MCA SUES OLIVER-HOFFMAN
Incredibly, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art has filed suit against former board chairman Paul Oliver-Hoffman in an effort to collect his $5 million pledge to the museum's capital campaign. A real-estate developer and collector of cutting-edge contemporary art, Oliver-Hoffman helped raise $72 million for the MCA -- but he won't come through with his pledge, says current board chair Penny Pritzker. Could this dispute have something to do with the recent resignation of MCA director Kevin Consey? P.S.: Sotheby's $28-million contemporary sale on Nov. 19, 1997, was such a success thanks in part to the unloading of 21 Oliver-Hoffman works.
The collection of Egon Schiele paintings bought by the Austrian government from 72-year-old collector and opthalmologist Rudolf Leopold, recently on view in "Egon Schiele: The Leopold Collection" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and slated for a public museum now under construction in Austria, has been tainted by charges of Nazi plundering. According to the New York Times, Schiele's Portrait of Wally (1912) is claimed by the heirs of Lea Bondi Jaray, a Jewish Viennese art dealer who left it behind when she fled to London in 1938 (she died in 1969); Leopold obtained the work in 1950 from the Austrian government, which confiscated it after the war from a Nazi art dealer. A 1911 landscape, Dead City, is claimed by Kathleen E. Reif and New York Times art-market reporter Rita Reif, heirs of Fritz Grünbaum, from whom the work was seized in 1938 by Nazi agents; Grünbaum died in Dachau the same year. Stay tuned.
WYETH AT WHITNEY
The first major show of Andrew Wyeth's work in New York in more than 20 years appears at the Whitney Museum, May 28-Aug. 30, 1998 -- and contains no nudes! Instead, "Unknown Terrain" features ca. 120 landscapes by the 80-year-old artist, and is organized by Whitney curators Adam D. Weinberg and Beth Venn. In 1965 the Whitney mounted a 220-work Wyeth retrospective that drew record attendance.
NO PEACE FOR SAN FRANCISCO
San Francisco city officials have nixed a proposal to place artist Tony Labatt's 24-foot-high stainless steel sculpture of a peace sign at the entrance of Golden Gate Park. The arts commission deadlocked 6-6 on the proposal, which needed eight votes to go the the Board of Supervisors. According to the Associated Press, opponents of the sculpture called the giant peace sign anachronistic and liable to become a magnet for young people searching for a lost era.
WANG GETS GETTY
How many wire-heads does it take to screw in a lightbulb at the new Getty Center in Los Angeles? The Massachusetts-headquartered Wang has received a three-year contract to supply 17 on-site computer technicians to help the 1,100 Getty staffers.
GETTY AS ARCHITECTURE
Meanwhile, architecture-loving Reed College art historians Greg Haun and Charles Rhyne have posted more than 200 color images of the Getty Center at their Web site, called "The Architecture of the Getty Center." The site is not affiliated with the Getty Trust.
LOUVRE UNVEILS EGYPTIANS
Last month the Louvre unveiled its refurbished and enlarged Egyptian wing -- but only after promising 200 anti-poverty demonstrators staging a sit-in under I.M. Pei's glass entrance pyramid that the museum would host a debate on social inequity. Previously used for bureaucratic offices, the wing adds 10,000 square meters of galleries housing 5,000 Egyptian objects, 3,600 Greek, Etruscan and Roman artifacts, and 16th- and 17th-century Italian paintings.
JEWISH MUSEUM ON THE WEB
The Jewish Museum in New York has created its own Web site at www.thejewishmuseum.org, featuring an online version of the museum's permanent exhibition, "Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey," as well as special projects by contemporary artists. First is Blackbird, blackbird, a sound installation by Kristin Oppenheim that is simultaneously presented on the Web and in the museum's main stairwell.
The Brooklyn Museum of Art is extending the run of "Monet and the Mediterranean" for two more weeks, till Sunday, Jan. 18, thanks to additional funding from Chase Manhattan Bank.
MAO'S ART SCHOOL
The Chinese government has opened the Mao Zedong College of Art in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, near where Mao was born, to celebrate the 104th anniversary of his birth. In its wire-service dispatch, Reuters reminds us that Mao exterminated many artists and other intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution.
WALKER, MIA GO DIGITAL
With $1 million from the state of Minnesota, the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts have begun to digitize their collections and archives with the goal of creating a multimedia visual library that will be available online to primary and secondary schoolkids in the state and nationwide.
CLOSE ON TOUR
The Museum of Modern Art's Chuck Close survey, which opens in New York Feb. 26-May 26, 1998, may also be appearing in a town near you. The tour is as follows: Chicago MCA, June 20-Sept. 13, 1998; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C., Oct. 15, 1998-Jan. 10, 1999; Seattle Art Museum, Feb.-May 1999.
BRENDAN GILL, 1914-1997 Brendan Gill, 83, New Yorker writer (since 1936!) who led the campaign to save Grand Central Station from the wrecker's ball, died at New York Hospital on Dec. 27, 1997. At his death he was chairman of the Andy Warhol Foundation and a vice president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters; he was a former head of the Municipal Art Society and a founder of P.S. 1 in Queens. He wrote 15 books, including Here at the New Yorker (1975) and Many Masks (1987), a biography of Frank Lloyd Wright.
DOMINIQUE DE MENIL, 1908-1997 Dominique de Menil, 89, Schlumberger oil heiress who founded Houston's Menil Collection and the Rothko Chapel there, died at her home in Houston on Dec. 31, 1997. To show her empathy for the poor, according to Reuters, she was buried in a plain pine box transported in the back of a Chevrolet Suburban.
HOWARD GILMAN, 1925-1998 Howard Gilman, 73, chairman of the Gilman Paper Company whose collection of some 5,000 photographs is widely considered to be one of the best in private hands, died of a heart attack on Jan. 3 while visiting Jacksonville, Fla.