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Artnet News
Jan. 26, 2010 

The 200 films unspooling at three Utah towns as part of the Sundance Film Festival, Jan. 21-31, 2010, include plenty of stuff for the art crowd. Howl, the 90-minute-long James Franco-starrer that looks at Allen Ginsberg’s obscenity trial, is already receiving extensive positive reviews. Another highlight, though less well-liked, is Tamra Davis’ documentary, Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child from Arthouse Films, the third entry in a Basquiat trilogy that now includes Glenn O’Brien’s Downtown 81 and Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat.

Banksy’s self-documentary Exit through the Gift Shop, described by the artist as "the world’s first street art disaster movie," is having its premiere at the festival. The Brazilian artist Vik Muniz is the subject of Waste Land, a 98-minute-long documentary by Lucy Walker that chronicles the artist making one of his works in a Rio de Janeiro slum with the help of a band of catadores, or "pickers."

Also having its U.S. premiere at Sundance is Sam Taylor-Wood’s Nowhere Boy, a 98-minute-long fictionalization of the early career of John Lennon, starring Aaron Johnson as Lennon and Kristin Scott-Thomas as his Aunt Mimi. The film, which is being distributed by the Weinstein Company, has special buzz from the gossip-columns: The director and her much-younger leading man are both expecting and engaged, in that order.

In our digital era, many artists have turned to filmmaking, often premiering their works in an art context before hitting the ordinary movie theaters. One example of this dynamic is the artist Johan Grimonprez’s much praised 80-minute-long film Double Take, described as an examination of "the global rise of fear-as-commodity," which was screened a year ago at Sean Kelly Gallery, and is now also playing at Sundance. Another is Laleh Khorramian’s 2008 I without End, her irresistible 7-minute-long animation featuring orange-peel lovers; since the mid-2000s her work was included in shows at P.S.1 and Salon 94, among other galleries.

Last but not least, at the experimental Slamdance festival (which runs concurrently) is Bolt from the Blue, a 22-minute narrative film by Sebastian  Bear-McClard, the son of filmmaker and Avalanche magazine co-founder Liza Bear and artist Michael McClard.

It’s the sort of thing that gives art-lovers a real frisson. The nonprofit artist-book publisher Regency Arts Press, founded by ball-of-fire Lauren Wittels, has organized an "Art Book Swap" at the Museum of Modern Art on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010, from noon to 5 pm. Taking place at the Cullman Education and Research Building (at 4 West 54th Street), the Art Book Swap -- organized with the New Art Dealers Alliance -- is free and open to the public. "Bring your art books and swap one-for-one with hundreds of donated art books," says the flier. After the event, leftover books are donated to the Prison Readers Encouragement Project. For more info, see

"The art market is strong," proclaimed fair organizer David Lester in his after-fair report for the two art fairs that he and his wife Lee Ann Lester organized in sunny Florida this month. The Miami International Art Fair, Jan. 6-10, 2010, drew more than 17,000 fairgoers to the Miami Beach Convention Center, where 80 dealers in contemporary art presented their wares. Special attractions included a retrospective exhibition by Cuban artist Jose Bedia, and a "Focus Argentina" exhibition featuring 18 galleries from that country.

Next up was the Lester’s revitalized Art Palm Beach, Jan. 15-19, 2010. The six-day event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, had "a new positive mood and energy," according to Tamar Erdberg of Adamar Fine Arts. What’s more, the fair had record attendance of approximately 20,000 visitors, according to the organizers. Among the highlights were a jungle-like installation by the Colombian conceptual artist Federico Uribe and a book-signing and special exhibition by fashion photographer Bruce Weber. The fair also had its charitable component: Proceeds from daily ticket and food sales were donated to four community arts organizations in the surrounding area.

The crown jewel of the David and Lee Ann Lester’s growing fair circuit is the American International Fine Art Fair (AIFAF), Feb. 3-8, 2010, at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Rated "five stars" by the Art Newspaper, AIFAF boasts 80 dealers from more than a dozen countries, a stellar array that includes, in alphabetical order, Adelson Gallery, Berry-Hill Galleries, Goedhuis Contemporary, Richard Green Gallery, Carlton Hobbs, Hollis Taggart Galleries, MacConnal-Mason Gallery, Mallett, Lawrence Steingrad Fine Arts, Galerie Thomas and Waterhouse & Dodd. Dickinson, which has branches in New York, London and two other cities, is bringing Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 The Park of the Hospital St. Paul.

The fair features plenty of jewelry dealers as well, including Véronique Bamps, Hancocks, Macklowe Gallery and Richter’s, who specialize in vintage wares, while in the haute couture department are Buccellati, David Morris, Graff, Gioia, Scavia, Sabbadini, Tiffany & Company and Van Cleef & Arpels. General admission fees are $25 for a one day pass, $35 for a multi-day pass or $45 and $55 respectively with a catalogue.

The Lesters plan to expand their fair empire even further, and have now announced plans for the Naples International Art and Antique Fair, to present perhaps 60 dealers and set for Feb. 24-Mar. 1, 2011, and Art Naples, a more contemporary event planned for a week later, Mar. 10-14, 2011. For more info -- or to apply -- see

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