GRAFFITI FRACAS MARS BROOKLYN MUSEUM SHOW
As the Brooklyn Museum of Art ballyhoos one of the hottest tickets of the New York fall art season -- "Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes and Rage," opening at the museum Sept. 22-Dec. 31, 2000 -- the New York Times once again pours cold water on the party. In a report published Sept. 21, the paper of record notes that the museum may not hold good title to its prize collection of 47 works by graffiti artists, donated by the Janis Gallery after it closed in 1999. Two graffiti artists, Anthony "A One" Clark and Michael "Tracy 168" Tracy, who have works in the hip-hop show, say that they lent their works to Janis in the mid-'80s but were never paid for them. A Janis lawyer said the gallery believed the works had been abandoned. Distancing the museum from the fray, BMA chief Arnold Lehman tells Artnet Magazine that the organization received the paintings accompanied by standard affirmation of ownership from the donors, and adds that "the Janis Gallery has a distinguished history and we expect them to resolve the issue properly very soon."
LOCALS OPPOSE NEW HARVARD MUSEUMS
Harvard University's plans to build two new art museums overlooking the Charles River are in question after strong opposition from residents, reports Mary Jo Palumbo in the Boston Herald. The locals have petitioned the Cambridge City Council for an 18-month moratorium on development of the museums, which they say will bring crowds and snarled traffic. Construction on buildings, which are designed by Renzo Piano, is not slated to begin until 2002 -- but the university says it hopes to address the residents' concerns. One new facility would be devoted to modern and contemporary art and the other would be a new home for the Sackler Museum of ancient, Asian and Islamic art.
CONTROVERSIAL WW II MEMORIAL FACES LAST HURDLE
Despite heavy opposition, the scheme to erect a new $100-million, 7.4-acre World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is expected to get final approval from the National Capital Planning Commission today, Sept. 21. The bombastic, multicolumned memorial design by Friedrich St. Florian, which would alter the serene proportions of Pierre Charles L'Enfant's Mall and reduce the size of the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool, has weathered attacks from many quarters, including the College Art Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the New York Times, the New Yorker, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.
A recent report by Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight details the behind-the-scenes string-pulling that made it all happen -- including the role played by Commission of Fine Arts chairman J. Carter Brown, who rushed the memorial through two federal commissions in 16 days, despite requirements for public notice and comment on the switch from its original site in Constitution Gardens. Knight quotes memorial spokesman F. Haydn Williams bragging to Talk magazine that "we got the site before they [the public] knew what hit them." What's more, the National Park Service suppressed reports on the National Historic Register status of the reflecting pool for two years.
MONET SWITCHEROO IN POLAND
Claude Monet's Beach in Pourville (1882) has been discovered stolen from the Poznan branch of Poland's National Museum, according to international reports. Museum officials realized that the country's only work by the French Impressionist had been cut from its frame and replaced with a copy painted on cardboard, but it is not yet known when the switch took place. Furthermore, the museum does not insure its exhibits, not being able to afford to.
Meanwhile, monks at St. Josaphat's Monastery in Lattingtown, Long Island, suffered a similar swap after two rare antique English chairs from the 16th- and 18th-century were exchanged for poorly made replacements over the weekend, according to a report in Newsday. The fakes reportedly still smelled of fresh paint.
YASUDA'S VAN GOGH TO MEET ITS MATCHES
The Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company is lending its version of Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers to "Van Gogh and Gauguin: the 'Studio of the South'," slated to appear at the Art Institute of Chicago, Sept. 22, 2001-Jan. 13, 2002. The exhibition marks the first time the Yasuda Sunflowers will be displayed alongside versions belonging to London's National Gallery and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, allowing experts to compare the three works. The Yasuda painting has been called a forgery by scholars, who claim that it was painted by van Gogh's friend Claude-Emile Schuffenecker. The Yasuda Sunflowers caused an art-market sensation when Christie's New York sold it for $39.9 million in 1987, which was then the highest price paid at auction for a painting.
ART FORUM BERLIN 2000
Germany's capital is abuzz over Art Forum Berlin 2000, Sept. 27-Oct. 1, 2000. The fifth installment of the popular contemporary art fair features 157 galleries from 23 countries. The always hip "Young Galleries" segment makes a comeback with 20 dealers, about half from the U.S., including the AC Project Room (N.Y.), the Chicago Project Room (L.A.), Clinica Aesthetica (N.Y.), Goldman Tevis (L.A.), Griffin Contemporary (Venice, Ca.), Bronwyn Keenan Gallery (N.Y.), Anna Kustera Gallery (N.Y.), LOW (L.A.) and Florence Lynch Gallery (N.Y.). This year's stringent admissions jury includes Tate Modern curator Emma Dexter, Nicole Hackert of Berlin's Contemporary Fine Arts, Claes Nordenhake of Stockholm's Galerie Nordenhake, Hanover Art Association director Eckhard Schneider, Mario Teixeira da Silva of Lisbon's Modulo Centro Difusor de Arte and Bob van Orsouw of Zurich's Galerie Bob van Orsouw. Admission is 20 DM per person; visit the event's website for more details.
$55 MIL PROPOSAL FOR NEW BMA PLAZA
The Brooklyn Museum of Art has unveiled a model of the new $55-million redesign of its Eastern Parkway entrance by Polshek Partnership Architects. The remarkably postmodernist scheme, which places the museum's heavy, classically colonnaded fašade on top of a new, airy semicircular glass pavilion, received a glowing review from New York Times architectural critic Herbert Muschamp -- who nevertheless ended his report with the ominous prediction that the design will evoke "the intolerance of knee-jerk preservationists toward new works that exhibit a far more profound grasp of the tradition they claim to represent." Polshek's new pavilion entrance and renovated Grand Lobby would double the size of the existing lobby area, providing more than 17,000 square feet of space. The construction is scheduled to begin by mid-2001 and to be completed by the end of the following year. Funding for the new project comes from the $120-million Campaign for the Brooklyn Museum of Art 2000-2005, which also aims to increase the museum's endowment by $50 million. The campaign has already raised half of its goal through borough and city pledges.
MOROCCO AT THE JEWISH MUSEUM
The Jewish Museum presents "Morocco: Jews and Art in a Muslim Land," an exhibition featuring more than 180 works focusing on the multicultural art and traditions of Morocco and the long history of Jewish life in the area, Sept. 24, 2000-Feb. 11, 2001. Highlights include Orientalist paintings by Eugene Delacroix and Alfred Dehodencq, textiles, jewelry and ceremonial objects of silver and gold and two original short films by Hamid Fardjad presenting Morocco's landscape and its contemporary life.
-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
can be reached by email at