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Artnet News

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is bracing for further staff cuts, a possible reduction in hours and may be planning to close its Las Vegas branch next year, according to a report by Rachel Donadio in the New York Sun. Museum director Thomas Krens announced the possible 2003 budget cuts at a meeting with department heads on Friday. Guggenheim deputy director Judith Cox told the Sun that the museum could open an hour later, at 10 a.m. rather than 9 a.m., but denied that the Las Vegas branch would close. The Gugg has recently lost senior staffers -- "Brazil: Body and Soul" organizer Julien Zugazagoitia left to head El Museo del Barrio, and Laurie Beckelman, who had been in charge of the future Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum planned for the Wall Street area, left to oversee the move of the American Craft Museum to Columbus Circle. As for the Las Vegas Guggenheim, art-world sources say the staff there has shrunk from 110 to 35, and that director Barbara Bloeminck is on her way to the Cooper-Hewitt in New York.

While other European cities have seen new kunsthalles sprouting in former railway stations, breweries and other unused historic buildings, Rome has lagged behind. No longer. The city's new Museo per l'Arte Contemporanea di Roma -- known by the acronym MACRO -- opens on Oct. 12, 2002, in twin facilities designed by French architect Odile Decq. The first building is a 10,000 square meter space in a former Peroni brewery near Porta Pia, and the second a 3,000 square meter converted slaughterhouse in the city's lively Testaccio district, home to experimental theatres, night clubs and restaurants. The museum is also atypical in its hours -- 4 p.m to midnight. Director is Danilo Eccher, former head of Galleria Civica di Trento and the Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Bologna. The five debut shows feature works by Claudio Abate, Tony Oursler, Alessandra Tesi and Shizuka Yokomizo, and an installation of Arte Povera and Transavangardia works.

London's most staid museum is hosting an exhibition of the fashion world's most provocative designer (one of them, anyway). The Victoria & Albert Museum opens an exhibition of 138 outfits by Gianni Versace, Oct 17, 2002-Jan 12, 2003, some five years after his death. Titled "The Art and Craft of Gianni Versace" (in an obvious reference to the V&A's extensive Arts and Crafts holdings), the show includes a 1992 light blue silk dress with gold embroidery worn by Princess Diana (the first public sign of her rebellion, according to La Repubblica), Elizabeth Hurley's gown for the 1994 premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral ("two pieces of fabric held together by pins," that launched her into worldwide fame), outfits for Sting, Madonna and Elton John, the bridal gown for Francesca von Thyssen and works from Versace's scandalous 1992 "Story of O" collection, about which Versace is quoted as saying, "I don't believe in good taste, it's out of style." Curators are Claire Wilcox, Valerie Mendes and Chiara Buss; the show is drawn from the Versace archives but is reportedly being put on without a lira from the Milanese fashion house.

The International Association of Art Critics has canceled its 36th annual congress scheduled for this month in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, because of the civil war there. The five-day conference, the first in Africa since 1973, was originally scheduled for Oct. 20-24, 2002, and was slated to examine issues of globalism and art in the post-colonial world under the rubric of "Art, Majorities and Minorities." AICA has scheduled a briefer meeting in Paris for later this month, Oct. 23-27, for elections and a general assembly.

Despite possible troubles at the Guggenheim Las Vegas, the city's casinos are increasingly turning to culture to compete for new customers, according to a report in the Las Vegas Sun-Times. The MGM Grand is planning a new exhibition of art and antiquities, to be announced later this month. Such displays help "solidify the property as a center of fine things -- fine dining, fine shopping and fine art," said MGM Grand spokesman Alan Feldman. "The use of art has come to be a very important part of our branding." Among other top Las Vegas casinos, the Venetian hosts the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum (with "Art through the Ages: Masterpieces of Painting from Titian to Picasso") and the Guggenheim Las Vegas (with "The Art of the Motorcycle"), the Bellagio has the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (with "Faberge: Treasures from the Kremlin") and Steve Wynn is developing La Reve, a $1.8-billion casino and resort complex named after a Picasso painting that will include an art gallery to display Wynn's collection.

A 67-foot-tall, 233-ton steel sculpture by Richard Serra is going up in front of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth this week in anticipation of the grand opening of Tadao Ando's new museum facility on Dec. 14, 2002. The Serra sculpture, one of his most ambitious to date, is a gift from the Burnett Foundation in honor of museum chief curator Michael Auping. Worth an estimated $4 million, the work consists of seven sheets of Corten steel that "spiral upward like a corkscrew, gently folding over one in the process," according to Dallas Morning News art critic Janet Kutner. Ando's $60-million, 153,000-square-foot structure, located across the street from the Kimbell Art Museum in the city's "cultural district," is already being called "an astonishingly graceful concrete beauty rising from a thin membrane of water." It has more than five times the amount of gallery space as the present building.

Now that Jean-Rene Fourtou has taken over management of Vivendi Universal, he's outlined plans to shed €12 billion in assets over the next 18 months -- including the corporate art collection. According to the Wall Street Journal, most of the 2,500 art works are from the Seagram collection (Vivendi took over Seagram in 2000), which was assembled in the 1950s and '60s by Phyllis Lambert, daughter of Seagram tycoon Samuel Bronfman. Some of the collection, which includes works by Picasso, Miró and Dubuffet as well as photographs and antiquities, is on view in the company's executive offices in the Seagram Building -- which the company plans to desert for cheaper quarters over on Third Avenue. Stay tuned.

The marketers up at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts certainly know how to get your attention. The museum shop is offering a chance to "win a $500 shopping spree"; i.e., a $500 gift certificate redeemable at its shops or mail-order catalogue. Enter at the website,, till Oct. 15, 2002.

A Pre-Raphaelite painting by John William Waterhouse of two young women in an Italianate landscape, titled Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May (1908) after the 17th-century poem by John Herrick, has been discovered on the wall of a rural home in Canada after being missing for almost a century. The painting was illustrated not long after it was made, but disappeared from view and has never been exhibited. No one is quite sure how it came to be in Canada. The work goes on the auction block at Christie's London on Nov. 27 with a presale estimate of $4.5 million.

Many art historians have thought that the contentious Italian Counter-Reformation painter Caravaggio was murdered in 1610 while traveling from his exile in Naples to Rome, where he had been lured with promises of a pardon from the Pope (for a murder of his own). This scenario of revenge and betrayal was famously filled out in Peter Robb's fictionalized biography, M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio. Now, the Italian press is reporting that an obituary for Caravaggio's death has been discovered in Porto Ercole, Tuscany, tucked into a 1654 book of the dead in the parish of Sant'Erasmo. The note states that the artist died from an unspecified malaise in the hospital of Santa Maria Ausiliatrice on July 18, 1609.