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Artnet News
May 15, 2007 

The first Roma Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale, located on the piano nobile of the 16th-century Palazzo Pisani Santa Marina in the Canareggio district, features "Paradise Lost," an exhibition of 16 Roma artists from eight European countries. Roma culture has been both romanticized and dismissed as kitsch, but exhibition curator Tímea Junghaus claims that the Roma can serve as "a model for a modern, European transnational identity."

The artists are Daniel Baker (London), Tibor Balogh (Budapest), Mihaela Ionela (Bucharest), Gabi Jimenez (Marines, France), András Kállai (London), Damian Le Bas (Worthing, England), Delaine LeBas (Worthing, England), Kiba Lumberg (Helsinki), Omara (Szarvasgede, Hungary), Marian Petre (Bucharest), Nihad Nino Pušija (Berlin), Jenõ André Raatzsch (Nurnberg), János Révész (Budapest), Dusan Ristic (San Francisco), István Szentandrássy (Budapest) and Norbert Szirmai (Budapest).

Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, 72, is to be awarded the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Biennale. In recognizing the artist, known for his portraits of life in Mali’s capital, Bamako, Biennale curator Robert Storr writes that "no African artist has done more to enhance photography’s stature in the region, contribute to its history, enrich its image archive or increase our awareness of the textures and transformations of African culture in the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first than Malick Sidibé." Visitors to the venerable artfest have a chance to appreciate his work, in the form of a special series of photos Sidibé took of Malian contestants in an AIDS-awareness pageant.

Make an early departure for your Grand Art Tour of Europe this June -- the Venice Biennale, Documenta, Art Basel, the Munster Sculpture Project -- and take in the 13th edition of Art Athina, May 31-June 3, 2007. All five floors of the Helexpo Palace are devoted to the fair, with about 50 galleries in the main section and another 30 artists doing project spaces; plus Russia is the "guest country" and another dozen galleries hail from there.

In addition to the strong Greek contingent, participants include Galerie Christian Nagel (Cologne), Cokkie Snoei (Rotterdam), Luxe Gallery (New York), Vacío 9 (Madrid) and Wohnmaschine (Berlin). Also taking part, under the aegis of the Athens-based Breeder Gallery’s "contemporary club," are John Connelly Presents (New York), Ibid Projects (London) and Peres Projects (L.A. & Berlin).

Another attraction is the "parallel plan," a program of special exhibitions, performances and talks. Michalis Argyrou is general director and Christos Savvidis is artistic director of Art Athina, which is mounted under the auspices of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture as well as the Hellenic Art Galleries Association. For more info, see

The theme of the Flash Art’s Prague Biennale 3, May 14-Sept. 16, 2007, is "Glocal & Outsiders: Connecting Cultures in Central Europe." The show pays special homage to three artists: Marina Abramovic, Vanessa Beecroft and Shirin Neshat. Among the more than 20 special exhibitions setting up in Prague’s Karlin Hall is "Expanded Painting 2," organized by Helena Kontova and Giancarlo Politi; "Glocal Outsiders," a show of contemporary art in the Czech and Slovak republics; "Glocal Girls: Young Czech and Slovak Women Photographers"; "Czech Minimalism"; "Baltic Mythologies," a show of emerging artists from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; "The New Romanian Scene"; and "Kinetic Art in Eastern Europe". For more info, see

Russia’s own art fair, Art Moscow, opens at the Central House of Artists, May 16-20, 2007. Most of the almost 70 participating art galleries hail from Russia, including Aidan, ArtStrelka, Guelman, Regina, XL and many more. Out-of-towners include Gallery Pack (Milan), Karin Sachs (Munich), Orel Art Gallery (Paris), Stefan Stux (New York), Volker Diehl (Berlin) and Wetterling (Stockholm). For details, see

After a three-year court battle, the heirs of Martha Nathan -- descendants of her siblings and in-laws; she had no direct heirs -- have dropped their legal fight to gain possession of two paintings that they say she sold under duress in 1937. The two paintings are Vincent van Gogh’s The Diggers (1889), now owned by the Detroit Institute of Arts, and Paul Gauguin’s Street Scene in Tahiti (1891), owned by the Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art.

A member of a banking family who emigrated from Germany to France in 1937 to escape Nazi persecution, Nathan sold the van Gogh to a consortium of three Jewish art dealers in Paris in 1938 for the equivalent of $9,260. One of the dealers, Georges Wildenstein, sold it for $34,000 in 1941 to Detroit art collector Robert Tannahill, who bequeathed it to the Detroit museum. The same consortium bought the Gauguin for $6,865 and Wildenstein sold it to the Toledo museum in 1939 for $25,000.

According to the museums, Nathan sold the paintings voluntarily and received payment in line with other sales made during that period. In December 2006, an Ohio district court ruled that the Nathan heirs had no claim to the Gauguin because the sale occurred outside Germany "between private individuals who were familiar with each other," and because "the painting was not confiscated or looted by the Nazis" and "the sale was not at the direction of, nor did the proceeds benefit the Nazi regime."

The 10-year, $1.2 billion redevelopment of Lincoln Center in Manhattan has one unhappy casualty -- a huge art commission by Ann Gillen in the garage plaza and stairwells to the Metropolitan Opera House. "Diller Scofidio and Renfrew are beginning their work at Lincoln Center by destroying my work," protested the artist, who says she was not consulted in any way. Gillen’s relief-like mural, painted in four colors, is titled Processions and measures some 440 feet long.

Does the artist have any legal relief? The federal 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act requires building owners to contact artists and give them the opportunity to remove their murals. But according to Daniel Grant, a writer on art law, most public-art commission contracts now contain waiver clauses in which the artist gives up his or her rights in order to obtain the commission.

"The property owner has all the power," said Gillen. "The law needs to be changed." Despite this setback, Gillen is hardly giving up on public art. Her latest commission is a 20 x 30 ft. stainless steel relief titled Line Byline and installed at the CUNY School of Journalism on West 41st Street in Manhattan. "It’s my 28th public commission," she said.

"The Price of Everything. . . Perspectives on the Art Market," May 17-June 24, 2007, an exhibition organized by the students in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program -- Martin Braathen, Stéphanie Fabre, Minnie Scott and Mike Sperlinger -- opens at the Art Gallery at the CUNY Graduate Center at 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street. The show includes a 1969 conceptual art work by Robert Morris in which he proposed that the Whitney Museum invest $50,000 as a work of art, and Karl Haendel’s drawing of a Cadillac SUV, which carries the same price as its subject ($56,055). Other artists in the show are Fareed Armaly & Christian Philipp Müller, Fia Backström, Marianne Heier, Conrad Bakker, Christian Jankowski, Elmgreen & Dragset, Louise Lawler, the Fine Art Adoption Network, Hans Haacke and Danica Phelps.

A dispute has broken out between two of our favorite people, Sotheby’s and Aby Rosen, the high profile contemporary art collector who is also Sotheby’s landlord. According to a report by Charles V. Bagli in the New York Times business section, the "particularly acrimonious" disagreement involves Sotheby’s York Avenue headquarters building, which the auction house sold to the real estate mogul for $175 million back in 2002, when Sotheby’s was still struggling to recover from a crippling price-fixing scandal and needed operating capital.

Now, Rosen plans to sell the building for about $500 million, and Sotheby’s claims a good portion of the proceeds, due to contract arcana that need not concern us here. The amiable Rosen, who recently inked a deal to help develop a 64-story luxury hotel at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street, said he had "no idea" about the dispute when contacted last week by the Times. Stay tuned.

Herb Alpert
, the father of Tijuana Brass (and founder of A&M records), and his Alpert Foundation for the Arts, have given $75,000 grants to five artists. The artists are Walid Raad (visual arts), Cynthia Hopkins (theater), Jacqueline Goss (video), Jeanine Durning (dance) and Mark Feldman (jazz). Now in their 13th year, the awards go to what Alpert calls "wildly independent experimenters who think about and respond to the world beyond their studio walls."

The Rema Hort Mann Foundation, founded in 1995 to in honor of the New Museum patron and art collector who died of stomach cancer at age 30, is holding its first benefit art sale and fund-raiser at Moti Hasson Gallery at 535 West 25th Street at 6:30 pm on May 16, 2007.  Among the artists who have donated artworks are the benefit co-chairs, Lane Twitchell, Beth Campbell and Dana Schutz, plus Liz Bougatsos, Katy Grannan, Erik Parker, Javier Tellez, Momoyo Torimitsu, Fatimah Tuggar, Kehinde Wiley and many more. Proceeds of the benefit go towards both grants in the visual arts and support for cancer patients. Tickets are $100; for more information, see

Act fast! The annual benefit for Printed Matter, the artists’ bookstore, goes off tonight, May 15, 2007, at the swank Hiro Ballroom at the Maritime Hotel on West 16th Street in New York’s Chelsea art district. The event is hosted by John Waters and features performances by artist Terence Koh, the Berlin-based electro musician Peaches and Flaming Fire, a "metaphysical arts collective" and band from Brooklyn. Tickets begin at $15; higher-priced tickets include a special editioned artwork by Koh. For more details, see

Raphaela Platow
has been appointed director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. A native of Munich, Platow was previously a curator at the Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Mass.

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