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Artnet News
Is it wrong for women to paint sumptuous female flesh and erect penises? Art critic Deborah Solomon doesn't think so, and has written "Art Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," an expose in the Jan. 30 Sunday New York Times Magazine on the hypersexed work of "bad girl" artists Cecily Brown, Lisa Yuskavage, Sam Taylor-Wood and Sue Williams. But the newspaper itself -- and Sunday magazine editor Adam Moss -- saw fit to censor the accompanying illustrations with big black bars across the "naughty" parts.

"It's a shame that something so beautiful and natural should be covered up in the New York Times," Brown told Artnet News in reference to her work, Boy Trouble (Red), which apparently shows a nude man having no trouble whatsoever. "I don't think there's any obscenity in what in the end is a tender painting of a man in the only state that enables the human race to continue," she said. "And I wish it had said 'bad women' instead of 'bad girls.'" More observant readers will notice that the black bar on Brown's work is placed a bit too high, and fails to obscure the guy's family jewels.

Hot news in the art-auction business is that Christie's auction house is cooperating with a three-year-old U.S. justice department probe of price-fixing in the international art market. The admittedly vague story, which broke in U.S. and English papers over the weekend, paints Christie's new management -- under French entrepreneur François Pinault -- as hastening to distance itself from the previous regime, headed by Christopher Davidge, who resigned as Christie's c.e.o. a month ago. Apparently, the charges involve some kind of secret arrangement between Christie's and Sotheby's to fix commission rates and thus prevent sellers from playing one auction house against the other. Christie's has received immunity from prosecution in return for its cooperation, according to press reports, but speculation is rampant that the London-based auctioneer may not receive the same treatment from Britain's Competition Commission and the European Commission.

In the meantime, thanks to the price-fixing probe, the stock of rival house Sotheby's -- which is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange -- tumbled to a 52-week low of 17 1/2 after several analysts cut their ratings (the stock closed at 20 1/2 on Monday, Jan. 31). Janney Montgomery Scott cut its price target for the stock to $35 from $60 and said that it does not expect any "meaningful" long-term impact from the government inquiry.

The recently instituted Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art is looking for a new chief executive for 2001. Last year's biennial, dubbed "Trace" and featuring 60 artists from 25 countries, was organized by Anthony Bond, chief curator of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia. If you think you've got what it takes, call Helen Watters at the Tate Gallery Liverpool at +44 (0) 151 702 7501 by Feb. 14, 2000. Pay rate is confidential but said to be quite welcoming.

Germany's Jean Arp Foundation and its chairman Dieter Glange, along with three accomplices, have been fined 68 million francs (about $10 million) by a French court for trying to smuggle 114 casts and 32 reliefs by the late artist from his studio in Clamart, France, to Germany in 1996. The fine is reportedly the largest ever imposed in a European art dispute and twice the estimated value of the works.

The story of these works is a tortuous one. Arp's widow, the late artist Sophie Taeuber, donated the casts to the foundation after the artist's death in 1966, but France refused to grant a permit for their export. The collection was moved to Germany illegally in 1988 but won back by France four years later. More recently, the foundation declared the collection to be plasters worth next to nothing, and spirited them through customs. In the most recent lawsuit, the court ruled that the works were listed as national treasures by the French state. The foundation is appealing the court's decision.

The Whitney Museum's roster of curators is complete with the appointment of Lawrence Rinder as curator of contemporary art. Rinder is currently director of the CCAC Institute at the California College of Arts and Crafts in San Francisco and Oakland. No stranger to the Whitney, Rinder was an advisor to the 1991 and 1993 Whitney biennials, and is one of the six curators organizing the "2000 Biennial Exhibition" (which opens Mar. 23).

The staid British Museum is being shaken up by its recently appointed director, Suzanna Taverne, former managing director of the financial magazine FT Finance. On the job 10 months, Taverne seeks to cut 90 jobs, in part by targeting staff over 60 years of age. Curatorial posts are at risk in the Egyptian, Western Asiatic antiquities and Oriental antiquities departments. Will the famed British trade unions manage a strike in the post-Thatcherite age of Blair's Britain? Stay tuned.

The month of February promises to be a busy one for the international art world. First on the calendar is the Palm Beach International Art & Antique Fair, Feb. 3-13 at the International Pavilion in sunny Palm Beach, Fla. Approximately 80 top-flight galleries will be on hand, including newcomers Silver Fund Ltd. from London, Galerie Schmit from Paris and Charles Edwin Puckett from Dallas. The gala Feb. 3 preview benefits the Norton Museum of Art. The top ticket -- priced at $1,000 -- includes a private curatorial tour of the show.

Europe's first big art fair of the year 2000 is the 19th edition of ARCO in Madrid, Spain, Feb. 10-15. Over 250 galleries from all over the world will have booths featuring a wide range of modern and contemporary art. This year's "guest country" is Italy, with a special section curated by Achille Bonito Oliva. For more info check out the ARCO website at

The photo world descends on New York for the Photography Show at the New York Hilton, Feb. 11-13. Some 85-member galleries of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers are expected in what is billed as the world's largest photo fair. Admission is $15; for more info call (212) 986-0105.

Also slated for New York City is the 12th annual Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory, Feb. 23-28. Approximately 70 members of the Art Dealers Association of America go all out and present their most exceptional artworks. The Feb. 23 gala benefits Henry Street Settlement. General admission is $12. Call (212) 940-8925 for more information.

Finally, the month draws to an end with the Armory Show 2000, Feb. 25-28, at the new North Pavilion of New York's Jacob Javits Convention Center. This year's exposition includes 94 of the most contemporary art galleries in the world, including ACME from L.A., White Cube from London and the Neu Gallery from Berlin. The opening night party on Feb. 24 benefits Dia Center for the Arts. Tickets are $200. General admission is $12; call (212) 777-3338 for info.

Several other fairs also are scheduled during the month of February, a total of 16 in all. has them all listed in its art fair calendar at

To combat a rampant market in fake Aboriginal arts and crafts, Australia's National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association has announced the launch of a "Label of Authenticity" for the real thing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists will attach the association's labels featuring a unique serial number to their completed work, and the number will be available in an online registry with information on who made the piece and what it is supposed to be. The current method of authentication, a photo of the artist holding the piece in question, has been losing credibility as artists admit being paid to pose holding other people's work.

PERRY T. RATHBONE, 1911-2000
Perry T. Rathbone, 88, director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from 1955 until 1972, died Jan. 22 at a nursing home in Cambridge, Mass. Rathbone joined Christie's as director of its New York office in 1973, and became the auction house's senior vice president and director of museum services for 10 years after it opened its salesroom in New York in 1977.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech