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Artnet News
7/18/02


OFILI CHAPEL IN LONDON
A new exhibition of paintings by Chris Ofili at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London, June 22-Aug. 3, 2002, could be expected to cause comment. It's the celebrated yBa's first solo show since winning the Turner Prize in 1998, the exhibition is provocatively titled "Freedom Some Day," and of course there's the trademark elephant dung. But though Ofili has provided only four new Afro-pop paintings -- "so ravishing you gasp," according to the Telegraph -- and a gallery of drawings, the show is really making a splash for the chapel-like space the artist has designed in collaboration with the architect David Adjaye.

Called the "Upper Room," the dimly lit wooden structure houses Ofili's rendition of the Last Supper. A dozen portraits of rhesus monkeys, each measuring 6 x 4 ft and done in a different color, line the walls, and represent the apostles. The 13th painting, done in gold and illuminated by spotlights, measures 8 x 6 ft. and dominates the far end of the enclave. The gallery declined to give prices, though the chapel will be sold as a unit (word is that it can be yours for $750,000). Ofili's auction record, set last year in New York, is $237,000.
-- Sara Henkin

NAZI-TAINTED ART TO DIA CENTER?
When the Dia Center for the Arts opens its vast new facility in Beacon, N.Y., in May 2003, one of approximately 20 monographic exhibitions of contemporary art is to be devoted to the work of Bruce Nauman -- with many of the exhibits on long-term loan from the stellar art collection of Friedrich Christian Flick. But what is an uneventful loan in the U.S. is the source of considerable controversy in Germany, where the fortune that built Flick's collection -- a $50-million group of 2,500 works by artists ranging from Duchamp, Schwitters and Mondrian to Andreas Gursky, Pipilotti Rist and Jason Rhoades, many bought through the Hauser + Wirth Gallery in Zurich -- is considered tainted by its roots in Nazi-era Germany.

Flick's grandfather's company (one division of which was Mercedes) was a major arms manufacturer for the Nazis during World War II, and used over 40,000 slave laborers from Germany and Eastern Europe. After the war, Flick senior was condemned to six years in detention, though his company's fortunes continued to prosper, swelling to an estimated $6 billion at present. Though it is common practice in Germany for such firms to contribute to funds providing financial compensation for the families of forced laborers, the 57-year-old Mick Flick (as he is familiarly called) has declined to do so, claiming that his fortune was separated from that of the industrial giant in the 1970s.

Last year, Flick tried to set up a museum for his art collection in Zurich, with architecture by Rem Koolhaas, but public outcry blocked the plan. Flick also was forced to cancel a projected exhibition of his works at the Munich Haus der Kunst. Flick then established his own $5 million fund to fight racism and xenophobia in the former East Germany and elsewhere.

Dia Center director Michael Govan said that the institution was not qualified to pass judgment on the reparations issue. "That's between Flick and his government," he said. Flick's collection shows "extraordinary sympathy" to artists that Dia also supports, Govan noted, and pointed out that other U.S. museums also have borrowed works from the Flick collection (such as the Museum of Modern Art in its Gerhard Richter retrospective). Whether such considerations, and an ocean's distance, can provide for a trouble free exhibition in the U.S. remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

BUZZ BUILDS FOR ART NOVEL
Postmodernist painter Jonathan Santlofer, whose recent exhibition of paintings at James Graham & Sons on Madison Avenue featured salacious pastiches of Warhol and Picasso, has embarked upon a second career -- novelist. His new book, The Death Artist, is a thriller set in the contemporary art world, with a female art-historian protagonist and a serial killer who murders artists, dealers and other art-world types in tableaux inspired by famous artworks by de Kooning, Basquiat and Ed Kienholz. Blurbs for the tome include "spellbinding, sexy and savage" from Art & Auction writer Judd Tully and "guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat!" from New Museum founder Marcia Tucker. Put out by William Morrow, the book has a publication date of Sept. 1. Santlofer launches a multi-museum reading tour that begins at the Katonah Museum of Art on Sept. 9 and ends at the Speed Museum in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 5.

STILL MORE ART FICTION
Celebrity publisher Judith Regan has paid a six-figure sum for U.S. rights to a novel by Afrikaner writer Etienne van Heerden, according to a report in Publishers Weekly. The prize-winning book, titled The Long Silence of Mario Salviati and originally published in South Africa in 2000, concerns a Cape Town museum curator who journeys to a tiny native town in search of a mysterious sculpture made by a reclusive, mute artist -- who refuses to sell her the work. Publication in English is slated for next winter.

SMITH CLAN ON SHOW IN PALM BEACH
It's a family affair at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, as "The Smiths: Tony, Kiki, Seton" goes on view there, Dec. 2, 2002-Mar. 23, 2003. The exhibition is organized by Gilbert Brownstone, former creative director of Brownstone & Cie in Paris and curator of the Musée d'Art Modern de la Ville de Paris, who said, "It is difficult to find a common thread in the art of Tony, Kiki and Seton Smith. But, in fact, it was this wide range of content, approach and sensibility, as well as the intensity of concentration each artist brings to the task of making art, that attracted me to this exhibition project." The show of work the famous Ab Ex sculptor father and his two daughters is accompanied by a catalogue with essays by Eleanor Heartney, Adrian Dannatt and David Pagel, along with an text by Palm Beach ICA director Michael Rush and interviews with Kiki and Seton Smith and their mother, Jane Smith.

NIMOY GIFT TO L.A. MOCA
Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy and his wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, have set up a $1 million endowment fund for young artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The Nimoy Fund for Emerging Artists will support exhibitions and other programs that "define new categories of culture" and "challenge traditional categories of art making." Prior to this gift, the Nimoys funded the 1995 acquisition of Nan Goldin's Ballad of Sexual Dependency and donated a Hans Hofmann painting, Toward Harvest (1958) in honor of MOCA director Jeremy Strick.

BOTTLED WATER FOR DOGS IN NARA FOUNTAIN
Creative Time, the Marianne Boesky Gallery and Häagen-Dazs ice cream have teamed up to provide a giant doggie drinking fountain designed by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara in the East Village's Tompkins Square Park -- a fountain supplied with bottled water, thanks to New York's continuing drought regulations. Your Dog -- A Sculptural Pavilion, as it is titled, features a 10-foot-tall plastic dog, standing in a pool underneath a pitched roof. The dog is crying, symbolizing "the healing that happens when a lone individual is embraced by a loving community." It remains on view July 18-Aug. 13, 2002, and then moves to the Westchester Medical Center's new Maria Fareri Children's Hospital.

RUBENS PAINTING TO CANADIAN COLLECTOR
The buyer of Peter Paul Rubens' The Massacre of the Innocents (ca. 1609-11) for £49.5 million at Sotheby's London on June 10, 2002, was Canadian newspaper chairman David Thomson, 44, the billionaire chairman of the Thomson newspaper group, publisher of the Toronto Globe and Mail. According to the newspaper, Thomson bought the work for his father, Lord Thomson of Fleet, 78. Both men have substantial art collections. Thomson senior is said to be negotiating to give some of his collection to the Art Gallery of Ontario, and locals are speculating that the Rubens might end up there. Underbidders at the auction are said to have included the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and New York Old Master dealer Otto Naumann.

AUCTION-HOUSE NEWS FROM PARIS, ITALY
The advance of Christie's and Sotheby's auction houses into the formerly restricted markets of France and Italy, now opened thanks to the new European Union, continues to have repercussions among native auctioneers in those countries. In Paris, the Hôtel Drouot, after entertaining bids from as several suitors (including fashionista Pierre Bergé, the insurance giants AXA and Barclays Private Equity, and the Dutch bank ABN AMRO), has raised €71 million to establish its own management company to run the business, called Drouot Holding, according to a report in the Antiques Trade Gazette. Boardmembers of the new enterprise include Isabelle Bailly-Pommery, Alain Castor, Georges Delettrez, Joël-Marie Millon, Dominique Ribeyre, Pierre-Marie Rogeon and William Studer.

In Italy, the Venice-based auction house Semenzato is merging with Finarte of Milan. The new company will be known as Finarte-Semenzato Casa d'Aste, have salesrooms in Milan, Florence, Rome and Venice, and boast annual sales of over €90 million. Italian auctioneer Giorgio Corbelli, who is currently under investigation for the sale of fakes through television shopping channels, according to the Antiques Trade Gazette, has holdings in both companies.

EMIN OPENS LEHMANN MAUPIN IN CHELSEA
After several years in SoHo, Lehmann Maupin gallery is moving to Chelsea. The new space, designed by Rem Koolhaas and located at 540 West 26th Street, opens with an exhibition of new work by Tracey Emin titled "I Think It's in My Head," Sept. 21-Oct. 19, 2002. Emin also has solo exhibitions slated for the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam, Oct. 19-Dec. 31, 2002, and the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, England, opening Nov. 2, 2002.

WALLSPACE DEBUTS IN CHELSEA
Count another young gallery on your tour of the Chelsea art district in Manhattan. Wallspace, dedicated to contemporary photography, opens at 453 West 17th Street with "Home Work," July 18-Aug. 24, 2002. The inaugural show includes work by Kevin Cooley, Lucas Knipscher, Eri Morita, Pamela Pecchio, Michael Schmelling and Melanie Willhide; the gallery is established by Janine Foeller and Amy Steigbigel. For now the gallery is open Saturdays only and otherwise by appointment; for info call (212) 675-5804.



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