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Artnet News
Oct. 28, 2008 

Looking for a little art action on election night? The hottest place to watch the outcome of the "most important election of our lifetimes" -- if you happen to be in San Francisco, that is -- is sure to be the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which is set to host "Freedom of Art: Election Night ’08," Nov. 4, from 6-11 pm. An election get-together specifically for "artists, art writers, arts administrators, arts patrons -- anyone who loves the arts," the event features a performance by choreographer Anna Halprin, who promises to "score the audience" during the evening, whatever that means, as well as video art booths where guests can leave their thoughts on what their life will be like in four years, "political piñatas," a bar and free pizza when the polls close.

Though by most objective measures, the art world has pretty much shown itself to be in the pro-Obama camp, and a mock press conference advertising the Yerba Buena party has YBCA community engagement manager Joel Tan mocking John McCain’s affectation of calling his audience "my friends," Freedom of Art promises a bipartisan vibe. Coverage will be piped in simultaneously from PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and "everyone’s favorite" Fox News. More information at

Back in 1989, the U.S. film producer Joe Simon bought a 1964 Andy Warhol self-portrait for the then-considerable sum of $195,000, a stark, black-and-white image on a bright orange-red ground, a picture that seemed to be signed by the artist and had been authenticated by Warhol factotum Frederick Hughes. But when Simon sought to sell the picture in 2006, the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board rejected the painting, stamping it "denied" -- and dramatically decreasing its value.

The dispute has now become widely known -- Simon filed a $120-million lawsuit against the Warhol board in July 2007, and his tale has been chronicled in Vanity Fair, ARTnews, the Art Newspaper and elsewhere. Now, Simon has taken his battle to the public, posting extensive material about the controversy online at In addition to getting an inside look at the contretemps, web surfers can download a suitable-for-framing copy of the painting. 

Whatever else you may say about the art market, it is still raining cash in art circles -- or at least that’s what it seems like from the recent bevy of announcements of awards going out to various artists in the U.S. and Europe. Herewith, a sampling:

* Los Angeles-born, Paris-based multidisciplinary artist Cameron Jamie has taken the inaugural $100,000 Yanghyun Prize, designed to honor an international artist of outstanding repute. Jamie made his mark in New York in 1998 for photographs of himself wrestling a Michael Jackson lookalike [see "Gallery Yenta," Jan. 28, 1998]. The prize is administered by South Korea’s Yanghyun Foundation, a charity formed two years ago after the death of Sooho Cho, chairman of the Hanjin Shipping Co., South Korea’s largest freight company. In addition to the cash purse, the Yanghyun Prize claims to offer the winner an "exhibition at a world renowned museum of the winner’s choice within three years of receiving the prize."

* Japanese architect Toyo Ito has received the 2008 Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts, worth €55,000. Known for his theories of the "nomadic" urban environment, Ito has only recently hooked his first U.S. commission -- a new home for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive -- which is expected to be completed in 2013. The biannual Kiesler prize is awarded by Austria’s Kiesler Foundation, dedicated to promoting the legacy of its namesake, the Austrian architect Frederick J. Kiesler, creator of "Endless House." More information at

* The 2008 Marcel Duchamp Prize from the Association for the International Diffusion of French Art (ADIAF) has been awarded to Laurent Grasso, a multimedia artist born in Mulhouse, France, who shows at Paris’ Galerie Chez Valentin (a work by Grasso, a sculpture repeating the words "Day For Night" in neon, can currently be seen on the façade of Hunter College in midtown Manhattan). The juried award of €35,000, handed out during the recent FIAC art fair in Paris, is meant to honor "the reputation of an artist residing in France and working in the field of the plastic and visual arts." More info at

* The Sovereign Art Foundation has awarded its €25,000 Sovereign European Art Prize for 2008 to UK painter Nadia Hebson, whose "elegantly melancholic painting of a shipwreck seemed an especially fitting image for the current economic turmoil," according to a press release. The prize also includes a secondary honor for audience favorite, based on visitor feedback to the show of the 30 finalists held at Somerset House in London, Oct. 1-10, 2008. The winner was Untitled (Banana Project) by London-based American artist Doug Fishbone, documenting a "collective sculpture" project where he set large piles of bananas in public places and asked the public to join in "disassembling" them. Fishbone wins €1,000. More info at

* The Kunststiftung NRW, a German cultural foundation created by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has handed out its fourth annual Nam June Paik Award, a juried honor intended "to keep alive the still powerful creative energy of the work of Nam June Paik both in Germany and overseas." The winner of the €25,000 purse is Hungarian artist Attila Csörgo, a creator of "visual machines." The foundation also handed out two €7,500 NRW Newcomer Prizes, aimed at supporting emerging artists from North Rhine-Westphalia, to Thorsten Hallscheidt and Adriane Wachholz.

The Brooklyn Museum presents "Burning Down the House: Building a Feminist Art Collection," Oct. 31, 2008-Feb. 8, 2009, a show of nearly 50 works from the museum’s holdings. Organized by curator Maura Reilly, the show includes works by Ida Applebroog, Nayland Blake, Ana Mendieta, Tomoko Sawada, Miriam Schapiro, Berni Searle, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems and Hannah Wilke.

Works by Julian Schnabel go on view in India for the first time this fall, in a retrospective exhibition organized by New York art collector Ranbir Singh in conjunction with Bodhi Art gallery in Mumbai, India, Dec. 12, 2008-Jan. 21, 2009. "Strong Cocktails" -- a title suggested by one of the artist’s own works -- presents 20 paintings from the 1980s to 2008, many from Schnabel’s own collection, including the enormous Conversion of St. Paolo Malfi (1995). The exhibition includes screenings of Schnabel’s four movies, Basquiat (1996), Before Night Falls (2000), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) and Lou Reed’s Berlin (2007). The show is accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Tracy Emin and an interview by Ranbir Singh. 

The sleeper museum exhibition of the fall art season, Texas division, has got to be "Judith Godwin Early Abstractions," Sept. 3, 2008-Jan. 4, 2009, at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. Organized by chief curator Rene Paul Barilleaux, the exhibition presents 28 works, dating from the early 1950s through the mid-‘60s, by the longtime New York painter. Born in Virginia, Godwin came to New York City in the 1950s, where she studied at the Art Students League and with Hans Hofmann, and became part of the Abstract Expressionist circle, later purchasing a Greenwich Village brownstone previously owned by Franz Kline. She exhibited at the Stable Gallery (1958), Betty Parsons Gallery (1959-60), Ingber Gallery (1976-87) and elsewhere. The current show is accompanied by a catalogue with essays by Museum of Arts and Design curator Lowery Sims and Art in America editor David Ebony.

The East Village art scene of the 1980s has a little life left yet -- even if it hails from other planets. Alien Comic Tom Murrin, who forged his New York reputation during the punk era performing in downtown nightclubs, and who writes on performance and theater for Paper magazine, is presenting a new exhibition of his custom-made performance props at La Mama La Galleria at 6 East 1st Street on the Lower East Side. Titled "Mostly Masks," Oct. 29-Nov. 16, 2008, the exhibition features approximately 50 items -- masks, portraits, costumes and backdrops -- fashioned from painted cardboard and foamcore. For more info, see

The Venezuelan sculptor and painter Jesús Rafael Soto (1923-2005), a pioneer of South American Op Art and Kinetic Art, is the subject of a retrospective exhibition at Robert Sandelson on Cork Street in London, Oct. 13-Nov. 28, 2008. The first significant exhibition of Soto’s work in London for 40 years, the show includes a newly editioned work, Maquette for Sphere Theospacio, recently released by the estate. For more info, see

White Box
, the venerable nonprofit New York art space, is celebrating its move from Chelsea to the Lower East Side -- its new location is at 328 Broome Street -- by throwing a party with M magazine, the venerable nonprofit art journal. The event is set to go down on Oct. 29, 2008, 6-9 pm, and coincides with M’s newest issue, which is dedicated to the up-and-coming Lower East Side art scene.

You know times are tough when the budget-cutting reaches into the enclaves of the super-rich. Out in the Hamptons, the 2009 budget for the town of East Hampton includes cuts for 19 arts and culture organizations, with arts education taking a particular hit. This includes $15,000 trimmed from the budget of Guild Hall, which it had used for educational programming in local schools. Also hit is the Pollack-Krasner House and Study Center, which is losing $3,500 in school funding; the center now promises to charge students a modest $1 each for its programs.

Meanwhile, up in Cape Cod, the Heritage Museums and Gardens is cancelling its popular "Spectacle of Lights", Nov. 28-Dec. 28, a holiday display which transforms the museum’s gardens with thousands of lights. The annual attraction drew about 16,000 visitors to the institution last year, according to the museum, but had to be cancelled with Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick cut a $74,000 grant used to cover half of the event’s cost.

Mary L. Levkoff has been tapped to become the new curator of sculpture and decorative arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Levkoff currently serves as curator of European sculpture and classical antiquities at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. At the NGA, she replaces Nicholas Penny, who has moved on to the position of director at the National Gallery in London. Levkoff takes up her new duties in February 2009. 

Artnet Magazine associate editor Ben Davis is speaking as part of a panel on the state of art criticism, held at Soho’s Guild & Greyshkul gallery, Oct. 30, 2008, at 7 pm. Other panelists include art historian Jan Avgikos, writer and artist John Miller, curator Joao Ribas, critic Martha Schwendener and Paper Monument editor Roger White. Panelists are tasked with weighing in on such pressing issues as whether we live in a "post-critical" world, what constitutes conflict of interest for critics and the rise of the art blogosphere. The event is staged by Ad Hoc Vox, an organization put together by Colleen Asper and Jennifer Dudley which promotes dialogue about contemporary art. More information at

Muriel Oxenberg Murphy, 82, co-founder of the American painting and sculpture department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, died last week at her home in New York’s West Village after a long battle with cancer. The daughter of an ethnic foods importer, Murphy grew up in New York City and joined the Met in 1949, where under the guidance of Robert Hale she helped to establish the department’s identity. Celebrated for her beauty and style, she became known in the 1970s for her New York salon, which attracted many important literary and art world figures. A collected volume of her own writings, Excerpts: from the Unpublished Files of Muriel Oxenberg Murphy, was published in July, edited by L. Evan Goss.

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