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Get ready to "duck and cover"! The Brooklyn Museum of Art is presenting "Vital Forms: American Art in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960," a show of some 200 objects ranging from the Slinky and the Studebaker to paintings by de Kooning and Rothko, Oct. 12, 2001-Jan. 6, 2002. The exhibition, organized by BMA curators Brooke Kamin Rapaport and Kevin L. Stayton with consulting curators Martin Filler and Mildred Friedman, is the first major exhibition to "explore how the use of organic forms crossed the boundaries between fine art and popular culture." The show travels to the Walker Art Center, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, the L.A. County Museum and the Phoenix Art Museum.

Two weeks ago, Sotheby's filed a $10-million lawsuit against Malibu art dealer Michel Cohen and his wife, accusing the pair of failing to repay the auction house for a loan used to buy and sell a group of paintings by Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall. According to press reports, it seems that Cohen, who was a respected dealer for years in New York and only recently relocated in Los Angeles, would say he was being offered a prize group of art works and get front money. In its suit, Sotheby's listed five works, three by Picasso -- Mere et enfant ($1.1 million), Femme dans l'atelier ($1.3 million) and Femme dans un fauteuil ($3.6 million) -- and two by Chagall -- La belle Rousse ($2.5 million) and La Neige ($1 million). Cohen is also accused of giving Sotheby's two checks in payment totaling $4.75 million -- which bounced.

Now art journalists -- and gossips -- are hot on the story. Word is that the scammed sum may be upwards of $100 million and involve loans from several blue-chip dealers (who shall remain nameless here) as well as Sotheby's. Cohen is said to have lost a bundle in commodities trading and rumored to be involved with the mob. And the FBI may launch a criminal investigation. As for Cohen, he is nowhere to be found -- though one art-news source says he's in Havana, which certainly has no extradition treaty with the U.S. Stay tuned.

The Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pa., has received a $500,000 grant from Delaware's Wilmington Trust, the third major contribution in the last four months for the cash-strapped organization, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Barnes has recently banked $500,000 donations from both the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Pew Charitable Trusts, but still has to come up with the dough for $3.8 million in projected expenses this year.

Everyone knows that New York is not the exclusive source of contemporary art, but sometimes we need a reminder. The Miami Art Museum is inaugurating "New Work Miami," a yearlong series of four exhibitions featuring commissioned works from local artists. First up is a pair of installations by Frank Benson and Robert Chambers, Feb. 9-Apr. 15, 2001. Future entries are to include Dara Friedman and Robert Thiele (May 4-July 15), Consuelo Casta˝eda and Adler Guerrier (Aug. 3-Oct. 7) and Naomi Fisher and Glexis Novoa (Oct. 26, 2001-Jan. 13, 2002). The series is organized by MAM associate curator Lorie Mertes and former MAM assistant curator Amy Rosenblum.

Heads-up, space-hungry artists, the deadline for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's World Views summer studio residency program at the World Trade Center is Mar. 9. The five-month residency, available to artists living within "reasonable" distance from the studios, begins the second week of May and includes a small stipend from the Jerome Foundation. Check out the council's website for all the details.

The veteran Tribeca alternative space Art in General launches a new reading series, "Prose in General," on Feb. 13 with the stellar lineup of author and critic Clifford Chase (editor of the anthology Queer 13 and author of The Hurry-Up Song: A Memoir of Losing My Brother), poet and queer theorist Wayne Koestenbaum (author of Jackie Under My Skin) and novelist Lynne Tillman. The show starts at 7 p.m.; for more info, call Robert Marshall at (212) 254-2924 or Amy Sadao at (212) 219-0473

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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