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Dec. 15, 2010

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The 12th Cairo Biennale, Dec. 12, 2010-Feb. 12, 2011, takes the question mark -- "?" -- as its theme, and features mostly Islamic artists from all over, ranging from Driss Ouadahi and Mourad Messoubeur (Algeria) and Shaun Gladwell (Australia) to Bernardita Rakos (Venezuela) and Kudzanai Chiurai (Zimbabwe). The USA contingent included Brian Alfred and four artists of Islamic descent: Annabel Daou, Dahlia El Sayed, Nadia Ayari and Rheim Alkadhi.

The affair takes place in two main venues, the Museum of Egyptian Modern Art and the Art’s Palace at the Gezira Fair Grounds, and is organized by commissaire-general Ehab el-Labban. The show does have a guest-of-honor, the artist Yoshitomo Nara, who was given a small exhibition, and a blue-ribbon jury committee (Rosa Martinez, Fumio Nanjo, George King, Gerardo Mosquera, Fulya Erdemci, others).

The jury awarded several prizes, including a top prize of 100,000 Egyptian pounds -- about $20,000 -- to Amal Kenawy, an Egyptian woman artist who won with a room installation, a kind of kitchen with several videos, including tape of a street happening and a party for her son.

Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, has inaugurated the new Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, which opens to the public on Dec. 30, 2010. The 59,000-square-foot museum -- "mathaf" means museum in Arabic -- is located in a former school building, and offers an overview of Arab art from the 1840s to the present. The design is by French architect Jean-François Bodin in association with Burns and McDonnell, and includes galleries on two floors, a cafe, a museum shop, a research library and an education wing. Construction of a future, permanent home of the museum is promised at a later date.

The main inaugural exhibition is "Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art," presenting more than 240 works by 100 artists, a show organized by U. of North Texas art history professor Nada Shabout. Two other inaugural shows are being presented in galleries at the Museum of Islamic Art: "Interventions: a dialogue between the modern and the contemporary," Dec. 30, 2010-May 28, 2011, which features works by five influential Arab modernists (Dia Assawi, Farid Belkahia, Ahmed Nawar, Ibrahim el-Salahi and Hassan Sharif); and "Told / Untold / Retold: 23 stories of journeys through time and space," Dec. 30, 2010-May 28, 2011, presenting new works by 23 artists with roots in the Arab world, including Ahmed Alsoudani, Ghada Amer, Kader Attia and Walid Raad.

It’s the end of the year, and everyone likes to do a top-ten review, including the online art purveyors known as A critic could argue that "kitsch" is the definition of any artwork that appears on this website, which sells copies of posters that it promises are "100% hand painted oil painting on artist grade canvas," each coming with "a certificate of authenticity."

Artnet News withholds judgment, instead simply providing the list of the ten best-sellers on the site: 1) Vincent van Gogh, Branches of Almond Tree in Blossom; 2) van Gogh, Starry Night; 3) Gustav Klimt, The Kiss; 4) van Gogh, Café Terrace at Night; 5) Claude Monet, Garden Path at Giverny; 6) Monet, Poppy Field at Argenteuil; 7) van Gogh, Sunflowers; 8) Pablo Picasso, The Old Guitarist; 9) Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1949; and 10) Klimt, Tree of Life.

One of the art-world’s best-kept secrets is the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, which every year brings several dozen visual artists, musicians, writers, poets and other creative types for six-week-long fellowships in the 15th-century Civitella Ranieri castle in Umbria. Altogether the fellows for 2011 and 2012 hail from over 30 nations around the world.

Fellows in the visual arts are Mo Abdulla (Iraq/Netherlands), Jyothi Basu (India), Riccardo Benassi (Italy), Manfredi Beninati (Italy), Sonya Clark (USA), Stefan Constantinescu (Romania/Sweden), Ivars Drulle (Latvia), Ettore Favini (Italy), Sakshi Gupta (India), Yael Kanarek (USA/Israel), Leif Kath (Denmark), Mohd Nor Khalid/LAT (Malaysia), Marta Kolendo (Poland/Germany), Jeesoo Lee (Korea/USA), Loredana Longo (Italy), Overton Loyd (USA), Ivan Malerba (Italy/UK), Zanele Muholi (South Africa), Valerio Rocco Orlando (Italy/USA), Sreshta Premnath (India/USA), Riccardo Enea Previdi (Italy/Germany), Jorge Queiroz (Portugal/Germany), Chris Raschka (USA), Mauro Restiffe (Brazil), Marc Rosenthal (USA), Pietro Ruffo (Italy), Mary Ntombikayise Sibande (South Africa), Francesco Simeti (Italy/USA), Sun Xun (China), Lan Tuazon (Philippines/USA), Matthias Weischer (Germany), and Ahmad Yazid (Malaysia).

The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation has announced the winners of the 2010 Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award, a rather special prize which underwrites exhibitions by prompting curators and exhibition venues to team up and apply for the award. This year’s winners, selected from 70 applications, were Steven Matijcio, who received $85,000 for "Paperless" at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem; João Ribas, who won $150,000 for "Man In The Holocene"at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge; and Sue Spaid, who was granted $150,000 for "Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses and Abandoned Lots"at theContemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. Guidelines for the 2012 award go online in late 2011.

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