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In the latest wrinkle in the never-ending Sotheby's and Christie's price-fixing scandal, it seems that 75-year-old former Sotheby's chief A. Alfred Taubman has taken a lie detector test… and passed. Taubman, the only remaining target in the U.S. Justice Department investigation, was administered the polygraph examination at his lawyers' request, according to Ralph Blumenthal and Carol Vogel in the New York Times. Former F.B.I. chief polygrapher Paul K. Minor has said the shopping center magnate passed with flying colors, denying any knowledge of his company's scheme to fix commission rates with Christie's. Experts believe that the test, which has no legal standing in court, will do little to appease prosecutors.

After some tinkering to appease critics, Boston city officials have approved the Boston Institute of Contemporary Arts' waterfront Fan Pier project, recently described in these pages in Francine Koslow Miller's "Boston Direct." Administrators have responded to neighborhood concerns by agreeing to trim the size of the ICA's tract (but make the building 25 percent taller). The revisions also reduce the proposed height of the site's office towers and double the amount of green space -- to two acres. The museum is currently located in a 19th-century brick Victorian building a third the size of the 60,000-square-foot new facility.

Site Santa Fe has released a teaser for its fourth international biennial, "Beau Monde: Towards a Redeemed Cosmopolitanism," curated by Dave Hickey. The ever-rebellious Las Vegas critic distances the exhibition from the current biennial model of "trade shows for the curators of museums and kunsthalles the world over, who arrive at the site in search of internationally certified art installations to fill out their exhibition schedules." Hickey instead plans "to mount an exhibition that is variously interesting rather than generally relevant." The list of 25 participants is being revealed at a press conference in New York on Jan. 23. Stay tuned.

"Media/Metaphor," the 46th biennial exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, departs from the show's long tradition of focusing on American painting to include photography, video, film, installation and computer-related media, Dec. 8, 2000-Mar. 5, 2001. The exhibition, organized by the museum's curator of photography and media arts Philip Brookman, explores the complex relationship between painting and media arts and concentrates on narratives and stories. On view are works by Shimon Attie, Victor Burgin, Y. David Chung, Chuck Close, Sharon Daniel, Nan Goldin, Gary Hill, Vik Muniz, David Reed, Michal Rovner, Ben Sakoguchi, Jennifer Steinkamp, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Lisa Yuskavage. In the spirit of the theme, the biennial's catalogue has been eschewed in favor of an interactive website.

The Turner Prize got it wrong, according to London Sunday Times art critic Waldemar Januszczak. Prize-winner Wolfgang Tillmans, who took home a £20,000 purse, is a "fashion photographer" who specializes in "vacuous modiness" and "that unsmiling faux seriousness that habitually passes for meaningfulness in the dumb world of fashion photography and album covers." The last decent artist to win the prize was Gillian Wearing, and that was four years ago, says the acerbic critic. "When petits maîtres like Tillmans win," he finishes his essay, "we can be sure that the Turner has had to resort to some serious barrel-scraping."

Sotheby's American art sale on Nov. 30 in New York sold of 171 of 209 lots, or 82 percent, for a total of $41,162, 250 (with auction-house commission). Top lot was Thomas Moran's Mount Moran, Teton Range, which sold for $2,975,750, a new record for the artist at auction. The sale also featured a group of works by Andrew Wyeth, three of which landed in the top five -- The Quaker, $2,525,750; Nogeeshik, $1,820750 and Weather Side, $1,765,750. Other top prices included $2.2 million for a Marsden Hartley, $1.66 million for a Maurice Prendergast, $1.5 million for a Childe Hassam and $1.2 million for a Patrick Henry Bruce.

Americans for the Arts, the Washington, D.C.-based arts-policy institute, has launched the Public Art Network (PAN), designed to provide services and networking for public-art professionals. PAN promises a set of professional standards and a central info clearinghouse, not to mention a new Public Art Program Directory that lists over 300 public art programs in the U.S. Copies are $25; for more info contact (800) 321-4510 or go to

PHOTO L.A. 2001
Photo L.A. is celebrating its 10th anniversary with an opening reception benefiting the photography department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, hosted by actor-shutterbug Dennis Hopper at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Jan. 18. The fair features 75 galleries and private dealers, collecting seminars and a lecture series featuring photographers James Fee, Isabella Iturbide and Jock Sturges, Jan. 18-21, 2001. Tickets for the fair are $12 for one day and $20 for three days and can be purchased at the door. Tickets for the benefit are $35 each and can be purchased by calling (323) 932-5846.

The Jewish Museum celebrates Hanukkah with "Light x Eight: The Hanukkah Project 2000," its second exhibition featuring work that creates or manipulates light, Dec. 10, 2000-Jan. 28, 2001. The show, organized by a museum curatorial committee, features works by Angela Bulloch, Rico Gatson, Lyn Godley, Anish Kapoor, Michah Lexier, Matthew McCaslin, Catherine Yass and Jeff Zilm. The art is being installed in unexpected locations to illuminate areas throughout the entire building, including two works visible from outside, transforming the museum into an unconventional Hanukkah lamp. The holiday, known as the Festival of Lights, is observed for eight days, beginning this year at sundown on Dec. 21 and ending at sundown on Dec. 29.

The U.S. branch of the International Association of Art Critics has announced "best of show" awards for the 1999-2000 season. Among the exhibitions honored are "Sol LeWitt: A Retrospective," at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; "The Prinzhorn Collection: Traces Upon the Wunderbloch" at the Drawing Center; and "1900: Art at the Crossroads" at the Guggenheim Museum, which also earned an award for best catalogue. The commercial gallery exhibition winner is "Jenny Saville" at Gagosian Gallery in New York and the best show for under-known artist is a tie between Valie Export's "Ob/De+Con(Struction)" at Moore College in Philadelphia and "Lee Mullican: Selected Drawings 1945-1980s" at the UCLA Hammer Museum.

Painter Dirk Skreber has been awarded the Hamburger Banhof museum's 100,000 DM National Gallery Prize for Young Artists 2000. The other candidates for the award for artists under 40 currently working in Germany included environmental conceptualist Olafur Eliasson, painter Katharina Grosse and video artist Christian Jankowski.

P.S. 1 has hired performers to guide visitors through its "Disasters of War" exhibition -- a conglomeration of works by Francisco Goya, Jake and Dinos Chapman and Henry Darger -- reciting excerpts from Darger's 15,000-page manuscript about his imaginary war between the Vivan Girls and the evil Glandolinians. The show goes on every half hour from 2 to 6 p.m., Dec. 10 and 17, 2000, and Jan. 7, 14, 21 and 28, 2001. The exhibition itself is on view Nov. 19, 2000-Feb. 25, 2001.

May Castleberry has been appointed editor of the Museum of Modern Art's new Library Council, designed to create special publications in support of the Library and Museum Archives.

Failing to heed the warnings of many a horror movie, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston has acquired a 2,300-year-old Egyptian mummy coffin and four companion statues. In what seems like an obvious sign of trouble, the seven-foot-tall coffin belongs to a priest of Osiris, god of the underworld. No word yet on potential tie-ins with Universal's spring 2001 release of The Mummy Returns.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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