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  ARTNET.COM LAUNCHES ONLINE AUCTIONS kicks off the first significant online auction of fine art next Monday, March 29, 1999. Approximately 300 major works by modern and contemporary artists are featured, including Lucio Fontana's Concetto Spaziale, Attese (1959) (presale est. $200,000-$250,000) and Joseph Cornell's Blue Sand Box (est. $90,000-$120,000).

Consignments are accepted from dealers only; private consignors are referred to participating dealers. For each work, consignors have the choice of a seven-day, 14-day or 21-day auction. Best of all, sellers pay no fee to consign lots, and buyers only pay a five percent commission -- the lowest rate in the art market. New works go online regularly. Call at (212) 497-9700 for more information.

Ready for the American century? The Whitney Museum unveils its much-anticipated millennial tribute to the good ol' U.S.A., "The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-2000," on April 23, 1999. Part I of the two-part, nine-month-long show is organized by longtime Whitney curator Barbara Haskell and features an incredible 800 or so icons of American art, ranging from Eakins' The Thinker (1900) and Stieglitz's The Steerage (1907) to Shahn's Sacco and Vanzetti (1931-32) and Pollock's Number 27 (1950). The show also features more than 35 video monitors in the galleries showing clips from classic American films.

For the first time, the museum is using "timed" admissions -- tickets are $12.50, up from the usual $9. Visitors are encouraged to reserve in advance.

Part II, which opens Sept. 26, is curated by Lisa Phillips with Whitney associate curators Susan Harris and Karl Willers, and focuses on the latter half of the decade with special attention to computer technology. The show also features an extensive online component at, funded by Intel Corporation, plus a two-volume catalogue that promises to be a definitive sourcebook of 20th-century American art and culture.

After eight years of preparation, the Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts opens in Nagoya, Japan, on Apr. 17, 1999, with "Monet, Renoir and the Impressionist Landscape" (to Sept. 26, 1999) and "Art of the Ancient Mediterranean World" (thru March 2004). The new museum, headed by Tadao Ogura, former director of the Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art, is to share the Boston MFA collection and is to feature a permanent selection of Asian art. The deal brings the MFA some $50 million over 20 years.

The J. Paul Getty Trust has published its most recent annual report, covering the two years ending June 30, 1998. Total Getty assets rose from $7 billion in 1997 to $7.6 billion last year. Operating programs and expenses also rose, from $147.9 million in '97 to $177.1 million in '98. Grants paid in '97 were $9.8 million, and $10 million in '98. For applications, contact the Getty Grant Program, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 800, Los Angeles, Ca. 90049.

New York dealer Patrick Callery, former partner with Marianne Boesky and art advisor to Leonardo DiCaprio and others on the Hollywood circuit, opens his new gallery at 433 West 14th Street in New York on Mar. 25 with an exhibition of four artists working with monochrome -- Rachel Harrison, Donald Moffett, Nic Arbatsky and Don Brown. Next up is a show of video artist Burt Barr. Callery says he will be representing Barr but otherwise expects to have a varied program.

Robert Littman, former director of the Cultural Center for Contemporary Art in Mexico City (shuttered last November by its sponsor, Televisa), is heading up the new Vergel Foundation, according to a story in the New York Times by Paris correspondent Alan Riding. The new organization holds the Mexican art collection of Jacques and Natasha Gelman (who died in 1986 and 1998, respectively), a rich trove of works by Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Rufino Tamayo. Littman's charge is to find a Mexican museum to house the works. More than 80 of the Gelman's European moderns, valued at some $300 million, were bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

KölnMesse has announced the selection committee for next fall's Art Cologne, scheduled to take place Nov. 7-Nov. 14, 1999. André Buchmann (Buchmann Galerie, Basel and Cologne), Karsten Greve (Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, Paris and Milan), Michael Janssen (Michael Janssen Fine Art, Cologne), David Juda (Annely Juda Fine Art, London), Massimo Minini (Massimo Minini Gallery, Brescia), Michael Schultz (Galerie Michael Schultz, Berlin), Monika Sprüth (Monika Sprüth Galerie, Cologne) and Antoinette de Stigter (Art Affairs, Amsterdam) will vet applications and select participants for the fair.

Urban design proposals for the area known as "La Marqueta" in New York's Spanish Harlem go on view at Taller Boricua Gallery, 1680 Lexington Avenue between 105th and 106th Street, Apr. 2-May 1, 1999. "The Cultural Corridor: Visions for East Harlem" presents plans, models, drawings and computer animations in a show organized by Taller Boricua director Fernando Salicrup and curator Yasmin Ramirez in collaboration with the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Harlem community leaders.

The Art Institute of Chicago has received $1.5 million from Ameritech, the largest corporate grant in the museum's history. The gift is earmarked for "Van Gogh and Gaugin: The Studio of the South," Sept. 22, 2001-Jan. 13, 2002. Ameritech also funded "Claude Monet: 1840-1926" in 1995 and "Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of An Age" in 1998.

Brent R. Benjamin has been named director of the Saint Louis Art Museum. Benjamin is currently deputy director for curatorial affairs at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; he starts in Saint Louis on May 1, 1999.

The National Gallery of Art opens its new 6.1-acre sculpture garden on the Mall in Washington, D.C., on May 23, 1999. Works by Louise Bourgeois, Mark di Suvero, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Tony Smith and some 15 other new acquisitions are slated to go on view.

Sotheby's London Mar. 12 sale of the 1,400-lot estate of Turin dealer Giuseppe Rossi (1914-1989) brought in a whopping $34.2 million total, more than twice its pre-sale estimate and an impressive figure in the decorative arts sector. New York dealer French & Co. made the biggest purchase -- a late Restoration gilt-bronze mounted mahogany center table, ca. 1834, for $982,000 (presale est. $162,000-$243,000). At Rossi's request, proceeds of the sale go to charity. The Scuola per Artigiani Restauratori, a conservation and restorations school in Turin, is to receive a large chunk.

Cars are replacing sculpture in the Museum of Modern Art garden this summer, July 22-Sept. 21, 1999. Eight brand new models by Ford, General Motors, Fiat, Honda and Toyota are to move from the auto showroom to one of the museum's most hallowed spaces. Critics will be offered test drives.

Klaus Ottmann is leaving his post as curator at the American Federation of Arts to pursue other projects. These include his webzine, the Journal of Contemporary Art as well as curating exhibitions of Wolfgang Laib at the Hirshhorn Museum and James Lee Byars.

Marilyn McCully, curator of "Picasso: Painter and Sculptor in Clay," casting a dubious eye on Rosalind Krauss' The Picasso Papers in the New York Review of Books …. Baer Faxt namesake Josh Baer in last week's New York magazine on Malcolm Morley …. Art legend Sam Hunter in the catalogue for the recent Mark Kostabi show at Martin Lawrence …. Damien Loeb shirtless à la Calvin Klein in Paper magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" feature.