LIVELY DOINGS AT NEW PRAGUE BIENNIAL
Not everyone in the contemporary art world went back home after Art 34 Basel and the vernissage of the 50th Venice Biennale. The moveable feast continues at the first Prague Biennale, June 26-Aug. 26, 2003, an exhibition of works by approximately 200 artists organized by Flash Art editors Giancarlo Politi and Helena Kontova in conjunction with the National Gallery Veletrzni Palace in Prague. Among the attractions is a four-day live "painting studio" performance by Artnet Magazine columnist Mark Kostabi, in which four Czech artists are making Kostabi paintings under the artist's supervision. "I'm impressed with their efficiency," enthused Kostabi, who said that his works would be offered for $5,000 each, with half the proceeds earmarked to help cover Biennale expenses.
Kostabi also reports that the overall exposition is proceeding with an air of camaraderie. "People are helping each other hang paintings, move crates and find extension cords," he says. "The show looks better than the Venice Biennale and was done on a fraction of the budget." The comparison to Venice is apt, since behind-the-scenes gossip paints Politi as striving to outshine his former protg and Flash Art contributor Francesco Bonami, whose show at the Venice Biennale has received less than laudatory reviews. But if Venice was hampered by having seven guest curators, Prague faces even greater hurdles -- it features almost 30 separate shows by different curators, ranging from "Lazarus Effect: New Painting Today" (organized by Helena Kontova, Lauri Firstenberg, Mika Hannula and Luca Beatrice) and "When the Periphery Turns Center and the Center Turns Periphery" (organized by Jens Hoffmann) to "Global Suburbia" (Dorothee Kirch), "Improvisual (Lavinia Garulli) and "No Title" (Gregor Muir). For more info, see www.praguebiennale.org.
ROSENTHAL TEAMS UP WITH RUBIK, BRIEFLY
One of Manhattan's beloved art landmarks has been given a new suit of brightly colored clothes, so to speak. On a recent morning, the anonymous pranksters -- the art students at nearby Cooper Union are on summer break -- transformed Tony Rosenthal's The Alamo, the 15-foot-high black CorTen steel sculpture installed at Astor Place in the East Village in 1968, into an oversized Rubik's Cube (and a solved cube, at that). The transformation was done using sheets of colored cardboard and tape, so that the artwork shouldn't have suffered any damage. The cube, which is poised on one corner and can be spun around, was a gift to the city by the artist, Knoedler Gallery and an anonymous benefactor.
VON HUENE IN HAMBURG
The last work of the late American sound-artist Stephan von Huene (1932-2000), an installation from 1999 called Sirenen Low, is currently on view at Galerie Renate Kammer Architectur und Kunst in Hamburg, June 12-July 12, 2003. Known largely to cognoscenti in his native U.S. -- he had lived and worked in Hamburg since 1980 -- Von Huene was born in California and was a contemporary of West Coast artists Ed Kienholz and Sam Francis. His work is the subject of a traveling retrospective that has already appeared at the Munich Haus der Kunst and the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, and which is currently on view at the Hamburger Kunsthalle. The show features the artists early "smoke" drawings and graphics, as well as the later objects and sound sculptures that he is known for. The work at Renate Kammer, Sirenen Low, is a moody evocation of the Greek tale of Odysseus and the Sirens, via a quartet of organ pipes and a video projection of river traffic on the Elbe.
BOUCHER DRAWINGS COMING TO THE FRICK
The first major exhibition of drawings by Franois Boucher in 25 years opens at the Frick Collection in New York, Oct. 8-Dec. 14, 2003. Organized by the American Federation of Arts and coinciding with the 300th anniversary of the artist's birth in 1703, "The Drawings of Franois Boucher" includes 91 sheets selected by British art historian Alastair Laing. After debuting at the Frick, the show travels to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Jan. 17-Apr. 18, 2004. The show is accompanied by a catalogue co-published with Scala Publishers Ltd.
KIM MACCONNEL AT SANTA MONICA MUSEUM
One of the stars of the 1970s "Pattern and Decoration" movement is getting a long-overdue museum exhibition next fall. "Parrot Talk: A Retrospective of Works by Kim MacConnel," organized by curator and art critic Michael Duncan, opens at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Sept. 13-Nov. 15, 2003. The show features approximately 50 paintings, sculptures and collages.
Several local galleries are also mounting P&D surveys In conjunction with the MacConnel exhibition. "NYPD" at Shoshana Wayne Gallery features works by New York-based artists like Robert Kushner, Miriam Schapiro, Valerie Jaudon, Joyce Kozloff and Rob Wynne, while "LAPD" at Rosamund Felsen Gallery gives the same treatment to Left Coast artists like Jim Isermann, Carole Caroompus, Joyce Lightbody, Constance Mallinson, Linda Besamer, Renee Petropoulous, Jean Lowe and others. And works by Betty Woodman and Robert Zakanitch are being exhibited at Frank Lloyd Gallery and Patricia Faure Gallery, respectively.
MANHATTAN DEALER TAGGED FOR TAX PAYMENTS
Otto Naumann, one of Manhattan's premier Old Master dealers, has pled guilty to failing to collect sales taxes on several big deals, and has agreed to pay $500,000 in fines. According to reports in the Bloomberg News and the New York Times, Naumann made 11 unspecified sales totaling $3 million between May 1999 and May 2001, for which the sales tax would have been about $240,000. The plea was made before Justice Brenda S. Soloff of New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan on June 25, 2003. The investigation is continuing, according to Manhattan district attorney Robert M. Morgenthal. Additional Manhattan dealers are expected to enter guilty pleas and pay similar fines.
DONOVAN GETS SAINT-GAUDENS AWARD
2000 Whitney Biennial veteran Tara Donovan has been named as the 2003 Saint-Gaudens Memorial Fellow. The honor comes with a cash award and an exhibition at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, N.H., in the summer of 2004. Donovan's work is currently on view at Ace Gallery, Manhattan.
NEW MENU OPTIONS AT THE MET
On June 17, the Metropolitan Museum opened its new public cafeteria -- the old cafeteria is being converted back to its original use as a Roman sculpture court -- on the museum's ground floor underneath the Medieval sculpture court. The new eatery, designed by Phil George Design Group, features multiple "action stations" (like the ever-busy Korean markets that are now a city fixture), as opposed to the anachronistic sliding-tray design familiar from high school and prison movies. Among the selections, according to the museum's press office, are pan-seared salmon with mango salsa, rotisserie lemon chicken, a black angus burger, penne arabbiata, pizette and calzones, and an assortment of soups, sandwiches and salads.
HIRST STOPS DRINKING
British bad boy Damien Hirst has sworn off alcohol and drugs, and has been on the wagon for six months, according to a report in the London Evening Standard several weeks ago. "I don't think I will give up drinking forever," he said. "But it gets to the point where you can't control it so you've got to do something drastic." Hirst isn't completely done with the sauce, though -- he promises a new work based on the Last Supper, in which Christ and the Apostles are represented by 13 ping pong balls perched atop 13 fountains of red wine spurting out through medical tubing.
FRED SANDBACK, 1943-2003
Fred Sandback, 59, Minimalist sculptor who shaped imaginary planes in space with taut lines of colored yarn, died at his studio in New York on June 23. He suffered from depression and committed suicide, according to an obituary in the New York Times. A Yale MFA grad, Sandback had one of his first solo shows in 1968 at Heiner Friedrich gallery in Munich. He subsequently opened his own museum, funded by Friedrich's Dia Art Foundation and located in a former bank building in Winchendon, Mass. (it closed in 1996).