AN ARTLESS INAUGURATION
The policy of President-elect George W. Bush towards the arts is still uncertain, but to judge by events planned for his inauguration, the outlook is dim. A quick survey of Mall museums and Washington, D.C., area galleries provided not one thing directly related to the ceremonies. "With the chaotic election, there just wasn't time," said a spokesperson at the D.C. Arts Commission. "We have 'The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden,'" said a flack at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, hopefully. "It has Mamie Eisenhower's inaugural ballgown." George W. Bush strolls down Pennsylvania Avenue to take over the White House on Saturday, Jan. 20.
RUMBLINGS AT BONHAMS & BROOKS Bonhams & Brooks, as auction house Bonhams has been called since merging with classic-cars auctioneers Brooks four months ago, is closing its Manchester salesroom, which opened in 1998, reports the London Telegraph. Five people are being laid off and a number of other firings are expected, mainly in administrative departments at the company's London salesrooms. Furthermore, joint managing director Christopher Elwes is resigning to become a consultant, leaving his partner Malcolm Barber to hold the office by himself. Plans call for the auction house's smaller salesroom in Chelsea to get its own board of directors and compete against Christie's South Kensington in the collectibles and lower-priced art and antiques niche.
SOTHEBY'S AND CHRISTIE'S FORTIFY OFFER
Hoping to allay opponents' objections, Sotheby's and Christie's have agreed to redeem the $100-million coupon portion of their proposed $512 million class-action antitrust settlement for cash if the coupons are not used after five years, reports Kathryn Kranhold in the Wall Street Journal. The move comes on the eve of a judicial look at a report reviewing the fair-market value of the coupons, which are generally considered to be worth less than their face value. Opponents claim that the coupons, which are to make up 20 percent of a class member's claim amount, are inconvenient and hard to redeem.
GUGGENHEIM TEAMS UP WITH VIENNA MUSEUM
The Guggenheim Museum and the Hermitage Museum dyad has become a triumvirate with the addition of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, home to the Hapsburg dynasty collection, reports Celestine Bohlen in today's New York Times. All three organizations plan not only to exchange exhibitions, but also to swap curatorial staffs, and there is talk about sharing memberships.
MEASLY REWARD IN STOCKHOLM ART HEIST
Stockholm's National Museum is offering a 100,000 kronor reward ($10,529) for information regarding December's armed heist of a Rembrandt and two Renoirs valued at over $30 million, according to press reports. Meanwhile, a lawyer who acted as an intermediary between the robbers and the museum insists he has done no wrong. The unnamed legal eagle says he was just trying to return the paintings when he contacted the museum with the gang's ransom demands and provided photographs of the artworks. The lawyer asserts he was contacted by the criminals and that he told them he wanted no money for his help. He is refusing to name the thieves, claiming confidentiality. Eight men have been arrested and a warrant has been released for a ninth; the lawyer has not been arrested but is considered a suspect.
GET A PIECE OF A YBA
Feeling like the era of the yBa is nearing its end and you still haven't been able to snag a piece? Have we got the sale for you -- Art2001, this year's installment of the London Contemporary Art Fair, opens today with an auction of Britart memorabilia to benefit the South London Gallery. Among the goodies on the block are puppets from Jake and Dinos Champman's Sacrifical Mutilation and Death in Modern Art, "symbolizing the carcasses of Andy Warhol's playthings, prior to Warhol being shot by Valerie Solanas"; a Chapman Brothers' t-shirt from Sadie Coles; three of Michael Craig-Martin's painting trays, "fresh from the studio, where he was using them to work on his current painting"; a pair of Tracey Emin's hand-made patchwork slippers reading "Tracey" on one and "Emin" on the other; Anthony Gormley's overalls, complete with two metal balls in one pocket and two iron rods in another; a pair of glasses belonging to White Cube gallerist Jay Jopling; Marc Quinn's T-shirt stained with the artist's blood; and a beer-can sculpture from Sarah Lucas. The fair takes place Jan 17-21; for more info, call 020-7288 6005 or visit www.art-fair.co.uk.
ELIASSON FLOODS BOSTON ICA
Icelandic environmental artist Olafur Eliasson is scheduled to flood the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art as part of his first U.S. museum retrospective, Jan. 24-Apr. 1, 2001. According to the ICA, the work involves raising the floor of the second floor galleries and flooding the space with water. Hanging above will be a neon light work slowly radiating an expanding series of circular rings. Also included in the retrospective, which will transform all ICA's galleries, is a ring of fire hung to resemble an eclipsed sun called no days in winter, no nights in summer.
The Museum of Modern Art was recently cited by VSA Arts and the Metropolitan Life Foundation for its innovations in helping people with visual disabilities appreciate art. The award includes a $7,000 cash gift to MoMA's "special needs" programs and a commemorative sculpture. Since 1972, MoMA has presented "touch tours," which enable those with visual impairments to don special gloves and experience sculpture tactilely. In 1995, MoMA was the first museum to develop classes in art history for the visually impaired. The award ceremony is Jan. 23, 2001.
BLAKE AT THE MET
The William Blake exhibition that wowed 'em this winter at Tate Britain in London is coming to the Metropolitan Museum, Mar. 29-June 24, 2001. The first U.S. exhibition of Blake's work in all media features more than 175 works, including two original copperplates, a bronze cast of the artist's life mask, his manuscript notebook and examples from all of his illuminated books. The show emphasizes Blake's most intense period of work, ca. 1791-1800, when he invented his method of relief etching that allowed the simultaneous development of word and image directly on the copperplate.
BROAD COLLECTIONS UNVEILED
The collections of Edythe and Eli Broad, whose fortune Forbes magazine estimates at $5 billion (about the same as the J. Paul Getty Trust endowment), are to be revealed in a large-scale presentation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Oct. 7, 2001-Jan. 8, 2002. The exhibition, called "Jasper Johns to Jeff Koons: Four Decades of Art from the Broad Collections," highlights groups of works by 22 artists, including Balkenhol, Haacke, Kiefer, Lichtenstein, Twombly and Warhol.
ARTISTS SPACE CHALLENGING SURVIVOR
Riffing on the current cultural obsession with "Real Life," the New York alternative space Artists Space presents in its main gallery "Really," a group exhibition of work that transgresses the borders between reality and fantasy, art and life. Featuring Frank Benson, Steven Brower, David Henry Brown, Jr., Alain Bublex, Kate Howard, Janice Kerbel, Cees Krijnen, Matthieu Laurette and something called The Butterflies of Love, the show runs Jan. 27-March 17, 2001.
FOOT FETISHISTS FLOCKING TO SOTHEBYS.COM?
The collection of shoe salesman to the stars, Joseph LaRose, is to be auctioned Feb. 8-Mar. 1, 2001, on Sothebys.com. Featured in the auction are shoes, handbags, sketches and celebrity letters, including 19 pieces of correspondence from Joan Crawford. The property goes on view at Sotheby's York Avenue galleries, Feb. 8-13, 2001. Proceeds from the sale go to the LaRose Foundation, which was set up after LaRose's death to benefit art institutions in and around Jacksonville, Fla.
The Tremaine Foundation in Hartford, Conn., has announced the recipients of the Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award. The four winners are P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center in New York City ($50,000), the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond (all receiving $100,000). The Tremaine awards are granted every other year and support "exhibitions that challenge audiences and expand the boundaries of contemporary art."
SOMETHING HAPPENING AT AMERICAN FINE ART American Fine Art, Co. is currently presenting "wRECONSTRUCTION" and calling it a non-show, whatever that might mean. The non-exhibition features a visual poem by Garreth James -- which the gallery insists is not an artwork -- and a series of private meetings with gallerist Colin de Land "to determine the current state of contemporary art." The, um, event runs through the end of the month. American Fine Art, Co. is located at 22 Wooster Street in SoHo.
IN THE RED
Another chance for savvy art collectors to do a good deed and possibly scoop up contemporary art at bargain prices. The Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School, a small private school that's a Greenwich Village institution, is holding a silent auction Feb. 14 and 15 at I-20 Gallery. Among the works up for grabs are submissions by Francesco Clemente, Brice Marden, Elizabeth Murray and William Wegman. Call (212) 477-5316, ext. 232, or visit www.lrei.org for more details.
ESTEBAN VICENTE, 1903-2001 Esteban Vicente, 97, member of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, died Jan. 10 at his home in Bridgehampton, N.Y. A founding faculty member of the New York Studio School, Vicente recently had a museum dedicated to his work open near his birthplace in Segovia, Spain.
FRED HUGHES, 1943-2001 Fred Hughes, 57, longtime business manager of Andy Warhol and executor of his will, died Jan. 14 of complications related to multiple sclerosis. Hughes, publisher of Interview, founded the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and was instrumental in the founding of the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.