International News Digest


Berlin can look forward to another attempt at establishing a Kunsthalle. As Monopol’s Sebastian Frenzel reports, Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit revived the faltering project last week with a brand new proposal for an exhibition next summer. As Frenzel notes, Wowereit’s latest move comes after the temporary Kunsthalle Berlin closed in August and after funding, investors, and government support had all but evaporated. Under the latest plan, artists living in the city will be asked to submit portfolios for the exhibition, which will be curated by Angelique Campens, Magdalena Magiera, Jakob Schillinger, and Scott Weaver.

“With this survey,” said Wowereit, “we hope to revitalize the debate about a permanent Berlin Kunsthalle and qualify so that the senate and city parliament will be able to make a decision with the next budget.” The exhibition, which is being presented as the result of research on the viability and the necessity of a Kunsthalle in the city, puts the artworks before the building and the staff. Wowereit has brought together an advisory board including Klaus Biesenbach (MoMA, New York), Christine Macel (Centre Pompidou, Paris), and Hans Ulrich Obrist (Serpentine Gallery, London) who will vouch for “the quality of the study.” Specific international architects will be invited to propose a design to show the artworks chosen for the final show. Humboldthafen––a port site close to both the Hamburger Bahnhof museum and the main train station––is being presented as a location. For Frenzel, Wowereit’s move to save one of his favorite projects could be an early election strategy or an about-face in the city’s cultural politics. “Decisions come from below, not from above,” writes Fanzel. “The young curatorial team, like the high-profiled experts, are convincing, and the creative potential of the city can be better tapped through the breadth of the competition.” As for financing, Wowereit did not disclose any details.


Anish Kapoor has been chosen for the next “Monumenta” edition in Paris’s Grand Palais in May 2011. As Agence France-Presse reports, Kapoor revealed some details of his plans for the project. “It will be one single work, one single color, one single form,” Kapoor told the AFP. The 1991 Turner Prize–winner revealed few other details, since he believes that “it’s important that people discover the work with a certain innocence.” “The Grand Palais is an incredible, wonderful space that seems even larger when one’s inside,” added Kapoor, who has seen all the editions of Monumenta since its inauguration in 2007: Anselm Kiefer, Richard Serra, and Christian Boltanski. “I want visitors to feel a sort of shock, aesthetic but also physical, when they enter the space.” Kapoor is “very interested” in problems concerning architecture and depth. “This work will transform the space into two successive experiences, by mixing a sort of interior and a sort of exterior.” The next edition of “Monumenta” will take place from May 13 to June 20, 2011.


Guy Wildenstein, art dealer and a partner in the former gallery alliance PaceWildenstein that ended last April, is under investigation for corruption. According to a report from Agence France-Presse, the Parisian police have initiated a preliminary investigation of the dealer and businessman, who is also an heir to the Daniel Wildenstein fortune. Sylvia Roth, the widow of Daniel Wildenstein, who died in 2001, filed a complaint with the police last September for active and passive corruption as well as influence peddling. Roth accuses Guy Wildenstein of concealing a large part of Daniel Wildenstein’s fortune from both the tax office and other heirs. This fortune, estimated to run into the billions, is partly made up of paintings by old and modern Masters, from Rembrandt and Watteau to Courbet and Picasso, which have been deposited in offshore trusts. Shortly after Roth filed her complaint, the anti-fraud squad Brigade de répression de la délinquance économique was given the task of the investigation, according to AFP’s sources. Roth’s lawyer, Claude Dumont-Beghi, had sent letters about the alleged corruption to France’s finance ministers since May 2007, albeit without any response, according to Dumont-Beghi, who also claims that Guy Wildenstein is a member of a group of the most generous donors to president Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party. Guy Wildenstein was honored with the Légion d’honneur by Sarkozy in 2009.


Once again, the Emir of Qatar has expressed an interest in picking up Christie’s auction house. As the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Angelika Heinick reports, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani told the British Financial Times that he would not hesitate to buy Christie’s if a good opportunity arose. “We are building a museum,” said the Emir of Qatar, adding that Christie’s has the links to the art objects that he is collecting for Qatar’s museum. Unfortunately, Christie’s won’t likely be crossed off the shopping list since the Emir does not know if the owner, François Pinault, is a “willing seller.” As Heinick notes, the rumor of a sale is not new. Last summer the French Journal des Arts claimed that negotiations between Pinault and Qatar had begun. While the Emir claimed that Christie’s was one of many investment possibilities running through his mind, the auction house made no comment at the time. Yet François Pinault’s holding company Artémis felt the pressure of the rumor and eventually made a clarification that “in no way whatsoever” were there negotiations to sell off Christie’s. Moreover, Artémis was following the development of the auction house in the long term. It seems that the Emir of Qatar is still interested––and interested in waiting.