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Artnet News
6/28/01


JEWISH MUSEUM ACQUIRES KENTRIDGE
Buyer of the record-setting set of four films by William Kentridge at Christie's New York contemporary auction on May 17, 2001, was the Jewish Museum in New York, which plans to put the works on view this Sunday, July 1, 2001. The group of four 16 mm. animated films, the first in Kentridge's "Drawing for Projection" series (1989-91) -- Johannesburg, Second Greatest City after Paris; Moment; Mine; and Sobriety, Obesity & Growing Old -- sold for $149,000, an auction record for a work by the artist. "This highly expressive work is certain to be particularly meaningful to our visitors," said Jewish Museum assistant curator Karen Levitov. "Kentridge's two fictional Jewish antagonists --Soho Eckstein and Felix Teitlebaum -- metaphorically play out the social, political and moral legacy of apartheid as they go about their daily lives." The films, which were transferred to laser disc, are to be added to the museum's current show, "Voice, Image, Gesture: Selections from the Jewish Museum Collection, 1945-2000," on view through Aug. 5, 2001.

DELAYS FOR MILLENIUM BRIDGE
London's £14 million, 350-yard-long Millennium Bridge across the Thames, opened with fanfare last June as part of the festivities connected with the new Tate Modern and abruptly shut down after it began to sway in the wind under the weight of pedestrians, remains closed a year later. The collaboration between architect Norman Foster and sculptor Anthony Caro needs another six months and £5 million in repairs -- largely 91 dampers weighing 700 tons, to be paid for by engineering firm Ove Arup. One good thing to come out of the fiasco, British engineer Robert Benaim told the London Independent, is the groundbreaking research now being conducted into making safe, lightweight bridges in the style of the Millennium Bridge, whose thinness and lack of visible supports earned it the nickname "Blade of Light."

GEHRY TO DESIGN MISSISSIPPI MUSEUM
New York architect Frank O. Gehry brings his Baroque modernism to Biloxi, Miss., where he will unveil his design for the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum on July 11, 2001. The museum is named after southern potter George E. Ohr, making it the first U.S. museum dedicated to a ceramicist, and former Biloxi mayor Jerry O'Keefe. Both men's involvement with the new building goes beyond the nominal nod; the country's largest public collection of Ohr's work will be housed here, and O'Keefe's support for the project has earned him a speech at the unveiling.

WHICH WINE GOES BEST WITH ART?
California's Napa Valley, the self-described wine capital of the country, unveils the country's newest museum on Nov. 18, 2001 -- Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts. The 80,000-square-foot, $50 million building, designed by Polshek Partnership Architects, is set in three and one-half acres of gardens, and is "dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of wine, food and the arts." The art part includes shows like "A Fine Glass of Wine," exhibiting over 100 valuable and historical glasses, "Active Ingredients," including works by Lee Mingwei, Jorge Pardo, Andrea Zittel and other contemporary artists, and an outdoor installations by Mario Merz, Dennis Oppenheim and Stephen de Staebler.

Director of the museum is Peggy Loar, former head of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services and of the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami. The new museum's trustees include representatives of the Mondavi Vineyards, Luna Vineyards, Wine Spectator Magazine, Martha's Vineyards, the Staglin Family Vineyard, Stonehaven Vineyards, Nestle, Cornell University School of Hotel Management, the American Institute of Wine and Food, the Chalone Wine Group and more. Among the honorary trustees are Julia Child, Martha Stewart and painter Wayne Thiebaud.

HIRST DIRECTS BECKETT
British bad boy Damien Hirst has a new project, this time directing the Samuel Beckett play Breath for Channel 4, to be broadcast on July 1 as part of a slew of Beckett plays being aired in the coming week. The ultra-minimalist play, which lasts between 30 and 45 seconds, calls for a set filled with rubbish, and a soundtrack of a person inhaling, then exhaling. For his version, Hirst has constructed the scene with medical rubbish, and enlisted his friend, the actor Keith Allen, to supply the breathing. In an interview with the London Sunday Times, Hirst attributed the current "quiet phase" in his career to the demands of being a father to his two boys, Cassius, 1, and Connor, 6. "You spend your whole life looking for your father," he told reporter Byran Appleyard. "Then you find him and it's yourself."

IRA IN ART RAID?
Is the Irish Republican Army pulling off art heists as a way of raising funds? According to a report in the London Times, British intelligence sources are fingering the IRA for the June 25, 2001, theft of two paintings worth $3.3 million -- Madame Paccelli by Thomas Gainsborough and Scene of Florence by Bernardo Bellotto -- from Russborough House southwest of Dublin. Russborough has been robbed twice before, once by an IRA gang and a second time by Dublin criminals, and the Gainsborough has been repeatedly stolen every time. No demands for ransom have been announced as yet.

DELAYS HIT SMITHSONIAN BUILDING PROJECTS
Things go slow in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Institution has two major art museums under construction -- and both are two years behind schedule, according to a recent announcement by beleaguered new Smithsonian chief Lawrence M. Small. The Smithsonian American Art Museum and its sister museum, the National Portrait Gallery, were slated to move into renovated quarters in the Old Patent Office building by January 2003; now the projected opening date is sometime in 2005. As for the National Museum of the American Indian, its new home on the Mall is now slated to open in phases, beginning in 2004. In the meantime, the Indian museum has opened a "welcome center" in a trailer at Independence Avenue and Fourth Street SW. According to Small, the delays arise from increased construction costs and the need to raise large amounts of private and public money.