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Artnet News
  $320,00 IN ICONS AT ARTNET.COM's four-week-long "Icons of the 20th-century" sale, which closed on Friday Oct. 8, demonstrates that the online art market is healthy and growing. Out of 409 lots in the special sale, 98 sold for a total of $323,337, including's five percent buyer's commission. The average lot sold for $3,200, up from the $2,300 figure set in previous sales. The sale also saw a 20 percent increase in the number of both consignors and buyers.

The top three lots were Andy Warhol's 1967 Marilyn screenprint ($34,650), Bruce Nauman's 1985 neon sculpture Double Poke in the Eye II ($34,125) and James Rosenquist's 1988-89 House of Fire ($18,900). Other notable prices included $16,800 for Marc Chagall's 1980 litho La Parade, $7,350 for a 1980 offset litho by Frank Stella, and $5,631 for Jean Dufy's 1947 watercolor, Canal a Venise.

The next special sale at auctions is devoted to vintage posters. The sale is organized by poster expert Jack Rennert and launches Oct. 18.

Architectural preservationists are up in arms over a plan by new Kimbell Art Museum director, the Australian Timothy Potts, to cover architect Louis I. Kahn's classic Travertine marble walls with pine-green fabric as backing for the Kimbell's Old Master collection. The scheme is apparently the work of Milan interior designer Mario Bellini, whom Potts hired to renovate the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne in 1996 (Bellini's plan there to remove a much-loved "waterwall" was met with widespread public alarm). The Kimbell board is reportedly pleased with the wall-covering plan, though the museum is declining any comment.

Potts, who closed a 1997 Andres Serrano show at the NGV after protests against the artist's notorious Piss Christ, has roiled the waters at the Kimbell (Serrano reportedly called him "a weasel"). A recent report in Fort Worth's FWWeekly notes "a paranoid atmosphere" at the museum, as well as "visible signs of inertia." The next major traveling shows at the Kimbell are "Stroganoff: The Palace and Collections of a Russian Noble Family," scheduled for July 2000, and an exhibition of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from Paris' Musée de l'Orangerie in Nov. 2000.

Speaking of the Kimbell, former Kimbell Art Museum director Edmund Pillsbury has formed a partnership to run a commercial art gallery in Dallas with Gerald Peters. "I've long admired Ted Pillsbury's golden eye," Peters told Dallas Morning News art critic Janet Kutner. Pillsbury joins Peters' Dallas operation; the dealer also has branches in New York and Santa Fe, where his adobe-style complex is said to be the world's largest freestanding art gallery. No word yet on the exhibition program. The new gallery, to be called Pillsbury and Peters Fine Art, is the latest example of a curious "interdisciplinary" trend at the art world's top levels, in which museum staff go on to commercial enterprises while business experts come on board to run museums. Pillsbury had previously done a one-year consultancy to Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn.

In a linguistic move that signals the latest triumph of marketing over tradition in the fine arts, London's Tate Gallery is changing its name. Next year, the existing Tate Gallery, opened in the Milbank section of London in 1897, becomes Tate Britain, featuring British art from 1500 to the present and opening Mar. 24, 2000. The £134-million new branch, located in a converted power station at Bankside across the Thames, becomes Tate Modern, featuring 20th-century international art from late Impressionism to Damien Hirst and opening May 12, 2000. The names were chosen after taxi drivers told art specialists that the first choice of names, Tate Bankside and Tate Millbank, would confuse visitors.

Time magazine art critic Robert Hughes, hospitalized since a car crash in the Australian Outback on May 28, says his near death experience showed him that there is "nothing even remotely divine on the Other Side," according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Hughes suffered a shattered right leg, a broken sternum, fractured ribs and a fractured right arm. He hopes to return to New York by next month to promote his new book, A Jerk on One End -- Reflections of a Mediocre Fisherman. He still faces dangerous driving charges in the accident, in which four men in the other car were injured.

The New York Photography Fair opens at the Puck Building in SoHo, Oct. 15-17, with 35 photo dealers from the U.S. and abroad. Fair organizer Sanford L. Smith notes the rise of "vernacular photography" by unknown 19th- and 20th-century amateur photographers. Exhibitors include Banning & Associates, Ricco/Maresca, Sarah Morthland Gallery and Yancey Richardson Gallery (New York), Marion Meyer (Paris) and Jiri Jasmanicky Gallery (Prague). The gala preview is Thursday, Oct. 14, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; tickets are $25. Regular fair admission is $12.

The first Vienna Austrotel Contemporary Art Fair is scheduled for Nov. 18-21, 1999, at the Hotel Viennart in Vienna. Among the attendees: Acme (Los Angeles), Eigen + Art (Berlin), Bill Griffin Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Venetia Kapernekas (New York), Florence Lynch (New York), Roebling Hall (Brooklyn) and Transmission Gallery (Glasgow). For more info contact Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna, at

The international art market continues to set new highs. In the Oct. 6 photo auction at Sotheby's New York, two photos soared to unprecedented prices. Charles Sheeler's Criss-Crossed Conveyeors, Ford Plant, Detroit sold for a record $607,500 to the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco, and Alfred Stieglitz's From the Back Window -- "291" -- N.Y. January -- 1915, sold for $600,500 to Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York.

The Cincinnati Art Museum and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City have each received a collection of antique silver coffee pots and accessories from Procter & Gamble in honor of the 150th birthday of Folgers Coffee. "The Folgers Coffee Silver Collection of Antique English Coffee Pots and Accessories" was formed by late Folgers head Joseph Atha.

Web browsers can curate their own virtual exhibition, and rearrange the photos in a virtual John Baldessari artwork in the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art's online version of guest curator Joshua Decter's "Transmute" exhibition. The virtual aspect of the show runs through Nov. 7 on the museum website at

Jenny Dixon, former executive director of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, has been appointed executive director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

San Jose Museum director Josi Callan has resigned to become director of the new International Glass Museum in Tacoma, Wa. The new $76.3-million, 75,000-square-foot museum is scheduled to open in 2002.

Timothy Rub has become director of the Cincinatti Art Museum, succeeding Barbara Gibbs, who resigned in February. Rub, director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., officially begins his tenure at the end of this year.

Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss industrialist and art patron who sold his blue-chip collection to the Spanish state in 1993 for $350 million (it's now housed in a namesake museum in Madrid), began legal proceedings this week against his son Georg Thyssen in an attempt to regain control of the family fortune. If successful, the suit would allow Baron Thyssen's 56-year-old fifth wife, Carmen Cervera -- a colorful figure who is a former Miss Spain and who is popularly known as "Tita" -- to inherit the fortune of her 78-year-old husband. According to the Spectator in London, in 1983 Baron Thyssen put his $27 billion fortune into a Bermudan trust under Georg's control in order to protect it from claims by his fourth wife, whom he was divorcing. Under the terms of the trust, the baron received an annual payment of nearly $20 million, but apparently sought more for upkeep of his eight homes in Europe and the Caribbean. Cevera, who is notorious for ordering the gallery walls of Madrid's Thyssen Collection to be painted pink, has told newspapers that Georg is not her husband's son but rather the product of an adulterous relationship between her husband's first wife and his brother-in-law. Stay tuned.

The Museum of Fine Art, Houston, unveils its new Audrey Jones Beck Building on Mar. 25, 2000. The $83 million, 192,447-square-foot building, designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, doubles the museum's exhibition space, making it the sixth largest museum in the country. The Beck is to hold the museum's collection of European art from antiquity to 1920 and provide the museum's first permanent galleries dedicated to American Art to 1945.

Former Atlantean Robert Walden has opened a new gallery at 9 Clinton Street on the Lower East Side. Appropriately enough named Walden, the new space is open on Saturdays and Sundays only. "I want to exhibit artists who I feel aren't getting attention for their work yet in my opinion are rather good artists," says Walden. Among the artists represented are Dennis A. Bellone, Jr., who gained fame last spring by boxing with Belgian supercurator Jan Hoet at the opening of his new museum S.M.A.K. in Ghent. "I smacked him, he smacked me, a good time was had by many," said Bellone, who promises a videotape of the event soon.

Cremaster 2, Matthew Barney's latest and fourth installment in a cycle of five films, opened to the public at the Film Forum in Manhattan last night. Barney continues to explore the rituals and rites associated with fertility and the sex drive via a complex network of symbols, including, first and foremost, the bee. The "story" is loosely based on Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song, and surrounds Gary Gilmore (played by Barney), his paternal grandmother and Harry Houdini (played by Mailer). Gilmore was sentenced to death by a firing squad in 1977 for committing two murders in Utah. All the characters are surprisingly fitting vehicles for the sexual ambiguity and anticipation so central to Barney's films. Shots of Canadian ice fields and the Utah salt flats are amazing, as are the artist's lavishly constructed props. Produced by Barney and his dealer Barbara Gladstone, Cremaster 2 runs through Thursday, Nov. 4, at 209 W. Houston, New York, N.Y. Call 212-627-2035 for more info.