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The downturn in tourism in New York has hit the Whitney Museum -- which is reacting by cutting into its core mission. In addition to laying off 12 full-time and two part-time employees out of a staff of 210 people, according the New York Times, the museum is canceling an exhibition of works by Eva Hesse. A show by the contemporary New York-based Israeli photographer Michal Rovner is on hold while a search for sponsors continues. The cuts save about $1 million in the museum's $23-million annual operating budget, according to Whitney director Maxwell Anderson.

Unfortunately for art-lovers, elimination of important exhibitions seems to be a popular option among budget-stressed museums. A few weeks ago, the Guggenheim Museum announced the postponement of a show by avant-garde artist Matthew Barney, even though its preparation had been completed by Gugg curator Nancy Spector (the show is to tour European museums instead). The Hesse show was organized by Elisabeth Sussman, who left the Whitney's curatorial staff after Anderson came on board as director, and opens next spring at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco.

Madrid's celebrated international contemporary art fair, ARCO '02, is scheduled to take place Feb. 14-19, 2002, with a total of 250 participating galleries from around the world. Of the participating galleries, 95 are from Spain, with the remaining 155 coming from 30 other countries, including first-time representatives of Malaysia, Finland, Norway and Russia. Additionally, 20 galleries are coming from Germany, 16 each from Australia, France and Italy, 14 from Portugal and 10 from the U.S.A.

The 2002 edition of the fair features a new "Ephemeral Architecture Project," led by architect Vicente Salvador, and has Australia as the "special guest country," with participation curated by art dealer Paul Greenaway. Other special programs are a "cutting edge" section, "project rooms" featuring 30 site-specific pieces under the theme of "frontiers," and the second edition of the Altadis Public Art/Open Spaces program organized by Jérome Sans and Nicholas Bourriaud of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

For years, Christmas at the Metropolitan Museum has meant a Christmas tree decorated with 19th-century Neapolitan angels and historic nativity scene. But this year, the 20-foot blue spruce, presently on view from Nov. 24, 2001-Jan. 6, 2002, is joined for the first time by a similarly impressive Hannakkah menorah. The richly decorated 18th-century candelabrum, probably made for a synagogue located in Eastern Europe, is lent by the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Collection. A special candle-lighting ceremony takes place on Dec. 10, 2001, at 5 p.m.

The International Association of Art Critics/USA has announced its 2000-2001 awards for outstanding museum and gallery exhibitions, selected by polling the membership. The citation for best gallery show went to Olafur Eliasson at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, while Vija Celmins at McKee took second place. The award for best "new media" show went to Bill Viola at James Cohan Gallery; second was Shirin Neshat at Barbara Gladstone Gallery.

"Behind Closed Doors: The Art of Hans Bellmer," organized by Therese Lichtenstein at the International Center of Photography, won as best photography show. Second place was taken by "Walker Evans" at the Metropolitan Museum, organized by Jeff Rosenheim. "The Architecture of R.M. Schindler," organized by Elizabeth Smith and Michael Darling at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, won for best architecture or design show, with second place going to "Frank Gehry, Architect," organized by Mildred Friedman and J. Fiona Ragheb at the Guggenheim Museum.

"Installations and Sculpture by Willie Cole," organized by Marysol Nieves at the Bronx Museum, won for best show of an underknown or emerging artist. Second place went to the exhibition by painter Richard Kalina at Lennon Weinberg in New York. "Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art," organized by Justin Spring at the AXA Gallery in Manhattan, was cited as best show in an alternative space. "Beverly Semmes: Watching Her Feat" at the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia, organized by Marion Boulton Stroud, got second place.

The award for best museum show originating in New York City went to "Yes, Yoko Ono," organized by Alexandra Munroe at the Japan Society. "Andreas Gursky," organized by Peter Galassi for the Museum of Modern Art, was second. The citation for the best museum show originating outside New York went to "William Kentridge," organized at the Hirshhorn Museum by Neal Benezra (the exhibition was curated by Staci Boris of the MCA Chicago and Dan Cameron of the New Museum, and subsequently traveled to the organizing institutions). Cited for second place was "Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and his New York Galleries," organized by Sarah Greenough at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The first exhibition of works by Pablo Picasso from French museums goes on view in India at the National Museum in New Delhi, Dec. 14, 2001-Jan. 31, 2002, and the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bombay, Feb. 15-Mar. 30, 2002. The exhibition, "Metamorphoses 1900-1972," features over 100 works, and is expected to be seen by some 200,000 people.

The Boca Raton Museum of Art has unveiled "Arman: The Passage of Objects," an exhibition of some 135 works dating from 1954 to the present by the internationally renowed Nouveau Réaliste, Nov. 21, 2001-Jan. 13, 2002. Curated by French poet and art historian Tita Reut, the show debuted last summer in slightly larger form at the 2001 Venice Biennale.

The High Museum of Art in Atlanta opens 2002 with "A Passion for Renoir: Five Great Paintings from the Clark Art Institute," Jan. 10-Feb. 24, 2002. The show includes Renoir's 1880 set piece, At the Concert, as well as a 1875 self portrait. The show is the second example of an intimate exhibition borrowed from a sister museum; last fall the High showed "Van Gogh's Starry Night: Three Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art."

A major exhibition of sculpture and design by Isamu Noguchi opens at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, Dec. 8, 2001-Apr. 21, 2002. The show includes 80 objects, and is organized in conjunction with the Isamu Noguchi Foundation in New York. The 300-page, bilingual catalogue includes articles by curator Katarina V. Posch, Anna Chave, Ingrid Schaffner and Donna Ghelerter, Il Kim and Bert Winther-Tamaki, as well as a memoir by Shoji Sadao, who worked with the artist for several years, an homage by R. Buckminster Fuller and a previously unpublished article by Noguchi himself. The show tours to museums in Paris, Cologne and Berlin.
-- Walter Robinson