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Art-world jet-setters are heading to Australia for the 12th Biennale of Sydney, May 26-July 30, featuring 49 artists from 23 countries. Like this year's Whitney Biennial, the show was organized by a curatorial panel. The Sydney Biennale team included independent curators Fumio Nanjo and Louise Neri, Art Gallery of New South Wales curator Hetti Perkins, Tate Gallery director Nicholas Serota, MoMA senior curator Robert Storr, Venice Biennale 1999 director Harald Szeemann and three-time Sydney Biennale director Nick Waterlow. The artists are Doug Aitken, Matthew Barney, Vanessa Beecroft, Gordon Bennett, Xu Bing, Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle, Destiny Deacon, Marlene Dumas, Stan Douglas, Rosalie Gascoigne, Cai Guo-Qiang, Andreas Gursky, Bill Hammond, Bill Henson, Fiona Hall, Gary Hill, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Seydou Keita, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Martin Kippenberger, Yayoi Kusama, Maningrida, John Mawurndjul, Paul McCarthy, Boris Mikhailov, Tracey Moffatt, Mariko Mori, Juan Muñoz, Shirin Neshat, Chris Ofili, Yoko Ono, Mike Parr, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Sigmar Polke, Ginger Riley, Pipilotti Rist, Lisa Reihana, Gerhard Richter, Dieter Roth, Sanggavwa collaborative, Yun Suknam, Luc Tuymans, Ken Unsworth, Adriana Varejão, Jeff Wall, Gillian Wearing and Franz West. For you stay-at-homes, check out for virtual visits and a webcast of a lecture by Yoko Ono at the Sydney Opera House.

The National Endowment for the Arts reports that the United States has the lowest per capita public arts spending of 11 surveyed countries, despite having the highest per-capita gross domestic product (GDP). The International Data on Government Spending on the Arts compares arts expenditures of Australia, Britain, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.S in 1995. Public arts spending was highest in Finland, at an estimated $91 per person, despite that country's being seventh on the per capita GDP list. The U.S., in contrast, spent $6 per person, a paltry 0.13 percent of all final government expenditures. Even Ireland had higher public spending on the arts, about $9, despite having less than half the per capita GDP of the U.S.

The Lucien Freud painting accidentally put in a box crusher by workers at Sotheby's London was to have been exhibited at a major retrospective at the Tate Gallery in two years, according to the London Times. The exhibition's curator and Freud biographer William Feaver has identified the small painting as Small Zimmerlinde (1947), and criticizes the auctioneers for describing it as "a study worth £150,000," asserting that it's a "jewel" and estimating it as possibly having fetched £400,000 in the open market. Freud himself is reported to be "perplexed" by Sotheby's description of the work, which he considered a complete painting.

Leading YBAs Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin are expected to snub the opening of Britain's Tate Modern on May 11, reports the London Telegraph. The two highly regarded, controversial artists are said to be unhappy because they were not initially included in the museum's inagural exhibition, "Collection 2000," curated by Tate director Lars Nittve. Hirst was added to the show in a last-minute move last week, but he told the press that he won't attend the festivities "for personal reasons." Emin is so angry about her exclusion from the exhibition that she has abandoned plans to make a documentary with her new pal Madonna on contemporary art, which was to have featured the £134 million Tate.

Art cognoscenti know the Tribes Gallery at 285 East Third Street as one of the final outposts of unexpected art in the increasingly civilized East Village of Manhattan. The latest offering there is "Who Is the Powerful Ghost," May 6-27, 2000. The exhibition is organized by artist Robert Goldman, who asked three artist-writer teams to make work inspired by the Delmore Schwartz poem, Who Is the Powerful Ghost. Poets Bob Holman (former slam impresario at the Nuyorican Poets Café), Max Blagg (author of Licking the Fun Up and Pink Instrument) and John Farris (editor of the electronic review Digitas) worked with photographer Lina Pallotta and artists Alan Uglow and David Hammons, respectively. The opening reception is May 6, 7-9 p.m., with a reading at 8 p.m.

Put on your sunglasses and dab on a little sunscreen -- the Metropolitan Museum of Art's vaunted 10,000-sq.-foot open-air Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden opens for the season on May 16 with "David Smith on the Roof," a selection of works in burnished stainless steel by the legendary New York sculptor -- weather permitting.

Speaking of the Met, the museum is teaming up with Fleet Bank to provide free admission to the museum for New York City schoolchildren and their families for "Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861," Sep. 19, 2000-Jan. 7, 2001. The exhibition is accompanied by a number of programs, including documentary films, concerts, lectures, a one-day conference for teachers, writing classes for junior-high and high-school students, tours for school groups and family festivals; call (212) 570-3756 for more info. The promotion for students comes shortly after the Met raised its suggested admission price to $10, though art cheapskates tend to emphasize the "suggested" part. Artnet Magazine encourages readers to pay the full admission (naturally, press gets in free).

The Pew Charitable Trust has announced winners of its Philadelphia Exhibitions Intitiative. The Fabric Workshop and Museum was awarded $176,000 for a new architectural environment by Doug Aitken; the James A. Michener Museum received $139,500 for "George Nakashima and the Modernist Moment," a traveling exhibition; the Library Company of Philadelphia received $167,125 for "Leaves of Gold," an exhibition featuring 115 medieval manuscripts; the Philadelphia Museum of Art received $200,000 for a major retrospective exhibition of the architecture and design of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates; and Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts received $154,900 for a retrospective of avant-garde dancer/filmmaker Yvonne Rainer. The panel that reviewed the applications includes Baltimore Museum of Art director Doreen Bolger, Whitney Biennial curator Valerie Cassel, MoMA library and museum archives chief Milan Hughston, Wexner Center for the Arts curator of architecture Jeffrey Kipnis, Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin, Yerba Buena Center chief curator Renny Pritikin, Renwick Gallery curator-in-charge Kenneth R. Trapp and Hirshhorn Museum associate curator Olga Viso.

SoHo nonprofit gallery Artists Space honors conceptual artist John Baldessari and sculptor Louise Bourgeois at its 2000 Spring Benefit at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on May 15. Two limited edition works will be unveiled during the evening: Michael Joo's Small Vitrine, a cast urethane vitrine in the shape of a headless seated Buddha in an edition of 30, going for $800; and Shirin Neshat's Rapture color Iris Print from the video of the same name in an edition of 35, selling for $900. Ticket prices start at $300; call (212) 226-3970 to purchase tickets or for more info.

The New Museum's 23rd annual gala benefit and art auction on Apr. 16 was an unbridled success, raising a whopping $500,000 for the museum, with the online art auction hosted by contributing over $35,000 to the total. Some highlights from the online auction include Will Cotton's Kiss Me (2000), which sold for $4,400 (est. $3,500-$3,700); Thomas Demand's Weltkarte (2000), which sold for $750 (est. $400-$600); Inka Essenhigh's the Western Print (1999), which sold for $1,600 (est. $1,200-$1,400); Jenny Holzer's Truisms 1 (1999), which sold for $1,900 (est. 1,500-$1,700); Chris Ofili's Untitled (2000), which fetched $2,200 (est. $1,500-$1,700); and Raymond Pettibon's No Title (Of Strangers and Advocates) (1999), which raised $3,000 (est. $2,500-$2,700).

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech