GO-AHEAD FOR LIBESKIND V&A TOWER Daniel Libeskind's controversial, deconstructivist Spiral tower addition to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London got the go-ahead last week, as new V&A director Mark Jones outlined a 10-year, £150-million master plan for the museum. Libeskind's five-story Spiral, featuring angled walls, a glass-roofed restaurant and galleries for contemporary exhibitions, would cost £75 million. Other aspects of the plan include a new contemporary gallery, which opened on Apr. 22 with a display of contemporary design from the Milan Furniture Fair; a new garden at the center of the museum; a grand entrance hall and a tunnel connection to the South Kensington tube station.
LAWSUIT THREATENED FOR ARGENTINA NUDES
Famed nudist photographer Spencer Tunick is in hot water again, this time for a nude photo shoot of 450 people in conjunction with the ArteBA art fair in Buenos Aires on Apr. 6, 2002. The fair itself was postponed due to Argentina's fiscal crisis, but the performance went ahead under the watchful eyes of city police. Tunick completed a pair of untitled photo shoots, the first at sunrise in front of the obelisk on la Avenida 9 de Julio and the second on the city's famous Avenida dei Mayo, the site of the recent political demonstrations. Trouble started after the event was widely broadcast on local television, at which point a conservative lawyer named Oscar Igounet announced plans to sue both the mayor of the city and the news media, claiming that Tunick's performance offended his family. Tunick returns to South America for a performance at the São Paulo Bienal on Apr. 27; the photographs go on view at I-20 gallery in New York in early 2003.
$7.5 MILLION FINE, 1 YEAR IN JAIL FOR TAUBMAN
On Apr. 22, 2002, Manhattan federal district court judge George B. Daniels sentenced former Sotheby's chairman and convicted auction price-fixer A. Alfred Taubman to one year in jail and a $7.5 million fine. "He has neither acknowledged responsibility nor shown any remorse," Daniels said from the bench. Taubman's lawyers are expected to appeal. Prior to the hearing, Taubman sought leniency by saying he was 78 years old -- previously, he had given his age as 77 -- and submitting medical testimony that predicted he would live another 3.8 years (he has diabetes). The U.S. Justice Department disputed the health claims, noting that Taubman had recently traveled to Palm Beach, France, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iceland, England and Spain for hunting, fishing, golf, meetings and parties. Taubman has already paid $186 million to settle lawsuits in the scheme. His former protégé at Sotheby's, Diana Brooks, is to be sentenced on Apr. 29.
IGNORED IN PARIS, BLUE-PERIOD PICASSO REAPPEARS IN NEW YORK
In her new book, The Worth of Art: Pricing the Priceless (Assouline), the Paris-based art journalist Judith Benhamou-Huet cites several important works that were sold by French commissaire-priseurs at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris -- a Renoir painting, a Brancusi plaster, a Jean-Baptiste Oudry oil -- only to be resold several months later at Christie's or Sotheby's in New York for several times the Paris price. "Paris is still a wholesale market," Benhamou-Huet writes, "where professionals from all over the world come and stock up." With the forthcoming May Impressionist sales in New York, it looks like Benhamou-Huet's observation may be confirmed once again.
The work in question is Tête de femme, a 1903 Blue Period portrait of a woman with downcast eyes by Pablo Picasso. Originally given by the painter to the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, the small, 15 x 12 in. work "had never been exhibited, and had a fabulous pedigree linking it to the mythical avant-garde in Paris." It was offered on April 26, 2001, by the French auctioneer Raymond de Nicolay, but the sale was a "very routine" one, accompanied by scant marketing, and the painting went unsold.
Now, Tête de femme is scheduled to go on the block at Christie's in Rockefeller Center on May 7, with a presale estimate of $800,000-$1,200,000. The auction record for a Blue Period Picasso is $55 million, set at Christie's New York in 2000.
OPPENHEIM'S SILVER BULLET
New York artist Dennis Oppenheim has an interesting proposal for a public artwork for the Criminal Justice Building in downtown Manhattan -- a topsy-turvy assemblage of four 10-foot-tall fiberglass heads, each with a gun pointed at its temple. The pistols in Oppenheim's Silver Bullet, as it is titled, shoot not lead but beams from 1,000-watt spotlights, giving the work a multilayered message of insight and enlightenment in the context of suicide, murder and executions. The work is on view at the new Joseph Helman Gallery space in the Starrett-Lehigh Building at 611 West 26th Street, Apr. 19-June 1, 2002. Oppenheim is also the subject of a new monograph, Dennis Oppenheim: Explorations (Charta, $70 list), edited by Germano Celant, and has several large-scale public works underway, including sculptures for Sacramento and Cincinnati.
TAYLOR-WOOD: CANCER'S OVERRATED
London's most popular celebrity artist, Sam Taylor-Wood, opens a mid-career survey at the Hayward Gallery, Apr. 25-June 21, 2002, and the artist recently gave a wide-ranging interview to Financial Times reporter James Beechey. Taylor-Wood, 35, has twice been diagnosed with cancer, resulting in the removal of a section of her colon, a masectomy and six months of chemo. "Cancer's very overrated," she told the newspaper. "I'm just glad I got it out of the way while I was still young." Married to London dealer Jay Jopling, with whom she has a daughter, Taylor-Wood has been celebrated for a video she made for Elton John in which Robert Downey Jr., just out of rehab, lip-syncs the lyrics, and a 900-foot-long photo, purportedly the largest ever printed, of celebrity shoppers done for Selfridges department store. Her recent show at White Cube featured Pyre, a huge photo of culled cattle being burned in the foot-and-mouth crisis, and Self-Portrait in a Single-Breasted Suit with Hare, a photograph that Beechey calls "a bleak pun on the terrible after-effects" of cancer. The Hayward show includes Third Party (1999), the seven-screen video installation starring Marianne Faithfull and Ray Winstone that was previously shown in New York but is now seen for the first time in Britain.
LEGION OF HONOR TO KOONS
New York neo-Pop artist Jeff Koons has received the French Legion of Honor from Jean-Jacques Aillajon, the head of the Pompidou Center in Paris, at a ceremony at Christie's France on Apr. 15, 2002.
FEINSTEIN TO SOTHEBY'S ATRIUM
New York sculptor Rachel Feinstein moves her work into Sotheby's soaring nine-story atrium for the New York auctioneer's second "Art in the Atrium" installation, opening Apr. 30. Slated for the space is Satinstein, an ornate, 6 x 16 foot sculpture in the shape of a rainbow bridge ornamented with intricate carvings, gilding and multiple hues.
ARTISTS TO AFGHANISTAN
London's Imperial War Museum is commissioning the Conceptual Art team of Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell and Belfast-based photographer Paul Seawright to go to Afghanistan to make art that reflects the experience of modern warfare. Seawright, who makes photos of Northern Ireland, told the London Observer that he would be "avoiding militaristic images" to concentrate instead on displaced communities. Langlands & Bell are known primarily for architectural sculpture that refers to codes of social meaning.
PARIS IN BROOKLYN
What do Paris and Brooklyn have in common? Your chance to find out is fast approaching, as eight galleries in Williamsburg host shows from eight Paris galleries, opening Apr. 26, 2002. Also getting into the act is Smack Mellon in DUMBO with "Rendez-Vous," a group show of French artists organized by Clair Le Restif, opening Apr. 27, and an installation by Hugues Reip at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, opening Apr. 29. In return, the Brooklyn galleries travel to Paris in June for a series of exchange shows beginning June 6 and 7.
The lineup in Brooklyn includes seven photographers from Galerie Anne Barrault at Schroeder Romero; painter Dominique Gauthier from Galerie Filles du Dalvaire at Roebling Hall; Minimalist painter Christophe Cuzin from Galerie Bernard Jordan at Pierogi; two young artists from Galerie Michel Rein at Parker's Box; a video work by Nicolas Moulin from Galerie Chez Valentin at Momenta and Four Walls; multi-media work by Isabelle Lévénez from Galerie Anton Weller at Southfirst; three artists from Galerie Eric Dupont at Plus Ultra; five artists from Espace Huit Novembre at Star 67.
LEIGH BOWERY AT LONDON ICA
The ICA London knows what you want in the middle of July -- a show of photographs of the late Leigh Bowery, the larger-than-life British performance artist who was a favorite subject of brutal realist Lucian Freud. "Fergus Greer: Leigh Bowery," July 20-Sept 8, 2002, features a collection of studio portraits by the British photographer organized by curator Matthew Higgs. Also on tap -- photos by Lower East Side kinkmeister Richard Kern.
CADIEUX ON ASTROVISION
Canadian artist Geneviève Cadieux is the latest artist to create a special art work for the Astrovision screen in Times Square. Cadieux's video work, dubbed Portrait, involves a tree that survived a crippling winter, and as such serves as a metaphor for survival. The work, sponsored by Creative Time, airs once an hour (during the last minute of the hour), Apr. 15-May 30, 2002. "It's very springlike," said an observer. "Looks good up there."
As for Creative Time's celebrated Art in Archorage program, which has organized special summer art shows inside the cool and cavernous Brooklyn anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge for the last 18 years, it has been suspended for the time being, as the city reclaimed the space. A special summer show is still in the works, opening in mid-August at a location to be announced soon.
MICHAEL RICHARDS BENEFIT
A special portfolio of prints, multiples and works on paper, dubbed 10048 Inbox vol. V, has been put together to benefit the Michael Richards Fund. The fund was established by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the family of Michael Richards, who was killed in his studio in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, to benefit deserving artists of Caribbean descent. The 10048 edition, limited to 100 copies, can be purchased for $75 from (212) 795-8577. Artists include Leah Modigliani, Melissa Brown, Humphrey Bilger, Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, Lizzie Scott, Vargas-Suarez Universal, Carl Scholz, Liss Platt, Tom Moran, Alex Gruen, Jeff Edwards, Domingo Nuño, Michael Lantz, Amy Wilson, Keiko Narahashi, Monica Mohan, Suzanne Anker, Brad Cushman, Laura Larson, and H.A. Rodriguez-Mora.
BOOKSTORES GO ONLINE
Art lovers have an increasing number of online resources for their art-specialty needs. In addition to the D.A.P. website, otherwise known as www.artbook.com, and the recently launched Printed Matter online bookstore for artists' books at www.printedmatter.org, two more hip art-book purveyors have gotten into the game. The New Museum store at www.newmuseum.org features a select group of titles and products representing the current exhibitions as well as featured items. The store was built using Yahoo store software (which requires a small fee per item and a small commission per sale). The Dia Center for the Arts bookshop at www.diabooks.org has also gone online, with some 3,000 titles from its own publication programs and other publishers. The Dia store was designed by Supercosm. All are good, but nobody seems to carry a book recently reviewed in this space, Karsten Schubert's The Curator's Egg.
Do they talk a just a bit different in Boston? Find out when the ONI Gallery at 684 Washington Street in Boston opens "Lingo," Apr. 27-May 25, 2002, a show featuring works by 17 artists who use language and graphics. The exhibition is curated by Jennifer Schmidt and Mathew Nash, and includes art by Matthew Christensen, Jason Dean, Erik Gechke, Emily Gibson, Lisa Hecht, Jay Heikes, Michael Hutcherson, Terry Nauheim, Matthew Nash, Stefano Pasquini, Jennifer Ramsey, Meg Rotzel, Jennifer Schmidt, Scott Speh, Susannah Kite Strang, Jeff Teuton and Pedro Velez. For more info, visit www.ognil.com.
ROME PRIZES FOR 2002-03
Winners of the 2002 Rome Prize fellowships, residencies for American artists and scholars at the American Academy in Rome, have been announced. Among the winners: Donald Albrecht, Rachel Allen, Sinclair Bell, Rebecca Ruth Benefiel, Linda Besemer, Wietse de Boer, Jennifer Clarvoe, Jill J. Deupi, Mary Gibson, Caroline J. Goodson, Eleanor Esser Gorski, Kenneth Gouwens, Margaret Helfand, Joel Katz, Mark Kilstofte, Randolph Langenbach, Elizabeth Marlowe, M. Michèle Mulchahey, Peter O¹Neill, Peter Orner, David Sanford, John Schlesinger, A. Paul Seck, Maureen Selwood, Arthur Simms, Molly Tambor, Edward Weinberger, James Woolard, Christopher Wood, Shona Kelly Wray, Andrew Zago. Rome Prizes were awarded in the fields of architecture, design, historic preservation and conservation, landscape architecture, literature, musical composition, visual arts and ancient studies, medieval studies, Renaissance and early modern studies and modern Italian studies.