MORE ON RUDY'S CRUSADE
Mayor Giuliani's crusade against the Brooklyn Museum of Art rages on, and, not surprisingly, everyone seems to have something to say about it. At issue is Renée Cox's Yo Mama's Last Supper, a five-panel photograph in which the artist, nude, stands in place of Jesus Christ while the 12 disciples are represented by African-American men in period garb. The work is one of 188 photos by 94 artists in "Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers," currently on view at the museum.
"This has nothing to do with Jesus," long-time Giuliani foe Rev. Al Sharpton told the New York Post. "It has to do with censorship… If Jesus were here today, he would not be worried about art pieces at the Brooklyn Museum. He'd be worried about children going to school and not learning… and the homeless that can't find shelter." On the other side of the spectrum, retired schoolteacher Dennis Heiner tells the tabloid, "Someone -- not me though -- needs to make some sort of gesture to let the Brooklyn Museum know that an exhibit like this is not good." Serious words, considering the 74-year-old was convicted for splashing paint on Chris Ofili's Holy Virgin Mary during the BMA's notorious "Sensation" exhibition two years ago. Heiner adds that he doesn't plan to attend the show.
As for the New York Times, its columnists weighed in on the case, too, with John Tierney proposing a tongue-in-cheek "Minnesota Multi-Phasic Propriety Exam" in his "The Big City" column, and Op-Ed columnist Gail Collins noting that "the nation's supply of moral watchdogs is pretty well picked over right now, what with the demand for appointees in the Bush administration."
PICASSO, TOO HOT FOR THE U.S.
"Picasso Érotique," an unusually daring exhibition of 300 of Picasso's rarely seen erotic paintings, drawings and engravings, has opened at the Musée du Jeu de Paume in Paris, Feb. 20-May 20, 2001. The show ranges from Blue Period sex scenes to raunchy late works from the 1960s, and features explicit etchings and drawings of satyrs and nymphs as well as images of whores connected with Les Demoiselles and major kisses from the 1930s. "There might even be something blasphemous," said Robert Rosenblum, who contributed an essay to the catalogue.
The Metropolitan Museum's famed Blue Period self-portrait of the artist receiving oral sex from a long-haired girl, published on Artnet.com in 1996 (and never exhibited by the Met) is out of the closet and on view in Paris.
The show was originally slated for the Musée Picasso and then moved to the Jeu de Paume to accommodate the grander crowds. According to the London Times, "the works, including brothel scenes, rape and voyeurism, are considered indecent in countries such as the United States, where there are no plans to stage the exhibition." Dirty-minded American art lovers can catch the show this summer when it travels to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada; it's also appearing at the Museo Picasso in Barcelona.
STAMFORD WHITNEY TO CLOSE?
The Whitney Museum's satellite branch in Stamford, Conn., might have to shut down as early as Mar. 31, reports Donna Porstner in the Stamford Advocate. The fate of the offshoot has been in question since Champion International, which provided the Whitney with a free lease in its building for over 18 years and funded museum programs, was acquired by International Paper last summer. International Paper sold the building housing the museum to a new landlord, who has asked the museum for $175,000 annual rent for the 3,600-square-foot gallery space. Despite numerous donations, branch curator Cynthia Roznoy estimates it would take another $1.6 million to operate the museum throughout a five-year lease. The Whitney's board of trustees is expected to make a final decision soon. "Without a corporate sponsor, it's unlikely the branch can be sustained," said a museum spokesperson. "But we haven't given up yet."
HEART OF GLASS AT QUEENS MUSEUM
The Queens Museum of Art presents "Heart of Glass," an exhibition of glass works by eight celebrated cutting-edge artists, Feb. 22-May 27, 2001. Organized by director of exhibitions Valerie Smith, the show features works by Josiah McElheny, Tony Oursler, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Katy Schimert, Kiki Smith, Jan Vercruysse, Not Vital and Robin Winters. Complementing the show are a number of programs, including a talk by McElheny scheduled for Feb. 25 at 1 p.m.; a talk and workshop by Winters on March 4 at 1 p.m.; and a talk and tour on April 1 at 2 p.m. by Smith. Call (718) 592-9700 for more information.
NEW CHIEF FOR V&A
Mark Jones has been selected as director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, succeeding Alan Borg. Jones, 50, has been director of the National Museums of Scotland since 1992. He organized the people-pleaser "Fake? The Art of Deception" and supervised the opening of the award-winning new Museum of Scotland in 1998.
DISNEY WINS MUSEUM AWARD
The Walt Disney Company and its CEO, Michael D. Eisner, have won the 2001 Honor Award from the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The annual award cites Disney's role as a major architectural patron, ranging from the 1992 restoration of the New Amsterdam Theater in New York's Times Square to the planned town of Celebration, Fla. In the past 16 years, under Eisner's leadership, Disney has commissioned more than 80 buildings from acclaimed architects like Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Arata Isozaki and Robert A.M. Stern. The award is to be presented at a special gala on Apr. 5 at the National Building Museum.
SPECIAL LOVE FEELINGS TOO HOT FOR THE STOCK EXCHANGE?
The New York Stock Exchange might not be the first place one thinks of as a setting for "special love feelings," but artist David Kramer was surprised to find out that the company seems to be completely opposed to the expression. The NYSE took down one of Kramer's word paintings bearing the slogan "speciallovefeelings" from its Broad Street lobby, while leaving works featuring the phrases "NONSTOPACTION," "SUPERTURBOCHARGED," "ULTRALITE" and "hasbeenneverwas" untouched, according to the New York Post. Kramer was reportedly told the piece had been removed because someone made a homophobic remark at a security guard standing under it, though another unnamed guard blames the management.
MARGINALIA AT MILLENNIUM
The Millennium Film Workshop Inc. is presenting "Marginalia," a screening of short films and videos by contemporary artists, Mar. 3, 2001, at 8 p.m. The exhibition, organized by curator and artist Marco Breuer, features works by Michael Buckland, Pat Courtney, James Elaine & William Basinski, Carlo Ferraris, Matthias Geiger, Susan Grahanm James Hegge, Arnold Helbling, Margueriete Kahrl, Jim Kanter, Kristy Knight, Elka Krajewska, Matt Marello, Christopher Moore, Michael O'Malley, Jim Torok and others. The workshop is also holding a one-day exhibition by the artists on Mar. 3. Millennium is located at 66 East 4th St. Admission to the screening is $7; call (212) 673-0090 for more info.
Balthassar Klossowski, 92, controversial figurative painter known for his erotically charged images of pre-pubescent girls, died on Feb. 18 at his chalet in La Rossinière, Switzerland, a few days before his 93rd birthday. Balthus, as he was known, catapulted to fame in 1934 after exhibiting The Guitar Lesson, a painting of a half-naked girl struggling on the lap of an older woman, a work he refused to show again. A number of full-scale retrospectives of his art have been organized at venues around the world, including the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris in 1966, the Tate Gallery in London in 1968, the Venice Biennale in 1980, the Spoletto Festival in Italy in 1982 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1984. He was named director of the French Academy in Rome in 1961 by France's minister of culture André Malraux.
-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers exhibition catalogue
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