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Artnet News
May 27, 2009 

New technology -- webcasting -- takes center stage at the Babcock Galleries at 724 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on June 3, 2009. The gallery is webcasting a discussion between art historian Irving Sandler and artist Marilyn Dintenfass, whose exhibition of Color Field painting, "Good & Plenty Juicy," is on view at the gallery, May 8-June 12, 2009. The discussion takes place at the gallery from 6 pm to 8 pm, and is being broadcast live online at

"Good & Plenty Juicy" presents a new series of paintings, monoprints and works on paper that play with the notion of candy as both "a treat and a threat," reflecting on the bright colors and simple shapes that candy can take, as well as what Dintenfass calls its "variously sunny and dark psychological associations." The webcast will remain available at the gallery website after the discussion.

The crazy art-spectacle that is the Venice Biennale, June 3-Oct. 22, 2009, just got a little crazier. Russian artist Alexander Ponomarev -- who represented his country at the 2007 Biennale -- has promised to dock an actual submarine in the canals of Venice for the show. Sound like a joke? Hardly. The project, dubbed SubTiziano, is actually a weighty meditation on the collision of art with weapons of war, we are told, with the artist painting the vehicle with a brightly colored "negative camouflage" pattern -- an homage to Venetian Renaissance master Titian -- thereby "stripping it of its main advantage: secrecy."

Bring your GPS: Ponomarev’s submarine will be docked at coordinates 45"26’03. 58" N 12"19’36.90"E. For more details, see

If this were a movie, it would be the start of something very, very bad. Fortunately, it’s just visual art. Through Aug. 2, 2009, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo is showing Giant Torayan, a 7.2-meter-high, fire-breathing robot. The brainchild of sculptor Kenji Yanobe, this aluminum, steel, brass and Styrofoam monstrosity has the head of a baby and is equipped with software that allows it to differentiate the voices of adults from those of children -- and it responds only to the latter (the artist calls it "the ultimate child’s weapon.") Curator Hiroko Kato tells the Tokyo Reporter that the work is "symbol of the challenging and difficult times at present," though she also adds, in what seems to be a non sequitur, that "Torayan was created to deliver a message of hope to the world" because "[c]hildren signify the future."

Perhaps the Western world’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil can be balanced out by a corresponding Arab dependence on Western art. So it would seem from a handful of recent art purchases made by the as yet unbuilt Louvre Abu Dhabi, the 260,000-square-foot museum designed by Jean Nouvel and slated to open in 2013 in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Among the works are a pair of paintings by Edouard Manet, Still Life with Bag and Garlic and The Bohemian (both 1867), purchased for an undisclosed price from Wildenstein & Co., and two works bought from the Yves Saint Laurent Collection at Christie’s Paris in late February 2009: Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black (1922), which sold for $29.4 million, and a stained beechwood African-style stool by Pierre Legrain from the 1920s that brought €457,000. The Emirates are reportedly paying the Louvre $555 million for the use of its name and expertise.

If the L.A. MoCA survives its recent, and much-publicized, brush with death -- and as of now, it claims that after trimming its budget by $4.5 mil, cancelling four shows and slashing 17 jobs from the payroll, it has balanced the budget for 2009 -- the celebrated art institution will owe a debt of gratitude to actor and Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog star Neil Patrick Harris. According to L.A. Weekly, Harris and partner of six years David Burtka hosted a fundraiser last weekend, with "MoCA Contemporaries" paying $125 apiece to wander through the couple’s Studio City home.

In addition to such tidbits as what type of toilet paper and shower products the two men use, the Weekly does give some sense of the kind of art on the walls: a work titled Future Minded Fruit byAndrew Sendor; an Untitled canvas by Tony Payne which has the word "haunted" written on it with ashes from a burned-down home; and a semi-abstract watercolor by Darina Karpov. Also: a lenticular "changing portrait" of a Medusa head from a 1968 Disneyland "Haunted Mansion" ride, and a mechanical girl whose panties change colors and disappear at the pull of a lever. "Harris gets his art-collecting advice from his caterer," the article notes.

In 2003, yBas Jake and Dinos Chapman outraged refined sensibilities when they exhibited a set of Francisco Goya’s Disasters of War etchings, but only after they had "defaced" the prints with the addition of clown heads and the like. Now, the Chapman brothers are at the Hay Festival of Literature in Wales -- dubbed "the Woodstock of the mind" by no less than Bill Clinton -- where they have proposed starting a "Goya slush fund" to raise money to purchase more of the Spanish Master's originals for alteration. "We had this idea of a Goya slush fund where we sell one and buy another and work on it," said Jake. "It will be like a bacterial necrotising thing, like Ebola, you can feel your arm being eaten, it will be unpleasant." Dinos added, "It's a year zero thing we do want to get our hands on as many as possible." Stay tuned.

-- Laura K. Jones

"Abstract America: New Painting and Sculpture," May 29-Sept. 13, 2009, opens at the new Saatchi Gallery in London, the third show in a what is billed as a three-part introduction to the gallery’s new home in the 70,000-square-foot Duke of York HQ building. The 32 artists in the show "are heavily influenced by the new digital age": Kristin Baker, John Bauer, Mark Bradford, Tom Burr, Joe Bradley, Jedediah Caesar, Carter, Eric and Heather ChanSchatz, Peter Coffin, Guerra de la Paz, Francesca DiMattio, Bart Exposito, Mark Grotjahn, Jacob Hashimoto, Rachel Harrison, Patrick Hill, Ryan Johnson, Matt Johnson, Paul Lee, Chris Martin, Elizabeth Neel, Baker Overstreet, Stephen G. Rhodes, Amanda Ross-Ho, Sterling Ruby, Gedi Sibony, Amy Sillman, Agathe Snow, Kirsten Stoltmann, Dan Walsh, Jonas Wood and Aaron Young.

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., unveils its first unassisted retrospective on the artist, "American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell," on the appropriately Rockwellian date of July 4, 2009. The exhibition highlights Rockwell’s familiar images of everyday American life -- boys fleeing a forbidden swimming hole, Main Street U.S.A. decked out in Christmas lights and holly -- but also explores Rockwell’s shift in the 1960s to themes of Civil Rights and other social issues.

One highlight is Golden Rule, a canvas crammed with a multiplicity of people and captioned with the adage, in gold paint, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Another important work is Murder in Mississippi, Rockwell’s now-famous 1965 take on Southern justice. The painting recalls the three Civil Rights workers slain in Philadelphia, Miss., and is accompanied by the 1964 newspaper stories about the murders that Rockwell kept in his files, notes he made about the slain men, staged photographs that he used in composing the painting, and preparatory drawings.

Works by more than 40 Iranian artists are featured in "Selseleh/Zelzeleh: Movers & Shakers in Contemporary Iranian Art," May 28-Aug. 20, 2009, at the Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller Gallery at 39 East 78th Street in Manhattan. Participating are Shirin Neshat, Y.Z. Kami, Reza Derakshani, Pouran Jinchi, Roya Akhavan, Farhad Moshiri, Farideh Lashai and Shoja Azari. The show is organized by Leila Heller and Dr. Layla Diba and accompanied by an illustrated catalogue. For more info, see

Are you one of those culture mavens who likes to keep an eye on new talent? Then "We Belong Together: Yale Photography MFA 2009," May 29-July 5, 2009, is for you. The show of emerging artists -- and Yale has been known to produce some good young photographers -- takes place at Capricious Space at 103 Broadway in Willamsburg, Brooklyn. Uniting the nine artists is said to be the "love of photography." The artists are George Awde, Dru Donovan, David La Spina, Justin Leonard, Catharine Maloney, Caitlin Price, Colin Smith, Elaine Stocki and Ka-Man Tse.

Derrick R. Cartwright, currently executive director of the San Diego Museum of Art, has been chosen as the next director of the Seattle Art Museum, according to the Seattle Times. At SAM, he replaces Mimi Gates, whose 15-year tenure as director is scheduled to end on June 30. Cartwright faces a particular challenge in taking over the Seattle museum, which has grown fast -- opening the well-reviewed Olympic Sculpture Park, and new headquarters -- but also staked its fortunes on a partnership with now-defunct Washington Mutual. JPMorgan, which bought the remains of WAMU as the bank went under last year, announced early in 2009 that it would not renew a lease in a building WAMU shared with SAM, leaving the museum with a budget shortfall of $3.8 million a year, unless it can find a new tenant. Cartwright takes the reins in the fall.

ASH DARRELL, 1978-2009
Ash Darrell, 31, artist who exhibited his work in group shows at Guild & Greyshkul in SoHo, died of his own hand on May 20 in New York City. A one-time assistant to painter Brice Marden, Darrell had worked as an art handler at several Chelsea galleries, and recently had become an assistant at Cove Landing, an antiques gallery on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

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