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Six artworks by Peter Halley have been stolen from a Barcelona art gallery and the thief is demanding a $250,000 ransom, according to the website Teams of "amateur investigators" from 16 countries are assembling to head to Barcelona, Nov. 7-11, 2002, where they will dash through the Mediterranean city in a fleet of MINI Coopers seeking clues to the whereabouts of the missing art. In fact, the plot is an elaborate promotion for the new BMW car, in which ordinary citizens have been selected to participate in an open-ended fictional detective story written by Scottish crime author Val McDermid. Halley's art was deemed perfect for the promotion, since it mixes fiction and reality, said a MINI spokesperson. As for Halley, his studio was mum. "It's a secret project," said a voice on the phone. "Something he cannot talk about."

Say what you will about New York's newest hometown paper, the New York Sun -- it supports its hometown artists. After the flap over Rockefeller Center head and art patron Jerry Speyer's installation of Eric Fischl's Neo-Ex bronze of a Tumbling Woman -- the work was put on view in the Rock Center concourse on Sept. 11 and removed a week later after objections from passersby and news commentators -- Sun staff reporter Rachel Donadio penned an impressive front-page report on the brouhaha. She started with quotes from Mary Boone Gallery director Ron Warren, who criticized New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser for sensationalizing the memorial. Next, Newsweek art critic Peter Plagens said, "I could make a guess and say that the bigger the disaster, the more abstract the memorial has to be." It's easier to direct anger at Fischl, said Plagens, than at the 9/11 terrorists.

Of course, not everyone in the art world favors artistic prerogatives. "He likes commanding attention and being naughty," said Hilton Kramer, "and it looks like he's succeeded in this case." Kramer went on to suggest that Fischl was exploiting the 9/11 tragedies for "personal glory." New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier took a less cynical stance, noting the "thoughtless attack on this perfectly legitimate work of art," and said, "catastrophes of such magnitude inevitably produce a grief police, and we must beware of this...."

The celebrated photographer Diane Arbus (1923-1971), whose estate is notoriously controlling in regards to reproduction of her photographs, is finally going to be the subject of a modern, large-scale museum show opening next year. "Diane Arbus: Revelations," featuring approximately 200 works, premieres at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Oct. 18, 2003-Feb. 15, 2004. Organized by freelance curator Elisabeth Sussman and SFMOMA curator Sandra S. Phillips, the show is the first since the Arbus survey at the Museum of Modern Art in 1972 and promises a "rigorous reinvestigation" of Arbus' work and her position in 20th-century photo history. The exhibition travels to the L.A. County Museum, the Houston MFA, the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum Folkwang in Essen, the V&A, the Pompidou Center and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Accompanying the exhibition is a book from Random House including essays plus excerpts from the artist's own writings.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., unveils its new West Building sculpture galleries on Sept. 29, 2002, with an installation of more than 900 works of art ranging from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. The 22 galleries, including six new ones, encompass approximately 24,000 square feet on the museum's ground floor. Highlights include an extensive selection of Degas' original wax and mixed-media sculptures, Daumier's entire sculptural oeuvre and Rodin's life-size plaster, The Age of Bronze. Installation was overseen by Manfred Leithe-Jasper, visiting senior curator of sculpture; Alison Luchs, curator of early European sculpture; Nicholas Penny, newly appointed senior curator of sculpture; and NGA chief of design Mark Leithauser. The four-year project brings to an end the NGA's 20-year renovation plan.

The Clark Art Institute in bucolic Williamstown, Mass., which is perhaps best known for its exceptional collection of Old Masters and European art, leaps into the 21st century with the exhibition "Tadao Ando: Architect," Sept. 28, 2002-Apr. 27, 2003. The show, which originated at the Saint Louis Art Museum, features models and plans for 15 buildings, including the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum (1992) as well as recent projects like the newly opened Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, scheduled to open later this year, the future Calder Museum in Philadelphia, the much-heralded commission for the Pinault Contemporary Art Foundation in Paris -- and the new building and addition for the Clark itself. Groundbreaking for the Clark's facility is scheduled for late 2003.

While the avant-garde art business focuses on the Art Forum Berlin, Sept. 26-30, 2002, some two dozen individual photographers (from Germany, London and Toronto) are selling their own work directly to the public in the second edition of Foto Bild Berlin, a contemporary photography fair on view Sept. 27-29 at the Stilwerk design center near Berlin's Kurfurstendamm. The artist lineup for this year's event, chaired by Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit, was selected by a nine-member jury, which included Victoria and Albert Museum photo curator Martin Barnes and Siri Vorbeck of the European stock picture agency Zefa. The photogs: Janni Chavakis, Sabine Felber, Daniela Finke, Nina Flauaus, Stephan Haug, Frank Herlet, Steve Herud, Manuela Höfer, Christian Höhn, Kai von Kröcher, Johannes Löwe, Ralph Meiling, Nils Hendrik Müller, Marcella Müller, Christoph Otto, Photini Papahatzi, Glen Perotte, Beatrix Reinhardt, Michelle Sank, Richard Schubert, Franziska Schumann, P. Elaine Sharpe, Siegfried Utzig, Rainer Zerback. Admission is free.

Melbourne-based 29-year-old painter Ben Quilty has been awarded the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship for 2002. The award, a $25,000 cash grant and a three-month residency at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, was founded in 1999. It's open to Australian artists aged between 20 and 30. This year's jurors included artist Margaret Olley, Art Gallery of New South Wales director Edmund Capon and AGNSW curator Barry Pearce. An exhibition of works by 24 finalists for the award is on view at the Brett Whiteley Studio in Surry Hills, Australia, Sept. 21-Oct. 20, 2002.

Nettie Seabrooks, former chief operating officer of the city of Detroit, has been appointed COO of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Seabrooks joined the DIA earlier this year as senior associate to director Graham W.J. Beal.

Tom Lawson, the Postmodernist artist and theorist who started the influential Real Life magazine (1979-92) and is currently dean of the School of Art at CalArts, has joined the editorial team of Afterall, an international art journal that was originally launched in 1998 and that is co-edited by London-based artist Mark Lewis and Copenhagen-based curator Charles Esche. The next issue of the semiannual mag, a London-L.A. collaboration, is due out in November; for more info, see

P.P.O.W., the strongest redoubt of figurative painting left in SoHo, is opening a second location at 555 West 25th Street in Manhattan's Chelsea art district on Oct. 17, 2002, with a show of paintings by Katia Santibañez and works on paper by Margaret Curtis.