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Artnet News
Nov. 20, 2008 

One minute we’re cheering the latest exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles [see "Drunken Master," Nov. 19, 2008], the next minute the museum is about to go out of business! According to press reports, MOCA LA is in the midst of a severe financial crisis. Museum director Jeremy Strick has announced plans to close the warehouse-like Geffen Contemporary space at the close of the current Martin Kippenberger exhibition, which ends Jan. 5, 2009. What’s more, Strick has apparently suggested that parts of the collection could be rented out to raise funds, and has approached the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to discuss a possible merger of the two institutions.

The fiscal crisis at MOCA LA seems dire. The museum says its endowment has fallen to less than $10 million, while its level of "endowment borrowing" is over $17 million, and annual operating costs are $21 million. Nevertheless, the museum says it plans no staff cuts at present, and promises to come up with a solution to its budget problems within 90 days. One observer has an idea already: on Nov. 20, 2008, L.A. Times art critic Christopher Knight published an open letter to the MOCA LA trustees, demanding that the board come up with at least $25 million in new funds as an anchor for a new $100-million capital campaign

Meanwhile, supercollector Eli Broad has announced plans to build still another museum for his 2,000-item art collection, this one measuring about 25,000 square feet, about half the size of the $56-million Broad Contemporary Art Museum, which opened earlier this year at LACMA. One possible site is in Beverly Hills, roughly three miles west of LACMA, according to Broad Art Foundation director Joanne Heyler. In last year’s controversy over Broad’s decision to lend his collection to LACMA rather than donate it, Broad claimed he had no plans to open his own museum.

The problem with visionary architecture -- one of them, anyway -- is that nobody actually wants to live there. We saw it first with Buckminster Fuller, whose various utopian building designs all proved unsuccessful. Now, the same fate has met the pre-fab houses erected for the Museum of Modern Art’s "Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling," July 20-Oct. 20, 2008. According to New York magazine, only one of the five houses that were built on MoMA’s vacant lot to the west of the museum found a buyer -- the dog-house-sized "microcompact home" by Horden Cherry Lee Architects. Douglas Gauthier’s laser-cut plywood beach house (priced at $475,000, then $375,000, then $250,000) failed to sell, as did James Timberlake’s soaring, translucent Cellophane House ($1.7 million). Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev expressed interest in buying the entire set, but decided against it.

German artist Carsten Höller, whose slowly rotating bed is the star of the "Relational Esthetics" exhibition "theanyspacewhatever" now on view at the Guggenheim Museum [see "Night at the Museum," Nov. 17, 2008], is launching a new project in London -- the Double Club, a combination bar, restaurant and nightclub with its space equally split between Western and Congolese décor, "to showcase the best of both cultures in music, food, drink and visual esthetics." Situated in an old Victorian warehouse by the Angel Tube Station, the Double Club is underwritten by the Fondazione Prada, which is under the artistic direction of Germano Celant.

Art museum toilets now have their own special website at Modeled after the Metropolitan Museum of Art website, with "Now on View" and "Selected Highlights" sections, the Art Museum Toilet Museum of Art provides a pictorial survey of crappers from the Hermitage and the Tate to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the De Young Museum. Also available, purportedly, T-shirts and hoodies adorned with slogans like "putting the crap in modern art."

Work by the late punk designer Stephen Sprouse (1953-2004), celebrated for his Warholian combination of art, fashion and street culture, is the subject of "Rock on Mars," Jan. 9-Feb. 28, 2009, a retrospective exhibition at Deitch Projects at 18 Wooster Street. The show features Sprouse’s video works, paintings (including an Iggy Pop crucifixion and a portrait of Sid Vicious with his pants down) and some 50 different fashion costumes. The show is also the occasion for the launch of a limited-edition Stephen Sprouse -- Louis Vuitton collection, designed by Marc Jacobs, as well as a The Stephen Sprouse Book, written by Roger and Mauricio Padilha and published by Rizzoli. The brainchild of Paige Powell and Kim Hastreiter, two fashion journalists who were Sprouse’s friends and advocates, the show is organized by Jamie Boud, Sprouse’s longtime collaborator, and presented with the cooperation of the Sprouse family.

Where did all the Francophile Orientalists go? They’re at the second iteration of Artparis Abu Dhabi, Nov. 18-21, 2008, the art fair that has brought 59 galleries from 22 countries to the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The show, which focuses on modern and contemporary art, is 40 percent larger than last time around, with 27 new galleries. Participants from the U.S. include Vivian Horan, Hamburg Kennedy Photographs, Paul Kasmin, Leila Taghinia-Milani and Van de Weghe; UAE galleries are 1X1 Art Gallery, Art Sawa, B21 Gallery, Contempo Corporate Art, Green Art Gallery and the Third Line.

The fair also features a pair of specially curated exhibitions, a slate of talks and performances, and an installation of public art by Alexander Calder, Wim Delvoye and others in the hotel gardens. Abu Dhabi is, of course, the site of the Saadiyat Island cultural district development, slated to launch in 2012-13 and to include the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, as well as a performing arts center and a maritime museum.

The last time the beloved Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Tex., tried to build an addition to its elegantly modernist Louis Kahn facility, the art and architectural worlds rose up in protest. Now, the museum is giving it another try, unveiling architect Renzo Piano’s plan for a $70-million expansion. One problem: The site, locally known as the Great Lawn, is a popular spot for frisbee playing and other pastimes. The new building would be located west of Kahn’s 1972 museum, and subtly mirror its height and scale, as well as its use of travertine and marble. The expansion would double the amount of gallery space in the museum. The Kimbell plans to break ground in 2010 and complete construction in 2012. For a diagram of the plans, courtesy by the Dallas News, click here.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is acquiring a house in Columbus, Ind. -- the landmark Miller House and Garden, designed by Eero Saarinen, with interiors by Alexander Girard. The house is being donated to the museum by the Irwin-Sweeny-Miller Foundation and members of the family of industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller and his wife Xenia Simons Miller, who originally commissioned the project in 1952. Also included in the gift: $5 million for an endowment. The IMA is kicking in another $3 million for the endowment and $2 million for renovations. The house is expected to be open to the public in 18 months.

The seventh biennial Hugo Boss Prize, a $100,000 boon sponsored by the men’s clothing manufacturer, has gone to Emily Jacir, the Palestinian-American political artist. Jurors for the prize, which is administered by the Guggenheim Museum, were UCLA art chair Russell Ferguson, Bard College CCS director Maria Lind, Guggenheim Asian art curator Sandhini Poddar, Guggenheim chief curator Nancy Spector, and Marc-Olivier Wahler, director of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

New York real estate magnate Francis J. Greenburger, CEO of Time Equities and sponsor of Omi International Arts Center upstate as well as the exhibition space at 125 Maiden Lane in New York, has announced the winners of the $10,000 Francis J. Greenberg Awards for 2008: Joan Jonas, Mel Kendrick, Helen Levitt, Sylvia Plimack Mangold and Sturtevant.

Superdealer Larry Gagosian, whose redoubt at 980 Madison Avenue already occupied elegant spaces on the building’s sixth and fifth floors, has now expanded onto the fourth with a debut exhibition that has to be seen to be believed. "Isabel and Other Intimate Strangers: Portraits by Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon," Nov. 4-Dec. 15, 2008, features an incredible 60 works by the two masters of the 20th-century Expressionist portrait. The show begins with the artist and model Isabel Rawsthorne, who was Giacometti’s muse and Bacon’s drinking companion, and includes portraits of others in the two artists’ intimate circles.

The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color catalogue with essays by Veronique Wiesinger, director of the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti in Paris, and Martin Harrison, director of the catalogue raisonné of Francis Bacon. The show corresponds as well with the first survey of Alberto Giacometti’s work in Russia, which opened at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow on Sept. 16, 2008.

The Belgian-born art dealer Christophe Van de Weghe, who currently has a ground floor space on West 23rd Street in New York’s Chelsea art district, is branching out. Van de Weghe Fine Art opens a second space at 1018 Madison Avenue, between 78th and 79th Streets, with a show of paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nov. 8-Dec. 20, 2008. For more info, see

Longtime David LaChapelle associate Fred Torres -- he is currently LaChapelle’s worldwide art representative -- has opened a new gallery space at 527 West 29th Street in Chelsea. Fred Torres Collaborations unveils its new operation with "Alessandro Twombly: Figures of Eros," Nov. 14, 2008-Jan. 3, 2009. The show is Twombly’s seventh in New York City. For more info, see

Bay Area conceptualist Charles Gute -- now a Brooklyn resident -- is inaugurating Jason Rulnick’s new gallery location at 230 Fifth Avenue (at 27th Street) with "Find-A-Text," Nov. 6-Dec. 12, 2008. Gute’s new word paintings are done in the format of the popular Word Search puzzles, in which words are hidden within a grid of random letters. The words hidden within Gute’s grids, however, are keyed to the realm of contemporary art. Accompanying the show is an actual 96-page paperback puzzle book, with puzzles devoted to contemporary Chinese art stars, Romania mania, boy art stars and the like. For more info, see

Former Artnet sales rep Liz Parks, who was in charge of convincing galleries in Chelsea to join the Artnet website, has gone over to the other side. She has opened Parks Fine Art, an art consulting business with an office at 32 Union Square East, offering a full range of advisory services, from organizing visits to artists’ studios and art fairs to assisting with art research and collection management. For more info, see

Artnet Magazine D.C. correspondent Sidney Lawrence has a double life -- when he’s not sending dispatches on art doings in Washington, D.C. to these pages, he works in his studio as a painter. Now, Lawrence is exhibiting his recent works at District Fine Arts at 1639 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Nov. 15, 2008-Jan. 17, 2009. For an online preview, see

TRACEY BARAN, 1975-2008
Tracey Baran, 33, New York artist known for color photographs that find mysterious drama in everyday life, died after a brief illness on Nov. 11. "Baran referenced fundamental themes such as love, death and regeneration," wrote curator Karen Irvine, referring to photo series that charted the beginning of her own romantic relationship, or the rituals of deer hunting in upstate New York City. Born in Bath, N.Y., Baran came to New York in 1989 to attend the School of Visual Arts, and had her first exhibition in 1998 at Liebman Magnan Gallery. She showed her work in 2002 at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and worked with Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects in New York for the past six years.

Grace Hartigan, 86, Abstract Expressionist who was called "the most celebrated of the young American women painters" by Life magazine in 1958, died of liver failure in Baltimore on Nov. 15. Born in Newark, she took up painting in California and in the 1940s became part of the New York art scene, joining the circle that included Willem de Kooning and Frank O’Hara. She was selected by Clement Greenberg and Meyer Schapiro to exhibit in "New Talent" at the Kootz Gallery in 1950, and included in Alfred Barr and Dorothy Miller’s "12 Americans" at the Museum of Modern Art in 1954. She moved to Baltimore in 1960 and taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art, founding its graduate school of painting. More recently she exhibited at the Gruenebaum Gallery and ACA Gallery in New York; her paintings were featured in "Hand Painted Pop" (1993) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and "Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning and American Art, 1940-1976" at the Jewish Museum earlier this year.

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