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Artnet News
July 26, 2011 

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Can a book reviewer libel an art reporter? The answer is yes, at least in the United Kingdom. Art journalist Sarah Thornton, who writes for the New Yorker, the Economist and Artforum and is author of the popular book Seven Days in the Art World (2008), has won £65,000 in damages against the Telegraph Media Group, publisher of the Daily Telegraph. London's high court found that a 2008 review in the DT of Thornton's book by Lynn Barber -- a journalist who had sat on the jury for the Turner Prize in 2006, and who figured in the chapter of Seven Days dealing with the prize -- contained libel and malicious falsehood.

What could be so bad? In Seven Days, Thornton wrote that the other Turner Prize judges thought Barber to be inexperienced, that Tate head Nicholas Serota criticized her behavior as judge, and related an incident in which artist Phil Collins told Barber to "shut up." In her review, Barber got in some digs of her own, calling Thornton a "decorative Canadian" with "a seemingly limitless capacity to write pompous nonsense." Nasty, perhaps, but not libelous.

Two claims in the review were at issue: Barber said that Thornton had not interviewed her for the book, when she had conducted a telephone interview (attested to by Thornton’s copious notes, and even a diary entry on Barber's part); and Barber claimed that Thornton gave her interviewees "copy approval," which is not true.

In a letter to the editor, Thornton put it succinctly: "Lynn Barber's review of my book Seven Days in the Art World contains two factual errors that are damaging to my reputation." The DT at first denied any errors, and then removed the review from its website. Ten months after first publication, the DT published an apology.

In the decision, the judge said the DT columnist was "spiteful" and "lied in the course of giving her oral evidence." He further suggested that Barber had "fobbed off" the complaint. The judge called what he described as Barber's "malice" and the DT's failure to set the record straight as aggravating factors.

The decision is thought to be the first finding of malice against a book reviewer in some time. The DT said it planned to appeal.

"This case is about journalistic integrity," said Thornton in a statement. "At a time when the ethics of tabloids are under scrutiny, here is an example of a 'quality' journalist's abuse of power."

Where have all the young art dealers gone? This weekend, they have flown to Hudson, N.Y., to take part in NADA Hudson, July 30-31, 2011, billed as a large-scale exhibition of 51 art projects taking place in artist William S. Stone's Basilica Hudson, an amazing 8,000-square-foot 19th-century factory a block from the Hudson River. The event is being overseen by NADA executive director Heather Hubbs and Lower East Side art dealer James Fuentes.

"It's not an art fair, I don't think anyone really expects to sell art," said Orchard Street dealer Rachel Uffner. "It's a big old beautiful building, and it should be a fun collective event." The installation is expected to extend outside and occupy a theater space. Performances are planned through the two days; the opening reception is scheduled for Saturday at Club Helsinki on Columbia Street. 

NADA members and affiliates presenting works in the space range from Canada, DCKT and Museum 52 in New York to moniquemeloche in Chicago to Luis De Jesus in Los Angeles, Silverman in San Francisco and Pianissimo in Milan.

A small factory town of only ten square blocks or so, Hudson has in recent years become a center for shops specializing in 20th-century modern furniture as well as antiques. It is 20 minutes away from Bard College, where CCS BARD is currently presenting "Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964-1977." 

You know you're happening if you're in Aspen in August. That means you, Sotheby's auctioneer Tobias Meyer and Dallas Cowboys cheerleading art superpatron Amy Phelan and 300 other top collectors, artists, dealers, curators, collectors and wine connoisseurs! The upcoming ArtCrush 2011 Summer Benefit for the Aspen Art Museum is such a big deal that it takes three days, Aug. 3-5, 2011.

Special events include a "wineCRUSH" hosted by John and Amy Phelan at their art-filled home, and a "PreviewCrush" cocktail reception at Aspen's Baldwin Gallery. The central gala event, which features a live art auction conducted by the previously mentioned Meyer, takes place on the Aspen Art Museum grounds on Friday, Aug. 5, to be followed by a "dance party" featuring DJ Samantha Ronson at the Syzygy City restaurant. Benefit tickets start at $150, though it seems to be pretty much sold out. 

The gala is also the spot for the presentation of the annual Aspen art award goes to latter-day minimalist artist Roni Horn (previous winners have included Marilyn Minter, Fred Tomaselli and Ed Ruscha). Artists expected to be on hand include Will Cotton, E.V. Day, Rashid Johnson, Josephine Meckseper and Richard Phillips, and Lawrence Weiner.

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