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    Weekend Update
by Walter Robinson
One of Thomas Ruff's photos at David Zwirner
Thomas Ruff
Katharina Fritsch
Heart of Money
at Matthew Marks
Heart of Money
Katharina Fritsch
Fluxus peformance at DCA
Christopher Brooks (and fans) at Rupert Goldsworthy
Rupert Goldsworthy
Jean-Michel Basquiat in Edo Bertoglio's Downtown 81
The big openings in New York galleries last weekend all came from out of town. Don't tell me about the sinking Euro. The German art market rules.

Everyone was raving about German photog Thomas Ruff, who unveiled a set of big new color pictures of blurry sex-acts pulled off the internet at David Zwirner Gallery in SoHo. Uptown, at Zwirner & Wirth on East 69th Street, the artist had a survey show -- call it a retrospective -- of his giant, passport-style portraits of fellow students, pictures of buildings and starry skies. Plus some porn.

The new pix are creamy and hot, dishing up the esthetically camouflaged libido that collectors have always gone for. We're in familiar territory here -- think of blurred erotica of Gerhard Richter, the late Brian Weill (who took his from films), even Bob Guccione. "They're not just blurry!" said artist and photo collector Niel Frankel. "He adds extra pixels!"

Are the gay ones in the back priced higher or lower than the straight ones in the front? They're all the same, the artist said, and range in price from $12,000 to $14,000 in an edition of five (works uptown are rather more). One buyer -- Cindy Sherman. Apparently orgy pix are hidden away in the gallery office.

Up in Chelsea, Dusseldorf artist Katharina Fritsch spread out a giant Heart of Money at Matthew Marks on 22nd Street, a vast carpet of some 400,000 silver-colored plastic "coins" that reflect glints of blue from the skylights above. "It's a money heart for Matthew," the artist said. "That's a joke." The play on words, actually, begins with the expression "heart of gold." Fritsch was wearing a brown pinstripe suit with an ochre silk blouse patterned with giant spiders. "It's by Fabric Frontline, a great Zurich company," she said.

Fritsch is Dusseldorf school, that tacky Pop esthetic hammered on a Cold War forge by Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Blinky Palermo. These guys always had more of an edge than their American brothers, going for crap rather than treacle. Fritsch likes anti-kitsch -- giant rats, stacks of brains, urine-colored Madonnas. A money heart measuring four meters across sells for an impressive $150,000. The big one in the gallery may be harder to move, even for Marks.

Meanwhile, across the street, at DCA Gallery, Danish Fluxus pioneers Henning Christiansen and Bjørn Nørgaard did their thing at the opening on Saturday, Apr. 29. While Henning sat smoking his pipe at his music synthesizer, Bjørn and an assistant built a ramp ascending the length of the gallery, dumped layers of flour and salt on it, lined it with sheets of mirror and then pushed a rock up the incline, with predictable results.

The entire event, dubbed "Unity through Diversity, World Peace Economy, One Religion Is Not Enough," took place within a giant chicken-wire cage, its walls hung with sets of 12 roses, 12 bagels, 12 pots, 12 shoes, 12 whistles. Inside, along with the artists, are 12 café tables, each piled with a stack of stuff including a mirror, a frame, a cup and saucer, a piece of cloth.

"Nothing is for sale," said DCA director Miles Manning. On the wall are rows of photos of past actions, and sculptures that look very ... Norse.

Christopher Brooks opened a new suite of enamel on canvas paintings at Rupert Goldsworthy Gallery on West 17th Street, including an orange monochrome with two speakers (and attached radio) and a big purple one with a working outlet. For those less interested in hardware, there's Camouflage, which just features a motley piebald surface. They're witty and pretty, and $3,000 each.

*        *        *
The New York art world seems to be lining up behind Hillary Clinton as its candidate in the forthcoming Senate race. Photo Realist Chuck Close and Museum of Modern Art trustee Agnes Gund are heading up a massive benefit art auction, slated for May 23 at Gagosian Gallery. On board are 20 dealers and 80 artists, including Richard Artschwager, Karin Davies, Janet Fish, Alexis Rockman. One awkward moment, at recent dinner with the candidate, photog Nan Goldin stood up and publicly scolded Hillary for missing her exhibition in Iceland...

Filmmaker Edo Bertoglio's 19-year-old indie pic starring late graffiti star Jean-Michel Basquiat (see Anthony Haden-Guest's Roving Eye, Sept. 22, 1999), retitled Downtown 81, wowing audiences at the Cannes Film Festival's Directors' Fortnight... Punk art impresario Diego Cortez is making art music now -- he plays piano -- and has a new CD out, produced with DJ Spooky. "Ambient John Cage, sort of," said a listener...

Security guards were scarce at P.S.1 for this past Sunday's opening, out in sympathy with PASTA-MOMA strike, apparently... PASTA-MOMA is calling all supporters to mass at the Museum of Modern Art on Tuesday, May 2, 6-8 p.m., in hopes of discouraging blue-collar rocker Sheryl Crow from crossing the picket line for a benefit there... Speaking of MoMA, up at the press preview for "Making Choices," veteran journalist Paul Steiner was pitching his unique plan to raise money for the museum to anyone who would listen. "When they begin excavating under the Dorsett Hotel, they can sell crypts, like in Westminster Abbey." Steiner thinks MoMA could get as much as $5 million per burial, and that the museum should move the bodies of great artists like Warhol and Lichtenstein there...

Sonnabend Gallery opens next Saturday, May 6, at 536 West 22nd Street with a retrospective of gallery artists... Opening in Chelsea next fall are Mary Boone and Charles Cowles on West 24th Street, in between Gagosian and Luhring Augustine. Mary keeps her Fifth Avenue space. Also due next fall, Friedrich Petzel and Marianne Boesky on West 22nd Street, west of DCA and across the street from the new Sonnabend...

Medical gossip from all over: Word is that '80s Neo-Expressionist Donald Baechler has entered rehab following a drug overdose, at the insistence of friend Yoko Ono... Is Columbia University art scholar supreme Rosalind Krauss, on the mend from an aneurism and attendant debilitating ailments, heading back to the classroom this fall? Yes, they say... British superdealer Jay Jopling absent from his recent London gallery opening, according to Fleet Street reports, while taking wife Sam Taylor-Wood to U.S. for medical treatment. Prognosis hopeful, apparently. Good luck to everyone...

WALTER ROBINSON is editor of Artnet Magazine.