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Artnet News
Dec. 15, 2006 

Plans were announced for what is described as the "first Arab-Israeli museum of contemporary art" during a ceremony titled "The Museum as a Catalyst for Urbanization" at the Tel Aviv Museum on Dec. 12, 2006. The proposed museum is to be located in Umm al-Fahm, Israelís largest Arab community, with 37,000 residents, located near Israelís barrier wall in the West Bank. The $20-million facility is to be designed by the German-trained Palestinian architect Senan Abdelqader (after the museum failed to reach an agreement with Zaha Hadid), and is conceived as an extension of the existing Umm al-Fahm Gallery, a ten-year-old art space founded by Said Abu Shakra to showcase Jewish-Palestinian art collaborations. (Yoko Ono staged an exhibition at the gallery in 1999 to "balance" her simultaneous appearance at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.) "The museum will deal with the study of the Palestinian Arab culture, document it, capture its remnants, and try to build a model connecting the past, present and future," Abu Shakra told Ynetnews at the Tel Aviv event.

The Miami Art Museum is considering a merger with Miami Art Central, the bustling nonprofit art space founded three years ago by super-collector Ella Fontanals-Cisneros. The two organizations have announced a trial partnership, called MAC @ MAM, for which the former is said to be producing exhibitions and programming at the latter -- though, confusingly, the new arrangement kicks off with an exhibition at MAC of works by artists Peter Friedl and Tacita Dean, beginning Jan. 20, 2007. According to the Miami Herald, the two institutions plan to evaluate the link-up, and consider a full marriage, after six months.

So, why would one nonprofit bring in another one to do its programming? The move might be compared to the Museum of Modern Artís partnership with P.S.1, which gave the senior museum a broad-based entry to the hipper contemporary art world. The partnership might also be seen as a uniquely Miami phenomenon, since the city is home to super-moguls like Don and Mera Rubell and Marty Marguilies, whose public or semi-public collections already tend to outshine their more institutional rivals.

The development must also be seen in the context of MAMís recently announced plans for a new, $208-million Herzog & de Meuron-designed building on Miamiís Bicentennial Park. Not only does the museum need to raise some $108 million on top of the $100 million in public bonds already issued for the project -- and Fontanals-Cisneros, who already sits on the museumís board, agreed to the "MAC @ MAM" concept after being asked to participate ''in a much more personal way'' with the creation of the new building, according to the Herald -- but it would like to beef up its contemporary art holdings to justify the showy new facilities. It currently has less than 300 objects in its permanent collection.

Last chance to see the new exhibition by the Belgian art phenom, Hans Op de Beeck (b. 1969), at Xavier Hufkens gallery on Rue Saint-Georges in Belgium. Titled "Family (Scenes and Scenery)," Nov. 9-Dec. 16, 2006, the show features a group of ghostly but elegant installations, as well as sculptural bas reliefs and photographs, that picture family life as a kind of tableau vivant. The exhibition is the artistís second at the gallery.

The 65-year-old rock idol Bob Dylan wants to block the release of Factory Girl, the Edie Sedgwick biopic directed by George Hickenlooper, according to press reports. Scheduled for release by the Weinstein Company on Dec. 29, 2006, Factory Girl features a Dylan-like character named "Danny Quinn" (played by Hayden Christensen) who sports a Dylan-esque harmonica brace and cap. The filmís plot may suggest that Sedgwickís 1971 drug overdose had something to do with her unrequited love for Dylan. According to the New York Post, Dylanís lawyer warned the movie producers that merely changing the name of a character does not immunize the film from a lawsuit -- "The portrayal remains both defamatory and a violation of Dylanís right of publicity." For more details on the movie, see

Meanwhile, as part of its "Andy Warhol-idays" holiday marketing campaign for 2006, Barneyís, the upscale New York-based clothing retailer, is selling sets of four Campbellís tomato soup cans with special labels printed in bright complementary colors for $12 per can. Apparently, the homemade bit of Pop Art, which includes a Warhol self-portrait and a facsimile signature on the label, is popular, as the item is currently out of stock, with an additional 20,000 cans on order from the company. A Campbellís rep told Marketing Daily that the $12 price "sets an all-time high for soup." A slice of the proceeds goes to the Andy Warhol Foundation, which makes a mint with increasingly ingenuous licenses of Warhol products.

The Museum of Modern Art plans to enliven the winter months of 2007 with a major survey of 41 works by Canadian postmodernist photographer Jeff Wall, Feb. 25-May 14, 2007. Organized by Peter Galassi and Neal Benezra, the show includes four works previously unseen on North American shores, including the ambitious In front of a nightclub (2006). The exhibition subsequently appears at the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Jake and Dinos Chapman are getting a full-scale retrospective at the Tate Liverpool. Opening Dec. 15, 2006, and titled "Bad Art for Bad People," the exhibition ranges from their mutated versions of Goyaís Disasters of War to their "Chapman Family Collection" of faux ethnographic totems.

Causing a bit of buzz in the non-art-world press is 29-year-old artist Scott Blake. The Omaha-based artistís was picked up by ABC News for a recent profile, spotlighting his works that combine massive grids of scannable barcodes to create Op Art-style portraits of famous figures -- an image of Charles Manson, for instance, formed out of the barcodes from books about him, or Paul Newmanís mug, made from the codes on Newmanís Own foods. In 2001, Blake also won an Adobe Design Achievement Award from the software company for his work Code 128/Jesus/Book of Revelation, a portrait of Jesus Christ made from barcodes encrypting words from the Book of Revelations. To see all of Blakeís art-works, visit

A report commissioned by Britainís Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and the National Museum Directors' Conference estimates that the countryís museumís bring in some £1.5 billion a year, of which £350 is accounted for by overseas tourism, constituting an export just as important "as the car industry or hedge funds." Fittingly, given such utilitarian company, Britainís museums are praised for their venture into the world of "mass tourism and entertainment." However, the report goes on, British museums lack funds to compete on the private market for good art works. "This is objectively a problem," Tony Travers, the reportís author, told the Guardian. "The private sector would not live with the same product for ever. A way of dealing with this must be found."

A separate report released by the Museum of Modern Art earlier this year claimed that the institution will have a $2 billion impact on the New York City economy between 2004 and 2007.

The first portions of Virginia & Albert Museumís £110 million (about $216 million) plan to redisplay its collections -- widely seen as a balancing act between the museumís scholarly and popular functions -- has just opened in London in the form of a new installation of the V&Aís Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries of "Sculpture in Britain 1600-1900." The verdict? According to the UKís Telegraph, "So far, so good." The newspaper applauds the galleriesí attention to details such as the original 1880s mosaic floor, appreciates the displayís expanded scope and finds that the commitment to education is satisfactory.

Artist Robin Rhode took the W South Beach Artist Commission, a two-year-old honor given by the W South Beach hotel to one of the exhibiting artists in the Art Basel Miami Beach "Art Positions" exhibition in the cargo-container village at the beach, which is sponsored by the hotel. The award includes a $75,000 commission for the 419-unit W South Beach Hotel & Residences, slated to open in 2008.

The new Center for the Study of Modern Art at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., has announced the Phillips Book Prize, a new $5,000 award to an "emerging scholar" for publication of a first book, representing new research in modern or contemporary art. The center plans to publish the winning manuscript through the University of California Press. The proposal deadline is Jan. 15, 2007. For more info, contact

The Museum of Arts and Design, recently castigated (again) in the press by white-suited writer Tom Wolfe, is poaching staff from the Cooper-Hewitt: Barbara Bloemink, curator at the C-H since 2002, has agreed to come on board at MAD as deputy director of curatorial affairs. The move is the first in a series of appointments planned before the museum moves to its new home at 2 Columbus Circle in New York.

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