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Artnet News

The Museum of Modern Art closes to the public today, May 21, 2002 -- yes, you've missed "Gerhard Richter," if you haven't seen it already -- as the collection is stashed around town and highlights are moved to the new MoMA QNS in preparation for the grand reopening in Long Island City (at 33rd Street and Queens Boulevard) on June 29, 2002. Four shows are planned -- "Autobodies: Speed, Sport, Transport," the first complete survey of the museum's car collection; "Tempo," a global selection of works involved with notions of "time"; and "To Be Looked At: Selections from the Painting and Sculpture Collection" and "A Walk through Astoria and Other Places in Queens: Photographs by Rudy Burckhardt." Meanwhile, work on the new 53rd Street facility, designed by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, continues, with the structural steel skeleton slated to be up by the end of the year. When the new museum opens in 2005, it will have 630,000 square feet of space and 50 percent more exhibition galleries.

The Milwaukee Art Museum, laboring under a $20-million cost overrun on its spectacular new $120-million Santiago Calatrava-designed expansion, is flirting with pledging its art collection as collateral for a loan, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The museum has already put up more than $20 million in pledged donations and most of its $20 million endowment, but needs still more to secure a new $48-million bond issue. One problem with the idea of using the collection as collateral -- it's against the rules of the Association of Art Museum Directors, and would earn Milwaukee the boot. But never fear, says MAM board president Donald Baumgartner, the collection is sacrosanct. "We have not and will not ever, ever, ever pledge the art of the museum for a loan of any kind whatsoever," he said.

Hot ticket for summer visitors to Cool Britannia is "Matisse Picasso" at the Tate Modern, May 11-Aug. 18, 2002. The show features over 30 groupings of paintings and sculpture that pit "Matisse's expressive use of color and line" against "Picasso's stylistic virtuosity," starting at their 1906 meeting at the Paris salon of Gertrude and Leo Stein and ending with Matisse's death in 1954. Can't wait? Visit the exhibition website at The show travels to the Grand Palais, Paris, Sept. 24, 2002-Jan. 6, 2003, before coming to the Museum of Modern Art (that is, MoMA QNS), Feb. 12-May 20, 2003. The Tate is staying open till 10 p.m. for the first two weeks in August to accommodate visitors; tickets there, which are £10 for adults, can be obtained online at Ticketmaster.

In the midst of auctions of American art at Phillips and Sotheby's, the smaller Swann Auction Galleries on East 25th Street is holding a May 23 sale devoted entirely to radical American artist Ben Shahn. The auction features some 240 paintings, drawings and prints from an unnamed private collection, designed to showcase all aspects of the Social Realist's work. For more information, check out the website at

The art world is getting folksy. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, launches its forthcoming fall season with "The Quilts of Gee's Bend," Sept. 8-Nov. 10, 2002, an exhibition of 70 quilts by the "unsung" women of the isolated community of Gee's Bend, Ala. -- an all-black town in the southwest corner of the state bounded by a big curve in the Alabama River. Works in the show represent four generations of artists, which is very unusual in African-American quilts, according to MFA curator Alvia J. Wardlaw, who organized the show with Harvard design professor John Beardsley, freelance curator Jane Livingston and Tinwood Press publisher William Arnett -- who owns the quilts in the exhibition. Quilting has died out in Gee's Bend, which was founded in the early 1800s. After appearing in Houston, the show comes to the Whitney Museum, Nov. 21, 2002-Feb. 23, 2003.

The District of Columbia has warned local art galleries against serving wine at openings without a license, lest the convivial art dealers face "imprisonment and/or monetary fine," according to a report in the Washington Post. The District government's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration stirred up a hornet's nest when it sent a form letter to 155 galleries warning against serving alcohol. Local dealers like Kathleen Ewing, George Hemphill and Alla Rogers argue that their openings are exempt as private, invitation-only events -- and may be converting to ginger-ale only.

As the Dia Center for the Arts gets ready to shut down its West Chelsea headquarters for the summer, things are hopping at Dia's various virtual and real off-premise sites. For one thing, Dia has launched a new website for its prospective new branch upstate on the Hudson in Beacon, N.Y., called Dia:Beacon. Go online and see the lush riverside site, the dilapidated Nabisco factory, the vast as-yet-unrenovated spaces. In other out-of-town news, Dia opens its Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, N.Y., for the summer on May 23, with a 1983 permanent installation and some works from 1961-63. The joint is open Thursday to Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
Online, Dia has unveiled a new project by Jeanne Dunning, called Tom Thumb: Notes towards a Case History. And last but not least, Dia relaunches Max Neuhaus' legendary sound piece in Times Square on May 22, followed by a discussion between the artist and Dia curator Lynne Cooke at Dia at 7:30 p.m. First installed in 1977 and discontinued ten years ago, Times Square, as Neuhaus titled the work, can be heard above the traffic noise on a triangular pedestrian island at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets.

A 200-year-old gilded copper Buddha from Nepal has been seized from Cologne-based art dealer Peter Hardt after he offered it for sale to the Vienna Ethnographic Museum for €200,000. Museum curator Christian Schicklgruber suspected that the artifact was stolen, and checked with the Nagarjuna Insttitute in Kathmandu, which confirmed that it had been taken from the ancient Buddhist community of Nag Bahal. A court case against the German gallery has been filed in Vienna -- though prosecutors say that securing restitution under Austrian property laws may be difficult. The gilded cast copper Dipankar Buddha is one of 108 Buddhas that are paraded through Patan and exhibited at an annual festival. The website of Peter Hardt Gallery has purged all other images of Nepalese objects, according to a report on the Museum Security Network.