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Artnet News
Sept. 19, 2006 

Globetrotting museum director David Elliott is leaving his post as founding director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo to become founding director of the Istanbul Modern, a new museum of modern and contemporary art being built in a converted warehouse on the waterfront in the Turkish city. The announcement of his successor -- Fumio Nanjo, the museum’s deputy director, is thought to be a shoo-in by some -- is expected by the end of the month. Elliott had a five-year contract that is not being renewed.

The first western museum director in Japan, Elliott has had a fruitful if somewhat stormy tenure at the head of the Mori Art Museum, which is privately owned by Mori Building Co., headed by Minoru Mori, one of the world’s biggest art collectors. Sited in an arts complex on the 53rd floor of a towering glass-and-steel skyscraper in the Roppongi Hills development, the Mori has had the distinction of deriving its operating funds from admission fees to the Tokyo City View observation deck, a popular and unique attraction.

The exhibition calendar has included substantial exhibitions such as "Tokyo-Berlin / Berlin-Tokyo," Jan. 28-May 7, 2006, and "Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent," May 27-Aug. 31, 2006 -- both organized by the museum -- as well as commercial filler such as a week-long exhibition of a collection of classic cars and a show of handbag art commissioned by a fashion company. Coming up in early 2007 is "All About Laughter," a two-part exhibition featuring both contemporary art and traditional Japanese works.

Clouds and light rain greeted the official unveiling of Anish Kapoor’s three-story-tall, burnished stainless-steel Sky Mirror sculpture at Rockefeller Center. Sited just off Fifth Avenue in Rock Center’s Channel Gardens section of plantings, seating, statuary and fountains, the 23-ton, 35-foot-diameter dish-shaped mirror is tilted toward the sky, with the convex Fifth Avenue side reflecting the busy streetscape and the concave obverse giving an upside-down image of nearby skyscrapers. The work remains on view Sept. 19-Oct. 24, 2006.

Organized by the Public Art Fund, the project is underwritten by Tumi, the South Plainfield, N.J.-based luggage company founded in 1975 and named after a Peruvian deity. To celebrate the commission, Tumi has also produced a special Sky Mirror backpack in black ballistic nylon with red detailing (a design touch that is reminiscent of Kapoor’s sculpture), complete with a button-like replica of the larger sculpture. The backpack, which also includes a built-in solar panel for recharging iPods and cell phones, is produced in a limited edition of 500 for $695, with proceeds going to Doctors without Borders. For further details, see

It’s been a tough couple of years for the J. Paul Getty Trust, what with double-barreled scandals involving antiquity acquisitions and high-flying former director Barry Munitz. The Getty has taken steps to put its problems in the past, and recently rolled into New York City to publicize its future program while treating local artscribes to a modest lunch for 90 at the tony restaurant Daniel on East 65th Street. The top staff all made the trip, including interim Getty CEO Deborah Marrow, Getty Museum director Michael Brand, Getty Research Institute director Thomas Crow, Getty Conservation Institute director Timothy P. Whalen and Getty Foundation interim director Joan Weinstein. Some highlights, in no particular order:

* The Getty Museum’s star exhibition this fall is "Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai," Nov. 14, 2006-Mar. 4, 2007, a show devoted to religious art from the sixth-century Monastery of Saint Catherine in Egypt. The premiere show for next summer is "Oudry’s Painted Menagerie," May 1-Sept. 2, 2007, devoted to 14 works by Jean-Baptiste Oudry (ca. 1722-1778), Louis XV’s principal animal painter.

* Edouard Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882) comes to Los Angeles (on loan from the Courtauld Institute in London), June 5-Sept. 9, 2007, a presentation that is accompanied by an exhibition of 19th-century French works on paper.

* The museum continues to dabble in contemporary art, with shows on the schedule devoted to Sigmar Polke and Tim Hawkinson. "Sigmar Polke: Early Photographs" goes on view Feb. 20-May 20, 2007, while "Tim Hawkinson: New Works," Mar. 6-Sept. 9, 2007, inaugurates the museum’s new series of artist’s projects and also includes the artist’s celebrated Überorgan, installed in the museum entrance hall.

* Exhibitions at the Getty Villa include "Stories in Stone: Conserving Mosaics of Roman Africa, Masterpieces from the National Museums of Tunisia," Oct. 26, 2006-Apr. 30, 2007, and "The Herculaneum Women and the Origins of Archaeology," Jan. 25-May 14, 2007.

* The Getty Research Institute, which acquired the Long Beach Museum of Art video archive of almost 5,000 tapes in late 2005, has now scheduled a large-scale exhibition chronicling the history of video art in California for March 2008, a show that it is organizing with the Getty Museum.

* The Getty Research Institute is digitalizing all nine volumes of Ceremonies et Coutumes Religieuses de Tous les Peuples du Monde by Bernard Picart (1673-1743), the rare 18th-century study of world religions.

* The Getty Foundation announced a $240,000 grant for a series of eight books on African art to the Museum of African Art (which is scheduled to unveil new quarters on Fifth Avenue in 2008).

* The Getty Research Institute and the Getty Foundation have launched "On the Record: Art in L.A. 1954-1980," a comprehensive effort to collect oral histories and archival material from the period.

* The Getty Foundation has given a $2.5-million matching grant to the city of Los Angeles to begin the first survey of the city’s historic buildings -- but the trust has no plans at present to begin collecting houses in Los Angeles.

The legendary "art music video" created by Saint Reverend Jen to accompany the new Moby tune, New York, New York [see Diary of an Art Star], has finally dropped, and is available on YouTube. The video details the debauched antics of the Chihuahua Reverend Jen Junior in the Big Apple, and features some killer fashions. Not to be missed.

The already well-endowed "Frieze Week" in London [see Frieze Week 2006] gets a new addition in the form of Year_06, Oct. 12-15, 2006, a "project-based" hullabaloo featuring approximately 30 galleries at the Art Deco-style Mary Warren House at 5-7 Tavistock Place. Among the advertised highlights are David HumphriesSnowman in Love, featuring a phalanx of inflatable snowmen, seen recently at Harlem’s Triple Candie, and Forest, a film and installation from Brock Enright and Ivan Hürzeler detailing the hormonally charged, existentially cloudy adventures of a group of attractive young people living in the woods, courtesy New York’s Cynthia Broan Gallery. For more info, check out

The National Black Fine Art Show, the celebrated showcase of artwork by African, African American and Caribbean artists, returns to the Puck Building at 295 Lafayette in SoHo, Feb. 1-4, 2007. Almost 40 exhibitors are scheduled to take part, ranging from Santa Monica’s M. Hanks Gallery and Philadelphia’s Sande Webster Gallery to Paris’ Galerie Intemporal. The opening gala on Jan. 31 benefits the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. For more info, visit

The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation in Meriden, Conn., has announced the 2006 recipients of the Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Awards, meant to fund innovative collaborations between curators and art institutions. The CCA Wattis Institute of Contemporary Arts in San Francisco receives $100,000 for "Amateurs," a Ralph Rugoff-organized show of contemporary art that embraces amateurism as an esthetic strategy, while New York’s El Museo del Barrio and Chicago’s Renaissance Society receive $125,000 each, the former for "Arte ≠ Vida," an exploration of 40 years of Latin-American performance art, curated by Deborah Cullen, and the latter for "Black Is, Black Ain’t," Hamza Walker’s exhibition about changes in the idea of race in contemporary culture. All the shows are to be realized between 2007 and 2009.

Hope and Renewal, an abstract sculpture commissioned by the Chicago Transit Authority’s Arts in Transit program for a station on the city’s Brown Line, has set off a "mini-firestorm," according to the Chicago Tribune. Artist Josh Garber (who is represented by Chicago’s Zolla/Lieberman Gallery) intended the piece as an abstract representation of a plant, crafting two 10-foot-high biomorphic structures that curve at the top into petal-like protrusions and widen at the bottom to form a base that doubles as a seat. Community members, however, have decried the work’s "pornographic nature," reacting negatively to what they see as a clear reference to two erect penises, complete with testicles. Though he has met with transit authorities about the brouhaha, Garber stands by his design.

ABODE OF CHAOS DRAWS FIRE IN FRANCE founder Thierry Ehrmann has become the center of a controversy over the state of his home in Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’Or, a town with a population of about 1,000 on the outskirts of Lyon, France. It seems that the eccentric Ehrmann, who the London Times reports lives alone with two dogs named Saatchi and Reuters, has transformed his home -- an historic 17th-century inn -- into something he names the "Abode of Chaos." About 45 artists have contributed to Ehrmann’s gesamptkunswerk, which reportedly features a pool of blood, wrecked aircraft, a mock oil platform on the roof, recreated remains of the World Trade Center and portraits of Osama bin Laden and Tony Blair. Locals have called it a monument to bad taste, and mayor Pierre Dumont has attempted to use legal means to force Ehrmann to restore his home to its original condition -- an initial ruling said that the display had to go, whereas the most recent court order lets it stand as art. The mayor has said that he intends to appeal to the country’s highest court in order to put an end to Ehrmann’s "Abode."

Three artists have won $500,000 "genius" grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for 2006 -- glass sculptor Josiah McElheny, commemorative artist Anna Schuleit and South Asian miniaturist Shahzia Sikander. For further details, see

Matthew J. W. Drutt has been appointed executive director of Artpace San Antonio. He had formerly served as chief curator at the Menil Collection in Houston, where he co-organized monographic shows of work by Olafur Eliasson, Robert Gober, Kazimir Malevich and Vik Muniz.

As of this posting, the entry for the Whitney Biennial over at Wikipedia is what the online encyclopedia’s editors call a "stub," that is, a brief outline rather than a full entry. In fact, the biennial stub weighs in at just 63 words and contains exactly four links to other Wikipedia entries related to the Biennial’s rich history: “Visual Arts in the United States," "Dan Colen," "Kenneth Anger" and "Daniel Johnson." (By contrast, the entry for the ‘80s cartoon Thunder Cats is currently over 4,000 words, with a separate page titled "List of Thunder Cats Episodes" that features plot descriptions and jpgs for each individual installment.)

Though short on info, the stub is long on mischief, however. A look at the discussion page reveals that the entry was recently hit by political pranksters who put in a link to the official-looking "Whitney Biennial 2006," which is actually an anti-smoking site attacking the event’s connection to sponsor, Altria. Meanwhile, the official Wiki link to "Whitney Biennial Online" does not connect to the New York museum’s own website, but rather to artist Miltos Manetas’ guerilla art project from way back in 2002, which co-opted the domain name to offer groovy Flash animation.

As always on Wikipedia, the entry can be expanded by the public. Art world, get to work!

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