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Artnet News
Nov. 2, 2006 

Conceptual Art pioneer Sol LeWitt (b. 1928) is getting a major, semi-permanent installation of his history-making wall drawings at Mass MoCA in North Adams, Mass., beginning next fall. Featuring 50 works dating from 1968 to the present, "Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective" is to be sited in a three-story-tall, 27,000-square-foot industrial building, hand-picked by LeWitt and Mass MoCA director Joseph Thompson and situated at the heart of the institution’s industrial campus. Once it debuts, the exhibition is set to be open for a "minimum" of 25 years -- that is, until 2033.

Fundraising for the project is not 100 percent complete at this time, but preparations have begun. The architecture firm Bruner/Cott and Associates has created a scale model of the building, allowing LeWitt to determine the position of his drawings. Mass MoCA is partnering with the Yale University Art Galleries on the project, and the show’s opening coincides with the Yale University Press publication of the first catalogue raisonné of LeWitt’s wall drawings.

German art dealers have long been famous for mounting exhibitions that combine works from disparate periods (juxtaposing nail paintings by Guenther Uecker with Bemke figures from Africa, for instance). Now, Michael Werner Gallery in New York is presenting "Polke -- Bernstein -- Amber," Nov. 7, 2006-Jan. 13, 2007, an exhibition that pairs new paintings by the German Neo-Expressionist Sigmar Polke with an array of Renaissance and Baroque amber objects ("Bernstein" is German for amber), with the intention of creating "a modern Wunderkammer."

Organized in cooperation with Kunstkammer Georg Laue in Munich, the show features a variety of historic amber objects, many exhibited at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna in 2005. Polke’s new paintings, with their many layers of resin applied to both sides of the canvas over several years, make specific reference to amber’s physical and symbolic qualities. The exhibition is the artist’s first in the New York gallery since 1998, and is accompanied by a catalogue featuring a text by Faya Causey of the National Gallery of Art.

Maybe it sounds better in Chinese -- a new art fair, ShContemporary, is set to debut in the art-world boom town of Shanghai, Sept. 6-9, 2007. The invitation-only fair aims to broadcast an air of exclusivity as a portal to the Eastern art market, and has on board such luminaries as former Art Basel director Lorenzo A. Rudolf and Swiss dealer Pierre Huber. The initiative is spearheaded by BolognaFiere spa (the organization behind Italy’s Arte Fiera Bologna) in collaboration with the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee and the Shanghai International Culture and Communication Association (an affiliate of the Party Committee of the City of Shanghai).

The art world’s own mellow version of shock-jock Howard Stern, Connecticut artist Daniel Edwards, may have bitten off more than he could chew when he announced plans to unveil a "memorial" to the "civil rights achievements" of Cuban leader Fidel Castro -- titled Castro's Deathbed Portrait -- to be displayed alongside a statue of Cuban poet José Martí in Central Park (a documentary about the intended project is available on YouTube).

Edwards is the artist who recently made headlines both for a racy bust of Hillary Clinton and a nude sculpture of a pregnant Britney Spears. His latest stunt triggered a predictable flurry of outraged announcements from the virulently anti-Castro Cuban expat community. Earlier this week, Edwards was confronted at his Connecticut studio by two DJs from Univision Radio’s La Kalle 98.3, and then agreed to fly to Miami, where he spent more than two hours yesterday on the radio facing testimony by anti-Castro exiles, and being grilled by the radio host (an edited version of the radio appearance is available here)

Claiming that he had been previously unaware of such sentiments, Edwards agreed to cancel the New York installation and instead allow Fidel Castro’s Deathbed Portrait to be buried or burned in effigy by the Cuban community in Miami. The new plan for the work, the artist said, is an act of solidarity with the aggrieved Cubans. Edwards is represented by Capla Kesting Fine Arts in Brooklyn.

The Precipice Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness about global warming through the visual arts, has commissioned its first work, which opened in Jersey City, Nov. 1, 2006. The piece, by New York-based conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll, consists of a 900-foot-long window display in the buildings of the former American Can factory, comprised of eight-foot-tall neon letters proclaiming, "IT IS GREEN THINKS NATURE EVEN IN THE DARK." The head-scratching phrase is meant as an exercise in "indestructible language," focusing on the fluid, open-ended nature of words (strange, for a project with a clear social message!), and is sure to cause some confusion along the Pulaski Skyway, the New Jersey Turnpike, and in planes flying into or out of Newark airport.

Though using illuminated letters to get the word out, the organization hastens to note that the art piece is "carbon neutral," employing low-wattage transformers and lead-free glass tubing, as well as using solar panels to offset the energy consumed.

An event will take place at the site Nov. 13, 2006, to celebrate the debut of the work, featuring songstress Joan Osborne and a lecture by New York Times environmental reporter Andrew C. Revkin. For info, check out

The Museum of Contemporary Arts, Cleveland, has announced that the London-based Foreign Office Architects has been selected to design its expansion. The new buildings, estimated to cost in the range of $25 million, are to be located in Cleveland’s University Circle, close to the Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Art Museum, as part of a "cultural and retail corridor."

The hometown of Pablo Picasso may soon be home to a bullring designed by the modernist master, according to the Associated Press. The project is being pushed by Lucia Bosé, widow of late-bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín, who was a friend of Picasso’s. Bullfighting was one of Picasso’s enduring motifs, of course, and Picasso’s sketches for the structure -- signed by the artist, Dominguín and architect Antonio Bonet -- call for statues of matadors set within arches, in the style of a Roman coliseum.

"Get swept up in culture and conversation." That’s the tagline for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago’s "First Fridays" get-togethers, sponsored by Absolut Vodka, and featuring appetizers by Wolfgang Puck, DJs and the "world’s only iMac G5 digital dating bar." The ad for the event on the MCA’s website hints at a rather different kind of good time, however -- it features the gyrating silhouette of a female dancer, framed in front of a blazing fire, and bears an unmistakable resemblance to an ad for adult entertainment of some kind. A close examination of the animation even reveals that as the dancer briefly shimmies out of the frame, she throws off some kind of strappy garment, making what exactly the MCA is offering pretty dubious. This month’s "Friday" festivities get off the ground tomorrow, Nov. 4, 2006, at 6 pm -- see the MCA website for ticketing information.

Helen Molesworth, chief curator of exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, has been appointed as the first curator of contemporary art for the Harvard University Art Museums. She assumes her new post on Feb. 5, 2007.

Peter Schertz has been named curator of ancient art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. He previously served as a curatorial fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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