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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston director Malcolm Rogers recently blew into New York to woo a handful of art scribes at a deluxe breakfast press conference held at the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South. The Oxford-educated Rogers, a specialist in 16th-, 17th- and early 18th-century portraiture, this year celebrates his 10th anniversary at the helm of the MFA, and though his tenure has had its controversies -- just the other day, Newsweek was complaining about his plan to rent a slew of the museum's Monets to the Bellagio Gallery in Las Vegas for $1 million [see Artnet News, Jan. 22, 2004] -- things at the museum are moving briskly ahead. (For Rogers himself, the immediate future holds a visit to Vegas with a party of trustees and patrons, and in March he visits Buckingham Palace to receive the order of Commander, Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth.)

The Boston MFA is well on its way to raising $425 million for its new expansion and renovation, designed by London architect Norman Foster ($180 million for construction, $180 million for the endowment, and the rest for "contingency and annual support," Rogers said). Phase I of the master plan calls for a new East Wing dedicated solely to art of the Americas, a new space for contemporary and late 20th-century art, a dramatic "glass and steel jewel box" to cover the museum's East Courtyard, and a new special exhibition space located underneath the courtyard. Groundbreaking is scheduled for 2005 with completion anticipated for 2009.

The really big news in Boston is the forthcoming exhibition schedule, which careens from classic moderns to hip contemporaries to oddball crowd pleasers, i.e., "Gauguin Tahiti," Feb. 29, 2004-June 20, 2004, which focuses on the epochal Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (1897-98) from the MFA collection (and which has already appeared in Paris); "Tim Noble & Sue Webster," Apr. 21-Aug. 15, 2004, the first U.S. museum survey of work by the carnivalesque yBa couple; and "Speed, Style and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection," Mar. 6-July 3, 2004, a show of 15 racers owned by the fashion designer. Other exhibitions on the schedule include "Art of the Japanese Postcard: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection," Mar. 10-June 6, 2004; "The Greek Athlete: Games for the Gods," July 21-Nov. 28, 2004; "Josef Sudek: Poet with a Camera," July 28, 2004-Jan. 17, 2005; "Art Deco: 1910-1939," Aug. 22, 2004-Jan, 9, 2005; and "Cerith Wyn Evans," Oct. 6, 2004-Jan. 30, 2005.

Veteran contemporary art dealer Marc Selwyn opens his new Los Angeles gallery, Marc Selwyn Fine Art, with a special exhibition of works by Robert Mapplethorpe curated by photographer Catherine Opie, Jan. 31-Mar. 13, 2004. The idea of having a contemporary photographer interpret Mapplethorpe's work is a good one; the same modus operandi was used by Sean Kelly Gallery in New York this fall, with photographer Cindy Sherman doing the curatorial honors. Marc Selwyn Fine Art is located at 6222 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles; for more info, see the website at Selwyn is working with James Casebere, Tom Knechtel, Richard Misrach, Lee Mullican, Mel Bochner and Robert Overby, among other artists.

After taking the U.S. design world by storm, the mid-century design style informally known as "streamline moderne" is now the subject of a sophisticated survey show at the Museum fur Angewandete Kunst (Museum for Applied Arts) in Cologne. But the exhibition, which is organized by Gabriele Lueg and Luzie Bratner in consultation with the anonymous man who assembled the collection, mixes design objects with fine art. "The Rectangular View: Design and Art in Dialogue," Jan. 20-Apr. 12, 2004, features furniture by Ron Arad, Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier, Charles Eames, Gerrit Rietveld and Frank Lloyd Wright, an assortment of electrical appliances, tableware, glass items and several automobiles -- along with artworks by Arman, Theo van Doesburg, Lyonel Feininger, Piet Mondrian, Francois Morellet, Kurt Schwitters, Victor Vasarely and other artists.

New Whitney Museum director Adam D. Weinberg has made his first staff change at the museum, dismissing Marla Prather, who has been the Whitney's curator of postwar art since 1999. Prather is on leave caring for a seriously ill child, according to a report by Carol Vogel in the New York Times. "I thought it was better for her," Weinberg told the paper. "To do it before she came back, so she wouldn't get involved in projects and then pulled from them." The Times also revealed that Weinberg has instituted a free, in-house yoga program for the museum staff. And in another shocker, Weinberg recently revealed to the Art Newspaper that he's considering abandoning a 2006 biennial in favor of an all-museum installation of the permanent collection.

Art superstar Takashi Murakami is bringing a host of new Japanese artists to New York audiences with "Tokyo Girls Bravo," Feb. 6-Mar. 13, 2004, a show he's organized for Marianne Boesky Gallery in Chelsea. The exhibition features 10 artists who comment on their individual "girlhoods" and share in "both the celebration and the degradation of feminine identity through the lens of pervasive sexism in Japan." The artists are Chiho Aoshima, Chinatsu Ban, Aki Fujimoto, Yumiko Inada, Hisae Iwaoka, Rieko Kasahara, Makiko Kudo, Mahomi Kunikata, Rei Sato and Aya Takano.

New York fans of le Nouveau Ralisme can mark their calendars: a homage to French art critic Pierre Restany is scheduled for Feb. 26, at 7:30 pm at NYU's Maison Franaise (located at 16 Washington Mews). The roundtable discussion is moderated by Michle C. Cone, author of French Modernism (and valued Artnet Magazine contributor); participants include art historian Romy Golan, critic (and Artnet Magazine contributor) Phyllis Tuchman and art historian Jill Carrick. For further info, call 212 998-8750.

HELMUT NEWTON, 1920-2004
Helmut Newton, 83, fashion photographer who brought pneumatically endowed models in bondage gear into the cultural mainstream, died after an automobile accident in Los Angeles on Jan. 23, 2004. Born to a wealthy Jewish family in Berlin, he got his first camera at 12. After fleeing Germany in 1938, he spent time in Singapore (where he said he worked as a gigolo), became an Australian citizen and opened a studio in Melbourne. He married his wife, the photographer Alice Springs, in 1946. In recent decades he kept a home in Monte Carlo and wintered at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. Newton began working for French Vogue in 1963, and for American Vogue in 1971. More recently, he published Sumo (Taschen), which was billed as the largest art book ever, and had a retrospective survey of his work at the International Center of Photography in New York.