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Artnet News
Oct. 25, 2007 

As the wildfires in Southern California continue to rage, and with 1,500 homes destroyed, the San Diego Museum of Art in the city’s Balboa Park is currently offering free admission to guests who bring donations for wildfire relief, asking for bottled water, diapers, personal hygiene products and bedding. Museum staff members are distributing the donations to area relief centers (although evacuation orders were lifted earlier today, about 19,440 people remain in statewide shelters).

With air quality due to the flames an issue even in the city center, the SDMA is also taking advantage of its climate-controlled environment to provide free children’s programs from noon-4 pm, through Saturday. Among other activities, the kids make art cards for firefighters combating the blaze. A spokeswoman for the museum said that traffic had not been significantly affected, and that almost all visitors had come with donations.

Some other cultural attractions in Balboa Park are closed or running on reduced hours (see the website of the San Diego Visitors Bureau for information). Elsewhere in San Diego, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla has been shut since Monday out of respect for the mayor’s request that people not travel while the city remains in crisis mode, but reopens tomorrow.

Are you ready for another 608 pages of Pablo Picasso? Eminent New York-based art historian John Richardson is preparing for the official publication of A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932 (Knopf, $40) on Nov. 13, 2007. The weighty tome, published in a best-seller-level press run of 60,000 copies, covers the development of Picasso’s neoclassical style as well as his later metamorphic Cubism, not to mention his first marriage to the ballerina Olga Kokhlova, his summers on the Riviera and his romance, at 45, with the 17-year-old Marie-Thérèse Walter. The two earlier volumes of Richardson’s biography, A Life of Picasso: The Prodigy, 1881-1906 and A Life of Picasso: The Cubist Rebel, 1907-1916, have been reissued in paper by Borzoi Books (priced at $30 each). 

This year’s exhibition of the shortlisted artists for the £25,000 Turner Prize -- Zarina Bhimji, Nathan Coley, Mike Nelson and Mark Wallinger -- goes on view in the provinces at Tate Liverpool, Oct. 19, 2007-Jan. 13, 2008, as a "curtain-raiser" for Liverpool’s role as "European Capital of Culture 2008."

According to press reports, the favorite is Wallinger, who was cited for State Britain, a protest against the Iraq war [see "The State We’re In," Feb. 8, 2007], but is actually exhibiting a single work -- Sleeper (2004-05), a 154-minute video of himself dressed in a bear costume, wandering at night around the glass pavilion of the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin (reportedly symbolizing Berlin in the Cold War, and inspired by a fairy tale about a prince metamorphosing into a bear). "I couldn’t endure watching it for more than a few minutes at a time," wrote critic Richard Dorment, who nonetheless favors Wallinger in the competition.

A close second is Coley, according to Dorment, who commends the artist’s earlier exhibition of a gallery full of scale models of the 286 places of worship listed in the Edinburgh telephone directory. In the Tate Liverpool exhibition, Coley is praised for a sculpture of a sign that spells out with lightbulbs the phrase, "There will be no miracles here." Coley has also fixed a six-inch-tall oak plank across the threshold of the door to his gallery, so that visitors are likely to trip on their way in.

Mike Nelson’s Liverpool installation features a kind of maze with four hidden rooms; look inside through eye-level holes and see a diorama landscape of rolling sand and an infinity of tiny lights on the horizon. And Bajimi, who was born in Uganda, exhibits a series of photographs and a film that "speak of sadness and loss, an exotic past and a violent present," according to Dorment.

Jurors for the prize, slated to be announced on Dec. 3, 2007, are Fiona Bradley, director of the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh; writer and critic Michael Bracewell; Studio Museum in Harlem director Thelma Golden; broadcaster and writer Miranda Sawyer; and Tate Liverpool director Christoph Grunenberg.

Hungry for new art? Then Performa 07, the performance biennial that kicks off this week (see for details), has a dish for you! Every day at lunchtime from 11 am to 4 pm, Oct. 27-Nov. 20, 2007 Freeman’s restaurant on Freeman Alley in SoHo is serving an experimental culinary work by Turkish conceptual artist Serkan Özkaya's (b. 1973). Dubbed Bring Me the Head of. . . , the work is a ginger spice cake with bourbon, caramel and cream (created by Freeman’s chef Jean Adamson) that can be yours for the bargain price of $10. Art appreciation here is via the taste buds, as restaurant patrons are "invited to consume and thereby destroy the art." Özkaya concept requires that the dish take the shape of "a head of an icon of childhood," and in this manifestation the model is Caravaggio’s Salome with the Head of John the Baptist (ca. 1609).

Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld has commissioned new versions of Chanel’s classic quilted handbag from 15 contemporary artists, and plans to circulate an exhibition of the designs in a collapsible, UFO-like, 7,500-square-foot pavilion designed by starchitect Zaha Hadid. Artist-designers in the "Mobile Art" project include Sophie Calle, Loris Cecchini, Sylvie Fleury, Subodh Gupta and Yoko Ono. The initial schedule calls for the show’s debut in Hong Kong in January 2008, with subsequent appearances around the globe through 2010.

The American artist Barkley Hendricks (b. 1945) gets his first career retrospective at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University next winter, courtesy curator Trevor Schoonmaker. "Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool," Feb. 7-July 13, 2008, features 60 paintings dating from 1964 to the present, and concentrates on the well-known life-sized portraits of people of color from the urban northeast. The exhibition is accompanied by a 250-page catalogue published by Duke University Press. The exhibition subsequently appears at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

A retrospective of artworks by Willoughby Sharp, the Body Artist, art writer and pioneering co-publisher of Avalanche Magazine (1970-76), opens next week at the Clifford Gallery at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. "Retrospective," Oct. 31-Dec. 7, 2007, organized by DeWitt Godfrey and Pamela Seymour Smith, features Sharp’s 1970 video interviews with Joseph Beuys, Vito Acconci and Chris Burden, as well as works made from archival photos of Sharp’s performances from the 1970s. Sharp is also recreating two early site-specific works, Ice and Air (both 1967).

The Whitney Museum’s fund-raising gala on Oct. 22, 2007, was a big success, according to an email from Paul Wilmot Communications, the PR firm. Not only did the museum raise more than $2.4 million, it hosted some celebrities, the icing on any art-world cake, including Meryl Streep and Kyra Sedgwick .

Iliana Sonnabend, 92, legendary art dealer known for her long patronage of avant-garde artists, died at her home in New York after an illness of several months. Born Iliana Shapira to a wealthy Romanian family, she entered the art world through her first husband, Leo Castelli, who she met at 17 and worked with at a Paris gallery in the late ‘30s. At the onset of World War II, her family’s fortune allowed the couple to flee France, and they settled in Manhattan, becoming associated with Abstract Expressionist circles. In 1959, she divorced Castelli, marrying Michael Sonnabend, with whom she returned to Europe, starting the Paris-based Galerie Ileana Sonnabend in 1962, which championed the work of American Pop and Minimalist artists. In 1970, the couple returned to New York, ultimately debuting Sonnabend Gallery in Soho and helping bring Arte Povera artists such as Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz and Pier Paolo Calzolari to the U.S. Among the figures she championed were Vito Acconci, Dan Flavin, Gilbert & George, Donald Judd, Jeff Koons, Robert Morris, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist and Andy Warhol. A large selection of her personal collection, titled "From Pop to Now: Selections from the Sonnabend Collection," debuted at Skidmore College’s Tang Teaching Museum in 2002, touring to the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Oh.

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