought by telephone bidders. The sales came in the middle of a week of winter auctions in London that's expected to raise as much as £200 million ($372 million).

February 10, 2005

UK's Season-Long Focus on Africa Kicks Off with Hayward Show

The largest exhibition of contemporary African art held in Europe opens today, with the launch of the “Africa Remix” show at the Hayward Gallery in London, Martin Hodgson reports in The Independent. Works by seventy-five artists from twenty-three countries across the continent will be on display in the exhibition, which organizers say will challenge common perceptions of the continent. “Africa Remix” is the focus of a season of cultural events involving forty-two museums, galleries, concert halls and cinemas. Coordinated by the British Museum, the South Bank Center and the Arts Council of England, the program aims to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors and coincides with a political focus on Africa driven by the UK holding the G8 chair and EU presidency.

February 9, 2005

Car Bomb Explodes Near ARCO Fair

Basque separatists claimed responsibility for a powerful car bomb attack near Madrid's convention center hours before Spain's king and queen and the visiting Mexican president were to inaugurate the international art fair ARCO, CNN reports. There were no reported fatalities but police said forty-two were hurt by the blast, with twenty-four of them taken to hospital. Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon said that most of the injuries—many caused by flying glass—were light. Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said ARCO would take place as scheduled, despite what he called a “serious” attack several hundred meters from the main convention center facility where King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia and Mexican President Vicente Fox were to arrive later in the day.

February 9, 2005

Layoffs at Art Gallery of Ontario as Expansion Begins

Seventy-one employees at the Art Gallery of Ontario will be laid off by the end of May, as the gallery begins work on the $195-million expansion and renovation designed by architect Frank Gehry, James Adams reports in the Globe and Mail. This likely is the harbinger of further cuts in staffing over the three-year construction period that is expected to conclude in the spring of 2008. The AGO has an estimated 450 full-time and part-time staff, including three hundred represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

February 9, 2005

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Camp Followers

A far-flung group of followers of Christo and Jeanne-Claude are preparing to come to New York for the artists' latest public project, The Gates, scheduled to open along twenty-three miles of Central Park's pedestrian walkways on Saturday, Jennifer Steinhauer writes in the New York Times. These loyal fans plot distant vacations, organize group trips and sometimes abandon jobs to bear witness to the artists' installations. They are like the fans that long traipsed after the Grateful Dead, but with far fewer tour dates. Groupies? Gate-heads? They resist monikers. But their ardor for the Christo and Jeanne-Claude happenings is passionate.

February 9, 2005

Van Gogh Restitution Lawsuit Dismissed

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit against Elizabeth Taylor by the heirs of a German woman who claimed to be the rightful owners of a Van Gogh painting in the actress's collection, Reuters reports. Taylor bought the 1889 painting View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint-Remy at a Sotheby's auction in London in 1963 for $257,000 and keeps it in her Los Angeles area home. It is now valued at millions of dollars. The South African and Canadian descendants of Margarete Mauthner, a Jewish woman who fled Germany in the 1930s, sued Taylor last October, claiming that the work had been confiscated from her by the Nazis and should be returned to them under the 1998 U.S. Holocaust Victims Redress Act.

February 9, 2005

Berlin to Host Major Israeli Art Exhibition

Last week, German President Horst Kohler visited Israel to mark forty years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Now Berlin is working on a giant exhibition of Israeli art, to open on May 19, Dana Gillerman reports in Haaretz. “This is the largest exhibition of Israeli art ever held outside of Israel,” the Israel Museum, which is participating in the event, announced last week. The exhibition, titled “100 Years of Israeli Art,” will be held at the museum at Martin Gropius House, one of the most important art exhibition spaces in Germany.