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Artnet News

Sotheby's board could well decide to buy out former chairman A. Alfred Taubman, who owns shares that give him a controlling 63 percent of the company's voting rights. According to a story in the London Guardian, Sotheby's star-studded board includes 1980s buy-out king Henry Kravis, and so has the expertise to pull off the deal. Taubman's shares could be worth more than $200 million. Sotheby's stock is currently trading for around $15 a share.

On Feb.1, 2002, dog photog William Wegman unveils a new sculpture in Portland, Ore. -- a doggy drinking fountain. Portland Dog Bowl, sited at N.W. Ninth Ave. across from the city's historic U.S. Customs House, is a giant bronze water bowl sitting on an 8 x 10 ft. base of black and white granite tiles. The project is sponsored by Pearl Arts Foundation, which is also working on a fountain by Jean-Michel Othoniel and a playground by Maya Lin.

One of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's early Impressionist masterpieces, La Genouillère (ca. 1869-70), has been bequeathed to the Milwaukee Art Museum by the estate of Jane Bradley Pettit, a benefactor of the museum. Originally a part of the Vogel family collection of Milwaukee, the painting had hung in Pettit's home since she purchased it at a 1999 Sotheby's London auction for about $2.1 million. Pettit and her family have previously given $13 million and a collection of 20 works by Georgia O'Keeffe to the Milwaukee museum. La Grenouillère was, of course, a popular park on the side of the Seine outside Paris that was painted by Renoir and Monet; this painting shows a solitary couple embracing in an isolated area by a row of boats and a dilapidated boathouse. It goes on view at the museum on Jan. 29.

Documenta 11 curator Okwui Enwezor has issued a dignified denial to the charges of violence against women leveled two weeks ago in an anonymous email that purported to come from a group called South African Women against Abuse in the Arts (see Artnet News, Jan. 17, 2002). His statement, sent via email by the Documenta communications office, reads as follows:

"I would like to make it categorically clear that the email, which has been circulated about my person, in both content and fact is false, without foundation and malicious. It was meant solely to harm my work for Documenta 11 and the public perception of my person and my family. I want to assure that I have not committed any of the acts mentioned in the smear campaign, and that my wife and I are working vigorously to bring the truth to light. My silence thus far has primarily been due to the simple fact of taking stock of the events as they have unfolded and continue to unfold, whilst awaiting proper legal counsel on the appropriate measures to take. I am extremely saddened and perturbed by the virulence of this attack, which, were it not for the damage at its intent, I would not have dignified with a response.

While I continue to pursue all legal avenues to rectify this matter, I would nonetheless ask you all to allow me the space to focus on the extremely important work of Documenta11, which remains my main focus."

Seattle Art Museum conservator Nicholas Dorman has found a still life by celebrated Northeast Expressionist Morris Graves hidden on the back of another Graves work that he was cleaning for a February show in Germany. Dorman spotted paint through a small split in the cardboard backing, removed the tacks -- noting that they were the same as the ones used to stretch the canvas -- and found an untitled still life on the canvas' reverse side. The piece has the palette, paint, and technique of Graves' early work. Dorman told Houston Chronicle, "I knew there was something back there, it had been niggling at me, but it's a wonderful feeling to find a painting instead of a few brushstrokes."

Russell Bowman, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum since 1985, is resigning to head an art advisory service headquartered in Chicago and Milwaukee, writes Alan Artner in the Chicago Tribune. Bowman has overseen the Milwaukee's museum's massive expansion designed by Santiago Calatravia.

Stephen Little, curator of Asian art at the Art Institute of Chicago, has been appointed director of the Honolulu Academy of Arts. He succeeds George R. Ellis, who is retiring.

Ameringer/Howard/Yohe Fine Art moves to 20 West 57th Street, the former home of Joseph Helman Gallery, on Mar. 1, 2002. The premiere exhibition is "Jack Tworkov: Red, White and Blue," opening Mar. 6; a preview of Kenneth Noland's recent work opens on Apr. 18, 2002.

"Alexander Calder: The Art of Invention" has opened at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas, Jan. 25-July 24, 2002, after a four-month delay occasioned by events of Sept. 11, 2001. The special exhibition of mobiles, stabiles, toys, jewelry and household objects features many works on loan from the Calder Foundation. The Bellagio Gallery is managed by PaperBall, a new subsidiary of PaceWildenstein that was established six months ago to publish books; several Calder books are currently in production.