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MORE FLACK FOR THE KIMBELL|
The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth is making headlines again. According to a report in FW Weekly by Betty Brink, the Kimbell board has quietly changed its charter to allow the museum to be moved to some other city, rather than remain in Fort Worth as founder Kay Kimbell decreed when he established the museum 62 years ago. "The result might be the city's crown jewel on a flatbed truck bound for Santa Fe," writes Brink. The board also altered the charter to allow funding of other institutions, abandoning Kay Kimbell's tight restrictions on the Kimbell endowment.
Why the Kimbell board, which consists largely of Kimbell family members and associates, would take such steps remains unclear, and the museum isn't talking. Art world observers note that an institution of such importance -- not to mention one with $800 million in assets -- should be operated by an independent and professional board. In response, Kimbell representatives tell Artnet Magazine that Brink’s article includes a number of inaccuracies that their lawyers are currently looking into. Last summer, the Kimbell was engulfed in scandal when FW Weekly revealed that the Kimbell board had voted to pay its president Kay Fortson and her husband, vice-president Ben Fortson, an astonishing $750,000 each in 1998.
SEATTLE MUSEUM OPTS FOR CASH
The Seattle Art Museum has opted for an undisclosed cash settlement rather than picking out an artwork from Knoedler & Co.'s holdings as originally stipulated in an out-of-court settlement of a long-running lawsuit involving Henri Matisse Odalisque (1928), reports the Seattle Times. The amount of the payment is undisclosed, and goes towards museum acquisitions.
AGAINST POPULAR SHOWS
"American art museums have never been more popular," says Harvard University Art Museums director James Cuno. A show like "Van Gogh's Van Goghs" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art draws an astounding 820,000 visitors. Then why not be happy? In an editorial in the Boston Globe, Cuno worries that museums are popular for the wrong reasons, calling them "celebrity venues" for temporary exhibitions focused on temporary buzz over lasting contributions from permanent collections and critical research. The respected director calls for a return to basics -- collecting, preserving and exhibiting -- and a focus on respect over popularity. Cuno places particular emphasis on museum acquisitions, exhorting museums to concentrate on research over publicity.
STUCK ON THE TURNER PRIZE
And speaking of popular shows, the prestigious £20,000 Turner Prize, which is to be announced during a televised ceremony at the Tate Britain on Nov. 28, has been getting unpredictably good reactions from British newspaper critics for its selection of non-controversial candidates. Super Realist appropriation artist Glenn Brown, thread-painter Michael Raedecker, detritus installation artist Tomoko Takahashi and fashion photographer Wolfgang Tillmans have all gotten passing grades and compliments for not resorting to the "shock tactics" of previous nominees such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
But of course not everyone is happy with the candidates, most notably a loose group of young artists calling themselves the Stuckists. Founded by painters Billy Childish and Charles Thomson, the movement is named after a drunken insult by Childish ex-girlfriend Emin, who called his artwork "stuck, stuck, stuck." Heavily biased against Conceptualism and calling themselves "anti-anti-art," the Stuckists have written a number of manifestos attacking the 16-year-old award, claiming that "the only artist who wouldn't be in danger of winning the Turner Prize is Turner." The group has even gone so far as to hold "The Real Turner Prize 2000" exhibition promising "no rubbish" at London's Pure Gallery, Oct. 24-Nov. 30, 2000, and are encouraging like-minded artists to hold their own versions, an offer already taken up by groups in Australia and Germany.
HELLO HOUSTON, PUSHKIN CALLING
Following the lead of the Guggenheim Museum and Moscow's Hermitage, which plan extensive show-swapping, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and Moscow's State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts have entered into a long-term partnership of exhibition exchanges and art loans. To launch the joint effort, the Houston MFA is sending 200 works of African gold to Moscow for the Pushkin's first-ever presentation of African art.
BRITS NUTS OVER NEW TATE
London's Tate Modern is proving so popular that it has outstripped projected numbers of visitors for its first year in less than six months, reports the London Evening Standard. Attendance during the museum's first 165 days is over 3,000,000 -- an average of 18,000 people a day -- though the official forecast was for 2,00,000 for the whole year. According to museum statistics, Louise Bourgeois' three towers are among the most popular works, logging over 200,000 visitors since the May 12 opening. One downside on the Tate's success has been the high dust levels from the galleries' untreated wood flooring, which could potentially damage the exhibits.
204 RARE WORKS BY CASSATT HIT THE MARKET
A little-known giant trove of works by Impressionist Mary Cassatt is again seeing the light of day at New York's Adelson Galleries and Meredith Long & Company in Houston, Tex., Nov. 10-Dec. 29, 2000. Sometime between 1906 and 1914, legendary dealer Ambroise Vollard had bought the artist's "studio collection" -- 204 personal works she preferred to keep in her atelier -- and it ended up on the hands of a private collector who kept the whole set intact. The collection of mostly black and white prints and 31 drawings remained unexhibited until the heirs decided to put it on the market. Prices range from $10,000 for some of the prints and drawings to $500,000 for the major color works.
Heads up, artists! Nov. 15 is the deadline to apply for the American Academy in Rome's Rome Prize fellowships in visual arts, architecture, graphic design and other disciplines. Winners receive six to 24-month residencies including stipends of up to $17,800 and room, board and work space. Contact the academy for applications at 7 East 60th St., New York, N.Y. 10022, or call (212) 751-7200.
The Russian-American Cultural Center presents "Bulgaria, N.Y.," a collaborative project incorporating the life experiences and art from post-Soviet Eastern Europe and the United States, at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Gallery, Nov. 2-28, 2000. Curated by RACC director Regina Khidekel and New York artist Irina Danilova, the exhibition brings together Bulgarian artists Tanya Abadjieva, Alla Georgieva, Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova, Elena Panayotova, Adelina Popnedeleva, Monika Romenska and Dimitrina Sevova with American partners Michele Beck, Irina Danilova, Akiko Ichikawa, Birgitta Lund, Thelma Mathias, Sue Muskat and Suzy Sureck. The gallery is located at 323 West 39th St; call (917) 658-1966 for more info.
JOHN ABBOTT, 1947-2000
John Abbott, 52, New York art dealer and curator, died Oct. 21 at Cabrini Medical Center of liver failure. Abbott was an early director of 112 Greene Street, the first incarnation of White Columns, New York's first alternative art space and helped organize the Paris Biennale in 1984-1985.
-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech