FRAGONARD AT DAVID TUNICK
New York Old Master dealer David Tunick has unveiled an important group of seven drawings by Jean-Honor Fragonard at his gallery at 46 East 65th Street, Feb. 2-13, 2004. The drawings, which illustrate scenes from Ludovico Ariosto's celebrated 16th-century epic poem Orlando Furioso, were originally part of a group of 160 works acquired by the 19th-century collector Hippolyte Walfredin and most recently were in the collection of John Nicholas Brown (who was secretary of the navy under Harry Truman). Tunick will also exhibit the Fragonard works at the Art Dealers Association of America Art Show in New York, Feb. 19-23, and at TEFAF Maastricht, Mar. 5-14, 2004. The gallery has published a fully illustrated catalogue; for more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW CULTURE WAR FOR NEA?
U.S. president George W. Bush has proposed a $2.4 trillion federal budget for fiscal 2005, which starts Oct. 1, 2004. The budget deficit this year is $521 billion, but Bush proposes cuts in 128 domestic programs for a total savings of $4.9 million. Inexplicably escaping all this fiscal surgery is the National Endowment for the Arts, which is up for an $18 million increase, from $121 million to $139.4 million, the largest rise since 1984. Most of the new funds would go for an "American Masterpieces" program, explained First Lady Laura Bush at a press conference, designed to bring classic works to a broad audience. The right-wing Cato Institute has already sent out an alert protesting the move. "Government has no business meddling in the arts," said Cato executive vice president David Boaz. Stay tuned.
RUSSIAN SNAPS UP FORBES FABERGE TROVE
Russian billionaire Victor Vekselberg has snapped up the entire Forbes Collection of Faberg, including the group of nine eggs, prior to its planned sale at auction at Sotheby's New York on Apr. 20-21, 2004. The works are to be exhibited in New York one last time (details to be announced) before returning to Russia to tour to Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities. The cost of the deal wasn't disclosed, though Sotheby's had put a presale estimate on the eggs of $90 million-$120 million.
Earlier this week, Elena Gagarin, director of the Kremlin Museum (and daughter of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin) had made a public plea that that the eggs should be returned to Russian museums. She seems to be convincing -- in a statement, Vekselberg said, "I am honored to have this privilege and to make this important collection available to the Russian public." Born in 1957 in the Western Ukraine, Vekselberg was trained as an engineer and is now chairman of the Siberian-Urals Aluminum Company and vice-president of a joint venture between Russia's third-largest oil company, Tyumen Oil Company, and British Petroleum.
KIMBELL PUTS NEW BERNINI ON VIEW
The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth has put on view its latest acquisition -- a 32-inch-tall terracotta sculpture believed to have been made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Titled Modello for the Fountain of the Moor, the sculpture of a Triton grappling with a dolphin is believed to be a model for the centerpiece of a fountain in the Piazza Navona in Rome that was presented to Pope Innocent X. The terracotta was discovered at Sotheby's London in 2002, unprovenanced, with a $650,000 presale estimate, and was bought for more than four times that price by Andrew Butterfield of Salander-O'Reilly Galleries in Manhattan (where it went on view last year). The Kimbell paid about $5 million for the work, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
SEX FOR DUMMIES AT PRINTED MATTER
The Printed Matter bookstore on West 22nd Street in New York's Chelsea art district is celebrating the Valentine's Day holiday on Saturday, Feb. 14, with a book launch for artist and curator Robin Kahn's latest publication, Sexual Lovemaking for Dummies. The tongue-in-cheek how-to tome, priced at $12.95 (and available at www.printedmatter.org), features posable wooden artist's mannequins in a variety of amatory positions, and is published to "whet your appetite" for Kahn's forthcoming curatorial project at New York's Museum of Sex, "Get Off: The Art of Stimulation," slated to debut in April.
DELTA OF VENUS AT POWERHOUSE GALLERY
The new powerHouse Gallery at 68 Charlton Street in Greenwich Village celebrates Valentine's Day with an exhibition of works by Judy Chicago, "Nine Fragments for the Delta of Venus and other Erotic Prints," opening on Thursday, Feb. 12. The show celebrates the publication of a new portfolio of nine intaglio etchings, inspired by erotica by Anas Nin and printed at Segura Publishing in Mesa, Ariz., which is packaged in a candy box -- "a pleasurable but entirely noncaloric gift for one's lover," says Chicago. PowerHouse has also published a book version of the new work, titled Fragments from the Delta of Venus ($25). The company's new Charlton Street headquarters and bookstore includes a 1,500-square-foot gallery space programmed by Susanne Knig, wife and colleague of powerhouse publisher Daniel Power.
INTIMATE STEINBERG AT SVA GALLERY
"Steinberg: An Intimate View of his Art and World" goes on view at the Visual Arts Museum at the School of Visual Arts, 209 East 23rd Street, Feb. 9-Mar. 13, 2004. The exhibition features works given by Steinberg to his longtime studio assistant, the famed East Village artist and SVA instructor Anton van Dalen. Among the items in the show are inscribed drawings, posters and printed material, as well as Steinberg's much-doodled-upon desk.
$10 MILLION FOR ARTISTS FROM WARHOL FOUNDATION
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has given $10 million to Creative Capital, the five-year-old program that funds projects by contemporary artists. The gift provides $1 million a year over the next nine years, and sets up a $1 million cash reserve. The Warhol Foundation increased its grant budget by 20 percent to make the commitment to Creative Capital.
BIG NUMBERS FOR VEGAS MONET SHOW
The opening weekend at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas for "Monet: Masterworks from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," Jan. 30-Sept. 13, 2004, was a record-breaker. According to the Associated Press, nearly 4,000 people attended the exhibition, the most ever. Tickets are $15 each, or $12 for Nevada residents. The Bellagio reportedly guaranteed the Boston museum $1 million for the loan show.
ART AUCTION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES
Several top artists have donated works to a benefit auction to support a new campaign to protect individual civil rights from attack under the USA Patriot Act and other antiterrorist laws. The three-week-long silent auction and exhibition, Feb. 7-28, 2004, takes place at The Proposition gallery on West 22nd Street, and includes works by Ross Bleckner, Louise Bourgeois, Cecily Brown, Chuck Close, Julian LaVerdiere, Zoe Leonard, Arnold Mesches and Robert Rauschenberg. The auction is organized by artists Stephen Lipman and Tom Schreiber in partnership with the New York Civil Liberties Union to raise funds for the New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign. For more info, see www.artistsforthebillofrights.org.
TULLY, HEIRSTON AT DAKOTA JACKSON SEMINAR
Designer Dakota Jackson and art journalist Judd Tully are co-moderating a panel on art collecting and design scheduled for Feb. 10, 2004, at 9:30 am in the Astra Caf on the 14th floor of the D&D Building at 979 Third Avenue in New York. The early-morning seminar focuses on collecting, whether for investment or for pleasure, Jackson said, and also considers design strategies for art collections. Other participants include art advisor Kim Heirston and architects and interior designers Alan Wanzenberg and DD Allen. For more info and reservations, call (212) 759-2969.