MORI MUSEUM TO OPERATE ON SIGHTSEEING FEES
The new Mori Art Museum, slated to open in the center of Tokyo on Oct. 18, 2003, expects to earn its 2,000,000,000-yen (approximately $17 million) annual operating budget by charging admission -- about $12 -- to sightseers for its 52nd-floor observation deck. How is that possible? The nascent museum, the brainchild of Japanese superdeveloper Minoru Mori (uncle of artist Mariko Mori), is located at the top of one of the tallest buildings in the city, a 53-floor skyscraper that is the centerpiece of his vast Roppongi Hills development in Tokyo. Plans call for the museum, which is designed by Richard Gluckman, to stay open till 10 at night, and until midnight on weekends, taking unusual advantage of evening tourist traffic.
Visitors enter the museum through a 100-foot-tall, glass entry pavilion and cross a pedestrian bridge to a bank of five elevators to the 52nd floor. The museum's seven galleries, totaling some 28,000 square feet of exhibition space, are arranged on two levels around a sandstone-faced atrium. The 8,000,000-square-foot Roppongi Hills development, which includes commercial and residential space, a 500-room hotel, nine cinemas, a trade school, shopping districts and more, also features an array of public art, including Louise Bourgeois' Spider (recently seen at Rockefeller Center and the Tate Modern) and works by Isa Genzken, Sol LeWitt, Martin Puryear and Tatsuo Miyajima, among other artists.
The Mori Museum's first show is "Happiness: A Survival Guide for Art and Life," Oct. 18, 2003-Jan. 18, 2004, including about 150 works dating from ancient times to the present, and presented in four sections: arcadia, nirvana, desire and harmony. Opening Feb. 7, 2004, is "Roppongi Crossing: New Visions of Japanese Art 2004," the first of a regular series showcasing Japanese culture. The exhibition is the occasion to award three cash prizes, with one winner selected by popular vote of museum visitors. Next up are exhibitions of works from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, an installation by Ilya Kabakov and "Hot 'n' Spicy: Contemporary Art from Asia."
At a recent press conference in midtown Manhattan, museum director David Elliott, former head of the Oxford MOMA and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, noted that Mori had a "vision of changing the whole intellectual climate of Japan." Elliott went on to suggest that the global, post-colonial art industry needed some new ways of categorizing itself, and outlined some possibilities: primal energies (from Edvard Munch to Matthew Barney), simplicity (Brancusi to Agnes Martin), critical realities (starting with Otto Dix) and metamorphosis (starting with Marcel Duchamp). Elliott oversees a staff of 32, and is the first non-Japanese museum director in Japan. Deputy director is Fumio Nanjo; curators are Natsumi Araki, Mami Kataoka, Sunhee Kim, Yukiko Shikata and Sachiko Sugiura.
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A BULIMIC
The art-world is agog this week at the soap-opera-like confessions of art-market superstar Vanessa Beecroft in "The Wolf at the Door: Can an Eating Disorder Be Turned into Art," a profile penned by Judith Thurman in the New Yorker magazine of Mar. 17, 2003. Among the revelations elicited by Thurman, whose previous work includes a biography of Colette (the writer not the artist), is that the 33-year-old Beecroft suffers from exercise bulimia, that she keeps a detailed log of everything she eats, that as a teenager she ate an entire bag of walnuts, shells and all, and ended up in the emergency room with acute peritonitis, that she was handcuffed by L.A. police for assaulting her husband at the L.A. airport, and that she works off her aggravations at her family by speeding at 100 mph down the Long Island Expressway at midnight, sans driver's license. The article includes a particularly droll description of Beecroft's work, and quotes her claim that her celebrated nude performance pieces "aren't sexy at all -- they're about shame . . . most of all my own." A special bonus is the black-and-white photograph of the topless and tattooed artist floating in her indoor pool.
AFRICAN ART DEBUTS NEW CONTEMPORARY MUSEUM
The Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis unveils its new 27,000-square-foot facility, designed by Portland architect Brad Cloepfil, on Sept. 20, 2003, with a provocative exhibition of contemporary African art. "A Fiction of Authenticity: Contemporary Africa Abroad," organized by museum assistant curator Shannon Fitzgerald and Tumelo Mosaka, a curator at the Brooklyn Museum, features newly commissioned works by Siemon Allen (a South African now living in Washington, D.C.), Fatma Charfi (Tunisia/Bern), Godfried Donkor (Ghana/London), Mary Evans (Nigeria/London), Meschac Gaba (Benin/Amsterdam), Kendell Geers (South Africa/Brussels), Moshekwa Langa (South Africa/Amsterdam), Ingrid Mwangi (Kenya/Ludwigshafen, Germany), Odili Donald Odita (Nigeria/Tallahassee), Owusu-Ankomah (Ghana/Lilienthal), and Zineb Sedira (Algeria/London).
Cloepfil, whose other commissions include the Seattle Art Museum expansion and the renovation of the new Columbus Circle home for New York's Museum of Contemporary Arts and Design (nee American Craft Museum) has given the Contemporary Art Museum a dramatic yet simple structure of sandblasted concrete, with its upper level wrapped in stainless steel mesh. "I wanted to construct the space with as little architecture as possible," Cloepfil said at a Manhattan press conference last week. "With two levels of walls, one for light and one for art display." The minimalist approach extended to the budget as well -- price tag for the new museum is $12 million, which includes a $4 million endowment, according to new museum director Paul Ha. The unusual openness of the design, Cloepfil said, allows a person at the corner of the museum to look all the way through the galleries to the Richard Serra sculpture in the courtyard of the Tadao Ando-designed Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts that shares the block.
ART MAGAZINE FOLLIES
Lots of behind-the-scenes developments lately in the quaint world of paper-and-ink magazine publishing. Art Review, the oversized London-based glossy that began a considerable revitalization a couple years back under editor Meredith Etherington-Smith, with reader-friendly gossip and features on the likes of Charles Saatchi and Damien Hirst, is planning a major assault on the U.S. market. Art Review has hired the dealer-turned-art-scribe Joe La Placa as New York editor, given him an office at 14th Street and 9th Avenue and told him to shift the content to 75 percent U.S. by November.
Meanwhile, the Art Newspaper, everyone's favorite source of art news -- early on, the publication bragged about publishing "no reviews," but Anna Somers Cocks' paper has since broken down and gotten in the art-criticism game as well -- is also plotting a new focus on New York. The paper has doubled its Big Apple staff, hiring the steady journalistic hand Jason Edward Kaufman to work with writer Sarah Douglas, and is installing the pair in a new office at 594 Broadway. For what it's worth, the Art Newspaper has also canned its longtime sales rep, Kate Shanley, who worked on commission, and brought the ad-sales job in-house. (Shanley is still the person to go for to advertise in Flash Art and the Flash Art Diary.)
And last but not least, word from inside the Art & Auction editorial offices has the magazine being sold to Louise Blouin MacBain, millionaire co-founder of the Montreal-based Hebdo group of classified-magazine publishers and more recently CEO of Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg. Art & Auction, which was bought by French luxury mogul Bernard Arnault in 2000, has been on the block for some time; editor Bruce Wolmer was reportedly spotted with MacBain at the TEFAF Maastrict art fair, which opens this weekend.
ROBIN WINTERS AT BEACON PROJECTS
Things are heating up in Beacon, N.Y., the Hudson River town that is slated to become a major upstate art site when the Dia Center for the Arts opens an outpost there this spring. In the meantime, the Beacon Project Space -- overseen by museum macher David Ross and located at 240 Main Street in the middle of town -- is exhibiting sculpture by Robin Winters, the artist who first made his name for funky performance pieces in New York in the 1970s and later made comical, humanistic sculptures and drawings. Titled "Trial by Fire (Works from the Melting Ground): A Selection of Works in Glass, Ceramic and Bronze," the show features works made since 1989 that Winters says represent his efforts "to meld beauty, drama, humor and the unexpected." For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
TURRELL IN SEATTLE
The Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington in Seattle has broken ground for Skyspace, a specially commissioned artwork by Light and Space artist James Turrell. The $800,000 freestanding structure, located in the museum's sculpture court, combines two of Turrell's trademark effects -- an elliptical oculus in the ceiling through which viewers can watch the twilight sky, and when the skylight is closed, an interior "aperture" work giving the effect of a plane of pure color. The exterior of the pavilion also features a gradually changing luminous display on 18-foot-high panels of translucent class. Skyspace is slated to open on July 11, 2003.
LOST REMBRANDT AT SOTHEBY'S Sotheby's London puts a newly discovered Rembrandt self-portrait dated 1634 (when the artist was 28) on the block during its Old Master paintings sale on July 10, 2003. Estimated to sell for over 5 million, the work was discovered under a painting of a Russian aristocrat done by one of the master's pupils. According to the auction house, the Rembrandt remained unknown for 300 years, until a curious owner had the aristocrat's tall hat removed in the 1950s. Next, the earrings, long hair and moustache were removed in the 1960s, and only in 1995 did investigations of the work's underlying authorship begin in earnest. The auction house speculates that Rembrandt produced his many self-portraits (some 80 are know) not as introspective studies but as commodities -- which could be overpainted if they failed to find buyers.