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Artnet News

Few Renaissance artists would seem more internet friendly than Leonardo da Vinci, famously adept at both fine art and the advanced technology of his day. Thus, no surprise that in connection with its current exhibition, "Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman," Jan. 22-Mar. 30, 2003, the Metropolitan Museum has launched one of its most elaborate websites ever. The special online presentation includes an introduction to the show as well as an entertaining essay on the artist's left-handedness by exhibition curator Carmen C. Bambach, a chronology, checklist and bibliography, and extensive reproductions of works on view in the exhibition's seven galleries -- complete with a "zoom technology" that allows close-up views of the drawings.

Journalists are abuzz about the new 52-page code of ethics issued by the New York Times this month -- which includes several provisions that apply to the paper's respected staff of art critics and art journalists. Titled "Ethical Journalism: Code of Conduct for the News and Editorial Departments," the document is primarily designed to protect the paper's impartiality by "avoiding conflicts of interest or an appearance of conflict." Noting that the Times has "exceptional influence" in cultural endeavors, the code prohibits critics (and their editors) from suggesting galleries to aspiring artists or recommending artists to galleries. Furthermore, "they may not serve on advisory boards, awards juries, study committees or other panels organized by the people they cover" or "accept awards from such people." And perhaps most importantly, arts writers who own "art of exhibition quality (and thus have a financial stake in the reputation of the artist)" must "annually submit a list of their acquisitions and sales" to William E. Schmidt, the paper's current associate managing editor for news administration.

Frank Lloyd Wright's 19-story Price Tower -- the architect's only skyscraper -- was originally built in tiny Bartlesville, Okla. (pop. 35,000) in 1956 as headquarters for the H.C. Price pipeline company. Now, after falling into disuse during the 1990s, the impressive architectural landmark is beginning a new life as a cutting-edge art and architectural museum. After a $10-million capital campaign, the Price Tower Arts Center has renovated the upper floors of the building as a 21-room boutique hotel, dubbed the Inn at Price Tower, complete with a rooftop bar-restaurant called Copper. Rooms in the new hotel, which has been renovated by New York architect Wendy Evans Joseph and opens in March, are expected to rent for $125-$250, with profits going to support the arts center; for reservations call (877) 424-2424.

Currently on view in the galleries is "Building Motion: The Architecture of Zaha Hadid," Jan. 17-Mar. 9, 2003, a survey of designs by the celebrated London-based Iraqi deconstructivist architect. What's more, the exhibition includes Hadid's design for a new museum facility to be built next to the Wright structure -- a "cantilevered, acute-angled and generally low-slung" facility that should provide a provocative female counterpoint to Wright's masculine tower, said Price Tower executive director Richard P. Townsend. "Through these projects, Price Tower Arts Center is evolving into a remarkable cultural destination," said Townsend. The Hadid show originated in different form at the Yale School of Architecture and has appeared at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

Much credit for the renaissance at Price Tower goes to Peter Silas, the former chairman of Phillips Petroleum, which had owned the tower since the 1980s. Silas, who also heads the art center's board, convinced Phillips to donate the building to the center, complete with its furnishings, the city block on which it stands, and funds for renovation -- a gift worth $5 million. The Hadid addition, which would create an architectural "campus" with the Wright building and the nearby Bartlesville Community Center built in 1982 by William Wesley Peters, carries a $20-million price tag overall (including an operating endowment).

Fears of terrorism have driven the insurance value of the "Matisse Picasso" exhibition at MoMA QNS to $1.5 billion, according to a report in the New York Sun. And it looks like MoMA has had to pay two-thirds of the premium itself, since the long-standing program by which the federal government indemnifies blockbuster art shows has an upper limit of $500 million. Though the museum would not comment, the newspaper estimated that this cost could approach $25 million-$50 million. The show goes on view Feb. 13-May 19, 2003.

New York City has given Christo the official go-ahead for The Gates, his plan to mount 7,500 16-foot-high gates hung with saffron-colored fabric along the walkways of Central Park. Target date for the massive project is February 2005 -- the dead of winter, so as to interrupt the park ecology as minimally as possible. The gates are to be erected without drilling holes in the park soil. "There is no environmental impact," New York City parks and recreation commissioner Adrian Benepe told the New York Times. The Christos haven't projected a cost of the project, which is financed from sales of the artist's works. "It will cost us whatever it has to cost," said Jeanne-Claude, the artist's wife and collaborator.

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston presents "Splat Boom Pow! The Influence of Cartoons in Contemporary Art," Apr. 12-June 29, 2003. The show features over 60 works in three sections: "Splat: Squashing the Force Field of Pop Icons (featuring works by Cat Chow, Arturo Herrera, David Sandlin, Jennifer Zakin); "Boom: The Eruption of Mt. Mythomania and the Spewing of Alter-egos" (Renee Cox, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Robert Pruitt, Keith Haring, Yoshitomo Nara); and "Pow!: Transforming the Language of Art with Alien Technology" (Jason Dunda, Michael Galbincea, Kara Maria, Kerry James Marshal). The exhibition is organized by Houston CAM associate curator Valerie Cassel, and is slated to travel to the Boston ICA.

Surely the hippest contemporary art show of the new year is "Mark Lombardi: Global Networks," a traveling exhibition curated by Robert C. Hobbs that debuts at Cornell University's Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Jan. 25-Mar. 16, 2003. The exhibition, which is circulated by Independent Curators International, presents 25 works by the influential Brooklyn artist whose elaborate drawings mapped two decades of international financial scandals, touching on all the shadowy global players, from the Vatican to the CIA, from Oliver North to the Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

Lombardi's sociopolitical esthetic, which has been compared to the Conceptual art of Robert Smithson and Gordon Matta-Clark, takes on an added ominous dimension in light of his tragic death at age 49 in 2000. Lombardi was found hanged in his Brooklyn apartment, presumably a suicide, not long after receiving his first big break as an artist in "Greater New York" at P.S. 1 in Queens. Though a puzzle to everyone, Lombardi's sad death is not thought to have resulted from foul play. The exhibition itinerary includes stops at the Cleveland MCA, May 23-Aug. 10, 2003, the Slusser Gallery in Ann Arbor, Sept. 5-Oct. 22, 2003, the Falconer Gallery in Grinnell, Ia., May 28-Aug. 1, 2004, and the Drawing Center in New York, Sept. 10-Oct. 31, 2004.

Everyone's waiting for the next Carnegie International survey of new art, but it's not scheduled to open until 2004. In the meantime, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh is hosting "Puppet Conference," Jan. 25-Apr. 27, 2003, a symposium in which Lamb Chop, Grover, Fozzie Bear and Mr. Shelby -- new star of a local nature program -- discuss issues of the simulation of life in the celebrity fast lane. Moderator is Art Cat, the Carnegie Museum's children's mascot. The "Puppet Conference," a video by German-born 30-something artist and 2002 Whitney Biennial vet Christian Jankowski, is organized by Carnegie curator Elizabeth Thomas and takes place in the museum's Forum Gallery.

The Florence Lynch Gallery opens at its new Chelsea location on the ground floor of 531-539 West 25th Street on Feb. 6 with "Aligned," a group exhibition including works by Fatima Allotey, Ghada Amer, Jacob El Hanani, William Kendridge, Moshekwa Langa, Sam Nhlengethwa, Odili Donald Odita and Iké Udé.

Critic and New York Studio School gallery director David Cohen has posted the latest edition of Artcritical, his art webzine. Among the new features are Bloom and Gloom, a review of the Hyman Bloom survey at the National Academy of Design by Joel Silverstein, and a new column by Gregory J. Peterson called Collector's View. New art reviews by Maureen Mullarkey, Moriah Carlson, Laura Somer, Amber Fogel, Deborah Garwood, Patricia Bailey and Cohen himself are also on the site.

Nicholas Baume, the 37-year-old Australia-born contemporary art curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Conn., has been named as the new curator at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art. Baume, an expert on Andy Warhol and Sol LeWitt, is expected to oversee the ICA's new collection once it moves into its new waterfront facility in 2006. He succeeds Jessica Morgan, who left the ICA two months ago to become curator at the Tate Modern in London.