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Lovers of antiques and Americana are flocking to New York City this week for a series of auctions and no fewer than six antiques fairs. Christie's three days of sales, Jan. 16-18, culminate with the auction of a rather astonishing collection of wildfowl decoys assembled by the late hunter, marksman and ceramist Russell B. Aitken (1910-2002), a sale that includes a ca. 1860-70 model of a Red Breasted Merganser Hen and Drake that carries a presale estimate of $300,000-$500,000. Sotheby's sales include the Jan. 18 auction of art and antiques from the Appell Family Sinking Springs Farms in New York and the Jan. 19 sale of "Uniforms, Painted Knapsacks, Canteens, Cap Plates and Other Related Militia Accoutrements" from the collection of William H. Guthman.

As for the fairs, the 49th annual Winter Antiques Show opens to the public Jan. 17-26, 2003, after a gala preview tonight benefiting the East Side House Settlement in the South Bronx. The queen of winter antiques shows is back at the Seventh Regiment Armory (67th Street and Park Avenue), after being dislocated last year to the Hilton Hotel following the events of 9/11. In addition to the top-drawer exhibitors, the fair also features a special loan exhibition from the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. Admission is $16 and includes a copy of the fair catalogue.

A bit further uptown is the New York Ceramics Fair, which features 40 international dealers at the National Academy of Design (Fifth Avenue and 89th Street), Jan. 16-19; admission is $15. And a little further downtown is the American Folk Art Museum's second annual TAAS 2003, otherwise known as the American Antiques Show, already on view at the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 West 18th Street), Jan. 16-19, 2003. The show features some 45 exhibitors; admission is $15 and includes the catalogue.

Wendy's Park Avenue Antiques Show is slated for Wallace Hall on the lower level of St. Ignatius Loyola (Park Avenue and 84th Street), Jan. 16-19, while Antiques at the Armory rolls into the Lexington Avenue Armory (26th Street and Lexington Avenue). And last but not least, the sprawling Antiques at the Piers opens Jan. 18-19 and Jan. 25-26 at the Passenger Ship Terminal Piers 90 & 92 on the Hudson River.

In time for the Old Master auctions that begin in New York next week, Edmondo di Robilant and Marco Voena of Dover Street Gallery in London are opening an "Exhibition of Fine Old Master and 19th-century Paintings" at the luxurious 57th Street salesroom gallery of Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg in New York, Jan. 18-Feb. 2, 2003. The paintings on display include a recently discovered, serene oil on panel Salvator Mundi from ca. 1505 by Alvise Vivarini that is related to works in the church of S. Giovanni in Bragora in Venice and the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, two charming Roman Capriccios by Hubert Robert, a portrait of the 18th-century Italian poet Carlo Gastone della Torre di Rezzonico by Louise Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun and a frothy 19th-century portrait of the young Baroness Staël-Holstein by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. A substantial 2.5 percent of sales proceeds is pledged to benefit the Frick Art Reference Library. A catalogue is available. For more info contact Mira Dimitrova at

In the first high-profile example of the impact of the sinking stock market on the museum world, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh has announced the elimination of its film and video department, which includes director Bill Judson and two other staffers. The cuts at the museum are part of overall staff reductions -- 49 full-time and four part-time positions for a total savings of $4 million in 2003 -- at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, which include a natural history museum, a science center and the Warhol Museum. The Carnegie's investment portfolio has dropped from $255 million in 1999 to $180 million currently. What's more, the Pittsburgh art crunch is not limited to the Carnegie. According to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas, in 2002 the exhibitions department at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts was also eliminated, and the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh group was compelled to put its downtown building up for sale.

The recession has finally hit state budgets, which means cuts in state arts support. The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies reports that total state arts funding has dropped by more than 13 percent for 2003, plunging to $353.9 million from $408.6 million last year. Per capita spending on the arts for 2003 is $1.22, down 20 cents from $1.42 in 2002. Much of the drop -- 62 percent, in fact -- is due to cuts in the California and Massachusetts state budgets. The Massachusetts Cultural Council lost 62 percent of its funding, down from $20.6 million to $9.3 million, while the California Arts Council faces a 50 percent cut, from $16.4 million to $8 million. "People will have to close their doors," a CAC spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times. "Artists will lose their jobs."

The energetic young curator Massimiliano Gioni, recently appointed artistic director of Milan's new Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, the "new flexible laboratory for contemporary art,"is already proving his avant-garde mettle. The foundation's new project is Panorama Milano, a book of postcards made from photographs of the city by 30 Milanese artists and designers. "This imaginary map," the foundation says, "draws a dynamic landscape of endless possibilities, but also portrays a city of ruins, silences and shadows -- the darker side of Made in Italy." Among the participants are artists Vanessa Beecroft, Maurizio Cattelan, Patrick Tuttofuoco and Francesco Vezzoli, fashion designers Giorgio Armani and Elio Fiorucci, designers Mario Bellini, Antonio Citterio and Ettore Sottsass, novelist Dario Fo, orchestra conductor Riccardo Muti and theatre director Luca Ronconi.

Winners of the $7,500 Francis J. Greenburger Awards for 2003 are Robert Bechtle, Lee Bontecou, Kazuko Miyamoto, Dorothea Rockburne and Joe Zucker. The awards are presented by the Art Omi International Arts Center at 55 Fifth Avenue, an artist's residency program founded and chaired by Francis Greenberger, a New York real estate developer. The awards are individually selected by five jurors -- a dealer, a museum director or curator, an artist, a critic or art historian, and a collector; this year, the jurors were (respectively) Barbara Gladstone, Ann Philbin, Leon Golub, Michael Brenson and Martin Z. Margulies. The awards are being presented at a ceremony at the New Museum on Jan. 27, 2003.

New York City's newly landscaped City Hall Park, kept largely off limits to the public under the administration of former mayor Rudy Giuliani for security reasons, is being opened up to public art by new mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "MetroSpective at City Hall Park," an installation of six public art works that originally debuted out at MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn, debuts in the park on Jan. 29, 2003. The artists in the show, which is organized by the Public Art Fund, are Art Domantay, Ken Landauer, Walter Martin & Paloma Muñoz, Peter Rostovsky, Do-ho Suh and Brian Tolle.

The Brooklyn Museum of Art has scheduled an exhibition of painting from pulp magazine covers for next spring. "Pulp Art: From the Collection of Robert Lesser," May 15-Oct. 19, 2003, features more than 100 paintings originally made for covers of the popular and often melodramatic pulp magazines of the 1930s and '40s. Lesser is a New York-based playwright and longtime collector, whose collection of toy robots was exhibited at the museum in 2001. The exhibition is organized by Anne Pasternak, director of Creative Time.