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Artnet News
Apr. 8, 2008 

The New York-based John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has announced the winners of its annual fellowships, doling out a grand total of $8,200,000 to 190 winners (thatís an average of more than $43,150). As usual, the awards honor "stellar achievement and exceptional promise for continued accomplishment" in a range of fields, from medicine and mathematics to poetry and choreography. And also as usual, a few lucky members of the visual arts community make the cut.

Taking honors in the "fine arts" category are artists Robert Feintuch, Joe Fyfe, Phoebe Gloeckner, Sue Hettmansperger, Sedrick Ervin Huckaby, James Hyde, Martin Kersels, Simon Leung, Pam Lins, Anthony McCall, Rebecca Morris, Ruben Ochoa, Andrew Stein Raftery, Enrico Riley, Lisa Sanditz, Sigrid Sandstrom, Jeffrey Schiff, Christian Tomaszewski, Marc Trujillo and Rachel P. Youens.

Film- and videomakers given Guggenheim support are Natalia Almada, Nancy Evelyn Andrews, Keith Bearden, Bill Daniel, Rodney Evans, Anne Makepeace, Oren D. Rudavsky, Ben Russell and Pamela Yates. Photographers are Michael P. Berman, Elijah Gowin, Builder Levy, Fredrik Marsh, Greg Miller, Ardine Nelson and David J. Taylor.

The Guggenheims have a focus on supporting university research, so a number of academics also get kudos: the University of Southern Californiaís Meiling Cheng for her studies of time-based art in China; University of Chicago economics professor David W. Galenson for his work Conceptual revolutions in twentieth-century art; the University of Pennsylvaniaís Michael Leja for studies of mid-19th-century painting; and Wake Forest Universityís Sarah Watts for writings on the satires of Lyonel Feininger.

Ohio State professor Judith Mayne wins in "film, video and radio studies" for her work on French Occupation cinema, while Berkeley mandarin Kaja Silverman takes a Guggenheim Fellowship in "photographic studies," for her work The Miracle of Analogy.

Swedish-born curator and critic Daniel Birnbaum has been chosen to curate the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. Currently the rector of the Staedelschule in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, Birnbaum is something of an insiderís choice for the job, since he already co-curated a section on painting at Francesco Bonamiís 2003 Biennale. Then again, perhaps the venerable art fest is just looking for some good coverage -- Artforum savaged Robert Storrís 2007 effort as curator, and Birnbaum serves as contributing editor at the influential art mag.

In a press statement released on his appointment, Birnbaum promised that he would "explore strings of inspiration that involve several generations and to display the roots as well as the branches that grow into a future not yet defined. . . . It will be my ambition to create a show that, although articulated into individual zones of intensity, remains one exhibition." More concretely, he indicated that he would include more art from China, India and the Middle East.

"The preparations for Documenta 13 have already begun," writes Bernd Leifeld, CEO of the Documenta GmbH, who has appointed a committee of nine to search for the next director of the global mega-show of contemporary art, due to be held in 2012 in Kassel, Germany. The committee members are Joseph Backstein, director of the Institute of Contemporary Art Moscow and head of the Moscow Biennial 2007; Manuel J. Borja-Villel, director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina SofŪa; Kathy Halbreich, associate director of the Museum of Modern Art; Paulo Herkenhoff, a freelance curator and director of the S„o Paulo Biennial 1998; Oscar Ho, director of the MA program in cultural management a the Chinese University of Hong Kong and former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai; Udo Kittelman, director of the Museum fŁr Moderne Kunst Frankfurt; Kasper Koenig, director of the Museum Ludwig; Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney; and Rein Wolfs, artistic director of the Kunsthalle Fridericianum Kassel.

Perhaps the French arenít as secular as one might think. The Centre Pompidou has organized another massive, multidisciplinary exhibition for the summer, titled "Traces du Sacre," May 7-Aug. 11, 2008, and featuring 350 works by 200 artists, ranging from Caspar David Friedrich to Bill Viola. The exhibition "looks at the way in which art continues to testify. . . to the existence of a universe beyond, remaining. . .† the profane vehicle of an ineluctable need to rise above the quotidian."

The show is divided into 20 different sections, each with its assortment of artists, such as "Traces of the Fugitive Gods," which includes Damien Hirst and Gino De Dominicis along with Friedrich and others, and "Cosmic Revelations," which includes Sigmar Polke and Matt Mullican. A few other categories are "Homo Novus" (Paul Klee, Umberto Boccioni, Adel Abdessemed), "the Absolute" (Piet Mondrian, Constantin Brancusi), "Eden" (Franz Marc, Paul Klee), "Sacrifice" (Hermann Nitsch, Marina Abramovic) and "The Shadow of God" (Andy Warhol, Paul Chan).

The show subsequently appears at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Sept. 19, 2008-Jan. 11, 2009.

The 75-year-old Fluxus artist Yoko Ono, whose last appearance in New York compared the viewer to a cockroach (in "Odyssey of a Cockroach" at Deitch Projects in 2003), has a new provocative "audience participation" piece planned for her forthcoming show at Galerie Lelong in New Yorkís Chelsea art district. Titled "Touch Me," Apr. 18-May 31, 2008, the exhibition features a large canvas stretching the entire width of the gallery, with openings that visitors to the show are encouraged to insert body parts through. A "metaphoric counterpart" of Onoís 1965 performance Cut Piece, in which members of the audience were invited onstage to cut off her clothes, the new installation suggests "elements of isolation, exposure, vulnerability and defiance." The exhibition also features Vertical Memory, which includes what is described as "a composite of a male face" combining Onoís father, her husband John Lennon and son Sean Lennon.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago presents a survey of works by Jeff Koons, May 31-Sept. 21, 2008, a show that is billed as the artistís first U.S. museum survey in 15 years. The exhibition appears only at the MCA. Organized by the artist himself with the museum, the show includes the blue and silver version of the artistís auction-record-setting Hanging Heart (which sold at Sothebyís for $23.6 million last November) as well as iconic works from each Koons series.

These include "Pre-New" and "New" (vacuum cleaners), "Equilibrium" (the suspended basketballs), "Luxury and Degradation" (liquor ads and stainless steel liquor sets), "Statuary" (the stainless steel bunny), "Banality" (the Pink Panther), "Made in Heaven" (the erotic self-portraits with Ilona Staller), "Celebration" (toys and baubles), "Easy-Fun/Ethereal" (montage paintings), "Popeye" (beach toys) and "Hulk Elvis" (more collage paintings).

Koons studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1970s, studying under Ed Paschke, and briefly worked at the MCA as a preparator. The show is accompanied by "Everythingís Here: Jeff Koons and His Experience of Chicago," an exhibition drawn from the MCA collection of works by artists who influenced Koons.

The Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, well known in Europe as the owner of the Chelsea Football Club in London, is planning to sponsor a new contemporary art center in Moscow, according to, a Russian art blog written by Matthew Cullerne Bown. The site is reported to be a historic garage on Obraztsova Street, originally designed by Konstantin Melnikov, opening this fall with a show of works by Ilya Kabakov. Director of the center, according to IZO, is Darya Zhukova, who is described as Abramovichís "squeeze."

Still other winners include choreographer Molissa Fenley, playwright Danny Hoch, Wooster Group head Elizabeth LeCompte, and former New York Times art critic Michael F. Brenson, who receives support for his in-the-works biography of David Smith.

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