OFILI WINS TURNER PRIZE
The £20,000 Turner Prize for 1998 has gone to Chris Ofili, the African-English artist known for garishly colored, ethnic-naive paintings with chunks of elephant dung attached to their surfaces. "Thank God, where's my check?" he said as he mounted the podium to accept the award. Ofili beats out the other three short-listed artists: Tacita Dean, Cathy de Monchaux and Sam Taylor-Wood. The prize is administered by London's Tate Gallery and sponsored by Channel 4 Television. Jurors included Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant, British Council exhibition officer Ann Gallagher, Japanese curator Fumio Nanjo, Tate Gallery director Nicholas Serota and author Marina Warner.
ESTATE PROJECT ON THE WEB
The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS launches its "Virtual Collection" on the Web on Dec. 1, 1998, as part of the observance of World AIDS Day/Day without Art 1998. The archive is a digital database of some 3,000 images of artwork by approximately 150 artists with HIV/AIDS, a collection that was initiated by the New York-based Alliance for the Arts in 1991. The web archive is still a little buggy -- it only works with Microsoft Explorer 4.0!! In any case, it's being simultaneously celebrated at the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco MoMA and the Studio Museum in Harlem. A selection of works from artists in the Estate Project is presently on view at the Brooklyn Museum, Nov. 20-Dec. 30, 1998.
SF MOMA GETS MAGRITTE
We don't know for sure who bought the $71.5 million van Gogh at Christie's 20th-century auction on Nov. 19, 1998 in New York, but the top Magritte lot, Les valeurs personnelles (1952), went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. SFMoMA paid for the $7,152,500 record-setting purchase with funds donated by longtime patron Phyllis Wattis. She also funded the museum's purchase of Warhol's Red Liz (1963) for $1,707,500 at the same sale. Other recent SFMoMA acquisitions include a 1976 gray monochrome by Gerhard Richter, sculptures by Louise Bourgeois, Richard Arneson and Doris Salcedo, and a 1912 preparatory drawing by Marcel Duchamp for his Large Glass. The Sara Lee Corporation donated a 1908 Cubist Picasso from its corporate collection to the museum.
CONFERENCE ON NAZI PLUNDER
The long-awaited conference on Nazi art plunder convened by the State Department and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has gotten under way in Washington, D.C., Nov. 30-Dec. 3, 1998. Delegations from 44 nations and 13 organizations are attending the meeting, which is hosted by Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat. The conference is expected to propose guidelines for dealing with Nazi art plunder by museums and auction houses. (As the conference got underway, French President Jacques Chirac said he favored keeping unclaimed art from the Nazi era in public collections, rather than auctioning it and giving the proceeds to Holocaust survivors.) An estimated 220,000 art works were taken from Jews during the Nazi era, about one-quarter of the art in Europe at the start of World War II. The total value of the loot was perhaps $9 billion-$14 billion, and it's worth perhaps 10 times as much today.
LATIN AMERICAN ART AUCTIONS IN NEW YORK
The market for Latin American art continues to grow, at least according to auctions at Sotheby's on Nov. 23 and 24, and at Christie's on Nov. 24 and 25.
Sotheby's sold a total of $7.4 million and set 12 new auction records for artists, including Francisco Naváez ($226,500), Juan León Pallière ($222,500), Luis Cruz Azaceta ($37,375) and Jorge Tacla ($25,300). Top lot was Rufino Tamayo's Still Life with Ice Cream and Melon, which sold for $552,500 (est. $500,000-$700,000).
Christie's sold a total of just over $9 million and set auction records for 15 artists, who include Amelia Peláez ($310,500), Francisco Zuñiga ($255,500), Julio Galán ($77,300), José Bedia ($46,000), Lygia Clark ($29,900) and Cildo Mereiles ($14,950). Top lot was Wifredo Lam's Nativité (1947), which sold to the Reina Sofía for $882,500 (est. $800,000-$1,000,000).
PHILADELPHIANS FUSS OVER LOST KELLY WORK
Art lovers in Philadelphia are up in arms over the city's loss of Ellsworth Kelly's 64-foot-long Project for a Large Wall (1957), according to a recent story by Stephan Salisbury in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The sculpture, a dramatic series of 104 variously shaped and colored aluminum panels arrayed in four horizontal rows, was on view in a downtown lobby until the building was closed in 1993. The work was apparently sold in 1996 by the Rubin Organization to Matthew Marks for $100,000, who in turn sold it to Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder for $1 million, who then donated the work to the Museum of Moldern Art, where they are trustees. Philadelphia Museum ceo Anne d"Harnoncourt told the Inquirer, "It never occurred to me that it could be removed or moved. Never." Penny Balkin Bach, executive director of Philadelphia's Fairmont Park Art Association, noted that the Kelly had been "the first purely abstract public art in the city" and that "moving it from its location is truly a loss, because it will never have the same meaning." Marks told the Inquirer that when he first visited the sculpture in 1995, it appeared abandoned and he feared that it would be destroyed. The work was exhibited at Marks' 22nd Street Gallery in New York last summer.
WALKER ACQUIRES ADA'WEB
The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has acquired the pioneering art website äda'web -- but the digital art achive has been given no dollar value, according to the Cybertimes, the web edition of the New York Times. Ada'web features works by Doug Aitken, Jenny Holzer, General Idea, Antonio Muntadas and Lawrence Wiener. The archive forms the nucleus of the Walker's new "digital art study collection," curated by Steve Dietz, the Walker's New Media Initiatives director. Ada'web went out of business last March; it was donated to the museum by America Online, which had funded the project in its final phase.
SOTHEBY'S STOCK HYPERACTIVE?
Sotheby's Holdings Inc. issued a terse statement yesterday, Nov. 30, 1998, declining to comment on the recent activity in its stock, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Sotheby's stock had climbed to a year-end high of 29-3/4 in morning trading Monday. In the last 18 months Sotheby's stock has traded for as low as 16-1/2. Such unusual market activity can reflect a variety of corporate developments.
KIRILI CURATES THE TUILERIES
New York-based French sculptor Alain Kirili has curated an installation of 20 Modernist sculptures in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris. Among the works is a bronze cast of Auguste Rodin's The Kiss that was plundered by the Nazis. French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said that "displaying the statue in a prominent place increases the chances that it will be claimed by its rightful owners or their heirs."
WILDE STATUE DEDICATED IN LONDON
A bronze and granite memorial to Oscar Wilde, showing the unflappable author sitting up in a coffin smoking a cigarette, was dedicated at a site across from Charing Cross Station in London on Dec. 1, 1998. The sculpture is by Maggi Hambling and cost £175,000, raised by public subscription. One big donor was actor Stephen Fry, who played the title role in the recent movie Wilde.
WORLD ART TO CEASE PUBLICATION
The dire state of art magazine publishing has claimed another title. World Art, the glossy quarterly co-published for the last five years out of Australia and New York, will issue its final number next spring. New York editor Sarah Bayliss, will work in the book-publishing arm of World Art's parent company, Gordon and Breach, which is based in Switzerland. The 96-page current issue, on Rock and Roll, is due out on newsstands next week.
NEW GETTY CURATOR
The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has appointed Lee Hendrix curator of drawings, succeeding Nicholas Turner. She has been associate drawings curator there since 1989.