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Is it summer yet? The 29th annual Basel Art Fair opens June 10-15, 1998, with more than 260 galleries from around the world. Once again, the fair will feature a "Statements" section of solo shows by emerging artists from 26 galleries (compared to 20 last year). First time exhibitors in "Statements" include Brent Sikkema (New York), Galerie Camargo Vilaca (Sao Paulo), Galerie Neu (Berlin), Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten-d'Eendt (Amsterdam) and Galerie Continua (Siena). For the first time, the fair will devote a special section to sculpture.

Also on view in Basel in June: Andy Warhol drawings at the Kunstmuseum; a Roy Lichtenstein retrospective at Foundation Beyeler; work by Mona Hatoum and a joint exhibition by Dan Peterman and Tobias Rehberger at Kunsthalle Basel; and Matthew Barney's Cremaster 1 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The cops are after the sadomasochistic erotica of late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe again, this time in England. Police have moved against the library at the University of Central England in Birmingham, as well as publishers Jonathan Cape/Random House, over a book of Mapplethorpe photos. The police could require the library to destroy its copy of the book and to instruct Cape/Random House to pulp all remaining copies. Both the University and the publishers are refusing to comply.

The pioneering art web site Ada'Web has been defunded by its corporate parent, Digital City, which is partly owned by AOL, and has ceased producing new content. Negotiations are underway to maintain the site archives by a nonprofit sponsor.

Greece is hosting the Olympic Games in 2004 but won't get the Elgin Marbles back then or any other time, according to British culture minister Chris Smith. Some observers had thought that Tony Blair's Labour Government might return the marbles, probably the world's preeminent example of art loot. No such luck.

Waste two days contemplating art and science with 40 scientists, artists, writers, industry reps and others at "ArtSci'98: Seeding Collaboration" at Cooper Union's Great Hall, Apr. 4-5, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Panelists include AT&T research director Ronald Graham, environmental artist Agnes Denes, musician Pauline Oliveros and Roger Malina, astro-physicist editor of Leonardo. Cosponsored by Discover magazine, Leonardo, NYC Art Teacher Ass'n and Art & Science Collaborations, Inc. Cost: $50 a day at the door; preregister for both days for $60. More info:

Early this summer Christie's Chicago will move to the 38th floor of the John Hancock Center, 875 North Michigan Avenue. The auctioneer's midwest headquarters will have 4,000 square feet, nearly double the current space at 200 West Superior. Christie's Chicago office is headed by Mary Ahern and Laura de Frise. Meanwhile, back in New York, Alan Wintermute was appointed senior specialist in Christie's Old Master paintings department. From 1987-96 he was director of Colnaghi USA.

It never stops, museums getting more art. The National Gallery in Washington, D.C., has announced some recent acquisitions: a 17th-century portrait of a member of the Haarlem civic guard by Johannes Verspronck; a miniature drawing heightened in gold by Hans Holbein the Younger (one of only two authentic, unreworked drawings by this artist in the U.S.) called Tantalus, possibly a jewelry design; several etchings by Rembrandt from the Joseph Ritman collection in Amsterdam; and four photos by Charles Sheeler from his"Doylestown" series (ca. 1917), the NGA's first. The gallery also acquired seven paintings by Washington Color painter Jacob Kainen (three as gifts from the artist and one as purchase). The NGA also purchased 11 drawings, two prints and a 24-drawing sketchbook by Alex Katz; and received as a gift 22 drawings by 15 artists from Werner H. and Sarah-Ann Kramarsky.

The Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore has launched its own web site at In addition to the usual features -- nicely designed pages on current exhibitions, the collection and education programs -- the site includes a pitch for party rentals at the museum. Among the options: dinner seating for 50 in the Arms and Armor Gallery ($1,500) and reception for as many as 3,000 people in all three wings of the museum ($14,000). Sounds irresistible.

Colin Mackenzie has been named curator and assistant director of the galleries at the Asia Society in New York. He headed the department of Asian art at Yale for the last four years.

Send in your $100 today for a ticket to the White Columns 1998 benefit auction and gala, Sat. Mar. 21, 7-10 p.m. Savvy collectors know the silent auction (Mar. 14-28) offers bargain-priced works by the coolest new artists. Plus check out the cool new White Columns digs in the Chelsea meat market district, 320 West 13th Street, entrance on Horatio Street. For more info, call (212) 924-4212.

The Drawing Center presents "NEA v. Finley," an evening of speeches and readings to benefit the Center for Constitutional Rights on Thurs., Mar. 19, 6:30-9 p.m. Speakers include NEA v. Finley lead attorney David Cole, ACLU anti-art-censorship attorney Marjorie Heins and Mary D. Dorman of the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression. Readings are by Karen Finley and Holly Hughes. And there's cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Tickets are $75. NEA v. Finley is to be heard by the Supreme Court on Mar. 31, 1998.

The Santa Monica Museum of Art inaugurates its new 10,000-square-foot space at Bergamot Station Arts Center at a gala preview on May 7, 1998. Featured that night are a retrospective of work by the late Fluxus artist Al Hansen; Back Yard, an obsessive bead-installation by Liza Lou; and performances by Karen Finley and the rock star (and Al Hanson grandson) Beck. The rest of the public can go on May 9. The museum's new space was designed by Narduli/Grinstein.

If you walk up to the Guggenheim admissions desk with your Nokia wireless phone, you can get a free admission for a friend to "China: 5,000 Years." And as admissions go, that ain't peanuts! As part of the Finnish telecommunications giant's sponsorship of the China show, it's giving free admission for an accompanying guest to anyone who brings their Nokia mobile phone to the museum admission desk. It's called "bring your phone and bring a friend -- free."

The massive Times Square redevelopment has its first art commission -- a huge mural by 36-year-old artist Luke Gray on the 40-foot domed ceiling of the lobby rotunda of 1500 Broadway, the future home of ABC-TV and "Good Morning America." The mural, titled TransMission 1998, was "spontaneously" designed in one six-hour session.

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is moving from SoHo to Chelsea and changing its name to reflect a new business partnership with Bonakdar's husband, Mark Jancou. The new Bonakdar Jancou Gallery, designed by Rogers Marvel Architects, opens in a 3,700-square-foot space at 521 West 21st Street on Mar. 19 with a solo show by photographer Uta Barth.

Remember the scandal over freelance curator Christian Leigh and the 1993 Venice Biennial? Leigh organized a big group show in the Zitelle exhibition hall, and then absconded without paying shipping or other bills -- and the locals seized the art. About half the works were retrieved by owners, who paid their share, but the rest has remained in storage since 1993. Now, the remaining works are at a shipper in Long Island City, after a new manager at the Zitelle gave up any hopes of collecting. Owners now only have to pay the shipping and customs charges. As for Leigh -- he's still disappeared!