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Artnet News
Nov. 5, 2008 

No sooner had Barack Obama been declared president elect of the United States than the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York marked the momentous occasion by adding a painting of future first lady Michelle Obama to "Live Forever," the current exhibition of work by Elizabeth Peyton, Oct. 8, 2008-Jan. 11, 2009, which features portraits of celebrities ranging from Kurt Cobain and Eminem to Napoleon and a baby John F. Kennedy. The oil-on-fiberboard portrait, painted in August, features an intent-looking Michelle Obama in a red dress, captured with daughter Sasha asleep in her lap. It is based on a photo taken during her husband’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Asked whether Peyton also had a picture of Cindy McCain in the bag, just in case, a New Museum spokesperson replied, "I don’t think so," adding that this was "not really her leaning."

No artist has been more associated with the Obama campaign, however, than guerilla art maestro Shepard Fairey, who is getting his own due with a full-career retrospective at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Arts, dubbed "Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand," Feb. 6-Apr. 19, 2008. Not only did Fairey design the iconic red-white-and-blue graphic of Obama that became ubiquitous throughout the campaign [see Artnet News, Feb. 14, 2008], but he has also been running a website where celebrities like Flea, John C. Reilly, and Will.I.Am could post video postcards about why they are voting Obama.

According to an ICA rep, Fairey was in Boston in October, where he engaged in some political postering in preparation for the show, albeit with imagery that is markedly less specific, focusing on images of flowers with guns and peace signs. "Supply and Demand," organized by freelance curator and art-book publisher Pedro Alonzo, promises to span Fairey’s entire 20 year career, from his earliest street tags of Andre the Giant, to at least one work associated with the Obama campaign, and a new mural.

Critics of the Venice Biennale have long argued that the focus on "national pavilions" is anachronistic, especially in the new global art world. Now, Germany is breaking the nationalist mold, selecting the English artist Liam Gillick (b. 1964) for the German Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, June 7-Nov. 22, 2009. The selection of Gillick, who lives in London and New York but is touted as working in Germany, was made by Nicolaus Schafhausen, the German-born director of Witte de With in Rotterdam. "No relevant criticism has been made concerning Gillick’s nationality,"’s editor, Gerrit Gohlke, wrote in an email -- though he added, "I would expect the most boring German pavilion in years." Gillick is perhaps best known for brightly colored shelf-like structures that seem poised on the threshold between sculpture and design. 

Sperone Westwater Gallery is presenting "Zero in New York," Nov. 6-Dec. 20, 2008, a museum-style survey of artworks by the Zero group, the art movement launched in Dusseldorf in the late 1950s by Heinz Mack and Otto Piene. In a distinctly Post-War effort, Zero sought to abolish old styles and embrace new technology, collaboration and elemental forms and imagery. "Zero is the incommensurable zone in which the old state turns into the new," wrote Piene in 1964. The Sperone Westwater show, which is organized by gallery director David Leiber and Zero Foundation director Mattijs Visser, is inspired by "Zero," a show at Düsseldorf’s Museum Kunst Palast in 2006.

The Sperone Westwater show includes works by Mack, Piene and Gunther Uecker from the original German Zero group; works by the Dutch "Nul" group, which included Henk Peeters, Jan Schoonhoven, Armando and Jan Henderikse; works by the Italian contingent (Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Enrico Castellani and Nanda Vigo), a French group (Arman, Jean Morellet and Yves Klein) and a Swiss group (Daniel Spoerri, Christian Megert and Jean Tinguely); plus works by Herman de Vries and Jef Verheyen. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated book with essays by Art Press editor Catherine Millet and Guggenheim Museum curator Valerie Hillings, and texts by Piene, Mack and Klein.

Meanwhile, the gallery has announced plans to build a sleek new nine-story skyscraper at 257 Bowery, on a site one block north of the New Museum, moving its operation there upon its completion in December 2009. The new edifice, designed by Foster + Partners, features a double-height display area at street level, a sculpture terrace looking out towards the Christie Street park to the building’s rear, and a 12 x 20 foot "moving hall" that allows expansion of exhibition spaces on the various floors.

Dulwich Picture Gallery curator Xavier Salomon has concluded that a painting by Paolo Veronese at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin, heretofore identified as Head of an Angel, is actually a fragment of a long-lost masterpiece by the Venetian artist. The painting is now thought to be a portrait of Saint Michael, the central figure in the so-called Petrobelli Altarpiece, made around 1565 for the church of San Francisco at Lendinara near Padua and dismembered and sold in pieces after the suppression of the Franciscan order in the 1780s. Next year, three other fragments of the altarpiece, along with the Blanton’s Saint Michael, are being reunited and put on public view, first at the Dulwich in February 2009 and then at the Blanton in "Paolo Veronese: The Petrobelli Altarpiece," Oct. 4, 2009-Feb. 7, 2010.

"Nayland Blake: Behavior," Dec. 2, 2008-Feb. 14, 2009, a 25-year survey of paintings, sculptures, installations and other works by gender provocateur and conceptual artist Nayland Blake (1960), opens at Location One at 26 Greene Street in SoHo. Organized by Maura Reilly, curator of the Sackler Center at the Brooklyn Museum, the show includes 30 works, including Magic (1991) and Heavenly Bunny Suit (1994). Also on tap is a series of performances; for more info, see

Kornelia Tamm Fine Arts
in Santa Fe, N.M., is opening a survey of prints and multiples by New York artist Kiki Smith, Nov. 7-Dec. 22, 2008. Smith’s prints and multiples were surveyed at the Museum of Modern Art in 2003, and the artist was given a full mid-career survey that appeared at museums in four cities in 2005-06 (San Francisco, Minneapolis, Houston and New York). The exhibition at Kornelia Tam includes Tidal (1998), an accordion-folded photogravure and litho representing the moon in all its phases; What Girls Know about Grids (2000), a minimalist parody made with lace handkerchiefs; and Mortal (2007), a portfolio of black-and-white woodcuts published by Thirteen Moons in 2007 that commemorates the artist’s late mother, the actress Jane Lawrence Smith. For more info, see

The FMR Marilena Ferrari Foundation, which relaunched the deluxe art magazine FMR in the U.S. some nine months ago, is donating a copy of its newest art book, Michelangelo: The Learned Hand, to the New York Public Library. Published in a limited edition of 99 copies, the book measures 18 x 28 inches, and has on its cover a bas-relief replica of Michelangelo’s La Madonna della scala, carved from Carrara marble and set on silk velvet. The book features 83 original photographs and 45 plates of Michelangelo’s drawings, writings and sketches, as well as the text of Giorgio Vasari’s The Life of Michelangelo; a virtual copy of the tome can be viewed here, while the real book goes on view in the NYPL’s Bill Blass Catalog Room, Dec. 2-8, 2008. It sells for $130,000.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, opens its first permanent exhibition space devoted to photography on Nov. 19, 2008, when "Photographic Figures" goes on view in the museum’s new Herb Ritts Gallery. The exhibition, organized by curator Anne E. Havinga, presents approximately 75 works by photographers ranging from Alfred Stieglitz and Man Ray to Debbie Fleming Caffery, Lalla Assia Essaydi and Matthew Pillsbury. The new gallery is made possible by a $2.5 million gift from the Herb Ritts Foundation.

The attire is listed as "metallic" for Performa’s upcoming fundraiser, the Metal Ball, Nov. 15, 2008, at Cedar Lake restaurant in West Chelsea. Inspired by the Bauhaus Metallic Festival, the Performa Metal Ball offers dinner, dessert and champagne, plus an extensive lineup of performances -- Dorit Chrysler and Jesper Just, Spiral Blaster, the Emergency Sewing Circle and others. All funds raised by the Metal Ball support the Performa 09 International Biennial of New Visual Art Performance in New York, Nov. 1-22, 2009. Tickets start at $125; for more info, click here.

Twenty-five years have passed since the premiere of Charlie Ahearn’s independent film Wild Style, the first to chronicle urban art forms like "DJing, MCing, b-boying, and graff writing" in a semi-documentary form, starring East Village art dealer Patti Astor along with Fab 5 Freddy, Lee Quinones, Lady Pink, Zephyr and dozens of other artists (not to mention a silver 1976 Chevrolet Impala belonging to your correspondent, in a small but nevertheless essential supporting role).

Now, a new print of the film goes on view at Film Forum in Lower Manhattan, Nov. 14-20, 2008, and powerHouse Books has issued a special book on the making of the film. Wild Style: The Sampler (powerHouse, $35), a 212-page inside look at the making of the film and its widespread effects.

Artist Peter Robinson has won the $50,000 Walters Prize for 2008, a biannual award established in 2002 to honor modernist pioneer Gordon Walters. Robinson was selected from a short list of four by curator Catherine David. The three other finalists, Edith Amituanai, Lisa Reihana and John Reynolds, each won $5,000. Robinson’s prize includes an all-expenses-paid trip to New York with the opportunity to exhibit work at Saatchi & Saatchi world headquarters in Tribeca.

Joel Weinstein, 62, art critic who was a tireless and often eccentric chronicler of the Puerto Rican art scene in his blog Rotund World, died of lung cancer in San Juan on Oct. 31. Born in Denver, Weinstein went to school in Oregon (where he met his partner of 18 years, Cheryl Hartup, now chief curator at the Museo de Arte de Ponce) before moving to Texas, where he wrote for the Austin American Statesman (1994-97) and the Dallas Morning News (1997-2000). A graphic designer and food critic as well as an arts writer, he also published the literary arts magazine Mississippi Mud from the 1970s to 1997. The Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission is celebrating his life as an "Oregon Original" on Jan. 21, 2009.

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