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Artnet News
Aug. 2, 2007 

The post of museum director can be a hard one to fill, despite its perks and a pay package that soars skyward from $500,000 a year at top museums. Once a job prospect gets the okay from a high-powered executive search firm (with no art-world insight to speak of), he or she is likely to face a trustee board that prefers to give orders rather than money. Thus, when Guggenheim Museum director Lisa Dennison announced plans to join Sothebyís as an "executive vice president" (charged with helping the firm compete against Christieís in the contemporary art market), the move also put the Guggenheim at the top of a list of about 25 U.S. museums seeking new directors.

According to the Association of Art Museum Directors, top U.S. museums seeking directors include the Kimbell Art Museum (where, after nine years of service, Timothy Potts has decamped to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (where Robert Fitzpatrick has announced plans to step down in 2008 after 10 years on the job) and the Walker Art Center (which lost 16-year veteran Kathy Halbreich to unspecified "new challenges," effective Nov. 1, 2007).

The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston has tapped former New Yorker Linda Shearer to serve as interim director after the departure of Marti Mayo, who retired in June after 13 years on the job; perhaps Shearer can be convinced to stay in Texas.

Other U.S. museums in search of directors include the Allentown (Pa.) Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the Bass Museum of Art, the Boise Art Museum, the DeCordova Museum, the Gilcrease Museum, the Henry Art Gallery, the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the National Portrait Gallery, the Parrish Art Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Speed Art Museum, the Tampa Museum of Art, the Phillips Collection and the Wadsworth Atheneum.

N.B. Back in 2004, the most recent year for which has the Guggenheim Foundation IRS form 990 online, the museum director (Thomas Krens) took home compensation totaling almost $634,000, while Dennison herself, as deputy director, had compensation of near $356,000. Best guestimates put her salary at the auction firm at over $1 million.

Christiania Vodka is looking to make a name for itself, and is turning to that evergreen art subject, the nude, to help forge its identity. Thus, an "art competition" titled "The New Nude," with the winning submission supposedly being posted on a "highly visible" New York City billboard. Works can be submitted only via the website; the deadline is Aug. 15, 2007.

The South Asian Womenís Creative Collective brings a collective spectacle of artworks by over 30 artists of Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Nepali, Afghan, Kuawaiti and Iranian descent to Exit Art for "Sultanaís Dream," Aug. 4-31, 2007. The exhibition title is taken from a story by Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain in which the typical Muslim custom of forcing women into seclusion while men lead public life is reversed, leading to a "feminist utopia" in which women make fantastic advances. The show opens with a special fundraising preview at 6-7 pm on Saturday, Aug. 4 (admission is $30), followed by a public opening at 7-9 pm, and a benefit party at 9 pm-midnight (admission is $15). Special events are scheduled for each Thursday night; for more info, see

Artists in the exhibition are Samira Abbassy, Jaishri Abichandani, Fariba Alam, Mouna Andraos, Siona Benjamin, Anjali Bhargava, Anna Bhushan, Mareena Daredia, Sharmila Desai, Chitra Ganesh, Asha Ganpat, Mariam Ghani, Rajkamal Kahlon, Emily Jacir, Mona Kamal, Jesal Kapadia, Sarita Khurana, Swati Khurana, Yamini Nayar, Vicky Moufawad-Paul, Carol Pereira, Sreshta Premnath, Fatima Al Qadiri, Monira Al Qadiri, Sadia Rehman, Prerana Reddy, Ela Shah, Asma Ahmed Shikoh, Shahzia Sikander, Sonali Sridhar, Anahita Vossoughi, 6 + womenís art collective and Safed Studio.

The first big August opening for art lovers vacationing in the Hamptons is the Dia Foundationís "Summer Cocktail" at the Dan Flavin Art Institute at Corwith Avenue off Main Street in Bridgehampton, Aug. 4, 2007, 5:30-7:30 pm. The occasion celebrates the opening of John Chamberlainís "Squeezed and Tied: Foam and Paper Sculptures," on display there for the summer, as well as the permanent installation of Dan Flavinís florescent light works. Chamberlain, Dia director Jeffrey Weiss and assorted other art world luminaries are expected to attend.

The late Washington Color School artist Anne Truitt (1921-2004) now has her own website, courtesy of her daughter, Alexandra Truitt. At present the site features a bio and an essay by Walter Hopps written on the occasion of a 1974 exhibition of her work at the Corcoran Gallery; a catalogue raisonné is promised in the future. A Truitt retrospective is currently being planned for 2008 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The art market seems to be taking notice as well: a large drawing from 1975 by Truitt, estimated at $5,000-$7,000, sold at Christieís New York on July 10, 2007, for $54,000 (including premium).

Starting Monday, Aug. 6, 2007, the Andy Warhol Foundation is accepting applications for its second round of grants to art writers. The program grants range from $3,000 to $50,000 for categories including books, articles, short-form writing, and new- or alternative-media experimentation. The deadline is Sept. 12, 2007. More information at

San Juan artist and writer (and Artnet Magazine contributor) Pedro Velez has launched Crying Lost Artwork, a new MySpace website devoted to "artists who have been fooled by sleazebag dealers." Artists are invited to tell their stories of works that have disappeared for one reason or another and post jpgs as well. Anonymous collaborations are welcome, he says. Send stories to

Amateur Italian scholar Slavisa Pesci touched off a storm last week when he announced that he had uncovered a secret image hidden within Leonardo da Vinciís iconic Last Supper. Using computer manipulation whereby a mirror image of the fresco is produced and then superimposed on the original, Pesci claims that the result yields a mysterious image of a woman cradling a child to the right of Jesus, while a chalice appears in front of him. "I came across it by accident," Pesci revealed in Londonís Telegraph, "but from some of the details you can infer that we are not talking about chance but about a precise calculation."

Though cooler heads might think that the "woman with child" is simply the mirrored image of St. Philip, and that the "chalice" is a random symmetrical shape caused by the overlapping layers, the resemblance of Pesciís revelation to the plot of the hit novel The Da Vinci Code was enough to send millions of visitors to Leonardo websites, effectively knocking them offline (or could it be. . . that somebody doesnít want us to see the websites?!?)

Poet (and Artnet Magazine contributor) Ilka Scobie has penned the Tateís "poem of the month," a project on the Tate website in which poets respond to a work in the Tate collection. Scobieís poem is inspired by Hélio Oiticicaís Grand Nucleus (1960-66), on view at Tate Modern "Hélio Oiticica: The Body of Color," June 6-Sept. 23, 2007. To see the poem, click here.

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