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Milwaukee county executive Scott Walker has moved to terminate the city's $220,000 contract with Dennis Oppenheim for a public sculpture at a new parking garage at the city's Mitchell International Airport. Oppenheim's Blue Shirt is planned as a 30 x 40 ft. shirt-shaped structure of steel and blue glass that drapes around one corner of the multistory parking facility. Walker says that Oppenheim missed a deadline on the project, and wants the artist to pay back the $165,000 he has already received; the artist, who says he has paid $80,000 to a fabricator to begin work on the piece, is investigating legal action against the county. As we go to press, the country board of supervisors has scheduled a closed session to discuss the issue.

Local headline-writers have had a good time with the controversy, noting how the piece should be tried on, left hanging, put out to dry, thrown in the ragbag and more. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is conducting an online poll on the fate of Blue Shirt, with about 55 percent of over 1,000 respondents favoring the sculpture. Some Milwaukeeans have complained that Oppenheim is mocking the city's blue-collar roots, while the Journal-Sentinel has supported the project, noting that its cost is being paid by airport revenues, not county taxes. Two other artworks are part of the local "percent-for-art" initiative: a $220,000 set of geometric neon works placed along an 800-foot people-mover by Stephen Antonakos and a $75,000 group of 12 painted wrought-iron panels by local artist Evelyn Terry.

Christie's and Sotheby's held sales of Impressionist, modern and contemporary art in London this week, and the signs are good. On Feb. 4, 2003, Sotheby's set a new auction record (in pounds) for Pierre Bonnard when his La porte fenêtre or Matinée au cannet (1932) sold for 4,261,600 ($7,017,290), well above its presale high estimate of 3,000,000. The second highest price at the sale was brought by Salvador Dal's Jeune vierge autosodomisée par les cornes de sa propre chasteté (1954), which sold for 1,349,600 ($2,200,000), close to the low presale estimate of 1,300,000. The sexy picture had been in the Playboy Collection since 1971. A second Dal, a bizarre scene from 1942 called The Birth of the New World that was commissioned for the Dec. 1942 edition of Esquire magazine, sold for 789,600.

Close observers were amused to note a multiple photograph by Jane and Louise Wilson, Members Only, go for 240 at the daytime sale. The attractive photo, done in an edition of 270 as a benefit for the Serpentine Gallery, is still available from the museum itself for 85. In all, the auction totaled 16.4 million, with 30 of 55 lots finding buyers, or about 55 percent.

Over at Christie's, the evening sale of post-war and contemporary art totaled 6.1 million, with 26 of 32 lots selling, or 81 percent. Jeff Koons' Cracked Egg (1995-97), a Rosenquistian depiction of a broken eggshell against a silvery background, sold for 303,650 ($501,933), a new record for a painting by the artist. An untitled, Kandinsky-esque painting from 1964 by Eva Hesse sold for a record 160,650.

For complete, illustrated results, see Artnet's Fine Art Auctions Report.

The Association of International Photography Art Dealers convenes its 23rd annual AIPAD Photography Show at the New York Hilton Hotel, Feb. 7-9, 2003. The Feb. 6 gala benefited the photo department at the Metropolitan Museum. The over 85 exhibitors at the fair hail from over a dozen countries, and range from ARDP, Nailya Alexander and Jack Banning to Wach, Winter Works on Paper and Zabriskie. Fair-goers also are treated to two panel presentations: Maria Morris Hambourg interviews Thomas Struth, and a panel of curators -- Peter Galassi (MoMA), Thelma Golden (Studio Museum in Harlem), Jeff Rosenheim (Met), Brian Wallis (ICP) and Sylvia Wolf (Whitney) -- discusses "strategies of institutional collecting." Daily admission is $20, and includes a copy of the AIPAD membership director and a 360-page catalogue.

New Mexico's new Democratic governor Bill Richardson is shaking up his state's cultural status quo. His culture czar, Ruben Smith, has abruptly fired Tom Wilson, director of the Museum of New Mexico, and says that his office is searching for candidates to head up three other state museums along with the Historic Preservation Division and the state library. According to a report in the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, Richardson's overhaul is designed to give state cultural programs "a new beginning, a fresh direction."

The New Museum of Contemporary Art has invited five architectural firms to submit designs for its new museum facility on the Bowery in New York. They are Inaki Abalos and Juan Herreros of Abalos & Herreros, Madrid, who have done projects in collaboration with artists Peter Halley and Albert Oehlen and designed the Valdemingomez Dump outside Madrid; David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates of the U.K., who has designed home/studio spaces for Chris Ofili, Jake Chapman and the team of Tim Noble and Sue Webster and is working on five Idea Stores public libraries in east London; Annette Gigon and Mike Guyer of Gigon/Guyer, the Swiss team that designed the Kirchner Museum in Davos and the expansion of the Winterthur Museum of Art; Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA Ltd., a Japanese firm that designed the Contemporary Art Museum in Kanazawa; and Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto of Reiser + Umemoto RUR Architecture, the New York-based team whose work is to be included in the forthcoming "The Long View" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Construction is scheduled to begin on the New Museum's new $35 million, 60,000-square-foot facility at 235 Bowery in spring 2004.

The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., has opened an ambitious survey of contemporary art from South Africa. Mounted in collaboration with the South African National Gallery (SANG), "Coexistence: Contemporary Cultural Production in South Africa," Jan. 22-June 29, 2003, features 35 works organized by Brandeis art prof Pamela Allara, Iziko Museums of Cape Town director Marilyn Martin and SANG curator Zola Mtshiza. Among the artists in the exhibition are Jane Alexander, Kim Berman, Willie Bester, Lisa Brice, Moshekwa Langa, Billy Makhubela, Christina Nkuna, Walter Oltmann, Joachim Schönfeldt, Claudette Schreuders, Johannes Mashego Segogela and Sue Williamson. The show opens at the SANG next September.

The P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center is having its own biennial -- of new Japanese art. "First Steps: Emerging Artists from Japan," opening Feb. 16, is the U.S. showing of a biennial exhibition established in 1995 by Philip Morris K.K., the Japanese subsidiary of the cigarette manufacturer. The 10 artists in the show are Chelin, Mika Funaki, Fumimasa Hosokawa, Chiharu Shiota, Yasuhiro Suzuki, TANY, Satoru Tamura, Kaori Yamashita, Motoi Yamamoto and Yuriko Yamamoto. The jury that selected the show included P.S. 1 director Alanna Heiss, MoMA drawings curator Gary Garrels, P.S. 1 curator Klaus Biesenbach, Susan Sontag, Henry Moore Foundation curator David Thorp, Kanazawa 21st Century Museum curator Yuko Hasegawa, French art critic Christiane Germain, critic and curator Hou Hanru and Tama Art University prof Akira Tatehata; moderator was Tokyo University of Fine Arts prof Kazue Kobata.

Los Angeles art dealers Jane Hart and Anna Sola have closed their Lemon Sky: Projects + Editions gallery space at 5367 Wilshire Boulevard. The final exhibitions, "Bruce Yonemoto: Spaceship Earth" and "Christopher Haun: Cubes, Hues and Plateaus," ended on Feb. 1, 2003. Lemon Sky continues to publish and distribute limited editions and is maintaining its website at

Readers of the financial pages know that Goldman Sachs CEO Henry M. Paulson embarrassed himself last week by suggesting that most of his highly paid employees are expendable -- a sentiment known as the "80-20 rule," which supposes that 20 percent of the staff does 80 percent of the work. Since the white-shoe investment bank already cashiered almost 3,000 workers last year, the deeply insulting sentiment [see Charlie Finch's "Mayor Bloomberg, Art Moron," Feb. 5, 2003] seems to reflect the kind of boardroom callousness that has caused investors to abandon Wall Street in droves. Meanwhile, the Museum of Modern Art is slated to present Paulson with its 2003 David Rockefeller Award at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan on Mar. 11, a fundraising dinner with a ticket price of $1,500 a head.