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A 17th-century chapel in a convent in Southern France has been rechristened the Chapel Louise Bourgeois after the nonagenarian Surrealist decorated the interior with a bronze cross, a baptismal font made of pink marble, a confessional of latticed iron, a Virgin and Child made of pink fabric and other artworks. Built in 1605 in the village of Bonnieux in the Lubron region of France, between Marseilles and Avignon, the chapel was purchased and restored by Jean-Claude Meyer, a banker and publisher of artists books, with the help of the French Historic Monuments agency. According to Le Monde, Meyer approached Bourgeois about decorating the interior after he had published one of her books.

Her decorations, two years in the making and inaugurated in mid-July, include a small (12-inch) version of one of her signature bronze spiders, mounted on a wall (the spider is a maternal symbol for Bourgeois, whose large-scale arachnid sculpture that was installed in Rockefeller Center and in the Tates Turbine Hall is titled Mother). Before she began work on the chapel, Bourgeois was asked whether she believed in God -- but she did not respond. According to Meyer, the chapel will be open to the public during specified times; at present it is slated to remain open till Sept. 15, 2004.

As the first major museum retrospective of photographer Diane Arbus in 30 years finishes its run at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts before heading to the Metropolitan Museum next February, Hollywood is heating up with news of an Arbus biopic. British actress Samantha Morton (who made a splash as the empath in the Tom Cruise starrer Minority Report) is in talks to play the kinky photog in an upcoming film to be titled "Fur," according to a report on Directing is Steven Shainberg, helmer of the 2002s S&M office drama Secretary. Shainberg, a photo collector himself, is said to be adapting the screenplay from Patrica Bosworths unauthorized (and rather scandalous) 1984 biography of Arbus.

Brendan Fraser
, the good-looking comic star of Encino Man (1992), George of the Jungle (1997), Monkeybone (2001) and about 25 other movies, is also a photographer. "Ive trained myself to remember to bring my camera, keep it loaded with film and throw away the lens cap," says the actor, who was born in 1968 in Indianapolis and has taken pictures on his travels and of his fellow actors on the set. His first solo exhibition in New York goes on view at the Leica Gallery at 670 Broadway in NoHo, Sept. 10-Oct. 16, 2004. Fraser is donating all profits from the sale of the pictures to the New York Fire Department and the New York Police Department. Prices start at $1,000 for an 11 x 14 silver gelatin print.

This November, Abrams is publishing what it calls a comprehensive survey of graffiti art, dating from its origins in New York and Philadelphia in the late 1960s, its development as an art movement in the 80s and its subsequent spread around the globe. The 376-page Graffitti World: Street Art from Five Continents ($35) by Nicolas Ganz -- the graffiti writer known as Keinom -- features more than 2,000 color illustrations by over 150 artists along with interviews.

Two New York Museums have been touched by the growing scandal involving Conrad Black and the "corporate kleptocracy" he headed at Hollinger International, the newspaper company that publishes the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post (and that recently sold the Daily Telegraph in London). According to an extensive investigation, Black and his cronies helped themselves to $400 million in Hollinger funds from 1996 to 2003 -- 95 percent of the firms net income -- and some of the swag was spread around to improve the social status of Black and his wife, Barbara Amiel Black. According to a report by Geraldine Fabrikant in the New York Times, the couple paid $15,000 to the Metropolitan Museum to become part of the benefit committee of the Mets 2003 Costume Institute benefit, otherwise known as the "party of the year." Black also directed $15,000 in Hollinger funds to the Museum of Modern Art, according to the report.

The museum booty pales compared to some other donations; the report complains that Hollinger gave $283,000 to the Metropolitan Opera while the Blacks got all the credit (or at least a plaque in their honor). In 2001 the Metropolitan Museum was smeared in the Enron bankruptcy when it was revealed that the namesake benefactor of the Robert and Renée Belfer Court for early Greek art took home more than $50 million from Enron stock sales before the company went in the tank [see "Artnet News," 12/7/01].

Gijs van Tuyl
has been named director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, an appointment that is limited to five years by statute. A curator at the Stedelijk from 1969 to 1976, since 1992 van Tuyl has been director of the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany. There he organized exhibitions of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Luc Tuymans and others.

The Stedelijk Museum is also embarking on a major renovation and expansion, and has selected Amsterdam architects Benthem Crouwel for the job. The design adds a new entrance area, shop and restaurant in an open, transparent space that allows the existing red brick building to remain fully visible. An exhibition of the new design and four other proposals goes on view at the Stedelijks temporary space on Sept. 9, 2004.

The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts has been forced to suspend operations due to revenue shortfalls, according to center board president Catherine Kraus. The center, which is about $1 million in debt, has laid off its staff of 32 and shut down its facility, a bright yellow mansion in a parklike setting in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Shadyside. Whats more, some artists have complained to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the center owes them money for works sold through exhibitions there. Founded in 1945 and dedicated to local artists, the center has held exhibitions -- most recently, the juried show of 48 artists, "Fiberart International 2004," June 19-Aug. 15, 2004 -- and also offered classes and workshops, artist residencies and more.

The new art season is upon us -- so lets go racing! The pioneering Williamsburg gallery Pierogi is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with "Pierogi a Go-Go," Sept. 10-Oct. 11, 2004, an open-call exhibition of pinewood derby cars -- "gravity racers" -- that culminates with three days of actual racing at Supreme Trading (located one block from Pierogi on North 8th Street). The racers are all made from kits that include a block of wood, axels and four wheels, available at Pierogi for $4 (or at hobby shops). The show is organized in collaboration with Gary Bachman and Mike Ballou, who put together the 1995 gravity racers event, "Four Wheels at Four Walls." For more info, see

One of the first gallery exhibitions of the new fall season is "Champions of Modernism II: The Art of Tomorrow and Today," Sept. 2-Oct. 2, 2004, at Denise Bibro Fine Art at 529 West 20th Street in New York. Organized by Bibro and independent curator Steven Lowy, the show celebrates the continuing vitality of modernist abstraction with works by more than 20 artists. The exhibition juxtaposes works by veterans of "The Art of Tomorrow," the 1939 show that introduced "Non-Objective Painting" to the U.S. (Rudolf Bauer, Hilla von Rebay, Rolf Scarlett) with contemporary artists like Alice Aycock, Ellen Carey and Gary Stephan.

Chicagos Monique Meloche Gallery opens in new quarters at 118 North Peoria in Chicagos West Loop on Sept. 10, 2004, with a show of paintings by the Photo Realist team of Robert Davis and Michael Langlois. A mere four blocks from its former location, the new gallery space was formerly occupied by Julia Friedman (who closed over the summer and plans to reopen in New York) and is next door to Rhona Hoffman and across the street from 1R, Bodybuilder & Sportsman and Bucket Rider galleries. For more, contact

Mitchell Merling
has been appointed curator and head of the department of European art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. An art historian, Merling contributed to The Glory of Venice (National Gallery of Art/Royal Academy) and Italian Baroque Paintings (National Gallery of Art).

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