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OFILI'S VIRGIN VANDALIZED|
On Dec. 16, Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary was splattered with white paint by a 72-year-old man who also tried to remove the piece of dung attached to the painting's surface. The vandal, identified as a devout Roman Catholic named Dennis Heiner, was arrested by police. The Holy Virgin Mary is one of more than 60 works included in "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection" at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Oct. 2, 1999-Jan. 9, 2000. The painting has been a source of contention since before the show opened, when New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani claimed it was offensive and moved to withdraw city funding from the museum. The museum said its conservators were able to clean the painting and that it suffered no permanent damage.
GUGG STONEWALLS IN FUNDING SCANDAL
The Guggenheim Museum has found itself engulfed in a funding scandal involving a secret donation from Italian clothes designer Giorgio Armani, who is scheduled for a deluxe retrospective at the museum in 2000. According to New York Times reporter Carol Vogel, Armani pledged $15 million over three years for the show, which will fill Frank Lloyd Wright's famous rotunda with "ball gowns and pant suits and tuxedos." The show doesn't have a curator per se -- not an unusual situation at the Guggenheim -- but rather was arranged by Gugg director Thomas Krens and Armani communications veep Robert Triefus. Incredibly, the museum denied any quid pro quo, and even refused to confirm the amount of money involved.
In a kind of eerie millenarian museum-ethics meltdown, the Gugg scandal marks the third time a New York museum has been embarrassed in recent weeks for renting out its galleries. Last week questions were raised about the propriety of Tommy Hilfiger's extensive branding at the "Rock Style" show he sponsored at the Metropolitan Museum, and earlier the Brooklyn Museum was accused of letting British collector Charles Saatchi have the run of the place.
NEW HOME FOR YBAS
Brit dealer Jay Jopling is set to open a new gallery to showcase his stable of Young British Artists. Named White Cube 2, the new space is slated to open in April in Hoxton Square, East London, reportedly the area in Europe with the biggest concentration of artists. The facility was designed by Mike Rundell, whose credits include Damien Hirst's Pharmacy restaurant. According to Jopling, White Cube 2, with ceilings nearly 17 feet high, is "unashamedly a space for artists on the scale of a New York gallery." The first exhibition features the gallery stable -- art stars Jake and Dinos Chapman, Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Gary Hume, Sam Taylor-Wood and Gavin Turk. The original White Cube gallery in central London will remain a project space for contemporary art as it has been for the past seven years.
MASKED GUNMEN ROB IRISH LIBRARY
Masked gunmen stole approximately £170,000 worth of artifacts from a library in the city of Armagh in Northern Ireland on Dec. 14. Local authorities suspect that either the IRA or Protestant militias were involved. Librarian Harry Carson told the London Times that he thought paramilitary forces were involved, a possibility that Vincent McKenna, founder of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Bureau, backs up. "It is highly unlikely that anyone not connected with a republican or loyalist group could operate with a gun in Armagh. It is a very controlled place indeed." The loot, which could have been stolen to raise funds, included a copy of Gulliver's Travels from 1726 with handwritten alterations in the text by author Jonathan Swift, as well as a Geneva Bible from 1799, a 13th-century Dutch missal, an ancient miniature Koran measuring 1 inch by 1 inch, and two 17th-century Dublin silver maces used by the Queen to restore Armagh to its city status.
NEA GRANTS ANNOUNCED
The National Endowment for the Arts has announced $16.9 million for organizations in its Creation & Presentation grant category for the first round of fiscal year 2000. The top grant, $150,000, goes to fund the Chicago Art Institute's traveling exhibition "Taoism and the Arts of China." Among the other grants are $60,000 to the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle for a show of artists exploring biotechnology, $15,000 to Independent Curators Inc. for a traveling Lee Krasner retrospective, $25,000 to the Milwaukee Art Museum for a show of body artist Vito Acconci and $50,000 to the Museum for African Art in New York for "The Art of African Coiffure." Several independent art magazines also received modest amounts: $18,000 to the New Art Examiner in Chicago, $12,000 to the Atlanta Art Papers and $7,000 to New Observations in New York. For a detailed list go to http://arts.endow.gov/learn/00grants/C-P.asp.
TITIAN FOUND IN FLEA MARKET
A portrait of a woman attributed to Titian was found for sale for $1,000 in a flea market in Valencia, Spain. Local authorities say the painting was stolen in 1991 from the home of a private collector, who was in the process of verifying the authenticity of the work. The picture could be worth as much as $9.4 million.
REMEDIOS VARIOS RETROSPECTIVE
The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., is starting off the year 2000 with the first U.S. retrospective of renowned Mexican Surrealist Remedios Varios, Feb. 10-May 29, 2000. The exhibition, curated by Luis-Martín Lozano, features 80 paintings and drawings.
L.A. MOCA PRESENTS BRECHT AND WEILL'S "HAPPY END"
Next February, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles celebrates the centenary of composer Kurt Weill's birth with a new production of Weill and Bertolt Brecht's "Happy End," a love story between a hard-nosed gangster and a Salvation Army missionary. The unconventional new staging, directed by Randee Trabitz and featuring new arrangements by the Eastside Sinfonietta, is to feature live action, film, video, slide projections and puppetry, and will require that the audience move through galleries as the play proceeds. Twelve performances of "Happy End" will run Feb. 23-27 and March 1-5, 2000 in the galleries of MOCA at the Geffen Contemporary.
British artist Neil Butler plans to wrap the world with fax paper, figuratively speaking, in a collaborative project scheduled to begin Dec. 31, 1999. "Wrap the World" begins with artists at the Skyhouse Building in Glasgow making a 100-foot-long drawing, which they will then fax to the Rembrandt van Rijn Gallery in Johannesburg, where it will be added to and faxed to the National Craft Centre in New Delhi, after which it goes to Artspace in Sydney, the Kitchen in New York and Serralves Gallery in Porto, Portugal, where it is then, as a final step, faxed back to Glasgow, where a child will officially receive the finished piece, becoming the human link in a continuous piece of art that wraps the world. This curious version of the Exquisite Corpse can be viewed live at http://www.wraptheworld.com.
ODE TO FRIENDSHIP MARRED BY BICKERING?
Grace Graupe-Pillard's new public sculpture, titled Gateway to the Shore, has been installed at the Aberdeen-Matawan Train Station in Aberdeen, N.J. -- but without a planned official unveiling. The sculpture, which was funded by New Jersey Transit, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey State Transportation Trust Fund, depicts a diverse group of people from the local community. But the Nov. 19 opening ceremony for this emblem of amity was canceled the night before, apparently because the mayors of the two towns have been bickering and refused to sit on the same stage with each other.
PAUL CADMUS, 1904-1999
Paul Cadmus, 94, American painter whose 1934 depiction of carousing sailors sparked one of the first U.S. art censorship battles, died at his home in Weston, Conn., on Dec. 11, six days shy of his 95th birthday. Known for his meticulous draftsmanship and gay themes, Cadmus first gained notoriety in 1934 for The Fleet's In, a painting pulled from the Corcoran Gallery in Washington after protests from Navy officials. DC Moore Gallery in New York featured a retrospective of his drawings in May 1998.