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Artnet News
May 4, 2006 

Lars Nittve, director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, has asked the Swedish government to give his museum a present for its 50th birthday (coming up in 2008) -- 50,000,000 Swedish kroner (about $6.8 million) to buy works by women artists. Only 10 percent of the 250,000 items in the collection are by women, a proportion Nittve calls "offensive." If he gets his wish, Nittve says, he’ll acquire art by Russian avant-gardists Lubov Popova and Varvara Stepanova, Polish artist Katarzyna Kobro, Expressionist Paula Modersohn-Becker, plus Hilma af Klint, Sonia Delaunay, Georgia O’Keeffe, Hannah Höch and many more.

"Imagine," Nittve writes, "a Frida Kahlo, a Dorothea Tanning, photographs by Dora Maar and Claude Cahun, or an early sculpture by Louise Bourgeois for the museum’s fabulous Surrealist collection, alongside de Chirico, Giacometti, Magritte and Meret Oppenheim’s iconic Ma Gouvernante.

As the former Moderna Museet director Pontus Hultén argued in 1963, "It is legitimate for a museum to pay a high price for a work of art. Since the work will belong to everyone when it is in the museum, strictly speaking it can never be said to be too expensive. Once it is incorporated in the museum, it ceases to have a monetary value, since it cannot be sold."

The right wing is trying to suck the art world into the debate over pork-barrel government spending by characterizing a number of modest federal grants for new museum construction as "pork." Typing in the word "museum" into the database of the Citizens against Government Waste website, for instance, yields a substantial list, and some -- like the cool half-mil appropriated for the construction of the Sparta Teapot Museum in Sparta, N.C. -- have become as prominent symbols of government waste as those bridges to nowhere in Alaska that we keep hearing about.

Museum appropriations tucked away in the notoriously pork-heavy Transportation bill -- and it should be noted that most of the sums are relatively small contributions to multimillion-dollar construction projects -- include:

* $950,000 for a new parking lot at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Neb., courtesy of Democratic senator Ben Nelson, an appropriation that has become a campaign issue as a symbol of government corruption, according to the Gadsden Times.

* $500,000 for the Seattle Art Museum’s ambitious Olympic Sculpture Park initiative, along with $325,000 for the construction of the Northwest African-American Museum and another $325,000 for an expansion of the Wing Luke Asian Museum, also in Seattle.

* $300,000 for the construction of the Labor Museum and Learning Center of Michigan in Flint (didn’t Michael Moore make fun of exactly this kind of project in the documentary Roger & Me?).

* $250,000 for the "New Museum Project" at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, N.Y., designed to create "free-standing home" for the museum on 4.9 acres of land.

* $200,000 for building restoration at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor, N.Y.

* $200,000 for the American Visionary Arts Museum, an institution dedicated to self-taught artists in Baltimore.

* $200,000 for construction at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco.

* $200,000 for the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania, to expand and modernize its facilities.

* $150,000 for expansion at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, presumably designed to help out with its $150-million Rick Mather-designed annex.

* $100,000 for renovations at the Huntsville Museum of Art in Huntsville, Ala.

* $75,000 for the renovation of the Glass-blowing Museum in Lancaster, Pa.

Phillips, de Pury & Co. is branching out to London. The boutique auction house has taken a 40,000-square-foot space at 2 Howick Place in London’s Victoria district, between Westminster and Chelsea. The new London operation is headed up by Rodman Primack, formerly the company’s Los Angeles rep. The London building is a former post office sorting station originally built in 1894 and now owned by Alessandro Cajrati Crivelli, a Milanese developer who hopes to turn it into a major art-business center.

Phillips plans to hold auctions in contemporary art, photographs, design and jewelry, as well as its regular "Saturday @ Phillips" sales, in the new space, which is to serve as the firm’s European headquarters. First up is an auction of contemporary art and design on Oct. 14, 2006, to coincide with the Frieze Art Fair. Following the auction is a celebration of the firm’s 210th anniversary -- the original Phillips was founded in London in 1796. 

The Nova Young Art Fair in Chicago, which recently finished its second annual fair, has announced plans to open a branch in Miami. Nova Art Fair Miami 2006 is to run Dec. 7-10, 2006, concurrently with the already bustling spate of other art fairs, and be located at the Catalina Hotel and Beach Club at Collins Avenue and 17th Street in Miami Beach. The scrappy newcomer expects to host 60 galleries in its inaugural year.

The fair, organized by the not-for-profit Bridge Corporation (the folks behind Chicago’s bimonthly Bridge Magazine), has a fairly adventurous program, stating in its press release that the sponsors "encourage the pursuit of interplanetary travel, murder mystery scenarios, karmic conversion, stunt professionals, inductive reasoning, golems, commercial junk, hot rock, stunningly beautiful women in tiny cocktail dresses, live comedy, swarthy men in fast cars, gadgetry, human decency, subcultural trends, game theory, America and the newest in phaser gun technologies." Exhibitor applications can be downloaded at

The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin has opened its new 124,000-square-foot Mari and James A. Michener Gallery Building, designed by British architect Michael McKinnell and housing the museum collection as well as temporary exhibitions. Named after the best-selling author and his wife, who gave 141 paintings to the university in 1968, the new building is premiering with "America/Americas" and "New Now Next," a pair of exhibitions featuring works by both Latin American and U.S. artists.

Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People for 2006 includes Oscar-winner George Clooney, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, talk-show superstar Oprah Winfrey, casino mogul Steve Wynn -- and avant-garde feminist artist Kiki Smith. According to painter Chuck Close, who penned the citation for the magazine, Smith’s work is "the epitome of innovation, invention and unique personal vision." Separately, Time named 15 power couples, including the historical duo Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

The English art magazine Frieze has announced a new £2,000 international art writer's prize designed to discover and promote new art critics. Writers are invited to submit a 700-word review (in English) of a recent contemporary art exhibition -- but the applicants must be previously unpublished in newspapers or magazines, save for student publications. The winner gets to write a review for the magazine, as well as the £2,000 prize, awarded at the 2006 Frieze Art Fair. Send entries by July 3, 2006, to

Jérôme Sans, founder and co-director of the Paris contemporary art space Palais de Tokyo, is leaving the City of Light for Gateshead, England, to take up duties as the director of programming at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, an institution that opened in 2002 in a massive factory building on the River Tyre claiming to be "the biggest gallery of its kind in the world" (What kind? A place where visitors "experience innovative and provocative new art, relax, have fun, learn and discover fresh ideas.")

The 45-year-old Sans has organized, among other things, the Danish pavilion at the 1999 Venice Biennial, the 2005 Lyon Biennial and, with Nicolas Bourriaud, 2006’s critically blasted "Notre Histoire," currently at the Palais. He assumes his duties in Gateshead this summer.

On May 2, 2006, Matt Stokes was presented with 2006’s Beck’s Futures prize, the seven-year-old honor dedicated to emerging talent, co-sponsored by the brewery and London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. Stokes, whose works explore drug culture, receives £20,000. Judges were Martin Creed, Cornelia Parker, Yinka Shonibare and Gillian Wearing.

Other finalists for 2006 were Blood ‘n’ Feathers (Jo Robertson & Lucy Stein), Pablo Bronstein, Stefan Brüggemann, Richard Hughes, Flávia Müller Medeiros, Seb Patane, Olivia Plender, Simon Popper, Jamie Shovlin, Daniel Sinsel, Sue Tompkins and Bedwyr Williams, each of whom receives £1,500. Exhibitions of work by all Beck’s finalists remain on display at the ICA and venues organized by the Center for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, and Arnolfini, Bristol, through May 14, 2006.

The 2006 Bucksbaum Award -- the $100,000 price for an artist exhibiting in the Whitney Biennial -- has been awarded to Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford, whose large-scale, allover black-and-magenta collage-abstractions are exhibited in the current biennial exhibition on the fourth floor.

The 2006 Hunting Art Prize -- a $50,000 award earmarked for Houston residents and sponsored by the Hunting PLC oil services company -- has gone to Houston artist Francesca Fuchs. Other finalists for the prize were David Aylsworth, Leamon L. Green Jr., Darra Keeton, Floyd Newsum Jr., Aaron Parazette, Al Souza, Gael Stack and Frank X. Torbert.

KAREL APPEL, 1921-2006
Karel Appel, 85, Dutch expressionist artist who was a co-founder of the CoBrA group in 1948, died in Zurich on May 3. Celebrated for his rich sense of color and his extravagant brushstrokes, Appel won the UNESCO prize at the 1954 Venice Biennale and the grand prize for painting at the 5th São Paulo Bienal. He had major exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum (1960), the Stedelijk Museum (2001) and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (2004). In New York, Appel exhibited works on paper at JG Contemporary in 2004.

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