Magazine Home  |  News  |  Features  |  Reviews  |  Books  |  People  |  Horoscope  
Artnet News
The cancellation of Seattle's New Year's Eve party at the famous Seattle Center tower has got at least one artist riled up. Seattle sculptor Carl Smool was scheduled to kick off the festivities with a ceremonial bonfire of a 17-part wooden sculpture called At the Crossroads. The work features a giant egg filled with the written wishes of thousands of people, and is surrounded by tinder animals and flanked by life-size wooden figures representing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Smool hoped to ignite the work at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 as a kind of hopeful cleansing ritual. But the Seattle City Council blocked the event, citing public-safety concerns in the wake of the riots that rocked the city during the recent World Trade Organization conference. The artist claims censorship, and told the Seattle Times that his piece "reflects challenges and questions that we have to grasp now: economic decisions and decisions about social justice." At the Crossroads took 18 months to build and cost $120,000; Smool has put it on public view to honor the efforts of the people who helped make it.

For those of us who remain confident that society will not collapse with the coming of the year 2000, here is a list of art-related millennial activities to consider:

  • Celebrate New Year's Eve at the at the opening of the Rose Center (formerly known as the Hayden Planetarium) at the American Museum of Natural History on New Year's Eve with ArtByte Magazine editor Bill Jones and avant-musician Ben Neill's Pulse 48 installation. The "fractal composition" event -- a hypnotic pulsing light and music show -- is sold out, but can still be seen in streaming video at

  • Start the new year with performance artist Tehching Hsieh, who gained fame back in 1986 when he announced his plan to stop showing his art for 13 years, as he finally goes public at 2 p.m. on Jan. 1 at Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square in Manhattan. Hsieh's Public Report is hosted by the Franklin Furnace and requires reservations; phone (212) 766-2606.

  • Have a "Sensational" New Year's day at the Brooklyn Museum of Art by attending a special millennial version of its monthly "First Saturdays" program on Jan. 1, beginning at 5 p.m. On the bill is bluegrass by James Reams and the Barnstormers at 6 p.m., followed by millennium movies by Howard Hawks and George Cukor at 7 p.m., and a Grand Lobby dance party with Peggy Cone and the Central Park Stompers at 9 p.m. Also on view: "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection," which closes Jan. 9, 2000. Admission is free to the museum, but you still have to buy a ticket to see "Sensation."

  • And keep your eye out for two other public art works with millennial themes. One, at the Wexner Center in Columbus, Oh., is Clock by Ińigo Manglano-Ovalle, a 17-monitor video installation that tells time using the faces of Ohio State University students and faculty instead of numbers. Clock remains on view through the year 2000. The second public art work is already installed in the heart of Times Square -- Martin Creed's Everything Is Going To Be Alright, a 40-foot long, two-foot tall red-neon sign emblazoned with the eponymous reassuring slogan and mounted on the façade of a new hotel development on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. Commissioned by the Public Art Fund, the sign is on view through Jan. 31, 2000.

    The Pompidou Center in Paris unveils its $89-million, 27-month-long renovation on New Year's Day. Designed by the center's original architects, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, the overhaul doubles exhibition space -- now 1,400 works will be on view instead of 800 -- and goes hand-in-hand with an aggressive art-acquisition program designed to give the museum "the most complete and coherent exhibition of 20th century art" in the world, according to curator Werner Spies. The first show, "Time," opens Jan. 13, 2000.

    Antony Gormley's Quantum Cloud, a 98-foot-tall sculpture on the River Thames designed for Britain's millennium celebrations, is running a little behind schedule. The huge figure, made of 3,500 galvanized steel tubes, was to be completed in time for a New Year's Eve inauguration by Queen Elizabeth. Work on the structure suffered delays due to poor weather and is not expected to be completed for several weeks.

    The art world tends to slow down during the holiday season, but that certainly wasn't true for two leading museum professionals who now find themselves out of their jobs. Wadsworth Atheneum director Peter C. Sutton announced a six-month "sabbatical" that museum insiders say is tantamount to an ouster. A scholar of Dutch painting, Sutton has headed the Atheneum for three years to considerable acclaim, dotting the exhibition schedule with crowd-pleasing shows of the likes of Dalí, Calder and Gauguin. The official explanation for Sutton's unexpected departure is to focus on "research and writing." His successor is curator Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, now acting director. Also shown the door is Cincinnati Art Museum curator of paintings and sculpture John Wilson, who had been on the staff at the museum for over nine years and recently was made curator of European paintings there. The museum's only comment was "no comment."

    The art world was abuzz at news of the sudden resignation of Christie's CEO Christopher Davidge, 54, who had run the London-based auction house for the last 10 years. The announcement came on what may be the slowest news day of the year -- Friday, Dec. 24. His successor is Edward Dolman, who was recently made chief of U.S. operations by Christie's owner, Francois Pinault.

    Still another museum has been called on the carpet by the New York Times for aligning its curatorial program a bit too closely with its fundraising efforts. According to Times reporter Carol Vogel, the Grey Art Gallery at New York University has received $500,000 for its endowment from the Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido at the same time the Grey is organizing "Face to Face: Shiseido Japan 1900-2000," an exhibition of Shiseido's collection of posters, products and package designs. Grey director Lyn Gumpert insisted that the show would have been organized anyway, saying that "the material is fantastic." Similar revelations have tainted Tommy Hilfiger's sponsorship of the Metropolitan Museum's "Rock Style," Giorgio Armani's backing of the Guggenheim, which is to exhibit Armani fashions, and Charles Saatchi's support for the show of his collection at the Brooklyn Museum.

    Patrick Dailey was arrested on Dec. 27 for allegedly splattering red paint on the Brooklyn Museum of Art's façade. Dailey did not give reasons for the attack. This is the third such incident since the "Sensation" exhibition opened. Scott Lobaido was arrested on Sept. 31 for throwing dung at the museum's entrance and Dennis Heiner was arrested on Dec. 16 for splattering Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary with white paint.

    The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation has awarded $20,000 grants to 35 contemporary artists for 1999. The biennial competition claims to recognize work that shows serious promise but which has not yet received widespread critical or commercial recognition. The winners are Ricci Albenda, Anne Appleby, Pedro Barbeito, Robert Beck, Linda Besemer, Jessica Bronson, James Carl, Marek Cecula, Patty Chang, Liz Craft, Lucky DeBellevue, Sam Easterson, Teresita Fernández, Dara Friedman, Jeff Gauntt, Gaylen Gerber, Stephen Hendee, Susan Jennings, Kurt Kauper, Shannon Kennedy, Udomsak Krisanamis, Chris Larson, Barry McGee, Heather McGill, Helen Mirra, Rebecca Morris, Rubén Ortiz-Torres, Richard Raiselis, Rigo 99, Helen Rousakis, John Schlesinger, James Siena, Amy Sillman, Sarah Sze and Alexi Worth.

    The grant jury consisted of Bard College director of curatorial studies Amada Cruz; painter Carroll Dunham; Site Santa Fe director Louis Grachos; painter Kerry James Marshall; Yale art school professor David Pease; UrbanGlass executive director John Perreault; and Saint Louis Art Museum curator Rochelle Steiner. A catalogue showcasing the winners is available in May, 2000, and a website ( featuring the artists' works launches in mid-March.

    Debs & Co. moves from its present quarters on 20th Street to the second floor of 525 West 26th Street on Jan. 1, 2000. The Thomas Erben Gallery relocates from its present SoHo quarters to 516 West 20th Street on Mar. 1st, 2000, and will open with Oladele Bamgboye's The Unmasking, Part II.

    The National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of American Art are unhappy with plans for their renovated quarters in the Old Patent Building. According to a story in the Washington Post, the year-long feud involves space allocations in the $60-million renovation. The Portrait Gallery loses four percent of its present area, cutting it down to 21,200 square feet for a collection of 11,400 objects. As for the Museum of American Art, it gets 62,400 square feet for its 37,900 objects, but was reported to be unhappy at the prospect of sharing the entrance, Rotunda and Great Hall with its sister institution. In the end, departing Smithsonian Secretary I. Michael Heyman laid down the law. Both museums close Jan. 3 for the renovation. In the meantime, the NMAA launches its "Treasures to Go" tour of eight exhibitions that will travel to more than 70 museums over the next three years. The Portrait Gallery is sending four exhibitions to museums in the U.S. and abroad.

    The special Artnet News 1999 Commendation for an exemplary New Year's greeting card goes to art advisor Yvonne Force Villareal and her associates, Carmen Zita and Doreen Remen. Inside is a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre -- "Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you." On the cover is an image of… well, to take a look for yourself, click here.