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UNION STALLS MOMA MOVE|
The Museum of Modern Art's plans to turn the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden into a construction staging area for renovation work on the Dorset Hotel site on 54th Street have hit a snag. The teamsters from Mariano Brothers of Danbury, Conn., MoMA's favorite sculpture movers, have refused to cross PASTA-MOMA's three-month-plus picket line, reports Deborah Mitchell in the Sunday Daily News. MoMA will have to find another, presumably nonunion firm for the job -- which could take time, putting the expansion's schedule into question. MoMA representatives did not return calls from Artnet Magazine.
NEW ETHICS FOR ART MUSEUMS
Almost a year after the "Sensation" controversy exploded at the Brooklyn Museum -- including revelations that collector Charles Saatchi had secretly provided $160,000 to fund the exhibition of his own art -- the nimble American Association of Museums has formulated new ethical guidelines on such thorny questions. As fans of the staid museum brotherhood might expect, the reforms are less than biting. When accepting funds from private collectors for shows including their works, museums are to make this information public. What's more, they are to "retain full decision-making authority over the content and presentation of the exhibition." The guidelines are voluntary, but the AAM expects eventually to make them mandatory for AAM accreditation.
PROTESTS GREET MALL MONSTROSITY
Opposition is growing against a $100-million, 7.4-acre World War II memorial proposed for the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the College Art Association Newsletter reports. The design, by former Rhode Island School of Design dean Friedrich St. Florian, envisions a ring of 56 17-foot-tall stone monoliths, each with a bronze wreath, surrounding a solid granite plaza framed at either end with a 41-foot-high triumphal arch. According to its opponents, St. Florian's bombastic scheme would ruin the serene proportions of Pierre Charles L'Enfant's Mall, alter and reduce in size the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool and cover the space where such events as Marian Anderson's 1939 recital and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech occurred.
The plan was okayed by the American Battle Monuments Commission -- no surprise -- and now the D.C. Commission on Fine Arts, still headed by former National Gallery of Art director J. Carter Brown, has approved it as well. A citizen's planning and advocacy group called the Committee of 100 has submitted a proposal to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to place the West End of the Mall on its "11 Most Endangered Historic Places of 2000" list, which would halt development. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger also protested the boondoggle in New Yorker, calling St. Florian's design "a bureaucrat's idea of classical grandeur… at once fussy and desolate."
CANYON SUITE DEBACLE CONTINUES
More information has emerged regarding the "Canyon Suite," the now-infamous set of 28 watercolors once thought to have been painted by Georgia O'Keeffe between 1916 and 1918. According to the Kansas City Star, Gerald Peters, the dealer who sold the drawings to art patron R. Crosby Kemper Jr. in 1993 for $5 million, still insists that some of the works will prove to be O'Keeffes, and has commissioned his own scientific analysis to prove it. But according to conservator Mark Stevenson, an independent contractor hired by the Kemper Museum in Kansas City, only one of the 28 works in question is on paper that O'Keeffe used -- and that particular painting, which Stevenson describes as "rather cumbersome," does not look like her work.
More troubling still are the results of an investigation by veteran culture reporter Jo Ann Lewis in the Washington Post, which include revelations that Terry Caballero, who sold the drawings to Peters for $1 million, never claimed they were O'Keeffes, and that Juan Hamilton, the painter's assistant, said he believed them to be her work but refused to put it in writing. To make matters worse, Keiko Keyes, who had restored art for O'Keeffe herself, pointed out that one of the drawings in the original lot had a late watermark and couldn't have been painted during the years in question, but Peters simply eliminated the piece from the group to keep the "Canyon Suite" idea intact.
Peters' role in the deal did not come cheap -- Caballero sold the works "as is," and so got to keep her $1 million. And Peters had to return $5 million to Kemper along with an important early O'Keeffe painting worth approximately $2 million, which was included by way of apology.
BOARD BATTLE AT SOTHEBY'S
The power struggle for control of Sotheby's auction house has gone public. According to published reports, mutual-fund mogul Ronald Baron tried but failed to stop Robert Taubman from succeeding his father, A. Alfred Taubman, as chairman at last week's annual shareholder meeting. Baron had argued that the firm should distance itself from the scandal-tainted Taubman -- forced to resign as board chief as part of the price-fixing scandal that has plagued both Sotheby's and Christie's since last year -- in order to boost the stock price. Baron was able to get four allies appointed to the Sotheby's board. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Baron also claimed that he had been told that Alfred Taubman blocked a takeover bid by LVMH Moet Hennesy Louis Vuitton -- at about 2 1/2 times the share price. The bid was reportedly made last September, before Taubman stepped down as board chair and before Sotheby's stock fell. Meanwhile, Sotheby's announced its second quarter results, which show that revenue rose to $157.4 million from $146 million last year, but profit fell 5.7 percent due to its money-guzzling Internet initiative and the legal fees surrounding the price-fixing probe. Sotheby's stock has slowly risen to almost 20 since hitting a low of about 15 in April.
TWOMBLY THE SCULPTOR
The Menil Collection presents "Cy Twombly: The Sculpture," Sept. 20, 2000-Jan. 2, 2001, an exhibition presenting 65 of the artist's three-dimensional works, including many pieces never before publicly displayed. Curated by former Menil director Paul Winkler and Kunstmuseum Basel director Katharina Schmidt, the show concentrates on the artist's white plaster originals, with bronzes being included mostly in cases where the plaster has not survived. The exhibition will be also seen at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., its only other U.S. venue.
MONTE CARLO IN SAN DIEGO
The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego is hosting its 24th annual Monte Carlo gala fundraiser at the museum's La Jolla facility on Sept. 9. "A Grand Prix at Monte Carlo," one of the top art fundraising events in the West Coast, features three levels of tickets ranging from $60 to $1,000 per person, and the silent auction prizes include an actual trip for two to Monte Carlo. Call (858) 454-3541 ext. 121 for more info.
NEW SCULPTURE CONTEST FOR ART STUDENTS LEAGUE
The Art Students League of New York is celebrating its 125th year with exhibitions, a national sculpture contest and a gala silent auction. The first National Figurative Sculpture Contest is being held Oct. 5-8, 2000, when visitors will be able to observe 11 contestants from around the country working to portray a live model. The winner, selected by a committee of teachers and sculptors, will receive a $7,000 travel/study grant to work in Pietrasanta, Italy. A two-day silent auction of current instructors' paintings, prints and sculptures cap off the anniversary events on Dec. 1 and 2. For more info call (212) 247-4510.
-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech