The hot new product for computer-savvy art lovers is MyStuff, software specifically designed to help collectors catalogue and manage their holdings in the era of the information superhighway. In addition to simple record-keeping -- using museum-level cataloguing standards -- the program allows collectors to import images and add links to online reference materials. The software, priced at $99.95, is available for PCs from Collectify, founded by art consultant Franklin Silverstone. A free trial can be downloaded at the company's website, www.collectify.com.
SAATCHI HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH TATE?
Word from London is that supercollector Charles Saatchi has put his Boundary Road gallery up for sale and plans to move right into the thick of things by launching his own museum at County Hall, midway between Tate Britain and Tate Modern. According to Guardian arts writer Fiachra Gibbons, Saatchi intends to open with a Damien Hirst show and mount curated exhibitions rather than "for sale" displays of young artists -- a clear challenge to Tate head Nick Serota. Saatchi is peeved at the Tate for sapping attendance away from his gallery and, Gibbons claims, for not including Jake and Dinos Chapman in the shortlist for the Turner Prize. He owns their masterwork, the concentration camp tableau titled Hell.
MAKING BOOK ON NEW FOLK ART MUSEUM
Can't wait until the Dec. 11 opening of the new $22-million American Folk Art Museum on West 53d Street? Then pick up a copy of American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum (Abrams, $75). The deluxe, 600-page tome catalogues the 400-plus items in the museum's inaugural exhibition, a gift of Esmerian, the museum's board chairman. The book's extensive entries, by museum curator Stacy C. Hollander with contributions from a team of experts, provide an abbreviated but near-encyclopedic introduction to contemporary folk-art scholarship and taste (not to mention being a fabulous Xmas gift).
As for the museum itself, its new facility -- 30,000 square feet on eight levels, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien -- provides nearly six times as much gallery space as previously (the storefront near Lincoln Center is being retained as a satellite branch). One highlight of the design is a façade of 63 cast-bronze panels, irregularly textured like 1950s-era Ab-Ex sculpture. A show of the museum's 26 paintings by Henry Darger also inaugurates the museum.
MONEY PROBLEMS AT SOMERSET HOUSE
The falloff in museum attendance is claiming another victim, this one in London. Somerset House, the historic building complex that last year was unveiled as home to the Gilbert Collection of silver, the Courtauld Institute and Gallery and the Hermitage Rooms with exhibitions from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, is facing financial difficulty and may have to cancel its exhibition program, according to reports in the British press. The number of visitors has sunk to 4,000 a month, and the Hermitage has already cancelled several shows, including "Home to the Horse" and a Rubens exhibition. Emergency funding is being sought from the Getty Trust in Los Angeles and the Safra Foundation, sponsored by the family of Edmund Safra, the banker killed in a fire in Monaco two years ago.
KIMBELL TAX RETURN NEWS
Intrepid reporters in Texas are keeping a close eye on the financial doings at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. Recent stories in the Dallas Morning News by Janet Kutner and FW Weekly by Betty Brink are shining a light on the 2000 tax return for the museum, which was only recently filed. Among the nuggets of info are the payments to Kay and Ben Fortson, the Kimbell foundation's two top officers, of a total of more than $2.5 million for what are ordinarily volunteer posts. Kay Fortson is niece of the museum's late founder, Kay Kimbell. In 2000, Kay received $193,089 from the museum and Ben received $243,095. Art-world observers note that the new ethical standards recently adopted by the American Association of Museum -- which the Kimbell has never joined -- oppose compensation for museum board members.
The two highest paid staffers in 2000 at the Kimbell were director Timothy Potts, who received $495,685, and Brenda Cline, the foundation's chief administrative officer, who received $209,000. These are top salaries in the museum world, according to a recent story published in the Art Newspaper. Former Kimbell director Edmund Pillsbury, who left the museum in mid-1998 and is now an art dealer in Dallas, received $228,000, slightly less than in 1999, for serving as a consultant.
According to the press reports, in addition to supporting its own programs, the Kimbell has been making grants to other nonprofits with links to Kimbell board members, including more than $2 million to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, $1 million to the Fort Worth Symphony and $15,000 to Victory Temple Ministries.
For more details, see the website set up by artist and journalist Mark Caywood.
CONFERENCE ON ART AND TRACING IN MANHATTAN
An impressive collection of art-history bigwigs convenes in Manhattan this weekend, Dec. 1-2, 2001, for "Art & Optics," a symposium spurred by painter David Hockney's theories of widespread use of lenses, projections, tracing and the camera obscura by artists since the 1500s. Speakers at the conference, sponsored by the New York Institute of Humanities at the NYU Law School on Washington Square, include Susan Sontag, New Yorker writer Lawrence Weschler, Princeton prof and Forgers and Critics author Anthony Grafton, Columbia U. prof and Techniques of the Observer author Jonathan Crary, Metropolitan Museum curator Keith Christiansen and many others. For details, and a brief outline of Hockney's arguments, see www.artandoptics.com.
GUGGENHEIM CARD IN TAIWAN MAYORAL RACE
According to a recent report in London's Financial Times, Jason Hu, a candidate in the mayoral race in Taichung, Taiwan, promises to bring a branch of the Guggenheim Museum to his scrappy industrial city if elected. "I know I can build the thing in about two to three years," he said. The elections are next week.
CHAGALL IN MIAMI
The first solo show of Marc Chagall in Miami is on view at Gary Nader Fine Art at 3306 Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables, Florida, opening Nov. 29, 2001. The exhibition features 26 oil paintings from the period 1940-1980. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALUMINUM CANS BY DESIGN
In conjunction with the appearance of the traveling exhibition, "Aluminum by Design: Jewelry to Jets," at the Wolfsonian in Miami, Dec. 15, 2001-Apr. 7, 2002, the food artist Antoni Miralda is building room completely out of aluminum cans. Miralda promises a table, chairs and even a working television, all constructed from more than 7,000 used aluminum containers. Cans for the piece, called Canned Interior, are donated by the Cawry Bottling Co., Inc., and ball Metal Container of Tampa, Fla.
SEYDOU KEITA, 1923-2001
Seydou Keita, 78, African photographer celebrated for his images of the Bamako people from the 1940s to the '70s, died after a long illness in Paris on Nov. 22, 2001. He came to widespread attention in the West only after his first exhibition at the Fondation Cartier in Paris in 1994 and the publication of a Scalo monograph in 1997 by Andre Magnin. His work was exhibited at Fifty One Fine Art Photography in Antwerp, Agnes B Galerie du Jour in Paris and Gagosian.
MICHAEL HOFFMAN, 1943-2001
Michael Hoffman, 59, director of the Aperture Foundation in Manhattan, the publisher of art photography books as well as Aperture magazine, died on Nov. 23 in Manhattan of complications from meningitis. Hoffman began working with Aperture in 1964, assisting its founder, the photographer Minor White, who had launched the magazine in 1952. Over the years, Aperture produced more than 300 photo books. Hoffman was also adjunct curator of photography at the Philadelphia Museum for 30 years, and executor of the Paul Strand estate.