Robert Hughes, the Portikus Galleries, and More

VENICE BIENNALE UPDATE: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Dietmar Polaczek checks in with Franco Bernabè, the new president of the Venice Biennale. Bernabè, the former director of Telecom Italia, was appointed by the minister of culture Giuliano Urbani in December as the successor to Paolo Baratta. Since then, undersecretary of culture Vittorio Sgarbi has caused an uproar by calling for Robert Hughes, art critic for Time magazine, to curate the Biennale (Hughes dropped out of the picture after his request for a curator fee of 500,000 Euros was rejected). Bernabè coolly refuses to enter the debate, declaring “We live in a democracy. Everyone, including Mr. Sgarbi, is free to express his opinion.” Whatever Sgarbi's opinions may be, ultimately, the five councils of the Biennale will pick the directors for each section, from contemporary art to film. Read article.

PORTIKUS GALLERIES TO RELOCATE?: Plans have been announced to renovate the Portikus building to house Frankfurt's Literaturhaus. The building, originally the municipal library, was left in ruins after being bombed at the end of World War II. For the last fifteen years, the site has been used for exhibitions by the Städelschule, now under the direction of Daniel Birnbaum. Although the city of Frankfurt has promised to find a new exhibition space for the galleries within six months, no possible locations have yet been proposed—thus putting a hold on exhibition plans for the future. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung's Dieter Bartetzko reports on the situation, calling the plan “ad hoc,” and argues that it threatens to unbalance the city's cultural identity. Read article.

BERLIN PRIZE ANNOUNCED: The shortlist for the “Preis der Nationalgalerie für junge Kunst” (National Gallery prize for young art) has been announced. Berlin-based artists Tacita Dean, Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Daniel Richter, and Maria Eichhorn each have a chance at the 50,000 Euro prize. The selection was made by jury members Wulf Herzogenrath from the Kunsthalle Bremen, curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist, and Renate Wiehager, director of the DaimlerChrysler-Sammlung. I the article,Tagezeitung, Harald Fricke puts his money on Maria Eichhorn, who will also be participating in Documenta11, which opens a few days after the prize ceremony.