March 19, 2004

Los Angeles Proposes Eliminating Cultural Affairs Department

Los Angeles city officials, who need to cut $250 million from next year's $5 billion budget, have proposed eliminating the Cultural Affairs Department, Luis J. Rodriguez writes in the Los Angeles Times. Mayor James K. Hahn and the city council have yet to take action on the proposal, but it appears that the underlying concept behind such cuts is that the arts are frivolous, or at least that they're a luxury that government can no longer afford, especially with services like police and fire protection on the line.

March 19, 2004

Uffizi Heads for Downtown Manhattan

Beginning in October, downtown Manhattan's Federal Hall National Memorial will house works from Florence's Uffizi, David W. Dunlap writes in the New York Times. As part of the Splendor of Florence festival that is to be staged throughout Lower Manhattan, the Uffizi Gallery will lend twenty-two paintings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The star of the show—perhaps set by itself in the column-bordered rotunda of Federal Hall—will be the newly restored Madonna della Gatta, by Federico Barocci.

March 19, 2004

Saatchi Gallery Marks First Anniversary with “New Blood”

In terms of publicity, “New Blood” at the Saatchi Gallery was an enormous success well before it opened, Martin Gayford writes in The Telegraph. There has been considerable interest in Stella Vine, the stripper turned painter plucked from obscurity by Charles Saatchi when he bought her image of a bloodied Diana, Princess of Wales. Apart from Vine, this is an exhibition that is far from lacking in talking points, writes Gayford, in his preview of the exhibition that marks the first anniversary of the gallery.

March 18, 2004

Bates Lowry, Art and Architectural Historian, Dies

Bates Lowry, eighty, an art and architectural historian who was founding director of the National Building Museum and director of the Museum of Modern Art in the late '60s, died March 12 in Brooklyn, New York, of complications from pneumonia, Adam Bernstein reports in the Washington Post. Lowry spent years in academia, holding teaching positions at colleges from Massachusetts to California. He also wrote books on subjects ranging from Renaissance art to the daguerreotype.

March 18, 2004

Mori Launches Series of Contemporary Japanese Art Shows

Tokyo's Mori Art Museum is following up its inaugural show, “Happiness,” with the first of a series of what will be biennial or triennial exhibitions of contemporary Japanese art and design, Robert Reed writes in the Daily Yomiuri. The fifty-seven artists, designers, and architects in “Roppongi Crossing: New Visions in Contemporary Japanese Art 2004” were selected by a panel of six curators who each initially proposed twenty choices. Three prizes will be awarded during the course of the show: one given by an international jury; one by the Friends of the Mori Art Museum; and one by the museum's visitors, who will be given the opportunity to vote for their favorite artist.

March 18, 2004

A New Museum for a Pioneer of Fashion as Art

Yves Saint Laurent's oeuvre went on view last week when a new museum opened in the designer's former atelier near the Champs-Elysees, Suzy Patterson reports in the Chicago Tribune. The opening show, “Yves Saint Laurent: A Dialogue With Art,” is a look at forty-two dresses inspired by visual artists including Warhol, Mondrian, Braque, Matisse, Bonnard, and Picasso. Some of Saint Laurent's own art collection is on view, including Warhol's famous quadruple portrait of him.

March 17, 2004

London's New Art Initiative

London is home to many of the world's leading dealers, auction houses and museums, and Britain accounts for a quarter of the global art market worth $23.5 billion a year. But until now the city has never tried to promote its huge range and depth of expertise cohesively. That will change today, Will Bennett reports in The Telegraph, with the announcement of Art Fortnight London, a major new initiative to celebrate London's place in the international art market.

March 17, 2004

A Norman Foster Addition for the Smithsonian Art Museum

Norman Foster, the esteemed British architect, has been selected to design the huge glass canopy that will enclose the courtyard of the Smithsonian's Old Patent Office Building, Jacqueline Trescott reports in the Washington Post. The building, which is home to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, is undergoing a top-to-bottom renovation. The covering of the courtyard that connects the four sides of the landmark building was an option for the project, which began in 2001, but became a reality after Congress approved the enhancement and prospects for fund-raising seemed good.

March 17, 2004

Marc Quinn Statue Chosen for Trafalgar Square

The debate over what to put on a vacant plinth in Trafalgar Square ended Monday night when Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, chose two sculptures that will be displayed consecutively, Nigel Reynolds reports in The Telegraph. The first artwork to go up will be Marc Quinn's twelve-foot-tall marble statue of a pregnant disabled woman, Alison Lapper, who was born with no arms and shortened legs. In his proposal, Quinn said, “Most public sculpture . . . is triumphant male statuary. . . . I felt that the square needed some femininity.”