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Artnet News
July 22, 2007 

An artwork by Tom Sachs graces the cover of Penguin’s just-released tome Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster, by Newsweek fashion writer Dana Thomas. Sachs’ street-smart, Poppy esthetic seems tailor-made for the book, which details how mass marketing has changed the idea of luxury goods (the New York Times describes Deluxe "a crisp, witty social history that’s as entertaining as it is informative"). His cover image features a burger, fries and shake on a tray, all graced by the "Prada" label.

Indeed, the artwork is a winking example of the very process that Thomas describes in the book. Sachs’ Prada send-up was featured as part of his retrospective at the Fondazione Prada itself last year. The accompanying monograph on Sachs’ work was edited by curator Germano Celant, and featured essays by New Yorker scribe Malcolm Gladwell and Prada heiress Miuccia Bianchi Prada. A limited edition of 150 copies of the monograph were bound in red leather with a black Prada nylon interior, coated with a fire-proof Prada clutch cover and personally vandalized by the artist.

German art-book publisher Taschen is also giving Jeff Koons the "deluxe" treatment when it launches a 600-page limited-edition monograph dedicated to him on Aug. 31. The book, which contains essays by Eckhard Schneider, Katy Siegel and Ingrid Sischy, retails for $1,000 a pop. "Fans of Jeff Koons’s work will find in this publication not only a sumptuous book-object, but also the most comprehensive study of the artist’s work ever published," Taschen enthuses. And if the book’s 1,500 print run does not seem exclusive enough, there is also the "Art Edition" of the publication, limited to 100 copies and each accompanied by an original Koons artwork.

Koons last collaborated with Taschen when he was -- somewhat inexplicably -- tapped to create a limited-edition artwork to accompany the 2004 "deluxe" edition of GOAT, an exhaustive celebration of the life of Mohammad Ali (the title stands for "Greatest of All Time"). The super-sized, 800-page, 75-pound tome retails for $12,500. According to Taschen, Koons’ assemblage, which consists of an inflatable dolphin suspended above a stool with a copy of GOAT on it, "gives the Ali mythology a twenty-first-century edge."

What a lot of cultural angst in Athens! The first-ever Athens Biennial is scheduled to go up under the title "Destroy Athens," Sept. 10-Nov. 18, 2007, promising a thorough critique of images of Greekness. And scheduled to run alongside the biennial is a show of cutting-edge video art titled "Her(his)tory" at the city’s Museum of Cycladic Art, which normally focuses on the study of ancient Greek art. Curated by Marina Fokidis, the show provocatively intersperses videos meditating on themes of human nature and history with objects from the museum’s collection of ancient artifacts.

The first part of the show is already on view, June 4-Sept. 29, 2007, at the Stathanos Megaron, a 19th-century mansion. Part two debuts in the new wing of the Cycladic Museum, Sept. 5-Sept. 29, 2007. The list of participating artists is Adel Abdessemed, Doug Aitken, Victor Alimpiev, Darren Almond, Cory Arcangel, Paolo Canevari, Paul Chan, Haris Epaminonda, Marina Gioti, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Gary Hill, Isaac Julien, Peter Land, Annika Larsson, DeAnna Maganias, Miltos Manetas, Aernout Mik, Bruce Nauman, Toni Oursler, Oliver Pietsch, Angelo Plessas, Seth Price, Anri Sala, Yorgos Sapountzis, Zineb Sedira, The Atlas Group (Walid Raad), Lina Theodorou and Stefanos Tsivopoulos.

The Cincinnati Art Museum has been promised some 400 works from the collection of Chicago collector Robert A. Lewis. The cache features a number of pieces by artists of the "Chicago Imagist" school, including Roger Brown, Suellen Rocca and Karl Wirsum, as well as folk artists such as William Dawson and Howard Finster, and pieces by Donald Lipsky and Roy DeForest. A show dedicated to the Lewis gift is due at CAM in 2009.

49-year-old, Cuban-born Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons is the 2007 winner the annual Rappaport Prize awarded by the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Mass. The award is designed to encourage mid-career artists, and comes with a purse of $25,000. Based in Brookline, Mass., Campos-Pons was recently featured in a solo show at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Mar. 18-June 10, 2007, which spotlighted her mixed-media installations exploring themes of exile and identity.

Gail Andrews, director of Alabama’s Birmingham Museum of Art, has been elected to a one-year term as president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, the 190-member body, composed of heads of various North American art institutions, which claims to set standards and advocate on behalf of the museum community. And what’s on Andrews’ plate as she takes charge? According to the AAMD, first up is pressing congress to pass a law that would revise the U.S. tax code to favor artists.

The "Artist-Museum Partnership Act of 2007" -- introduced in the senate in February by Patrick Leahy, and in the house by representatives John Lewis and Jim Ramstad, in March -- would allow for artists to deduct the "fair-market value" of artworks given to art museums on their taxes, creating an incentive to donate works. In the past, several similar laws have been introduced into congress, but have languished (in 2005, the Senate considered "The Art and Collectibles Capital Gains Tax Treatment Parity Act," while the House had "The Artists' Contribution to American Heritage Act of 2005.")

"Artists now may claim only the value of canvas, paint, stone or other raw materials that comprise the physical work of art," Andrews states in an AAMD press release. "For artists such as quilter Yvonne Wells of Tuscaloosa, Al., sculptor Frank Fleming of Huntsville, Al., or photographer William Christenberry of Al. and Washington, D.C., there is a financial disincentive to support their collecting institutions of choice." The cause is close to Andrews’ heart -- in July, she participated in a panel discussion about the benefits of the proposed law at the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, alongside Rep. Lewis.

At present, the bill sits in committee, waiting to be taken up by the 110th Congress. According to the nonprofit Americans for the Arts -- which has an "action alert" on its website, arguing the benefits of the law -- when a market-value exemption for art donations was repealed by Congress in 1969, gifts by artists to nonprofit institutions took a drastic hit. The Museum of Modern Art, for instance, faced a 90 percent decrease in donations in the three years following the change.

To those who worry about art-donation tax fraud, the brief notes, "[o]nly a relatively small number of people would be eligible under this bill, since all deductions must be claimed against income earned from artistic activity," adding reassuringly that "museums reject over 90 percent of what is offered to them."

Aside from Association of Art Museum Directors and Americans for the Arts, among groups stumping for the bill are a number of associations representing art appraisers -- who no doubt would see a boost in business from artists hoping to determine the "fair-market" value of their works.

London’s Timothy Taylor Gallery is opening a second space at 15 Carlos Place in the British capital. The new facilities are designed by Eric Parry Architects (also the designers of London’s swinging Ministry of Sound club), and kicks things off with a show of work by Alex Katz, Oct. 12-Nov. 10, 2007. The exhibition includes an early Katz’ sculpture, One Flight Up (1968), along with more recent paintings in the American artist’s signature style.

Sept. 7 marks the grand opening of the new headquarters for Atlanta, Ga.’s Kiang Gallery at 1011-A Marietta Street (next door to Sandler Hudson Gallery). The new facilities are designed by architect and mixed-media artist Amy Landesberg  -- also an artist represented by Kiang -- and opens its doors with a selection of Chinese and U.S. artists from the gallery stable.

Edward Avedisian, 71, painter known for his association with the Color Field and Lyrical Abstraction movements, at his home in Hudson, N.Y. Born in Lowell, Mass., Avedisian studied at the Boston Museum School and received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1967. In the ‘60s and early ‘70s, his abstract paintings were featured in solo shows at Robert Elkon Gallery in New York, Nicholas Wilder Gallery in L.A. and Kasmin Limited in London, among other venues. In the mid-1970s, he severed these exhibition ties and moved to upstate New York, also breaking with his former style. His subsequent output focused on colorful figurative paintings inspired by the landscape. He was represented by Carrie Haddad Gallery in Hudson; his most recent solo show was at Mitchell Algus Gallery in New York, in 2003.

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