MACBAIN BUYS MODERN PAINTERS
Yet another art publication, the London-based quarterly magazine Modern Painters, is now the property of Canadian publishing millionaire Louise MacBain. No terms were disclosed. The densely textual publication was established in 1987 with legendary British critic Peter Fuller as editor and guiding light, in a move widely seen as an attempt -- less than successful, as it turned out -- to bring new sense of gravitas to British criticism. More recently the periodical piqued the interest of rock 'n' roll magnate David Bowie, who reportedly became an investor. In any case, the magazine has had little distribution in the U.S. market, though presumably that is to change. The current editor, Karen Wright, is staying on.
MacBain's LTB Holding Ltd. purchased Art + Auction magazine in 2003 (for about $300,000, according to insider gossip), and went on earlier this year to acquire Museums Magazine and the Gallery Guide. (N.B.: Several months ago, after Artnet News reported the gossip that LTB was buying Modern Painters, the purchase was confirmed. Now, the art-world wire has MacBain eyeing Gordon's Art Reference, the trusty price guide for prints, posters, books and Picasso ceramics. Stay tuned.)
$17 MILLION DRAWINGS COLLECTION FOR MOMA?
What does it feel like to be a super-patron? Just ask Harvey Shipley Miller, a Museum of Modern Art trustee who does double duty as director of the wealthy Judith Rothschild Foundation in New York. In 2002, not long after the foundation had donated a collection of Russian avant-garde books to MoMA, Miller decided that the foundation should also purchase a few drawings and give them to the museum, too. It seemed like a good idea, since MoMA drawings curator Gary Garrels had spent every cent he had on a costly Willem de Kooning acquisition. Thus, the Contemporary Drawings Collection was born.
In a buying frenzy during the following year, Miller and his consulting curator André Schlechtriem (whom he met at Art Basel Miami Beach, where Schlechtriem was working the booth of the New York gallery Gasser & Grunert) proceeded to purchase 2,500 drawings made during the last 25 years, ranging from works by big names like Johns, Polke and Baselitz to the very newest contemporary artists. The total value of the trove? A sweet $17 million, according to insiders. The collection is now on offer to MoMA with an "everything or nothing" proviso; if the museum goes for the deal, it promises to hold onto the whole lot for at least 10 years, and after that only dispose of works by trading up. One drawback: 2,500 works in one year works out to about seven drawings a day, not exactly the deliberative pace we expect from our museums. As for Miller, he is now said to be onto a new project for the Tate in London.
ALŸS DONATES PRIZE MONEY
The Mexico City-based Belgian artist Francis Alÿs has donated his €70,000 award from the inaugural Blue Orange Prize -- launched this year by the Federal Association of German Cooperative Banks to recognize art with a social dimension -- to a training center for street kids in Mexico City. The remaining €7,000 of the €77,000 purse is earmarked for a grant to up-and-coming artists, to be selected by the prizewinner, and Als chose Tercerunquinto, a group of Mexican artists. As part of the prize, an exhibition of works by Als is on view at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Sept. 2-Oct. 18, 2004. The Blue Orange Prize, named for the colors of the banking group's logo, is the successor to the German Cooperative Banks Art Prize, which was first awarded in 1992.
SCULPTURE PARK AND MUSEUM EXPANSION FOR SEATTLE
Downtown Seattle will soon be spruced up with a new addition to the Seattle Art Museum and a sizable sculpture park. The 8.5-acre waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park, slated for completion in mid-2006, is the work of Weiss/Manfredi Architects, who are to transform an industrial site into a lush green space descending 40 feet from the city to the water, and affording views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. Site-specific sculptures by contemporary artists to be installed in the park include Miami-born artist Teresita Fernandezs first public sculpture, a glass bridge called Seattle Cloud Cover, as well as works by Mark Dion and Cai Guo-Qiang. The 300,000 square-foot building expansion has been designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, who is also at work on the Museum of Arts and Designs new home at New Yorks Columbus Circle. The building, which will be connected to the original structure, designed by Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates, will more than double the museums current exhibition space. The vertically oriented structure will have a gleaming faade of stainless steel and glass, designed to admit lots of light. Completion of the first phase of construction, which will total about 118,000 square feet and include new gallery space as well as an expanded restaurant and store, is scheduled for completion in 2007.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
The Russians are coming -- well, their art, anyhow. This week is New York's first ever Hermitage Week (Sept. 20-27, 2004), and it has brought ten masterpieces from the St. Petersburg museum's Treasury to Sotheby's. The exhibition, which is open to the public, is a result of Sotheby's collaboration with The American Friends of the Hermitage. All ten of the objects on view have storied pasts -- a 17th century Rosewater Vessel from the Imperial Mughal Treasury, made of gold and silver and encrusted with precious stones, was sent to the Russian court by elephant from Delhi in 1741; an 18th century Spray of Lilies in a Vase, made of gold, silver, pearl and diamonds, was a wedding present from Tsar Paul I to his daughter, the Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna. Other Hermitage Week events at Sotheby's include a lecture by Hermitage Director Dr. Mikhail Piotrovsky, and performances by Russian pianist Alexander Pirozhenko and members of the Hermitage Orchestra. On Sept. 22, The New York Public Library hosts "Treasures from the Hermitage Museum: Reflections in Print," a round-table discussion and display of illustrated books and engravings, and A La Vieille Russie will exhibit "Great Russian Works of Art from American Collections," Sept. 20-24 and 27, 2004.
SCHEIBITZ AND SEHGAL TO REPRESENT GERMANY AT VENICE Thomas Scheibitz and Tino Sehgal will represent Germany at next years Venice Biennale. Julian Heynen, head of K21, Dűsseldorfs contemporary art museum, served as commissioner for Germanys pavilion in 2003, and returns in 2005. Scheibitz, a 36-year-old painter born in Radeberg, East-Germany, works in a style that straddles figuration and abstraction. His new paintings are on view at New Yorks Tanya Bonakdar Gallery until Oct. 16, 2004. Past conceptual performance pieces by Sehgal, who was born in 1976 in London, include asking museum to sing, and having gallery employees converse with visitors. At the 2003 biennale Heynen presented Candida Hőfer and MartinKippenberger.
MOMA IN BERLIN A FINANCIAL SUCCESS Berlins National Gallery brought in a €6.5 Million profit from its recent presentation of artworks on loan from New Yorks Museum of Modern Art. By the time the show closed on Sept. 19, it had had nearly 1.2 million visitors. The National Gallery saved approximately €1.7 million on its presentation of MoMAs loan, because of an especially good exchange rate. The total cost of the show was €12.5 million, of which €1 million was provided by Deutsche Bank. According to Berlins Der Tagesspiegel, €8 million may have gone to MoMA as a "lending fee." The National Gallery sold 182,000 catalogues and 580,000 postcards. Peter Raue, chairman of the friends of the National Gallery, which initiated the project, has said that "MoMA in Berlin" is seen as one of the most successful shows in the world.
CASHING IN AT SOTHEBY'S
The three-day sale of items from the Estate of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, brought buyers to Sotheby's in droves, and totaled nearly $4 million, far exceeding the high estimate of $1.5 million. The star lot was a 1986 Grammy award presented to Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Sam Phillips, Rick Nelson and Chips Moman, which sold for $187,200, soaring past its high estimate of $7,000. Other highly coveted items included the country music stars instruments, including his , which sold for $66,000 over a high estimate of $7,000, and his Grammer Acoustic Guitar, which sold to a bidder in the room, fetching $131,200, after being estimated at a mere $10/20,000.
A BIENNIAL FOR SEVILLE
The city of Seville, Spain, has recruited Documenta and Venice veteran and all-around super-curator Harald Szeemann to assemble its first biennial, which has the auspicious, if slightly saccharine title "La Alegra de Mis Sueos" ("The Joy of My Dreams"), and takes place in the picturesque Monastery of Santa Mara de las Cuevas in Isla de la Cartuja (Oct. 3-Dec. 5, 2004). Szeemann's roster of artists includes Erwin Wurm (Austria), Ernesto Neto (Brazil), Annette Messager and Stephen Dean (France), Neo Rauch and Tobias Rehberger (Germany), Shahzia Sikander (Pakistan), Pedro Cabrita Reis (Portugal), Santiago Sierra (Spain), Annika Larson (Sweden), Joseph Kosuth and Richard Serra (USA), Tracey Emin and Euan MacDonald (UK) and Maurizio Cattelan (Italy).
THE FINE ART OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Artist Michele Pred has turned heightened security at the San Francisco International Airport to her advantage by scavenging thousands of objects confiscated from travelers. Her New York solo debut at Nancy Hoffman Gallery (Oct. 2-26, 2004) bears the punning title "Rem(a)inders," and includes such pieces as Homeland Security, a flag constructed from red, white and blue pocket knives.