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Artnet News
Apr. 11, 2006 

New York City was safe for a brief moment on Monday, Apr. 10, 2006, as top local politicians left their offices to convene for a photo op on the High Line, the 1.45-mile-long elevated railroad that runs 22 blocks from Gansevoort Street to East 34th on the west side of Manhattan. The occasion was the official groundbreaking for the $130-million effort to turn the structure into a new 6.7-acre park, some 30 feet in the air and 30 to 60 feet wide. Among the politicos on hand was mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who quipped that he had thought "the idea sounded strange -- so we should do it." The city is kicking in a total of almost $79 million.

New York Senator Charles E. Schumer pointed out a nearby building, saying that it was the original factory where Nabisco made Oreo cookies. "Every cookie came out of their bakery," he deadpanned. "Now I wonder if they're made in America anymore." Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton took note of all the High Line supporters who helped her convince her fellow Washington insiders why New York needed a park on an elevated highway. "It took some explaining," she joked. New York Representative Jerrold Nadler said that he was especially glad to see the groundbreaking, since he had been involved in lawsuits to block demolition of the highway since the 1980s. "God works in mysterious ways," he said, "but the judicial system works in even more mysterious ways." The federal government is kicking in at least $19.5 million for the project.

Wrapping up the ceremony, the mayor announced a gift of $5 million towards the undertaking from Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenburg, who hastened to explain that "we were friends of the High Line long before we had all this property here!" Diller's InterActiveCorp headquarters building, designed by Frank Gehry, is slowly rising on West 19th Street, while a new von Furstenburg building is being gut renovated on West 14th.

Two celebrities were also on the stage -- Kevin Bacon and Ed Norton -- but they said nothing. Project architects Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio and Charles Renfro were nowhere to be seen. "Who needs the artists at an event like this," joked one public-arts administrator. The gift bag for attendees included a commemorative railroad spike. As for the public, the media was requested to emphasize that the High Line is closed and trespassers are subject to prosecution. The new park is scheduled to open in 2008.

-- Carlo McCormick

Call it "Death in Venice." The anonymous bureaucrats down at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State have selected Felix Gonzalez-Torres as the U.S. representative to the 2007 Venice Biennale. The much-liked Gonzalez-Torres (1957-96) died of AIDS ten years ago, and his familiar piles of posters and hard candies -- free for the taking -- and dangling strings of lightbulbs should make a perfectly grim, postmodern memento mori for America during a time of war.

In recent years, artists like Fred Wilson (2003) and Ed Ruscha (2005) have designed custom installations for the pavilion; this time around, since the artist can't make anything new, the task goes to Guggenheim Museum curator Nancy Spector, who organized a Gonzalez-Torres show at the museum in 1995 and is overseeing the fabrication of a new work, based on a Gonzalez-Torres drawing but not realized during his lifetime (the Gugg is organizing the installation). The budget for the pavilion, which can be $1 million or more, is not yet set; the curator is still pricing the cost of the posthumous work, not to mention all that printed paper and candy.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State is also underwriting the U.S. entries in several other international art shows that are coming up this year. For the 2006 Dakar Biennale in Dakar, Senegal -- dubbed Dak'Art, The International Biennale of Dakar, and scheduled to open May 5-June 5, 2006 -- the State Department is supporting an exhibition organized by Museum of Modern Art educator Amy Horschak, including works by Louis Cameron, Kori Newkirk, William Pope.L and Senam Okudzeto. For the first time, Horschak notes, the U.S. artists are not exhibiting separately but rather are being integrated into the general exhibition.

For the 27th São Paulo Bienal, scheduled for Oct. 8-Dec. 17, 2006, the U.S. is helping send works by U.S. artists down for the general exhibition, which is organized by the Bienal curators, headed by Lisette Lagnado. U.S. participants include Mark Bradford, Dan Graham, Gordon Matta-Clark and Rirkrit Tiravanija. The last time the U.S. put together a specially organized show for São Paulo was in 2002, with an exhibition of works by Kara Walker [see Artnet News, Aug. 19, 2004].

For the 2006 Cairo International Biennale, scheduled in December, the U.S. is presenting a new work by Daniel Joseph Martinez, who has plans to build an animatronic robot, according to his dealer, Christian Haye. The commissioner for the show is Gilbert Vicario of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

A detailed funding breakdown could not be immediately obtained, but the U.S. State Department grant for Dakar is about $60,000.

Who says theory is dead? The Miguel Abreu Gallery opened at 36 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side last month with a show that included two films by the notoriously opaque Jean-Marie Straub. Next up is a reading and book launch by Semiotext(e) muse Chris Kraus at 4 pm on Apr. 15, 2006. The new book by the feminist intellectual and filmmaker is titled Torpor, and traces the lightly fictionalized adventures of our heroine in the Soviet Bloc on a quest to adopt a Romanian orphan. The book is distributed by MIT Press and costs $14.95. A show of drawings, photographs and prints by Hans Bellmer opens at the gallery on Apr. 29. For details, see

The Art Dealers Association of America is hosting a panel discussion titled "The Artist as Collector" at PaceWildenstein on West 25th Street at 6-8 pm on Wednesday, Apr. 19, 2006. Panelists include artists Jane Hammond, David Levinthal, Barton Lidice Benes and Ursula von Rydingsvard, with art critic Amei Wallach acting as moderator. Admission is free, but advance registration is required; email

Mendes da Rocha, a Brazilian architect known for his design for Sao Pãulo's Brazilian Sculpture Park, has been awarded architecture's highest honor, the Pritzker Prize. He receives $100,000 and a bronze medallion.

The theme of the International Center of Photography's second triennial, Sept. 8-Nov. 26, 2006, is "Ecotopia." Organized by ICP curators Edward Earle, Christopher Phillips, Carol Squiers and Brian Wallis, along with assistant curator Joanna Lehan, the show focuses on the ways that contemporary photo-based artists view the relationship between humans and nature.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has announced its 2006 fellows, 187 artists, scholars and scientists who receive awards totaling $7,500,000 (an average of more than $40,000), who are selected on the basis of their "distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment." Winners in the visual arts include Olive Ayhens (painting, Brooklyn), Markus Baenziger (sculpture, New York City), Todd Bertolaet (photography, Florida A&M University), Hilary Brace (drawing, Santa Barbara), Marco Breuer (photography, Hudson, N.Y.), Peter Fend (visual art, Berlin), Judy Fox (sculpture, New York), Dana Frankfort (painting, Long Island City), Maria Elena González (sculpture and installation art, Brooklyn), Katie Grinnan (sculpture, Los Angeles), Frank Herrmann (painting, Cincinnati), Yoko Inoue (installation art, Brooklyn), Zsolt Kadar (photography, Los Angeles), Joseph Leo Koerner ("Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel and the painting of everyday life," Courtauld Institute), Carol Lawton ("Popular Greek religion and the votive reliefs from the Athenian Agora," Lawrence University), Cynthia Lin (drawing and painting, Sarah Lawrence College), Neil McWilliam ("Tradition, identity and the visual arts in France, 1900-1914," Duke University), Wilbur Niewald (painting, Mission, Kansas), Roxy Paine (sculpture, Brooklyn), John Pollini ("Christian destruction and desecration of images of classical antiquity," University of Southern California), George Quasha (video, Barrytown, N.Y.), Arden Reed ("Slow art, from tableaux vivants to James Turrell," Pomona College), Paul Sattler (painting, Greenfield Center, N.Y.), Carl Sander Socolow (photography, Camp Hill, Pa.), Jeff Talman (sound art, Brooklyn), Tony Tasset (sculpture, Chicago), Jackie Tileston (painting, Philadelphia), Lynne Tillman (fiction, New York), Hilary Wilder (painting and installation art, Houston) and John Yau (poetry, New York City).

Hubert Shuptrine, 70, watercolor artist who specialized in painting the people and places of the southern U.S., died on Apr. 7 in Chattanooga, Tenn. He collaborated with James Dickey on the award-winning book, Jericho: The South Beheld (1974) and followed that book with a second publication, Home to Jericho (1987). His works are in the permanent collections of the Brandywine Museum, the Butler Institute and many other museums, and he is be featured in the forthcoming "Realizations: The Art of Hubert Shuptrine" at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Ga. He is represented by Alan Shuptrine Fine Art in Chattanooga.

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