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Artnet News
Aug. 6, 2008 

Like a little David Bowie with your Picasso? The Museum of Modern Art in New York is spicing up their summer calendar with "Looking at Music," Aug. 13, 2008-Jan. 5, 2009, which focuses attention on the heady spirit of collaboration between rock and the visual arts from 1965 to 1975. Organized by Barbara London of MoMA’s department of film and media, the exhibition features audio, books, lithographs, collage and prints by well-known art types with musical connections like Laurie Anderson, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik and Steve Reich, alongside installations of artsy music videos like David Bowie’s Space Oddity from 1972 (not the corny 1969 version).

Other musicians spotlighted for their video adventures are the Beatles (Penny Lane), Captain Beefheart (Lick my Decals Off, Baby), Devo (Secret Agent Man) and the Residents (The Third Reich and Roll). The extensive accompanying film program, which runs from August through December, features experimental films, and extends its scope into the MTV era with gems like the Tony Oursler-directed music video for Sonic Youth’s Tunic, and Andy Warhol’s video for the Cars’ 1984 tune Hello Again, an ode to "gratuitous sex and violence in music videos" which features Warhol himself lip-synching in the role of a bartender. (Sadly, neither Damien Hirst’s notoriously bad video for Blur’s Country House, nor singer Kelly Rowland’s recent homage to Dan Flavin [see Artnet News, July 29, 2008] make the cut.)

The New York Times dedicated a few precious column inches in its art section this week to the esthetic theories of University of Chicago economist David Galenson, author of Painting Outside the Lines and Old Masters and Young Geniuses. Galenson, recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, has recently turned his mind to figuring out a way to use quantitative methods to put the art-historical canon on scientific foundations. Applying a criteria of "greatness" used in the social sciences -- that the number of citations of an author provides a measure of influence -- Galenson scoured through 33 art history textbooks from 1990 to 2005, tabulated the works that were most often illustrated, then produced what he claims to be a bulletproof list of the 20th century’s most valuable works of art.

The Times article quotes MoMA curator John Elderfield and Nation critic Arthur Danto to the effect that Galenson’s method is a bit philistine. The most ironic result of the economist’s efforts, however, is that the second most valuable work of art -- after Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), the predictable top dog -- is Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International (1919-20), the Russian artist’s ode to the achievements of Soviet Communism. Also delightfully gauche is Galenson’s account of top artists Richard Hamilton, Umberto Boccioni and Tatlin: they "are one-hit wonders, he acknowledges," the Times tells us, "they made a single breakthrough, even if they don’t rank among the best artists."

For the curious, Galenson’s top works, after Picasso’s Demoiselles (which had 28 illustrations) and Tatlin’s Monument (25 illustrations), are: Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (23); Hamilton’s Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (22); Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space and Picasso’s Guernica (tying with 21); Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (18); and, finally, Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, also by Duchamp (16).

Here’s one institution that is definitely not betting on an art-market bust! New York University, which already offers certificates in "Arts Administration" and "Art Appraisal," has just launched a new one-year certificate in "Art Business," promising to give professionals the skills to work at "art galleries and auction houses, or as wealth managers, financial planners or advisors to high-net-worth individuals." The certificate requires five courses, three of which are requirements -- "Today’s American and International Art Market," "Law and Ethics in the Art Market" and "The Art Auction" -- to be supplemented by electives like "Starting a Successful Art Business" or "The Art Dealer in the 21st Century." Approximate tuition is in the $2,200-$2,500 range. Registration for fall ’08 is open now online.

In a first, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is set to host a two-day-only "Dream-car model-rama," Aug. 9-10, 2008. The expo serves as a reunion for the winners of the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild, a competition held by the Fisher Body division of General Motors from the ‘30s to the ‘60s, at the height of the now-blighted carmaker’s influence, which had teenagers compete for scholarship money by building "dream car" prototypes. On view in the north gallery of the MFA’s west wing will be more than 60 one-twelfth-scale blue ribbon winners, with their original designers in attendance to present them to the public, an experience described by the MFA as "a pure 1950s/1960s nostalgia trip." (A book of the winning designs, The Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild -- An Illustrated History, was published in 2005, and images of the prototypes are available at the book’s website.)

Aicon Gallery, the art space dedicated to South Asian art founded in New York’s Flatiron district in 2000, is moving to the increasingly packed Bowery arts district. Set to open Sept. 18, 2008, at 33-35 Great Jones Street, Aicon New York’s new headquarters will offer some 8,000-square-feet of space on two floors, in facilities designed by Nobu Arai. It kicks things off with "The Ghosts of Souza," Sept. 18-Oct. 17, 2008, a show curated by Alexander Keefe and dedicated to the work of the internationally acclaimed Indian artist Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002), alongside works by Indian and Pakistani artists affected by Souza’s art.

The opening on Sept. 18 should be a doozy -- it’s set to feature a performance by instrumental jam band Indian Ocean. More info at

Katherine Ware is set to join the staff of the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe as curator of photography. She currently serves as curator of photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where among other things, she co-organized a recent show "Dreaming in Black and White: Photography at the Julien Levy Gallery." Ware starts work in Santa Fe on Oct. 6, 2008.

Julie Joyce has been selected the new curator of contemporary art at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) in California. Joyce comes to the SBMA from the Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex at California State University, Los Angeles, where she has served as gallery director and curator. She starts her new duties Sept. 15, 2008.

PÉREZ CELIS, 1939-2008
Pérez Celis, 69, Argentine-born painter known for his vivid abstract compositions and ebullient personality, at the Otamendi Clinic in Buenos Aires, after a struggle with leukemia. Born in Buenos Aires, Celis received his first solo show in his teens at the Galeria La Fantasma, courtesy Rafael Squirru, founder of the city’s Museum of Modern Art. Over a long and successful career, Celis travelled widely to Lima, Caracas, Paris and New York. His abstractions, featuring rhythmic patterns that drew on nature and folk motifs, proved to have great popular appeal, and Celis was commissioned to create numerous public murals. In New York, he was represented by Anita Shapolski Gallery.

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