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Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art curator Francesco Bonami, 47, has been named as curator of the 50th international Venice Biennale in 2003. Flash Art magazine, with which the Italian-born curator and critic has long collaborated, issued a congratulatory statement, saying "After the wild and obsolete attempts of Italian and International curators (Achille Bonito Oliva, Harald Szeemann) and Italy Minister of Culture Vittorio Sgarbi's concerns about having a director unfamiliar with contemporary art (Jean Clair, Robert Hughes), Venice will finally have a real professionist of contemporary art." And this means what, exactly? At this early date, Bonami remains mum, but in the past he has championed Maurizio Cattelan, Giuseppe Gabellone, Koo Jeong A, Thomas Hirshhorn and Matthew Barney, among others.

Swiss conceptual prankster Christoph Büchel, who turned the nonprofit art gallery White Columns into a one-stop "Homeless Depot" and recently had a solo show at Maccarone on the Lower East Side, has discovered a new way to subvert the art-world curatorial imperative -- he's auctioning off his spot in the forthcoming "Manifesta 4" on eBay. Bidding began at $1, and more than 40 bids by Tora Toravela, Draftenergy and Nonfecit have pushed the price up to $7,000 at this writing. The curators of Manifesta 4, the "European Biennial of Contemporary Art" slated for Frankfurt/Main, May 24-Aug. 25, 2002, have agreed to treat the winning bidder like any other participant in the show. The eBay auction ends on Mar. 29, 2002.

To celebrate the opening of its new exhibition space at the Löwenbräu brewery site in Zürich, Switzerland, the Daros Collection has published Warhol Polke Richter: In the Power of Painting I, a deluxe, 136-page hardcover book ($34.95) that inaugurates a series of collaborations with Scalo Publishers in New York. The bilingual publication features 54 color plates and includes essays by Daros board chairman Jacques Kaegi and essays on the artists by Peter Fischer, Michael Lüthy, Martin Hentschel and Dietmar Elger.

Californians are flocking to see "Big Idea: The Maquettes of Robert Arneson" at the Palo Alto Art Center, Jan. 27-Apr. 28, 2002. Over 70 terracotta and glazed ceramic sculptures are included in the exhibition, a thorough look at the work of the iconoclastic artist, who died in 1992. Signe Mayfield, curator of the Palo Alto Art Center, organized the show with Sandra Shannonhouse, Arneson's widow and overseer of his estate. The survey subsequently tours to the Honolulu Contemporary Museum (Aug. 30-Nov. 3, 2002), the Museum of Glass and Art in Tacoma (Jan. 25, 2002-May 18, 2003), the Smart Museum in Chicago (July 10-Sept. 14, 2003), the Cantor Art Gallery in Worcester, Mass. (Oct. 27-Dec. 18, 2003), and the Sheldon Memorial Museum in Lincoln, Neb. (Feb. 20-May 16, 2004).

Is there life after the Whitney Museum's "2002 Biennial Exhibition"? Find out when "The Paintings of Joan Mitchell," nearly 60 works surveying the entire career of the abstract painter, opens at the slate ziggurat on Madison Avenue on June 20, 2002. The show, which is guest-curated by Jane Livingston, subsequently travels to the Birmingham (Ala.) Museum of Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Phillips Collection.

The Metropolitan Museum unveils "Gauguin in New York Collections: The Lure of the Exotic," June 18-Oct. 20, 2002, the first monographic show in New York of works by Paul Gauguin in more than 40 years. Co-organized by Met curators Colta Ives and Susan Alyson Stein, the exhibition features about 100 works, including the Met's complete holdings of the artist, more than 50 objects.

The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., promises that its forthcoming fall show, "Pierre Bonnard: Early and Late," Sept. 21, 2002-Jan. 13, 2002, casts a new light on the prolific artist, documenting continuity between his early Symbolist period and the later Impressionist one. The show includes over 60 paintings and 70 additional works, including his early prints and book projects, and is organized by Phillips Collection curator Elizabeth Hutton Turner. The exhibition is presented entirely in Duncan Phillips' former 1897 Georgian Revival home in Washington, and subsequently travels to the Denver Art Museum.

"The Shape of Color: Joan Miró's Painted Sculpture," the first comprehensive survey of the artist's late polychrome sculpture, opens at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Sept. 21, 2002-Jan. 6, 2003. The multi-media presentation includes maquettes, documentary photographs and rare films of the artist working, along with sculptures and seldom-exhibited drawings on loan from the artist's two foundations, the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona and the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation in Palma de Mallorca. The show is co-organized by Corcoran curator Laura Coyle and William Jeffett, curator of exhibitions at the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla., where it appears Jan. 25-Apr. 7, 2003. A third venue is in the works.

Do you share Degas' fascination with ballet? Then get ready for "Degas and the Dance," a survey of 144 paintings, sculptures and works on paper that opens at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Oct. 20, 2002-Jan. 12, 2003, and travels to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Feb. 16-May 11, 2003, its only other venue. The exhibition, guest curated by Richard Kendall and Jill DeVonyar, is organized by the two museums and the American Federation of Arts.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., has launched a new and renovated website, bringing online images of and data on about half of its collection, more than 5,000 works. In addition to a complete calendar of Hirshhorn exhibitions -- on view now is an installation by Ernesto Neto, a retrospective of H.C. Westermann and a show of works from the collection called "Metropolis in the Machine Age" -- the site features an audio clip of founder Joseph H. Hirshhorn's 1974 inaugural address and an interactive game called "Create a Sculpture," a kind of paintbox feature that allows visitors to make and color a 3-D sculpture and place it in a Hirshhorn gallery.

Creative Time, the celebrated New York sponsor of art installations around the city, has recently launched a new one -- a poster project by radical conceptual artist Hans Haacke, for which plain white posters with a cutout silhouette of the World Trade Center are posted around town on public posting sites, allowing the underlying images to "fill in the void of the Towers." A version of the work can be downloaded from the Creative Time website.

Katelijne De Backer, director of the Armory Show 2002 at Piers 88 and 90 in New York, Feb. 22-25, 2002, along with managing director Tim Smith, report most of the 173 dealers that enjoyed "very strong sales" (though no details are given). Fair attendance was 25,000, 25 percent more than last time. Among the celebrity visitors were Candice Bergen, David Byrne, Madonna, Steve Martin, Joan Rivers, Martha Stewart and John Waters. The fair's Feb. 21 gala preview, which benefited the Museum of Modern Art's Exhibition Fund, raised more than $250,000.

Mallett, one of London's leading antiques dealers, is opening a facility at 929 Madison Avenue in the former showrooms of Tom Devenish, according to a report in the Antiques Trade Gazette. The venerable firm has taken a 25-year lease on the entire building, and after a $2.5 million renovation, expects to open for business in spring 2002.

Move over Diane Arbus, August Sander and Jessica Craig-Martin! People photographer supreme Patrick McMullen opens "New York Character," a show of his portraits at the Corning Gallery at Steuben, 667 Madison Avenue at 61st Street, Apr. 18-May 25, 2002. Billed as "off the runway" and "behind the curtain," the show features candid shots by McMullen, a regular contributor to New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, Interview and other publications.

Many top galleries have problems getting attention from the reviewers at the august New York Times. Not so Daniel Reich, a young art dealer (formerly of the Pat Hearn Gallery) who operates his gallery part-time from his small ground-floor apartment at 308 West 21st Street in Chelsea. Reich has had his two initial efforts covered by Times critics: Holland Cotter said that "Miss World 1972," a group show in January, had "especially engaging" video work; while Roberta Smith reviewed the March exhibition of drawings and paintings by Tyson Reeder, saying "the best of them are deliberately wrought and beautiful." The Reeder show remains on view, along with "Bathroom Group Show," till Apr. 14.