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Artnet News
5/16/02


ARTNET LEADS ANTI-CENSORSHIP FIGHT
Artnet Magazine was proud to see on the May 13 NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw an illustration of the site's homepage as part of a report on the recent Supreme Court decision on the so-called Child Online Protection Act of 1999, designed by Congress to shield children from pornography on the internet. The law allows local jurisdictions to apply "community standards" to identify material that is "harmful to minors," and would therefore have given "the most puritan of communities" an effective veto power over online content, according to a decision by the United States Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. The Supreme Court, in a fractured decision, sent the case back the appeals court for further analysis. The law was challenged by the ACLU on behalf of a coalition of internet artistic and literary organizations -- including Artnet.

GET READY FOR THE MUSEUM OF SEX
It's coming -- a museum that may actually make a profit. The Museum of Sex is slated to open its inaugural exhibition, "NYC Sex: How New York City Transformed Sex in America," this fall, and plans to charge $17 per ticket for admission. What's more, chief curator (and onetime Artnet Magazine contributor), Grady T. Turner has put together a book for the show (Scala, 224 pp., $25 softcover) slated to be published in September 2002. Both cover the world's oldest subject from Margaret Sanger and Mae West to the Stonewall Riots and Robert Mapplethorpe. The show is scheduled to open on Sept. 23, 2002, at 233 Fifth Avenue at 27th Street. For more info, check out the website at www.museumofsex.com.

JUDD FURNITURE GOES ON VIEW
For the first time since 1984, a complete suite of metal furniture designed by famed Minimalist Donald Judd goes on view at A/D, the New York gallery specializing in applied art by contemporary artists. Mounted in conjunction with the Judd Foundation, the show installs the pieces as a furnished suite for use -- books on the shelves, bedding on the bed, flower pots on the tables -- rather than as individual art objects. Price range for the 15 pieces of furniture, which come in 15 colors of painted aluminum (with stainless steel screws), is $1,200 to $25,000. Judd originally designed the pieces while he was making sculpture at the Lehni furniture factory in Germany, about which he wrote, "Their business is mainly that of making metal furniture, itself practical and handsome, without affectation. . . . Their furniture does not symbolize the past, the future, the rich or the rustic."

HARD TIMES IN AUCTION BOOM
No wonder auction prices are rising -- fewer lots are going on the block. According to Sotheby's quarterly report for the first part of 2002, the auctioneer sold 31 percent fewer lots in the first quarter of 2002 as compared to the same period in 2001. This drop was partially offset by a 28 percent increase in the average selling price per lot. Still, Sotheby's sales during the quarter ended Mar. 1, 2002 -- admittedly a slow part of the auction season -- totaled $190.1 million (hammer price plus buyer's premium), a decrease of $26.7 million, or 12 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2001.

BITE ON BROOKS
It's a tough world at the bottom line, and Sotheby's has managed to put the bite on its disgraced former CEO Diana D. Brooks, recently sentenced to six months house arrest for her part in the auction price-fixing scandal. According to a report on Dow Jones Newswires, Brooks agreed as part of her settlement with Sotheby's to pay the auction company $1.2 million in cash and relinquish vested benefits and stock options worth $2.05 million.

ARIEL CAPITAL LIKES SOTHEBY'S
The black artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is clearly a favorite of contemporary art collectors -- witness his new auction record of $5.5 million set at Christie's New York on May 14, 2002 -- regardless of the fact that the auction club has hardly any African-American members. So it was all the more interesting to learn that the Chicago-based Ariel Capital Management has taken an 11.02 percent passive stake in Sotheby's Holdings -- that's 4,948,995 shares of common stock, or an investment of some $74 million at the current stock price. "Currently at $15, the company sells at a 40 percent discount to our estimation of its intrinsic worth," says Ariel in a recent update. Ariel Capital, which had over $4 billion in assets under management (as of June 30, 2000), is a black-owned firm that was founded by John W. Rogers and is headed by 32-year-old Mellody Hobson. "I want to make investing the subject of dinner table conversation in every black household in America," she told Honey magazine in 2000. "The only way to build wealth in our community is through the stock market." And the art market, perhaps?

BRAIN DRAIN AT MOMA?
As the Museum of Modern Art prepares to close its Manhattan facility for renovation and major new construction, museum-watchers are expressing concern about a major talent drain at the illustrious temple of Modernism, especially in the museum's departments of painting and sculpture and drawings. Gone or on their way out in P&S are Kirk Varnedoe, off to a Princeton professorship; Robert Storr, who is leaving to be a professor at NYU's Institute of Fine Arts, according to a report by Jason Edward Kaufman in the New York Sun; and Carolyn Lanchner, a veteran from the William Rubin era who is sort-of retired (though she was co-curator of the Giacometti exhibition last year). As for the drawings dept., it's lost Laura Hoptman, now curator at the Carnegie (see below), and Margit Rowell, who retired. Plus, curator Laura Rosenstock is said to be resigning. "Not too many of the 1927 Yankees in the dugout anymore," said one old-timer.

ADVISORS FOR CARNEGIE INTERNATIONAL
Carnegie Museum of Art curator Laura Hoptman, who is organizing the next "Carnegie International," which opens in October 2004, has appointed an advisory group of two critics, two curators and an artist. They are Chicago MCA curator Francesco Bonami, MoMA drawings curator Gary Garrels, Tokyo-based art critic Midori Matsui, Mexican art historian and critic Cuauhtemoc Medina and artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. Also keeping an eye on things is Richard Armstrong, director of the museum and curator of the 1995 international.

CONDE NAST BUYS TATE MAGAZINE
Are you ready for S.I. Newhouse's idea of an art magazine? The publisher of Vogue, Lucky, the New Yorker and GQ is relaunching Tate magazine in September to cover art, architecture, film, fashion and other subjects at the four Tate museums for six million Tate visitors. Editor is Robert Violette, an Anthony d'Offay publishing vet who has done books with Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons and edited One Woman's Wardrobe for the Victoria & Albert Museum. Associate editor is Liz Jobey from Granta magazine. For more info, check out the website at www.tatemag.com

BLOOMBERG DECLARES DECORATIVE ARTS WEEK
Republican New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose stock has dramatically fallen since he proposed cutting city services, is seeking solace in contemporary arts and design, as he declares May 29-June 5, 2002, to be "Contemporary Decorative Arts Week" in the city. The promotion kicks off the Fifth Annual International Exposition of Sculpture Objects & Functional Art -- otherwise known as SOFA New York 2002 -- at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue, May 30-June 5. The May 29 SOFA gala benefits the American Craft Museum, with "The Art of the Sandwich" celebrating the creativity of top chefs. Other participants in Decorative Arts Week are the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture, with the exhibition, "Utopia and Reality: Modernity in Sweden, 1900-1960"; Sotheby's, with a June 7 contemporary works of art auction; and galleries such as Barry Friedman, Ltd., Leo Kaplan Modern, Heller Gallery and more.

GIBSON PROMOTION AT WSJ
Former ARTnews editor Eric Gibson, art critic for the Wall Street Journal since 1998, has been appointed "leisure and arts features editor," a new post at the famed financial daily. He now oversees the leisure & arts page in the newspaper's "personal journal" section as well as its contributions to the "weekend journal."



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