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Artnet News
Nov. 2, 2007 

The superstars of art and fashion who are expected to assemble at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala benefit next spring, May 5, 2008, can for once dress the part, as the museum presents "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy," May 7-Sept. 1, 2008. Featuring approximately 70 ensembles, from movie costumes to avant-garde haute couture and high-performance sportswear, the show promises "to reveal how the superhero serves as the ultimate metaphor for fashion and its ability to empower and transform the human body."

Sponsored by Giorgio Armani and Condé Nast, the show is organized by Costume Institute head Andrew Bolton and is installed in the museum’s first-floor special exhibition galleries. Among the fashions included are a corset and bikini bottom from John Galliano’s 2001 Wonder Woman collection, a Thierry Mugler motorcycle bustier with handlebars and side-view mirrors that supposedly evokes Ghost Rider, and a Hussein Chalayan "Airplane" dress with moveable flaps that suggests the streamlined aerodynamics of the Flash.

Actual comic-strip characters introduce various thematic sections: Batman and Cat Woman represent the "fetishistic body," Wonder Woman epitomizes the "patriotic body," the Hulk introduces the "phallic body," Iron Man represents the "mechanatronic body" and the X-Men highlight the "mutant body." Other designers in the show range from Rudi Gernreich, Givenchy and Alexander McQueen to Nike, Speedo and House of Harlot.

The show is accompanied by a book, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, with an introduction by Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. The opening gala is co-chaired by actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Now, if only an illustrator would picture the Met’s valiant leader, director Philippe de Montebello, in boldly colored tights and cape. . . .

In a recent article, the Chicago Sun-Times made use of to track how efficient cultural institutions in the Windy City were in relation to their peers. The website’s rankings reflect a variety of calculations, including how effective organizations are at raising money, and how much is spent on programming versus administration (including executive salaries). The site even provides nice pie graphs. In Chicago, among the most efficient institutions was the Field Museum, which snagged a four star rating (it spends only 8 cents out of every dollar it raises on fundraising, yet had a 14.5 percent growth in revenue in the last year), while the Art Institute of Chicago gets a measly two stars (it spends 21 cents per dollar raised, and grew its revenue by only .2 percent).

Some other interesting factoids culled from the Charity Navigator rankings:

* The Museum of Modern Art, with its $335 million in revenue, ranks at the top of the totem pole for efficient charities, scoring four stars. On the other hand, its scrappy affiliate P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, with revenues of a little more than $4 million, is far from lean and mean, getting poor marks for its fiscal ways -- just one star. According to Charity Navigator, P.S.1’s revenue is growing slower than its program expenses, it is running a $157,000 deficit and spends about a third of its budget on administration (MoMA spends only 20 percent).

* Jay Gates, director of Washington, D.C.’s Phillips Collection makes $301,118 a year, thus ranking as one of the website’s "10 Highly Paid CEOs at Low-Rated Charities." The Phillips Collection spends less than half of its budget on actual programming -- though this is admittedly a sharp decrease from the past two fiscal years. (Charity Navigator also notes that the Phillips Collection sells its lists of donor information, unless you opt out.)

* The St. Louis Art Museum Foundation makes the website’s list of "10 Charities Stockpiling Your Money," having grown its revenue almost 100 percent at the same time that it has cut programming by almost 23 percent. Between 2004 and 2006, programming expenses for the museum shrank from $2,682,075 to $1,846,351 -- at the same time that the foundation went from spending $357,127 on administration to $855,611.

Abject art pioneer Paul McCarthy is offering up a little something special this holiday season at Maccarone Gallery at 630 Greenwich Street in New York, Nov. 15-Dec. 24, 2007 -- chocolate versions of his well-known sculpture of a gnome-like Santa brandishing a Christmas Tree-like butt plug. McCarthy is transforming Maccarone’s 6,000-square-foot gallery completely into a fully-functioning chocolate factory, capable of producing 1,000 figures daily, a feat that entailed a complete overhaul of the gallery’s plumbing, electrical wiring and ventilation to meet New York City factory code.

For the duration of the exhibition, the gallery is to be divided into a retail space and a manufacturing center, with a conveyor belt carrying the Santas to packaging and storage areas, allowing visitors to observe the entire process from production to purchase. McCarthy is bringing in master chocolatier Peter P. Greweling to oversee it all. The sculptures are molded of premium chocolate supplied by the Guittard luxury chocolate firm in California. Word is that the artist has incorporated the venture as Peter Paul Chocolates LLC, and may plan additional locations and franchises.

McCarthy’s chocolate Santas retail for $100, and can be purchased at the gallery, or online at

Former MTV honcho Abby Terkuhle has begun producing the second season of Artstar, the art-world reality show that bowed in 2005, following the adventures of eight artists who vied for an exhibition at Deitch Projects (the winner was Bec Stupak; see "Weekend Update," Jan. 23, 2006). This time around, Artstar is following six MFA grads from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as they work in their studios, seek residencies and commissions, and connect with dealers. The young participants are Adebukola Bodunrin, Fi Jae Lee, Bryan Markovitz, James J. Peterson, Travis LeRoy Southworth and Jennifer Towner. The show climaxes with an exhibition in Miami during "art fair week" in early December 2007. For further details (plus broadcast info -- it’s on something called Gallery HD on the Dish Network), see

Need a new fade? If you do, then you are in luck, because as part of the Performa performance art fest, Canadian artist Darren O'Donnell is presenting "Haircuts by Children." The free haircuts are given by students from Manhattan’s Dr. Sun Yat Sen Middle School, under careful professional supervision, according to the artist. The work "invites a consideration of children as creative and competent individuals whose esthetic efforts should be trusted," says O’Donnell, and offers a commentary on their disenfranchisement from the political process. Word to the wise: Don’t let your new do shake your faith in the future!

"Haircuts by Children" takes place at 2 in 1 Hair Salon at 12-B Pell Street in Chinatown in Manhattan, Nov. 3, 2007, and at Hair 2 Stay at 121-A Baxter Street on Nov. 10, 2007. To book an appointment, call (212) 219-0473 x29, or email info @

Stop by for champagne and birthday cake at the debut of "The Demoiselles Revisited," Nov. 16-Dec. 21, 2007, at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art on East 80th Street in New York. The exhibition celebrates the 100th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s 1907 Les Demoiselles d’Avignon via the work of 25 contemporary artists who have been inspired by the seminal, proto-Cubist work. It brings together both previously created artworks that pay homage to Les Demoiselles, and new pieces made specifically for the occasion.

Among the variations are Jeff KoonsSplit Rocker (1999), a Sophie Matisse painting in which all the figures have disappeared and only the background remains (plus the still-life), Kathleen Gilje’s realistic version of two of Picasso’s figures (without African masks), a skull of St. Fiacre (the patron saint of syphilis) by Brice Brown, and works by Mike Bidlo, Russell Connor, Billy Copley, Damian Elwes, Robert Forman, Eileen M. Foti, Julien Friedler, John Goodyear, Deborah Grant, Kathy Halbower, Nanci Hersh, Alain Jacquet, Don Joint, Pamela Joseph, Elizabeth Kley, Carlo Maria Mariani, Francesco Masci, Jacques Moitoret, Dot Paolo, Douglas Vogel and Trevor Winkfield. An illustrated catalogue with an essay by Beth Gersh-Nešić accompanies the show.

As the touring "WACK! Women Artists and the Feminist Revolution" rolls into the National Museum of Woman in the Arts in Washington, D.C., the nearby Katzen American University Museum is opening its own show dedicated to the feminist movement. "Claiming Space: Some American Feminist Originators," Nov. 6, 2007-Jan. 27, 2008, is co-curated by Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, and focuses on 19 pioneers of the feminism in the visual arts. The show features protest art in the work of Judith Bernstein, Sandra Orgel Crooker, Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz, Faith Ringgold and May Stevens; female body art from Judy Chicago, Betsy Damon, Mary Beth Edelson, Nancy Fried, Yolanda Lopez, Cynthia Mailman, Carolee Schneemann and Hannah Wilke; and "Pattern and Decoration" art by Valerie Jaudon, Jane Kaufman, Joyce Kozloff, Howardena Pindell and Miriam Schapiro.

The gang at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, new owners of the Armory Show, Art Chicago and the Volta Show in Basel, are launching a hip new invitational contemporary art fair for Chicago called Next, Apr. 25-28, 2008. Coinciding with Art Chicago, Next is organized by critic and curator Christian Viveros-Fauné and Chicago art dealer and Volta Show co-founder Kavi Gupta. The fair is slated for 100,000 square feet on the seventh floor of the Merchandise Mart building. For further details, watch the website,

The Los Angeles contemporary art gallery Blum & Poe -- opened 13 years ago by Tim Blum and Jeff Poe, and moved to Culver City in 2003 -- is expanding into a new 27,000-square-foot building across the way from its current facility. A former factory, the two-story structure is set to be remodeled by Los Angeles’ Escher GuneWardena Architecture. "We’ve been picking up a lot of older, more established artists," Blum told the New York Times. "Our current space has its limitations." The B&P stable includes Chiho Aoshima, Slater Bradley, Anya Gallaccio and Takashi Murakami.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is still looking for a director (Lisa Dennison left two months ago to join the staff of Sotheby’s). However, the institution is far from idle. In a blast to the press, the search committee set up by the board of trustees has announced the headhunting firm that it will be using to locate its new director, an outfit called Phillips Oppenheim. Writes board chairman William Mack, "With Phillips Oppenheim we have already begun to define what we expect of our new director, and now we must find someone with the imagination and skills to ensure that the Guggenheim remains one of the world's leading arts institutions."

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