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Artnet News
Jan. 12, 2006 

As any Starbucks fan can tell you, a good cup of coffee is a fine art. Now, the luxury coffee purveyor has enlisted New York artist Lane Twitchell to design the packaging for a new line of premium coffees. The roll-out blend is Kenya Kirinyaga, a lush brew with herbal flavor and grapefruit notes made from beans gathered from many small farms cultivated by Kenya's Kikuyu tribe. "The coffee is the best I've ever had," Twitchell said, with understandable enthusiasm. "It's extraordinarily smooth, as it should be at $13 for a half pound." Starbucks is shipping a mere 88,000 units, which translates to an average of five boxes per store. The coffee is already in stores -- it was spotted in New York recently at a Starbucks on Madison Avenue near 42nd Street.

Twitchell, who lives in Park Slope with his wife and young son and shows his elaborately patterned, stencil-cut artworks at Greenberg Van Doren Gallery on Fifth Avenue, has designed the packaging for four different varieties of premium coffee, which Starbucks plans to introduce every three months (the next coffee is due Mar. 14, 2006). Twitchell's elaborate illustrations trace the phases of growing and harvesting the coffee bean. The Kenya Kirinyaga package features images from the first phase of the process --  women planting the coffee beans in small bags, a germinating coffee bean, a planter with his arms around an immature coffee plant and a coffee flower blossom. In an ingenious and impressively detailed process, the image is stencil-cut into the black cardboard box that contains the bag of coffee, which is colored a deep blue.

How does an artist find himself working for the world's most famous coffee purveyor? It all starts with the art. As it happened, Starbucks worldwide creative director Stanley Hainsworth had purchased a set of Twitchell's prints from New York publisher Glen Nelson, and realized that the artist's signature stencil-cut imagery would be a good fit with Starbucks' new product line. The job paid well, Twitchell said, and he got to keep the original works. Plus, he got five boxes of Kenya Kirinyaga.

Art dealer and curator Lance Fung has organized the third "Snow Show," Feb. 6-Mar. 19, 2005, taking place in Sestriere, Italy, in conjunction with the 20th Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Feb. 10-26, 2006. As in its two earlier incarnations, the show teams artists with architects to design outdoor architectonic structures of snow and ice. Participants include Kiki Smith and Lebbeus Woods, who have crafted an ice rink inset with digital lights and watched over by a reclining ice figure, and Carsten Höller and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, who have devised a special sledding chute with three entry tunnels. Other teams are Daniel Buren and Patrick Bouchain, Yoko Ono and Arata Isozaki, Paola Pivi and Cliostraat, and Jaume Plensa and Norman Foster. For details, see

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been "supporting theft and plunder for years," according to archeologist Oscar White Muscarella -- a longtime employee of the very same museum that he so harshly criticizes. In a ferocious interview with reporter Suzan Mazur published in Scoop, an "internet news agency" based in New Zealand, Muscarella compares U.S. museums to bordellos, and says that "collecting antiquities is rape." He calls the Met's department of Greek and Roman art "The Temple of Plunder," and extends his indictment to other museum departments as well, saying that his museum's Asian art department holds "hundreds and hundreds [of artifacts] from temples and tombs from all over Cambodia, Thailand, China, just to decorate vitrines in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." The job of the antiquities curator, Muscarella says, is to "buy stolen art" and "get false documents."

"All these museums are actively engaged in erasing this planet's history," Muscarella says. As an archeologist, he argues that ancient artifacts should only be excavated scientifically by professionals, with objects and their contexts carefully documented. What's the answer to the current controversy over ownership of disputed cultural property? New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg should "order" the Met to "stop buying stolen objects right now," and telephone the Italian consul in New York and tell him to come "in 10 minutes, 15 minutes" and pick up the controversial Euphronios vase. [For a detailed report by former Met director Thomas Hoving on the museum's so-called "Hot Pot," see "Super Art Gems of New York City," June 29, 2001.]

What's more, Muscarella accuses New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman, who has been critical of lax museum acquisition policies, of being "dishonest" and "getting paid to write. . . a cover up," apparently due to a perceived conflict of interest of newspaper owner Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who is a Metropolitan Museum trustee. Muscarella refers to Kimmelman -- and other critics who review exhibitions of ancient art without mentioning "plunder" -- as "pimps." In an email, Kimmelman called Muscarella's charges "too silly to take seriously," and says that Muscarella "clearly knows nothing" about how the Times works.

Muscarella says that the Met fired him in the early 1970s, but he was able to retain his position at the museum after a long court battle. "I just don't understand why anyone who hates museums would work in a museum," commented Met communications director Harold Holzer to the Village Voice in 2003.

Much to the consternation of the London art trade, "droit de suite" -- resale royalties -- went into effect in the United Kingdom as of Jan. 1, 2006. In Britain the droit covers only works by living artists, and is paid on a sliding scale, beginning with four percent on works resold for €1,000-€50,000 -- giving artists a minimum royalty of about £27.50-- and progressing to 0.25% of sales exceeding €500,000. The maximum royalty payment on any one sale is €12,500. Auctioneers, commercial art galleries and private dealers are required to pay the royalty. The droit is being imposed following a directive of the European Union requiring all 15 member states to enact the new rules.

According to the British Patent Office, during 12 months in 2003-04 a total of 1,259 works eligible for royalty payments were sold at auction; the Patent Office furthermore estimates that auction sales represent approximately one-half of Britain's total art sales. London art dealers argue that the droit will send business to either New York or Geneva, where the resale royalty doesn't apply. "Europe is effectively commercially shooting itself in the foot," Anthony Browne, chairman of the British Art Market Federation, has been quoted as saying. Alternately, it is argued that the new law may serve to drive more of the resale market underground. Stay tuned.

This spring the Centre Pompidou in Paris is mounting a major survey of art from Los Angeles. Titled "Los Angeles - Paris," Mar. 8-July 17, 2006, the show presents a "many-sided history of a peculiar scene," with works by approximately 60 artists dating from 1960 to 1985. The artists in the show include Bas Jan Ader, Peter Alexander, John Altoon, Eleanor Antin, Michael Asher, John Baldessari, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Ed Bereal, Tony Berlant, Wallace Berman, Jonathan Borofsky, Nancy Buchanan, Chris Burden, Vija Celmins, Judy Chicago, Guy de Cointet, Richard Diebenkorn, John Divola, Judy Fiskin, Llyn Foulkes, Sam Francis, Jack Goldstein, Joe Goode, David Hammons, Robert Heinecken, George Herms, David Hockney, Dennis Hopper, Douglas Huebler, Robert Irwin, Larry Johnson, Allen Kaprow, Craig Kauffman, Mike Kelley, Edward Kienholz, John Knight, Suzanne Lacy, William Leavitt, Paul McCarthy, John McCracken, John McLaughlin, Michael McMillen, Susan Mogul, Linda Montano, Ed Moses, Matt Mullican, Bruce Nauman, Maria Nordman, John Outterbridge, Raymond Pettibon, Lari Pittman, Kenneth Price, Stephen Prina, Rachel Rosenthal, Nancy Rubins, Allen Ruppersberg, Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar, Miriam Schapiro, Alan Sekula, Jim Shaw, Peter Shelton, Alexis Smith, Barbara Smith, Edmund Teske, Robert Therrien, James Turrell, Jeffrey Vallance, Bill Viola, James Welling, and Christopher Williams. The show also includes work by the ASCO collective (Patssi Valdez, Gronk, Harry Gamboa, Willie Herron) and film and video by Kenneth Anger, Morgan Fisher, David Lamelas, Patrick O'Neill, John and James Whitney, and Bruce and Norman Yonemoto.

Visitors to "Los Angeles - Paris" might make a month of it and stay over for the Centre Pompidou's next show, "Collages de France, Jean-Luc Godard," Apr. 26-Aug. 14, 2006. The exhibition includes an "autoretrospective" of the work of the cantankerous film genius as well as new films specially made for the show and a "meditation" on the museum collection.

Hot news in New York City real estate circles is the recent purchase by Russian-born real-estate entrepreneur Tamir "Tom" Sapir, 58, of the landmark Duke-Semans townhouse at Fifth Avenue and 84th Street, across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for $40 million, the highest price paid to date for a Manhattan townhouse. Sapir says he plans to use the first five floors of the 1901 Beaux-Arts structure, formerly owned by the family of the late tobacco heiress Doris Duke, into a museum for his collection of European ivories, said to be the largest in the U.S. Sapir, who has an apartment on the 58th floor of Trump Tower, may also move into the building with his 25-year-old wife and their two-year-old daughter.

In response to the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has approved grants totaling $750,000 for artists and visual arts organizations in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Recipients are the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans ($100,000), the KAT fund for visual artists at the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston ($100,000), the Craft Emergency Fund ($50,000), the Louisiana Cultural Foundation ($100,000), the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council studio and stipend program for 14 artists displaced by the storms ($50,000), the Mississippi Arts Council ($50,000), the New Orleans Museum of Art ($200,000) and the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum in Biloxi (in honor of the late David Whitney) ($100,000). The funds for the New Orleans CAC and the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum are to rehire staff, and the grant to the New Orleans Museum is to rehire staff and for 2006 programming featuring New Orleans artists.

Manhattan's Chelsea art district marks a new milestone with the opening of a new gallery devoted to fine Persian carpets. Orley & Shabahang premieres at 520 West 23rd Street with "100 Years of Persian Carpet Masterworks," Mar. 1-Apr. 30, 2006, featuring an 1890 "Bee Bee Baft" Tree of Life Bakhtiari, a 1900 Shalamazaar "Garden Design" Bakhtiari and an 1880 Haj Jalili Tabriz, as well as contemporary carpets designed by Bahram Shabahang. The gallery is a collaboration between Shabahang and Geoffrey Orley, who has also opened shops in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Whitefish Bay, Wisc. and Palm Beach.

For some time, art insiders have made efforts to get a jump on the young art market by keeping an eye on the doings at the art schools. Now, Jack Tilton Gallery is pulling out all the stops with "School Days," Jan 14-Feb. 25, 2006, a show of work by 19 artists currently in MFA programs at Hunter College and Yale and Columbia universities. Artists represented in the exhibition include Keltie Ferris, Natalie Frank, Logan Grider, Evan Gruzis, Michelle Hailey, Ashley Hope, Ezra Johnson, Iva Kafri, Titus Kaphar, Rachel Kravetz, Andrea Merxz, Emmy Mikelson, Dane Nester, Robert Snead, Tavares Strachan, Kianja Strobert, Max Toth, Leonid Tsvetkov, and Aya Uekawa. For details, see

After five years, Fusebox gallery in the District of Columbia has announced plans to close, effective Feb. 11, 2006, at the end of its current exhibition of works by Vesna Pavlović and Ian Whitmore. Co-owners Sarah Finlay and Patrick Murcia are relocating to San Francisco, where Murcia has taken a position in the nonprofit housing world. Among the other artists who exhibited at Fusebox were Siemon Allen, Kendall Buster, Jason Gubbiotti, Susan Smith-Pinelo, Valeska Soares and Patrick Wilson.

The Guggenheim Museum is moving its offices from collector Peter Brant's red brick office building at 575 Broadway in SoHo to spaces at 345 Hudson Street, according to a report in Crain's New York Business. The Gugg is taking more than 39,000 square feet of space in a building where the average asking rents are in the mid-$30s per square foot. The move is planned for March, when the museum's current 15-year lease expires. In the 1990s the Guggenheim operated a satellite branch on the ground floor of the building.

Timothy Rub has been named director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, succeeding Katherine Lee Reid, who retired last summer. A specialist in architecture and modern and contemporary art, Rub has been director of the Cincinnati Art Museum for the past six years, and headed the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College from 1991 to '99. The museum is undertaking a $258-million, 200,000-square-foot expansion project designed by architect Rafael Viñoly and slated for completion in 2008.

Joel Smith
, former curator at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, has become curator of photography at the Princeton University Art Museum. Smith is the author of the recently published Steinberg at the New Yorker (Abrams) and a 2001 Princeton Ph.D.; at the Princeton museum he succeeds his former teacher and advisor, Peter C. Bunnell.

Hyunsoo Woo has been appointed to the new position of associate curator of Korean art at the Philadelphia Museum. She had been interim director of gallery affairs at the Japan Society in New York.

A memorial for artist Alan Shields, who died at age 61 on Dec. 20, 2005, is being held at 6 pm on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006, at Paula Cooper Gallery at 534 West 21st Street in New York. A postminimalist who was connected with the Pattern and Decoration movement in the 1970s, Shields first showed his unstretched, stained-canvas artworks at Paula Cooper in 1969 -- New York Times art critic Roberta Smith called them "gorgeous," and "reminiscent of Helen Frankenthaler's canvases, [combined] with the humbler crafts and a Gypsy sense of portability." Sheilds also made painted wood beads, necklaces, handmade paper, prints and books, and watercolors. He lived on Shelter Island in New York and had been suffering from emphysema.

MIMMO ROTELLA, 1917-2006
Mimmo Rotella, 88, Italian artist known for dramatic "décollage" works made of torn movie posters and other pop culture detritus, died in Milan on Jan. 8, 2006. At the end of World War II, Rotella studied for two years in Naples before moving to Rome in 1945, where he began making decollages in 1954. In 1951 he first exhibited with the Paris-based Nouveau Réalisme group, and in 1961 Pierre Restany included him in the influential "A 40° au-dessus de Dada" exhibition of the Noveau Réalistes at Galerie J in Paris. In the 1960s Rotella made typographical works incorporating advertising images, and in 1964 represented Italy at the Venice Biennale. In 1972 he published an autobiography, titled Autorotella. In 2000 he exhibited a group of new paintings at Charles Cowles Gallery in New York.

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