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Artnet News
5/25/99
 
     
  HOLZER DOES ART CAR
LED artist Jenny Holzer has designed the new BMW Art Car, which debuts at this year's Le Mans on June 12-13. The customized BMW V12 LMR racing sportscar is festooned with several of Holzer's trademark statements. "Protect me from what I want" is done in large pinstripe-edged reflective letters on the top of the car, while "You are so complex you don't respond to danger" runs down the side of the racer. "Lack of charisma can be fatal" is on the air foil. Holzer even provided a slogan for the driver's helmet.

At first the plan was for the Art Car to enter the race, but now it will simply make a symbolic lap of the track (BMW is entering two other cars in the actual race). Does Holzer have any special interest in racing? "I just took a lesson on my lawnmower the other day," she told Artnet.com, hopefully. How much was the commission? "I was assuming I'd get a fleet of BMWs," she said, "but in fact there's no money involved." Instead, the artist is considering the work a "public project."

Other artists who have done Art Cars for BMW include Alexander Calder (1975), Roy Lichtenstein (1977), Andy Warhol (1979), A.R. Penck (1991) and David Hockney (1995). The world famous 24-hour Le Mans, dubbed "the world's toughest car race," is run on an 8.5-mile track just south of the city of Le Mans, the capital of the French region of La Sarthe.

GETTY SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT SEURAT: CRITIC
Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Knight says the Getty Trust missed a major acquisition when it failed to buy Landscape, Island of the Grand Jatte by Georges Seurat when it went up for auction at Sotheby's on May 10. The picture was bought for $35.2 million by Steve Wynn and now hangs in the casino magnate's Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. Knight notes that the Seurat is the perfect pendant picture to a previous Getty Museum acquisition, James Ensor's The Entry of Christ into Brussels in 1898 (1888). The Seurat was first exhibited in Brussels in 1888 and Ensor's painting was his "white-hot retort," according to Knight.

"Imagine the soul-stirring thrill of seeing the remarkable landscape hanging in the same room as the great Ensor," Knight wrote in the paper's May 22 edition. "One is an icon of intensely intellectualized modern art, the other of primal Expressionist urges. Taken together they stake out highly charged poles of modern life. That's the kind of unmatchable art experience I long for in a museum, and it's the kind I've long thought only the Getty still had the resources to pull off."

Why didn't the Getty bid? Because even with its $7 billion endowment, the new Getty Center in Brentwood is a "voracious money pit," Knight says (and goes on to note that the new facility is already too small for the Trust's growing operations). Acquisitions have taken a back seat since the opening of the center, Knight observes. The Getty's art acquisition budget was slashed from $46 million in 1996 to $25 million, where it remains today.

HIRST OUT AT QUO VADIS?
Pickled livestock artist Damien Hirst and his partner in the tony London restaurant Quo Vadis, the chef Marco Pierre White, are feuding, according to the Daily Telegraph in London. And when White redecorates, Hirst's trademark décor -- spot paintings, medical cabinets and the pickled animals -- could well be out, to be replaced by White's own art. The latest is that White wants a commemorative historical plaque placed outside the restaurant -- though ordinarily the subject of such memorials has been dead 50 years. A spokesman for Hirst's company, Science, said speculation about a rift between the two celebrities was exaggerated. "The restaurant is just being refurbished and Damien's work is likely to be returned. It has not been confirmed yet."

FIRST LOOK AT LAST SUPPER
The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci, obscured by scaffolding for two decades while undergoing an increasingly controversial restoration, is to be unveiled on May 28, 1999. Italy's arts minister Giovanna Melandri called it "the restoration of the century" but Columbia University art historian James Beck said the work was "A forgery," according to a report in the Daily Telegraph of London. Michele Cordaro, director of the Institute for Restoration in Rome, said, "I don't think Beck has seen the finished work. Sixty percent of the original is still there." Conservator Pinin Brambilla said, "Take Matthew. We always knew him with dark hair yet we discovered that he was blond." She also noted that the previously blank table is now filled with flowers, bread, glasses, knives and plates. The mural is located in the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery in Milan.

STAN DOUGLAS WINS PRIZE
Vancouver artist Stan Douglas has won the $25,000 Gershon Iskowitz Prize, which is named after a late Toronto painter and given to Canadian artists in recognition of excellence.

WOMAN CHIEF FOR SYDNEY MUSEUM
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney has appointed Elizabeth Macgregor to be its new director. Since 1989, Macgregor has headed Ikon, a contemporary art gallery in Birmingham, England. The financially troubled MCA has been without a chief since Bernice Murphy resigned almost a year ago.

URINAL PROBLEM
A Swedish art student says he urinated in one of Marcel Duchamp's white porcelain pissoirs while it was on view at Stockholm's Modern Museum. "There's no real evidence that the student did what he said he did,'' museum director David Elliott told Reuters. Elliott said it was unclear whether there was urine in the urinal and that the museum was not planning to do any tests to see one way or the other. The art student in question, Bjorn Kjelltoft, said "I wanted to have a dialogue with Duchamp. He raised an everyday object to a work of art and I'm turning it back again into an everyday object.''

ART EXPERT ARRESTED FOR CEMETARY THEFT
The FBI has arrested art expert Alastair Duncan in New York and charged him with selling a Tiffany window stolen from a Jewish cemetery to a Japanese collector for more than £100,000. The nine-foot-tall window, said to be worth more than $1.5 million, was stolen in 1992 from the cemetery of the Temple Emanu-El in Brooklyn, the last resting place of families such as the Warburgs and Guggenheims. Duncan, a former advisor to Christie's auction house and the author of several books on Tiffany, has denied his guilt. The FBI says the case demonstrates a growing trade in funeral antiquities stolen from largely unprotected cemeteries.

DESIGN FOR MEADOWS MUSEUM
The Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas has unveiled the design for its $25-million, 66,000-square-foot new facility by Chicago architects Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge. Dallas Star-Telegram critic Janet Tyson described the new museum as a "flat box decorated in the Georgian style" that "makes a sort of architectural nonstatement," and says that it "promises to be a useful and pleasant-looking, if not awe-inspiring, edifice." The exhibition of models and plans is on view till Aug. 29.

PHILANTHROPY RACE IN LONDON
A philanthropic bidding war seems to have broken out in London, according to the Guardian newspaper. In the last month, an anonymous donor gave £20 million to the Victoria & Albert Museum for its controversial extension by Daniel Liebeskind, Unilever gave £1.25 million to the new Tate Gallery of Modern Art at Bankside and Fortnum and Mason millionaire Garry Weston announced the second part of his £20 million gift to the British Museum. "There is an awful lot of money about," a spokeswoman for the V&A said.

NEW ARCHITECTURE GUY FOR BRITAIN
Developer Stuart Lipton has been named chairman of the new Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), which will oversee more than £5 billion in new government construction each year.

A $40,540 CANDLE
The brother of Princess Diana, Earl Charles Spencer, paid $40,540 at Sotheby's on May 21 for the original score of Candle in the Wind, the song that Elton John sang at Diana's funeral and that became the best selling single ever. The hand-written sheet music by Sir George Martin goes on view in the museum on the Spencer family estate.

ORANGE COUNTY MUSEUM NEWS
Who will provide the site for an expanded Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, Ca.? Last year Henry T. Segerstrom proposed moving the museum to a site across the street from the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa. Now, Irvine Co. chairman Donald L. Bren has suggested a site near the present museum, according to the Los Angeles Times. Both men are great art patrons. Stay tuned.