NUDE PHOTOG ARRESTED IN TIMES SQUARE
Cheeky artist photographer Spencer Tunick, 32, known for photographs of massive "nude-in" events, was arrested in Times Square by the New York City police on Sunday morning at 6:22 am. Tunick was in the middle of directing "Alone Together," an event in which over 300 naked people were lying sardine-like in the intersection of Broadway and 47th Street, despite unseasonal spring temperature of a bracing 42 degrees.
Alerted by the hubbub, detectives and uniformed officers from the Midtown South Precinct snapped the cuffs on Tunick before he was able to snap the shutter on his camera. The artist was incarcerated in the Manhattan jail known as the Tombs, charged with unlawful assembly, resisting arrest and altering a permit. Tunick was released early Monday morning with a court appearance ticket to answer the charges set for May 16. His attorney, Ronald Kuby, was unavailable for comment.
Tunick has previously been arrested for nude-ins at Central Park, Rockefeller Center and the on the Williamsburg Bridge, but has never been convicted of a crime. He exhibits his work in New York at I-20 in Chelsea, and will be included in the "Statements" section of the forthcoming Basel Art Fair.
-- Paul H-O
ART LOSSES IN KOSOVO CONFLICT
The war in the Balkans has resulted in considerable collateral damage to archeological and cultural sites in Yugoslavia, according to reports posted on the web by Serbian art historians. Details can be found at the Museum Security Network website. The Serbian invasion of Kosovo and the subsequent NATO bombing has damaged an estimated 250 towns and villages, with Serbian forces accused of burning more than 50 to the ground. It is uncertain to what degree Kosovar cultural sites, such as churches, were deliberately targeted in the ethnic cleansing operation, in which some 900,000 ethnic Albanians were stripped of their property and expelled from their homes. It seems certain that portable, privately owned cultural objects were systematically looted along with funds and citizenship papers. In anticipation of the war, the central Yugoslavian government had major icons, paintings and historical manuscripts removed from museums and libraries in Kosovo in January and February, and trucked north to Belgrade, according to a report in the Washington Post.
Earlier this month, a group of Yugoslav art historians, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia, posted a website headlined "Yugoslav cultural heritage is a target for NATO." According to the site, the old city center of Pec and the trade center of Djakovica have been destroyed by NATO bombing. Also damaged are the 16th-century Hadum Mosque and the 18th-century Tabaks Bridge in Djakovica, a 16th-century church in Klina, and the 14th-century Grancanica Monastery near Prista.
In Belgrade, NATO bombardments have shaken the 16th-century Rakovca Monastery and hit and severely damaged the modernist headquarters of the Yugoslav Royal Airforce Command in Zemun, built in 1935 by architect Dragisa Brasovan. The site contains an extensive list of Serbian monasteries and other structures hurt through collateral effects of NATO bombing.
In addition, injury has been reported to the Museum of Voivodina in Novi Sad, with considerable broken glass and some structural damage. None of the museum collection was significantly harmed, however, having been "relocated to a safer place earlier." These particular museum artifacts, however, according to a protest by one correspondent to the Museum Security Network, were actually stolen in 1991 by the Yugoslav army from the Vukovar City Museum in Croatia. Stay tuned.
WHITNEY SALE TOTALS $13.2 MILLION
The six-session sale of the Betsy Cushing Whitney estate held last week at Sotheby's New York totaled $13.2 million, almost twice the presale estimate. Approximately 95 percent of the 1,240 lots sold. William Blake's First Book of Urizen sold for $2.5 million, a new world record for a book by the artist. An equestrian watercolor by Alfred J. Munnings sold for $739,500, also an auction record for the artist. Paintings by Cézanne and Seurat, from the Whitney estate, each estimated at $25 million-$35 million, go on the block May 10 as part of Sotheby's Impressionist sale.
MOMA 2000 GOES DEEP
This fall, the Museum of Modern Art plans an unprecedented head-first dive into the depths of its own collection. The 17-month-long, multidisciplinary exhibition, dubbed "MoMA2000," is organized into three multi-exhibition, chronological cycles to be installed throughout the museum, Oct. 7, 1999-Feb. 13, 2001. MoMA director Glenn Lowry noted the vast exhibition would be three times the size of any previous temporary show. "We hope to treat the institution as a laboratory," he said. "The show will offer a coherent articulation of modern art, but also provoke, ask questions of modern art. It's a unique opportunity for MoMA to take risks."
The first of the three shows, called "Modern Starts," covers the period 1880-1920 (with contemporary works added for contrast). The thematic arrangement is both simple and complicated. To give only the briefest taste: opening on the second floor on Oct. 7, 1999, is "People," including the themes "The Monumental Figure" (large works by Picasso, Matisse, Maillol, others), "Composing with the Figure" (Toulouse-Lautrec, Munch, Léger, Duchamp), "Bathers" (from Cézanne and Derain to contemporary photography), "Language of the Body" (portraits and gesture, including Redon and Klee), "Posed and Unposed: Encounters with the Camera" (figure compositions in photography), "Expression and the Series" (sculpture by Rodin and Matisse) and "Unique Forms of Continuity in Space" (large figurative sculpture). "Places" opens on the third floor on Oct. 28, 1999, and "Things" on the first floor on Nov. 18, 1999. The curatorial team for the first cycle is headed by MoMA curator at large John Elderfield.
EBAY BUYS BUTTERFIELD
Ebay has agreed to acquire Butterfield & Butterfiled Auctioneers of San Francisco for $260 million in stock. The sale values the privately held Butterfield at nearly $50 a share; the company had been set to go public this week at about $15 a share, according to the New York Times. Butterfield specializes in mid-level auctions of art, furniture and collectibles, and says it is the third-largest auction house in the U.S. after Sotheby's and Christie's. Ebay ceo Margaret C. Whitman said the company was buying Butterfield to expand from small items into those priced from $500 to $5,000. As for Butterfield, president John Gallo said, "This industry is changing drastically. And we need technology, we need marketing and we need customer service. Ebay brings us all three."
CHRISTIE'S SETS REUVEN RUBIN RECORD
Christie's Tel Aviv set a new world auction record for Reuven Rubin when his Self-portrait in Jerusalem sold for $349,000 (est. $200,000-$300,000) on Apr. 10, 1999. The total for the sale of 19th- and 20th-century art was $2.6 million, with 66 of the 118 lots finding buyers.
TONGUE PAINTINGS DEBUT ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE
Claiming that his paintings "portray an erotic engagement that reaches outward to seduce the viewer," Italian artist Davide Cantoni has used his tongue and lips to make the works on view at Gaga, 137 Rivington Street, New York, N.Y. 10002, May 1-June 6, 1999. Cantoni has studied at the Slade School and the Royal College of Art, London, as well as at the Hochschule der Kunste, Berlin.
INDONESIAN BANK UNLOADS 800 PAINTINGS
The Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency has sold nearly 800 paintings owned by 10 banks for 3.35 billion rupiah (about $387,000), according to Dow Jones Newswires. The two-day auction was conducted in early March by the bank agency, which has the task of recovering the assets of banks taken over and closed by the government. "In line with our plan to sell all the assets at optimal value, all the paintings were sold at very good prices," said deputy IBRA chairman Eko S. Budianto.
CHRISTIE'S UNVEILS ROCK CENTER HEADQUARTERS
Christie's opened its sparkling new headquarters at Rockefeller Center on Apr. 24, just in time for the spring sales of Impressionist, modern and contemporary art. The new space is 315,000 square-feet -- twice the size of Christie's former Park Avenue location. One special touch is the ultra-smooth, brightly colored Sol LeWitt mural in the foyer. The 3,400-square-foot first-floor gallery looks like a contemporary art space, with expansive white walls, dark wood floors and natural lighting. The 6,400-square-foot main salesroom, located on the second floor, is twice as big as the old one; the facility has two other, smaller salesrooms as well. The first auction is photographs from 1840 to the present, scheduled for Apr. 30. Andreas Feininger's Rockefeller Center, RCA Tower (ca. 1940) is the first lot.
AMON CARTER TO SHUT FOR CONSTRUCTION
The Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth closes to the public on Aug. 1, 1999, to begin a two-year, $36-million 107,000-square-foot expansion project that will triple the museum's exhibition space from 9,000 to 27, 000 square feet. The new museum, designed by Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects of New York, is scheduled to reopen Sept. 1, 2001. Centerpiece of the new design is a two-story atrium topped by a low, sweeping dome. In the meantime, the museum plans to open a storefront gallery in downtown Fort Worth in September and to move its offices, library and archives to a satellite facility. Johnson designed the museum's original 1961 building as well as two subsequent additions.
After a long public battle that inspired endless puns by headline writers (i.e., FOOT SENT HIKING), artist Buster Simpson's proposed public monument for San Francisco's Embarcadero -- an 18-foot-tall striated stainless-steel sculpture of a foot entitled Embark -- was rejected by the city board of supervisors. The San Francisco Art Commission had approved the $500,000 sculpture, which would have been lit at night and was, according to Simpson, designed to reclaim the area for walkers. Art dealer Charles Campbell called the foot "pedestrian."
KING KONG AT SOTHEBY'S
Cecelia Presley, granddaughter of the famed director Cecil B. DeMille, beat out an anonymous telephone bidder in a fierce auction struggle to win a vintage movie poster for David O. Selznick's 1933 classic film King Kong for $244,500 (est. $100,000-$150,000) at Sotheby's New York on Apr. 16, 1999. The price is the second highest paid at auction for a movie poster (top price is $453,500 for The Mummy, paid at Sotheby's New York on Mar. 1, 1997). Presley plans to donate the poster to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation.
SHARPE SPACE GRANTS
The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation has announced the recipients of its "Space Program" grants, which provides free studio space in Tribeca in New York City for up to one year. Winners are Xenobia Bailey, Jennifer Bornstein, Claire Corey, Marsha Cottrell, Tara Donovan, Phyllis Goldberg, James Huang, Jessica Hutchins, Drew Lowenstein, Sharon Molloy, Larry Mullins, Eleanor Pyle, Al Souza and Amy Yoes. The jury consisted of artists Willie Cole, Tom Friedman, Harriet Shorr and Jessica Stockholder, and Museum of Modern Art curator Robert Storr. Deadline for the next round of grants is Jan. 31, 2000; contact the Sharpe Art Foundation, 711 North Tejon Street, Suite B, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80903.
RICH AMERICANS COULD GIVE MORE
Rich Americans could probably double their contributions to charity -- that's a total of $240 billion in 1999 -- without affecting their standard of living. The Newtithing Group, a San Francisco organization headed by Claude Rosenberg, says that Americans should count all their assets, instead of just their income, when deciding how much to donate.
KLEIN TO MICROSOFT
Former SoHo art dealer Michael Klein has been named curator of the Microsoft art collection in Seattle, beginning in June.
MESSE BASEL TO MANAGE TEFAF BASEL
Messe Basel, which operates the Art Basel fair of contemporary and modern art, is set to assume the management of the European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) Basel Fair, which since 1995 has offered classical antiquities, oriental, ethnographic and pre-Colombian Art in the Swiss city.
NATWEST ART PRIZE FINALISTS
Finalists of this year's NatWest Art Prize, which with a top award of £26,000 and £1,000 each for ten runners-up is the biggest award in British contemporary art, have been revealed. Helena Ben-Zenou adds dust and cement to images of buildings. Terry Haggerty's patterns are inspired by cake icing. Roland Hicks' does movie-style close-ups of cigarette lighters. Andrew Bick builds up layers of grids, cubes and loops of paint. Alan Brooks painstakingly copies doodles onto canvas. Claude Heath is inspired by the sensation of peeling an orange. Luke Gottelier focuses on the blandest subject matter possible. Sarah Beddington creates eerie images of empty laundrettes, prisoners' cells and stairways. Moyna Flannigan makes fictional portraits that are are parodies of middle-class Britain. Jo Milne turns sound into abstract marks by using the musical scroll from a Pianola as a stencil. Claude Heath makes pen drawings wearing a blindfold. An exhibition of the shortlisted artists is at the Lothbury Gallery, 41 Lothbury, London EC2, May 17-Aug. 27, 1999.