EARTHQUAKE THREATENS INDIAN PALACE
The medieval center of Bhuj in India was heavily damaged by the Jan. 26 Gujarat earthquake, putting the Aina Mahal or Mirror Palace (ca. 1708) at risk of collapse, reports the London Independent. A section of roof and outside stairway of the palace, now a quaint museum, have crumpled, but damage to its celebrated mid-18th-century Hall of Mirrors can only be guessed at as continuing tremors prevent observers from entering. The Aina Mahal had reportedly been long in a state of neglect.
ETOY VS. ETOYS WAR FLARES UP AGAIN
In an surprising turn of events, conceptual artist group etoy has filed a lawsuit against Internet toy retailer eToys Inc., seeking control of the latter's domain name. The artists claim the toy company has pursued new trademarks to expand into online entertainment, which would likely require it to try again to wrest control from the etoy Corporation. It was only last year that in the face of mounting public pressure and plummeting stock prices the toy company dropped a trademark suit against the artist collective and reimbursed $40,000 of the group's legal fees. The etoy site has been up since 1995, two years before eToys went online.
ART COW WARS
Call it "mad art cow disease." An international battle has broken out for control of the rights to the insidious "cow parade" that recently plagued Chicago and New York, reports the London Independent. On the eve of a London bovine march organized by an offshoot of U.S.-based CowParade Holdings Corp., Swiss firm CowPARADE Holdings AG is suing, claiming to have originated the idea for the first cow festival and therefore to own the exclusive rights to license the kitschy event and any accompanying merchandise. The American company is counter-suing, asserting the Swiss business is infringing on its intellectual property. The first cow festival, where hundreds of life-sized fiberglass cows decorated by artists were exhibited and auctioned to benefit charities, was held in Zurich in 1998; Chicago followed suit in 1999, followed by New York last year, and plans are underway to organize the event in Kansas City, Sydney, Hawaii and Las Vegas. To make matters worse, a former employee of CowParade Holdings Corp. is starting a business of his own producing dolphins for a similar event in Miami.
FROM BAD TO GOOD IN ANCIENT ROME
The Yale University Art Gallery explores a precursor to the Orwellian concept of rewriting history in "From Coagula to Constantine: Tyranny and Transformation in Roman Portraiture," Jan. 30-March 25, 2001. When a tyrant was overthrown in ancient Rome, his portraits were often attacked and destroyed, but sometimes they were instead reworked and transformed into the image of his successor or another ruler who was perceived as "good." Organized by Eric Varner and Susan B. Matheson, the exhibition shows Rome's "bad" emperors such as Caligula and Nero in their authorized likenesses together with the mutilated or reworked portraits.
BREAKING THE LAW AT THE ALDRICH
And speaking of bad, the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, Conn., is taking a walk on the wild side with "Art at the Edge of the Law," an exhibition of work by artists who flaunt the law, June 3-Sept. 9, 2001. The exhibition, a work in progress organized by Aldrich assistant director Richard Klein, is not out to create trouble -- the museum is working with lawyer Larry Russ and local police to avoid any problems. Among the bad-assers being considered for the show are Barton Benes, who had a 1994 show shut down by Swedish health authorities for featuring a watergun and Molotov cocktail filled with the artist's HIV-positive blood; Tom Sachs, whose glass vase filled with live bullets led to the arrest of dealer Mary Boone in 1999 for unlawful distribution of ammunition, possession of unlawful weapons and for resisting arrest (charges were later dropped); and Fred Tomaselli, whose luscious paintings collaged with illegal drugs were seized by French customs agents on their way to a gallery in France.
LIGON AT STUDIO MUSEUM
The Studio Museum in Harlem opens "Glenn Ligon: Stranger," Jan. 31-Apr. 1, 2001, featuring a new body of work using the technique of stenciled texts on canvas that first brought the artist to art-world attention. For the 11 paintings and drawings in the show, the artist used black coal dust to imprint passages from James Baldwin's 1953 essay, Stranger in the Village, which chronicled the writer's experience living in a small Swiss village.
MILWAUKEE MUSEUM'S WINGS CLIPPED?
The construction of the Milwaukee Art Museum's $100-million waterfront expansion is being delayed to complete further testing of the fins of the Burke brise soleil -- a huge moveable sunscreen that opens up like wings -- that form the signature element of architect Santiago Calatrava's building design. The museum has not released a new date for the project's completion, which had once been announced to be as early as New Year's Eve 1999. Meanwhile, the museum is raising eyebrows by going ahead with the opening of a Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition and permanent collection galleries in the incomplete building on May 4. "I have my time schedules, they have theirs," Calatrava told architecture reporter Whitney Gould of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
SCHNABEL CHOOSES SHOW BIZ
There's no business like show business, at least for Julian Schnabel. Asked to choose which is worse, art business or show business, the painter and director of the celebrated Before Night Falls tells Inside.com "there is more jealousy in the art world in a funny way, and painters, in a way, were less supportive and more jealous. The enthusiasm and the warm embrace or the goodwill that I felt from so many filmmakers and actors is very, very different than the jealously I felt in the art world." Or, maybe artists are just worse actors?
Paul Warwick Thompson assumes his new post as director of Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City on Feb. 26, 2001. Warwick, the first foreign director of the 33-year-old American museum, is known for having rescued the Design Museum in London from its £1.5 million deficit in 1992 through a series of trendy exhibitions such as 1997's "The Power of Erotic Design," which turned around the organization's stodgy image.
The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art has named Rachael Blackburn its new director. Blackburn, who was director of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, succeeds Daniel T. Keegan, who left the museum in October of last year.
The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation has named uptown gallerists Mitchell-Innes & Nash to act as its market representative. The gallery already represents a number of artists' estates, including that of Jack Tworkov, as well as the estates of Willem de Kooning and Tony Smith in conjunction with Matthew Marks.
GIANFRANCO MANTEGNA, 1937-2001
Gianfranco Mantegna, 63, an independent critic who wrote for Review, Graphis, Contemporanea and other magazines, died on Jan. 22 from complications of a stroke. Mantegna also worked in video art as a producer and curator; before he launched his writing career, he was a photojournalist who documented the student uprisings of the 1960s. The nephew of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of The Leopard (1958), Mantegna came to New York from Rome in 1968 after meeting the Living Theater.
JOHN BIGGERS, 1924-2001
John Biggers, 76, artist known for social-realist and symbolic murals depicting African-American and African life, died of a heart attack at his home in Houston, Tex. A retrospective of his work organized by the Hampton University Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, traveled around the country in 1995.
-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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Willem de Kooning