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Artnet News
May 22, 2007 

The gang at the Philadelphia Museum of Art rolled into town this week to showcase its new exhibition lineup at a special press lunch at the French Cultural Institute -- the French link is a forthcoming exhibition of "Renoir Landscapes," Oct. 4, 2007-Jan. 6, 2008. Arguably the biggest project on the agenda, however, is the opening on Sept. 15, 2007, of the $90 million, 165,000-square-foot new Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building. Located just across the parkway from the museum itself, the Perelman building consists of a completely renovated 1927 Art Deco structure originally erected as the headquarters of the Fidelity Life Insurance Company, and a 59,000-square-foot new addition designed by Gluckman Mayer Architects. The building houses the museumís departments of prints, drawings and photography, costumes and textiles, and modern and contemporary design.

Opening exhibitions include "Designing Modern: 1920 to the Present," a survey of the museumís design holdings; "Alfred Stieglitz at the Philadelphia Museum of Art," featuring more than 50 works, many donated by Stieglitz paramours Georgia OíKeeffe and Dorothy Norman; "A Passion for Perfection: James Galanos, Gustave Tassell, Ralph Rucci," celebrating three Philadelphia-born fashion icons; "A Conversation in Three Dimensions: Sculpture from the Collections," a show installed in the light-filled space of the new addition; and "From the Renaissance to the Surreal: Gifts to the Library and Archives."

In addition to "Renoir Landscapes," which is co-organized with the National Gallery, London, and the National Gallery, Canada, in Ottawa, the Philadelphia Museum has several other hot exhibitions on the schedule. "The Art of Lee Miller," Jan. 26-Apr. 27, 2008, surveys the photographs of the fashion model-turned-Surrealist and World War II correspondent via some 150 images, primarily vintage prints (the show is organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum). And "Frida Kahlo," Feb. 20-May 18, 2007, a show of approximately 50 paintings, appears in Philadelphia after its debut at the Walker Art Center and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

On the contemporary-art front, the museum is presenting "Notations/William Kentridge: Ten Tapestries," Dec. 21, 2007-Apr. 6, 2008, and "Geeís Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt," Aug. 2-Oct. 2, 2008.

After a tortuous dispute over Swiss installation artist Christoph Büchelís uncompleted installation, "Training Ground for Democracy," at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass. [see Artnet News, Mar. 30, 2007], the art center has officially cancelled the show, replacing it with a new exhibition titled "Made at MASS MoCA," opening on May 26, 2007. At the same time, the institution is asking the U.S. district court in Springfield, Mass., for a declaratory ruling allowing it to show to the public the unfinished parts of the project, which incorporates a Cape Cod house, a movie theater lobby, a mobile home, multiple vehicles and several thousand other objects.

According to the New York Times, Büchelís "Training Ground" has cost MASS MoCA in excess of $300,000 to date, a sum that is more than a third of the institutionís $800,000 total yearly operating budget. The project ran aground, according to press reports, when MASS MoCA director Joseph C. Thompson balked at Büchelís escalating requests for further additions to the installation, including the burnt body of an airliner he wanted to suspend from the ceiling. As for the artist, he accused the museum of mismanaging the entire project.

Thompson told the Berkshire Eagle that he believed that "Training Ground" was 90 percent complete, but that "weíve run out of time and ideas on how to engage productively with Mr. Büchel." North Adams mayor John Barrett III, who chairs the commission that owns the museum complex, added, "We gave [Büchel] every opportunity to negotiate. But he absolutely refused."

Büchelís lawyer Donn Zaretsky countered that it is "unprecedented for a fine-arts museum to sue for the right to show an artistís work before it is finished," and that the museumís lawsuit not only "violates the Visual Artists Rights Act, but also Büchelís contract with Mass MoCA." Büchel "trusted them," he said, "and that was his mistake."

MASS MoCAís new "documentary project" presents Büchelís incomplete environment -- but shielded from view by tall tarps until the legal status of the project is clarified. "Made at MASS MoCA" also includes a gallery of installation photos of items in "Training Ground" as well as images of other large and complex interactive projects previously executed at the space, including works by Gregory Crewdson, Cai Guo-Qiang, Ann Hamilton, Tim Hawkinson, Matthew Ritchie and Robert Wilson.

According to the museum, the show is meant "to provide our audience with thought-provoking insights into the complexities of the art-making process" -- but it might also be interpreted as an attempt to illustrate just how difficult Büchel has been, in comparison to the other artists, who managed to complete their works.

Recapping the mess in the New York Times, Randy Kennedy points out the obvious irony that an installation titled "Training Ground for Democracy" has devolved into such an acrimonious dispute. Given Büchelís apparent refusal to compromise, Kennedy notes that some observers have suggested that the artist -- whose work is involved with "institutional critique" -- might be playing an elaborate game.

Speaking of Büchel -- and intractable disasters -- Londoners are about to get a chance to see what he has been up to while away from North Adams. "Memorial to the Iraq War," opening at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, May 23-June 27, 2007, features a new project by the Swiss artist, who was one of 25 artists asked to create new works or proposals for future memorials to the current conflict in Iraq. Others involved are Lida Abdul, Marc Bijl, Tony Chakar, Yael Davids, Jeremy Deller, Sam Durant, Chris Evans, Matias Faldbakken, Liam Gillick, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Iman Issa, Sanja Ivekovic, Erik van Lieshout, Nate Lowman, Michaela Meise, Roman OndŠk, Michael Patterson-Carver with Harrell Fletcher, Khalil Rabah, Collier Schorr, Vahid Sharifian, Sean Snyder, Jalal Toufic, Klaus Weber and Keith Wilson.

We know art fairs have been multiplying like rabbits, but are they also splitting like amoebas? The answer would be yes, as Aqua Art Miami plans to launch its own satellite fair in Miami in early December 2007. Originally branded as a fair featuring dealers from Seattle and the Northwest, Aqua is keeping its original venue at the Aqua Hotel in South Beach, but also launching a second fair, dubbed Aqua Wynwood, in a warehouse space at 42 Northeast 25 St. in Miamiís Wynwood art district, close to the Rubell Collection and Pulse and just up the street from the NADA Art Fair.

According to Jaq Chartier, one of Aquaís organizers, the fair has signed a year-long lease with the space, allowing it to rethink the fair concept "in a more permanent way." Visitors can expect a revved up presentation style in terms of walls, booth-design, aisles and lighting. 40 to 50 galleries are expected at the invitation-only fair, more than doubling Aquaís footprint during the supersized Art Basel Miami Beach weekend (44 galleries are expected for the South Beach installment).

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, is set to open in its 27,000-square-foot "environmentally sustainable" facility designed by British architect David Adjaye, Oct. 28, 2007. The new building features a rooftop garden designed by Kim Dickey and Karla Dakin, and is adjoined by a plaza created by artist Clark Richert. Kicking things off is "Star Power: Museum as Body Electric," organized by MCA, Denver director and curator Cydney Payton, featuring works by Carlos Amorales, David Altmejd, Candice Breitz, Rangi Kipa, Wangechi Mutu, Chris Ofili and Collier Schorr.

The Clyfford Still Museum isnít set to open until 2010 in Denver, but fans of the Ab Ex giant can get the first sneak peak in "Clyfford Still Unveiled: Selections from the Estate," opening at the headquarters of the Still Museumís future neighbor, the Denver Art Museum, July 14-Sept. 30, 2007. The show features 13 paintings, "most of which have never been publicly displayed and all of which have been removed from view since the artistís death in 1980," according to a press release.

Everyone likes to see art made by art dealers, and White Columns is obliging with "Early Work," June 2-July 14, 2007. Initiated by Fabienne Stephan and Marilyn Minter, the show features "early art work" by Gavin Brown, Jeffrey Deitch, Janice Guy, Pat Hearn, Konrad Fischer and Maureen Paley.

The Steven Kasher Gallery at 521 West 23rd Street in New Yorkís Chelsea Art District presents "New York Genius," June 2-19, 2007, an exhibition of portrait photos of musicians, dancers, painters, actors and others selected by Lou Reed. The photos include portraits of Sammy Davis, Jr., by Burt Glinn, Susan Sontag by Henri Cartier-Bresson and James Brown by Eve Arnold. The portraits are all from the archive of the Magnum photo agency, which is celebrating its 60th birthday with a month-long tribute to documentary photography titled "The Magnum Festival: Celebrating the Art of Documentary."

In what is described as "the largest gift ever to an art museum to underwrite the compensation of the museumís top executive," the Indianapolis Museum of Art has received a $10 million gift from Melvin and Bren Simon (heís the "largest mall owner in the U.S."; sheís president of a "property management group," according to Mother Jones). The permanent endowment fund goes to create the new "Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO" of the IMA, with any money left over after paying the new executive going to "acquisitions, exhibitions, programs and professional development."

Artadia -- the art charity founded by investment banker Christopher Vroom as a result of the demise of the National Endowment for the Artsí artist fellowships -- has announced its inaugural round of Artadia Awards for the city of Boston (previous rounds have been for San Francisco, Chicago and Houston). A jury comprised of Pieranna Cavalchini, Michael Darling and Rene de Guzman selected the winners from a pool of some 700 Boston area artists, based on studio visits and interviews.

$15,000 awards go to Helen Mirra, the collective known as the National Bitter Melon Council and Mary Ellen Strom. Smaller, $1,500 grants have been awarded to Hannah Barrett, Gerry Bergstein, Xiaowei Chen, Jane Marsching, John Osorio-Buck, Vaughn Sills and Stephen Tourlentes.

The Joan Mitchell Foundation has announced the 15 winners of $15,000 grants in its annual MFA Grant Program, launched in 1997 to help MFA painters and sculptures upon graduation. The grantees are Lauren Adams, Stephanie Beck, Natasha Bowdoin, Shay Church, Dara Engler, Asuka Goto, Peter Gregorio, Mayumi Komuro, John McAllister, Lydia Musco, Andrew Patterson-Tutschka, Sara Pedigo, Ryan Pierce, Vitus Shell, and Rosemary Taylor. The program does not accept applications; candidates are put forth by nominators from the academic art community.

The next "collectorís forum" presented by the Art Dealers Association of America takes up the topic, "The Art Show Phenomenon: How the Art Marketís Hottest Trend Is Shaping the Cultural Landscape," May 24, 2007, 6-8 pm at Mitchell-Innes & Nash at 534 West 26th Street in Manhattan. The panel is moderated by art advisor Allan Schwartzman, and features Andrew Fabricant of the Richard Gray Gallery, Carla Chammas of CRG Gallery, Lawrence Luhring of Luhring Augustine, and Lucy Mitchell-Innes. Tickets are $20; for more details, see

Frick Collection chief curator Colin B. Bailey has been named the Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator of the museum, the first endowed position at the Frick, made possible by a $2 million challenge grant from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation in 2006.

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