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Not too long ago the city of Venice decided to use the off years of the Venice Biennale to mount a big architecture show on the exhibition grounds, and so, La Biennale di Venezia 2000 -- 7th International Architecture Exhibition opens to the public this summer, June 18-Oct. 29. The central theme of the exposition, directed by Massimiliano Fuksas, is Città: Less Esthetics, More Ethics. Approximately 90 artists and architects are presenting work in the historic Giardini di Castello. A special section with five original houses is devoted to Jean Prouvé, celebrated for his response to special emergency situations, notably his series of accommodations for French post-war refugees. This show also presents a new international competition, entitled Città: Third Millennium, juried by a group including François Barré, Peter Cook, Massimiliano Fuksas, Greg Lynn, Frédéric Migayrou, Paul Virilio and James Wines.

For the U.S. Pavilion, U.S. Commissioner Max Hollein has invited architects and theoreticians Greg Lynn and Hani Rashid to present a survey of new architectural schemes with students from UCLA and Columbia.

Participants in this year's Biennale include: Hitoshi Abe, Vito Acconci, William Alsop, Judith Barry, Michael Bell, Stefano Boeri, Brenac & Gonzales, Marco Casagrande & Sami Rintala, Coop Himmelblau, Elisabeth Diller + Ricardo Scofidio, E-City, Philippe Gazeau, Zaha Hadid, Itsuko Hasegawa, Zvi Hecker, Hans Hollein, Jacques Hondelatte, Arata Isozaki, Hiroaki Kitano, Ulrich & Ilse Königs Architekten, Tom Kovac & Geoff Malone, Anne Lacaton & Jean Philippe Vassal, Stephan Maupin, METÁPOLIS Barcelona, Vicente Guallàrt, Sohn-Joo Minn, Maurizio Nannucci, Jean Nouvel-Amis, Kas Oosterhuis, Ortlos Architects, Ivan Redi & Andrea Schröttner, Paragon Architects, Dominique Perrault, Renzo Piano, Eko Prawoto, Franco Purini, Jesse Reiser & Nanako Umemoto, Rudy Ricciotti, Makoto Sei Watanabe / Architects' Office, Paolo Soleri, Lars Spuybroek-NOX, Otto Steidle, Clorindo Testa, Bernard Tschumi, Venturi & Scott Brown and Associates, Krysztof Wodiczko, Riken Yamamoto and Yung Ho Chang.

Until now a purely Swiss operation, Art Basel, the world's largest art fair, is expanding to Miami Beach, reports the Miami Herald. The Miami Beach Convention Center advisory board voted unanimously to approve a three-year deal, beginning in 2001, after festival organizers asserted the fair would generate 1,500 hotel bookings during peak nights. Art Basel director Samuel Keller has also promised the new fair will not be a clone of the Swiss version, saying he plans to expand the event beyond the convention center, reaching out to South Florida museums and local music, fashion and performing arts communities. The first fair is slated to run Dec. 4-18, 2001. Looking cautiously at these developments are the organizers for Art Miami, the art fair held in January for the past ten years, drawing about 40,000 visitors this year and with its 87 participating galleries reporting approximately $35 million in sales.

Move over, Georgia O'Keeffe and Mary Cassatt, legendary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo has set a new auction record for a work by a woman artist. Kahlo's 1929 self-portrait sold for $5,065,750 (presale est. $3 million-$4 million) at Sotheby's Latin American Art auction on May 31. The price is also a record for Latin American art (a record held by another Kahlo painting, which sold for $3.2 million at Sotheby's New York in 1995). The untitled painting belonging to Pamela Zauderer-Bryan went to an anonymous American private collector bidding through an agent. A total of 28 of the 47 lots offered in the evening sale sold (about 77 percent) for a total of $11,517,700.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a law barring the return of thousands of works of art looted from Germany by the Red Army during World War II, according to published reports. The legislation, previously blocked by former President Boris Yeltsin, allows only wartime allies to Russia and victims within Germany to reclaim art originally stolen from them by the Nazis. Russians see the law as compensation for the destruction brought by wartime Nazi occupation, but Berlin has objected to the legislation as being in breach of international law and bilateral agreements. The German government had hoped that April's exchange of 101 drawings and watercolors looted from Germany by Soviet troops for two pieces of Peter the Great's famed Amber Room, stripped by the Nazis in 1941, would be the beginning of further such exchanges.

An Australian court may have dropped charges of reckless driving against Time magazine art critic Robert Hughes, but the story's not over yet -- director of public prosecutions Robert Cock and senior prosecutor Lloyd Rayney have cited the cantankerous critic in a private defamation suit, reports the Agence France-Presse. Among Hughes' offending comments were several jibes about the "curry-munching" Rayney's Indian background and accusations of the prosecution being overzealous in its bid to score points by aiming for a high-profile scalp. The critic is reportedly writing a book about his ordeal.

Britain's Arts Council launched "The Year of the Artist" this week to celebrate living artists and promote greater awareness of the role and status of the artist in society. The assembly has provided more than £5 million to regional arts councils to coordinate a series of events throughout the United Kingdom involving 1,000 artists in 1,000 places to bring art to public spaces, office buildings and factories. Among the projects is Glaswegian artist Nathan Coley's residency during the Lockerbie trial in the Netherlands of two Libyans accused of planting the bomb on Pan Am Flight 103; Coley intends to record the trial for posterity, as cameras are not allowed in the courtroom. Less politically charged projects include a 40-foot-tall willow sculpture of a man next to the M5 highway in Somerset and a touring horse and cart mobile art gallery.

Kent Gallery in SoHo is presenting a centennial celebration of the birth of noted Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer, June 3-July 21. Spanning more than 60 years, the exhibition features approximately 45 paintings, drawings, photography and photomontages from Bayer's years with the Bauhaus through his move to Berlin and his eventual immigration to America.

A benefit is being held for the MoMA Striker Hardship Fund at 35 East 13th St., 2nd floor, June 6, 7-9 p.m. The evening features a performance by the rock band White Collar Crime and a poetry reading celebrating the works of Frank O'Hara; among the confirmed readers are Andrea Ascah Hall, Maggie Balistreri, John Chism, Marc Desmond, Pete Dolack, Sander Hicks, David Kirschenbaum, Lawrence Miles, Brian Robinson, Jackie Sheeler and John J. Trause.

Uptown Fifth Avenue in New York is closing for the 22nd annual Museum Mile Festival June 13, 6:00-9:00 p.m. Attendees can walk the mile from 82nd Street to 104th Street and visit nine museums open free to the public that evening. The museums are the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Goethe-Institut Cultural Center, the Guggenheim Museum, the International Center of Photography, the Jewish Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio, the Museum of the City of New York and the National Academy of Design. Special exhibitions will be on view and live music from jazz to Broadway tunes to string quartets will be featured in front of each museum, with additional street entertainers performing along the avenue all evening. Call (212) 606-2296 for more details.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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