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Artnet News
On Nov. 1, U.S. district court judge Nina Gershon ordered New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani to restore city funding to the Brooklyn Museum, which had been cut in the notorious dispute over "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection." The ruling bars the city from "taking steps to inflict any punishment, retaliation, discrimination or sanction" against the museum. The mayor condemned the exhibition in a Sept. 22 press conference, froze the museum's $7.2 million annual subsidy and moved to evict the museum from the city-owned building. Giuliani called the decision "the usual knee-jerk reaction of some judges" and vowed to appeal.

The Brooklyn Museum's "Sensation" exhibition was financed by art dealers, collectors and an auction house with a direct commercial interest in the works of the artists in the show, the New York Times revealed in a story written by David Barstow. London ad man Charles Saatchi, who owns the works, put up $160,000. The rock star David Bowie, who collects works by Damien Hirst and other "Sensation" artists, provided $75,000, and was given the right to reproduce images of the art on his own website,, tripling its traffic. Christie's auction house paid $50,000 and was allowed to use museum events to promote its contemporary art auctions in New York, which will feature works by "Sensation" artists. And the Times said that the museum solicited donations of at least $10,000 from Larry Gagosian and other dealers who represent many of the artists in the show. This kind of financing has raised eyebrows in the museum world, where it is considered unusual -- if not unethical -- for art dealers or auction houses to support exhibitions. Brooklyn Museum director Arnold Lehman told the Times that donors had been motivated by enthusiasm, not by any desire for profit, and claimed that the exhibition has not increased the market value of work by "Sensation" artists.

Federal judges in Miami, intent on completing a $4-million renovation of the courthouse there, are quietly moving to paint over a massive fresco by David Novros. Originally commissioned by the General Services Administration in 1984, Novros' Miami Federal Courthouse Fresco covers the entire interior courtyard of the Spanish Renaissance-style courthouse and federal building -- a two-story, three-sided space. GSA claims that the frecoses are damaged and flaking, but Novros claims that any deterioration is due to faulty maintenance and should be restored. Aren't GSA commissions protected by Sen. Edward Kennedy's famous Moral Rights Act? Novros says that local officials, are making an end-run around the law, arguing that the mural was originally installed without making a "historic preservation finding." Thus it can be eliminated, paving the way for a "restoration" of the courtyard and a "recreation" of an $50,000 coral rock fountain there. Novros says he hopes to rally public opinion to his cause, but has no plans for court action.

Are we about to see labor strife at the Museum of Modern Art? Visitors to last week's gala for "Modern Starts: Places" were greeted by members of the museum's Professional and Administrative Staff Association (acronymically known as PASTA-MoMA) handing out leaflets in an effort to gain art-world sympathy for their cause. "Modern Art, Ancient Wages" reads the headline of one section, which reveals that entry-level salaries at the museum are a "shockingly low" $17,000 a year for full-time work. Over half of the museum's 250 staff persons -- librarians, curators, salespersons, secretaries, registrars and others -- earn under $30,000 a year. PASTA-MOMA also says that the museum's five-year, $500-million expansion has meant staff reductions as well as increased workloads. The contract expired Nov. 1; MoMA has offered average weekly increases of $11.34 a week "with no recognition for years of service." For more info contact Local 2110, UAW, at (212) 387-0220. Union members listed at the bottom of the flyer are Michael Cinquina (sales & marketing), Daniel Fermon (library), Michael Regan (visitor services), Stefanii Ruta-Atkins (registrar), Chantal Veraart (library) and Michael Yard (bookstore).

Tobacco giant Philip Morris is forging a new relationship with another smokable -- hemp -- though the suits at corporate headquarters probably don't know it. Fred Tomaselli's "Gravity's Rainbow," installed at the Whitney Museum of American Art's satellite gallery space in the lobby of the Philip Morris skyscraper on 42nd Street across from Grand Central Station, features an eight by 20 foot mural composed of hundreds of hemp leaves and assorted pills arranged in an elaborate psychedelic pattern -- all preserved under a plastic coating. The work, which is on view Oct. 29, 1999-Jan. 7, 2000, is Tomaselli's largest to date. No word yet from New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

The German car maker Audi has offered a $6 million loan to pay for the construction of a new wing at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, plus $500,000 in operating funds, in return for what is being called "a display lounge" in the wing. A Stedelijk spokesman insisted that the museum would not become a car dealership. "It would be rare to actually have a car there," he said. The Amsterdam city council, which oversees the museum, doesn't like the idea much. Stay tuned.

Gustave Le Gray's seascape, Grande Vague-Sete (1855), sold for $840,370, a new auction record for photography, at Sotheby's London on Oct. 27. The photo auction totaled $12.3 million, nearly three times the presale estimate and a record for a photography sale.

The new contemporary art department at Phillips New York holds its first auction on Tues., Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. The auction features approximately 130 lots by artists ranging from Matthew Barney and Karen Kilimnik to Wolfgang Tillmans and Christopher Wool.

Now in their second year, Artists' Books '99 and Editions '99 open in New York, Nov. 4-7, at Printed Matter and Brooke Alexander Editions, respectively. The fair is jointly organized by Susan Inglett of I.C. Editions, Carolina Nitsch of Brooke Alexander and David Platzker of Printed Matter. The Nov. 4 evening preview is a Printed Matter benefit; tickets are $25 or $100 including a signed print by Richard Tuttle. Daily admission is free. For more info call (212) 925-0325.

The International Exposition of Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art, otherwise known as SOFA Chicago 1999, opens Nov. 5-7 at Chicago's famed Navy Pier. Now in its sixth year, SOFA is presenting work in clay, glass, metal, wood and fiber by 1,000 artists in 82 galleries from eight countries. Among the artists are Dale Chihuly (Holston Galleries, Stockbridge, Mass., and Habitat Galleries, Boca Raton), Gary Griffin (Yaw Gallery, Birmingham, Mich), Jun Kaneko (Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, Kansas City), Pamela Earnshaw Kelly (John Elder Gallery, N.Y.), Howard Kottler (Revolution, Detroit), Albert Paley (Leo Kaplan Modern, N.Y.) and Peter Voulkos (Perimeter, Chicago).

New York art dealer Andrew Crispo has been convicted of attempted extortion in connection with threats to kidnap the four-year-old daughter of a lawyer involved in his bankruptcy case, according to the New York Times. Crispo was reportedly angry over the bankruptcy-induced sale of his historic house in Charleston, S.C., that he had hoped would eventually hold his art collection. Crispo's lawyers, Gerald M. Labush and Robert Fogelnest, claimed their client was guilty only of being hot-tempered, abrasive and rude, and said they would appeal. Crispo, who has been in jail without bail since the charges were brought, is to be sentenced on Feb. 10.

"Moonraker, Strangelove and Other Celluloid Dreams: The Visionary Art of Ken Adam," curated by veteran art critic David Sylvester, goes on view at the Serpentine Gallery in London, Nov. 17, 1999-Jan. 9, 2000. Adam, now in his '70s, was set designer for classic James Bond films. He is presently working on the millennium exhibition in the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin. Telephone 44-020-7298-1515 for full details.

Organizers of Art Forum Berlin, which featured 160 galleries from 22 countries at the Messe Berlin, Sept. 30-Oct. 4, 1999, have released some stats on the fair. Total attendance was 16,171, including over 1,000 journalists from 31 countries. The 100-plus members of the special collectors program, organized by the fair sponsor, the Bankgesellschaft Berlin, purchased art worth more than $2 million. Among the other results: Patrick Painter, Santa Monica, sold $80,000 worth of works by Mike Kelley and a painting by Glenn Brown; Art Affairs, Amsterdam, sold a self portrait by Ulay for DM 45,000 ($1 = 1.8 DM); Camargo Vilaça, Sao Pãolo, sold nearly everything in its stand, including DM 150,000 worth of works by Ernesto Neto; Richard Heller, Santa Monica, sold nearly 100 drawings by Marcel Dzama and other artists; Interim Art, London, sold a painting by Mark Francis for £15,000; Barbara Weiss, Berlin, sold four series of photos by Roman Signer for a combined value of DM 40,000; Galerie Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin, sold a Monica Bonvicini video for DM 15,000; Franck + Schulte, Berlin, sold five wall clocks by Andrea Zittel for $15,000 each and a video sculpture by Pipilotti Rist for $25,000; Galerie Achim Kubinski, Berlin, sold a neon work by Joseph Kosuth for $30,000; Gallerie Neu, Berlin, sold Tom Burr's Black Box installation for DM 21,000; Leo Koenig, New York, sold a floor work by Aidas Bareikis for $7,000; I-20, New York, sold three photos by Spencer Tunick for $13,000; De Chiara/Stewart, New York, sold a photo by Kim Keever for DM 10,000. The Hamburger Bahnhof paid DM 70,000 for a large photo by Andreas Gursky, and the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett paid DM 60,000 for six works on paper by Helmut Federle.

The Jewish Museum San Francisco premieres "Making Change: 100 Artists Interpret the Tzedakah Box," Nov. 14, 1999-Jan. 23, 2000. In Hebrew, the act of charity is called tzedakah, and money offerings for the less fortunate are traditionally deposited into a container called a tzedakah (also known in Yiddish as a pushke). The show is the museum's first under the leadership of new director Connie Wolf. Tim Rollins and K.O.S. are conducting a workshop to produce artworks based on the Old Testament and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Beginning this month, the Saks Fifth Avenue Project Art program features window displays mixing contemporary art and designer merchandise. Works by William Wegman go on view at its New York City store (Nov. 4-11), Charles Long (with music by Mark Mothersbaugh) does the Beverly Hills windows (Nov. 19-Jan. 2) and Kenny Scharf works it in San Francisco (Nov. 18-Jan. 2). The project is organized by Saks v.p. of visual presentation Ken Smart and Mary Dinaburg of Dinaburg Arts.

The Public Art Fund and Scalo have published Looking Up: Rachel Whiteread's Water Tower, which traces the development of the artist's Water Tower commission on a Grand Street rooftop in SoHo (whose installation has been extended through June 2000). The 176-page book includes 120 color phogos and essays by Vassar College art historian Molly Nesbit, author Luc Sante and critic Neville Wakefield, among others.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., reopens its skating rink on Nov. 15, 2000, weather permitting. The rink first opened in 1974, but has been closed since 1997 for construction of the NGA's new sculpture garden, which opened to the public on May 23. For more info call (202) 737-4215.

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor celebrates its 75th birthday on Nov. 11, kicking off a week-long program of music, films and extended museum hours. Designed by architect George Applegarth as a three-quarter-scale replica of Paris' Hôtel de Salm (1786-88), the museum was a gift to the city of San Francisco by Alma de Bretteville Spreckels and her husband Adolph Spreckels, and was dedicated to the memory of 3,600 servicemen from California who lost their lives in the First World War.

Lowery Stokes Sims, curator of 20th-century art at the Metropolitan Museum since 1995, has been named director of the Studio Museum in Harlem. She succeeds Kinshasha Holman Conwill, who has resigned. Sims told the New York Times that she would name former Whitney curator Thelma Golden as chief curator. "She's certainly part of my dream team," said Sims.

Critic and art historian James Roberts has been made editor-in-chief of Frieze magazine, where he has been working since 1997. He succeeds Matthew Slotover, who is pursuing a top-secret internet project.