U.S. SEEKS CURATORS
Interested in representing the U.S. in Cairo or São Paulo? The U.S. Department of State has issued a call for proposals from American arts organizations and curators for the upcoming 2006 Cairo and São Paulo biennales. All proposals will be reviewed by the Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibition. The deadline is August 15th. To learn more, visit http://exchanges.state.gov/education/citizens/culture/visual_arts.htm
RAUSCHENBERG'S REBUS TO MOMA
Ah, the rich, how they wheel and deal. French megamogul François Pinault has sold Robert Rauschenberg's celebrated 1955 combine painting, Rebus, to the Museum of Modern Art for about $30 million, according to a report in the New York Times (the transaction was first reported last month by the Baer Faxt, the email art newsletter). Pinault paid an estimated $7.3 million for the 10-foot-wide triptych in 1992; the seller in that instance was Charles Saatchi, who had bought the work at Sotheby's in 1991 for about the same price. MoMA's purchase of Rebus was underwritten by trustee Ronald S. Lauder and his wife, Jo Carole Lauder.
In 2003, when Pinault, who is now 69, shed some major artworks at auction -- a Rothko for $16.4 million and a Degas bronze for $10.3 million, among other top lots -- the move prompted speculation that his holding company, Artemis, was feeling a credit squeeze. Though Pinault is one of the richest men in France, and a pal of French president Jacques Chirac, his company is loaded with debt. What's more, a long-running lawsuit by California regulators seeks as much as $1 billion from Artemis for some insurance shenanigans in the 1990s, though the judge in the case has recently indicated that the damages won't be substantial. Pinault recently pulled the plug on plans to build a deluxe $190-million Pinault Foundation museum outside Paris on an island in the Seine.
CONTROVERSY IN PUERTO RICO MUSEUM AWARD
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico finds itself in hot water after awarding the $10,000 prize in its 6th National Competition in Fine Arts to an artist who is married to the museum's curator. Artist Edgar Rodrguez Luiggi won the award; he is husband of Marianne Ramrez Aponte, head of MAC's education programming as well as its curator. Luiggi, who recently had a solo exhibition at MAC and donated a work to the museum, competed against 311 other artists for the prize, a gift of the Ferré Rangel Foundation.
In an interview in El Nuevo Dia newspaper, museum founder and director Emilia Somoza admitted that museum employees were usually excluded from the competition, but said that an exception was made in this case because of the quality of Luiggi's work. The award jury included 1960s abstract painter Noem Ruiz -- who is Somoza's longtime companion -- as well as Fernando Cross and Ricardo Pau Llosa. Founded in 1984, MAC was housed rent-free at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazn until 2000, when it moved into the historical Labra School building.
Recently Robi Draco Rosa, composer for Ricky Martin and a rock star in his own right, donated $75,000 to MAC for what was supposed to be a "state of the art" multimedia library. So far, the library that bears his name lacks a single DVD.
-- Pedro Velez
KLEE MUSEUM OPENS IN BERN
The new Paul Klee Centre in Bern, Switzerland, a $88-million, steel-and-glass structure designed by Renzo Piano in the form of three undulating waves, opened on June 20, 2005, with selections from a collection of 4,000 works. Underwritten by the city and canton, the project was launched in 1990 after members of the Klee family (the artist's daughter-in-law Livia and grandson Alexander) offered to donate their collection for a museum. The center is built on land provided by the Maurice and Martha Müller Foundation, which also gave $26 million for the museum. The center expects 175,000 visitors during its first year; operating expenses are paid in part by local lottery funds.
WEB ART AT THE NEW MUSEUM
ROBERT WILSON BENEFIT FOR ACRIA
New Yorks New Museum of Contemporary Art and its partner organization Rhizome.org have teamed up to present "Rhizome ArtBase 101," June 23-September 10, 2005, in a bold attempt to bring internet art to a museum public. Curated by Lauren Cornell and Rachel Greene, with assistance from Kevin McGarry, the show provides history and context for the growing body of artworks that incorporate the web, focusing on 40 works from the more than 1,500 documented in Rhizomes online ArtBase. Works will be contextualized according to 10 categories of work -- Dirt Style, Net Cinema, Games, E-Commerce, Data Visualization and Databases, Online Celebrity, Public Space, Software Art, Cyberfeminism and Early Net.Art. Sure to be a crowd-pleaser is the installation extreme animalz: the movie: part 1 (2005) by Paper Rad and artist Matt Barton, a work that uses Google Image Search to gather gif files that are then synched to the convulsions of an army of 50+ roboticized stuffed animals.
Paula Cooper Gallery and theater impresario Robert Wilson are hosting a special fundraising benefit for AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) and Wilson's own Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation on June 23, 2005, featuring a suite of 200 new drawings Wilson made for his recent production of La Fontaine fables at the Comedies Francaise. Tickets to the champagne preview at Paula Cooper Gallery on West 21st Street are $50; call (212) 924-3934 ext 107.
CHRISTIE'S NOTCHES NEW RECORDS FOR ANCIENT ART, FURNITURE
The summer auction season began with a bang at Christie's New York, as new world auction records were set in two separate sales in different categories. The June 8 antiquities sale saw an Anatolian marble "Stargazer" idol, dating from the Calcolithic Period, ca. 3300-2500 BC, sell for $1,808,000, a new world record for a Kiliya idol and the highest price for any antiquity sold at auction worldwide this spring. The buyer remains anonymous.
Christie's June 9 sale of decorative art and design set a new world auction record for a piece of 210th-century furniture when a 1949 table designed by Carlo Mollino sold for a staggering $3,824,000, well above the high estimate of $200,000. The buyer was a private collector. The Mollino table came from the collection of contemporary art collector Dakis Joannou, who sold a total of 26 lots, which together fetched almost $5 million.
SYLVAN COLE, 1918-2005
Sylvan Cole, 87, longtime director of Associated American Artists (1946-83) and director of the Art Dealers Association of America (1968-76), died of lung cancer in Manhattan on June 4. Cole was co-founder of the International Fine Print Dealer's Association in 1987 and its president from '94 to '97.
SHARON GILBERT, 1944-2005
Sharon Gilbert, 61, New York artist who was known for artists' books, often with activist themes, as well as sculptures in ceramic and paper, died of cancer after a short illness in Brooklyn on June 9. Most recently, Gilbert exhibited her work at Kanal 10 was included in "Working in Brooklyn" at the Brooklyn Museum in 2004, as well as in the Museum of Modern Art's survey exhibition of artists' books a few years ago.
Contact wrobinson @ artnet.com