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Political postmodernist Barbara Kruger and the Whitney Museum are being sued by Thomas Hoepker for using one of his pictures without permission and proper credit -- a clear copyright violation, according to Hoepker, a 40-year veteran photographer with more than 20 books under his belt. Kruger's piece -- Untitled (It's a Small World But Not If You Have to Clean It) (1990) -- uses a cropped version of Hoepker's Charlotte with Looking Glass (ca. 1959), a picture of a girl peering through a magnifying glass. Kruger's adaptation of the image, which includes her signature superimposed text, is used in a number of items relating to her current retrospective at the Whitney (on view through Oct. 22), including a billboard at Eight Avenue and 42nd Street and t-shirts, refrigerator magnets and sticky notes at the museum's gift store.

Hoepker, vice president of Magnum Photos/New York, says the suit "is not so much about money as about the blatant way one colleague is ripping off another." And adds "my cousin, now Charlotte Dabney, is puzzled and annoyed that her portrait is making the rounds in newspapers, exhibitions and on huge billboards." Hoepker doesn't specify a damage amount, but the sum would reflect the sales price of the Kruger work (which is owned by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles), as well as the revenues on sales of merchandise and rights for TV and Internet use, with the final total multiplied by five in punitive damages. A spokesperson for the Whitney tells Artnet Magazine that the organization doesn't believe the suit against the museum has any merit.

Painter-turned-director Julian Schnabel's Before Night Falls, which is based on the autobiography of Cuban novelist and poet Reinaldo Arenas, has been awarded the Grand Jury Prize and a Best Actor Award for its lead, Javier Bardem, in the 57th Venice International Film Festival. The film also received a Pasolini Award from the Catholic Church. Fine Line Features bought North American rights to the biopic for an estimated $1 million-$1.5 million, and plans to begin screenings in December with an eye to Oscar consideration on the strength of Bardem's performance, who has starred in Pedro Almodovar's Live Flesh and Bigas Luna's Jamón Jamón. In the meantime, the movie unspools at the New York Film Fest in early October.

In other art world-Hollywood news, Julie Taymor, known for her Broadway staging of The Lion King, is in negotiations to direct Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo in a biopic for Miramax. The confirmed cast includes Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera, Antonio Banderas as David Siqueiros, Ashley Judd as Tina Modotti and Ed Norton in a cameo as Nelson Rockefeller.

Police found eight grenades and launchers near the Chillida-Leku Museum in Hernani, Spain, as Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida was giving a tour of the gardens to Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía on Sept. 16, according to international reports. Basque terrorist group ETA is believed to have planted the grenades in retaliation for recent arrests of its members in France.

A policeman was killed late Oct. 1997 in a shoot-out with three terrorists who were disguised as gardeners working on Jeff Koons' giant Puppy sculpture at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and last year the museum's website was hit by hackers who inserted slogans praising the separatist organization. ETA, by the way, stands for Euskadi ta Askatuta, which translates as "Basque Homeland and Liberty."

The Berlin Biennial has been postponed until next year due to delays in city funding of the second installment of the popular avant-garde art show. The Hauptstadtkulturvertrag ("capital culture contract"), which helps underwrite the event, was not signed in time by government officials, forcing the Biennial to be rescheduled for Apr. 20, 2001-June 20, 2001. The biennial was launched in 1998 under the general direction of Klaus Biensenbach in the Berlin Kunst Werk, the Akademie der Künste and Postfuhramt, and brought together an impressive show of the global avant-garde, including works by Gabriel Orozco and Sarah Sze.

There is no shortage of salacious reports about John Lennon and Fluxus artist Yoko Ono, whose art career has taken off since her association with Deitch Projects. Lennon's assistant Fred Seaman tells Australia's the Advertiser that Ono was having an affair with art historian Sam Green and was planning to divorce Lennon in 1980 when the singer was murdered. Seaman says the lovers met in 1976, and Yoko "had even moved John's clothes out of their aparment ... planning to divorce him and marry for the fourth time." Green made the gossip pages earlier this year after filing suit against the New York Academy of Art, where he is a member, over a piano once owned by Lennon.

Meanwhile, in other ex-Beatle news, Bulfinch Press has just released a book of Paul McCartney's paintings based on an exhibition last year in Siegen, Germany, entitled, of course, Paul McCartney Paintings ($50). In an interview with the London Times, the singer says he never wanted to call attention to his artwork because he didn't want to be labeled as another "celebrity painter."

Tony blue-chip art gallery PaceWildenstein is closing its SoHo outpost at 142 Greene Street on Jan. 10, 2001, and making what seems to be the inevitable migration to Chelsea. PaceWildenstein's new digs are a 10,000 square foot space at 534 West 25th Street designed by California light artist Robert Irwin. The new building opens mid-March.

Olav Westphalen -- the New York-based artist whose work has been seen in "Greater New York" at P.S. 1 (not to mention in the cartoon section of Artnet Magazine) -- launches his first venture into public art at the Whitney Museum at Phillip Morris, Sept. 22-24, 2000. Extremely Site-Unspecific Sculpture, as it is called, looks something like a cross between a barbeque grill and a space ship, and comes with its own solar-powered lighting system. The Public Art Fund is sponsoring the project, which hops around town (as one might suspect from its title), next appearing in Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, Sept. 25-26, and Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Sept. 27-Oct. 27. A brochure of E.S.U.S.'s travels will also be available.

Luhring Augustine Gallery in New York's Chelsea district is presenting a screening of Drift, a new film by Jenny Gage, on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. Seating is limited; for reservations call Natalia Mager at (212) 206-9100. "Ventura," the photographer's exhibition, runs Sept. 9-Oct. 14.

"Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes and Rage," an exhibition devoted to the cultural phenomenon that has consumed the nation, comes to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Sept. 22-Dec. 31, 2000. The show includes over 400 items from the 1970s to the present, ranging from clothing to manuscripts of lyrics and sound equipment from legendary performers including Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC and Public Enemy, as well as accessories belonging to more recent favorites such as the Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and Tupac Shakur.

Guggenheim Museum curator of special exhibitions Julia Brown has been appointed director of the American Federation of Arts effective Nov. 1. She replaces Serena Rattazzi, who is retiring after ten years of leading the nonprofit organization.

Looking for a new place to hang your shingle? Singapore's Minister for Information and the Arts Lee Yock Suan has announced that foreigners who donate art works or antiques worth at least 750,000 Singapore dollars ($431,730 U.S.) can qualify for permanent resident status, according to the Agence France-Presse. The announcement was made last week at the inauguration of the Heritage Conservation Center, Southeast Asia's first artifact repository and conservation facility.

Phillips Auctioneers has named a six-member non-executive board of directors after the April appointment of Lord Powell as chairman of the auction house. The new members include National Gallery of Art director emeritus J. Carter Brown, former Lord Chamberlain Lord Camoys, art scholar Gert-Rudolf Flick, Hong Kong art patron Sir Joseph Hotung, Spanish investment banker Jaime de Marichalar and Italian senator Mario d'Urso. Phillips has also opened new offices in Italy, to be headed by art historian Cecilia Grilli.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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