KOONS FILE UPDATE
Devotees of the artist Jeff Koons, whose larger-than-life-size porcelain model of Michael Jackson and his chimp Bubbles sold at Sotheby's New York last May for $5.6 million, are reading the Scotsman newspaper this week for an update on the Postmodernist art superstar. In conjunction with a show of his "Easyfun" paintings at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, July 28-Sept. 12, 2001, the site has run several articles on the artist, including a long biographical profile in Scotland on Sunday by Jackie McGlone titled, "Artist Versus Porn Star."
McGlone launches the story by noting that the women in Koons' new "billboard-sized paintings … have all been computer manipulated out of existence, a trick the artist himself must often wish he could play in his own life." The article goes on to detail the seven-year-long "global tug-of-love" over the custody of his nine-year-old son, Ludwig Maximillian Koons, with his ex-wife Ilona Staller, the Italian porn star and onetime politician. According to McGlone, the canny Koons had Staller sign a pre-nuptial agreement giving up any claim to earnings from his art and sacrificing child-support payments as well.
Staller currently has custody of their son, and Koons travels to Italy to visit the boy for one week each month while he continues to fight the case in Italian courts. "It is truly a tragic situation," he says. In the latest legal development, Staller has been found guilty of kidnapping the boy several years ago, when she spirited him out of the U.S. In another bombshell, Koons refused to comment when asked about "unsubstantiated rumors" that he has "a child with one of his young women assistants." As for Koons' art operation, he has just moved it from his longtime SoHo base into a 20,000 square foot studio in Chelsea.
And how are the paintings? Neil Cameron gave the show a rather nasty capsule review: "The kitschmeister comes to town. Seven of the New Yorker's large-scale paintings sampling trash Americana and hackneyed advertising imagery with brash visual incongruity. Epoch-defining artist or vacuous self-publicist? You decide."
GATES BUYS AMERICAN
Bill Gates recently bought Childe Hassam's The Room of Flowers (1984) for $20 million and William Merritt Chase's The Nursery (ca. 1890) for $10 million from Michigan collector Richard Manoogian, putting the Microsoft billionaire on the charts as one of the most important collectors of 19th-and early-20th century American art, reports the ARTnewsletter. Gates, who is said to have bought Winslow Homer's Lost on the Grand Bank for $36 million in 1988 and George Bellows' Polo Crowd (1910) for $27.5 million at Sotheby's in December 1999, is powering the American art market to record heights, says the publication. Gates is worth $58.7 billion, and is the richest man in the world, according to Forbes.
WARHOL'S TCHOTCHKES, REUNITED
Back in 1988, the late Andy Warhol made auction history when a huge collection of his personal possessions was sold in a 10-day series of sales at Sotheby's New York, netting over $20 million. Next spring, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh plans to reunite 300 choice objects from this trove for the exhibition, "Possession Obsession: Objects from Andy Warhol's Personal Collection, Mar. 2-May 19, 2002. The show surveys the Prince of Pop's collecting impulse across 19th-century American furniture and folk art, cookie jars, Art Deco furniture and objects, Native American art and artifacts and, of course, fine and costume jewelry. The show is curated by Warhol Museum archivist John W. Smith, and is to be accompanied by a book with essays by Kenneth Ames, Frederick Brandt, Ted Coe and Pilar Viladas.
DICORCIA TO INAUGURATE PACEWILDENSTEIN CHELSEA
PaceWildenstein unveils its new gallery in New York's West Chelsea art district on Sept. 6 with an exhibition of new photographs by Philip-Lorca diCorcia. The skylit, 10,000 square foot space, located at 534 West 25th Street, is designed by artist Robert Irwin and features three exhibition galleries (Irwin designed the Getty Center garden in Los Angeles and is consulting on Dia's satellite space in Beacon, N.Y.). The exhibition of diCorcia's "Heads" series includes 17 large (48 x 60 in.) color photos of unsuspecting passersby in Times Square in a subtle investigation of social identity. The show is accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Luc Sante.
HOCKNEY'S GAY ART: CRITIC
British-Born painter David Hockney, whose photographs are the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, July 22-Oct. 21, 2001, was "among the first postwar artists to make homosexual desire an explicit feature of his work," writes critic Christopher Knight in the Los Angeles Times. Hockney's paintings of men in the "tiled showers and sun-dappled swimming pools" give a "homoerotic spin" to his depictions of California's secular Eden, and a similar emphasis on "what is left out" characterizes the artist's collages of multiple photos from the 1980s. "Giving visibility to what had previously been marginal -- outside the frame -- is central to Hockney's artistic achievement," writes Knight.
CLINTON MAN TO GETTY
Peter C. Erichsen has been named vice president, general counsel and secretary of the J. Paul Getty Trust. Most recently he was general counsel of the University of Pennsylvania, and he had been deputy assistant attorney general of the United States and associate counsel to former president Bill Clinton. At the Getty he will act as chief legal advisor.
COLLECTOR DONATES ART TO UNICEF
Children around the world will be a little better off after Nov. 6, 2001, when Christie's New York auctions off 25 paintings and sculptures, which carry a total presale estimate of $40 million, by modern masters such as Picasso, Miró, Léger and Magritte to benefit Unicef, the United Nations Children's Fund. The collection belonged to Belgian perfume mogul and newspaper owner René Gaffé, and was handed over to Unicef as beneficiary of the sale by Gaffé's second wife before she died. Highlights of the collection include Léger's The Motor (1918), estimated at $4 million-$6 million, and Miró's Spanish Dancers (1924), estimated at $5 million-$7 million.
THE ART OF BREWSTER PLACE
The one-street village of Brewster, located in Putnam County up the Hudson River from New York City, is host to one of the more ambitious art events of late July. During July 28-29, 2001, the "Brewster Project" unveils site-specific public installations based on the village's history and culture by 30 contemporary artists. Art locales include the town's Southeast Museum, the library and the pool hall; subjects include Brewster's Central American migrant workers, the Croton Aqueduct and Barnum's traveling circus. Weekend festivities include an opening party, historic tours and a local carnival. The project, organized by Regine Basha, Omar Lopez-Chahoud and Christopher Ho, aims to develop a long-term cultural and business exchange between Brewster and New York City.
GUERRILLA GIRL WARFARE
The Guerrilla Girls, the notorious art-world feminist gadfly group, has gone online with Guerrilla Girls BroadBand to focus on inequalities in the office. Click on the banana pic to download posters and videos, take a "Bitch or Broad" workplace quiz or send an anonymous, readymade email to tell off your "Bad Boss" for hiring that gorgeous, unqualified worker, hogging your credit, shelling out for expensive lunches or any other bias or abuse. Promised for the future are an electronic discussion board and an online gallery of girl-powered projects. The original site continues its revolution against the art world at www.guerrillagirls.com.
-- compiled by Evonne Gambrell, Lily Kim and the Artnet Magazine staff.