RICHARD SERRA, PROVOKATEUR
American sculptor Richard Serra is no fan of President George W. Bush, thats for sure. In June, Serra caused quite a fuss with a design for a poster (that appeared on the back cover of the Nation magazine) that places Bushs head on the monstrous figure of Saturn in Francesco de Goyas nightmarish Saturn Devouring his Children. A month later, he designed another free poster -- both are available for download at www.pleasevote.com -- titled Stop Bush, that repeats the title exclamation in oil stick over a brutalist drawing of a hooded prisoner at Abu Ghraib. Now, the artist is pressing his case in the press.
In a long interview in the German newspaper Die Zeit, Serra condemned the Bush administration for what he called its policy of aggression, its denial of western values and law, and its violations of the Geneva Convention. The U.S. president stands for a self-righteousness that leads to atrocities, Serra said, citing the Abu Ghraib scandal. The Bush administration is the worst the U.S. has had, according to Serra. "George W. Bush is even worse than his father or Nixon or Reagan," he told the paper.
The artist also criticized Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry for his initial support of the war in Iraq. "We do not know what Bush wants in Iraq," Serra said. "We only know that he produces more resentments against the U.S. in the Middle East every day. Bush made Osama a hero of the Middle East. Its hard to say who is worse."
Eighties superstar sculptor Jonathan Borofsky, who hasnt had a solo show in New York in over ten years, is making a big comeback. Beginning next week, his monumental piece Walking to the Sky, a 100-foot-long stainless steel pole, tilted at a steep angle and with figures walking skyward along it, is to be installed in Rockefeller Center. Like Jeff Koons topiary Puppy, which was installed at Rock Center in 2000, Borofskys sculpture made its debut at Documenta in 1992. The project is underwritten by Tishman-Speyer, owner of the building complex, and organized by the Public Art Fund.
PAF director Tom Eccles says he likes the idea of using the centers plaza space, which abuts the celebrated skating rink, for U.S. premieres of large-scale works that have been shown in Europe. "Borofsky is a major figure who has receded, but he is hugely influential, and this is an opportunity to show a piece thats perfect for the Rockefeller Center environment," Eccles told Artnet Magazine. Borofsky has said that the work refers to a story his father used to tell him about a friendly giant. Walking to the Sky is on view through Oct. 18, 2004.
YOKO STRIPPED BARE BY HER AUDIENCE, MAYBE
Rumors are circulating in London that Yoko Ono may re-stage her legendary 1964 Cut Piece performance -- where audience members are invited onstage to snip away bits of her clothing until she is au naturel -- when she appears at Tate Britain next week in conjunction with the museums current "Art in the Sixties" exhibition. The Independent newspaper gave credence to the rumor earlier this week, but the sold-out event is billed only as a lecture and performance, and a Tate spokesman refused to confirm that Cut Piece was on the bill. "We never know what she might decide to do," he said. A spokesman for the artist told the Independent that "Yoko makes each lecture an event people will remember. It would be easy for her to sit and talk about her life and art, but she is interested in something that involves the audience more and subverts the nature of an artists lecture."
HOPPER WAS HOPPING
It seems that American painters rank second only to the French in popularity at Londons Tate Modern. The final attendance tally for the museums blockbuster Edward Hopper exhibition this summer is over 400,000. Only the "Matisse Picasso" exhibition two years ago had more visitors. According to one report, the museum also sold 284,000 Hopper postcards 2,700 posters of his famous 1942 painting Nighthawks and 25,500 copies of the catalogue.
SCHUMACHER MUSEUM FALLS THROUGH
Plans to build a museum in Germany devoted to the work of Emil Schumacher (1912-1999) have fallen through, according to the German Press Agency. One of Germanys most important postwar abstract painters, Schumacher worked in the "Informel" style. The Schumacher estate had offered to give his collection of oil paintings, gouaches and paintings on china, estimated to be worth 50 million euros, to his hometown of Hagen in North Rhine Westphalia. But the plan became a political football in the local elections, and Schumachers son Ulrich Schumacher withdrew his offer.
Hagen mayor Wilfried Horn expressed disappointment, declaring the cancellation an irrecoverable loss to the city. But there is still hope. This weekend Wolfram Kuschke, head of the state office of the North Rhine Westphalia region, which includes Hagen, told the Koelner Stadtanzeiger, Colognes daily paper, that his government is determined to establish the Schumacher Museum in Hagen. Stay tuned.
RAUCH & RUBENS AT THE ALBERTINA
The fall art season Viennas Albertina, one of Europes most esteemed museums, jumps four centuries with side-by-side exhibitions of two celebrated figurative painters. "Peter Paul Rubens," Sept. 15-Dec. 4, 2004, curated by Michiel Plomp and Anne-Marie Logan of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, features more than 160 drawings, oil sketches and paintings by the Dutch Baroque virtuoso in an exhibition that also appears at the Met, opening in January 2005. Also at the Albertina is "Neo Rauch," Sept. 15-Dec. 9, 2004, a group of 14 new, large-scale paintings by the Leipzig-based contemporary German painter. Rauchs star has been on the rise for several years now, and it is only getting higher: Rauchs work is included in the forthcoming "54th Carnegie International" in Pittsburgh, which opens Oct. 9; next April his Leipzig dealer Harry Lybke inaugurates his new gallery in the citys Spinnereistrasse with an exhibition of new Rauch material; and 2006 brings a show at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg.
Contact wrobinson @ artnet.com