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Artnet News
5/28/03


NO-RESERVE 20TH-CENTURY DESIGN SALE AT PHILLIPS
Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg holds a day-long sale of 20th-century art and design on June 11 at its new headquarters on West 15th Street in Manhattan, with most of the material offered without reserve. "A unique opportunity for younger collectors to bid with confidence on classics by Eames, Nelson and Bertoia that are in the lower price ranges," said Phillips design expert James Zemaitis. But not everything is at the low end. Among the top lots are two works from the Rue Bonaparte apartment of design pioneer Eileen Gray, including a 1922-25 white "brick" screen (est. $200,000-$300,000) and a four-panel perforated steel screen (est. $50,000-$70,000); a ca. 1960 "Marshmallow" sofa by George Nelson (est. $70,000-$90,000); and works by Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann and George Nakashima. The sale also includes a selection of furniture from the Palace of the Maharaja of Indore in India, 1930-33, a collection of Italian glass, also sold entirely without reserve, by Dina Maartens, Carlo Scarpa and Paolo Venini, among others, as well as some odds and ends from Enron.

MOMA SELLS TIFFANY AT CHRISTIE'S
The decorative arts market heats up in New York in June, as the Museum of Modern Art puts 118 pieces of favrile glass from the Tiffany Studios on the block at Christie's New York sales of 20th-century decorative arts on June 12-13, 2003. The Tiffany works, to be offered in 76 lots, are estimated at $585,000-$835,000. The star lot is a ca. 1901 enamel-on-copper vase enameled in relief with wisteria leaves and seedpods, the top formed as reticulated vines (est. $100,000-$150,000). Several other lots are "floriform" vases, brightly colored vessels on slender stems that are derived from the forms of actual flowers, with estimates that range from $6,000 to $60,000. MoMA acquired the bulk of its Tiffany holdings from a donation of 155 pieces by Joseph Heil following a 1958 retrospective exhibition at the museum of Tiffany's work.

Why the deaccession? "The sale follows an evaluation of the entire Tiffany holdings for their individual importance to the collection," the museum said in a prepared statement. "MoMA will retain 43 outstanding examples of Tiffany glass and decorative objects, the largest such collection in any museum devoted to modern art." Some of the auctioned works "utilize decorative elements applied to traditional forms and do not reflect MoMA's sense of values about modern design"; others "reflect a turn-of-the-century interest in ancient glass and are more important to the history of glass than the history of modern design." What's more, the Tiffany deaccessions are "a large, fragile collection. . . that cannot be easily presented to the public." Proceeds from the sale are being devoted to the purchase of Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau works.

The Christie's sale on June 12 also includes a tapestry designed in 1890 by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, one of six narrative panels illustrating scenes from the Arthurian legend of the quest for the Holy Grail. The Failure of Sir Gawain, the last of the group still in private hands, is estimated to go for $750,000-$900,000.

LAGERFELD COLLECTION TOPS $7.9 MILLION IN PARIS
Sotheby's Paris sale of the Art Deco collection of designer Karl Lagerfeld on May 15, 2003, totaled a triumphant 6,956,187 euros ($7,995,441). Of 218 lots offered, 196 found buyers, or almost 90 percent. "I am delighted that 80 percent of the lots have been purchased by Americans," said the 65-year-old, famously pony-tailed designer after the sale, "expressing the fraternity of French and American taste."

Lagerfeld's collection of modernist furniture, decorative arts and ceramics from the 1920s and '30s, which came from his house in Biarritz and apartment in Monaco, had been estimated at 2,600,000-3,200,000 euros. The top lot was a pair of diabolo tables in cerused oak by Jean-Michel Frank, which sold for 398,375 euros, well above the presale high estimate of 120,000 euros. Two Africano-Cubist tables, designed by Marcel Coard and once owned by the brother of Jean Cocteau, sold for 222,375 euros and $128,875 euros, while an oak console table with black lacquer legs by Eileen Gray brought 326,875 euros.

FLATFILE EXPANDS IN CHICAGO
Chicago's Flatfile Photography Gallery, which was founded by gallery director Susan Aurinko three years ago to specialize in work by young artists, has expanded. The gallery is still located at 118 N. Peoria in the city's West Loop gallery district, but it has added a second, 4,000-square-foot space to show contemporary art. The inaugural exhibition at Flatfilecontemporary, as it is called, runs May 2-July 11, 2003, and includes work by 16 artists: Micaela Amato, David Andres, Gagik Aroutuinian, Gillian Brown, Cecile Coiffard, Katina Huston, Michael Jefferson, Martin Kline, Jeff Linden, Jennifer Mannebach, John F. Miller, Anders Nilsen, Jocelyn Nevel, Nicholas Papadakis, and Matthew J. Schaefer. New investor and collaborator in the expanded gallery is David Weinberg, an artist and businessman.

Flatfile's inventory includes almost 90 artists at present, said gallery assistant director Aaron Ott. On view in the original photo gallery is "Altered Scenarios," a show of photographs by Robin Hann, Mark DeBernardi and Richard Koenig, with a special project-room installation by Jason Scott Gessner. Visitors to the gallery during the recent Art Chicago art fair were particularly impressed by Gessner's 10-minute DVD video loop, an eerie, meditative piece that shows the blue sky over O'Hare airport on Sept. 11, 2001, open and empty save for the occasional passing bird. Titled ORD 09112001 -- "ORD" are the call numbers for O'Hare -- the piece is available from the gallery for $200 and can also be viewed online at Gessner's website, www.multiply.org (enter the site, search for "ord" -- Quicktime is required).

CORCORAN TO SHOW SEWARD JOHNSON TABLEAUX
The Corcoran Gallery of Art has announced a show of 15 life-sized tableaux by J. Seward Johnson, Jr., the 68-year-old, multi-talented Band-Aid heir who is perhaps best known for life-size cast-bronze figures engaged in everyday activities and placed in public spaces (see www.sewardjohnson.com). "Beyond the Frame: Impressionism Revisited," Sept. 13, 2003-Jan. 5, 2004, features walk-in recreations of Edouard Manet's Olympia, Claude Monet's La Japonaise and Vincent van Gogh's The Bedroom, among other classics. "I am recreating the artist's subject, not his work," Johnson says, and admits to adding an occasional bawdy touch, such as a sailor stroking a woman's derrire in his version of Manet's Argenteuil. The show comes with a 128-page catalogue, including a pop-up after Manet's Le Djeuner sur l'herbe, published by Bulfinch Press, and is slated for a national tour.

LUCAS SAMARAS RETROSPECTIVE AT THE WHITNEY
The Whitney Museum presents a major survey of the work of Lucas Samaras in "Unrepentant Ego: The Self-Portraits of Lucas Samaras," Nov. 13, 2003-Feb. 8, 2004. Organized by Marla Prather, the show includes approximately 300 works and is the artist's first major exhibition in an American museum in 15 years, and the first in New York since a 1972 Whitney survey. The Whitney owns 114 objects by the artist; 90 are included in the exhibition.

"WORK ETHIC" AT BALTIMORE MUSEUM
The Baltimore Museum of Art is taking a look at the "work" in artwork in "Work Ethic," Oct. 12, 2003-Jan. 4, 2004. The show includes about 80 contemporary works, organized by Helen Molesworth, and ranges from videos of Bruce Nauman performing simple tasks in his studio to Roxy Paine's automatic painting machine. The show includes a catalogue and is slated to travel to the Des Moines Center for the Arts and the Wexner Center for the Arts.

PILLSBURY LEAVES GALLERY BUSINESS
Celebrated former Kimbell Art Museum director Ted Pillsbury has ended his four-year-long partnership with Santa Fe art dealer Gerald Peters in their Dallas gallery, Pillsbury and Peters Fine Art, according to a report in the Santa Fe New Mexican. The Dallas gallery, which has specialized in 20th-century masters and regional contemporary artists -- not necessarily Pillsbury's area of specialization -- is now to be known as Gerald Peters Gallery - Dallas, with Holly Johnson as director. Pillsbury is pursuing "other opportunities in the public sector and academia," according to the paper, but did not name a specific post. Art-world observers note several top-level openings at New York museums, including the Frick Collection, whose trustees abruptly cashiered its respected director, Samuel Sachs, earlier this year.

LEGAL TROUBLES BEGIN FOR RIO GUGGENHEIM
A state judge in Rio de Janeiro has temporarily blocked construction of the $130-million Guggenheim Museum Rio de Janeiro, according to a report by the Bloomberg News. The judge questioned the city's contract with the museum, which includes clauses binding the agreement to New York City laws and denominates the deal in dollars instead of Brazilian currency. The injunction blocked the city from paying a $10-million fee to French architect Jean Nouvel, who designed the fantastical new facility on a large pier in the city's former port district. Opponents of the museum scheme want the funds to be spent on programs to help the city's poor, as well as existing art museums in the city. The Rio government said it expects the decision to be overturned on appeal.

MUSEUM TOWER DEAL SIGNED IN SEATTLE
New York's Museum of Modern Art won't be the only museum to develop a huge skyscraper on its property. Last fall, the Seattle Art Museum announced plans to partner with the Seattle-based Washington Mutual bank to build a $300-million, 42-story office building next to its existing, Robert Venturi-designed facility, containing 335,000 square feet of new space for the museum. Now, the two organizations have signed the final deal for the expansion, which is to begin next spring and be completed in 2006. Architect for the museum section of the job -- 12 full stories in the tower -- is Allied Works Architecture of Portland, whose principal, Brad Cloepfil, is already designing the Contemporary Art Museum in Saint Louis and the renovation of the Huntington Hartford Gallery of Art building on Columbus Circle for the Museum of Arts and Design (nee American Craft Museum).

NEW MUSEUMS, NEW BUILDINGS
Rain or shine, new museums keep opening across the country. In the last month or so, several long-planned projects for new or expanded museum facilities have come to fruition. Some of the highlights:
  • The $30-million, 240,000-square-foot Dia:Beacon, housed in a former box factory on the Hudson River in a renovation designed by Open Office architects, opened in mid-May to much acclaim. The building's multiple, north-facing skylights let in much natural illumination for Dia's long-term installation of works from its collection by Joseph Beuys, Dan Flavin, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, Robert Smithson and others.
  • Cincinatti's Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art opens its $35-million, 87,000-square-foot new facility, designed by deconstructivist architect Zaha Hadid, on May 31, 2003. The jigsaw-puzzle-like glass and concrete structure is named after a pair of local philanthropists, who donated $5 million to the project.
  • The Cincinnati Art Museum opened its new wing of 15 galleries dedicated to local art history on May 17 with "The Cincinnati Wing: The Story of Art in the Queen City," a display of over 400 objects dating from the early 19th century to the present day.
  • The $16-million, four-story Nevada Museum of Art opened in downtown Reno, Nev., with the traveling exhibition, "Diego Rivera and Twentieth Century Mexican Art: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection." Designed by architect Will Bruder, the black steel structure has been likened to a ship, and features a rooftop sculpture garden with views of the snowcapped Sierra.
  • The $22-million, 50,000-square-foot Tacoma Art Museum, a brushed-steel box with dark glass windows designed by Antoine Predock, opened in early May with "Northwest Mythologies," featuring works by Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan and Guy Anderson, along with a site-specific installation by Dale Chihuly of Mille Fiori.
  • The Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Mass., opened its new Brown Fine Arts Center on Apr. 27, a $35-million renovation and expansion designed by New York's Polshek Partnership Architects. Among the opening exhibitions are "Inside Nantucket: Eastman Johnson Studies of Island Home Life."