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Artnet News
Ordinarily we wouldn't even bother to mention it, but in today's climate of elephant-dung hysteria, who could resist? The exceptional drawing show, "Watteau and his World: French Drawing from 1700 to 1750," which was organized by the American Federation of Arts and opens Oct. 20 at the Frick Collection in New York, features a candid drawing by Antoine Watteau called The Remedy (ca. 1716-17). The 9 by 14 inch, red, black and white chalk rendering shows a voluptuous young woman preparing to receive an enema from her maid. The utensil looks something like a caulking gun. The image derives from a tradition of Netherlandish art, the wall label says, and is "the most overtly erotic of all Watteau's survivng works." This less than two weeks after Metropolitan Museum director Philippe de Montebello bragged in the New York Times about his museum's Allegory of Marriage by Lorenzo Lotto, which shows a naked cupid urinating on a naked Venus. Did they have raincoats in the Renaissance?

B-movie tough guy James Woods as an art museum director? The supermacho star is slated to play former Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center director Dennis Barrie in Dirty Pictures, a Showtime movie based on the 1990 Robert Mapplethorpe controversy, according to the Los Angeles Times. The notoriously prudish Cincinnati town fathers -- who still prohibit the sale of Playboy magazine -- shut down the Mapplethorpe photo exhibition and indicted Barrie for pandering (he was eventually acquitted). Woods said he opposes censorship of any kind but warned, "In an age of self-entitlement, I do wish people had a sense of responsibility commensurate with their First Amendment rights." The film is slated to appear on cable in the spring.

Under the suavely aristocratic direction of Philippe de Montebello, the Metropolitan Museum has long positioned itself as a paragon of curatorial virtue. Now, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Met has engaged in a feat of museumological bartering, exhibiting 21 colorful abstract paintings by Egyptian minister of culture Farouk Hosny in return for the loan of cherished antiquities for the current "Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids." Hosny declined to comment, and the Met denies any such scheme.

Roy Disney, nephew of Walt Disney and head of animation at the Walt Disney Co., wants to finish a cartoon collaboration between Walt and Salvador Dalí begun in 1946 but abandoned soon after. Only 18 seconds were shot for the film -- titled Destino -- which was to be a love story featuring "ravaging ants, naked cyclists, petrified telephones and a girl who turned into a dandelion." Disney intends to find a new soundtrack to replace the Mexican music that was to accompany the original cartoon. "I am going to finish the work of Salvador Dalí," Roy said. "At Disney, we need to recover our history." Dalí also collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on Spellbound in 1936.

The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth has offered $25 million for a Madonna and Child by Sandro Botticelli that has been put up for sale by the children of a Scottish aristocrat. The work, which shows Mary praying over a sleeping Christ child, is part of the Wemyss Heirloom Trust, and currently hangs in Gosford House, Longniddry, East Lothian in Scotland. The deal is being handled by Simon Dickinson Ltd. in London, according to a report by the London Telegraph. The sale of Old Masters by British owners usually meets some resistance, but the British government can't stop such transactions. It can however delay a sale up to three months while a British buyer is sought. Recent art exports have included a Rembrandt to Holland for $9.3 million and a Poussin to California for $16 million. No comment from the Kimbell.

The Seattle Art Museum's lawsuit for fraud against Knoedler Gallery in New York over the 1954 sale of a Henri Matisse painting has been dismissed. The Matisse turned out to be long-lost Nazi loot, and in a highly publicized case, the museum returned it to the heirs of the World War II-era owner, Paul Rosenberg (who promptly put it up for sale at Steve Wynn's Belagio Gallery in Las Vegas). But Judge Robert S. Lasnik of U.S. District Court says the museum can't sue, since it wasn't defrauded. That honor goes (maybe) to Seattle collectors Prentice and Virginia Bloedel, who originally bought the painting and gave it to the Seattle museum in 1991. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the museum did convince the judge that fraud could have been involved, since Knoedler's wrote the Bloedels a letter saying that the gallery didn't know who owned the painting, when in fact it had catalogues showing the work had been in Rosenberg's collection.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden assistant director Neal Benezra has been named deputy director and chairman of the department of 20th-century painting and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. Benezra, 46, was AIC contemporary curator before coming to the Hirshhorn. He has three shows now in the works at the Hirshhorn, including an Ed Ruscha retrospective. Benezra's departure comes as a blow to the museum, according to the Washington Post, because he was being groomed as successor to Hirshhorn director James Demetrion, 69.

Jacquelyn Days Serwer, curator of contemporary art at the National Museum of American Art since 1995, has been named chief curator of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She succeeds Jack Cowart, who now heads the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in New York. At the NMAA Serwer organized shows of work by Paul Cadmus, Robert Cottingham, Gene Davis, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Nam June Paik, Miriam Schapiro and Mark Tansey. Serwer is also the author of a cookbook, Pasta and Rice Italian Style.

The New York Foundation for the Arts has launched a new website at with info on all the programs of the New York-based, artist-fellowship organization. Visitors can download guidelines and applications for grants and services, and also link to Arts Wire, which includes the searchable online newsletter, Current.

The Munich painting gallery Von Lintel & Nusser has opened a branch in New York's Chelsea district at 555 West 25th Street with a show of paintings by David Row. The address is now something of an outpost for abstraction -- next door is the new digs of Stark Gallery. Since opening in Munich in 1993, Von Lintel & Nusser has shown work by Lydia Dona, Stephen Ellis, Catherine Howe, Eva Lundsager, James Nares and John Zinsser, as well as works by German photographer Roland Fischer, Japanese installation artist Yoshiyuki Miura and the Georgian Gia Edzgveradze. For further info call (212) 242-0599.

New York artworld bad girl Lisa Bowman -- notorious for her "dirty soaps" (used glycerin bars printed with dirty words) and her special homemade "prison stationary" (for avoiding alimony and bill collectors) -- has launched a new career as a curator. She's opened her own studio-cum-gallery space, dubbed Bowman Presents, in the Chelsea Fine Arts Building at 526 W. 26th Street, room 212. The premiere outing, 6 pm-8 pm on Oct. 21, features works by Robert Hawkins, John Tottenham and Sally Webster, priced from $450 to $1,200. For further info call (646) 486-4836.