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Artnet News
July 11, 2006 

As world leaders prepare to attend the G-8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, the State Hermitage Museum has opened an exhibition of more than 20 late works by famed Abstract-Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. Decidedly unconventional for the Hermitage, whose exhibitions only rarely venture into the 20th century, "Willem de Kooning Late Paintings," July 4-Sept. 24, 2006, is installed in Nicholas Hall, a monumental white marble interior dimly lit by gargantuan crystal chandeliers. It is organized by U.S. curator Julie Sylvester, whose previous exhibitions for the Hermitage of works by Louise Bourgeois (in 2001) and Cy Twombly (2003) met with considerable success.

At the Hermitage, the paintings are granted the space to sing on their own terms. Untitled I (1982) recalls Kandinsky with the muted dissonance of its palette, while the whispery brushwork of a 1984 Untitled floats as if the paint had not yet committed to settling on its surface. An Untitled from 1988 blooms in brash trumpets of yellow and orange, while Untitled XXIX (1983) suggests St. George and the Dragon, the red riders surging on blue steeds, overwhelmed by the weight of the white surrounding them.

"Willem de Kooning Late Paintings" has been characterized by Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky as part of a dialogue between the Old Masters and the contemporary. More interesting for international observers, perhaps, is the increasing exchange between the institutional Russian art world and that of the West. Stay tuned.

-- Kate Sutton

The Guggenheim Foundation and the government of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, have entered into an agreement to build a 300,000-square-foot Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum designed by Frank Gehry. The new museum would be located on Saadiyat, a small island off the Abu Dhabi coast, which is being developed as a "cultural hub" with 29 hotels, three marinas, two golf courses, apartments and villas, several other museums, a performing arts center and a park. Abu Dhabi is underwriting the construction and operation costs, while the Guggenheim is presumably reaping management and other fees. Plans call for the museum to open in 2011.

Should that opening in fact occur, the Gugg may face more programming strictures than usual. Gulf States frown upon the display of nudes, for instance, and other, more discreet restrictions may also apply. Modernism is allowed, however, if the auction held in Dubai last May by Christie's is any measure. The sale included works by Shirin Neshat and Andy Warhol as well as Victor Vasarely and Bridgit Riley.

More difficult may be the general boycott of Israel by Arab states. As was recently pointed out by the Visual Arts Commerce Forum blog, the United Arab Emirates boycotts the importation of goods produced in Israel and prohibits the entry of individuals holding Israeli passports. What effect the boycott might have on the museum remains to be seen.

Is the market slowing for postmodern esoterica? The Paris-based auction house Artcurial held a sale of 130 lots of material by the late theory mandarin Jacques Lacan on June 30, 2006, including a selection of drawings by the psychoanalyst of his famous graphs and formulas, from his illustrations of knot theory to Venn diagram-like illustrations of the overlapping orders of the "real," "imaginary" and "symbolic."

Assembled by mathematician Jean-Michel Vappereau, the overall value of the horde was estimated to be worth approximately €450,000, according to a report in Le Monde. The actual total? A mere €69,183, with less than 20 percent of the lots finding buyers. While some items were estimated in the €10,000 to €12,000 range, the top lot went for a measly €6,029, and was not even a drawing but a two-page listing of names of other analysts, dated Nov. 8, 1976.

If the art world really needs an excuse to go to the beach on a July weekend, the Scope Hamptons people are ready and waiting. Opening July 14-16, 2006, at the East Hampton Studios on Industrial Road in Wainscott, Long Island, Scope Hamptons 2006 brings together some 60 dealers, ranging from Andre Schlechtriem Temporary to Yossi Milo. For further details, see

Need another draw to the Hamptons this weekend? On July 14-16, 2006, the Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation and artistic director Robert Wilson unveil the newly reconfigured Watermill Center on a wooded six-acre estate in Watermill, Long Island. The opening gala on July 15 includes a benefit art auction conducted by star auctioneer Simon de Pury as well as performances and art installations by guest artists-in-residence Andrey Bartenev, Tania Bruguera, Cao Fai and Vadim Fishkin. The public is invited to an open house on July 16. For more info, call (212) 253-7484 ex 10.

Not everyone in the art world goes to the Hamptons, of course -- some go to the Cape! This summer, Adelson Galleries once again opens its summer gallery in Nantucket in the Sconset Room of Harbor House Village with a pair of exhibitions. "Wyeth Family," July 18-Aug. 19, 2006, features 25 works by N.C. Wyeth, Henriette Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth, while "Light Impressions: American Works on Paper, 1875-1925," Aug. 8-19, 2006, includes nearly 40 works by Frank Benson, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase and others. For details, see

The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt kicks off the summer with a survey of hard-core (or would that be lyrical?) conceptualism with "Nothing," July 12-Oct. 1, 2006, organized by Martina Weinhart and featuring works by 20 artists dating from the 1960s to the present. Among the items on exhibit are John Baldessari's text painting that reads Everything is purged from this painting but art, no ideas have entered this work; Martin Creed's Work No. 401 (2005), a small loudspeaker making a "pfft" sound; Karen Sander's Zeigen (2006), an empty room with nothing on display but the labels of missing works; plus works by Art & Language, Robert Barry, Joseph Beuys, Stefan Brüggemann, James Lee Byars, Spencer Finch, Ceal Floyer, Tom Friedman, Jeppe Hein, Martin Kippenberger, Imi Knoebel, Christine Kozlov, Nam June Paik, Joëlle Tuerlinckx, Luc Tuymans and Remy Zaugg.

Move over Larry Clark! William Bouguereau is coming to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Philbrook Museum of Art is presenting "In the Studios of Paris: William Bouguereau and His American Students," Sept. 17-Dec. 31, 2006, featuring 55 works by the pompier supreme as well as by some of his U.S. students -- Cecilia Beaux, Eanger Irving Couse, Elizabeth Gardner and Robert Henri. The show is curated by James F. Peck, and accompanied by a catalogue published by Yale University Press.

Could this be another Statue of Liberty? Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, president of the Russian Academy of Arts and creator of the Good Defeats Evil sculpture on the grounds of the United Nations, is slated to install a 100-foot-tall steel-and-bronze 9/11 monument in a two-acre waterfront park in Bayonne, N.J., directly across from the spot in Lower Manhattan where the World Trade Towers once stood. Titled To the Struggle against World Terrorism, the shrine is billed as a gift from "Russian president Vladimir Putin, the people of Russia and the artist to the people of the United States." Tsereteli's soaring monolith frames a ragged crevice, in which hangs a 40-foot-long steel teardrop, while its 11-sided granite base bears the names of those who died on 9/11 as well as in the 1993 WTC attack. The monument is to be dedicated on Sept. 11, 2006.

Photographer and role-playing artist Nikki S. Lee has made her first film, and the hour-long biopic premieres at the Museum of Modern Art on Oct. 5-6, 2006, with subsequent showings planned at the Hammer Museum in L.A. and the Albright-Knox Art Museum in Buffalo, N.Y. Written, directed by and starring Lee, the film is a "sort of documentary" that follows the artist for an 18-month period, during which she takes on two different personas, blurring the line between reality and fiction. 

Artnet Magazine scribe Charlie Finch isn't the only person who thinks Whitney Museum curator Donna De Salvo is doing something right [see "Picking and Choosing at the Whit," June 28, 2006]. Whit director Adam D. Weinberg has promoted De Salvo to the post of chief curator and associate director for programs at the museum. De Salvo is currently working on a survey of the work of Lawrence Weiner; she previously served as curator at Tate Modern, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Dia Art Foundation.

The AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) holds its latest "Unframed" benefit art sale at the Baumgartner Gallery in New York's Chelsea art district on July 20, 2006, at 6-8 pm. The benefit offers photographs by Lawrence Beck, Candice Breitz, Jen DeNike, Katy Grannan, Lisa Kereszi, Mary Ellen Mark, Ryan McGinley, Matthew Pillsbury, Laurie Simmons and Alec Soth, produced in editions of 25-40 copies and priced at $200-$750 each. Admission is $10. Proceeds benefit ACRIA's AIDS research and health literacy programs. For more details, see

After 20 years, Cavin-Morris Gallery, everyone's favorite spot for "outsider art" as well as tribal art and studio ceramics, is departing SoHo for 210 11th Avenue in Chelsea, a building that already includes several art galleries. But before the current gallery at 560 Broadway closes on July 15, 2006, Cavin-Morris is having a "relocation sale," with all reasonable offers seriously considered. "When one is moving, the phrase 'less is more' picks up great resonance," says the gallery.  

The winners of the Cooper-Hewitt's seventh annual National Design Awards had brunch at the White House with Laura Bush on Monday, July 10, 2006, and among the awardees was Craig Robins, the Miami developer who has played an important role in the preservation of Miami Beach architecture as well as helping to launch the Miami Design District. Robins brought some guests with him to the brunch -- his daughter Zoe, actor Robert Downey Jr. and Downey's son Indio.

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