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New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has approved plans for a new $678-million, 40-story Guggenheim Museum designed by deconstructivist architect Frank O. Gehry on the South Manhattan waterfront. The 550,000-square-foot titanium, glass and stone building, to be erected on connecting platforms resting on three East River piers, is to feature contemporary work and eventually become the Gugg's world headquarters (the uptown Frank Lloyd Wright facility will be reserved for classic moderns). The scheme includes an immense 225,000 square feet of exhibition space, with approximately a third going for the permanent collection and the rest to temporary exhibitions.

The colossal project would also include departments of architecture, design, media and technology, a performing arts center, shops, four restaurants, an outdoor sculpture garden, a skating rink, park and riverfront promenade. Guggenheim board chair Peter Lewis has pledged 25 percent of the cost, and observers expect the city to kick in around 10 percent. Gugg museum chief Thomas Krens projects two years for approvals and three for construction.

The long-running lawsuit by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art against the heirs of late patron Madeline Haas Russell over a Picasso painting has been dismissed by California Superior Court Judge David Garcia, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In the bizarre case, SF MOMA had sued Russell's children -- Alice Russell Shapiro, Charles P. Russell and Christine H. Russell -- for $18 million in damages for reneging on what the museum says was an oral promise to sell Pablo Picasso's Nu au Fauteuil Noir (1932) to the museum for $44 million. The heirs say they made no such promise. Twelve works from the Haas collection were auctioned at Christie's New York last November, including the Picasso, which sold to Limited chairman Leslie Wexner for $45.1 million. The museum will not appeal the ruling.

The dispute between New York Studio School founder Mercedes Matter and Bermuda businessman Robin David Judah over the ownership of Jackson Pollock's first "drip" painting has reached London's High Court, according to the London Evening Standard. Hearings are scheduled for tomorrow, when the court will try to unravel the whereabouts of Composition with Pouring I for the past 50 years. Matter says that Pollock gave the work to her and her late husband, Herbert Matter, as a wedding present in 1943, and she had not seen it since it was stolen in 1945 until she saw it featured at the Pollock retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1998. Judah claims he acquired the canvas by legitimate means and insists Matter has no title to it. MoMA had declined to identify the lender until New York State Supreme Court ordered curator Kirk Varnedoe to tell all in a deposition.

It's been less than a month since Florida's Naples Museum of Art opened its doors and the little museum is already seeking to replace founding director John Schloder, reports the Naples Daily News. The event is being called a mutual decision, and Schloder has received unspecified severance. The museum will have no interim director. The new $12-million facility, the first full-scale collecting art museum in Southwest Florida, opened Nov. 2 with "Reflections of Chihuly."

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., has received a major gift of contemporary art from India from the collection of Chester and Davida Herwitz. The gift encompasses more than 850 works by 67 of India's leading post-war artists, an art library and an archive of personal letters, papers and other documents related to the collection. A $1 million bequest, included in the gift, has been earmarked for exhibitions, publications, scholarships and public programming. The museum began collecting contemporary art and cultural artifacts from India shortly after its founding as the East India Marine Society in 1799 and its holdings include thousands of works from that country. The new collection will be in permanent display in a new 2,800 square foot gallery in 2003.

The Jerald Melberg Gallery in Charlotte, N.C., is presenting the first retrospective devoted to Wolf Kahn's pastels, Nov. 11, 2000-Jan. 6, 2001. The exhibition features 82 pieces ranging back to the 1950s. The show will also travel to museums in Virginia Beach, Va., Hickory, N.C., and Youngstown, Oh. The retrospective follows the publication of Wolf Kahn Pastels (Harry N. Abrams, $45), which features a series of short essays by the artist and an introduction by art historian Barbara Novak.

The New Museum of Contemporary Art is kicking off the holiday season with a Winter Party fundraiser hosted by the New Group, the museum's special membership group, Dec. 7 at 9 p.m. The party features dancing, drinks and hors d'oeuvres and the launch of a limited edition by Rob Pruitt. Tickets are $175 per person and $800 for the edition and a ticket. Call (212) 219-1222, ext. 226 for more info.

The Orinoco Collection, one of the most comprehensive collections of Amazonian ethnographic objects, has been awarded the Leone d'Oro di San Marco cultural award. The collection, organized and maintained by Venezuelan philanthropic organization Fundación Cisneros, comprises over 1,400 works of art, artifacts and objects of daily life of twelve Amazonian ethnic groups. The Orinoco Collection will be on view at Frankfurt's Völkerkundemuseum, Feb. 16-Sept. 23, 2001.

With the second largest art market in Europe -- estimated at 3.2 billion DM -- Germany seems like the perfect environment to launch Art Investor, a new quarterly aimed at the country's approximately 100,000 collectors. Visitors to the Cologne Art Fair earlier this month were perusing a dummy copy of the new mag, which features market evaluations of young talents and established stars -- as well as a review of great art websites, i.e., Once it hits the stands, the Finanzen Verlag publication is expected to be priced at 12.80 DM ($5.60). Keep an eye out.

The International Center of Photography, which opened the doors to its renovated museum in midtown Manhattan on Nov. 3, 2000, is putting itself on the map with a new exhibition schedule. Coming up is "Andy Warhol: Photography," Jan. 11-Mar. 18, 2001, the first major survey of Warhol's photos; "Kiki Smith: Recent Work," Mar. 29-June 10, 2001, the first museum show devoted to Smith's photos; and an exhibition opening in June of photos by Sebastiao Salgado. The ICP opens its new school facility in Sept. 2001.

Super-chic fashion and art magazine Visionaire gets the museum treatment in "Dreaming in Print: A Decade of Visionaire," Feb. 9-Apr. 21, 2001, at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology on Manhattan's West Side. Highlights of the 10-year survey include Visionaire 18 Fashion, encased in a custom-designed Louis Vuitton portfolio, Visionaire 28 The Bible, in a case designed by Philippe Starck, and Visionaire 31 Blue, which is packaged in a customized Levi's jacket.

The British Museum in London unveils its renovated Queen Elizabeth II Great Court on Dec. 7, 2000, kicking off a special 250th anniversary program. Designed by Norman Foster, the two-acre Great Court -- which has been closed to the public for the last 150 years -- is covered by a soaring, 6,000-square-meter glass and steel roof, and contains the museum's renovated 19th-century round Reading Room (now home to the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Centre) as well as new galleries, seminar rooms and other services. The £100-million project was funded by British lottery grants totaling almost £46 million and £20 million from the Weston family.

Louise Bourgeois has been commissioned to create a new work to be installed next year at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Mass… The intitial proposal calls for a green lawn dotted with eyes in assorted materials and sizes, ranging up to eight feet tall....Jill Sussman, formerly gallery director at Marian Goodman in New York, has joined Matthew Marks, Elizabeth Marks and Jeffrey Peabody as a partner at Matthew Marks Gallery....Leila Buckjune has been named head of the photographs department at Christie's New York; she had been senior specialist there.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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