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Artnet News
June 6, 2006 

At a Cannes Film Festival that also features strong entries by American directors like the Coen Brothers and Michael Moore, New York artist and film auteur Julian Schnabel was voted "Best Director" for his new film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly -- the real-life story of playboy Jean-Dominique Bauby, a man who became paralyzed but nevertheless managed to write his memoir by blinking his left eyelid. Schnabel made the film in French, and with an élan that prompted one reviewer to write that "Schnabel’s visual sense is masterful. . . .the sense of space and place profound. . . The Diving Bell and the Butterfly may be avant-garde and bold, but it’s also plainspoken and real -- a movie well worth seeing."

Of course, not all critics agreed. Time Magazine writers Richard and Mary Corliss focused on the trivial, mocking Schnabel for "lumbering" across the stage at the award ceremony to shake the hands of all ten jury members; for mispronouncing the name of his lead actor, Mathieu Amalric, and that of supporting actor Max Von Sydow; and insulting his female actors by calling them "girls." They even suggest that the jury wanted to "retract the prize." Those Corlisses, what a class act.

Just days before the 52nd Venice Biennale opens to the public, June 10-Nov. 21, 2007, managing director Renato Quaglia has walked off the job, apparently over disagreements with biennale exhibition director Robert Storr, according to the Art Newspaper. Quaglia complained about Storr’s "budget overruns" and "incredible delays with everything he did, from selecting artists to making decisions," as well as his "hostile attitude."

Not one to take criticism lying down, Storr counterattacked, getting in a few blows of his own. "I gather that he is very well informed about theater," he sniffed, referring to Quaglia’s role as manager of the Venice Theatre Biennale. "He seems to know relatively little about visual art." As for the cost overruns, well, Storr’s staff claims that there are none.

In a separate column, the Art Newspaper also had an update on the ongoing controversy around the selection of the Sindika Dokolo Collection to represent Africa at the Biennale [see Artnet News, May 18, 2007], stating that a "handful of curators" who had made alternate proposals are now speaking out against the decision. Specifically, the article cites Abdellah Karroum -- founder of the experimental art space L’appartement 22 in Rabat, Morocco, and one of the curators for the 2006 Dak’Art Biennial in Dakar, Senegal -- who "believes that the collection is merely regional and was chosen on the basis of the owner’s ability to pay the high cost of putting on such an exhibition, estimated to be more than €100,000 ($134,000)."

Ruling the contemporary-art roost at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art isn’t enough for much-loved megacollector Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe Broad. Now, the couple has given $26 million to Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., to build a new art museum on campus. The proposed 42,000-square-foot facility is to house the university’s art collection, and focus on collecting modern and contemporary art. Pending approval of the University’s board, it is to be christened the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. The L.A.-based art patron and collector graduated from MSU in 1954, and the university is already home to the Eli Broad College of Business.

The British tabloids are reporting that Sir Elton John has hit a snag in his plans to tear down a part of his mansion in Berkshire, England, and erect a museum dedicated to his extensive art collection. The nascent John Museum, which the tabloids report was to "rival the Louvre," showcasing his works "from Picasso through Warhol" as well as his collection of 3,000 photographs -- has run afoul of local politicians. Malcolm Beer, a councilor for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, is quoted as opposing the plan on the basis that it is "architecturally confused."

Meanwhile, pop singer George Michael decided to invest some £20 million of the grosses from his recent tour in contemporary art, according to the Daily Mirror. "A source" tells the tabloid that the artists on his list were Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and David LaChappelle, reasoning that "they're hugely collectible and are certain to go up in value." A selection of Michael’s collection is supposedly set to be shown at the Dallas, Tex. gallery of the singer’s current partner, Kenny Goss.

Jeremy Deller, known for collaborative, politically charged works -- he won the 2004 Turner Prize for his documentary about George W. Bush’s hometown -- is designing the new cover of the London Underground Pocket Tube Map. The image, titled Portrait of John Hough, is a collaboration with draughtsman Paul Ryan (the two recently worked together on a project about Beatles manager Brian Epstein) who has created what is described as a "delicate line-drawn portrait" of John Hough, the longest serving member of the London Underground staff (who is set to retire in June). Five million copies of the guide are to be printed, and are available free at stations throughout the city.

An online database, Grackle, has been launched for curators looking for exhibitions available to tour. Users can search for exhibitions by floor space, dates of availability, price and most recent posts. Searching Grackle is free -- though posting requires a membership to the service.

The 2007 Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art, Sept. 19, 2007-Jan. 6, 2008, describes itself, rather cryptically, as "a history and geography manual in the form of a game." The concept, dreamed up by Stéphanie Moisdon and Hans Ulrich Obrist under the artistic directorship of Thierry Raspail, calls on 66 "players" from all over the world to select "the artist who best represents this decade."

Among the choices so far: Hamza Walker selected Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla; Philippe Vergne selected Ranjani Shettar; Scott Rothkopf selected Wade Guyton; and Julieta Gonzalez selected Simon Starling. New projects are also expected from Saâdane Afif; Jérôme Bel; Paul Chan and Jay Sanders; Elie During; Trisha Donnelly; Claire Fontaine; Michel Houellebecq with Rem Koolhaas, Rosemarie Tröckel and Thea Djordjadze; Pierre Joseph with Benoît Broisat, Etienne Chambaud, Cyprien Gaillard, Mark Geffriaud, Fabien Giraud, Benoit Maire, Bruno Persat, Raphael Siboni, Raphael Zarka and Collectif 1.0.3; Markus Miessen; Josh Smith; Rirkrit Tiravanija; and e-flux video rental.

The Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation is chipping in to keep New York a "vibrant cultural center." To wit, it has announced the winners of six $100,000 grants targeted at mid-sized arts institutions in the Big Apple that have had a significant impact on transforming their neighborhoods: the Bronx Museum; the Harlem Stage; the Queens Museum of Art; Queens Theatre in the Park; the Staten Island Museum; and the Weeksville Heritage Center.

Apex Art in New York is seeking submissions for what it has dubbed the "Most Curatorial Biennial of the Universe," on tap for June 27-Aug. 4, 2007. Would-be "curators" are asked to send in two different works by two artists, measuring 8 inches by 10 inches with a maximum depth of 4 inches. The first 1,000 works dropped off or mailed between June 16 and 23 will be shown; jpgs sent to Apex Art’s email will be displayed on the institution’s website. All items will be auctioned off during the show, with proceeds going to the anti-poverty charity the Robin Hood Foundation. More info at

Jerry I. Speyer -- CEO of Tishman Speyer Properties, the largest landlord in New York -- has been voted the new chairman of the board of trustees of the Museum of Modern Art. He succeeds Robert B. Menschel in the post. The election is effective July 1, 2007.

Nick Battis has been promoted to director of exhibitions at the Pratt Institute in New York. Battis, an accomplished painter, has served as assistant director of exhibitions at Pratt for 17 years. He is in charge of programming at the school’s two exhibition spaces, Pratt Manhattan Gallery on West 14th Street in Chelsea and the Rubelle & Norman Schafler Gallery, at the school’s Brooklyn campus.

Jörg Immendorff, 61, world-famous German Neo-Expressionist painter whose elaborate "Café Deutchland" series of paintings were a powerful metaphor for post-war German life, died of complications of Lou Gehrig’s disease in Düsseldorf on May 28, 2007. Immendorff studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy under Teo Otto and Joseph Beuys, where he quickly developed an illustrative painting style to chronicle student activism. He also made stage designs and sculpture, and taught at universities in Düsseldorf and elsewhere. He exhibited at Documenta 5 (1972), Mary Boone Gallery (1986), the Pompidou Centre (1993), the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin (2005), and worked extensively with Cologne dealer Michael Werner.

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