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Artnet News
July 18, 2006 

Well, temporarily, anyway. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is undertaking a renovation of its 30,000-square-foot 19th-century European painting galleries, beginning at the end of the year -- the rear walls of the back galleries have already been denuded of paintings, as rattling construction goes ahead out of sight -- and finishing up in November 2007, when the galleries reopen with another 10,000 square feet of space. In the meantime, the museum is sending a collection of 135 works on tour to Houston and Berlin. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1800-1920" opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Feb. 4-May 6, 2007, and then, with a name change to "Metropolitan: French Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," appears at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, May 30-Oct. 7, 2007.

The show features an astonishing group of paintings, many of which have never left the building before, ranging from Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres' Odalisque in Grisaille (1824-34) and Gustave Moreau's Oedipus and the Sphinx (1864) to Paul Cezanne's The Card Players (ca. 1890-92), Claude Monet's La Grenouillère (1869) and Georges Seurat's Study for "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" (1884-85). 

The Met is receiving a fee for the exhibition, though museum director Philippe de Montebello declined to reveal the amount, for some reason. The Houston MFA plans to increase the price of admission for the show, from $7 to $15. As for the Neue Nationalgalerie, it expects a blockbuster similar to the 2004 show of works from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art [see "Berlin, Starstruck," Feb. 23, 2004].

De Montebello did hasten to note that the Met would have plenty of French paintings on view during the period in question, with both the Annenberg Collection and the Lehman Collection forbidden to leave the building. What's more, the Met boasts two loan exhibitions during 2007 filled with French art: "Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde" Sept. 14, 2006-Jan. 7, 2007, and "The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings," May 22-Aug. 19, 2007.

The radical art underground of Providence, R.I., is finally getting its own major museum exhibition, as the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design presents "Wunderground: Providence, 1995 to the Present," Sept. 15, 2006-Jan. 7, 2007. Organized by museum curator Judith Tannenbaum, the exhibition has two parts. "Shangri-la-la-land" is a collaborative sculptural installation by eight artists who conceived the show: Mat Brinkman, Brian Chippendale, Jim Drain, Leif Goldberg, Jungil Hong, Xander Marro, Erin Rosenthal and Pippi Zornoza. The second part of the show is titled "Providence Poster Art, 1995-2005," and features some 2,000 screen-printed posters made by over 200 artists

Chicago has its very own mirror-sculpture by London artist Anish Kapoor (the 33 x 66 ft. bean-shaped Cloud Gate in Millennium Park), and this fall New York City is getting its own version, at least temporarily. Sky Mirror, a 35-foot-diameter concave mirror of polished stainless steel -- that's nearly three stories tall -- goes on view at the Fifth Avenue entrance to Rockefeller Center, Sept. 19-Oct. 27, 2006. The exhibition is presented by Tumi, a company that specializes in innovative leather and nylon bags and other luxury accessories, and is organized by the Public Art Fund and hosted by Tishman Speyer, owner of Rock Center.

German artist Carsten Höller, whose covered slides reading from one floor to the other of Kunst-Werke were the talk of the 1998 Berlin Biennale and whose Upside-Down Mushroom Room (2000) was one of the hits of "Ecstasy" at the Los Angeles MOCA last year, has been selected to do the next Unilever Series commission for Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London, opening Oct. 10, 2006. Since being launched in 2000, the Unilever Series has provided the occasions for contemporary artists to kick things up a notch, and has featured works by Anish Kapoor (2002), Olafur Eliasson (2003) and Rachel Whiteread (2005), among others. In the meantime, Höller is working on "Amusement Park," an exhibition of fair rides that opened in January at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass.

The Naples Museum of Art in Naples, Fla., has published a small monograph containing the only interview Andrew Wyeth ever gave on the subject of his celebrated Helga series, more than 240 works focusing on Helga Testorf and done in secret during 1971-86. The nature of the esthetic liaison is suggested in the interview with former Metropolitan Museum director Thomas Hoving, held in 2002 and published on the occasion of the exhibition "Andrew Wyeth & Family" at the Naples Museum, Jan. 21-May 14, 2006. The book is priced at $29.95.

Bomb Magazine has launched its own exclusive "print club," with members getting 50 percent off of any four works selected from an exclusive collection of eight, limited-edition digital prints. The first three prints, all in editions of 30, are by Sharon Harper, Brian Tolle and Paul Pfeiffer, respectively priced at $2,000, $1,500 and $3,500, retail. The fourth print is by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, and the remaining four are to be published in 2007. Print club membership, which includes additional perks like a newsletter and invitations to studio visits, costs $1,000, which Bomb says is tax-deductible. The club has only 25 members, so join soon! Contact Bomb associate publisher Mary-Ann Monforton at

The 15 artists selected for the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Space Program for 2006 have been announced. Now in its 16th year, the program provides free studio spaces in Manhattan's Tribeca district. Winners for 2006 are Jesse Bercowetz, Matt Bua, Jillian Conrad, David Hamill, Aaron Johnson, Barbara Klein, Colin Montgomery, Doug Morris, Beata Pankiewicz, Svetlana Rabey, Erling Sjovold, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Chuck Webster, Heeseop Yoon and Tamara Zahaykevich. For further details, see

Holly Block
, who has served as executive director of the pioneering nonprofit Art in General in Tribeca for 18 years, has been appointed executive director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts, where she served as curator during 1985-88. One of her first tasks is to oversee the opening of the museum's new north building, designed by Arquitectonica.

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