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Artnet News
Sept. 14, 2010 

The campaign to stop the massive cuts to government arts funding in the UK is gearing up. A coalition of well-wishers have just launched a slick online petition campaign, dubbed I Value The Arts, which hopes to rally people to the cause. According to organizers, it garnered some 1,500 "pledges" in just the first 24 hours. And that’s not all: A separate initiative, dubbed Save The Arts, launched last Friday, with a massive list of celebrity artist endorsers, including Anthony Caro, Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Peter Doig, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Douglas Gordon, Andy Goldsworthy, Damien Hirst, Wolfgang Tillmans, and many more.

Save The Arts launched with a clever, surprisingly profane animated clip by David Shrigley, "An Important Message about the Arse," declaring that "The arts are to Britain what the sun is to Spain," and "let’s face it. . . we’re crap at most things these days. . . but we’re brilliant at the arts!" It also features the image of a Scottish farmer pulling a calf out of a heifer’s birth canal. New artist videos are supposed to go up every Friday on the group’s website. So far, Save the Arts’ petition has more than 23,000 signatories.

But Guardian columnist Jonathan Jones threw some cold water on the initiative on Monday, noting a recent poll saying that 66 percent of the British public said the majority of visual art funding should come from corporate sponsorship and private donations. He also pointed out an obvious problem a problem in relying on the list of celebrity artists in the "Save The Arts" campaign endorsers: "There would seem to be an obvious problem in using Damien Hirst's name to protest against the cuts. . . the thing everyone knows is that he is immensely rich. . . He is Mr Money. Who, outside the art world, is going to see him as a plausible voice against arts cuts?"

"Fun, short-term opportunity to live out your 15 minutes of fame!" This is how the Baltimore Museum of Art advertised for a Sept. 13 casting call, seeking 10 part-time Andy Warhol impersonators to be the institution’s ambassadors to the community for its upcoming installation of "Andy Warhol: The Last Decade," Oct. 17, 2010-Jan. 9, 2011 (recently seen at the Brooklyn Museum of Art). The gig involves making in-character appearances at locations such as the Baltimore Book Festival, the Fells Point Fun Festival and area farmers’ markets, all dressed in a white fright wig and glasses. A good way to get the public interesting in art, maybe -- though the Baltimore Sun pointed out that the endeavor involved a slight contradiction, in that Andy was notoriously laconic and the museum was looking for "outgoing and enthusiastic individuals." To get a look at one of the "Walk-Around Warhols" in action, see the BMA’s promo clip for the casting.

The fall arts season in D.C. got off to a successful start on Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, with an opening a Conner Contemporary Art at 1358 Florida Avenue. The event, which reportedly drew some 500 guests, featured a performance based around D.C. artist John Kirchner’s "Infinity," his new installation of a ‘50s-era luxury motorboat in the gallery. For the opening, Kirchner had three nude performers stand atop the hull of the overturned watercraft for two hours, in what was described as "provocative allegory of the human condition."

Not everyone was pleased with the spectacle, however. Apparently fearing that minors might be able to see the nude tableau from the street, neighbors called the cops, who showed up after the performance was over to ensure that no further nudity would take place within the confines of the art space. As the area blog Frozen Tropics remarked, "Thank God we have an alert citizen out there on the watch for naked people engaged in performance art."

Do you like the "character heads" of 18th-century German artist Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783)? If the answer is yes, you will of course head for the Neue Galerie, which opens an exhibition of the eccentrically expressive works, Sept. 16, 2010-Jan. 10, 2011. You might also take your Chase Sapphire card, since artist Keith Edmier -- known for hyperrealistic sculptures of his own pregnant mother as well as Farrah Fawcett -- has made his own facsimile edition of Messerschmidt’s Second Beak Head (supposedly representing the "Spirit of Proportion," an ancient being who subjected the artist to nighttime tortures). Edmier’s signed multiple, done in translucent black polyurethane resin and slightly smaller than the original, is made in an edition of 200. The price is $640.

Gotta love those "alternative spaces," they never get old, even as the era of government funding fades into the distant past. This month, Exit Art takes a look at New York City’s own publicly sponsored, artist-run exhibition spaces in "Alternative Histories," Sept. 24-Nov. 24, 2010, featuring archival material on over 130 spaces, from Artists Space, White Columns and Just Above Midtown to Live With Animals and Fake Estate. Also on the slate is a series of panel discussions, with individual events chaired by Robert Storr (Oct. 15) and Mary Anne Staniszewski (Oct. 29), among others. The show is assembled by Herb Tam, Lauren Rosati and Exit Art founders Papo Colo and Jeanette Ingberman.

Were the Pre-Raphaelite painters, who looked to the new science of photography in their quest to capture every nuance of nature, the original Photo Realists? The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., holds the premiere of "The Pre-Raphaelite Lens: British Photography and Painting, 1848-1875," Oct. 31, 2010-Jan. 30, 2011, a show organized in association with the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, where it appears Mar 6-May 29, 2011. Boasting 100 photographs and 20 paintings and watercolors by everyone from Julia Margaret Cameron and Lewis Carroll to John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the exhibition looks at "changing concepts of vision and truth. . . in the Victorian era." The show is organized by Diane Waggoner, and is accompanied by a 240-page catalogue with 200 illustrations.

Senior Italian painter Enrico Castellani and German sculptor Rebecca Horn have each won the ¥15,000,000 ($169,000) Paemium Imperiale arts awards for 2010. Other winners are Toyo Ito (architecture), Maurizio Pollini (music) and Sophia Loren (theater/film). The awards are given by the Japan Art Association; for more info, click here.

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