News from London, Paris, and Vienna

CONCEPTUAL ATTACK: The Institute of Contemporary Art’s chairman, Ivan Massow, caused a scandal recently in the London art world by claiming that Conceptual art is “pretentious, self-indulgent, craftless tat.” Massow added that the British art world was “in danger of disappearing up its own arse” and accused Tate director Nicholas Serota and collector Charles Saatchi of being “cultural tsars” who push Conceptual art in Britain the way official art is imposed in a totalitarian state. Does he mean a cultural-economic monopoly? BBC focuses on Massow’s stinging attack on—who else?—Tracey Emin and reports on her clever retort. The Guardian’s Adrian Searle first appears to sympathize with the sharp critique but ends up declaring Massow’s comments “tiresomely local.”

PARIS IS DEAD! Meanwhile, The Guardian’s Eunice Lipton set her sights on the Paris art world. After checking out the exhibition “Paris: Capital of the Arts, 1900–1968,” which opened recently at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, Lipton concurs th8;vahe French capital has long lost its vital links to the contemporary art world. “No one goes to Paris any more to see cutting-edge art,” she contends. “Even the French may have reconciled themselves to this fact.” What are the reasons for the city’s decline among international artists? In her extensive report on the show, Lipton comes up with a few suggestions: the capitulation to the Nazis, the failure of the 1968 student uprisings, and even French theory from the 1970s. Whatever the ultimate reasons may have been, Lipton nevertheless gives the exhibition an upbeat review: “great, stimulating.”

LONG LIVE PARIS! While Londoners may be contemplating the death of the Parisian art scene, the French capital welcomed two important contemporary art institutions this month: the Palais de Tokyo and Le Plateau. To mark the occasion, Le Monde published an extensive dossier on both institutions, which are sure to improve Paris’s reputation for contemporary art among artists and audiences alike. Harry Bellet believes the two new venues “attest to an emerging vitality in the French arts scene and are attracting some surprised attention from outside France.” Well, almost. Michèle Champenois describes the history of the Palais building, from its 1937 opening to the present, while Bellet also offers a profile of Le Plateau codirector Éric Corne. Finally, both journalists interview Minister of Culture Catherine Tasca, who discusses her expectations, the role of public art, and the upcoming private Foundation Pinault.

KUNSTHALLE WIEN CONTAINER REOPENS: Finally, on FAZ.NET, Sabine B. Vogel reports on the reopening of the Kunsthalle Wien at Karlplatz. Last summer, the exhibition hall moved to its new location in the MuseumsQuartier, abandoning its modest structure at Karlsplatz for 1,700 square meters of exhibition space in the new museum center. But it has also built a new structure at its old site that it intends to maintain concurrently. The Vienna-based architect Adolf Krischanitz, who designed the original building as a temporary structure in 1991, has designed the new “glass box,” which he likens to both a display case and a lantern. Vogel argues that the “wonderful, elegant cube” announces a new mix of art and life: The café and the exhibition hall occupy equal amounts of space, and both can be seen from the outside through a large glass wall. Currently, a survey of Krischanitz’s pavilions is on display; in February, the Kunsthalle will welcome an exhibition of video works by Kim Sooja.