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In the face of the sanitized memorial kitsch currently proposed to commemorate 9/11 at the World Trade Center site, artist Eric Fischl argues that a proper memorial has to "reflect the tragedy of that day" to "inspire us to confront it." Writing on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times on Dec. 19, 2003, the sculptor of last year's controversial Tumbling Woman bronze [see "Artnet News," 9/24/02] says that the seven memorial-competition finalists put too much emphasis on the towers and their footprints. To tell the story of 9/11, Fischl suggests that several memorials be erected at Ground Zero, works with a certain Brutalist, found-object air to them. "Reconstruct the twisted and charred steel faade of One World Trade, return the battered bronze globe. . . to the center of the plaza where it once stood, and keep the slurry wall exposed." In the end, Fischl says, it may be too soon to make a final design for the memorial.

The Metropolitan Museum was briefly shut down and evacuated by New York police on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2003, after a woman was seen placing a suspicious package at the bottom of the museum steps and then running away. According to a museum spokesman, several passersby saw the woman leave the package and alerted the museum, just as a special team of New York City anti-terrorist officers were making a spot-check on the Met's security. As a result, the police insisted on a full evacuation of the museum, and a member of the bomb squad duly x-rayed and opened the package -- which contained a stuffed snowman toy. "That's life in a Code Orange world," said the spokesman. "Vigilance is paramount."

After having lost more than 50 staffers in the last two years, should the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum be more accurately dubbed the "national resign museum"? So asked a story by Julie V. Iovine in the New York Times, which painted a dim picture of the 106-year-old museum's search for a "new identity" -- and an endowment beyond its annual Smithsonian operating stipend (ca. $4 million) -- under British director Paul W. Thompson. Method for this madness seems to be a new master plan, and accompanying capital campaign, that would build an extension underneath the museum's gated garden at Fifth Avenue and 91st Street. Also on tap is more contemporary commercial design (that is readily available in hip shops and showrooms), plus exhibitions organized by celebrity guest curators like novelist Kurt Anderson (new director of Benetton's Colors magazine), artist Yinka Shonibare and Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. The museum has been heartened by the success of its National Design Awards dinner, which raised $500,000, and its current "Inside Design Now" triennial, which was extended Jan. 25, 2004 (it was slated to close in August). "Shock of the Old: Christopher Dresser, a retrospective of the 19th-century British industrial designer, goes on view Mar. 5, 2004-July 29, 2004.

German critic and curator Roger Buergel has been appointed as the director of Documenta 12, slated to open in June 2007 in Kassel, Germany. Buergel, who was born in West Berlin in 1962 and currently teaches visual theory at Lneburg University, has most recently co-organized a touring group show titled "The Government," including works by Ibon Aranberri, James Coleman, Maya Deren, Inex Doujak, Andrea Geyer, Jean-Luc Godard, Emily Jacir, Allan Sekula and others.

Galerie Jocelyn Wolff has opened in East Paris in two separate spaces, at 65, rue Rbeval and 29, rue de Tourtille. The gallery concentrates on contemporary art, and the first shows include works by Grgory Forstner, Frdric Guelaff, Ulrich Polster, Christoph Weber and Prinz Gholam. For more info, email

The United States section of the International Association of Art Critics has announced its annual awards honoring U.S. museum and gallery shows for the 2002-03 season. The official presentation takes place at Japan Society in New York on Jan. 12, 2004, with Dia Center director Michael Govan serving as emcee and former Museum of Modern Art curator Robert Storr receiving an award for distinguished contribution to the field of art criticism.

In the meantime, the association has put out an exhaustingly long list of winners. "Best monographic museum show organized nationally" goes to "Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism," organized by Matthew Drutt for the Menil Foundation and the Guggenheim Museum; second place (a tie) goes to "Polly Apfelbaum" at the Philadelphia ICA and "Thomas Struth" at the Dallas Museum of Art.

"Best thematic museum show organized nationally" goes to the inaugural installation at Dia:Beacon organized by Lynne Cooke and Michael Govan; second place goes to "The Quilts of Gee's Bend," organized by Alvia J. Wardlaw, William Arnett, John Beardsley and Jane Livingston for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

"Best monographic museum show organized in New York City" goes to "Matthew Barney: The Cremaster Cycle" at the Guggenheim Museum, with "Christian Schad and the Neue Sachlichkeit," organized by Jill Lloyd and Michael Peppiatt at the Neue Galerie, taking second place.

"Best thematic museum show organized in New York" goes to "Matisse Picasso" at the Museum of Modern Art, while "Drawing Now: Eight Propositions" at MoMA and "Moving Pictures" at the Guggenheim tied for second place.

"Best historical Show" goes to ""Manet/Velzquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting" at the Metropolitan Museum, with second place going to "Leonardo da Vinci: Master Draftsman," also at the Met.

"Best show in a New York City commercial gallery" goes to "Marina Abramovic: The House with the Ocean View" at Sean Kelly Gallery. Second place ias taken by "Thomas Hirschhorn: Cavemanman" at Barbara Gladstone.

"Best show in a commercial gallery nationally" goes to "Dario Robleto: Roses in the Hospital/Men are the New Women" at Inman Gallery, Houston. Second place is taken by "John Baldessari: Junctions and Intersections" at Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles.

"Best show in an alternative or public space" is won by "Gloria: Another Look at Feminist Art in the 1970s," organized by Catherine Morris and Ingrid Schaffner for White Columns, New York City. Second place goes to "William Pope.L: eRacism" at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art in Portland, Me.

"Best show of an emerging or under-known artist" goes to "Bob Knox: Non-Fiction Paintings," organized by Terrie Sultan and Mary-Kay Lombino for the Blaffer Gallery, Houston, and the University Art Museum, USC/Long Beach. Second place goes to "Arnold Mesches: the FBI Files" at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center.

"Best architecture or design show" is won by "Scanning: The Aberrant Architectures of Diller + Scofidio" at the Whitney Museum, with second place going to "Dagobert Peche and the Wiener Werksttte" at the Neue Galerie.

And last but not least, "best web-based original art" goes to "Glenn Ligon: Annotations" at

The New York State Museum in Albany, N.Y., has just opened "Form/Structure/Place: Minimalist Art from the Guggenheim Museum Panza collection, Dec. 20, 2003-Mar. 14, 2004. Selected from nearly 350 Minimalist and Conceptual works acquired from the celebrated Italian collector Giuseppe Panza di Biumo in 1991-92, the exhibition features art by Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Robert Mangold, Robert Morris, Robert Ryman and Donald Judd, and is complemented by a major Judd sculpture from 1968 from the Nelson A Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Art Collection that is now on public display for the first time.

The New York Times has reported that star painter John Currin, 41, has switched his gallery affiliation from Andrea Rosen Gallery, where he has exhibited since 1992, to Gagosian Gallery. No details of the deal were given, and the story contained no comments by the artist or his new dealer, Larry Gagosian. In a statement, Andrea Rosen said, "I respect every artist's right to make choices regarding his or her career" and added, "I look forward to a continued involvement in John Currin's work."

It's been a difficult year for German auction houses, which despite their international standing often see the best material going to their competitors in England and the U.S. The top price at auction in Germany in 2003 was the 1.05 million paid for Adolph von Menzel's Der Schafgraben in Berlin (1846), a view of a wooded path by a stream, sold at Villa Grisebach Auktionen in Berlin. In 2002, the top auction price in Germany was 2.6 million paid for Gerhard Richter's Fels abstraction.

Villa Grisebach also snagged the number two and three spots: Emil Nolde's Knigskerzen und Dahlien (1948) sold for 850,000, and Max Beckmann's Landscape near Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer (1931) went for 800,000. In addition to Villa Grisebach, the top auction houses in Germany are Lempertz in Cologne, where an Egon Schiele watercolor, Two Women (1911), sold for 670.000, the year's fourth highest price, and Ketterer Auktionen in Mnich, where another Schiele, Woman with a Red Muff, sold for 640,000, the fifth highest price.

The year's remaining top lots in Germany all were sold by Villa Grisebach: Alexej von Jawlensky's Heilandsgesicht: Black Buddha (1920-21), an oil painting on paper that sold for 500,000; Max Pechstein's Lying Female Act with Cat (1909) for 430,000; Georg Flegel's Still-life with a Maid (1600) for 340,000; Otto Mueller's Dancer (1903) for 280,000; and Pierre Bonnard's Port gris et Vapeur ou Le Port de Cannes (1924) for 255.000.

Interestingly, half of these artworks left the country. American collectors bought three of the works, one painting went to Australia and another leaves Germany but stays in Europe. The Beckmann landscape goes to the Museum Wrth, a privately owned institution in Knzelsau.
-- Rainer Schlumberger