ASU MUSEUM CHIEF EYED Arizona State University Art Museum director Marilyn Zeitlin was placed on paid administrative leave last week over the possible misuse of more than $275,000 in museum grant money. According to the Arizona Republic, state auditors say funds were improperly used to buy alcohol and flowers, and to pay fines for parking tickets and lost library books. The audit says Zeitlin hired her son to translate for her on a trip to Europe without revealing the nepotism. At least three other spouses of museum employees were hired to work for the museum. Zeitlin was also accused of using frequent-flier miles she earned on ASU business for personal travel. The audit claims that money dropped in the donations box at the museum entrance was spent on sandwiches and snacks for museum advisory board meetings and, on at least one occasion, champagne for a reception. Zeitlin, U.S. commissioner for the 1995 Venice Biennale, has headed the museum since 1992; before coming to ASU, she was director of the Washington Project for the Arts in Washington, D.C.
YASUDA SUNFLOWERS OKAY: MAG
The version of Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers, bought for $39 million at Christie's London in 1987 by Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance, is authentic, according to Toronto University scholar Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov writing in this month's Burlington Magazine. Some researchers think the painting was a fake done by van Gogh's friend, Claude-Emile Schuffenecker, particularly since it appeared for the first time in an exhibition he organized at Bernheim Jeune, Paris. But using the Ambrose Vollard archives to trace the ownership of all 11 sunflower paintings van Gogh executed between 1887 and 1889, the Burlington article concludes that the Yasuda Sunflowers is the real thing. Van Gogh Museum director John Leighton said he "had never had any doubt as to the authenticity."
SAATCHI BUYS ADLER
According to the Times of London, British megacollector Charles Saatchi has bought the entire installation of six photographs by New York artist Amy Adler from her show at Entwhistle Gallery in London. The price of the works wasn't disclosed. Adler's 1995 "The Problem Child" series consists of large photographs of Adler's pencil drawings of young boys, themselves based on "found" photographs. Adler shows in New York at Casey Kaplan and has an exhibition coming up at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in November 1998.
KICKING ASS OVER "KITSCH"
Former National Gallery of Art director J. Carter Brown is in hot water for referring to the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va., as "kitsch" at a meeting of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which he still chairs. New York Rep. Gerald Solomon, a former marine, has called for Brown to step down. A meeting transcript -- actually dating from 1994 -- quotes Brown as saying, "I would say that the Iwo Jima memorial is kitsch. It was taken from a photograph, it is by a sculptor, even though he was a member of this commission at one point, who is not going to go down as a Michelangelo in history -- and yet it is very effective, largely because of its site." According to the Associated Press, Webster's New World Dictionary defines "kitsch" as art "of a pretentious but shallow kind, calculated to have popular appeal." The monument was designed by Felix de Weldon based on Joe Rosenthal's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph.
WHITEREAD MEMORIAL GOES AHEAD IN VIENNA Rachel Whiteread's Holocaust memorial in Vienna will be built after all. Her Nameless Library, a 2,432-square-foot white concrete cast of a library, was originally slated to be installed in 1996, but was delayed after excavations on the site discovered the remains of a medieval Jewish synagogue. Whiteread agreed to shift the location of the memorial, which its opponents had termed an eyesore, to another spot in the baroque Judenplatz. Part of the synagogue remains will also be preserved as a museum.
GOLDSWORTHY OPENS IN CHELSEA Rupert Goldsworthy opens his New York gallery at 453 West 17th Street in Chelsea on Mar. 14, 1998, with an exhibition of paintings and photographs by British artist Christopher Brooks (to Apr. 11). His second show will feature work by Lutz Bacher; others in the stable include performance artist Amanda Bindley, Glasgow videoiste Allan Currall, and photographers John Rand and Thomas Fuhs. Goldsworthy formerly operated a gallery in Berlin for two years.
THREE GRACES CRACK'D
A crack has been discovered in Antonio Canova's The Three Graces (1815-17) after its loan to Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid. The "very small fault" on one of the three naked figures is invisible to the naked eye, and no repairs are planned. Art critic Duncan McMillan added that the piece had "lost its virginity" and should have been allowed to go to the Getty Museum in California. The classical marble sculpture of Jupiter's daughters, Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia, was bought in 1990 by the Getty Museum, but its export was blocked and the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Gallery of Scotland jointly bought it in 1994 after a fund-raising campaign. Thyssen donated part of the £7.5 million that enabled the purchase of the sculpture.
The Atlantic Monthly's web site has launched a new arts feature called Critical Eye. The first installment, by Lee Siegel, discusses Egon Schiele and pornography.
ABORIGINAL RELICS TO BE RETURNED
Australian museums have agreed to return some 11,000 Aboriginal skeletons and 7,200 Aboriginal artifacts to their traditional owners in a four-year reconciliation campaign. Australia arts minister Richard Alston said that negotiations over the return of sacred objects can be particularly difficult since their public display was taboo under Aboriginal law.
ROYAL ACADEMY REPORTS FINANCIAL SUCCESS
The Royal Academy in London has reported increases in 1997 attendance of 11 percent over 1996, for a total visitorship of over 858,000 for shows ranging from Braque, Giacometti and George Grosz to Gillian Ayers. The Academy also reports an operating surplus of £175,000, the first surplus in four years.