"ADELE" TAKES NEW YORK
Manhattan's five-year-old Neue Galerie on East 86th Street and Fifth Avenue now has its new "destination picture," Gustav Klimt's dazzling, gold-encrusted portrait of his patron and presumed lover, Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907). The picture is installed with four other Klimt paintings, including a second portrait of Adele, in "Gustav Klimt: Five Paintings from the Collection of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer," July 13-Sept. 18, 2006. Neue Galerie founder Ronald S. Lauder, museum director Renée Price and Maria Altmann, Adele's niece and heir, were all on hand at a morning press conference to present the works, the installation of which is quite notable -- they're all under glass, in shallow cabinets custom-built to take up the entire wall space.
As everyone must know by now, Altmann won possession of the five paintings, which had been hanging in the Galerie Belvedere in Vienna, only after a long court battle. She promptly sold the centerpiece of her new collection to Lauder for a reported $135 million. Officially, the museum remains mum on the details of the transaction -- a real shame for historians. Curiously, despite the high price, the painting is accompanied by a statement reading, "This acquisition made available in part through the generosity of the heirs of the estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer." No taxes are due on Holocaust restitutions, but Altmann's attorneys get 40 percent, according to Forbes, or about $54 million.
Altmann, who has apparently consulted both major auction houses, originally sought $300 million for all five paintings; the four remaining works are worth a total of $130 million-$140 million, according to Manhattan art dealer Richard R. Feigen. "They may go higher," Feigen told Bloomberg news. "There's a tremendous amount of money out there." Whether they are to be sold privately or at Christie's or Sotheby's is expected to be announced soon.
Austrian art-lovers are trying to raise funds to return the remaining Kimts to Vienna -- Adele's original hope for her portrait, though this was before the Nazi era. Success seems unlikely, however. Austrian culture minister Elisabeth Gehrer has noted that the price of only one of the Klimt paintings exceeds the budget of all Austrian museums. For its part, the Galerie Belvedere has launched a marketing campaign to emphasize that the museum still has many admirable pictures from the early modernist period.
MET RAISES ADMISSION FEES
Apparently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been running an operating deficit averaging $3 million a year, according to a report in the New York Times. The fat cats and socialites who make the Met their private preserve clearly need to pony up more green, but the museum has a better idea -- target the tourists. The Met has quietly raised its suggested admission fee from $15 to $20, which presumably will hit those visitors who are unaware of the museum's "pay what you wish" policy, which allows entry for as little as one penny. How many of the museum's 4,200,000 annual visitors pay full price? The museum isn't saying, for some reason, but back in 1981 a museum official reported that the Met budget anticipated that the average payment was half of the entire amount.
MANIFESTA IN COURT
It looks like Cyprus -- still divided after the 1974 Turkish invasion -- is no place to get into a curatorial dispute. A Rotterdam court is hearing a new lawsuit filed against the Amsterdam-based International Manifesta Foundation by Nicosia for Art Ltd., the Cyprus-based organization set up to oversee Manifesta 6, which is now canceled but was originally scheduled to take place on the island this fall, Sept. 23-Dec. 17, 2006. The suit seeks ?175,000 in damages, but the court has directed the parties to seek to resolve their differences privately, and scheduled another hearing for later this month. It remains unclear from this vantage whether cooler heads will prevail.
Overseen by curators Mai AbuElDahab, Anton Vidokle and Florian Waldvogel, Manifesta 6 was designed to be a "school" that would take place on both sides of the Cyprus "Green Line" -- a provision that the Cypriot government apparently could not accept. For further details, see "Manifesta No More" by Augustine Zenakos, June 5, 2006.
CANALETTO IN NEW ENGLAND
The Yale Center for British Art is the only U.S. venue for the ambitious survey of the works produced by the celebrated Italian painter Canaletto during his travels in England in 1746-55. Some 71 paintings and drawings are included in "Canaletto in England: A Venetian Artist Abroad, 1746-1755," which goes on view in New Haven, Oct. 19-Dec. 31, 2006, before traveling to the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London.
FONTANA AT THE GUGGENHEIM
The Guggenheim Museum in New York kicks off the forthcoming fall season with "Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York," Oct. 10, 2006-Jan. 21, 2007, an exhibition of 42 works organized by Luca Massimo Barbero for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, where it is currently on view, June 4-Sept. 24, 2006. Organized under the auspices of the Fontana Foundation in Milan, the exhibition includes the artist's Venice paintings and his New York series of "metals" from the early 1960s.
WEXNER GETS "SHINY," LOUISE LAWLER
The Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, is getting shiny for fall -- literally. "Shiny," Sept. 16-Dec. 31, 2006, organized by chief curator Helen Molesworth, features 13 works by nine artists that have "reflective, shiny, mirrored, sparkly surfaces." Among the attractions are Andy Warhol's Silver Clouds (1966), Jeff Koons' ten-foot-tall blue-toned stainless steel Balloon Dog sculpture, plus works by Rachel Harrison, Jim Hodges, Louise Lawler, Josiah McElheny, Michael Minelli, Mai-Thu Perret and Kelley Walker. The mirrored surfaces in "Shiny" are expected to be especially effective in Peter Eisenman's vertiginous Wexner Center architecture.
Also on hand at the Wexner this fall is the first museum retrospective of postmodernist photographer Louise Lawler. "Twice Untitled and Other Pictures (looking back)," Sept. 16-Dec. 31, 2006 -- the artist insisted on the non-egotistical title, which excludes her name, a usual feature of such surveys -- presents about 60 photographs, including five new ones taken at the Wexner during last fall's installation of "Part Object Part Sculpture." The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by MIT Press and does not travel.
WADSWORTH ATHENEUM ACQUIRES COURBET, WALTON FORD
The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art has announced an interesting pair of acquisitions, billed as "magnificent and radically divergent depictions of man facing nature." The two works are Gustave Courbet's The Shore at Trouveille: Sunset Effect (1866), a serene view of a distant sailing ship under a pink sky, and Walton Ford's Novaya Zemlya Still Life (2006), a meticulous portrait of a polar bear with some human bones, an image derived from the tale of Dutch navigator Willem Barents, whose arctic expedition was shipwrecked in 1596. Terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed.
"SPLASH!" FOR SUMMER AT ARSENAL GALLERY
The Arsenal Gallery in Central Park presents "Splash! A 7th Anniversary Celebration of New York City's WPA-Era Pools," July 13-Sept. 7, 2006, featuring 77 vintage and contemporary photographs, historic renderings and archival film footage of the 11 vast swimming pools opened in 1936 by New York City Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia and parks commissioner Robert Moses. The show is organized by Jonathan Kuhn, director of art and antiques for the NYC Parks & Recreation department.
AVANT-GARDE ART IN WALLSTREET SKYSCRAPER
Who says corporate art collections have to be dull? Not Kent M. Swig, president of the real estate firm Swig Equities, who commissioned a major new installation by New Jersey artist Robert Melee for the lobby of 44 Wall Street, a 350,000-square-foot office building in downtown Manhattan. Melee's signature work, arranged through the Andrew Kreps Gallery, consists of wood panels covered with bottle caps, each filled with a different color of high-gloss enamel. Swig has also installed works by St. Louis artist Jerald Ieans and a video installation by Robin Rhode in the lobby of 5 Hanover Square, another property in his $2 billion-plus real-estate portfolio.
ART&IDEA OPENS IN NEW YORK
Art&Idea, the nonprofit art space founded in Mexico City in 1995, is opening a commercial gallery in New York's Chelsea art district on July 20, 2006. The inaugural show at the new gallery, located at 529 West 20th Street, is "Concrete-Skeleton," a site-specific installation by Mexico City-based artist Javier Hinojosa. According to Art&Idea directors Haydee Rovirosa and Robert Punkenhofer, the New York gallery is working with artists Máximo González (Argentina), Olga Adelantado and Javier Velasco (Spain), Brian Dettmer (USA), and Paulina Lasa, Diego Teo, Benjamín Torres, Gabriela Rodriguez and Luis Carlos Hurtado (México). For details, see www.art-idea.com.