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New Whitney Museum director Maxwell Anderson, slated to take control of the ontologically challenged institution just after Labor Day, has received a New York welcome -- that would be a Bronx cheer -- from the local press. New York Observer columnist Hilton Kramer noted it's a good thing that Anderson isn't a specialist in American art -- Kramer doesn't approve of any knowlege of "the mystifications of post-structuralist theory" -- and basically urges Anderson to fire the entire curatorial staff. The same paper's Jeffrey Hogrefe lures Anderson into admitting he's unlikely to show a work by Diana Thater that was a welcome-gift from Whitney trustee Peter Norton. And New York magazine canvases so-called "art cognoscenti" (maybe they're Italian) to discover that A.M. Homes, Klaus Kertess and Paula Cooper have "never heard of him." Come on down, Max.

Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, otherwise known as LACE, celebrates its 20th anniversary after emerging from near-death a few years ago. New director Irene Tsatsos promises that the alternative space won't lose its edge, even though it has disbanded its trademark committees of artists that previously oversaw programming decisions. LACE's 12th "Annuale," its juried exhibition of work by emerging L.A. artists, opens Aug. 10-Sept. 20, 1998, and is selected by New York critic (and ArtNet contributor) Franklin Sirmans. The artists are Leticia S. Dello Russo, Alex Donis, Wendell Gladstone, Kira Lynn Harris, Jessica Irish, Karin Johansson, Soo Kim, H. Lan Thao Lam, Ceres Madoo, Annica Karlsson Rixon and Madison Webb.

The heirs of the late Paris art dealer Paul Rosenberg, whose huge art collection was seized by the Nazis after he fled to the U.S. during World War II, have filed a court claim for Matisse's Odalisque (ca. 1928), currently part of the collection of the Seattle Art Museum. The work was donated to the museum in 1991 by timber magnate Prentice Bloedel, who purchased it from Knoedler & Company in New York in 1954. Bloedel's daughter, Virginia Bloedel Wright, a Seattle Museum trustee, saw the painting listed in Hector Feliciano's The Lost Museum and notified the Rosenberg family, which then claimed the work.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle by Elaine Rosenberg of New York, widow of Paul Rosenberg's son, and Micheline Nanette Sinclair of Paris, Rosenberg's daughter. Museum attorney John Reed said that the painting would be turned over to the Rosenbergs if it could be determined that their claim is valid.

According to reporting done by ArtNet contributor Amy Fusselman last year, Knoedler director Ann Freedman said that the gallery had purchased the painting in good faith from Galerie Drouant-David in Paris in 1954, and at the time had obtained a photo-certificate of authenticity with provenance from Amelie Matisse, the artist's wife. But Wanda de Guebriant, registrar of Les Heriters des Matisse (The Heirs of Matisse), the Paris-based Matisse foundation created by Matisse's daughter Marguerite Duthuit, said the only record she had on the work was that "in 1938, it was in the collection of Mr. Rosenberg." What's more, de Guebriant says that Knoedler regularly alerted Duthuit to Matisse works in the gallery's inventory, but had never mentioned the 1928 Odalisque. Stay tuned.

The estate of Alexander Calder, headed by Calder grandson Alexander Rower, is refusing to allow museum gift shops to carry mobiles by other artists, according to a report in the New York Times. The Calder estate has demanded the removal of Calderesque works by Buffalo artist Graham Sears, L.A. sculptor Brad Howe and other Calder epigones from shops at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum and the Phillips Collection, among other museums. Willard Holmes, acting director of the Whitney, told the Times that the museum voluntarily removed items that might "cause confusion in the visitor's mind." The news comes as a popular, 270-work Calder retrospective is traveling from its debut at the National Gallery of Art, Mar. 29-July 12, 1998, to the San Francisco MoMA, Sept. 4-Dec. 1, 1998.

The dispute raises three questions: 1) What is this crap doing in the museum shops in the first place; 2) What idiot gave Calder's kin the right to determine what artists make, and 3). What are the financial arrangements between the museums and the Calder estate?

The AC Project Room opens shop on the second floor of 453 West 17th Street in Chelsea on Sept. 1, 1998, in the same building as Rupert Goldsworthy and Richard Anderson galleries. Christoph Gerozissis, past director of the Zabriskie Gallery, has been hired as the new director.

The Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Tex., has begun work on a project designed by late neon-light artist Dan Flavin. The artist's trademark "light barriers," made of eight-foot-long pink, green, blue and yellow fluorescent lights, will be installed in six u-shaped barracks buildings on the Chinati property. The $1.4-million project has received $400,000 from the Lannan Foundation and additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Brown Foundation, the Houston Endowment and the Meadows Foundation. The installation is Flavin's largest work ever.

A 26-year old man entered the National Gallery in London dressed as a woman and pulled a tube of yellow paint out from under his skirt and squirted it on a Rembrandt self-portrait. The painting has already been cleaned and is back on view. No motive for the action by Vincent Bethell, an unemployed Coventry man, has been established. What would Freud say?

Marking the recent strength of the art market, Sotheby's Holdings, Inc. has announced total revenues of $215.1 million for the first half of 1998, compared to $185.1 million for the same period last year. Net income was $27.3 million for the first half of '98, compared to $22.6 in '97. Auction sales totaled $967.6 million for the period, compared to $857.9 million for a year ago. The earnings are the highest since 1990, said Sotheby's president Diana Brooks. Sotheby's sold the two most expensive paintings of the spring auction season, Claude Monet's Waterlily Pond and Path by the Water (1900) which sold for £19.8 million in London, and Andy Warhol's Orange Marilyn (1962), which sold in New York for $17.3 million, quadrupling the highest price ever paid for a Warhol at auction.

Some 50 animal-rights activists tried to block the Aug. 3 opening of a six-day Orgies Mysteries Theater festival by Viennese Actionist artist Hermann Nitsch, infamous for his Theater-of-Cruelty performances using animal blood and entrails, at the Prinzendorf Castle just north of Vienna. Brigitte Bardot protested what she called "a Satanic spectacle," and called Nitsch a "master of horror." Right-wing Austrian Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider denounced an art in which "children will abuse and lose their sexual integrity, where religious feeling will be crushed and where the basic principles of human righs will be disregarded," according to Reuters. Pigs and bulls are to be slaughtered in the performances, which can involve as many as 100 art students. Austrian state television is broadcasting the show.

Andy Warhol's five-story brick townhouse on East 66th Street in New York City has been designated as a cultural landmark by the Historic Landmark Preservation Center. A small plaque was attched to trhe building in an Aug. 5, 1998, ceremony attended by Warhol superstar Brigid Berlin, former Warhol model Holly Solomon, Warhol Foundation sales agent Vincent Fremont and Interview magazine co-founder Bob Colacello.

Prompted by the good attendance at its show of Dutch art, "A Collector's Cabinet," the National Gallery of Art has extended the exhibition's run to Nov. 1, 1998.

Performance artist Karen Finley may have lost to the Supreme Court and been canceled at the Whitney Museum, but her doings now rate regular reports on the Reuters news wire. The latest has her hiring Desperately Seeking Susan actress Rosanna Arquette to star in her first film, Creating Kali, the story of a sadomasochist on Hollywood's underground scene.

Susan H. Edwards has been appointed director of the Katonah (New York) Museum of Art. She had been curator of the Hunter College Art Galleries in New York.

The J. Paul Getty Trust has announced two promotions. Getty Museum director John Walsh takes the additional title of vice president of the Getty Trust. Getty Museum chief curator Deborah Gribbon has been given the additional title of deputy director of the museum.

The Museum of Modern Art has named Patty Lipshutz as its new general counsel. Lipshutz has been general counsel to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center since 1987. She succeeds Beverly M. Wolff, who resigned last March after 16 years on the job.

Thomas Collins, a former curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, has been named associate curator at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle.

Former New York Times art critic Michael Brenson and Brooklyn Museum curator Charlotta Kotik discuss the state of art criticism on Saturday, Aug. 8, at 5 p.m. in the museum's Warburg Sculpture Garden. Admission is a suggested contribution.

New York blue-chip art dealer Abigail Asher says short skirts sell art. In the August issue of Vogue magazine, designer Donna Karan leads six high-profile professional women in a discussion about "how fashion fits into their lives." After Vogue editor Anna Wintour notes that you can't show up for work in a short skirt -- despite Ally McBeal -- Asher says, "Believe me, you can! I'm in the art business versus a law firm, and you could show up and sell a painting in a short skirt, but you won't sell anything in a long skirt."

ANTONIO SAURA, 1921-1998
Antonio Saura, painter, illustrator, and founder of the famous Grupo El Paso, died July 22 in Cuenca, Spain. He was 67.

Saura played a major role in invigorating and sustaining Spanish contemporary art and intellectualism, particularly during Franco's tenure, when Spain suffered a critical-mass exodus of artistic and intellectual talent. Saura went to France in the 1950s in order to be closer to the origins of surrealism, but chose not to stay. He returned to Spain in 1955, established his home in Cuenca, and founded the El Paso Group with artists Rafael Canogar, Luis Feito, Juana Francés, Manuel Millares, Manuel Rivera, Antonio Suárez, and Pablo Serrano. Critics Manuel Conde and José Ayllón also joined the group.

Saura is best known for his "dark" paintings and his "beautiful monsters," with pictorial emphasis on powerful blacks and saturated accompanying color. He also illustrated a variety of books, including Kafka's Diaries, El Quijote, and the poems of Saint John of the Cross. He served as curator for the exhibit commemorating the 250th anniversary of Goya's birth in Zaragoza in 1996, and made his own tribute to Goya with a series of lithographs and by creating an even darker version of the Goya work, The Dog.

In 1994, he completed a series of drawings inspired by news reports, doing one every day of that year. He has had major exhibitions worldwide, including large shows at the Municipal Museum of Lugano, Switzerland, Barcelona's Palace of the Virreina, the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, the Stedelij of Amsterdam, and the Künsthalle of Düsseldorf. He received numerous awards, and at the time of his death, was preparing to open a foundation in Cuenca. Saura continued working until just a few days before he entered the Hospital Virgen de la Luz in Cuenca. The Jenisch Museum in Vevey, Switzerland, is showing an exhibit of his most recent work. The exhibit runs through August 30.

José Guirao, director of the Reina Sofía Museum, called Saura, "one of the greatest innovators of the post-war era. In the arid, desolate panorama of the 1950s, he managed to open the way for Spanish art to become part of the international vanguard."

Artist Eduardo Chillida, a close friend of Saura's, remarked, "His work did not create a school, but rather an opening that many artists have followed."

Saura was buried in the cemetery of Cuenca, where two of his daughters also are buried. He is survived by his wife Mercedes, his daughter, actress Marina Saura, and a brother, cineast Carlos Saura. Antonio Saura is represented by the Marlborough Gallery in Madrid.

-- Ysabel de la Rosa