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Artnet News
Jan. 2, 2009 

In his first official move as director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Thomas P. Campbell takes to YouTube to address museum fans and mark the transition from the long reign of the much-liked outgoing director Philippe de Montebello. Campbell reveals little of note in the "special video message," though he does a good job singing the praises of "the greatest art museum in the world. . . with the finest curatorial conservation and education staffs and stellar programs in exhibitions and publications." Repeated viewings turn up clues to "The Da Vinci Code, Part II" (just kidding).

For art lovers who can’t get enough of the image of the Guggenheim Museum’s famed circular skylight crashing to the ground, the museum has now put the trailer for the new Hollywood thriller, The International, on the homepage of its website. With stars Clive Owen and Naomi Watts doing battle with an evil, world-dominating bank, the movie features a dramatic action scene inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s photogenic building. Even better in this time of financial scandal is the film’s teaser: "You give them your money, you trust them, but what if they use their money for something else?" In one bit of dialogue, however, star Clive Owen seems curiously out of touch, as he muses, "There has to be a way to bring down that bank!"

Not every art promoter is pulling in his horns. Art dealer Peter London of West-Eleven gallery has just announced plans to launch the first UK art fair devoted entirely to Russian art, from Fabergé jewels and Russian icons to Soviet Realism and contemporary art. The new Russian Art Fair, June 6-8, 2009, is timed to take place during the London auctions of Russian art, and is located in the ballroom of the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel. Over 1,000 multimillionaires live in London, according to the organizers, and the fair is positioned to take advantage of the Russian art market. Russian ambassador Yury Fedotov has committed to attending the gala.

Little information is available yet on participated dealers at the Russian Art Fair, but the event is associated with Robert Bailey Fairs, which operates a long-running line of antiques shows across the UK. See for details.

Museum professionals have gone half nuts courting stellar print collectors Reba and Dave Williams, who hold more than 5,200 American works dating from 1875 to 1975 by some 2,070 artists in their Print Research Foundation in Stamford, Conn. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has finally snagged the holding, putting up an undisclosed sum to purchase 250 works from the collection and receiving the rest of the collection as a gift.

The acquisition "gives the National Gallery of Art an entirely new standing in the field of American prints," said NGA chief Earl A. Powell III. Choice pieces include the only extant impression of Winslow Homer’s The Signal of Distress (1891) and Childe Hassam’s most celebrated print, The Lion Gardiner House, Easthampton (1920), as well as a notable group of Depression-era works. Of all the artists represented in the gift, more than three-quarters are new to the NGA’s holdings.

After months of rumors and the occasional unconfirmed press report, the Museum of Modern Art has officially announced the retirement of Alanna Heiss, director and founder of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City. Heiss is keeping busy, however, and is taking the P.S.1’s "art radio" station, WPS1 -- a familiar presence at Art Basel Miami Beach and the Venice Biennale originally founded by critic Linda Yablonsky and later taken over by Heiss -- with her, rebaptized as Art International Radio (AIR).  

A founding member of the "alternative space" movement in the ’70s, Heiss secured space in city-owned buildings, launching exhibition and performance programs (notably the Clocktower Gallery on lower Broadway and the Idea Warehouse on Reade Street) under the aegis of her Institute for Art and Urban Resources. P.S.1 merged with MoMA in 1999. MoMA is setting up a search committee to find a new director of P.S.1.

Celebrity tattoos belonging to comedian Margaret Cho, rockers Slash and Joan Jett, adult film star Tera Patrick and Project Runway winner Jeffrey Sebelia are among the attractions in "Permanence," Jan. 3-24, 2009, an exhibition of photographs by Kip Fulbeck at Invisible NYC, the art gallery cum tattoo parlor at 148 Orchard Street in the Lower East Side. Fulbeck’s tattoo portraits document tattoo culture in its many facets, "from absolute masterpieces to drunken mistakes, rites of passage and celebration to horrors of war," with subjects ranging from "college students to rock stars, suburban moms to Hells Angels, gangbangers to CEO’s to pornstars." The show accompanies the debut of a new book of the same title.

Serpentine Gallery curator Hans Ulrich Obrist rang in the New Year with one of his patented "interview and performance marathons" -- events where Obrist takes it upon himself to interview a grab bag of art figures over a defined period of time, in public -- this one in Beijing at the Jianwai Soho development, Dec. 31, 2008-Jan. 1, 2009. Cryptically dubbed, "Battery City: A Post-Olympic Beijing Mini Marathon," the event had Obrist announce that "it is imperative to identify this moment as a force for optimism," grandly championing a spirit of "New Beijing Optimism," or "NBO," as he prefers. In the day of interviews, he picked the brains of Chinese bigwigs Ai Weiwei, Cao Fei, Zhang Anding, Xiao He, Zhang Da, Dai Zhikang, Wang Jianwei, Jia Zhangke, Jiang Jun, Ma Yansong, the Yangjiang Group, Zak Kyes and Yan Jun.

In addition to being an event, "Battery City" was also conceptualized as a "real-time complex dynamic feedback loop," which, translated into earth language, seems to mean that there is a publication documenting it, put out by Vitamin Creative Space.

Artists of all nationalities and all media are invited to participate in Geisai 12, the artist-centered one-day art fair held twice annually at the Tokyo Big Sight center in the Japanese megalopolis, next set for Mar. 8, 2009. Brainchild of Japanese superartist Takashi Murakami, the fair allows artists to present their work directly to the public without the mediation of a gallery, with booths being judged and awarded prizes by a team of art-world celebrities. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis, with application open through Jan. 13 (though it may close sooner). The show has four tiers of participation: $270 for a "booth with no walls;" $1,200 for a "booth with walls," but no lights; $1,400 for a booth with both walls and lights; and $260 for something called a "family booth." Sign up at

Celebrated Miami raconteur and decorative arts collector Micky Wolfson, founder of the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach, is the subject of a new documentary film by Vera Graff and Max Scott. Reportedly six years in the making, Souvenirs: The Many Worlds of Micky Wolfson debuted last month on Miami Public Television Station WLRN, and plans call for national release in 2009. The one-hour documentary follows the charmingly engaging Wolfson on his travels around the world, allowing viewers to "experience the thrill of the hunt for objects." True Wolfson fans can purchase a DVD online for $29.95 at

In what is being described as an "inside job," Indianapolis art charity the Penrod Society has been robbed of all its money. A total of $380,000 has gone missing, with press reports pointing to the society’s former assistant treasurer, whose own lawyer contacted officials to say that one of his clients had taken the money (no one has been officially named yet, as no formal charges have been filed). The Penrod puts on an arts fair at the Indianapolis Museum of Art annually on the Saturday after Labor Day -- press reports say the "Penrod Art Fair" draws about 30,000 -- with proceeds forming the basis for $50,000 to $110,000 in giving to local arts organizations.

Past beneficiaries have included the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Harrison Center for the Arts, the Herron School of Art and Design, the Sugar Creek Art Center, the Fine Arts Society of Indianapolis and the IMA itself. Penrod representatives said they would press on with the 2009 Fair, and had raised enough to cover expenses from last year’s event, but that how much they could give in grants depended now on how many donations the Society received in the immediate future.

A survey of Richard Diebenkorn’s celebrated "Ocean Park" series at the Orange County Museum of Art has been delayed for financial reasons, according to the Associated Press. The museum said that hosting both the Diebenkorn retrospective and another high-profile show, "Illumination: The Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, Agnes Martin and Florence Pierce," set for May 3-Sept. 13, 2009, in the same year was a budget-buster. "Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series, 1967-1985," initially set to open next fall, is now scheduled for spring 2010.

Celebrated Miami neo-Goth artist Hernan Bas (b. 1978) is getting a solo outing at the Brooklyn Museum, Feb. 27-May 24, 2009, courtesy of the Rubell Family Collection. The show presents 38 works drawn from the Miami-based collection, along with a specially commissioned "large-scale installation designed to emulate chapters in a book."

Hey, kids, let’s put on a show! The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, headed by Olga Garay, has greeted the new year by officially nominating January 2009 as "Los Angeles Art Month." The initiative doesn’t seem to do much more than exhort locals seek new cultural experiences, "from visiting a local gallery or museum little known to them, to catching a show at a small theater, to getting a taste of a multi-cultural festival." Nevertheless, major cultural organizations have signed on, from the Getty Center and the Hammer Museum to the upcoming L.A. Art Show, Jan. 21-25, 2009. Smaller L.A. organizations are actively encouraged to join the festivities by downloading the "L.A. Arts Month" logo from the website and listing their January events at  

California may be facing a budget crisis, but Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has come up with some coin to promote cultural exchange between L.A. and the rest of the world, boosting his city as "a rich tapestry of cultures." The new Cultural Exchange International (CEI), overseen by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and co-sponsored by the Durfee Foundation, offers awards ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, either to bring foreign professionals to L.A. or send locals abroad. The first deadline for would-be grantees is Jan. 15, 2009. Information on how to apply is at

The Joan Mitchell Foundation has announced the 25 winners of its $25,000 grants to painters and sculptors for 2008. The winners are Layla Ali, Eve Aschheim, Judith Bernstein, James Biederman, Nick Cave, Jenny Dubnau, Skylar Fein, Kirk Hayes, Barkley L. Hendricks, Charles Juhász-Alvarado, Peter Krashes, Cameron Martin, Kayla Mohammadi, Katrina Moorhead, Robyn O’Neil, Bruce Pearson, Ann Pibal, Robb Putnam, Paul Ramírez Jonas, Rodriguez Calero, Sigrid Sandström, Anne Seidman, Shinique Smith, Julianne Swartz, and Susan Chrysler. For more info, see

Kimberly Masteller has been named the new curator of South and Southeast Asian art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. Masteller, who received her doctorate from Ohio State University, is former assistant curator at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum in Boston. At the Nelson-Atkins, she will oversee the institution’s 945 works collection of South and Southeast Asian art, with the first order of business to be a catalogue of the holdings.

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