STEVE MUMFORD, WAR ARTIST
Move over, Bill Mauldin. New York painter Steve Mumford has safely returned from a five-week stint in Iraq with several sketchpads full of drawings and watercolors done on the spot. Mumford's works depict the aftermath of the war -- soldiers in armored personnel carriers, contingents of children, an oil refinery in Kirkuk, lines at a gas station, an Iraqi restaurant filled with men, a mass grave. Mumford entered Iraq from Kuwait -- with the help of press credentials supplied by Artnet Magazine -- after hooking up with some French reporters, and followed along the path of the 3rd International Division, traveling through Basra, Nasiriyya and Kerbalah to Bagdhad, and taking bus trips north to Tekrit and Kirkuk before leaving the country through Jordan. "I've always wanted to draw journalistically," Mumford said. "Iraq was like an extreme test of what it meant to be an artist." Mumford hopes to publish the drawings in a book, and may also exhibit them at Postmasters Gallery in New York.
ARTNET IS INDISPENSIBLE: MAG
The current issue of Details magazine is a good buy, and not just because it has young movie star Josh Hartnett on the cover. One feature article, titled How to Break into the Art Market without Going Broke, profiles several hip, 30-something collectors -- New York businessman Tony Sosnick, Palm Beach lawyer John Morrissey, L.A. music exec Matt Aberle, San Francisco Apple engineering chief Jeff Dauber. But more importantly, the article gives "six tips to getting started," all of which are good, especially number 6: "Read the bible of art web sites: www.artnet.com."
CY TWOMBLY AT THE HERMITAGE
As part of the 300th birthday celebrations for the city of St. Petersberg, the State Hermitage Museum is presenting "Cy Twombly at the Hermitage: 50 Years of Works on Paper," July 8-Sept. 21, 2003. The show, which is organized by Hermitage associate curator Julie Sylvester, includes 80 works ranging in date from 1953 to the present, many of which are previously unexhibited. Following its premiere in St. Petersberg, the show goes to the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Oct. 7-Nov. 30, 2003, the Muse d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Jan. 21-Mar. 29, 2004, and the Serpentine Gallery in London, Apr. 13-May 23, 2004. The catalogue includes an essay by Simon Schama. The show is sponsored by the Broad Art Foundation and the ACE International Foundation.
SARS IN VENICE: CHINA PULLS OUT
The Chinese government has pulled out of the Venice Biennale because of the SARS epidemic, according to press reports. The new China Pavilion -- a first for the international show -- was to include works by Liu Jianhua, Lu Shengzhong, Wang Shu, Yang Fudong and Zhan Wang. Chinese curator Huang Du says the pavilion is going on view instead in Beijing -- and Biennale director Francesco Bonami says the new plan expresses "the true spirit of the Venice Biennale, going beyond its own borders and as a symbol of the larger world our institution wants to address." Individual Chinese artists are taking part in various exhibitions organized elsewhere at the Biennale, however.
Taiwan, which has participated in the Biennale since 1995, is going ahead with its pavilion, which is located at the Palazzo delle Prigione near San Marco. Taiwan's exhibition, titled "Limbo Zone," is organized by holograph artist Lin Shu-min and includes works by Yuan Goang-ming, Daniel Lee, Lee Ming-Wei and Cheang Shu-Lea.
HOLD ON HONG KONG AUCTION Christie's Hong Kong sold dozens of looted Buddhist art works from Beijing's Forbidden City in an auction on Oct. 28, 2002, according to a recent report in the Washington Post. Titled "Imperial Devotions, Buddhist Treasures for the Qianlong Court," the sale included 49 lots that Chinese officials now say were looted from the Eight Outer Temples in Chengde, an 18th-century complex of monasteries that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. At the center of the case is the wealthy Chinese American antique collector Li Chunping, according to the report, who bought the relics from a temple official one by one between 1995 and 2002.
In a telephone interview, Li told Washington Post reporter John Pomfret that he didn't realize that the relics were stolen. "They said that they inherited them from their ancestors." Le posted a $1.46 million bond and offered to buy back the auctioned antiques in order to avoid prosecution. Christie's is cooperating in the investigation, according to a spokesperson for the firm, and has asked buyers at the sale not to take the artworks out of Hong Kong. The top lot was an enameled Buddha of Infinite Life that sold for $295,000.
ART INSPIRES ME: PRESIDENT BUSH
In a May 16 fundraising letter kicking off his 2004 presidential campaign, George W. Bush speaks of an "urgent mission. . . to strengthen our economy and to create jobs." He also speaks of the inspirational qualities of. . . art. "One of the paintings I have selected for the Oval Office portrays a man on horseback, leading a charge up a steep hill," the president writes of an oil by W.H.D. Koerner (1878-1938). "His face is full of purpose and determination, and it is clear he expects to get the job done. The painting is called A Charge to Keep. . . . I love the painting because it speaks to serving a cause that is greater than yourself. The picture reminds me every day that my most important job is to unite our country and provide leadership to overcome America's toughest challenges." Inspired parties can contribute $1,000 OR $750 at www.GeorgeWBush.com/Donate.
LAYOFFS IN PHILADELPHIA
The spreading economic crunch has hit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which laid off 28 staff members last week, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The museum has an annual budget of approximately $35 million and expects to save $1.4 million from the cuts in its staff of 420 people. The museum's endowment, which provides about one-quarter of its operating funds, has declined in value by 17 percent in the last three years.
Last month, the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library in nearby Wilmington, Del., announced similar cutbacks, laying off 15 full-time staff members, reducing salaries between two percent and five percent, and closing its Historic Homes of Odessa.
ARP AT CALMELSCOHEN
On June 12, 2003, the Paris-based auctioneer CalmelsCohen is holding a major sale of works by Jean Arp at Drouot Richelieu in Paris, in collaboration with Geneva-based art consultant Marc Blondeau and auctioneers Guy Loudmer and Marie-Laure Amrouche. The collection, which also includes works by Arp's wife and collaborator Sophie Tauber-Arp and their colleague Theo van Doesburg, comes directly from the Arp family, in particular from Ruth Tillard Arp, daughter of the artist's brother, Franois Arp. The 95 lots in the sale carry a total presale estimate of 7 million to 9 million euros. For a complete catalogue, see www.calmelscohen.com.
CORCORAN GO-AHEAD FOR GEHRY EXPANSION
The Commission of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C., has given its final approval to the planned Frank Gehry design for a new wing for the Beaux Arts Corcoran Gallery, which was originally built in 1897. The $150 million, 140,000-square-foot expansion doubles space for both the museum and the Corcoran College of Art + Design, giving the museum a new entry on New York Avenue and the art school a central atrium and its own entrance. According to Corcoran director David C. Levy, construction could start in early 2005.
ICE CREAM SOCIAL IN DES MOINES
The Des Moines Art Center is having an "Ice Cream Social," June 8-Aug. 31, 2003, a collaborative exhibition using the color scheme of pink, brown and white, courtesy of Milwaukee artist David Robbins. (The kick-off event on June 8 involves real ice cream, though the exhibition is restricting itself to representations only.) Robbins has held previous such events in New York, Chicago and London. This installment includes decorative ice cream bowls made by local potters, drawings by middle-school students and abstract paintings by Drake University students and professors.
AWARDS FOR MATURE ARTISTS
Mature visual artists -- artists with at least 20 years in "mature phase of artmaking" -- from the West Coast are invited to apply for the fourth biennial Flintridge Foundation Awards, $25,000 grants earmarked for five winners, not of "current national renown," from California and five from Oregon or Washington. Applications are available after July 1, 2003, at www.FlintridgeFoundation.org; the deadline for entry is Sept. 17, 2003.
WARHOL FOUNDATION GRANTS
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has given $100,000 grants to six small or mid-sized visual arts organizations. The grantees are the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center, 911 Media Arts in Seattle, the Salina (Kansas) Art Center, Southern Exposure in San Francisco and The Luggage Store/509 Cultural Center in San Francisco, and White Columns in New York.
COHEN TO "NEW YORK SUN"
As regular readers of the New York Sun newspaper have already discovered, the critic and New York Studio School gallery director David Cohen has joined the newspaper's already strong lineup of art critics and writers (including Tom Disch, Rachel Donado, Daniel Kunitz, Alex Mar and William Meyers). In his inaugural column, titled Gallery Going, Cohen covered Helen Frankenthaler at Knoedler & Co. and Joel Shapiro at PaceWildenstein, among other exhibitions.