Better start making serious room on your bookshelf. Taschen has just published Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings and Drawings, a 696-page hardcover monument that measures 12 in. wide by 17 high (and costs a mere $150). Authored by Leipzig University professor Frank Zllner and Johannes Nathan, director of the "artcampus" project at the University of Berne, Switzerland, the XXL tome features supersized blowups of Leonardo's works, which are usually so difficult to see in those crowded, light-controlled museum galleries. A truly sumptuous undertaking, the book devotes three two-page spreads to full-color enlargements of sections of the National Gallery of Art's Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci, for instance, and provides photographic details of the portraits in the Last Supper fresco paired with related drawings.
The book is divided into three parts: a 10-chapter section on Leonardo's life and works, drawing upon letters, diary entries and writings, with illustrations of all of the paintings, most in great detail; a catalogue raisonne of Leonardo's paintings, in what is being called the first publication of the artist's "definitive painting oeuvre"; and an extensive catalogue of Leonardo's drawings, featuring 663 of the thousands known, including many from Windsor Castle. For more info, see www.taschen.com.
ART PROJECTS SPROUT ON HUDSON RIVER SITES
Looking for an art trip to occupy yourself during this rainy Memorial Day weekend? Look no further. The arts organization Minetta Brook has organized 10 outdoor art projects along an 80-mile stretch of the Hudson River, with festive opening events scheduled for Saturday, May 24, in both Beacon, N.Y., and Bear Mountain State Park as well as other sites. "Watershed: The Hudson Valley Art Project," as it is called, includes film installations by Peter Hutton and Matthew Buckingham on Main Street in Beacon, along with sound-equipped benches by Constance De Jong in a nearby park. Opening festivities at the Bear Mountain Inn, which are slated to start at 6:30 p.m., include a reading by Lynne Tillman from This Is Not It and a barbeque dinner cooked on outdoor grills shaped like animals by Pae White.
Other projects on view include sculptural binoculars by Matts Leiderstam in Bear Mountain State Park, with views inspired by Hudson River School landscapes; an audio installation of "sonic textures" of the Hudson River by Annea Lockwood at Dick's Castle in Garrison; and an earth sculpture by Christian Philipp Mller at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. In Minetta Brook's own office space in Beacon is an exhibition of projects that are still in the works: a deck and landing on the Hudson designed by George Trakas; photographs from the "Agricultural Works" series by James Welling; and an earthwork planned for Denning's Point in Beacon by Lothar Baumgarten. For more info, see www.minettabrook.org.
"BLACK PRESIDENT" AT NEW MUSEUM
This summer, the New Museum of Contemporary Art is presenting a huge exhibition of contemporary art devoted to the late Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Kuti. Titled "Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti," July 11-Sept. 28, 2003, the show is organized by Kuti-devotee Trevor Schoonmaker and features works by 34 contemporary black artists. A London-trained musician whose Afrobeat music combines political lyrics with saxophone, Kuti founded his own Kalakuta Republic commune in Nigeria the 1970s (calling himself "Black President") and took 27 wives in a 1978 ceremony to reaffirm his embrace of Yoruba culture. Kuti recorded over 70 albums of music before he died of AIDS at age 58 in 1997.
The exhibition includes a 59-panel history of Africa painted in kola nut pigment by Marcia Kure, an "Afro-Tantric sexual zodiac" inspired by Kuti's legendary sexual prowess by Sanford Biggers, gold and jewel-encrusted handcuffs, collars and other emblems of slavery by Kara Walker & Klaus Brgel, a "time capsule" inspired by Kuti's Lagos nightclub by Satch Hoyt, plus works by Radcliffe Bailey, Bili Bidjocka, Sokari Douglas Camp, Nanga Oly Christophe, Brett Cook-Dizney, Victor Ekpuk, Tim Evans & Jason Smith, Kendell Geers, Barkley Hendricks, Alfredo Jaar, Moshekwa Langa, Ghariokwu Lemi, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky, Adia Millet, Wangechi Mutu, Aim Ntakiyica, Odili Donald Odita, Olu Oguibe, Moyo Ogundipe, Moyo Okediji, Senam Okudzeto, Ouattara, Yinka Shonibare, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Ik Ud, Obiora Udechukwu, Roberto Visani and Fred Wilson.
CALL HIM CHEVALIER ROSENBLUM
On May 19, 2003, Robert Rosenblum, New York University professor of fine arts and Guggenheim Museum curator, was awarded the medal of chevalier of the French Legion of Honor by Richard Duque, Consul General of France. Chevalier is the highest honor bestowed by the French government (the other honors, in descending order, are officier, commandeur, grand officier and grand croix). Recipients are named by decree signed by the President of the Republic. A limited number of Americans have won the Legion of Honor, including Ray Charles, Julia Child, Ellsworth Kelly, I.M. Pei and a number of U.S. war veterans.
In the ceremony at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy on Fifth Avenue (incidentally, the "Michelangelo" has returned home and was on view for the arriving guests), Rosenblum was surrounded by family, friends, colleagues and former students from the Institute of Fine Arts. These included his wife, the painter Jane Kaplowitz, with their son and daughter, plus John Russell, Rosamund Bernier, Linda Nochlin, Kirk Varnedoe, Pepe Karmel, Elizabeth Easton, Tama Janowitz, Irving Sandler, Lisa Phillips, Ken Silver, Edward Sullivan, Robert Lubar, Gertje Utley, Mimi Braun, Phyllis Tuchman, Brice and Helen Marden, Joel Shapiro, Tip Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Mike Bidlo, Matthew Marks, Jeffrey Deitch and Roselee Goldberg.
TAUBMAN OUT OF JAIL
Disgraced former Sotheby's chairman A. Alfred Taubman was released last week from prison at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., after spending 10 months in jail on price-fixing charges. The 79-year-old real estate mogul, who reportedly suffers from heart disease and diabetes, flew to Detroit on his private jet with his wife Judy, and one of his sons, Robert, according to Reuters. Taubman is expected to spend the coming weeks at a halfway house in Detroit, and commute to his office in the suburb of Bloomfield Hills. Taubman, whose fortune is estimated at $700 million, is still the majority shareholder of Sotheby's; his shopping mall empire, Taubman Centers, is facing a $1.74-billion hostile takeover bid from the Simon Property Group.
PERIFERIC BIENNIAL IN ROMANIA
Planning to be in Iasi, Romania, this spring? Then you can visit the 6th Periferic Biennial, May 30-June 14, 2003, which promises to be the "most extensive international contemporary art initiative in Romania" since the fall of the Ceausescu regime. The show's title is "Prophetic Corners," taken from a Walter Benjamin remark in Berlin Childhood that "just as some plants are said to have the power of letting us see into the future, there are locations that have the same gift." Artists in the show are Hseyin Alptekin, Liliana Basarab, Erick Beltrn, Pavel Braila, Miriam Bckstrm, A. K. Dolven, Annika Eriksson, Ion Grigorescu, Rza El-Hassan, Haraldur Jnsson, Carsten Hller, Joachim Koester, Henrietta Lehtonen, Matts Leiderstam, Ieva Mediodia, Aydan Murtezaoglu, N55, Joo Penalva, Lia Perjovschi, Quasar, Arturas Raila, Nina Roos, Bruno Serralongue, Praneet Soi, Mika Taanila, Thorvaldur Thorsteinsson, Dré Wapenaar and Erwin Wurm.
TRIPPI TAPPED FOR DAHESH Peter Trippi, assistant vice director for development at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, has been named director of the Dahesh Museum of Art. In addition to his administrative accomplishments, the 37-year-old Trippi is author of a prize-winning monograph on J.W. Waterhouse (Phaidon, 2002) and founding executive editor of the internet journal, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide.
MEZZATESTA OUT AT DUKE Duke University Museum of Art director Michael Mezzatesta is losing his job, according to a story in the Raleigh News & Observer. After a 16-year run, which included overseeing fundraising for the construction of a new $23-million facility slated to open in 2004, Mezzatesta received a shocking vote of no-confidence from Duke president Nan Keohane, who said that the museum now needs a director who can organize major exhibitions and give the institution national visibility. Duke museum curator Sarah Schroth was named interim director.
WHITNEY MIAMI IN LIMBO
The Whitney Museum's prospective Miami branch, which was never a sure thing, is now in limbo with the resignation of Whitney director Max Anderson, according to a report in the Miami Herald. "As far as I know, the board does not see this as a priority at this time," said a museum spokesperson. Anderson's plan called for converting a 15,000-square-foot former shoe factory in the Miami design district into a Florida branch.
SEEING OUT LOUD
Fans of Village Voice (and Artnet Magazine) critic Jerry Saltz are heading over to James Cohan Gallery in New York's Chelsea art district on Thursday, May 29, 6-8 p.m., for a party in honor of his new book, Seeing Out Loud: The Village Voice Art Columns, 1998-2003. Actually the festive event celebrates 10 new books published by three small presses, The Figures, Roof and Granary Books. Other titles in the list include Day by Kenneth Goldsmith, Lights Out by Geoffrey Young and James Siena, Snowball's Chance by John Reed, Turning Leaves of Mind by Ligorano/Reese with Gerrit Lansing, and Yodeling into a Kotex by Ron Padgett and George Schneeman.