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Artnet News
June 19, 2007 

The British art critics, admittedly a prickly group, don’t like Documenta 12, the contemporary art exhibition that has just opened in Kassel, Germany. "The worst art show ever" was the headline in the Telegraph over Richard Dorment’s report. "Freelance curator Roger Buergel and his art historian wife Ruth Noack," Dorment wrote, "have managed to stage the single worst art exhibition I have ever seen anywhere, ever."

The Guardian did almost as well, titling Adrian Searle’s review "100 days of ineptitude," after the famous exhibition’s 100-day time span. Though Searle admitted to liking works by some of the artists (Zoe Leonard, Lu Hao,  Nasreen Mohamedi, Annie Pootoogook, Atsuko Tanaka, Lidwien van de Ven), he called the custom-built Aue-Pavilion "ghastly" and the layout of the show "visual sludge."

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is now a big player in the contemporary art market, as amply demonstrated by its recent sale at auction of a handful of art masterpieces from its collection for a total of almost $70 million. Now, as if to indicate the direction they want to take, Albright-Knox director Louis Grachos and senior curator Douglas Dreishpoon have organized "The Panza Collection: An Experience of Color and Light," Nov. 16, 2007-Feb. 24, 2008. The show includes more than 70 works by 16 artists, currently dispersed at sites in Italy, New York and Los Angeles, ranging from Dan Flavin, Ruth Ann Fredenthal and Bruce Nauman to Anne Appleby, David Simpson, Phil Sims and Winston Roeth. The accompanying catalogue features an essay by Saint Louis Dispatch art critic David Bonetti.

The perfect show for the summer months opens in the coming weeks at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art at 1285 Avenues of the Americas in New York. Dubbed "Wish You Were Here: Artists on Vacation," June 28-Sept. 21, 2007, the display includes letters, travel journals, sketchbooks, snapshots, passports and postcards from vacationing artists, including Cecilia Beaux, Sanford Robinson Gifford, John Sloan and Mary Cassatt. For details, see

A new opera inspired by five paintings by Edward Hopper premieres this fall, Nov. 15-18, 2007, at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in College Park, Md., with an encore performance slated for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 2, 2007. Later the Same Evening, as the opera is titled, is composed by John Musto with libretto by Mark Campbell, and inspired by five Hopper paintings, all of which are set in New York City. The opera is a joint project of the NGA -- whose "Edward Hopper" retrospective is on view Sept. 16, 2007-Jan. 21, 2008 -- with the Smith center and the UM School of Music. For info on tickets, click here

Contemporary ceramist Ken Price is well known in the U.S. -- he had his first solo show at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in 1960 and was included in both the ’79 and ’81 Whitney Biennials, for instance -- but his work has been relatively little-seen in Europe. Now, he debuts a body of new work at Xavier Hufkens in Brussels, May 31-July 7, 2007, in what is Price’s first solo show in Belgium and his first European solo in 30 years. The exhibition features 15 of the artist’s "blob" sculptures, small biomorphic "things" whose subtle hue requires about 70 thin coats of color. The show also features a catalogue with an essay by critic Dave Hickey.

Los Angeles dealer Steve Turner, who since 1988 has specialized in American art and design from the 19th and 20th centuries, has moved the gallery to new quarters and changed the focus of his program. Located at 6026 Wilshire Boulevard across from the new Broad Contemporary Art Museum, currently under construction, the new Turner gallery is 3,000 square feet with two exhibition spaces and a project room, plus a second floor with offices. And the new program is a contemporary one, launched with "Past Over," June 2-Aug. 30, 2007, a group show featuring works by Michael Arcega, Zoë Charlton, Sam Durant, Ken Gonzales-Day, Mary Kelly, Marc Andre Robinson and My Barbarian that deal with historical events that have been sanitized or denied.

Why the change? Turner noted that he plans to continue to deal privately in mid-century 20th-century American moderns, but that the lure of the contemporary scene was irresistible. "I saw so many good artists," he said, "and I just wanted to be involved." Other artists who are showing in the coming months at the gallery include Deborah Grant, David Kinast, Pearl Hsiung and Jina Valentine.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., has received a collection of British art works, plus $50 million for its endowment, from the Manton Foundation. Highlights of the gift, which goes on view at the museum this summer in "Gainsborough, Constable and Turner: The Manton Collection," include J.M.W. Turner’s Off Ramsgate (1840) and John Costable’s The Wheatfield (1816). The Manton Foundation was formed by Edwin A. G. Manton, a benefactor of the Tate and a top executive with AIG (the American International Group), who died in 2005 at age 96.  

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced that its two major exhibitions last fall, "Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde" and "Americans in Paris, 1860-1900," generated $377 million in spending by tourists to New York. The direct tax benefit to New York City and state of all those visitors totaled $37.7 million, the Met said. The 490,002 visitors to "Cézanne to Picasso" and 311,700 people who saw "Americans in Paris" spent an average of $575 on expenses for lodging, dining, sightseeing and entertainment, plus another $282 on shopping during their stay in New York.

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