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Artnet News
Mar. 26, 2008 

Finally, the answer to the question that is on everyone’s mind -- the Brooklyn Museum has announced that it will indeed house a fully operational Louis Vuitton boutique selling bags by Takashi Murakami when it opens "©Murakami," Apr. 5-July 13, 2008, the touring retrospective featuring some 90 works by the celebrated Japanese artist. Taking up 550 square feet on the fifth floor of the museum, the boutique will offer Murakami-designed versions of Vuitton’s Alma, Speedy, Ursula, Beverly, Rita, Eugénie and Alexandra bags, as well as limited-edition canvases signed by the artist.

The Brooklyn Museum boutique replicates a similar shop that operated for the duration of the exhibition’s inaugural run at the Museum of Contemporary art, Los Angeles, where it was reviled by critics -- and racked up substantial bucks for the Bernard Arnault-owned bag maker, which pockets the profits from the so-called "commercial readymade." In addition to cash, the Vuitton brand scores a substantial marketing coup, as it uses the museum show as a platform to launch the new Murakami "Monogramouflage" design, set to go on sale at select stores worldwide after debuting in Brooklyn on June 1.

It’s not all crass commercialism, though. As if to make things that much more surreal, in an updated press release the Brooklyn Museum adds that a portion of the revenues from sales at the store during the gala are going to the Federal Enforcement Homeland Security Foundation. A partnership between the government and industry that serves such needy organizations as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency and Immigration Control and Enforcement, the foundation provides funds to the families of slain agents, as well as doing outreach, "making the police and the feds seem ‘cool’ to kids."

"©Murakami" next travels to the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Oct. 27, 2008-Jan. 4, 2009, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Feb.-May 2009 -- so look for more "synergy" of this kind as Murakami continues in his so-far-successful quest to rule the world.

Works from the $400-million estate of the late art dealer Ileana Sonnabend may be heading to the auction block to pay estate taxes, according to a report on Bloomberg by reporters Katya Kazakina and Linda Sandler. The executors of the estate are Sonnabend Gallery director Antonio Homem, the dealer’s adopted son, and Nina Sundell, Sonnabend’s daughter. Taxes on the estate could be more than 50 percent. During her lifetime, Sonnabend flirted with establishing a namesake museum, but apparently any such plans were never finalized. Sonnabend died in October 2007 at age 92. 

The winners of the New Museum’s first-ever, biannual Altoids Awards for American Emerging Artists are Ei Arakawa, Michael Patterson-Carver, Lauren Kelley and Michael Stickrod. The four winners receive $25,000 each, and  have their work showcased at the museum in an exhibition organized by Massimiliano Gioni, June 25-Oct. 12, 2008.

The Altoids award, bankrolled by the "curiously strong" mint of the same name, are intended to pack a "curiously strong" punch as the first art honors selected exclusively by artists. For the present edition, a group of 10 professional artists from across the U.S. -- Edgar Arceneaux, Allora and Calzadilla, Mitch Cope, Trisha Donnelly, Harrell Fletcher, Michelle Grabner, Jay Heikes, Matt Keegan, Rick Lowe and Frances Stark -- were asked to nominate five emerging artists whose work they fancied. From this pool, the winners were selected by a judging panel composed of art stars Paul McCarthy, Cindy Sherman and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Is there a shoving match for art-attention between Williamsburg and the Lower East Side? The 36 galleries of the Williamsburg Gallery Association have announced that they will be staying open late, 7-11 pm, on Saturday, Mar. 29, to coincide with the Armory Show bonanza of fairs. To promote the initiative, copies of RAW, the guide to the Williamsburg art scene, are being handed out free at the Armory and satellite fairs like Scope and Pulse. According to the website, "Artgoers can find out who's who and where to go in the world's biggest emerging art scene."

No sooner was the ink dry on that announcement, however, than the 30-plus galleries of the Lower East Side declared that the following day, Sunday, Mar. 30, they would be offering a special open house, 12-6 pm, staking their own claim on Armory weekend and bringing those same art lovers to the "burgeoning downtown gallery scene." A map, specially created for the day by artists Adam Shecter and Joe Winter, lists all the participating locations and shows, and is available at the Armory’s Pier 94 location, the Volta NY satellite fair and the New Museum, which is celebrating the last day of its "Unmonumental" show the same day.

Last November, the Chelsea dealer Vanina Holasek was diagnosed with a brain tumor. While she has been treated and the prognosis is good, Holasek has been overwhelmed by the resulting hospital bills. Now her friends and colleagues are coming together with a benefit art auction, to be held on Apr. 7 at Marc Jancou Contemporary.

For the evening, auctioneer Aileen Agopian of Phillips de Pury & Co. presides over an auction of works by the likes of Diane Arbus, Hope Atherton, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Cecily Brown, Carter, Larry Clark, Dan Colen, George Condo, Justin Lieberman, Cindy Sherman, Josh Smith, Keith Tyson and Bruce Weber. A concurrent silent auction and raffle feature luxury products, with proceeds also going to Holasek’s medical fund.

Admission to the benefit, which includes one raffle ticket, comes in Surrealist ($100), Post-Modernism ($250), Conceptual Art ($500) and Pop Art ($1,000) levels. Those unable to attend can make tax-deductable donations, payable by check to "The Pietro Maugeri Foundation." For further details, see

Triple Candie, the Harlem-based nonprofit cum conceptual art project known for assembling "solo shows" featuring reproductions of works by Cady Noland, David Hammons and other non-cooperating artists, has announced that it is closing -- though with an organization like this, who can be sure? The suspension of operations supposedly results from construction in the building housing the space, work that has rendered exhibitions untenable, according to Triple Candie directors Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett. The directors say they are looking for a new space in Harlem.

In the meantime, Triple Candie is bowing out with "Thank you for coming: Triple Candie, 2001-08," Mar. 23-Apr. 27, 2008. In characteristic Triple Candie style, it promises to feature no art from its seven-year-run. Instead, it includes "documentation, ephemera, fragments of past art projects, posters of past exhibitions that we designed specifically for the show, and partial recreations of past exhibitions that didn’t include art." Of particular interest -- whether the artifacts are real or fictional, presumably -- are a commemorative poster and T-shirt by Polly Apfelbaum, copies of checks supporting the organization from prominent artists such as Robert Gober and Tom Otterness, and correspondence like an email from critic David Cohen explaining why he wouldn’t write about the space’s fake David Hammons show.

Somehow escaping the attention of the vigilant editors at Artnet Magazine who put together the comprehensive "Armory Week" preview [see "Armory Action," Mar. 21, 2008] was the PooL art fair, sponsored by Frère Independent. Known as a showcase for unrepresented artists, the fair opens at the Hotel Chelsea on West 23rd Street, Mar. 28-30, 2008, and offers 20 rooms full of talent waiting to be discovered. See for more info.

Despite a lingering dispute with Swiss art dealer Pierre Huber [see Artnet News, Feb. 22, 2008], the new Chinese contemporary art fair, ShContemporary 08, Sept. 10-13, 2008, is moving ahead with organizational changes designed to make it more professional. ShContemporary is co-produced by Lorenzo Rudolf and Bolognafiere SpA with several Chinese partners, including ArtAsiaPacific Magazine. It presents over 120 Asian and Western galleries as well as a curated section featuring works by 30 artists.

The fair has established a new "strategic board" that includes Pi Li (Universal Studios, Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing), Leng Lin (Bejing Commune, Beijing), Lu Jie (Long March Project, Bejing), Tian Yuan (White Space, Beijing), Lorenz Helbling (ShanghART, Shanghai), Arthur Solway (James Cohan Gallery) and Elaine Ng (editor, ArtAsiaPacific Magazine, New York).

The special exhibition of 30 artists (up from 20 last year), dubbed "Best of Discovery," is to be overseen by independent Beijing curator Huang Du, with input from seven other experts: Rachel Kent, curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney; London-based critic and curator Sara Raza; New Delhi critic and curator Deeksha Nath; Jakarta-based curator Refky Effendy; Shinyoung Chung, curator at the Museum of Art in Seoul; Palestine-based independent curator Jack Persekian; and Yining Shen of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei. For additional details, see

The new Half Gallery opens at 208 Forsyth Street on the Lower East Side, Apr. 10-May 10, 2008, with a debut exhibition by Matt Damhave, a co-founder of the Imitation of Christ fashion line as well as a graphic designer who has done work for Gang Gang Dance and Chloe Sevigny. Coming up is a show by the young German artist Jay Gard. The gallery is founded by Bill Powers and Andy Spade, and occupies half the space -- thus the name -- of Rx Art, the nonprofit that brings artworks to hospitals and clinics.

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