NO GO VAN GOGH?
London's Art Newspaper made the news wires this month with its headline-grabbing story that 45 works by van Gogh may be fakes. Based on the 1996 edition of Jan Hulsker's van Gogh catalogue raisonne, the report questions the authenticity of a number of multimillion-dollar paintings, including Dr. Gachet at the Musee D'Orsay, L'Arlesienne at the Metropolitan and Sunflowers, owned by Yasuda Fire & Marine Insurance in Tokyo. Scaar van Heugten, curator of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, dismissed the allegations as mere speculation.
IS TOO VAN GOGH!
Meanwhile, Yasuda Fire & Marine has rebutted the Art Newspaper report that van Gogh's Sunflowers -- purchased in 1987 at Christie's London for $41.5 million -- is among the 45 alleged fakes. Experts at the Tokyo Museum of Western Art say there is nothing, such as unusual materials, to substantiate the paper's claim.
FOOD FIGHT AT WSJ Deborah Solomon has been fired as art critic for the Wall Street Journal after insisting on writing for other publications as well, including Architectural Digest and the New York Times. According to the New York Observer, the vocational adjustment followed a noisy discussion in the company cafeteria between Solomon and food critic Raymond Sokolov, who serves as WSJ leisure-and-arts editor, that terminated with a glass of soda ending up in Solokov's lap. Way to go, D.
NO POP ARTIST
What is the New York Times to do in the face of this summer's drought of Op-Ed columnists? (Russell Baker was cut back to once a week, and Frank Rich is busy writing his memoirs.) Recruit artists! On the heels of Sotheby's sale of Princess Diana's gowns, Color Field painter Helen Frankenthaler confides that, so impressed was she with Di's dancing partner way back at a 1985 Presidential Ball, she asked the handsome young man to take her for a spin around the floor. Only later did the ivory-tower abstractionist discover that the stranger she was dancing with was movie star John Travolta.
Tickets for admission to the Museum of Modern Art -- which now runs $9.50 for adults! -- can now be purchased in advance on MoMA's web site. Tickets can be paid for by credit card and picked up in the museum lobby. Admission is pay-what-you-wish on Fridays from 4:30-8:30 p.m. (though the Thursday evening free night has been discontinued and MoMA closes at 6).
ART HARDBALL IN SWITZERLAND Unidroit, the controversial European treaty designed to help staunch the international trade in stolen or illegally exported art, is already costing Switzerland a major collection -- much to the benefit of the U.S. The Rudolf Staechlin Family Foundation in Basel has pulled its art from the Basel Kunstmuseum and the Musee d'Art et d'Histoire and instead sent the works to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Tex., for the next three years. An exhibition of works by Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso and van Gogh goes on view Oct. 5, 1997-Jan. 11, 1998; after that the art is to be interspersed with the Kimbell holdings. Foundation president Rudolf Staechlin (whose grandfather formed the nucleus of the collection in 1917-25) says that Unidroit would give the Swiss government too much control over art sales. He'll return the collection to Switzerland, he says, if the Swiss parliament rejects the convention.
BUST BREWING FOR LONDON MARKET? London's art dealers fear their share of the international art market will plummet as a result of the European Union. New taxes have been proposed for the EU, including doubling the Value Added Tax on sales of imported art from 2.5 percent to five percent and adding "droite de suite," the resale royalty provision that would give between two and four percent of resale profits to an artist or his or her heirs. London currently has a 30 percent share of the $10 billion annual art market, according to Reuters, compared to 40 percent for New York and six percent for Paris -- bound by such high fees and red tape. The immediate prospects: seek exemption from the new taxes for the London art market, or expand into the U.S. and Asia, as are Wildenstein & Co., Christie's and Phillips auction house.
Not all Republican politicians are cultural illiterates. In response to recent moves in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, a total of 28 Republican Congresspeople signed a letter to House Speaker Newt Gingrich to endorse continued funding of the agency. Drafted by New York Rep. Rick Lazio, the letter lauds the "federal government's modest investment in arts as an example of wise spending" and cites the educational and economic benefits of the arts as reason to keep the agency open.
Thirty-four years after being stolen from the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., a Paul Klee watercolor Little Regatta -- originally given to the museum as a gift from the estate of Katherine S. Dreier in 1953 -- has been returned to the museum. As it turns out, the stolen work was bought from an unnamed Maryland art dealer in the mid-1960s by Edward Puhl, only to be discovered in 1987 by an art scholar visiting the Puhl residence. After considerable legal and scholarly hemming and hawing, Little Regatta was turned over to Phillips curator Charles S. Moffett and is currently on view in a gallery dedicated solely to Klee's work.
The new Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M. -- the country's first museum dedicated to a single woman artist -- officially opens its doors on Thurs., July 17, 1997. Admission is free for the first three days, courtesy two Santa Fe hotels, the Eldorado and La Fonda; after that tickets are $5 (free for those under 17). The 13,000 square-foot museum houses more than 100 O'Keeffe works.
"Louise Lawler Monochromes," an exhibition of 14 photographs, opens July 17-Oct. 19, 1997, at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. The show features pictures of art objects in different spaces -- and each image is also a meditation on a single color.
CHALK ONE UP FOR LAWRENCE Martin Lawrence Limited Editions Inc., the popular art-print purveyor located on West Broadway in N.Y. -- which recently filed for bankruptcy -- will be taken over by its largest secured creditor, Chalk Vermilion Fine Arts, LLC. Officially, the plan calls for the exchange of Chalk's $1.2 million from Lawrence for 100 percent of the equity in the company.