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An estimated $500 million to $1 billion in art goes on sale at TEFAF Maastricht, otherwise known as the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, the Netherlands, Mar. 5-14, 2004. Some 200 dealers from 13 countries -- 75 percent from outside Holland -- set up in the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre (MECC), a 27,000-square-meter space (the size of four soccer fields) that is roughly divided into four quadrants, with half the area devoted to galleries specializing in antiques and works of art (Peter Finer, Mallett & Sons, S.J. Shrubsole, Axel Vervoordt), a quarter given over to dealers in paintings, drawings and prints (Didier Aaron, Agnew's, Dickinson, David Tunick) and a quarter reserved for modern art (Xavier Hufkens, Jablonka, Sperone Westwater, Timothy Taylor). Daily admission to the actual fair is 30 euros, including the catalogue; an impressive "virtual tour" can be found here.

The New York art scene is about to experience avant-garde overload, as both the 2004 Whitney Biennial Exhibition, Mar. 11-May 30, 2004, and the Armory Show art fair, Mar 12-15, 2004, unveil their wares next week. Adding to the excitement is the third annual Scope New York art fair, Mar. 12-15, 2004, at the new high-tech Hotel Gansevoort at 9th Avenue and 13th Street in the Meatpacking District.

The Whitney Biennial, organized by museum curators Chrissie Iles (film and video), Shamim M. Momin (branch director) and Debra Singer (contemporary art), includes 108 artists and collaborative groups, and is likely to become known as the "Goth Biennial" for including works by David Altmejd, Amy Cutler, Sue de Beer, Slater Bradley, Christian Holstad, Robert Longo, Aida Rulova, Zack Smith and Banks Violette. "Ranging from the apocalyptic to the ethereal, the fantastic to the political and the sensual to the obsessive, many of the works convey an underlying sense of anxiety and uncertainty about the world today," write the curators.

The show also extends out into Central Park, where the Public Art Fund is commissioning works by Paul McCarthy (a 50-foot-tal pink inflatable "bighead" figure at Lasker Rink in Harlem), Olav Westphalen (a life-sized sculpture of a tiger near the zoo), Liz Craft (a bronze sculpture of a cactus growing from a tire at Doris Freedman Plaza) and Altmejd (two oversized werewolf heads in a bucolic location at the northern end of the park), and temporary events by assume vivid astro focus, Dave Muller and Yayoi Kusama.

The Armory Show has 189 exhibitors lined up for Piers 90 and 92 on the Hudson River, with a special gala preview on Mar. 11 benefiting the Museum of Modern Art (tickets: $1,000). Among the exhibitors are Torch Gallery (Amsterdam), Volker Diehl (Berlin), Barbara Krakow (Boston), Roebling Hall (Brooklyn), Donald Young (Chicago), Christian Nagel (Cologne), Sadie Coles (London), Blum & Poe (Los Angeles), Marta Cervera (Madrid), OMR (Mexico City), Massimo De Carlo (Milan), Aidan (Moscow), Kodama (Osaka), Anne de Villepoix (Paris), Jack Hanley (San Francisco), Jacob Karpio (San Jose, Costa Rica), Brito Cimino (Sao Paulo), SCAI (Tokyo), Georg Kargl (Vienna), Hauser & Wirth (Zurich) and about 70 galleries from New York.

The Scope Art Fair includes over 65 exhibitors from 24 cities; for details see Corollary events at the fair include a pair of panels on collecting and a silent auction of donated works to raise funds for Scope's Emerging Artist Grant (won in 2003 by Christian Holstad). The fair kicks off with a "Culture on the Verge" party on Mar. 12; daily admission is $10 admission.

The next art fair to unfurl its banner at the ever-busy Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue and 67th Street in Manhattan is the Wendy New York Armory Show, Mar. 3-7, 2004, almost 60 dealers hailing from Argentina, Brazil, India and Sweden as well as Europe and the U.S. Fair organizers Diane and Meg Wendy sponsor a chain of antiques fairs in Boston, Morristown, N.J., White Plains, N.Y., Philadelphia and New York City, including the New York International Antiques Show, which opens in the Armory in April. General admission to the New York Armory Show is $10.

The art collection of bankrupt Houston-based energy trader Enron Corporation sold for $1.74 million in auctions at Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg, according to a story in the Bloomberg News. A total of 48 artworks, including pieces by Donald Judd, Alex Katz, Vik Muniz and Andy Warhol, sold at sales in May through December in 2003. The top price was $405,000, paid for Claes Oldenburg's Soft Light Switches (Enron had bought the same work at Phillips in 2001 for $574,500). Phillips' commission on the sales was $214,634, according to court documents.

The Metropolitan Museum has at least two spring exhibitions on its calendar that promise to draw more than a little attention. "Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Gates, Central Park, New York," Apr. 6-July 25, 2004, features 50 preparatory drawings and collages, 60 photographs and 10 maps and technical diagrams for the controversial project slated to go up in Central Park (ending at the glass wall of the Met's American Wing) for 16 days in February 2005.

And the museum's Costume Institute presents a show titled "Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century," Apr. 29-Aug. 8, 2004. Blurbed as an exploration of "the body's spatial negotiation of the 18th-century interior as a choreography of seduction and erotic play," the show features over 30 especially beguiling costumes, and is sited not in the usual underground gallery but in the Met's French period rooms, otherwise known as the Wrightsman Galleries. The show also provides the occasion for the Met's Costume Institute Benefit Gala, also dubbed "the Party of the Year," on Apr. 26, 2004, with Anna Wintour and Rene Zellweger as co-chairs and Jude Law as "dance chair" for the after-dinner dance.

Renny Pritikin, chief curator at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco since its founding in 1993, has been unceremoniously laid off along with eight other employees in what the San Francisco Chronicle described as "a shakeup at the city-supported institution." The center's new executive director, Ken Foster, is taking over as chief curator, overseeing visual arts curator Rene de Guzman, film and video curator Joel Shepard and performing arts curator Angela Mattox. Overall, the staff has been cut by 20 percent from 56 to 45 people. The center is in good financial shape, says Foster -- its $7 million annual budget comes from the city, from grants and contributions and from ticket sales and other earned income -- though it faces the loss of a $400,000 annual grant from the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Fund.

The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation offers curators the chance to win a grant of up to $125,000 for the realization of "a strong thematic exhibition concept that expands the boundaries of contemporary art." The deadline for applications for the biannual award is Apr. 12, 2004; for application and guildelines see

Marlborough Gallery is installing a selection of 18 paintings and works on paper at the famous Daniel restaurant at 60 East 65th Street. "Fine art and fine food certainly belong together under the same roof," said chef Daniel Boulud. The project is curated by Boulud and Marlborough's own Janis Gardner Cecil, and includes works by Claudio Bravo, Vincent Desiderio, Red Grooms and Bill Jacklin, among others.

Blue-chip contemporary dealer Perry Rubenstein plans to open a pair of public gallery spaces, the first an intimate, cube-shaped viewing room at 526 West 24th Street debuting in May and the second a larger gallery with two exhibition spaces, private viewing rooms and offices at 531 West 23rd Street bowing in September 2004. Former Chicago MCA curator Silvia Chivaratanond has signed on as curatorial director.

Where is famed 1980s Neue Wilden Neo-Expressionist Rainer Fetting? The famously peripatetic artist landed on the West Coast long enough to make several new paintings of surfers, which are currently on view at Hamilton Galleries in Santa Monica, Feb. 21-Mar. 21, 2004, the artist's first show in L.A. in ten years. For details see

Regular readers of online art blogs like Modern Art Notes (written by Artnet Magazine D.C. correspondent Tyler Green) can add a Los Angeles blog to their list of bookmarks. Art.Blogging.LA, launched by Sixspace director Caryn Coleman, gives an insider's look at what's interesting in the L.A. art world, ranging from the debut of a website for Regen Projects to a report on the ca. $70 million paid by the Getty Museum for its newest acquisition, Titian's Portrait of Alfonso d'Avalos, Marchese del Vasto (that used to hang in the Louvre on loan from the AXA insurance conglomerate).