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Artnet News
Oct. 23, 2008 

New York’s Museum of Modern Art has instituted a temporary hiring freeze and is cutting its operating budget by 10 percent in response to the current economic turmoil, according to a recent report by Carol Vogel in the New York Times. The measure is precautionary, according to the museum, and the spending cuts are to be revisited in December.

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs is slashing its support for city museums as well, according to the Times, to the tune of 2.5 percent in the current fiscal year and an additional 5 percent in the next. The drop in government funding parallels a similar decline in funding from individuals, corporations and foundations. A refreshingly candid Arnold L. Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum, said his museum had yet to raise any money for its planned 2009 retrospective of Yinka Shonibare, adding "There is no safety net. We’re being squeezed at every end."

Still, Vogel reports that slumping banks like UBS and Bank of America and harried retailers like Target have no immediate plans to trim their arts patronage. However, the article does catch a UBS cultural officer saying that in an era of increased frugality, UBS wants "more for [its] money" -- so expect those logos to get a bit more prominent.

Other than that, it is left to Los Angeles County Museum of Art director Michael Govan to accentuate the positive. If prices for art come down, Govan notes, "maybe we’ll finally be able to afford to buy things."

Coming up in 2009: The Guggenheim Museum as the site of a ferocious battle that literally brings the museum skylight crashing down into the rotunda, all part of a fantastic intrigue involving money laundering, arms trading and the destabilization of governments. A new exhibition by a group of global avant-gardists? No, it’s the plot synopsis for The International (2009), a new film starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, which includes extensive scenes in everyone’s favorite Frank Lloyd Wright-designed art museum. Not since a space alien in purse-snatcher’s garb scrambled up the façade of the famous spiral in the opening scene of Men in Black (1997) has the now-trademarked structure played such a major role in a Hollywood blockbuster.

The Owen-Watts project, which required a one-to-one-scale recreation of the museum on a Berlin soundstage, resulted in a substantial licensing fee, though the museum declined to say how much. (Such secrecy always fuels suspicions that the art rubes got taken by the Tinsel Town sharpers, doesn’t it?)  

The Guggenheim also plays a part in When in Rome (2009), a new romantic comedy from Disney starring Kristen Bell (Heroes, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas, Transformers). Bell plays a "hopelessly single" Guggenheim Museum curator who, after taking some coins from a fountain in Rome, finds herself beset with suitors, including Duhamel, Will Arnett, Danny DeVito and Jon Heder. Anjelica Huston plays her boss at the Guggenheim, and Don Johnson plays her father. The film is slated to be released in September 2009.

Everyone remembers the paintings of American Indian warriors by Fritz Scholder (1937-2005), an icon of pop kitsch who was well known before Thomas Kincaid had even begun his career. Now, the National Museum of the American Indian is presenting "Fritz Scholder: Indian / Not Indian," an exhibition of 135 works dating from the 1960s through the ‘90s at both the Washington, D.C. museum, Nov. 1-Aug. 16, 2009, and the New York City branch at Battery Park, Nov. 1, 2008-May 17, 2009. The exhibition is organized "around a central paradox of Scholder’s life and work -- his complex identity as a person of French, German, English and American Indian ancestry."

Visitors to Thomas Dane Gallery on Duke Street in Mayfair are in for a special treat: a group portrait of the London art world by English artist Michael Landy (b. 1963), who is perhaps best known for a 2001 performance in which he methodically destroyed all his possessions. For the exhibition at Thomas Dane, Oct. 14-Nov. 15, 2008, Landy is presenting 45 portrait drawings on paper of his family and friends as well as artists (Michael Craig-Martin, Rebecca Warren), collectors (Anita Zabludowicz), museum officials (Norman Rosenthal) and local art-world characters like Sandra Esqulant, proprietor of the popular Golden Heart pub. The show also marks the publication of Michael Landy: Everything Must Go!, a new 432-page monograph on the artist including over 800 color images, from Ridinghouse press.

The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) is set to open up a permanent outpost on the historic Governors Island in New York. LMCC is partnering with the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC), and taking out a lease on Building 110, part of the complex of the island’s former naval base, where it plans to develop 14,000 square feet of space for a year-round program of artist residencies. The permanent site will host up to 20 visual artists at a time, along with three performing artists, dance or theatre ensembles, with residencies to last from three weeks to three months. For further info, click here.

L.A. Times art critic Christopher Knight is the guest of honor at the upcoming benefit dinner for Art Lies, the dynamic Texas art quarterly. The benefit takes place at the Hotel Za Za in Houston, at 7 pm on Nov. 21, 2008. Benefit co-chairs are Karen Susman and Erica Levit, and dress is described as "street chic." Tickets are $250, and can be reserved online. Knight delivers a lecture the following night, Nov. 22, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, Ca., has given out 2008 MOLAA Awards totaling $40,000. The top $20,000 honor goes to Columbian sculptor Leyla Cárdenas; $5,000 prizes go to Rocío Rendón Castañeda (painting and two-dimensional mixed media), Ángel Delgado Fuentes (sculpture and three-dimensional mixed media), Mayra Barraza (works on paper) and Claudio Castillo (photography and video). Argentine artist Daniel Fiorda receives "honorable mention," but no cash.

Works by all prize-winners enter into MOLAA’s permanent collection, while submissions by the more than 70 other Latin-American artists who entered the juried competition were auctioned off Oct. 18-19, 2008, as a benefit for the museum. More information is at

Ledelle Moe has received the $20,000 Kreeger Museum Artist Award for 2008 from Washington, D.C.’s Kreeger Museum, a prize that is targeted at D.C.-area artists of merit who have made a contribution to the community. The South Africa-born Moe is a sculptor who moved to D.C. in 1994, and is currently a teacher at the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore. The Kreeger prize is underwritten by Chevy Chase Bank.

Atlanta artists, take note! Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue is offering grants of between $1,500 and $15,000 to artists of merit who have lived for at least a year in or around the Georgia city (and who are not currently art students) -- and the deadline for applications to is Dec. 1, 2008. More info is available at

Serge Lemoine, one-time director of Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, has been hired by the French auction house Artcurial, according to the Financial Times. Lemoine is set to join the auctioneer as "artistic and cultural adviser," with duties that include organizing exhibitions at Artcurial’s Champs-Elysées headquarters.

Patricia Faure, 80, Los Angeles art dealer who operated her namesake art gallery in Santa Monica since 1994, died from natural causes at her home in Hollywood on Oct. 21, 2008. Faure served as director of the influential Nicholas Wilder Gallery in 1972, and later partnered with the late Betty Asher in Asher/Faure Gallery. She worked with artists ranging from Richard Artschwager and Gwynn Murrill to Salomon Huerta, the Rev. Ethan Acres and Mark Bradford.

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