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Artnet News
Jan. 13, 2009 

The young street artist widely known as KAWS, who had his first gallery show at Gering & López in Manhattan last month, now has work on view in a more mass-market venue -- a Times Square billboard advertising the new album by hip-hop artist Kanye West. In the billboard, West is held in the coils of KAWS’ signature creature, a kind of skull-headed snake. "Art Wins!" wrote the irrepressible musician on his blog. KAWS, who has his own clothes line and a shop in Tokyo (both dubbed OriginalFake), is slated for a solo show at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in 2010. As for West, his interest in art is a longstanding one: His last album cover was designed by Takashi Murakami.

Actor David Caruso, known to couch potatoes from his starring role on CSI: Miami, has produced his first fine art print. Dubbed Chinerica I, the work is an image of the American flag done not in the familiar red, white and blue, but rather in the yellow and red of the Chinese flag. The screenprint is advertised by Gallery Brown in Los Angeles as "conceptualized by Caruso and brought to life by noted photorealist Alan Locke." The artist says the work challenges "the eclipse of working-class America and. . . the culture itself." Measuring 30 x 40 inches, the print, in an edition of 200, goes on view Jan. 20-Mar. 20, 2009, and can be viewed here. The price? $4,500.

Europe’s Fortis bank was already essentially broken up and sold to the government of the Netherlands for $22 billion in October 2008. Now, to add insult to injury, the institution’s banking unit could be on the hook for one of the biggest pieces in the Bernard Madoff scam -- a potential $1.35 billion in losses on collateral it provided for funds exposed to the fraudster. Go to the bank’s website, however, and you find a different achievement touted: the so-called Fortis Art Bank. "Today," the bank trumpets, "art is increasingly seen as both a sound and aesthetic investment." With this in mind, Fortis reveals that "all meeting rooms in Hong Kong and Singapore have been transformed into art galleries" -- commercial art galleries, at that. The initiative was organized with an "arts management consultancy" called ArtReach (in the past, the two institutions have also sponsored the ARTSingapore art fair).

According to the Art Bank website, current selections at the bank’s Hong Kong offices are drawn from the local Schoeni Art Gallery, and range from acrylics of butterflies by Chinese artist Cao Jing Ping (HK$120,000- HK$180,000) to oil-on-canvas grids juxtaposing images of nature with text, by Singapore’s Mao Jinyao (HK$55,000 each). At Fortis’ Singapore outpost, work comes from the Kwan Hua Art Gallery, and includes ink-on-ricepaper compositions of horsemen from Chinese painter Bai Jin Shun. Modestly priced, Bai’s works are S$1,200 to S$2,200.

White Columns
, the unstoppable New York City alternative space, celebrates its 40th anniversary with "40 Years / 40 Projects," Jan 13-Feb. 28, 2009. The special presentation, which includes material from 112 Greene Street, an artist-run space from the 1970s, features documentation and artworks by Kathe Burkhart, Marjorie Strider, Alan Saret, Willoughby Sharp, and others.

The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (BGFA), located in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, has entered into a partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (MCASD) to launch "Classic Contemporary: Lichtenstein, Warhol & Friends," opening Jan. 23, 2009. The display is billed as a transition towards a more cutting-edge profile for the space, which has in the past focused on old masters and early modernists -- though the art still gets no more contemporary than the 1970s. Works from the MCASD collection included are by Hans Hofmann, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, Clyfford Still and Andy Warhol.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, the BGFA has also recently launched a "Modern Council," which hopes to soak up the leftovers from the "Young Collectors Council" of the Guggenheim Las Vegas, which shuttered last year. A personal tour of "Classic Contemporary" is planned for Council members by San Diego museum director Hugh Davies.

The young filmmaker Chiara Clemente -- daughter of artist Francesco Clemente -- premieres her new documentary, Our City Dreams, at Film Forum in Manhattan for two weeks, Feb. 4-17, 2009. The 87-minute-long "love letter to the city" strings together self-told narratives by five women artists: Swoon, Ghada Amer, Kiki Smith, Marina Abramovic and Nancy Spero. Clemente has previously made films on Frank Gehry, Jim Dine, Brice Marden and her father.

The unveiling of a fairly banal painting of president George W. Bush at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., has been enlivened by a bit of controversy over the wall label. The portrait, by Darien, Conn.-based painter Robert Anderson -- a Yale classmate of Bush, who also did his likeness for the Yale Club in New York -- offers a smiling George W. posed on the edge of a green couch, and is hung in the NGA’s "America's Presidents" exhibition. Taking exception to a wall label, however, was Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who objected to the phasing of a line stating that Bush’s tenure in office was marked by "catastrophic events" including "the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that led to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq." In a Jan. 7 letter to NGA director Martin E. Sullivan, Sanders argued that the idea that "9/11 and Iraq were linked, or that one ‘led to’ the other, has been widely and authoritatively debunked," and that the NGA was "inadvertently rewrit[ing] history."

This bit of leftie nitpicking had an impact. Five days later, on Jan. 12, 2009, Sullivan replied in a letter to the Senator, stating the obvious that the label did not intend to imply a causal connection between 9/11 and the Iraq War, but that the words "led to" would be expunged (both letters are posted at the Senator’s website). While Sullivan was at it, he also offered Sanders a personal tour of the NGA -- presumably to forestall such embarrassing snafus from taking place in public in the future.  

Maria Lind
, director of the graduate program at the Bard College Program for Curatorial Studies, has won the $15,000 Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement for 2009. The selection was made by a panel of three curators: Lynne Cook, curator of the Dia Art Foundation and chief curator of the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; Susanne Ghez, director of the Renaissance Society; and Udo Kittelmann, director of the Berlin Nationalgalerie. The award is presented by the Menil Collection in Houston.  

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the nonprofit founded by Jasper Johns and John Cage, has announced the recipients of its 2009 grants to artists -- 12 awards of $25,000 each. Winners in the visual arts are Klara Liden, Paul Etienne Lincoln, Gedi Sibony and Guido van der Werve. Other recipients are Foofwa d’Imobilité and Maria Hassabi (dance), Mick Barr and Glenn Branca (music), Elevator Repair Service and Ruth Maleczech (theater), and John Godfrey and David Meltzer (poetry).

The Nevada Museum of Art in Reno has hired William L. Fox as the inaugural director of its new Center for Art + Environment. The L.A.-based Fox has served as a visiting fellow at both the Getty Research Institute and the National Museum of Australia, and written books on Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The Center for Art + Environment, which debuts this month, is designed to focus on "creative interactions between people and their natural, virtual and built environments." For its opening, it also announced that it had acquired a significant collection of archival materials relating to projects by Michael Heizer and Walter de Maria, courtesy Las Vegas collectors G. Robert and Joan Deiro.

Coosje van Bruggen, 66, art historian and curator who became Claes Oldenburg’s wife and artistic collaborator, died of breast cancer in Los Angeles on Jan. 10. Van Bruggen served on the curatorial staff at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1967-71) and taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Enschede in the Netherlands (1971-76) before marrying Oldenburg in 1977 and moving to New York City with her husband. Flashlight, the first artwork that was formally signed by both van Bruggen and Oldenburg, was installed in 1981 in Las Vegas. Together the two artists have had more than 40 museum exhibitions since 1979, and made more than 40 large-scale projects around the world. Independently, Van Bruggen also contributed to Artforum magazine in the 1980s, and was senior critic at Yale’s sculpture department in 1996-97. She wrote monographs on Bruce Nauman (1989), John Baldessari (1990) and Hanne Darboven (1991).

Aldo Crommelynck, 77, master printer who worked with Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and many others, died in Paris on Dec. 22. Born in Monaco in 1931, Crommelynck teamed up with his brother Piero to work in Paris and eventually open their own printing shop in 1959. Beginning in 1963, they ran a printing shop in Mougins to work with Picasso. In 1986 Aldo opened his own shop in New York, where he worked with several generations of American artists, including Jim Dine, Chuck Close, Terry Winters and Keith Haring.

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